Tag Archives: Independent

At last, it’s out! Independent documentary debunks Panorama over Labour anti-Semitism

It’s taken years but at last a group of independent media outlets – and yes, This Site had a hand in it – have released a documentary debunking claims by the BBC’s Panorama that the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn was anti-Semitic.

And it is still topical, three years after the Panorama attack piece was aired.

In the Panorama programme, interviewees alleged that The Labour Party is institutionally antisemitic. After Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn, strenuously denied the claims, these people sued – and new leader Keir Starmer paid them a six-figure sum, despite having been told the party could win if it mounted a defence.

If you watch the new documentary, Reaching Over The Noise: Is Labour Really Antisemitic, you may easily come to the conclusion that Starmer’s advisers were right – and Starmer was wrong.

This Site covered the Panorama attack piece in depth at the time it was released – in a series of six articles:

This one…

This…

This…

This…

And this.

The new documentary takes a hard look at the allegations in Panorama, examines whether they were really justified, and comes up with an honest answer.

It balances the Panorama piece by interviewing British Jews who approved of Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership of the Labour Party – and revealing the abuse they have suffered as a result.

It examines the individuals whose testimony formed the backbone of Panorama – were they entirely honest or did they have a shared interest in putting forward a particular interpretation of events?

And it asks whether the narrative put forward by the BBC documentary was the whole story – or missed out vital information.

The verdict? Well…

Watch the documentary and you’ll find out.

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Did DWP torture this disabled benefit claimant until he died?

There are many kinds of torture – not just physical but also psychological.

This Writer has to ask whether the Department for Work and Pensions used psychological torture on a disabled benefit claimant by its own failures to carry out its duties properly.

DWP officers had left the claimant to be supported by an elderly, disabled parent – his appointee – who also needed daily carers and meals delivered.

Departmental guidance states that they should have found another appointee – but they did not do so. Why not?

Instead, the claimant’s ESA and PIP were repeatedly stopped due to failure to attend assessments, because letters were sometimes sent to the claimant’s address and sometimes to his parent’s.

The benefits were restarted after interventions – but the DWP has apparently lost the evidence showing why the claims had been restarted.

There are supposed to be safeguarding procedures to protect vulnerable benefit claimants but – as we discovered after the death of Jodey Whiting – nothing has been done to encourage officers to follow them.

In this case, the DWP repeatedly failed to follow its own safeguarding procedures, despite the fact that officers knew the claimant was vulnerable.

In addition to physical health problems, this claimant had severe depression. At one point, a sibling contacted the DWP to say that the claimant’s GP had sent them for psychiatric assessment due to a deterioration in their mental health.

The sibling explained that they had been to the claimant’s house and found unopened post and said they weren’t fit for a PIP assessment, but another such interview was arranged – by letter.

The result was predictable: the claimant didn’t answer the door and their PIP was stopped. The same also happened in relation to their ESA claim.

The claimant died – underweight, “unkempt and dirty” – after having been denied ESA for three months and PIP for three weeks.

His parent had been providing cash for food, even though that person had their own care package, meals prepared and carers attending daily.

The claimant’s sibling complained to the DWP and the government department made a payment of ESA arrears and £3,000 of backdated PIP.

Unsatisfied, the sibling took the matter to the Independent Case Examiner, who ruled that a further payment of £10,700 in PIP be paid to the claimant’s estate and a consolatory payment of £2,500 to the family.

And a fat lot of good it dead the deceased man!

But think how much the DWP saved; one-off payments totalling £16,200 – which included arrears, remember – is much less than might have been handed out if the claimant had remained alive.

So I have to ask: did DWP officers deliberately push this claimant to death?

They knew he suffered from severe depression but chose to mess him around.

Brown envelope phobia is a known phenomenon in which depressed people avoid opening letters from the DWP – so they sent him letters that they knew he would never read.

They deliberately failed to find a new appointee, and sent important notifications to the claimant’s former appointee – knowing that he would not be able to read them.

Another known behaviour of depressed benefit claimants is aversion to confrontations with DWP-appointed benefits assessors; they believe (justifiably, as many documented cases show) that they’ll be cheated out of payments.

