Tag Archives: intimidation

Survey shows there IS a culture of bullying in Priti Patel’s Home Office

The bully: and it seems Priti Patel is presiding over a culture of bullying in the Home Office.

It’s official, then: Priti Patel presides over a culture of bullying and intimidation at the Home Office.

The issue came to public attention when Sir Philip Rutnam resigned as Permanent Secretary for the HO, saying he would be taking Ms Patel to court for constructive dismissal.

He said there had been a “vicious and orchestrated” plot against him, and that he was offered a bribe to stop him from launching court action, in what we must conclude was an attempt to keep it from becoming a matter of public knowledge.

Now we find that the former Permanent Secretary’s situation was not a unique, solitary aberration; a survey of Home Office employees shows that thousands of them have suffered similarly:

The Home Office people survey… results show 16% of respondents claimed they had been discriminated against at work in the past 12 months, roughly equating to 3,375 individuals.

And 14% said they had been bullied or harassed at work in the same period, roughly equal to 2,950 employees.

Of those who claimed they had been bullied, 1,444 said the nature of bullying was “negative micromanagement eg excessive control; made to feel incompetent”, while 1,242 respondents said they had been “humiliated in front of team or others”.

This is the accusation that was levelled against Ms Patel, of course.

The rot comes from the top; Ms Patel presides over a culture of intimidation – and in the meantime she has been falsely assuming credit for measures to restrict the spread of coronavirus.

She has to go.

Source: Survey of thousands of Home Office staff revives bullying row | Home Office | The Guardian

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‘Degrading and humiliating’ – why do police treat disabled people so badly?

Targeted: Is the Met police’s ill-treatment of disabled people part of an overarching policy of discrimination against them?

The Metropolitan Police has been accused of “degrading and humiliating” treatment of people with disabilities who took part in the Extinction Rebellion protests in London.

In isolation, this would be bad enough – but it is just the latest in a series of incidents targeting disabled protesters, by forces across the UK.

Now the Met’s independent advisory group says the bullying that took place may have caused “irreparable damage” to relations with disabled people.

Stop and think about that. This isn’t just a public relations problem – it’s a disaster for the police: “irreparable damage.”

According to The Guardian, advisory group chair Anne Novis said everybody in that organisation – all of them – were on the point of resigning because of the stories they were hearing from disabled people.

This is entirely understandable. The claim is that people with disabilities were deliberately and aggressively targeted by police.

Here’s an example of what police were doing: When a disabled protester outside Scotland Yard needed a carer to adjust her supplemental oxygen and provide other medicine, police arrested both on the grounds that they were an illegal assembly.

They had been there to protest after police had confiscated independent living equipment including wheelchairs, disability ramps, noise-cancelling headphones, specially adapted toilets and other items intended to make protest sites accessible to disabled people.

Another incident saw a blind protester released without his cane. And left to get home without any help at all.

Legal observers for Extinction Rebellion said they had expected violence by police – but had not reckoned on it being almost exclusively directed at disabled people in what appeared to be a “deliberate intimidation tactic”.

The Met has claimed that it does not single out any minority group or community – but this is unpersuasive in the light of the mountain of evidence against it.

And it seems part of a nationwide policy to target the disabled. Remember when anti-fracking protesters in Lancashire were targeted by police?

Those people then faced a secondary attack from the Department for Work and Pensions, who claimed that they did not deserve sickness and/or disability benefits because they were well enough to take part in a protest. Remember that?

We discovered then that the police had an agreement to share information on protesters with the DWP, precisely to help that government department unfairly strip disabled people of their benefits.

Loss of state benefits – for a disabled person – has led to starvation, the worsening of their condition through lack of medication, and – in some cases – suicide.

It may be considered an attempt to pass a death sentence on them, simply for daring to protest against something that is wrong.

Has the Met passed the details of the disabled XR protesters to the DWP, in the hope of forcing them into that fate?

I don’t know. But I feel sure we will find out.

