Tag Archives: contempt

Commons Speaker refuses bid to debate government diktats – but it may IMPROVE democracy

Speaking up: Lindsay Hoyle wasn’t quite this active in his speech, but his words were strong.

What was the point of Lindsay Hoyle’s intervention about Boris Johnson treating Parliament with contempt?

He spoke up to say the way the government has used secondary legislation – statutory instruments – to exercise power in the Covid-19 crisis has been “totally unsatisfactory”.

But then he said he’s blocking an amendment of the temporary provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020 – that allows Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock to use those powers!

See for yourself:

He did say that he’ll be extremely sympathetic to motions that call for the government to send ministers to the Commons to defend undemocratic moves to restrict citizens’ freedoms in the future.

And it seems likely that Tory backbenchers will take advantage of this; all is not well between Downing Street and the Tory backbenches.

It raises a crucial question:

Could Tory rebels bring Johnson down – in the middle of a national health crisis – in the name of democracy?

Amazingly, because of Keir Starmer’s assurances of support, it seems the government is more likely to be defeated by members of its own party than by Her Majesty’s Opposition – and that’s an unhealthy position for a Labour leader.

The public will see that Starmer is not doing the job for which he was elected and will turn further against him.

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Boris Johnson has committed contempt of Parliament and should be expelled

The two-fingered salute: that sign of contempt is all Boris Johnson has for you whenever he speaks.

Why is Boris Johnson still a member of Parliament?

There is an offence, here in the UK, known as Contempt of Parliament (I’ve mentioned it before). An MP is guilty of this if he or she deliberately misleads Parliament, and any MP accused of the offence may be suspended or expelled.

Our odious prime minister is a repeat offender. It is one thing to be “economical with the truth”, as the euphemism goes; it is entirely different to present known falsehoods to the House of Commons as though they were accurate.

Johnson’s latest wheeze involves repeatedly using inaccurate and misleading figures that exaggerated the government’s record on child poverty, in which he stated at Prime Minister’s Questions and in an interview with the BBC that poverty had declined since 2010, and there were now 400,000 fewer families in poverty.

There is no evidence to support the claim. This has been made clear by the Office for Statistics Regulation, whose representatives said that the prime minister had three times used official poverty data “selectively, inaccurately and, ultimately, misleadingly”.

This suggests very clearly that Johnson lied deliberately. This is a clear example of contempt of Parliament. Why has no action been taken against him?

The OSR added: “There is no wrong measure, but there is a wrong way of using the available measures – and that is to pick and choose which statistics to use based on what best suits the argument you happen to be making.”

The complaint, from Anna Feuchtwang, the chair of End Child Poverty, highlighted three occasions when Johnson made inaccurate claims on the government’s record on poverty.

At PMQs on 17 June, Johnson told the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, he was “completely wrong” to say child poverty had risen by 600,000. Poverty had declined since 2010, the PM claimed, and there were now 400,000 fewer families in poverty. Feuchtwang wrote that the 600,000 figure was correct.

When asked by Starmer at PMQs the following week to “do the decent thing” and correct the record on child poverty, Johnson declined and said there were “100,000 fewer children in absolute poverty and 500,000 children falling below thresholds of low income and material deprivation”.

Feuchtwang said that while the 100,000 figure was correct, the second figure was not: she pointed out that “there are actually 1.5 million children classed as low income and materially deprived”.

The third instance was when Johnson was interviewed by Andrew Marr on the BBC on 1 December during the general election campaign, when the PM claimed child poverty had fallen by 400,000 since 2010. Feuchtwang said that official statistics at the time showed the poverty rate had risen on two of the official measures, stayed the same on a third, and fallen by 100,000 on a fourth, suggesting it was unclear where Johnson had found the figure he cited.

It’s time for Johnson to put up or shut up. He must either admit that he lied to Parliament and to the people in order to justify his despicable treatment of the most vulnerable people in the country…

… or he must be expelled from Parliament like the disgrace that he is.

[Some of you may have noticed a similarity in the words above to an article I wrote about former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, seven years ago, when he was merrily lying to Parliament – also about poverty. This is deliberate. Tories have been lying to Parliament throughout the last 10 years of their rule – and getting away with it. They really do seem to be above the law and we should be demanding that this must change NOW.]

