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Police agree payouts for Hillsborough ‘cover-up’. What about the Tories – and Murdoch?

The disgrace – no, the word ‘disgrace’ isn’t strong enough: this is the Sun story that mentally scarred survivors of the Hillsborough disaster and the families of those who died. It wasn’t ‘The Truth’ at all; it was a pack of lies.

More than five years after a jury ruled that 96 people were killed unlawfully in the Hillsborough disaster – and that their behaviour did not contribute to the situation – police forces have agreed to pay compensation to more than 600 people for mental distress caused by the attempted cover-up.

I have two questions.

Firstly: why did it take so long for South Yorkshire and West Midlands police to agree to pay up?

Secondly: Why aren’t the Conservative Party and Rupert Murdoch’s News International paying compensation, too?

Let’s go into the circumstances:

We all know that the Hillsborough Disaster was a fatal human crush at an FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, hosted at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium on April 15, 1989.

It happened due to gross negligence by match commander David Duckenfield of South Yorkshire Police.

The police service then attempted to hide the fact that its failures caused 96 deaths and 766 injuries – the worst disaster in UK sporting history – by trying to blame it on the fans who were injured and died, saying those people caused the tragedy by being drunk and misbehaving.

West Midlands was the force appointed to investigate the disaster, but has since been accused of malpractices and failures that have been subject to a long-running investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

Not only that, though: the prime minister of the day, the Conservative Margaret Thatcher, refused to release information that made the police look bad.

And The Sun, a newspaper published by Rupert Murdoch’s News International, published a story headlined The Truth that was nothing but a pack of lies, supporting the fantasy created by the police.

This Writer believes a strong argument could be made that the newspaper story – which led to The Sun being boycotted in Liverpool ever since – caused more distress, more anguish, to survivors, and to relatives and friends of the deceased, than the police cover-up on which it was based (although I know it could not have been written if the police and the Tory prime minister had not lied in the first place).

Civil claims for compensation due to malfeasance in public office by the two police forces were submitted in 2015, during inquests into the reasons the 96 died.

The claimants said the lies had caused them to suffer trauma and psychiatric damage, and the compensation is to cover not only those injuries but also the cost of treatment and counselling.

Those claims were made nearly six years ago and the payments haven’t been made yet (at the time of writing). So I repeat: why not?

And how much are these people getting, to make one of the claimants describe the payout as “insulting” in The Guardian‘s news article about it?

The behaviour of the police was shocking, and undermines public faith in the reliability of our law enforcement officers across the UK – not just in the forces concerned.

But – as mentioned above – they weren’t the only organisations caught lying; they weren’t the only people who deliberately caused further distress over Hillsborough.

Margaret Thatcher withheld information – which was as bad as lying because it presented a false impression that the police were blameless.

She was able to do so because she was prime minister at the time – and she was prime minister because she was leader of the Conservative Party that had formed the then-current government.

She died in 2013 but it seems perfectly reasonable to hold the Tories responsible for putting her in a position where she could distort the facts.  Why has the Conservative Party avoided compensating these people?

And that Sun headline has gone down in the history of journalistic infamy. The disgust of the city of Liverpool – in perpetuity – is not enough. Why has News International not offered compensation as well?

All three of these organisations should have offered payouts voluntarily, considering the enormity of the harm they have done, but they didn’t.

The police are only paying up because they were forced to.

Perhaps that aspect of this tragedy is the most damning of all.

Source: South Yorkshire and West Midlands police agree payouts for Hillsborough ‘cover-up’ | Hillsborough disaster | The Guardian

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Fury as Patel interferes with independence of report into private detective’s murder

Daniel Morgan: Priti Patel wants to interfere with a report into the murder of a man who had been investigating police corruption. Now, why would she want to do that?

Nothing screams “cover up” quite so loudly as a Home Secretary interfering in the publication of an independent report – especially when it is on the murder of a detective investigating police corruption.

This Writer has been reporting on the murder of Daniel Morgan, practically since I started working on newspapers, and the lack of progress in his case indicates either a monumental failure – or monumental obstruction.

His body was found in a south London car park with an axe embedded in its head in 1987.

The motive for the murder has not been established. Some believe it resulted from a business dispute but following a fresh investigation the Met announced in 2007 that the motive for the murder was probably that Morgan “was about to expose a south London drugs network possibly involving corrupt police officers”.

There are claims that corruption in Rupert Murdoch’s News International media empire is also linked to the case.

The independent Morgan panel was set up in 2013 to investigate “the incidence of connections between private investigators, police officers and journalists at the former News of the World and other parts of the media, and alleged corruption involved in the linkages between them.”

Its terms of reference included “police involvement in the murder; the role played by police corruption in protecting those responsible for the murder … and the failure to confront that corruption”.

And now Priti Patel, the government minister responsible for the police, is refusing to allow the report of an independent inquiry into his murder to be published until she has vetted it, despite not having the right to do so.

It seems she wants to black out any part of the report she says might affect national security or human rights obligations.

The Morgan panel, responsible for the report, has issued a statement attacking the intervention in the strongest possible terms.