Let us hope that we do so before it is too late.

Source: Met police accused of ‘degrading’ treatment of disabled XR activists | UK news | The Guardian

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Court rules that current NI abortion law breaches human rights in blow to anti-abortionists targeting Stella Creasy

Stella Creasy: the pregnant MP was targeted by anti-abortion campaigners after she sponsored an amendment decriminalising it.

This is important: the High Court in Northern Ireland has ruled that current laws that criminalise abortion are in breach of the UK’s human rights commitments.

It comes after an amendment sponsored by Labour MP Stella Creasy was passed by MPs, decriminalising abortion if there is no deal to re-establish the devolved government in Northern Ireland by October 21.

Ms Creasy, who is pregnant herself, has since been targeted by an anti-abortion organisation calling itself the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) with a series of posters in her Walthamstow constituency.

She raised the fact with a point of order in the Commons yesterday, prompted Speaker John Bercow to describe the campaign as “vile, unconscionable and despicable”.

The case was taken in Belfast by Sarah Ewart, who challenged the law after she was denied a termination.

The judge said she ruled in Mrs Ewart’s favour as it was not right to ask another woman to relive the trauma that she had already experienced.

A formal declaration of incompatibility would not be made at this stage, the judge said.

Mrs Justice Keegan made that decision in light of impending legislation, already passed at Westminster.

Source: Abortion: NI law ‘breaches human rights’ – BBC News

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WATCH: ‘Vile, unconscionable and despicable’ – MPs respond to targeting of Stella Creasy by anti-abortionists

Abuse:’ This poster was put up in Stella Creasy’s Walthamstow constituency in what is seen as an attempt to intimidate her.

An anti-abortion group that targeted pregnant Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy has been labelled “vile, unconscionable and despicable” by Commons speaker John Bercow as MPs vowed to help her take action.

Ms Creasy raised the issue after an organisation called the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) put a poster of her alongside a picture of what it claimed was “a 24-week-old aborted baby girl”, with the claim “Your MP is working hard … to make this a human right” and the address of a website established against the MP.

The abuse targeted at Ms Creasy follows the approval from MPs of her amendment to extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland – the only part of the UK where it is illegal. The vote passed by 332 to 99.

She has reported the matter to the Metropolitan Police – only to be rebuffed by officers who say this is a “free speech” issue.

A clearly-emotional Ms Creasy raised the issue with a point of order in the House of Commons, after Prime Minister’s Questions today (October 2).

I managed to capture most of the exchange with Speaker John Bercow on video (I happened to have a camera handy and grabbed it up as soon as I realised what was happening). Apologies for the shaky picture and possible poor sound quality – the camera was hand-held. You may hear voices over the top – they belong to This Writer and Mrs Mike:

The point of order prompted the appropriate Tory government minister to promise action.

Abortion is a sensitive and complicated issue, and I don’t propose to go over all the arguments here.

But I do believe that there are many possible reasons for a woman (or a couple) to consider abortion and if that option is available to them, it is not for anybody else to tell them what to do. It is a matter for their conscience and it should be a human right.

The action of the so-called charity (as you will have heard, it has been refused charity status in the UK) – against a woman who is herself pregnant – is as Mr Bercow described it: vile, unconscionable and despicable. I’m sure many readers could add a few choice words themselves.

It is the sort of behaviour that could affect the health of an unborn baby, contrary to that organisation’s stated aims. Do these people even care about that double-standard?

It has no place in UK society.

Our charities exist to campaign for measures that improve the quality of life – not to victimise people who have done nothing wrong (the fake charity Campaign Against Antisemitism should also take note of this).

The advertising company that hosted the offending posters has agreed to take them down.

Let us hope that the organisation behind it faces legal action (this behaviour is a criminal offence under the Public Order Act) and is chased out of the UK for good.

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Bullying bigots tried to stop book launch. When will they be arrested?

