Tag Archives: phone

How will minister be punished for replacing phone before it could be searched?

Lord Bethell: he previously claimed he never used his private accounts for official business so we know he’s a liar. Shouldn’t he be sacked by the Tory government?

The answer is that Lord Bethell probably won’t be punished at all.

But if he were involved in a criminal investigation (and he might as well be – as the awarding of many deals for supply of Personal Protective Equipment to Tory chums and/or donors who were incapable of providing it seems extremely crooked) and he ditched the evidence, he would be charged with a crime.

Here are the facts:

Labour has called for an inquiry into the use of WhatsApp within the government, after it emerged a health minister replaced his mobile phone before it could be searched for information relevant to £85m of deals that are subject to a legal challenge.

James Bethell, who oversaw the award of Covid contracts, is one of those under scrutiny over the way deals for personal protective equipment (PPE) and tests were allocated at the height of the pandemic.

As part of legal proceedings issued by the Good Law Project, the government is expected to disclose Lord Bethell’s correspondence including by email, WhatsApp and SMS relating to the award of £85m of contracts for antibody tests to Abingdon Health.

The secretary of state has a responsibility to preserve and search documents for information relevant to the case from the point at which judicial review proceedings were issued in late 2020, under the government’s “duty of candour”.

However, a witness statement from a government lawyer revealed Bethell replaced his phone in early 2021 and it may no longer be possible to retrieve the information about his dealings with Abingdon, although efforts are being made to recover them from his mobile phone provider.

The statement said Bethell had used his official email account as well as his private email account to send and receive emails relevant to the contracts, and that he had also used his mobile phone for SMS and WhatsApp messages. But it said Bethell had confirmed that about six months ago his phone was broken and replaced and that his new phone did not contain the phone data.

Government lawyers revealed Bethell had not been issued with a “preservation notice” requiring him to save documents because ministers’ official correspondence was routinely saved as a matter of course. However, this did not cover government business conducted by private means.

What does he have to hide?

When they’re under an investigation with legal consequences, people with nothing to fear don’t destroy the evidence.

And Bethell must know that the information will be available by other means – although logically there shouldn’t be anything to stop him from reactivating his WhatsApp, SMS and private email accounts. Why hasn’t he done so?

The fact that government preservation notices don’t cover business conducted by private means, while government ministers are allowed to carry out government business in that way and are trusted to duplicate it into the public system, is a huge opening for corruption.

And it seems clear that this particular minister has exploited it.

Maybe I’m wrong – and I’ll be happy to apologise of Lord Bethell can provide clear proof that he was not responsible for any wrongdoing.

But I won’t hold my breath waiting for it.

Source: Covid contracts: minister replaced phone before it could be searched | Health policy | The Guardian

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Gavin Williamson wants school discipline clampdown. Based on what evidence?

Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em: Gavin Williamson was unkindly compared to Frank Spencer from the 70s sitcom. Sadly, if he were more like the character Michael Crawford immortalised, he’d probably care more about children’s well-being and less about subjecting them to “discipline” – which, in the mouth of a Tory, seems very creepy indeed.

Gavin Williamson, the dunderheaded education secretary who illegally scrapped dozens of legal rights for children, is attacking them again.

This time he’s telling us that long periods in lockdown have “inevitably” turned our children feral, and they need to have hefty amounts of discipline whacked into them now that schools are open again.

(When I say “whacked”, I should stress that he’s not actually promoting a return to physical punishments – although I wouldn’t put it past him and our government of weirdo fascists.)

I see no evidence in support of Williamson’s claim. Indeed, information he has provided himself suggests that kids in lockdown have settled down to the different routine of remote schooling via the internet.

“Technology has been invaluable keeping children learning during lockdowns and we support its use,” he said.

Unfortunately, in the very same breath, he demanded that technology is a disruptive influence and that mobile phones should be banned from schools.

He’s actually trying to do something clever here – supporting a lie with a truth. But we can all see through it – can’t we?

This Writer’s personal opinion is that mobile phones shouldn’t be allowed in classrooms. If kids insist on bringing them in, teachers should keep a list of those who have them, and should collect them in the morning and give them back at the end of the school day.

It would be too easy to use internet-enabled mobiles to cheat – and that would undermine the point of going to school.

The points about cyberbullying and inappropriate use of social media are, on balance, also fair:

Mr Williamson has made banning mobile phones in schools a key part of his plan, saying they not only distract from “exercise and good old-fashioned play” but also foment cyber bullying and the inappropriate use of social media.

