Links: The Conservative Party’s connection with paedophiles goes back a long way – here’s a photo of former prime minister (and later baroness) Margaret Thatcher with Jimmy Savile.
It’s not proof positive that the Conservative Party supports paedophilia; more like proof that the Tories are historically indifferent to child abuse by their colleagues.
Mrs Thatcher has long been known to have enjoyed the company of at least one high-profile paedophile – Jimmy Savile – so this revelation about her is just more evidence supporting a trend.
There are questions about the current Conservative Party; about members who have been convicted of child abuse offences yet have not been expelled.
The issue is that the Conservatives simply don’t care if children are sexually abused – and that they never have cared. That they are happy to harbour abusers – and to defend them from justice.
Remember the 114 files on alleged paedophiles that Theresa May claimed to have “lost” while she was Home Secretary? This puts that into a whole new context. Doesn’t it?
MI5 files have revealed for the first time what many suspected. Margaret Thatcher was aware of alleged sexual offences by her Private Parliamentary Secretary Sir Peter Morrison yet chose to defend him.
Testimony as well as documents MI5 have handed to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) suggest a rallying behind the Conservative minister despite concerns laid out about Morrison’s “interest in small boys”.
Yes, this is the only photograph This Blog has of Patrick Rock.
Thanks to knowledgeable Vox Political readers, it is now possible to state that the trial of Patrick Rock will begin on May 31, 2016, following a pre-trial hearing on February 27.
Here are the details:
Judge Alistair McCreath, sitting at Southwark crown court, granted Patrick Rock bail until trial date in May.
Rock was originally charged back in June 2014 with three counts of making an indecent photograph of a child in August 2013. He was also charged with possession of 59 indecent images of children.
Mr Rock was one of David Camerons closest aids and was one of the government’s advisers on policy for online pornography filters.
Mr Rock resigned as a policy adviser to Mr Cameron after he was arrested.
The former deputy head of the No 10 Policy Unit has been close to Mr Cameron for two decades. The two men worked for Michael Howard when he was Home Secretary in the 1990s.
In Downing Street, he had the title of deputy director of policy and worked across a wide range of topics, including the government’s policy on child pornography. His seniority was demonstrated by the fact that he was one of only three advisers given his own private office in No 10.
Sometimes things get lost in the rush – especially if they’re hushed up.
So Patrick Rock, the former aide of David Cameron who had to resign after being arrested and charged with possessing imagery of children being abused, appeared before a judge at Southwark Crown Court on October 16.
This Blog warned last month that the case would fade into obscurity again unless somebody attended that court on the day and was able to publicise the date to which it was adjourned.
Obviously This Writer could not attend as Southwark is a very long way from Mid Wales.
A Rock in a hard place: Patrick Rock, formerly a senior civil servant and policy advisor, who now faces allegations that he possessed indecent images of child abuse.
At long last, Patrick Rock – the former deputy head of 10 Downing Street’s policy unit and aide to David Cameron – is to appear on court to answer charges that he possessed imagery of children being abused.
He will appear at Southwark Crown Court for legal argument on October 16 – more than 20 months after his original arrest. This information was obtained by a member of the public, in spite of protracted attempts by the Cabinet Office to claim that it had no information about what was going on. You can read that particular saga here.
Mr Rock was arrested on February 13, suspected of possessing child abuse imagery – shortly after he resigned his position working on policies that we all thought were intended to make it harder to find such images on the Internet.
Details of his resignation and arrest were not released to the public, but the media sprang into action and in a matter of days, the Daily Mail ran a major story accusing three leading members of the Labour Party of sympathising with paedophile groups.
It was only after this story had run its course that the major news media made the public aware of Mr Rock’s arrest – and Vox Politicalwas not the only blog that voiced suspicions about the sequence of events.
Rest assured that this case is likely to fade into obscurity again unless someone attends Southwark Crown Court on October 16 and publicises the date to which the case is adjourned.
Fighting child abuse: Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.
Labour has announced its new policies to deal with child abuse, including tougher powers for the police to stop abusers and a new child protection delivery unit to work across Government and drive progress in preventing abuse and exploitation.
According to Labour, these new measures are being announced alongside new data showing that police forces are struggling to keep up with the big increase in cases coming forward at the same time as they face major staffing cuts.
