Tag Archives: commissioner

Sunak’s ‘inadvertent’ conflict of interest shows he is not fit to govern

Childcare shareholder Akshata Murty and her husband, UK prime minister Rishi Sunak: her firm should forgo any benefit from the new Tory policy, just to rid itself of the stain of corruption with which he has tarred it. And his serial “inadvertency” means he is not fit to govern.

Rishi Sunak and his government gets away with it – yet again.

I think this comment on the latest Tory corruption saga is highly relevant:

Yes, this is the story of how a new government policy, announced in the spring Budget, was geared to give huge amounts of money to a childcare company in which Rishi Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty has shares; he and his family would have benefited – but he did not declare it.

This is a breach of the Ministerial Code and an investigation was duly requested.

Now, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has reported back – and said the failure to declare the conflict of interest was “inadvertent”. No further action will be taken.

In fairness, Sunak made a grovelling apology for failing to reveal that this government policy would make his family richer:

And the Prime Minister’s press secretary has said: “The commissioner’s investigation into the Prime Minister’s declaration of interest has been resolved by way of rectification. The Prime Minister takes seriously his responsibilities to register and declare all relevant interests.”

That’s all very well, but Sunak and his family are set to benefit from his omission to mention this interest, and that isn’t right. Nobody should use a position of power to feather their own nest.

So Ms Murty’s firm should be excluded from the list of those that are to benefit from this government policy – if only to rid itself (and the Tory government) of the stain of corruption with which Sunak has tarred it. Right?

Isn’t it odd that we don’t see that happening?

And it seems Sunak leads a government that is guilty of serial inadvertency:

That’s a lot of forgetfulness.

It encourages me to believe that none of these Tories are likely to remember important facts when they are needed – and this could cause serious harm to the UK and its people, given the seriousness of the crises we are currently being forced to endure.

By their own admission, Sunak and his party are not fit to govern.

UN human rights chief wants UK to reverse ‘deeply troubling’ Public Order Bill

Volker Turk: this international lawyer is saying the UK’s Tory government is stamping on its own citizens’ human rights and must reverse the Public Order Act.

Suella Braverman might think her fascist Public Order Bill protects “our way of life” but the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights clearly feels otherwise.

That organisation has released the following statement:

The Public Order Bill, which has now been passed by Parliament in the United Kingdom, is deeply troubling legislation that is incompatible with the UK’s international human rights obligations regarding people’s rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk warned.

I think this means any arrests, convictions, sentences for breaching the Act may be challenged on grounds that it impinges on our human rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

“This new law imposes serious and undue restrictions on these rights that are neither  necessary nor proportionate to achieve a legitimate purpose as defined under international law. This law is wholly unnecessary as UK police already have the powers to act against violent and disruptive demonstrations,” Türk said.

“It is especially worrying that the law expands the powers of the police to stop and search individuals, including without suspicion; defines some of the new criminal offences in a vague and overly broad manner; and imposes unnecessary and disproportionate criminal sanctions on people organizing or taking part in peaceful protests,” he added.

The High Commissioner drew particular attention to Serious Disruption Prevention Orders introduced by the law that allow UK courts to ban affected individuals from being in certain places at certain times; being with particular people; or using the internet in certain ways, and could lead to the individual in question being electronically monitored to ensure compliance. It is especially concerning that such orders can be made against people who have never been convicted of any criminal offence.

“Governments are obliged to facilitate peaceful protests, while, of course, protecting the public from serious and sustained disruption. But the grave risk here is that these orders pre-emptively limit someone’s future legitimate exercise of their rights,” the High Commissioner said.

“I am also concerned that the law appears to target in particular peaceful actions used by those protesting about human rights and environmental issues. As the world faces the triple planetary crises of climate change, loss of biodiversity and pollution, governments should be protecting and facilitating peaceful protests on such existential topics, not hindering and blocking them,” Türk stressed.

“The passage of this Bill regrettably weakens human rights obligations, which the country has long championed in international fora. I call on the UK Government to reverse this legislation as soon as feasible,” he said.

To sum up: the UN reckons that, by passing the Public Order Act, the UK is now a renegade, criminal state because it has passed a law that overrules international agreements on human rights.

Worse, the UK has prioritised polluting industry above the survival of our planetary ecosystem, which means our government is not only facilitating harm to the human race as a species, but persecuting people who want us all to survive.

That is an insane position for a national government to take.

