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Covid-19: recriminations as the UK heads for disaster on July 19

The UK is well on-target to have more than 50,000 new Covid-19 infections per day by July 19 – when Boris Johnson insists on unlocking all lockdown restrictions and abdicating any responsibility for the consequences.

Today – July 15 – the UK recorded 48,553 new cases and 63 deaths (within 28 days of a positive test) – those are the highest levels since January 15 and March 26 respectively.

More than 1,200 scientists have signed a letter accusing the Tory government of “recklessly exposing millions to the acute and long-term impacts of mass infection”.

Branding the government’s plans “dangerous and premature”, it described Johnson’s strategy as “herd immunity by mass infection” and said that opening the country should be delayed until “everyone, including adolescents, have been offered vaccination and uptake is high”.

“A strategy that chooses mass infection in children and young people now as a way to protect the vulnerable in winter, instead of taking the time to vaccinate our young is unethical and unscientific,” the letter added.

It also said the pandemic plan risked “burdening a generation with long Covid, the long-term consequences of which are unknown”.

Lancet editor-in-chief Richard Horton has accused government Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty of “wilfully misrepresenting scientific opinion across the country”.

He said: “I found it extraordinary that the Chief Medical Officer suggested and emphasised that there was widespread agreement across the scientific community whereas in fact there is profound disagreement in the scientific community.

“He did not mention the letter… that we published, and I’m afraid I have to conclude that the Chief Medical Officer is wilfully misrepresenting scientific opinion across the country, and that is extraordinary to observe.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that the city’s transport network will continue to make wearing face masks mandatory after July 19 – and cartoonists have gleefully seized on the obvious opportunity for satire:

A SAGE expert has warned that young people in particular will suffer “acute Covid injury” – damage to their lungs and kidneys that will seriously harm their future health – due to the felaxation of social distancing restrictions:

Economist Richard Murphy raises another concern – that the decision to relax face mask rules was down to Tory vanity. He points to an article in the Financial Times, to which this tweet refers:

“The message is loud and clear,” Murphy states. “The right-wing of the Tory party want to end Covid restrictions without caring for the consequences. The government knows that this is madness, but will not rely on Labour votes to retain masks. And so, to save Boris Johnson masks must go, even if (as will happen) thousand will die as a result.

“This is democide in action.”

Read it yourself via this tweet:

It seems thousands of people are to die because Boris Johnson is scared of his backbenchers – and too proud to rely on support from Keir Starmer – that he has enjoyed throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

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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Rachel Riley libel: appeal hearing is APRIL 27 – but we still don’t know the time or venue

Less than a week before This Writer’s hearing in the Court of Appeal, I regret I cannot say whether it will be an “in person” hearing or one that may be viewed remotely on the internet. I don’t even know what time it is likely to start!

My legal team had believed the hearing would be “remote”, and received notification yesterday that this was the case. But it seems the same letter also stated that the court was minded to re-list the case – for the same day – as an “in-person” hearing instead.

There are good reasons for attending the hearing in person. It is easier for Counsel to properly judge and pitch submissions when one is in the same room as the judge. That is even more the case with the Court of Appeal where there are three judges. It is also easier to really engage judges in a debate in person.

However, the Court of Appeal has decided that the hearing should last no longer than two hours – despite Rachel Riley’s team having filed an 80-paragraph response to my appeal, despite having given only one paragraph to this aspect of the case in their strike-out application last December. It was the responsibility of Riley’s team to ask for more time but they have chosen not to do so. In these circumstances, it seems likely that, if the hearing is listed to start in the morning and “in person”, the judges may allow it to run on – and I am advised that this is more likely to benefit Riley than me. That does not strike me as being fair.

There are also difficulties relating to my own ability to attend. I don’t have a car at the moment – it failed its MOT a couple of weeks ago and has been in the garage, being repaired, ever since. This makes travel to London  from Mid Wales extremely difficult – I would have to catch a train to Bristol and stay there overnight (at a time when staying with people outside of one’s ‘bubble’ is still forbidden) before catching a further train to London. This would also necessitate considerable unnecessary expense.

