Tag Archives: threaten

‘Top’ libel lawyer ridiculed all over Twitter after threatening tweets

Presumably Mark Lewis thought it was a good idea to approach people like me with messages on Twitter threatening us with court action.

He was wrong. But I bet he makes the same mistake again.

On the evening of February 20, I got home from a hospital trip with Mrs Mike and her mum to be greeted with the following messages:

That last comment was a good idea because I had no intention of responding at all.

What kind of lawyer contacts his intended victims on Twitter?

The wrong kind, apparently. I took a bit of legal advice, which may be summed up in this short Twitter (again) thread by Shaun Lawson:

So there were no grounds for legal action in the original behaviour of the people being contacted (I had written my own article, followed with a piece about the kind of people who support Ms Riley and Ms Oberman – based on their own tweets, so it’s still not actionable) – and Mr Lewis was apparently trying to trap us and provoke us into something actionable.

No thanks!

I noticed activity on my Twitter feed had picked up and checked it out. Some of it was from the usual stormtroopers* of the anti-Semitism witch-hunt, but it very quickly became clear that these were being ignored.

Instead, other Twitter users were responding to the threat against me by reporting Mr Lewis to both Twitter itself and the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which had already fined him £2,500 for a previous transgression:

https://twitter.com/j43kfr05t/status/1098319656027328517

Some pointed out that Mr Lewis was apparently trying to bully minors:

https://twitter.com/LabLeftVoice/status/1098344677563133953

After a while, the ridicule took on a festive tone. People were really enjoying taking down this alleged expert:

https://twitter.com/JOShUAkANE013/status/1098347604059045888

https://twitter.com/rdudley55/status/1098647231505276931

Perhaps the most embarrassing part of this is that some in the mainstream media have taken all this seriously.

The Guardian reported: “The Countdown presenter Rachel Riley and former EastEnders actor Tracy Ann Oberman are preparing legal action against up to 70 individuals for tweets relating to their campaign against antisemitism in the Labour party, according to the pair’s lawyer.

“Mark Lewis, who made his name representing phone-hacking victims, said he is contacting people who have either posted allegedly libellous claims about his clients or repeatedly sent them large numbers of messages, which he says is tantamount to harassment.”

Wrong way round. If I recall correctly, they were doing the harassing.

“At the end of last year he and his partner moved to Israel, citing the level of antisemitism in Europe.”

https://twitter.com/saeed6ali/status/1098562045820186624

Perhaps this is a serious attempt at using the law to bully perfectly decent people, but it is clear that the people behind it cannot be taken seriously.

I’ll take it seriously when I see a reason to do so. Right now, I don’t.

*If anyone wants to claim anti-Semitism because mention of “stormtroopers” calls the Nazi variety to mind, be assured that no such comparison is possible. Nazi stormtroopers were successful in the horrible things they did – at least, during the first few years they were around.


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‘I was misquoted’ bleats Tory bully Patel. Nobody believes her

Get back in your car and clear off: The public has spoken and Priti Patel needs to make herself scarce.

Arrogant Tory bully Priti Patel is upset.

It seems she doesn’t like the fact that we all took her at her word when she said the UK should threaten Ireland with food shortages to “encourage” (read: blackmail) that country into dropping its demand for a border “backstop”; a guarantee that there will be no hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Tough.

Nobody believes her now. Witness:

The above are just a few of the responses to Ms Patel’s unwise words.

You can read the whole thread here.

This one’s probably the best, though:

She’ll never apologise.

But then, she’ll never hold public office again. Not after this.

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Repellent right-winger Priti Patel wants to start another Irish famine – for petty political reasons

Smug bully: Priti Patel.

Was there ever anyone uglier than Priti Patel?

This woman – who was forced to resign from a Cabinet post because she was trying to run her own foreign policy, independent of the government – has suggested blackmailing Ireland with the threat of food shortages if the EU doesn’t drop its demand for a border “backstop” position; a guarantee that there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland.

A government report has suggested that the economic impact on Ireland could be worse than in the UK if there is a no-deal Brexit, meaning there could be food shortages in that country reminiscent of the famine in the 1840s that killed a million Irish people.

More than half the food that goes to Ireland is exported from the UK. According to the government’s report, a no-deal Brexit would hit Ireland harder than the UK, with a seven per cent drop in GDP for the republic compared with a five per cent fall in the UK.

