Tag Archives: fund

Aircraft owner Grant Shapps lobbies against his own government’s plan to built on private runways

Grant Shapps: he’s not stranger to controversy. Check out the businesses he ran under his pseudonyms Michael Green, Sebastian Fox and Corinne Stockheath.

The Transport Secretary of Boris Johnson’s Conservative government is spending public money paying private lobbyists to argue against his own government’s plans to build on aircraft runways that are privately-owned, it has been alleged.

The reason? The government minister concerned – Grant Shapps – is the owner of a private aircraft, and also of a private runway.

The allegations are made in a Times article hidden behind a paywall:

So that’s all the information we have. Alok Sharma was certainly being cagey about it when Andrew Marr interviewed him:

The issue is clear: government policy is to build houses on land currently occupied by the runways used by owners of private planes.

Shapps is paying private lobbyists to try to get the government – of which he is Transport Secretary – to change this policy. He is using public – government – money to fund this activity.

So the government is paying your money to fund opposition to its own policy.

It has been said before but could it ever be more clear?

These Tories really do think it’s one rule for them and another for the rest of us.

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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New MP scandal as they’re claiming rent on expenses while renting out dwellings

Extra cash for MPs who rent: it’s not exactly a backhander because it’s in line with Parliamentary rules – but the practice certainly shouldn’t be.

Do Tory MPs receive a manual on election, entitled Tories On The Take: How To Do It?

Here’s the latest:

In fairness, two of the MPs accused represent Labour – but commentators other than This Writer have called them Red Tories:

The Independent, which lists 16 of the accused MPs, states:

Over the past five years, 16 MPs have claimed over £1.3m in taxpayer-funded rent while collecting thousands rent letting out properties in the capital, according to submissions published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) and the register of members’ interests.

Claims for rent are permitted under Ipsa rules, which state that MPs can receive taxpayer funding for “rental payments and associated costs”. An Ipsa document in 2017 conceded that some arrangements could be controversial – but advised against any change to the rules.

“We recognise that there can be a perception of personal gain if an MP receives rental income from their own property while living in an Ipsa-funded flat,” it said. “However … We do not want to judge an MP’s private arrangements and whether or not they should live in a property they own.”

That may be about to change.

If a member of Parliament is able to carry out their work from their own home, but rent accommodation and charge it to the public purse while taking rent income from their own property – and the rental income means they profit from the arrangement, then they are running an expenses scam and it should stop.

That’s how members of the public are likely to see it.

They may have a good point, I think.

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Should the UK Home Secretary be linked to ‘charity’ that supports persecution of Palestinians?

Bloodthirsty: Priti Patel.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who was sacked as International Development Secretary for trying to carry out her own foreign policy in Israel, is linked to a so-called charity that supports the persecution of Palestinians.

Patel used a family holiday in Israel to carry out secret political meetings with members of that country’s government – she pretended she had told the Foreign Office about them but had not.

When she got back to the UK, she tried to divert part of the Foreign Aid budget to fund the Israeli military occupation of the Golan Heights – land that belongs to Syria.

Eventually – after some dithering by then-prime minister Theresa May, Patel was forced to resign, only to be restored to an even more important Cabinet position by Boris Johnson.

Now we see a reason for Patel’s behaviour nearly four years ago: she is linked to the Henry Jackson Society, a (so-called) charity whose leaders support Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers occupying – and carrying out atrocities – in the Occupied Territories of Palestine.

I’m sure we all remember the IDF’s war crimes against Palestine in April, when it bombed civilian infrastructure in Gaza including apartments, offices, government facilities, business and roads.

The IDF justified this by saying it was attacking assets of the Palestinian group Hamas, and the uninvolved individuals it killed – including many children – just happened to be in the way.

It is right to say that Hamas has itself committed war crimes, but that does not mean the IDF should do the same in return, and it is currently being investigated by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity including apartheid and persecution.

Henry Jackson Society executive director Dr Alan Mendoza justified Israel’s violence in Gaza on LBC News in May as legitimate self-defence, making no mention of Israel’s occupation and systematic discrimination against Palestinians.

Byline Times tells us about Patel’s involvement with this questionable organisation:

Until 2016, Priti Patel was a member of HJS’ Political Council, and in 2014 HJS sponsored her to fly to Washington DC to attend a conference organised by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

During the involvement of … Patel, two of HJS’ US directors have been involved in charities with close ties to the Israeli military.