But he has produced no evidence to suggest that possession of a mobile phone, use of it as an education tool during lockdown, or indeed being forced to stay at home at all have eroded discipline in children.

Indeed, if our kids have buckled down and studied at home, without a teacher standing over them, that tends to indicate that they have employed self-discipline. Doesn’t it?

Also, he hasn’t provided any information about the kind of discipline he intends to impose. Is he advocating the conversion of our schools into training grounds for some kind of imposed fascism – the “Johnson Youth”?

The backlash has started:

Last word: It has been alleged that Williamson’s discipline drive is a retaliation against kids who criticised him for policies like his stupid algorithm-based plan to replace exam marks, that automatically assumed that state school pupils would not achieve results as high as those who were privately-educated…

Can anybody provide evidence to support this? I haven’t seen any.

But you have to admit, based on his behaviour, it rings true.

Source: Gavin Williamson backs mobile phone ban in schools and claims children have lacked ‘discipline’ during lockdown | Evening Standard

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Starmer’s strategy for his party becomes clear – and it is everything Labour should NOT be

You may be wondering about the image above.

Well, I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation during lockdown (don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it!) and it seems to me that Keir Starmer is trying to turn the Labour Party into a 21st-century version of the Borg Collective, an alien race from that famous science fiction TV show.

In the show, the Borg travel the universe assimilating other races into their collective, either killing or subduing the leaders and absorbing the population by using cybernetic implants to impose their will.

Among their catchphrases was the line: “You will adapt to service us.”

That is exactly what Keir Starmer and his Parliamentary colleagues seem to be saying to Constituency Labour Parties across the UK with their new initiative to get rank-and-file members using the “Dialogue” phone banking app.

This incentive scheme demands that members call up voters in their constituencies to get as much information about which way people will vote as possible (and get them to vote Labour).

Constituency parties making the most calls will receive rewards – if you can call them that – which mostly involve congratulatory messages from party leader Keir Starmer, deputy leader Angela Rayner or some other shadow cabinet member.

The presentation makes it seem that CLP members should consider such contact a great honour and privilege from celebrities, in comparison with whom the rank-and-file members should consider themselves to be nothing more than functionaries whose only reason for existence is to serve.

Do you see why I am comparing Starmer’s new version of Labour with the Borg now?

The shift in emphasis has not gone unnoticed:

And the contrast with the previous Labour leader could not have been more apparent:

The other aspect of the Borg comparison is the elimination or co-option of leaders who might otherwise oppose the ruling cadre.

Isn’t that what we’ve been seeing since Starmer was elected, in April?

Prominent figures who might otherwise undermine the entitled few have been smeared, accused, suspended and expelled; their names blackened with slanders they find themselves ill-equipped to fight because the party manipulates it own rules to undermine the accused.

In short, while Starmer can’t actually have them killed, these people have been eliminated as any realistic opposition.

So there you have it.

Worse than any comparison with fantasy monsters, though, is the obvious correlation with real-world creatures that no Labour member should want to be seen imitating, even in death.

I refer, of course, to Tories.

In setting himself up as a member of a ruling class within the Labour Party, and demanding that CLP members be reduced to carrying out simple functions for their masters in Parliament (or who have been chosen from a highly-select group of party elites to stand for election), Starmer is re-modelling Labour to resemble the Conservative Party.

Shouldn’t that be the cardinal sin, as far as Labour is concerned?

He certainly isn’t impressing anybody with his choices.

Today he announced that he had co-opted former prime minister – and New Labour stalwart – Gordon Brown to support his plot to restore Labour’s popularity in Scotland (and the other UK nations) by devolving more power outside Westminster.

And when he broadcast a big speech about it, Starmer sank, almost without trace. Fewer than 2,500 people bothered to watch – and many of them were probably members of the press.

Maybe today wasn’t the day for this.

Or maybe the target audience had had enough of Starmer’s arrogance and entitlement.

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Cynical: Tories pilot 30-minute phone appointments for ‘claimant commitment’ interviews – to impose sanctions quicker?

Isn’t it amazing how the Tories can go straight into action on some plans, while others take forever?

So we see them testing fast-track phone interviews lasting a brief 30 minutes to get up-to-date claimant commitments for Universal Credit claimants.

This is because the Tories promised not to sanction anybody’s Universal Credit payments until up-to-date claimant commitments were established.

