Category Archives: The willing censor

The BBC decide one call with a minute to go is enough for immigration on Any Answers

Robert Henderson
Any Questions (BBC R4 1 August 2014 ) included a question on whether immigration had made Britain poorer. The question provoked an extended  debate which would have been much longer if the chairman had not cut the discussion short.
 
Both the time devoted to the question in the show  and the fact that every poll shows immigration to be at or near the top of the public’s current political concerns should have made it  one of the primary subjects of the following Any Answers. The reverse happened. 
First, the presenter  Anita Anand put the question down the batting order as she introduced Any Answers by asking for questions on the subjects discussed – she placed it very near the end –  then she took  just one call with 29 minutes of the thirty minute  programme, a call which lasted a few seconds. 
 
There is no reasonable explanation for the failure to relegate the question to a point where it virtually vanished from Any Answers.  The one caller who got on did complain about the late introduction of the question and was fobbed off with the usual BBC excuse of the weight of calls on other subjects driving it down the list. The excuse was particularly absurd in this case because the interest immigration provokes. It is reasonable to believe that the BBC deliberately  kept callers about immigration off the air to further their own political agenda.  The fact that Anand ancestry is subcontinental adds to the suspicion. 
 
As the BBC is a closed shop when it comes to how prospective callers to are chosen, there is no way to get an independent check on what they are doing.  It is also true that they operate of telephone system which blocks out callers deemed to be a nuisance – details below. 
 
Please investigate how the BBC chooses who shall be put on air during  phone-ins  and how the extraordinary treatment of  immigration on this Any Answers programme occurred. I would be delighted to come on to Feedback to question whoever the BBC puts up to justify their behaviour. 
 
I have submitted a complaint to Roger Bolton at the BBC’s Feedback programme. The email for those wishing to complain is feedback@bbc.co.uk.
 

How the BBC fixes the political bias of Any Questions

Robert Henderson

The programme is fixed generally because all those invited will on subjects such as race, immigration, homosexuality and feminism  toe the pc line to a large degree. (Ask yourself when was the last time you heard someone on Any Questions saying that mass immigration is an unalloyed ill). They will do this either from ideological conviction or the fear of the consequences if they become accused of a pc “crime”.

There is also a more particular built in bias which will generally result in preponderance politically correct  and left leaning answer. To demonstrate this I have compiled  the details of panel members  for a couple of recent two month runs of Any Questions – June-July 2013 and January-February 2014 (17 programmes). These details are shown at the bottom of this blog post.

Then there are  the biases produced by race, ethnicity and employment. Those who are there as right leaning representatives,  but are immigrants or the children of immigrants, members of a racial or ethnic minority or compromised by receiving public money or favours such as those bestowed on the quangocracy will often be left leaning in certain areas such as the desirability of mass immigration or the worth of public service, regardless of their nominal political orientation.

In the four months covered by the two periods chosen, the leftist, politically correct bias is clear: on every panel at least two (half the panel) of the participants are formally left leaning and in a number of cases more than two. A good example is the 28 2 2014 programme where at least three members (Hughes, Eagle, Greer)  are of the left and arguably all four because Chua being the child or immigrants and a member of an ethnic minority will in many areas automatically be pc (for example immigration)  even if she has some non pc ideas as well.

There is no example of any programme with more than two right leaning members  on it. Moreover, many of those classified as right-leaning will be right leaning only in the area of economics and even there someone who supports laissez faire economics is veering into the leftist world because the effects of globalism feed into the liberal left internationalist credo.

It is also noteworthy that although there are a few members of panels who may  reasonably be categorised as of the hard left, for example, Diane Abbott and Laurie Penny,   there is no one who represents the far right.

It is reasonable to suspect that the BBC packs all its audiences for political and current affairs programmes in a  similar way.

28 2 2014

The Bath Literature Festival with Justice Minister Simon Hughes MP, Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Maria Eagle MP, Yale Law professor and author Amy Chua, and writer and broadcaster Germaine Greer.

Political count: two left-leaning MPs (Hughes and Eagle), an immigrant and radical feminist (Greer) and an ethnic minority representative  and child of immigrants to the USA (Chua).

21 2 2014

Blundells School in Tiverton, Devon, with Secretary of State for Scotland and Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael, Conservative backbench MP Nadhim Zahawi MP, New Statesman columnist Laurie Penny and Labour backbench MP Frank Field.

Political count: two left leaning MPs (Field and Carmichael ), one ethnic minority  immigrant  and right leaning MP (Zahawi) and one member of the hard left (Penny).

14 2 2014

Central Hall Methodist Church in Walsall with Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee Keith Vaz MP, Fisheries and Farming Minister George Eustice MP, Pauline Black from The Selecter and UKIP Party Director Lisa Duffy.

Political count: ne Left leaning MP, immigrant  and ethnic minority representative (Vas), one right leaning  MP (Eustice), one ethnic minority  representative  (Black) and  one right leaning representative from a minor party (Duffy).

7 2 2014

Altrincham Grammar School for Girls with Defence Minister and Tory MP  Anna Soubry, journalist and poverty campaigner Jack Monroe, the Liberal Democrat MP Jeremy Browne and the Former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw MP.

Political count: one Tory MP but with a strong streak of political correctness (Soubry), two left leaning MPs (Browne and Straw) and one leftist journalist and campaigner (Monroe).

31 1 2014

Purfleet in Essex with the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles MP, Labour backbencher Diane Abbott MP, author and columnist Simon Heffer and the new Green party peer Baroness Jenny Jones

Political count: one centrist Tory MP (Pickles), one hard left MP who is the  daughter of immigrants  and an ethnic minority representative (Abbott), one right leaning journalist (Heffer) and , one hard left peer, (Jones).

24 1 2014

Gwyn Hall in Neath, with the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, Jill Evans Plaid Cymru MEP for Wales, Conservative Vice Chairman for Campaigning, Michael Fabricant MP, and the former leader of the Liberal Party Lord Steel.

Political count: two  left leaning politicians (Jones and Evans) and one right leaning  MP (Fabricant) and one left leaning peer (Steel).

17 1 2014

Greenbank High School in Southport with the former Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham, Supermarket Ombudsman Christine Tacon and Liverpool based textiles businessman Tony Caldeira.

Political count:  one right leaning MP (Mitchell), one left leaning MP (Burnham), one member of the Quangocracy (Tacon) and one businessman who is a Tory Party supporter (Caldeira).

10 1 2014

Heythrop College in London with Justice Secretary Chris Grayling MP, Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan MP, Patrick O’Flynn the new Communications Director for UKIP and former coalition minister the Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather.

Political count: two left leaning MPs (Khan and Teather), one right leaning Tory MP (Grayling) and one rightist representative for a minor party (O’Flynn).

27 7 2013

Endellion, Cornwall with Lord Hattersley, writer Jessica Mann, Times columnist Phil Collins and Jacob Rees Mogg MP.

Political count: one leftist peer (Hattersley), one rightist MP (Rees-Mogg), one immigrant  who has been part of Quangocracy (Mann), one left leaning journalist (Collins) .

19  7 2013

Bridport in Dorset with Lord Ashdown, Kate Hoey MP, Baroness Julia Neuberger and former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Lawson.

Political count: two left leaning peers (Ashdown and Neuberger), one centrist Tory peer (Lawson) and one left leaning MP (Hoey). Neuberger is the daughter of an immigrant mother and a member of an ethnic minority.

12 7 2013

Bushey in Hertfordshire with Chuka Umunna Shadow Business Secretary, Vice Chairman of the Society of Business Economists Bronwyn Curtis, Grant Shapps Chairman of the Conservative Party and the Speaker’s Chaplain the Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin.

Political count: one left-leaning immigrant and member of an ethnic minority MP  (Umunna), One immigrant Australian economist (Curtis), one right leaning MP (Shapps) and one ethnic minority immigrant representative (Rose Hudson-Wilkin).

5 7 2013

from Keswick in the Lake District with Liberal Democrat President Tim Farron, Shadow Europe Minister Emma Reynolds MP, Deputy leader of UKIP Paul Nuttall and Leader of the 1922 Committee Graham Brady MP.

Political count: two left leaning MPs (Farron and Reynolds), one right leaning member of a minor party  (Nuttall) and one right leaning MP (Brady).

28 6 2013

Titchfield in Hampshire with John Denham MP, Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee Bernard Jenkin MP, Chair of the Bar Council Maura McGowan QC and Minister of State for Justice Lord McNally.

Political count: one left leaning MP (Denham), one right leaning MP (Jenkin), one criminal lawyer  with no obvious political affiliation (McGowan) and , one left leaning peer (McNally).

21 6 2013

Purley in Croydon. The panel are Labour peer Baroness Oona King; editor of Prospect magazine Bronwen Maddox, Foreign and Commonwealth minister Alistair Burt and the novelist, journalist and human rights activist Joan Smith.

Political count: one left leaning ethnic representative peer (King), one right leaning journalist (Maddox), one right leaning MP (Burt) and one left leaning journalist (Smith).

14 6 2013

Great Yarmouth Racecourse in Norfolk with Daniel Hannan MEP, commentator Mehdi Hasan, Communities and Local Government Minister Don Foster MP and Shadow Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Mary Creagh MP.

Political count: one right leaning MEP (Hannan), one son of immigrants and left leaning ethnic minority representative journalist (Medhi Hassan) and two left leaning MPs (Foster and Creagh)

7 6 2013

The Centre for Alternative Technology in Machynlleth, Wales with Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Owen Paterson MP, Labour’s Peter Hain MP, Leader of Plaid Cymru Leanne Woods, and commentator James Delingpole.

Political count: one right leaning MP (Paterson) one left leaning MP (Hain), one hard left representative (Woods)  and one rightist journalist (Delingpole).

1 6 2013

Slough in Berkshire. The panel includes the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers MP, the director of the think-tank British Future Sunder Katwala, Business woman Julie White and Labour peer Lord Adonis.

Political count: one right leaning MP (Villiers), one left leaning ethnic minority representative who is the son of immigrants (Katwala), one business woman whose company D-Drill gets a good deal of its work from government (White) and one left leaning peer (Adonis).

Politically incorrect film reviews – 12 Years a slave

Robert Henderson

Main Cast

Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup

Michael Fassbender as Edwin Epps

Lupita Nyong’o as Patsey

Sarah Paulson as Mary Epps

Benedict Cumberbatch as William Ford

Brad Pitt as Samuel Bass

Paul Dano as John Tibeats

Adepero Oduye as Eliza

Paul Giamatti as Theophilus Freeman

Garret Dillahunt as Armsby

Scoot McNairy as Brown

Taran Killam as Hamilton

Chris Chalk as Clemens Ray

Director:  Steve McQueen

12 years a slave is dull, very very dull.   The plot trudges from one banally brutal or degrading episode to the next  as the kidnapped black freeman Solomon Northrup undergoes his dozen years of illegal enslavement in  the America of the 1840s. There is little sense of  the story moving forward. Rather like pornography it becomes boring because repeating the same general thing over and over is tedious no matter what the subject.  Indeed, the film could be regarded as pornography for white liberals.  The fact that we know the eventually outcome – Northrup’s  re-obtaining of freedom- before the film begins deepens the dramatic void. The weakness of plot is typified  by the scene in which  Northrup is finally freed. What should have been the prime moment of emotional engagement  in the film is shown in such a startlingly perfunctory fashion that  Northrup’s freeing is made to seem inconsequential.

The film would have been much more dynamic as a drama if there had been subplots to vary the plantation scenes.  This could have been readily done because  Northrup’s written story provided plenty of opportunity for diversification of the plot  –  the full text of 12 Years a Slave can be found at  https://archive.org/stream/twelveyearsasla00nortgoog#page/n8/mode/2up. (The page numbers in the review refer to this text). For example, when he is being shipped for sale after being kidnapped Northrup manages to send a letter to those he knows in New York (p 73),  but they cannot come after him  because there is no clear  indication of where he is or where he will be going. Northrup also mentions in his book that his son vowed to find his father and purchase his freedom. The sufferings of his  family  could have been used to provide a powerful backdrop to Northrup’s travails. Then there were the opportunities for diversifying the action offered by the efforts made to obtain his freedom after he eventually gets word of his predicament and where he is to those in New York who eventually procure his release. There is also an episode in the book (p136) where Northrup goes on the run  through a sub-tropical swampland. That  would have made a strong action sequence.

It is a little difficult to see why the director ignored such opportunities.  He is certainly a competent filmmaker  as his previous decidedly  interesting  film Shame showed. Being black himself,  perhaps McQueen was  simply too close to the subject  and became obsessed with the abuse storyline. Despite the dismal litany of abuse in Northrup’s book, he cannot resist using a screenplay by John Ridley  which over-eggs the mistreatment of slaves by going beyond what Northrup recounted.  For example, after Northrup has been abducted, he is taken with other slaves down-river on a paddle-steamer . During the voyage there is an attempt by a white man to rape one of the black female slaves. Another slave attempts to prevent this and is knifed to death by the world-be rapist.  This event is not in Northrup’s book, a fact which is unsurprising because slaves were valuable and the loss of one would not be welcome. Indeed, Northrup makes it clear that any injury reduced the value of the slave and that signs of punishment could be particularly damaging to value, viz: “Scars upon a slave’s back were considered evidence of a rebellious or unruly spirit and hurt his sale” (p80) . Another important fabrication is a scene where Northrup tells Ford he is a free man who has been kidnapped into slavery and Ford says he cannot listen. Northrup’s book  says he never raised the subject of his true identity with Ford (p 91)

There is also  subtle exaggeration of abuse. For example, in the scene where Northrup and some other slaves are being put up for sale, the film shows them partially or fully naked, to be viewed by any prospective buyer. What Northrup actually writes is that the slaves  were  clothed but “Sometimes a man or a woman was taken to the small house in the yard and inspected more minutely” (p80), a rather less public humiliation.

There is also a pc driven absurdity which occurs in the scenes in the film before Northrup’s  kidnapping and sale into slavery. He is shown not only as being decidedly prosperous (something not  borne out by his own account of his pre-slave days) but as being greeted by virtually every white person  he meets with that curious passive aggressive fawning behaviour which white liberals adopt when interacting with anyone who is black.  Even allowing for the fact that Northrup is a free man and the scenes are set in the non-slave states, it is somewhat difficult to imagine that he would have been such an object of unalloyed admiration in the 1840s.

To the one-dimensional plot can be added a general absence of character development. The problem starts with  the leading man Chiwetel Ejiofor in the role of  Northrup.  There is a curious passivity about this actor no matter what role he inhabits. Here he simply comes over as emotionally flat even when he is resisting abuse.  Nor does Ejiofor resemble Northrup in appearance. From the illustration of Northrup which accompanied his book he had a darkish skin but distinctly European features.  This is unsurprising because in the book he is described as a mulatto ( strictly of half white, half black ancestry but more loosely of mixed race). Chiwetel Ejiofor is the child of two Nigerian parents. He looks very different from Northrup. Was an actor who showed no signs of having a large admixture of white blood in him deliberately chosen because the film maker wanted to have no racial ambiguity in the film’s male  lead?

Then there is his physique. Northrup is depicted as a physically  powerful man in the film, yet according to his book he is only 5’ 7” tall (p311). That would have been rather  small even by the standards of the day.  Sadly for the film, physically larger does not equal greater screen presence.

Lupita Nyong’o  character of Patsey is very slight if viewed unsentimentally and exactly what she has done in the role to be nominated for best supporting actress at the Oscars and to win the same award at the Golden Globes is mystifying in terms of performance.  She does not spend that much time on screen or have a great deal to say. Her  most notable scene is of her being  savagely flogged.  Her beating has provoked much comment amongst the critics, but in truth the violence in film is not way beyond that seen in other slave-themed  films such as Mandingo and Drum in the 1970s and the recent Django Unchained.  Apart from the  brutal flogging  of Patsey,  the only other serious beating is that given to Northrup with a wooden paddle and whip soon after he has been kidnapped. The three  other films I mention all arguably  had more scenes of violence meted out to slaves. For example, Django Unchained has two slaves fighting to the death for amusement of their masters and another slave killed by setting dogs on him.

Michael Fassbender is always watchable but as the harsh slaveowner Edwin Epps he is little more  than a  cartoon villain whose acts of brutality lacks credible motivation. His obsession with Patsey lusting after her one minute, having her flogged the next,  is unconvincing, not least because she is no great beauty.  I suppose  it could be represented as sexual gratification through sadism, but that is not very plausible because much her beating is in response to the urging of his wife. Mary.  Sarah Paulson as Epps’ wife is good as far as her role goes, which not far because she is there to display jealousy of Patsey and urge Epps to beat the unfortunate slave at every opportunity and  do precious little else. Northrup’s estimation of her is surprisingly generous: “Mistress Epps was  not such an evil woman after all. She was possessed of the devil, jealousy. It is true, but aside from that there was much in her character to admire…. She had been well educated at some institution this side of the Mississippi ; was beautiful and accomplished and usually good humoured. She was kind to all of us  but Patsey… (p198). Thisis not reflected in the film.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance as the “liberal” slave owner Ford  is unconvincing on a level of basic acting because he struggles dreadfully with an American accent. But there is also a  more major problem, that of  Ford’s  representation in the film being less than faithful to Northrup’s remarkably glowing judgement of him, viz:  “.  “there never was a more kind, noble, candid, Christian man than William Ford….He was a model master, walking upright according to the light of his understanding and fortunate was the slave who came into his possession. Were all men such as he, slavery would be deprived of more than half its bitterness.” (p90). In the film Ford appears as comparatively humane but weak and a hypocrite who uses the Bible to justify slavery.

Then there is Brad Pitt as Samuel Bass, the man who sends Northrup’s letter to those who know him in New York, a letter which brings about Northrup’s release from slavery. Bass in is an itinerant Canadian mechanic and general jack-of-all-artisan trades. Against stiff competition Bass is the most unconvincing character in the film because he seems painfully like a modern right-on Hollywood liberal.   He  is shown preaching  at length to the slave-owning class including Edwin Epps about the evils of slavery and being met with remarkably little critical response. This is how Northrup’s book portrays him,  but it does seem to be wildly improbable if one takes Northrup’s description of  Epps’ wildly  erratic and violent  behaviour seriously.

The general veracity of the film is dubious because it treats  Northrup’s account as the gospel truth. After I saw the film I read the whole of  12 Years a Slave. The impression I was left with was that it has strong elements of implausibility because some things did just not ring true when set in the context of Northrup’s time and place.  Nor does the literary style seem natural.

To begin with he routinely uses the Obama trick (found in great excess in Dreams from my father) of producing long passages of supposedly reported verbatim speech relating from the time just before he was kidnapped to the end of his enslavement. These cannot possibly be a factually true record because Northrup kept no journal during his captivity and wrote his book  years after most of the conversations  occurred.   The second general problem is that this is just Northrup’s account.  Apart from the fact that it is unverified, there is a great deal of Northrup constantly representing himself as being referred to by whites and blacks alike as being a very superior type of  black and boasting of his own abilities. This looks suspiciously  like egotism.

To this puffing of himself there is the strange way in which despite trying to run away and several times assaulting  a  white man in authority over him,   the carpenter cum overseer John Tibeats (played by Paul Dano), Northrup  remains alive.  Northrup’s account says that he not only fought with Tibeats twice (pps 109, 188)  – only one incident is covered in the film), but also had a struggle with Epps (p288).   His escape from death or even a savage beating is made all the more astonishing because  Tibeats owned Northrup at the time of their fights, Ford having  sold him  to Tibeats  (after owning him for little more than a year)  to settle a debt he owed Tibeats (p 106).  If one takes Northup’s general tale of abuse by slave owners at face value this is astonishing.

Some of the artificiality of the book may have arisen from the fact that it was not  Northup’s unassisted work . How literate Northrup was is debatable and he was  assisted in the writing of the book by two white men, the  writer and lawyer  David Wilson and Henry Northup, the head of the Northup family which had owned and freed Northup’s father (http://www.historyvshollywood.com/reelfaces/12-years-a-slave.php). The involvement of Wilson and Henry Northrop may have coloured what  Solomon Northrup said of his time as a slave, perhaps exaggerating the good behaviour and righteousness of anti-slavers and demonising slave owners and the white men working for them. Based on the characters depicted amongst the slave owners and traders, there is even a good case for saying the book was moulded to present the anti-slavery case both in terms of its inhumanity but also to give some of the  slave owning class  at least a partial absolution from being part of the “peculiar institution” by providing examples of relatively humane treatment such as that of  Ford.

Finally, there is the problem of a complete absence of context, namely, a failure to place the behaviour of slave owners and traders in the broader setting of the customs of the  time generally  and in particular of the  way the free poor of the time  lived and, to modern eyes, the gross cruelties to which they were often subjected. ( A charge often levelled against William Wilberforce was that he cared a great deal about slaves but nothing for the poor  in England).

Take corporal punishments,  examples of which in the film have produced a great deal of anguish amongst reviewers. The flogging of slaves seems brutal to modern eyes but would have been much less likely to cause disgust amongst the general public in both the USA and Britain in the early Victorian period (the time of Northrup’s abduction). Heavy duty flogging was still commonplace in the British army and Royal Navy (and the press gang was lavishly used to man the Royal Navy until the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815) and  was used widely as a judicial punishment. In addition,  beating was routinely used  in schools and in the home, both on children and wives.

There was a good deal more in the society contemporary with the time of Northrup’s enslavement which revolts modern sensibilities. Bear and bull baiting and dog fighting  were only outlawed in Britain in 1835 and  bare-knuckle boxing  was very popular not merely amongst the poor but also the gentry. Executions, which involved a good deal of cruelty  because simple hanging by suspension was used, were conducted in public (and attracted huge crowds). The number of crimes which attracted the death penalty in England until the late 1820s numbered over 200 and transportation to Australia  was still going strong in the 1840s. The threat of imprisonment for debt hovered over all but the seriously rich, for even the middle classes could be rendered penniless by misfortune or recklessness.

Then there was the general  condition of the poor. To be needy in early Victorian Britain was to live a very precarious life and those who were reduced to taking advantage of the 1835 Poor Law suffered such things as the separation of man and wife, child and parent. Trade Unions were illegal  and women who worked were frequently  forced into sexual acts by employers or others who had authority over them .

The poor had the advantage of being free, or at least of having made a choice to be less than free when they enlisted as a soldier or sailor or chose to enter the workhouse,  but often the choice was between starving or the result of signing up to something the person did not understand or done under the influence of drink

What is startling are the remarkably large number of individual abuses of the poor which match those found in the type of chattel slavery which existed in the USA.    That is not to say the free poor were as grievously handicapped as slave, for formal unfreedom is a heavy burden to bear, but merely to explain that the material distance between American slaves and the poor was not unimaginably great and in some cases, especially the  house slaves of the rich. The material circumstances of the slaves would have been better than many of the free poor.

We are now deep into the film awards season.  The response so far has been less than ecstatic for 12 Years a Slave.   For a film lauded to the skies by the critics both in America and Britain,  it has not swept all before it as might be expected: in the two sets of awards given out so far 12 Years a Slave  has received a underwhelming response. It won only a single Golden Globe for best picture (voted for by members of the world’s media who call themselves the Hollywood Foreign Press Association). The Screen Actors Guild awards (voted for by actors)  was even less overwhelmed and gave only the  best supporting actress award to Lupita Nyong’o for her depiction of Patsy. As for those awards still pending after nominations have been made, 12 Years a Slave was not the most nominated film for either the BAFTAs, (nine nominations against Gravity’s ten)  or  the  Oscars (nine nominations) coming behind American Hustle and Gravity with ten nominations apiece.

Nominations for film awards are one thing; voting for what you actually think is best quite another. Those who make nominations will be at least ostensibly politically correct and films such as  12 Years a Slave are  for that reason  more or less guaranteed to make a strong showing in the nominations.  But having done their pc duty by nominating many of those entitled to vote will vote for who they actually believe should win. This will often mean that, as  with the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild ,  the nominations bear little fruit when it comes to who wins.