In November 2020, Byline Times revealed that between 2015 and 2018, HJS’ US-based non-profit vehicle operated under the directorship of Joshua Swidler and Liad Meidar, both of whom are Republican Party donors. Swidler is also a Conservative Party donor and his late wife Alisa Swidler was a member of the Conservative Party Leaders Group who had given a total of £336,686 to the party.

Both former HJS director Swidler and current HJS director Meidar are simultaneously directors of a number of charities which support Israeli soldiers.

The Byline Times article goes on to mention more links between directors of the HJS and IDF-supporting charities. It continues:

Patel [was] involved with HJS during its US directors’ active involvement in these IDF supporting charities.

Here’s the point:

Involvement with this alleged charity (the involvement of its personnel in both US and UK politics may infringe Charity Commission rules on political independence) means Patel has, at the very least, been in contact with people who support Israeli military atrocities against innocent civilians.

And it was after she had been a member of that organisation’s political council that she visited Israel, met politicians including then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and tried to use UK government money to fund IDF activities in an occupied territory.

The charity says it hasn’t done anything wrong, but is that true if its directors have been using the connections it allows them to make in order to increase aid to the political causes they support?

So the question has to be asked:

Is it true that Patel supports the IDF in its atrocities because she has been radicalised by her association with the Henry Jackson Society and its directors – or that she became involved because their beliefs coincide with her own?

And, given that this may be the case:

Isn’t it also true that Priti Patel is a bloodthirsty racist who should not be a member of Parliament, let alone a hugely-powerful minister in the Tory Cabinet?

To help you remember why this is important, here’s a mild reminder of the way Israeli settlers, supported by the thugs of the IDF, treat Palestinians who are trying to work on their own land:

Priti Patel supports this violence.

It seems clear that, as long as she remains in government, the UK will continue to support Israeli war crimes in Palestine.

As long as people like her – puppets whose strings are being pulled by shadowy pro-Israel organisations – are in power, there will never be peace in the so-called Holy Land.

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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Riley libel latest: she insults anybody who has supported Mike. Does that include you?

That’s right – Rachel Riley’s latest tactic is to insult you, saying no reasonable person would come to the conclusion I reached about her.

So, if you’re among the thousands of people who have helped fund my defence against her libel claim, she’s saying you are not a reasonable person because not only did you come to that conclusion, but you have funded my defence on the basis of it.

The new revelations come in her reply to my amended defence against her.

She says a reasonable person reading the source material I say that I read (we’ll come to that shortly) would not have reached the same conclusion – but neglects to provide any explanation for the claim.

She then says that, if my research had been as thorough as I have said, I would have taken account of other tweets that should have changed my mind. What other tweets? She doesn’t say. Do such tweets exist? Well, it’s debatable.

The case is based on exchanges on Twitter, and one aspect of that platform is that conversations begin to resemble trees, branching off in different directions. I concentrated on tweets by Riley and her teenage victim – about each other and the original subject of their dialogue.

That’s the reason I didn’t pick up Riley’s admission that she believes it is possible for ‘blue-tick’ Twitter users to whip up their supporters to attack and abuse other people until this year, that she contradicted in her failed bid to strike out my defences last year; it was in a response to Owen Jones.

And those tweets support me, not her.

If she produces tweets that support her claim, she’ll have to place them in context to show their relevance, and explain why I should have been able to find them. I look forward to that evidence.

She’s also claiming that I’m lying about the tweets I did read – that I didn’t actually read them all before writing my article – on the grounds that I haven’t produced them all previously.

The reason is simple: I didn’t have to.

I did read those tweets – around 200 of them. But none of the material provided to the court so far has been evidence; it has been what’s known as pleading. A pleading is not supposed to produce all of the material that will come out in disclosure and witness evidence.

And Riley knows this – or at least, her solicitor Mark Lewis knows this, and as he is the one who signed and dated this reply (with the wrong date, I notice), perhaps we should conclude that he is the one making all these claims. Why? Is she running away?

To sum up: Riley (and/or her lawyer) is claiming that I lied and misled you – with a false claim that I did not read all the tweets I’m saying I did – before writing my article accusing her of hypocrisy.

