Tag Archives: Crown

Why have junior civil servants been targeted by the first Partygate fines?

Not fined yet: Boris Johnson (right) acts as questionmaster in a quiz at one of the alleged Downing Street parties.

Let’s answer the question in the headline straight away: junior civil servants have been fined because they haven’t challenged the imposition of the penalties by the Metropolitan Police.

It is understood, but hasn’t been confirmed, that the fines relate to a leaving party for a Downing Street advisor, held on June 18, 2020.

Police have issued 20 fines, each worth £50.

According to the BBC,

One … government source said police had targeted “low-hanging fruit”, and another agreed this appeared to be the police’s approach.

Civil servants have not been provided with help for legal costs and are being advised to pay any fines they receive, while senior staff and politicians have paid for private legal advice.

A recipient can contest a fine, in which case the police will review the case to decide whether or not to withdraw the fine or take the matter to court.

And Sky News has said the investigation may have been slowed down by the need to consult the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS):

A CPS lawyer would be needed if the recipient of a fine decided to fight and take the issue to a magistrates’ court.

The CPS can ask the police to do more work, or direct them to collect more evidence until it is satisfied it could prosecute a case.

Sky News understands that the Metropolitan Police did not fully consult the CPS at the start of the investigation.

The CPS could have questions about the unusual questionnaires used to extract more information from those in government.

The implication running through both broadcasters’ interpretations of events is that senior civil servants and Conservative politicians are indeed contesting fines.

The reason for this may be the question of whether a fine represents proof of criminality.

Ministers and senior civil servants – like, for example, Boris Johnson and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case – are likely to want to do everything they can to avoid an implication that they have committed a criminal act.

With the question undetermined, it seems they are seeking to challenge any fines imposed on them.

But this means that they may face court prosecution and any conviction following such an event would certainly be for a criminal offence.

If this is the route Boris Johnson has chosen, then he is in very serious trouble indeed.

Source: PM not among first fines issued to people in government for breaking lockdown rules

Reinventing the wheel: after replacing civil servants with expensive private consultants, Cummings wants to replace them with… a civil service

Caught out: Dominic Cummings and his puppet Boris Johnson are pretending to be creating a shiny new way to stop spiralling consultancy and private contractor costs for the government – but in fact they are simply trying to revive the civil service after successive Tory governments spent the last 10 years running it into the ground.

Dominic Cummings – what an absolute, utter, dunderheaded nincompoop.

After months in which the Tory government under his puppet Boris Johnson has been doling out cash hand over fist to expensive private consultants for help on Covid-19 – and getting nothing in return…

… and years in which the Tories have been disparaging the expertise of the civil service, pushing leading public servants to quit forever…

Cummings has decided that private consultants are just too expensive and the government should consider creating an in-house organisation for service provision instead.

He has given it a snazzy new name: the Crown Consultancy. The concept will be more familiar to you as the Civil Service.

The plan was presented to the public via the Financial Times – which is behind a paywall, so I’ve been referring to a report in The London Economic instead:

“There’s a lot of reliance on consultancies,” one source close to the plan told the paper. “It would be sensible to look at what we can do internally, rather than externally.”

Isn’t that a description of what the Civil Service does?

This is a story about government spin.

The real headline is that the Conservatives have wasted billions – perhaps hundreds of billions – on private rip-off merchants since they came back into office in 2010, because of their well-professed distrust of so-called “experts”.

Between 2016 and 2020, Britain spent £2.6 billion on just eight consultancies – including KPMG, McKinsey, Deloitte and EY.

The coronavirus crisis has seen the government’s reliance on private-sector consultancies spiral, with at least £56 million spent for help with issues as wide-ranging as data analysis and supplying PPE.

Only £56 million? I make it £100 million – and all because neither Boris Johnson nor Dominic Cummings could be bothered to think for themselves.

But of course these figures do not include the sums spent on private companies recommended to provide services by these consultants.

Look at the privatisation of the probation service: £2.5 billion went down the drain in that disaster.

Related to that, what about the scandal of privately-run prisons, in which G4S was fined £2.7 million for more than 100 breaches of its contract with the government. Considering the size of the fines, how much was that contract worth?

Or we could consider the fiasco that is Universal Credit. How many billions has that cost by now? I reported on this in 2013 and costs have spiralled upwards exponentially since then.

My report on Universal Credit also mentions that “Michael Gove’s Education Department is now in a terrible mess because he brought in a gang of “advisors” to operate “above” his officials – who have meanwhile faced huge cuts in their workforce and a disastrous fall in morale” and refers to a report on This Site in June of that year.