Although there has been a big increase in child protection conferences (organised when a child is considered to be at significant risk of harm), in many areas police are attending only a small proportion and the number of cases where the police do not attend is rising rapidly.
Some forces are warning that a quarter of their local resources are needed for child exploitation, even though their budget has been cut by 25 per cent.
Overall child abuse offences reported to the police have increased by 33 per cent, but the police are getting fewer prosecutions – child abuse prosecutions are down by 13 per cent.
There are long delays in dealing with online child abuse, with some forces reporting year-long delays in getting computer checks done, while less than 1,000 of the reported 20-30,000 NCA cases under Operation Notarise have been fully investigated, one year later.
Research from the NSPCC suggests more than half a million children are abused each year, but police forces are overwhelmed, according to Labour.
The Government is failing to get to grips with the growth in online child abuse.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper says a revolution is needed in the approach to dealing with child abuse, with more support for children and adult survivors, stronger prevention measures including compulsory sex and relationship education to teach about respect and consent, stronger partnership working and requirements on professionals to report abuse, and stronger powers for the police to stop abusers.
She is also warning that 1,000 officers should not be cut from policing next year, as resources for child protection are badly needed.
Labour’s proposed tougher powers to stop abusers are as follows:
· A Labour Government will bring in new stronger police to allow the police to prevent an adult from contacting or communicating with a child if there is evidence of abuse, sexual exploitation or grooming.
· The new measure is part of a wider package of reforms to focus efforts on preventing abuse, putting in place stronger deterrents and making it easier to bring criminal sanctions against abusers.
· Labour will strengthen the law so that Child Abduction Warning Notices or Sexual Risk Orders can be used in all cases when the police are concerned a child may be at risk of sexual exploitation – with tough criminal sanctions if a suspected abuser attempts to make contact with them again.
· Currently Child Abduction Warning Notices have no criminal sanction for a breach – meaning abusers are getting away with it. Sexual Risk Orders require evidence of an “act of a sexual nature” having taken place – meaning the child has already been abused. Labour’s changes will make it easier for police to prevent contact between children and suspected abusers and to pursue criminal proceedings if this is ignored.
· Professor Jay’s report into Rotherham CSE found that though abduction notices were used, there was no criminal justice sanction involved and no abusers brought to justice: “Operation Czar, begun in 2009, led to the issuing of abduction notices, but no convictions. Operation Chard in 2011 led to abduction notices and 11 arrests but no convictions.”
· These new powers would also send a powerful message to the authorities that interventions are available and victims should not be criminalised. In one shocking case uncovered by Professor Jay in her report into Rotherham CSE, an 11 year old child was identified at risk of child sexual exploitation, but no action was taken. A month later, she was found in a derelict house with another child, and a number of men. She was arrested for being drunk and disorderly. None of the men were arrested.
· Labour will be voting to establish this tougher new regime through Child Abduction Warning Notices and Orders today in an amendment to the Serious Crime Bill – led by Sarah Champion MP and the Labour frontbench.
· But the Shadow Home Secretary will make clear today, if Conservative and Liberal Democrats oppose this move, a Labour Government will introduce it as early as possible after the election.
In addition, Labour is proposing a new Child Protection Unit in the heart of Government:
· A Labour Government will set up a new Child protection unit to improve standards in all agencies involved in keeping children safe and bringing those who abuse children to justice. The new Unit will put prevention, earlier intervention, stronger deterrence, and a firm pursuit of offenders at the heart of child protection.
· The Unit will be jointly run by the Home Office and Department for Education, but will work across Government to promote a more joined-up approach between Departments and to encourage more collaboration and information-sharing at a local level between police and other agencies.
Local collaboration will play an important part:
· Police forces are struggling to keep up with the scale of the problem. Labour is publishing new FOI analysis, and separate reporting from HMIC, showing huge increases in demand for police attendance at child protection meetings. These are intended to bring together representatives from all local agencies involved in protecting a child, if it is felt there is significant risk of harm to that child.
· This analysis shows more conferences are going ahead without police officers, with some forces attending fewer meetings year on year, and others forces not recording any information about their attendance.
· This raises serious concerns about how effective child protection conferences are and the capacity within police forces to fully respond when risks to children are raised.
