Tag Archives: panel

Ever wonder how the Tories keep themselves on top? Here’s how

This woman has been prime minister for nearly three years – not because she is any good at it – she isn’t – but because the people of the UK have been told, throughout that time, that there’s nobody better.

The easiest way for a political party to keep itself high in the opinion polls is to set the agenda for public debate and then tell people what to think.

The easiest way to tell people what to think is by dominating the mass media.

And the easiest way to dominate the mass media is by ensuring it is full of your cronies.

The BBC’s news team is run by Tories, as has been explained many times before – here and elsewhere.

And so are many of the private companies that make programmes for the BBC – like Mentorn, the maker of Question Time

That’s probably how this happened:

And this:

This happens week after week, and not just on QT. Not only is the panel stuffed with right-wingers – so is the audience.

Then they tell us all what to think, and dissenting voices are treated as foolish, or childish.

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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Institutionally racist Conservative Party rules Boris Johnson’s anti-Muslim comments ‘respectful’ and ‘tolerant’

The Conservative Party’s code of conduct has found it was “respectful” and “tolerant” for Boris Johnson to suggest that Muslim women who wear the burqa look like “bank robbers” and “letterboxes”.

He was always going to get away with it. Despite – or maybe due to – his bumbling facade, he is a popular figure among the Tory faithful and the public at large, and it would be a vicious blow to that party’s credibility if this senior member was found to be an Islamophobe.

It seems an “independent” panel has investigated comments made by the former Foreign Secretary in a column he wrote for the Daily TelegraphHe claimed the burqa was “oppressive” and it was “absolutely ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes”. The investigation into whether he broke party rules was triggered automatically after the receipt of a number of complaints over the column.

The panel, chaired by Naomi Ellenbogen QC, found that while his use of language in the column could be considered “provocative”, it would be “unwise to censor excessively the language of party representatives or the use of satire to emphasise a viewpoint, particularly a viewpoint that is not subject to criticism”.

“Not subject to criticism”?

The Muslim Council of Britain holds a sharply alternative view. It said the Conservatives had “given a licence to bigotry” – and the evidence suggests the claim is correct. The watchdog organisation Tell Mama, which records hate crimes, said there was a “direct link” between the comments and an increase in incidents targeting women who wear the burqa.

In a statement, the MCB said: “Mr Johnson is not a satirist – he is a member of parliament, and as such has a responsibility to set the tone for the rest of the UK to follow. In this case, it is far-right Islamophobes who have been empowered to follow his rhetoric.

“The MCB further fails to see how Mr Johnson’s remarks were ‘respectful’ and ‘tolerant’ as the panel has concluded.

“In a year where over half of all Home Office recorded hate crimes targeted Muslims, over a hundred women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa wrote to the Conservative party chair to express the daily threat they face as a result of the prejudice whipped up by Mr Johnson.”

The whitewash hasn’t rubbed off on the social media commentators either:

https://twitter.com/SidUnite/status/1076020013667180544

Some drew a comparison with the claim that Jeremy Corbyn had called Tory leader (and current prime minister) Theresa May a “stupid woman”:

In fact there is a very strong difference between the Tories and the Labour Party with regard to prejudice on religious grounds.

Consider the case of Chris Williamson, who was reviled by politicians and political commentators from all sides after he tweeted support for a known anti-Semite.

Mr Williamson was not aware of jazz musician Gilad Atzmon’s anti-Semitic views; he had been told that Islington Council had banned him from performing in a gig, due to “pro-Palestinian views”.

Having discovered his mistake, Mr Williamson tweeted:

You see, when Labour politicians found to have supported unacceptable views, they apologise. Tories who promote such views are told they are “respectful” and “tolerant”.

That is why the Conservative Party is institutionally racist.

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Labour’s kangaroo court issues details of its finding against me – and they don’t even match the charge

Facepalm: Jeremy Corbyn probably thought he could trust senior members of the Labour Party to handle disciplinary procedures impartially. If so, he was mistaken. Now look at the mess they’ve caused.

