Theresa May leaves Downing Street, with chief of staff Gavin Barwell behind her. Unfortunately it seems likely the car will also perform a u-turn at some point, and bring them both back [Image: REUTERS].
Believe it when you see it, of course. But if Theresa May really has u-turned three times on the Tory pay cap imposed on public sector workers, at least she has been made to do the right thing.
Of course, it had to happen with a proverbial knife to her throat (or, in Tory style, to her back).
Theresa May secretly agreed to perform a triple-u turn and give struggling nurses and firefighters a pay rise after all, it was claimed last night.
It would mark the third about face on the public sector pay cap in a single day.
A Tory spokesperson said on Wednesday that Mrs May had “heard the message” of the election and would listen to “pay review” which have branded the cap unsustainable.
But pressed for more detail later that same day, the PM’s official spokesperson walked back the idea, saying repeatedly: “Our policy has not changed”.
But on Wednesday afternoon, the Sun reports, 20 senior Tory MPs “marched on Number 10” demanding action on the pay cap.
[At] a secret meeting with the MPs, who reportedly included former Tory chairman Grant Shapps , the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Gavin Barwell said struggling public service workers would get a decent pay rise.
‘Activists at Standing Rock weren’t just protesting, but reasserting their sovereign rights.’ [Image: Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images].
It may seem hard to believe but the Standing Rock pipeline protest is still an issue. See for yourself:
The general public became aware of the Standing Rock Sioux’s fight to stop the Dakota Access pipeline last fall when, week after week, videos surfaced showing protesters being attacked by dogs, sprayed with water hoses and pelted with an arsenal of rubber bullets, bean bag pellets, and long-range sound devices that blast “powerful deterrent tones”.
Rumored among activists but unknown to the public and much of the press, law enforcement had another tool up its sleeve that has only recently been revealed: an international private security company that infiltrated protest camps, monitored activists and waged an anti-protest messaging campaign via social media.
An ongoing multi-part investigation by the Intercept has brought to light the work of TigerSwan, the security firm held on retainer by Energy Transfer Partners, the owners of the pipeline. Documents obtained by the Intercept reveal that TigerSwan operatives monitored the movements of activists – online and physically with drones and a small detail assigned to follow movement leaders.
MPs announce that the government has won the vote on the Queen’s Speech – by a majority of just 14 votes.
Oh yes, the minority Tory government’s almost-nonexistent legislative programme – as laid out in the Queen’s Speech – has been passed by Parliament – but not easily.
The Tories – and their bribed accomplices in the DUP – had to promise to allow women from Northern Ireland the right to abortions (admittedly, only if they travel to England or Wales for them) in the face of a Labour amendment that would have defeated them.
Doesn’t this indicate that Labour can defeat the pathetically-weak Mrs May at any time, simply by proposing clever amendments to any piece of legislation that might win support from enough Tory backbenchers?
And Labour will do so – not only to gain major concessions from the right-wingers but also because every time the Tories are defeated in this way – and they were defeated on abortions – the public will see that this is a weak administration clinging to government solely to prevent Labour from enacting a truly strong programme of government.
I think the Tories know this is an untenable position.
Perhaps that is why they have already started advertising for general election campaign organisers – possibly in order to call a new election in August?
Sir Martin Moore-Bick has been appointed to oversee an inquiry into what happened at Grenfell Tower. His own words seem to indicate that he is being asked to oversee a whitewash.
The judge appointed to oversee a public inquiry into the fire at Grenfell Tower that may have killed hundreds of people has said that its terms mean it will not provide the answers we all want.
The survivors of Grenfell are already complaining that they have not had enough input into those terms – and have started their own efforts to add up the numbers of people who are still missing, in the belief that the emergency services are lying to them about the number of deaths.
The choice of Sir Martin Moore-Bick as the judge has been criticised on the grounds that he often finds in favour of local authorities, against the public – suggesting that he may be biased.
The emergency services themselves have told us that the final death toll may not be known until Christmas, stoking the belief that the figure is being hidden until Grenfell Tower falls off the news agenda.
And a meeting of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council, at which Grenfell was to be discussed, was cancelled after the council’s Tory leader was told he could not hold it in private but had to admit the press and public.
