Tag Archives: documents

Kabul was Boris Johnson’s Dunkirk. If Churchill had failed as badly, he’d probably have shot himself

The lucky ones: a packed plane leaves Kabul – no thanks to Boris Johnson and his gang of UK government ditherers.

What a mess. This was not a retreat; it was a rout.

It seems clear that Boris Johnson’s withdrawal of the UK presence from Afghanistan was unplanned, unco-ordinated, and left behind much information of interest to the Taliban who have taken over.

The decision to move the military and leave civilians behind means more than 1,000 of our people are still in Kabul – and Johnson’s promise to do something about it rings as hollow as all his other promises.

Isn’t that what he said about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who remains imprisoned in Iran, years after he involved himself in her case as the UK’s Foreign Secretary?

That’ll be a “yes”, then. As for his vow…

The UK evacuation is over and many have been left behind

As I said above, Kabul is Boris Johnson’s Dunkirk.

But whereas Dunkirk was carried out in comparative efficiency, with everybody working to help everybody else get out of France before the Germans arrive, it seems Kabul represented Boris Johnson’s “everyone for themselves” philosophy.

So:

Indeed. Also:

There is no “Phase Two”.

This refers to former marine and animal charity founder Pen Farthing, who has escaped Kabul with around 200 rescued dogs – but whose staff were not allowed to leave.

The fact that dogs were allowed to leave may seem like a huge victory for animal-loving Brits – but the fact that the UK allowed human beings to be left behind will almost certainly make a mockery of us in Taliban propaganda.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had claimed he would prioritise people over pets but it seems the huge amount of publicity Farthing had received via media and social media had forced him to change his mind. We’ll find out in the future if that was a wise decision.

Meanwhile, it seems communications sent to the government email address that was supposed to be used to work out which Afghan nationals needed to be taken out of Kabul have gone unread – including cases flagged up by ministers:

According to the article,

An official email address used to collate potential Afghan cases from MPs and others regularly contained 5,000 unread emails throughout the week.

In many cases, emails detailing the cases of Afghans who fear for their families’ lives appear to have been unopened for days. An email from the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, sent on Monday was still unread on Thursday. There also appeared to be unread messages from the offices of Victoria Atkins, the newly appointed minister for Afghan resettlement, the home secretary, Priti Patel, and the Tory chair of the defence select committee, Tobias Ellwood.

The revelation calls into question the suggestion from ministers that the number of Afghans left behind would be up to 1,100 in total.

So it seems the 1,100 figure for personnel left behind may be a huge underestimate.

Documents were left behind that could be hugely harmful for unevacuated personnel

British Embassy workers who did a runner from their compound to the relative safety of Kabul’s airport around two weeks ago failed to destroy documents identifying local workers and job applicants, according to reports.

Who knows what other sensitive documents were left lying around? And why did it happen? Normally, one of the key protocols in a sensitive diplomatic withdrawal is the shredding of sensitive and classified information, but this seems not to have happened.

Have I already put my finger on the problem – that Boris Johnson and his dimwit Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab dithered so long about taking a decision that Embassy staff ended up having to scramble to save their own skins and weren’t able to do the necessary?

If so, then the Taliban may now have access to any amount of information that they could find extremely useful in the future. Depending on how they use it, we could be in for a lot of trouble – and ultimate blame will rest with our terminal b*ttf**k of a prime minister.

Look at this:

And how about this, in response to a tweet I sent about Johnson’s domestic disasters:

It reached the point where some people have satirised the situation, finding humour in the fact that the Johnson government employs people who are very good at losing documents – but didn’t put them in the right place:

Samuel Miller ought to know – he has been campaigning to raise awareness of the unfair, persecutory mistreatment of benefit claimants, particularly those who are sick and/or disabled – for longer than I have.

Hypocrite Priti Patel has been greeting refugees on arrival in the UK and talking down other countries who she says should do more

Even here in the UK, government ministers are doing everything they can to humiliate us as a nation.

So Priti Patel, the home secretary who has locked refugees in squalid concentration camps to catch Covid-19, and who wants to make it illegal to save refugees from drowning if they are trying to cross the Channel into the UK, has been greeting Afghan refugees at Heathrow Airport.

Why?

Apparently the woman who has been trying to seal up all legal routes for refugees to come here has now claimed that refugees must only travel to the UK through legal routes.

Do you think she is wondering why she received responses like this?

Possibly the worst news available for these refugees is the fact that, by throwing their lot in with the UK, they have now ended up in a poverty trap:

And Patel has apparently told other countries that they must do more to help refugees – because she has absolutely no sense of shame:

In a sane country, every government body involved in this monumental fiasco would be out of a job and possibly facing charges in the International Criminal Court – but the United Kingdom is now so riddled with corruption that Johnson and his gang are most likely to shrug it off.

