Tag Archives: judge

Riley libel case: judge’s ruling puts Mike closer to victory


A High Court judge has ruled that an article on This Site, which Rachel Riley claims libelled her, is a “classic expression of opinion”.

It puts Ms Riley in a very difficult position as it is now almost impossible for her to prove that it is defamatory.

She would have to find a way to show that I did not honestly hold the opinion I put forward – or that I wrote the article out of malice. Neither is possible, because I did honestly hold the opinion, and I didn’t write it out of malice.

Now the not-so-good news:

Mr Justice Nicklin also ruled that my article says Ms Riley “has engaged upon, supported and encouraged a campaign of online abuse and harassment of a 16-year-old girl, conduct which has also incited her followers to make death threats towards her.”

This, he said, was a statement of fact.

It means that I must prove that Ms Riley did those things.

I do not expect to have any trouble doing so, as I have evidence, and I have witnesses.

In other words:

My defence is now far more likely to succeed.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people who turned up to offer me good wishes on the day.

One was a gentleman who I discover is called Jon. I know his name because he promised to donate more to the crowd fund – and did so before I managed to get home. You can see what he has to say by finding him in the comments on the CrowdJustice site.

I was deeply grateful to hear those words at the end of the hearing, although that may not have been entirely clear as I was extremely tired from the stress of appearing in the High Court.

And I was doubly grateful to receive his donation. This campaign still needs cash as Ms Riley has not dropped her suit against me, even though it now seems clear that I am likely to win.

So, please bear with me while I appeal once again for funds:

Email five of your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site. The address is https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/

You could also post a link to Facebook, asking your friends to pledge.

If you’re on Twitter, you could tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

If you use other social media platforms, please mention the campaign there, quoting the appeal address.

And please consider making another donation yourself – or contributing for a first time, if you haven’t already.

One last thing: Ms Riley didn’t bother to turn up to yesterday’s hearing.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Judgement in Chris Williamson ‘anti-Semitism’ court case due TODAY

Chris Williamson.

A judge in Birmingham is to rule on whether the Labour Party acted illegally in re-suspending Chris Williamson on an accusation of anti-Semitism, after he had been reinstated into the party.

Here are the details, courtesy of Kerry-Anne Mendoza:

She is right; he does deserve our solidarity.

You may remember that Mr Williamson’s Labour membership was suspended after he made a speech saying that Labour had been “too apologetic” when faced with accusations of anti-Semitism in the party.

In the speech, Mr Williamson said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party.

“I have got to say I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we have backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic.”

Amid applause from the audience, he went on to say: “We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any political party.”

To This Writer’s way of thinking, this is a valid opinion; the party’s leadership and disputes team seems to believe every accusation is proof of guilt.

But some took the opportunity to say he was trying to excuse racism (every accusation is proof of guilt – see?) so he issued a prompt apology for giving that impression, saying, “Our movement can never be ‘too apologetic’ about racism within our ranks.”

It wasn’t enough to stop his suspension, which was ended after a three-member National Constitutional Committee panel ruled him innocent of wrong-doing.

But this led to outrage among the witch-hunters in the party and he was promptly re-suspended.

Mr Williamson has claimed that the Labour leadership was wrong to do this and launched a legal challenge, which he crowdfunded with donations from supporters.

Now the evidence has been heard and the judge will deliver the verdict at 4pm.

This will be an important moment for everybody who has taken part in the witch-hunt against innocent Labour Party members – and for those of us who have been abused by it.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Crunch time for the UK constitution as BoJob is ordered to follow the law – or else

Not yet, but maybe soon: Boris Johnson has been warned by the courts that he must obey the Benn Act and delay Brexit if he can’t get a deal. If he refuses, will he end up in the clink?

Supporters of a “no deal” Brexit were celebrating prematurely today, after Scotland’s highest court threw out a legal bid to force Boris Johnson to apply to delay the UK’s departure from the EU.