Meanwhile, nearly 150 tower blocks have failed safety tests – maintaining a 100 per cent failure rate since these tests were started a few days ago.
Have I missed anything?
It seems to This Writer – and I admit I’ve been away for a few days, co-organising the very successful Radnor Fringe Festival last weekend and attending a funeral yesterday – that the Establishment has no intention of ever telling us the full extent of its failure to protect the residents of Grenfell Tower or what could be hundreds of other blocks that we are now being told are just as dangerous.
Are you happy to let them off the hook? Because I’m not.
The construction site for Hinkley Point C near Bridgwater, Somerset. Critics say the report vindicates their claims the project is too expensive [Image: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images].
I’ll just leave this here:
Generations of British consumers have been locked into a “risky and expensive” project by the UK’s subsidy deal for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset, according to a damning report by the spending watchdog.
The National Audit Office said the contract sealed by ministers last September with EDF to construct the country’s first new atomic reactors in two decades would provide “uncertain strategic and economic benefits”.
Further, Brexit and Theresa May’s decision to quit an EU nuclear treaty could make the situation even worse, by triggering taxpayer compensation for EDF or a more generous deal for the French state-controlled company.
The watchdog condemned the past two governments for failing to look at alternative ways of financing the power station, such as taking a stake in the construction.
Just one of the many images created by people who have campaigned for 28 years to get justice for those who died in the Hillsborough disaster.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has announced it is charging six people with criminal offences in relation to the Hillsborough disaster and its aftermath.
Sue Hemming, Head of the CPS Special Crime and Counter Terrorism Division, made the announcement to families of the deceased at a private meeting in Warrington this morning.
She said [boldings mine]: “Following our careful review of the evidence, in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, I have decided that there is sufficient evidence to charge six individuals with criminal offences.
“Criminal proceedings have now commenced and the defendants have a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”
The full statement that was provided to those in attendance at this morning’s meeting is as follows:
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has considered two substantial files of evidence from Operation Resolve (OR) and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in respect of 15 and six suspects respectively. The suspects referred to the CPS included individuals and organisations. The offences referred for consideration include gross negligence manslaughter, misconduct in public office, doing acts tending and intending to pervert the course of justice, health and safety at work and safety of sports grounds offences.
Operation Resolve investigated the events of the 15th April 1989 when 96 Liverpool fans were tragically killed as the result of overcrowding in the central pens at the Leppings Lane end of the Hillsborough football stadium. The IPCC investigated the aftermath. In particular they looked at the conduct of South Yorkshire Police (SYP) and carried out an investigation into whether anyone was responsible for a ‘cover up’ of the true events and if witness statements were altered in such a way to amount to a criminal offence. The CPS team and senior counsel have been advising in respect of these matters from an early stage.
Following thorough investigations and careful review of the evidence in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, I have decided that there is sufficient evidence to charge six individuals with criminal offences.
I have found that there is sufficient evidence to charge former Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield, who was the Match Commander on the day of the disaster, with the manslaughter by gross negligence of 95 men, women and children. We will allege that David Duckenfield’s failures to discharge his personal responsibility were extraordinarily bad and contributed substantially to the deaths of each of those 96 people who so tragically and unnecessarily lost their lives. The offence clearly sets out the basis of those allegations. We are unable to charge the manslaughter of Anthony Bland, the 96th casualty, as he died almost four years later. The law as it applied then provided that no person could be guilty of homicide where the death occurred more than a year and a day later than the date when the injuries were caused. In order to prosecute this matter, the CPS will need to successfully apply to remove the stay imposed by a senior judge (now retired) at the end of the 1999 private prosecution when David Duckenfield was prosecuted for two counts of manslaughter by gross negligence previously. We will be applying to a High Court Judge to lift the stay and order that the case can proceed on a voluntary bill of indictment.
Graham Henry Mackrell, who was Sheffield Wednesday Football Club’s company secretary and safety officer at the time, is charged with two offences of contravening a term of condition of a safety certificate contrary to the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975 and one offence of failing to take reasonable care for the health and safety of other persons who may have been affected by his acts or omissions at work under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. These offences relate to alleged failures to carry out his duties as required.
