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.
 

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss and the worthlessness of public inquiries

Robert Henderson

The recent appointment of a senior and effectively retired judge Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss  to head an investigation into allegations of paedophiles operating within politics, the church,  public bodies,  and  the media  is probably as good an example of the British Establishment shamelessly attempting to control scandalous events which have reached the public arena  as you could wish to see.

To begin with  Butler-Sloss  is the sister of Sir Michael Havers who was attorney-general in the Thatcher government in the 1980s. During that time many of the child-abuse scandals now being uncovered or alleged were taking place.  Some of these allegations would  have reached  Havers.  One  we do know of: Havers was accused in the 1980s of preventing the prosecution for paedophile crimes of  the senior diplomat and member pf the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE)  Sir Peter Hayman.

Those facts alone should have made her unsuitable for the post  because  judges like Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.  But there is more. Butler-Sloss is an active member of the House of Lords , albeit a cross-bencher. That in itself makes her quite unsuitable for the job  whether or not she veers towards the conservative side of politics – and she probably  will  lean to the Right  bearing in mind her family background  and the fact that she stood as a Tory candidate in the 1959 General Election . She will be engaging in politics, expressing political opinions and consorting with the same class  of people who have appointed her, all of  which renders her a figure who cannot reasonably  be regarded as impartial.

Then there is her previous role in another investigation concerning paedophilia which produced a report in 2011 that criticised her competence , viz:

 Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former judge appointed to investigate allegations of an establishment cover-up of child sex abuse, was forced to issue an apology after making crucial errors in a previous inquiry into two paedophile priests, The Telegraph can disclose.

The peer was put in charge of a “flawed” investigation into how the Church of England handled the cases of two ministers in Sussex who had sexually abused boys.

Eight months after her report was published Lady Butler-Sloss had to issue a six-page addendum in which she apologised for “inaccuracies” which, she admitted, arose from her failure to corroborate information which was given to her by senior Anglican figures as part of the inquiry.

Finally, there is her age. She is eighty. Ask yourself how many people of that age you have met who seemed really mentally alert and possessed of considerable mental and physical stamina? I am in my sixties and can honestly say I have never met anyone of Butler-Sloss’ age who possessed all those qualities. Yet that is precisely what is required for an investigation like this.  Her negligence in the paedophile report  cited above suggests that even in 2011 she was not mentally up to the job.

Nor would lack of mental and physical capacity to undertake a thorough investigation be the only drawback to employing someone of her age.  The nature of the investigation will mean that there will be people with power wealth and influence under threat involved together with any servants of the elite who may have acted to protect them.  At best these will be people who have the money and connections to publicly fight against any disagreeable conclusions Butler-Sloss’ report may  come to  and at worst such people may use their power and influence to engage in a dirty tricks campaign against Butler-Sloss.  Even if Butler-Sloss has no skeletons in her cupboard whatsoever  it is difficult to imagine an 81-year-old  having the stomach for a prolonged public fight.  Consequently, the temptation will be for her to suppress evidence or misinterpret it on purpose to avoid controversy.

Finally, there is the fact that her age means there is a strong chance of her being  either unable to complete the report  through incapacity through  disease such as a stroke or through death.

Why did Cameron put someone who was so obviously wrong for the job in charge of the investigation? Perhaps it was simply sloppiness. He wanted an establishment figure who could be relied on to produce a report which would not point the finger of blame at any politicians at the least and most probably not at anyone from the elite.  He probably simply grabbed her because (1) she  was a senior judge and (2) because she was a woman which would  earn Cameron  pc brownie points. He may have also consciously or unconsciously thought of this type of subject was more naturally the province of a woman because the victims were either children or  women.

It might seem incredible that no check was made on Butler-Sloss’ background, but think of the number of times that politicians demonstrate a bewildering ignorance of the consequences of the laws they pass.  Simple incompetence is all too plausible. The alternative explanation is that Cameron  did know but simply ignored  the red no-go lights  in her background because  he believed, cynically,  that the public will swallow anything however outrageous provided a public enquiry is set in motion.

What should be done?

Public enquiries have a tremendous monotony  to their outcomes. Inquiry reports  whose conclusions and recommendations severely criticise a  politician who is still active and whose party is  in power when the report is published have a frequency of occurrence only marginally better than that of unicorns, while  any really severe criticism of any politician or senior public servant, whether retired or not,  is pretty rare.

Often public inquiry  reports contain a good deal of material which suggests that serious negligence or crimes have been committed by politicians or senior public servants,  but the conclusions and recommendations of the report do not carry through on the evidence. A classic example of this is the Hutton Inquiry which produced a good deal of evidence that suggested the suicide verdict was a nonsense – the lack of blood, the position of the body, the absence of a suicide note and so on – and instead came to the  bland and friendly to the Blair government view that it was undoubtedly suicide.

Experience shows that putting a judge in sole charge more or less guarantees that the outcome will be friendly to the government of the day and hoodwinks the public into thinking the process is impartial.  The situation is little better when a senior public servant is in charge. Consequently, there needs to be some check by those who are not part of the elite on a inquiry’s proceedings and the conclusions reach at the end of the inquiry. Perhaps a jury of ordinary citizens could be employed to  oversee the public inquiry. Perhaps whoever is placed in charge of an inquiry could be placed under oath and questioned about their findings once  their report is published.   What is certain is that the present system is a sham.

 

 

Piers Morgan’s illegal receipt of information from the Met Police referred to the IPCC

The Met Police’s  Directorate of Professional Standards has knocked back my appeal against the refusal of the police to investigate Piers Morgan’s illegal receipt of information from one or more police officers – see the email below the one to Anne Owers. Below that is the ongoing correspondence with the IPCC.

The refusal is based on the usual guff about the matter having been previously investigated when it has never been investigated. I have now referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) . In terms of officialdom that is as far as I can go because I have exhausted all other channels.

For previous posts on this subject click on the tag Operation Elveden

Robert Henderson

———————————————————————————————————-

Dame Anne Owers

Chair

Independent Police Complaints Commission

PO Box 473

Sale

M33 0BW

8 July 2014

Dear Dame Anne,

On 21 January 2013 I passed to Operation Elveden clear evidence of serious criminality involving the Daily Mirror newspaper and one or more  Metropolitan Police  officers. The criminality consisted of the then editor of the Mirror Piers Morgan and the paper’s then chief crime correspondent  Jeff Edwards receiving information illegally from one or more Metropolitan Police officers and their subsequently perjury before the Leveson Inquiry.

I appended to these reports of crime  a  further complaint against a senior Scotland Yard officer, Det Supt Jeff Curtis,  who had  years before failed to investigate,  despite having  been given the strongest evidence possible,  namely, a letter from Piers Morgan to the PCC in which Morgan admitted receiving the  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”.( A copy of that letter in facsimile is attached. You will need to load it into an Adobe Reader).  I was the subject of the information illegally received by the Mirror.

You will also find  enclosed  my complete correspondence with variously Operation Elveden, the DPP and other staff at the CPS and the Met Police’s  Directorate of Professional Standards. This correspondence is divided between those three categories and within each category the documents run from the earliest to the latest in descending order.

The most efficient way to read yourself into the matter is to read the first document down which is my original submission to the then head of Operation Eleveden, Deputy Assistant Commissioner  Steve Kavanagh.

As you work through the correspondence  you will encounter the same absurdity over and over again: I keep being told that the matter has already been investigated and found to be unsubstantiated. This is simply false.  The original officer Jeff Curtis  failed to investigate and no one since I made the complaint to Operation has done so. Yes, that is right, despite having the letter from Piers Morgan, neither Morgan or anyone else at the Mirror has ever been interviewed   or any examination of the Mirror’s records been made to see if there was evidence of payment being made for the information.  A very telling fact is, as you will see from the enclosed correspondence, the blanket refusal of the police to meet me to take a formal statement, despite my persistent requests that they do so.  It is reasonable to interpret that strange reluctance as a cynical device to avoid having to justify their failure to act to my face.

Throughout I have met with the same corrupt refusal to investigate that the many victims of sexual abuse have experienced.  The simple truth is that where those with power, wealth and influence are involved neither the police nor the prosecuting authorities will  investigate properly or at all if they can possibly help it. Such refusals amount to  both misconduct in public office of the grossest kind and an unambiguous perversion of the course of justice.

The story I have to tell should come as no surprise to you. In March of this year you made this statement in a radio interviewPolice officers that come to us appear all too often like sulky teenagers and won’t say anything in interviews. I and the public find it very difficult to understand how a police officer, who is a professional, doesn’t want to cooperate with an inquiry as a witness to what happened, why it happened and how something like that can be prevented in future.”

I have exhausted all other avenues, both informal and formal. Consequently,  I ask you to take up my complaints to (1) ensure that those within the police who have refused to investigate the cast-iron evidence of criminality I have provided are disciplined and (2)  ensure that an honest and complete investigation into my complaints is made.

We are in who shall guard the guards?  territory here, Dame Anne.

Yours sincerely,

 

Robert Henderson

Cc

Rachel Cerfontyne  (IPCC Deputy Chair)

Sarah Green  (IPCC Deputy Chair)

Cindy Butts (IPCC Commissioner)

Derrick Campbell (IPCC Commissioner)

Mary Cunneen(IPCC Commissioner)

James Dipple-Johnstone (IPCC Commissioner)

Carl Gumsley (IPCC Commissioner)

Jennifer Izekor (IPCC Commissioner)

Kathryn Stone(IPCC Commissioner)

Jan Williams (IPCC Commissioner)

Jonathan Tross (IPCC non-operational commissioner)

Ruth Evans (IPCC non-operational commissioner)

David Bird (IPCC non-operational commissioner)

Sue Whelan-Tracy (IPCC non-operational commissioner)

Amanda Kelly (IPCC Chief Executive)

Rt Hon Theresa May MP (Home Secretary)

Rt Hon Dominic Grieve MP (Attorney-General)

Alison Saunders (DPP)

G McGill (CPS Head of Organised Crime Division)

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner)

DCS Alaric Bonthron (Head of DPS)

DCI Tim Neligan (DPS)

CI Andy Dunn (DPS)

Commander Neil Basu (Head of Operation Elveden)

Detective Inspector Daniel Smith (Operation Elveden)

John Whittingdale MP

George Eustice MP

Sir Gerald Howarth MP

Mark.lewis@thlaw.co.uk

Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) Appeals Unit

 

———————————————————————–  

 

 Metropolitan Police 
Directorate of Professional Standards
Prevention and Organisational Learning Command
 

DPS Appeals Unit
22nd Floor
Empress State Building
Empress Approach
Lillie Road
London
SW6 1TR
 
E-Mail: Appeals@met.pnn.police.uk
 
Our reference:  PC/00455/14
 
Date: 19th June 2014
Dear  Mr Henderson
 
 
This letter is about your appeal against the outcome of your complaint against police received on 5th December 2013. Your complaint was dealt with in two parts. Firstly, you received an ‘outcome of investigation’ report from DCI Neligan, detailing your complaints about DI Smith. Additionally, your complaint concerning retired Detective Superintendent Curtis was subject of something called a ‘disapplication’. You appealed against the outcome of the investigation, in your appeal email dated 6th April 2014. Upon receipt of a further letter dated 16th April 2014, informing you of the decision to disapply the latter part (against Mr Curtis) you submitted a further email of appeal, dated 27th April 2014. Both aspects of your appeal will be discussed and addressed in this letter.
 