Judge Pentland of the Court of Sessions said there could be “no doubt that the prime minister had agreed to abide by the law”, so there was no need for “coercive orders” against the government or Mr Johnson.

So that’s that, as far as the Brexiteers, the ERG and no doubt BoJob himself are concerned. They seem to think the ruling means he can avoid sending the message if no deal is struck, and the UK will crash out disastrously.

They are, of course, completely wrong.

Judge Pentland made his attitude perfectly clear: Mr Johnson has already told the court in written submissions that he will seek an extension of the Brexit deadline if no deal is struck by October 19 – and the court will hold him to it.

He said that was a binding legal commitment, and added:

I approach matters on the basis that it would be destructive of one of the core principles of constitutional propriety and of the mutual trust that is the bedrock of the relationship between the court and the Crown for the Prime Minister or the Government to renege on what they have assured the court.

In other words, if BoJob dares to contradict the Benn Act in the tiniest detail, he’ll be starting a constitutional crisis the like of which has never been seen in the United Kingdom.

Of course, that probably won’t stop him.

So the question becomes whether the institutions of the United Kingdom are being run by people capable of preventing the prime minister from doing further harm, once he crosses the line.

It’s looking like crunch time for one, the other or both.

Source: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Scottish Judge rejects parliament shutdown legal challenge

This is self-explanatory and nothing more than what was to be expected.

In any case, events have moved on and the prorogation now appears to be just another mistake by an inept, failed prime minister.

A Scottish judge has rejected a bid to have Boris Johnson’s plan to shut down parliament ahead of Brexit declared illegal.

The case was brought to the Court of Session in Edinburgh by a cross-party group of 75 parliamentarians, who argued the PM had exceeded his powers.

But Lord Doherty ruled on Wednesday that the issue was for politicians and voters to judge, and not the courts.

He said there had been no contravention of the law by the government.

Source: Brexit: Judge rejects parliament shutdown legal challenge – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Legal challenge to Boris Johnson’s shut-down of Parliament to be decided next week

Time is ticking down: But the wheels of justice move slowly.

The BBC ought to have a slapped wrist for the headline on one of today’s (August 30) biggest stories.

Judge refuses to halt Parliament suspension plans implies that a legal challenge to Boris Johnson’s prolonged prorogation of Parliament has been stopped altogether, and that isn’t correct.

No – the bid by 75 MPs to secure an interim interdict, ruling it illegal and unconstitutional for the shutdown to take place now, has only been delayed.

The Scottish judge, Lord Doherty, wants access to the arguments of both sides – including the government – before making a decision.

His announcement is therefore expected on Wednesday – which is still in good time before the prorogation can come into effect.

A Scottish judge has refused to order a temporary halt to Boris Johnson’s plan to shut down the UK Parliament.

A group of 75 parliamentarians were seeking an interim interdict – similar to an injunction – at the Court of Session ahead of a full hearing.

Their request was declined by Lord Doherty, who said he was not satisfied there was a “cogent need” for an interdict.

However the full hearing will now be heard next Tuesday, rather than Friday.

Lord Doherty said this was because it was in the interests of justice, and in the public interest, for the case – which is opposed by the UK government – to proceed as quickly as possible.

The judge will not decide on the merits of the case until he has heard legal arguments from both sides on Tuesday, with his final ruling potentially being delivered the following day.

Whatever the outcome next week, the prorogation challenge is likely to be appealed – to the Inner House of the Court of Session and the UK Supreme Court.

Source: Judge refuses to halt parliament suspension plans – BBC News

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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‘Frack-Free Three’ have sentences reduced. Now how about investigating their judge’s connections with big business?

Freed: The protesters were out of prison within hours of the ruling being made.

Anti-fracking protesters who were jailed for blocking access to a fracking site have been freed after the court of appeal quashed their “manifestly excessive” sentences – and now the focus must move onto the judge who passed those sentences.

Simon Blevins, 26, and Richard Roberts, 36, were imprisoned for 16 months, while Rich Loizou, 31, recevied a 15-month sentence after being convicted of causing a public nuisance with a protest outside the Preston New Road site near Blackpool, Lancashire.

