Tag Archives: publicity

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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DWP lies about Universal Credit again: Poster boy ‘Charlie’ is an ACTOR

Here’s Charlie. According to Amber Rudd, he’s a Universal Credit success story who has now embarked on a “training career”.

And… here’s Charlie. According to The Canary, based on research by Universal Credit Sufferer writer Alex Tiffin, he’s a TV extra who has appeared on programmes including First Dates.

Yes, we’re discussing the same person.

Here’s what Mr Tiffin found:

Gosh – a Universal Credit claimant who’s been able to travel extensively and enjoy other recreational activities (without being harassed by the DWP)? It seems too good to be true!

One wonders if the DWP got him from the same acting agency as the so-called Vicar of Brexit?

But the DWP said it was true…

… and then the DWP deleted the advert from its website, perhaps after reading the details of Charlie’s recent life in the Canary article.

Still unanswered are the questions asked in that piece,  which were:

  • Why it got a media professional to take part in its video.
  • Why it got someone who has seemingly not been in extended periods of financial difficulty.
  • Why it thought Watson was representative of Universal Credit.
  • Why it failed to inform viewers of his background.

It’s like some kind of reverse IQ test – are people stupid enough to believe the DWP’s lies yet?

Remember Zac and Sarah?

‘Zac’ – he doesn’t exist either and his story has also been faked by the DWP.

‘Sarah’ – she doesn’t exist and her story is a fake.

Fictional people, played by actors.

They were part of a publicity initiative by the DWP under Iain Duncan Smith in 2015, which I discussed in this article at the time.

It seems the DWP has not learned its lesson – or its leaders think we have poor memories.

Perhaps it is hoping that our intelligence is failing us.

Well, it isn’t and we don’t.

Amber Rudd is trying to brazen it out – all she has done so far is remove the offending advert from the DWP’s website.

But she has tried to deceive the people of the UK – as Iain Duncan Smith tried in 2015. We deserve an apology –  or better still, a resignation. She’ll be familiar with the process.

UK tax avoiders face being blocked from honours list – to avoid bad publicity?

I’ve said it before: Image is everything to the Conservatives.

If they have initiated plans to block tax avoiders from the honours system, it means they want to avoid any (more) adverse publicity attached to such favours – or they have already rewarded all the tax avoiders they care to.

Tax avoiders are being shunned for knighthoods and other honours as authorities clamp down on rewarding people with “poor tax behaviour”, it has been revealed.

HM Revenue and Customs has been alerting the Cabinet Office to individuals involved in controversial tax planning schemes, with a memorandum of understanding obtained by the Times saying “poor tax behaviour is not consistent with the award of an honour”.

A document published on the Gov.uk website said HMRC used a traffic light system for the vetting process, assigning a low, medium or high risk rating to prospective nominees in order “to minimise the risk that prospective candidates have behaved in ways likely to bring the system into disrepute”.

Source: UK tax avoiders face being blocked from honours list | Politics | The Guardian

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The Home Office’s secret process to solve immigration cases that create bad publicity

Amber Rudd: She set up this system – it’s another reason she had to go.

It’s all about image with the Conservative Party.

They don’t care about the double-standard they have created in the immigration system; all they care about is maintaining the pretence that they run a respectable service.

In reality, we see a system that is ignorant – and still racist.

The Home Office created a rapid response strategy to solve cases that were generating bad publicity for the department amid mounting criticism of its hostile environment approach, BuzzFeed News can reveal.

Established by then home secretary Amber Rudd in 2017 — before the Windrush scandal broke — senior immigration staff are given the freedom to make decisions outside of the rules and quickly grant visas and citizenship to individuals whose cases are reported in the press.

Cases solved just days or weeks after receiving media attention include several uncovered by BuzzFeed News, such as that of Cynsha Best, who was suddenly informed she wasn’t British after being born in the UK, and Valentina Hynes, told to leave her British husband and toddler son behind. Notably fast U-turns were also made in the cases of Brian White, a student with a place at Oxford University whose citizenship had been refused, and Shane Ridge, a joiner born in the UK wrongly told he couldn’t stay in Britain.

While the ability to solve some cases quickly is welcomed by lawyers, they also feel it introduces a double standard for immigration cases. The tiny minority lucky enough to receive media attention get a bespoke service while the vast majority have no means of contacting the Home Office for a proper conversation about poor decisions, let alone reversing them.

Source: The Home Office Has Created A Secret Process To Solve Immigration Cases That Generate Negative Headlines

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Tory Muslim peer receives ‘vile Islamophobic emails’ after calling for Boris Johnson to be kicked out – proving racism in the party?

Boris Johnson: All he wanted was publicity – and like gullible idiotrs, we gave it to him.

This Writer suggested – only two days ago – that Boris Johnson’s “joke” about burqa-wearing Muslim women was garnering support for him among racists.

It seems I was correct.

