Tag Archives: journalist

14 years in jug for embarrassing the government? Patel is crossing from fascism to Nazism

This is a Nazi-style bid to turn our newspapers into propaganda sheets.

(And let’s be honest – most of them are more than halfway there already.)

The big surprise about the story is that it has been broken by the Daily Heil!

According to that rag, Priti Patel – for it is her again – has been consulting on a plan to change the Official Secrets Act in order to remove protections for reporters who are handed leaked documents that may embarrass the Tory government.

The Act’s provisions are intended to protect the UK against agents of foreign governments. Attacking UK-based journalists is clearly a perversion of such legislation but Patel won’t be worried about that.

The Mail‘s story states:

Under a consultation run by Priti Patel’s Home Office, which closes later this week, reporters who handle leaked documents would not have a defence if charged under new laws designed to clamp down on foreign agents.

There’s been a consultation? And it closes in a matter of days? This must be one of those fake consultations that the Tories do all the time – they claim to have been consulting while deliberately not telling anybody about it.

Human rights organisations and the Law Commission, which drew up the proposals, say there should be a ‘public interest defence’ included to prevent the prosecution of journalists who receive leaked documents.

But in a paper released for the consultation, the Home Office said such a move would ‘undermine our efforts to prevent damaging unauthorised disclosures, which would not be in the public interest’.

Who says what’s in the public interest and what isn’t? Usually it’s the courts, in cases of serious disagreement – but the power of the courts is being curbed in new Tory legislation so Patel is effectively giving the Tories ultimate power over the press.

This Writer won’t be affected, though. I may comment on what it means when the contents of leaked documents are published but I don’t receive those documents so I can’t publish them.

Tough luck, Patel! You might turn your supporters in the mainstream media against you but you won’t get critics like Vox Political.

Source: Journalists could face 14 years in prison for embarrassing the Government under proposed law change | Daily Mail Online

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Journalist arrest after Kent refugee camp protest shows how the Tories put down dissent

Napier barracks: I believe this is one of the images that led to the police arresting Andy Aitchison. But if he was behind a camera, how could he have been carrying out criminal damage?

Whoever would have predicted that the United Kingdom would descend to this?

The Conservative government, under xenophobic Home Secretary Priti Patel, has opened a series of concentration camps where they have dumped hundreds of asylum-seekers.

I wrote about them in December last year.

The camps have inadequate and poorly cooked food, no privacy, and inadequate shower and toilet facilities.

Camp residents are unable to socially distance, or to take proper precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

They have to sleep in dormitories of up to 28 people – which is probably why more than 100 people at the Napier Barracks camp in Kent have contracted the virus in the last two weeks.

The Home Office reaction was to blame people living in the camp, saying residents (inmates would be a better word) refused to self-isolate or follow social distancing rules that they could not have followed because of the conditions forced on them by the Home Office.

Conditions there led to activists protesting outside the site on Thursday morning, where they allegedly threw buckets of food colouring, water and shampoo or conditioner – fake blood – at the gate and on the ground in front of the gate.

Demonstrators had signs reading: “Close Napier now” and “Priti Patel: there will be blood on your hands”.

Freelance photographer Andy Aitchison attended and took photographs, some of which appeared in local press reports of the protest.

Around six hours after the protest, matters took a sinister turn when police arrived at Mr Aitchison’s house and arrested him for criminal damage.

Really? Criminal damage? He took some photos of a demonstration that was embarrassing to the Conservative government and to Priti Patel and this arrest looks like suspicious use of the police for political purposes.

On Friday afternoon (January 29), a fire broke out in the camp – cause unknown. Fortunately Mr Aitchison can’t be blamed – one of his bail conditions is not to go to the camp.

Patel herself had the cheek to publish a statement accusing people at the barracks of vandalising property, threatening staff and putting lives at risk.

She actually told us that this behaviour was “deeply offensive to the taxpayers of this country”:

No, Priti Patel. You are deeply offensive to the taxpayers of this country. You have made us complicit in providing facilities of such poor quality that they actually endanger the lives of the people you force to live there.

This Writer thinks there should be an investigation into what is happening at Napier Barracks and any connection between that and Patel.

I think the use of the police to intimidate a photojournalist for doing his job must also be probed.

Sadly, I know the UK’s institutions are as corrupt as they come. No such investigations will happen and if there has been corrupt behaviour, those responsible will be protected. Over the last 40 years, it’s what we’ve all been voting for.

Source: ‘It’s censorship’: Journalist arrested after photographing protest outside controversial asylum camp | The Independent

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‘Journalists’ whine as Momentum bans ‘The Sun’ from Labour conference fringe event

This is Momentum’s argument for refusing to let The Sun into its ‘The World Transformed’ event – and it is persuasive.