But on Wednesday afternoon the court of appeal ruled their sentences were inappropriate and they should be freed immediately.

What does this decision say about the judge who passed the original sentences – Robert Altham?

According to the Mirror, the judge’s family business, J.C. Altham and Sons, is believed to be part of the supply chain for energy giant Centrica, which has invested tens of millions of pounds in fracking.

If this is true, then Judge Altham had an interest in the matter and should not have had anything to do with it; the fact that he presided over the case would be a perversion of the course of justice.

And moves have already been made to secure an investigation.

The decision to quash the original sentence and impose community orders instead has been welcomed by the leaders of political parties other than the Conservatives, who are allowing fracking to take place in Lancashire:

Shadow cabinet minister Rebecca Long-Bailey has released a video going further:

And the Green Party’s MP, Caroline Lucas, made the point that the imprisoned men had been carrying out a peaceful protest and their sentences were an appalling misuse of power:

This story is not over.

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It’s official – Britain’s top jobs are a ‘closed shop’ and ‘equal opportunity’ is a myth

A day out with their minders: If you have ever sat amazed at decisions made by criminal court judges, rest easy in the knowledge that they come from deeply sheltered backgrounds and simply don't know any better.

A day out with their minders: If you have ever sat amazed at decisions made by criminal court judges, rest easy in the knowledge that they come from deeply sheltered backgrounds and simply don’t know any better.

If you have ever wondered why you couldn’t get on in life, despite all the talent anyone should ever need… now you know the truth. It’s because you didn’t go to a private school and you didn’t go to Oxford or Cambridge University.

According to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, 71 per cent of senior judges, 62 per cent of senior armed forces officers, 55 per cent of top civil servants, 43 per cent of newspaper columnists and 36 per cent of the Cabinet are members of a deeply elitist “cosy club” who were educated at private schools (Owen Jones, writing in The Guardian, commented: “It is quite something when the ‘cabinet of millionaires’ is one of the less unrepresentative pillars of power”).

Also privately-educated were 45 per cent of chairmen/women of public bodies, 44 per cent of the Sunday Times Rich List, and 26 per cent of BBC executives. Where are the naysayers who claim the BBC is a Leftie haven now?

When it comes to Oxbridge graduates, the situation worsens – they have a “stranglehold” on top jobs, according to The Guardian, which adds: “They comprise less than one per cent of the public as a whole, but 75 per cent of senior judges, 59 per cent of cabinet ministers, 57 per cent of permanent secretaries, 50 per cent of diplomats, 47 per cent of newspaper columnists, 44 per cent of public body chairs, 38 per cent of members of the House of Lords, 33 per cent of BBC executives, 33 per cent of shadow cabinet ministers, 24 per cent of MPs and 12 per cent of those on the Sunday Times Rich List.

My personal belief is that this should be no surprise to anybody – I’ve known it ever since the then-headteacher at my high school proudly announced that the only sixth-former on their way to Oxford, one year back in the 1980s, was his own daughter. Even then it wasn’t about what you knew but who Daddy was.

At least it is official now.

The person who should be least surprised by these findings is Commission chairman and Labour turncoat Alan Milburn. He does not come from a nobby background but has been absorbed into the group – possibly in gratitude for a series of betrayals of his own kind that began when he entered government.

Milburn was one of the Labour MPs who embraced neoliberalism in the 1990s. His reward was a place in the Cabinet as Minister of State for Health, then Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and then Health Secretary. He was also honorary president of the neoliberal thinktank Progress, which works hard to foist right-wing ideas onto the Labour Party.

It is no wonder, then, that Milburn subsequently became the darling of David Cameron’s Coalition government, being offered a role as ‘social mobility tsar’. It is in this role that he has delivered the current report on elitism.

According to that great source of knowledge Wikipedia, Milburn’s role was about “advising the government on how to break down social barriers for people from disadvantaged backgrounds, and help[ing] people who feel they are barred from top jobs on grounds of race, religion, gender or disability”.