Judged purely on the grounds of quality  the film deserves, little praise official or otherwise for it is a truly ordinary film judged as a drama and dishonest as an historical record.

Note added  4  March 2014

12 Years a Slave won only a single Golden Globe for best picture. The BAFTAs saw it collect the best film and best actor awards while the  Oscars gained it a three awards for best film, best supporting actress and best adapted screenplay.  This was a poor return for a film which was the subject of a huge unofficial PR campaign by critics. The sparseness of the awards suggests tokenism.

A Diary of the Hutton Inquiry

It is ten years since the suspicious death of the British weapons expert Dr David Kelly who disagreed with the claims of the dossier used  by Tony Blair to justify committing the UK to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.  His death has never been satisfactorily explained. The journalist Andrew Gilligan, who was a central figure in the furore over the Blair dossier’s claim that Saddam Hussein could have nuclear weapons in the air within 45 minutes has looked back at the years since Kelly’s death in a recent article:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/10192271/The-betrayal-of-Dr-David-Kelly-10-years-on.html

I wrote the diary  below day by day during the Hutton Inquiry.  Particularly noteworthy are these general matters:

1. The frequent contradiction of evidence.

2. The eagerness of Kelly’s wife and daughter to support the suicide theory.

3. The thinness of the suicide theory.

4 No  public  enquiry has every fingered a  serving  PM  as  being seriously at fault.  That alone told you the Hutton inquiry would be  a charade.   Hutton’s willingness to sell-the-pass on honest enquiry  was confirmed  when  he failed to recall Blair for  re-examination  in  the second  half  of  the  hearing.  The failure  to  publish  the  further submissions    confirms Hutton’s tacit complicity in protecting  Blair.

Robert Henderson 2 August 2013

=====================================

The Hutton Inquiry

Preliminary statement 1 8 2003

Lord Hutton opened the inquiry today, 1 August. He made a statement detailing  how  he  would proceed generally,  the  sequence  of  events leading  up to the inquiry and the detailed agenda of witness  hearing.

The main points are:

1. He and he alone will determine the way the inquiry is  conducted, citing Lord Scarman’s words in the 1974 Red lion disturbances inquiry.

2. He will hold public hearings except where national security prevents it.

3. A transcript of the   public hearings will be available to the public.

4. Lord Hutton delayed a decision on the issue of televising the proceedings until the inquiry reconvenes on 11 August.

5. Lord  Hutton  will allow cross-examination where  he deems it necessary.

6. Those called before the committee will be allowed to use legal representation.

7.  Lord  Hutton will call, amongst others,   Blair,  Straw,  Campbell, Hoon,  MoD civil servants,  BBC members including Gavin Davies  and  Dr Kelly’s widow to give evidence.

8. Lord Hutton has the post-mortem report compiled by a Dr Hunt.  This suggests  death was due to bleeding.  However,  it also  revealed  that Kelly  had  serious coronary disease and this may have  contributed  to the  speed of his death.  Intriguingly,  Kelly had four electrode  pads such  as  are  used  for  ECGs on his  chest  (I  have  ECGs  performed regularly. Occasionally the technician will forget to remove an odd pad but it is pretty rare.  Moreover,  if they do forget it is very obvious that they have done so – RH ).

9. Dr Kelly’s wrist was described as having several cuts and the watch had been taken after bleeding had begun. Dr Hunt, rather oddly, took this as an indication that it was suicide.

10. Lord Hutton will call both medical evidence on Dr Kelly’s physical state and psychiatric advice as to what his state of mind might have been.

11. Lord Hutton will seek details of what  religious tenets the Baha’i faith  might  have  which could have affected Dr  Kelly’s  attitude  to death.

12. Lord Hutton will consider submissions from anyone who thinks they have useful information to give. (This is my note taken directly from his broadcast address. RH)

-Note: I rang them today and attendance for the public is first come first served on the day. I know court 73. It is not large. There will be places reserved fro the  media, so public seats will be very limited.

No schedule of hearing dates is yet available.  RH

http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk

Hearing Dates

For public attendance enquiries, please contact the Hutton Inquiry team on 0207 855 5295 .

For Press attendance enquiries, please contact Mike Burrell on 0207 210 8692.

Unless otherwise noted all hearings will take place in Courtroom 73 at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

At the opening of the Kelly Inquiry, Lord Hutton  stated that the four ECG electrode pads  found on Kelly’s chest had been placed there by the ambulance staff  who had attended the discovery of his body. They supposedly put them on the chest to allow them to test for any heart action.

So, we are asked to believe that it takes three weeks for this explanation to come to light  – surely the ambulance staff  would have come forward rapidly?  Moreover, would paramedics check for heart activity in this manner? Is it normal practice? Opinion in the main British ngs seems to be that it is within the competence of paramedics but not routine practice.  RH

Whose in for a grilling this week from the Hutton Inquiry ?

http://www.the-hutton-inquiry.org.uk/

The inquiry does not sit on Fridays. Day 5 will be next Monday.  During WC 18 Aug  Alastair Campbell and Tom Kelly (No 10 spokesman  who called David Kelly a Walter Mitty) will appear. RH

THE INQUISITORIAL PHASE

WEEK  1

The Hutton Inquiry day 1 – 11  8 2003

At the opening of the Kelly Inquiry, Lord Hutton  stated that the four ECG electrode pads  found on Kelly’s chest had been placed there by the ambulance staff  who had attended the discovery of his body. They supposedly put them on the chest to allow them to test for any heart action.

So, we are asked to believe that it takes three weeks for this explanation to come to light  – surely the ambulance staff  would have come forward rapidly?  Moreover, would paramedics check for heart activity in this manner? Is it normal practice? Opinion in the main British ngs seems to be that it is within the competence of paramedics but not routine practice.

Two other important points.

(1) It was confirmed that  Kelly was a high level state employee who  was THE British expert in his field,  who had  top level  security clearance  and   who  worked  with the  security  services  of  various countries. Ergo, he had every reason both to know what the WMD evidence was and to have knowledge of intelligence service dissatisfaction with the dossier.

(2) he was a disappointed man who may well have felt moved to tell  the truth to Andrew Gilligan out of pique at what he saw was a lack  of official recognition. RH

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The Hutton Inquiry day 2 – 12 9 2003

The BBC reporter, Andrew Gilligan, stood by his story that Kelly had raised  the subject of the dubious nature of some of  the  intelligence and the name of Campbell but admitted some of his language in one Today interview  was unfortunate – he  suggested that the government knew the 45-minute warning was wrong when it was merely dubious because it came from a single source.

The  Newsnight  reporter,   Susan  Watts,  also  gave  evidence   which supported Gilligan’s story in its main details,  the 45-minute  source, Campbell’s involvement etc.

Watts’ tape of her meeting with Kelly is to be broadcast to the Inquiry today. RH

——————————————–

The Hutton Inquiry day 3 – 13 9 2003

The main entertainment of the day was the Newsnight presenter Susan Watt’s  tape of a meeting she had had with Kelly. Unfortunately the tape was of poor quality  and even with technical enhancement was unclear in parts.

An  interesting  development  was   conflict  between  Watts  and   her employers  (the BBC).  The BBC had a transcript of the tape made  which Watts  was  not  satisfied with and she made  her  own  which  differed places  where she used “her recollection of the meeting”  to  “clarify” indistinct passages.

Watts  claimed that BBC management had tried to  pressurise her into massaging  her  story  to agree with Andrew  Gilligan’s   and  she  had refused   to   do  so.   (Interestingly,  Watts  has  her   own   legal representation at the hearing, reputedly paid for by the BBC).

Despite Watts claims about BBC management’s attempts to tailor her story, the odd thing was that the tape  essentially told the same story as Gilligan had told – Kelly is to heard saying that the British intelligence bods  are unhappy with the treatment of their material and that No 10 is the point at which it was  mistreated –  with the exception of claiming directly that Campbell had doctored the story.

Even here the difference is  less  than decisive.  On the tape Kelly is to  heard  saying  that  the NO 10 press  office  was  responsible  for altering  the dossier.  When Watts asks him if Campbell was involved, Kelly says he cannot say that but adds that  the No 10  press office is “Synonymous with Campbell” because he runs it.

Bizarrely,  Watts interprets  this as a clear statement  that  Campbell had  not  part  in altering the balance and tone of  the  dossier  with regard  to the 45-minute warning.  To  most people,  including me,  it looks  like a routine oblique finger-pointing at Campbell by  Kelly  “I can’t name him but nudge, nudge, wink, wink…”

Very odd behaviour by Watts, suggesting she had been got at by either the security services or NuLabcur.

The  question also has to be asked,  if the BBC did try to get  her  to massage  her  story,  why  on earth did  they  bother?  Her  story  and Gilligan’s  did not contradict one another in any fundamental  way  and her  tape   supported   Gilligan’s  on all the  major  points   of  his original story. RH

——————————————–

The Hutton Inquiry day 4 – 14 9 2003

The main interest  on day 4 was the involvement of the Government, MoD and by implication, the intelligence services, in exposing Kelly to public scrutiny.

The permanent under secretary at the MoD, Sir Kevin Tebbit, advised that Kelly appear only before the Commons Security and Intelligence committee – which meets in private – and not before the Foreign Affairs Committee which holds public hearings. He was overruled by Geoff Hoon, the Defence Minister.

Kelly  was  called to two internal MoD disciplinary  meetings.  At  the first  he  was “read the riot act” .  The second took  place  after  Blair wanted  a further examination of the  discrepancies  between Gilligan  and Kelly’s account of what was said.  Mr Velveteen’s  wishes were committed to paper in a letter from Sir David Omand,  the  Cabinet

Office  co-ordinator  of  intelligence.  At  the  disciplinary   second interview, Kelly was interviewed by the MoD head of personnel,  Richard Hatfield.

The head of the Joint Intelligence Committee , John Scarlett, wanted Kelly subjected to a “security-style” interview to “clarify” inconsistencies in Kelly’s remarks. This never took place. Kelly was told at his first disciplinary interview that if further details came out which contradicted his original story, he could face further disciplinary action. However, on 14 July, three days before Kelly’s death,  a friend of Kelly’s a  foreign office employee, Patrick Lamb,   phoned Kelly to assure him that his pension was safe and added “David, the worst is over. You have nothing to fear.

Kelly was receiving phone calls and emails from the MoD hierarchy right up to his death, including one from his line manager Brian Wells, after Kelly had gone for his final walk.   RH

Other Kelly news in the week:

The Kelly Inquest was resumed yesterday, 14 August, by the Oxfordshire coroner, Nicholas Gardiner, to hear medical evidence not available at the previous hearing.

An amended cause of death was submitted. This stated that Kelly’s death was from a  “massive haemorrhage”  from the left wrist, compounded by furred arteries, which Kelly probably did not know about. An overdose, but not a fatal one, of co-proxamol was found in his body.

One can understand that tests for drugs would take time, but why would death through massive haemorrhaging not have been immediately obvious from the post mortem?

Also, how likely is massive haemorrhaging likely to take place from a cut to a single wrist? RH

——————————————–

WEEK 2

Monday, 18 August

Pam Teare Ministry of Defence Press Office

Jonathan Powell Prime Minister’s Office

David Manning Prime Minister’s Office

Tuesday, 19 August

Alastair Campbell  Prime Minister’s Office

David Manning Prime Minister’s Office

Wednesday, 20 August

Sir Kevin Tebbit Ministry of Defence

Godric Smith Prime Minister’s Press Office

Tom Kelly Prime Minister’s Press Office

Thursday, 21 August

Donald Anderson MP Foreign Affairs Select Committee

Nick Rufford Sunday Times, journalist

James Blitz Financial Times, journalist

Richard Norton-Taylor Guardian, journalist

Tom Baldwin The Times, journalist

Lee Hughes Hutton Inquiry Secretariat

The Hutton Inquiry Day 5 –  18 8 2003

– Jonathan Powell, Blair’s  chief of staff appeared, Sir David Manning,  Blair’s chief foreign policy advisor and Pam Teare, MoD director of news, appeared.  Main points:

1.  Powell admitted no consideration was given to  the effect on  Kelly on being forced into the public fold – failure of an employer’s duty of care.

2. An email sent by Powell  before the  Sept 2002 dossier was published and referring to an earlier draft, ran: “The  document does nothing to demonstrate a threat, let alone an imminent threat from Saddam Hussein.

In other words it shows he has the means but it does not demonstrate he has the motive to attack his neighbours, let alone the West.”  Clear evidence that the original draft was altered to demonstrate a political point rather than an interpretation of the raw intelligence.

3. On Sept 5 2002 Alastair Campbell chaired a meeting of the Iraq Communications  Group.  Afterwards Powell emailed Campbell asking  what was going on. Campbell replied: “Re dossier, substantial rewrite,  with JS  [John  Scarlett,  chairman of JIC] and Julian M [Miller ,  head  of Cabinet  Office  Assessment staff] in charge…Structure  as  per  TB’s[Tony Blair's] discussion.”

4. On July 7 2003 Balir  called a meeting of Sir David Manning, Sir Kevin Tebbit (MoD permanent Secretary), John Scarlett (chairman of Joint Intelligence Committee), Jack Straw (Foreign Secretary), Alistair Campbell, Jonathan Powell and others to discuss the matter.

5.Blair  was concerned about Kelly might say before the committee, ie that he would say something at odds with the official Government  line on the dossier –  Powell: “The Prime Minister asked what do we know of Dr Kelly’s views on weapons of mass destruction?” Kelly was probably only allowed to go to the FAC after Balir  had been reassured that Kelly was a supporter of the invasion.

6.  An email from Tom Kelly, the No 10 press spokesman,  was introduced to the evidence.  It read ”  It is now a game of chicken with the  BBC. The only way they will shift is if they see the screw tightening.”

7. Kelly reviewed the final draft of the Sept 2002 dossier with defence intelligence staff.

8. Powell admitted that Kelly’s identification to the media was done to disprove the BBC story. At the time  Blair and co.  were unaware of Kelly’s   deep  involvement in the intelligence side of the  dossier.

Because of this No 10 believed exposing Kelly would discredit  Gilligan as  Kelly could not possibly have known what the dossier  contained  or the  disputes which had arisen between the intelligence people  and  No 10.  If true,  it reveals an incredible ineptitude by Blair and co.  in not establishing Kelly’s true status and knowledge before throwing him to the media.

Further material:

From:  Jonathan Powell

Sent:  17 September 2002 19.41

To:  Scarlett John – SEC – A

Cc:  Alastair Campbell; David Manning

Subject:  Dossier

The  dossier  is good and convincing for those who are prepared  to  be convinced.  I have only three points,  none of which affect the way the document is drafted and presented.  First the document does nothing  to demonstrate a threat, let alone an imminent threat to Saddam.

In other words it shows he has the means but it does not demonstrate he has  the  motive to attack his neighbours let alone the west.  We  will need  to make it clear in launching the document that we do  not  claim that  we have evidence that he is an imminent threat.  The case we  are making  is that he has continued to develop WMD since 1998,  and is  in breach  of  the  UN resolutions. The  international  community  has  to enforce those resolutions if the UN is to be taken seriously. Second we will be asked about the connections with Al Que’ada.  (The next section is blanked out but seems to start with) The dossier says nothing  about those  and TB will need…?  ( it continues) Third,  if I was Saddam  I would take a party of western journalists to Ibn Sina factory or one of the  others  pictured in the document to demonstrate there  is  nothing there. How do we close off that avenue to him in advance.

———————-

Second email

———————-

From:  Jonathan Powell

Sent:  5 September 2002 14.41

To:  Alastair Campbell

Subject:  RE

what is the timing on preparation of it and publication? Will TB have something he can read on the plane to the US? —original message— From: Sandra Powell On Behalf Of Alastair Campbell

Sent:  5 September 2002 14.38

To:  Alastair Campbell

Subject:

Re dossier, substantial rewrite, with JS and Julian M in charge, which JS will take to US next Friday, and be in shape Monday thereafter.

Structure as per TB’s discussion. Agreement that there has to be real intelligence material in their presentation as such.

—original message—

From:  Jonathan Powell

Sent:  5 September 2002 13.50

To: Alastair Campbell

Subject:

( A blank section, then)

What did you decide on dossiers?

——————————————–

The Hutton Inquiry day 19 8 2003

The Inquiry  devoted  most the day to questioning  Alastair Campbell. Campbell’s performance can be summed up  as  er, didn’t see that… er can’t remember… er… if I’d known them what I know now… er… 1. References to dossiers in emails to Campbell, from Campbell, between other No 10 staff,  before a meeting  on 5 Sept 2002 between Campbell and various MoD and FO officials were, Campbell said, not references to drafts of the dossier but, wait for it, “documents”.

2.  At the meeting of 5 Sept 2002,  Campbell claims that it was decided to create a new dossier. Challenged by Lord Hutton – “It looks like a fairly detailed draft dossier [Mr Campbell]” – about his email to Jonathan Powell of 5 Sept that ran “Re dossier, substantial rewrite, with JS [John Scarlett, chairman of JIC] and Julian M [Miler, head of Cabinet  Office  Assessment staff] in charge…Structure  as  per  TB’s [Tony  Blair's] discussion…”  Campbell replied “I don’t  recall  this document  forming a substantial part of our discussions [on  writing  a new dossier].  In other words, a an earlier draft dossier did exist and Campbell must have had sight of it.

3. Various emails relating to the early drafts of the dossier  were introduced into the evidence,  for example,  an email from David Pruce, an FO press officer working in no 10, called for the dossier to be “personalised” and concentrate on Saddam Hussein. In another mail to Philip Bassett, a special adviser in Downing Street, Pruce  wrote ” I think we are in a lot of trouble as this stands.” Campbell claimed that he had either not seen  the emails or they were disregarded because the people sending them were acting above their station.

4. A week before publication, Campbell asked the Joint Intelligence Committee for 15 changes to the re-written dossier.  The JIC accepted some and refused others. The question has to be asked, if intelligence is to be trusted, why should politicians and their creatures have any influence into its presentation?

5. Campbell admitted that it was in his interest for Kelly to have been identified.

6.  Campbell said that with out old friend hindsight things could have been handled better in presenting Kelly to the media.

7. Campbell claimed that Blair had told him to “stand back” from the question of what to do about Kelly after Kelly had admitted that he might be Gilligan’s source.

8.  An email from the BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan to a Lib Dem  member of  the  Foreign  Office  select  committee,  David  Chidgey,   MP  for Eastleigh,  has come to light.  This suggested that Chidgey  ask  Kelly certain  questions  when he appeared before  the  committee,  including Kelly’s assessment of the threat  from Iraq saying with Gilligan saying that  :   “If  [Kelly  is]  allowed  to  answer  frankly  it  will   be devastating.”  RH

——————————————–

The Hutton Inquiry Day 7  20 8 2003

No 10 mediafolk Tom Kelly and Godric Smith official (title: The Prime Ministers   Official  Spokesman)   and  Sir  Kevin  Tebbit,   permanent secretary at the MoD, provided the main entertainment of the day.

Tom Kelly

1. Kelly was the No 10 creature who called David Kelly a “Walter Mitty fantasist”.  Asked why he had described him so, Kelly said: “it was a mistake to be sucked into that conversation  in that climate.” Not ashamed or morally wrong, but simply an error of tactics. Kelly claimed he had been speaking off the record.

2. Asked if he was trying to plant an impression in journalists minds, Kelly said:” I wanted journalists to be aware of possible questions and issues from the government’s perspective.”

Godric Smith (Smith has already announced that he would be leaving No 10’s employment before the Kelly story broke).

1. Smith related how he had overheard a conversation between Alastair Campbell  and the defence secretary Geoff Hoon (on speaker phone) in which Campbell suggested that  “the news that an individual had come forward who could be  the possible source be given that evening  to one paper”.  This rather destroys Campbell’s claim in evidence yesterday that he had kept well away from the Kelly affair on Blair’s orders.

2. Asked why drafts of the Sept 2002 dossier had landed on the desks of relatively junior press officers when it was supposedly “owned” by the intelligence services, Smith said “It is not unknown fro drafts of documents to be circulated”.  Compare this with Campbell’s assertion that the oversight of the dossier was kept within senior advisors and civil servants.

Sir Kevin Tebbit

1. Tebbit confirmed that  Geoff Hoon had overridden his wish to keep away from the Foreign Affairs select committee. On being asked how he felt about it, Sir Kevin replied: ” I acquiesced. It’s perfectly reasonable for ministers to decide who appears before  committees, not for officials. That was the secretary of state’s prerogative and I accepted that.”

2. Tebbit advised ministers that Kelly should not be treated as a “windfall bonus”.

3. Lord Hutton asked why, after the Foreign Affairs committee had exonerated Campbell  of the charge of deliberately putting in false

evidence and the BBC  had accepted that Campbell had not done so,  that it  was necessary to expose Kelly to public view.  Sir  Kevin  replied: “The pressure and strain issue was not one we were aware of in the sense you are implying,” A clear failure of an employer’s duty of care.

4. Sir Kevin said that he had had no input into the dossier whatsoever, an amazing thing if true as he is in charge of the MoD.  Taking his statement as true, it means the dossier responsibility  was kept strictly within No 10 and the intelligence agencies.

Other news

Documents released by the Inquiry yesterday showed that Campbell had urged a change to the text of the “45-minute warning”, changing a “may” to an “are” in the original se text.  The change was ostensibly to ensure that the summary and the main text agreed in sentiment.  Compare this  with  his  claim  to  the  Inquiry  that  he  had  no   influence “whatsoever” in the wording of the claim of 45 minutes deployment.

The Foreign Affairs committee have also complained that Campbell only mention  11  of  his   15 suggested  changes to  the  dossier  when  he appeared before them. RH

——————————————–

The Hutton Inquiry days  8 – 22 August 2003

The main players were Donald Anderson, the chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) and a surprise witness, David Broucher, a British FO diplomat who is Britain’s permanent representative to the Conference of Disarmament in Geneva, an ambassador rank posting.

Donald Anderson

1. Anderson said that his instincts were against calling Kelly at all because he did not want to get involved in the dispute between the Government and the BBC. He agreed that  Kelly should appear after Blair and Campbell made it clear they were determined he should appear.

2. Anderson revealed that the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon had imposed conditions on the questions David Kelly  could be asked if he appeared before the FAC. These included the issue of Iraq’s WMDs. Anderson said that he agreed to the request because he thought it reasonable and also feared Kelly would not be allowed to appear at all if he refused Hoon’s request.

3. Anderson claimed that the briefing of an FAC member (David Chidgey) by Gilligan was “unusual and unprecedented” (Chortle). 4. Anderson said that he though the interviewing of Kelly by the committee had been fair overall.

David Broucher

1.  Broucher  met David Kelly in February 2003 before the  decision  to go to war had been officially made. 2.  Broucher  said that at that meeting Kelly ,  far  from  being  100% behind the war as previously claimed,   was seriously disturbed by  the prospect of war.

3. Broucher said Kelly had been telling Iraqi contacts working for Saddam  Hussein that if  they persuaded Hussein  to cooperate  with the weapons inspectors then no invasion would take place. By February Kelly doubted this and feared he would had put his contacts at risk if and when an invasion occurred because Hussein would see them as traitors.

4. Just before the end of their meeting Broucher asked Kelly what he thought would happen if an invasion took place. Kelly replied ” I will probably be found dead in the woods”.  Broucher said he took it as a throwaway  remark  and  thought  little of it,  thinking  if  it  meant anything Kelly feared reprisals by Iraqis against him. Broucher did not mention  it to anyone else at the time,  and only revealed it  to  the Inquiry recently – see email at the bottom of the post.

Assuming Broucher is telling the truth, and there is no obvious reason why  he  should not be,  what are we to make of Kelly’s  statement?  It could  be  indicative  of   either a deep  feeling  of  pending   moral betrayal  by  Kelly  of  his Iraqi  contacts,  he  could,  as  Broucher surmised,  be  afraid of reprisals in the event of an invasion   or  it could simply be a flip remark without Kelly meaning anything serious by it.