Of course we should not take anything a politician says at face value – Ruth Smeeth claimed to have received 25,000 anti-Semitic messages via social media, 20,000 of them in 12 hours. But research by Jewish organisation the Community Security Trust showed a peak of only 200 such messages, nationally, per day at the time of the alleged abuse, suggesting that she was… exaggerating.

And Mr Johnson?

He won’t care what Lord Sheikh says. Nor will he care about any disciplinary action by the Conservative Party.

He probably thinks, as other commentators do, that Theresa May will not want to upset supporters of Mr Johnson before crucial Brexit votes in the autumn.

So what has he achieved with his “joke”?

Publicity – for himself. And that is all he wanted.

Conservative Muslim forum founder, Lord Sheikh, has said he has received dozens of “vile” Islamophobic emails after calling for Boris Johnson to be removed from the Conservative Party after his remarks about niqabs.

The Tory peer said the ex-foreign secretary had also “let the genie out of the bottle” after he suggested veiled Muslim women resembled “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”.

He told BBC Newsnight he had received the “vile“ emails, with “obscene language” since calling for the Conservatives to withdraw the whip from Mr Johnson.

His remarks came after the Conservative Party’s decision to consider disciplinary proceedings against Mr Johnson – a move that has led to criticism of Theresa May from Brexiteer MPs who claim the complaints are politically driven.

Source: Tory Muslim peer who called for Boris Johnson to be kicked out of party receives barrage of ‘vile Islamophobic emails’ | The Independent

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Tory rag revives ‘benefit scrounger’ lie to smooth over DWP’s bad publicity

The state of this:

This Writer suspects that the editors of The Sun have run this story because the Department for Work and Pensions has been shown up for denying benefits to people who deserve them, in order to meet a quota.

The policy has caused a huge amount of suffering – both due to deprivation and damage to mental health. So The Sun runs a piece attempting to remind the easily-led that benefit claimants are an underclass in Tory Britain, worthy only to be ‘nudged’ off-benefit and toward death.

“And,” as @TyronWilson puts it, “when you actually read the story it says that she saves her benefits all year and doesn’t spend money on herself so she can do this for her kids.”

And there is always the backstop reason for stories like this:

It’s miserable and mean-spirited – as is anybody who believes and/or supports it.


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‘Scaremongering’, Iain? Isn’t that more your line of work?

Iain Duncan Smith reckons there is no link between his regressive changes to benefits and the rise of food banks. Let's check that. First, we'll look at wages - because working people are going to food banks as well as the unemployed. This graph clearly shows how wage increases have dropped (while inflation has continued to boost prices).

Iain Duncan Smith reckons there is no link between his regressive changes to benefits and the rise of food banks. Let’s check that. First, we’ll look at wages – because working people are going to food banks as well as the unemployed. This graph clearly shows how wage increases have dropped (while inflation has continued to boost prices).

As far as the effects of benefit up-rating measures are concerned, reductions in entitlement are unsurprisingly concentrated in the bottom half of the income distribution. The lowest-income decile group see the largest fall in entitlements as a percentage of income (1.5%) as a result of measures in the Bill, and the second decile see the largest decrease in cash terms, losing about £150 per year on average.

As far as the effects of benefit up-rating measures are concerned, reductions in entitlement are unsurprisingly concentrated in the bottom half of the income distribution. The lowest-income decile group see the largest fall in entitlements as a percentage of income (1.5%) as a result of measures in the Bill, and the second decile see the largest decrease in cash terms, losing about £150 per year on average.

What does this mean for foodbanks? This graph, showing the exponential rise in their use, should be self-explanatory - to everyone not at the DWP, at least.

What does this mean for foodbanks? This graph, showing the exponential rise in their use, should be self-explanatory – to everyone not at the DWP, at least.

Iain Duncan Smith needs to think before making unwise statements.

He was in the headlines over the weekend after he accused food bank charity The Trussell Trust of “scaremongering” in order to get publicity for its work.

Refusing to meet representatives of the trust – thereby reneging (in advance!) on a promise we all heard during the food bank debate in Parliament last week – he stated in a letter written during November that the increased poverty forcing people to seek food bank aid was not linked to his regressive changes in the social security system, and that the charity was using this claim to get publicity for itself.

Quoted in The Observer, his letter began by criticising the “political messaging of your organisation”, which “despite claiming to be nonpartisan” had “repeatedly sought to link the growth in your network to welfare reform”.

He went on to reject suggestions that the government was to blame: “I strongly refute this claim and would politely ask you to stop scaremongering in this way. I understand that a feature of your business model must require you to continuously achieve publicity, but I’m concerned that you are now seeking to do this by making your political opposition to welfare reform overtly clear.”

Has nobody noticed that this attitude is clearly contradictory? If The Trussell Trust was a corporation that was seeking to increase its share of a market, then he might have a point, but the entire thrust of this charity’s argument is that everyone involved wishes they were not having to do this work. Any publicity it seeks is intended to reduce the need for food banks, rendering Mr Duncan Smith’s claims about publicity-seeking null and void.

