Tag Archives: confidentiality

Braverman has been using her private email for official papers ‘on an industrial scale’

Email a mess: this is not Suella Braverman, but considering her history of social media ineptitude, it might as well be.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has admitted habitually breaking government rules by sending official documents to her private email address – and possibly on from there.

During her first period as Home Secretary, she sent government documents to her personal email address six times (in addition to the security breach that led to her resignation. That’s once every week during the 43 days she was in the post.

In a letter referring to the original breach of confidence, Braverman insisted there was no market sensitive or top secret information in the email she sent to Tory MP Sir John Hayes – that was also sent to an employee of fellow Tory MP Andrew Percy by mistake.

She reiterated her version of events after the offending email was sent – a timeline that conflicts with one that has been sent to the BBC.

And she said she apologised again for the breach when Rishi Sunak reappointed her Home Secretary, assuring him she would not use her personal email for official purposes and reaffirming her understanding of and adherence to the Ministerial Code.

How are we to believe that when the same letter admits she broke the rules six more times – as listed here?

She said using her personal phone this way – apparently the intention was to use the private phone to read documents while attending meetings on her official phone – was “reasonable in the circumstances and carried out in the public interest to enable me to do my job”.

And she insisted that she had acted “in accordance” with the official guidelines on ministerial email use.

It’s true that the High Court has ruled that the use of private email addresses, while controversial, is not against the law.

But handing confidential documents out to people who should not receive them is against the Ministerial Code and this excuse should not save her.

Braverman was set to give a statement on her other glaring cock-up (so far) – the scandal of the overcrowded migrant processing centre at Manston in Kent – late on Monday afternoon (October 31).

She was not expected to comment on the email scandal but may be questioned on it. This Writer wonders whether she’ll crack under the pressure.

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If Suella Braverman delayed acting on her confidentiality breach, is she in big trouble – or Rishi Sunak?

Suella Braverman and Rishi Sunak: he thought the economy would be his biggest problem but instead, she is.

It’s looking bad for Suella Braverman – despite all the good words put in for her by Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove and whoever else.

The BBC has seen an email sent from Braverman’s personal account on the day she had to resign for sending confidential information to the wrong person from her personal account.

In this email, she appears to tell the recipient of that message to “delete and ignore” it.

Braverman has said, according to the BBC,

“As soon as I realised my mistake I rapidly reported this on official channels.”

But if she emailed someone else before reporting it, then this is not true. Indeed, the BBC reckons she delayed taking any official action for several hours.

Fellow Cabinet minister, the Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove, told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg that asking the recipient to delete and ignore the email was “quite proper” and “standard practice”, and that it would be inappropriate to “rush to judgement”.

His words ring false.

It might be “proper” and “standard” to tell the wrong recipient of confidential information to delete and ignore it, but in a situation in which the sender has delayed alerting the authorities for more than four hours, This Writer (for one) thinks it is entirely appropriate to form a judgement.

It seems clear that an inquiry is now urgently required, and Braverman should be relieved of her duties as Home Secretary while it takes place.

But Sunak is unsafe whatever he does.

The circumstances may persuade her supporters in the far-right ERG (European Research Group) wing of the Conservative Party that it is impossible to keep Braverman – which might be something that Sunak would appreciate.

Let’s face it, the ERG members are all somewhat extreme, and losing their representative in the Cabinet makes Sunak’s government look more reasonable.

But it seems likely that someone deliberately handed the BBC the damning email, which suggests a plan to discredit Braverman and have her ejected from the Cabinet. That would upset the other ERG members and could destabilise Sunak’s government.

Whatever happens, ERG members – including Braverman – will want to know how the evidence against her came to light and will want revenge.

It seems clear that someone is storing up problems for Sunak to face in the future – no matter what he does.

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Tory government suppressed hacking of Liz Truss’s phone, it’s claimed – to protect Braverman?

Hacked: the photo is a mock-up – but it’s indicative of her communication skills that she was reckoned not to be able even to hold a phone properly.