They had suspended conditions attached to receipt of Universal Credit during March, meaning that the millions who have claimed the so-called benefit since then have never been subjected to the sanctions that have so badly harmed the finances of so many poverty-lashed claimants.

Well, they’re about to find out what it’s like!

You can tell that the haste with which this measure has been imposed means the Tories are just itching to start taking food out of the mouths of needy people who they can label as undeserving.

In its Coronavirus Touchbase Special, the Department for Work and Pensions promised that nobody would be asked to do anything “unreasonable”, particularly “claimants who are shielding, have childcare responsibilities because of COVID restrictions, etc.” – so you know that these people will definitely be asked to do unreasonable things.

Times may have changed but the Tory-run DWP remains the same.

Source: DWP confirms that it is testing 30 minute telephone appointments for claimant commitment interviews – Rightsnet

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Humiliation for Hancock as Apple denies talking with Tories over contact tracing app

Matt Hancock: he has a lot of bare-faced cheek.

How did Matt Hancock think he would get away with this one?

It seems he has tried to hide the failure of the Tory government’s attempt to create a Covid-19 contact tracing app for mobile phones by saying the government was merging its app with one already created by Apple and Google.

Apple has said it is unaware of any such agreement and the government has not held any discussions with the firm.

In other words: Hancock was lying.

That’s the only logical conclusion. Right?

Apple says it did not know the UK was working on a “hybrid” version of the NHS coronavirus contact-tracing app using tech it developed with Google.

The firm took the unusual step of saying it was also unaware of an issue regarding distance-measuring, which was flagged by Health Secretary Matt Hancock in Thursday’s daily briefing.

“We’ve agreed to join forces with Google and Apple, to bring the best bits of both systems together,” Mr Hancock said.

However, Apple said: “We don’t know what they mean by this hybrid model. They haven’t spoken to us about it.”

Apple said it was “difficult to understand” the claims.

Downing Street said the government had “worked closely with Apple and Google”.

In tests carried out in the UK, there were occasions when software tools developed by Apple and Google could not differentiate between a phone in a user’s pocket 1m (3.3ft) away and a phone in a user’s hand 3m (9.8ft) away.

During the briefing, Mr Hancock said: “Measuring distance is clearly mission critical to any contact-tracing app.”

However, speaking to the Times, Apple said: “It is difficult to understand what these claims are as they haven’t spoken to us.”

It gets worse. The government doubled down on its claim, with disastrous consequences:

On Friday, the Department of Health said the NHS’s digital innovation unit had indeed discussed its ambitions with Apple.

A Downing Street spokesman said the government continued to work closely with both Apple and Google on the app, and had done so since development began.

“We’ve agreed with them to take forward our work on estimating distance through the app that we’ve developed and work to incorporate that into their app,” he said.

Apple and Google have not created an app.

It’s not irredeemable for the Tories.

Apple is a commercial firm and will undoubtedly be happy to enter a commercial agreement with the UK government to create the track-and-trace system the Tories want.

The big question is whether this new system will have the facility to download people’s private information and make it available to other commercial operators, in the way the Tories’ – failed – app did.

Source: Apple ‘not told’ about UK’s latest app plans – BBC News

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Conservative contact tracer app may be a front for covert surveillance

Is this yet another conspiracy theory? Maybe not – it seems to have the ring of truth about it.

The Tories are using the Isle of Wight to test a new contact tracing app – ostensibly to help the treatment of coronavirus, but possibly as a means of quietly watching everything users do.

Conservative governments have form with regard to covert surveillance. David Cameron’s Investigatory Powers Act of 2016 granted the government huge powers to watch your communications – albeit with safeguards demanded by MPs who were concerned about the erosion of civil liberties.

Now, concerns have been raised that the Tory app will infringe people’s civil liberties by gathering data on their movements and uploading their contact lists.

It seems Tories like Matt Hancock want everybody in the UK to download and use the app, providing the government with an enormous amount of data on their personal lives.

The demand is meeting resistance:

In the Commons, Marcus Fysh warned “widespread surveillance” was “not acceptable” in Britain, and it was essential the system was voluntary.

“We’re not a people who take well to surveillance and it’s a little ironic that the country that has probably been surveilling its population more than any other appears to have been the source of this virus,” he said, referring to China.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said… “We’re extremely concerned that the Government may be planning to route private data through a central database, opening the door to pervasive state surveillance and privacy infringement, with potentially discriminatory effects,” she said.

Tory officials insist the app is designed with privacy and security “front of mind” with the data stored on an individual’s phone until the point they contact the NHS to report symptoms and request a test.