If Kelly was in a  suicidal mood or feared for his life from Iraqi  before he became embroiled in the Gilligan affair, he both resisted the urge to kill himself and had the reassurance of not having been attacked for months after the invasion. The suicide and fear  would surely have been diminishing if they existed at all. So,  why would he kill himself in July after he had ostensibly got through the worst of whatever would happen to him? The answer may lie in the “dark actors”

Kelly referred to shortly before his death. Could he have been threatened  by  someone  representing the British state  or  a  foreign power?

Other points

The second  page of Gilligan’s email to LibDem MP David Chidgey   was released. It showed Gilligan trying to steer Chidgey away from Kelly as his source.

David Broucher’s memo to FCO

Text of ‘death in woods’ e-mail

This is the text of an e-mail sent by senior diplomat David Broucher to Patrick   Lamb,  deputy head of counter-proliferation  at  the  Foreign Office on 5 August,  2003, marked confidential and personal.

Patrick,

Is the FCO preparing evidence for the Hutton Inquiry? If so, I may have something relevant to contribute that I have been straining to recover from a  very deep memory hole.

In  a  conversation  in Geneva which took place in  late  February,  he explained to me that he thought that the weapons inspectors could  have a good idea what  the  Iraqis had built and destroyed because they were inveterate keepers of written  records, something they had, he thought, learnt  from  us.  There was a paper file on  everything  down  to  the smallest item.

He said that his Iraqi contacts had pointed out to him that revealing too  much  about their state of readiness might well heighten the  risk that they would be attacked. To gain their trust he had been obliged to assure them that if they  complied with the weapons inspectors’ demands they would not be.

The implication was that if an invasion went ahead that would make  him a liar and he would have betrayed his contacts,  some of whom might  be killed  as a  direct result of his actions.  I asked what would  happen then  and  he replied in a  throwaway line he would probably  be  found dead in the woods.

I did not think much of this at the time, taking it to be a hint that the Iraqis might try and take revenge against him,  something that  did not  seem  at  all  fanciful then.  I now see that  he  may  have  been thinking on rather different  lines.

This aspect has not come out at all in the press, though for all I know it  may  be common knowledge amongst his colleagues,  in which case  my contribution would add nothing. But if it is a new thought,  perhaps it should be fed in.

——————————————–

WEEK 3

The Hutton Inquiry day 9 –  25 August 2003

The  Joint  Intelligence  Committee  (JIC)  chairman,   John  Scarlett, provided  the  main event of the day.  Labour MP  Andrew  Mackinlay,  a Foreign  Affairs  Committee (FAC)  member,  and Sir David Omand  of  the cabinet office also appeared.

John Scarlett

Note:  Scarlett’s   evidence  should  be read  in  the  knowledge  that Alastair Campbell described him to the inquiry as “a mate”.   It should also be remembered that Scarlett is a senior civil servant. Such people do not rise to their positions unless they are thought to be compliant personalities  as  far as politicians are concerned.  The  Yes  Minster  portrayal  of   politicians being terrified of civil  servants  is  the exact reverse of the truth. (I write as an ex-head office civil servant in one of the largest departments). Newspaper reports also describe Scarlett as being very close to Blair and  being a “moderniser” within MI6 when he worked there.  (Moderniser = Blairite)

Scarlett’s approach to the Inquiry is essentially keep repeating the mantra “I was placed under no pressure by No 10″ whilst conveniently forgetting evidence to contrary.

1.  Scarlett  denied  feeling any pressure from No  10  to  alter   the wording of the Sept 2002 dossier.

2.  The Inquiry’s chief counsel,  James Dingemans QC,  referred  to  an email  sent  by  an (unnamed) member of  Scarlett’s  staff  which  ran: “Unsurprisingly, they [No10] have further questions and answers they want expanded… No 10 wants the document to be as strong as possible…”   Scarlett denied that this was pressure on intelligence services to come up with  something good.

3. Scarlett claimed he found it “quite useful to have presentational advice” from various Whitehall press officers such as John Williams, head of the FCO press office.

4. Alastair Campbell has told the inquiry that with regard to the 45 minute WMD claim,   he had “No input, output  or influence at any stage of the process” . Scarlett contradicted this by admitting that a memo from Campbell on 17 Sept 2003 – seven days  before the dossier was published – amounted to requests for changes such as changing the use may  in the sentence “the Iraqi military may be able to deploy chemical or biological weapons with 45 minutes”. Scarlett  replied the next day to Campbell saying the language had been “tightened”.  Scarlett denied that such changes were more than presentational and fell into the realm of intelligence assessment.

5.  Scarlett received several more emails from Campbell with further suggestions. 6. The 45 minute claim first appeared in an intelligence assessment from MI6 on 30 August and appeared first in dossier in the draft of 5 Sept 2003, ie before Alastair Campbell denies seeing any form of the dossier.

7. In the published dossier the 45-minute claim was unqualified stating that the Iraqi military “are able to deploy chemical and biological weapons with 45 minutes of an order to do so.”

8. Scarlett denied that there had been any dissent  within “the intelligence community” over the dossier  despite the claim by a former JIC head, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, that the dossier had caused “turbulence” within intelligence circles.

9. During his questioning, reference was made to a Defence Intelligence Staff (DIS) meeting to discuss the strong terms in which an early draft was  couched.   David Kelly attended that meeting  which  supports  his claim to have inside and detailed knowledge of the dossier  development and the opinion of intelligence officers of the dossier and the way  it was being changed.   Kelly;s involvement at such a high level conflicts with Scarlett’s  claim that Kelly could not have given the information Gilligan claims he gave.

Andrew MacKinlay

1. Mackinlay  was the MP who described Kelly as “chaff” at his  FAC appearance.

2.  MacKinlay defended  his  aggressive FAC questioning  because  Kelly was prevaricating.

3.  MacKinlay described Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon’s  restriction  on what could be asked of Kelly  by the FAC as ” monumental cheek”.

4. He criticised Gilligan’s contact with a FAC member to influence him in his questioning of Kelly.

Sir David Omand

1. Omand revealed that Geoff Hoon had originally wanted Kelly to appear before the Commons  security and intelligence committee in public session, a procedure absolutely out of the ordinary for this committee which almost invariably sits in camera.

2. Omand admitted that the MoD owed Kelly a duty of care as their employee.

What has the Inquiry shown so far?

1.  The complete absence of cabinet involvement in either  the  dossier

or

the Kelly affair before his death.

2. Blair’s utter reliance on an unelected circle of favourites.

3. No  obvious trigger for Kelly to kill himself has emerged.

——————————————–

The Hutton Inquiry day 10 – 27 8 2003

The Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon provided the main entertainment of the day.  Having  arrived  to a crowd of demonstrators  outside  the  Royal Courts of Justice singing “You ain’t nothing but a Hoondog,  lyin’  all the  time”,   Hoon  proceeded  to  unwittingly  engage  in   the   most excoriating  exercise in self humiliation as he comprehensively  denied having  any  meaningful  function within either the Government  or  the ministry of which he is supposed to be in  charge.  His performance can be summed up as “I am a British cabinet minister… I know nothing”.

Others to appear were  a friend and work colleague, Wing-Commander John Clark and a Labour MP, Ann Taylor, who is a member of the Commons Intelligence and Security committee to which David Kelly gave evidence in camera.

Geoff Hoon

1. Hoon said that he had first learned of Kelly’s name on 4 July from Sir Kevin Tebbit, permanent secretary at the MoD.

2. Hoon claimed that he had not wanted to name Kelly before it was certain that he was the BBC source and that was not certain until after Kelly’s death.

3. Hoon said that the only person outside government to whom he had revealed the name was the chairman of the BBC,  Gavyn Davies, and that revelation was

4. Hoon denied he was involved in a proposal by Alastair Campbell to leak  Kelly’s name to the media. Godric Smith gave evidence that he had overheard  a conversation on speakerphone between Campbell  and Hoon in which Campbell suggested leaking to a paper.

5. Hoon denied he had been involved in  the MoD decision to interview Kelly after he had admitted talking to Gilligan.

6. Hoon claimed that the decision to issue a public statement revealing that an unnamed civil servant had been identified as the BBC source was made in Downing St and the Cabinet Office.

7. Hoon denied that as far as he was concerned, “there was some sort of conspiracy, some sort of plan, some sort of plan to covertly make his [Kelly's] name known [to the media]“.

8. Hoon claimed that he had not seen the instructions issued to MoD press  officers   instructing them to confirm a name if it was  put  to them by the media,  although under questioning  he admitted knowing  of its existence; “I was obviously aware of the advice that I had received that  if the right name was given to the MoD press office  they  should confirm it”.

9. Hoon admitted he had overridden the advice of the MoD permanent secretary, Sir Kevin Tebbit, that Kelly should not give evidence in public before the Foreign Affairs Committee, but, bizarrely, tried to evade responsibility by saying that his private secretary. Peter Watkins,  had written the letter overruling Tebbit, not Hoon himself.

John Clark

1. Clark shared an office with Kelly at the MoD. He is an expert in counter  proliferation and arms control.  He described Kelly  as  being THE EXPERT when it came to understanding Iraq’s WMD status.

2. Clark said  that Kelly  had not, as Downing Street and the MoD claimed, resigned to his name being made public.

3. Clark said that Kelly was much disturbed by having to appear before TV cameras.

4. Clark said that the Kelly’s were  greatly unsettled by  the media attention which forced them to flee to Cornwall.

5. Clark said that even after Kelly’s  appearances before the Commons committees, he [Clark] and other MoD officials were forced to harry

Kelly  with further questions  sent to them by the Foreign Affairs Committee.

6. Clark said that Kelly was utterly thrown by the FAC question about the Newsnight  journalist, Susan Watts, because he had not expected her name to come up.

Ann Taylor

1. Taylor said that in evidence given in camera to the Intelligence and Security Select Committee, “He [Kelly] did describe the dossier as accurate  – as a fair reflection of the intelligence available at the time.” RH

——————————————–

The Hutton Inquiry day 11 –  28 8 2003

The appearance of  Tony Blair and  Gavyn Davies (BBC Chairman)

Tony Blair

Balir arrived with his usual small  army of bodyguards in a bullet-proof car (very wise) and passed a group of demonstrators with a tasteful array of Blair  masks with Pinocchio noses and BLIAR placards.

His evidence is best  summed  up as  “I take full responsibility for everything  but none of it was my fault. “

1. Blair gave evidence for two and a half hours.  His answers showed he had been intimately involved in the strategy to deal with the Kelly affair after Kelly admitted he had spoken to Andrew Gilligan – Blair convened at least 3 meetings   in four days of senior defence and intelligence staff to deal with the matter.   Compare this with http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=438133

“Just over five weeks ago, on learning of Dr Kelly’s apparent suicide during  an  official  flight  from Shanghai to  Hong  Kong,  the  Prime Minister had  “categorically” and “emphatically” denied he had played a part in revealing  the scientist’s name…

“But the Prime Minister, under questioning, conceded that no one was even  present from the MoD at a crucial meeting on 8 July, chaired by him, in which the decision was taken to issue a statement about a civil servant  coming forward as Mr Gilligan’s contact. He also acknowledged there was no such thing as “normal MoD procedure” in this unusual situation.”

2. Bizarrely, Blair claimed that the MoD had been left in charge of dealing  with  Kelly  while  admitting  that  he  had  been  intimately involved.

3. Blair claimed that Kelly’s name would have come out regardless. This is nonsense. Had Kelly kept quiet, Gilligan would have done and nothing could have been established. Had the MoD and No 10 kept quiet after Kelly came forward (I have my doubts whether he did this – I suspect he was  already  under  surveillance and  suspicion  by  Special  Branch), Gilligan  would  have kept quiet and no one outside  Government   would have known Kelly was involved.

4. Blair said the Sept 2002 dossier was produced after he had spoken with Bush about Iraq and they had decided “something must be done”.

5. Blair had the same  memory lapses as Campbell, Hoon et al. He had no recollection of seeing any draft dossier before  10 Sept. He had no recollection of John Scarlett (JIC chairman) wanting Kelly to be subjected to a “security interview”. He had no knowledge of any scheme to leak Kelly’s name to the media. In fact he could remember precious little of anything which happened.

6. Blair denied categorically that he or anyone else in NO10 had inserted the “45 minutes” notice of biological and chemical attack into the Sept 2002 dossier.

7. Blair said that if the charge of tampering with intelligence, in particular the 45-minute charge,  to justify action against Iraq  had been true he would have had to resign because it was “an attack that went to the heart of the office of prime minister, but also …to the credibility of the country.” (Note to  Mr Velveteen: you must resign immediately because this has been objectively  established).

8. Blair claimed the  dossier did not make the case for war but merely laid out the then position regarding Iraq’s WMDs.

9.  On  four  occasions Blair he said  he  took  “full  responsibility” without saying what it was exactly he took full responsibility for, but claimed  that all the decisions  he was responsible for were the  right decisions:  “I take full responsibility for the decisions…I stand  by them; I believe they were the right decisions.” (I suggest readers have a quick lie down after reading that).

10. Blair admitted he was the first person to  tell someone in Government that  a  source had come forward when he spoke to Gavyn  Davies.  Blair said that he felt that the only way to resolve the dispute with the BBC was for the BBC to issue “a clear and unequivocal# statement that the original story was wrong.

11. Blair was disconcerted by an email sent by Godric Smith, his official spokesmen, to his private secretary, Clare Sumner on 9 July, the day after the MoD had announced it had identified the possible source of Gilligan’s story. . Miss Sumner claimed that she had not opened the email until w/c 18 Aug. The purpose of the email appeared to be to instruct Labour members of the FAC to insist  David Kelly appeared. The text of the email runs:

“In the light of the new evidence from the MoD last night and the BBC’s own statement in response we believe we need to see AG [Andrew Gilligan], RS [Richard Sambrook, the BBC news chief] and source.

“If the individual who has come forward is the same source as the BBC source then we know he is not a senior intelligence source, which we believe could be material to our inquiry.

“”AG  said in answer to John Maples [a tory on the committee]  that  he had  only discussed the WMD dossier with one source before   the  story was  broadcast.  We  now  know from the MoD  statement  that,  if  this individual  is not the source,  that statement cannot be correct.  This too could be material to our inquiry.”

There  was  no indication on the email to whom it had been  sent  apart from Miss Sumner,  but the wording is clearly intended to give the  FAC reasons to call Kelly. Blair denied any knowledge of the  email.

Gavyn Davies

1. Davies apologised for the conduct of Andrew Gilligan in suggesting questions to a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.  The matter  is to be referred to the BBC board of governors.

2. Davies said it was wrong for a journalist to reveal a source of another  journalist’s  work  as  Gilligan  appeared  to  have  done  by revealing Kelly’s link with Susan Watts, the BBC Newsnight presenter, in his email to  a Lib Dem research assistant  who passed the information to Lib Dem MP, David Chidgey. Davies offered a partial excuse for Gilligan’s behaviour by saying that Gilligan was under great pressure and thought the  FAC was trying to discredit him as a journalist.

3. Davies blamed Alastair Campbell for keeping the story running and expanding it with his belligerent appearance before the FAC.

4. Describing his phone call with Blair on 7 July, Davies said that Blair wanted to come to an agreement with the BBC to lower the temperature. This did not happen because the BBC stood by Gilligan.

5. Davies said it was reasonable for the BBC to report a source who was trusted on the basis that it was simply their opinion and not that of the BBC.

6. Davies accepted that Gilligan had made a mistake in his first broadcast  of 29 May when he claimed that the Government  had  inserted the  45-minute claim into the dossier.  Asked by Lord Hutton   why  the BBC had not offered a qualified withdrawal,  Davies replied that it was up to people to make their assessment of what was said.

7. Davies said that Gilligan reporting style was one written in primary colours not in shades of grey.

8. Davies did make a reasonably convincing display of regret at Kelly’s death, unlike anyone on the NuLabcur side to date. RH

——————————————–

WEEK 4

The Hutton Inquiry – Day 12 – 1 9 2003

The  day  was  taken up by David Kelly’s widow,  Janice,  58,  daughter Rachel  and sister,  Mrs Sarah Pope.   Mrs Kelly and Rachel gave  their evidence via audiolink.

Janice Kelly

I.  Mrs Kelly said that it was part of her husband’s job to talk to the media.

2.   Mrs Kelly noticed a change in her husband’s behaviour towards  the end   June – the same time when he began to suspect people  thought  he was  Gilligan’s source.  (It is worth noting that  Kelly’s   subsequent claim  that Gilligan’s report bore little relationship to what  he  had told him  sits ill with the suspicion that he was being fingered as the source.  After all, if he had merely given Gilligan innocuous technical information,  why would Kelly have been suspected or thought himself to be suspected?).  Eventually,  Kelly told his wife  one evening that  he was going for a walk to “think something through”.  Soon after he  made his admission to the MoD.

3.   Mrs Kelly contradicted the claim put out by both No 10,  Blair and the MOD,  that Kelly expected to identified. According to Mrs Kelly the first  he suspected it was when he heard on the TV news of 8 July  that the  MoD  had  admitted that someone had  come  forward  as  Gilligan’s source.   Kelly told his wife at that point that he was the person  who had come forward.

Mrs Kelly asked whether his job or pension were threatened.  Kelly said they could be if things got worse. Note:  Kelly was told before he died that his pension was safe.

4.   On 9 July,  a Sunday Times journalist Nick Rufford  visited  their home.   He  spent  four or five minutes with Kelly  before  Kelly  said “Please leave now”.  Kelly then told his wife that Rufford had told him his name was about to be made public and the media would be  on the way en  masse.    Kelly   then  said  Rupert  Murdoch  had  offered   hotel accommodation   for the Kellys away from the then media if Kelly  would write  an  article for them.  Rufford subsequently wrote up  his  brief meeting with Kelly as a full blown interview.  Kelly commented: “Thanks Nick,  the  MoD will think I have been talking to the  papers  after  I expressly said I wouldn’t.”

5. Mrs Kelly said that the first Kelly had known of his name being made public was when Rufford  told him.   The first he knew of the MoD press statement was after the event.

6.  The MoD then rang and told them to leave in five minutes. They left within ten minutes and went to a hotel in Weston-Super-Mare. At no time did the MoD provide them with any active support.

7.   Mrs Kelly said that her husband had felt “let down”:  “He told  me several times that he felt totally let down and betrayed … by the way the  MoD  had  let his name be known.”  Note:  we  know  from  previous evidence   that the MoD  wanted to keep Kelly’s name out the media  but were overridden by No  Blair.

8.  Mrs Kelly described how, after Kelly’s name came out,   he appeared more and more unhappy and “diminished”. He was not only angry about his “outing”  by the MoD but regarded his description  as a middle  ranking civil servant as demeaning.

9.  Mrs Kelly said that on the day of his death,  17 July,  David Kelly worked  in  study  until the early afternoon.  Mrs Kelly  said  he  was subdued  and looked “wretched”…I just thought he had a broken heart ,  he  had  shrunken  into  himself.    He  couldn’t  put  two  sentences together”.

Note: I wonder if I am alone in finding the evidence of Mrs Kelly and her daughter a little Mills and Boonish?

10.  The police informed her of Kelly’s death on the 18 July and showed her  a photocopy of a knife which she identified as an old  Boy  Scouts knife he had had since childhood.

Rachel Kelly

1.  Rachel  said  that  her  father  was  “really  very,  very   deeply traumatised by the fact that [it] would be televised. It was playing onhis  mind.”    When he arrived at her house the day before he  appeared the  Commons committee  she could “see in his face [that] there  was  a lot of distress and anxiety…  he seemed childlike and I was conscious that our roles had reversed, he needed me to look after him.”

2.  Rachel said that when she saw her father  on 15 July soon after  he had  given his evidence to the Commons Foreign Affairs (FAC)  Committee he  was  angry at his treatment describing one of the  MPs  –  probably Andrew MacKinlay who accused him of being a “fall guy” and “chaff” – as “an utter bastard”  for the manner in which he had asked his questions. All  he would say generally about the experience was that it was  “very hard”   and blame himself for memory failures.

3.  Rachel said  that  her father  expressed incredulity at  Gilligan’s report being based on what he had told him. Here we know, from the tape made by the Newsnight reporter, Susan Watts,  that Kelly lied,  just as he  lied to the FAC.   Doubtless he was trying  to create a  protective fictional shell to protect himself, both emotionally and to sustain the story he had told since his admission to his MoD line manager onwards.

3. Rachel described how her father had been rather thrown by the change in his schedule in the Commons.  He was scheduled to appear before  the Intelligence  and  Security  committee (ISC) in camera  before  the  FAC public hearing and had hoped to use the ISC appearance as a dry run for the FAC.  In the event the ISC meeting was put back until the following day  and  Kelly had to go before the cameras with the FAC  without  any “practise”.

Sarah Pope

1.  Mrs Pope said  that David Kelly had,  a  ten years or so after  the event,   given  her  some  sketchy  details  of  his  debriefing  of  a biological weapons expert,  a task Mrs Pope suggested which would  only have been given to someone who was absolutely trusted.

2.   Mrs  Pope pointed to  a possible discrepancy between  the  British Diplomat, David Broucher’s recollection of his meeting with David Kelly at which he said Kelly had claimed that if the Iraq invasion went ahead he would be found dead in the woods. Broucher put this in February 2000.  Mrs Pope said that David Kelly’s diary put it a year earlier.

Further notes

1.  The painkillers found by Kelly were Mrs Kelly’s which she used  for her arthritis.

2.  Judging by a photograph published in the Daily Telegraph on 2 Sept, the  Kellys  own  a substantial detached house.  The  house  is  in  an expensive  area. It must be worth 500,000 plus. Hence, the Kellys were not without assets.

——————————————–

The Hutton Inquiry – Day 13 – 2 9 2003

A  medley of witnesses,  the main among them being Prof  Keith  Hawton, Professor of Psychiatry at Oxford University, Ruth Absolom, a neighbour who met him on his final walk,  Louise Holmes,  a volunteer dog handler in  the  local search and rescue team who found Kelly’s body,  Det  Sgt Geoffrey Webb of Thames Valley Police and Barney  Leith,  the secretary of the emanational Assembly of the Baha’i faith (in Britain).

Prof Keith Hawton

Note:  The kindest and most accurate  description of psychiatry is that it  is  institutionalised quackery.  As the psychologist  Hans  Eysenck never ceased to enjoy pointing out,  psychiatric treatment has no better record  in  curing  those with psychiatric  problems  than  the  simple passing of time,  ie, the evidence is that psychiatrists have no effect and  their claims of cures and alleviations are simply attributable  to the natural process of circumstances changing over time.

1.  Hawton claimed that Kelly’s death was almost certainly suicide:  “I am well-nigh certain.”

2.  Hawton believed the trigger for suicide was Kelly’s  sense of being publicly disgraced,  his fear of losing his job (he was very near civil service   retirement  age)  and the continuing pressure  he  was  being placed  under by the MoD to answer questions,  including  questions  by MPs.   On the day he vanished, he received an email from the MoD asking for  further  information  to answer a question from  the  Tory  Shadow Defence spokesman, Bernard Jenkin, about his links with the media.  Ask by counsel to the inquiry,  James Dingemans,    to describe the factors leading  to his death,  Hawton said: “The major factor was  the  severe loss  of self-esteem  resulting from his feeling that people  had  lost trust in him  and from his dismay at being exposed to the media.”

3.  Hawton said that Kelly had swallowed approximately  30  co-proxamol painkilling  tablets.

Note:  These are meant to his wife’s.  How many tablets did she normally have,  how many were left in the bottle  found by him  and how many would the bottle hold?

4. Hawton said a majority of suicides did not leave a suicide note.

5.  Hawton  claimed  that  a lay person would not  have  been  able  to anticipate Kelly’s suicide from his behaviour.

6. Faced with evidence such as Kelly’s arrangement with his daughter to meet  her on the 18 July and an emails sent at 11.18 am on the  day  of his disappearance which expressed optimism for the future,  Hawton said this pointed to Kelly’s decision to kill himself came late in the  day: “It is my opinion that it is likely that he formed the intention  either during  the morning,  or during the early part of the afternoon  before that walk.”   Dontcha just love the way psychiatrists fit the facts  to

their opinion?

