Tag Archives: premature

Riley libel: her team just made a terrible mistake

Rachel Riley is a serial litigant; besides suing me, she is also pursuing Laura Murray, who bit back at one of the Countdown co-presenter’s tweets in March last year.

Referring to the incident in which Jeremy Corbyn had been punched by an egg-wielding man in a London mosque, Ms Riley had dug up an old tweet by Owen Jones which said “If you don’t want eggs thrown at you, don’t be a Nazi. Seems fair to me.” To this, she added the comment: “Good advice.”

Ms Murray, who was working in Mr Corbyn’s Labour Party office at the time, tweeted her opinion that Ms Riley was saying Corbyn was a Nazi who deserved to be attacked violently. She added that, in her opinion, Ms Riley was a dangerous and stupid person who risked inciting unlawful violence – and nobody should engage with her in any way.

Mr Justice Nicklin, in a judgement based on paper evidence due to the coronavirus pandemic, ruled that Ms Murray had made a statement of fact when she said Riley had stated that Corbyn deserved to be attacked violently.

That’s the extent of the difference.

His statement that the words have a tendency to be defamatory isn’t a ruling that Ms Murray is guilty of libel; the defendant may say that her statement was factually accurate and back it up with evidence, and she may also provide information to support the opinions that she expressed.

Riley hasn’t won the case; this was a ruling on the meaning of Ms Murray’s words and whether they were statements of fact or expressions of opinion. There will be a trial at some point in the future.

But Ms Riley and her friends seem to have started celebrating victory prematurely.

And someone went one step further – by publicising the case prematurely.

The image above shows that the right-wing Guido Fawkes blog ran an initial piece on the ruling on April 23, albeit with no further information than a claim that Riley had won. The Mail went further, publishing at 6.21am the following:

 

But the ruling was not published by the High Court until 10am on April 24 – more than a day later.

So it seems somebody has committed contempt of court.

This was a reserved judgement. That meant that the hearing was some time ago and the judge prepared a written judgement to be handed down on April 24. Prior to handing down, the judge would have sent a draft to the parties. The rules on drafts say:

2.4 A copy of the draft judgment may be supplied, in confidence, to the parties provided that—

 (a) neither the draft judgment nor its substance is disclosed to any other person or used in the public domain; and

 (b) no action is taken (other than internally) in response to the draft judgment, before the judgment is handed down.

 2.8  Any breach of the obligations or restrictions under paragraph 2.4 or failure to take all reasonable steps under paragraph 2.6 may be treated as contempt of court.

I imagine Mr Justice Nicklin would be very keen to find out who’s been playing fast-and-loose with court rules and his judgement. And I can’t blame him.

I can’t comment on who leaked the story to the press too soon – but I will keep an eye on it.

As for people who prematurely claim a legal victory that they haven’t won … if you’re as nauseated by this as I am, then please remember that Ms Riley is attacking me in the same way she is attacking Ms Murray – and I don’t have the cash to fight her.

If I can win my case in court, then it should discourage Ms Riley and her friends – harshly – from this vile behaviour. But I can only do it with your help.

Please consider making a donation yourself, via the CrowdJustice page.

Email five of your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.

Post a link to Facebook, asking your friends to pledge.

On Twitter, you could tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.

On other social media platforms, please mention the campaign there, quoting the appeal address.

It would be bad enough if Ms Riley had won. The fact that she hasn’t, and is claiming she is, is toxic. In my opinion.

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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Tory Britain: Homeless children are born on the street – while privileged pensioners have helicopter rides from hospital

In the shadows: the plight of homeless people is overlooked – unless highlighted by the media. Meanwhile others are given every luxury due to nothing more than an accident of birth.

This is the truth of Boris Johnson’s brave new Britain: the public purse can pay for the privileged to have helicopter rides home from hospital, while a homeless woman didn’t qualify for hospital treatment until after she had given birth on a cold Cambridge street.

The woman, aged around 30, gave birth to twins who were around 11 weeks premature on Sidney Street, outside Trinity College, Cambridge on Monday.

