Tag Archives: rules

Thugs who don’t understand the rules are terrorising people over face masks

A face mask: these are mandatory in enclosed spaces in England – but some people are exempt from the rule and anybody trying to bully those people needs to be shown the error of their ways.

Look at this: a woman has received abuse for not wearing a mask while out in England – even though she is exempt.

The problem isn’t just that the abusers don’t understand the rules.

It’s that they don’t care.

They’re using Covid-19 restrictions to bully people – especially disabled people and their carers.

That’s the result of 10 years of unremitting government anti-disablist propaganda.

So not only do they think it is okay to abuse Louise Sharp, of Whitley Bay, for not wearing a mask when she needs to have her face clear to communicate with her autistic daughter; they think they are encouraged to do so.

Ms Sharp ended up having a panic attack and now she simply doesn’t have the confidence to go out.

That’s because of these abusers.

They don’t have the right to question her; it’s none of their business.

Shop staff do, along with others in authority in enclosed spaces – as long as they do it in a polite way that doesn’t assume wrongdoing.

And everyone needs to be aware that some people are exempt from wearing masks, and who those exemptions cover. In England, they are:

 

  • Children under the age of 11.
  • Those unable to put on or wear a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or disability.
  • People for whom wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress.
  • Anyone assisting someone who relies on lip reading to communicate.

 

This Writer is unlikely to be accosted by such bullies; if I were to go to places where the mask rule is in effect, I would wear one.

But if I saw someone being – call it what it is – attacked in that way, rest assured I would not walk by and let it happen.

I hope Vox Political readers everywhere would do the same.

Source: Whitley Bay mask-exempt woman urges ‘more understanding’ – BBC News

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Conservative cronyism rampant as contract awarded to colleagues of Cummings and Gove

Buddy money: The Tories are using emergency procedures to bypass proper tendering procedures and give huge amounts of public money to their friends.

It’s jobs for the boys, the Old School Tie, and every other example of favouritism you can imagine in the Tory government during the Covid crisis!

They’re using emergency regulations, that allow services to be commissioned quickly, to pass huge amounts of money to their friends.

And apparently there’s a conflict of interest as it seems to involve Eurosceptics working on focus group research related to Brexit – although a Cabinet Office spokesman said this was a bookkeeping issue. Do you believe that?

The Tories are using the Covid-19 crisis to funnel public money away from vital services and into their friends’ bank accounts:

The Cabinet Office has awarded an £840,000 contract to research public opinion about government policies to a company owned by two long-term associates of Michael Gove and Dominic Cummings, without putting the work out for tender.

Public First, a small policy and research company in London, is run by James Frayne, whose work alongside Cummings – the prime minister’s senior adviser – dates back to a Eurosceptic campaign 20 years ago, and Rachel Wolf, a former adviser to Gove who co-wrote the Conservative party’s 2019 election manifesto.

The government justified the absence of a competitive tendering process, which would have enabled other companies to bid, under emergency regulations that allow services to be urgently commissioned in response to the Covid-19 crisis.

However, the Cabinet Office’s public record states that portions of the work, which involved focus group research, related to Brexit rather than Covid-19, a joint investigation by the Guardian and openDemocracy has established.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said this was because of bookkeeping methods, and insisted that, contrary to government records, all the focus group research done by Public First was related to the pandemic.

Source: Firm with links to Gove and Cummings given Covid-19 contract without open tender | Politics | The Guardian

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Westferry development scandal grows as Jenrick admits he knew he was saving tycoon millions

Robert Jenrick: while he was presenting press conferences about Covid-19, he has also been mired in an apparent corruption scandal.

Calls for Robert Jenrick to be removed from his role as a housing minister are escalated after he admitted he knew he was saving tycoon Richard Desmond between £30m and £50m by approving plans for a £1 billion development at Westferry, London – in defiance of planning rules.

Desmond subsequently gave the Conservative Party a £12,000 donation, raising questions about this being a “cash-for-favours” scandal.

According to the Mail:

He insisted ‘all the rules were followed’ over the 1,500-home development in east London.

But he told MPs he knew that the timing of his decision would save the businessman a fortune.

