Tag Archives: adviser

Patel insists Rwanda is safe for asylum-seekers – despite expert advice on torture

Priti Patel: she’s not one to listen to advice she doesn’t like.

The Home Secretary has confirmed that she is ignoring the advice of an adviser who said the Rwandan government tortures political opponents, in pushing her policy of deporting asylum-seekers there.

Priti Patel insisted that Rwanda was a “safe country”.

She said the comments had been made by “officials in a different government department”.

She added: “But of course it is the Home Office who has led the economic development migration partnership which is our resettlement partnership to Rwanda. Rwanda is a safe country and all our work with the government of Rwanda shows that.”

She was responding to a High Court judgment that seven statements by an adviser should be made public in advance of a Supreme Court ruling on whether the Rwanda deportation policy is legal.

A judge ruled that a further four statements should not be published as they could potentially harm international relations.

It is not unreasonable – on the face of it – for the government to seek advice and then ignore what it is told.

Governments may take opinions from multiple sources before forming their own opinions and policy.

But this has the potential to blow up in the Tory government’s collective face, if the decision to ignore warnings about this foreign government leads to asylum-seekers being harmed.

Court ruling on Rwanda comments that should be published forces questions on those that won’t

Illegal policy? Priti Patel announced the plan to deport asylum seekers arriving in the UK to Rwanda back in April. But a first flight there was aborted at the last minute as the legality of the scheme was challenged.

The High Court has ruled that a government adviser’s comment that Rwanda’s government tortures and kills political opponents – and six others – should be published ahead of a legal battle to decide whether deportations to that country are legal.

But four further comments by the same person were judged necessary to keep entirely secret because of the damage they would do to international relations between the UK and that country.

This leads to an obvious question:

Given the incendiary nature of the “torture” comment, how damning were the four that are being kept secret? And how can the UK’s Tory government justify sending asylum seekers to Rwanda after being provided with such information?

In his ruling, Lord Justice Lewis said:

“I recognise that there is a strong public interest in not undermining international relations with a friendly state. Nonetheless, that consideration is outweighed by the public interest in ensuring access to relevant information in this litigation and by the extent to which the information is already in the public domain.”

Migrants identified for the first aborted flight, and three media organisations – BBC News, including BBC Two’s Newsnight, The Times and The Guardian newspapers – sought the disclosure of the material.

The judge said given September’s major legal action had to decide whether sending asylum seekers to Rwanda was lawful, the claimants and the court needed to consider as much evidence as possible.

He said some of the official’s comments would have “evidential significance” – and the public interest in disclosing them outweighed the government’s case for keeping them secret.

The government has been allowed time to consider an appeal. If the judgment stands, the comments are likely to emerge in public in September.

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#Labour cash crisis: now #Starmer is cutting MPs’ advisers – starting with #Asian #women

Rosena Allin-Khan: she has been instrumental in exposing the Tory government’s Covid-19 failures so of course Labour leader Keir Starmer is penalising her.

And you still think Starmer’s not racist?

(Not you; the above is what you could say to anyone trying to justify this.)

But what happened to Labour’s short money? This is the cash given to Opposition parties in Parliament to help them with their costs. There was an attempt to take it away from Labour (Tories are like that – they try to screw the other side any way they can) but it failed, I thought.

So there should be cash for these two MPs to hire all the help they need.

That’s unless Starmer is using the cash for other purposes. I wonder what they are?

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#SackWhitty and #SackVallance, people are saying – before they’ve even made their broadcast

Chris Whitty: the Chief Medical Officer is facing calls for his removal – before he has even had a chance to broadcast to the nation alongside Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance.

New hashtags on social media are calling for the UK’s chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser to be sacked – before they’ve even had a chance to address the public on television.

The broadcast was scheduled for 11am today (September 21) but platforms like Twitter have already been filling up with attacks on Chris Whitty and – notably – Patrick Vallance.

The attacks don’t make much sense.

In fairness to the advisers, we don’t know what their advice to the government has been. Their meetings have taken place behind closed doors and when they have faced the public it has always been under the shroud of shared responsibility – a line has been taken by Johnson government ministers and the advisers are obliged to support it.

So comments like this…

… seem premature.

Worse still is the “blame game” that some people are playing:

“Bent science”? We don’t know that the gentlemen concerned have been bending science in any way at all.