But these DWP officers still sent an assessor to this claimant’s address anyway. Is it really credible for them to say they did not expect what happened?

Or were they deliberately inflicting psychological torture on a man with severe – mark that: severe – mental health problems?

To This Writer, the evidence is clear: the problem at the DWP is systemic – people there are encouraged to ignore their duty of care to claimants.

But with the Court of Appeal refusing to allow another inquest in the case of Jodey Whiting, it seems impossible to bring the evidence needed to prove it into the light of day.

Is the whole of the UK’s benefit and legal system rigged to push vulnerable people to their deaths and then hide the facts, simply because they happen to be sick and/or have a disability?

Source: Disabled claimant died underweight, ‘unkempt and dirty’ after ESA and PIP wrongly stopped | Disability Rights UK

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Is IPSO incapable of investigating standards at the Jewish Chronicle? Or UNWILLING?

Jo Bird: her complaint against the Jewish Chronicle over inaccuracies in its report about her was upheld; now she, I, and seven other victims of its falsehoods are demanding an investigation into whether the paper’s editorial standards have fallen to an unacceptable level. And guess what? We’re not the only ones.

Remember the letter to newspaper regulator IPSO that This Writer co-signed, requesting a Standards Investigation into the Jewish Chronicle after it notched up 28 recorded breaches of the Editors’ Code and four libel defeats in just three years?

It seems IPSO would rather forget about it.

Tasked with providing a respond by August 12, the organisation’s first reaction was to send a ‘holding’ letter, to which one of my co-signatories, Jo Bird, replied with a list of seven questions.

She then received another holding letter from IPSO’s head of standards, saying she was going on holiday but would get on the case when she got back, and that Lord Faulks, the IPSO chair, would respond on his own account ‘in due course’.

Ms Bird chased this – only to receive yet another ‘holding’ letter saying the head of standards was now sick, and she has written again to say that the questions she asked (When will Faulks write? How many JC breaches has IPSO counted? And others) don’t need the head of standards to answer them.

We expect to receive another ‘holding’ letter.

Meanwhile, there has been another ruling against the JC, involving two code breaches: https://www.ipso.co.uk/rulings-and-resolution-statements/ruling/?id=29092-20 – that makes 37 breaches of the law or the code in 37 months, including seven code breaches and one libel settlement in 2021 alone.

Some of us want to know what’s going on at the so-called press regulator. It should not take more than a month to work out whether there are grounds to investigate the standard of reporting at a newspaper that, over the last three years, has broken the rules – and the law – an average of once a month.

IPSO is itself owned and run by newspaper bosses and owners. Are they concerned that an investigation may create a precedent, setting a bar for investigations that their own newspapers could pass? Are they opposed to an investigation because they like what the JC has been doing? And are they embarrassed by the fact that the JC has put them in an impossible predicament?

Well, their problem is about to get worse.

Hacked Off – the campaign for a national press that is accountable and free of political and commercial influence – is launching a campaign demanding an IPSO standards investigation into the JC, and pointing out at the same time that there are very strong grounds for IPSO to investigate The Times over Islamophobia, The Telegraph on bad science and The Mail on a whole range of subjects – today, September 20, 2021.

Suppose IPSO has been gearing itself up to reject an investigation – or to run a token inquiry and whitewash the JC.

It seems to This Writer that such a course of action is about to become much, much more difficult to justify.

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Excoriating report on Tory concentration camps is buried on last day of Parliament

Priti Patel doesn’t like answering hard questions: in this image she was defending Boris Johnson over ‘herd immunity’ so no wonder she has dodged interrogation over herding immigrants into overcrowded concentration camps to catch Covid-19 or get burnt when fires break out.

The Tories made sure a searing report on their failure to provide habitable accommodation for immigrants would not receive proper scrutiny – by releasing it the day after the relevant Parliamentary committee met for the last time before the summer recess.

The delay is all the more deplorable because Priti Patel has had the report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration for months – but sat on it because she doesn’t like to be criticised – poor widdle baby!