Steve Reed, Labour’s housing spokesman, urged Mr Jenrick to make a full Commons statement, publish all correspondence and ‘disclose all conversations with all Government ministers and officials’.

In response, the Cabinet minister said information relating to the decision has now been passed to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill.

So he knew he was breaking planning regulations – in fact Jenrick had to quash the planning permission he had granted, as a result of the scandal, and he knew that doing this would benefit the developer, who subsequently rewarded the Tories with a donation. And he isn’t publishing anything.

He still says he’s innocent of wrongdoing, but Jenrick must know how suspicious his behaviour looks.

Indeed, anti-corruption expert Elizabeth David-Barrett, a professor of governance and integrity who is also the director of the Centre for the Study of Corruption at the University of Sussex, has already said he should have resigned:

“In most previous governments, Robert Jenrick would have resigned well before now.

“The questionable conduct that is tolerated and defended in this current government is creating a dangerous new world in which standards in public life are seen as a concept from the past, and personal patronage and loyalty are now prized higher than combatting corruption.

“Although Robert Jenrick eventually reversed the decision on the Westferry scheme, under threat of legal action, this should not be the end of the matter.

“If there is no subsequent investigation into alleged misconduct, then the message that sends is that ministers can do whatever they like and just reverse the decision if their actions are questioned. The system needs to be preventive and act as a deterrent.”

Fat chance of that, under Boris Johnson!

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Housing minister Jenrick faces ‘resign’ demands after approving donor’s £1bn scheme

Robert Jenrick: while he was presenting press conferences about Covid-19, he was also mired in an apparent corruption scandal.

The news seems to be full of stories alleging corruption by Tory minister. Does the Covid crisis mean they have nothing better to do?

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick is facing calls to resign after he admitted “unlawfully” signing off a 1,500-home development that saved a Tory Party donor millions of pounds.

The £1bn project on the former Westferry Printworks site on London’s Isle of Dogs was approved in January by Jenrick – a last-minute reprieve after the council and then the independent Planning Inspectorate both deciding it should be refused. They had said it lacked enough affordable housing and conflicted with local conservation policy.

But the housing secretary’s decision came just a day before Tower Hamlets Council approved a new rate for its Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – a move that would have increased the property owner’s financial liability to the local authority by between £30m and £50m.

That money would have been spent mitigating the impact of the development on the local area, and improving local services. Instead, thanks to Jenrick’s timing, it stayed in the pocket of the developer.

So this was a development proposal that did not meet planning conditions.

It did not provide enough affordable housing.

It conflicted with conservation policy.

It should not have been approved.

But Jenrick stepped in to do just that – and on the day before a new rule was imposed that would have compelled the developer to pay between £30-50 million that would have minimised any harmful impact on the Isle of Dogs.

The money would also have improved local services. All lost, due to this Tory minister’s intervention.

We need to ask who benefits from this decision?

The local authority? No.

People who need affordable housing? No.

The public? Certainly not!

The environment? Don’t make me laugh!

But the developer did.

The land is owned by publisher and former Tory donor Richard Desmond.

The local council – Tower Hamlets – began legal action in March, alleging that the timing of the decision appeared to show bias. It asked the High Court to order the government to disclose documents that, it argued, would show Jenrick was influenced by a desire to help Desmond save money by avoiding the charges.

Faced with the prospect of having to publicly release documents relating to the case, Jenrick accepted his decision letter was “unlawful by reason of apparent bias” and confirmed it was deliberately issued before the new CIL policy could be adopted. He agreed planning permission should be quashed and decided by a different minister.

So the minister admitted interfering in the planning process to grant planning permission to a development that should not have been allowed, and to save a developer connected with a Tory donor from paying extra costs.

This is not the standard of service the public should expect from a government minister.

Should he step down? Should he face disciplinary or legal proceedings for corruption?

Source: Robert Jenrick Faces Calls To Resign After ‘Unlawfully’ Approving Tory Donor’s £1bn Housing Project

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Cummings’s arrogance and ignorance mean he should face criminal prosecution – for his driving

Dominic Cummings’s presumptuous decision to hold a press conference in Downing Street over his decision to break lockdown rules so he could visit his parents should lead to a prosecution for dangerous driving, it seems.