They’ll go looking for the next crisis they can turn into a calamity. After all, their lives aren’t on the line.

If Winston Churchill had presided over such a fatal mess, This Writer feels sure that he would have done the decent thing and swallowed a high-speed bullet.

But Churchill, for all the faults that he did have, was not an indecisive incompetent. He would not have made Johnson’s (and Raab’s, and Patel’s) mistakes.

And, sadly, Johnson does not have Churchill’s quality of character – so we can’t expect him to do what Britain Expects of him. He’s too much of a coward.

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Kate Bingham: ‘vaccines tsar’ resigns amid ‘dodgy cronyism’ claims – and Johnson THANKS her for her work

Kate Bingham: you probably don’t know her but she’s a venture capitalist who was appointed to lead Boris Johnson’s vaccines taskforce – something about which she knew nothing – because her husband is a minister in Boris Johnson’s government. She then spent £670,000 on public relations, using a firm linked to Dominic Cummings’s father-in-law. And there’s a claim that she showed private government documents to US financiers at a $200-a-head conference.

This tweet has aged badly – and at the time of writing it’s not 24 hours since it was written:

He was referring to Kate Bingham. If you haven’t heard of her, it’s not surprising. She’s another unqualified crony of Boris Johnson and his Tories, given a role as head of Johnson’s “vaccines taskforce” because she knows him (she is married to a Tory minister, Jesse Norman).

She knew nothing about vaccines when she was appointed; she’s a venture capitalist. And now she has announced she is retiring at the end of the year.

Her announcement came after some embarrassing revelations became public:

Worse was to come:

The Mirror story claims that in addition to spaffing £670,000 on a public relations firm, Bingham showed US financiers private government documents at a $200-a-head conference.

Oh, and that £670K PR firm? Linked to Dominic Cummings’s father-in-law, apparently:

The stink of corrupt cronyism is ripe here.

But Death Secretary Matt Hancock insisted to the Mirror that Bingham’s retirement is nothing to do with the revelations. It was always a six-month job, set to end at the year, he said.

So why announce it? And why make the announcement right after these embarrassing revelations?

Could it be that Johnson, Hancock, the Tory government and its remaining cronies were hoping to avoid further examination of their decisions in appointing unqualified friends to vital Covid-19 related jobs, rather than people who knew what they were doing?

If so, it seems they were set to be disappointed…

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Files on #GrenfellTower cladding ‘lost forever’ after deletion from laptop. How convenient!

Up in smoke: Grenfell Tower after the fire that killed 72 residents. Emails and documents on the refurbishment that put flammable cladding on the building has been found to have been destroyed.

Emails, documents and design drawings relating to the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower that put highly flammable cladding on its walls have been lost forever after being deleted from a laptop, the inquiry into the 2017 disaster has learned.

Design manager Daniel Anketell-Jones, who worked for cladding specialists Harley Facades until March 2016, told the hearing he erased his work computer of all files after agreeing to keep the device despite leaving the firm.

Harley managing director Ray Bailey said… “Daniel Anketell-Jones… left Harley some months before the fire.

“By that stage he had both deleted all of his Harley related emails from his laptop and had arranged with our service provider to remove his email file from our systems.”

Asked about this by inquiry lawyer Kate Grange QC, Mr Anketell-Jones said: “I don’t know what he means by that.

“I didn’t arrange for that to happen. I don’t think I would have the authority or the security to do that.”

How convenient for this firm – directly involved in the refurbishment that turned Grenfell Tower into a tinderbox – that this documentation has similarly gone up in smoke.

Email dialogues that are now lost could have cast light on whether designers were aware that the cladding was a danger to the lives of everybody living behind it (72 of those lives were lost in the blaze).

The deletion may have been entirely innocent – but it looks deeply suspicious.

And it creates another obstacle for the inquiry, that is trying to determine where ultimate responsibility for the deaths lies.

Source: Grenfell files ‘lost forever’ after laptop wiped, inquiry hears | London | ITV News

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New Brexit drama: government ordered to hand over all information on prorogation

Boris Johnson: Let’s hope he isn’t trying to delete any messages that might cause him discomfort if forced to explain them to Parliament!

It seems the first controversy to happen during the prorogation of Parliament is about the very same shutdown.

MPs have passed a backbench motion ordering Boris Johnson to hand over all documents relating to Downing Street’s preparations for a “no deal” Brexit and to the prorogation, along with all private messages by his most senior aides relating to these matters.

The reason, according to The Guardian, is so rebel MPs can “prove he misled Parliament”.

