Tag Archives: contracts

How will minister be punished for replacing phone before it could be searched?

Lord Bethell: he previously claimed he never used his private accounts for official business so we know he’s a liar. Shouldn’t he be sacked by the Tory government?

The answer is that Lord Bethell probably won’t be punished at all.

But if he were involved in a criminal investigation (and he might as well be – as the awarding of many deals for supply of Personal Protective Equipment to Tory chums and/or donors who were incapable of providing it seems extremely crooked) and he ditched the evidence, he would be charged with a crime.

Here are the facts:

Labour has called for an inquiry into the use of WhatsApp within the government, after it emerged a health minister replaced his mobile phone before it could be searched for information relevant to £85m of deals that are subject to a legal challenge.

James Bethell, who oversaw the award of Covid contracts, is one of those under scrutiny over the way deals for personal protective equipment (PPE) and tests were allocated at the height of the pandemic.

As part of legal proceedings issued by the Good Law Project, the government is expected to disclose Lord Bethell’s correspondence including by email, WhatsApp and SMS relating to the award of £85m of contracts for antibody tests to Abingdon Health.

The secretary of state has a responsibility to preserve and search documents for information relevant to the case from the point at which judicial review proceedings were issued in late 2020, under the government’s “duty of candour”.

However, a witness statement from a government lawyer revealed Bethell replaced his phone in early 2021 and it may no longer be possible to retrieve the information about his dealings with Abingdon, although efforts are being made to recover them from his mobile phone provider.

The statement said Bethell had used his official email account as well as his private email account to send and receive emails relevant to the contracts, and that he had also used his mobile phone for SMS and WhatsApp messages. But it said Bethell had confirmed that about six months ago his phone was broken and replaced and that his new phone did not contain the phone data.

Government lawyers revealed Bethell had not been issued with a “preservation notice” requiring him to save documents because ministers’ official correspondence was routinely saved as a matter of course. However, this did not cover government business conducted by private means.

What does he have to hide?

When they’re under an investigation with legal consequences, people with nothing to fear don’t destroy the evidence.

And Bethell must know that the information will be available by other means – although logically there shouldn’t be anything to stop him from reactivating his WhatsApp, SMS and private email accounts. Why hasn’t he done so?

The fact that government preservation notices don’t cover business conducted by private means, while government ministers are allowed to carry out government business in that way and are trusted to duplicate it into the public system, is a huge opening for corruption.

And it seems clear that this particular minister has exploited it.

Maybe I’m wrong – and I’ll be happy to apologise of Lord Bethell can provide clear proof that he was not responsible for any wrongdoing.

But I won’t hold my breath waiting for it.

Source: Covid contracts: minister replaced phone before it could be searched | Health policy | The Guardian

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After embracing ‘fire and rehire’, Labour is now embracing ‘zero hours’ contracts too

Starmer and Rayner: we were told they were ‘taking the knee’ in a publicity stunt for Black Lives Matter but this image could equally be taken as them kneeling before employers’ group the Confederation of British Industry and vowing that they will never allow the Party of the Workers to actually stand up for workers’ rights, prevent exploitation, and/or seek acceptable pay and working conditions. They are a danger to you.

Keir Starmer (and his deputy, Angela Rayner) really are dragging the Labour Party into the mire, aren’t they?

Already they have hypocritically launched a policy to abolish odious ‘fire and rehire’ employment practices, ignoring the fact that they are carrying out such an exercise, within Labour, at the moment.

And now Rayner has announced that the party is reversing its policy on ‘zero hours’ contracts so that employers will be allowed to continue exploiting workers by forcing them to work only when it suits bosses, without access to employment conditions including sick pay and holidays.

So passes the Party of the Workers: not in struggle but in subversion by fake socialists who belong in the Conservative Party.

Way back in 2016, former leader Jeremy Corbyn announced that under him, Labour would abolish ‘zero hours’ contracts. He said a Labour government would legislate to ensure that all employees be given guaranteed hours which must be specified and written into a contract – bringing an end to zero-hour contracts.

If an employer wanted workers to work beyond those hours, they would have to specify the length of additional work along with a reason for asking.