1. Appeal against Investigation
 
In answer to the first part of your appeal (investigation), the Metropolitan Police Appeals Team’s role in the appeal process is to review the investigation into your complaint, not to re-investigate your complaint. This appeal outcome is completed on behalf of Superintendent Sarti, with delegated authority for dealing with Appeals on behalf of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.
 
Our decision on your appeal is linked to paragraph 25 of Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002. I have looked at the following issues in concluding your appeal:
 
·         Whether the findings of the investigation need to be reconsidered
·         Whether the outcomes, for example in relation to whether any disciplinary or other actions should be taken, are appropriate
·         Whether you received adequate information about the findings of the investigation
 
I have reviewed your email of complaint dated 5th December 2013, addressed to the Commissioner. You complaint was recorded on 8th January 2014.
 
The decisions I have reached in relation to your appeal are outlined below:
 
1.    Are the findings of the police investigation appropriate/ proportionate to the complaint?
Your heads of complaint have been obtained from the following:
 
  •   Your email of 5th December 2013 and accompanying attachments/email string
 
Your complaint was about the decision by Detective Inspector Daniel Smith, and his refusal to investigate three allegations of crime concerning Mr Piers Morgan and Mr Jeff Edwards, repeated below;
 
1. That Piers Morgan when editor of the Mirror obtained information from a Met Officer(s) in circumstances which can only have been illegal. The letter from Morgan to the PCC which I have supplied to Elveden and which you have a copy of in facsimile conclusively proves this.
2. That Jeff Edwards when chief crime reporter for the Daily Mirror illegally received information from Met Officer(s).  Morgan’s letter plus the story printed by the Daily Mirror about me conclusively prove Edwards received such information.  
3. That both Morgan and Edwards  committed perjury when questioned under oath about receiving information illegally from the police. I provided Operation Elveden with the relevant Leveson transcripts.
 
In his response to your allegations of crime, DI Daniel Smith responded;
 
Dear Mr. Henderson,
 
I write in relation to the allegations you made following your contact with DC Rooke in January of this year. I have reviewed the matters raised by you in this, and subsequent communications, with DC Rooke.
I understand that the matters raised by you relate to an article published in 1997 and that the matter was investigated by the Metropolitan Police Service (Complaints Investigation Bureau). The matter was referred to the Police Complaints Authority in 1999.
I understand that there is no new evidence or information available and as a result I have decided that no investigation will be conducted into the points raised by you.
In relation to the Perjury allegation, having read the transcripts provided, I do not believe there is evidence that shows an offence has been committed. As a consequence this allegation will not be investigated.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Detective Inspector Daniel Smith
 
Complaint Versus Criminal investigation
DCI Neligan was appointed to investigate your public complaint about DI Smith’s decision, not to investigate the criminal allegations about Mr Morgan and Mr Edwards. That is an important point to differentiate because in your email of appeal you appear to be confusing the two issues.
 
In the outcome letter sent to you, dated 10th March 2013, DCI Neligan has identified your complaint and the steps taken to investigate it. I therefore consider that a proportionate investigation has been carried out.
 
I have considered your grounds for appeal, as set out in your email dated 6th April 2014.
 
Point 1, you have appealed on the basis that you have not been interviewed personally by the Investigating Officers, either of the criminal investigation, or the complaint investigation. In my considerations, I have looked at the email strings you have submitted. The details of the criminal allegations are comprehensive and sufficiently detailed upon which DI Smith based his initial assessment in terms of the criminal allegations. Likewise, there is sufficient detail upon which DCI Neligan can base his assessment of his complaint investigation and therefore I do not consider it necessary to interview you at any stage up to those reviews being conducted. 
 
In terms of the criminal investigation, DI Smith had articulated his rationale for not investigating your first 2 criminal allegations (that they were already investigated by the PCA in 1999) as there is no new evidence; there was no merit in further investigation of those allegations. The third allegation, (perjury), was subject to a preliminary review, as DI Smith explained, when he reviewed the transcripts. His assessment was that there is no evidence of the offence of perjury having been made out. Consequently, that allegation would not be further investigated.
 
In his report, DCI Neligan has elaborated upon these points and provided you with additional information in terms of the police obligations under National Crime Recording Standards as well as the MPS Crime Management Policy.
Point 2, you believe the findings of DCI Neligan’s investigation “are absurd because of the Morgan letter alone, but the Mirror story and Curtis’s failure to investigate Morgan, Edwards and the Mirror generally make them doubly ridiculous.”
  
I mentioned above, the difference between DI smith’s investigation and DCI Neligan’s, but following on from Point 2 above, it is important to make absolutely clear, the role difference between the two investigations.
 
DI Smith was asked to investigate your criminal allegations. You disagreed with his decisions and have made a public complaint about DI Smith. DCI Neligan was appointed to and has, investigated the complaint about DI Smith. DCI Neligan has not investigated your criminal allegations about Morgan and Edwards. However, in conducting his investigation, DCI Neligan has looked at the actions/decisions made by DI Smith when looking at the investigation of Morgan and Edwards.
 
I find the steps taken by DCI Neligan, in examining the actions of DI smith, to be proportionate and reasonable.
 
Point 3, I similarly refer to the response to point 2 above.
 
Point 4, DCI Neligan is being asked to consider if DI Smith has committed a criminal offence, by his (Smith) not investigating your criminal allegations any further. DCI Neligan has concluded that the actions of DI Smith are correct and therefore there are no criminal actions for the CPS to consider. I concur with that rationale.
 
On the basis of this assessment the conclusion reached by the Investigating Officer, DCI Neligan is appropriate. I do not uphold your appeal.
 
2.    Is the decision that the police have made about whether an officer has a case to answer for misconduct appropriate?
Yes. The outcome of the Investigation is appropriate and the Investigating Officer has concluded there is insufficient evidence to prove a case of misconduct against DI Smith. I do not uphold your appeal.
 
3.    Are the force’s proposed actions following the investigation adequate?
Yes. The Investigation has not found a case to answer and no action has been proposed. I do not uphold your appeal.
 
4.    Have you been provided with adequate information following the investigation of your complaint?
 
Yes. The original report by DCI Neligan addresses all of the complaints submitted by you, the rationale behind the conclusions reached, and includes your right to appeal. I do not uphold your appeal.
 
5.    Has the investigation been referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)? If not, is this decision appropriate?
The report has not been referred to the CPS. I consider this decision to be appropriate as the investigation and the underlying evidence does not indicate that a criminal offence has been made out.  I refer to my assessment under Point 4 above. I do not uphold your appeal.
 
After considering all the information available I have now made a decision about your appeal against the outcome of the investigation. I have not upheld your appeal.
 
You are not able to appeal against the assessment of your appeal. If you have any questions or need more information about the appeal decision please contact me using the details shown at the top of this letter.
 
2. Appeal against Disapplication
 
I will now respond to your other appeal, against the decision to disapply the requirements of Schedule 3 Police Reform Act 2002 to your complaint about ex-DSU Jeff Curtis. Your appeal was received on 27th April 2014. An appeal may be made to the relevant appeal body against a decision to disapply the requirements of Schedule 3 of the Police Reform Act 2002.  The Chief Officer (where they are the relevant appeal body) must determine whether the decision to disapply those requirements should have been taken. This appeal outcome is completed on behalf of Detective Superintendent Sarti, with delegated authority for dealing with Appeals on behalf of the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service
 
In determining your appeal, I must consider the following points ;
 
Has the complaint been, or should it have been, referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)?
 
The complaint about retired Detective Superintendent Curtis concerned his alleged conduct in 2003 and specifically, that he deliberately failed to investigate your original allegations against Mr Morgan & Mr Edwards despite promises made to you in a telephone conversation. Such a complaint does not meet the criteria for a mandatory referral to the IPCC, nor was it so referred (to the IPCC). The Relevant Appeal Body is therefore the Force itself.
 
Was the decision to disapply made with the permission of the IPCC?
 
No. The complaint was not referred and did not require referral to the IPCC. Therefore, permission to disapply was not required from the IPCC.
 
Was the complainant offered the opportunity to make representations before the decision to disapply was made and if any representations were provided, were these taken into account in making the decision to disapply?
 
Yes. Within the Outcome of Investigation report, dated 10th March 2014, included a request for you to provide reasons why your complaint concerning ex-DSU Jeff Curtis ought not to be disapplied on the basis that it was ‘out of time’ i.e. More than 12 months have elapsed between the date of the incident complained of and the making of the complaint, and no good reasons could be shown for that delay.  
 
You responded in your email of 6th April 2014, and those responses were considered by Chief Inspector Dunn who decided there were no good reasons for the delay of over 12 years in the making of the complaint. I accept that you had previously reported the matters originally to the Police Complaints Authority who had ‘rejected them’.
 
After considering your email of appeal, dated 27th April 2014, I consider the decision to disapply your complaint was appropriate. The incident complained of was more than 12 months before the complaint was made and no good reason for that delay has been demonstrated. Your appeal is not upheld.
 
Actions required of the MPS
The MPS will take no further action regarding your complaints or the appeals. You are not able to appeal the outcome of this appeal assessment. No further right of appeal exists with the IPCC. If you disagree with this appeal assessment, you are advised to seek independent legal advice.
 
Yours sincerely
 
 
David Corbet
Inspector
Appeals Unit
—————————————————————————-

!enquiries  Jul 10 at 4:27 PM

To

‘anywhere156@yahoo.co.uk’

Dear Mr Henderson

Thank you for your email of 8 July 2013.

I note that the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) have finalised the complaints that you made. You were provided with a right of appeal to the DPS Appeals Panel which you exercised. You were provided with the outcome of this appeal in an email dated 16 June 2014.