The Times has reported that Ms Patel said these warnings should have been used to “encourage” (read: blackmail) Ireland to drop the demand for a border backstop.

She has since claimed that her comments have been “taken out of context” (although it is hard to see how).

Condemnation has been – as far as I can tell – universal:

Worse still, it seems the government report was inaccurate about whose imports would be harmed the most:

https://twitter.com/ToryFibs/status/1071143605673361408

That’s right – starving Ireland would starve the UK too.

But that’s of no importance to smug-faced Ms Patel.

She’s not interested in facts, which is why there would be no point in explaining the 19th century Irish famine, and the effect on it of the Tory government of the time, to her.

She doesn’t care if people suffer because she knows she won’t be one of them.

She just saw a chance to bully other people and took it, because that’s what she likes to do. She really is that small-minded and mean-spirited.

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So much for her £1bn bribe: DUP turns against May and joins the Eurosceptics

Partners no more? Theresa May (left) with Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, in happier times.

The Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party is threatening to vote against Theresa May – and with as many as 40 Eurosceptic Tories – on a motion to make the European Union’s proposal for a border ‘backstop’ effectively illegal.

The tactic is the clearest signal yet that the alliance between the Conservative government and the DUP – the only thing keeping Mrs May in Downing Street – is at the point of collapse.

This is despite Mrs May having given the DUP a £1 billion bung in return for its support.

Mrs May’s position on the Irish border was muddied in a discussion of the issue in the Commons, when the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, seemed unable to give a straight answer. As if the government were unsure what to do in the light of the DUP’s threatened betrayal?

Mrs May’s position worsened in the debate immediately following, when Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab made a false statement. David Lammy explains:

Mr Raab was suggesting that Parliament could not delay the UK’s departure from the EU because it was subject to an international agreement. But this was not true because Parliamentary sovereignty means it is not tied to decisions made by other bodies (and it never was, even though that was one reason people were encouraged to support leaving the EU in the referendum).

When Mrs May herself stood up to provide a report on last week’s summit with other EU leaders, she fared no better. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn summed up her position thus:

Mrs May protested that a Brexit deal was 95 per cent complete – and this provided an opportunity for hilarity:

It seems the remainder of Mrs May’s Brexit journey may well mimic that of the Titanic.

With the DUP poised to betray her, and her own backbenchers preparing to stab her “in the front”*, it seems she may sink without a trace before the end of the week.

*Many have deplored the use of this kind of language, including Labour’s Jess Phillips – who has been ridiculed for doing so. After all, she once threatened to metaphorically stab her own party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, in exactly the same place.

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Did Labour really lie to Scotland about pensions? No!

Not lying: Gordon Brown, delivering his impassioned speech to pensioners in Fife last February [Image: George McLuskie].

Not lying: Gordon Brown, delivering his impassioned speech to pensioners in Fife last February [Image: George McLuskie].

It is time to debunk another myth that has sprung up about the Labour Party.

Even though it is only the fourth day since the Scottish independence referendum, adherents of the ‘Yes’ camp have been working hard to claim some kind of moral victory, on the grounds that the unionist parties and the ‘Better Together’ campaign lied to voters, aided by the media.

One such claim is that former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown falsely stated that Scottish people’s pensions might be threatened if Scotland broke away from the union. It has been presented as “Labour lied to us about pensions.”

Mr Brown voiced his fear in February, when it was reported in the Daily Record. “You are expecting, quite rightly, that you will get a British pension. But if there is independence, the British pension stops, the national insurance fund that you’re paying into is broken up,” the paper quotes him as saying. The report does not state that he was representing any particular organisation.

It continued: “Brown published figures showing the cash received across Scotland from the state pension, pension credit, winter fuel allowance and free TV licences.

“The statistics showed people in Scotland get a higher share of the UK pot, amounting to £200 more on average each year than their English counterparts – a total of £200 million for the country.”

Brown was said to have dismissed claims that an independent Scotland could make up the shortfall by relying on North Sea oil revenues. ‘Yes’ voters on the Vox Political Facebook page have claimed that Tony Blair took away all Scotland’s rights to North Sea oil before the Holyrood Parliament was set up, so it will be interesting to see how they tackle that part of the issue.

“He referred to a leaked document from SNP Finance Secretary John Swinney that also questioned the affordability of pensions after independence,” the paper added.

The ‘Yes’ campaign published its own claims about pensions, stating: “The Scottish Government has made clear that accrued pension rights will continue to be honoured after independence.

