Tag Archives: request

Ditches remain Johnson-free even though he has caved in and requested Brexit delay

Computer says yes: Boris Johnson had to write his letter calling on the EU to delay Brexit after all.

Despite his show of bravado in Parliament today, it seems clear that Boris Johnson has accepted his legal duty – if reluctantly – and has requested a delay in Brexit from the European Council.

It seems Mr Johnson’s speech in the Commons about refusing to negotiate an extension was wordplay; he doesn’t have to. All he had to do is request it.

He was just trying to sow doubt for the sake of causing upset.

He gave away his real intention in a letter to Conservative MPs, earlier – although one would have had to read between the lines. It seems Mr Johnson has a psychological aversion to making any statement about delaying Brexit.

It’s not another broken promise as it is entirely possible (although unlikely) that Mr Johnson wishes he was dead in a ditch right now.

He has misled us, though – proving once again that we have put an extremely untrustworthy creature into the highest office in the land.

And we can expect more dirty tricks on Monday. He might not be dead in a ditch, but his politics belongs there.

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


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Crunch time for the UK constitution as BoJob is ordered to follow the law – or else

Not yet, but maybe soon: Boris Johnson has been warned by the courts that he must obey the Benn Act and delay Brexit if he can’t get a deal. If he refuses, will he end up in the clink?

Supporters of a “no deal” Brexit were celebrating prematurely today, after Scotland’s highest court threw out a legal bid to force Boris Johnson to apply to delay the UK’s departure from the EU.

Judge Pentland of the Court of Sessions said there could be “no doubt that the prime minister had agreed to abide by the law”, so there was no need for “coercive orders” against the government or Mr Johnson.

So that’s that, as far as the Brexiteers, the ERG and no doubt BoJob himself are concerned. They seem to think the ruling means he can avoid sending the message if no deal is struck, and the UK will crash out disastrously.

They are, of course, completely wrong.

Judge Pentland made his attitude perfectly clear: Mr Johnson has already told the court in written submissions that he will seek an extension of the Brexit deadline if no deal is struck by October 19 – and the court will hold him to it.

He said that was a binding legal commitment, and added:

I approach matters on the basis that it would be destructive of one of the core principles of constitutional propriety and of the mutual trust that is the bedrock of the relationship between the court and the Crown for the Prime Minister or the Government to renege on what they have assured the court.

In other words, if BoJob dares to contradict the Benn Act in the tiniest detail, he’ll be starting a constitutional crisis the like of which has never been seen in the United Kingdom.

Of course, that probably won’t stop him.

So the question becomes whether the institutions of the United Kingdom are being run by people capable of preventing the prime minister from doing further harm, once he crosses the line.

It’s looking like crunch time for one, the other or both.

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


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What’s the REAL reason the DWP destroyed a report on Job Centre safety failings?

The person responsible for this image has asked me to signpost you to their current project. You can find it here.

It isn’t often I disagree with John Pring of the Disability News Service, but I think he’s being far too charitable to the Department for Work and Pensions.

A report on the DNS website has suggested that the DWP destroyed a report on failures by Job Centre staff to have proper regard for the safety of benefit claimants because the government doesn’t want the facts to get out.

I have a simpler suggestion: The Conservatives simply don’t want benefit claimants to benefit from important information that could save them from serious harm or even death.

Failure to provide this information indicates a serious breach of the government’s duty of care to people claiming benefits.

The DNS report shows that the DWP illegally delayed its response to a Freedom of Information request demanding copies of all reports written by “Community Partners” in London in 2017 and 2018.

The report in question had been created by three disabled people who had joined the “Community Partners” initiative that had been set up to improve relations between the DWP and local communities.

They wrote it only weeks after joining, after becoming increasingly alarmed by the failure of 18 Job Centres to take basic actions that would protect people claiming benefits such as universal credit, employment and support allowance and jobseeker’s allowance.

DNS described some of the incidents, as recorded by one of the “Community Partners” going under the pseudonym “Rachel”:

On one occasion, Rachel heard a member of staff explain that a claimant with cancer of the spine, who needed his dressing changed every day, should be found fit for work “so he’s looking forward to the future”.

She also remembers sitting in on an interview with a universal credit claimant, who was 55 and not disabled and had just been made redundant.

He had been hit by the bedroom tax and said repeatedly that he was hungry because he was so short of money, but the DWP civil servant failed to tell him that he could request foodbank vouchers.

When Rachel asked the civil servant after the interview why she had not told him he could ask for vouchers, she was told: “Because he didn’t ask.”