Ruth Absolom

1. Absolom is the last  person known to have seen Kelly alive.

2. Absolom described Kelly as “his normal self”.

3.  “See  you again,  then Ruth”.  The last words of Kelly as  he  bade Absolom goodbye.

Louise Holmes

1.  Holmes said that her dog discovered Kelly shortly after 8am on the day  after his disappearance.   Note: This means the  paradmedics  must have seen Kelly’s body some time later. It is odds on that Kelly  would have killed himself before dark the previous day. If so,  he would have been  dead  for 12 hours or more by the time the  paramedics  saw  him.

Rigor mortis would have begun to set in. Why did the paramedics not see that he was obviously dead and put the ECG pads on him,  if indeed they did?

2. Holmes approached the body until she “stood within a few feet of the body…  He  was  at the base of a tree  with almost his  head  on  his shoulders,  just slumped back against the tree.  His legs were straight in front of his, his right arm was to the side of him, his left arm had a lot of blood on it and was bent back in a funny position.”

Note:  why the “funny” position?

3.  Holmes said that she was convinced the body was Kelly’s and that he was dead.

Note: compare this with the paramedics behaviour.

4.  Holmes checked for signs of life,  found none and the went back  to raise the alarm.  She estimates her time at the scene of death to  have been “probably a couple of minutes”.

5.  A  subsequent  police  search of the scene  revealed  a  flat  cap, glasses,  a wristwatch, a scout knife and a bottle of painkillers.  The police said there was no sign of a struggle.

Det Sgt Geoffrey Webb

1.  Webb interviewed the Kelly family before the body was found.:  “The Kelly family were very upbeat at that time.  They were hopeful that  no harm  had  come to Kelly  and genuinely believed that  perhaps  he  had become ill somewhere.”

Note:  compare this with the evidence yesterday

of Mrs Kelly and Rachel Kelly that David Kelly had been most  disturbed in the days leading up to his death.

2.  Webb told the Inquiry that a photograph dated to 1993 of  Dr  Kelly outside  the  parliament building in Moscow standing with  someone  who looked very like Andrew Gilligan was removed from Kelly’s study.

Note: if  it is Gilligan,  it would mean both Kelly and Gilligan  were  lying about how long they have known one another.  The BBC issued a statement on  Gilligan’s behalf (2 Sept)  saying that Gilligan had never been  in Moscow. No denial from Gilligan himself.

Barney Leith

1.  Leith  said that there was nothing in the Baha’i faith to encourage suicide.

Other notes

1.  Kelly was authorised to speak to the media but in theory only  with official permission.

2.   Kelly  began  “using  his  discretion”   to  speak  without  prior permission,  with the unofficial agreement of his bosses.  According to a  letter from one of Kelly’s line bosses, Patrick Lamb,  this  worked well until the past year, with Dr Kelly telling the Foreign Office (FO) press office about his   contacts after the event. By the beginning  of 2003  Kelly began talking to journalists without telling the  FO.   The MoD also complained that they were not in the picture.

3.  Kelly was only supposed to give technical information or  objective details about individuals engaged in the WMD world, ie,  what their job was.  Section  6  of  the  MoD personnel  manual,  under  the  heading “Principles governing disclosure of information” the manual states “You must  not  comment  on,  or  make  disclosure  of:  classified  or  ‘in confidence’   information;   relations  between  civil   servants   and ministers,  and  advice given to ministers,  politically  controversial issues…information that would conflict with MoD inter-state or  bring the  Civil Service into disrepute…anything that the MoD would  regard as objectionable about individuals or organisation.”  As the  Newsnight reporter, Susan Watt’s tape showed, Kelly had gone way beyond this.

4.  It follows from 3. that Kelly  clearly lied to his superiors in the MoD, the two Commons Committees he gave evidence to and his family.  It also  explains  why he was so disturbed the Foreign  Affairs  Committee member,  Andrew MacKinlay,  pressing him on his other contacts with the media.

5.  Kelly  denial of meeting another journalist,  Gavin  Hewitt,   also comes into the category of a lie.

6.  Kelly was receiving no medication from his GP,  who had very little contact with him in the past few years. No history of depression.

7.  An  unopened  letter  from the MoD’s  head  of  Personnel,  Richard Hatfield containing an official reprimand was found in Kelly’s home. It was sent some days before Kelly’s death. The police opened the letter.

——————————————–

The Hutton Inquiry – Day 14 – 3 9 2003

The  Inquiry  heard  evidence from Brian Jones,  the  recently  retired assistant  director  (nuclear,  chemical  biological)  in  the  Defence Analysis staff and a Mr A (The names A,  James A).  a chemical  weapons analyst  who  was  to chemical weapons what  Kelly  was  to  biological weapons.

Brian Jones

1. Jones said that David Kelly provided expert advice to his staff. He, Jones, had a friendly relationship with Kelly.

2.  Jones  said that the term WMD had become a  “convenient  catch-all” and that it was difficult describe most chemical and biological weapons were dubiously described as such.

3. Jones described disquiet within  his staff and other people involved in  intelligence gathering at the  way  the information supplied to  No

10   had  been  used.   He  described  the  use  of  the  material   as “over-egging”, ie the material was not invented but overemphasised.  As a regular visitor to the department, Kelly was aware of the disquiet.

4.  Jones said that reservations amongst his staff were not  heeded  by the JIC and left out of the dossier.   Jones said of   Mr A (see below) that    “He  was  very concerned that some of  the  statements  in  the dossier did not accurately represent his assessment of the intelligence available to him.”

5. Jones was so concerned at this failure to accept expert opinion that he  wrote  a  formal memo to the MoD’s  Defence   Intelligence  Service putting his disquiet on the record.

6.  Jones  contradicted  Alastair Campbell’s claim  that  he  had  only suggested presentational changes to the dossier.   He  said some of the changes  suggested by Campbell to John Scarlett,  the chairman  of  the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC),  such as the  successful request to strengthen  the  word  “may”  in the  45-minute  claim,  were  normally discussed  between intelligence staff:  “These are the kind  of  things which  we spend  hours  debating.  They are  very  important  in  this business.  The use of a might or a may does convey some uncertainty  in the information you are trying to present.”

7. Jones said that when he went on holiday in 2002  work on the dossier lacked urgency.  When he returned from  holiday on 30/8/02 he found the mood  had changed and it was all hands to the dossier wheel.  “”One  of the  first  things  that  my staff told me was  that  the  dossier  had suddenly become very active and that they had been very busy working on it,  looking at several drafts and responding to drafts in a very short timescale. It really had dominated their workload.”

8.  Jones said that Kelly was one of the first people he  saw  when  he returned from holiday. He asked Kelly his opinion of the dossier. Kelly said he “thought it was good”.

9.  Asked by James Dingemans, chief counsel to the inquiry, whether the extra  workload  had causes complaint amongst  his staff,  Jones  said: “There  was  certainly higher pressure than we normally relate  to  any particular  single piece of work.  My staff were being pressed  to  get their comments back to the assessment staff very quickly indeed.”

10.   Jones  said  neither  he  nor  his  director  had  seen  the  new intelligence  which  supposedly  backed up  the claim   that  Iraq  was producing  chemical and biological weapons.

11.   Jones said the 45-minute claim would have been acceptable to  him with the qualification “intelligence indicates”.

The  executive  summary  to the dossier said  that   the  weapons  “are deployable”. Jones  thought that was  “too strong.”

12.  Jones said he was aware that people within No 10’s  communications department were making suggestions about the dossier. Under  questioning  by Mr Dingemans, admitted that  pressure  had  been brought to bear by No 10.

13. Jones said that to the best of his knowledge the final draft of the dossier had not been discussed by the JIC.

Mr A

1. Mr A said he was a friend of Kelly.

2.  When he read the draft dossier  for the first time Mr A  concluded:  “There were errors of detail and errors of emphasis in my view.”

3.  Mr A was most disturbed by the inclusion of a chemical plant at  Al Qa’Qa which he did not view as a WMD threat.   Mr A was so disturbed by this  inclusion  that  he emailed Kelley on Sept,  the  day  after  the publication of the dossier saying”:  You will recall [blank - who  he?] admitting they were grasping at straws.  Another example supporting our view   that you and I should have been more involved in this  than  the spin  merchants  of this administration. Let’s hope  it  [the  dossier] turns into tomorrow’s chip wrappers.”

Further points

The  evidence  of  Jones and Mr A are utterly at odds with  the  No  10 version  of disquiet over the use of intelligence.    Blair  and  Straw before  the Foreign Affairs committee (FAC)  have denied  categorically that  they  were  aware of any dissent  from  within  the  intelligence services,   while   Alastair Campbell  told the FAC that   “I  remember being  called  out of a breakfast with the Prime  Minister  and  Polish prime  minister  because  I  had to speak  to  John  Scarlett  just  to absolutely  double/triple  check  there was nothing in  this  idea  the intelligence  agencies  were somehow unhappy with the  way  we  behaved during  the thing.  John said,  ‘Absolutely.  It is complete and  utter nonsense and you can say that with my  authority.'”

Scarlett  told  the   Inquiry a week later:  “I was not  aware  of  any unhappiness within the intelligence community about the contents of the dossier and the judgments we were making in it.”

However,  such denials are a little difficult to square with John Reid, the  then leader of the Commons, saying earlier this year that   “there have been uncorroborated briefings by a potentially rogue element –  or indeed  rogue  elements – in the intelligence services…  “I  find  it difficult to grasp why this should be believed against the word of  theBritish  Prime  Minister  and  the  head  of  the  Joint   Intelligence Committee”.

——————————————–

The Hutton Inquiry – Day 15 – 4 9 2003

A  short  day  – Lord Hutton ended the  proceedings  around  1pm.   The Inquiry is now adjourned until 15 Sept. The main players in the abbreviated day were Richard Taylor,  a special adviser  to the Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon,  and The  journalist  Tom Mangold and   a UN arms inspector Olivia Bosch.

Richard Taylor

1.  Taylor said that Kelly was never told his name would be made public in the way it was made public.  Note:  This raises questions about  the truth  of Hoon’s claim that he had never seen the document  instructing MoD press officers how to react to media questions.

2.  Taylor  revealed that Geoff Hoon,  chaired a meeting on 9  July  at which  the  decision to confirm Kelly’s name to journalists  was  made. Hoon  failed  to mention this meeting in his evidence.  Others  at  the meeting were Pam Teare, MoD director of news, and Peter Watkins, Hoon’s permanent secretary.

3. Taylor said that the decision to put Kelly’s name in a letter to the BBC  chairman,  Gavyn  Davies,  was made  at  the  same  meeting.  This contradicts Hoon’s claim that it was Jonathan Powell, chief of staff at No 10, who had made the decision.

4.  Taylor  confirmed  the  name of Kelly  to  a  journalist  from  the Financial Times later in the day (9 July).

5.   Taylor agreed with James  Dingemans, chief counsel to the inquiry, that  he  had never previously confirmed a civil servants name  to  the media in such a manner.

Tom Mangold

1. Mangold used Kelly extensively in preparing his book Plague Wars. He knew Kelly well.   He described Kelly as a “Decent honourable and  well informed man”.

2. Mangold related a conversation he had with Kelly about the 45-minute claim:  We  gossiped  about the 45-minute claim because  I  thought  it seemed risible to me.” Kelly agreed that it was risible and “He [Kelly] did not think that the weapons could be deployed or activated within 45 minutes.”

3.  Mangold  said that identifying Kelly as Gilligan’s source  was  not that  hard  for those interested in the subject because “It is  such  a small  world,  the biological weapons world, and there aren’t many  UK inspectors …I only know four or five. Of those, only he [Kelly] spoke to the press.”

4.   Mangold  emailed  Kelly  before  his  name  was  public  knowledge suggesting  he  might  be Gilligan’s source,  suggesting  it  might  be “Someone i know and admire.”  Kelly replied: “Tom.  Thanks.  Not a good time to be in communication.”

Olivia Bosch

1. Bosch is a former Unscom inspector who got to know Kelly well during that   work.    She  currently  works  for  the  Royal   Institute   of international Affairs and has dealings with the MoD.

2.  Bosch  related  a conversation she had had  with  Kelly  about  his meeting  with Gilligan on 22 May 2003:  “He [Kelly] said he  was  taken aback by the way Andrew Gilligan tried to elicit information from  him. I said:’Yes,  but that is what journalists do.’ But he said that he had never  experienced it in the way that Gilligan had tried to do so by  a name game.”

3.  That “name game”,  Kelly said,  consisted of Gilligan putting names for him to confirm or deny. The first name was that of Gilligan.  Kelly claimed that he merely said “Maybe”.

Note:  this directly  contradicts Gilligan’s  account which has Kelly mentioning Campbell’s name off  his own  bat.  As  Kelly has been shown to be a  liar  before  the  Foreign Affairs  Committee,    and  we  have  the  evidence  of  the  Newsnight journalist  Susan  Watt’s tape in which Kelly mentions  Campbell,   the odds  are  he  lied  to  Bosch  and  was  simply  trying  to  create  a psychologically comfortable version of what happened.

4. Bosch claimed to have had daily conversations with Kelly in the days leading up to his death, during which up to his death.

Note: a possible relationship  between the two?  He mentioned that his pension  and  job might be affected.

We know that Kelly had been told his pension was  safe  before  he died and that he was only months  away  from  the normal civil service retirement age of 60.

5.  Bosch said that Kelly had told her that the question of his  naming had  been raised at in meetings with MoD and that he had been asked  to comment  on  the  press  statement  before  its  release.

Note:   this contradicts  Janice  Kelly’s evidence that Kelly had told  her  he  had assurances  that  his name would not be made public and  that  he  knew nothing  about  the  press release until a few minutes  before  it  was released.   The possibilities that Kelly was either a pathological liar or more probably a man driven to systematic lying by pressure,  have to be considered.

Lord Hutton’s closing statement

1.   Hutton will now spend the next week digesting the evidence to date and  deciding  which  witnesses  should be  recalled  and  whether  new witnesses should be called.

2. Whether witnesses are recalled or not will not be evidence of itself of whether Hutton intends to criticise them in his report.

3.  Hutton has written privately to those witnesses whom at this  stage he intends to criticise.  If they accept his criticism they will not be ecalled unless there is a specific reason for doing so,  eg to clarify a point of fact.  Witnesses who wish to dispute criticism will be given the chance to do so by being recalled.

4.   Hutton stressed that he might well change his view of a particular witness between now and the end of the enquiry depending on what  fresh evidence was given.

Other points

1.  Documents released yesterday included  minutes of a Cabinet  Office meeting  on 18 Sept 2002.  The first item in the minutes is  under  the heading  “Ownership of the dossier”.  It states “Ownership lay with  No 10″.  This contradicts the Joint Intelligence Committee  chairman  John Scarlett’s  claim that ownership of the dossier lay with him until  the approved final text was handed over by him on 20 Sept 2002.

2.  The  minutes were not supplied to the Inquiry when  the  Government  submitted  its  original papers.  A covering note by  the  Government’s solicitors  stated  that  it  was  not  included  because  it  was  not considered “relevant”.

Summary of the four weeks

The first phase of the inquiry is now complete.  What are we to make of it?

1.  It is important to realise the limitations placed on the Inquiry. Hutton  does  not  have the power to compel witnesses  to  appear  or documents to be disclosed. The  documents  released by  No 10, the MoD et  al  are  only what they are prepared   to  release.    Think  how different  it would be if this was a police investigation  with   the power  to  enter premises and seize whatever documents  and  computer equipment they  alighted upon.

2.  The other  serious restrictions are  the fact that witnesses  are not compelled to give witness statements or give their oral  evidence under  oath.  This greatly increases the ability of witnesses to  lie and evade because the witness knows that they cannot be charged  with perjury.   Nor can they be held in contempt.

3.  The absence of  the oath also has had an important  side  effect. The  inquiry  has taken over the  function of the  coroner  and  will perform the inquest on Kelly. This means that unlike a normal inquest the evidence relating to his death will not be taken under oath.

4. Hutton’s hands may have been tied in the matter of oaths,  calling witnesses and seeking documents,  but I also think he has handicapped the inquiry by deciding that the first stage would  be inquisitorial, ie,  witnesses would be allowed to tell their story with a minimum of questioning.

5.  It  is all very well to get people  to  commit  themselves  first before  trying  to  pick  holes in  their  story,  that  is  standard interrogation technique. But it is necessary to pick holes as soon as possible  after the telling of the story to prevent the person  under interrogation being given time to think about what they have said and to  fabricate a defence of any weak points.  Hutton has  allowed  the witnesses ample time to do just that.  The question is why did Hutton decide on this way of conducting the inquiry?

6.  The other administratively weak point so far has been the failure to call people from No 10 who were involved with the dossier but  are further down the pecking order than the likes of Campbell and  Godric Smith.  Subordinates will often panic in such circumstances and spill the beans.

7.  Finally,  apart from John Scarlett,  there was a curious lack  of intelligence  witnesses.  In particular why was the head of  MI6  who gave evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee on the day of  Kelly’s disappearance (17 July), not called?

When  the inquiry resumes,  cross-examination will be allowed.  Counsel not only for the inquiry but for the government,  the BBC and Mrs Kelly (and possibly others) will be allowed to into the proceedings. RH

===============================================================================================

The Hutton Inquiry phase 2 – week 5

Day 16 – 15 9 2003

Phase 2 of the inquiry will allow cross-examination by  counsel for the government, BBC, MoD, Mrs Kelly and others,  eg representing the various witnesses. Apart from James  Dingemans QC, counsel for the inquiry, Jeremy Gompertz QC  will appear for the Kelly family, Andrew Caldecott QC for  the BBC, Heather Rogers, QC, for Andrew Gilligan and  Jonathan Sumption QC for the government. All will be paid  for, one way or the other, by the taxpayer – Mrs Kelly’s  legal expenses are being covered by the taxpayer, while the  BBC is using licence payers’ money to pay their own and  Gilligan’s legal expenses. God alone knows what the cost  will be.

Before witnesses were called counsel for the inquiry, James  Dingemans, outlined the manner in which matters would be  handled. From this statement it is clear that the  cross-examination will be tightly controlled and that the  inquiry will attempt work to a strict timetable, although the  timetable could be breached if Hutton thinks it necessary.  The suspicion must be that any really awkward questions for  the government will suddenly be discovered to be “not  relevant” to the inquiry and cross examination on them  forbidden.

The weakness of the general structure of the inquiry –  information gathering first, followed by a long gap before  cross-examination is obvious, giving as it does plenty of  time to prepare defences to weaknesses or contradictions in a  story.

The people to be recalled will include Alastair Campbell,  Geoff Hoon and John Scarlett (chairman of the Joint  Intelligence Committee) but not Blair. It is possible but  improbable that he could be yet called if further information  is unearthed in this stage of the inquiry suggest he should  be recalled, eg if evidence is brought forward which  contradicts what Blair has said or points to his direct  involvement in something relevant and damaging.

The fact that Blair has not be recalled to be cross-examined  despite the ample evidence that he had a central role in  deciding what to do about Kelly and the BBC is a strong

pointer to the way Hutton will approach the writing of his  report – unless some really dramatic and unambiguous evidence  is unearthed fingering Blair, I predict it will  criticise the likes of Hoon, Campbell and the BBC, but say  nothing about Blair.

The witnesses

The main entertainment of the day was provided by the head of  MI6, Sir Richard Bingham Dearlove, and the Director General  of the BBC, Greg Dyke. Supporting roles came from Tony Cragg,  former deputy chief of defence intelligence, and Sir Joe  French, the chief of defence intelligence.

Sir Richard Dearlove

1. “C” as Dearlove is known (I will leave readers to imagine  what the “C” stands for), gave evidence as a disembodied  voice over an audiolink.

2. Dearlove was not cross-examined – he could in theory be  recalled for it. This points to one of the great weaknesses  of inquiry, its disjointed nature. Dearlove should have been  called in the first stage of the inquiry and then, if he was  to be recalled, cross-examined yesterday before the recalled  witnesses reappear. That would have given the inquiry the fullest information to tax the likes of Campbell with when  they are cross-examined.

3. The appearance by Dearlove is (I think) the first occasion  where such a senior intelligence officer has given evidence  in public. His appearance, together with the considerable  amount of MI6 data made public gives the lie to the claim  beloved of all British governments that security data must be  kept secret. In fact, the vast majority of it, and especially  the analysis, could be made public with no damage to agents  and sources.

4. Dearlove criticised Kelly for having unauthorised contact  with the media declaring himself horrified to discover what  Kelly had done, describing it as a severe disciplinary  breach.

5. Dearlove defended the “45-minute” single source claim,  saying it was from a strong source and that much of  intelligence was “single-sourced”. The original source was  claimed to be a senior Iraqi officer (a brigadier) whose  statement was reported by another Iraqi source.

6. Dearlove denied having any knowledge of dissatisfaction about the dossier within the intelligence services.

7. Dearlove accepts, with the benefit of our old elite friend  “hindsight” , that the “45-minute” claim might have been both  misinterpreted by some as referring to long range weapons and  have been given too much prominence in the dossier.

Tony Craig and Sir Joe French

1. Craig and French admitted they ignored the concerns of  two members of their staff. They also disclosed under  questioning that the concerns went beyond those two, Dr Brian Jones and MR A, a memo of 16 Sept 2002 objecting to the  passage on Iraq’s chemical and biological capacity at that  time as “too strong”.

2. Cragg said that he had not passed on his staffs’ doubts  because he thought they had been resolved at a meeting between  Defence Intelligence Service staff, Cabinet Office officials  and MI6. Consequently, the doubts were never passed to John  Scarlett and the JIC.

3. French supported Cragg and attempted to play down the  significance of the staff who had objected, a rather  difficult thing to do considering the positions they held and  the work they did.

Greg Dyke

1. Dyke adopted the “I am in charge of the BBC; I know  nothing” as a general tactic.

2. Dyke admitted he had not heard Gilligan’s broadcast or  read a transcript of the broadcast until weeks after it was  broadcast – he read a transcript on 5 July 2003.

3. Dyke said that he had been on holiday at the time of the  Gilligan broadcast and he was not really aware of any great  difficulty until after Gilligan and Campbell had appeared before the Foreign Affairs Committee.

4. Asked by James Dingemans how many times a BBC journalist  had given evidence to a Commons select committee in recent  years, Dyke said “I do not know”.

5. Dyke said he believed Alastair Campbell’s general attack on BBC news reporting was pre-planned and that he heightened  the tension by writing to Richard Sambrook, head of BBC News.

6. Dyke said, with our old elite friend hindsight in close  company, that he should have ordered a full investigation  of the matter before responding to Campbell.

Other points

1. A document released by the inquiry headed “Note for the  record”, stated that the writer of the note, the BBC chairman  Gavyn Davies, had been told by an unnamed MP that Alastair  Campbell had hardened up the dossier. The MP claimed an MI6 official had told him this.

The Hutton Inquiry phase 2 week 5

Day 17 – 16 9 2003

A rather quiet day with Martin Howard, the deputy chief of  defence intelligence at the MoD, Kate Wilson, MoD chief press  officer, Nicholas Hunt, pathologist and Det Con Graham Coe,  the first policeman on the scene.

Martin Howard

1. Howard prevented the views and doubts of Dr Jones (A  Defence Intelligence Analyst staff scientist) and those of Mr  A (a chemical weapons specialist) from being presented to the Intelligence and Security Commons Select Committee  (ISC). Asked by Caldecott why  this had been done Howard  replied: “My feeling was that this dealt with internal  correspondence in the DIS [Defence Intelligence Service]  which happened last September… it would not be appropriate  to reveal what was internal correspondence to the ISC.”

Note:  feeble in the extreme. The whole point of the ISC meeting in  public is that it can hear anything.

2. Eventually, after Kelly death, Howard did supply the  information to the ISC. Asked why, he admitted it was simply  due to the establishment of the Hutton Inquiry.