Peter Metcalf, who was the solicitor acting for the South Yorkshire Police during the Taylor Inquiry and the first inquests, is charged with doing acts with intent to pervert the course of public justice relating to material changes made to witness statements. Mr Metcalf, an experienced solicitor, was instructed by Municipal Mutual Insurance to represent the interests of the force at the Taylor Inquiry and in any civil litigation that might result from the Hillsborough Disaster. He reviewed the accounts provided by the officers and made suggestions for alterations, deletions and amendments which we allege were directly relevant to the Salmon letter issued by the Taylor Inquiry and for which there appears to be no justification.
Former Chief Superintendent Donald Denton and former Detective Chief Inspector Alan Foster are similarly charged for their involvement in the same matter. It is alleged that Donald Denton oversaw the process of amending the statements and in doing so, he did acts that had a tendency to pervert the course of public justice and we will say that Alan Foster was central to the process of changing the statements and took action to do so.
Former Chief Constable Norman Bettison is charged with four offences of misconduct in public office relating to telling alleged lies about his involvement in the aftermath of Hillsborough and the culpability of fans. Given his role as a senior police officer, we will ask the jury to find that this was misconduct of such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder.
The defendants, other than David Duckenfield, will appear at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on 9 August 2017.
May I remind all concerned that criminal proceedings have now commenced and of the defendants’ right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.
In relation to six other police officers who were referred as suspects in respect of their conduct in planning for the match or on the day, there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. I have concluded that whilst there is evidence of failure to meet the standards of leadership rightly expected of their respective ranks, there were no acts or omissions capable of amounting to gross negligence manslaughter or ‘an abuse of the public’s trust’ to the required criminal standard for an offence of misconduct in public office. I also considered administration of justice offences against some of these officers. However, the evidence did not establish either a tendency to pervert the course of public justice, nor an intention to pervert the course of public justice to the required criminal standard. Neither did the material considered establish sufficient evidence, as required for the purposes of perjury, that statements were made on oath which the author knew to be false or did not believe to be true.
I have decided not to prosecute the company which was the legal entity of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club at the time as it only now exists on paper. There are no directors or others listed who form the company and therefore no-one who can give instructions to answer any criminal charge or enter a plea. Even if the company were to be prosecuted and found guilty in these circumstances, there could be no penalty as it does not have any assets with which to pay a fine.
For legal reasons, we cannot prosecute the South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service and there is insufficient evidence of a criminal offence against the two most senior employees referred for consideration. There is, however, sufficient evidence of a health and safety breach against one junior ambulance employee, although it is ‘non causative’ which means that it cannot be directly connected to any particular death. As we cannot prosecute the ambulance service or the more senior employees and the offence carries a maximum penalty of a fine, I have decided that it is not in the public interest to prosecute the junior officer after this significant period of time when the likely outcome would be a nominal penalty.
Finally, in relation to Operation Resolve, the Football Association (FA) was also considered in relation to the day’s events. Its conduct was assessed against the Safety of Sports Grounds Act and the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. While I considered that it was a ‘responsible person’ for the purposes of the Safety of Sports Grounds Act, there was insufficient evidence to establish that any breach of the safety certificate could be placed within the responsibility of that organisation, and thereby raise a burden on it as a defendant to establish a due diligence. Equally, for the purposes of the Health and Safety at Work Act, the evidence did not establish that, in the conduct of its undertaking, the FA contributed to a material risk to safety. As a result, in each instance, there was not a realistic prospect of a conviction against them. In the particular circumstances, it also followed that there was insufficient evidence against any employee of that organisation under either Act.
In respect of the other suspects referred for consideration of criminal offences arising from the IPCC investigation into the statement changing, there is insufficient evidence to prove an intention to pervert the course of public justice.
It is not the function of the CPS to decide whether a person is guilty of a criminal offence, but to make fair, independent and objective assessments about whether it is appropriate to present charges for the criminal court to consider. My assessment of the case is not in any sense a finding of, or implication of, any guilt or criminal conduct. It is not a finding of fact, which can only be made by a court, but rather an assessment of what it might be possible to prove to a court, in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
There is a further IPCC file into the conduct of the West Midlands Police but additional investigative work was required in respect of this. Additionally, just this week, the IPCC has referred two further suspects which are unconnected to the matters sent to us in January. These files are subject to ongoing consideration by the CPS and we will announce our decisions in due course.
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