· It comes on top of evidence from individual forces suggesting that in some areas 25 per cent of neighbourhood policing resources are now allocated towards the prevention of child sexual exploitation, that the cost of child protection investigations to forces has gone up substantially at a time when budgets have been heavily cut, and that there are long delays in pursuing online abuse cases.
Labour says it is important to recognise the scale of online child abuse:
· Just as people turned a blind eye to child abuse in care homes, in the BBC and the NHS or child sexual exploitation in Rotherham, Rochdale and Oxfordshire, Labour says we are now turning a blind eye to online child abuse
· Reports suggest the National Crime Agency has details of between 20,000 – 30,000 people who have accessed child abuse images, and has investigated fewer than 1,000.
· There are long delays in passing on intelligence on online child abusers to local police forces. In the case of Myles Bradbury, a paediatrician from Cambridge, the delay of more than a year meant children were placed at unnecessary risk.
· The government is still withholding important information on the scale of online abuse cases reported to the police and NCA, and the extent of delays in investigating them, both nationally and locally. Labour has called on the Home Secretary to publish details.
That is a lot to take on board in one sitting. At first sight it seems that a great deal of work has gone into these policies. But are they right?
Thanks today go to Vox Political commenter concernedkev, who brought this writer’s attention to a piece by Labour MP Tom Watson. It’s self-explanatory so here it is:
I have had cause to write to [the Telegraph] about a disturbing allegation shared with me by Chris Bryant MP. They just ignored me.
My letter was prompted by a conversation I had with Chris. He told me that he’d had lunch at the Quirinale restaurant with Telegraph political correspondent Matthew Holehouse. [We won’t quote this part because there is a direct quote from Mr Bryant later in the piece, as follows:] “Matthew Holehouse told me at lunch at Quirinale that he had been accidentally included in a series of email exchanges between senior figures at Conservative Central Office who were speculating about which Labour sitting MPs were paedophiles and how they should deploy this ‘information’. Matthew seemed to think that this showed that CCHQ was run by a bunch of children and he said it was worse than Damian McBride. He reckoned the paper would be running the story later that week, unless the powers that be intervened. I asked him which senior figures were involved. He said ‘very senior’, but refused to elaborate. He also refused to tell me which Labour MPs were speculated about. He didn’t believe that any of the emails’ allegations were anything other than nasty vindictiveness and an attempt to smear Labour MPs.”
When what he told me had sunk in I was furious. It showed that senior offices at CCHQ were either a; holding back vital intelligence from the police abuse inquiry or b; engaging in a smear campaign against their opponents. Either way, it showed appalling conduct.
I felt it needed addressing at a senior level in both the Conservative party and the Telegraph.
Here’s the letter I wrote to David Cameron about the matter on 26th January:
Dear Mr Cameron,
Child Abuse Allegations
As you know, the scandal of child sex abuse at every level of society, including in the highest reaches of political life, has caused deep distress to many thousands of sex abuse survivors. Your party, with others, has been arguing for a full, open inquiry into these matters and for the police to pursue perpetrators.
You have also rightly been among the first to deplore the fact that — amid the speculation that this scandal has caused — a number of individuals have found themselves the subject of baseless, hurtful and defamatory allegations, often spread in an irresponsible way on social media networks and by email. Just this weekend Lord Selwyn Gummer condemned online “innuendo” as “wicked”.
With the above in mind, I understand that there has been an email exchange between several members of staff at CCHQ in which the staff are reported to speculate about which sitting Members of Parliament might be paedophiles.
It is possible that it is a serious piece of investigative work. In which case I urge you to hand this evidence over to the police immediately, so that they can investigate -rather than keeping it in the confines of the party. You recently publicly declared that all documents held by party whips will be made available to the police. I trust the same is true of internal party emails.
If, however, it is a scurrilous and puerile attempt to smear sitting politicians, then that is a different but no less serious matter.
First, I am sure that you would consider it your duty to report the existence of such an email and the identities of those who originated and circulated it, in the same way that other instances of unfounded smears disseminated by political advisers have rightly been condemned by you in the past.
Second, I would hope you also see it as your duty privately to share the relevant material with the MPs who are mentioned in this email, so that they can take necessary legal action to protect their reputations if they want to do so.