As part of his defence, he claimed that he had driven 30 miles to Barnard Castle because Covid-19 had affected his eyesight and he wanted to see if it was possible for him to drive back to London.

Incidentally:

(For those who can’t read images well, it says: “‘Barnard Castle‘ – a Durham dialect term for a coward. It derives from the Northern Rebellion… by the Catholic earls in 1569, when Sir George Bowes refused, despite many opportunities, to leave his fortified position in Barnard Castle to engage in battle. Hence also the expression come, come, that’s Barney Castle, meaning ‘that’s a pathetic excuse’.”)

Driving with impaired eyesight – meaning that a driver cannot look properly – indicates dangerous driving, which is an offence.

Indeed, the chairman of the Police Federation took to Twitter to express his concern that anyone hearing Cummings’s excuses should not assume that they can do as he said he did:

It’s a microcosm of the entire Cummings scandal – a public servant doing something forbidden to the rest of us because he thinks he is above the rules that govern us all.

If you need information here’s an easy-to-read map of Dominic’s Travels:

There was plenty more of it in his statement, and in his answers to journalists who were on the scene. I commented on a few of these transgressions:

(In a statement release half an hour before Cummings started his press conference, Durham police said: ““We can confirm that on April 1, an officer from Durham Constabulary spoke to the father of Dominic Cummings. Mr Cummings confirmed that his son, his son’s wife and child were present at the property. He told the officer that his son and son’s wife were displaying symptoms of coronavirus and were self-isolating in part of the property.” Some have claimed that, as “the property” includes three buildings, it was possible for Cummings and his wife to have stayed away from his parents – but unlikely. They would have had to meet up with them to gain access and hand over the child – who could have been a carrier of the disease, remember. Also, we only have Cummings’s word for any of this, and I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw his boss.)

There can be no doubt about the rules we were all told to follow – all of us, including Cummings:

Also:

and:

See for yourself:

There has been a large amount of humour:

But far more bitterness. Both can be summed up in the letter by Alan Kell, mentioned in this tweet:

https://twitter.com/TVRav/status/1265030603654729730

The letter says:

“Dear Dominic,

“I hope that you don’t mind my informal mode of address but since you were calling all the journalists by their first name I’m assuming that this is acceptable.

“I’d like to summarise my main take-aways from your extraordinary press conference in the garden of No.10 Downing Street. Please excuse me if the points are a bit random, but I think that this resonates rather well with your rambling statement.

“1. The PM’s time is very important, but not apparently anyone else’s. If just 10% of the population spent 30mn waiting for you to appear you’ve just wasted around three million hours of the nation’s time. What were you doing, having a crap?

“2. You don’t possess a smart short-sleeved shirt. I can recommend many charity shops where you can pick one up for less than a fiver.

“3. You tend to panic when your wife is unwell. In view of this, I hope you are in no way involved with national security.

“4. Your family, friends and neighbours in London all hate you.

“5. Your Dad owns a farm with many houses, but not all of them very luxurious.

“6. You have a young niece who is prepared to put her life on the line for you and your family.

“7. Your parents shout in the woods. (I hope I got that one right.)

“8. When you can’t see anything you go for a 30-mile drive to test your eyesight. This tends to make your son want to piss himself, which is quite understandable.

“9. Your wife is a fiction writer.

“10. Any confusion related to this matter is all the fault of the press which persists in reporting on things, most of which have proved to be true, which you refused to confirm or deny for two months.

“11. You had some sort of conversation with Boris but neither of you can remember when that was nor what was said. Let’s hope that’s not the norm for your conversation.

“12. You are a very very important person, critical to the future of this nation, and you wouldn’t dream of resigning. You really couldn’t let your fag Boris down in that way.

“I trust that I’ve captured all the key points. Please do let me know if I’ve missed out anything important.

“Finally, thanks very much for going in to work on a Bank Holiday, I do hope that they are paying you double time.

“Hope to see you up in Durham some time. My family is from that part of the world, but you wouldn’t know them – they mainly worked underground in the pits.”

The comment that Cummings won’t resign because he doesn’t want to let Boris Johnson down is ironic as this scandal has turned out to be ruinous for Johnson’s popularity and for any credibility that his woefully inadequate government has had in handling the Covid crisis.