It said it had been told the report would not be made public until it agreed to the pre-publication review by government, which breaches the understanding it has about its independence.

The panel claimed the Home Office wanted the right to black out any part of the report it considered may breach “national security” or human rights obligations.

“The Panel was informed yesterday (Monday 17 May) that a publication date will not be agreed until the home secretary and Home Office officials and lawyers have reviewed the contents of the Panel’s Report,” its statement said.

“A review of this nature has not been raised previously in the eight years since the panel was established in 2013.”

It added: “The panel believes that this last-minute requirement is unnecessary and is not consistent with the panel’s independence.”

It said: “The panel is disappointed with this position and hopes the matter can be resolved in adequate time for its report to still be published in May while parliament is sitting.”

And it said a senior team from the Metropolitan police had already checked to ensure there was nothing in the final report that jeopardised security.

The Home Office statement on the matter is contradictory.

It states: “The home secretary … has an obligation to make sure the report complies with human rights and national security considerations. This has nothing to do with the independence of the report and the Home Office is not seeking to make edits to it.”

But if Patel is planning to alter the report – in any way – before the public can see it, then she is seeking to edit it.

Daniel Morgan’s brother Alistair has said the panel should take a case to the High Court, to protect its independence.

Let’s hope it does. This case has been going on for long enough that another slight delay won’t make much difference – and resisting Patel’s interference could make the difference between finally having a conclusion and suffering another grubby cover-up.

Source: Anger as Patel delays publication of report into private detective’s murder | Police | The Guardian

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Blockade of printworks highlights the fact: the UK does NOT have a ‘free press’

Blockade: Extinction Rebellion members at a Murdoch print works.

Could you feel the Establishment rage at being told its propaganda mouthpieces aren’t providing us with the news?

It seems 72 members of Extinction Rebellion did, after they were arrested in protests targeting three printing installations owned by Rupert Murdoch.

Why does he need three? Because he owns too many newspapers and they all print what he wants – not what the people need to know.

So the disruption at Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, Knowsley in Merseyside, and near Motherwell, North Lanarkshire hit the distribution of his publications including The Sun, The Times, The Scottish Sun, along with those belonging to some of the few other billionaires who own the UK’s national press, including the Daily Telegraph (Barclay brothers), Daily Mail (Jonathan Harmsworth – Viscount Rothermere), and the Evening Standard (Evgeny Lebedev).

Do you really think any of these moguls will let their papers publish anything they don’t want you to think?

This Writer is reminded of the words of the late, great Tony Benn – that nobody should be allowed to own more than one newspaper. Then we would at least have a more free press than we have now.

Further to this, consider the onslaught under which those of us in the social media have to work every day. We don’t have the massive advertising resources of the Murdochs of this world, so we have to rely on organisations like Twitter and Facebook to spread our message virally.

And organisations like Facebook and Twitter respond by suppressing us. Facebook has an algorithm designed to push posts from left-wing news sites down people’s newsfeeds so they don’t see them.

This Site is currently having to cope with an 84 per cent drop in income due to its articles being suppressed in this way. One commenter on the Vox Political Facebook page said it had been so long since they had seen a link to one of my articles, they thought I had given up!

But if you check the “Archives” list to the left of these words, you’ll see that Vox Political has been publishing articles continuously – every day, barring a few rare exceptions – for years.

The only reason people don’t see links to my posts is because somebody else doesn’t want them to.

Yet Boris Johnson and all the other hypocrites only complain about attacks on the “free press” when their propaganda sheets take the hit.

Just look at the nonsense spoken about this by the Establishment stooges quoted in the BBC’s story – and where possible, let’s contrast it with what Extinction Rebellion has to say about these people:

Boris Johnson said on Twitter: “A free press is vital in holding the government and other powerful institutions to account on issues critical for the future of our country, including the fight against climate change.

“It is completely unacceptable to seek to limit the public’s access to news in this way.”

Have you seen that from the Murdoch press, the Torygraph, the Heil and the Standard in response to the decisions of his government – the worst Tory government ever to blight the United Kingdom? No.

 

Shadow Secretary of State for Digital Culture, Media and Sport, Jo Stephens, said: “People have the right to read the newspapers they want.

“Stopping them from being distributed and printers from doing their jobs is wrong.”

People also deserve to be told what their money is supporting, though. It isn’t fair to let them go on paying these propagandists without knowing exactly what they’re buying.

ER has been scathing about Starmer Labour’s “business as usual” approach:

This is worth reading too:

Actually, let’s go into this a bit because Labour’s position, under Keir Starmer, frankly, stinks.

Dawn Butler, Labour’s Brent MP who has suffered racism from the police, from her own constituents, and from members of her own party (if a certain leaked report is to be believed – and I do), tweeted in support of XR – and was then ordered to take it down by Starmer’s minions:

Could anything demonstrate Starmer’s Establishment credentials better? He must not be allowed to get anywhere near 10 Downing Street because he’ll only stamp on all our faces harder than Johnson (to paraphrase Orwell).

