Tag Archives: illegal

Can Johnson really claim he didn’t know Downing Street parties he attended were illegal?

Boozy Johnson: this is not an image of him at the Downing Street garden party on May 20, 2020 (it was actually taken in 2019) but it serves to suggest his behaviour there quite adequately.

The easy answer to the question in the headline is: no, he should have known his parties broke the law.

I say “his” parties because they were parties at 10 Downing Street, his home and place of work, taking place directly under his nose and that he attended in many instances. They were part of a “party culture” created during his watch.

And I say he should have known they broke the law because he announced to all of us what the law was – and it didn’t allow for social gatherings in a work setting, by the way. Furthermore, evidence in the Sue Gray report shows that his aides certainly did know that these events were legally questionable because they took steps to prevent the press from finding out about them.

Let’s discuss the party in the Downing Street garden on the evening of May 20, 2020 when Covid-19 regulations stated that “participating in a gathering of more than two persons in public was prohibited except where the gathering was ‘essential for work purposes'”, but had been amended to allow “meetings outdoors for exercise or recreation with one person from another household”.

Clearly an after-hours drinks event in the garden of 10 Downing Street, with more than 200 people invited to socialise with each other – even if socially-distanced – would have been a flagrant breach of these regulations.

It would have been a gathering of more than two persons in public that was not essential for work purposes, and it would have been a meeting outdoors between multiple people from more than one other household.

This did not stop Boris Johnson’s principal private secretary, Martin Reynolds, from advertising it by email, while other officials requested that tables be put out by the “Internal Events” team – which This Writer would have thought clearly marks this out as an illegal social occasion.

Alcohol was available at the event – both supplied by officials and also via a request for attendees to “Bring your own booze!”

In total, around 200 staff were invited although it is believed attendance was around 40 – still a massive breach of the regulations at the time.

Here’s the punchline: those arranging the event – including Reynolds – knew it was against the rules because they went to lengths to hide it from members of the media who attended a press conference just before it was due to take place.

According to the Gray Report, a Number 10 special advisor sent this message to Reynolds:

Just to flag that the press conference will probably be finishing around that time, so helpful if people can be mindful of that as speakers and cameras are leaving, not walking around waving bottles of wine etc”.

Martin Reynolds replied:

“Will do my best!….”

The report continues:

A No 10 Director declined the invitation and told the investigation that they had raised with either Martin Reynolds or his office that it was not a good idea.

Lee Cain, the then No 10 Director of Communications (a special adviser), also
received the invitation. In response, he emailed Martin Reynolds, No 10 official (1),
and Dominic Cummings at 14.35 on 20 May 2020 stating: “I’m sure it will be fine –
and I applaud the gesture – but a 200 odd person invitation for drinks in the garden
of no 10 is somewhat of a comms risk in the current environment.” Lee Cain says
he subsequently spoke to Martin Reynolds and advised him that the event should
be cancelled. Martin Reynolds does not recall any such conversation. In addition,
Dominic Cummings has also said that he too raised concerns, in writing. We have
not found any documentary evidence of this.

Referring to the event itself, it is clear that – once again – Boris Johnson attended and participated fully:

The Prime Minister attended at approximately 18.00 for around 30 minutes to thank staff before returning to his office with Martin Reynolds for a meeting at 18.30.

So he was there with Martin Reynolds, who knew it was an illegal gathering. He should have known himself that it was an illegal gathering, being the government representative who had explained the rules to the rest of us. But he not only allowed it to happen but attended and spent 30 minutes with the 40 staff there.

The excuse that he only stopped by to thank staff for their work during the Covid crisis doesn’t make sense because it does not take 30 minutes to make a brief speech of thanks. It seems clear that Johnson was himself socialising with staff, adding his own household to all the others that should not have been mixing at that time, according to the rules that he had put in place.

How strange that the Metropolitan Police who investigated this event, and must have known that it was an illegal party attended by the prime minister, chose not to fine him for this flagrant law-breaking! How convenient for them that their Acting Commissioner was able to dismiss this omission simply by declaring that, as far as he was concerned, all the decisions were above-board!