One would have expected him to realise this when he found himself writing that the Trust had “repeatedly sought to link the growth in your network” – a growth that the Trust deplores – “to welfare reform”.

Also, if he wants to refute any claim he must provide evidence to the contrary – a feat that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions has yet to manage regarding any of his policies.

But then, as Sir John Major has pointed out, he isn’t very bright.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson, quoted in the same newspaper report, said, “There is no robust evidence that welfare reforms are linked to increased use of food banks.”

Oh no? Let’s resort to a little common sense then. What do you think happens when wages are pushed downwards for a period of more than three years, while benefits are slashed to the bone?

Exactly. Perhaps, if the DWP wants evidence, it should do some empirical research.

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Free schools: More Lib Dem sound and fury with no significance?

Bottom of the class: Conservative dunce Michael Gove simply won't learn the less of the Free Schools disaster. Nick Clegg has - but too late to avoid accusations of political opportunism.

Bottom of the class: Conservative dunce Michael Gove simply won’t learn the less of the Free Schools disaster. Nick Clegg has – but too late to avoid accusations of political opportunism.

It seems hard to believe that the Coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats has suddenly descended into “open warfare” (as the Observer describes it) over Michael Gove’s ‘Free Schools’ programme.

This is a shame, because the idea is fatally flawed – as we have seen over the last week. Would a Free School pupil even be able to discern the origin of the quotation that has been butchered to create today’s headline?

If any parent in the country does not know by now that the Al-Madinah Free School, serving 400 Muslim pupils in Derby, received the lowest marks possible from inspectors – in every category – last week, then they need to be told. Inspectors railed against the fact that teachers were not trained and condemned the school as “dysfunctional”. Which, of course, it was. It was a place run by amateurs according to their ideology, rather than a professional organisation set up to get the best from its pupils.

The trouble is, Michael Gove’s Education Department is run along similar lines.

We now know that two unqualified head teachers have quit after criticism – Annaliese Briggs, 27, who was appointed head teacher of Pimlico Free School in London despite having no qualifications, resigned after only three weeks. And Lindsey Snowdon quit the 60-pupil Discovery school in Crawley after Ofsted said she “lacks the skills and knowledge to improve teaching”.

Nick Clegg is expected to turn against the Free Schools policy in a speech this week, saying unqualified people should not be allowed to teach in state-funded schools and that parents need more reassurance about standards and the curriculum. He will say there must be national standards and controls on which parents can rely.

The Observer expects Clegg to say: “Frankly it makes no sense to me to have qualified teacher status if only a few schools have to employ qualified teachers…  I believe that we should have qualified teachers in all our schools.”

He will also ask: “What is the point of having a national curriculum if only a few schools have to teach it? Let’s teach it in all our schools.”

The BBC expects him to say: “Parents don’t want ideology to get in the way of their children’s education.”

Michael Gove’s idea is that head teachers of academies or Free Schools should have the freedom to employ untrained teachers, in the same way that private schools hire “the great linguists, scientists, engineers and other specialists they know can best teach and inspire their pupils”.

Can anyone else see the flaw here? If these great linguists, scientists etc are already teaching in private schools, they won’t be going to the Free Schools as well. There simply aren’t enough “great” professionals to go around, and those who really are great will be working, not teaching. Otherwise the plan will harm the economy, won’t it?

Needless to say, Labour is enjoying the split immensely. This morning the party’s whips tweeted: “FACT CHECK: Nick Clegg’s Lib Dems have supported Free Schools at every stage, first voting through [the] enabling leg. In Academies Act 2010 and in Education Act 2011, where [the local authority] thinks there is a need for new school in [its] area it must seek proposals to open Free School/academy. #twofacedclegg”

Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt, who put his own foot in his mouth over this subject when he said he supported Free Schools last weekend, showed how he has modified his views to bring them into line with the public by saying:  “I’m delighted Nick Clegg has realised the dangers of an ideologically-driven schools policy. We would be happy to work with him to reintroduce accountability, proper standards and qualified teachers in all our schools across the country.”

Bravo. Better late than never.

But his intervention – and the negative response of the Conservatives, who say Clegg is “fundamentally misunderstanding” the Free Schools concept, who blocked his attempts to change the system before it was enshrined in law, and who will continue to block any such plans for the 18 months of Coalition government that remain, may change the Lib Dem leader’s mind.

He can only promise to put his suggested changes into the next Liberal Democrat manifesto, and will face accusations that he is imitating Labour and trying to distance his party from the bad publicity generated by a policy he previously supported.

And let’s all remember that this speech will not be made until Thursday, giving Clegg plenty of time to consider the impact of the parts he has released, and maybe withdraw or alter them. It won’t be the first time a Liberal Democrat has said one thing and then done another!

Whatever happens, it seems clear that the concept of Free Schools is now not so much a political ‘lame duck’ as an albatross. The public will not forget the disasters of the last week, and they will lay the blame firmly on Michael Gove and the Tories – who are sticking to their plans.

Some people never learn.