In this case, the IPCC is not able to take any action in relation to your appeal. The IPCC can only act as an appeals body in cases where we are named as the relevant appeal body. I have attached a Frequently Asked Questions sheet which explains how the relevant appeal body is decided upon.

The only avenue left open to you in terms of challenging the decision of the DPS Appeals Panel is judicial review. I appreciate that this is not the response that you were seeking from the IPCC, but I am unable to advise you any differently.

Yours sincerely

 

Jack Paynter

Customer Contact Advisor

Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)

Tel: 03000200096

enquiries@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk<mailto:jack.paynter@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk>

http://www.ipcc.gov.uk<;http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/&gt;

IPCC Statutory Guidance on the handling of police complaints<http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/page/statutory-guidance&gt;

————————————————————————————————————

Jack Paynter

Customer Contact Advisor

Independent Police Complaints Commission

PO Box 473

Sale

M33 0BW

17 July 2014

 

Dear Mr Paynter,

I have your response dated 10 July to my email of 8 July.  Having scoured the IPCC website I am at a loss to understand why the IPCC cannot take it on.

In the Statutory Guidance to the police service  on the handling of complaints

(yes, all 135 pages of it, an absurdly long and densely written document which is intended  for the guidance of the ordinary person) I found this:

Appeals

1.27 Chief officers now have responsibility for handling certain appeals. All appeals about the recording of complaints will continue to be dealt with by the IPCC. The IPCC will also deal with any appeal concerning a complaint about the conduct of a senior officer or complaints that have been or must be referred to the IPCC.

Please explain to me how my complaints about senior officers do not necessitate their referral to the IPCC.

The IPCC  Mandatory referral criteria contains this

The appropriate authority must refer complaints and conduct matters involving:

serious corruption

complaints or conduct matters which are alleged to have arisen from the same incident as anything falling within these criteria

Please explain to me why my complaints do not fall within these categories, especially  that of serious corruption.

Let me remind you exactly how serious and extensive are the complaints I have made against the police.  I  provided Operation Elveden with a letter to the PCC  from Piers Morgan  when he was editor of the Daily Mirror  – you should already have a copy of that letter in facsimile,  but I attach a copy to this email. In that letter Morgan admits that he received information (about me) from a Met Police officer in circumstances which can only have been illegal, viz: ““The police source of our article (whose identity we have a moral obligation to protect)…”

That letter alone would have been enough to charge Morgan and the Mirror’s then Chief Crime Reporter Jeff Edwards with criminal offences.  In addition, there was also the evidence of a Mirror story which corroborated the Morgan letter.  A copy of that Mirror story was supplied to Operation Elveden.

The officer who dealt with my original complaint, Det Supt Jeff Curtis of Scotland Yard,  promised me that he would interview Morgan and Edwards then failed to do so. I supplied Operation Eleveden with a tape recording of Curtis making the promise.  No contact with the Mirror was made.  This meant  that not only was no investigation made of the certain offences resulting from the admitted  illegal receipt of information  in Morgan’s letter, but no investigation of the possibility of the information having been purchased was made. It is probable that the information was purchased by the Mirror. All of that  constituted a clear misconduct in a public office and a perversion of the course of justice by Curtis.

My complaint to Operation Elveden has met with the same wilful neglect of my allegations of  serious crimes that Curtis displayed. Every person who has dealt with my complaint from Operation Elveden’s receipt of it to the rejection of my appeal has,  by ignoring the cast iron evidence of Morgan’s letter to the PCC, committed the crimes of misconduct in a public office and a perversion of the course of justice. These people are:

1. Operation Elveden

Deputy Assistant Commissioner  Steve Kavanagh

Commander Neil Basu

Detective Inspector Daniel Smith

2. Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS)

Det Chief Superintendant  Alaric Bonthron

Chief Inspector Andy Dunn

Det Chief Inspector Tim Neligan

Inspector David Corbet

I have also kept Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe fully informed of the nature and treatment of my complaints.

I want every one of these people investigated.

A very telling fact about my complaints to Operation Eleveden and the DPS is that, despite my numerous requests to do so, I have been unable to meet with any police officer handling the case.  That can only be explained by the facts of the case putting  the persistent  refusal to investigate beyond any reasonable explanation. Everyone involved knows I have given them an open and shut conviction.

I ask that I meet with someone senior from the IPCC, preferably Anne Owers.

There is a sinister absurdity in  the position you are claiming for the IPCC.  Iin effect you are saying that if a police force refuses to address a complaint honestly  and does not refer it to the IPCC,  then nothing can be done because the IPCC can only take cases which are referred to them.  In short, the police can get rid  of any complaint, no matter how serious,  simply by refusing to  record or refer it to the IPCC.  Do  you dispute my interpretation of the situation?

Your suggestion that judicial review could apply is frankly adding insult to injury because there are very few people who could afford such a hideously expensive legal action. It is the equivalent to telling a  poor man that the Ritz is open to all.

Yours sincerely,

 

Robert Henderson

———————————————————————————————

IPCC ref: 2014/030525

!enquiries  Today at 3:19 PM (21 July 2014)

To

‘robert henderson’

Dear Mr Henderson

Thank you for your email of 17 July 2014.

While I appreciate that you are unhappy that there is no avenue of appeal to the IPCC, I am unable to advise you any differently.

It is also significant that your allegation of corruption with regard to an unknown police officer passing information to the Daily Mirror was referred to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA)  in 1999. The IPCC is not able to deal with matters which were dealt with by the PCA.

However, I note that your email contains allegations about a number of officers within the Metropolitan Police which have not been made in your earlier complaint. Therefore, I have forwarded your email on to the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) so that these matters can be considered as a new complaint.

Finally, the IPCC is unable to accede to your request for a meeting.

Yours sincerely

Jack Paynter

Customer Contact Advisor

Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)

 

Tel: 03000200096

enquiries@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk

http://www.ipcc.gov.uk

IPCC Statutory Guidance on the handling of police complaints

 

—————————————————————————————————————

 

IPCC ref: 2014/030525

!enquiries  Today at 3:46 PM (21 July 2014)

To

‘anywhere156@yahoo.co.uk’

Dear Mr Henderson

Further to my earlier email, I write to confirm that I have forwarded your email to the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS). It is now their responsibility to assess the new allegations you have made.

Please find attached a Frequently Asked Questions sheet which may be of some use.

Yours sincerely

 

Jack Paynter

Customer Contact Advisor

Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)

Tel: 03000200096

enquiries@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk<mailto:jack.paynter@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk>

http://www.ipcc.gov.uk<;http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/&gt;

IPCC Statutory Guidance on the handling of police complaints<http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/page/statutory-guidance&gt;

—————————————————————————-

Jack Paynter

Customer Contact Advisor

Independent Police Complaints Commission

PO Box 473

Sale

M33 0BW

24  July 2014

 

Dear Mr Paynter,

I have your two emails of 21 July. Two points arise:

1. You have not answered  questions I put in my 8 July  email, viz:

Appeals

  1. 27 Chief officers now have responsibility for handling certain appeals. All appeals about the recording of complaints will continue to be dealt with by the IPCC. The IPCC will also deal with any appeal concerning a complaint about the conduct of a senior officer or complaints that have been or must be referred to the IPCC.

Please explain to me how my complaints about senior officers do not necessitate their referral to the IPCC.

The IPCC  Mandatory referral criteria contains this

The appropriate authority must refer complaints and conduct matters involving:

serious corruption

complaints or conduct matters which are alleged to have arisen from the same incident as anything falling within these criteria

Please explain to me why my complaints do not fall within these categories, especially  that of serious corruption. 

And

 There is a sinister absurdity in  the position you are claiming for the IPCC.  In effect you are saying that if a police force refuses to address a complaint honestly  and does not refer it to the IPCC,  then nothing can be done because the IPCC can only take cases which are referred to them.  In short, the police can get rid  of any complaint, no matter how serious,  simply by refusing to  record or refer it to the IPCC.  Do  you dispute my interpretation of the situation?

Do you refuse to answer these  questions? If so on what grounds? I would remind you that  the IPCC has a public service obligation  to answer reasonable questions from the public.  Your failure to answer my questions as a matter of  course suggests that I am correct in believing that the IPCC does have the power to take this matter.

2. You say that because my complaint against Det Supt Jeff Curtis was refused by the  Police Complaints Authority (PCA)  it cannot be taken by the IPCC.  The fact that it was refused by the DPA does one thing only: it unequivocally demonstrates  that the DPA were part of the corrupt manipulation of my complaints against the Mirror, the police and the Blairs. Despite having the proof of Morgan’s letter and the knowledge that Jeff Curtis had failed to investigate this clearest of evidence, they refused to take the matter up.  You can add them to the already large cast of those guilty of misconduct in a public office and a perversion of the course of justice.

What the IPCC needs to understand is that this whole affair was very political, in fact just about as political as it is possible to get.  If you look at the facsimile of Morgan’s letter to the PCC you will see that it involved Tony and Cherie Blair. During the six most important weeks of Blair’s life the Blairs  suddenly decided to try to have me prosecuted under the Malicious Communications Act for letters I had written to them seeking their help after I was grossly abused by the media  in 1995 and had exhausted all  avenues – PCC,  BBC Complaints,  my MP – without getting redress.  I wrote to Blair as the prospective next PM and his wife as a leading human rights lawyer.

The Blairs suffered the gross humiliation of having their attempt rebuffed by the Crown Prosecution Service within hours of it being referred to them – just think of the pressure on the CPS to do what Blair wanted –  with the CPS saying unequivocally my letters were perfectly legal.     Not only that,  but the Blairs did not go to the police when I sent them the letters. Rather, they only made their complaints later  after  I had  circulated them and the non-replies I was getting from their offices to every mainstream media outlet at the beginning of the 1997 election campaign. Clearly the Blairs were not disturbed by the content  of the letters as such. What worried them was their failure to meaningfully respond to my requests for help and a fear that this would be taken up by the mainstream media during the election campaign.

Tellingly, after the Blairs failed to have me prosecuted they failed to take any civil action (with its much lower evidential standard of the balance of probabilities) against me.  Instead they engaged in an illegal  ten year long harassment of me using  the state security apparatus and/or private operators. (The Mirror story which induced Morgan’s letter to the PCC stated that Special Branch had taken the matter up and  I subsequently used the Data Protection Act to prove that both Special Branch and MI5 had files on me). The harassment covered everything from death threats to the ostentatious opening of my post. The harassment ceased as soon as Blair left Downing Street.  In 1999 Sir Richard  Body put down this EDM for me:

10 November 1999

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.

