Monthly Archives: January 2023

Former Tory chairman says Sunak should suspend Zahawi – but why not ‘drain the swamp’?

Jake Berry: his BBCQT appearance needs to be seen to be believed.

The BBC’s flagship Question Time programme featured an extraordinary display of backstabbing by a Tory MP against his Cabinet replacement.

Former Tory chairman Jake Berry, asked whether his successor Nadhim Zahawi should stay in post after revelations about his tax affairs, started out with a classic ‘resume statement’, praising his party colleague – but then veered off-topic sharply, saying a mechanism should be in place for Zahawi to step back from government while he was being investigated, and be reinstated if vindicated.

It’s not a bad idea but it has been around for some time – it’s called suspension. He would not lose his job as an MP, and could come back later.

Berry then manufactured an argument with Tracy (“Drain the swamp!”) Brabin over the role of independent ethics advisor Sir Laurie Magnus.

Probably the best comment from an audience member came from a GP who said there had been so many similar scandals in the Tory government that it seemed impossible to trust anybody in the party at all.

The debate ranged across all the information that has come out so far and I have tried to ensure that these are all included in the clip, so we can all refer back to it.

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Bullying claims against Dominic Raab now number 24 – and more

Wow.  At least 24 civil servants have now complained about bullying by Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, it seems.

Not only that, but there are also inquiries into the behaviour of Nadhim Zahawis (another Cabinet member) and Boris Johnson, a former prime minister.

Rishi Sunak and his Cabinet were apparently having an away day in Chequers to discuss Conservative Party strategies – despite the fact that Parliament was sitting and they were using government property – so one wonders whether he was taking the opportunity to clear the chaff. One suspects not, because he’s too weak.

Enjoy also the pathetic attempt at deflection onto Keir Starmer by Angela Epstein. She reckons he’s not a good leader because he supported Jeremy Corbyn, and brought up the manufactured Labour anti-Semitism crisis as proof. But anti-Semitism in Labour fell under Corbyn – the claims against him were nonsense. Starmer is a rotten leader for reasons entirely due to himself.

As Kevin Maguire points out about her comments: “We’ve got a lousy rotten governent so look over there.”

Here’s a bit more on that Tory strategy meeting, courtesy of A Different Bias:

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Quick review of PMQs: Sunak has to break out the ‘Jeremy Corbyn’ excuse AGAIN

I was going to do my own piece on Prime Minister’s Questions but Phil Moorhouse of A Different Bias got there first and did it better than I would have.

See/hear for yourself:

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Missing asylum-seeking children may be working in the sex industry – and the government ignored warnings

This is exactly what I was alluding to, when I wrote, “Kidnapped? Made into slaves for criminal gangs, for purposes that one flinches from considering?”

Dame Sara Thornton is a former UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner, and was previously Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police. She reckons asylum-seeking children, spirited away from hotels, may have been set to work on drug farms or in the sex industry.

She also said that 440 children were reported missing, of which the 200 mentioned in earlier reports were merely those who remained unaccounted-for.

But the bombshell was that the government has known about the problem for a considerable amount of time, but simply couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it.

Watch:

The clip also covers the death of Zara Aleena and the failings of the Probation Service. Dame Sara said the service needed to be properly staffed, funded and resourced.

And on the subject of recent convictions of Metropolitan Police officers, she said, “You can’t keep on saying it’s just one bad apple; it’s another bad apple.”

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Zara Aleena probation failings not political says Tory boy Bowie – but they are

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak was under pressure over the murder of Zara Aleena in Ilford – so one of his mouthpieces rushed in to claim there was no political element to the case.

Ms Aleena was murdered by Jordan McSweeney, who had been wrongly assessed as a “medium risk” offender, when in fact the violent, woman-hating racist should have been classed “high risk” and recalled to prison after missing probation appointments.

A Ministry of Justice review has found that probation officers were under mounting pressure at the time of McSweeney’s assessment, with staffing shortages and an increasingly-heavy workload.

These are both symptoms of government funding cuts – and, indeed, during PMQs, Keir Starmer raised a “botched, then reversed” attempt to privatise the service, and a decade of underinvestment.

And Ms Aleena’s family’s spokeswoman, her aunt Faraz Naz, made it perfectly clear that “Government bears responsibility too, it is not just the probation service. They have blood on their hands.”

But Tory MP Andrew Bowie, discussing the case on the BBC’s Politics Live, falsely claimed this had not been said – after trying to say that the failings of the Probation Service were not political:

Of course they were.

They were the result of political decisions to starve the service of staff and resources.

A Conservative MP was responsible. But once again, it seems, we are not likely to see anybody take responsibility.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Rishi Sunak fails to answer why he helped a sanctioned Russian warlord

Rishi Sunak at PMQs: This is a stock pic – he’s not usually this animated.

Rishi Sunak is coming under pressure to explain why he apparently helped Russian oligarch and warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin dodge sanctions against him in order to sue a UK journalist for libel (the case later collapsed but left the journalist owing £70,000 in legal fees).

Prigozhin is the founder of Wagner, a private army that is currently understood to be committing atrocities in Ukraine.

Challenged on it in Prime Minister’s Questions, Sunak had the nerve to say he was proud of the UK’s sanction system – a system over which he appears to have run roughshod.

And he copped out of answering the question by saying there’s a government organisation that deals with such matters.

This Writer was watching the exchange via the BBC’s Politics Live programme, and was hoping the panel would discuss this matter afterwards, as my tweets showed.

No such luck. I wonder why?