“So state pensions will continue to be paid as before. And so will public sector pensions – including civil service, armed forces, police, fire-fighters, NHS, universities, teachers and local government pensions. Some of these schemes are already administered by the Scottish Government.

“There will be agreement between the Scottish and UK governments as to the exact share of pension liabilities to be taken on by the Scottish Government – but it has repeatedly been made clear that no accrued pension rights will be lost.

“Private pensions will continue to operate as before. The Scottish Government will ensure there are suitable protections in place for final salary occupational schemes.”

As you can see, no mention is made of the £200 million shortfall mentioned by Mr Brown and so there is no statement about how an independent Scotland would cope with it.

Was he making it up?

For a possible answer, let’s turn to the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF). This independent organisation published ‘Scottish independence: The implications for pensions’ in November 2013.

On page seven of the document, it states: “The UK Government is responsible for the public service pension liabilities of unfunded public service schemes [unfunded means they are paid from general taxation; this applies to all state pension schemes], including the Principal Civil Service scheme and the NHS Scheme. At 31 March 2011, unfunded public service pension liabilities were £893 billion. This represents 93 per cent of public sector pension liabilities and 37 per cent of all UK pensions liabilities. The Scottish Government currently has responsibility for a small number of public service schemes, which represent less than one per cent of devolved activities. There are clear questions for the Scottish and UK Governments about how these liabilities will be divided.”

The language takes a bit of translating but this seems to be the issue to which Mr Brown was referring. State pension schemes are funded from general taxation, and the amount Scotland takes in pensions means it is subsidised to a certain extent by the rest of the UK.

It seems clear that the ‘Yes’ campaigners had no right to say that there would be no shortfall, if there remained “clear questions” on how state liabilities would be divided.

It could be argued that the statement “some of these schemes are already administered by the Scottish government” may also be misleading. How many readers were aware that this related to just one per cent of “devolved activities”, with the rest administered centrally?

That isn’t all, though. The NAPF document’s executive summary outlines four headline points of concern on which it was suggested that both the UK and Scottish governments needed to provide “greater clarity”:

“Under EU law, pension schemes with members in Scotland and in the UK could become ‘crossborder’ schemes and would, therefore, need to be fully funded at all times. A more demanding funding regime is likely to lead to the closure of defined benefit (DB) schemes [these are private schemes run by employers or sponsors]. At the very least, there should be a grace period (and an exemption) to help schemes manage any transition.

“There remains a lack of clarity about how the regulatory structure for pension schemes in an independent Scotland would work, and how any transition would be managed. Unpicking the current compensation regime would be extremely difficult and require careful management (over a long period of time). It is also likely to lead to substantial costs.

“The Scottish Government’s commitment to the introduction of the single-tier pension provides welcome clarity. However, there remain unanswered questions about how they will manage the abolition of contracting-out. It is important that employers are assisted in managing this process; otherwise there is an increased likelihood of more DB schemes closing.

“While the Pensions Paper sets out no immediate plans to alter pensions tax relief arrangements, a later Scottish Government may wish to make changes to the policy. Such changes would have implications for pension schemes administering pensions for Scottish, as well as English and Welsh, taxpayers. Any complexity in tax regimes is likely to add significant costs for employers and schemes, which are in turn likely to be passed onto pension scheme members.”

All of these had significant cost implications; none of these appear to have been addressed by the ‘Yes’ campaign in its documentation which, where it says anything at all, states only that these matters would be negotiated with the UK government.

In May 2014, three months after Mr Brown voiced his concerns, and six months after the NAPF published its document, UK pensions minister Steve Webb (Liberal Democrat) said that Scottish people who had “accumulated rights” would be entitled to current levels of the UK state pension on retirement, if Scotland voted ‘Yes’.

This was mistakenly taken by the SNP to support the ‘Yes’ campaigns claims about pensions. It did not. Mr Webb was saying that pension entitlement would be unaffected. But – as state pensions are ‘unfunded’ (they come from general taxation rather than a dedicated pension ‘pot’) he didn’t say who would pay it. Decisions on which government would pay that money had not been made. That is likely to have been a highly contentious issue if ‘Yes’ had won the day.

Furthermore, any payout of UK state pension would continue to be tied to the UK’s rules, meaning citizens of an independent Scotland would not receive it until they reached UK retirement age, no matter whether the Scottish government had changed the age limit.