Worse still is that This Writer sees no government-in-waiting that is likely to agree with the United Nations and reverse the situation; Keir Starmer is a corporate yes-man who won’t do anything to upset his real bosses.

Still… perhaps it’s our fault that this has gone as far as it has.

I mean, have you contacted your MP to express opposition to this despotism?

Source: UN Human Rights Chief urges UK to reverse ‘deeply troubling’ Public Order Bill | OHCHR


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Rishi Sunak investigated by standards commissioner over childcare conflict of interest

Partners in (the) climb: Akshata Murty and her husband, UK prime minister Rishi Sunak.

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak is facing investigation over whether he properly declared his wife’s interest in a childcare agency that may benefit from a new policy announced in the spring Budget.

Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty is listed as a shareholder in Koru Kids, a childcare agency that is likely to benefit from a pilot scheme offered by Jeremy Hunt to incentivise people to become childminders, with £1,200 offered to those who train to become one through an agency.

It is believed that he is being investigated over whether a declaration of interest in this organisation was “open and frank”, under rules set out by the commissioner for standards.

This Site has discussed the situation previously, here. It seems the authorities got around the question of Sunak having to grant permission to be investigated by the independent adviser on ministerial interests (Laurie Magnus) by handing it to the standards commissioner (Daniel Greenberg).

This Writer doubts the investigation will lead to any great censure of Sunak.

The initiative to encourage people to become childminders may very well benefit children and carers alike – because it is calculated to bring more people into the job market, which is what the Tories want.

Ms Murty is not the only business boss who will benefit from it, and indeed Koru Kids is not her only business interest, so it can hardly be argued that the policy was introduced purely as a money-spinner for the prime minister and his family.

Still, he did fail to declare his interest to the Commons Liaison committee when asked, and not only should he be made to apologise and correct the record, but he should also take steps to ensure that every other government minister knows they have an obligation to list their own interests correctly, at appropriate times.

But what will happen next? Keep watching this space…


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Matt Hancock – and two other MPs – investigated by standards watchdog

In trouble again: Matt Hancock is facing an investigation by Parliament’s Commissioner for Standards, over his reaction to an investigation by Parliament’s Commissioner for Standards.

This is totally reprehensible – but it made me laugh – from Professor Tim Wilson:

Yes, once again it’s comedy time with Matt Hancock.

According to The Guardian,

The former health secretary is being looked into over allegations that he broke the MPs’ code of conduct by “lobbying the commissioner in a manner calculated or intended to influence his consideration” of whether a separate breach had been committed. It is a new offence that was added to the latest version of the code, endorsed by MPs in December 2022.

Meanwhile, the Blackpool South MP, Scott Benton, is being investigated over the use of his parliamentary email. It comes a week after Benton was caught offering to lobby ministers and obtain early access to a sensitive government report for up to £4,000 a month.

Henry Smith, a backbench Tory MP for 13 years, is also being investigated for an alleged breach of the rules on using taxpayer-funded stationery.

Hancock is said to be “surprised” at being investigated.

According to a spokesperson,

“Far from lobbying the commissioner, Matt wrote to Greenberg in good faith to offer some additional evidence that he thought was not only pertinent but helpful for an inquiry the parliamentary commissioner for standards is currently conducting.

“It’s clearly a misunderstanding and Matt looks forward to fully engaging with the commissioner to clear this up.”

That depends on one’s point of view, I expect.

Matt Hancock’s “additional evidence” may well be “lobbying” to “influence” the new Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Daniel Greenberg, who has replaced Kathryn Stone – as far as Mr Greenberg is concerned.

This Writer is certainly looking forward to the next episode of the Matt Hancock story. Aren’t you?

Source: Matt Hancock among three MPs placed under investigation by standards watchdog | House of Commons | The Guardian


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Tory Bridgen facing Commons suspension over lobbying – but is the penalty strong enough?

Suspension threat: Andrew Bridgen.

Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen may be suspended from the House of Commons for five days after he failed to declare a financial interest in a firm while writing to ministers about it.

The Commons Standards Committee found that Bridgen had breached lobbying rules “on multiple occasions and in multiple ways” – and that he had also made an “unacceptable attack on the integrity” of Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone.

A BBC report stated:

The committee said Mr Bridgen had called the integrity of Ms Stone into question on the basis of “wholly unsubstantiated and false allegations, and attempted to improperly influence the House’s standards processes”.

According to the BBC (again),

It was recommended he be suspended for three days for this – in addition to two days for three breaches of the code of conduct, including failing to declare a relevant interest in emails to ministers.