Nearly four-and-a-half years into a five-year Parliament, Milburn came out with this report, and I’m willing to bet that, if a similar document had been compiled before Labour left office, evidence would show that the situation has worsened, not improved.

Even now, David Cameron is probably congratulating Milburn on what a great job he has done – achieving nothing.

In fairness, even a man like Milburn could not ignore such clear findings and the report describes the situation as “elitism so stark that it could be called social engineering“.

What is more interesting about the situation is the fact that it has been described as a ‘closed shop’, a term more readily-associated with those bitter opponents of privilege – the trade unions.

A closed shop is an agreement under which an employer agrees to hire union members only, and employees must remain members of the union at all times in order to remain employed. That is definitely what the report is demonstrating and, considering the elite’s antipathy to the unions, it is further demonstration of the high-handed and corrupt attitude of these types – their belief that they should be a law unto themselves.

This in fact provides us with the only positive element to come out of this report. It gives jobseekers a decent reason for being unable to secure work – all the best jobs are being hogged by overprivileged twits!

Owen Jones’s Guardian article suggests of the situation: “In the case of the media this has much to do with the decline of the local newspapers that offered a way in for the aspiring journalist with a non-gilded background; the growing importance of costly post-graduate qualifications that are beyond the bank accounts of most; and the explosion of unpaid internships, which discriminate on the basis of whether you are prosperous enough to work for free, rather than whether you are talented.”

That is not my experience.

I did my post-graduate journalism course with help from a training scheme run by the Tory government of the time – the Department of Social Security paid for my education in that respect. My recollection is that I was one of the highest-achievers on that course; considering my future career, this indicates that there is truth behind the ‘closed shop’ claim of the new report.

My experience on local newspapers is that they are more likely to offer a way in for aspiring “non-gilded” reporters now than when I entered. While I was fully-qualified when I was hired by my first employer in Bristol, here in Mid Wales the papers have seemed happy to hire people with no qualifications at all, and train them up. There are no unpaid internships here, to my knowledge.

That being said, management practices in the press are so bad that I am constantly amazed anybody bothers trying to work for these idiots at all.

My first paper was passed from one company to another in a “gentleman’s agreement” on a golf course. It meant that I took an effective pay cut, being forced to travel 30 miles further to work and receiving a lower-than-normal pay rise when I became a senior reporter.

Another paper was doing quite well when I joined, offering healthy bonuses for all employees at Christmas. I never got to benefit from this, though, because bosses foolishly took on at great cost a ‘general manager’ who managed all our profits away and then persuaded them to sell up to a much larger firm that stripped the operation to the bone and hoovered up all the profits. Quality plummeted and (after I left) so did sales.

A third paper’s solution to declining sales was a plan to cut back the number of reporters while keeping the management structure intact. That’s right – they reduced the number of people writing the stories that sold the papers. Then they attacked the remaining reporters for the continued drop in sales and absolutely refused to entertain any notion that they might have got the situation arse-backward.

That is why I agree with the UK Commission for Education and Skills, which said that “poor management hinders UK competitiveness”, and with the comment on that report in Flip Chart Fairy Tales, that “poorly managed firms drag a country’s score down and Britain has more than its fair share of them”.

The Milburn report puts the seal on the problem: Firms are poorly-managed because the people at the top are over-privileged fools who got into their position thanks to Daddy’s money rather than any talent of their own.

As the banking crisis – caused by these very people – and the subsequent, slowest economic recovery in UK history demonstrate starkly for all to see, these private-school, Oxford and Cambridge ignoramuses are worse than useless when it comes to managing an economy.

There is nothing you can do about it while a Conservative-led government is in power because that is exactly how David Cameron and his cronies like it.

(What am I saying? Of course they like it – they and their friends are the private-school, Oxford and Cambridge ignoramuses who are cocking up the system!)

You only need to read the ‘Revolving Doors’ column in Private Eye to see how these goons lurch from one failure to another – always finding a new job after each disaster because of the Old School Tie.