Is this the kind of medical care the fifth-largest economy in the world provides to its people?

How did this woman become homeless? Was she unable to pay the bills because Tory wage or benefit policies are so prejudiced against the poor (which means most of us)?

Homelessness has rocketed under Conservative rule – and this can only be because Conservative policies dictated that it should happen.

And a homeless person, living on the streets, dies every 19 hours.

One would expect that pregnant women who are homeless would be particularly vulnerable to an early death – especially those in desperate need of medical help because they were giving birth.

Death during childbirth used to be tragically common, after all.

No doubt this would make the Tories unbearably happy; it’s one less “useless eater”.

I read also, today, that the Duke of Edinburgh enjoyed a helicopter ride home after a four-day stay in hospital due to a “pre-existing condition”.

You see how it is?

The privileged people in our society get to have the very best – a place in hospital whenever they need or want it, and the extravagance of a trip home by helicopter – whenever they want it.

And all on state benefits. The Duke is on the Civil List, remember – and that is a state-funded benefit.

Why aren’t the rest of us afforded the same treatment – why wasn’t the homeless mother offered it, if the cash is available to pay for him to receive such treatment?

I’m not begrudging him the treatment; I’m questioning a government that is happy to fund such extravagance for him, while begrudging even a minimum of treatment for her.

It all could have been different, too. Labour would have provided a home and dignity to the woman, and she would have been able to enjoy appropriate hospital treatment.

But 14 million voted Tory. A child becomes homeless every eight minutes (including the two who were born homeless on Monday).

And the benefits we enjoy depend on the identity of our parents (or spouses) rather than being rights enjoyed by everyone.

That’s something to think about, over Christmas.

Source: Homeless woman gives birth to premature twins on a cold street outside Cambridge University college – Cambridgeshire Live

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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Thatcher’s policies condemned for causing “unjust premature death”

thatcherburn

The following may be old news to some of you but it just got to me, so I’m publicising it:

“Public health experts from Durham University have denounced the impact of Margaret Thatcher’s policies on the wellbeing of the British public in new research which examines social inequality in the 1980s.

“The study, which looked at over 70 existing research papers, concludes that as a result of unnecessary unemployment, welfare cuts and damaging housing policies, the former prime minister’s legacy includes the unnecessary and unjust premature death of many British citizens, together with a substantial and continuing burden of suffering and loss of well-being.

“The research shows that there was a massive increase in income inequality under Baroness Thatcher – the richest 0.01 per cent of society had 28 times the mean national average income in 1978 but 70 times the average in 1990, and UK poverty rates went up from 6.7 per cent in 1975 to 12 per cent in 1985.

“Baroness Thatcher’s governments wilfully engineered an economic catastrophe across large parts of Britain by dismantling traditional industries such as coal and steel in order to undermine the power of working class organisations, say the researchers. They suggest this ultimately fed through into growing regional disparities in health standards and life expectancy, as well as greatly increased inequalities between the richest and poorest in society.

“Co-author Professor Clare Bambra from the Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing at Durham University, commented: ‘Our paper shows the importance of politics and of the decisions of governments and politicians in driving health inequalities and population health. Advancements in public health will be limited if governments continue to pursue neoliberal economic policies – such as the current welfare state cuts being carried out under the guise of austerity.'”

Read the full article on the Durham University website.

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Atos ‘death threats’ claim – ‘outrageous’ insult to those its regime has killed

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KrychGaA78&feature=share

“If this isn’t intimidation, I don’t know what is – it’s a very clear message to anyone: How dare you protest against us and, if you do, we’ll find you fit for work!” Anti-Atos protester Joanne Jemmett with the sign left by Atos workers outside the assessment centre in Weston-Super-Mare on Wednesday (“Fit enough to protest – fit enough to work!”) at the start of this short film documenting the demonstration there.

Watching the stories stack up in the wake of the national day of protest against Atos last Wednesday has been very interesting.

The immediate response was that Atos has approached the government, seeking an early end to its contract. This deal, under which Atos administers the hated Work Capability Assessments to people on incapacity or disability benefits, would have been worth more than £1 billion to the company over a 10-year period.