This motion is now part of the official House of Commons record – see  http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetails.aspx?EDMID=16305&SESSION=702

I give you that brief précis so that you and your  colleagues can understand exactly why everyone from the police to the DPP have been so desperately keen to keep this story under wraps. Of course, the longer the time it extends, the more people involved, the greater the scandal  becomes and the more desperate is  the desire to censor the matter .

This is a wholly  exceptional matter.  I have given the IPCC the clearest evidence of wilful and sustained criminal behaviour throughout the police and justice system.  When the guards can longer be trusted, they need to be overthrown. The IPCC has the power to do that.

I ask again for a meeting with someone senior within the IPCC.   You can of course continue to refuse but think on this: if I do manage to get the scandal into the public fold the IPCC will have to explain exactly what it was doing covering up serious criminal behaviour by the police.

Yours sincerely,

 

Robert Henderson

Cc

Rachel Cerfontyne  (IPCC Deputy Chair)

Sarah Green  (IPCC Deputy Chair)

Cindy Butts (IPCC Commissioner)

Derrick Campbell (IPCC Commissioner)

Mary Cunneen(IPCC Commissioner)

James Dipple-Johnstone (IPCC Commissioner)

Carl Gumsley (IPCC Commissioner)

Jennifer Izekor (IPCC Commissioner)

Kathryn Stone(IPCC Commissioner)

Jan Williams (IPCC Commissioner)

Jonathan Tross (IPCC non-operational commissioner)

Ruth Evans (IPCC non-operational commissioner)

David Bird (IPCC non-operational commissioner)

Sue Whelan-Tracy (IPCC non-operational commissioner)

Amanda Kelly (IPCC Chief Executive)

Rt Hon Theresa May MP (Home Secretary)

Rt Hon Dominic Grieve MP (Attorney-General)

Alison Saunders (DPP)

G McGill (CPS Head of Organised Crime Division)

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner)

DCS Alaric Bonthron (Head of DPS)

DCI Tim Neligan (DPS)

CI Andy Dunn (DPS)

Commander Neil Basu (Head of Operation Elveden)

Detective Inspector Daniel Smith (Operation Elveden)

John Whittingdale MP

George Eustice MP

Sir Gerald Howarth MP

Mark.lewis@thlaw.co.uk

Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) Appeals Unit

—————————————————————————-

                  
Dame Anne Owers
Chair
Independent Police Complaints Commission
PO Box 473
Sale
M33 0BW
27 July 2014

 

Dear Dame Anne,
Further to my email of 8 July   I have had a look at the Police Reform Act 2002 which established the IPCC.  The sections of interest are:
 
12 Complaints, matters and persons to which Part 2 applies
(1)In this Part references to a complaint are references (subject to the following provisions of this section) to any complaint about the conduct of a person serving with the police which is made (whether in writing or otherwise) by—
(a)a member of the public who claims to be the person in relation to whom the conduct took place;….
(2)In this Part “conduct matter” means (subject to the following provisions of this section, paragraph 2(4) of Schedule 3 and any regulations made by virtue of section 23(2)(d)) any matter which is not and has not been the subject of a complaint but in the case of which there is an indication (whether from the circumstances or otherwise) that a person serving with the police may have—
 
(a)committed a criminal offence; or
(b)behaved in a manner which would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings.
(3)The complaints that are complaints for the purposes of this Part by virtue of subsection (1)(b) do not, except in a case falling within subsection (4), include any made by or on behalf of a person who claims to have been adversely affected as a consequence only of having seen or heard the conduct, or any of the alleged effects of the conduct….
 
(5)For the purposes of this section a person shall be taken to have witnessed conduct if, and only if—
 
(a)he acquired his knowledge of that conduct in a manner which would make him a competent witness capable of giving admissible evidence of that conduct in criminal proceedings; or
(b)he has in his possession or under his control anything which would in any such proceedings constitute admissible evidence of that conduct…..
 
My complaint ticks all the boxes:
1. I am the person directly involved.
2. The crimes which are the subject of my complaint misconduct in a public office and the perversion of the course of justice – are serious and thus  should have been submitted to the IPCC under the Mandatory Referral requirement.  The fact that they have not been submitted creates at least a disciplinary offence and quite possibly another  a criminal offence if it has been done with the intent of suppressing a crime.
3. I have supplied to the police conclusive evidence of a serious crime, namely, Morgan’s own written word that he received information from the police in circumstances which can only have been illegal, and conclusive evidence of a large number of police officers refusing to investigate the crime.
3. All the evidence I have is admissible, viz:
a) The copy of Morgan’s letter was sent to me by the PCC and hence was  not obtained by theft or subterfuge.
b) The Mirror story which utilised the illegal information is public knowledge.
c)  It is a checkable fact (just look at the police record of my original complaint) that Det Supt  Jeff Curtis did not interview Piers Morgan, Jeff  Edwards or any other Mirror employee or freelance and consequently did not make any examination of the Mirror’s records to see if they had  paid for the  information.
d) The evidence of the persistent failure of the police from Operation Elveden to the Directorate of  Professional Standards to investigate the conclusive evidence of  serious crime is contained my correspondence with Operation Elveden and the DPS, copies of which the IPCC has and which I again  include below.
Please explain to me by return why the IPCC is refusing to take up my complaint.  The refusal is  clearly in breach of the law.
Yours sincerely,
Robert Henderson
CC
Rachel Cerfontyne  (IPCC Deputy Chair)
Sarah Green  (IPCC Deputy Chair)
Cindy Butts (IPCC Commissioner)
Derrick Campbell (IPCC Commissioner)
Mary Cunneen(IPCC Commissioner)
James Dipple-Johnstone (IPCC Commissioner)
Carl Gumsley (IPCC Commissioner)
Jennifer Izekor (IPCC Commissioner)
Kathryn Stone(IPCC Commissioner)
Jan Williams (IPCC Commissioner)
Jonathan Tross (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
 Ruth Evans (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
 David Bird (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
Sue Whelan-Tracy (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
Amanda Kelly (IPCC Chief Executive)
Rt Hon Theresa May MP (Home Secretary)
Rt Hon Dominic Grieve MP (Attorney-General)
Alison Saunders (DPP)
G McGill (CPS Head of Organised Crime Division)
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner)
DCS Alaric Bonthron (Head of DPS)
DCI Tim Neligan (DPS)
CI Andy Dunn (DPS)
Commander Neil Basu (Head of Operation Elveden)
Detective Inspector Daniel Smith (Operation Elveden)
John Whittingdale MP
George Eustice MP
Sir Gerald Howarth MP
Mark.lewis@thlaw.co.uk
Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) Appeals Unit

—————————————————————————–

PCC ref: 2014/030525

!enquiries  Jul 28 at 4:45 PM

To

‘anywhere156@yahoo.co.uk’

Dear Mr Henderson

Thank you for your two emails of 24 and 27 July 2014. I will endeavour to answer the points that you raised.

In your email of 24 July 2014, you questioned why your complaints against senior officers had not been referred to the IPCC. To support your assertion that your complaints should have been referred to the IPCC because they were against senior officers, you quote the following passage from the IPCC Statutory Guidance:

‘Appeals

1.27 Chief officers now have responsibility for handling certain appeals. All appeals about the recording of complaints will continue to be dealt with by the IPCC. The IPCC will also deal with any appeal concerning a complaint about the conduct of a senior officer or complaints that have been or must be referred to the IPCC.’

However, this passage does not state that complaints against senior officers need to be referred to the IPCC. Rather, it states that the IPCC will act as the relevant appeal body for any complaint about the conduct of a senior officer.

I note that your complaints are against a DI Smith and a DS Curtis. In the context of the above passage, a senior officer is an officer holding a rank above Chief Superintendent.

In both your emails of 24 and 27 July, you repeat your assertion that your complaints should have been referred to the IPCC because they constitute serious corruption. However, both of your complaints against DI Smith and DS Curtis essentially amount to an allegation that they have failed to investigate criminal allegations against Mr Piers Morgan and Mr Jeff Edwards.

While I accept that your original complaint against the unnamed officer who passed information to Mr Piers Morgan would meet the mandatory referral criteria, I again remind you that this incident was referred to our predecessor the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) in 1999. The IPCC is not able to deal with matters which  have already been dealt with by the PCA.

I hope that my email is satisfactory.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Jack Paynter

Customer Contact Advisor

Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)

 

Tel: 03000200096

enquiries@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk<mailto:jack.paynter@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk>

http://www.ipcc.gov.uk<;http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/&gt;

IPCC Statutory Guidance on the handling of police complaints<http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/page/statutory-guidance&gt;

—————————————————————————–

Dame Anne Owers
Chair
Independent Police Complaints Commission
PO Box 473
Sale
M33 0BW
6  August  2014
Dear Dame Anne,
On 28 July I  received yet another reply from Jack Paynter  (see below) which failed to address the question  of the IPCC’s legal obligations to investigate. He seems to either be unaware of the IPCC’s own definition of corruption or is aware of it and is cynically using that well tried and tested bureaucratic trick of trying to exhaust  a complainant by multiplying correspondence through a deliberate failure to answer questions adequately or at all.
Mr Painter takes issue with me over  the meaning of corruption.  He claims that my complaints post Jeff Curtis do not fall within the meaning of the word as far as the IPCC is concerned. Well, here is the IPCC definition, viz.:
 