4. Questioned by Gompertz about the procedure for confirming  Kelly’s name to the media, Howard said that he thought  Kelly’s name would have come out regardless of the MoD  procedure, which he justified on the grounds that it allowed  the MoD to be avoid telling a direct lie. He also pointed out  that the failure of Kelly’s name to come into the public  realm would have led to others being suspected by the media.

Gompertz suggested that the MoD was “playing Russian roulette  on Kelly”. Howard unsurprisingly did not agree.

Kate Wilson

1. Wilson denied Andrew Gilligan’s claim that he had warned  the MoD of the story before it was broadcast.

2. Wilson denied that clues to Kelly’s identity had been  given to the media by the MOD.

3. Wilson denied of how the Q and A MoD material was altered.

Nicholas Hunt

1. Hunt described five cuts to the left wrist, with one,  presumably the last, cutting the main artery. Other cuts were  tentative according to Hunt. In Hunt’s opinion the nature and  development of the cuts was consistent with a normal  suicide’s pattern.

2. Hunt said that the overdose of painkillers hastened the  death, as did the hardening of the arteries.

3. There were no signs of a struggle on the body.

4. Hunt described the removal of the watch and spectacles as  also typical of suicide.

Note: The only problem with this  argument is that the first cut or cuts to Kelly’s wrist were  made while, apparently , the watch was still on – blood was  found on the strap.

5. Hunt said that the type of private spot in which Kelly was  found was “often favoured by people intending self-harm”.

Graham Coe

1. Coe found Kelly’s body lying on his back by a large tree:  “I saw blood around his left wrist. I saw a knife like a  pruning knife and a watch.”

Note: how difficult would it be  to cut the artery with such a knife?

2. Coe said that no other part of the body was bloodstained.  The body was fully clothed, wearing a Barbour jacket,  trousers and cap. A small water bottle was nearby.

Other points

1. Friction between the BBC Governors and BBC management is  reported. In particular a Governor Dame Pauline Neville Jones  apparently believes the BBC management  “betrayed” the  Governors . Dame Pauline has denied that she has said this.

The Hutton Inquiry phase 2 – week 5

Day 18 – 17 9 2003

The day was dominated by Andrew Gilligan, Richard Sambrook  (head of BBC News) and Richard Hatfield, director of  personnel at the MoD.

Andrew Gilligan

1. Before his cross examination, Gilligan made a number of  admissions which removed much of the potential venom from his  cross examination.

2. Gilligan admitted making a mistake in his initial  broadcast (at 6.07am) when he claimed that the government had  probably known the 45-minute claim was false. However, by  7.32am the wording had been changed from “wrong” to  questionable”.

Note: this is an unnecessary admission because  it is a reasonable conclusion from both the political  circumstances surrounding the dossier and what we now know  from the disclosures to the inquiry, that Campbell and Blair  had every reason to doubt the intelligence.

3. Gilligan apologised for his description of Kelly as a “intelligence service source:”It was not intentional, a kind of slip of the tongue. It is something that does happen in  live broadcasts. It is an occupational hazard.”

Note: This is a reasonable apology – Kelly should have described as  long the lines of “a source familiar with the preparation of  the dossier and the intelligence community”.

4. Gilligan apologised for sending an email to a member of  the Foreign Affairs Committee:”It was quite wrong to send it.  I can only apologise. I did not know for sure that David Kelly was Susan Watt’s source. I was under enormous pressure  at the time, I was simply not thinking straight so I really  want to apologise for this.”

5. Questioned by Mrs Kelly counsel, Jeremy Gompertz, Gilligan  denied that he had suggested the name of Campbell (or any  other name) to Kelly and insisted Kelly had come up with the  name off his own bat. Gilligan pointed out that he had  mentioned Kelly’s name to Susan Watts, the Newsnight  journalist, as well.

6. Gilligan directly contradicted Kate Wilson, MoD chief  press officer, who had claimed that Gilligan had given  neither her or anyone else in the MoD advance notice of the  story. Gilligan said that he had told the MoD the night  before the story went out to enable them to brief Adam  Ingram, Armed Forces minister.

Richard Sambrook

1. Sambrook said that Gilligan was a reporter who painted in  primary colours rather than more subtle shades. Good at  finding stories, weaker on presenting them.

2. Sambrook criticised Gilligan for not giving Downing  Street an opportunity to respond to allegations.

3. Sambrook said that the story should have been checked by  lawyers before it was broadcast but was not checked.

4. Sambrook denied he had given clues to Kelly’s identity  during a lunch at the offices of the Times newspaper.

5. Sambrook said that he had not know about Gilligan’s email  to the FAC committee member until it was revealed to the  inquiry. He described it as improper.

6. Richard Hatfield

1. Hatfield directly contradicted Mrs Kelly’s evidence that  the MoD had shown every consideration towards Kelly and  protected him as well as any employer could be expected to defend an employee. “The MoD gave outstanding support to Dr  Kelly”.

2. Hatfield said that Kelly had no power to veto the release  of his name to the media and had “not specifically discussed”  with Kelly the plans for naming him.

The Hutton Inquiry phase 2 – week 5

Day 19 – 18 9 2003

Richard Hatfield (MoD head of personnel) and Andrew Gilligan  continued their evidence. Pam Teare (MoD chief press officer)  and William Wilding (computer expert) were the main items on  the menu.

Richard Hatfield

1. Hatfield claimed that Kelly had only himself to blame for  becoming exposed to public scrutiny , because he was guilty  of a very serious disciplinary breach.

2. Hatfield criticised Kelly for failing to prepare his wife  for the media interest which he, Hatfield believed, must  have known would happen if his name became public.

3. Hatfield admitted that Kelly had not been told that he had  been identified to the media for two and a half hours after  it had happened.

4. Hatfield claimed that Kelly had been warned 24 hours in  advance of the press statement that it was to be made.

5. Hatfield admitted that no counselling had been arranged  for Kelly.

6. Hatfield said that had he known that it would come to an  inquiry such as this one, he would have asked Kelly if he was  happy to have his name given out.

7. Hatfield said with hindsight he would have instigated  disciplinary proceedings against Kelly.

Pam Teare

1. There were three versions of the Q and A drawn up by  Teare for MoD press officers if they were challenged on the  question of Kelly’s (then unknown to the media) identity.  The first refused to identify him, the second allowed him to  be named only after he had been contacted by the MoD, the  third allowed his name to be disclosed without contact.

Teare said the various drafts were simply a “work in  progress.”

2. Teare gave more details of a meeting she had with Geoff  Hoon, Defence Secretary. She said that contrary to his  denials, Hoon might have seen a copy of the Q and A briefing.

3. Teare denied having discussed with Alastair Campbell the  naming strategy. Confronted with Campbell’s diary entries  which said they had discussed it, she accepted that she had.

William Wilding

1. Wilding appeared on behalf of Gilligan. He had examined  Gilligan’s personal organiser in which he had made notes of  his meeting with Kelly on the 22.

2. Wilding found two versions of the notes, one dated 21 and  one date 22 May. Wilding said that judging by other files he  had examined the date setting on the organiser was out by a  day .

3. Of the two versions of Kelly’s file with his notes, the  earlier did not contain the name Campbell, the later version did.

Andrew Gilligan

1. Gilligan explained the two versions of the notes as being  made at the same time and the second version being what Kelly had agreed to Gilligan using for his report. He denied he had created the second file on the following day of his  meeting with Kelly. Note: Even if the organisers date setting  was a day out of kilter the only way that Gilligan could  have created the two files on the same day with different dates is if the organisers date change from the 21 to the 22 came during his meeting with Kelly. Rather improbable.

2. Gilligan remained adamant that Kelly had been the one to  mention the name Campbell first during his conversation with Kelly.

The Hutton Inquiry phase 2 – week 6

Day 20 – 23 9 2003

The defence secretary Geoff Hoon and Alastair Campbell were  back for cross-examination.

1. Hoon admitted approving the strategy to confirm Kelly’s  identity to the media and accepted that the strategy helped  the media to identify Kelly. He was not drawn on why he had  changed his evidence from his previous appearance.

Note: that  tells you what a farce this “inquiry” is.

2. Hoon’s change of evidence came after the publication of  extracts from Alastair Campbell’s diary which contradicted  his earlier evidence.

3. Hoon’s admission of responsibility for the strategy is the  first admission of responsibility for it.

4. Hoon said that he had overruled the Mod permanent secretary, Sir Kevin Tebbit, when it came to naming Kelly, but justified this on the grounds that civil servants merely  advised.

5. Hoon denied knowledge of the clues given to the media by Tom Kelly, the PM’s spokesman, to direct them to Kelly.

6. Despite the admissions, Hoon claimed that everything had been done “to ensure that Dr Kelly was properly supported.”

7. Hoon claimed that steps had been taken to keep Kelly’s name from the public and said that he had only revealed Kelly’s name to the BBC chairman, Gavyn Davies, in a private  letter.

8. Hoon denied that there was any Government policy to “out”  Kelly.

9. Hoon admitted allowing the country to falsely believe that  it was at risk from long-range weapons of mass destruction, a  misapprehension circulated by the media. Asked why he had  not corrected this misapprehension, he replied:”I have spent many years trying to persuade newspapers and journalists to correct their stories – – it is an extraordinarily  time-consuming and frustrating process.”

Note: an absurd  excuse in this reason as most of the media would have been only too anxious to point out weaknesses in the case to go to war.

Alastair Campbell

1. Extracts from Campbell’s personal diary contradicted his  and others previous evidence. They show that Campbell wanted  Kelly’s name out in the public sphere (“The biggest thing  needed…was to get the source out), that Kelly was to be  used as a weapon in No 10’s fight with the BBC and that, contrary to Blair’s claim, Kelly was coached by senior MoD officials before he went before the ISC and FAC Commons committees.

2. Campbell’s diary made clear the hysterical state he was in during the affair. He wrote of establishing Kelly as the  source to “f**k Gilligan up”. He also wrote of wanting a clear victory not a messy draw.

3. Campbell’s diary reported Sir Kevin Tebbit (Mod permanent secretary) as saying that Kelly was “a bit of a show off”.

4. Hilariously, Campbell’s lawyer tried to massage these highly damaging passages away by claiming that “The diary records Mr Campbell’s immediate reactions, which are not necessarily the same as the views he will take after a little time has passed fro reflection.” This is nonsense when it comes to the recording of facts rather than opinion. The sooner the writing after the event, the more accurate. Courts recognise this, treating contemporaneous notes and notes made shortly after an event by the likes of the police and the Revenue as of prime importance as records of fact.

5. Campbell was questioned again about his influence over the  dossier. Before the FAC Campbell claimed he suggested 10  changes, but in written evidence to the inquiry he admitted to 16. Campbell told the inquiry that he had not mentioned  the other six to the FAC because they merely “ironed out an inconsistency”.

6. Campbell insisted that his suggestions were merely  presentational and that John Scarlett (chair of the Joint  Intelligence Committee) was in control of the dossier.

7. Campbell denied that the 45-minute claim was an influential part of the dossier during the preparation of the dossier.

8. Campbell said that Blair would have resigned if it was shown that the dossier had been “sexed up”.

9. Campbell’s diary entries showed Blair to be arguing against extending the battle with the BBC and urging that the MoD deal with Kelly. Note: when were the diaries written?

The Hutton Inquiry phase 2 – week 6

Day 21 – 23 9 2003

Tom Kelly (Blair’s official spokesman), Godric Smith (No 10  press officer) and John Scarlett (chairman of the Joint  Intelligence Committee – JIC) were recalled for  cross-examination.

Tom Kelly (TK)

1. TK was questioned further on his description of Kelly as a “Walter Mitty” character at a private briefing with journalists. TK claimed he could not recall the conversation related by Paul Waugh of the Independent and claimed Waugh had “misunderstood him” both in terms of whether the briefing was off the record and what he intended when he described Kelly as a Walter Mitty. TK claimed any reference to Kelly as “Walter Mitty” was merely raising a possibility, ie was Kelly exaggerating.

2. TK apologised again for using the term “Walter Mitty”.

3. An email from Jonathan Powell (Blair’s chief of staff) suggested that Kelly was a “rogue element”. Questioned by the Kelly counsel, Jeremy Gompertz, as to whether Kelly was regarded as a rogue element by No 10, TK replied: “categorically not.”

Godric Smith

1. Questioned on the Alastair Campbell diary extracts showing that Campbell wanted to use Kelly to damage Gilligan Smith said: “I think there is a qualitative difference between a desire for something to happen and actually taking concrete steps to make it happen.”

John Scarlett

1. Scarlett admitted that he had changed a passage in the dossier at the suggestion of Jonathan Powell (Blair’s chief of staff). A memo from Powell – sent 45 minutes after the deadline for comments on the final draft – pointed out that the dossier as it stood implied that the threat from Iraqi WMDs would arise only if an attack on Iraq was carried out. Scarlett removed this reference claiming the change” was as a result of the exercise of my professional judgement, not the intervention of Downing Street” and that he had changed the dossier after going “back to the intelligence assessments” and finding that the original comment was not justified. (Ho,ho).

2. Scarlett was also questioned further on the changes requested by Alastair Campbell, particularly the change of “may be deployed” to are deployable” in the claim that Iraqi MDs could be deployed within 45-minutes. Scarlett denied the changes were anything other than intelligence driven: “In one way or another, all these points had a presentational angle to them, the question of clarity of language and the way things were expressed. At no point did I feel that there was a an attempt to question the editorial judgement or the intelligence judgement.”

3. Scarlett admitted that no final meeting of the JIC took place before the dossier was finally agreed. Scarlett said that such a meeting was not necessary because any member of the committee could have raised objections to the final draft and none did.

4. Contradicting his evidence in the first phase of the inquiry, Scarlett admitted he knew of concerns within the intelligence community about the dossier but said that he believed they were dealt with before publication of the dossier.

5. Questioned on the BBC’s counsel, Andrew Caldecott, about why battlefield weapons had been allowed to be described as WMDs, Scarlett said that they were WMDs. He was unable to explain meaningfully how these battlefield weapons could have threatened British bases in Cyprus or why the media misrepresentation of the weapons had not been corrected by the government.

Other points

1. When is Jonathan Powell to be re-questioned? He keeps popping up as the main mover after Campbell in this matter.

2. Kelly’s dental records disappeared from his dentist’s shortly after his death. The records turned up in the cabinettwo days later. The police said they could find no signs of a

break-in.

The Hutton Inquiry phase 2 – week 6

Day 22 – 24 9 2003

Gavyn Davies (BBC chairman) and Bryan Wells (Kelly’s line manager at the MoD), Nick Rufford (reporter on The Sunday Times), Keith Hawton (professor of psychiatry at Oxford) and Patrick Lamb (Kelly’s contact at the foreign office) were recalled.

Gavyn Davies

1. Davies admitted that the Director General of the BBC, Greg Dyke, had tried to stop the BBC governors publicly criticising editorial managers for their handling of the Andrew Gilligan story.

2. Davies based his defence of the Board of Governors robust stand against the government because “We were faced with such an unprecedented attack on our integrity. I think it was  perfectly reasonable for me to take the view that the public would look to the governors to stand up for the independence of the BBC.”

3. Pressed on why the Governors did not directly investigate what Gilligan had been told by his “source”, Davies said that the governors had been reassured by the BBC’s director of news, Richard Sambrook, that the source was credible and that Gilligan stood by his story. Davies made the point that the governors were not there to duplicate the work of the management and to have interfered directly over Gilligan would hav duplicated the work.

4. Davies said that several Governors wished to stop BBC journalists writing for the newspapers.

5. Davies claimed the Governors were all tough minded and independent figures who would not be bullied by the Government.

Note; The Board of Governors is the routine run of the great and the good.

Bryan Wells

1. Wells retracted evidence he had given when he appeared in the first phase of the inquiry. Wells said it was not true, as he had claimed, that Kelly had been warned at an early stage that his name might be made public. This possibility was not raised until Kelly’s second MoD interview on 7 July 2003 and even then, according to Wells, his naming was not treated as inevitable.

2. Wells informed Kelly that his name was to made public in a 46 second telephone conversation between Wells and Kelly – the call was made while Wells was travelling on a train. Wells claimed that Kelly took the news without expressing concern. This contradicts Mrs Kelly’s evidence of Kelly’s response to the news.

3. Questioned by counsel for the inquiry, James Dingemans, Wells said that Kelly was not involved in discussions about how his name might emerge. This contradicted the head of personnel at the MoD, Richard Hatfield’s evidence.

Nick Rufford

1. Asked about the offer of Murdoch newspapers to pay for the Kelly’s to go to a hotel, Rufford said: “It was a light-hearted context – when we met for a drink or a meal, Dr Kelly would always want to ensure that I did not pay personally and would say ‘Is this on Mr Murdoch?'”.

Keith Hawton

1. Asked for further comments on Kelly’s possible motive for suicide, Hawton said “I think one major factor was the immense loss of self esteem that he had from feeling people had lost trust in him and from his dismay – maybe that is an understatement – of being exposed to the media.”

Note: A weak piece of armchair psychology to say the least. In fact, the inquiry has signally failed to show any plausible cause for him to commit suicide when it is born in mind that he knew that his pension was safe, his daughter was about to be married, he was getting a good deal of private support from friends and colleagues and had a crippled wife to look after.

Patrick Lamb

1. Kelly had wanted Lamb to accompany him to the FAC hearing but he had had to refuse because Kelly was under MoD control.

Further points

1. Kelly’s 1985 vetting report contained a note that Kelly’s mother probably committed suicide in the 1960s.

The Hutton Inquiry phase 2 – week 6

Day 23 – 25 9 2003

Officially the final day of the inquiry, although Sit Kevin Tebbit, permanent secretary at the MoD, is slated to give further evidence after the inquiry has formally closed. 22 days of evidence and 70 witnesses.

The day was taken up by the various QCs, all paid for by the taxpayer in one way or another. They were: James Dingemans QC, counsel for the inquiry, Jeremy Gompertz QC will appear for the Kelly family, Andrew Caldecott QC for the BBC, Heather Rogers, QC, for Andrew Gilligan and Jonathan Sumption QC for the government.

James Dingemans

1. Dingemans said that Kelly had stepped into a maelstrom when he admitted his contact with Andrew Gilligan to his MoD superiors.

2. Dingemans said the inquiry must address the question of whether Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell had crossed the line of presentation to “making a case”.

Jeremy Gompertz

1. Gompertz said that Kelly had been used as a political pawn by the Government:”This was a cynical abuse of power which deserves the strongest possible condemnation.”

2. Gompertz accused the Government of failing to support Kelly and his managers at the MoD of displaying “a total lack of care”.

3. Gompertz accused the Government of misdescribing Kelly “to suit the needs of the hour, as a middle ranking official…”

4. Gompertz contrasted the Government’s We have made no mistakes or blunders approach with that of the BBC which had admitted mistakes.

5. Gompertz described the claim of Richard Hatfield (MoD head of personnel) that Kelly had received “Outstanding support” as “risible” if the events were not so serious.

6. Gompertz rejected strongly the idea that Kelly was the agent of his own misfortunes.

7. Gompertz claimed that Kelly had not committed a disciplinary offence. Note: this is simple nonsense. He had undoubtedly breached the MoD confidentiality code and arguably had committed a criminal offence under the Official Secrets Act.

8. Gompertz characterised the denials of Government use of Kelly to discredit Gilligan, including Blair, Campbell and Geoff Hoon, as “hypocrisy”@ “It was out of the question that

the Prime Minister should have no say in a document for which he had to be personally responsible to Parliament.”

9. Gompertz referred to an email received only yesterday and hence too late to be used in cross-examination. The email was dated 9 July and was sent by Hoon’s private secretary, Peter Watkins, to Mrs Wilson in the MoD press office. Part of it read: ” Jonathan Powell has separately suggested to the S of S [secretary of state, Mr Hoon] that we should simply name our man [Kelly], but left the decision to Mr Hoon who has not yet reached a final view.” This document showed again Hoon’s lack of candour to the enquiry. Note: Powell cropping up yet again.

Andrew Caldecott

1. Caldecott said that the BBC admitted mistakes had been made in the reporting but stood by the essential truth of the report.

2. Caldecott said that the public had the right to know about Kelly’s concern about the dossier. Caldecott said the BBC

defended its right to broadcast Kelly’s concerns absolutely,

3. Caldecott pointed out that concerns about the dossier had been justified by the evidence given to the inquiry.

4. Caldecott stressed that only the MI6 head, Richard Dearlove, had expressed concern about the way the public were mislead over the nature of the 45-minute claim, ie that it referred to battlefield weapons: “The reaction of Mr Hoon and Mr Scarlett borders on cynical indifference. The Government’s failure to correct is wholly indefensible.”

Heather Rogers

1. Rogers said that Campbell and Geoff Hoon behaved like “playground bullies” in their pursuit of Andrew Gilligan.

2. Rogers said the extracts from Campbell’s diaries showed a desire to “get even” with Gilligan.

3. Rogers pointed out that Gilligan had admitted errors in his initial reporting, but the story was true in its main substance, ie that serious unrest amongst intelligence bods existed: Andrew Gilligan will ask this inquiry to consider that he was right to talk to Dr Kelly, he was right to ask about the dossier, right to regard what Dr Kelly said was worth reporting and right to report it.”

4. Rogers said the concentration on Gilligan’s initial reporting was distracting form the main issue, the nature of the dossier.

Jonathan Sumption

1. Sumption said that Kelly had no right to anonymity because he was a civil servant. This is pedantically true, but it is a convention that civil servants are not put in the public fold except in exceptional circumstances such as permanent secretaries reporting to Commons committees. I think it would  be impossible to find a precedent for Kelly’s treatment. Normally politicians are only too glad to “protect” their civil servants because they are afraid of what the civil servants may reveal about politicians’ bad behaviour.

2. Sumption claimed that Kelly had known since 4 July that his name would probably be made public.

Note: This clashes with evidence given by Brian Wells, Kelly’s MoD line manager, yesterday, that the matter was not discussed with Kelly until his second interview of 7 July.

3. Sumption claimed that Blair, Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell had every reason to comment on the dossier for reasons of “basic constitutional principle.”

Note: Oh yeah?

4. Sumption defended Alastair Campbell’s memo suggesting 16 changes to the dossier as points amounting to “proof reading”.

5. Sumption dismissed the dissent of the likes of Brian Jones, a senior analyst, and Kelly as unimportant because they did not have access to the underlying intelligence material.

Note: As Jones and Kelly were the technical experts, one might think they had a better understanding of the weapons than any ordinary intelligence officer.

Note:

1. No calling of the women who converted Kelly to the Baha’i faith.

2. No recalling of Jonathan Powell.

3. No recalling of Blair.

Press regulation and the British constitution

Robert Henderson

The proposed regulation

The considerable constitutional implications of the proposed regulation of the  press by Royal Charter with  statutory restraints preventing the Charter’s  change and legislation creating different classes of plaintiff in civil cases seems to have passed our politicians by.

The proposal is for the normal ultimate control of a Royal Charter by politicians working through the  Privy Council to be circumscribed by a clause in a statute. In addition, further legislation to allow exemplary damages and costs. will be needed.  To demonstrate why this raises constitutional difficulties it is necessary to first understand what the proposed system will be and do. That requires a detailed examination of the draft Royal Charter.

The Royal Charter

There have been three draft Royal Charters: the original Tory Charter, the Labour/Libdem Charter and the third and latest which is the  draft  (published on 18th march) containing the agreed text by all three major party leaders. The  18th  March Charter  can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/142789/18_March_2013_Royal_Charter_on_self-regulation_of_the_press__for_publication_.pdf. A commentary on and full text of the previous draft Royal Charters produced by the Tories and  the combined efforts of the Labour and the LibDems can be found  at http://martinbelam.com/2013/royal-charter-diffs/.

The statutory underpinning

The statutory underpinning will be,  according to the BBC, a general instruction for all  new Royal Charters after a certain date in 2013, viz:

“Early on Monday a deal was struck, under which a clause in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill would be tabled in the Lords.