Source: Boris Johnson repeatedly used inaccurate child poverty figures | Boris Johnson | The Guardian

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Boris Johnson’s contempt for the Forces goes much further than laying a wreath wrongly

Yes, this is bad:

Contempt: Boris Johnson showed he holds our Armed Forces in contempt by laying a wreath at the Cenotaph upside-down.

Boris Johnson showed his disrespect for the UK’s Armed Forces this morning when he laid a wreath upside down at the Cenotaph during the Remembrance Day commemoration service.

This Writer doesn’t want to say it – because it has become a cliche – but, if Jeremy Corbyn had done the same, we would never hear the end of it. Remember the vilification he had at the first Remembrance Day he attended as Labour leader? He hadn’t done anything wrong!

This is much worse, though:

He was known only as George, he was 82 years old and he died of bronchial pneumonia after being evicted from a squat in Manchester – along with no fewer than 12 other ex-servicemen.

This is how the Conservatives treat our Armed Forces after their usefulness as cannon fodder is over – they throw them onto the streets.

George and his comrades were just 13 among more than 13,000 ex-servicepeople who the Conservatives have thrown onto our streets.

Many veterans, war heroes from the Falklands campaign through to conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, are reduced to sleeping in doorways, bus stops and parks, begging from passers-by.

Almost all are struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which often leads to other problems including addictions to drugs and alcohol.

None of them receive any help from the Conservative government. The Armed Forces Covenant – a promise to ensure that those who serve or who have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly, that was enshrined in law in 2011 – is a sick joke.

The only help they receive is from charities. Chris Barwood, chair of the Salford Armed Forces Veterans Network said, “We are turning our backs on our troops who have taken the Queen’s shilling, sworn the oath of allegiance and offered up their lives to keep us safe and yet in return we do nothing to ensure that they have a roof over their heads and food in their bellies for their remaining years.”

The crowning irony is that most members of the Armed Forces are ardent Conservatives.

I hope they reconsider that position.

Why should they vote for a party that throws them into pointless conflicts, then throws them onto the streets when they get PTSD, and whose leader shows nothing but contempt for those of their comrades who have died defending their country?

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Will Gove’s scaremongering put Boris Johnson in prison?

Behind bars: Considering all of the evidence, including his own behaviour in the weeks leading up to the vote on October 19, and Michael Gove’s decision to trigger Operation Yellowhammer, will a Scottish judge put Boris Johnson in prison?

Michael Gove has triggered Operation Yellowhammer – the Tory government’s contingency plan for a “no deal” Brexit, saying we cannot be sure the European Council will grant the Brexit delay that Boris Johnson has requested.

Why would he scaremonger like that? There’s no reason for the European Council to turn down the request.

Or is Mr Gove suggesting that the EU should pay more attention to Mr Johnson’s second letter, which states that he would prefer that a delay should be refused?

Won’t that put Mr Johnson in contempt of court?

He promised the Court of Session in Scotland that he would adhere to the provisions of the so-called Benn Act, meaning he would send a letter requesting a delay if Parliament did not pass his deal on October 19.

He has indeed sent such a letter – although unsigned. He also sent another missive asking the European Council to ignore the first – signed.

Today (October 21), Scotland’s most senior judge, Lord Carloway, will rule on whether these actions constitute contempt of court.

Potential punishments could include a fine or even imprisonment.

It is possible that sanctions may be suspended to allow the prime minister to comply with the court’s ruling. But this might be a little difficult as the time for compliance was October 19.

And the fact that Mr Gove has triggered “no deal” preparations in the belief that the EU will not grant an extension, and his boss won’t get Parliament to pass his deal, suggests a belief in an intention to sabotage the Benn Act conditions at the very least.

Source: Michael Gove triggers no-deal Brexit contingency plans | Politics | The Guardian

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The sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia was no accident. Truss should end it

Dimwit: Liz Truss.

Liz Truss’s claim to have “inadvertently” approved the sale of military hardware to Saudi Arabia should be enough to have her sacked for incompetence – but there is a better use for her.

The decision has put the International Trade Secretary in contempt of the Court of Appeal, which ordered the Tory government not to approve any new licences to Saudi for use in Yemen and to retake all the decisions on existing licences in a legally compliant manner.

It seems clear that these orders have been ignored by a government department that has a “longstanding and shameful” policy of maximising arms sales regardless of the consequences.

As Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade points out in his Independent article:

This surely discredits the government’s tired old mantra that the UK supposedly has some of the most “rigorous” and “robust” arms export controls in the world.