Reynolds, who subsequently had a meeting with Johnson inside 10 Downing Street, sent a WhatsApp message to a special advisor later in the evening, which appears to be about a story in the press:

[Martin Reynolds] [19:36] “Best of luck – a complete non story but better than them focusing on our drinks (which we seem to have got away with).”

In the light of all this evidence, it is not credible for Boris Johnson to claim that he had not fallen foul of rules in the Ministerial Code because he had not broken the law on purpose.

He should have known himself that the event broke his rules because he was the one who laid them down for us all.

His principal private secretary certainly knew that the event broke Johnson’s own rules, and attended the event with Johnson. Considering the contents of his electronic correspondence, it seems extremely unlikely that he did not mention to Johnson that the event was illegal.

Also, if the event was not against the rules, why was everybody involved so tight-lipped about it, to the point of hiding it from the media?

And this is just one of many such parties.

It doesn’t matter what Johnson says – the evidence exposes him as a liar.

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Rwanda policy has made illegal migration problem WORSE

Priti Patel: she and her boss Boris Johnson are the only people who deserve to be carted off to live in an African dictatorship. They’re too stupid and pig-headed to be allowed to stay in the UK’s government.

Priti Patel’s plan to send people accused of being illegal migrants to Rwanda has not stopped boats crossing the channel but has sent some asylum-seekers into hiding – creating a cost, and time, burden for the authorities, while others have resorted to self-harm – creating work for the NHS.

Meanwhile, prime minister Boris Johnson has announced that the government is preparing to deport the first 50 migrants to Rwanda – and to spend who-knows-how-much-money defending the decision in the courts.

So, all things considered, these two idiot Tories have achieved nothing more than a waste of public money, and public organisations’ time.

What a pair of [insert expletive of your choice here].

Apparently, more than 7,000 people have crossed the channel in small boats in the first four months of the year – more than three times as many as last year and more than seven times as many as in 2020.

The latest available government figures show 792 migrants arrived in small boats in the week from 2 to 8 May.

The Tories are saying their deportation policy will take a considerable time to push through, as legal challenges will “take time”.

But Patel said she would not be deterred…

The government says the new scheme will be a major blow to people smugglers and will stop people dying on dangerous routes to the UK.

… certainly not by the facts, it seems.

Meanwhile, Johnson has been taking an opportunity to denigrate the lawyers who will stand up for the migrants’ rights.

In an interview with the Mail, he said:

“There’s going to be a lot of legal opposition from the types of firms that for a long time have been taking taxpayers’ money to mount these sort of cases, and to thwart the will of the people, the will of Parliament. We’re ready for that.

“We will dig in for the fight and we will make it work,” he added. “We’ve got a huge flowchart of things we have to do to deal with it, with the leftie lawyers.”

How strange. It isn’t the “leftie lawyers” who are wasting a fortune on a pointless policy of persecution.

It’s this profligate prime minister and his psychotic home secretary.

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P&O owners should face consequences for ‘one of the most shameful acts in UK industrial relations’

Moored: P&O ferries in harbour – and that’s where they should stay until the firm – and its parent organisation, DP World – sorts out fair treatment for the 800 UK staff they illegally sacked without notice.

There’s no question that the mass sacking of 800 UK citizens working for P&O ferries was illegal.

The RMT union has described it as “one of the most shameful acts in British industrial relations”.

And it is: 800 workers were told their contracts had been terminated and were escorted off their ships by handcuff-trained, balaclava-wearing security guards, to be replaced by cheaper, agency workers.

The sacking of P&O’s entire UK seafaring staff without notice is contrary to even this country’s lax employment laws, because they demand that any employer planning to sack more than 100 staff must give ministers 45 days’ notice – and the government was not told about the plan at all.

If the government had been told, it would have been able to act on behalf of the workers, either to get better conditions of release, or to find alternative employment for them, or both. That can’t happen now.

Considering these circumstances, it seems clear that P&O’s behaviour is an act of intentional harm to its loyal staff.