This would state that a royal charter cannot be changed unless it meets requirements stated within that charter for amendments.

It does not mention any specific charter, Leveson or the press – but the royal charter on press regulation would itself state that it cannot be amended without a two-thirds majority of Parliament. “(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21825823)

This statutory underpinning is intended to give absolute force to these provisions in the 18th March  Royal Charter:

“9.2. Before any proposal (made by any person) to add to, supplement, vary or omit (in whole or in part) a provision of this Charter (“proposed change”) can take effect a draft of the proposed change must have been laid before Parliament, and approved by a resolution of each House. For this purpose “approved” means that at least two-thirds of the members of the House in question who vote on the motion do so in support of it.

9.3. The Recognition Panel may only propose a change to the terms of this Charter if a resolution has been passed unanimously by all of the Members of the Board, who shall determine the matter at a meeting duly convened for that purpose.

10.1. This Charter, and the Recognition Panel created by it, shall not be dissolved unless information about the proposed dissolution has been presented to Parliament, and that proposal has been approved by a resolution of each House. For this purpose “approved” means that at least two-thirds of the members of the House in question who vote on the motion do so in support of it.”

The power to take or refuse complaints

The 18th March draft Charter gives  the proposed press regulator the power to take or refuse complaints as follows:

Schedule 3

“11. The Board should have the power to hear and decide on complaints about breach of the standards code by those who subscribe. The Board will need to have the discretion not to look into complaints if they feel that the complaint is without justification, is an attempt to argue a point of opinion rather than a standards code breach, or is simply an attempt to lobby. The Board should have the power (but not necessarily the duty) to hear complaints:

a) from anyone personally and directly affected by the alleged breach of the standards code, or

b) where there is an alleged breach of the code and there is public interest in the Board giving consideration to the complaint from a representative group affected by the alleged breach, or

c) from a third party seeking to ensure accuracy of published information.”

This gives both a very wide range of complainant and much subjective discretionary power to the Regulator.

The power to impose penalties

The penalties and procedures which the Regulator has to punish and enforce its judgements by the 18th March Charter are:

“15. In relation to complaints, where a negotiated outcome between a complainant and a subscriber (pursuant to criterion 10) has failed, the Board should have the power to direct appropriate remedial action for breach of standards and the publication of corrections and apologies. Although remedies are essentially about correcting the record for individuals, the power to direct a correction and an apology must apply equally in relation to:

a. individual standards breaches; and

b. groups of people as defined in criterion 11 where there is no single identifiable individual who has been affected; and

c. matters of fact where there is no single identifiable individual who has been affected.

16. In the event of no agreement between a complainant and a subscriber (pursuant to criterion 10), the power to direct the nature, extent and placement of corrections and apologies should lie with the Board.

17. The Board should not have the power to prevent publication of any material, by anyone, at any time although (in its discretion) it should be able to offer a service of advice to editors of subscribing publications relating to code compliance.

18. The Board, being an independent self-regulatory body, should have authority to examine issues on its own initiative and have sufficient powers to carry out investigations both into suspected serious or systemic breaches of the code and failures to comply with directions of the Board. The investigations process must be simple and credible and those who subscribe must be required to cooperate with any such investigation.

19. The Board should have the power to impose appropriate and proportionate sanctions (including but not limited to financial sanctions up to 1% of turnover attributable to the publication concerned with a maximum of £1,000,000) on any subscriber found to be responsible for serious or systemic breaches of the standards code or governance requirements of the body. The Board should have sufficient powers to require appropriate information from subscribers in order to ascertain the turnover that is attributable to a publication irrespective of any particular accounting arrangements of the publication or subscriber. The sanctions that should be available should include power to require publication of corrections, if the breaches relate to accuracy, or apologies if the breaches relate to other provisions of the code.

19A.The Board should establish a ring-fenced enforcement fund, into which receipts from financial sanctions could be paid, for the purpose of funding investigations.”

These powers are considerable and the fines  could cause genuine financial difficulty to lesser players in the press field because  fines are on turnover not profit.  The risk is severe because of the immensely broad definition of a publisher who is not a broadcaster:

Schedule 4 b) “relevant publisher” means a person (other than a broadcaster) who publishes in the United Kingdom:

i. a newspaper or magazine containing news-related material, or

ii. a website containing news-related material (whether or not related to a newspaper or magazine);

The recklessly broad  definition will almost certainly make the system next to unworkable if the Regulator is genuinely to take complaints from both third parties and  complaints about everything from a blog run by a private individual to the largest circulation daily. The experience of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is instructive with the ICO regularly taking one to two years to complete investigations.

The penalties for not being registered with the Regulator

The proposal is that any publisher (as defined by the Royal Charter) who does not sign up with the new regulator will leave themselves open to exemplary damages plus costs if sued  successfully in the courts and may be liable for costs even if they successfully defend a suit in certain circumstances.

These penalties are not part of the Royal Charter or the statutory underpinning already described. Consequently further  legislation will be required. This will be direct statutory control of the press no matter how much politicians try to fudge the matter.  How far such law would be subject to successful legal challenge is debatable because the Human Rights Act contains this:

“Article 10 Freedom of expression.

1Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.” (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/42)

The constitutional issues 

If the Charter cannot be amended or dissolved  with less than a two-thirds majority of both houses of Parliament  because a statute has been passed forbidding it,  this  is an  attempt at a de facto superior law, a law moreover, which is binding on future governments. As the two thirds  majority would be extremely difficult to achieve, it would in effect sabotage the constitutional principle that no Parliament can bind its successors by passing laws which cannot be repealed. This is even the case with treaties emanating from the EU. All the major British parties have at one time or another maintained that Parliament is sovereign and the treaties and legislation resulting from   Britain’s membership of first the European Economic Community and its successor the European Union could be nullified by Parliament’s repeal of laws and repudiation of treaties.

Unless a formal framework for such a superior law is introduced into our Constitution, the present  attempt would fail because the restrictions on change or repeal supposedly created by the statutory underpinning could be overcome simply by repealing the entire law in which the statutory restrictions  are  enshrined. That would apply even if a separate Act was passed dealing solely with  restricting changes to the Charter or its abolition. This is so because there could be no such restriction under present circumstances on repealing an entire statute because all statutes are equal and subject to repeal by simple majorities in the two houses of Parliament. In passing it is worth noting that the legislation to make the early calling of general elections difficult  suffers from the same insecurity of application because it requires more than a simple majority.

The next problem is the clash between the general rules governing amendments to Royal Charters and the proposed restrictions imposed by statute:

…once incorporated by Royal Charter a body surrenders significant aspects of the control of its internal affairs to the Privy Council. Amendments to Charters can be made only with the agreement of The Queen in Council, and amendments to the body’s by-laws require the approval of the Council (though not normally of Her Majesty). This effectively means a significant degree of Government regulation of the affairs of the body, and the Privy Council will therefore wish to be satisfied that such regulation accords with public policy. (http://privycouncil.independent.gov.uk/royal-charters/chartered-bodies/).

And

(d) incorporation by Charter is a form of Government regulation as future amendments to the Charter and by-laws of the body require Privy Council (ie Government) approval. There therefore needs to be a convincing case that it would be in the public interest to regulate the body in this way; (http://privycouncil.independent.gov.uk/royal-charters/applying-for-a-royal-charter/)

The Privy Council practices come  into direct opposition with the draft Royal Charter  where it touches on amendments  to or dissolution of the  Charter.  It is important to understand that  if granted the Royal Charter will not be an artefact of Parliament.  Technically it will be a Royal artefact although in reality a government artefact.   It might be thought that Parliament being sovereign could override the Privy Council procedures, but it is not as simple as that. The Privy Council procedures are separate from Parliament.  If Parliament wants them to be subordinate to Parliament that would make Royal Charters in effect artefacts of Parliament in the same way that secondary legislation such as statutory instruments and orders  in council  are semi-detached   artefacts of Parliament.

The third and last difficulty is the fact that the proposed Charter would create a quasi-judicial authority (I think that that would make it  unique amongst Royal Charters).  That quasi-judicial function would leave it open to legal challenge, both at the level of the Recognition Panel (RP) which appoints the regulator and the regulator itself . Because there is statutory underpinning  of both the RP and the regulator and the RP is  in receipt of public funds at least in the early years, it might well be that either body could  be subject to judicial review because either could be deemed a public body and  a regulatory body established by statute  (http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/you-and-the-judiciary/judicial-review).

The other objection to the quasi-judicial status created by the proposed regulatory system is the fact that quasi-judicial powers (and very considerable ones) are being granted by a body other than  Parliament .

The likely outcome

The proposals are a cynical ploy to prepare the ground for serious interference  with the traditional press and the broader internet media because of the breadth of the definition of a publisher.   These are proposals which are incompatible with any society that calls itself free or has pretensions to be a democracy because by definition anything may be debated in a democracy.

The intended consequences of the proposals are clearly to manipulate the press and internet media both in instances of actual publication and through the deterrent effect of the possible consequences which publication of a story will bring. Moreover, anyone who believes that this will be the end of political interference with the press and internet publishers is credulous to the point of imbecility.  Once state regulation of any degree becomes the status quo  it will provide the psychological launching pad for further control. This will be difficult to argue against because the pass on press freedom will already have been sold.

The fact of such an agreement amongst the leadership of all our major parties is profoundly depressing because it means not one of them collectively understands the value of  free expression as a cleansing lotion for immoral behaviour, especially that by the powerful and influential.  To that is added the contemptible portrayal of the proposed scheme  by the major parties as anything but what it is, namely, grubby authoritarianism.

None of that is to  say that those abused by the press do not require protection.  A statutory right of reply (RoR) would do what was required without any chance of political interference. This is because it is a self-organising process which would involve only the newspaper and the complainant or, where an RoR was refused, the courts to enforce it.  The involvement of the courts would not require the courts to make a judgement on what the publication had written or what the subject of their story wanted to say in reply. All the court would be doing is forcing the publication to provide the RoR. The detailed arguments for an RoR  can be found at http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/curing-media-abuse-a-statutory-right-to-reply-is-needed/.

Is all lost? Happily there is some hope.  That exists not because there is likely to be any turnabout out of principle by our politicians. Rather, it exists because they have, as so very often,  not thought through the consequences of a policy.    Apart from the constitutional difficulties,  the practical difficulties are huge.  The great breadth of the definition of what is a publisher will potentially make the work of  the Regulator impossible simply because they will be overwhelmed with work.

In addition, there will be endless opportunity for the wealthier subscribers to the Regulator to pursue legal challenges to the rulings of the Regulator, not least because as I have described the legal position of the Regulator and the RP is a dog’s dinner.

Finally, there is the question of whether the  big press publishers will all sign up, even though that will protect them from exemplary damages and costs even if they have won a case in the courts.  There are signs that some at least  might well refuse.  If many refused that would kill the proposals stone dead. But even if they all signed up they could sabotage the intentions of the Royal Charter  by engaging in a barrage of legal actions against the Regulator.

Opt out of opting in or out

Robert Henderson

The government has refused to make an automatic filter for pornography a legal requirement for ISPs with those wishing to access it having to opt out of the filters. They have not done this out of any concern for freedom of expression but  because the government has

“…now decided that this type of “opt-in” system “can create a false sense of security” because it does not screen out all harmful content.

There were also fears it could have “over-blocked” useful websites giving children access to “helpful information on sexual health or sexual identity”. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9746421/David-Cameron-rejects-automatic-block-on-porn-to-protect-children.html). 

But,  as with so many political issues these days, having said no to  legislation the government attempts to achieve the same ends  with a mixture of non-statutory demands backed by threats of legislation if the ISPs do not do what the government wants , viz:

 “However, the Government’s consultation response yesterday said it would instead rely on the voluntary co-operation of internet companies to strengthen controls on pornography.

It will now urge the companies to “actively encourage parents, whether they are new or existing customers, to switch on parental controls”. All users should be asked whether they have got children and parents would be guided through a process of installing anti-pornography filters.

Ministers will also ask the big internet service providers to make sure the person setting up controls is over 18.

Companies could face legislation in future if the Government feels they are not making enough of an effort to shield children from adult material. (Ibid)

If implemented, those non-statutory requests to ISPs could result in a database containing the opt in details of users which would have much the same effect and dangers as one arising from a statutory  requirement on ISPs.  There is also  a good  chance that whatever the ISPs do it will become a legal requirement in the foreseeable future because the children’s lobby is a powerful one.

What are the dangers of having computer users opt in for pornography?  The same general reasons why opting in or out of anything  desired by the government is dangerous. Once someone has to opt in or out of something they become part of an identifiable group against whom both state and private agencies may act .  Take one of the most frequently advocated opting in or out issues,   that of organ donation. It might seem harmless at first glance,  but you can bet your life that the information will eventually  be used to disadvantage those who opted out, for example, by refusing them medical treatment which was available to those who opted in (this could include non-transplant treatment) or  through the  releasing of  the information to insurers who might decide to charge more to someone on the register because those not on it  were deemed  to have a stronger sense of self-preservation.

In the case of pornography there are also two specific dangers.  First, there is no objective test for what is or is not pornography. Anything might be classified as such on a state whim. Think back to when cameras had film to be developed and recall all the cases of parents being accused of child abuse because they had taken photos of their young children in the bath, on the beach and so on.   Second, those who opted in would be identifiable. That could easily lead to such information becoming part of a CRB  check  which could disqualify  the person involved  from a large and  growing number of jobs or  render a person liable to police investigation if it is deemed that looking at pornography is indicative of a propensity towards committing sexual crimes.  Parents who opted in could find themselves scrutinised by the social services. Those wishing to adopt or foster  would almost certainly be deemed unsuitable if they opted in. The information  could also be used to blackmail people or ruin their careers.

All of those things and more could happen even if a computer user never looked at pornography but   had simply opted in because the filters were excluding sites which no rational person could consider pornographic.   Anyone with experience of  computers where filters are in operation will know how random they can be in what they both exclude and allow through.  It is also worth remembering that the evidence that an opt in had been activated would probably be permanently held by ISPs or on some other database.  Someone might have opted in when they were twenty but not opted in since they were 25 and still find it counting against them when they were 50.

Beyond pornography,  the  it could also be the thin end of the wedge for other  subjects on the Web to be made subject to opting in or out.  The most likely candidate today would be any website deemed to be  carrying “hate crime” material (anything non-pc would qualify) or even simply deemed  right-wing  by the oh so  politically correct British establishment  might require opting in.  But anything political could qualify.  Let the web be filtered for one thing of which the state disapproves and nothing is beyond such surveillance.

Permitting state ordered filtering of material on the web would be another stage in the ever tightening constriction exercised by the British state through the increasingly frequent criminal prosecution of those deemed to be resisting the totalitarian ideology that is political correctness (think of the cases which are almost daily reported in the mainstream media of someone arrested for alleged  racial or  homophobic  “hate speech/writing”).  Such control of the Web  needs to be resisted now before it becomes the norm.

Gay Marriage, political correctness and Newspeak

Robert Henderson

The commonly made objections to Gay Marriage are  (a) marriage is traditionally between a man and a woman, a fact underpinned for  many opponents by religious beliefs that only a man and a woman can be  married,  (b)  claims that  expansion of the definition of marriage to include same sex relationships will  undermine the family  and  (c) such a novel status creates a legal anomaly whereby homosexual relationships  become in some areas privileged over  close non-sexual relationships between people of the same sex, for example, two elderly spinster sisters  living together.

The problem with these objections is that although they have a considerable moral traction to the supporters of marriage as being between a man and woman ,  they are not intellectually conclusive.  Supporters of gay marriage can point to the  differences in what counts as marriage in different times and places – everything from pristine monogamy to polygamy and polyandry.  Religious justifications for opposition will cut no ice with those of no religion or  those of a different religion or strand of a religion. In addition  civil partnerships  already create much the  same legal as situation as gay marriage would do.  Unless the opponents of gay marriage also oppose civil partnerships,  and many do not,  they do not have much of a case if they wish to base their argument on the damage to the institution of  marriage deriving from the formal  legal equality gay marriage would bring. (http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/relationships_e/relationships_living_together_marriage_and_civil_partnership_e/civil_partnerships_and_living_together___legal_differences.htm).

But opponents of gay marriage need not despair. There is an objection which is far more powerful and  fireproofed against finessing and abuse.   It can appeal to people of  widely differing views because it is not attached to any of the direct arguments for and against gay marriage. It is also beautifully simple: in a free society language should evolve naturally through common usage.  If governments are allowed to change the meaning of words by redefining them in law  we are  in the realm of 1984 and Newspeak .

The purpose of Newspeak was beautifully simple. It was to make whatever thoughts were deemed undesirable by the party impossible to formulate. This was done most radically by removing words from the vocabulary.  For example, negative words such as bad and  poor were not available in Newspeak. To say something was bad or poor the Newspeak user had to say ungood which could be heightened to plusungood or doubleplusungood.  It was still possible to signify that something was bad or poor in Newspeak, but it could only be done using words which were much less emotionally potent because they were both new and had echoes of the positive word good.  (Orwell wrote an appendix to 1984 which developed the idea of Newspeak considerably to show how dangerous control of language can be.).

Newspeak also altered the meaning of words by simply  redefining them. Most famously the Party Slogans in 1984 are:

War is peace

Freedom is slavery

Ignorance is strength

That is what the proponents of gay marriage are doing. In England  marriage  has always  meant one man and one woman.     To alter the word to mean any sexual combination is to deny  its usage in England from time immemorial. Moreover, whatever the variations on marriage or sexual cohabitation that have existed and may exist today in other parts of the world, one thing is certain: marriage has everywhere been a heterosexual relationship. A more radical change in the meaning of a word  it is difficult to imagine.

If  gay marriage does pass into law it will  become unreservedly  illegal for any corporation or individual offering a product or service to treat a homosexual marriage differently from  that between two heterosexuals.   It is also probable in the increasingly authoritarian imposition of political correctness generally that a refusal to recognise relationships between two people of the same sex as a marriage  will be treated as a hate crime.

A re-definition of marriage also  leads to other related words –  adultery, divorce, consummation (of marriage)  – being  of necessity redefined  so that behaviours and events which now only concern heterosexual relationships also concern relationships between those of the same gender.  In addition, it will mean the removal of the terms mother and father from  many laws and legal documents.

Granting the right of marriage to homosexuals is  taking away something from  heterosexuals  not simply giving something to homosexuals. That something is  the institution of marriage being their  sole possession, of being something special to them.  Nors would there be true equality between homosexual and heterosexual marriages because  there can be no possibility of children in the case of the former. It is true that some marriages between men and women are childless,  but the possibility is there  and in the overwhelming majority of cases  also the intent to have children.  In addition, gay marriage would raise other awkward questions such as the question of  the prohibition against  siblings  marrying. As there would be no question of children the banning of  sibling marriage – either two brothers or two sisters  marrying – would have little force on rational grounds .

The drive for gay marriage is part of the general  plan of the politically correct to force their ideas onto society as a whole.   This  requires people to  deny reality and accept that which is abnormal as  normal.  Objectively homosexuality is abnormal because most do not practice it.  Objectively, men and women fundamentally differ because their biology and biological functions  are  different .   Objectively discrimination generally is not an evil but a necessary part of existence,  for all animals including homo sapiens because to make a choice is to discriminate. Objectively  discrimination on the grounds of race and ethnicity exists universally  and to suggest that this is the result of  social conditioning arising in every society across the world stretches credulity  far beyond breaking point.

A fundamental tool in enforcing  such ideas is the redefining of words by the exercise of power.  The push for gay marriage is simply a symptom of   something much more sinister: an  attempt to change not only the outward appearance of society radically but to persuade people to  believe that the wholesale calling of black white involved in political correctness is reality itself or failing that to come to believe that  denying the maxims of the creed is dangerous.  It is the stuff of Year Zero, a mentality that can lead to any abomination. .

Piers Morgan, perjury, the police, the Leveson Inquiry and Denis MacShane

Note: I attended an Orwell Prize meeting on 24 October at the Frontline Club in Paddington.   The erstwhile Labour Cabinet Minister Denis MacShane  was one of the speakers.  The subject was the misbehaviour of the police and their relations with the media.

When questions from the audience were called for I  told the meeting about Piers Morgan’s letter to the PCC in which he admitted receiving information from the police in circumstances which can only have been illegal and the subsequent failure of the police to question Morgan. I then asked MacShane whether he would take up the matter. Amazingly, you may think, the chair of the meeting Jean Seaton (the director of the Orwell Prize) intervened and said he did not have to answer because that was not what the meeting was about This was  a rather strange claim because  not only was it speaking to the subject of the meeting,  but MacShane during his talk particularly emphasised how it was necessary to  stop the police from colluding with the media by selling stories to them.

After the meeting I spoke with MacShane briefly and gave him a copy of the Morgan letter.  I followed up with the email below. Watch this space for further developments on the Piers Morgan front.  Robert Henderson

Update 2/11/2012 : The Standards and Privileges Committee of the House of Commons  recommended  on 2 November that McShane be suspended for a year from the Commons after they found that McShane had ‘submitted 19 false invoices “plainly intended to deceive”’ and the  ‘The Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee said it was the “gravest case” to come before MPs. ‘   (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/9651100/MPs-expenses-scandal-Denis-MacShane-to-be-suspended-as-an-MP-for-twelve-months.html). McShane’s  expenses  claims were referred to the police in 2010 who closed the investigation without  charges  being brought  in July 2012, although no  clear reason  was given for the absence of charges.  The Labour Party have disowned  him following the Standards and Privileges Committee’s report.

McShane loves to engage in moral posturing  of the politically correct kind, whilst at the same time behaving immorally. This is one of the classic traits of the psychopath which is given literary from in Emmerson’s  “The more he talked of his honour/The faster we counted our  spoons.”

Mr Denis MacShane MP (Rotherham)

House of Commons

London WC1

25 10 2012

Dear Mr MacShane,

I will amplify the details I gave last night during the Orwell Prize meeting at the Frontline Club and to you personally after the meeting about collusion between politicians, the police and the media.

I gave you of a copy of the letter sent by Piers Morgan to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) in October 1997. This was sent to me after I made a complaint to the PCC following a highly libellous story about me published by the Mirror on 25 March 1997 at the beginning of the General Election Campaign.

As you will have seen from Morgan’s letter, the Mirror story involved Tony and Cherie Blair. They tried and miserably failed to have me prosecuted for a crime which, as lawyers, they must have known I had not committed. The non-existent crime was a claim that I had breached the Malicious Communications Act in my letters to them. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) thought so little of the attempt to have me prosecuted that they rejected the case on the same day it was sent to them, an extraordinary thing when the pressure to proceed against me must have been immense because of the identity of the complainants. Nor was I at any time contacted by the police about the Blairs’ complaint.

The Mirror story (copy below) falsely accused me of being a dangerous racist who had bombarded the Blairs with hundreds of letters full of crude racist language. As you will see from Morgan’s letter he had never seen any such letters. There was the simplest of reasons for this: they were never written. Fuller details of this episode can be found at http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/when-tony-and-cherie-blair-tried-to-have-me-jailed/.

After the publication of the Mirror story Piers Morgan refused to make any retraction or correction. I consequently made a complaint to the PCC. The PCC released a copy of his incriminating letter to them to me. This shows unambiguously that Morgan had received information in circumstances which can only have been illegal, viz: “The police source of our article (whose identity we have a moral obligation to protect) ….” If the information had been passed legitimately, for example, in a press conference, there would be no need to refuse to name him. Neither was the information given to any other media outlet. Nor was the information of a nature which could have been given to the media legitimately.