Since the bombing of Yemen began in March 2015 the UK has licensed £5.3bn worth of arms to the Saudi regime, including fighter jets, bombs and missiles. These weapons have played a central role in the brutal war, which has created the worst humanitarian disaster in the world.

The extent of the UK government’s support was on display last week when a Saudi military delegation was invited to London by Truss’s department for Defence & Security Equipment International 2019 (DSEI), the biggest arms fair in the world.

While at DSEI, Saudi representatives will have been welcomed by UK civil servants and lobbied for further sales by the world’s biggest arms companies. Nobody will have dared to utter a word about the abysmal state of human rights in Saudi Arabia or the human cost of its bombardment of Yemen.

At the heart of discussions will have been the prospect of further fighter jet sales. Since 2016, the government has been in negotiations with the Saudi Royal Family and the UK’s largest arms company, BAE Systems, to secure the sale of 48 Eurofighter jets.

The deal, which appears to have been put on hold following the court verdict and the international condemnation of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, is thought to be worth £10bn. With that kind of money on the table, government ministers have been prepared to act as cheerleaders for the arms industry.

Mr Smith says 60,000 Yemeni people have already died. If this £10 billion deal goes through, many thousands more are also likely to perish.

Because Tories believe money is more important than lives.

That is the only explanation that allows us to understand why the Conservatives are willing to put themselves in contempt of the UK courts (and consider what this portends for the Supreme Court’s decision on Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament, next week).

I don’t want to be complicit in the murder of thousands more innocent people, encouraged by my government.

The only way to stop it, it seems, is to ensure that the dimwit who has been allowing it is made to do what she should have been doing in the first place.

Let’s see Liz Truss stay in post, for now – but only to show us how she is putting the Court of Appeal’s order into practise, and the concrete results arising from it.

Source: How is it possible for the government to claim it sold military equipment to Saudi Arabia ‘accidentally’? | The Independent

Now Johnson risks contempt of Parliament by refusing to release prorogation communications

Boris Johnson: If we had to judge a man by his gestures, this would give us an accurate understanding of his opinion of us.

Boris Johnson’s government is refusing to publish details of communications between Boris Johnson’s aides about the suspension of Parliament.

MPs voted for their release earlier this week, amid concerns that Mr Johnson misled the Queen to induce her to prorogue Parliament, and that the decision to call for prorogation was made earlier than he had claimed.

We already heard earlier today (September 11) that the prorogation was unlawful – although the Tory government is to challenge that ruling in the Supreme Court next week.

I mentioned reasons this was important in tweets earlier today (September 11):

This information came from Scottish solicitor Clive Wismayer, before you start thinking I’ve developed a rudimentary form of intelligence.

According to the BBC:

Cabinet minister Michael Gove said the information sought by MPs was “unreasonable and disproportionate”.

It would breach the rights of the nine advisers concerned, including Boris Johnson’s chief aide Dominic Cummings.

To do so, he added, would “contravene the law” and “offend against basic principles of fairness”.

But does it?

You see, when there’s a possibility that these people have been involved in a huge offence against democracy, one has to wonder whether these people are the ones trying to “contravene the law” and “offend against basic principles of fairness”.

In such circumstances, I’m not particularly bothered about breaching the rights of the nine advisers concerned, and I think it should be up to the courts to decide if the information sought was “unreasonable and disproportionate” – in the light of the information that their documents divulge.

The refusal to provide the information, in the face of Parliament’s expressed demand, seems the most suspicious act possible.

And as it is a direct refusal to honour the wishes of Parliament, it seems Boris Johnson is content to add contempt of Parliament to the six defeats heaped on him between the moment Parliament re-convened on September 3 and the moment it was unlawfully (as matters stand at the time of writing) prorogued.

He – and all his advisers – could be in serious trouble here.

Source: Parliament suspension: Government refuses to publish No 10 communications – BBC News

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‘Tommy Robinson’ to serve remainder of his original sentence for contempt of court

This was no surprise.

Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, the far-right activist better-known by his stage name ‘Tommy Robinson’, has been sent to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence for contempt of court.

He had already served two months of a 13-month sentence when his lawyers managed to have him released on appeal, but a subsequent repeat trial confirmed his guilt.

As prisoners serve only half their sentences these days, those two months took four off the sentence the judge at the Old Bailey handed down today (July 11). He was ordered to serve nine months but will probably be out in four and a half.