Chris Williamson speaking to a crowd in Brighton on August 8. He had to carry out his talk in the open air after bigots falsely claiming he was an anti-Semite intimidated staff at two hotels.

Brighton was the venue for shameful scenes when a gang of bullying bigots managed to get an event at a local bookshop cancelled with a campaign of intimidation. When it was moved to another venue, they launched another campaign of hatred against that.

Why did these bigots intimidate staff at Waterstones Brighton – and try to shut down the rescheduled event at the Rialto Theatre?

Simple. It was the launch of a book by academics examining the “anti-Semitism” crisis in the Labour Party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader – and the bigots opposing it are dedicated to shutting down any discourse on this subject that doesn’t support their own position.

You see, these are people who claim to speak for the UK’s Jewish community – but don’t. It is a role they have assumed for their own political ends.

They claim that the people they are trying to silence are peddling hate – but the only hatred on display comes from them.

Consider the book whose launch they were trying to stop: Bad News for Labour: Antisemitism, the Party and Public Belief by Greg Philo, Mike Berry, Justin Schlosberg, Antony Lerman and David Miller.

Publishers Pluto Press describe it as “a ground breaking study revealing how accusations of antisemitism damaged the British Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.”

Its promotional copy states: “During the summer of 2018, numerous members of the Labour Party were accused of anti-Semitic behaviour by their detractors. The controversy reached fever pitch amid claims that the Labour Party had become ‘institutionally racist’ under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and that the prospect of a Corbyn-led government posed an ‘existential threat’ to Jewish life in Britain.

“This book clears the confusion by drawing on deep and original research on public beliefs and media representation of antisemitism and the Labour Party, revealing shocking findings of misinformation spread by the press, including the supposedly impartial BBC, and the liberal Guardian.

“Bringing in discussions around the IHRA definition, anti-Zionism and Israel/Palestine, as well as including a clear chronology of events, this book is a must for anyone wanting to find out the reality behind the headlines.”

The event at Waterstones was set to feature a discussion of the book by its authors, joined by film director Ken Loach.

And who were the authors? From the hatred directed at them, they must be a disreputable gang of anti-Semites – right?

Greg Philo is Professor of Communications and Social Change at the University of Glasgow, and Director of the Glasgow University Media Unit. Mike Berry is a lecturer in the Journalism School at Cardiff University. Justin Schlosberg is a media activist, researcher and lecturer in Journalism and Media at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is a former Chair of the Media Reform Coalition and Edmund J Safra Network Fellow at Harvard University. Antony Lerman is Senior Fellow at the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue in Vienna and Honorary Fellow of the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations at Southampton University. He has written on multiculturalism, racism, antisemitism, and Israel/Palestine for the Guardian, Independent, New York Times, Haaretz, Prospect, Jewish Chronicle and London Review of Books. And David Miller is Professor of Political Sociology at the University of Bristol. He is a founder director of Public Interest Investigations and a director of the Organisation for Propaganda Studies.

So: No – not anti-Semites. Academics.

Still, the campaigners against their book managed to get the Waterstones event shut down, as Skwawkbox elaborated yesterday:

“An event this evening near Labour’s conference in Brighton, to launch a book by five academics that examines the wider context of antisemitism allegations against the Labour Party, has been cancelled by bookseller Waterstones after a ‘vicious’ and threatening campaign by the party’s opponents.

“The event was scheduled to start at 7.30pm and would have featured a panel discussion including the authors and world-famous film director Ken Loach. An organiser of the launch described the campaign as ‘vicious, large-scale and threatening’.

“Brighton was also the scene of threats – including in person – that forced two venues to cancel a recent event involving suspended Labour MP Chris Williamson. Staff were so traumatised by the sinister campaign that at least one was unable to resume work.”

Pluto Press put the cancellation as mildly as it could – but it was still clear that the “external pressure” put on the store was intimidation.