So much for “independence offers the people of Scotland full control over the type of pensions system that they would like to see. It would be for the different political parties to outline their proposals, including the retirement age,” as the ‘Yes’ campaign had claimed.

It seems clear, therefore, that Mr Brown was right to raise these concerns and point out that issues needed to be addressed. It is appropriate to ask whether Mr Webb would ever have addressed these concerns publicly, had Mr Brown not raised them first.

He was not lying to anybody. Labour was not lying to anybody.

Don’t let anybody lie to you about it.

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The security services are already snooping on us – why aren’t we out in the streets about it?

A Snooper: This woman has been allowing police and security services to monitor your phone and Internet communications - illegally. Now her government wants to rush through a law to make it legal, without proper scrutiny.

A Snooper: This woman has been allowing police and security services to monitor your phone and Internet communications – illegally. Now her government wants to rush through a law to make it legal, without proper scrutiny.

No matter what Nick Clegg might say, the Coalition government will be reintroducing – and rushing into effect – Theresa May’s long-cherished Snooper’s Charter on Monday.

This is her plan to ride roughshod over your right to privacy by requiring telecommunications companies to keep a complete record of all of your telephone and Internet communications. While the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill does not include the content of the calls or messages, it does include the location of the people called, the date and time of the call and the telephone number called.

Theresa May’s Snooper’s Charter would have called on telecoms firms to record the time, duration, originator and recipient of every communication and the location of the device from which it was made.

Anybody who cannot see the similarities between these two would have to be blind and stupid.

Apparently the move has been necessitated by a European Court of Justice ruling in April saying current laws invaded individual privacy.

This means that the government has been doing, already, what it proposes to enshrine in law now.

But hang on a moment – this court ruling was made in April. In April? And they’re just getting round to dealing with it now?

Perhaps they were busy. But no! This is the Zombie Parliament, that has been criticised for muddling along with nothing to do, so it can’t be that.

It seems far more likely that this Bill has been timed to be pushed through without any consideration by, or consultation with, civil society – in order to restrict our ability to question what is nothing less than an attack on our freedom.

Cameron is desperate to justify his government monitoring everything you do: “The ability to access information about communications and intercept the communications of dangerous individuals is essential to fight the threat from criminals and terrorists targeting the UK.”

It isn’t about fighting any threat from criminals or terrorists, though, is it? It’s about threatening you.

Has anybody here forgotten the disabled lady who received a midnight visit from the police, at her home, in relation to comments she had posted on Facebook about the Department for Work and Pensions’ cuts?

She told Pride’s Purge: “They told me they had come to investigate criminal activity that I was involved in on Facebook… They said complaints had been made about posts I’d made on Facebook.”

Facebook is an internet communication, not a telephone communication – so you know that the security services have already been overstepping their mark. This was in 2012.

There’s always the good old postal service, embodied in the recently-privatised Royal Mail – which has been examining your correspondence for decades. You will, of course, have heard that all your correspondence with HM Revenue and Customs about taxes, and all your correspondence with the DWP about benefits, is opened and read by employees of a private company before it gets anywhere near a government employee who may (or may not) have signed the Official Secrets Act. No? Apparently some secrets are better-kept then others.

If you want proof about the monitoring of letters, I’ll repeat my story about a young man who was enjoying a play-by-mail game with other like-minded people. A war game, as it happens. They all had codenames, and made their moves by writing letters and putting them in the post (this was, clearly, before the internet).

One day, this young fellow arrived home from work (or wherever) to find his street cordoned off and a ring of armed police around it.

“What’s going on?” he asked a burly uniformed man who was armed to the teeth.

“Oh you can’t come through,” he was told. “We’ve identified a terrorist group in one of these houses and we have to get them out.”

“But I live on this street,” said our hero, innocently. “Which house is it?”

The constable told him.

“But that’s my house!” he said.

And suddenly all the guns were pointing at him.

They had reacted to a message he had sent, innocently, as part of the game. They’d had no reason to open the letter, but had done it anyway and, despite the fact that it was perfectly clear that it was part of a game, over-reacted.

What was the message?

“Ajax to Achilles: Bomb Liverpool!”

Neither of these two incidents should have taken place but many more are inevitable if this legislation goes the distance and allows the government to legitimise its current – illegal – actions.