Allegedly, company employees have been receiving death threats, both during and after the protests. We’ll come back to those shortly.

The Conservative-led Coalition took this development in the way we have come to expect – spitefully. A DWP spokesperson said that the company’s service had declined to an unacceptable level, and that the government was already seeking tenders from other firms for the contract.

This is what happens when bullies squabble.

Atos is the big bully that has just had a shock because the other kids in the playground stood up to it and made it clear they weren’t going to stand for its nonsense any more. We’re told that all bullies are cowards and it appears to be true in this case – Atos went running to the bigger bully (the government) and said it was scared. The government then did what bigger bullies do; it said Atos was rubbish anyway and set about finding someone else to do its dirty work.

Here’s the sticking-point, though – as the BBC identified in its article: “The government was furious with Atos for leaking information it believes to be commercially confidential… If Atos wants to pull out early, some other companies may pay less to take those contracts on than they otherwise would.”

I should clarify that companies don’t actually pay for contracts; they offer to carry out the work at the lowest prices they think are viable, in competition with other firms. The government chooses the company it feels is best-suited to the work. In this situation, it seems likely that the possibility of death threats may put some firms off even applying.

So let’s come back to those threats. A spokesperson for the organisers of Wednesday’s demonstration tells us that pickets took place outside 93 Atos centres, across the UK. Most of these were very small – averaging 30 people or less (I can confirm that in Newtown, Powys, a maximum of 15 people attended at any one time). Brighton and London were bigger, but 12 demos had only one person present.

“That is really funny because, as you have seen, Atos are saying they had to close down all their centres for the day – up and down the country – because of huge hoards of scary, threatening disabled people issuing death threats,” the spokesperson said.

“All demos were peaceful and no trouble or arrests were reported.”

In the spokesperson’s opinion: “Atos have been planning to step down for a long time because they weren’t making enough profit and just used our tiny little demos as an excuse.”

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and sister group Black Triangle issued a joint statement: “The bizarre exit strategy Atos have developed in identifying apparent physical threats on Facebook despite the growing lists of real deaths caused by the WCA regime is an outrageous insult to all those who have died and all those who have lost family members through this regime.

“It is an insult to those left without their homes, without money and needing to go to food banks.

“It is an insult to every person who has suffered worsening physical and mental health through this inhuman regime.”

The statement also poured water on any government claim that other companies had been put off bidding for the contract:”The alphabet corporations – G4S, A4E, SERCO, CAPITA – are already lining up to take over the multi-million profits and the mantle of the new Grim Reapers. The misery imposed by this Government and the DWP will continue as long as its heinous policies continue.”

I would strongly urge all readers to put their support behind the remainder of the statement, which asserted: “The Work Capability Assessment must also end.

“The reign of terror by this unelected Coalition Government which has awarded itself pay rises and cut taxes for those earning more than £150,000 while piling punishment, poverty, misery and premature death on everyone else in its policies of rich against poor must end.

“Make no mistake – we will continue to demonstrate against ATOS, now delivering the complete failure of PIP in which claims are being delayed by up to a year.

“We will demonstrate against any other company that takes over the WCA contract.

“We will continue to demand the immediate removal of the WCA, and the removal of this Government.”

Hear, hear.

In my article on the Bedroom Tax evictions taking place in my home town (yesterday) I made it clear that too few people are bothering to pay attention to the evils of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition government. That article received a huge response, garnering almost four times the readership of other recent posts within just 24 hours.

The situation described in this article is much worse – people aren’t being evicted from their homes; they are being forced off of the benefits that have kept them alive, pushed – by the government! – towards destitution, despair and death through either suicide or a failure of their health that their Atos assessment results deny should ever take place.

Today’s article should have more readers, after the success of yesterday’s – but we’ll have to see, shan’t we? If fewer people read it, we’ll know that they all just looked up for a moment, thought, “Oh, that’s interesting,” and went back to whatever distraction keeps them happy in the face of impending government-sponsored pain.