I hope you would agree that it would be wholly inappropriate for you and party officials to sit on these emails and refuse either to confirm their existence, or inform those whom it defames. That would be a disservice to the public interest, it would further harm the proper process of getting to the truth of child sex abuse and it would damage your personal reputation.
I do not intend to publicise this letter at this stage, as I appreciate you may not be aware of this matter. I do not want to put undue pressure on you while you are investigating the issues I have raised and taking the necessary actions.
However, I look forward to hearing your response as a matter of urgency.
[Needless to say, he didn’t get an urgent response and had to write a follow-up letter which got the brush-off from Grant Shapps, Tory party co-chairman. He continues:]
We tried to chase up the Telegraph for a formal response but they kept ignoring us. I even asked my researcher to call the switchboard to ask for Robert Winnet’s mobile number but they refused to give it him. If I’m being honest, at this point I gave up. You can only fight so many battles.
Despite giving up I still think that Chris’s account of Holehouse’s allegations are in the public interest and would ordinarily have been jumped at by a newspaper editor.
When I read Peter Oborne’s article yesterday I felt I should at least explain that he was not alone. He did a brave thing and today he is being mocked by his former employers and others in the industry.
They’re closing ranks and trying to traduce the character of a respected journalist because he spoke truth to power like he’s supposed to, though on this occasion it was a powerful media mogul.
It’s not right.
You can read the full article (this is just an excerpt) here.
Withholding evidence is a serious offence. If the Telegraph does have this material, and does not intend to use it in a story, then its writers, editors and publishers may be accessories to the crimes of child sexual abuse to which they are said to relate; by holding them and not releasing them to the police, they would be allowing the perpetrators to remain at large.
What do you think of the Labour Party conference this year? It’s a loaded question and one that is bound to elicit loaded answers.
The propaganda machines of the other parties have been working overtime to discredit Her Majesty’s Opposition, with Scottish people who wanted independence (the minority, let’s remember) claiming Labour lied to them, UKIP supporters adamant that the party is full of child abusers (based on a BNP propaganda website, which should tell anyone with a brain all they need to know), and of course the Tories doing what they usually do – blaming all the country’s problems on the last Labour government while stealing the family silver.
You never hear ‘No’ voters saying Labour lied, do you? You never see UKIP supporters complaining about racism in their own party. You never see Tories calling for genuine reform that helps the 99 per cent, rather than the tiny minority that they represent.
So let’s look at what Labour is proposing. Let’s make a list – because, you know what? Mrs Mike was watching coverage of the conference yesterday, and even she tried to tell Yr Obdt Srvt that Labour wouldn’t keep its promises. If we have a list, we’ll be able to check the promises against what they do, after a Labour win next May.
So let’s see what Ed Miliband promised. He outlined six “national goals”, and he called for 10 years in which to hit them. You may very well ask: Has he been reading Vox Political? Recent comments questioning Labour’s intentions have been answered with the simple observation that it takes time to change the direction in which a country is travelling (or in the UK’s case, lurching), and Miliband’s words echo that sentiment. He can’t do everything in one day. It does take time. Let’s look at those goals.
Halve the number of people in low pay by 2025, raising the minimum wage by £60 a week or more than £3,000 a year.
Ensure that the wages of working people grow with the economy (something that is glaringly missing from the Conservatives’ ‘economic recovery’, meaning that – for the vast majority of us – it isn’t a recovery at all). Miliband said: “What’s amazing… is that statement, that goal is even controversial. It used to be taken for granted in our country that’s what would happen.” He’s right – look at today’s article from Flip Chart Fairy Tales that Vox Political re-published.
Create one million jobs in the green economy – neglected by the Conservatives – by 2025, committing to take all the carbon out of electricity by 2030; start a Green Investment Bank; devolve powers to communities to insulate five million homes by 2025, saving energy and heating costs
By 2025, ensure that as many young people will be leaving school or college to go on to an apprenticeship as currently go to university. It really is as though he’s been reading Vox Political. A long-standing gripe of this blog is that governments have concentrated on academic achievement while neglecting the education of people who have more practical aptitudes. This is a very welcome change.