Rachel said: “He said four times that he was hungry and couldn’t afford to go shopping and didn’t have enough money for food.

“That is just dangerous. That person is going to end up with malnutrition and depression.

“It was just a regular guy who was doing his best and did not know how the system worked, let alone that the magic word was ‘foodbank’.”

On another occasion, a man in extreme mental distress who had previously self-harmed in the Brixton jobcentre after being found fit for work, returned to the jobcentre and again began self-harming by banging his head against a window.

Staff were standing around watching, said Rachel, who had to take control, find a manager and tell them to contact the council’s social services department.

Despite her intervention, no report on the incident was written, despite her repeatedly asking for an incident report form.

She believes her insistence that the incident needed to be written up was one of the reasons she was eventually sacked, although DWP claimed it was because she had retweeted a social media post criticising Iain Duncan Smith, even though she believes the tweet was sent before she started working for DWP.

She said: “They all know they are putting people at risk but all they are concerned about is ticking boxes.”

Note the claim that “Rachel” was sacked for criticising Iain Duncan Smith – tacit confirmation that the Conservatives coerce employees into silence about their harmful policies and practices.

According to DNS, the DWP illegally delayed releasing the documents that had been requested, then said the report by “Rachel” and the other two “Community Partners” had been destroyed under a rule that such documents should not be kept longer than 12 months.

This is an unconvincing argument because the DNS Freedom of Information request had been made four months before that period had expired.

The evidence is clear: The Department for Work and Pensions will never willingly help benefit claimants whose safety is in danger.

There are moves to force the department support its own safeguarding rules: The Justice for Jodey Whiting petition demands an independent inquiry into deaths linked to the DWP.

The petition was set up because the department failed five times to follow its own safeguarding rules in the weeks leading up to her suicide in February 2017.

It has been signed 25,000 times in three weeks. If it reaches 100,000 signatures, it may be debated in Parliament.


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Theresa may be deceiving us about Brexit – by covering up the facts about Arron Banks and Leave.EU

You can’t trust Theresa May: Whether she tells us anything or not, it seems she is always trying to deceive.

The Tories are tying themselves in knots over Brexit.

Theresa May is currently set to return to the EU over the weekend in a desperate bid to save a withdrawal agreement that stands in tatters after the DUP savaged its plan for the Northern Ireland border and Spain attacked it over Gibraltar. MPs queued up to voice their opposition to it during a Parliamentary debate demonstrating that the government cannot get the amount of support it needs.

And now it seems Mrs May blocked an investigation into electoral crimes by Leave.EU, one of the main campaign organisations that persuaded the public to support Brexit – and is covering up the reasons for it.

Investigative website openDemocracy submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office, seeking clarification on reports that Mrs May blocked an investigation into Brexit bankroller Arron Banks in the run-up to the 2016 referendum after the Home Office refused to reveal information about the controversial Leave.EU and UKIP donor.

Mr Banks donated £8.4 million to Leave campaigns – the single biggest donation in British political history. But he is facing a criminal investigation over concerns that he was not the “true source” of the money. Questions have also been raised about his links to Russia but he denies any wrongdoing. The National Crime Agency is said to be investigating.

But the Home Office refused to either confirm or deny whether it holds any material from 2016 about Leave.EU and Banks. The department said that doing so “would impede the future formulation of government policy”.

openDemocracy‘s article suggests that the Home Office’s response is an attempt to hide behind the form of language usually used to avoid commenting on intelligence matters – which is inappropriate in this instance.

The suggestion is that the government is trying to protect Mrs May by hiding whatever she did, back in 2016. But by saying it “would impede the future formulation of government policy”, officials have only drawn attention to a matter that has nothing to do with that subject.

The longer Mrs May and her cronies try to hide her involvement in this scandal, the worse it will be for her.

Meanwhile, the official pro-Brexit campaign group, Vote Leave, has lost a judicial review aimed at trying to get an Electoral Commission ruling that it breached spending limits thrown out.

The organisation had tried to challenge a ruling that it had exceeded the £7 million limit by channelling funds through another campaign group BeLeave. But the High Court has thrown out its case.

So not only is Mrs May accused of blocking an investigation into one of the major players in the Brexit vote; but she is also desperately defending the result of that vote, even though it may be illegitimate.

And in any case, it seems her plan for Brexit is ruined.

Why is she persisting with this charade? Are worse revelations yet to be revealed?

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Freedom of Information challenge to Israel’s effort to undermine Jeremy Corbyn

This is an interesting development that may cast light on efforts to undermine the UK Labour Party, who has been targeted and the links between those behind the attacks.