Yes, there have been demonstrations of protest – but these have been hamstrung by the Tory government’s own support of “fire-and-rehire” practices that force workers to accept worse pay and conditions so bosses can profit.

Natalie Elphicke was caught out by this at a demo in Dover:

Apparently Labour’s John McDonnell was also there – but his party leader, Keir Starmer, is also a (covert) fan of “fire-and-rehire” because he decided that the money problems he created for himself meant he had to fire around 90 staff, then take on 50 again on short-term contracts.

Protests are fine but direct action is better.

This Writer would certainly advise anyone who has booked passage on a P&O ferry to cancel and seek alternative provision.

I would advise anyone using P&O to carry freight to do the same.

The company is owned by a Dubai-based corporation – port operator DP World. Any UK business in a position to do so should find a way to penalise that organisation too.

Back in the day, the government would have sent gunboats to blockade their ports but our spineless, mendacious Tories wouldn’t dream of doing anything so bold.

The only successful way to negotiate with these people is to attack their profits.

Otherwise they get away with it.

Source: ‘Scandalous betrayal’: MPs condemn P&O Ferries for mass sacking of 800 staff | Travel & leisure | The Guardian

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Patel plan to secretly strip people of UK citizenship is ‘offence to justice’ after court ruling

The Court of Appeal has struck down a Home Office decision to remove a British woman of her citizenship without telling her.

Home Secretary Priti Patel had tried to argue that notification had been given to D4, who has been detained in the Roj camp in Syria since January 2019, by simply placing a note on her Home Office file.

D4 was born in the UK in 1967 and had British nationality from birth, along with Pakistani nationality. The decision to strip her of British citizenship was made on December 27, 2019 but her solicitors were only informed when they wrote to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in September 2020, asking for help in repatriating her.

The Home Office’s claim relied on regulations that had been introduced by statutory instrument, without parliamentary approval.

But the court said the British Nationality Act 1981 required written notice to be given to someone of a decision to strip them of their citizenship and only parliament could decide to alter that requirement.

Lady Justice Whipple said: “The 1981 act does not confer powers of such breadth that the home secretary can deem notice to have been given where no step at all has been taken to communicate the notice to the person concerned and the order has simply been put on the person’s Home Office file. To permit that would be to permit the statute to be subverted by secondary legislation.”

Whipple said the purpose for requirement to give notice in the 1981 act was that “the person needs to know that a decision has been made; the person is entitled to know the reasons for that decision; and the person is put on notice of their appeal rights”.

This should have serious consequences for Patel’s current plan to remove the requirement to give notice – including retrospectively – as described in Clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill.

The ruling states that British justice requires a person to be told their nationality has been removed, to be given the reason for that decision, and to be told how they may appeal.

Failure to provide that information is an offence to justice.

Maya Foa, director of Reprieve, the charity representing people who suffer extreme human rights abuses (and note that this means the Home Office subject D4 to extreme abuse) said the decision confirmed that stripping a UK national of their citizenship in secret is illegal.

“But the government is already cynically attempting to circumvent the courts by using Clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders Bill to render this ruling moot, making a mockery of the rule of law.

“Ministers should change course and recognise that depriving people of their citizenship without even telling them is an affront to British principles of justice and fairness.”

And what are ministers actually doing?

They are seeking permission from the Supreme Court to appeal against the ruling. The UK’s government has nothing but contempt for the rule of law.

Source: UK unlawfully stripped woman of citizenship without telling her – court | Home Office | The Guardian

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Conservative Party ‘racially profiled’ 10 million voters illegally before 2019 election

Questionable behaviour: the party that once put out the above as an election communication has been gathering information on UK voters by race and religion. What harm do you think they were going to do with it?

Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party bought tools to work out voters’ race and religion and used it for “racial and religious profiling” of 10 million people before the 2019 election, the Information Commissioner’s Office has revealed.

The Open Rights Group has said the data could have been used for “voter suppression techniques”, and referred to Tory Zac Goldsmith’s 2016 London Mayoral campaign, when he was criticised for ethnicity-targeted leaflets aimed at Hindu, Sikh and Tamil voters.