Then the Rialto Theatre, which has hosted other Labour conference fringe events, stepped in:

And the campaign of intimidation and accusation started again – on the social media as much as anywhere else. This is quite handy, really – as it means we can put names to the bigots:

https://twitter.com/NobodyNorman/status/1176171499667017728

https://twitter.com/IanMackintosh04/status/1176160362657472512

I would like to see all of the above interviewed by the police, in relation to the threats suffered by staff at Waterstones and the Rialto. Such behaviour is illegal and must not be tolerated.

It is especially abhorrent when it is being carried out by people who are claiming the moral high ground, accusing their victims of anti-Semitism and threatening violence to prevent those victims from presenting a case that could exonerate them.

I was particularly interested in the tweet by Gary Spedding, highlighted here by Jackie Walker – another innocent victim of the bigots’ smear campaign. Mr Spedding co-wrote a particularly virulent online article, falsely accusing me of anti-Semitism.  When I wrote to him, pointing out the errors and asking him to take it down, he and his co-author refused, flinging a few personal insults at me along the way.

I am pleased that he has implicated himself in this hate campaign and hope that Sussex Police contact him at their earliest possible opportunity.

Don’t get me wrong – I have maintained, from the moment I first started writing about it, that anti-Semitism does exist, in the Labour Party and throughout UK society.

But it doesn’t exist in the book that these bigots have been attacking, and it doesn’t exist in the academics who wrote it. I’m unfamiliar with staff at Waterstones Brighton or the Rialto, but I’ll hazard a guess that they don’t spend their days consumed with hatred for Jews either.

On the other hand, I’m willing to bet that the authors of the hate-filled tweets you’ve just read do spend their days consumed with hatred – and vent that hatred on anyone they can shoehorn into their enormously wide definition of anti-Semitism.

It simply isn’t acceptable.

These aren’t campaigners fighting prejudice against Jews.

They are vicious, hate-filled bigots.

And they need to be stopped before they seriously harm somebody.

One more thing – they did get an aspect of their campaign right: the slogan “Don’t host hate”. That’s a good slogan, and it can very clearly be applied to these bigots.

So I’m having it. If you see these people, or anyone else pushing their message, then flag it up with #DontHostHate

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Government introduces plan to prevent interference in elections – while claiming there’s no evidence it is needed

The Conservative government has introduced new plans to “crack down on intimidation, influence and disinformation” and safeguard UK elections – while strenuously denying evidence of any such behaviour.

New laws will bar people from running for office for five years, if they are found guilty of intimidating or abusive behaviour.

In future, online election material must clearly show who has produced it – one hopes the Brexit Party will take note of this.

And there will be a consultation on ways to strengthen laws on foreign donations.

The last two measures are intended to prevent interference in UK elections and referendums by foreign organisations, and to ensure that domestic political organisations can’t breach electoral spending restrictions.

They address concerns that targeted advertisements, on social media platforms like Facebook, seen only by the intended recipient, do not contain statements showing who has funded them and on whose behalf they have been made.

Bizarrely, the government’s spokesman denied that there is any need for these planned new laws.

Kevin Foster (who?), Minister for the Constitution (oh, that’s who), said: “There is no evidence that British elections or referendums have been compromised.

“One of Britain’s most valuable safeguards is the use of pencil and paper to vote.

“But we need to review and refresh our analogue laws for a digital age, and ensure there are robust safeguards against hostile states, foreign lobbyists and shadowy third parties.”

But Jo Stevens, a Labour member of the Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, tweeted her scepticism:

Cognitive dissonance?

Source: Government safeguards UK elections – GOV.UK

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Intimidation forces cancellation of film screening about Labour’s ‘anti-Semitism’ WitchHunt (Part One of Two)

Bully: Luciana Berger is no longer a member of the Labour Party, but she intimidated it into forcing the cancellation of a film screening in order to silence dissent against her story about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Labour’s latest bid to smear and discredit people who speak against fake “anti-Semitism” accusations against party members is a disgrace that flies against a basic rule of British justice.