Here’s what Starmer’s – and Labour’s – response to her tweet should have been:

Let’s just put the seal on this:

Right. Back to the Tories:

And Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted the overnight action by XR was an “attack on democracy”.

Obviously there are too many sharp responses to Patel for me to publish here, so I’ll restrict myself to pointing out that she has nothing to say about attacks on the left-wing social media – which would be an “attack on democracy” by the same token.

Here’s ER:

The bosses and editors of the newspapers involved have all condemned the action; they would, though, wouldn’t they? I see no reason to comment on their words.

Extinction Rebellion itself has made it clear that the blockade was a response to the so-called ‘free press’ suppressing reports on climate change and the ecological emergency it represents.

A report on its own website states: “The groups are using disruption to expose the failure of these corporations to accurately report on the climate & ecological emergency, and their consistent manipulatIon of the truth to suit their own personal and political agendas.

“The right wing media is a barrier to the truth, failing to reflect the scale and urgency of the crisis and hold governments to account. Coverage in many of the newspapers printed here is polluting national debate on climate change, immigration policy, the rights and treatment of minority groups, and on dozens of other issues. They distract us with hate and maintain their own power and wealth, profiting from our division. We can’t move forward until this barrier falls.

“Five billionaires are the majority voting shareholders for most of the UK national newspapers, with a combined weekly readership of 49million. Three companies alone (News UK, DMG and Reach) dominate 83% of the national newspaper market (up from 71% in 2015). This small group of extremely powerful people manipulate the media narrative to serve their own ends.”

Is it really a free press if it is only used to put us in chains?

The response on the social media has been very clear on that:

And some have made the important point that Tories like Boris Johnson and Priti Patel have actually avoided passing laws to ensure press freedom:

That’s right.

If the press really is free and fair, why have the Tories spent years blocking a full public examination of its wrongdoing?

Source: Extinction Rebellion protesters block newspaper printing presses – 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.

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The great Leveson whitewash

Lord Justice Leveson, delivering his speech.

Oh, all right – greywash.

Please note: This is an initial reaction to the Leveson report, based on Lord Justice Leveson’s speech today (November 29). The report itself is 2,000 pages long and may contain much more that is of interest to us. But that will have to wait for another day.

Lord Justice Leveson has come out with his report which, in effect, advocates as little change to current press regulation as he thought he could get away with.

Jeremy Hunt, the Murdochs, George Osborne and David Cameron can all sleep comfortably tonight, in the knowledge that the skeletons in their closets have not been disturbed.

Leveson wants the press governed by a new self-regulatory body, underpinned by legislation, containing no serving editors or politicians.

But he says incidents in which the press have corrupted politicians or police are exceptions to the rule, and that the norm is a “robust” (he said that word a lot) relationship.

He said: “The lawbreaking in this area is typically hidden, with the victims unaware of what has happened… I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that corruption by the press is a widespread problem in relation to the police; however, I have identified issues to be addressed.”

On the relationship between press and politicians, he recommended steps to create greater transparency “so there is no risk of even the perception of bias”.

He said: “In a number of respects, the relationship between politicians and the press has been too close, conducted out of the public eye, between policymakers and those who stand to benefit.

“The power of the press to affect political fortunes may be used to affect policy. That undermines the belief in policy decisions being made genuinely in the public interest.”

I suppose you could say he did criticise the government with this line: “The press is entitled to lobby in its own interests, but it is the responsibility of the politicians to ensure their decisions are in the public interest. Their dealings with the press should be open and transparent and the public should have understanding of the process.”

That certainly hasn’t happened with regard to the relationships between David Cameron and either Andy Coulson or Rebekah Brooks, or the relationships of both Mr Cameron and George Osborne with the Murdochs, or indeed that of former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt with News Corporation/News International!

I don’t think his proposals will work. I think the transgressors will keep on doing what they have been doing, and the politicians will continue to pander to them because they influence the popular vote.

I would like to have seen Leveson criticise a situation that has seen powerful newspaper magnates worm their way into the retinues of ministers and even the Prime Minister; and especially welcome would be a request for an explanation, from the PM, of his over-close relationship with the former chief executive of News International, Rebekah Brooks, who is even now awaiting trial for alleged criminal acts.

I would also like to see Leveson demand disclosure of the emails and texts that Mr Cameron did not provide to the inquiry or otherwise make public. What does he have to hide? Also, since the Prime Minister should be above reproach, should we conclude that his continued opacity in this regard is an admission that he is culpable of something, and therefore should we not demand his removal from office?

Instead, Leveson seems to have drawn a line under what happened. It is future relationships that he wants to safeguard. For those involved in the phone hacking scandals and the relationship between the Murdoch organisation and the Conservative Party, this means there will always be doubt in the public mind. Mr Cameron has lost public trust over this.

I would like to have seen Leveson question the way newspaper reporters have managed to get inside information from police forces across the country, because this raises serious issues about the corruptibility of our boys in blue. It takes two people to hand over confidential information – the one who’s asking for it and the one who provides it.

Perhaps that will follow but I doubt it. Despite Lord Justice Leveson’s beliefs, it seems this affair has damaged public perception of the police – as a whole – as well.