Yaxley-Lennon is on record as claiming that the UK’s prisons are now run by Islamist terrorists, and that jailing him is the equivalent of a death sentence.

He appealed to Donald Trump to grant him asylum in the United States, ignoring the hypocrisy in the fact that he said the UK should refuse to take refugees from other countries because they were criminals.

This Writer wonders what he will be saying after he has served his sentence – if he survives it against all his own predictions.

Will all these terrorists he fears so much radicalise him?

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‘Tommy Robinson’ appeals for political asylum in the US after contempt of court conviction

Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (right) was appointed as an advisor to Gerard Batten’s UKIP in December 2018, and stood in this year’s EU Parliament elections. He didn’t get a seat.

Anti-Islamist, anti-immigration campaigner Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka ‘Tommy Robinson’) has appealed to Donald Trump to let him flee the UK before being sentenced for contempt of court.

I hope everyone can see the irony in his behaviour.

This is a man who has spoken out against the admission of Muslim refugees into the UK because they may be criminals – terrorists – in disguise.

Now he – a convicted criminal – is seeking refugee status in the United States.

Maybe he can’t see the hypocrisy there, but I hope we all can.

According to the Independent report (see the link below), he said he would be killed if he was jailed because UK prisons are “controlled by jihadi gangs”.

This is a theme that he has been using since 2014, when he told the Oxford Union that Woodhill Prison had become “an ISIS training camp” with radicals “running the wings”.

Many decent UK citizens might be happy to see this man leave and never return.

But the fact is that he committed a crime in the UK and has a penalty to pay.

He is due to appear for sentencing before a judge at the Old Bailey tomorrow (June 11).

It would be a crime if he were allowed to escape from that appointment.

Source: Tommy Robinson: EDL founder begs Trump to grant him political asylum in US | The Independent

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‘Tommy Robinson’ faces possible two years in prison for contempt of court

The far right-wing extremist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – who goes by the stage name ‘Tommy Robinson’ – has been found guilty of contempt of court by making a Facebook Live broadcast of defendants in a criminal trial.

The broadcast interfered with the trial of a sexual grooming gang at Leeds Crown Court in May last year.

The broadcast could have led to the defendants walking free and a new trial having to be held, at a large cost to the public purse.

Yaxley-Lennon, the 36-year-old former English Defence League leader, was originally jailed for 13 months on the day of the broadcast but was released two months into the sentence, after winning an appeal.

The case was then referred back to Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, who announced, in March, that it was in the public interest to bring fresh proceedings.

Sentencing is set to take place on July 11, although this is a provisional date.

Reporting restrictions had been put in place postponing the publication of any details of the 2018 case at Leeds Crown Court until the end of a series of linked trials involving 29 defendants.

Robinson broadcast the footage from outside the court on 25 May 2018, while the jury in the second trial of the series was considering its verdict.

The video lasted an hour-and-a-half and was viewed online 250,000 times after being live-streamed on Facebook.

The maximum sentence for contempt of court is two years in prison, but it can also be punished with an unlimited fine.

Contempt includes publishing anything that creates a substantial risk of seriously prejudicing “active” criminal proceedings. Proceedings become “active” when a suspect is arrested.

Someone could also be in contempt by actions including taking photographs or film, recording what is said in court or talking to a jury member about a case.

Yaxley-Lennon reportedly said he had been convicted for who he was, not what he had done.

That seems an odd interpretation of events – at the very least.

Source: Tommy Robinson guilty over Facebook broadcast – BBC News

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NO ‘justice for Jodey Whiting’ as Tory government refuses inquiry into deaths linked to DWP

[Image: www.disabledgo.com]

The Department for Work and Pensions has scorned calls for an independent inquiry into deaths related to its decisions.

Nearly 27,000 people have signed the “Justice for Jodey Whiting” petition after it was revealed that the DWP failed to follow its own safeguarding rules no less than five times in the weeks leading to her suicide in February 2017.

The DWP also destroyed a report on other safeguarding failures – in only 18 London job centres – rather than allow it to become public after a Freedom of Information request was submitted for its release.

But this department of the Conservative government has shown its contempt for the thousands who have demanded justice, with a response to petitioners that shows the Tories don’t think they are worth a proper answer.