This is what years spent abusing privilege gets people.

Journalists (and I use the word with tongue firmly planted in cheek) from the mass-market news media think they have a right to go where they want and behave as they please. They don’t.

People organising events with limited admission are well within their rights to bar certain people from admission – and Momentum had a very good reason for telling reporters from The Sun to do one.

Here‘s the issue encapsulated by iNews:

“Momentum has banned The Sun newspaper from attending its conference event in a show of “solidarity” with a boycott over its coverage of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

“The pro-Corbyn Labour group said journalists from the Sun are not welcome at The World Transformed, its fringe conference event coinciding with the main party conference in Liverpool this weekend.

“In a statement, it said the paper had ‘smeared’ victims of the Hillsborough stadium tragedy, in which 96 Liverpool fans died.

“And it said it was supporting a long-running boycott of the paper in the city.”

That is correct. Here is Momentum’s statement in full:

And here’s the response from one disgruntled – well, he calls himself a journalist:

Mr Hodges has a history of being incorrect. Look at his recent run-in with Michael Rosen.

Also weighing in with histrionics was Grauniad hack Heather Stewart:

She was dumped back in her box, pretty much tout suite.

The Guardian has taken a strong anti-Labour, anti-Jeremy Corbyn direction in recent years and there is a campaign to force it back towards impartial reporting – or into bankruptcy – by boycotting the publication while it persists in its current behaviour. You can understand why, can’t you?

This is the new status quo – and right-wing MSM hacks need to get used to it: Actions have consequences.

That’s right. And that’s why ‘journalists’ from The Sun are going to get this response from now on:

Any questions, Rupert Murdoch?

If so – too bad. Nobody can be bothered to talk to you or your lackeys.

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Suspicious deaths of the elderly in hospital: An appeal for people to get in touch

David Hencke is an excellent – award-winning – investigative reporter. If you have been affected by the issue he discusses below, please contact him.

He writes:

For the past four years I have been a member of the Gosport War Memorial Hospital Independent Panel that concluded that at least 456 elderly people had their lives shortened as ” a direct result of the pattern of prescribing and administering opioids that had become the norm at the hospital.”

Since publication of the report the events at Gosport are now the subject of an independent police inquiry so I cannot take up any cases involving Gosport.

However since the report’s publication a number of people have contacted me on my website with allegations of a similar nature in other parts of the country,

As a result I have started investigations into these and would welcome other people – relatives of former patients, NHS staff or lawyers representing them- to contact me in confidence as I am actively looking at this issue.

The aim will be to publicise and investigate these fresh allegations to find out what happened to their relatives and seek explanations from the various hospitals who were responsible for their treatment.

Contact Mr Hencke by visiting this web page.

Source: Suspicious deaths of the elderly in hospital: An appeal for people to contact me | David Hencke

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My letter to MEPs over the transatlantic trade stitch-up

Corporate trade a-greed-ment: Notice that this image of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has mighty corporations straddling the Atlantic while the 'little' people - the populations they are treading on - are nowhere to be seen. [Picture: FT]

Corporate trade a-greed-ment: Notice that this image of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has mighty corporations straddling the Atlantic while the ‘little’ people – the populations they are treading on – are nowhere to be seen. [Picture: FT]

Your rights and freedoms have been under attack from all sides.

Not only has the government been able to pass the ‘gagging’ bill, preventing you from organising large-scale campaigns against repressive right-wing Conservative and Liberal Democrat legislation; not only are the police lobbying a sympathetic Home Secretary (there’s no restriction on their campaigning powers) for permission to use water cannons to suppress public on-street political protests; not only is the government hiding legislation to shackle news reporters and ignore the democratic process within a Bill that is supposed to be about cutting ‘red tape’; but negotiations to barter away your rights in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are still taking place.

Now, dear reader, you have probably written to your elected representatives at the European Parliament already. You haven’t? In that case, please look them up here – MEPs are elected on a regional basis so you should write to everyone representing your constituency – and get writing.

For information, here’s the letter I wrote to my own MEPs. Do not copy this, paste it into your email program and send it as your own! You will be ignored. The best way to grab their attention is to put in your own words your concerns about this issue. Use what follows as reference, but say it your own way.

Readers of Vox Political have been accused of improper behaviour before, because they copied and pasted rather than using their own words. Let’s not allow that again.

Here’s my letter; see if you can improve on it:

May I draw your attention to the detrimental effects of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. This agreement, currently in negotiation between the USA and the European Union, has as its stated aim opening up markets for services, investment and public procurement.

Much of the groundwork has been carried out in secret, hidden from public scrutiny, but the information that has been made available has aroused serious concern that this agreement will weaken existing standards and regulations that protect workers and consumers in the EU.