By 2025, be building as many homes as we need, doubling the number of first-time buyers in the UK. Vox Political would prefer to see far more social housing; perhaps this will come as well but it wasn’t part of Miliband’s promise. Nevertheless, the pledge to build 500,000 new homes should make housing more affordable again for people who aren’t spectacularly wealthy or don’t have wealthy family members.
Finally, to create a world-class 21st century health and care service, funded by a clampdown on tax avoidance including tax loopholes by hedge funds that will raise more than £1 billion, proceeds from a mansion tax on homes above £2 million, and money from tobacco companies. Total: £2.5 billion (per annum, it seems). Some have said this is not enough when the NHS is facing a £20 billion shortfall but we must remember that this deficit only appeared recently and could be the result of Tory scaremongering, or the private companies introduced by the Tories leeching money out of the system to fatten their shareholders. More details were due from Andy Burnham today (Wednesday).
Oh yes, you see Andrew Lansley’s hated – Yr Obdt Srvt really cannot find the words to show how vile this diseased piece of legislation really is – Health and Social Care Act will be repealed by a Labour government. If you don’t care about any of the other measures, you should vote Labour for that reason alone.
So those are his six goals. But what’s this?
“It is time we complete the unfinished business of reform of the House of Lords so we truly have a Senate of the nations and regions.” Considering the way Cameron has been packing it with Tory donors, rather than people of any expertise (as it is intended to contain) this can only be a good thing.
“And it is time to devolve power in England.” What a blow against the Tories who have been claiming Labour want to delay or destroy such a process! Miliband is talking about “devolving power to local government, bringing power closer to people right across England”. That seems to be an indication that he wouldn’t create a new, expensive English Parliament but would give power back to the current councils – power that has been leeched away from them by centralising Conservatives and the previous, neoliberal, incarnation of Labour.
There’s more. He wants constitutional reform. But unlike David Cameron, who wants to impose changes from above, so that they only benefit people who are already rich and powerful, Miliband wants to make it a matter of public discussion. Those who can’t be bothered to take part will only have themselves to blame if they don’t get what they want.
There were promises on foreign policy – to stand up for the UK in Europe, in contrast to Cameron’s strategy which Miliband blasted: “When David Cameron comes calling, people don’t think he’s calling about the problems of Britain or the problems of Europe. They think he’s calling about the problems of the Conservative Party. And here’s the funny thing… If you’re elected the Chancellor of Germany or the Prime Minister of Italy or the President of France, you don’t really think you were elected to solve the problems of the Conservative Party.”
More solid was the promise to recognise the state of Palestine and actively seek a solution to the problems of that part of the world we might call – in an attempt to be fair – the Holy Land: “I will fight with every fibre of my being to get the two state solution, two states for two people, Israel and a Palestinian state living side by side.” Many detractors have wrongly claimed that Miliband is a Zionist, determined to support the Israeli government’s use of vastly superior firepower to eliminate Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank; they had better think again – and look very hard at David Cameron, whose government has done as little as possible to protest at what has been happening.
And Miliband also said he wanted Labour to fight discrimination against same-sex relationships around the world. That may not seem as important to some people, but in some places it is just as easy to be killed by homophobia as it is to be killed because of your religion. Personally, Yr Obdt Srvt finds same-sex relationships unattractive – but it takes all sorts to make a world.
That makes six more goals! Double the value.
These are all good aims. All of them, if seen through, will be good for the UK.
So there’s your checklist, with 12 – not six – goals on it. If you support Labour next year, you’ll be able to check Miliband’s progress against them and you’ll have a chance – halfway through his 10-year plan – to stop him if he’s not making it happen.
Alternatively, you can say to yourself – as Mrs Mike did last night: “He doesn’t mean it. They’re all the same. It’s not worth voting,” or any of the other things the Tory campaign chief Lynton Crosby would like you to believe, and you can sit on your thumbs at home. That would be a vote for the Conservatives to carry on raping your country and ripping you off.
If Labour win in spite of people like that, then they will still benefit from the changes Miliband wants to introduce, along with the rest of us. If the Conservatives win because of those people, then we will all lose – apart from a miserably small band of super-rich, super-selfish, super-arrogant and entitled exploiters who tell Cameron what to do.
Framed that way, it isn’t really a choice at all, is it?