What a farce!

Today I received a letter from the secretary of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee, giving its reasons for saying the charges of anti-Semitism against me were proved.

Of course, they are meaningless.

The letter states:

“Upon the balance of probabilities the charge was proved for reasons including:

  • It was not disputed that you were responsible for the posting the content that the NEC claimed breached Labour Party rules;
  • A reasonable person would find the posted content, that is the basis of the NEC’s charge, to have the propensity to cause offence, be regarded as abusive and make some feel discriminated against;
  • In posting the content you breached the Labour Party’s Antisemitism and other forms of racism code of conduct, Social Media Policy and Member’s Pledge in appendix 9 of the Rule Book.”

Unfortunately none of the above proves the particulars of the charge against me. In fact, all it proves is that whoever complained to the Labour Party about me in the first place – back in May 2017 – had said they were offended by it, that they felt it was abusive, and that they felt I had discriminated against them.

And there can be a huge difference between saying a thing and actually meaning it – especially considering the fact that the accusation was deliberately timed to interfere with my campaign for election onto Powys County Council.

Also, I wonder what the many tens of thousands of reasonable Vox Political readers – who have read the material in question and don’t consider it to be offensive, abusive or discriminatory – think of what the NCC panel has implied about them. Are you one such reader? How do you feel about the NCC claiming you’re not reasonable?

Let us remind ourselves of the particulars of the charge against me:

“Mr Sivier has repeatedly posted content propogating the conspiracy that secretive networks of Jews control and have undue influence over government and other societal institutions. He uses language that is dismissive of antisemitism and that denies Jews the right to self-identify as they wish. This falls fairly and squarely within the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which the Labour Party has adopted.”

During the hearing, I proved conclusively that I had not supported any nonsense about a “global Jewish conspiracy”, nor had I used language that is dismissive of anti-Semitism or that denied Jews the right to self-identify. And none of the words forming the basis of the NEC’s complaint fitted even tangentially within the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

The NCC couldn’t suggest otherwise, so instead it seems the panel came up with the tripe in the letter.

The difference between what’s said in the letter and in the charge is the same as the difference between claiming something and proving it.

I should be grateful. The letter proves two things:

I am not an anti-Semite (the letter makes no suggestion of any hatred towards Jews, simply because they are Jewish) – and Labour’s National Constitutional Committee is a laughing-stock.

Still, there is a serious side to this.

We are currently in the middle of a crisis, engineered by the Conservative government, around Brexit – and Labour is hoping to recruit more members into the Party, possibly to help fight a snap general election.

Here’s an advert from Twitter:

But why would anybody want to join an organisation whose internal procedures are prejudiced against rank-and-file members such as myself?

And why would they want to support a party into government that cannot even root out corruption in its own internal procedures?

It seems clear that Labour has a serious credibility problem, as long as it allows its disciplinary procedures to be run in the corrupt and prejudicial manner demonstrated by my own case.

Worse still, as there is no right of appeal, it seems there is no way the party can cancel its false finding against me.

Still, the difference between the charge and the rationale for the verdict puts Labour in a highly actionable position, so perhaps we will be able to sort out this mess in court.

The timing is unfortunate, as the party undoubtedly wants to gain ground with the electorate at a time of chaos within the ranks of the Conservatives, but I can’t help that.

Remember Blackstone’s ratio? “The law holds that it is better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”? I am innocent of the charges against me, but allow me to assure you that although I may present a composed exterior, it is extremely distressing to face accusations of anti-Semitism – especially for the more-than-18-months this has been going on.

If Labour really wanted to gain credibility now, the party’s leaders should have thought very carefully before inflicting this particular injustice on this particular man.

They’d better do something about it quickly – don’t you agree?

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International watchdog says we all have 12 years to tackle climate change

Every little helps: But don’t be fooled – these personal measures to cut your carbon footprint are tiny compared to what governments can do. Will they do anything, though?

We’ve all heard a lot of debate about whether climate change is real and whether it poses a significant threat.