35. Police forces and police authorities are required by law to refer complaints or conduct matters to the IPCC if the allegation includes serious corruption which is defined in the IPCC’s Statutory Guidance  2010 as including:
• Any attempt to pervert the course of justice or other conduct likely seriously to harm the administration of justice, in particular the criminal justice system
• Payments or other benefits or favours received in connection with the performance or duties amounting to an offence in relation to which a magistrates’ court would be likely to decline jurisdiction
• Corrupt controller, handler or informer relationships 
 •Provision of confidential information in return for payment or other benefits or favours where the conduct goes beyond a possible prosecution for an offence under section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998
• Extraction and supply of seized controlled drugs, firearms or other material
• Attempts or conspiracies to do any of the above18
All my complaints against the police  are of misconduct in a public office and the perversion of the course of justice. The offences arise from a failure to act on conclusive evidence of criminal behaviour by Piers Morgan and Jeff Edwards when they were employed by the Daily Mirror.  Ergo, these complaints  indubitably fall under  the IPCC’s “Any attempt to pervert the course of justice or other conduct likely seriously to harm the administration of justice, in particular the criminal justice system”. They are also  relevant offences which  qualifies them for mandatory referral to the IPCC..
By own rules and regulations you cannot legally refuse to investigate these complaints. The fact that they have not been submitted automatically to the IPCC as the law requires also means you need to take action against the responsible officers for failing to comply with the law. Most importantly, you must ensure  that an investigation of Piers Morgan and Jeff Edwards is begun  ASAP.   If you fail to do any or all of  these things you will yourself be guilty of misconduct in a public office and arguably of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
That leaves my complaint against De Supt Jeff Curtis and the failure of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) in 1999 to investigate my complaints. Mr Painter says that the IPCC cannot investigate complaints rejected by the PCA  Please let me know the legal basis for this claim.
But  regardless of whether there is such a legal bar, if the other police officers who have entered the picture since Jeff Curtis’ involvement are investigated it would be absurd if Curtis was not also investigated.
I ask once again to meet you.
Yours sincerely,
Robert Henderson
Cc Rachel Cerfontyne  (IPCC Deputy Chair)
Sarah Green  (IPCC Deputy Chair)
Cindy Butts (IPCC Commissioner)
Derrick Campbell (IPCC Commissioner)
Mary Cunneen(IPCC Commissioner)
James Dipple-Johnstone (IPCC Commissioner)
Carl Gumsley (IPCC Commissioner)
Jennifer Izekor (IPCC Commissioner)
Kathryn Stone(IPCC Commissioner)
Jan Williams (IPCC Commissioner)
Jonathan Tross (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
 Ruth Evans (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
 David Bird (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
Sue Whelan-Tracy (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
Amanda Kelly (IPCC Chief Executive)
Rt Hon Theresa May MP (Home Secretary)
Rt Hon Dominic Grieve MP (Attorney-General)
Alison Saunders (DPP)
G McGill (CPS Head of Organised Crime Division)
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner)
DCS Alaric Bonthron (Head of DPS)
DCI Tim Neligan (DPS)
CI Andy Dunn (DPS)
Commander Neil Basu (Head of Operation Elveden)
Detective Inspector Daniel Smith (Operation Elveden)
John Whittingdale MP
George Eustice MP
Sir Gerald Howarth MP
Mark.lewis@thlaw.co.uk
Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) Appeals Unit
 —————————————————————-
!enquiries  Aug 12 at 3:15 PM
To ‘robert henderson’
Dear Mr Henderson
Thank you for your email dated 6 August 2014, unfortunately Dame Anne is not in a position to respond to individual enquires and your email has been passed to the Customer Contact Team to respond.
I am sorry that you feel we were unable to answer your questions in our previous response, however our position remains the same.  This incident was referred to our predecessor the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) in 1999, the IPCC is not able to deal with matters which  have already been dealt with by the PCA.
Kind Regards
Claire Parker
Customer Contact Advisor
Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)
PO Box 473
Sale
M33 0BW
Tel: 0300 020 0096
enquiries@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk<mailto:enquiries@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk>
IPCC Statutory Guidance on the handling of police complaints<http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/page/statutory-guidance&gt;
—————————————————————————-
Dame Anne Owers
Chair
Independent Police Complaints Commission
PO Box 473
Sale
M33 0BW
17  August  2014
Dear Dame Anne,
As you will see from the email from Claire Parker  immediately below I have been sent  yet another reply from your office which fails to answer my questions.  Let me list the questions again:
1. Since when has a senior public servant not been in a position to answer individual queries from a member of the public with serious and pertinent reasons to ask for a meeting, namely, (1) the persistent refusal of the Met Police to investigate serious crimes and  (2) the persistent refusal of IPCC staff to engage with the clearest evidence of serious criminality within the Met Police?
2. In my last email to you (6 August) I asked for the  legal basis for Mr Paynter’s  claim that a complaint already reviewed by the Police Complaints Authority (PCA)  – my complaint against De Supt Jeff Curtis – could not be investigated by the IPCC.  Ms Parker has failed to provide the legal basis. Please supply it.
3. I wrote this in my last email to you: “All my complaints against the police  are of misconduct in a public office and the perversion of the course of justice. The offences arise from a failure to act on conclusive evidence of criminal behaviour by Piers Morgan and Jeff Edwards when they were employed by the Daily Mirror.  Ergo, these complaints  indubitably fall under  the IPCC’s “Any attempt to pervert the course of justice or other conduct likely seriously to harm the administration of justice, in particular the criminal justice system”. They are also  relevant offences which  qualifies them for mandatory referral to the IPCC.”  Ms Carter has failed to address this matter. Please explain to me why my complaints other than the one concerning Det Sup Jeff Curtis do not fall within the IPCC’s remit.
You are treading on very dangerous ground Dame Anne.  I have provided you with ample opportunity to take up these matters and your refusal to do already constitutes the criminal offence of misconduct in a public office and arguably  is an attempt to pervert the course of justice as the IPCC is de facto part of the justice system.
If the story got into the public fold you probably would be tempted to claim that you knew nothing about the business.
That would be a difficult position to sustain because (1) I have circulated my emails relating to the matter, including my emails to you, to enough people within the IPCC and the Police to make it improbable that you would not know of the case and  (2) the nature of those involved with the case,  including most importantly Tony and Cherie Blair, makes  it exceedingly likely that it would have been  brought to your attention.
Throughout my ten year battle with the Blairs I had these  senior police officers personally deal with my complaints against the Blairs and others such as Piers Morgan who were attached to the story:
Det Chief Supt Tony Dawson – The Met’s Internal Investigations Command
Dept Supt Jeff Curtis
Chief Supt John Yates
Chief Supt Eric Brown
Supt Cliff Hughes
Supt Alex Fish
Chief Inspector Julia Wortley
Chief Inspector Ian West
Det Chief Inspector Stephen Kershaw
 My complaints ranged from  the Blairs’ attempts to pervert the course of justice by making allegations to the police about me which as lawyers they must have known were bogus to the death threats I was receiving.  As I am sure you are aware officers of this seniority  would not normally be involved at the operational level with such allegations of crimes.  Yet I had the likes of Tony Dawson – a very influential as well as senior copper – personally taking my statements.  The only reasonable explanation for such utterly exceptional treatment was the Blairs’ involvement.
You have a legal obligation to answer my questions.  I suggest you do it before  you put yourself unambiguously into the realm of criminality.  I ask again that we meet to discuss the matter.
One further point.  In his email to me of 21 Jusly Mr Paynter wrote “…I note that your email contains allegations about a number of officers within the Metropolitan Police which have not been made in your earlier complaint. Therefore, I have forwarded your email on to the Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) so that these matters can be considered as a new complaint.”
I have received nothing from the DPS after 4 weeks.  Please take action to make the DPS contact me about  these complaints. Incidentally, they all fall within the IPCC definition of corruption. Therefore,  the DPS has a mandatory duty to refer them to you.
Yours sincerely,
Robert Henderson
Cc Rachel Cerfontyne  (IPCC Deputy Chair)
Sarah Green  (IPCC Deputy Chair)
Cindy Butts (IPCC Commissioner)
Derrick Campbell (IPCC Commissioner)
Mary Cunneen(IPCC Commissioner)
James Dipple-Johnstone (IPCC Commissioner)
Carl Gumsley (IPCC Commissioner)
Jennifer Izekor (IPCC Commissioner)
Kathryn Stone(IPCC Commissioner)
Jan Williams (IPCC Commissioner)
Jonathan Tross (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
 Ruth Evans (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
 David Bird (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
Sue Whelan-Tracy (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
Amanda Kelly (IPCC Chief Executive)
Rt Hon Theresa May MP (Home Secretary)
Rt Hon Dominic Grieve MP (Attorney-General)
Alison Saunders (DPP)
G McGill (CPS Head of Organised Crime Division)
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner)
DCS Alaric Bonthron (Head of DPS)
DCI Tim Neligan (DPS)
CI Andy Dunn (DPS)
Commander Neil Basu (Head of Operation Elveden)
Detective Inspector Daniel Smith (Operation Elveden)
John Whittingdale MP
George Eustice MP
Sir Gerald Howarth MP
Mark.lewis@thlaw.co.uk
Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) Appeals Unit
—————————————————————————-IPCC 2014/030525enquiries  Aug 26 at 10:17 AMTo

‘anywhere156@yahoo.co.uk’

Dear Mr Henderson,

Thank you for your email of 17 August 2014.

For the legal basis of my assertion that the IPCC is unable to take action with regard to a complaint that was referred to and investigated by the PCA, please refer to The Independent Police Complaints Commission (Transitional Provisions) Order 2004.

With regard to your query as to why your subsequent complaints have not been referred to the IPCC, please refer to my email of 28 July 2014. Please note, I consider that I have dealt with these matters in my previous emails. Any further emails received which raise matters which have previously been deal with will be filed, but not responded to. However, as you have not received a recording decision concerning the complaint I forwarded on 21 July 2014 within 15 working days, I have forwarded your email to our Casework Administration department. They will process your appeal and you will receive a formal acknowledgment in due course. Please send any appeal related information via email to northcasework@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk.

Finally, I note that you continue to copy numerous individuals within the IPCC into your emails. As you may have gathered, these emails are passed to the Customer Contact Centre to be dealt with. In future, please send any emails concerning your appeal to northcasework@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk<mailto:northcasework@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk>. Any general enquiries should be sent to enquiries@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk<mailto:enquiries@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk>. If you continue to send your emails to multiple individuals within the IPCC, we may consider restricting your email access to the organisation.

Yours sincerely

 

Jack Paynter

Customer Contact Advisor

Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)

 

Tel: 03000200096

enquiries@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk<mailto:jack.paynter@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk>

http://www.ipcc.gov.uk<;http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/&gt;

IPCC Statutory Guidance on the handling of police complaints<http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/page/statutory-guidance&gt;

———————————————————————————————————————-

 

Dame Anne Owers

Chair

Independent Police Complaints Commission

PO Box 473

Sale

M33 0BW

30  August  2014

 

Dear Dame Anne,

I have received  another email from your office, this time from Jack Paynter. His email is dated 26 August. A copy is directly below.

Mr Paynter has answered one of my questions, namely, the authority which debars complaints submitted to the Police Complaints Authority being accepted by the IPCC, viz:

“(3) No conduct matter shall be recorded under paragraph 10 or 11 of Schedule 3 to the 2002 Act if its subject-matter was previously submitted to the appropriate authority or referred to the Authority under Chapter 1 of Part 4 of the Police Act 1996 and as respects that complaint or matter any of the events mentioned in paragraph (1)(a) to (e) occurred.”

( The Independent Police Complaints Commission (Transitional Provisions) Order 2004).