Any attempt to inform the public will fail if the public stops paying attention.

Let’s keep it focused where it belongs.

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DWP calls in Rentadoc to harass the sick off-benefit

Ingeus out of favour: This image was found on a site protesting against Workfare and demonstrates the high regard in which it is held by previous users of the Ingeus service.

Ingeus out of favour: This image was found on a site protesting against Workfare and demonstrates the high regard in which it is held by previous users of the Ingeus service.

Perhaps we’re jumping the gun with the headline but alarm bells tend to go off when you read that “people on sickness benefits will be required to have regular meetings with healthcare professionals to help them with their barriers to work”.

Everyone working on Employment and Support Allowance should already know what everyone receiving it knows – it’s more a bloodbath than a benefit.

This is down to the attitude of the healthcare professionals already working on it – the people who (and God forbid you should ever ask to see their qualifications) automatically sign 70 per cent of claimants as ‘fit for work’, whether they are or not, and tell most of the rest they need to be work-ready within a year.

The result? Mental breakdowns, depression and suicides; physical breakdowns, worsening of existing conditions, and premature deaths. By the thousand.

These are the people who ask claimants when amputated limbs are going to grow back, and who tell people with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis that they’ll be fit for work within six months.

If you did (God forbid) ask them where they got their qualifications, it was probably the Teaching Hospital of Noddyland.

“People on sickness benefits will be required to have regular meetings with healthcare professionals to help them address their barriers to work – or face losing their benefits [italics mine] – in a two-year pilot scheme in central England which begins in November,” the DWP press release states.

Isn’t this what happened with people on Jobseekers’ Allowance? Suddenly they had to start fulfilling lots of pointless extra requirements or their benefits would be withdrawn? Part of that is a regular meeting in which – as far as we can ascertain – innocent people are harassed, threatened and abused by DWP employees who are themselves, it seems, millimetres away from nervous exhaustion brought on by the pressures of the job.

Claiming benefits, it seems, is now an endurance test: Who cracks (up) first?

Now, for 3,000 people in the work-related activity group for ESA in the Black Country, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, Staffordshire and Shropshire, there’s no relief even if they have a nervous breakdown and have to claim ESA on mental health grounds.

“People involved in the pilot – who have all been assessed as being able to work at some point in the future – will have regular appointments with healthcare professionals as a condition of receiving their benefit, to focus on helping them move closer to being able to get a job.”

There you go – all judged as able to work in the future. Presumably Iain Duncan Smith has taken a look at their files, glanced into his crystal ball, and declared that he has a “belief” in their fitness to work. If any of these people are reading, please contact this blog if you have a progressive health condition that won’t ever improve.

Because the meeting is a condition of receiving benefit, anyone attending can expect to be treated abominably. This is not about helping you back to work, or even back to health; it’s about kicking you off-benefit and nothing further. The aim, as with JSA, is to cut claimant numbers and thereby cut spending.

“It’s really important we give people who are disabled or have a health condition the support they need to get into work if they are able,” said employment minister Esther McVey who knows nothing about this at all (despite having been minister for the disabled).

“Traditionally, this help has tended to be work-related, but this pilot will look at whether a more holistic approach is more successful in helping people to manage their conditions and so break down their barriers to work.”

The biggest barrier to a person with a disability getting work is the fact that the Conservative-led Coalition government has been closing down employment opportunities for them and removing incentives for employers to take them on.

The healthcare professionals will be provided by Ingeus UK – a welfare-to-work provider that has been involved in the Work Programme – you know, the time-wasting scheme in which jobseekers are taken off the unemployment statistics while they learn simple skills that, in fact, most of them already have.

The company’s website is very slick but contains no information about the number of doctors in its employ.

Oh, and guess what? The company is half-owned by Deloitte, one of the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms that currently writes British tax law to make avoidance easy for the big corporates. How much tax has Ingeus paid lately?

“Everything we do is results driven”, the site declares.

One wonders what Ingeus will do when the casualties start piling up.