Of course the usual fellow-travellers in the mainstream media have kicked up a song and dance about it so you’ll know that Labour MP Chris Williamson was attacked yesterday (February 26) by his former party colleague Luciana Berger after it was revealed his office had booked a room in the House of Commons to host a screening of the film WitchHunt, about the accusations of anti-Semitism against Jackie Walker, who is herself Jewish but whose Labour Party membership has been suspended for a specious reason (you can read about that – and see why the allegation is false – here).

Ms Berger tweeted:

“With a ‘guest’ who hasn’t yet had their antisemitism disciplinary hearing”?

So she’s been accused, but no verdict against her has been recorded?

That means only one thing – as I made clear myself in a tweeted response to Ms Berger:

That’s right – Ms Berger was trying to silence an innocent woman, preventing her from stating her side of the story.

Now, why would she want to do that – especially when one realises that she hasn’t even seen the film herself?

It seems she succeeded, too – the screening has now been cancelled as a result of the adverse publicity Ms Berger created, even though it has nothing to do with her; she isn’t a member of the Labour Party any more.

It had been arranged with Mr Williamson’s office by Jewish Voice for Labour. In a press release, the organisation stated:

Intimidation forces cancellation of WitchHunt film in Parliament

“A documentary film exploring the background to accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party, due to be screened in the House of Commons on Monday March 4, has been cancelled after an outcry from people who have not seen it.

“Within hours of an invitation being sent to Labour MPs and journalists, the Jewish News  reported calls for expulsion from the Labour Party of Chris Williamson MP whose office had booked the room to show the 62-minute documentary, titled WitchHunt. Williamson had no other role in organising the event.

“Neve Gordon, Professor of international law at Queen Mary University of London, who was due to take part in a panel discussion after the screening next Monday, said: ‘This is outrageous. It certainly confirms the significance of the movie.’

“The documentary has been acclaimed by leading filmmakers Mike Leigh and Peter Kosminsky, both of whom are Jewish, and by Israeli historian Professor Avi Shlaim (Oxford University). His statement, which topped the invitation, says: ‘Anyone who speaks or writes in the public domain about antisemitism and the current state of the Labour Party has a duty to see this film and address the issues it raises.’

“The film is due for release online on March 17th following a tour with director Jon Pullman to a number of cities including Nottingham, Brighton, Edinburgh and Derry.

“Pullman said: ‘We hope that people concerned with the struggle against racism and antisemitism take the time to see the film, and then make their own mind up. To have it publicly denounced as ‘offensive’ by people who have not seen it raises question about what is happening to democracy in this country.'”

The testimonial from Mr Kosminsky is particularly pertinent as it states: “[WitchHunt] packs a powerful punch, telling a story we just aren’t hearing at the moment.”

The reason for that should be obvious from Ms Berger’s tweet.

She got exactly what she deserved, though. Let’s take a look at some of the comments her tweet, and my response, attracted:

https://twitter.com/tadpoleno3/status/1100435771243356160

Here’s the trailer for WitchHunt:

“A message to anyone who dissents: ‘We can get you.'”

Chilling.

And that is exactly what we have seen in this heavy-handed intervention from Ms Berger.

AFTERWORD: It should be noted that Jewish News reported the screening of WitchHunt was due to take place shortly before the Jewish Labour Movement was due to debate its future with the Labour Party, with “some members pushing for disaffiliation”. Let us hope that this happens and Labour separates itself from this poisonous organisation which is far more interested in supporting the Zionist project in Israel than in standing up for Jewish people in the UK who may disagree with its political stance. Consider its own mission statements (as reported here) for evidence.

Ms Walker will face her Labour Party disciplinary hearing on March 26. Here’s a tweet about it that you might find interesting:

https://twitter.com/AnnieHailey8/status/1100447690679300096


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Gobby Brextremist Goddard arrested again – for threatening photographer

Gobby James Goddard: His tendency to let his mouth run away with him keeps getting him arrested.