It is long past time we saw a few highly-prejudicial sackings but our sad, fat ‘captains of industry’ just don’t have the guts.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Freedom of Information tribunal on benefit deaths – April 23

Vox Political may seem a little quiet over the next 30 hours or so. This is because the site’s owner, Mike Sivier (that’s me), will be travelling to Cardiff to take the Information Commissioner and the Department for Work and Pensions to a tribunal.

The aim is to secure the release of mortality figures – death statistics – covering people who were claiming Incapacity Benefit or Employment and Support Allowance during 2012.

Figures for later dates were not part of the Freedom of Information request that forms the basis of this action (submitted back in June 2013, nearly a year ago), so it is unlikely that these will be forthcoming. The hope is that the tribunal will judge in favour of the information being released, ensuring that further requests cannot be blocked by the DWP.

The government’s claim is that a single-sentence, off-the-cuff line at the end of a Vox Political article about the FoI request constitutes a co-ordinated, protracted and obsessive campaign of harassment against the DWP, and for that reason the request is vexatious.

It is utterly ridiculous. It brings the DWP and the Freedom of Information Act into disrepute. Yet it is enough to prevent this valuable information from being published.

It is important to have the data in the public domain, as a yardstick by which the government’s so-called ‘reforms’ to the benefit system may be judged. Between January and November 2011, 73 deaths were recorded every week, just among people in the work-related activity group of ESA and those going through the assessment process. The government does not monitor the progress of people it has marked ‘fit for work’ and thrown off-benefit altogether, and this group is four times as large as the WRAG, meaning the death toll could be anything up to five times larger than we understand at the moment.

The government has claimed that it has been implementing changes designed to make ESA serve its claimants better. An increased death rate will disprove that. Of course, a lowered death rate would support the government’s position but, if this were the case, it is logical to expect the government to have publicised it widely without any prompting.

This is why tomorrow’s tribunal is important.

People are dying every day and nothing will be done to stop it unless the severity of the situation is made clear.

Let’s all hope we get the result we need.

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Lucas, Miller and a law that worked so hard not to treat them equally

140417lucasmiller

Congratulations are due to Green MP Caroline Lucas, who walked free from court today after criminal charges against her were overturned.

She had been charged with obstructing a public highway and a public order offence, during high-profile anti-fracking protests last summer. Neither offence carries a prison sentence – the maximum penalty for either charge would have been a fine of up to £1,000.

District judge Tim Pattinson said the prosecution had failed to satisfy him that Lucas had “the requisite knowledge” about the Section 14 order being in place.

On the obstruction charge, he said he did not hear any evidence that any actual obstruction of a vehicle or person was caused by the protest.

It is good for British justice that Ms Lucas was acquitted – but bad for British justice that she was taken to court in the first place, most particularly because the case contrasts so strongly with that of disgraced former cabinet minister Maria Miller.

Miller claimed tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money under false pretences. You can call that fraud, if you like (maximum penalty: 10 years’ imprisonment).

Did she go to court? No.

Because she is a member of Parliament, the financial irregularity was investigated by a Parliamentary body, the Commons Committee on Standards. Rather than take the advice of the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, who recommended that Miller pay back the full amount, the committee ruled that she should return just £5,800 and apologise to Parliament for obstructive behaviour during the investigation.

Surely everybody can see the double-standard here?

The least we can learn from these two stories is that the law absolutely does not treat everybody equally.

Ms Lucas was arrested, detained at Her Majesty’s convenience and now she has faced trial for the offences alleged against her. This MP, who opposes the government in Parliament, was then acquitted after a fair trial and has the support of the general public in this matter.

Miller was accused of a far more serious crime than Ms Lucas but has not been arrested, has not been detained, and has not been tried for the offences alleged against her. The then-government minister was whitewashed by her colleagues and only resigned because of a public outcry against the decision.

What conclusion can the public draw, other than that government MPs are effectively above the law?