Abortion debate: Some Tories just can’t keep their mouths shut

In the 1966 movie Alfie, the main character (Michael Caine) impregnates another man’s wife (played by Vivien Merchant) and has to take her to a backstreet abortionist. Do Maria Miller, Jeremy Hunt and now Theresa May want a return to this extremely dangerous practice?

This won’t be a popular post. It seems you don’t want to read about abortion from the figures on my ‘Killer’ Miller piece.

But I don’t write this blog because I want to be popular; I say some things because they are to be said, and this is one of those pieces. Cutting the time limit on abortions will continue to be ignorant lunacy, no matter how many Cabinet ministers support it.

From that, you can guess my opinion of the Cabinet ministers involved, who are Maria Miller, Jeremy Hunt, and now Theresa May.

The Home Secretary said she thought there was scope for a 20-week limit (the current limit is 24 weeks, remember). The Health Secretary had already gone further, saying he supported halving the limit to just 12 weeks.

This is a man who admits that doctors have operated on his head. Presumably they removed all his intelligence.

Thank goodness they were only expressing personal views, no matter what may be said by those who support the suggestion – oh, what am I saying? The Conservatives are desperate for a popular policy. They’re probably writing it into their Conference speeches right now.

I am glad to see that my own concerns about this were absolutely correct. In a comment on Today, Professor Wendy Savage, a gynaecologist and campaigner on women’s rights, pointed out: “The number of abortions that take place over 20 weeks is very small. Of those a considerable proportion are of foetuses which have got a congenital abnormality.

“I think the majority of the population think that if somebody has got a foetus that, if born, will have a severe disability, they should have the right to choose whether or not to continue with that pregnancy.”

If you’re still undecided on the issue (all 12 or 13 of you who are reading this), try reading Laurie Pennie’s ’24 Reasons for 24 Weeks’, a blog she wrote back in 2008, before the Tory MP Nadine Dorries (remember her?) was defeated in her own attempt to cut the time limit.

Of particular interest should be number 3: “Research shows that lowering the time limit does nothing to lower the number of abortions taking place.” But if they can’t get a legal abortion, where do they go?

Back to the backstreets, everyone?

‘Killer’ Miller’s new job – removing women’s rights

Maria Miller: This minister for equality understands the needs of women even less than she understood the disabled.

Maria Miller, the newly-appointed minister responsible for persecuting minority groups, has started by attacking pregnant women.

She wants to lower the legal abortion limit in England, Wales and Scotland, from 24 weeks to 20.

This should come as no surprise to anyone. She voted for a 20-week limit in 2008, as I mentioned in a previous article on this blog.

Ms Miller has justified her stance by saying care for extremely premature babies has improved rapidly, saying it was “really important” to consider the impact on women and children, and claiming it is “common sense“.

But the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists reviewed the matter two years ago and said there was no scientific evidence to justify a lower limit. Survival rates before 24 weeks have not improved. Also, there are circumstances in which some women will need to end a pregnancy after 20 weeks.

In other words, based on the scientific evidence, Ms Miller’s approach is the exact opposite of “common sense“.

One has to wonder, what is this minister’s problem? She must know that there are reasons for terminating pregnancies that are based on the health of the mother, the child, or both. And that doesn’t even take into account the effect on the lives of those individuals after the child is born.

Correct me if I’m wrong; I’m looking at this as a health issue because it occurs to me that, except in rare cases, a woman would be aware she is pregnant after 20 weeks and would want the child. I don’t think we’re discussing the “pro-life/pro-choice” issue here. It seems to me that we’re discussing whether children will be born with congenital conditions that will impair their experience of life, or whether the pregnancy will seriously harm the mother’s health.

In either case, being forced to go to full-term, because the law demands it, could lead to a life on benefits as what Ms Miller might call a burden to society – or so it seems to me.

So this “common sense” approach is entirely contradictory, considering the minister’s history.

Hasn’t ‘Killer’ spent the last two years taking benefits away from people like that, effectively killing them off? Why is she now trying to bring more of them into the world?

In short: Does she get a kick out of causing suffering?