The committee said Mr Bridgen should have told ministers and officials he received a donation and a funded visit to Ghana from the Cheshire-based firm Mere Plantations, and had a £12,000 contract to be an adviser.

Bridgen appealed against the decision, but a panel has dismissed this, saying the proposed penalty was appropriate. MPs will vote on whether to uphold the recommended five-day suspension.

It seems Bridgen had had questioned whether his reputation as an outspoken critic of then-prime minister Boris Johnson could have influenced Ms Stone’s findings:

He wrote to her saying: “I was distressed to hear on a number of occasions an unsubstantiated rumour that your contract as Parliamentary Standards Commissioner is due to end in the coming months and that there are advanced plans to offer you a peerage, potentially as soon as the Prime Minister’s resignation honours list.

“There is also some suggestion amongst colleagues that those plans are dependent upon arriving at the ‘right’ outcomes when conducting parliamentary standards investigations.

“Clearly my own travails with Number 10 and the former PM have been well documented and obviously a small part of me is naturally concerned to hear such rumours.

“More importantly however you are rightfully renowned for your integrity and decency and no doubt such rumours are only designed to harm your reputation.”

The committee said Mr Bridgen’s email “appears to be an attempt to place wholly inappropriate pressure on the commissioner” which is “completely unacceptable behaviour”.

In his appeal, it seems Bridgen criticised the investigation as “flawed”, arguing that it had not fully considered the motivations of the person who had made the initial complaint.

He also said he had been carrying out the duties of a constituency MP.

But the Independent Expert Panel, that had been asked to consider his appeal, concluded that the motivations of the complainant were “completely irrelevant” and that an exemption for an MPs constituency duties did not apply in his case.

Its members added that sanctions “could properly and fairly have been more severe”.

Then why weren’t they?

There are three fairly serious misdemeanours here:

  • he failed to follow lobbying rules (on multiple occasions, we’re told);
  • he tried to exert pressure on the Standards Commissioner by attacking her integrity; and
  • he tried to claim the investigation was part of a personal attack by whoever made the complaint about him.

So this is not just about lobbying, and possibly benefiting financially from such activities; it’s also about bullying and deflecting blame.

If a five-day suspension is the worst sanction that the Parliamentary standards system can impose, then perhaps there should be legislation to formally criminalise this behaviour, with jurisdiction on any punishment handed over to the courts?

Or would this simply give the police another opportunity to kowtow to the Conservatives?

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Priti Patel told to stop lying about refugees by UN agency

Hate face: would you trust Priti Patel with a duty of care over any human beings at all?

Priti Patel should stop lying that refugees from foreign countries arriving in the UK are merely “economic migrants” looking for  a bit of easy money.

That’s the gist of a report by the United Nations’ refugee agency:

The United Nations high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) told the Guardian that those travelling by small boat to the UK should be considered to be asylum seekers or refugees, and not migrants.

“Based on currently available Home Office data, UNHCR considers that a clear majority of those recently arriving to the United Kingdom by boat are likely to be refugees. Refugees and asylum seekers are not, and should not be described as, ‘migrants’,” the spokesperson told the Guardian.

“Access to asylum should never be contingent on mode of arrival or nationality. Equally, the only way to establish whether people are refugees is through a fair and efficient determination of their claims, for which the UK has a clear responsibility.”

The intervention comes as the Home Office prepares to deport the first set of people to Rwanda, after Patel announced her intention to emulate a failed Israeli plan to do the same that was wound up a few years ago.

The policy is explicitly focused on people who arrive via so-called “irregular” routes, such as in small boats across the Channel or hidden in lorries.

Here’s the part of the Home Office statement referring to this (that isn’t waffle):

“Only those with inadmissible asylum claims who have made dangerous, unnecessary and illegal journeys will be relocated and to suggest otherwise is wrong.”

Inadmissible in what way?

Because they arrived by an “irregular” route? Who defines what is an “unnecessary” journey and what are their criteria?

Are they as described by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees? If so, is the UK breaking UN rules again, as it did with sick and disabled benefit claimants?

And will the Tory government get away with it yet again, after the UN proved utterly toothless in effecting change?

Source: Clear majority of people crossing Channel are refugees, says UNHCR

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Partygate: Met Police Acting Commissioner pathetically tries to whitewash Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson: the prime minister is pictured participating in a party to mark the departure of Lee Cain from his Downing Street communications job – but according to Acting Met Police Commissioner Sir Stephen House, there is “no clear evidence” that he took part in the rampant Covid-19 rule-breaking there.