Then there are the issues relating to Covid-19, which haven’t gone away just because many of us have had a first dose of a vaccine. My concerns about carrying the virus back to my ill and disabled partner (I’m her carer, remember) remain valid – and also the court’s own social distancing rules mean it will be practically impossible to discuss the case with my legal team before the hearing. We would not be able to hold them in private, would have to sit a long way apart and would be wearing masks, meaning we would have to shout at each other to be heard – in a public place. That is not a good idea.

And while my solicitor would find it easier to pass on instructions to Counsel if they were both in the courtroom, his own travel expenses are likely to add more than £2,000 to my costs. Having just spent a month raising £20,000 at very short notice, we all agree that this is undesirable.

So I have suggested to the court that a “hybrid” hearing should take place, with Counsel present in court and the rest of us tuning in via the internet. This runs the risk of the court demanding that the hearing be either wholly remote or wholly in person, but it strikes me that I’ll be no worse-off for having suggested it. If it transpires that I can find no way to attend, at least my reasons will be clear.

And of course, Rachel Riley has never attended a single hearing in this case, so it should not be held against me.

I’m not begging for cash this time – this update is purely for information. The CrowdJustice campaign is likely to need more at some point, though, so if you are inclined to donate, the methods are the same as always:

Consider making a donation yourself, via the CrowdJustice page.

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

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

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

I will provide further updates when the situation becomes clearer.

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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Nearly there! But Mike still needs help for his appeal against Riley libel case to hit its target

You’ve done the impossible – nearly.

When I appealed for you to help me raise £20,000 that I need to fund my appeal against Rachel Riley’s libel case, I honestly thought it was too much to ask.

But in nearly three weeks you have raised most of the cash!

As I write this, the fund stands around £3,000 short of the target. It’s a staggering achievement.

But this is an all-or-nothing situation. Either I make the full £20,000 and fund my legal team to appear at the hearing, or it doesn’t happen.

I know you want me to succeed.

I also know that, last time I wrote an update, you donated £3,000 within as many hours.

I know, as well, that you all have other pressures on your money and I hate having to come back and ask you again.

But if I don’t, Rachel Riley will win the case and all the fundraising will have been for nothing.

None of us want that. So please – and only if you can afford it:

Consider making a donation yourself, via the CrowdJustice page.

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

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

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

Let’s get the fundraising part of this behind us so I can concentrate on winning this case.

Because I can win it. All I need to do is have my day in court.

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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Mike’s appeal against Riley libel action is in danger due to court SCHEDULING

I have to raise around £20,000 within a month or my lawyers will not be able to prepare my appeal properly before it goes before the court on April 27.

That was the stark fact my solicitor put before me in a lengthy email yesterday evening.

The sudden push for funding has happened because the Court of Appeal has scheduled my case on an “expedited” basis, meaning the hearing will take place at its convenience rather than that of either party.

It has allowed only two hours for the appeal to be heard – one hour for me, one for Riley – but the arguments she has submitted amount to a completely new case against me.

My solicitor tells me he initially thought that two hours was “tight but workable” – until he saw Riley’s skeleton argument.

She is really running a whole new strike out application deploying legal arguments that she did not deploy before.

She is entitled to raise new arguments that support the High Court’s decision to strike out my defence, it seems – but normally this would involve putting the case she had already made in a new way rather than presenting the course with a completely new case.

And because it is a new argument, her legal team at Patron Law would be expected to challenge the Court of Appeal’s time estimate. But they have not.

As matters stand, this means my own team now – suddenly – need to an enormous amount of work in a very short time. Indeed, the court ordered yesterday (March 18) that my legal team had to submit its legal paperwork and any revision of our own skeleton argument by March 16 – two days previously. As this is impossible it means my team has had to scramble to try to obtain a revised timetable.

On top of all this (or rather, underlying it – because this was what we expected to have to do), because my case relies on a defence that is not extensively defined, the Court of Appeal may wish to refine or restate the law on the “public interest” defence and my legal team needs to be prepared to guide it.