Here it is – with a few comments from myself in bold. I’m not the best person to provide a commentary but the arrogance of the Tories means I cannot let it pass:

“DWP has apologised unreservedly for the failings in the case of Ms Whiting and recognises the importance of safeguarding.” Recognising its importance and actually carrying it out are two different things. An apology costs nothing, and we already know that the Tories consider the death of any claimant to be a “positive benefit outcome”. “The Government has no plans to hold an inquiry into deaths of claimants.” Because the result would be damning?

“The case of Ms Whiting is undeniably tragic and complex. Her case has been looked at in detail by the Independent Case Examiner (ICE) who regrettably found several failings in the way her case was handled. We aim to maintain a very high level of customer service and one mistake is obviously one too many.” Why, then, do we have records of not just one death – not mistake, let’s call it what it is – too many, but dozens; possibly hundreds, with thousands more unexplained and reports suggesting that the number of DWP-related deaths stretches to the hundreds of thousands? “Unfortunately, in this instance the expected standard of customer service was not achieved.” And what about the many other – so many other – cases? “The Department has apologised unreservedly for these failings and awarded the family compensation.” Yet these deaths continue to happen and we have evidence that DWP staff are ignoring safeguarding procedures. Why are they doing this?

“We currently have no plans to hold an independent inquiry into deaths relating to actions taken by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The ICE did not find any evidence of misconduct by Civil Servants or Ministers.” Was the ICE made to sign a non-disclosure agreement stipulating that they may not do anything to suggest criticism of the DWP, as has been found to be the case with other people and organisations? “The DWP supports people with a wide variety of needs and staff are trained to identify signs of vulnerability which may include offering extra help with people’s benefits should they need it.” This is not borne out by the evidence. And identifying signs of vulnerability is not the same as offering help. “The safeguarding of claimants is a priority and the department has a number of processes in place, including a home visiting service to check on people’s well-being, or offering help with completing forms, as well as signposting to specialist support provided by other organisations we work closely with.” Again, the evidence suggests the opposite of what is being said. There have been cases of severely ill people being interrogated by DWP representatives while they were in hospital – is this what is meant by “a home visiting service to check on people’s well-being”? As for “help with completing forms”, is this why nobody trusts the DWP to do so?

“Claimants of working age who wish to apply for Employment and Support Allowance because their health or disability impacts on their ability to work are usually required to attend a Work Capability Assessment.” Yes indeed – and this assessment system was proven to be a failure many years ago. It is based on a bastardised form of the “biopsychosocial” model of illness that asserts that whatever the claimant’s illness, it is all in their mind and not real at all. “If a claimant fails to attend the assessment, our decision makers must check the claimant’s records for any history of mental health or other vulnerability.” In practise, mental health is never considered a reason for allowing a benefit claim. Questions may be asked, but no points are ever awarded for mental ill-health. “Where there are issues noted on the claimant’s record, decision makers are required to consider whether the claimant would benefit from a home visit.” Yet there are recorded instances of claimants being ordered to travel many miles, to assessment centres that are much further away than necessary, and then being forced to crawl upstairs because there are no lifts, with no help from any staff members. Is this the way the DWP “supports people with a wide variety of needs”, or trains staff “to identify signs of vulnerability”?

“We are committed to safeguarding vulnerable claimants and, in the tragic case where someone dies, ensuring that we respond swiftly and sensitively.” With an apology – and an overpayment demand? “In response to this case, we have changed guidance so that our staff update a claim where someone has sadly died within 48 hours, making sure we stop all unnecessary contact as quickly as possible.” But the petition does not refer to the case of Jodey Whiting alone. It demands a wide-ranging inquiry into many deaths suffered by those who relied on the DWP. “We keep our safeguarding guidance under constant review to ensure it provides the highest standard of protection to vulnerable people.” Again, reviewing this guidance and practising it are two very different things.

“Whilst the Department absolutely recognises that in this particular case errors were made and the appropriate level of service was not met, we would emphasise the thousands of decisions that our staff make every day which result in claimants receiving the health and disability benefits that they need, as well as the assistance they require.” It seems that many of those decisions are made by tribunals that find against the DWP after benefits have been denied to claimants.

“As previously stated, the DWP has apologised unreservedly for the failings in the case of Ms Whiting.” As previously stated, the petition is not only about the case of Ms Whiting and this response is an insult, not only to her but to the many others who have died as a result of – at best, incompetence, and at worst…

Malice.

An independent inquiry would have ascertained the answer. Perhaps a Labour government will order it.


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