Information is valuable – depending on the timing of its release.

Take the claim that Liz Truss had such poor security, as Foreign Secretary, that her phone was hacked around April and hundreds of confidential documents were copied from it – including information about the war in Ukraine and political conversations with Kwasi Kwarteng.

It is being said that the facts were known over the summer but were prevented from becoming public knowledge by Boris Johnson and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case. Why?

Was it to protect Truss while she was making her bid to become prime minister?

That would be corruption of a very high order and all those involved should be punished – if the corrupt UK legal system defines a crime that covers it.

Some details are on the BBC website here – and this is how I found out: I discovered them on Twitter (I was at a family function and not at my desk):

But let’s get back to timing. Why are we learning about this now? Could it be because Home Secretary Suella Braverman is in trouble, after being reappointed to her job despite revelations of multiple security breaches from her own phone?

Some certainly think so…

But these are two very similar stories. Why not combine them and reach the obvious conclusion?

And what do you think that conclusion is?

It’s that Conservative ministers leak like sieves and shouldn’t be anywhere near confidential information. Right?

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What on Earth is ‘Security Risk Suella’ Braverman doing back in the Cabinet?

Suella Braverman: by her own admission, she is a risk to the security of the United Kingdom. So doesn’t it undermine Rishi Sunak’s claim to be putting “integrity and accountability” back into government for her to be re-appointed as Home Secretary?

One of the most vicious right-wingers in Rishi Sunak’s new Cabinet may find her tenure cut short before she’s had a chance to start – because of her own decisions.

Suella Braverman only quit the role of Home Secretary last week – most probably in order to attack Liz Truss in her resignation letter – but was re-appointed to the job by new prime minister Rishi Sunak yesterday.

The pretext for her resignation was a breach of the ministerial code in which she was said to have sent classified documents from her personal email.

Now this has come back to haunt her, because Labour has joined the Liberal Democrats in demanding an inquiry into whether she is an ongoing security risk and her appointment makes a mockery of Sunak’s claim to be putting “integrity and accountability” back into government.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper criticised the appointment yesterday (October 25), accusing Sunak of putting “party before country” and tweeting, “Security is too important for this irresponsible Tory chaos.”

She expanded on this in a letter to Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, calling for an urgent probe into “this and other possible security breaches”.

She added that “the public has a right to know that there are proper secure information procedures in place to cover the person who has been given charge of our national security”.

In her resignation letter last week, Braverman acknowledged the mistake, calling it a “technical infringement” and adding that much of the content in the document she emailed had already been briefed to MPs.

The claim to be putting “party before country” is justified because Braverman is from the extreme right wing of the Conservative Party. Not a natural Sunak supporter, she only announced she was backing him late on Sunday, when it became clear that Boris Johnson would not be standing as a candidate in the Tory leadership contest.

Her appointment is therefore seen as an attempt by Sunak to win support from all wings of his party. It also trumpets an intention to take a hard line on immigration by reappointing the minister who previously said it was her “dream” to see Rwanda deportation flights take off, and expressed a desire to act tough on small refugee boats crossing the English Channel.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said: “Suella Braverman’s appointment makes a mockery of Rishi Sunak’s claims to be bringing integrity to Number 10.

“There must be a full independent inquiry by the Cabinet Office into her appointment, including any promises Sunak made to her behind closed doors.”

He said Braverman should be sacked if it is confirmed that she “repeatedly broke the ministerial code and threatened national security”.

Her reappointment has also sparked outrage among the commentatorati, including the following from Russell Kane, which I recommend you don’t watch if you are offended by extremely strong language:

Alternatively, try this from Professor Tim Wilson who attacks Braverman’s politics, comparing Suella Braverman’s dream of “misery, contempt and insanity” with Martin Luther King’s dream of “optimism”:

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, insisted Braverman had shown integrity by apologising for breaking the rules. He said Sunak had accepted her apology and chose to re-appoint her because she had “very, very recent” experience of the Home Office.