Would anybody argue with the suggestion that the social media – including blogs like Vox Political – played the largest part in the removal of Baroness Butler-Sloss from the government’s inquiry into historical child sex abuse investigations?
Until yesterday, Lady Butler-Sloss was adamant that there was no reason she could not head up the inquiry, even though her past associations with people she might have to investigate included her own brother, the late Sir Michael Havers, who was attorney general in the 1980s.
It was the social media that found this information and revealed it to the general public – who then complained bitterly to the government.
Do we believe Lady Butler-Sloss where she tells us she “did not sufficiently consider” whether her family links would throw the inquiry into question? It seems extremely out-of-character for a former judge, who would never – for example – have allowed a trial jury to include a relative of the defendant, to claim that she could be impartial about matters involving her own family. It was a clear conflict of interest.
One point that has been glossed-over is the fact that this woman is nearly 81 years of age and from the same privileged background as many of the people she would be asked to investigate. Did she even have the necessary sensibilities – or even the ability to open her mind to current thinking – required to head up an investigation such as this?
Of course, Lady Butler-Sloss was appointed by the Home Secretary, Theresa May. She has been accused of failure to carry out “due diligence” – the necessary checks to discover if a candidate can be relied upon to be impartial – but has defiantly claimed that her choice was good.
“I do not regret the decision I made. I continue to believe that Elizabeth Butler-Sloss would have done an excellent job as chair of this inquiry,” she told the Home Affairs select committee. Really? Excellent by whose standards?
We know from Lord Tebbit that there was a ‘hush-hush’ culture in the Thatcher government of the 1980s. He said people thought the establishment “had to be protected”.
And of course the attitude she held is likely to pervade government even now, 30 years later. Perhaps Theresa May wanted this inquiry – which she had resisted for a long time – to be headed by a person who could be trusted not to rock the boat. Perhaps she had been told to select such a person.
Now we must wait for an announcement on a new chairperson. This also plays into the hands of those with skeletons (or worse) in their closets as it creates a delay.
Not only that, but we must all remain vigilant against the possibility that May will appoint another dud. The BBC’s report makes it clear that the requirement for a candidate to have a legal background and the security clearance necessary to be able to read confidential papers means it is hard to find anyone who is suitably qualified and is not part of the establishment.
We still do not know where this will lead and who will be implicated. People like Theresa May and David Cameron will want to protect members of their own Old Guard from retrospective vilification (if Lord Tebbit’s words are to be trusted), and it seems likely they will do everything in their considerable power to fob us off.
A Snooper: This woman has been allowing police and security services to monitor your phone and Internet communications – illegally. Now her government wants to rush through a law to make it legal, without proper scrutiny.
No matter what Nick Clegg might say, the Coalition government will be reintroducing – and rushing into effect – Theresa May’s long-cherished Snooper’s Charter on Monday.
Anybody who cannot see the similarities between these two would have to be blind and stupid.
Apparently the move has been necessitated by a European Court of Justice ruling in April saying current laws invaded individual privacy.
This means that the government has been doing, already, what it proposes to enshrine in law now.
But hang on a moment – this court ruling was made in April. In April? And they’re just getting round to dealing with it now?
Perhaps they were busy. But no! This is the Zombie Parliament, that has been criticised for muddling along with nothing to do, so it can’t be that.
It seems far more likely that this Bill has been timed to be pushed through without any consideration by, or consultation with, civil society – in order to restrict our ability to question what is nothing less than an attack on our freedom.
Cameron is desperate to justify his government monitoring everything you do: “The ability to access information about communications and intercept the communications of dangerous individuals is essential to fight the threat from criminals and terrorists targeting the UK.”
It isn’t about fighting any threat from criminals or terrorists, though, is it? It’s about threatening you.
Has anybody here forgotten the disabled lady who received a midnight visit from the police, at her home, in relation to comments she had posted on Facebook about the Department for Work and Pensions’ cuts?
She told Pride’s Purge: “They told me they had come to investigate criminal activity that I was involved in on Facebook… They said complaints had been made about posts I’d made on Facebook.”
Facebook is an internet communication, not a telephone communication – so you know that the security services have already been overstepping their mark. This was in 2012.