And she’s saying that, having read the evidence I have produced, you have to be unreasonable to agree with me.

There is only one way for you to counter this insult effectively – and that is to make sure I can defeat her claim in court.

That is by no means certain at the moment. The CrowdJustice fund has just covered the cost of creating the amended defence and hefty new costs are going to start mounting up now.

So if you are as angry at Riley’s insulting attack on you as I think you should be, then please do at least one of the following:

Consider making a donation yourself, via the CrowdJustice page.

Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

I know this case has been going on for a long time now, but it seems to me that Riley – and her lawyer – is getting desperate.

On the basis of this reply, I think that she will lose her case in court.

But the case has to get to court first.

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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As Riley libel trial approaches, Mike needs your help more than ever

It has been hard work, but This Writer’s amended defence against Rachel Riley’s ever-ridiculous accusation that I libelled her has been completed and I am ready to take the matter to court for trial.

I don’t think it will be giving away much if I tell you that I’m saying my article is on the following matters of public interest:

  • Online bullying and harassment including death threats.
  • The  power of an adult celebrity compared to the relative powerlessness of a vulnerable child suffering anxiety.
  • Mental health.
  • Anti-Semitism.
  • The public conduct  of  Rachel Riley, a prominent public figure and, in particular, statements she had made or caused to be made publicly in national print and     broadcast media and on Twitter.

I don’t think there is any doubt that the article did focus on these issues. Riley’s advocates will try to argue that I did not have reason to say what I did, with regard to them.

And now we begin the run-up to the trial itself, which is likely to take several days, when it happens, and will therefore cost tens of thousands of pounds. I don’t know how much yet because it depends on the amount of fuss Riley is likely to kick up beforehand.

Let’s all bear in mind the fact that this matter was delayed by a year because Riley decided she wanted to try to strike out all my defences – and failed.

She’ll still want to find ways of delaying a trial because, as far as I can tell, she still thinks her best (only?) chance to win is by depriving me of the funds I need to pay for my defence.

So far, she has been proved entirely mistaken in that belief, too.

But now the pressure is really on and I must rely on you to give as much as you can, as often as you can, until the case is finally closed:

Consider making a donation yourself, via the CrowdJustice page.

Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

Please, please, please tell as many people as you can about this case, and encourage them to contribute too.

I’ll endeavour to post at least one update per week – more if event warrant them.

The current situation is that I have submitted my amended defence to Riley’s legal team, who may object if they so wish. If they do, I’ll take action to handle it.

Then… well, we’ll see what happens then, won’t we?

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Riley’s money-grasping forces new call to fund Mike’s libel defence

If Rachel Riley hadn’t insisted on grabbing cash from me after she lost her bid to strike out my defences against her libel claim, I wouldn’t have to make this appeal.

I’ve just had a note from my solicitor to say that, after she had more than £3,600 from me to pay for the costs of her failed application, I’ll need around £2,000 to pay for work to finalise the new defence I shall be putting before the High Court in the near future – if Riley doesn’t launch another vexatious attempt to waste our time and cash.

It will be very strong indeed.

The public interest defence focuses on why I thought publishing my article was in the public interest, and on the information that persuaded me that I had good reason to put it before the public.

I have always been very confident about these elements of my defence – and I feel more confident than ever, after spending the last few weeks working on it.

There have been strange upsets during this time – involving delays in getting information to my legal team. For an unknown reason, my email software failed to send text and image documents across, on three occasions. I don’t know why this happened – it certainly wasn’t because the files were too big; they were well within the limits of the email platform.

That slowed us down and, as a result, I may need to request an extension of the deadline for submitting the new defence. I mention this to make it clear that it is due to logistical problems; there is no problem at all with the arguments I will be making.

Looking forward, the trial itself is likely to cost another large amount of money so it would be welcome if the fund received a boost beyond its immediate needs. The future is uncertain; while we all may enjoy an increased income if lockdown restrictions really are finally lifted in the middle of next month, I cannot count on that to ensure that I can continue paying for this case.

I should also remind you that this has always been about the ability of rich celebrities to buy justice; Riley’s costs demand shows that she still doesn’t want this to go to trial and will do anything she can to drain my funds.

So please continue to do all you can to foil her – by the usual methods:

Consider making a donation yourself, via the CrowdJustice page.

Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

While it may have seemed as though the last few weeks have been pleasantly quiet, there’s a lot going on that could affect the case, both positively and negatively. It is therefore vital that I continue to demonstrate the financial wherewithal to go on.

I will, of course, keep you updated.

Dowden’s Minack mess-up: was he incompetent or was he lying?

Boris Johnson’s Tory government can’t seem to get anything right, can it?

While the G7 summit was taking place, partners of the G7 leaders were invited to visit the famous Minack Theatre, a clifftop amphitheatre on the coast, facing the Atlantic Ocean.

Afterwards, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden turned the event into a pantomime by tweeting: “This unique venue was one of more than 650 theatres helped through Covid with support from the £2bn culture recovery fund, ensuring that it can entertain visitors for years to come.”

All together now: Oh no it wasn’t!

Theatre bosses responded: “Sorry @OliverDowden but this is not true. We did not benefit from any CRF money as we were not eligible to apply. It turned out having a good level of cash reserves meant we had to fend for ourselves and utilise our own reserves.”

Zoe Curnow, the Minack’s executive director, said on Sunday she was surprised to see Dowden’s tweet. “To try to score a political point is unfortunate, to be completely honest. Obviously the DCMS [Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport] didn’t think to check we were on the list.

“We weren’t on the list because we didn’t qualify, and we didn’t qualify because we run ourselves in such a way that we had enough reserves to see us through.”

That’s not to say that the Minack hasn’t been hit by Covid lockdown restrictions, though!

It lost £300,000 last year and was forced to lay off 15 staff members – something Ms Curnow described as “soul destroying”.

She went on to make the political point that open-air theatres like the Minack should be allowed to go back to full operation sooner than their indoor counterparts because conditions are far less conducive to the spread of Covid-19.

But – again – Dowden and his colleagues are unlikely even to have thought of this.

If they can’t be bothered to check whether a theatre is receiving grant money, they’re never going to be interested in fiddling details like whether meeting conditions to reopen mean it should, even if that makes the difference between prosperity and job losses.

Dowden’s only interest was in winning PR plaudits. Instead he was not only panned but proved that his own career should close – due to bad reviews.

Source: G7 partners’ trip to theatre backfires after minister’s gaffe | Politics | The Guardian

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Priorities: Tories fail to provide funding for schools to recover from Covid-19 because they want YOUR kids to fail

Gavin Williamson: he could provide the funding needed to help your kids catch up with the education they’ve missed due to the Covid lockdowns – he just doesn’t want to.

Tory priorities in action: they have billions to waste on PPE provision contracts for donors who were never going to be able to provide anything, but they absolutely refuse to spend enough for your kids’ education to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

The gap between what is needed and what they’re offering is apparently so wide that England’s school recovery commissioner (did you even know there was such a person) has resigned in disgust:

The education recovery commissioner for England, Sir Kevan Collins, has resigned in a row over the lack of “credible” Covid catch-up funding.

Sir Kevan took on the role as catch-up tsar in February to develop a long-term plan to help pupils make up for lost learning during the pandemic.

But on Wednesday he stepped down saying the government’s funding for the plan “falls far short of what is needed”.

Head teachers labelled the £1.4bn cash over three years as a “damp squib”.

The Education Policy Institute had calculated that a catch-up funding recovery would need £13.5bn – and Sir Kevan was reported as having put forward plans costing £15bn.

The government’s proposal represents £50 per pupil per year.

The government’s response has been to thank Sir Kevan for his work, and to claim that already £3 billion has been put into helping school pupils catch up.

So that’s an admission that they’re providing less than a third of what is needed.

The tragedy of this is that the government could magic up the cash for this in a heartbeat – but our dunce of an Education Secretary, Gavin “Algorithm” Williamson, together with Boris Johnson himself, simply doesn’t want to.

To explain: governments create money and invest it in the economy wherever their priorities lie. Last year, Johnson created £300 billion to keep the UK ticking over during the Covid lockdowns.

So, if the government really wanted to invest in your child’s education, it would create the money for it and pump it into the education system.

The only conclusion to be had is that the Tories don’t want your child to be properly educated. Why should they? Their children are privately-educated.

Source: School catch-up tsar resigns over lack of funding – BBC News

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds rent out £1.2m home – because the funding stream from Tory donors is drying up?