“Clearly the PM wants to make sure that the department can deliver from day one.”

But he didn’t sound very convincing.

It is hard to defend a minister whose brief is to focus on crime when she only admitted committing one herself – last week. Let’s look forward to watching Sunak make a stab at it in Prime Minister’s Questions.

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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Kiss doctor-patient confidentiality goodbye in the Tories’ latest NHS cash-saving scheme

GPs are no longer to have confidential, one-on-one interviews with patients who have certain conditions, if the Tory government has its way.

If you can’t afford private medicine, you don’t deserve to discuss your medical conditions in privacy, according to the latest crackpot Tory scheme for our cash-strapped NHS.

Having starved the service of funding and staff with a series of stupid or selfish policy decisions, they have left it incapable of coping with the demand for GP time.

So patients are to be deprived of their dignity with consultations organised for groups of up to 15 patients at a time.

The fact that people don’t want the intimate details of their medical conditions bandied around more than a dozen other people – not all of whom may be strangers – won’t enter into the Tories’ calculations.

The whole loony plan is further evidence that Conservatives consider the rest of us to be nothing more than herd animals.

Don’t forget that the Department for Work and Pensions describes benefit claimants as “stock”. Clearly that mentality has polluted the NHS as well.

GPs are to offer shared appointments for groups of up to 15 patients with similar conditions under NHS plans.

Patients who participated in a trial said they benefited from group appointments after receiving support from other participants, according to the head of the Royal College of GPs (RCGP).

Doctors reported finding the sessions effective at dealing with a variety of health issues like diabetes, arthritis and obesity as they do not have to repeat the same advice individually.

There is a UK shortage of GPs and medical staff, which has been exacerbated by a decline in EU applicants to work as nurses and some NHS staff returning to EU countries.

However medical bodies say that is not the primary motivation behind the new scheme.

Source: Group GP appointments: how NHS plans to see your GP with up to 14 people will work

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Snoopers’ Charter: Lawyers’ have been fighting to protect legal privilege

court

The article quoted below is from July. Does anybody know what happened with this?

In yet another case of lawyers vs politicians, the legal profession’s concerns about the Snoopers’ Charter are going to be debated in the House of Lords today.

The legal profession has long resisted the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill, dubbed the Snoopers’ Charter, which will allow the government to ‘snoop’ on our communications.

The fear is that the anti-terrorism legislation will end up undermining legal professional privilege (a client’s right to talk to his lawyer in confidence), something solicitors and barristers alike feel very angsty about.

Source: Snoopers’ Charter: Lawyers’ fight to protect legal privilege reaches the House of Lords – Legal Cheek

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How private firms take unfair advantage over the public sector to get government contracts

Open and transparent: Grahame Morris, who called for a 'level playing field' for both private companies and public organisations when bidding for government contracts.

Open and transparent: Grahame Morris, who called for a ‘level playing field’ for both private companies and public organisations when bidding for government contracts.

Did you know that £1 in every £3 spent by the government goes to an independent or private-sector service provider?

If you also recall government ministers bemoaning the fact that £1 in every £4 spent by the government was borrowed, as they said very often during the first year or so of the Coalition, and you bear in mind the fact that all private companies must make a profit, you’ll come to a fairly damning conclusion.

Did you know, also, that private companies – while free to hide behind commercial confidentiality regarding the conditions under which billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money are awarded to them in government contracts – may use Freedom of Information requests to gain detailed information about public sector organisations and then use that knowledge to undercut or outbid those bodies when government contracts are tendered or put up for renewal?

FoI regulations give private providers an unfair competitive advantage when bidding for contracts, due to unequal disclosure requirements.

Both of these were made clear in Grahame Morris’s short speech in support of his 10-minute rule motion to bring in a Bill amending the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to apply to private healthcare companies, and for connected purposes.