A police officer who witnessed “a large number of people” at a “crowded and noisy” party, where “some members of staff drank excessively” did not immediately take action over Covid-19 rule breaches because he was there for security and not to “police what goes on inside the building”, according to Met Police Acting Commissioner Sir Stephen House.

Have you ever read such nonsense? Police officers are sworn to uphold the law at all times, no matter what their stated duties are said to be. Would he have turned a blind eye to burglary, or rape, because he was assigned to “security”?

Apparently the same officer did not feel that a large number of drunken people in a crowded and noisy room breached Covid-19 regulations that strictly prohibited such social gatherings.

It’s no wonder this “acting” Commissioner’s other comments are also shockingly inadequate in the light of this.

House told the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee there was “no clear evidence” that Johnson had breached Covid-19 rules many times in Downing Street, despite the very clear photographic evidence of him participating in a party to mark the departure of Lee Cain from Downing Street on November 13, 2020.

This was not a “works gathering”. Far too many people were present and they were socialising and drinking alcohol – as was the prime minister, who gave a speech. The amount of time he spent there was immaterial because the rules in place at the time prohibited all such social events from taking place at all.

At least one attendee was fined for being at this event but there was “no clear evidence” that Boris Johnson was there or took part, according to House.

House also suggested that it was difficult for his officers to work out which gatherings were work-related and which were not. How daft! If alcoholic drinks were visible in the room, then they weren’t work-related. And in any case, if the room was packed with people, meaning they were not at least 2m away from each other in accordance with social distancing rules, they were breaking the law.

House said he was personally involved in the decision-making and was confident in the outcome of the police investigation. That should be enough for us to demand that he surrender his badge.

Is he selling us down the river so he can gain the favour of the top Tories?

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Priti Patel is refusing to pay police enough to do their job & then demanding power to criticise them for it

Here’s the contradictory nature of Tory policy exposed in all its grubby grimness:

Priti Patel has been challenged to explain whether she could “survive” on the salaries she pays to local police officers – and ran away from answering.

Meanwhile, she is demanding the right to interfere in local policing matters – possibly criticising officers for failing to do work she does not pay them enough to manage.

According to Nation.Cymru,

Detective Constable Vicky Knight, a single mother who had worked in policing for more than two decades, asked Priti Patel if she would be able to “survive” on £1,200 or £1,400 a month.

Describing how she is paid “a couple of hundred pounds a month more than the workers in McDonald’s flipping burgers” and less than her “local manager at Lidl”, Ms Knight told how ahead of her most recent pay day she had to borrow £40 from her mother so she could put fuel in her car and buy food for her son’s school lunches “because I had no money left at the end of the month”.

“I went to see an accountant and the advice was leave the police, work for 22 hours a week and claim benefits and you will be better off. How can that be right?”

Patel did not answer the question; we don’t know whether she thinks she could survive on the pay she tells police officers to accept.

But we do know delegates at the annual conference of the Police Federation of England and Wales groaned when she whined that their organisation had not been “at the table” for pay negotiations; it is currently in dispute with her because she has imposed a pay freeze for officers and there were, therefore, no negotiations to be done.

While she is depriving police of the salaries they need in order to be able to do their jobs, it seems Patel is demanding the right to criticise them for any failures.

In a row with Police and Crime Commissioners, she is planning a unilateral revision of rules that define where policing responsibilities lie, in order to grant herself more power to interfere in local services.

She wants to take back power to demand answers from chief constables on local policing matters – and ability that was given to commissioners a decade ago when their role was created.

Obviously the ability to demand answers also provides an implied ability to criticise police services for failings – even though any failures may be because she has not provided the resources to do the job.

According to The Guardian,

The proposed protocol says: “We propose to lower the threshold for home secretary intervention in appropriate circumstances. This would equip the home secretary to intervene earlier as required, thus reducing the risk of failing to deliver effective policing.”

Apparently this is a reflection of a policy adopted by Patel since she became Home Secretary, called “lean in”. Perhaps it would more accurately be phrased as “lean on“.

Another example of this policy would appear to be her demand that chief constables act “in a politically neutral manner”, which has been added to the previous stricture that they must be impartial.

This would restrict them from commenting on public policy that they believe may affect crime fighting – such as the effects of austerity. Nor would they be allowed to speak out publicly on issues of political dispute like tougher sentences or opposing the decriminalisation of cannabis, which is supported by some frontline politicians.

