Tag Archives: sue

Does money matter more than your life? Corporations prepare lawsuits against countries over Covid-19 protections


Remember the fuss over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)? No?

Let me tell you a story.

Back when the UK was part of the European Union, there was a move to create a trading partnership with the United States, allowing goods to flow between the two power blocs, practically tax free.

But problems arose over a so-called ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ system that would have allowed corporations to prosecute individual nations if they passed laws that – for example – protected citizens from having to buy inferior goods that put their health at risk.

This would have interfered with the corporations’ profits, you see.

The possibility of entering an agreement that gave ultimate power to greedy shareholders rather than national governments that – at least nominally – exist to protect citizens killed the TTIP stone dead.

Now we have evidence of what a good idea this was:

Countries could soon face a ‘wave’ of multi-million dollar lawsuits from multinational corporations claiming compensation for measures introduced to protect people from COVID-19 and its economic fallout, according to a new report.

Researchers have identified more than twenty corporate law firms offering services to mount such cases, which would seek compensation from states for measures that have negatively impacted company profits – including lost future profits.

Measures that could face legal challenges include the state acquisition of private hospitals; steps introduced to ensure that drugs, tests and vaccines are affordable; and relief on rent, debt and utility payments.

Under controversial ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS) mechanisms, foreign investors, companies and shareholders are able to sue states directly at obscure international tribunals over a wide range of government actions… in what the researchers describe as “a parallel justice system for the rich”.

This Writer is not aware of the UK being a part of any ISDS procedure, and it is clear that any agreement to take part in one would be an offence against democracy.

Note very carefully that the UK’s Conservative government was very keen to take us into such an agreement with the United States, as part of the EU.

I can only agree with Labour’s John McDonnell…

… and urge that anyone hearing of such lawsuits taking place here in the UK let me know immediately.

Source: Exclusive: Countries to face a ‘wave’ of corporate lawsuits challenging emergency COVID-19 measures | openDemocracy

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Who is the worst threat to Labour over the leaked report on right-wing factionalism?

For the many: it seems Labour’s apparent failure to live up to its slogan could do more damage to the party than a few defamation/data protection claims.

How surprising to see The Guardian reporting on a financial threat to Labour after a report was leaked alleging misconduct by party officers that meant the party lost the 2017 general election!

Instead of stating that rank-and-file party members were getting together to demand their subscriptions – that they could argue were taken under false pretences as party officers were working against winning the election…

I found that the people accused of the misconduct are planning to sue the party for defamation and data protection offences.

On one hand I am encouraged by this. I have taken Labour to court over data protection offences after (false) information about me was leaked to the national press by a party officer.

The fact that others are considering the same suggests that I was well within my rights to accuse the party (because, as data controller, it has ultimate responsibility for leaks).

On the other, it is doubtful that any defamation claims should be allowed to go anywhere – at least, not yet.

The information about party members in the report is taken from emails and WhatsApp messages that were placed in the hands of party investigators legitimately and it would be premature for anybody to launch lawsuits on the basis of it, until evidence is brought forward that disproves it.

Also, consider the words of the lawyer concerned, Mark Lewis. He said: “For four years, people in Labour have said there is no antisemitism in the party, it’s just a smear. Now they say that of course there was antisemitism, ‘but it just wasn’t us’. They have not noticed the absurdity of their change of position.”

Nobody in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership said there was no anti-Semitism in the party. I haven’t said that. None of the other higher-profile members who were accused has made that suggestion (to my knowledge).

So who, exactly made that claim? I notice that Mr Lewis did not elaborate on its origin and that is another reason to doubt the usefulness of these threatened lawsuits.

Are they just an attempt to bully the current Labour leadership? Why would anybody expect that to work?

On the other hand, going back to the wider party membership, it seems far more likely that action brought by rank-and-file members would succeed in restoring their subscription money to them.

If enough people do this, then it could put Labour in serious financial difficulty.

And it is entirely possible that the party would deserve to be put in that predicament – if the allegations in the report turn out to be accurate.

Source: Labour party faces financial peril over leaked report | Politics | The Guardian

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‘Don’t sue whistleblowers’, Labour is warned. Fine – we haven’t heard of any yet

The story about Panorama, alleged Labour Party anti-Semitism, and the so-called “whistleblowers”is proliferating crazily, so it’s practically impossible to write anything constructive about it right now.

