Tag Archives: Independent

Three government ministers among 56 MPs accused of sexual misconduct

Red light district: but it seems some MPs are treating the Parliamentary estate in a worse way than a brothel, as the alleged shenanigans here are not necessarily consensual.

Four years after the so-called ‘Pestminster’ scandal, the UK’s Parliament is still packed with perverts.

That’s the obvious conclusion to draw after it was claimed that 56 MPs have been accused of sexual misconduct under the Independent Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS).

Three of them are apparently members of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet – and two are alleged to be in Keir Starmer’s Shadow Cabinet.

Allegations range from making sexually inappropriate comments to criminality.

The ICGS was set up as an independent process with cross-party backing in 2018 after Pestminster when, if I recall correctly, it was claimed that Theresa May had details of sexual misbehaviour by dozens of Tory MPs.

This Writer wants to know how many of those on her list then are also on the ICGS list now – and if they are, why haven’t they been arrested?

Source: Three ministers ‘on list of 56 MPs accused of sexual misconduct’

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Child Q: is ‘lack of urgency’ minister waiting for inquiry to get police off the hook?

Kit Malthouse: does he look like he cares about anything?

Policing minister Kit Malthouse has been – rightly – slammed for repeatedly saying the Government must wait for the outcome of a police watchdog report into the traumatic strip search of a black schoolgirl.

In December 2020, police – two male, two female – were called by teachers at a secondary school in Hackney, who believed a girl was carrying drugs because they could smell cannabis.

She was subjected to what seems clearly a deliberately humiliating strip-search. She was made to strip naked, to spread her legs, to use her hands to spread her buttock cheeks and then to cough.

She was menstruating. According to family members, the police insisted that she take off the bloody pad and would not let her go to the toilet to clean up. Then they made her reuse the same pad.

No drugs were found, yet the rumour spread around the school that this perfectly innocent girl was a drug dealer.

The experience left the girl traumatised, in therapy and self-harming.

Answering an urgent question in Parliament, Malthouse condemned the “distressing” incident, saying she “could have been any one of our relatives”.

But he insisted that the government had to wait for a report into the incident, on which the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has already been working for 10 months.

He said the police officers involved had a right to “due process”, which is all well and good – but justice delayed is justice denied, and doesn’t Child Q have a right to justice?

And despite a safeguarding review into the matter producing a series of recommendations for the Government and police to act upon, Malthouse insisted there was doubt whether the police have a specific problem or a systemic problem relating to their policies and practices.

“It is the role of the independent police watchdog – the Independent Office for Police Conduct – to investigate serious matters involving the police and the IOPC has said it has been investigating the actions of the Metropolitan police in this particular case,” he said.

“We must let the IOPC conclude its work. We would, of course, expect any findings to be acted upon swiftly but it’s vital that we don’t prejudge the IOPC’s investigations or prejudice due process – so it would be wrong for me to make any comment on the case in question at this time.”

This Writer wonders whether Malthouse is simply hoping the IOPC will find a way to exonerate the officers involved (one of whom, it seems, was male – in a gross violation of police rules).

And he did not respond to a call to publish data on the number of times children are strip-searched. Why not?

Other MPs saw matters differently – not that he should not comment until the inquiry had been completed but that he should life a finger or two to bring the matter to that conclusion:

Labour MP for Eltham, Clive Efford, criticised Mr Malthouse for having a “wait and see attitude”, and said: “I feel like we’ve woken the minister from an afternoon nap to come in and make this statement”.

He added: “There’s a complete lack of urgency in his approach. It is quite clear that there are areas now where the Government can act; why isn’t the minister coming to this house to explain to us just exactly what he’s going to do, rather than this wait and see attitude?”

It seems clear that Malthouse’s fellow Tories felt no need to enact justice for Child Q. Only one Conservative MP turned up to the discussion – Jackie Doyle-Price – and her contribution was to ask what the minister would do to ensure the Metropolitan Police changes its practices.

Underlying this lack of activity there must be the same question that underlies the reasons for the humiliation and trauma of the strip-search of a menstruating teenage girl.

Is it because she is black?

Source: Child Q: Minister slammed for ‘lack of urgency’ over police strip-search of Black girl

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MPs bypass #DWP to publish controversial report on claimants’ experience of #benefits

Boris Johnson isn’t the only Tory minister facing serious consequences for their actions this week. It’s looking bad for Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey too.

Coffey has repeatedly refused to publish a DWP-commissioned report on disabled people’s experiences of the benefit system – so the Commons Work and Pensions Committee has given orders for its authors to provide a copy to Parliament, which will then be published.

The report, The Uses of Health and Disability Benefits was received by the Government in September 2020. The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) had interviewed disabled people about their experiences of receiving PIP, ESA and Universal Credit.

The committee last month gave the Secretary of State one final chance to publish the report, which she herself admitted fell within the Government’s own protocol for publication.

But Coffey said she would not be reconsidering her decision.

Why not? It seems likely that researchers at NatCen, who wrote the report, found that people on disability and other health-related benefits were overwhelmingly negative about their experience of the system under Tories including Coffey and her forerunners, going right back to Iain Duncan Smith.