In their response to Patel’s proposals, commissioners said she would need to seek an Act of Parliament to impose them as they are beyond her statutory powers at the moment – “ultra vires”:

“Creation of new powers of strategic oversight can only be achieved through primary legislation and must be subject to the full scrutiny that is required of primary legislation.”

So we see a hardline Home Secretary, attempting to dictate the behaviour of local police forces while denying them the resources to their job.

How ironic that she is currently being restricted with rules imposed by her own Tory forerunners.

Source: Home Secretary confronted by ‘desperately struggling’ North Wales Constable over low pay

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Dick is out – but she took the easy way to avoid the wrath of Khan

Cressida Dick: #DickOut campaign for her removal followed claims that she had not ended “institutional racism” by the Met Police. But worse allegations have ended her tenure at the top of the UK’s flagship police service.

Cressida Dick has resigned from her role as Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

But she took the easy way out. London Mayor Sadiq Khan had challenged her to clean up the police service she headed and instead she took the option where she got to relax with a fat pension.

Khan had reached the limit of his endurance after a series of scandals involving the police service for London.

The Independent Office of Police Conduct had found “disgraceful” misogyny, discrimination and sex harassment among officers at Charing Cross police station.

Previously Dick had been heavily criticised for the conduct of the Sarah Everard case, in which a woman was raped, murdered and her body burned by a Met Police officer.

He wasn’t the only one to (allegedly) victimise women – several other officers have been charged with offences against women since that time.

Dick’s own conduct was referenced in an independent report that accused the force of institutional corruption over the unsolved murder of Daniel Morgan, and before she became Commissioner she was in charge of the operation that led to the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes.

When her fellow Balliol College, Oxford, alumnus Boris Johnson was accused of having taken part in Covid-19 lockdown-busting parties in 2020, the Metropolitan Police unaccountably decided not to investigate the apparent crimes.

Instead, officers waited until Cabinet Office Secretary Sue Gray delivered evidence of the events – including 300 images – before investigating the allegations of crimes behind the doors their colleagues guard 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks per year and through which they appear to have watched civil servants carting suitcases – suitcases – full of booze.

Now, with increasingly damning evidence becoming available, Dick has decided to take the option presented to her by Sadiq Khan, and get out while the getting’s good.

And we’re all fine with that – are we?

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Have you experienced – and reported – #onlineabuse? If so, the #VictimsCommissioner wants your views

Online abuse: have you been a victim? If so, take part in the survey before the Online Harms Bill is passed into law.

The Victims Commissioner for England and Wales has launched a survey of online abuse, in advance of the Tory government’s new Online Safety legislation.

The Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird, acts independently of the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts to champion the rights of victims (as a group; she is not able to represent individuals) and make sure they are treated fairly and correctly by the criminal justice system.

She has issued the following appeal for information:

“You may be aware that the government is currently introducing a bill before parliament on online harms; the Online Safety Bill.

“The Victims’ Commissioner for England and Wales would like to hear about your experience of online abuse and, if relevant, your experience of reporting this abuse.

“We would also like to hear from you if you did not report the abuse, and the reasons for this decision.

“We will analyse the information you provide and publish a report on it, which we hope will add victims’ voices to the debate.

“We would like to hear from anyone who has experienced the following types of abuse, in particular: intimate image abuse, online harassment and stalking, coercive behaviour, cyberbullying and trolling and any form of online hate.

“You will be anonymous (not able to be identified) in our reporting, whether or not you choose to give us your contact details at the end of this set of questions.

“We are keen to hear from everyone who wants to complete this survey, including parents or carers of children who have been a victim.

“If you support someone who has been a victim who would like to respond but can’t do so because of language, age, lack of internet access or other barrier, you are welcome to fill in the survey with them (or in the case of children, for them). Alternatively, you can contact us at [email protected] if you would like to request the survey in a different format. At the end of the survey we ask a question about these barriers. Your answers will help us improve future surveys.

“We will be publishing the findings. The survey is anonymous, but at the end we ask if you would be willing to give an email address to be contacted for future research by the Victims’ Commissioner e.g. an interview.

“If you have any questions, please get in touch: [email protected]

This Writer will be getting in touch as I’ve had a huge amount of abuse and the response when I’ve reported it has been rubbish. How about you?

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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If you want to support this site
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1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

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Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:

SWAHTprint SWAHTeBook