There is no evidence to suggest that the Tories used the information in any specific way in the 2019 election campaign.

The Open Rights Group has released this video, in which ICO staff explain that it was illegal to collect ethnicity data:

Cat Smith, Labour’s shadow minister for voter engagement, said the revelation that the party in government – that is due to impose new, discriminatory voter identification laws – had been using illegal means to gather information is serious cause for alarm:

“The Conservative Party’s illegal misuse of ethnic race data – a characteristic protected by law – is deeply concerning.”

“With the government’s discriminatory Voter ID laws due to come into law this year, such racial profiling by the Party that is in charge of upholding our data protection laws raises serious alarm bells.”

Why would the Tories want to gather information that the law forbids them from taking, if not to give themselves an unfair electoral advantage?

What were they planning to do with it?

And why have they not even been punished?

We don’t know whose voter information received this “racial and religious profiling” treatment, so I think we all need to ask the Tories what they have been finding out about us.

We should all send a Subject Access Request to Conservative Central Office, demanding full disclosure of all information they have about us.

Source: Conservative Party ‘racially profiled’ 10 million voters | openDemocracy

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Brexiteers’ justification for breaking international law on Brexit is illiterate. Why hasn’t Braverman resigned?

Suella Braverman: She used to chair a secret group of Brexit-supporting MPs and is now Attorney General. Yes, she is as daft as she looks.

In trying to humiliate a leading Remainer – and justify its own contempt for international law – Boris Johnson and his government have made the UK a laughing-stock once again.

And our Attorney General, Suella Braverman, should be offering up her resignation. Rather than uphold the rule of law, she has sided with a government that intends to break it, turning the UK into nothing better than a rogue state.

Almost as bad, she offered as justification for this lawbreaking a Supreme Court ruling that Parliament is sovereign in domestic matters – a ruling won by Remain campaigner Gina Miller in a challenge to previous Brexit legislation.

But the same Supreme Court ruling made it clear that this does not excuse the UK government from honouring its obligations under international law.

Here’s Braverman’s statement, as exulted by Brexiteers. I’ve found a more level-headed response to it:

What is the appropriate response? This:

Perhaps. This:

Mmm… How about two in-depth Twitter threads? First this:

(After that lesson in the law, I think the Secret Barrister may be allowed to advertise a book about it.)

And then there’s this:

It is not for members of the public to challenge this.

I have a feeling that the Tory government will face serious and well-funded legal challenges both from within the UK and outside.

I am concerned that this will lead to an equally serious financial penalty – a bill that, once again, the taxpayer will have to pay.

We always end up bailing out these incompetent Tories when we should be sending them to jail instead.

Last word goes to Mark Elliott (again):

It is par for the course in a government that is as bent as a nine-bob note.

But Suella Braverman’s resignation is definitely required.

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The Tories crippled their own border controls. Don’t let them use their own stupidity to boost racism

Tories like scapegoating immigrants – and have been doing it for decades: the current fad is for claiming illegal immigration feeds modern slavery, but the underlying threat has always been that Johnny Foreigner is taking your job. It’s an old con.

This Tory hypocrisy is a little too rich for our taste.

Boris Johnson’s government is whipping up jingoism against refugees secretly crossing the Channel to get into the UK:

It seems ministers have conveniently forgotten that successive Tory governments were responsible for stripping the country of its ability to catch the people-smugglers.

Former prime minister Theresa May, during her term as Home Secretary, spent years cutting Border Force, the organisation that – we’re told – protects our borders.

I published this story in 2014 and matters have only become worse.

If it can’t manage now – and the Tories have had to appeal to the Navy for help – that’s their fault and they should own up to it.

Instead, they’re trying to turn their latest fiasco into a crusade against Johnny Foreigner sneaking onto our shores and boosting modern slavery.

How utterly vile.

I accept that it is perfectly understandable to want to keep unmonitored people out of the UK during a time of international contagion.