Here’s the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) spelling it all out for us:

We (meaning national governments across the world) need to act without delay to prevent the destruction of coral reefs and stop sea levels rising by as much as ten centimetres. If that happened large parts of the world could become uninhabitable.

Within 12 years.

Are we all clear on this now?

The Tories are already saying the UK has the best record of any G20 country in attacking the causes of climate change.

Do you believe that?

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Gwynne seeks to ‘lower expectations’ for Labour in local elections – because of Wadsworth expulsion?

Damage control: Andrew Gwynne.

Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne has tried to reduce expectations of a Labour landslide at the local elections on Thursday, in the wake of a decision to expel a prominent black anti-racist campaign – for racism.

This Site reported that black and ethnic minority representatives had responded with outrage after Labour’s National Constitutional Committee expelled Marc Wadsworth – apparently on the flimsier-than-tissue-paper basis that anti-Semitic intent could be inferred if someone hearing what he said at the launch of the Chakrabarti Report in June 2016 felt that it was.

The Guardian reported:

“Gwynne also sought to lower expectations ahead of the local elections on Thursday. He said: ‘We’re predicting that because these were high watermark years when these seats were last fought in 2014, that it’s probably going to be difficult to get anything like that.

“’We’ve never ever held the City of Westminster, we last held Wandsworth in 1978. If we took those it would be a spectacular night.

“’I am confident that we will have a good night – I don’t think it will be anything like some of the opinion polls would suggest because we are already defending about 80% of the seats in some of those metropolitan boroughs and London boroughs – we’re already at a high watermark.’”

It seems clear that he is trying to manage expectations downward – and This Writer would suggest this is a rather desperate attempt to mitigate the effect of the NCC’s disastrous decision to turn BAME voters against the party.

His words also suggest – as I speculated in my previous article – that there is no mechanism available to the Labour leadership to reverse the NCC’s perverse and unjust decision before Thursday, thereby restoring confidence that the Labour Party still supports fairness and justice.

It won’t be enough. I wonder what the official Labour line will be tomorrow – and why aren’t right-whingers like Ruth Smeeth who prompted this disaster speaking up about what they’ve done? They seemed proud enough on Friday.


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Wadsworth expulsion: Did Labour just throw away its chance to take London?

Jeremy Corbyn: Can he talk his way out of this tight corner?

Labour made a huge mistake on Friday.

After 40 white people escorted another white person to the hearing in what looked like a lynch mob, a panel composed entirely of white people found an innocent anti-racism campaigner – who happened to be black – guilty of a form of racism.

Just on the face of it, that makes Labour look like the racist party.

We are told the verdict on the allegations of anti-Semitism facing Marc Wadsworth went against the evidence.

According to Grassroots Black Left, “The panel … ruled the case against Wadsworth could be proven based on solely on the perception by some people that what he said at the launch of the Charkrabarti report on June 30, 2016 was anti-semitism.”

That would certainly run against the meaning of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism to which Labour has subscribed. That document states that anti-Semitism “may be expressed as hatred towards Jews”; it is not behaviour that may be inferred as offensive by Jews.

In other words, according to the definition which Labour supports, a person’s behaviour should not be deemed anti-Semitic because someone else took offence at it; it would have to be informed by, and motivated by, hatred towards Jews.

And criticism of an individual Jewish person, or a group of them, should not raise accusations of anti-Semitism unless it is informed by hatred towards all Jews. Such criticism may be entirely reasonable, depending on the evidence supporting it.

So the decision against Marc Wadsworth is doubly wrong. And it could jeopardise Labour’s ambitions in the local elections taking place on May 3.

Black and minority ethnic people are infuriated, and you can see why.

As one commenter to This Site put it: “To see Marc Wadsworth shouted down for daring to express an opinion, “How dare you, how absolutely dare you,” like [a] servant being berated by the white mistress of the house, makes me shudder. Do they ever think how much courage it takes for a black person to stand up and speak honestly in a room full of powerful white people?”

And then the Labour Party expects black people to come out and vote it into power in councils across London.