According to the Mirror, the report only came out now because Labour’s Yvette Cooper accused Patel of delaying its release “for many months” in a “Kafkaesque” situation.

(Has Patel read Kafka? She probably thought he was a grotty foreign Communist and stuck to Ayn Rand and Mein Kampf.)

Conditions in her camps at Penally, Pembrokeshire, and Napier Barracks in Kent, certainly reflect the philosophy of Nazism (such as it is).

The reports findings certainly suggest that Patel followed Hitlerian thinking. It said overcrowding meant a major Covid outbreak at Napier was “virtually inevitable” once just one person was infected.

There was no way to isolate anybody; the outbreak eventually infected hundreds of people. Did anybody die? This Writer hasn’t seen the statistics.

And the report said: “Despite a large fire at Napier, inadequate action had been taken to address ongoing serious fire safety concerns.”

Furthermore, it said: “Managers at both sites lacked the experience and skills to run large-scale communal accommodation.

“Home Office staff were rarely present at either site. There were fundamental failures of leadership and planning by the Home Office, which had led to dangerous shortcomings in the nature of the accommodation and poor experiences for the residents.”

Yes indeed – they were locked into the camp, packed together like sardines, and treated like criminals even though they had not committed any crime.

A Home Office spokesperson said the government department has made “significant improvements” since the report was put together – which itself indicates that Patel withheld its release for an unacceptably long time.

And there has been a strong effort to hide events at the camp from public view. I’m not just referring to the intimidation of a photographer who took images of protests outside, either.

Simply withholding the report while changes were made is dishonest. It should have been published on receipt, and independent reviewers invited to examine any changes, to ensure that they were fit for purpose.

That hasn’t happened.

It is easy to form your own conclusion about the reason: Patel is a racist and hates immigrants – especially because she is herself a daughter of immigrants.

Source: All the bad news the Tory government buried hours before MPs’ summer holiday – Mirror Online

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After Lord Geidt’s whitewash, Labour wants INDEPENDENT probe on Downing Street flat redecoration

Good advice: Boris Johnson can say what he likes about his alleged breaches of the ministerial code, but nobody in their right mind would take only his word for it.

Labour will be like a dog with a bone over Tory corruption.

You know why?

The party can’t attack the Tory government over its incompetent hnadling of Covid-19 because Keir Starmer supported every duff decision Boris Johnson made (until the evidence revealed those choices to have been homicidal).

And Starmer can’t criticise the Tories over Brexit because his choice of policy contributed to Labour’s spectacular loss of the 2019 general election. He would just be inviting ridicule.

But Tory corruption is a different matter.

And the controversy over the redecoration of the Downing Street Flat occupied by Boris (and Mrs) Johnson, dubbed “Wallpapergate” due to the enormous cost of the wallpaper they chose – more than £800 per roll – was only ever likely to get worse after the prime minister was cleared of wrongdoing by a man who is his employee.

And Labour has found a way to make this an actual Double Whammy.

Not only has Labour reported Johnson to the independent Parliamentary standards commissioner, but it has pointed out that he was warned to face stronger sanctions after a previous transgression.

He had failed to declare shares in a property by the deadline required for it to appear in the relevant register of MPs’ interests.

At the time, standards commissioner Kathryn Stone had reprimanded Johnson. She also warned that any further breaches may warrant “more serious sanction”.

Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, reminded Ms Stone of this in her letter requesting an independent investigation into Johnson’s failure to register a donation by Tory donor Lord Brownlow to pay for the flat redecoration.

She wrote: “Far from learning the lessons of his previous transgressions, the prime minister has continued with his attitude of treating basic standards of integrity, openness and transparency with contempt, and behaving as though there is one rule for him and another for everyone else.”

And she said the fact that Mr Johnson told Lord Geidt he became aware of the donations for the works on the flat in February this year but did not settle the invoices personally until March 8 suggests he is in breach of parliamentary rules on declaring donations that all MPs must follow.

Ms Stone is already investigating whether Mr Johnson properly declared a £15,000 holiday on the Caribbean island of Mustique with his now-wife Carrie.

Johnson is also facing two other inquiries into the flat refurbishment.