However:

The issue is why these people want to come to the UK at all. If we really wanted to stop them, we need to help end their reasons for leaving their own homelands.

(Obviously, making the UK an unattractive destination has failed as a strategy.)

My guess is, these people are running away from wars, and the fallout from wars, that the UK helped start under recent Tory governments.

So whichever way you turn, the finger of blame points at the Conservatives.

It leads me to ask whether this is an attempt at distraction – and if so, I’m wondering what’s so bad that the Tories are happy to expose themselves to ridicule, simply to divert attention away from it.

Source: Home Office seeks military help over migrant crossings – BBC News

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Floodgates open as 300+ disabled people issue court claim for Universal Credit cash

A landmark court ruling looks set to cost the Tory government a small fortune as people with disabilities line up to demand their lost cash.

More than 300 people are involved in this initial claim – but solicitors Leigh Day reckon more than 13,000 could be owed lost income totalling £170 per month or more.

Here are the details:

More than 300 severely disabled people have issued a claim in the High Court for lost income under the universal credit system.

The group, represented by Leigh Day solicitors, say they have each missed out on at least £170 a month since they were moved on to universal credit as the new benefits system has been rolled out across the UK.

All of the group were moved on to the system before January, 2019 and lost the severe disability premium which they had previously claimed, which left them worse off.

However, severely disabled people who have been moved on to universal credit since January 2019 have not missed out on the severe disability premium.

Instead, their universal credit claims have been managed by the Severe Disability premium Gateway system which has been put in place to ensure that severely disabled benefits claimants do not end up worse off under the universal credit system.

The claimants argue that they have suffered because of the unlawful implementation of the Universal Credit  (Transitional Provisions) 2014, the SDP Gateway Regulations, January 2019, and the Managed Migrations Regulations 2019.

They claim they have suffered discrimination under Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The current litigation appears to follow a Court of Appeal ruling on these issues – that the government not only discriminated against disabled people moving from Severe Disability Premium onto Universal Credit, but then tried to discriminate against them with the repayments.

The issue was discovered by two claimants, anonymised as TP and AR, whose disability benefits were cancelled when they moved from one local authority area to another. They were put on Universal Credit instead, with £180 per month wiped off the amount they were set to receive.

The government attempted to rectify the situation with regulations which stopped other severely disabled people from moving over to Universal Credit and provided those who had already moved over with back payments.

But in another failure of the kind that has made the Tory government notorious, the disabled men were only paid back at a rate of £80 a month, rather than the £180 that they had lost.

The Court of Appeal, in a unanimous judgment, agreed with lower courts that the Government had unlawfully discriminated against this cohort of severely disabled claimants.

This site previously reported that a pre-action protocol letter had been sent to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey. Leigh Day solicitors have now issued the full claim, saying she failed to substantively respond to that letter.

They believe that up to 13,000 disabled people in the UK have been affected by the change and may be entitled to make a claim to retrieve lost benefit payments.

“Our clients believe that it clearly cannot be right that they find themselves £170 a month worse off under the universal credit system when other claimants have the assurance that they will not be worse off on universal credit,” said Leigh Day solicitor Ryan Bradshaw.

The claimants are asking the Work and Pensions Secretary for compensation equal to the amount of money they have lost following their transfer to Universal Credit, for their previous level of benefits to be restored and maintained until a lawful migration scheme is established, and for compensation for the stress they have been caused.

Source: Disabled benefit claimants issue claim for lost income under universal credit system

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DWP faces legal action over lost benefit cash – from no fewer than 275 people with disabilities

It seems people with disabilities are seizing the opportunity granted them by a landmark court ruling – and taking legal action against the government over lost benefit income.

Leigh Day solicitors have sent a pre-action protocol letter to Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey on behalf of no fewer than 275 former claimants of disability benefits who say changes forced on them by the government department deprived them of £170 per month – or more.

They say they lost the cash because they were moved on to Universal Credit before January 2019, when the Department for Work and Pensions introduced the Severe Disability Premium (SDP) Gateway system.

This aims to ensure that people previously entitled to the Severe Disability Premium do not end up worse off when they are transferred to Universal Credit.