It has been suggested that New Labour expected black and minority ethnic people to vote for the party because they had nowhere else to go. That assumption was wrong; they just stopped voting.

The arrival of Jeremy Corbyn gave them a reason to start voting again – and for Labour.

But the Wadsworth decision suggests that Labour will not support the BAME community; that Labour does not support justice.

In that case, why should the BAME community support Labour?

The party has painted itself into a corner in an attempt to appease liars.

I do not know if there is a mechanism in place that can reverse the damage before Thursday.

If not, I hesitate to speculate on how much harm the NCC panel, Ruth Smeeth, Wes Streeting and the posse of MPs and Lords who supported her at the hearing have done to the people of the United Kingdom.


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Concern over Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism is justified – because it gives too much credibility to false claims

Protest: Labour Against the Witch-hunt was set up to defend party members – including Jews – who have been falsely accused of anti-Semitism by people and organisations with an agenda.

I remember vividly the moment I lost faith in Labour’s disputes resolution process.

It was during the interview with the party officer who had been assigned to investigate the false charges against me. He had passed me a printout of one of my articles and was asking why I had claimed the Jewish Labour Movement did not represent Jews but only Jewish Zionists.

Scanning the article, I asked, “Have you actually read this?”

“No,” he admitted. He said he had simply been asked to highlight particular sentences and ask particular questions.

That explained a lot – most pertinently the fact that my reasons for making the above-mentioned suggestion were set out, fully, further down the article, and he had not seen them:

Look at the organisation’s own website. It states:

“The Jewish Labour Movement is also affiliated to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Zionist Federation of the UK, and organise within the World Zionist Organisation… Our objects: To maintain and promote Labour or Socialist Zionism as the movement for self-determination of the Jewish people within the state of Israel.”

“Zionist”… “Zionist”… “Zionism”… “within the state of Israel”.

It seems clear that “Jewish Labour Movement” is a misnomer. It should be “Zionist Labour Movement”.

It is interesting to note that I stated in the same article, 18 months ago:

The Jewish Labour Movement does not represent Jews who are not Zionists. It persecutes them.

It is an assertion that we have now seen proven in the attacks against Jewdas, a left-wing Jewish organisation that does not support Zionism, and which accurately predicted what would happen:

Our communal leaders will rally together and tell all the Jews who disagree to shut up. And denounce all the Jews who continue to disagree as traitors. And proclaim all the Jews who still disagree are not really Jews. That only the Jews who agree with them are Jews. And, because only the Jews who agree with them are really Jews, the whole community is unanimously united behind the vomit-inducing ‘progressive Zionist consensus.’

The rest of that article is well worth reading as it shows up the lie stated by the Jewish Labour Movement’s Ivor Caplin when he told the Jewish Chronicle this was “an organisation that said ‘f*** you all’ to Jews who have serious and well-founded concerns over antisemitism in the Labour Party”.

Read the article and it becomes clear that the organisations named by Jewdas have invented their concerns, which are frivolous, malicious and false.

That is why I think the concerns raised over leaked documents, apparently casting light on left-wing members of Labour’s National Executive Committee protecting members facing anti-Semitism complaints, are most likely a load of rubbish.

I should know – I’ve been through the wholly unfair and corrupt disputes system and I know it needs the changes that new General Secretary Jennie Formby is to implement.

My opinion is that the leaks are intended to shift public opinion against the changes, in order to continue the current culture which harasses perfectly decent members out of the party.

Look at the cases listed in the Guardian story quoted below. All refer to allegations, taken to the NEC disputes panel in the same way as my own case was.

The accused members would have been interviewed by a party officer, who then prepared a report and passed it to the NEC. The accused member would have been denied any opportunity to check the report for accuracy and it could, therefore, say anything.

The report on me, I understand, was what some people might describe as a “right stitch-up”. As far as I can tell, it listed accusations made against me but did not mention any of the ways I proved these accusations wrong.