In particular, the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) would allow any foreign company operating in the UK to make a claim against the government for loss of future profits resulting from any regulatory action by the government, such as new legislation. Such claims would be considered by an unelected, unaccountable tribunal composed of three corporate lawyers whose decisions are likely to favour the corporations and would override national laws.

ISDS was set up to protect companies operating in countries with a history of political instability where the rule of law could not be guaranteed. This does not apply to either the US or the EU and you should interpret this mechanism only as a device for subverting our national and supranational legislation.

It is widely believed that the TTIP will be used by our Conservative-led government as a means of locking-in its detrimental changes to the National Health Service. I am sure I do not have to rehearse the arguments that introducing private companies to the health service in England is leading to a patchwork system in which care is provided entirely on the basis of profitability. There is now no obligation on the Secretary of State for Health to provide a high-quality service across the whole of the UK, and the new system encourages Clinical Commissioning Groups and medical practices to exclude from their lists patients with conditions that are expensive to treat. The TTIP will forbid the UK government from improving this system with legitimate public health regulation, health protection and health promotion policies as private health companies will be able to sue the state for loss of future profits. ISDS would make it impossible for CCGs to cancel contracts with private providers, even when those firms were providing inadequate standards of patient care, because they would then face a legal challenge for loss of earnings that they could not fund. It will also limit the government’s ability to regulate professional standards and qualifications regarded for healthcare workers and lower the quality of patient care. In short, it would be impossible to reverse the disastrous Health and Social Care Act 2012, and its marketisation of the NHS. Do you want the health of your constituents to depend on a foreign company’s balance sheet?

You may wish to take heart from comments by the British Medical Association that it believes the NHS will be exempt from the TTIP. There is no evidence to support this statement. In fact, David Cameron stated in reply to a Parliamentary question in June 2013: “I am not aware of a specific exemption for any particular area, but I think that the health service would be treated in the same way in relation to EU-US negotiations as it is in relation to EU rules.”

In fact, as comments from the chairman of the Liberalisation of Trade in Services Committee (LOTIS) and financial services pressure group TheCityUK make clear, no issue had been identified that would allow exclusion of any sector from the second round of TTIP negotiations in November last year. You should also note that the Lisbon Treaty provides no protection for the NHS, despite the arguments of some people.

Furthermore, evidence to the House of Lords European Sub-Committee on External Affairs has shown that public health measures such as warnings on food labels, pesticides and chemicals, and other potentially toxic or unhealthy products may be restricted to bring the EU in line with the narrow approach to risk assessment taken in America (that promotes sales) and away from the EU’s broader precautionary principle (that promotes safety). Are you in favour of sales or the safety of your constituents?

You will know that the USA has not implemented fundamental labour rights such as the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Regulatory harmonisation brought about by the TTIP will lower European labour rights to American standards – the agreement will always bring standards down to the lowest common denominator. This means that workers in all sectors, including (again) health, will lose vital rights in their struggle for fair pay and conditions of work. Do you support attacks on workers’ rights?

To sum up: The TTIP is ill-judged in its entirety and neither the UK nor the European Union should have anything to do with it. It would give huge power to transnational corporations while stripping away member states’ rights to regulate them and, in that sense alone, represents an enormous threat to democracy. British people fought long, arduous battles to gain the few rights they have, and neither you nor anybody else in the European Union have a mandate to sign those rights away.

This agreement may safeguard the profits of large multinational companies, ensuring that huge amounts of money go into their shareholders’ bank accounts (wherever they may be), but it will undermine the wages of everybody who works for them – again, according to the principle of the lowest common denominator. Yet it is workers’ wages that support national economies – by necessity they spend most (if not all) of their income as soon as they get it, on rent, utility bills, groceries and other vital supplies. The TTIP will harm national economies.

There is an argument that the TTIP will create growth and jobs – but there is little evidence for this, and even that is poor. The European Commission’s own impact assessment admits that a 0.5 per cent increase in growth would be “optimistic”, and independent research suggests that a meagre 0.01 per cent increase in the growth rate over 10 years is more likely. The North American Free Trade Agreement between the US, Canada and Mexico led to a net loss of almost a million jobs in the US.

Negotiations on the TTIP represent a test on where your loyalties lie. Do you support the people who elected you – or are you a puppet of the corporations?

As my representative, I am asking you to take all steps necessary to publicise this attack on democracy and on our sovereignty, and to take any action – individually or collectively – to put an end to it.

Please let me know what you intend to do.

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Hidden plan for ministers to axe laws that protect you – with a penstroke

Gone in a penstroke: If the Deregulation Bill becomes law, Acts of Parliament that protect your freedom could be removed from the statute book at a minister's whim.