An employer would also have to give reasonable compensation, akin to an “on-call” payment to an employee, for agreeing to make themselves available for additional work, whether they were ultimately asked to do so or not.

Now Angela Rayner has swept all that away.

Asked on the BBC’s Today programme if Labour still opposed ‘zero hours’ contracts, Rayner refused to give a straight answer, and ended up saying that the party now opposes “exploitation” of them:

That can only mean Labour does not oppose ‘zero hours’ contracts any more. It is a wholesale endorsement of worker exploitation by employers.

It means that, in a few short words, Angela Rayner betrayed Labour’s reason for existing.

Considering the party’s contradictory attitude to ‘fire and rehire’, commenters and commentators have only one conclusion to draw: that Labour has changed policy because it intends to use ‘zero hours’ contracts itself:

If Labour wants people to work for the party in the run-up to a general election under such conditions, then Labour won’t help working people if it is elected.

Nobody at all should want to work for Labour in such a situation.

We should all spurn Keir Starmer, Angela Rayner and all their right-wing cuckoo cronies, as we would spurn a pack of rabid dogs.

In the long term, the rabid dogs would be less harmful to us.

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BBC documentary asks: Who cashed in on Covid?

Don’t expect too much from this: it’s a Panorama documentary from the BBC and, judging by Is Labour Antisemitic that was produced under the same banner, is likely to be biased towards the Tories and full of falsehoods.

However, even the fact that an attempt is being made to bring this to public attention means it has to be worth watching. Right?

According to the BBC’s publicity,

As the government faces mounting criticism that well-connected people made millions out of Britain’s PPE crisis, Panorama investigates who won out.

More than £12 billion was spent in the first six months of the pandemic on contracts to provide personal protective equipment.

Reporter Richard Bilton meets one man who made £40 million on a deal and speaks to others who felt ignored in favour of less-experienced suppliers.

As the government refuses to reveal the full details of all its so-called VIP deals, the programme reveals the high-profile connections to one lucrative contract.

Wow – £40 million on a single deal.

I suspect the conclusion will be one we know already: success depends not on what you know, but who; the Old School Tie opens doors that would otherwise be closed.

Panorama: Cashing in on Covid is broadcast on BBC1 tonight (March 15) at 7.35pm GMT. It will be on BBC iPlayer soon afterwards.

Source: BBC One – Panorama, Cashing in on Covid

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Johnson’s government has spent £100 million on consultants because he can’t think for himself

Spaffer: Boris Johnson has thrown so much money at private consultants and contractors that the UK’s financial stability is in peril.

The cost of privatisation: faced with the Covid-19 pandemic, Boris Johnson has paid consultants more than £100 million to do his thinking for him – and the cash has been wasted.

Clearly it’s money for old rope, considering the failure of every policy announced by Johnson and his cronies including Matt Hancock, Gavin Williamson and Dominic Raab.

And the waste is very clearly a result of privatisation; before Tory neoliberalism demanded that even ideas should be outsourced, governments used to rely on people called civil servants who spent their entire careers in public service and could therefore be relied on to know how things worked.

Those people have been largely ostracised, retired or otherwise cast out by know-nothings like David Cameron, Theresa May and now Johnson, in favour of their know-nothing friends in the private sector. Here’s the gist from the Financial Times:

The UK’s largest consulting firms have been paid more than £100m to advise the government on its response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a string of delayed disclosures from Whitehall in recent weeks. A total of 106 contracts worth £109m have been agreed between various government departments and consulting firms such as PwC, Deloitte and McKinsey since March, as civil servants scrambled for support to source personal protective equipment, set up test and trace programmes and acquire thousands of new ventilators as the pandemic gathered pace.

The UK’s public finances are now in a terrible state after Johnson and his people awarded huge contracts to firms that were incapable of honouring them – some of which even turned out to be dormant companies – on the advice of firms like PwC, Deloitte and McKinsey. Weren’t these people supposed to be cheaper than doing the work in-house?

The government has been mired in scandal because it adopted a biased algorithm to award ‘A’ level results, on the advice of an outsourced consultancy firm.

It’s a well known adage that the definition of madness is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.

And yet we see Johnson going back to these private consultants for more advice.

Why aren’t we all drawing the obvious conclusion?

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