One last point: It should be remembered that this is a government composed mainly of a political party with one member, still active, who managed to lose (or should that be ‘lose’) no less than 114 files on child abuse – files that could have put hugely dangerous people behind bars 30 years ago. Instead, with the files lost, it seems these individuals were permitted to continue perpetrating these heinous crimes.

Now, this government is launching an inquiry into historic child abuse by high-profile people, headed by a woman who is herself tainted by association with some of the accused, and by some of the attitudes she has expressed.

It is a government that should put its own House in order before it asks us to give up our privacy and let it look inside ours.

Or, as Frankie Boyle tweeted:

140711surveillance

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DWP calls in Rentadoc to harass the sick off-benefit

Ingeus out of favour: This image was found on a site protesting against Workfare and demonstrates the high regard in which it is held by previous users of the Ingeus service.

Ingeus out of favour: This image was found on a site protesting against Workfare and demonstrates the high regard in which it is held by previous users of the Ingeus service.

Perhaps we’re jumping the gun with the headline but alarm bells tend to go off when you read that “people on sickness benefits will be required to have regular meetings with healthcare professionals to help them with their barriers to work”.

Everyone working on Employment and Support Allowance should already know what everyone receiving it knows – it’s more a bloodbath than a benefit.

This is down to the attitude of the healthcare professionals already working on it – the people who (and God forbid you should ever ask to see their qualifications) automatically sign 70 per cent of claimants as ‘fit for work’, whether they are or not, and tell most of the rest they need to be work-ready within a year.

The result? Mental breakdowns, depression and suicides; physical breakdowns, worsening of existing conditions, and premature deaths. By the thousand.

These are the people who ask claimants when amputated limbs are going to grow back, and who tell people with Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis that they’ll be fit for work within six months.

If you did (God forbid) ask them where they got their qualifications, it was probably the Teaching Hospital of Noddyland.

“People on sickness benefits will be required to have regular meetings with healthcare professionals to help them address their barriers to work – or face losing their benefits [italics mine] – in a two-year pilot scheme in central England which begins in November,” the DWP press release states.

Isn’t this what happened with people on Jobseekers’ Allowance? Suddenly they had to start fulfilling lots of pointless extra requirements or their benefits would be withdrawn? Part of that is a regular meeting in which – as far as we can ascertain – innocent people are harassed, threatened and abused by DWP employees who are themselves, it seems, millimetres away from nervous exhaustion brought on by the pressures of the job.

Claiming benefits, it seems, is now an endurance test: Who cracks (up) first?

Now, for 3,000 people in the work-related activity group for ESA in the Black Country, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, Staffordshire and Shropshire, there’s no relief even if they have a nervous breakdown and have to claim ESA on mental health grounds.

“People involved in the pilot – who have all been assessed as being able to work at some point in the future – will have regular appointments with healthcare professionals as a condition of receiving their benefit, to focus on helping them move closer to being able to get a job.”

There you go – all judged as able to work in the future. Presumably Iain Duncan Smith has taken a look at their files, glanced into his crystal ball, and declared that he has a “belief” in their fitness to work. If any of these people are reading, please contact this blog if you have a progressive health condition that won’t ever improve.

Because the meeting is a condition of receiving benefit, anyone attending can expect to be treated abominably. This is not about helping you back to work, or even back to health; it’s about kicking you off-benefit and nothing further. The aim, as with JSA, is to cut claimant numbers and thereby cut spending.

“It’s really important we give people who are disabled or have a health condition the support they need to get into work if they are able,” said employment minister Esther McVey who knows nothing about this at all (despite having been minister for the disabled).

“Traditionally, this help has tended to be work-related, but this pilot will look at whether a more holistic approach is more successful in helping people to manage their conditions and so break down their barriers to work.”

The biggest barrier to a person with a disability getting work is the fact that the Conservative-led Coalition government has been closing down employment opportunities for them and removing incentives for employers to take them on.

The healthcare professionals will be provided by Ingeus UK – a welfare-to-work provider that has been involved in the Work Programme – you know, the time-wasting scheme in which jobseekers are taken off the unemployment statistics while they learn simple skills that, in fact, most of them already have.

The company’s website is very slick but contains no information about the number of doctors in its employ.

Oh, and guess what? The company is half-owned by Deloitte, one of the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms that currently writes British tax law to make avoidance easy for the big corporates. How much tax has Ingeus paid lately?

“Everything we do is results driven”, the site declares.

One wonders what Ingeus will do when the casualties start piling up.