Given the lack of time provided by the court, it is possible that I will be faced with one of several unwelcome decisions. It could decide that Riley is running a new case and if so, it could grant my appeal but send the matter back to the High Court and I would have to try to raise even more funds to fight the new allegations. It could dismiss my appeal, simply to draw a line under the matter (although this would be an unusual and, in my opinion, unjust outcome). It could say it wants more time and adjourn for a further hearing, possibly far in the future, meaning I would have to try to raise more funds because my legal team would have to carry out their preparation work again. Or it might make do with the current time estimate and either tell the lawyers to pick their best points or cut them off after an hour each, no matter what they were saying.

Given the above, my point of view is that I’m being asked to beg you – my funders – for £20,000 in very short order, to fund a hearing that is unlikely to have adequate time for all the issues to be aired and may either be cut short (which seems to me to be against the interests of justice) or either adjourned or postponed to what may be a much later date, incurring equal or greater costs.

Given those options, I have told my solicitor that I think it would be reasonable to remind the court that my resources are extremely limited in comparison to those of a Claimant who has effectively put an entirely new case before us all but has failed to request extra time for it to be discussed, and that I believe it would be in the interests of justice to vacate the hearing to a date when all the issues can be given the proper weight.

Whatever happens, you can see that the underlying tactic by Riley’s legal team is still to drain my funds, so I won’t have enough to defend myself.

If the appeal happens with a short, two-hour hearing, then I will have been forced to try to raise a large amount of money in a tiny period of time, which is unfair on my funders (meaning you).

If I manage that, but the case is sent back to the High Court because it involves new arguments, or is adjourned to a later date to allow more time, then I will have to ask you for even more money – which is again unfair on you.

It seems clear to me that Mark Lewis and his team at Patron Law know perfectly well what they are doing. They could have requested an adjournment to allow the longer hearing that they know their new case deserves, but they deliberately chose not to. I think that was to put pressure on you – my funders – to put you off helping me.

So I find myself in the awful position of having to ask you to support me with anything you can, as soon as you can – and to urge anybody you know, who might still by sympathetic to justice, to do the same – knowing that I am asking a lot and you may run out of patience.

And I have to do this, knowing that I may have to ask you for even more, possibly very soon after the April 27 hearing.

By now you are probably tired of reading the instruction, but I have to repeat them. Please:

Consider making a donation yourself, if you can afford it, via the CrowdJustice page.

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

Post a link to Facebook, asking readers to pledge.

On Twitter, tweet in support, quoting the address of the CrowdJustice site.

It is a diabolical situation and I am sure that Patron Law – and Rachel Riley – intended it.

Riley has tried to use her huge wealth to buy justice in this case, ever since she started her case against me nearly two years ago.

With your help, I have come a long way. My public interest defence has a very high chance of success, if I can bring it to a trial.

I think that is why Riley and her people are trying so hard to make this appeal unaffordable for me.

As I say, I have asked my own lawyers to request a postponement that will allow all the necessary work to happen, provide enough court time for all the arguments to be properly aired, and allow me to raise the funds necessary for all of it.

But I must proceed on the basis that this will not happen and a very short, two-hour appeal will happen on April 27.

Please help me ensure that, if that is what must happen, I can not only bring my case to the court, but also bring my best case.

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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Former Work & Pensions Secretary wants Universal Credit raise for families? Tough.

Did Stephen Crabb not read the memos when he was running the department responsible for benefits?

The Tories aren’t interested in keeping families out of poverty! They’re all about putting families in poverty – so they spend the rest of their lives working their fingers to the bone to get back out again (something they’ll never do, because they are more profitable for employers if they’re in debt).

A Conservative MP has called on the UK government to increase benefits for families for a year.

Stephen Crabb said increasing the child element of universal credit would help families at risk of poverty from the coronavirus crisis.

The former Work and Pensions Secretary said many families faced losing their jobs and a “big drop” in income.

The UK government said it was committed to supporting the lowest-paid families and had taken “significant steps”.

Crabb’s old minister – the DWP – soon put him straight:

The Department for Work and Pensions said: “The UK government is committed to supporting the lowest-paid families and has already taken significant steps including ending the benefit freeze and increasing work incentives.