However, stories about the “disaffected former employees” featured in the documentary are mistaken when they refer to these people as “whistleblowers”.

To be whistleblowers, they need to fulfil certain criteria – and leaking a shedload of information that was taken without consent – as far as we can tell – from their former employers doesn’t qualify.

So when Emily Thornberry said:

“We shouldn’t be going for the messengers, we should be listening to the message”

and

“Nobody can pretend there isn’t an ongoing problem in the Labour Party with antisemitism”

she is mistaken.

Labour would be well within its rights to pursue all of the people who used information taken from the party in contravention of the Data Protection Act, it seems to me.

Not only that, but I reckon the party would also be justified in taking out litigation over the way those people have used this information to present what may be an entirely false argument that Labour has a serious problem with anti-Semitism.

Panorama spent a significant amount of time discussing the case against Jackie Walker, who was expelled from Labour over allegations of anti-Semitism.

But comparison of these claims with the facts has shown that the Panorama version of events doesn’t stand up – as the BBC admitted in a correction of a previous version of that claim, sent to a Twitter user, at least 10 days before the programme was aired.

If the rest of the claims of anti-Semitism against current – and former – party members is as flimsy… I reckon these so-called “whistleblowers” may find themselves in deep trouble – soon.

So I have to question the motivation of anyone who tries to stop Labour from taking out litigation against them.

Source: Labour’s antisemitism row at ‘tipping point’ as party warned not to sue whistleblowers | Politics News | Sky News

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The Tory ‘Bedroom Tax’ trap – follow government advice and your council will sue you


Thanks are due to Joe Halewood for bringing this to light:

Bedroom tax tenants will be fined £30,000 and placed on the rogue landlord database if they do what the Tories advise them to do and take in lodgers to mitigate the bedroom tax!

Take in a lodger to mitigate the bedroom tax in your spare room as official advice but if you do then your local council will fine you £30,000 for following government advice because the room you let out to the lodger and for which you are being charged bedroom tax is not a bedroom as it is not of the minimum size to be a bedroom!

[According to government advice, minimum bedroom sizes are] 6.51 square metres … 70 square feet… 10.22 square metres … 110 square feet [for two adults] and 4.64 square metres … 50 square feet [for children aged 10 and younger].

The government (and social landlords and bedroom tax decision makers in local councils) and the courts will say these minimum sizes ONLY apply to:

(a) private landlords and

(b) ONLY in HMOs and

(c) ONLY when there are 5 people or more living in the same property.

One option that the government say is available for those nasty social tenants who are under occupying … is for the tenant to let out their allegedly spare room to a lodger. YET that would make the tenant a private landlord who is creating a HMO in a property with 5 persons and meets all of the criteria for being a rogue landlord and be subject to a £30,000 fine and to go on to the rogue landlord list for letting out a bedroom that is less than 70 square feet.

Source: Bedroom taxed tenants fined £30k for following Tory advice! | Speye Joe


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Will Damian Green retract ‘lie’ claim about porn found on his computer?

[Image: Reuters.]

Mr Quick makes a good – and timely – point.

Tories who are defending Mr Green have given up trying to claim that police did not find pornography on a computer in the First Secretary’s Parliamentary office in 2008.

Instead, they have admitted practices that suggest serious data protection breaches (Nadine Dorries), or suggested that the indecent material could have somehow downloaded itself onto the computer as if by magic (Eleanor Laing).

Neither seems plausible, but both seem to clearly accept that images were found on a computer for which Mr Green was responsible.

So Mr Green’s claim that Mr Quick was lying now appears to be highly actionable.

I wonder how he’ll respond.

A former senior police officer has demanded cabinet minister Damian Green publicly retracts a claim that he lied about pornography being found on a computer in the MP’s office in 2008.

Bob Quick said he would consider legal action against the first secretary of state if he did not do so.

In a tweet, Mr Green had described Mr Quick as “untrustworthy” and accused him of making “untrue” allegations.

Mr Green denies downloading or watching pornography on his work computers.

In a statement issued by his lawyers, Mr Quick said: “Damian Green called me a liar in the statement he tweeted on 4 November 2017. That is completely untrue.

“Everything I have said is accurate, in good faith, and in the firm belief that I have acted in the public interest.”

He added: “I am in no way motivated politically and bear no malice whatsoever to Damian Green.