As my complaint to the PCA was corruptly rejected by them,  the legislation leads to the dangerous (for justice)   situation whereby  a complainant has no remedy for a gross  abuse of power.  However, in view of the legal position I will set this complaint aside for the moment.

That does not get out of the deep hole you have dug for yourself. The rest of my complaints were never submitted to the PCA. Hence,  the IPCC has a legal obligation to accept the complaints and a legal obligation to take disciplinary action against the various police officers who have failed to perform  their mandatory  duty of referring the complaints to the IPCC  – all my complaints are relevant offences  and hence the referral to you is mandatory

Mr Paynter has simply ignored these matters, both in his latest email and his previous ones.  It is high time you dealt with these matters yourself. You have the full details of the outstanding complaints   in my previous emails so I will not repeat them.

One last thing, Mr Paynter complains about the fact that I have been circulating my emails to the senior management of the IPCC and threatens to restrict my ability to email them.  That is very telling. Stopping the circulation of damaging  facts  is the final refuge of the public servant in trouble because they have misbehaved. I am writing to the senior management to ensure that the failure of the IPCC to do its legal duty is known to each and every one of you so that none of those emailed will be able to say they did not know what was going on when the matter becomes public.

I repeat my request to meet with you.

Yours sincerely,

 

Robert Henderson

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Independent Police Complaints Commission
PO Box 473
Sale
M33 0BW
Our reference no: 2014/030525
Mr Robert Henderson
156 Levita House
Chalton St
London NW1 1HR
11 September 2014
Dear Mr Henderson .
Thank you for your appeal, received in this office on 17 August 2014. You asked us to review the non-recording of your complaint by the Metropolitan Police.
This letter acknowledges receipt of your appeal. However, none of the issues have yet been considered.
As part of the appeals process the IPCC will contact the relevant chief officer or local policing body, to get all the papers they hold about your complaint. We will use this to assess your appeal.
We are currently experiencing a significant volume of work and therefore it may take up to 8 weeks for your appeal to be allocated a casework manager. We would like to assure you that we are doing all we can to manage our appeals work effectively and apologise for any delay you may experience. It is possible that your appeal may be allocated more quickly than this.
If you have any further information in support of your appeal  you should provide this to us immediately.  Any addition information you provide should relate to your original complaint. You will not be able to  provide additional information for us to consider after a decision has been made on your appeal or about any new complaint you have made or will be  making.
We deal with appeals in date order based on the date they are received by the IPCC.  Please see the appeals area of the IPCC website for the latest forecast of the overall delay , and the date of receipt of appeals that are currently allocated and being reviewed by a Casework Manager.
Our role is to review whether or not the chief officer is the appropriate authority to consider your complaint  and whether or not they should have recorded the matter as a complaint under  the Police Reform Act 2002.  If you have not been given a recording decision we can direct the chief officer to provide you with this. Once we have completed the review, the decision we make about your appeal is final. Any direction  made about recording our complaint is not an indication from the IPCC about the merit of your complaint.
Yours sincerely,
Peter Keane
Casework Administrator
Mr Peter Keane
Casework Administrator
Independent Police Complaints Commission
PO Box 473
Sale
M33 0BW
Tel: 0161 246 8502
northcasework@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk

——————————————————————————————————————————-

Independent Police Complaints Commission
Mr Peter Keane
Casework Administrator
PO Box 473
Sale
M33 0BW
23 September  2014
Your  reference no: 2014/030525
Dear Mr Keane,
I have just received your letter of 11 September. There are problems with the mail in my area because deliveries are being outsourced to a private company who are regularly dumping post rather than delivering  it.  Consequently, it would be better to conduct future correspondence with me by email.
To ensure you have copies of  the full correspondence relating to this case I enclose that correspondence below. It contains everything from my initial contact with Operation Elveden to my last email to Anne Owers dated 30 August.
The important thing to grasp is that my complaints fall within the category of those which must as a matter of legal obligation be referred by the police to the IPCC. The IPCC  Mandatory referral criteria contains this
 
The appropriate authority must refer complaints and conduct matters involving:
serious corruption
complaints or conduct matters which are alleged to have arisen from the same incident as anything falling within these criteria
Serious corruption
For the purposes of paragraphs 4(1)(b) and 13(1)(b) of Schedule 3 to the 2002 Act
and regulations 2(2)(a)(iii) and 5(1)(c) of the Regulations, the term ‘serious
corruption’ shall refer to conduct that includes:
• Any attempt to pervert the course of justice or other conduct likely to seriously harm
the administration of justice, in particular the criminal justice system
• Payments or other benefits or favours received in the connection with the
performance of duties where a Magistrates’ Court would be likely to decline
jurisdiction
• Corrupt controller/handler/informer relationships
• Provision of confidential information in return for payment or other benefits or
favours where the conduct goes beyond a possible prosecution for an offence under
section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998
• Extraction and supply of seized controlled drugs, firearms or other material
• Attempts or conspiracies to do any of the above.
 
All of my complaints apart from that against Supt Jeff Curtis fall within those regulations.  I have made this clear to the IPCC in my emails to  Anne Owers dated 8 July, 6 August, 17 August and 30 August and my email to Jack Paynter dated 17 July and  24 July.
When obtaining the information from the various police bodies involved please ensure that everything a sent to Operation Elveden is obtain. This includes a tape recording of Jeff Curtis promising to interview the Mirror editor and other personnel which he then failed to do.
Yours sincerely,
Robert Henderson
Cc Anne Owers (IPCC Chair)
Rachel Cerfontyne  (IPCC Deputy Chair)
Sarah Green  (IPCC Deputy Chair)
Cindy Butts (IPCC Commissioner)
Derrick Campbell (IPCC Commissioner)
Mary Cunneen(IPCC Commissioner)
James Dipple-Johnstone (IPCC Commissioner)
Carl Gumsley (IPCC Commissioner)
Jennifer Izekor (IPCC Commissioner)
Kathryn Stone(IPCC Commissioner)
Jan Williams (IPCC Commissioner)
Jonathan Tross (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
 Ruth Evans (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
 David Bird (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
Sue Whelan-Tracy (IPCC non-operational commissioner)
Amanda Kelly (IPCC Chief Executive)
Rt Hon Theresa May MP (Home Secretary)
Rt Hon Dominic Grieve MP (Attorney-General)
Alison Saunders (DPP)
G McGill (CPS Head of Organised Crime Division)
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Commissioner)
DCS Alaric Bonthron (Head of DPS)
DCI Tim Neligan (DPS)
CI Andy Dunn (DPS)
Commander Neil Basu (Head of Operation Elveden)
Detective Inspector Daniel Smith (Operation Elveden)
John Whittingdale MP
George Eustice MP
Sir Gerald Howarth MP
Mark.lewis@thlaw.co.uk
Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) Appeals Unit

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From: !NorthCasework <_NorthCasework@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk>
To: “‘anywhere156@yahoo.co.uk'” <anywhere156@yahoo.co.uk>
Sent: Wednesday, 24 September 2014, 12:26
Subject: IPCC appeal – 2014/030525

Our ref: 2014/030525

Dear Mr Henderson

Thank you for contacting the IPCC.

I have made a note on your case to ensure that all  future correspondence is now sent to you via email rather than post.

This email acknowledges receipt, it is not a response to any points you have raised. Your correspondence will be reviewed and a response will be sent to you.

Yours sincerely

Lucy Quin
Casework Administrator
Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC)
PO Box 473
Sale
M33 0BW
Tel:  (+44) 0161 246 8502
Email: northcasework@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk<mailto:northcasework@ipcc.gsi.gov.uk>
http://www.ipcc.gov.uk<;http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/>
IPCC Statutory Guidance on the handling of police complaints<http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/page/statutory-guidance>
——————————————————————————————————————————-
Lucy Quin
Casework Administrator
Independent Police Complaints Commission
PO Box 473
Sale
M33 0BW
23 September  2014
Your  reference no: 2014/030525
Dear Ms Quinn,
I attach a facsimile copy of the Piers Morgan letter to the PCC in which he admits receiving information  from the police in circumstances which can only have been illegal.  I have supplied this to all the parties mentioned in  the voluminous correspondence I have copied to Mr Keane  and you should have it already. I send it to you to make absolutely certain that this vital piece of evidence does not go missing before the appeal takes place.
Yours sincerely,
Robert Henderson

Politics has no place in a charity

Robert Henderson

There are many aspects of modern charities which run contrary what is still, despite all the bad publicity charities have had in recent years,  the general public’s  idea of what a  charity should be;  an organisation which is doing good works by raising money from individuals,  is the reverse of self-serving  and  a morally good thing.

There is much dislike about  modern charities. They   are frequently incompetently run, often too much of a charity’s income goes on administration, especially the pay of the senior staff, embezzlement by the staff of charities  is too frequent for comfort  and larger charities often take much of their funding from the state.  However, those weaknesses are not the subject of this piece.  What I am concerned with here is the political aspect of charities in Britain, an aspect which seems to loom ever larger.

Charities in Britain are very often overtly political, using much of their income to lobby politicians, pay for what are essentially political adverts  and research which is no better than  propaganda.  The Charity Commission’s rules forbid charities being set up for a political purpose ,  charities campaigning for a political party or charities campaigning for a political end which does not accord with the declared  purposes of the charity. Charities may lobby politicians and engage in campaigns which are inherently political to their heart’s content  provided they observe  these rules.  The full Charity Commission Guidance on political activity by  charities can be found here . In summary it is :

To be a charity an organisation must be established for charitable purposes only, which are for the public benefit. An organisation will not be charitable if its purposes are political.

Campaigning and political activity can be legitimate and valuable activities for charities to undertake.

However, political campaigning, or political activity, as defined in this guidance, must be undertaken by a charity only in the context of supporting the delivery of its charitable purposes. Unlike other forms of campaigning, it must not be the continuing and sole activity of the charity. (Section D5 provides a fuller explanation.)

There may be situations where carrying out political activity is the best way for trustees to support the charity’s purposes. A charity may choose to focus most, or all, of its resources on political activity for a period. The key issue for charity trustees is the need to ensure that this activity is not, and does not become, the reason for the charity’s existence.

Charities can campaign for a change in the law, policy or decisions (as detailed in this guidance in section C4) where such change would support the charity’s purposes. Charities can also campaign to ensure that existing laws are observed.

 However, a charity cannot exist for a political purpose, which is any purpose directed at furthering the interests of any political party, or securing or opposing a change in the law, policy or decisions either in this country or abroad.

In the political arena, a charity must stress its independence and ensure that any involvement it has with political parties is balanced. A charity must not give support or funding to a political party, nor to a candidate or politician.