“We understand the current challenges many are facing which is why we injected £6.5bn into the welfare system, including increasing universal credit and working tax credit by up to £1,040 a year, as well as rolling out income protection schemes, mortgage holidays and additional support for renters.”

Translation: “We made a show of putting money in. We know it isn’t enough. Tough.”

Source: Tory MP Stephen Crabb calls for universal credit increase for families – BBC News

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

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


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Raise taxes on the rich, voters tell Johnson. They’ll be disappointed – it was never in his manifesto

Voter confusion: a survey has shown that voters’ policy preferences indicate they should have put Labour in power, not the Tories.

The Independent reckons Boris Johnson is facing a dilemma after a survey found voters who gave him his election landslide want him to raise taxes on the rich.

There’s just one problem:

That was never a Conservative manifesto promise so he’s under no obligation to do anything of the sort.

Did these people not realise that they were voting for the promises the Tories put in their manifesto?

Voters have never had the right to make demands on a government after putting it in power.

And I know it must seem unfair, considering governments very rarely act according to their manifestos. Theresa May’s 2017 manifesto was obsolete almost before it was published.

And in Johnson’s case, the dilemma isn’t even “Does he deliver for Conservative voters or business leaders?” as the news website claims.

Johnson will deliver for himself, as always. If anybody else profits, that’ll be their good fortune.

But the survey does make one thing very clear.

Voters who want government intervention in the economy, tax rises for the wealthy and spending on public services made a mistake voting Tory.

Those were Labour policies.

Source: People who voted for Boris Johnson want government to raise taxes on the rich, survey finds | The Independent

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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Why did the Department of Health fail to highlight the increased risk of suicide among disability benefit claimants?

The Health Department’s offices in Whitehall.

There can only be one answer: The Department of Health doesn’t have a good enough excuse.

If there had been a good reason, we would have heard it; we haven’t.

So there isn’t a good reason.

Has the Health Department been in collusion with the Department for Work and Pensions to hide the threat to people with long-term illnesses and disabilities?

If so, then protestations about multiple causes of suicide are moot.

The facts indicate that a suicide risk exists – and has existed for several years.

In failing to highlight such a risk, it seems to This Writer that the Department of Health has been derelict in its duty. Agreed?

The Department of Health (DH) has refused to say why it failed to warn NHS bodies and other local services that claimants of out-of-work disability benefits are at a hugely-increased risk of attempting to take their own lives.

DH published the latest version of its national suicide prevention strategy in January this year.

The strategy was published four months after NHS Digital produced the results of its Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS), which showed that more than 43 per cent of claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA) had said (when asked in 2014) that they had attempted suicide at some point in their lives.

But the suicide prevention strategy fails to mention these figures or to highlight ESA claimants as a high-risk group, even though it briefly mentions Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guidance for dealing with ESA claimants who may be at risk of suicide or self-harm.

This week, a DH spokeswoman refused to explain why the figures were not mentioned in the strategy or why ESA claimants were not highlighted as a group at particularly high risk of suicide.

Instead, she said: “As I know you’ve discussed with the DWP, suicide is a very complex issue, so it would be wrong to link it solely to anyone’s benefit claim.

“There is clear guidance in place for DWP staff members to follow if a claimant expresses a desire to self-harm, to ensure the claimant receives appropriate care and support.

Source: Department of Health silence over failure to highlight ESA suicide risk


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Labour demands scrapping of tuition fee increase – but who will support it?

Angela Rayner said the government could not trust Tory MPs to back the fee rise [Image: Christopher Thomond for the Guardian].

Let’s be honest: Tories who asked Theresa Maybe to cut student fees will squirm – and then vote to increase them, like the good little poodles they are.

And the DUP? Sorry, students, but £1.5 billion in their hands will mean more to them than cutting your debts!

Excuse This Writer’s cynicism, but this vote will turn out to be an opportunity for the Conservatives and the DUP to remind us all that they cannot be trusted with government because they have no principles at all.

These crawling invertebrates will say whatever they like outside Parliament, but the minute their words are put to the test, they will be swallowed – and the party line followed.