We do know that the politicians have been as bent as the figure “8”, trying to delay lockdown to keep the economy going, trying to shorten lockdown to prevent the economy from being harmed more than it already has been… trying to continue making money for their party donors while people die (or suffer serious health consequences).

And it’s the politicians who have been misusing emergency procurement procedures to funnel vast amounts of public money into the hands of private firms – some running companies that have been dormant for years – that happen to be run by friends of theirs; the socialism of the very rich.

So This Site tends to come down on the side of those who have been standing up for the scientists:

So let’s give them the benefit of the doubt – for a little while, at least.

But let’s also remember…

… other scientific opinions are available.

Psychiatrists try to defend failure to speak out on ‘abusive’ Universal Credit project

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has tried to explain its reasons for failing to object to a pilot project in Cornwall in which Job Centre advisors – with no training – decide whether claimants need mental health care.

This Site reported on the project in August:

The department… is trying to cut doctors working on mental health out of the benefit system by claiming that rank-and-file Job Centre advisers are just as able to spot mental health problems – and recommend the best treatment.

They aren’t; they can’t. It’s just a cynical bid to stop people with mental health problems from claiming Employment and Support Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

The Tory government’s press release stated: “The initiative means work coaches can continue to refer people with mental health conditions to specialist one to one support, without the need for a GP or clinical assessment.”

I responded:

“Without the need”? Translation: “Without the support of evidence from a qualified doctor who can bring their expertise to a benefit tribunal.”

The press release said: “The support is also designed to help people find their way back into the workplace when they’re ready.”

I responded:

Translation: “The intention is to ensure that people with mental illnesses must continue to seek employment, whether they are ready or not.”

Disability News Service is now reporting that the Royal College of Psychiatrists has responded to this insult against its practitioners – after being nudged to do so by no fewer than five disability groups.

RCP states, according to the article, that:

RCP’s social inclusion lead has “continued to raise concerns and provide expert advice about the impact of welfare reform on people with mental illness and those with learning disabilities”.

[It says] it is “clear that anyone undertaking a mental health assessment needs to be sufficiently qualified to do so and, as part of the assessment, should engage with clinicians involved in providing care to the person concerned”.

[It also says] RCP believes that a jobcentre would not be “a suitable therapeutic environment to assess and discuss an individual’s mental health”.

[It adds:] “Having to do so would likely increase the stress and pressure on people with a mental illness when seeking support, and the possibility of them seeing the receipt of benefits as being conditional on them agreeing to mental health treatment.

“In addition, there is a risk that being referred to the wrong type of treatment may reduce the likelihood of seeking help in the future, make their illness worse and increase the likelihood of experiencing a future crisis.”

The disability groups are not happy with this response – and rightly so.

Why the delay in responding? Were these psychiatrists hoping the issue would go away?

Is the RCP going to talk to the Department for Work and Pensions about its concerns? Or were its comments just a sop to the disabled people’s representatives?

And what about the people of Cornwall?

What have they experienced while the RCP stood by in silence?

Source: Dismay over psychiatrists’ failure to speak out on ‘abusive’ universal credit project – Disability News Service

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When did Job Centre advisers gain their doctorates in mental health care?

It seems the Department for Work and Pensions is on a mission to discredit the medical profession in its entirety.

The department has already done its best to deny the professionalism of doctors by disregarding their evidence in favour of the results of a “yes/no” multiple choice test administered by “health care professionals” who often know nothing about the health issue suffered by a claimant.

Now it is trying to cut doctors working on mental health out of the benefit system by claiming that rank-and-file Job Centre advisers are just as able to spot mental health problems – and recommend the best treatment.

They aren’t; they can’t. It’s just a cynical bid to stop people with mental health problems from claiming Employment and Support Allowance or Personal Independence Payment.

One would have thought the fact that mental health issues are routinely disregarded by decision-makers would be enough to discourage the mentally-ill from claiming these benefits; apparently not.

The government press release, announcing funds for a pilot project in Cornwall to continue, is transparent in its nonsense doublespeak:

Hundreds of residents from Bude to Penzance are set to benefit from improved mental health support as Amber Rudd announces £100,000 funding for a life-changing project.

The initiative means work coaches can continue to refer people with mental health conditions to specialist one to one support, without the need for a GP or clinical assessment.