Remember James Goddard, the pro-Brexit fanatic who got arrested after intimidating incidents involving Anna Soubry, Owen Jones and others on College Green, Westminster, last month?

No?

Well, it’s hardly surprising.

It’s even less surprising that he has been arrested again – this time for threatening a press photographer.

It seems a recording exists of him telling Joel Goodman, “I swear to god when there’s no police around here, I’m going to take your head off your shoulders, and all the football lads will as well, your card is marked … Trust me, next time you’re in London mate, you’re finished.”

The full details are available on Zelo Street.

As intimidation attempts go, it’s not very convincing. As a propagandist, this guy doesn’t hold a candle to Lord Haw Haw. Or even Lord Snooty.

Perhaps we might call him Lord Snotty?

Or perhaps we should refuse to give him and his ilk the time of day.


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Tory double standards: Abuse them and the police are called – but they can abuse anyone freely

Pointing the finger: A Conservative MP shouts at Commons Speaker John Bercow during discussion of the Grieve Amendment.

Conservative MPs have been at their abusive worst in Parliament – heckling Speaker John Bercow over his decision to allow a vote on the so-called Grieve Amendment, and hurling insults at Jeremy Corbyn, ironically as he called for a “safe space” from such behaviour during Prime Minister’s Questions.

The hypocrisy comes into sharp focus when one recalls that only two days before, Conservative MPs wrote to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, demanding stronger policing of the area outside the Palace of Westminster to prevent abuse of the kind directed at Conservative MP Anna Soubry by (right-wing pro-Brexit) protesters on Monday.

Note that I put “right wing pro-Brexit” in parentheses because there seems to be a concerted effort to airbrush this fact out of the record, along with the abuse of left-wing journalist Owen Jones by the same people. We’ll come to that shortly.

First, let’s consider yesterday’s Parliamentary antics, starting with the Grieve Amendment. Tory backbencher and former Attorney General Dominic Grieve had proposed an amendment to legislation that gives the government 21 days to say what happens next if its Brexit deal is voted down, and a further seven sitting days (days in which Parliament is in session) in which to hold a vote.

The amendment reduces the time allowed before a statement is made to just three days. It isn’t binding, but it would be extremely damaging to Theresa May if she failed to do so.

MPs objected because they claimed the original legislation was unamendable. Mr Bercow held a different view:

Let’s see if I can dig out some examples of the behaviour he had to endure. Here’s Arj Singh:

That’s mild. Try this:

Mr Clarke’s reference was to the right-wingers who abused Ms Soubry and Mr Jones, and hints as to the attitudes he saw being expressed around him.

Then we had the hypocrisy of the Leader of the House, Andrea Leadsom:

Here’s the icing on this particularly rotten cake – the moment when Tory MP Adam Holloway accused Mr Bercow of trying to sabotage Brexit, claiming as evidence that the Speaker has a pro-Remain sticker on his car. The slapdown was brilliant:

https://twitter.com/SidUnite/status/1083002551493189637

It seems clear that the behaviour of these Conservatives lowered the tone of debate in the Commons and arguably harmed the reputation of Parliament itself – although some would say that this cannot happen as they have already damaged it irreparably:

The arguments over the Amendment were – sadly – only a sequel to a similar unseemly display during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Both Mrs May and Mr Corbyn mentioned the intimidation of Ms Soubry and Mr Jones on Monday. The prime minister said politicians and the media should be able to go about their work without harassment and intimidation.

Sadly, her backbenchers did not pay any attention to her (perhaps cementing our opinion that she is no leader) and poured abuse at Mr Corbyn while he agreed with her. He said: “We also have to be clear that intimidation is wrong outside this building as it is wrong in any other aspect of life in this country, and we have to create a safe space for political debate.”

By this point, the level of heckling had reached a point beyond which he could not continue, so he pointed it out: “You see what I mean, Mr Speaker; I am calling for a safe space for political debate.”