Who took the blame for the private enterprise failures in the DWP and Education? The Civil Service.

In my June 2013 report, I described the policy as: “Blame the Civil Service for everything, cut it back, and leave the actual mechanics of government unusable by anybody who follows them.

Well, it seems I was right.

And now the Tories are reaping what they have sowed. Their scorched-earth civil service policy has cost them billions and they are still in office to take the blame for it.

Except, of course, that their client journalists in papers like the FT are happy to spin it into a story about a shiny new organisation to save the day, rather than admit it’s just an attempt to revive an old service they ran into the ground.

Well, we’ve all seen through it:

Source: Johnson wants a ‘Crown Consultancy’ to stem private sector spending spree

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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On disability hate crime we need a strategy for prevention – Making rights make sense

Good, albeit depressing, to hear BBC 5 Live devote an hour to disability hate crime, with ex Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken McDonald, essentially repeating messages about institutional failure in the criminal justice system that he first made in a speech in 2008, writes Neil Crowther in Making Rights Make Sense.

There has been steady, albeit uneven, progress on recording of disability hate crime by the police since then (often misreported as an increase in the incidence of disability hate crime itself).   But there continues to exist a yawning gap between estimated incidence of such crime (at around 72000 per year) and that reported to/recorded by the police with only around 2.5% (1841) of all incidents recorded in 2012-13.  Of these, less than 1% were prosecuted.

Increasing the levels of reporting, recording and prosecution must therefore remain a central objective in the battle against the hostility encountered by disabled people.  But to rather subvert the title of Katherine Quarmby’s book on the topic of disability hate crime, there is a risk that by only focusing on criminal justice, other institutions and wider society can scapegoat the police and Crown Prosecution Service.  Such hostility may sometimes amount to a criminal matter, but its roots are deeply embedded in prejudices which can be found in all areas and at all levels of society.  The vast majority of this will not be uprooted by the actions of the police and prosecutors who are, after all, dealing with symptoms, not the causes (though as Katherine Quarmby rightly points out, we are still in the dark as to what the motivations of those who commit such crimes actually are due to lack of research).

To these ends a much under-utilised legal tool is s149 (5) of the Equality Act 2010 – the section of the Public Sector Equality Duty which requires public authorities to have ‘due regard to the need to foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it involves having due regard, in particular, to the need to— (a) tackle prejudice, and (b)promote understanding.’

Interested? Read the rest on Making Rights Make Sense.

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Disability hate crime hits record high

Nobody should be surprised by this.

The Guardian reported today (August 14) that hate crime against disabled people has hit its highest level since records began, totalling 1,942 recorded incidents in 2011, an increase of more than 25 per cent – that means it’s up by more than a quarter – on the total for 2010.

The Crown Prosecution Service managed only 523 convictions for disability hate crime during the same period – so only a little more than a quarter of the perpetrators were punished for their crime; the rest got away with it.

The number of recorded incidents has risen by 60 per cent since records began in 2009.

Just to give you an idea of what this means locally, in my own police area, Dyfed Powys, there were three recorded incidents of disability hate crime in 2009. In 2010 there were seven.

In 2011 there were twenty-seven.

This is what your votes condone.

It’s the logical result of the government’s effort to demonise disabled people and those who claim benefits on their behalf, and I think we know where government behaviour of this kind leads.

Picture the scene: A street in a typical British town, with two men walking down it. We’ll call them Iain and Chris.

Iain: It’s so much better here, now that we don’t have all those disabled people cluttering up the place!

Chris: Absolutely! With the crips gone, we’re not spending all our tax money paying for them. (Taxes haven’t gone down though)

Iain: And so much more peaceful, after we got rid of all the racial minorities.

Chris: Not half! We couldn’t keep them here – they were a threat to our peaceful British way of life.

Iain: And now that we’ve got rid of the trade unionists, we can all get on with our jobs in peace, too!

Chris: Totally! It’s so much better now that our bosses can pay us as little as they like to work in deplorable conditions.

Iain: So where are you going for your holidays this year – somewhere nice?

Chris: Actually, I’m saving up for a trip to the private healthcare specialist instead. I’ve been having trouble with my back ever since the health and safety laws were repealed and-

Iain: Police! Police! Come quick and take this man away! He’s a dangerous radical and probably a socialist! He dared to complain about our glorious New Britain!

A policeman appears. He’s wearing a jacket emblazoned with the letters ‘G4S’.

Do you really want to live in this kind of Britain?