I referred the letter with its admission to the police. It was sent from my local station to Scotland Yard. An “investigation” was supposedly carried out by Detective Chief Superintendent Jeff Curtis. It was a most remarkable “investigation” because when it was concluded Curtis admitted to me that no one at the Mirror – not Morgan, the reporter who wrote the story (Jeff Edwards) or anyone else – had been interviewed. For the full story see http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/the-failure-to-charge-piers-morgan-with-illicitly-receiving-information-from-the-police/

The PCC refused to adjudicate on my original complaint or my subsequent complaint about Morgan’s admission of having received information illicitly from the police. Mr MP Frank Dobson, who was member of Blair’s cabinet at the time, refused to take up the case. Eventually on 10 November 1999 Sir Richard Body MP put down this Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons :

CONDUCT OF THE RIGHT HONOURABLE MEMBER FOR SEDGEFIELD 10:11:99

Sir Richard Body

That this House regrets that the Right honourable Member for Sedgefield [Tony Blair] attempted to persuade the Metropolitan Police to bring criminal charges against Robert Henderson, concerning the Right honourable Member’s complaints to the police of an offence against the person, malicious letters and racial insult arising from letters Robert Henderson had written to the Right honourable Member complaining about various instances of publicly-reported racism involving the Labour Party; and that, after the Crown Prosecution Service rejected the complaints of the Right honourable Member and the Right honourable Member failed to take any civil action against Robert Henderson, Special Branch were employed to spy upon Robert Henderson, notwithstanding that Robert Henderson had been officially cleared of any illegal action.

Until Blair left No 10 (a period of ten years) I was subject of continual harassment – my post opened ostentatiously, threats by phone, a hate campaign on social networking sites such as newsgroups inciting violence against me and for all I know my phone was tapped. I suspect this was either Special Branch or MI15, both of which I discovered through the use of the Data Protection Act (DPA), hold files on me, although the information held by them was almost entirely withheld in answer to my Subject Access Requests under the DPA.

This motion is now part of the official House of Commons record.

http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=16305&SESSION=702

Leveson Inquiry

I initially submitted to the Leveson Inquiry information about my mistreatment by the Mirror (and other media outlets), the PCC’s refusal to adjudicate on my complaints and the failure of the police to investigate Morgan’s admission that the Mirror had accepted information from the police illicitly. Leveson refused to call me as a witness or accept my information into evidence.

When Morgan gave evidence he perjured himself by claiming that he had never received information illicitly from the police (http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/piers-morgan-lied-to-the-leveson-inquiry/). The writer of the Mirror story about me, the Mirror’s erstwhile chief crime reporter also committed perjury before the Inquiry, viz: ““Q75 I never asked police officers in any way to disclose things they were not allowed to do or tried to push them to give me information they were uncomfortable disclosing.” . As he was the one who claimed to have received the information about me he caught himself in a very stupid lie.

I madea further submissions to Leveson drawing their attention to Morgan’s and Edward’s perjury:

http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/12/22/referral-of-piers-morgans-perjury-to-the-leveson-inquiry/

http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/leveson-inquiry-jeff-edwards-and-another-prima-facie-case-of-perjury/

Leveson refused to act on these stone-certain cases of perjury to his Inquiry which took information under oath from both Morgan and Edwards.

Conclusions

My experience shows graphically how there is collusion between politicians, the police, the media and, in Leveson’s case, the judiciary to suppress and fail to act on information which will damage those with power, wealth or influence. You put yourself forward as someone who wishes to expose misbehaviour by such people, especially by the police and the media. You could not have a better story to use for that purpose than the one I have to tell. I hope you live up to your words and use it.

This is an especially good time to put the tale before the public because it looks as though Morgan is going to be pulled into the phone-hacking scandal. If he is, that will mean he also perjured himself before Leveson on that score.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

———————————————————————————-

Daily Mirror 25 March 1997
‘PEST TARGETS BLAIRS’
Jeff Edwards Chief Crime Correspondent
Police called in over string of hate letters
Police are probing a string of race hate letters
to Tony and Cherie Blair.
The deluge of sinister messages sent to the couple
through the Labour Leader’s office at the House of
Commons began last year.
Insiders described them as “personal and
offensive”.
And they feared the letter writer could even
become a stalker.
The man behind the hate mail has been described
as 51-year-old Robert Henderson.
He sparked a huge row two years ago when he wrote
an article criticising black players in the England
Cricket Team for the Magazine Wisden’s [sic]
Cricket Monthly
GRAPHIC
The magazine was successfully sued for libel by
England fast bowler Devon Malcolm.
At first staff at Labour’s HQ in Walworth Road,
South East London, ignored the letters sent to the
Blairs.
But they decided to call in the police when the
TYPED messages became a rant against the couple and
started arriving at the rate of three or four a
week.
Insiders say the letters – with Henderson’s
signature and north London address – are full of
graphic racist filth implying Mr Blair would relax
immigration laws once he gets to No 10.
A Labour insider said last night: “The writer
said things like ‘why are you married to that
idiot? If he gets elected he’ll let in all the
blacks and Asians.’”
Detectives visited the Blairs at Labour HQ last
week.
They were shown dozens of letters which were
taken away for forensic tests.
The letters – posted in London – have also been
studied by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Police said sending such material could result in
an assault charge.
The insider added: “MPs often get threatening
mail which would go in the bin.
“But this is different. It has become a campaign,
a bombardment. The writer displays tendencies
associated with stalkers.
“This writer is unusually persistent. The tone of
the letters has become increasingly nasty.
“He uses sewer language. The letters are racially
insulting.
When the Mirror approached ex-public schoolboy
Henderson yesterday at his council flat, he refused
to discuss the letters.
Last night a Labour spokesman said: “Public
figures getting offensive material in the post are
advised to refer them to police.
“We now consider this man is not worth giving any
more publicity to.”
A Scotland Yard source said: “By sending letters
in a very unpleasant tone the writer has committed
an assault.”
Special Branch, who organise protection for MPs,
have been informed of the situation.
The article was accompanied by a large photograph of me, printed after I had specifically withheld my permission for its use, and was flagged on the front page with the charming headline “COPS PROBE BLAIR PEST – EXCLUSIVE: Fears over race hate mail.”
The Mirror story contained these objectively provable libels: (1) the false accusation of sending ‘Race hate’ letters to Tony and Cherie Blair, (2) the false accusation that I sent dozens of letters to the Blairs, (3) the false accusation of assault, (4) The false accusation of sending letters containing ‘graphic racist filth’, (5) the false accusation of sending letters containing ‘racial insult’, (6) the false accusation of sending letters containing ‘sewer language’, (7) the false accusation that I have ‘tendencies associated with stalkers’, (8) the completely fabricated quote ‘If he [Blair] gets elected, he’ll let in all the blacks and Asians’ and (9) the false statement that I refused to comment on the letters when approached by the Mirror.
——————————————————–
FROM THE EDITOR

By fax (0171-353 8355) & by post
16 October 1997
Your ref: 970738
Christopher Hayes Esq
Press Complaints Commission
I Salisbury Square
London
EC4Y 8AE
Dear Mr Hayes
Mr Robert Henderson
I refer to Mr Henderson’s complaint as outlined in his letter of 23 September.
As you are aware, we have been in contact with Mr Henderson for some time due to his propensity to bombard individuals and this office with correspondence. [RH: Translation: Mr Henderson sent more than one letter because the Mirror refused to reply].
There are certain irrefutable facts that escape emphasis in Mr Henderson’s correspondence.
Far from ignoring any of his correspondence we have written to him on the 20 May, 22 July and 6 August. [RH: The letter of 20 May merely said he was not going to enter into correspondence. The other two letters were from his legal department in response to Subject Access Requests I made under the data Protection Act. These were legally required]. We have consistently made it clear that we have no intention of entering into any further correspondence with him.
Be that as it may I will address his concerns:-
In essence, the basic “sting” of the article, of which he complains, was that he had been sending numerous insulting letters, some with racist undertones, to Mr and Mrs Blair which had been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration.
Mr Henderson himself admits that he sent Mr and Mrs Blair at least thirteen letters. I have no way of directly knowing of the content of those letters because I have not had sight of them. However, clearly they sufficiently concerned Mr Blair’s office to be passed to the Crown Prosecution Service [RH: The CPS said as soon as they saw the letters that they were entirely legal] and I think the Commission is perfectly entitled to draw an adverse inference on the contents of those letters as a result of that referral.
I cannot accept Mr Henderson’s explanation for writing {o Cherie Blair. To do so was clearly designed to intimidate. In Mr Henderson’s draft article “Moral Simpletons Target Innocent Man” the bile that he shows on the second page of that article clearly illustrates his capacity to insult in his letters to Mr and Mrs Blair[RH: an absurd deduction. What I wrote to the Mirror says nothing about what I wrote to the Blairs] (to the extent that they be referredto the Crown Prosecution Service). I would also refer the Commission to Mr Henderson’s gratuitous reference to a “Blaireich”.
He also admits to expressing his disgust (we can only guess in what terms) of the decision of Mr and Mrs Blair not to send their son to a school whereby a white schoolboy was, apparently, murdered by five other boys (and that that murder was racially motivated). [RH: This was the Richard Everitt murder].
The police source of our article (whose identity we have a moral obligation to protect) [RH: thus the police informant behaved illegally by supplying the information] gave us the detail of the letters that we then published. Nothing that Mr Henderson writes has convinced me that the article was anything other than accurate.
Perhaps one can get a flavour of his correspondence with Mr and Mrs Blair by examining the final sentence of his draft article in which he states “It was a cargo of ancient male gonads”.
The Commission may be aware (I am attempting to get hold of the article) that the article of Mr Henderson’s that appeared in Wisden’s Cricket Monthly in 1995 gave rise to an extraordinary amount of controversy and resulted in Wisden paying substantial libel damages to the Cricketer, Devon Malcolm,[RH: Malcolm refused to sue me after I made it clear I would take the case to the floor of a court] whom the Commission will be aware is a coloured fast bowler for England. As I understand the matter, and Mr Henderson will correct me if I am wrong, the article implied that coloured players will not try as hard when playing for England as white players. [RH: The article put it forward as a possibility, no more].
I have discussed the legal position with the newspaper’s solicitor, Martin Cruddace [RH: Cruddace is a proven liar. He made a declaration to my Subject Access Request under the Data protection Action to the effect that the Mirror held no qualifying documents. Eventually after I had done some detective work, he had to admit that the Mirror had a small matter of 118 pages of documents relating to me], and he has assured me that the law has recently developed whereby words (be they written or spoken) can constitute assault [RH: No person in the UK has been convicted of such a crime. The definition of GBH has been extended to non-physical abuse such as abusive phone calls but it requires a psychiatric illness to be proved to be caused by the alleged abusive behaviour. Mere emotions such as fear do not qualify. The failure of the police to consider such a course and the CPS’ immediate definition of the case as “NO CRIME” shows that my letters were entirely lawful] if the pattern of those words is such as to make the recipient of them either anxious or ill. It has developed as a reaction to the former impotence of the law on stalking.
The law has therefore developed since the publication of the dictionary reference on which Mr Henderson relies.
I cannot accept that the taking of the photographs of Mr Henderson, given the clear public interest concerning the subject matter of The Mirror article, could possibly constitute harassment under the Code. [RH: It was a clear breach both because I had advised them of my eye trouble and because they took photographs having come over my threshold.]
I am most concerned not to waste any further time in dealing with Mr Henderson’s complaint but, naturally, if the Commission wishes me to address any further matters then I will endeavour to do so.
However, I hope that the above is sufficient to convince the Commission that the basic “sting” of the article is accurate and that Mr Henderson’s complaint ought to be dismissed.
Yours sincerely
Piers Morgan

Is there a deliberate attempt to sabotage the trial of Rebekah Brooks and co?

Robert Henderson

At first glance it beggars belief  that Alison Levitt QC,  the principal legal advisor to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) ,  took the decision to prosecute the one time chief executive of News International and erstwhile editor of the News of the World (NoW) Rebekah Brooks  and others associated with her  beggars belief.  Levitt was the subject of  tabloid stories, including coverage by the NoW , relating to her affair with a high profile  peer , Lord Carlile, the Liberal Democrat who is in charge of reviewing  Britain’s anti-terror laws. (Levitt and Carlile are now married).   The affair was very messy and its exposure in sensationalist fashion must have been a very unpleasant experience for  Levitt, something  which  cannot have disposed her to view the tabloids with equanimity (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-431884/Anti-terror-peer-dumps-boring-wife-glamorous-barrister.html#ixzz1vL8lAqTi ).

Unsurprisingly,  Levitt denies that she was in any way influenced by her treatment and maintains that she was not even  aware that the NoW  had run any stories about her affair when she made her decision to prosecute, a claim which may raise a few eyebrows because it was given considerable tabloid exposure and  a  common behaviour of  people caught in a media storm is to obsessively read everything printed about them.  It is also worth bearing in mind that those abused by the media tend to blame the media generally rather than just a particular newspaper or broadcaster (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2146209/Rebekah-Brooks-preposterous-claim-tabloid-expose-prosecutors-affair-peer-undermine-charges-her.html#ixzz1vL9BWHCg).   But whatever the truth of her feelings towards the NoW – and she could have been biased without recognising she was being biased – she should have stood down. Natural justice requires that those making decisions  within the justice system should not only be disinterested but be seen to be disinterested. Unsurprisingly, Brooks is now  considering whether to launch a judicial review on  the decision to prosecute on the grounds of potential bias on the part of Levitt.  (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/phone-hacking/9273276/Phone-hacking-Rebekah-Brooks-could-challenge-charging-decision-because-prosecutor-was-victim-of-tabloid-sting.html).

It is noteworthy that Starmer’s predecessor as DPP,  Ken Macdonald,  had no hesitation is standing down from a another politically  sensitive case  simply because of his association with people could be taken as evidence of partiality.  MacDonald was the  co-founder of  Matrix Chambers which he established with Cherie Blair whilst Tony Blair was Prime Minister. Because of this relationship,  he excused himself from involvement in deciding what should be done in the “cash for honours” investigations (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/4812822.stm), although the Mail reported that “The DPP excluded himself from the decision on whether to prosecute to avoid claims of a potential conflict of interests but has been regularly briefed by Miss Dowd on the investigation.” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-469857/The-woman-called-halt-cash-honours-case.html).

Whether the case came to her in the normal course of her duties or whether she was  allocated it  by her boss, the present DPP Keir Starmer,  Levitt  should have refused to take it on the ground that she could not be seen as disinterested.   Starmer, who cannot  have been ignorant of Levitt’s history with the tabloids because of the high-profile nature of the story and the fact that  it involved a senior member of the legal profession , Lord Carlile – the legal world is a very small one. Consequently,  he   should have given the case to someone else  if he was responsible for allocating it or,  if Levitt  received the case in the normal course of her duties,  he should taken the case from her when he became aware that she was or would be  handling it.    However, it is wildly improbable that such a high-profile case as that against Rebekah Brooks  would  not have involved the DPP  as soon as it was submitted  to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), at least in the sense that he would have taken an interest in who was dealing with it and  how the CPS assessment was proceeding.  The idea that it would simply have come to the CPS and been allocated to a junior CPS lawyer until working its way up to Levitt   seems most  unlikely.  It is also improbable  that Levitt as the principal legal adviser to the DPP would not have discussed the case with Starmer . Whatever happened, the bottom line is that the DPP is ultimately responsible for any decision to prosecute and has the final say in whether a prosecution will occur.

The fact that Starmer did not do remove Levitt from the case  argues  for one of three things: an alarming naivety on his part; a stupidly  arrogant belief that the CPS could get away with ignoring the dictates of natural justice  because they are part of the UK power elite or the   deliberate choice of someone (Levitt)  who would not seem disinterested to make the decision in order to contaminate the prosecution.

There are not enough facts in the public fold to be certain of why Levitt’s very obvious disqualification for taking the case was not acted upon by Starmer, but I can paint a plausible scenario to explain why  he did not act.   Brooks  (and her fellow accused her husband Charlie) is not merely someone who has connections with leading politicians through her employment with News International.  She  certainly had a more than a  business relationship with David Cameron and met Tony Blair when he was Prime Minister frequently enough to suggest that there was a social element to their relationship). There has also been considerable interaction  between   leading  Labour and Tory politicians   and News International  and the Murdochs as a family, for example, Tony Blair is  godfather to one of Rupert Murdoch’s children by his present wife (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-14785501)

To any feelings of personal friendship or obligation felt by Labour and Tory politicians must be added the  likelihood of News International having a good deal of dirt on the politicians which even if it did not point to criminal activity could be hideously embarrassing for the likes of  still active politicians such  Cameron and retired ones like Blair, who if they have no formal power still have influence.   The politicians the Murdochs have seduced are in a Mexican stand-off with News International.

Then there is the position of the DPP.  There is no proper separation of powers between the executive and the justice system in the UK. Three members of the government – the Secretary of State for Justice/Lord Chancellor, the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General –  have oversight of the justice system.  The DPP is appointed by the Attorney-General and is ultimately responsible to him.   As already mentioned, Starmer’s predecessor Ken Macdonald was appointed to the position by the Blair government despite having very intimate connections with the Blairs. It stretches credulity to believe that  any DPP is actually untouched by political considerations and sympathies or does  not make decisions which are influenced, one way or another,  by those considerations and sympathies. .

Given the choice the Government and the Opposition, at least at the level of the front benches,  would  fervently wish that no court cases involving the likes of Brooks were taking place. The problem is that having set up the Leveson Inquiry and pressed the police to investigate,   the Government  cannot crudely fix matters by ensuring that either the police investigations come to nothing or the CPS says that  a conviction is improbable  or that prosecution would not be in the public interest. That would cause to big a stink.  Instead they  need police to go through the motions of a serious investigation and for the CPS to be seen to acting impartially,  whilst at the same time taking action to ensure that no one of importance is actually found guilty or even better manufacture a reason to drop the prosecution .

There are various ways a prosecution can be fixed to fail. A favourite is “over charging”. This means  bringing charges which are too serious for the evidence to support. A classic example is the Jeremy Thorpe case in the 1970s when the leader of the Liberals  was charged with and acquitted of a charge of  conspiracy to murder  Norman Scott who claimed to have had a homosexual relationship with Thorpe.  What Thorpe should have been charged with was conspiracy to commit a lesser form of assault such as GBH.   Other favourite  ways of ensuring a verdict of innocent are losing evidence or simply conducting a case incompetently, for example, by making a Horlicks of cross examinations.

What may have happened in the case of Rebekah Brooks et al is this: the CPS decision to prosecute has been deliberately tainted by the employment of Levitt.  The tainting opens up a number of possibilities to get rid of prosecution altogether.  Brooks  might obtain a judicial review which finds that the decision to prosecute is tainted  and  the prosecution cannot proceed unless the case is reviewed by someone else at the  CPS. Alternatively, the mere threat of such action may persuade Starmer that he cannot let the original decision stand.  In either case that raises a problem. If Levitt’s decision is set aside, who in the CPS could examine the case anew and be considered truly impartial? Not  Starmer and that would raise a further problem because anyone else a new review of the case would have it in mind that the head of the CPS had agreed with Levitt’s decision to prosecute. Human nature being what it is, subordinates are normally reluctant to go against what the boss has agreed.

All of that would give Rebekah’s Brooks’ lawyers ample  opportunity to claim that no prosecution should go ahead because no impartial judgement of the merits of the case could take place.   If Levitt did not seek legal advice  from outside the CPS this argument would be strengthened.    Her lawyers could also argue that because of the publicity generated by and around   Levitt’s prima facie partiality,  it would   be impossible for Brooks and her fellow accused to get a fair trial.  Faced with all that there is a fair chance the prosecution would be dropped for one reason or another.  If that happened it would provide the best outcome for politicians and News International because the politicians could claim that a proper investigation had occurred and that a prosecution failed to take place simply because of the unfortunate behaviour of the CPS and there would be no embarrassing convictions of News International one-time employees.

It will be interesting to see whether this case ever gets to court. If it does,  watch out for  the quality of the evidence, evidence going missing, which witnesses are and are not called  and the performance of the prosecutor, especially in cross-examination.

Liberals in a multicultural denialfest

Robert Henderson

Nine Muslim men living in Rochdale Lancashire – eight from Pakistan and one from Afghanistan – have been convicted of  various offences arising from what  is coyly  described as “street grooming” , but whose honest description would be at best the forced prostitution of girls under the age of consent  and at worst  repeated gang-rape often accomplished when the girls were too drunk to know what was happening. . (The girls were all under the age of  16 -the British age of consent for intercourse – and abuse began when some were as young as 13).

Strikingly,  every one of the  47 girls identified as being the subject of abuse by the gang were white. Cue for liberals to dash into a  frenzy of terrified make-believe as they desperately tried  to convince themselves and the public that vicious and sustained abuse of  exclusively white girls by Asian men  had no racial motivation.   Thankfully there have been some  honourable exceptions in the mainstream media to this wilful self-delusion,  for example, Allison Pearson of the Telegraph  pointed out the absurdity and  dishonesty of  the denial of racism in pithy fashion:

“Nine white men are found guilty of grooming young Asian girls, aged between 13 and 15, whom they picked up on the streets of London. The girls were lured with free fish and chips before being raped or pimped as prostitutes. One Asian girl from a children’s home was used for sex by 20 white men in one night. Police insist the crimes were not “racially motivated”.

Imagine if that story were true. Would you really believe that race was not a factor in those hateful crimes? Do you think that, despite conclusive DNA evidence from a girl raped by two men, the police would have hesitated to press charges because the suspects were white and it could make things a bit sensitive in the white community? Would the Crown Prosecution Service have refused to prosecute, allowing the child-sex ring to flourish for three more anguished years?’ (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/allison-pearson/9254651/Asian-sex-gang-young-girls-betrayed-by-our-fear-of-racism.html)

The tactics of liberal denial

Any normal human being would have no problem in seeing  the very obvious racial element  in the case,   but white liberals have found no difficulty in calling black white.  Some, such as the ineffable Asian MP Keith Vaz , opted for simple denial: “ Right at the start of this trial the BNP were outside demonstrating saying that this was a race issue. I do not believe it is a race issue.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9253978/Keith-Vaz-says-child-sex-ring-case-not-race-issue.html).

A real gem came from the lips of the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester whose force investigated the case:

‘…following the trial at Liverpool Crown Court, Greater Manchester Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood, said: “It just happens that in this particular area and time, the demographics were that these were Asian men.

“However, in large parts of the country we are seeing on-street grooming, child sexual exploitation happening in each of our towns and it isn’t about a race issue.”’ (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9263050/Claiming-Rochdale-grooming-not-about-race-is-fatuous-Trevor-Phillips.html).

A more exquisite example of the religiously pc state senior police officers in Britain have reached would be difficult to find.  I urge  anyone who believes that  there is nationwide “street grooming”  proportionately undertaken by whites to try to find evidence for this. I should be very surprised if they can come up with such evidence. If it did occur one may be sure that it would be given massive prominence by the media and produce hordes of examples when the subject is Googled.   When I tried Googling the subject I drew a blank.

The more sophisticated  amongst the liberal deniers have turned to the well tried and tested liberal left ploys of claiming  that the perpetrators  were not true Muslims and  putting up a smokescreen through the creation of a false equivalence between white and non-white sex offenders.  Here is Aljazeera playing the “not true Muslims” card:

These men convicted in Rochdale may have been nominally Muslim, but they were clearly not practising the true essence of their faith. Many so-called “Muslim criminals” (as identified by the media) are in fact people who might drink, take drugs or engage in other practices considered haram ["forbidden"]. Individuals who commit abuse are abusers, full stop.” (http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/05/201251371618264468.html).

Compare the Rochdale offences with the sex offences committed by Roman Catholic priests. Would anyone want to argue the priests  were only nominally Catholic? I rather doubt it.  It is also true that  Islam, as with any ideology,  sacred or profane, has no “true” version, merely different versions. .

Not to be outdone the Guardian sternly advised that “The defendants in question are at most nominally Muslim. Practising Muslims certainly aren’t supposed to have sex with children.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/08/asian-sex-gangs-on-street-grooming?newsfeed=true)

The Guardian managed to be both dishonest in its refusal to address the fact that not only the Rochdale case,  but the large majority of this type of group abuse in Britain is conducted by Muslims, and  profoundly wrong when it claims “Practising Muslims certainly aren’t supposed to have sex with children.” Girls of the age used by the Rochdale groups and younger are taken as wives – not merely betrothed – in the Muslim world  and Mohammed himself  took wives of a very young age,  the latter being especially important because Mohammed is the model of the Muslim man.