But I wouldn’t get my hopes up just yet.

The Israeli government may block this, in much the same way the Department for Work and Pensions in the UK has been blocking attempts to bring reports on its behaviour – by disabled people – into public knowledge.

But if the information does come out, it will be interesting to see if my name is mentioned, along with a few prominent others.

Human rights activists have lodged a freedom of information request under Israeli law seeking documents about the state’s ongoing disinformation campaign against UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Israeli lawyer Eitay Mack on Sunday sent a letter on behalf of 18 Israeli citizens to the ministries of foreign affairs and strategic affairs.

Corbyn is a “thorn in the side” of Israel’s government, Mack’s letter tells the two ministries.

While these ministries “have been highly successful in their relations with regimes that are responsible for mass murder” and “that are infected with anti-Semitism,” Israel’s government has a major problem with “a pro-Palestinian leader who supports human and civil rights,” the letter observes.

As examples of Israel’s friendly relations with anti-Semitic governments, Mack cites Hungary, Poland and Ukraine.

Meanwhile, according to the letter, Corbyn has “thwarted attempts by the two ministries to silence any critique of the State of Israel and the Netanyahu government” by labeling such criticisms as anti-Semitism.

This is a reference to the current Israel lobby attack on Labour for refusing to adopt verbatim the controversial IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

Given this history, the activists demand public scrutiny of the Israeli government’s intervention in British politics, including all “information, documents and records as to correspondence by the two ministries with NGOs [nongovernmental organizations], groups, individuals and journalists in the UK, regarding the UK Labour Party and Mr. Corbyn.”

Source: New challenge to Israel’s effort to undermine Jeremy Corbyn | The Electronic Intifada</em

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DWP breaches Freedom of Information laws to hide reports on Job Centre failings

How many times has the Conservative government trumpeted a new policy to include ordinary people in public policy, and then quietly sidelined them when the bad reports started coming in?

I don’t think this is the only example!

It’s a handy smokescreen – claiming that members of a special interest group, like people with disabilities, will monitor the part of government activity that affects them.

Then ignoring the contribution made by those people, and hiding it from the public.

The subterfuge has served its purpose, you see – it allayed fears about the Tories’ attack on the citizens of the UK at a particular time, and that was all it was meant to do.

But there’s one snag:

The Tories never expect to be picked up on their extravagant promises.

But here’s John Pring of Disability News Service, asking that difficult question – repeatedly.

And here’s the Conservative government, failing to answer it. Draw your own conclusions:

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has repeatedly breached freedom of information laws in an apparent attempt to prevent the release of secret reports written by disabled people recruited to work within its jobcentres.

Two years ago, DWP published a work, health and disability green paper, Improving Lives, in which it revealed plans to recruit about 200 new “community partners”.

The aim was for them to “provide valuable first-hand insight” into the issues faced by disabled people in “securing and sustaining employment”, with work coaches able to draw on their local knowledge.

Disability News Service (DNS) has since learned that these community partners submit regular reports on their work, often based on their experiences of visiting jobcentres.

DNS therefore submitted a freedom of information request to DWP in May, asking to see any of the reports written by community partners working in London Jobcentre Plus districts in 2017 and 2018, in case any of them included concerns raised by Community Partners about such failings.

Such requests are supposed to be answered within 20 working days, but there has so far been no written response from the department’s freedom of information department.

Source: DWP repeatedly breaches FoI laws ‘in bid to hide secret jobcentre reports’

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Request for new Brexit impact analyses shows the UK and EU are dancing in the dark

Embrace? Theresa May is trying to draw Jean-Claude Junker into her death-grip but he is determinedly holding her back.

This will be the final brand in the bonfire of David Davis’s 58 (or however many there were supposed to be) Brexit analyses, then.

MPs have signalled they either don’t believe the information in those documents – or they are out of date.

It also shows that the Conservative government has been trying to negotiate a Brexit deal without any idea of the possible effects – of any outcome. Perhaps Mr Davis should have spent a little more than four hours this year in talks with his counterpart, Michel Barnier?

The situation is akin to Theresa May trying to dance with Jean-Claude Junker in a completely dark room; for all she knows, he is as far away from her as it is possible to be – and that is probably the way he wants it.

The story simply reinforces the view This Writer put forward on June 2: Members of the Tory government don’t care what impact Brexit will have on the people of the UK.

Their only concern is how they personally can profit from it.

The Treasury and Bank of England have been asked to draw up analysis of the impact of any Brexit deal struck with the UK.