A charity may give its support to specific policies advocated by political parties if it would help achieve its charitable purposes. However, trustees must not allow the charity to be used as a vehicle for the expression of the political views of any individual trustee or staff member (in this context we mean personal or party political views).

 As with any decision they make, when considering campaigning and political activity charity trustees must carefully weigh up the possible benefits against the costs and risks in deciding whether the campaign is likely to be an effective way of furthering or supporting the charity’s purposes.

 When campaigning, charity trustees must comply not only with charity law, but other civil and criminal laws that may apply. Where applicable they should also comply with the Code of the Advertising Standards Authority.

A charity can campaign using emotive or controversial material, where this is lawful and justifiable in the context of the campaign. Such material must be factually accurate and have a legitimate evidence base.

The principles of charity campaigning and political activity are the same, whether the activity is carried out in the United Kingdom or overseas.

These rules allow charities to quite legally act as campaign groups and lobbyists and in practice charities often  get away with  throwing over even the mild restraints that the Charity Commission imposes.

Why should their politicisation be a concern? Because  such behaviour  undermines the very  idea of a charity, which generally is to pursue unambiguously beneficent ends.  Bring the pursuit of political  ends into the picture and  the moral purity of the charity is tarnished.  I would also doubt whether the general public would want the state the state to  provide privileges such as tax breaks for charities  while they  press their own political agendas.

Which charities now existing should have their status removed?

Where a charity receives a substantial part of its income from state bodies, as many of the larger ones now do, the use of the money to campaign for a political end is doubly unwarranted, for charities which receive money from public funds are not really charities at all but subcontracted arms of the state.   Receipt of state money should mean no charitable status. (The practice of politicking is strong amongst charities which receive substantial funds from the public purse).

The donation of money by non-state bodies such as limited companies or organisations which are not commercial enterprises , for example trade unions,  should  be banned where the donations are such as to promote the interests of the donor.

Individual  donations  should be left to the discretion of the donor, but the charity should be legally obliged to provide  the name of any donor providing more than 5% of a charity’s donations in any financial year, together with details of the person’s background including their political and commercial interest if they have them.

Some types of charity are  too  inescapably  political to be charities. These include those concerned with human rights,  immigration, race relations and   charities which promote the cause of particular groups (especially ethnic minorities).

Charities which support criminality either directly through or indirectly, for example, by supplying goods and services which release funds to be spent on criminal activities such as terrorism.   Good examples are Islamic charities which overtly or covertly support terrorism. There is also the problem  of ostensibly legitimate mainstream charities donating to other  charities which have links to terrorists.

Think Tanks which do nothing but produce reports and papers for discussion  should not be charities  because by definition they are not providing active relief  of suffering or directly promoting something which is socially valuable.

Charitable status should only be granted for charitable work undertaken in the UK. The British taxpayer  should not subsidise by the  granting  of tax relief work which does not benefit Britons.

Whether or not  a charity currently  pursuing political ends under the present rules receives money from the  state, they should no longer have charitable status if they insist on political campaigning.  They should sail under their true colours as political organisations  and be subject to the same rules as other non-charitable bodies.  Such organisations could be profit-making or non-profit-making and be treated as other political organisations which are not charities are treated.

None of the exclusions I have proposed mean that people will not be able to donate funds to whatever cause they wish to donate. All it means is that such donations will go to organisations which  no longer have the tax privileges or  the moral status of a charity.

What  work should charities do?

They should be reformed to be what the general public thinks a charity should be, a beneficent organisation giving active help to people  and other indisputable good causes which draws  its money  not from the state but from private donations drawn only from individuals.  To this end charities should exist simply to provide goods and services to ameliorate the deficiency that they ostensibly were founded to lessen, whether that be the alleviation of an obvious need such as poverty or sickness  or to provide something which is not an absolute need but which will be socially valuable such as specialist types of education such as music schools.

What would this mean in practice? Let me give a few examples.

1. Oxfam would cease to engage in political campaigning and concentrate solely on providing help to the poor.

2. Medical charities would cease to lobby for more government spending on medicine and concentrate solely on providing treatment and support to sufferers.

3. The RSPCA  and the RSPB would confine themselves to providing for the welfare of animals by funding care  for abandoned animals and  purchasing land to  provide habitat  for specific wild species .

The advantages of these  changes

The removal of politics from charities and of  the state subcontracting  to charities would change the relationship between  the public and charities for the better, because the reality of  charities would then be much closer to both their traditional role and the present day perception of what a charity should be  in the public mind. That would be likely to increase donations.

Charities would  be much  less susceptible to political or commercial influence if they do not take money from the state or private corporations.

The changes would  remove large swathes of charities which are manifestly not in the national interest . Any work overseas would not be classed as charitable and the army of human rights, immigration and ethnic minority charities would cease to be charities.

The type of person attracted to charity work would probably change significantly if the political aspect was removed.  The charities which were left would have to concentrate on providing practical  aid to the causes which they espouse.  People would join because they wanted to be ministering directly to ends of the charity.

Film review – Transcendence

Transcendence

Main Cast

Johnny Depp as Dr. Will Caster, an artificial-intelligence researcher.

Morgan Freeman as Joseph Tagger,  a government scientist

Rebecca Hall as Evelyn Caster, Caster’s wife and a fellow academic.

Kate Mara as Bree, the leader of Revolutionary Independence From Technology (R.I.F.T.)

Cillian Murphy as Donald Buchanan, an FBI agent.

Cole Hauser as Colonel Stevens, a military officer.

Paul Bettany as Max Waters, Caster’s best friend.

Director:  Wally Pfister

In terms of pure filmmaking this is a seriously flawed film. The dialogue is often clunking, there is a lack of character development and  the storyline is  weak.   Nonetheless, it  is a work  which will repay  seeing  because it deals with the  lethally threatening potential  of digital technology, threats  which will almost certainly become reality within the lifetime of most people now living.

Will Caster (Depp) is a scientist specialising in artificial intelligence. He is married to Evelyn  (Rebecca Hall) who works in the same field.  As the film opens Caster  believes he is close to creating an artificial intelligence  that is truly sentient and  which he believes  will create a technological singularity – the point at which computer technology exceeds the capability of homo sapiens – a state  which  Caster calls Transcendence.

This hope is cut short when  Caster is shot by a neo-Luddite group,   the  Revolutionary Independence From Technology (R.I.F.T.),  who also  carry out a  attacks on his artificial-intelligence computer laboratories.  Caster survives the shot but the bullet is coated with radioactive material for  which there is no antidote.  The prognosis is that he has about a month to live.

Evelyn refuses to accept his imminent death and  with the help of Caster’s best friend  Max  (Paul Bettany)  arranges to upload Caster’s consciousness, personality, mind – call it what you will – to a quantum computer. Max  helps  do this despite the fact that he has grave doubts about the wisdom of the act. His doubts rest on the possibility that  Caster’s brain contents will not  be uploaded  uncorrupted or that a  Caster reduced to a digital form will not be Caster anymore  because of the immense change in his environment..

Once uploaded Caster appears on the computer screen looking and sounding  like his real world self, although there is a  new coldness  about him. He  immediately  demands to be connected to the Internet. Max sees the profound dangers of this if Caster in a computer is malign rather than benign  or simply inhuman for he will be able to copy himself throughout the Internet. Consequently, Max  tries to persuade Evelyn not to do it.    Evelyn,  obsessed with her desire to have Caster in any form,   shrugs aside Max’s doubts and throws him out of the laboratory before linking Caster to the Internet where he  promptly does just what Max feared and  copies himself throughout the  virtual world.

The digital Caster is,  if not omniscient and omnipotent, a significant way along the road to both,  because he now has the capabilities of both human and computer with access to the data and facilities of the entire digital world. He is not malign in the sense that he is consciously malicious or self-serving.  Rather Caster  is beset with the  sin of those who are sure they know best. His monomaniac desire to make the world a better place is suddenly released from the shackles of his emotions and the practical limitations on implementing his plans which existed when he was merely a man.   It is a cliché that with power comes a disregard for anyone else’s opinion, but  Caster not only knows better than anyone else,  he now  has the means to realise his dreams.

Using Evelyn as his instrument in the real  world, the virtual Caster makes a fortune rapidly and uses this to take  over  an isolated desert  town called Brightwood. Over the next two years  he develops  advanced technologies  in the fields of energy, medicine, biology and nanotechnology. His plan is to rid the world of the blight of disease,  pollution  and ultimately mortality. The problem is Caster intends to do this not only with no reference to anyone else but also by using nanotechnology to control humans so that they are in essence robots.

While all this is going on  forces are gathering to sabotage  Caster’s ambitions. Shortly after Max breaks with Evelyn , he  is kidnapped by R.I.F.T   and eventually agrees to  join them to disrupt Caster’s plans.  Then the  US government, in the form of  FBI agent Donald Buchanan (Cillian Murphy) a government scientist Joseph Tagger (Morgan Freeman) unofficially (so they have deniability) join forces  with R.I.F.T  in their  attempt to thwart Caster

Evelyn  gradually  moves from willing and committed  collaborator to a frightened and deeply  worried  woman . The process of disillusionment is completed when she  sees that Caster can  remotely connect to and control people’s minds .  Distraught, Evelyn approaches  R.I.F.T  who develop  a computer virus  which will destroy Caster’s  source code, killing him and, as a side effect,  destroy the technology on which modern society has become recklessly dependent. This happens because the digital Caster is spread throughout the Internet.  To destroy him, the Internet  has to be destroyed.

Regardless of the technological devastation using the virus will create, Evelyn agrees to upload the virus to end whatever it is that Caster has become.  But on returning to Brightwood she finds Caster resurrected in biological form, his body having been replicated, presumably, from   the digital information stored when his brain contents were uploaded .

Caster is aware that his wife  has the virus and  intends to destroy him but does not act against her.  The FBI and  R.I.F.T. attack the Brightwood base  and in the process mortally wound  Evelyn.  Evelyn persuades Caster  to save her by uploading her mind as his mind was uploaded. Caster does this even though he knows it will  end him and the Internet. The virus seemingly kills Caster and Evelyn, and  technological disaster ensues.