As a result, it seems Johnson has lost 20 popularity percentage points in just the four days this scandal has been frothing:

Boris Johnson‘s approval rating has plunged by 20 points in four days, amid the ongoing Dominic Cummings scandal, according to new polling.

Overall government approval turned negative, to -2 per cent, according to data from polling group Savanta ComRes. That represents a drop of 16 points in just a single day.

Mr Johnson’s approval also turned negative as the scandal continued. it dropped from +19 per cent to -1 per cent since Friday, the same data showed.

Public opinion of individual ministers such as Matt Hancock, the health secretary, and chancellor Rishi Sunak also fell. Both ministers publicly backed Mr Cummings over the weekend.

But Cummings won’t face prosecution, nor will he resign. Johnson will do his best to ignore the fact that his advisor’s actions have made it irrevocably clear that they, the ministers who supported them, and the entire Tory government consider themselves to be above the law that they impose on the rest of us.

And you know what? I think people are right to be angry about that!

So I hope you will all be opening your windows at 8pm today (May 26) to give a resounding “Boo!” for Boris Johnson and all his creepy cronies:

POSTSCRIPT: Incidentally, even the act of holding a press conference was against the rules that apply to Cummings:

It seems he cannot do anything right.

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Is civil disobedience the answer to Johnson and Cummings?

Boris Johnson: this is his response to your complaints that Dominic Cummings ignored lockdown rules. What are you going to do about it?

How kind of Boris Johnson to grace us with his presence at the daily Cocid-19 briefing, and explain that Demonic – er, Dominic – Cummings didn’t obey lockdown rules because they weren’t meant for elites like him but for plebs like you.

Okay, he didn’t put it in as many words, but the meaning was clear:

(Incidentally, if you’re wondering why I’m using the clip with signing…)

He seemed keen to evade the principle question – is it one rule for Tory government elites and another for the rest of us? – but the message was clear:

Even the UK Civil Service’s dedicate Twitter feed registered its disgust:

“Arrogant and offensive.

“Can you imagine having to work with these truth twisters?”

It was up for only 10 minutes, during which it accumulated around 30,000 retweets, and the same number of likes, which is indicative of the strength of feeling, not just in the civil service but in the UK as a whole.

Okay, Johnson had his supporters, but for the wider attitude of the UK public, see Michael Jones’s tweet below:

He’s not the only one:

Here’s just one person’s story, corroborating Mr Jones’s conclusion:

“My Aunt died alone in a care home from Covid19. My brother and mother who live locally were not allowed to see her, hold her hand in the last moments or say goodbye. My mother couldn’t attend the funeral, or let me stay with them on my way to the funeral, because Govt guidelines don’t allow it.

“What I have seen today is that I was stupid. I could have just exercised my judgement that it was essential. My sacrifices, my mother’s sacrifices were for nothing. Or maybe if we were rich elites it would have been ok.”

That is the mood of the nation – especially those of use who have lost loved ones and were forbidden from even saying goodbye (and remember, thanks to Johnson’s snivelling incompetence, there have been more than 62,000 of those deaths).

If you have any doubts left, check out the results of my own Twitter poll. At the time of writing, it shows more than 96 per cent of respondents believe the Tories cannot be trusted to handle the UK’s response to the coronavirus pandemic – and they want to do something about it:

Civil disobedience?

It’s an idea with a lot of merit to it – especially if done to protect ourselves and our children from the consequences of damnfool Tory stupidity.

And it seems to have gained some traction:

So there it is. Who’s in?

There’s no downside, for obvious reasons. Any objection can be countered with what I think we should call the “Cummings defence”: that you followed the instincts of every parent.

I’m not going to force anybody into it; this has to be an individual decision by the people involved.

But, obviously, if you don’t do something, you’ll be saying you’re happy to let Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson and all those other slimy creeps do whatever they want and laugh at you. Your choice. Let me know what you’re going to do.

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Starmer calls out Johnson over care home ‘inaccuracy’ – who do YOU support?

Boris Johnson: in this old image, he’s got his hand on his mouth to stop himself putting his foot in it.

There are three choices in this situation: either Boris Johnson is a complete imbecile, or he doesn’t care at all, or both.

I say both, personally.