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200 asylum-seeking children go missing – Tory MP says they should not have come to UK illegally

A new low: Jonathan Gullis (the unmasked bearded man in the background) [this is a stock image].

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Labour MP Tulip Siddiq drew attention to the fact that, despite the UK being considered a safe haven for vulnerable children, there are 200 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children missing from UK hotels.

Rishi Sunak’s comment that the government needs to end the use of hotels for unaccompanied children, “and that’s what government plans will do,” was sinister enough – he meant the plan to stop asylum-seekers from getting into the UK would ensure that fewer will be here in need of housing.

But from the backbenches, Tory MP Jonathan Gullis apparently shouted, “Well, they shouldn’t have come here illegally!”

That’s Compassionate Conservatism for you: let children go missing – kidnapped? Made into slaves for criminal gangs, for purposes that one flinches from considering? – because they should have stayed at home, possibly to be exploited in similar ways by their own countryfolk?

One can only agree with Peter Kyle: The Conservatives have found a new low.

Here’s the video clip:

And here’s Mr Kyle’s tweet:

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Carol Vorderman and Alison Hammond have won politics this week. Here’s how

There’s no news in the following clip, but the commentary by Carol Vorderman and Alison Hammond, from ITV’s This Morning, is priceless.

It’s embedded in the following clip and is priceless:

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Did Rishi Sunak help a Russian oligarch dodge sanctions to sue a UK journalist? Will it finish him?

Rishi Sunak: yes, this image again. He looks shifty in it – as he should, if he authorised the activities described below.

This is what happens when celebrities get to sue UK journalists like me – the government ends up giving financial support to a Russian oligarch whose private army is currently rampaging through Ukraine.

It seems the UK Treasury helped a close ally of Vladimir Putin to evade sanctions imposed against him personally (this was before the Ukraine-Russia war) in order to sue a UK journalist.

Rishi Sunak was Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time. The Russian oligarch was Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Wagner, a private army that is currently understood to be committing atrocities in Ukraine.

In the light of the Ukraine-Russia war, the UK’s apparent support for Ukraine in that conflict (while actually having supported a Russian through this case) makes it seem clear that both Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson before him are hypocrites.

Some say it should bring down the UK government. Here’s Phil Moorhouse of A Different Bias:

He took his information from the website Open Democracy, whose article can be found here.

Here’s where this story intersects with my own legal case, in which I was sued by a certain TV celebrity (I’m currently appealing against the judgment):

Revelations about Wagner and Prigozhin were exposed by Bellingcat in 2020, leading to the notorious libel case against Higgins.

Higgins was targeted individually, rather than as part of a legal case against Bellingcat. This meant that, instead of claiming Bellingcat’s investigations into Wagner were defamatory, the lawyers instead relied on tweets Higgins had sent to promote the investigations on social media.

The approach allowed Prigozhin to launch his legal attack in the UK – where Higgins lives, and where libel laws are more punishing for journalists – rather than in the Netherlands, where Bellingcat is headquartered.

The case collapsed when the lawyers from Discreet withdrew their services in March last year, a month after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and was eventually struck out in May. Higgins was left with estimated costs of £70,000.

The case has been highlighted as an example of a SLAPP action (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation), an abuse of the legal process designed to intimidate and close down legitimate scrutiny.

You see, the idea is to intimidate the victim (Eliot Higgins in this case, or myself) by threatening them with huge damages to pay and/or huge legal bills.

Higgins told openDemocracy… it was clear that “wealthy individuals abuse the UK legal system to attack legitimate journalists with the assistance of British lawyers” and said the case demonstrated the need for “robust anti-SLAPP legislation” to protect journalists from similar actions in the future.

On a national level – and therefore more serious (even) than what happened to Mr Higgins or myself – is the allegation that the current UK government, and a department headed at the time by the current UK prime minister, deliberately evaded sanctions it had itself imposed, in order to help someone whose private army is currently attacking a country with which the UK has ostensibly allied itself.

How many other times has the Tory government done this? Is it still doing this? Why does Parliament not know about it?

This should be enough to bring Sunak down – along with his government. Please share – and ask your favourite national media outlets (newspapers, TV, whoever) to cover it.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Ambitious strategy could win for Mike in Rachel Riley libel appeal

My legal team has agreed to a strategy I put forward for the special hearing on permission to appeal against the Rachel Riley libel judgment against me.

It’s ambitious – by which I mean there may be a risk of time-wasting attempts by the other side – but I thought it was worthwhile and I’m glad my representatives agreed.

I can’t tell you what it is. I see no reason in giving my opponents any extra time to work it out and try to find a defence (yes, they would be on the defensive) against it.

But I think it strengthens my case enormously.

We’ll find out in a week’s time when the hearing takes place. Be excited!

If you can also be generous, I and my team would be extremely grateful. We need funds to pay for all this work, so please:

Make a donation via the CrowdJustice page. Keep donating regularly until you see the total pass the amount I need.

Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

Use other social media in the same way.

And don’t forget that if you’re having trouble, or simply don’t like donating via CrowdJustice, you can always donate direct to me via the Vox Political PayPal button, where it appears on that website. But please remember to include a message telling me it’s for the crowdfund!

The hearing will be on January 31, remember, and it will be broadcast from the judiciary website – https://www.judiciary.uk/you-and-the-judiciary/going-to-court/court-of-appeal-home/the-court-of-appeal-civil-division-live-streaming-of-court-hearings/ – and available on YouTube.

I hope you’ll be able to watch it – and that we’ll all like the outcome.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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