The Graun continues:

MPs voted to force him to publish Operation Yellowhammer documents setting out government plans by 11pm on Wednesday.

The motion, known as a humble address to the Queen, also directed Johnson to disclose messages relating to the prorogation of parliament sent by his senior adviser Dominic Cummings and various other aides on WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Facebook messenger, private email accounts both encrypted and unencrypted, text messaging and iMessage and the use of both official and personal mobile phones.

Senior government aides suggested No 10 would refuse to comply with MPs’ demands, potentially putting Johnson and senior members of his administration in contempt of parliament.

That tends to imply that there’s an inconvenient revelation in those messages, doesn’t it?

We’ll know by Thursday.

Expect drama.

Source: MPs order Johnson to hand over aides’ messages about prorogation | Politics | The Guardian

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Prince William receives confidential cabinet papers


As with Prince Charles, it is arguable that Prince William is entirely entitled to receive confidential cabinet papers, because he is the son of the heir to the Throne and needs to understand the issues facing the UK before becoming monarch and being asked to sign acts of Parliament concerning those issues.

But the revelation that he receives these documents – which was not included in the response to a Freedom of Information request by the campaigning group Republic – creates a huge amount of concern over who has access to this information, and who does not.

The Duke of Cambridge occasionally receives copies of confidential cabinet documents, the BBC has learned.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said that, as a future heir to the throne, it was “appropriate that he is regularly briefed on government business”.

It was revealed on Tuesday that Prince Charles receives such material routinely – as does the Queen.

Campaign group Republic said there was “no good reason” why Prince William also received the information.

Earlier this week, Republic received four chapters of the Cabinet Office’s “precedent book” – released after a three-year freedom of information battle.

The book shows Prince Charles, the Queen, ministers and a handful of others get papers from cabinet and ministerial committees.

Junior government ministers do not receive such access to the documents.

Source: Prince William receives confidential cabinet papers – BBC News

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Controversy over Prince Charles should reopen debate on the government and lobbyists


Some might say that Prince Charles is entirely entitled to receive confidential cabinet papers, because he is heir to the Throne and has the right to understand the issues facing the UK before becoming monarch and being asked to sign acts of Parliament concerning those issues.

However, he has made no secret of the fact that he has concerns of his own – and the revelation that he does receive these documents means he is in an excellent position to push his own agenda, ahead of any other lobbyist or the national interest.

If critics of the policy that allows him to see these papers want him to stop, though, they should also consider the fact that the Conservative Government, more than any other, is accessed by lobbyists representing other paid interests on a regular basis.

There was some discussion of this when the Transparency of Lobbying Act was being pushed through Parliament by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, but of course the national interest always comes a distant second to personal interest when ministers have a chance to make a little extra money.

Consider Esther McVey’s latest job – not the one we fund in which she chairs the British Transport Police; This Writer means her new job with lobbyists Hume Brophy.

Or what about Nadhim Zahawi, who works as chief strategy officer for oil explorer Gulf Keystone which has interests in Kurdistan, has had shares in Genel Energy, which also works in Kurdistan, and also chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on Kurdistan, is on the UK Prime Minister’s Policy Board with special responsibility for business and the economy, and was appointed to the Commons Foreign Affairs select committee in June 2014, where he played a key role in its inquiry into government policy on Kurdistan?

The magazine Private Eye has a section entitled ‘Revolving Doors’, reporting on the huge number of MPs and civil servants who take jobs with private sector employers.

Strangely enough – unless huge numbers of the public rally to fight over any single issue, these individuals and the relatively small number of private interests they represent appear to have a monopoly on the Conservative Government’s ear.

So why single out Prince Charles?

“The disclosure of cabinet papers to Prince Charles is quite extraordinary,” said Graham Smith, Republic’s chief executive. “Not only because they would contain highly classified information, but because it gives him considerable advantage in pressing his own agenda when lobbying ministers. He is essentially a minister not attending cabinet. He gets the paperwork and has private meetings with ministers about policy.”

A senior MP called for a parliamentary inquiry into the arrangement, which he said made Charles Britain’s “best informed lobbyist”. It also prompted speculation that the prince uses the flow of information to help him intervene with ministers on new policy proposals before parliament or the public are aware of their existence.

Paul Flynn, a member of the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee, said Charles’s access to cabinet papers was “a considerable surprise” and called for a parliamentary investigation.

“He is not just a figurehead, he has become a participant in national debate and there is no control over his lobbying,” Flynn said. “This means that he is not only the most influential lobbyist, but the best informed and he is lobbying for his own interests, which are not always benign or sensible.”

Source: Revealed: Prince Charles has received confidential cabinet papers for decades | UK news | The Guardian

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