“This is despite unfortunate and deeply hurtful attempts to discredit me.”

Source: Ex-police officer demands Damian Green retracts ‘lie’ claim – BBC News


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Our Mayfly prime minister’s #Brexit speech should get her squashed like the bloodsucking bug she is

Theresa May’s speech on Tuesday will set out her approach to Brexit and be keenly watched by ministers across the EU. Some of them may bring popcorn [Image: Hannah McKay/PA].

Theresa May seems determined to make as many mistakes as she possibly can.

If she continues with this bid to be one of the shortest-lasting prime ministers in UK history, we’ll be calling her Theresa Mayfly. In fact, let’s start now.

The gist of today’s (January 16) Guardian story appears to be that she is threatening the EU with the possibility that the UK will take its trade to the US, under a new agreement.

What, like the now-defunct Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP)?

That project would have been an agreement between the US and the EU to cut the cost of trade – but the price would have been high.

The quality of goods would have been cut to the lowest common denominator – a considerable fall for products made in the EU, including the UK.

Working conditions would have been devalued, meaning workers in the UK would have lost many of their valued working rights. Mrs Mayfly is already working hard to strip you of those rights in any case.

And – crucially – the agreement would have given multinational companies the right to take national governments to court if any legislation they passed was likely to interfere with their profits. This would have sealed privatisation into the National Health Service, to name one obvious example.

TTIP was stopped because an international protest was launched against it, in which ordinary people came together across national borders to stand up for their rights, for the high quality of their goods, and for corporations to be put in their place.

It seems Mrs Mayfly is threatening to take those things away from UK citizens, despite the obvious and demonstrable public feeling.

If so, then the EU nations will laugh at her – and encourage her to continue.

Her threat will not harm them, you see. It will harm ordinary British people – like you.

It will give American corporations the opportunity to asset-strip the UK for anything worthwhile and leave a worthless husk in its place.

And it will give the EU nations opportunities they would not otherwise have had, if the UK did not enter into such a devastating deal.

If Theresa Mayfly makes this threat – and tries to follow up on it – she’ll have to go.

Theresa May will aim to strike a defiant tone in her upcoming Brexit speech on the risks to the rest of the EU of giving Britain a raw deal, echoing the combative approach taken by the chancellor.

In a speech by the prime minister on Tuesday that will be watched closely in EU capitals, Downing Street is keen to impress that there are potentially lucrative economic opportunities elsewhere, weeks before the UK is expected to trigger article 50.

There has been no decision about whether to publish a document setting out May’s approach to Brexit negotiations or let the prime minister’s speech stand as the plan, as she promised to MPs.

May is likely to emphasise Britain’s enthusiasm for pressing ahead with negotiating trade deals with countries including the US.

Source: Theresa May’s speech to warn EU of risk of giving UK a raw Brexit deal | Politics | The Guardian

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Council boss uses taxpayer cash unlawfully to make blogger homeless for filming meeting

Mark James (left) used taxpayers' money to sue Jacqui Thompson (right) for libel, claiming she had waged a campaign of "harassment, intimidation and libel" against council staff.

Mark James (left) used taxpayers’ money to sue Jacqui Thompson (right) for libel, claiming she had waged a campaign of “harassment, intimidation and libel” against council staff [Composite: The Canary].

Congratulations to The Canary for getting a story out before I could.

If anybody wants to read the gritty details, take a look here, here and here.

I notice Mark James has been invited to respond to the story but has not yet done so, leading me to suggest a note of caution for Canary boss Kerry-Anne Mendoza:

Is this litigious man consulting his lawyers, do you think?

Blogger Jacqui Thompson tried to film a public Carmarthenshire Council meeting in the interest of accountability. She’s now being ordered to sell her home after council boss Mark James sued her for libel, despite him unlawfully using taxpayer cash to pay legal costs.

Thompson began filming what she viewed as “the latest travesty for democracy” at the council back in 2011. She felt the council leadership was ignoring strong local opposition to its plans at the public meeting. After trying to film the proceedings on her mobile, the council had her arrested, handcuffed and detained at a police station for two hours.

She was arrested on peacekeeping grounds, despite only calmly filming from a balcony.

The Coalition government’s guidelines were at odds with the decision to phone the police. They read that kicking people out of council meetings only for filming is “at odds with the fundamentals of democracy”.