The Electoral Commission is investigating whether the Conservative Party broke the rules on declaring donations over the Downing Street flat and has the power to issue a fine of up to £20,000.

And Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, the UK’s top civil servant, is also examining whether donations were properly declared.

And it will only get worse for Johnson because he won’t stop breaking the rules. It seems he genuinely thinks he’s above the law.

Still, it’s great for political commentators like This Writer. It guarantees me stories for years to come.

As for you… if you like that sort of thing, I recommend you buy popcorn – in a regular supply.

Source: Labour demands further probe into Boris Johnson’s flat revamp – BBC News

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Deaths and other harms to benefit claimants prompt renewed lawsuits – and calls to investigate DWP

Death by DWP: Philippa Day.

The chickens are coming home to roost at the Department for Work and Pensions.

The families of three benefit claimants – who are said to have died because the DWP deliberately mishandled their claims – are continuing to take the department through the court system in their search for justice.

Publicity around the cases has led to a BBC investigation in which it was found that they are just three out of 150 cases in which the DWP has conducted internal investigations into its own behaviour.

Now the department is facing demands for an independent investigation into its conduct. Long overdue demands, in This Writer’s experienced opinion.

Here‘s the BBC:

Cases where people claiming benefits died or came to serious harm have led to more than 150 government reviews since 2012, a BBC investigation found.

Internal reviews are held by the DWP when it is alleged its actions had a negative impact, or when it is named at an inquest.

Calling for an inquiry, Labour MP Debbie Abrahams said: “It needs to be taken out of the hands of the DWP.”

Ms Abrahams, who previously read out in the Commons the names of 29 people who have died, said: “There needs to be an independent inquiry investigating why these deaths are happening and the scale of the deaths needs to be properly understood.”

The DWP said it had established a new Serious Case Panel in 2019 to consider themes identified from serious cases, which included independent members.

Yeah, right. I opened Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire the other day. That doesn’t mean I read any of it.

Now let’s hear from Leigh Day solicitors, who represent the three families who are pushing their cases through the courts:

The families spoke to the BBC to share their stories and the legal stages of their cases.

Philippa Day who lived with a long standing mental health illness, and was diabetic, died aged 27 in October 2019, two months after she was found collapsed at home in Nottingham.

On 27 January 2021, HM Assistant Coroner for Nottinghamshire, Gordon Clow concluded that the problems Philippa had with her application for disability benefits were “the predominant… and the only acute factor” which led her to take action on 8 August 2019 that ultimately proved fatal.

Following the inquest, a letter of claim has been sent to DWP and Capita which alleges breach of human rights and negligence by the DWP and Capita arising out of the events which led to Philippa’s death and seeks compensation for the wrongs Philippa and her family suffered. DWP and Capita have three months to respond before claims may be pursued in the High Court.

Death by DWP: Jodey Whiting.

Jodey Whiting, aged 42, took her own life on 21 February 2017. She suffered severe mental health problems and had her benefits terminated a fortnight earlier for not attending a Work Capability Assessment, leaving her with no source of income.

The Attorney General granted their consent last year for an application to the High Court for a fresh inquest into her death, which the High Court will hear on 22 June 2021. Jodey’s mother seeks a fresh inquest to ensure the role played by the DWP in her daughter’s death are publicly and fully investigated.

Death by DWP: Errol Graham.

Errol Graham, was found dead aged 57 in June 2018, eight months after his benefits were stopped because of his failure to attend a fit for work assessment. When his body was found, Mr Graham weighed four-and-a-half stone.

An inquest in 2019 found that DWP and NHS staff had missed opportunities to save Graham, and the coroner concluded that “the safety net that should surround vulnerable people like Errol in our society had holes within it”.

Mr Graham’s family have submitted an application to the Court of Appeal after their judicial review challenging the lawfulness of the DWP’s safeguarding policies was unsuccessful. The family argue that the decision in 2017 to terminate his benefits was unlawful and that the DWP’s safeguarding policies and systems need to be overhauled to provide greater protection to vulnerable benefit claimants who, like Errol, suffer from mental health conditions.

