Tag Archives: email

Bethell sacked – for destroying evidence in ‘government by personal email’ scandal?

Lord Bethell: he previously claimed he never used his private accounts for official business. Now he has been sacked by the Tory Government – as This Site suggested. Is he about to face court action too?

Before we start, it should be made clear that Boris Johnson has given no reason for sacking Lord Bethell as a health minister in his Cabinet reshuffle.

That being said, Bethell is a key figure in a major – ongoing – scandal in which government decisions may have been made using personal email and/or WhatsApp accounts in order to avoid public scrutiny.

Bethell had claimed that he never used his private email or telephone accounts for official business – but then replaced his mobile phone before it could be searched for information relevant to £85m of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) deals that are subject to a legal challenge.

The government is expected to disclose Bethell’s correspondence on those matters – by email, WhatsApp and SMS – as part of legal proceedings issued by the Good Law Project.

The Health Secretary 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” – and the phone was replaced in early 2021.

The government has admitted it made no effort to issue Bethell with a preservation notice requiring him to save documents, claiming that ministers’ official correspondence was routinely saved as a matter of course. However, this did not cover government business conducted by private means.

It seems Bethell has not reactivated his WhatsApp, SMS and private email accounts from that phone, although there is nothing to stop him from doing so. Efforts are being made to recover information in those accounts from his mobile phone provider.

I wonder if those efforts have borne fruit and Bethell’s departure from government is happening ahead of more serious proceedings in the courts.

Whatever happens there, this development indicates that Boris Johnson’s government is not as immune to public scrutiny as he has previously tried to suggest.

The prime minister has often shrugged off criticism after serious complaints were made about his own misbehaviour and that of his ministers, but at least three of the worst offenders – Gavin Williamson, Robert Jenrick and now Bethell – have been ejected in the reshuffle.

Is Johnson going for plausible deniability – putting distance between himself and Bethell so he won’t be caught in the backlash if serious wrongdoing is exposed?

Hate-filled Labour now habitually emails notice of disciplinary action to members late at night

Targeted: Jess Barnard has been the victim of a hate campaign by the Labour Party.

“Well, that’s all right then” – said nobody at all after Labour apologised to Jess Barnard for emailing her with a ridiculous Notice of Investigation at one o’clock in the morning.

The party had been planning disciplinary action against the Young Labour chair on the pretext that she was wrong to challenge transphobia. Think about that.

But party officers took a sharp U-turn – not because they acted in error, as they tried to claim, but because Ms Barnard reported the attack to her lawyers and they threatened court action against the party.

Skwawkbox has claimed that the email was demanded by a senior staff member who is carrying out a vendetta against Ms Barnard to punish her for standing up against the party’s attempts at character assassination against her, for standing in solidarity with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and to prevent her speaking at Labour’s conference later this month. The evidence is here.

Possibly worse than this is the fact that the email was deliberately sent to a young woman who has already suffered considerable mental distress because of interventions by Labour Party officers – at one in the morning on World Suicide Prevention Day. Did whoever was responsible think it was funny to do that?

“As a young member already facing hostility from some members of staff, this is very much starting to feel like harassment and intimidation,” wrote Ms Barnard in an emailed letter to NEC members. And rightly so – because that is exactly what it was.

Quite right. And several questions arise. Firstly, why is the party abusing its responsibilities in this way?

We need to know who is responsible for this behaviour and what is going to happen to them as a result. Will they face disciplinary proceedings? (I think we all know the answer to that: no.)

And the second question is: how many other Labour Party members have been subjected to abuse of their mental health in the same way?

You see, Ms Barnard is not the only Labour Party member to have received notice of disciplinary proceedings at such a time.

It is regular Labour Party practice, it seems.

That is what we find from the response to Pamela Fitzpatrick – who is herself taking Labour to court over disciplinary proceedings launched against her, apparently in order to prevent her from attending the party conference and being available as a possible replacement for David Evans if he is removed from his general secretary role by party members angered at his vindictive and unreasonable purges of left-wing members.

She asked whether the party was deliberately timing its letters to cause maximum distress to members and the answer is an unequivocal yes:

I can only agree with Ms Fitzpatrick’s response to the revelations from fellow party members:

Yes indeed.

Where is the outrage from Keir Starmer and his cult members? Where are the announcements of disciplinary action against the culprits? And when will the procedure be reformed?

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Boris Johnson supporters: is this you?

This is so demented I think it must be real:

For those who can’t read images, it says:

“I’m absolutely sick of lisening to you’re constant slaying of Mr Johnsen.

“Imagine if the UK was ruled by synthesizer Jeremy Korben?

“Why don’t you ever tell some home truthes about Korben and his socialist Marxist lot.

“Imagine if left Tennant Kernel Korben the synthesizer and his momentum leftist pals was in power we would be screwed!! Boris saved us all from global embarrassment.