In the aftermath of her arrest, James accused Thompson and her family of “running a campaign of harassment, intimidation and defamation of council staff”. The arrest received a lot of negative press. So Thompson viewed James’s online post as a character assassination attempt and sued the council boss for libel. But James successfully counter-sued, with the judge ruling that Thompson conducted a smear campaign as “revenge”.

James is now forcing the sale of Thompson’s family home to retrieve damages which have risen to £35,392 after interest. The mother has 14 days to respond. Unlike the council boss, Thompson will also have to pay her own legal costs of £190,000.

Source: A blogger made a brave stand against a council boss, now he’s making her homeless | The Canary

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Tories and Lib Dems collaborate to help corporations sue countries

Ignored: Protesters from across the EU who have mounted a huge campaign against the corporatists who want to override your rights in the name of profit. [Image: Huffington Post].

Ignored: Protesters from across the EU who have mounted a huge campaign against the corporatists who want to override your rights in the name of profit. [Image: Huffington Post].

Did you think the Budget was the only important thing that happened yesterday (July 8)? Think again.

The European Parliament had its first-ever vote on the controversial TTIP trade deal between the EU and the United States – and, thanks to British Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, it went against the will of the people.

Millions of us, across Europe, have demanded the removal of part of the proposed partnership agreement that allows corporations to take legal action against national governments if they pass laws that inhibit the firms’ profit-making ability.

But a compromise on the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS) secured a majority, with help from the UK’s Liberal Democrat and Conservative MEPs.

It was opposed by Labour, Green, Plaid Cymru, SNP and UKIP MEPs

Stronger amendments, that were opposed to ISDS altogether, were kept off the agenda by procedural manoeuvres – leading to EU President Martin Schulz being accused of “shredding the rules of procedure”.

Nick Dearden of Global Justice Now said: “The only reason that MEPs are still trying so desperately to push this through is because of the enormously powerful corporate lobby machine in Brussels. TTIP is fundamentally an issue of people and democracy versus encroaching corporate power.”

Campaigning group 38 Degrees released a press release stating: “We know exactly what the corporate lobbyists writing this deal want: they want us to go quiet.”

Instead, the group is proposing a series of actions to ramp up the pressure:

  • Another huge national day of action. “Enormous public pressure has been a huge factor in causing chaos around TTIP so far. We know that as soon as people get the facts, outrage follows. The more people that know, the more worried decision makers will be.”
  • Commission an expert report on TTIP, to throw in the face of anyone who says it is a good idea. “It’d give us a valuable chance at media coverage, and we can take out adverts in newspapers and online to expose the findings.”
  • Meet face-to-face with MPs to ask them directly where they stand on TTIP “and what they’ll do to represent the British public’s opposition.”
  • Get ready for MEPs to come back from their summer holidays and be ready to pile the pressure on them again. “As soon as they’re back, they need to be reminded about TTIP. We need to make sure that whenever the next vote is, we’re ready to step in.”

“To be honest, this is probably one of the hardest issues 38 Degrees members have ever taken on. Many people hear “trade deal” and their eyes glaze over. The acronyms and figures that fly out of the mouths of TTIP officials are designed to get people to switch off,” the 38 Degrees press release states.

“But when people like us hear what’s going on and choose to stand up, that changes everything. TTIP has gone from zero public awareness to huge public outrage. There’s plenty more we can do together to stop this awful deal.”

Visit 38 Degrees to learn more.

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Cameron has shown that protecting the NHS from corporate rape is the last of his concerns

What a bunch of... bankers: As mentioned in the article, government ministers are happy to spend your money defending bankers' bonuses in the European Union - but when it comes to defending your publicly-funded health service, they haven't squeaked.

What a bunch of… bankers: As mentioned in the article, the government is happy to spend your money defending bankers’ bonuses in the European Union – but when it comes to defending your publicly-funded health service, they haven’t squeaked.

Remember the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership? Also known as TTIP? The proposed agreement between the EU and USA that – in its current form – would lock future UK governments into a legal framework that protects the privatisation of health services in this country?

A part of the agreement called the Investor-State Dispute Settlement would allow any commercial organisation the ability to sue governments that acted in an anti-commercial way such as – for example – re-nationalising health services that the Conservative-led Coalition has sold off to firms in which many government MPs have shady personal financial interests.