The false equivalence ploy consists of comparing apples with oranges  and ignoring the widely differing numbers of whites – and Asians – especially in this context  Muslims Asians – in Britain.   Here is an example:

“Martin Narey, former chief executive of children’s charity Barnardo’s, said there was “troubling evidence” that Asians were “overwhelmingly represented” in prosecutions for street grooming and trafficking of girls in towns such as Derby, Leeds, Blackpool, Blackburn, Oldham and Rochdale.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “That is not to condemn a whole community, most Asians would absolutely abhor what we have seen in the last few days in the Rochdale trial, and I don’t think this is about white girls.

“It’s sadly because vulnerable girls on the street at night are generally white rather than more strictly-parented Asian girls, but there is a real problem here.”

Mr Narey, who is [also]  a former head of the prison service, added however that sex offenders were “overwhelmingly white” and that there was evidence that those guilty of online grooming were “disproportionately white”. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9253978/Keith-Vaz-says-child-sex-ring-case-not-race-issue.html).

Narey  begins by comparing  the apples of  the girls repeatedly gang-raped  by the Rochdale group  with the oranges of  sex offenders in  general, an utterly meaningless comparison because sex offences  in Britain can be anything from someone downloading anything deemed to be sexual images of a 17 year old girl  to the rape and murder of a toddler. He goes on to state  ‘that there was evidence that those guilty of online grooming were “disproportionately white”’.    This is a claim made by quite a few  people commenting on the case in the media, for example, by Jane Martinson in the Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/may/09/rochdale-grooming-trial-race). She  cites her source as the  CPS’ Violence against Women and Girls 2010/11 report (http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/CPS_VAW_report_2011.pdf). What the report actually says is this:

“Ethnicity

In 2010-11, 75% of VAWG  [Violence against Women and Girls] crime defendants  were identified as belonging to the  White British category and 79% were categorised as White (as in the previous year). 6% of defendants were identified as Asian, and a further 6% were identified as Black, similar figures to the previous year . Over half of victim ethnicity was not recorded, so is not reported on within this report. “

As  the population of the UK is around 90% white,   the representation of whites is certainly disproportionate,  disproportionately small that is.   It is also interesting to note that the ethnicity of the victims was not routinely recorded and  consequently no figures  are given in the report  for this aspect of the crimes. Could it be that the percentage of white victims is disproportionately large because blacks and Asians  concentrate on white women and girls and statistics are not kept because of this?

Apart from the misrepresentation of the statistics,   there is the ignoring of  the degree of  the offence.  It is one thing to be sexually abused by a single person , quite another to be gang-raped regularly.   The Rochdale abusers were engaged in the most serious category of sex offences.  Try as I might, I cannot find a case of white men acting in a conspiracy to persistently abuse under-age girls in that fashion.  Nor, perhaps most tellingly, can I find any example of white men gang-raping non-white under-age girls or of individual white men abusing non-white under-age girls.   I can also vouch for the fact that, at least as it is reported in the mainstream media,  sexual abuse of non-whites by whites in Britain  is extremely rare.  For nearly two years I wrote a column entitled The joy of diversity for the  magazine  Right Now! now sadly defunct.  The column dealt with the ever growing ethnic minority criminal mayhem being wreaked on Britain.  To do this I kept a cuttings file  which included  all the serious sexual crimes committed by blacks and Asians.  I also kept a  cuttings file of all the similar  crimes committed by whites.  There was a steady stream of sexual offences by blacks (particularly) and Asians , many of them committed against whites. I  only  once came across a  case involving a white attacker  and a non-white victim.

In the days  following  the claims that there was no racial element to the crimes was increasingly challenged, although  what people thought constituted the racial element was almost invariably a cultural explanation rather than a true racial one.  Trevor Phillips, the black chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission,  eventually joined this new bandwagon  after remaining silent for a week:

“Anybody who says that the fact that most of the men are Asian and most of the children are white is not relevant – that’s just fatuous.

‘“These are closed communities essentially and I worry that in these communities there are people who knew what was going on and didn’t say anything, either because they’re frightened or because they’re so separated from the rest of the communities they think ‘Oh, that’s just how white people let their children carry on, we don’t need to do anything’.”

He said it was important also that the role played by the authorities in the area was properly investigated.

“If anybody in any of the agencies that are supposed to be caring for these children – schools, social services and so on – took the view that being aggressively interventionalist to save these children would lead to the demonisation of some group because of the ethnicity … then it is a national scandal and something that would need to be dealt with urgently,” he said. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9263050/Claiming-Rochdale-grooming-not-about-race-is-fatuous-Trevor-Phillips.html).

Phillips’ intervention is especially interesting because he has a habit of playing what might be described as the liberal’s controlling non-pc card when the absurdities of political correctness become dangerously glaring.  He never becomes honestly non-pc,  just non-pc enough to distract from whatever pc fantasy  is threatening to become a focus for serious dissent amongst native Britons.  Had Phillips been unambiguously honest in this case he would not have waffled on about “closed communities”  or  attributed their general silence on the subject to a contemptuous “Oh, that’s just how white people let their children carry on”.  Instead he would have asked why  the “communities” were closed or questioned exactly how those in these “communities” could have honestly  believed that the sexual exploitation of under-age girls, some as young as 13, was acceptable. He would have asked why all the girls were white rather than being drawn from vulnerable girls of all races.  If Phillips had been really daring he would have raised the  most difficult question of all, namely, in what sense are ethnic minority groups meaningfully  British if they see themselves as so culturally separate from the British mainstream that they will happily accept the abuse of young girls drawn from the native white population?

The crimes were objectively racist

The objective facts of the case say the  Rochdale  crimes were racially motivated.  It was white girls who were exclusively chosen.  If the choice  of  girls  had not  been  decided by race, ethnicity or religion, a mixture of races and ethnicities  amongst the victims would be expected.  The culprits could have chosen Asian girls, including Muslims from their own ethnic group .  If they  had decided they would not use Muslims – although making  that choice would have fallen within the definition of racism that is presently used – but everyone else was fair game,  they could have gone after non-Muslim  Asians from the Subcontinent  such as Sikhs and Hindus, Asians of far Eastern ancestry and  black  as well as white girls.

The claim commonly made by  Asians  that Muslim girls or Asian girls generally  are strictly controlled by their families  whereas white girls  are not and, consequently, white girls are targeted for abuse  simply because they are available and Asian girls are not on offer  will not stand up to scrutiny. Most, possibly all, of the white girls abused in the Rochdale case were in local authority care or from seriously troubled homes .  These were girls who had effectively been left without any adult  guidance or supervision. There are substantial numbers  of black and Asian  girls in the same position.  Moreover, because  ethnic minorities  in Britain are overwhelmingly  concentrated in the large urban areas  rather than distributed  throughout the country as is the case with whites,  the likelihood of vulnerable black or Asian girls being available in or close to the areas where Asian abusers live is high. This is the case with the Rochdale  abusers, Rochdale being part of Greater Manchester which has a large and variegated non-white population.

There is also the contemptuous  attitude Muslim men often have  towards white women to bring into the equation. Here is Allison Pearson again:

“I spoke to Mr Danczuk [the local MP]  yesterday, and he strenuously disputes claims that this is a one-off case, or even a recent phenomenon. The grooming of white girls by a small sub-section of the Pakistani community was being discussed in Blackburn council 15 years ago. Recently, the MP was outraged when male relatives of the accused in a similar child-sex case came to his constituency surgery to ask for support. “They spoke about white women in an exceptionally derogatory way. I nearly threw them out.”

Danczuk’s reported comments also demonstrate  the most shameful  aspect of this affair: the persistent refusal of the authorities – everyone from the local politicians and  the council care workers to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)  – to  honestly address the complaints of sexual abuse because of a fear of being thought racist and most probably a fear , at least at the political level,  of having such an incendiary topic – immigrants targeting white British girls  for forced sex – brought before a  public who are already deeply concerned with the effects of mass post-war immigration. Tellingly, the CPS prosecutor who  overturned the original CPS decision not to prosecute was a Muslim, Nazir Afzal, whose race and ethnicity protected him from charges of racism.

Complaints have been heard from non-Muslim Asians  whose origins lie in the Indian subcontinent – primarily Sikhs and Hindus –  that  the routine media description of the Rochdale gang as Asian  is misleading because it  tars all Asians with the same brush when it is only Muslims who  were involved and are  rumoured to be involved in other similar instances of abuse. They may have a point. Despite assiduous use of search engines I cannot find any instances of Sikh or Hindu gang grooming of  girls. Interestingly, in my searches  I  came across Hindu and Sikh complaints from 2011 that Sikh and Hindu girls are being targeted by Muslims:

“January 11, 2011

Poush Shukla Saptami, Kaliyug Varsha 5112

Amritsar (Punjab): A day after UKs’ former home secretary Jack Straw blamed some Pakistani Muslim men for targeting “vulnerable” White girls sexually, UK’s Hindu and Sikh organizations also publicly accused Muslim groups of the same offence.

Straw, in an interview to the BBC recently, had said, “…there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men…who target vulnerable young white girls…they see these young women, white girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care … who they think are easy meat.”

Feeling emboldened by Straw’s statement, UK’s Hindu and Sikh organizations have also come in open and accused some Pakistani men of specifically targeting Hindu and Sikh girls. “This has been a serious concern for the last decade,” said Hardeep Singh of Network of Sikh Organizations (NSO) while talking to TOI on Monday.

Sikhs and Hindus are annoyed that Straw had shown concern for White girls and not the Hindu and the Sikh teenage girls who have been coaxed by some Pakistani men for sex and religious conversion.

“Straw does other communities a disservice by suggesting that only white girls were targets of this predatory behaviour. We raised the issue of our girls with the previous government and the police on several occasions over the last decade. This phenomenon has been there because a minority of Islamic extremists view all ‘non believers’ as legitimate targets,” said director NSO Inderjit Singh.

Targeted sexual offences and forced conversions of Hindu and Sikh girls was not a new phenomenon in the UK, said Ashish Joshio from Media Monitoring group. 

“This has been going on for decades in the UK . Young Muslim men have been boasting about seducing the Kaffir (unbeliever) women. The Hindu and the Sikh communities must be commended for showing both restraint and maturity under such provocation,” he added.

Hardeep said that in 2007, The Hindu Forum of Britain claimed that hundreds of Hindu and Sikh girls had been first romantically coaxed and later intimidated and converted by Muslim men. (http://www.hindujagruti.org/news/11088.html).

This strikes me as  differing in type from the abuse of white girls described in the Rochdale trial, because the Sikh and Hindu girls seem to have been recruited for conversion  with sex used a  tool to achieve this rather than simply being used as  sexual vessels.  Nonetheless, if the report is true –I say if because of the considerable animosity between Muslims and Sikhs and Hindus and the general appetite amongst ethnic minorities for parading their victimhood means  it is best to be cautious about the veracity of the claims – the reported behaviour does display the same contemptuous mentality towards women shown in the abuse of  the white victims in the Rochdale case.

The attitude  of  one of the Rochdale defendants, a 59-year-old man who was not named for legal reasons during the court hearing (most probably because naming him would have identified a minor involved in the case)   gives  a flavour of the mentality which both drove them to commit the crimes and to excuse themselves:

“The man seen as the ringleader, a 59-year-old who cannot be named for legal reasons, was jailed for a total of 19 years for conspiracy, two counts of rape, aiding and abetting a rape, sexual assault and a count of trafficking within the UK for sexual exploitation.

The defendant was previously banned from court because of his threatening behaviour and for calling the judge a “racist bastard”.

Simon Nichol, defending, earlier said his client did not wish to attend the sentencing hearing and had ordered the barrister not to put any mitigation before the judge on his behalf.

“He has objected from the start for being tried by an all white jury and subsequent events have confirmed his fears,” Mr Nichol said.

“He does not take back any of the comments he has made to your honour, to the jury, or to anyone else in the court during the course of the trial.

“He believes his convictions have nothing to do with justice but result from the faith and the race of the defendants.

“He further believes that society failed the girls in this case before the girls even met them and now that failure is being blamed on a weak minority group.” (http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/crime/arrogant-to-the-end-as-rochdale-child-sex-ring-leader-snubs-sentencing-of-racist-court-7727757.html).

So there you have it, in his mind it was not him but society which is  to blame – and by implication white society and nothing to do with his part of the UK population –  and the only reason he was being tried and convicted was racism on the part of ol’ whitey.

The nature of Islam

The predominance of sub continental Muslims in this type of crime raises a question, what is it that makes them and not non-Muslims  from the same region  commit this type of crime?   (It could be that this type of crime is committed by, for example,  Sikhs and Hindus, but there does not appear to be any evidence for it). If that is the true situation it could be that Islam itself encourages the mentality  displayed by the Rochdale offenders  to develop.

The Koran makes no bones about the subordinate position of women by

1.  Sanctioning polygamy – up to four wives  for any Muslim man, although  Mohammed was given a special dispensation to have an unlimited number  and had a reported nine wives plus slave-girls :

“Prophet, We have made lawful to you the wives whom you have granted dowries and the slave-girls whom Allah has given you as booty; the daughters of your paternal and maternal uncles and of your paternal and maternal aunts who fled with you; and the other women who gave themselves to you and whom you wished to take in marriage. This privilege is yours alone, being granted to no other believer. (Sura (chapter):  The Confederate Tribes).

2.  Explicitly saying women are subordinate to men:

“’Men  have authority over women because  Allah  has  made  the  one superior to the other,  and  because   they  spend  their wealth to  maintain  them. “(Sura   ‘Women’). 

3. Sanctioning the corporal punishment of wives by husbands:

“Good  women are obedient.  They guard their unseen  parts  because Allah guarded them.  As for those from whom  you fear disobedience,  admonish them and send them  to  beds  apart and beat them.”  (Sura   ‘Women’). 

4. Allotting a lesser portion of any inheritance to women than is allotted to their male relatives:

“A male shall inherit twice as much as a female…”  (Sura   ‘Women’). 

5. Enforcing  Islam onto non-Muslim women if they wish to marry a Muslim:

“’You shall not wed pagan women, unless they embrace    the faith. A believing slave-girl is better than an  idolatress…’ (Sura ‘The Cow’).

6.  The idea of slave-girls as sexual toys  given by Allah as rewards to the faithful as in the passage cited in 1 above:  “the slave girls whom Allah has given you as booty…”

The general attitude  towards women in the Koran is epitomised by the scorn poured on Arab  pagans who worshipped female deities  and Angels who were the daughters of Allah : “Would Allah choose daughters for himself and sons for you?”  (Sura Ornaments of Gold).

It might be objected that quotes are translations and the original meaning or nuances may be lost or distorted.  Well, the quotes are all taken from the Penguin English translation by N J Dawood, a native Arabic speaker.  In addition, while it is true that any translation presents difficulties,  it is a fact that most Muslims cannot read Arabic and consequently have to rely on translations or word of mouth from Imams  and are  consequently equally subject to translational deficiencies or debates as any non-Muslim reading a translation.  Indeed, many will take their knowledge of the Koran from translations such as that of Dawood.   I have also  looked at another couple of translations and they do not differ greatly on the most contentious passages and clearly  give sanction to behaviour to the idea that women are subordinate to men by Allah’s word and women may be used as men want within the limits decreed in the Koran.

It is easy to see how  any Muslim, even a white western convert, would have difficulty in subscribing to the idea of sexual equality if they were sincere in their faith.  There is not for the Muslim the luxury of re-interpreting the Koran  at will as modern Christians do with the Bible,  because it is the literal word of God  transmitted to Mohammed by the Angel Gabriel.  There are disputes within Islam about how the Koran and supporting texts such as the Hadith should  be interpreted,  but this is generally interpretation  of what  a particular passage or practice means in literal terms  – a good example would be the punishment for adultery which is given at different points  in the Koran  as stoning to death and flogging: the interpreter of the Koran has to decide which is the correct punishment not whether there should be a physical or indeed any punishment for adultery.  Consequently, unlike  mainstream Christianity in Britain, there can be no convenient shrugging off of passages in the Koran  incompatible with modern Western society because they are deemed to be either  unimportant expressions of the social state of former times rather than the core beliefs of the religion  or, more fancifully,  by claiming that they  were not meant as  literal instructions to the faithful.  It is also a  fact that the Koran gives much less scope for plausible “fudging”  of  inconvenient passages (for liberals)  than the Bible,   because it is  both much shorter with fewer contradictions and is, for  Muslims, a  transmission from God  through a single man rather than being a collection of writings -drawn  from many sources, times , places  and people  – working out a religious destiny, as is the case with the Bible.

Any Muslim man would be faced with a dilemma if he wished to adhere strictly to the Koran whilst living in a Western society  because the Koran instructs him to behave in ways which run strictly counter to the values of Western society, including the position of  women.  It is true that  there is  Islamic tradition which require Muslims in countries which are not Islamic to abide by the laws of the society in which  they live, but there is no central Islamic authority which gives such traditions the force of universal  application such as exists with the Catholic church.  Alternative interpretations are handed down by different Islamic authorities.  A Muslim could quite  reasonably  choose an interpretation which suited strict Islamic observance in a non-Islamic country , arguing that it was what the Koran  required and to do any other would be the act of a poorly observant  Muslim.

That would the case of a sincere devout Muslim. But the fact that the Koran gives specific authority to behave in ways, including the  physical chastisement of women ,  which are incompatible with a secular society  such as modern Britain  means it  also gives a green light to less honest  or sincere Muslim men to do what they will with women  simply because it suits their purposes and carnal desires.

It might be objected that men who are not Muslims in many societies have similar ideas on the condition of women.   Most dramatically, the existence of “honour killings”  of women who do not conform to  patriarchal customs  is widespread amongst Sikhs and Hindus and the casual treatment of women by black men is legendary.  But what these non-Muslim men do not have is a religious sanction for such behaviour.  There is a good deal of difference between custom, powerful as that can be, and explicit permission from God, which is the most potent of emotional intoxicants and sanctions.   There is also a qualitative difference between “honour killings” where a female member of the family  goes against  the cultural norms of the ethnic group by , for example,  forming a relationship with someone who is not a member of the group or refusing to accept an arranged marriage,  and taking young girls who are outside the group for sexual abuse.  In the case of the “honour killing”, the act is directed against someone within the group and is intended to preserve the cultural norms of the group. The taking of girls from outside the group is simply the satisfying of sexual desire.

The  age of the girls abused may also have something to do with Islam.  As mentioned previously, girls of the age of those abused by the Rochdale defendants are frequently married in the Muslim world.  In addition, the Koran’s sanctioning of slavegirls  as sexual toys  given by Allah “as booty” to deserving Muslim men may also come into play. It would not be that massive an emotional  stretch for a Muslim man to see white girls as a modern version of slavegirl booty.

There is something else in Islam which may have contributed to the crimes.  The Koran is extremely aggressive towards non-Muslims and makes no bones about the fact that Muslims are the chosen people of Allah. Here are a few example quotes:

‘As  for the unbelievers,  the fire of Hell  awaits  them.  Death shall not deliver them,  nor shall its               torment be ever lightened for them.  Thus shall the  thankless  be  rewarded.’  (Sura ‘The  Creator’).

‘Prophet,  make  war  on the  unbelievers  and  the  hypocrites and deal vigorously with them.  Hell  is their home.  (Sura ‘Repentance’).

‘When the sacred months are over slay the idolators  wherever you find them. Arrest them,  besiege them, and  lie in ambush  everywhere for them.’  (Sura ‘’Repentance’).

 ‘Because of their iniquity, we forbade the Jews the  good  things  which  were  formerly  allowed  them;  because  time after time they debarred others  from  the  path of Allah;  because they practice usury  –  although they were forbidden it – and cheat  others  of their possessions.’ (Sura ‘Women’).

The final quote is especially telling because the Jews are one of the peoples of the book who are supposedly given special protection under Islam.

As with the subordination of women, the fact that the Koran – which is the literal word of God for Muslims –  explicitly and repeatedly  states that Islam  and its adherents are above the rest of humanity will feed the idea that Muslims in non-Islamic countries should both remain separate from the majority population and have the right to use members of the population who are not Muslim in a manner which they would not countenance for their fellow Muslims.

How ideologies fail   

The reason why this type of racist abuse  has been allowed to grow is the ever more paralysing effect   political correctness  and its component  multiculturalism has on British society.  Whites, especially white Britons,  have become at best deeply afraid and paranoid about doing something which could get them held up as a racist and at worst have succumbed to the incessant politically correct propaganda so that they believe ethnic minorities are in some curious way granted dispensation from the dictates of both traditional Western morality  and, ironically,   the supposedly essential  maxims of political correctness.  The most grotesque example of the mentality I can think of is the case of a young white girl Rhea Page who was attacked by four Somali  girls whilst walking with her boyfriend. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2070562/Muslim-girl-gang-kicked-Rhea-Page-head-yelling-kill-white-slag-FREED.html#ixzz1flw8TY6p).   The attack was vicious and sustained – it can be viewed at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgIN4kBsNRg –  and the Somalis were  screaming “white bitch” and “white slag yet the judge ruled there was no racist motive and  also refused to jail the Somalis on the grounds that they had taken alcohol which was not part of their culture.

What will happen now? There will be  further action by the police and the CPS on the type of offences exposed in Rochdale – further arrests have already been made (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9261748/Arrests-made-in-second-Rochdale-sex-grooming-scandal.html), but  the question is not whether one or two more trials will be held as tokens  but whether the grip of political correctness  can be loosened.  It is just possible that this is happening already without any conscious decision being made to do so by those with power.

Secular ideologies never  stand the  test  of time if they become the elite ideology.  Marxism is the classic example,  both because of the scope of its ostensible implementation and the length of time it existed, or  arguably still exists in the case of China and North Korea. Such ideologies  fail because they never accord with reality. They may have some truths but  all seriously clash with what is.  This means that those dependent on the ideology have to revise either the reality to accord better with reality or tell lies to cover the gap between the ideology and reality.

Ideologies are also revised to fit the ambitions of individuals and the circumstances of particular societies.  These often further remove the ideology from reality. The first great Marxist revision was the denial by Lenin  that  the proletarian revolution could only take place when a large  degree of industrialisation had created an industrial proletariat. The second great revision was Stalin’s acceptance that “socialism in one country”  had to replace the  internationalist  credo of Marx  for at least a period of time.   To those breaches in Marx’s  system was added the ever growing corruption of the Soviet elite and the demoralisation of the people.  The upshot was that Soviet propaganda became ever more absurd as the reality of Soviet life jarred ever more with fictitious official reports of soaring harvests and industrial production.  This growing discord between what Soviet citizens experienced and what they were told was happening was an important  agent  in the fall of the Soviet Union.

Political correctness is divorced from reality more emphatically than any other dominant secular ideology of the past century.   Marxism, even in its revised Leninist and Stalinist  forms,  at least appealed to a widespread  human desire for equality of material condition and social status, or at least a desire for no great inequality.   Even  at its most pure political correctness asks human beings to deny vitally  important natural human behaviours  by pretending that no distinction can be meaningfully or morally be  made between races, ethnicities, cultures,  religions, sexes or sexual  behaviours.  It seeks to treat all members of homo sapiens as interchangeable, sees  the continuing idea of nations as pernicious and insists that no element of the universal and natural human trait of tribalism be countenanced.

The pure version of political correctness would be very damaging and seriously divorced  from reality. But the version of political correctness that actually exists is not pure and is a political recipe for widespread political unrest. It applies double standards when dealing with different racial and ethnic groups and has been reduced to no more than a means of privileging some groups over others. As those who are privileged are invariably the minorities and those disadvantaged  invariably the majority native populations,  the lies needed to produce  an official narrative in  accord with political correctness become ever more implausible  – the Rhea Page case and the attitude towards the Rochdale  defendants  are stark  examples – and the anger within the majority native populations grows.  There is a growing possibility that at least the multicultural part of political correctness may come tumbling down under the weight of its own fantastic absurdity.

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