David Cameron’s government can only redeem itself with two actions: It must remove Parliament’s right to investigate claims of financial irregularity by MPs and placing this duty firmly where it belongs – with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service.

The other action?

Obvious, really…

Maria Miller must face a criminal trial, charged with fraud.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Hypocritical Tories plan attack on pensioners while protecting themselves

Someone's raiding the pensions piggy-bank: Government changes mean the rich will be subsidised by the poor.

Someone’s raiding the pensions piggy-bank: Government changes mean the rich will be subsidised by the poor.

It seems the Conservatives cannot wait to betray their most loyal voting group. If you are a pensioner – beware!

As trailed on Vox Political last November, the Department for Work and Pensions appears to be planning to delete the cold weather payment from its chequebook, along with free bus passes and free TV licences.

We already know that the age at which the state pension will be paid is rising, meaning people will have to continue working for longer before they qualify for the £144/week payment (with a minimum National Insurance record of 30 full years). This is a betrayal of promises made by both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in their document ‘The Coalition: Our Programme for Government’.

Because life expectancy depends on where you live and your social class, this means many poorer people will enjoy only three-to-six years of retirement on average, while richer pensioners get 17-20 years of pension payments. That’s right – rich people even get a better deal from the state pension.

Meanwhile, the taxpayer is being asked to fund three-fifths of the pension scheme for members of Parliament, who qualify at the age of 60 after 20 years’ service (or after 15 years if aged between 60 and 65) and receive an average of £353/week (see House of Commons Library SN6283: MPs’ Pension Scheme – 2012 onwards).

MPs (along with civil servants and judges) will receive transitional protection as the pensionable age rises – meaning they won’t lose out. More than 700,000 working women, on the other hand, have received less than two years’ notice of changes that will deprive them of up to £7,500 per year.

Iain Duncan Smith announced at yesterday’s meeting of the Commons Work and Pensions Committee that he was considering removing benefits that are exclusively for pensioners, in order to bolster his Benefit Cap.

He said: “We need maximum flexibility with the cap. Pretty much all existing ringfences will have to disappear.”

Asked if pensioner benefits would be included in the cap, he said: “These are matters which are still under discussion.”

The Benefit Cap was hailed as a hugely popular policy after its introduction last year, but it is now questionable whether pensioners will be quite so enthusiastic.

Including pensioners’ benefits among those that are capped means they may have to be means tested in the future, as the number of pensioners grows – putting pressure on the £200 billion benefits budget.

The Daily Mirror reported that Treasury sources played down this prospect last night, saying the annual spend on pensioner benefits was dwarfed by other payments. This is disingenuous as the annual spend on pensions is more than on all the other benefits combined. Cutting pensioner benefits and forcing people to work longer before they receive their pensions will deprive senior citizens of billions of pounds.

While changes to pensioners’ benefits are still under discussion, changes to the age at which pensions are paid have already become law.

The hypocrisy of MPs in imposing new rules that disadvantage ordinary people while protecting themselves, judges and civil servants has led to the creation of a petition on the 38 Degrees website, calling for the changes to be reversed.

The petition states: “It is discrimination to impose ‘rules’ that disadvantage one group of people more than another. It is against the law to treat someone less favourably than someone else. How can this Government be allowed to get away with this?

“Because of this broken promise those of us affected are now being forced to work longer and wait longer to receive our state pension, which is an entitlement and something to which we have contributed, all of our working lives.

“These changes will also have a detrimental impact upon employment opportunities for young people. The longer we are being forced to work, the fewer jobs there will be for them. Is this an honourable way to treat people?

“The right to retire with financial security, at the age that has been promised throughout our working lives, has been denied.

“This broken promise is unfair, unnecessary and totally unacceptable. Ministers need to do a u-turn on this mean-spirited move and honour their word.”

The petition currently (February 4) has around 7,100 signatures. If you agree with it, please visit the 38 Degrees website and sign.

And don’t forget to mention it to anyone you know who is coming up to retirement age.

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