Of course, I still haven’t seen the actual report. But I have sent a Subject Access Request to the Labour Party, requiring it to provide all the information on me that it holds. Legally, the party had 40 calendar days to comply, or be in breach of the Data Protection Act – and its time ran out on March 30.

Considering all of the above, I can only conclude that certain people within the Labour movement are playing a dirty game – trying to protect a fatally-flawed system that finds people guilty before trial by doctoring the evidence.

As long as they are allowed to continue with this treachery, Labour will continue to suffer the harmful publicity they are stirring up.

The best bet for the party is to expose these charlatans, their lies and their purpose, and expel them – before they do any more damage.

The depth of the split in the Labour Party’s ruling body over antisemitism and racism has been laid bare in leaked minutes that show fierce disagreements over disciplinary action.

Key supporters of Jeremy Corbyn attempted to block action against Labour members facing complaints, according to the minutes obtained by the Guardian.

Momentum’s founder, Jon Lansman, and the MP Jon Trickett were two prominent figures who voted to limit disciplinary action in the three contentious cases that went to a vote, multiple sources said. Lansman has been outspoken in recent days on the need for Labour to take antisemitism cases in the party seriously.

Source: Leaked minutes show Labour at odds over antisemitism claims | Politics | The Guardian


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Change in the chair won’t stop Labour’s disputes panel being a kangaroo court

Christine Shawcroft, newly-elected chairperson of the Labour Party disputes panel [Image from her website].

This Writer seems to have become a minor part of a major political news story – that really shouldn’t be.

It seems a certain quality of commentator has been trying to make a big thing of the fact that Ann Black has been replaced by Christine Shawcroft in the chair of Labour’s disputes panel, which rules on the handling of issues including allegations of anti-Semitism against members.

Like Aaron Bastani, I’d rather be discussing something else. Never mind – this has happened, so it must be addressed.

No sooner was she voted in than Ms Shawcroft was accused of going soft on anti-Semites, with announcements that some members were to be given a warning and sent for “training” by the Jewish Labour Movement, rather than their cases going on to be examined in detail by the party’s National Constitutional Committee, with a view to expulsion. It turns out that she didn’t vote and therefore had nothing to do with the decision apart from running the meeting at which it was made.

So attention shifted to Momentum founder – and recently-elected member of Labour’s National Executive Committee – Jon Lansman, who – we’re told – managed to clear This Writer of the anti-Semitism charge against me.

That one isn’t true either.

For a quick recap of the claims about me – and my response to them – nip across to the article I wrote about it back in April last year. Basically, someone with malice aforethought took comments from some of my articles out of context and presented them as proof that I was an anti-Semite, in a bid to affect the result of last year’s council election in the Powys ward where I was standing.

Labour HQ, in its wisdom, suspended my membership pending an investigation – which didn’t start until October, six months after the claims were made. Late that month, I attended – with a friend of Jewish heritage who was acting as a witness – an interview with an officer of Welsh Labour who questioned me about my allegedly dodgy comments. I spoke for nearly two hours, putting forward a forceful case (I thought) that the claims were rubbish, put forward by people who were making mischief at election time (which is a crime).

If what I’ve heard is accurate, then I may as well not have bothered attending that meeting.

You see, the report presented to Labour’s disputes panel contained none of the information I passed on. I’m told it repeated the out-of-context quotations from my articles and then claimed that I was “unclear” in my responses to questioning and did not seem to understand how my words could be interpreted as anti-Semitic. I can only interpret that as a lie.

The officer conducting the meeting had handed me a pile of printed copies of some of my articles, and questioned my on passages he had highlighted. In one such passage I stated that the Jewish Labour Movement “is not a movement that represents Jews; it represents Zionists”, and asked me why I had made that suggestion.

I looked at the printout and asked him if he had read the article in full. He said no – he had only been told to ask about the parts he had highlighted (meaning, incidentally, that was admitting he had absolutely no understanding of my attitudes or what I actually do).