The Commons Treasury select committee said it had also requested research from the Financial Conduct Authority on the potential impact of the withdrawal agreement and future framework.

Treasury committee chairwoman Nicky Morgan said MPs should be “properly informed” before the promised parliamentary vote on the deal.

Source: MPs request Bank and Treasury Brexit analysis

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Gotta love Charlotte Church – she’s put Donald Trump right in his place

Donald Trump mocks a journalist’s physical disability. Now he’s saying he acts like this often. And the people of the United States seriously wanted him to be president?

So, Donald Trump – the US president-elect who thought it was permissible to physically mock Pulitzer Prize-winning disabled journalist Serge Kovaleski, and then tried to avoid the backlash by pretending he often moves in that way – asked singer and left-wing activist Charlotte Church to perform at his inauguration.

Here’s her response:

This Writer reckons she’s called him exactly right. Time will tell, unfortunately.

The backlash from hysterical Trumpeteers (is that what we’re calling them now?) is going to be hilarious.

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Freedom of Information request asks, ‘What guidance has God given Theresa May?’ #Brexit

Sadly, for the author of the new Freedom of Information request, this may be the closest Theresa May has ever come to communing with God.

How appropriate at this time of year.

https://twitter.com/GregLabour/status/809359446031929345

It is a real Freedom of Information request, although the Prime Minister’s office has yet to do more than acknowledge it.

What answer will Mrs May provide? At this moment, it seems, only God knows!

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DWP blamed by second coroner for incapacity benefit claimant suicide

The late Julia Kelly

The late Julia Kelly

So you thought Mary Hassall was the only British coroner to have blamed a benefit claimant’s death on the DWP? Think again.

To This Writer’s shame, the case of Julia Kelly was reported in This Blog, earlier this year – but I did not recall that Northamptonshire County Coroner Anne Pember’s report had conferred responsibility for her death on the Department for Work and Pensions after the case of Michael O’Sullivan was reported last month.

Mr O’Sullivan committed suicide in late 2013. North London coroner Mary Hassall, at his inquest early the following year, recorded that his death occurred as a direct result of being declared “fit for work” in a DWP work capability assessment, made in response to his claim for Employment and Support Allowance.

Julia Kelly took her life in November 2014. At her inquest in March this year, according to the Northampton Chronicle, “Coroner Anne Pember, recording her verdict of suicide, said she also believed that the ‘upset caused by the potential withdrawal of her benefits had been the trigger for her to end her life’.”

Ms Kelly had been forced to give up work in 2010 due to pain caused by a car crash (which was not her fault) five years previously. In 2013, she was involved in a second crash and had to undergo a six-hour operation on her spine as a result.

Together with her father, David Kelly, she formed a charity – Away With Pain – to help fellow sufferers of chronic back pain.

But then the Department for Work and Pensions told her she had to repay £4,000 in Employment and Support Allowance payments, saying she had failed to declare capital funds.

It seems the government department was referring to money held by the charity, rather than funds owned by Ms Kelly herself.

Ms Kelly, who had fought for every penny of her benefit at three tribunal hearings, was bombarded with a series of repayment demands. According to her father, it was this relentless stream of brown-envelope letters that pushed her to suicide.

He told Channel 4 News about it. Take a look at the report:

A few months later, the DWP started stridently claiming that no causal link had been shown between claims for incapacity benefits and the suicide of claimants, in response to demands from almost 250,000 petitioners – and more than 90 MPs including the new leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn – to publish the number of claimants who have died on benefits.

We all know the DWP was lying, thanks to Ms Hassall’s report on Michael O’Sullivan.

The facts about Julia Kelly mean we must now question the magnitude of the lie.

We know the DWP examined the cases of around 60 people who committed suicide after their benefits were withdrawn or reduced – that fact was most recently mentioned in Prime Minister’s Questions, in the House of Commons on Wednesday (October 21) – but the Department has refused to publish its findings.

All Cameron would offer was that he would “look … at” the question asked about publication. He can look at it all day without doing anything about it, of course.

Meanwhile, serious questions are arising as we learn more about these deaths and the extent of the DWP cover-up.

How many people have died due to the reduction or withdrawal of incapacity benefits?

How many of these deaths happened long enough after their benefits were withdrawn that the DWP never bother to record them – on the grounds that it was none of the Department’s business (this is what happened with Mr O’Sullivan)?

How many more coroners’ verdicts have implicated the DWP in the deaths, but have been quietly swept under the carpet?

And – as the United Nations investigates possible grave and systematic violations of incapacity benefit claimants’ human rights – what can be done to secure the release of the facts?

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