David Cameron used to have a cabinet minister responsible for handling negotiations on the TTIP – Kenneth Clarke, the Minister Without Portfolio (aha! Now we know what he was supposed to be doing for a living).

But of course Clarke left the government in the July reshuffle. He gave every indication that he was delighted to be going, which suggests that work on the TTIP was not agreeing with him.

Perhaps it was the weight of all those people campaigning against the locked-in commercialisation of the NHS, in which treatment for particular conditions will depend on whether it is profitable where you live, coupled with the weight of Cameron’s determination to do nothing to prevent it – all obscured by the veil of secrecy that all involved have tried to draw across the negotiations.

Unite’s Len McCluskey told the Huffington Post: “First David Cameron claims there are no exemptions [so the NHS will be included in the deal – we should always remember that is Cameron’s default position], then EU Trade Commission[er] Karel De Gucht suggests that the NHS may have been exempted.

“Now civil servants are sending out statements claiming that the NHS was never in TTIP to begin with. It seems the government simply does not know what the world’s largest bilateral trade deal actually covers.”

Confusion! That’s an excellent way to slip in unwelcome changes – but it would mean the government was admitting its own incompetence.

McCluskey added: “David Cameron can choose to exempt the NHS if he’s prepared to fight for it. He was prepared to go to Europe to defend bankers’ bonuses.”

Good point. Despite the fact that bankers caused the financial crisis and many banks are still in debt, Cameron went to Europe to defend the ridiculously high bonuses they continue to award themselves. Then again, Cameron and his ministers have spent the last five years pretending that the crisis was entirely the fault of the previous Labour government. They must think we are stupid if they think we’ll swallow that – and we must bear that in mind when considering Coalition policy towards the TTIP.

Under the TTIP, a few other British standards will also suffer, according to the HuffPost:

  • We will be forced to accept other countries’ rules. UKIP voters take note that your party supports the TTIP.
  • Bosses will be allowed to reduce wages and hammer labour rights.
  • Food regulations will be weakened to allow banned products – like chlorine-bleached chicken and growth hormones in beef – into the country.
  • The UK could be forced to reverse its ban on asbestos in order to match US standards, leading to an increase in lung cancer and mesothelioma.
  • Private information about you could become public under e-commerce provisions – although it seems the Conservative-led UK government is already determined to publicise as much of your personal information as possible.

Put it all together and you can tell why the Coalition, the EU and the USA all want to keep this squalid deal secret!

The question is: Are you going to let them get away with it?

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Don’t be naive, Len – Cameron WANTS to lock privatisation into the NHS

140703NHS-TTIP

Unite’s secretary general Len McCluskey would be naive indeed to think David Cameron is ever likely to heed his call for the National Health Service to be kept out of the EU/US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

McCluskey has warned that the NHS could be sued by American healthcare multinationals if a UK government tried to return services to state control; they would argue that such renationalisations interfered with their potential profits, in breach of the trade agreement, as has been discussed on this blog in the past.

His appeal misses the point. The entire thrust of Coalition government policy is to ensure that the NHS becomes vulnerable to just such pressure, in order to ‘lock in’ the privatisations inflicted on us by Andrew Lansley’s horrifying Health and Social Care Act 2012.

One has to look no further than Vince Cable for confirmation of this. The Whig business secretary (you can’t call him a Liberal Democrat any more, and as a commenter pointed out today, the government as a whole behaves more like the old-style Whig Party from the 19th century. If the cap fits…) told The Independent: “There is no suggestion whatever that the TTIP negotiations could be used to undermine the fundamental principles of the NHS or advancing privatisation.”

What he means by this is that – as far as he is concerned, advancing privatisation is a fundamental principle of the NHS since Andrew Lansley’s hateful Act of Parliament. Therefore the TTIP agreement can only contribute to that project.

He said: “Our focus for health is to enable our world-class pharaceutical and medical devices sectors to benefit from improved access to the US market.”

If we have world-class healthcare already, why do we need access to a market-driven system that can only drag us down into mediocrity? Clearly he is not talking about healthcare at all; he is talking about the health service as a source of profit. The “benefit” he describes can only be profit – income for shareholders in private companies that could not be accrued while they were excluded from NHS work.

Everybody involved in this betrayal should be imprisoned as a traitor, with Cable and Lansley first to be sent down.