I then pointed out that this was a shame as, if he had glanced down the page, he would have realised that my source was the organisation’s own website, which states that the JLM “is also affiliated to… the Zionist Federation of the UK, and organise within the World Zionist Organisation… Our objects: To maintain and promoted Labour or Socialist Zionism as the movement for self-determination of the Jewish people within the state of Israel.”

“‘Zionist’… ‘Zionist’… ‘Zionism’,” I had written. “It should be ‘Zionist Labour Movement’.”

That is an accurate description – the evidence bears it out. Nobody can honestly say that my response was unclear. And how can those words be interpreted as anti-Semitic? They are the Jewish Labour Movement’s own words, from the JLM’s own website.

The officer suggested that I had used the anti-Semitic trope of the international Jewish conspiracy in the comment, “it is a conspiracy, have no doubt about that.” I pointed out that the comment was in an article about Israeli Embassy staffer Shai Masot, who was exposed in an attempt to conspire with UK citizens to undermine members of the government who were deemed to be unsympathetic to the state of Israel, including then-Deputy Foreign Minister Sir Alan Duncan. You can read about the organisations he claimed to have set up and supported here (among many other pages). That’s the conspiracy to which I was referring – and it was a conspiracy.

Is there anything unclear about that? Anything anti-Semitic about discussing an Israeli diplomat’s attempt to undermine the UK government at a time when it was an issue of the day? No. Of course not.

I could go on, but the point is made, I think.

The problem with the disputes panel is that it acts as a secret court, in which members who are accused of breaking party rules are tried and convicted without seeing any evidence or having a chance to argue against it.

The prevailing attitude among members seems to be that “there’s no smoke without fire” – that virtually anyone facing disciplinary charges is guilty and the officers are just doing their job. Those who challenge the officers’ recommendations, I’m told, are regularly reproached in the strongest terms for impugning the professionalism of the officers and, in effect, attempting to shield bullies, bigots and trouble-makers.

This brings me back to Jon Lansman. I’ve never met Mr Lansman. I understand he is of Jewish heritage but self-defines as an atheist. All things considered, he has no reason to stand up for me…

Apart from a belief that I am innocent of the accusations against me.

Perhaps – unlike the officer who investigated my case – he has read This Site and carried out a bit of research.

Anyway, his intervention – and that of Welsh NEC member Darren Williams, who does know me – seems to have done some good, as the recommendation to refer my case to the National Constitutional Committee with a view to expulsion was rejected.

But those interventions weren’t completely successful. The disputes panel voted to give me a warning – and send me for “training” with the Jewish Labour Movement, of all people.

The JLM? The organisation that advertises “safe space” “training” meetings in which people are encouraged to discuss any issues they may have with Judaism, only to discover later that their comments have been recorded and released to the media as evidence of anti-Semitism? I should bleedin’ cocoa.

It is a choice that was put forward by another left-winger, Pete Willsman, as a compromise after certain members refused to accept the facts of my case – and I am grateful to him for trying.

But it is a result that still assumes guilt.

I am not guilty of anti-Semitism and won’t be treated as such. I have rejected the decision and the members of the disputes panel had better think again. They can try considering the facts this time.

The disputes panel itself is a kangaroo court that considers reports that are fabricated to confirm a predetermined conclusion, and consequently treats members referred to it as guilty, regardless of whether the evidence suggests this – with no opportunity to prove themselves innocent.

That cannot be changed by the arrival of a new person in the chair.

The conduct of the disputes panel is an offence to British justice and must be reformed.


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Who will Grenfell Inquiry chair appoint to assess evidence from the RESIDENTS’ viewpoint?

Campaigners say a socioeconomic perspective can only come from somebody with experience and understanding of how communities like North Kensington operate [Image: AFP/Getty].


It is relatively easy to sympathise with Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s desire not to be seen as biased towards the residents of Grenfell Tower, in his inquiry into the circumstances of the fire that claimed at least 80 (cue derisory laughter) lives.

But if his inquiry is to be impartial, he must find somebody to sit on it who can provide insight into the interests of tower block residents who had little influence on the decisions that were made about their safety.

He needs a resident of another tower block.