“Without the need”? Translation: “Without the support of evidence from a qualified doctor who can bring their expertise to a benefit tribunal.”

The support is also designed to help people find their way back into the workplace when they’re ready.

Translation: “The intention is to ensure that people with mental illnesses must continue to seek employment, whether they are ready or not.”

In fact, this treatment seems more likely to worsen their mental health and force them towards suicide – a “positive benefit outcome” as far as the DWP is concerned (as This Site has mentioned many times before).

Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd showed her lack of any integrity at all by backing up the baloney to the hilt:

Amber Rudd, Work and Pensions Secretary, said:

“The pilot proved that work coaches are well placed to make sure people get help quickly and are supported to get their lives back on track so I’m delighted that it can continue.

“Importantly it has also shown that people trust their work coach to help them during their toughest times – and I’m very proud of that.”

Is that right?

I’d like to see independent evidence of that, from somebody who has been through the system.

Of course, that would be someone who is not still a part of the system – a person who could not be subjected to any coercion to say what Ms Rudd wanted; someone not living in fear of the cancellation of benefits.

Is there such a person?

And will they dare come forward?

In any case, if anybody in the DWP discovers what they consider to be a mental illness in a benefit claimant, they have a duty to report it to the NHS. Anything else is negligence and – if any harm comes to that claimant – could lead to serious allegations against the DWP.

Suppose somebody dies after the DWP decides to handle that person’s mental illness itself. Won’t it be opening itself to a charge of corporate manslaughter, at the very least?

Source: £100,000 fund to boost mental health support across Cornwall – GOV.UK

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Government advisors have had their leave cancelled – but is it really a hint at a snap election?

Why is The Guardian suggesting that a note cancelling all leave for government advisors until October 31 is a hint that Boris Johnson is preparing for a snap election after that date?

It suggests to This Writer that BoJob wants all the expertise he employs, available to him throughout the process leading up to Brexit – whether by a deal or “no deal”.

It is far more likely that a vote of “no confidence” will be triggered by opposition parties, leading to an election if they have a chance to avert “no deal” Brexit first – or at least that’s how it seems to me.

True, the Liberal Democrats are throwing the toys out of their pram at the thought of having to support a Jeremy Corbyn-led government – even for a short period – but voters may draw the obvious conclusion: That the Lib Dems will betray ‘remain’-supporting voters to keep Corbyn out.

Which would be more harmful for that party, with its tiny representation in Parliament, in the long run?

BoJob, it seems, wants all the advice he can get, in order to find a way past a “no confidence” vote and out of the European Union.

He doesn’t seem to have realised, yet, that if he even gets that far, his problems will only be beginning.

Boris Johnson’s chief of staff cancelled all leave for government advisers until 31 October in a missive on Thursday night, raising further speculation the government is planning for a forced snap election in the aftermath of the UK leaving the EU with no deal.

It remains unclear if anti-Brexit MPs in parliament would be able to swerve a general election, as senior Labour Iand Liberal Democrat figures clashed on Friday over their parties’ apparent willingness to place conditions on any unity government or coalition prepared to stop a no-deal Brexit.

Special advisers were emailed by Johnson’s senior adviser Edward Lister on Thursday night, saying there was “some confusion about taking holiday” and told none should be booked until 31 October, with compensation considered “on a case by case basis” for those who had already booked leave, though the email said advisors were free to spend their weekends “as you wish”.

Source: No 10 cancels staff leave, hinting at likelihood of snap election | Politics | The Guardian

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UKIP appoints jailbird who nearly ruined a rape trial as adviser on prison reform and rape gangs

Grinning idiots: UKIP leader Gerard Batten shakes all credibility away as he shakes hands with Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (Tommy Robinson) and gives him a position of responsibility in his inner circle.

No wonder Brexit is such a godawful mess when the political organisation that campaigned to achieve it for decades appoints a far-right extremist who was sent to prison after he nearly ruined the trial of a major rape gang as its special adviser on prison reform and rape gangs.

Not only has UKIP leader Gerard Batten allowed Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (also known as Tommy Robinson) into his party; he has also given him a job that can only be seen as an insult to the public.

And the reaction has been exactly what we should expect:

https://twitter.com/DickCoughlan/status/1065676244338057217

Andy King’s opinion is particularly sharp:

https://twitter.com/AndyMoboboKing/status/1065672803322658816

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DUP spad wanted to ‘fill our boots’ with GB money. Nice to know who Theresa May’s friends are

Andrew Crawford: “Fill our boots”.