Let us hope the names of everybody who fails to support Labour’s motion are taken, so this can be used against them at the next general election (which isn’t very far away).

Labour is to force a parliamentary vote to scrap the government’s latest rise in university tuition fees.

The move, led by the shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, will put some Conservative MPs in an uncomfortable position at a time when they have been pushing [Theresa] May to reduce the burden of fees on students.

Under the government’s plan, the annual tuition fee cap of £9,000 is to rise by £250 a year, increasing the debt of a student on a four-year course by £1,000 overall.

Jeremy Corbyn’s gains at the general election in June were partly attributed to a large vote from students after he promised to scrap tuition fees and look at ways of writing off existing fee debt.

The vote on Wednesday could also prove difficult for the Democratic Unionist party, which is supporting the Conservative government but voted against increasing the cap on student fees to £9,000 in 2010.

Source: Labour to force vote on government plan to increase tuition fees | Education | The Guardian


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Cameron promises to protect pensioners’ benefits. Do you believe him?

He's dreaming of all the cash he'll take away from the old, after he has hoodwinked them into voting for him again.

He’s dreaming of all the cash he’ll take away from the old, after he has hoodwinked them into voting for him again.

Why should you believe a word David Cameron says?

He has repeated a pledge not to introduce means testing for benefits such as bus passes, TV licences and the winter fuel allowance, if elected (not re-elected; he didn’t get enough support for that in 2010) in May.

This is the man who “looked down the barrel of a camera” (as he describes it) in 2010, promised to protect the NHS, and to tell any cabinet minister proposing cuts to frontline services that they should go away and think again.

He is denying the state pension to increasing numbers of people with a staged plan to raise the pensionable age. Members of Parliament, meanwhile, will receive transitional protection as the pensionable age rises – meaning they won’t miss out. Members of the public fund 60 per cent of Parliamentarians’ pensions.

Firefighters could lose their pensions altogether because of his plan to raise their pensionable age. Iif they don’t serve their full term, they won’t get the pension – but they can be ruled out of service if they fail the fitness tests (and older firefighters are more likely to fail).

What good is the promise to protect pensioners’ benefits if they have to learn how to use the Internet in order to get them? Remember, Francis Maude has proposed this extra hurdle for senior citizens and you won’t see Call-Me-Dave speaking against it.

He has already ended protections for those who receive Pension Credit. From April, 2016, the ‘assessed income period’ system will be abolished and pensioners will be exposed to the same draconian system of monitoring and case reviews as the disabled and jobseekers.

And we have to ask ourselves how safe pensioners’ free bus passes, TV licences and winter fuel allowance really are. Iain Duncan Smith announced more than a year ago that he was considering removing benefits that are exclusively for pensioners, in order to strengthen his benefits cap – and we know that David Cameron can’t stand up to Iain Duncan Smith.

So, do we believe him when he promises now that he will protect pensioners’ benefits in the future?

Not likely!

Afterword: A commenter on Facebook has just pointed out that pensioners will also be subject to the Bedroom Tax under a future Cameron government – yet another backdoor way of penalising people who worked hard all their lives and deserve better in retirement.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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DPAC threatened with legal action for supporting Anthony Kletzander: parents interview

Vox Political is glad to help publicise this campaign by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) to help Anthony Kletzander live independently. The introductory paragraph of DPAC’s current article on the subject should explain why:

DPAC has removed our most recent piece on Anthony Kletzander from our website due to a ‘cease and desist’ letter from solicitors representing Nua Healthcare threatening legal action against us for raising awareness of the case.

DPAC have published pieces on Anthony and his situation since late 2013. We firmly believe that Anthony’s desire for independent living, instead of institutionalisation should be upheld, as per Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We also believe that we have a duty to raise public awareness on Anthony’s experiences.

We will continue to campaign and to support Anthony, his parents: Linda and Sigi and his chosen advocate Joe Whittaker in any way we can. Anthony’s parents Linda and Sigi kindly agreed to an interview from their home in Ireland. We are grateful for their time and honesty.

You can read the interview on DPAC’s own site. Please share the link with your friends, to raise awareness of this campaign.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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