He even pointed out that we are living in a society where freedom of information is routinely censored – stating that he attended a demonstration against NHS privatisation in Manchester at the start of the Conservative Party conference there, “but which was barely reported by our public sector broadcaster”.

He said the government should be chastened by recent events. “For example, the tagging scandal — involving Serco and G4S and uncovered by the Serious Fraud Office — showed that these companies had defrauded the taxpayer of more than £50 million.

“Perhaps we need a hard-hitting advertising campaign, with advertising hoardings on vans driven around the City of London, warning off corporate fraudsters from bidding for public contracts?

“The danger for our NHS is that we are inviting convicted fraudsters into our health system.”

He said HCA, the world’s biggest private healthcare company, recently won the contract to provide cancer treatment for NHS brain tumour patients, “stopping patients receiving world-class treatment at London’s University College Hospital”.

Mr Morris continued: “The Competition Commission has already caught HCA overcharging private patients in the United Kingdom. In the United States, HCA has had to pay fines and costs in excess of $2 billion for systematically defrauding federal healthcare programmes.

“The public are right to be concerned about these providers coming into the NHS. If that is to happen, it is essential that their operations and their contracts with the NHS should be open, transparent and subject to public scrutiny.”

Introducing his Freedom of Information (Private Healthcare Companies) Bill, he said its purpose was to strengthen FoI legislation and introduce vital safeguards, so members of the public can see how their money is being spent.

It seems he may even have read Vox Political‘s earlier article on his motion, as he said: “I hope that Members on both sides of the House will support fair competition, a level playing field and the duty of equal disclosure throughout the bidding process for NHS services.

“The public have a right to know the record of public and private providers before contracts are awarded. Those safeguards can work only if the Information Commissioner has the same rights to seek information and carry out investigations, and to make all providers of public services comply with freedom of information legislation.

“I understand that the Information Commissioner expressed concern to the Justice Select Committee that accountability would be undermined if FOI did not apply to private providers of public services.”

He said: “Freedom of information is one of the Labour Government’s greatest achievements, ensuring transparency and accountability in modern government and allowing the public access to information on what is being done in their name and how their money is being spent.

“In recent years, we have witnessed an acceleration in the number of public services being outsourced, and today roughly £1 in every £3 that the Government spend goes to independent or private sector providers.

“Owing to the Government’s policy of opening up public services to the private and voluntary sectors, billions of pounds of NHS contracts are now being made available to the private sector, following the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

“Unfortunately, while more and more taxpayer money is being handed to the private sector, especially in the NHS, FOI responsibilities are not following the public pound.

“There is a big issue here about transparency, because the public should know what is happening in their name, as was brought home to me recently in a demonstration against NHS privatisation in Manchester that I attended, along with more than 50,000 other people, but which was barely reported on by our public sector broadcaster.

“Private health care companies should not be permitted to hide behind a cloak of commercial confidentiality. Billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being awarded to private sector companies under barely transparent contracts.

“Meanwhile, private companies are free to benefit by gaining detailed knowledge of public sector bodies through their use and submission of FOI requests. The same information is then used by the private sector to undercut or outbid the very same public sector bodies when contracts are tendered or put up for renewal.”

Although no objection was raised to the Bill going forward, it seems the Coalition has performed an about-face on the issue. Mr Morris said: “I understand that in opposition the Prime Minister was convinced about this matter, having previously promised to increase the range of publicly funded bodies subject to scrutiny using section 5 of the Freedom of Information Act.

“The coalition agreement also promised to extend the scope of the Act to provide greater transparency, but unfortunately it would appear that nothing is being done to address the democratic deficit caused by the outsourcing of public services.”

Sadly, it seems likely that this Bill won’t get very far, for reasons this blog has already mentioned – the Government usually opposes Private Member’s Bills in the later stages and, given their low priority in the schedule, there is often insufficient time for the debate to be completed.

But this may not matter, as the information already provided by Mr Morris makes fascinating reading that is damning for the government.