NatCen has been ordered to provide a copy of its report by January 27.

“After repeated obstruction from the Secretary of State to keep from public view a piece of work that falls within the Government’s own protocol for publication, we have reached the end of the road,” said Work and Pensions Committee chairman Stephen Timms.

“We would have much rather the DWP had done the right thing and published the report itself, so it is with regret that we must now take the highly unusual step of using our parliamentary powers to obtain a copy from NatCen and publish it ourselves.

“We have been forced to do this to ensure that the reality of disabled people’s experiences of the benefits system can see the light of day.”

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What a #stitchup! #Police watchdog whitewashes the #Met over #DowningStreetParty

Under suspicion again: Cressida Dick’s decision not to investigate an alleged Christmas party at 10 Downing Street on December 18, 2020 is being reviewed. But is the correct authority handling the case?

The Independent Office of Police Conduct has cleared the Metropolitan Police of misconduct over the alleged Christmas party at Downing Street on December 18 last year.

But the exoneration does not cover the Met’s failure to investigate an alleged breach of Covid-19 social distancing rules that were in force at the time.

No – it was cleared because the complainant, Baroness Jenny Jones, was not herself adversely affected by any such failure by the police.

Baroness Jones had stated that police working outside 10 Downing Street controlled “all access to and from Downing Street”.

“Put very simply, if there was an unlawful gathering taking place at No 10 Downing Street, then the police must have known and were highly likely to have played an active part in organising or facilitating the illegal gathering,” she said.

“I believe there is a case to answer for the police aiding and abetting a criminal offence or deliberately failing to enforce the law in favour of government politicians and their staff.”

She also argued that Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick’s decision not to investigate the reported party represented “a potential cover-up”.

Acting Detective Chief Superintendent Tony O’Sullivan of the Met Police responded that he had referred the complaint to the IOPC, “given that you effectively allege misconduct in public office by MPS [Metropolitan Police Service] police officers”.

But the watchdog said a “valid complaint” could only be made when “an individual, or someone acting on their behalf, has been adversely affected by the alleged conduct or its effects”.

And as there was no evidence Baroness Jones had been nearby when the event took place, “we have decided it is invalid”.

What a stitch-up!

It seems to This Writer that this superintendent only made the referral to the IOPC in the terms he did in order to secure a whitewash on specious grounds.

The issue isn’t whether Jenny Jones was personally affected by the alleged party, but whether it took place in defiance of then-enforced Covid-19 rules and police knew about it.

The grounds on which the IOPC looked into this are not valid at all because nobody is going to say they have been “adversely affected” by the conduct of police in failing to enforce those rules. They were having a party and the cops were (allegedly) turning a blind eye.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that Acting Det Ch Supt O’Sullivan has referred the second part of Baroness Jones’s complaint – that Commissioner Dick had not investigated the allegation of a party at 10 Downing Street – for investigation.

But this will be carried out by the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPC) which sets the direction and budget for the Met.

Is that the appropriate organisation to investigate such an allegation?

I don’t know.

But I fear another whitewash.

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Why IS the #DWP refusing to release report on claimants’ experience of #PIP, #ESA and #UC?

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign].

The Department for Work and Pensions is stalling for time to bury important information on the way its benefit regime treats recipients – again.

It is now six years since I won my battle for the DWP to honour a Freedom of Information request on the number of people who have died after being denied ESA (thousands within two weeks; they hadn’t bothered to collect information beyond that time limit) – and still its officers obstruct requests.

Currently the DWP is refusing website Benefits and Work‘s request to see a report on 120 claimants’ experiences of receiving Personal Independence Payment, Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit.

The department is also refusing to allow the Commons Work and Pensions committee to see the report, even in complete confidentiality, raising questions over what ministers are trying to hide.

It seems even the interviewees themselves have not been allowed to see the report, which leads This Writer to question whether its information is accurate. Disability News Service has suggested that it isn’t, after being told by a whistleblower that, after the first draft was produced, ministers told the authors to cut the number of references to “unmet needs” and delete some analysis.

I tend to agree with Charlotte Hughes, who reported on this in her blog The Poor Side of Life:

So even the diluted final version of the report is apparently too scandalous to see the light of day.

From years of past experience we know that the DWP don’t put the needs of disabled people first or even anywhere. Their target is to force people into work regardless of them actually being able to do so.

In the past I’ve seen disabled people forced onto Universal Credit by deception and then forced onto DWP courses with the aim of getting them ‘ready’ for work.

We can’t let the government and the DWP get away with ignoring report requests and also implementing rules that are at best cruel.

We need to remember that the government and the DWP are masters of deception and we must continue to see past their lies. There’s more of us than there are of them and I alongside others will continue to hold them accountable for their actions.

Charlotte’s blog runs entirely on donations and if you want to contribute, follow the link to her site and press the “Donate” button.

With the DWP trying to hide a potential harm to people with long-term illnesses or disabilities, or who are unemployed, all social commentary sites have a responsibility to keep the facts of this matter within the public gaze, which is why I am publishing this information.

Please feel free to pass it on to as many people as possible – either by sharing this article or by referring to the information in conversation, should you get the opportunity.

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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 handling 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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