The allegations against the DWP are extremely serious.

They indicate that it has been DWP policy to endanger the lives of benefit claimants.

For that reason, it seems clear to This Writer – and I expect to anybody with the slightest common sense – that the DWP should not be judging its own work with regard to these cases.

I say that for the same reason I say Boris Johnson’s Conservatives should not be conducting inquiries into whether contracts were corruptly handed to Tory cronies – or into whether Johnson himself breached the ministerial code by getting donors to pay for his Downing Street flat’s redecoration.

They are liars; they will always whitewash themselves.

We have seen evidence of such behaviour many times over the last 10 years – reported on This Site, among others.

The work of Debbie Abrahams has been exemplary in trying to get an investigation into this scandal by an organisation we can trust.

It’s true that such efforts have achieved very little, so far.

But attitudes are changing.

As more evidence has come to light, public tolerance of the DWP’s entitled attitude has eroded.

Maybe we are finally about to get some factual answers to questions we have been asking for more than a decade.

Source: Investigation reveals 150 DWP reviews into deaths or harm to benefits claimants | Leigh Day

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Anti-Semitism: where’s Labour’s plan to stop discrimination against members who are falsely accused?

Feel free to copy this image and share it anywhere you think people should see it.

I never thought I would find myself in agreement with the lunatics from Labour Against Anti-Semitism.

But their call for an independent review of all historic reports of anti-Jewish racism in the Labour Party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015 is right on the button.

It was a reaction to a new plan announced by Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner, for an independent complaints process in line with recommendations by the Equality and Human Rights Commission earlier this year.

As with all such plans by politicians, the real issue is what’s missing, rather than what is included.

The EHRC found that no fewer than 60 per cent of the cases it examined involved discrimination against the respondent – the person accused of anti-Semitism – by the Labour Party while it was supposed to be pursing an independent inquiry.

Starmer – whose strategy since becoming Labour leader has been to use false accusations of anti-Semitism to persecute prominent left-wingers and eject them from the party under false pretences – has made no plans to rectify this.

I had to take the party to court to prove that Labour threw away its own regulations to falsely accuse and expelling me.

So let’s have that “full review” of all cases since 2015.

And let’s see how many other members were falsely accused by lying Labour officers from Starmer’s wing of the party.

Source: Labour publishes plan to rid party of anti-Semitism – BBC News

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Johnson’s promise of independent Covid-19 inquiry is worth as little as all his other vows

If you were relieved when Boris Johnson promised an independent inquiry into his government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, you’ve missed the point.

Boris Johnson promises the world. He delivers very little – if not actually nothing at all.

It costs him nothing to say he’ll have work done – and we should all know by now that he will spend nothing on the work.

In fact, his response to Ed Davey’s question followed a classic pattern.

He said: “I do not believe that now, in the middle of combating the pandemic as we are, is the right moment to devote huge amounts of official time to an inquiry.”

This is the classic delaying tactic, invariably followed by a promise to hold one at a non-specific point later on:

“But of course we will seek to learn the lessons of the pandemic in the future, and certainly we will have an independent inquiry into what happened.”

Just you try to get him to honour that promise!

He’ll keep stalling with “Now is not the time” excuses for a while, and then he’ll cancel the whole idea altogether with:

“We’ve all moved on now.”

You know it. I know it.

The Twitter commentariat certainly know it – and have responded with choice examples of previous Johnson promises that have come to nothing:

https://twitter.com/MIMJO2000/status/1283397823355146240

And take note:

If you really want an inquiry into the government’s homicidal response to Covid-19, This Writer recommends contributing to that which is currently being carried out by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Covid-19:

Source: Coronavirus: PM promises future independent inquiry – BBC News

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Met police refers itself to police watchdog over stop-and-search of athletes’ car

That was quick.

This Writer only published Vox Political‘s story about the Metropolitan police targeting black athletes Ricardo dos Santos, Bianca Williams and their three-month-old baby for a stop/search a couple of hours ago, and already the case has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct!

If you want something to happen, get me to write about it.