But Tory officials also supported Hancock when he lied to us all that he had reached his target of 100,000 coronavirus tests per day. He should have been forced to resign over that but he hasn’t even apologised.

On Twitter, matters seem straightforward:

Source: Trial of coronavirus contact-tracing app begins on Isle of Wight – ITV News

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Coronavirus: have the Tories told a big lie? Do they expect HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of DEATHS?

Did I make that headline big enough for you?

According to Byline Times, the people there have gained access to a Home Office conference call that shows the facts about Tory government policy on the coronavirus: heartless and two-faced.

It seems the government does not expect a vaccine to appear before most of the population has caught the virus – and expects around 264,000 of us to die in the long term.

This is the scientific advice behind the government’s policy on coronavirus; remember that when Dominic Raab or Boris Johnson come out to a press conference and say they’re “following scientific advice”.

So it seems the Tories want to downplay the dangers of going to work. As we’re all going to catch Covid-19 anyway, they want us to get back to servicing their economy.

We already know that Tory policy is to “flatten the curve” of coronavirus infections – ensure that the rate of infection slows to one that the NHS can manage, after years in which that party, in government, has starved it of investment in favour of giving money to profit-making firms.

But it turns out that a more accurate description is that Tory policy is simply to slow down “the rate at which we get this virus [which] has direct impact on the NHS”.

So sending us home might have more to do with preventing the NHS from having to deal with it – even if it means people die in their homes (or care homes); and it explains why vulnerable people received letters saying they would be denied treatment if they caught the disease.

The whole strategy suggests that the Tories have never shifted from the “herd immunity” nonsense spouted by Boris Johnson in early March; they want us to “take it on the chin” and if we die in a quiet corner as a result, that’s just too bad.

And it seems that, while we wait for a vaccine that may be a long time coming, we will experience several peaks in infections, each increasing the aggregate number of deaths.

These assumptions are supported by a lot of bad science.

First, it was claimed that the coronavirus cannot survive more than 48 hours on hard surfaces and clothing; in fact survive on hard, shiny surfaces like plastic and steel for up to 72 hours, up to four days on glass and paper money, and as much as seven days on the outside of a surgical mask. Suggestions of a shorter lifespan are begging for people to be infected.

It was also suggested that the coronavirus is uniformly spread across the country, and that this is the reason it is not possible to stop it spreading – but without mass community testing it is impossible to make that claim.

Statements in support of people going to work are contradictory in the extreme.

People who go to work while a vulnerable person is at home are said to be protecting that person because they don’t have to leave the house – but then if the worker catches Covid-19 their housemate is likely to die of it.

So a person going out to work must put a vulnerable person in their household at higher risk!

Going to work is justified because it would keep the economy moving – and said to be equivalent in risk to staying at home or shopping, again on the grounds that we are all doomed to get the virus.

“It’s perfectly okay to carry on in your business” is the claim – made only, it seems, to support the economy rather than to support workers’ safety.

In other words, it seems to be Tory policy for people to put themselves at risk of contracting Covid-19, in order to keep money flowing into the hands of the already-rich. If true: despicable.

Source: COVID-19 SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Leaked Home Office Call Reveals Government wants Economy to ‘Continue Running’ as ‘We Will All Get’ COVID-19 Anyway – Byline Times

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Suspend benefit cap to protect disabled people in coronavirus crisis? It’ll never happen under Tories!

She’ll never support it: Therese Coffey’s record suggests she is not sympathetic to disabled benefit claimants.

It’s a good, solid, practical suggestion: with disabled people most at risk of financial loss during the coronavirus crisis, the government should suspend the penalties it has imposed on them in the last 10 years.

These include the benefit cap and the “two-child policy” for benefits relating to children.

Also suggested by the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) is conversion of the Universal Credit advance loan into a non-repayable grant.

In fact, the DBC requests the suspension of all debt repayment deductions from UC.

And the organisation calls on the government to suspend work-related conditionality and associated sanctions for those receiving benefits.

Other proposals include a call to give higher priority to resolving technical and capacity issues in the benefits system, as well as providing clear guidance for making both a digital and non-digital claim for UC. This is practical as the Department for Work and Pensions has been swamped with claims after the coronavirus lockdown began.

And there is absolutely no hope that the government will grant – or even seriously consider – any of these requests.

The Tories have turned the benefit system into a very efficient device with which to persecute people with disabilities.