Better still, he needs an unemployed tower block resident.

Not only would that provide good publicity for the inquiry, but it would be a fantastic opportunity for whoever was chosen. This Writer has no idea how much the members of a committee of inquiry are paid but my guess is that they don’t come cheap.

And if the chosen candidate makes a good fist of it, the experience could be life-changing.

But will Sir Martin have the wisdom to make such a choice?

If he doesn’t, then he’s the wrong choice to chair the inquiry after all and the heckles he has attracted will have been well-deserved.

The chairman of an inquiry into the deadly fire at Grenfell Tower has refused calls to allow a survivor of the disaster to be part of a team assessing evidence.

Retired judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, who is leading the probe, acknowledged survivors’ concerns about the impartiality of the investigation, but said they could only provide evidence to the inquiry.

Issuing an opening statement at the Grand Connaught Rooms in central London, Sir Martin said: “To appoint someone as an assessor who has had direct involvement in the fire would risk undermining my impartiality in the eyes of others who are also deeply involved in the inquiry.”

Instead, Sir Martin, a former judge at the Court of Appeal, said he would approach candidates who were entirely separated from the disaster.

Read more: Grenfell Tower inquiry chairman refuses to let residents who survived fire help assess evidence


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New judge appointed for child abuse inquiry – third time lucky?

Serious task: New Zealand High Court Judge Lowell Goddard has been appointed as the third chair of the inquiry into historical child sex abuse.

Serious task: New Zealand High Court Judge Lowell Goddard has been appointed as the third chair of the inquiry into historical child sex abuse.

Did anybody notice this in the mainstream media? It was reported, but not very strongly.

New Zealand High Court judge Lowell Goddard has been appointed as the third chair of Theresa May’s much-aborted inquiry into historical child sex abuse in the United Kingdom.

She has told the Commons Home Affairs select committee she wants to have the troubled inquiry “up and running” by early April and would aim to revisit past wrongs, clarify what happened and ensure children were protected from sexual abuse.

She also said she intended for the inquiry, which she has been told could take three to four years, to have a “truth and reconciliation” element to it, which would allow survivors to speak about their experiences in private if necessary – as well as an investigative function.

And she said she has no links to the establishment, telling MPs: “We don’t have such a thing in my country.” This last claim may be suspect!

Concerns have been raised about her record. According to one site, while heading the NZ Independent Police Conduct Authority, Justice Goddard concealed a number of serious complaints against police and, while Deputy Solicitor General, refused to release evidence that former judge Michael Lance was guilty of perverting justice in a police prosecution of his son Simon’s business partner, claiming it was not in the public interest to allow the prosecution.

But she dismissed allegations made by New Zealand bloggers by pointing out that her prime accuser has been officially certified a “vexatious litigant” and stressing that her record on child abuse included passing the longest sentence in New Zealand judicial history on a man who abused and murdered two girls.

So that’s all right then. Is it?

One of her first moves has been to end Theresa May’s experiment to put child abuse survivors on the panel. She said: “There are inherent risks in having people with personal experience of abuse as members of an impartial and independent panel.”

Blogger David Hencke, who has far more experience in these subjects than Yr Obdt Srvt, commented: “Frankly the row and bitter campaign by some organisations, l am afraid like the Survivors Alliance, against people appointed to the panel has ended in excluding survivors voices in the writing of the report. They have shot themselves in the foot.

“There will obviously be some appointed to an advisory panel, but no one should kid themselves that they will have the same influence as a member of the panel. It will be up to the judge to decide how often and how much they will be consulted but up to her and her QC adviser, Ben Emmerson, to decide what  will appear in the report.

“A radical experiment in setting up an inquiry to deal with one of the nastiest and most persistent blots in British public life – the exploitation of children by paedophiles – has been killed  with the help of the very people who suffered that fate.” [bolding mine]

Survivors will still be able to speak to the inquiry and also to the new People’s Tribunal now in the process of being set up, which has survivors on its steering committee.

Is this a good start – or another false one?

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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