There’s always the good old postal service, embodied in the recently-privatised Royal Mail – which has been examining your correspondence for decades. You will, of course, have heard that all your correspondence with HM Revenue and Customs about taxes, and all your correspondence with the DWP about benefits, is opened and read by employees of a private company before it gets anywhere near a government employee who may (or may not) have signed the Official Secrets Act. No? Apparently some secrets are better-kept then others.
If you want proof about the monitoring of letters, I’ll repeat my story about a young man who was enjoying a play-by-mail game with other like-minded people. A war game, as it happens. They all had codenames, and made their moves by writing letters and putting them in the post (this was, clearly, before the internet).
One day, this young fellow arrived home from work (or wherever) to find his street cordoned off and a ring of armed police around it.
“What’s going on?” he asked a burly uniformed man who was armed to the teeth.
“Oh you can’t come through,” he was told. “We’ve identified a terrorist group in one of these houses and we have to get them out.”
“But I live on this street,” said our hero, innocently. “Which house is it?”
The constable told him.
“But that’s my house!” he said.
And suddenly all the guns were pointing at him.
They had reacted to a message he had sent, innocently, as part of the game. They’d had no reason to open the letter, but had done it anyway and, despite the fact that it was perfectly clear that it was part of a game, over-reacted.
What was the message?
“Ajax to Achilles: Bomb Liverpool!”
Neither of these two incidents should have taken place but many more are inevitable if this legislation goes the distance and allows the government to legitimise its current – illegal – actions.
One last point: It should be remembered that this is a government composed mainly of a political party with one member, still active, who managed to lose (or should that be ‘lose’) no less than 114 files on child abuse – files that could have put hugely dangerous people behind bars 30 years ago. Instead, with the files lost, it seems these individuals were permitted to continue perpetrating these heinous crimes.
Now, this government is launching an inquiry into historic child abuse by high-profile people, headed by a woman who is herself tainted by association with some of the accused, and by some of the attitudes she has expressed.
It is a government that should put its own House in order before it asks us to give up our privacy and let it look inside ours.
It seems suspicions were raised in the Labour Party, because shadow minister Jon Ashworth asked, in the public interest:
When were 10 Downing Street and David Cameron first made aware that Mr Rock may have been involved in an offence?
How much time passed until Mr Rock was questioned about the matter and the police alerted?
What contact have officials had with Mr Rock since his resignation?
What was Mr Rock’s level of security clearance?
And, most importantly:
Why were details of Mr Rock’s resignation not made public immediately?
Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood stonewalled: “Our … actions were driven by the overriding importance of not jeopardising either [the National Crime Agency’s] investigation or the possibility of a prosecution.”
He said: “We judged it was inappropriate to make an announcement while the NCA investigations were continuing.”
David Cameron has declined to comment on the latest development, saying it is a matter for the courts.
The DWP had insisted publication of the papers, warning of the dangers likely to be caused by Universal Credit, would have a “chilling effect” on the DWP’s working – a standard defence (see Andrew Lansley’s successful bid to prevent publication of the risk register, detailing problems with his calamitous Health and Social Care Act) that was thrown out by Judge Wikeley in a trice.
The DWP then argued that the order to publish was perverse – that the tribunal responsible had reached a decision which no reasonable tribunal would have reached. Judge Wikeley found that the challenge “does not get near clearing this high hurdle”.
Finally – and most desperately – the DWP tried to argue that the tribunal had not given due weight to the expertise of a DWP witness. Judge Wikeley had to point out that, by law, he cannot substitute his own view of the facts for that taken by the original tribunal.
The DWP was then sent away to consider whether to lodge another appeal.
That’s at least three attempts to hide facts from the public in a single week (it is arguable that Cameron spoke up about Coulson in order to cause a mistrial and prevent him from being convicted of two charges; he cannot say he was unaware of what he was doing, because he has already been rebuked by another judge, earlier this year, for commenting on the trial of Nigella Lawson’s former assistants. In addition, wasn’t it suspicious that Coulson’s defence team immediately leapt up to call for a mistrial ruling, based on the “maelstrom of commentary” Cameron stirred up?) from – as previously mentioned, this “most open government ever”.
There may be more that haven’t become public knowledge.
Does David Cameron really think the public will put their trust in him, with a record like that?
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