But seriously…

It actually took several days and the threat of a court case for this matter to be referred to the IOPC, and This Writer is concerned that we’ll see another stitch-up.

The IOPC blotted its copy book with its whitewashing of the relationship between Boris Johnson and Jennifer Arcuri, and I fear that any investigation of this case will go the same way.

It occur to me that, if the IOPC – and the police in general – want us to accept any verdict on this, we’ll have to see all the evidence when the report comes in.

That seems the best way to ensure fairness. Don’t you agree?

The Metropolitan Police has referred itself to the police watchdog over the actions of its officers in a stop and search involving athlete Bianca Williams.

The 26-year-old Team GB sprinter was dragged from the vehicle and handcuffed in Maida Vale, West London on Saturday along with partner Ricardo dos Santos, a Portuguese 400m runner, in front of their three month-old-son.

The athlete has since accused the Met of racial profiling – telling LBC radio she believes they were stopped because the car is all black and her partner is a black man. “There is no other reason,” she added.

Source: Bianca Williams: Metropolitan Police refers itself to watchdog after stopping Team GB athlete’s car | The Independent

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Did these omissions and vaguenesses influence the Johnson-Arcuri investigation whitewash the prime minister?

Johnson and Arcuri: the IOPC report suggests information was deleted or delayed to clear the prime minister of any wrong-doing.

Records were deleted or never existed, information was delayed and officers revealed they were influenced to act a particular way in the matter of Boris Johnson’s relationship with Jennifer Arcuri, a police report has revealed.

Is this how the investigation into that relationship has been made to say there was no impropriety?

Why were records relating to this case deleted – what did they cover and when were the deletions made? We may never know, but the questions should be enough to raise suspicion.

Why were some records never made? The report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct remarks on them so it is reasonable to believe that they were necessary. Who was responsible for making these records? What information would they have provided?

Why did the third parties mentioned in the report delay providing their information? What influenced them to inconvenience the investigation and would their information have been different, had they not done so? What was the subject of the information they had been asked to provide?

Possibly most damning is the statement that officers working for Johnson and making decisions about sponsorship monies and attendance on trade missions “thought that there was a close relationship between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri, and this influenced their decision-making”.

Why would they have thought that? Did Johnson, or one of his aides, tell them this was the case and/or that they should give her the money/include her in the junkets?

Because that is how this looks!

The IOPC review took longer than expected due to the poor quality of information provided in the initial referral, a lack of records and delays in third parties providing information. Some of the records which would have assisted the review either never existed or have been deleted.

Director General Michael Lockwood said:“While there was no evidence that Mr Johnson influenced the payment of sponsorship monies or participation in trade missions,  there was evidence to suggest that those officers making decisions about sponsorship monies and attendance on trade missions thought that there was a close relationship between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri, and this influenced their decision-making. “

Our review established there was a close association between Mr Johnson and Ms Arcuri and there may have been an intimate relationship.

The GLA code of conduct which applied at the time meant that, even if the relationship was intimate, Mr Johnson had no obligation to include Ms Arcuri’s business interests in his own register of interests.

However, under the broader Nolan Principles of Public Life, our review suggests it would have been wise for Mr Johnson to have declared this as a conflict of interest, and a failure to do so could have constituted a breach of these broader principles contained within the GLA 2012 Code of Conduct.  As this does not amount to a potential criminal offence, this is now a matter for the GLA to consider.

You see, the report states that

The IOPC’s Operation Lansdowne review found no evidence indicating Mr Johnson influenced the payment of any sponsorship monies to Ms Arcuri or that he influenced or played an active part in securing her participation in trade missions.

That may be so – but if this is because evidence was destroyed and witnesses were vague, that is not enough to prove any kind of innocence.

The report ends with a list of recommendations for the Greater London Authority and London & Partners to improve their policies, procedures and record-keeping.

This would not have been necessary, had these organisations been able to provide full and frank answers to the inquiry’s questions.

It seems clear that – as This Writer stated in a previous article – the investigation has been an undeserved whitewash.

Source: No criminal investigation of Boris Johnson for misconduct in public office while Mayor of London | Independent Office for Police Conduct

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