The Tory perpetrators may have enjoyed themselves but the public drew the appropriate conclusions, as the following comments bear out:

https://twitter.com/Wirral_In_It/status/1082976660322955264

And of course, that is what they have been trying to do.

Possibly worse than the habitually abusive behaviour of Tory MPs is the apparent attempt to pretend that the only person suffering abuse on College Green on Monday was Ms Soubry.

I myself was so surprised to see her mentioned on the BBC’s lunchtime Politics Live show – and not Owen Jones, who is a frequent panellist there – that I actually raised the matter with editor Rob Burley. Here’s the dialogue:

What do you think of that?

More concerning still were the efforts to mitigate the effect of Mr Burley’s choice – which was to play up the effect on Ms Soubry and play down that on Mr Jones – by members of the public. Here’s one such comment:

Owen Jones himself put that comment in its place, in a response to information from Channel 4 News reporter Michael Crick that – as with the BBC – attempted to excise the abuse of Mr Jones from the record:

Left-wing members of the public have made it clear that they are not going to accept this kind of misreporting from the mainstream media:

If you are confused as to the reason television news reporters have tried to play down the targeting of people who represent the Left by people who are for all intents and purposes fascists, I refer you to this perceptive comment by Mr Jones, that makes it clear that the mainstream media have legitimised it:

The attitudes we have seen are sickening: Right-wing MPs have shown they are happy to abuse others before TV cameras in the Palace of Westminster, while decrying the same behaviour against their own by members of the public who were filmed on mobile phones, as their cronies in the mass media do their best to make it seem that they are the victims – when in fact they have stoked the extreme attitudes that lead to such abuse, threatening behaviour and, ultimately, violence.

These are our elected representatives but if this is how they conduct themselves, they do not represent me. We must demand better.

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Council boss uses taxpayer cash unlawfully to make blogger homeless for filming meeting

Mark James (left) used taxpayers' money to sue Jacqui Thompson (right) for libel, claiming she had waged a campaign of "harassment, intimidation and libel" against council staff.

Mark James (left) used taxpayers’ money to sue Jacqui Thompson (right) for libel, claiming she had waged a campaign of “harassment, intimidation and libel” against council staff [Composite: The Canary].

Congratulations to The Canary for getting a story out before I could.

If anybody wants to read the gritty details, take a look here, here and here.

I notice Mark James has been invited to respond to the story but has not yet done so, leading me to suggest a note of caution for Canary boss Kerry-Anne Mendoza:

Is this litigious man consulting his lawyers, do you think?

Blogger Jacqui Thompson tried to film a public Carmarthenshire Council meeting in the interest of accountability. She’s now being ordered to sell her home after council boss Mark James sued her for libel, despite him unlawfully using taxpayer cash to pay legal costs.

Thompson began filming what she viewed as “the latest travesty for democracy” at the council back in 2011. She felt the council leadership was ignoring strong local opposition to its plans at the public meeting. After trying to film the proceedings on her mobile, the council had her arrested, handcuffed and detained at a police station for two hours.

She was arrested on peacekeeping grounds, despite only calmly filming from a balcony.

The Coalition government’s guidelines were at odds with the decision to phone the police. They read that kicking people out of council meetings only for filming is “at odds with the fundamentals of democracy”.

In the aftermath of her arrest, James accused Thompson and her family of “running a campaign of harassment, intimidation and defamation of council staff”. The arrest received a lot of negative press. So Thompson viewed James’s online post as a character assassination attempt and sued the council boss for libel. But James successfully counter-sued, with the judge ruling that Thompson conducted a smear campaign as “revenge”.

James is now forcing the sale of Thompson’s family home to retrieve damages which have risen to £35,392 after interest. The mother has 14 days to respond. Unlike the council boss, Thompson will also have to pay her own legal costs of £190,000.

Source: A blogger made a brave stand against a council boss, now he’s making her homeless | The Canary

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