“Can I hide in your fridge”? At the rate he’s going, Boris Johnson (who once, infamously, did hide in a fridge to avoid scrutiny) will soon be living in one.

It’s a valid question.

In the midst of a huge controversy over the way Boris Johnson has funded changes to the Downing Street flat, he suddenly announces this:

Boris Johnson is preparing to rent out his £1.2 million townhouse to raise cash following his second divorce and the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat, it is reported.

Property experts told the Times that Mr Johnson, 56, and Ms Symonds, 33, could let the house for up to £4,000 a month.

The Prime Minister recently put his £1.2 million house near Thame in Oxfordshire up for rent. It was listed at £4,250 a month in April, and a lease was agreed this week, it was reported.

Johnson insists that he paid for the Downing Street renovations himself – but won’t say whether the money was given to him by one or more donors before.

The Electoral Commission has launched an inquiry into whether any loans or donations made in connection with the refurbishment work had been properly declared.

And it is with officials examining his finances that Johnson has started renting out not one but two buildings he owns.

I think it’s reasonable to conclude that he has suddenly run into cashflow problems – and we may reasonably question the reasons for them.

Source: Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds rent out £1.2m home – and they could make £4,000 a month – Mirror Online

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Rachel Riley libel: appeal hearing is APRIL 27 – but we still don’t know the time or venue

Less than a week before This Writer’s hearing in the Court of Appeal, I regret I cannot say whether it will be an “in person” hearing or one that may be viewed remotely on the internet. I don’t even know what time it is likely to start!

My legal team had believed the hearing would be “remote”, and received notification yesterday that this was the case. But it seems the same letter also stated that the court was minded to re-list the case – for the same day – as an “in-person” hearing instead.

There are good reasons for attending the hearing in person. It is easier for Counsel to properly judge and pitch submissions when one is in the same room as the judge. That is even more the case with the Court of Appeal where there are three judges. It is also easier to really engage judges in a debate in person.

However, the Court of Appeal has decided that the hearing should last no longer than two hours – despite Rachel Riley’s team having filed an 80-paragraph response to my appeal, despite having given only one paragraph to this aspect of the case in their strike-out application last December. It was the responsibility of Riley’s team to ask for more time but they have chosen not to do so. In these circumstances, it seems likely that, if the hearing is listed to start in the morning and “in person”, the judges may allow it to run on – and I am advised that this is more likely to benefit Riley than me. That does not strike me as being fair.

There are also difficulties relating to my own ability to attend. I don’t have a car at the moment – it failed its MOT a couple of weeks ago and has been in the garage, being repaired, ever since. This makes travel to London  from Mid Wales extremely difficult – I would have to catch a train to Bristol and stay there overnight (at a time when staying with people outside of one’s ‘bubble’ is still forbidden) before catching a further train to London. This would also necessitate considerable unnecessary expense.

Then there are the issues relating to Covid-19, which haven’t gone away just because many of us have had a first dose of a vaccine. My concerns about carrying the virus back to my ill and disabled partner (I’m her carer, remember) remain valid – and also the court’s own social distancing rules mean it will be practically impossible to discuss the case with my legal team before the hearing. We would not be able to hold them in private, would have to sit a long way apart and would be wearing masks, meaning we would have to shout at each other to be heard – in a public place. That is not a good idea.

And while my solicitor would find it easier to pass on instructions to Counsel if they were both in the courtroom, his own travel expenses are likely to add more than £2,000 to my costs. Having just spent a month raising £20,000 at very short notice, we all agree that this is undesirable.

So I have suggested to the court that a “hybrid” hearing should take place, with Counsel present in court and the rest of us tuning in via the internet. This runs the risk of the court demanding that the hearing be either wholly remote or wholly in person, but it strikes me that I’ll be no worse-off for having suggested it. If it transpires that I can find no way to attend, at least my reasons will be clear.

And of course, Rachel Riley has never attended a single hearing in this case, so it should not be held against me.

I’m not begging for cash this time – this update is purely for information. The CrowdJustice campaign is likely to need more at some point, though, so if you are inclined to donate, the methods are the same as always:

Consider making a donation yourself, via the CrowdJustice page.

Email your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

I will provide further updates when the situation becomes clearer.

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.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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