The 275 claimants involved say the unlawful implementation of the Universal Credit  (Transitional Provisions) 2014, the SDP Gateway Regulations, January 2019, and the Managed Migrations Regulations 2019 mean they have suffered discrimination, as defined by Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Leigh Day solicitors reckon up to 13,000 disabled people in the UK have been affected by the change and may be entitled to make a claim to retrieve lost benefit payments.

The current litigation appears to follow a Court of Appeal ruling that the government not only discriminated against disabled people moving from Severe Disability Premium onto Universal Credit, but then tried to discriminate against them with the repayments.

The issue was discovered by two claimants, anonymised as TP and AR, whose disability benefits were cancelled when they moved from one local authority area to another. They were put on Universal Credit instead, with £180 per month wiped off the amount they were set to receive.

The government attempted to rectify the situation with regulations which stopped other severely disabled people from moving over to Universal Credit and provided those who had already moved over with back payments.

But in another failure of the kind that has made the Tory government notorious, the disabled men were only paid back at a rate of £80 a month, rather than the £180 that they had lost.

The Court of Appeal, in a unanimous judgment, agreed with lower courts that the Government had unlawfully discriminated against this cohort of severely disabled claimants.

At long last, it seems, people with disabilities have a chance to get compensation from a Tory government that has persecuted them for more than a decade.

Source: 275 severely disabled people launch legal case against DWP over lost benefit income – Welfare Weekly

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Nandy’s plan to tackle Labour anti-Semitism allegations isn’t only bad – it’s illegal

Lisa Nandy: The mouth is open but there is no sign of intelligence.

Can someone please give Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy’s head a shake and, when it’s cleared, show her a copy of the Data Protection Act?

Nandy has just put forward her plan to deal with allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. It is imbecilic and illegal.

Here’s the gist:

The plan calls for an immediate zero-tolerance policy under a new leader, with the party fully implementing, as a minimum, any recommendations from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which is formally investigating Labour over allegations of antisemitism. Another instant change would be to lower the threshold for suspending members where there are “credible accusations of antisemitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism”.

Nandy has also pledged to introduce a new and independent complaints process, saying the existing process “is not trusted to handle the wave of cases the hard-working staff team have faced because of legitimate concerns about political interference” and a factionalised process.

Another promised element would be transparency, with Nandy pledging to share information on disciplinary cases with MPs, local parties, the JLM and the media. The JLM would be brought back to carry out training on antisemitism.

We’ll put to one side the insistence on slavish obedience to the findings of an EHRC investigation that may be tainted by false evidence and allegations of bias within that organisation. Let’s look at that another day.

If Nandy wants to lower the threshold for suspending members accused of racism, she probably knows the bar is already very low. This Writer’s own membership was suspended in the basis of an article by the Campaign Against Antisemitism that was – let’s be fair – chock-full of lies.

It’s no wonder that the CAA is now under investigation by the Charity Commission over claims that it has breached rules of political impartiality that all charities must keep.

But it is Nandy’s promise to introduce an independent complaints process, and to share information on disciplinary cases with other organisations – including the media – that are illegal.

As a data controller, Labour is under an obligation to keep data on its members confidential.

That means no sharing with other organisations or individuals, except under exceptional circumstances, without the consent of the data subject.

This Writer is currently in the middle of a court case against the Labour Party over the cavalier way it disregarded its own disciplinary procedures and the Data Protection Act that was in effect at the time (the current version has more protections for data subjects).

I think my case is airtight. The breaches of law and contract are clear. I do not expect to lose.

That will be extremely embarrassing for Labour – and doubly so for any leader who imposes new rules that spit on the law.

Postscript: Oh, and Nandy’s claim to be sympathising with Jewish party members who say they’re agonising about quitting the party is all well and good – but she seems to be ignoring the fact that her planned pogrom against Labour members indicates that she supports a certain form of racism herself.

Source: ‘Make-or-break time’ on antisemitism in Labour, says Lisa Nandy | Politics | The Guardian

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