Gone in a penstroke: If the Deregulation Bill becomes law, Acts of Parliament that protect your freedom could be removed from the statute book at a minister’s whim.

I have spent much of today putting old paperwork through the shredder in advance of tomorrow’s debate on the Deregulation Bill.

Why? Hidden among the plans to revoke ancient laws regulating pigsties is a clause that revokes the freedom of the press – in particular, the freedom of journalists to protect their sources.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats don’t want reporters to be able to protect political whistleblowers and the information they release from state harassment and confiscation.

Vox Political has long warned that the Coalition government was pushing us towards totalitarianism, and that is exactly what this apparently innocuous – but in fact deeply pernicious – piece of legislation proves.

We’ve had the gagging law, to silence organised dissent; we know that police chiefs want to use water cannons to stifle public protest; now we are faced with a cloak-and-dagger scheme to silence the press.

The removal of these privileges means the media will be unable to report anything that does not meet government approval – or face confiscation of equipment including computers, notebooks, recordings and correspondence that will lead to the identification of people who provide information that the government wants hushed up.

As a blogger who is also a qualified journalist, this directly affects me – and that is why I have been destroying paperwork. Tomorrow is only the Bill’s second reading – it must go through the committee stage, report stage and third reading before moving on to the House of Lords – but it is better to be well-prepared than to be caught napping.

Far more insidious than this, however, is the other part of this ‘red tape-cutting’ Bill that goes unmentioned. The really harmful part…

The part that says ministers should have the power to revoke any law they like, using statutory instruments (at the stroke of a pen) rather than taking the issue to a democratic vote in Parliament and, you know, actually telling anybody about it.

This means freedoms we have enjoyed for centuries-  or just a few years – could be removed with no prior notice, under the pretext of getting rid of ‘red tape’.

We would certainly be living in a police state if this were allowed to happen.

So here’s the big question: Do you think your MP even knows about this?

I only know because I read it on Another Angry Voice – from which site this article has swiped much of its information.

In his article, AAV creator Thomas G. Clark points out: “The Tories that devised this scheme… are clearly relying on the vast majority of Coalition MPs voting this through as the whips instruct them, without bothering to even read the documentation, understand the intricacies or even participate in the debate.

“If you chose to ignore the wealth of evidence and refuse to believe that David Cameron and the Tories would use these new powers to… stamp out dissent for their own sociopathic reasons, then at least consider the possibility that they are enabling the possibility of an unimaginably invasive totalitarian regime in the future. One where open justice is abolished, the population permanently monitored for signs of dissent, and dissenters are silenced in secretive Stalinist style legalistic proceedings.”

Obviously AAV and Vox Political will be right in the firing-line if this happens.

You need to contact your MP and ask what they’re going to do about this appalling assault on your freedom. Tell them about the clauses in the Deregulation Bill that have nothing to do with removing archaic regulations and everything to do with clamping down on your freedom and tell them in no uncertain terms that you won’t have it.

It’s a good bet that they won’t know what you’re talking about. Clause 47 relates to the press, as this Guardian report and this article from Inforrm’s blog make clear.

I believe Clause 51, and those following, relate to the repeal of laws by statutory instrument.

You can find contact details for your MP on TheyWorkForYou.com

If you get an email off to them quickly, there might even be a chance to nip this in the bud.

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Evidence states Murdoch knew about bribery of officials – so why isn’t he in the dock?

Inscrutable: But does this impassive visage mask knowledge about corruption in newspaper journalism going back at least 40 years?

Inscrutable: But does this impassive visage mask knowledge about corruption in newspaper journalism going back at least 40 years?

Rupert Murdoch has known for decades that his newspaper reporters were bribing public officials, according to an audio recording reported on the Exaro News website.

It seems the media mogul made the comments in March, in a private meeting with a group of journalists from The Sun who had been arrested over allegations of illegal news-gathering – including payments to police and other public officials for information.

In the recording, a Sun journalist asks: “I’m pretty confident that the working practices that I’ve seen here are ones that I’ve inherited, rather than instigated. Would you recognise that all this pre-dates many of our involvement here?”

Murdoch replies: “We’re talking about payments for news tips from cops; that’s been going on a hundred years, absolutely. You didn’t instigate it.”

At another time, he says: “It was the culture of Fleet Street.”

The full story, and a transcript of the recording, are on the Exaro News site, but the revelation raises serious questions about the phone-tapping trial of Andy Coulson, Rebekah Brooks and others, which is currently taking place.

If Brooks and Coulson are on trial for allowing corrupt and illegal practices in their newspapers, why not Murdoch?

And what are the implications for David Cameron, the Prime Minister who may have allowed this kind of corruption into Downing Street?