A long-standing special advisor of DUP leader Arlene Foster said he thought “we could fill our boots” with money from Westminster, via the scandalous Renewable Heat Initiative (RHI), it has been claimed.

Ms Foster set up the RHI when she was Northern Ireland’s Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment. She failed to introduce proper cost controls.

As the scheme worked by paying applicants to use renewable energy, and the rate paid was more than the cost of the fuel, applicants were making profits simply by heating their properties and costs went out of control.

On the final day of a public inquiry into what became known as the Cash For Ash scandal, senior civil servant Dr Andrew McCormick related a conversation he had with Andrew Crawford, Ms Foster’s special advisor.

Mr Crawford has always denied that he tried to delay efforts to rein in the schemes costs in mid-2015, when it became clear that they were out of control.

But Dr McCormick told the inquiry he said in late October 2016, around a month before RHI became a huge political scandal, “I thought this was AME [Treasury funding, rather than from Stormont’s budget] and we could fill our boots.”

The inquiry has already uncovered an email which shows that Dr Crawford felt it could be good to overspend on RHI because it was GB money.

The resulting scandal led to the dissolution of the Northern Irish government and the failure of efforts to form a new power-sharing deal means that part of the UK still has no government today.

The RHI scheme, overseen by the DUP, has potentially cost the public purse almost £500 million.

And these are the people Theresa May offered a further £1 billion to prop up her minority Conservative government in Westminster.

There’s an old saying – “If you want to know someone, just look at their friends.”

Perhaps we should remember this when Philip Hammond announces his latest budget.

It seems these Conservatives are allied with people who deliberately sprayed our money up the wall – for no other reason than that they could.

Source: DUP Spad told me “we could fill our boots” with RHI cash, says top civil servant – Belfast Newsletter

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Tories are not only selling the NHS piecemeal – they’re wasting millions doing it

You’d be forgiven for thinking something is seriously wrong with the headline above. You don’t pay millions of pounds to sell a hugely profitable, going concern, do you?

No, you don’t – unless you’re part of a privatisation-crazy Conservative minority government in a hurry to sell off as many elements of state apparatus as you can before the electorate catches up with you and kicks you out of Whitehall.

The money – from NHS budgets that have been limited by Conservative policies and by the fact that private health companies are already siphoning parts of those budgets into their bank accounts as useless profit – was spent on “external advisors” who were employed to make NHS Professionals attractive to the private sector.

It was a gross, commercial use of cash that should have been focused on patient care.

Meanwhile, Accident & Emergency departments are preparing for the annual winter emergency caused by Tory underfunding and under-resourcing.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s big idea to stave off such a crisis is to force patients to wait three weeks for a GP appointment to be referred to A&E before they are allowed to go.

So he’ll kill off a large number of emergency patients before they ever get near a medical professional.

And the money spent on this bungle can be added to the millions spent on consultants who were hired to work out cuts to NHS services, in order to meet Tory budget demands. That’s more than £20 million – a small amount in relation to the annual cost of the NHS, maybe, but a huge amount if one accepts that it has been misused.

Here’s the bottom line:

People have died because the Conservatives are more interested in failed commercial interests than the national interest.

The Tories have secretly blown £3 million worth of taxpayers’ cash on consultants in a failed bid to privatise the NHS staffing agency.

Ministers desperately tried to sell off the respected NHS Professionals organisation which supplies doctors and nurses to hospitals.

But they were forced to perform a major U-turn following widespread anger and criticism from MPs, medical chiefs and health unions.

Now we can reveal that the Government spent £2.8 million on “external advisers” to work on the planned sale before it was abandoned.

The identities of the consultancy firms hired by the Tories have not been revealed.

The Department of Health said it abandoned the sale of the agency which supplies 90,000 doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, after failing to receive any adequate bids.

The proposal had been strongly criticised because the use of NHS Professionals saves the NHS £70 million a year by supplying staff more cheaply than private sector agencies.

The £2.8 million bill will be paid for by taking a divided payment from NHS Professionals, but insisted “this will not impact on delivering frontline NHS services”.

Source: Tories blow £3m of taxpayers cash on consultants in failed bid to privatise NHS staffing agency


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