“And regarding brexit we had the vote so move on that was back in 2015 we had a clear choice or communist Korben and is mates letting more uncontrolled immagrints in our country
With respect if you don’t like it why do you live hear?

“Keith Starmer is not going to win any elections either

“he’s got more chance of running out of Brylcreem before being our pm

“Jacob Rees Mogg is ournext man to leave the way GBGB”

My gut says its not serious, because of the spelling mistakes and general insanity; that someone’s having a laugh.

And then my brain reminds me of some of the messages I’ve seen on the social media.

That’s what leaves me to ask…

Boris Johnson – is this a friend of yours?

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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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Government rules out searching Matt Hancock’s private emails. What does Johnson NOT want to find?

Matt Hancock: I thought I might not get another chance to use this image of him looking gormless. How wrong I was!

Despite admitting that Matt Hancock used his private email address to carry out government business, Boris Johnson’s gang won’t check his private emails to find out what he did in them.

Why not?

It seems the government has no record of much of Hancock’s decision-making during the pandemic, and this is because he carried out his business by private email.

Government guidelines expressly demand that ministers who use their personal emails for Parliamentary business should “take steps to ensure the relevant information is accessible” but it seems clear that Hancock hasn’t bothered.

Otherwise, why would The Sunday Times state that no record exists to show how Hancock negotiated PPE contracts, created the test-and-trace programme and oversaw the care homes strategy?

The nation needs to know about these matters because we need to know how much money he wasted on the first two, and how many lives he wasted on the third.

It seems clear that the only reason the government won’t go through Hancock’s emails is fear of embarrassment; he was incompetent at best, and a search could reveal the kind of mistakes that are actionable in court.

The claim to have been through 1.4 million documents already, so checking Hancock’s mail won’t be necessary, is clearly a smokescreen. Why do all that work when you can get all the information you need just by looking at one person’s emails?

The Good Law Project is already calling for Hancock’s inbox and outbox to be examined.

If the information won’t be provided willingly, perhaps this organisation should seek a court order?

Source: Government rules out searching Matt Hancock’s private emails – BBC News

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Tory MPs have been using private emails to covertly conduct government business for YEARS

Boris Johnson: who knows how much government business the prime minister has corruptly carried out over his own personal email account, in order to hide it from your scrutiny? And before anybody says they expect honesty from the PM, let’s all remember that we all knew what he is before he won the 2019 general election.

Why is everybody making such a fuss about Matt Hancock carrying out government business on the sly via his private email account now? Tory ministers have been doing this habitually since 2011.

There can only be one reason for it, too – and that is to avoid proper and lawful scrutiny of activities that they know are not acceptable behaviour for government ministers.

Michael Gove was caught using private emails to communicate with Department for Education personnel, all the way back in 2011.

Financial Times journalist Chris Cook established that Gove and some of his special advisers (or Spads) had been using private email accounts to conduct business which appeared to many (eventually including the Information Commissioner) to be Government business. It was suggested that this had been done to avoid potential disclosure of the emails through FOI.

Did Gove receive any punishment for this? No.

Liam Fox’s personal email account was hacked by Russians in 2019 when, as International Trade Secretary, he was responsible for negotiating a trade deal with the United States.

The hackers lifted 450 pages of classified information from the account, prompting Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party to ask why Fox had been using an unsecured personal email address to carry out government business.

Has there ever been an answer to this question? No.

There have been attempts to justify the use of private emails – Tory MP Tom Tugendhat claimed in 2016 that he had received private advice from GCHQ, the government communications centre in Cheltenham, that a Gmail account would be more secure against hacking than the government’s own system.

It’s possible that he was telling the truth – after all, it has been claimed that GCHQ routinely monitors MPs’ private email accounts in any event. Alarmingly, it seems the US National Security Agency is also privy to any information gathered during these sweeps. Why?

And now we have information showing that Matt Hancock, Lord Bethell, Helen Whately and PM Boris Johnson himself have all misused their personal email accounts in order to hide business they have done as members of the government from lawful scrutiny.

You may have heard misinformation claiming that ministers are allowed to conduct some business by private email, depending on the seriousness of the matters concerned and the level of security to be applied.

This Writer heard a mealy-mouthed Tory apologist making such claims on Radio 4’s PM on June 28. They are not true.

Cabinet Office guidance clearly states that “The originator or recipient of a
communication should consider whether the information contained in it is substantive discussions or decisions generated in the course of conducting Government business and, if so, take steps to ensure the relevant information is accessible (e.g. by copying it to a government email address)”.

There is no opt-out. Any and all emails in which government business is carried out must at least be copied into the government’s email system and any failure to do so is a breach of the rules.

Sadly, the guidance note does not describe any sanctions that could be used against government ministers or officers for misuse of private email accounts to carry out government business in secret. This is a common omission that makes the rules themselves a dead letter; worthless.