He’s supposed to be trying to convince the nation that he can be trusted to handle the coronavirus crisis, and he tries to lie to us and claim that he imposed lockdown restrictions on care homes – that are currently experiencing a surge of Covid-19 deaths – a day before they were imposed on the rest of us.

Of course they weren’t, and he has been found out.

So what did he do?

Well, it seems he decided to brazen it out and accuse his accuser – Keir Starmer – of lying.

The row erupted during Prime Minister’s Questions. Johnson had already fallen foul of a query about the number of coronvirus-related deaths in care homes in April – 18,000 more than the average for that month, but only 8,000 had been attributed to the virus.

Asked to account for the rest, he could only manage a protestation that there is “much more to do but we are making progress”.

Then Starmer said that, until March 12, care homes were being told it was “very unlikely” anyone would become infected.

Johnson responded: “It wasn’t true the advice said that.”

Starmer disagrees – and he’s got the paperwork to prove it:

The letter states: “The advice I was referring to was published on 25 February 2020. It states: ‘…It is therefore very unlikely that anyone receiving care in a care home or the community will become infected.’

“At this time of national crisis, it is more important than ever that Government ministers are accurate in the information they give. Given this, I expect you to come to the House of Commons at the earliest opportunity to correct the record and to recognise that this was official Government guidance regarding care homes.”

This could be absolutely, excruciatingly humiliating for Johnson.

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Tory rules try to push victims of domestic violence back into the hands of their abusers

We always knew Theresa May’s “hostile environment” extended to more people than immigrants and EU nationals.

She doesn’t like people from broken homes either. Perhaps it’s her puritanical, daughter-of-a-vicar blood.

Mrs May would prefer it if people – mostly women, of course – who suffer domestic abuse would suffer in silence, rather than burdening the Department for Work and Pensions with annoying claims for benefits.

Annoyingly – for her – the morals of the age require her government to present the appearance of one that cares when people come to harm.

So the DWP has devised a wealth of rules designed to make it seem it is doing its best for victims, while in fact keeping them in poverty and pain.

Alex Tiffin lists some of them on his Universal Credit Sufferer website:

There’s an entire page on getting help if you’re a victim of domestic abuse on the DWP website.

On the page it lists certain conditions, yes conditions, victims must meet.

They include;

“You will need written evidence from a person acting in an official capacity showing that:

  • your circumstances are consistent with those of a person who has had domestic violence or abuse inflicted, or threatened, upon them, during the 6 months prior to you notifying
  • you have made contact with the person acting in an official capacity to tell them about any incidents that have occurred in the past 6 months

“You must provide your evidence to Jobcentre Plus as soon as possible but no later than one calendar month after you first told us about the domestic violence and abuse.”

So a victim of domestic abuse not only has to open up to work coach about their abuse, then they get asked for proof?

The requirements do not end there. Once they’ve decided to accept that you have been a victim, you MAY be allowed a 13 week break from looking for work, but only if you satisfy the next set of criteria.

The most notable of them being,

“you have not had a 13 week break from work-related requirements as a result of previous domestic violence within the last 12 months”.

In some cases of domestic violence, the victim may return to their abuser. This is well known and it’s hard to think the DWP wouldn’t have known this.

This means a benefit claimant who’s endured repeated abuse, just has to battle on because they’ve been unfortunate enough to be abused twice in a year.

The simple fact is that life on benefits is appallingly hard – the Conservatives have deliberately made it so.

The system means survival is slightly easier for couples (at least, that has been This Writer’s experience) – and it is entirely possible that domestic abuse victims, in the impossible situation of being unable to find paying work and unable to survive under the cruel conditions of Universal Credit, end up believing they have no choice other than to return to their abuser.

Once there, DWP rules say they must stay for at least a year – no matter what abuse they suffer.

Some might even die.

But that’s why it’s called a “hostile environment”, you see.

The DWP won’t care because the death of a claimant is listed as a “positive benefit outcome”.

Information on where abuse victims can get genuine help is available in the Universal Credit Sufferer article.

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Labour’s power struggle can only end if grassroots members lay down the law

161024-power-grabIt seems clear that the Labour Party’s right-wing has turned its back on democracy and is now doing everything within its power to hinder Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

That is no way to behave, in a party of government. Labour cannot oppose the Conservative government if its once-favoured few are determined to throw a spanner in the works every five minutes.