They seem to see the coronavirus as a handy aid to this cause, with hospitals already being told to ration ventilators to those with a better chance of surviving – which is prejudicial against the disabled.

In fact it would be easy to see the crisis as providing the Tories with an opportunity simply to continue their hate campaign by other means.

When the final figures are summed up, it will be interesting to see what proportion of the dead happen to be disabled.

Source: Coronavirus: Suspend the benefit cap during crisis to protect disabled people, charities ask – Mirror Online

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Tories use coronavirus to put barrier between patients and NHS care

Future predicted: The 1980s drama Max Headroom featured a TV doctor who examined patients by video link. In the pilot we were treated to the sight of a patient dropping his trousers in readiness to show off his anal pustule. This seems to be the future that Matt Hancock is planning for the NHS – especially after he gave Amazon free access to all your medical information (I’m not sure if this is the patient from that show but it’s as close to that scene as I’m going! Note the “does not vote” label at the bottom).

The Conservatives have been trying to stop people actually going to see a doctor for years and now they’re using coronavirus to force it on us.

They want us to hold all our appointments by telephone or over the internet.

What an absolutely moronic idea. Only an imbecile would suggest that it was an improvement.

Matt Hancock said a current “digital-first” rollout will be extended across the country wherever “clinically and practically possible”.

He told MPs: “We’re taking steps of course to improve access by making sure people can access primary care in the best possible way.”

Draw your own conclusions about Mr Hancock!

This Writer is reminded of the pilot of Max Headroom (the SF drama, not the comedy video-jockey show) in which people use home video cameras to show their symptoms to a TV doctor.

In the show we’re treated to the sight of a man starting to drop his trousers in order to show the world his “anal pustule”. Charming.

But we live in a country that has aired Embarrassing Bodies, so one imagines that this is the sort of thing that has emboldened Mr Hancock.

As far as I’m concerned, we might as well look up our symptoms on Google. The result will be about as reliable.

In other words, I reckon this policy is a plan for preventable deaths (only affecting poor people, of course) and possibly even for the eruption of another epidemic; remote GPs aren’t going to recognise all the symptoms in the course of a brief call.

And how much are these calls going to cost the patient? The NHS is supposed to be free at the point of use!

Ultimately, we can see this as a transparent attempt to push the NHS closer to privatisation.

It will only take a few tragedies for the Tories to claim that the public health system isn’t working and commercial interests could carry out the duty much more responsibly (even though that has proved not to be the case in every single privatisation ever carried out by a Tory government).

Contemptible.

Source: Coronavirus: GP appointments to be held digitally where possible ‘with immediate effect’ – Mirror Online

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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The Livingstone Presumption is now available
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Health Warning: Government! is now available
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HWG PrintHWG eBook

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DWP lies are proved AGAIN as ‘deflection script’ allegations are proved correct

This has been a week in which allegations made by news organisations have been proved accurate in spite of claims that they weren’t – but this time it isn’t Vox Political being vindicated but Sky News.

This Site followed up a report by the Murdoch organisation in October, in which former Grimsby DWP call centre manager Bayard Tarplay claimed employees had been told to use a “deflection script” to shift benefit claimants from the phone to an online service, whether they were capable of using the computer-based system or not.

At the time, the Department for Work and Pensions has said claims of a “deflection script” were “completely false” but added that when handling a query, call agents may use “aides” to help effectively process cases, including directing claimants online in relation to their claim.

It seems clear that this was a lie, with Sky‘s claim that it has now obtained a copy of the “deflection script” from Labour MP Danielle Rowley.

According to the new report, “Five call centres took place in a two-week pilot last year – including in Blackpool, Canterbury, Middlesbrough, Belfast and Bristol. A call centre hub in Grimsby, where Mr Tarpley worked as a case manager, used the deflection scripts for a longer period of time.

“Managers listened in on calls between handlers and claimants to see if the scripts were effective in ‘encouraging claimants to use their online account’.

“The document adds: ‘Encourage staff to ask what the claimant is calling for at the beginning of the call rather than moving straight to security questions this may open up the opportunity to deflect the caller online.'”

Amazingly, the DWP is sticking to its li(n)e that the “deflection script” does not exist – despite the fact that it has now been produced: “There has never been a policy to hurry callers off the phone and accusations that this is the case are completely false. Call handlers are encouraged to spend as much time as necessary on the phone and remind claimants that they are able to complete certain activities online where appropriate.”

Perhaps it’s time someone challenged Amber Rudd over this. You never know – she might resign again.