In other words, while it is entirely possible that Hancock, Johnson and all the others have been corruptly hiding dirty Tory deals for more than a decade, there isn’t a damned thing that can be done to stop them.

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Beware this email campaign from scammers claiming to be HM Revenue & Customs (Vox Political Scrapbook)

I received one of these.

It was headed “2021 Reimbursement/Ref HM05012021 Payment confirmation” and stated that I needed to go to the “HMRC Online Payments website”  in order to receive £520.99.

I never clicked on the link. If HMRC is running a website called timeless-sunsets.com then I am Rishi Sunak!

A wave of scam text messages are being received across the UK, potentially duping people into giving up their card details in order to claim a non-existent government grant.

The scam has been quickly designed to take advantage of confusion following yesterday’s announcement of another national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But there are a number of signals in the text message, including grammar and spelling errors despite claiming to be sent from HM Revenue and Customs, that can alert people to the fraud.

An HMRC spokesperson said: “HMRC will never offer a tax refund by text, email or phone. One way to check whether you are due a rebate is to log into your Personal Tax Account.”

Source: The Great HMRC Scam: Don’t fall for it – Dorset Eye

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Doormat Dave: Labour pen-pusher wants the Party to stand for NOTHING, to avoid offending anybody at all

Doormats: Keir Starmer (left) and his right-wing ACTING general secretary David Evans, want Labour members to have no opinions or policies, for fear of upsetting anybody at all.

Once upon a time, the Labour Party had a mission. It stood for something. Under Keir Starmer and David Evans, those days are gone.

These two muppets are demanding that party members suppress all their political opinions – under pain of suspension or expulsion, let’s not forget – in order to avoid offending literally anybody at all, in any way.

They seem to have lost their way – badly.

As a party of Opposition, it is Labour’s duty to cause offence – at least to the policies of the Conservative government that they have been elected to fight.

They can’t lay out the grounds of any opposition without potentially offending people who disagree on fundamental ideological grounds.

Ah, but there’s the rub.

Starmer and Evans don’t actually have an ideology. Their only interest is in gaining power for its own sake.

As I have stated before, they are like the weathercocks in Tony Benn’s famous speech about “signposts and weathercocks”. To paraphrase: some politicians are like signposts – they point in a certain direction and you always know what they stand for; others are like weathercocks – they blow with the wind, changing their minds with the weather in a vain attempt to pick up public support by trying to attach themselves to whatever is fashionable at the time.

That’s Starmer for you, and Evans. They go any way the wind blows. In the words of a famous song that features those words, nothing really matters to them.

I’ve recorded a short video blog about it which you’ll probably enjoy. Here it is:

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Police refuse to investigate House of Commons racist who targeted sports commentator

Dan O’Hagan: he was targeted with a racist email, sent from the House of Commons.

It seems racists in the House of Commons know they are above the law and are happy to rub the fact in our faces.

Otherwise, you might expect racists in high places to keep their prejudice to themselves at the moment. Clearly that is not the case on the Westminster estate.

Here’s sports commentator Dan O’Hagan, who has worked for the BBC, Eurosport and ESPN:

“You cannot be allowed to belittle, mock and intimidate working class white men, whilst peddling your bourgeoisie [sic], privileged leftism in your highly paid career.

“Football is not for white elites like you. It belongs to working class men of all colours.” [Spot the sexism that’s slipped in there too!]

“Send me your address now and we can discuss this further in person.”

It was signed “David” – although This Writer has a doubt about whether that’s the person’s real name.

What had Mr O’Hagan said to provoke this malicious communication (of which more shortly)? See for yourself:

Information that came with the email showed that it was sent from the House of Commons, hence Mr O’Hagan’s request for the authorities there to locate the person responsible. Here’s the response:

He also contacted the police…

But – how normal – they recoiled from investigating anybody at the House of Commons:

It says – as This Writer pointed out very recently – that people working in our corridors of power are above the laws they make.

Now take a look at the image on the right, in the tweet directly above. Here it is in full:

It is illegal in England and Wales to “send or deliver letters or other articles for the purpose of causing distress or anxiety”, and this also applies to electronic communications.

That’s unless you work in the House of Commons – as a high-ranking politician or someone working for them, of course.

Even Mr O’Hagan has admitted he doubts the identity of the culprit will ever be revealed:

Sadly I’m sure we won’t get a name. The last few months judging the Government record, I have no faith of anything coming from this.

“It might get put on to the most junior person they can blame for it, that’s what might happen. But if there is a name, a big name, I doubt they will admit this I’m afraid.”

The same article quotes the police:

“Officers received a report yesterday (Tuesday 9 June) after a man in his 40s had allegedly received a threatening email.

“Enquiries into the incident found that no criminal offences had been committed and the investigation has therefore been closed.

Apparently they’ve never heard of the Malicious Communications Act, then. 

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