They need to be shown that this behaviour will not be tolerated.

This Writer has already shown the way – my CLP has passed a motion calling for the National Executive Committee to nullify the decision to introduce 15 rule changes at once, because Paddy Lillis prevented conference delegates from voting in the proper manner.

The vote may be voided because what followed was the will of Mr Lillis – not conference.

Further, similar, motions are on the way from other constituencies, I understand.

Now, we have information that conference was misled about the package of rule changes in three important ways – further invalidating the vote.

All those involved need to face party disciplinary procedures. They should be removed from positions of responsibility as they clearly cannot be trusted to fill them in a responsible way.

It is for the members to ensure that this happens, through the National Executive Committee.

If you’re a member of the Labour party (if you’re not, join!), then it’s essential that you move a resolution, in time for your next monthly CLP meeting, demanding the annulment of this completely-illegal power-grab, which cannot be allowed to stand, and the immediate removal of the two additional ‘crowbarred’ members from the NEC.

New evidence has emerged that confirms not only the desperate lengths to which the plotters were prepared to go in order to nullify a huge democratic landslide, but that they acted in an unprecedentedly illegal manner. A new Left Futures article reveals that it wasn’t only at the Conference that the rules were ignored and broken, but also that:

  • contrary to what was claimed at the Conference, the CAC (conference arrangements committee) had not been sent a package of rules by the NEC, but a list of individual rule changes to be voted on by delegates
  • that a staff member misled the CAC by advising them that it was a package deal
  • that there is no precedent whatever for rules being forced through as a ‘take it or leave it’ package at an annual Conference – which means that delegates were lied to from the platform when it was claimed this was standard practice

It’s clearer than ever that the right-wingers of the Labour party have no intention of ‘unity’ or ‘pulling together’ and that the words are regarded merely as convenient cover for their continued attempts to control the party by undemocratic means. Expulsion is the only real remedy.

Source: We told you so – new evidence confirms NEC power-grab rule package illegal | The SKWAWKBOX Blog

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Torygraph Launches Scathing Attack On Commons Standards Commissioner After Rifkind/Straw Ruling

Painful though it is to agree with the Torygraph, the paper is absolutely right to go for Kathryn Hudson’s jugular in its editorial about her ruling on the Rifkind/Straw cases.

It seems that, rather than investigating MPs and uncovering wrongdoing, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is more interested in defending them against any investigation or criticism.

Where the Telegraph editorial questions whether she is fit to hold her post, This Writer would question whether that post should be dissolved altogether and potential wrongdoing by MPs referred to the police – preferably to be investigated by a force not directly connected to the Member in question or Parliament itself.

In her ruling, Kathryn Hudson, criticised the journalists who broke the story, commenting: “The distorted coverage of the actions and words of the Members concerned has itself been the main cause of the damage.

“If in their coverage of this story, the reporters for Dispatches and the Daily Telegraph had accurately reported what was said by the two Members in their interviews, and measured their words against the rules of the House, it would have been possible to avoid the damage that has been done to the lives of two individuals.”

But the Telegraph retorted with its own scathing editorial this week, saying the “sorry tale” of both ex-MPs proved “beyond doubt” that those in the Commons could not be trusted to regulate themselves over lobbying.

“Ms Hudson’s credulity towards MPs raises questions about whether she is fit to hold her post,” leader writers wrote, “yet her performance is laudable in comparison with the egregious work of the Standards Committee.

“Far from accepting any error by Sir Malcolm or Mr Straw, or any flaw in the rules they so nimbly stepped around, the committee suggests that the failing here lies with the public for not properly “understanding” the role of MPs.

It continued, saying: “That is bad enough. Worse are the committee’s words on the press. It is only because of investigative journalism that the conduct of Sir Malcolm and Mr Straw became known to the voters they were supposed to serve.

“Yet the committee’s report amounts to a warning to journalists not to carry out such investigations in future, promising to ‘consider further the role of the press in furthering…understanding and detecting wrongdoing’.”

Source: Daily Telegraph Launches Scathing Attack On Commons Standard Commissioner After Rifkind/Straw Ruling