But all is not quite as it seems. Years later Max visits the Casters old garden.  The garden is  protected by a device called a  Faraday Cage. This stops any electrical transmission reaching what is inside the cage.    Max  sees a drop of water falling from a sunflower petal instantly cleanses a puddle of oil. The drop contains one of Casters nanoparticles, which is intact because of the protection afforded by the Faraday cage. Max thinks, logically correctly,  that  Caster  and Evelyn’s consciousness’s are contained within the active nano-particles. Perhaps Caster even knew when he wittingly uploaded the virus that there would be copies of  Evelyn and himself retained in the nano particles in  their old garden…

Depp’s performance a s Caster has  received a good deal of criticism on the grounds that it is a flat emotionless  portrayal. This is to  miss the nature of the character he inhabits  once he exists only in digital form. He is then  someone robbed  of the kernel of what makes them human.  Hence, his performance is exactly what is required.

The rest of the performances range from serviceable  in the case of Rebecca Hall to colourless  in the case of  Paul Bettany and slight in the case of everyone else simply because there was no space for them to expand their characters.

This could have been a much better film if two issues had been given much more space, namely, the general arguments against incontinent technological advance and the devastating effects which would result from a closing down of the Internet and  the ending of connectivity which is not only so much a part of modern everyday live but also vital for the maintenance of modern technological necessities such as power stations and large factories.

The  R.I.F.T  characters are anaemic and their arguments against technology do not go much beyond   the mantra “intelligent machines are bad”.  There is no discussion of how human beings may simply fail to survive because they become demoralised by the  superior capacity of machines or machines or that intelligent machines will take not only the jobs humans do now but any other jobs which arise.  As for the post-virus technological upset, this is barely touched upon.

The strength of the film is that it puts before its audience the possibilities of technology  moving beyond the control of human beings and even more fundamentally damaging calling into question what it is to be human.  The dangers of intelligent machines  are simple enough, either they replace humans by making them redundant or engender in humanity the trait seen in tribal peoples encountering   Europeans : the tribal peoples often became  terminally demoralised, presumably by the sophistication and scope of  European culture with which they were faced.

More fundamentally, until now we have known what a human being is. We are on the brink of losing that happy state. If the human mind could be copied an exist within a computer file there is the potential for immortality. The mind could exist within a robot body or  be  distributed throughout the Internet (or whatever supersedes it). If the mind can be uploaded to a computer file so  could all the data needed to create a digital replica of  a person’s body  be uploaded which could then be used to create a replica body into which the uploaded mind could be  uploaded in turn. If the technology to do that  existed, then in principle  it should be possible to upload a digitised mind into a body developed from someone else’s uploaded data….  That is not a world I should wish to live in.

See Transcendence  for its warning of the shape of things to come.

 

The Commons Education Select Committee  and the libel of the white working-class

Robert Henderson

The Commons Select Committee (CSC) on Education has  produced a report on the underachievement of white British working-class children.  This  ostensibly  highlights the poor educational performance of white British children who are eligible for free meals (FSM)  compared to those in receipt of FSM from ethnic minority groups such as those of Indian and Chinese ancestry.  I say ostensibly because there are severe flaws in methodology.  These are:

  1. The definition of white British is far from simple. The report distinguishes between Irish,  traveller of Irish heritage,  Gypsy/Roma and Any other white background (see CSC table 2 page 13).  The Any other white background is the largest.  It is not clear from the report how the white British were defined, for example , a child of white immigrants might well consider his or herself white British.  Who would whether they were or were not British?
  2. The numbers of  some of the ethnic minority groups cited are small, for example, at the end of Key Stage 4 (the end of GCSE courses) in 2013 there were only  168 Chinese in the country who pupils who qualified for FSM. (see CSC table 2 page 13).

3. The use of FSM  as a proxy for working-class  means that  white British apples are being compared with variously coloured ethnic minority  oranges. Most importantly the use of FSM means that the British white working-class as a whole is not represented , but only the poorest  section of it. Hence, the general treatment in the media of the report, that it shows the white working-class to be falling behind ethnic minorities, is grossly misleading. The report recognises this:

…measuring working class performance in education through FSM data can be misleading. The Centre for Research in Race and Education (CRRE) drew our attention to a mismatch between the proportion of children who were eligible for free school meals and the proportion of adults who would self-define as working class:17 in 2012/13, 15% of pupils at the end of key stage 4 were known to be eligible for free school meals,18 compared with 57% of British adults who defined themselves as ‘working class’ as part of a survey by the National Centre for Social Research.The CRRE warned that projecting the educational performance of a small group of economically deprived pupils onto what could otherwise be understood to be a much larger proportion of the population had “damaging consequences” on public understanding of the issue. The logical result of equating FSM with working class was that 85% of children were being characterised as middle class or above.

The  white British group  will be overwhelmingly drawn from the most deprived part of that  group’s population, while many of the ethnic minority groups  held up as superior to the white British children , will have a large  component of people who are not drawn from the lower social reaches of their society, but are poor simply because they are either  first generation immigrants or the children of first generation immigrants and  have not established themselves in well paid work – think of all the tales the mainstream media and politicians regale the British with about immigrant graduates doing menial jobs.  These  parents  will both have more aspiration for their children and a greater  ability to assist their children with their schoolwork.

The range  of  those qualifying for FSM is extensive and there is  considerable  complexity resulting from pupils  going in and out of the qualifying criteria, viz:

(Para 12 of the report) . Of the  Children are eligible for free school meals if their parents receive any of the following payments:

Income Support

• Income-based Jobseekers Allowance

• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

• Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

• the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit

• Child Tax Credit (provided they are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and

have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)

• Working Tax Credit run-on—paid for 4 weeks after they stop qualifying for

Working Tax Credit

• Universal Credit

13. A report for the Children’s Society noted that the criteria for FSM mean that parents working 16 or more hours per week (24 hours for couples from April 2012) lose their entitlement to FSM since they are eligible for working tax credit; as a result there are around 700,000 children living in poverty who are not entitled to receive free school meals. In addition, not all those who may be eligible for FSM register for it; a recent report for the Department for Education estimated under-registration to be 11% in 2013. This figure varies across the country: in the North East under-registration is estimated to  be 1%, compared to 18% in the East of England and 19% in the South East. 

4. Greater resources, both material  advantages and better quality staff,  are being put into schools which have a  very large ethnic  minority component  than schools which are predominantly filled with white British children.  This is occurring both as a matter of deliberate government policy and through not-for-profit corporations such as charities.

Government policies are things such as the  pupil premium . This is paid to schools for each pupil  who qualifies under these criteria:

In the 2014 to 2015 financial year, schools will receive the following funding for each child registered as eligible for free school meals at any point in the last 6 years:

£1,300 for primary-aged pupils

£935 for secondary-aged pupils

Schools will also receive £1,900 for each looked-after pupil who:

has been looked after for 1 day or more

was adopted from care on or after 30 December 2005, or left care under:

a special guardianship order

a residence order

The amounts involved for a school can  be considerable. Suppose that a secondary school with 1,000 children  has 40% of its pupils qualifying for  FSM. That would bring an additional  £374,000 to the school in this financial year.   At present £2.5 billion is being spent on the pupil premium.

According to a Dept of Education (DoE) investigation published in 2013, Evaluation of Pupil Premium Research Report ,  a  good deal of this money is being spent on ethnic minorities and those without English as a first language     (see tables 2.1 and 2.2, pages27 and 30) . The pupil premium can be used to provide extra staff, better staff, improved equipment after school activities and so on.

Schools can allocate the Pupil Premium money  at their discretion and often make the identification of where money has gone next to impossible because they do things such as merging the Pupil Premium money with money from other budgets and joining forces with other schools in the area to provide provision (see pages 14/15 in the DoE report).  It is probable that the Pupil Premium money brought into schools by white British working-class FSM children  is being used,  at least in part,  to benefit ethnic minorities. The converse is wildly improbable.

Ethnic minorities are concentrated in particular areas and particular schools. This makes it more  likely that ethnic children will go to schools with a higher  proportion of  free school meal pupils than schools dominated by  white pupils.  That will provide significantly greater funding for an ethnic  minority majority school than for one dominated by white Britons, most of whom will not qualify for the Pupil Premium. .

Because ethnic minority families, and especially those of first generation immigrants, are substantially larger on average than those of  white Britons, the likelihood of ethnic minority children qualifying for FSM will be greater than it is for white Britons because  the larger the family the more likely a child is to qualify for FSM.   This will boost the additional money from the pupils premium going to ethnic  minority dominated schools.

An example of not-for-profit intervention is  the charity Teach First.  The select committee report (para  116) describes their work:

 The Government’s response to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s first annual report noted that Teach First will be training 1,500 graduates in 2014 to 2015 and placing them in the most challenging schools, and that as of 2014/15 Teach First will be placing teachers in every region of England.

The Teach First  website states:  “Applicants to our Leadership Development Programme are taken through a rigorous assessment process. We select only those who demonstrate leadership potential, a passion to change children’s lives and the other skills and attributes needed to become an excellent teacher and leader. These participants teach and lead in our partner primary and secondary schools in low-income communities across England and Wales for a minimum of two years, ensuring every child has access to an excellent education.”

Apart from specific programmes such as the Pupil Premium and special training for teachers to prepare them what are euphemistically called “challenging schools” which end up disproportionately  favouring ethnic minority pupils,  there is also scope within  the normal funding of state schools to favour ethnic minorities because head teachers have a good deal of discretion in how funds are spent. That applies with knobs on to Academies and Free Schools.

There is also a considerable difference in funding between the funding of areas with large ethic minority populations, especially black and Asian groups,  and areas with largely white populations,  for example,   between East Anglia and London: “ The government has announced plans to raise per-pupil funding 3.7pc in Norfolk to £4,494, 7pc in Cambridgeshire to £4,225 and 2.5pc in Suffolk to £4,347 next year following a campaign by MPs.

“But councillors have called for a long term overhaul of the funding system, which will still see each student in the county receive around half of the allocation in the City of London, which will get £8,594.55 for each pupil.”

5. The effect of political correctness. With good reason any teacher,  and  especially white teachers,   will be fearful of not seeming to be devoutly political correct.  They know they are at the mercy of other teachers , parents and pupils and know that an accusation of racism from any  source could well end their teaching career at worst and at best seriously disrupt their lives while a complaint is being investigated. In addition, many  teachers will be emotionally attached to political correctness generally and to multiculturalism in particular.

In such circumstances it is reasonable to suspect that teachers in schools with a mix of ethnic minority and white British children  will devote more time and patience to ethnic minority pupils than   to white children.  They may do this without conscious intent, with either  fear or the ideological commitment making such a choice seem the natural one.

Such preferential treatment for ethnic minority children is facilitated by the large amount of continuous assessment  involved in GCSE.  (This is supposedly being reduced but the results of the change has not yet worked through to the end of a GCSE cycle.  Teachers routinely help children to re-write work which does not come up to par, in some cases re-doing the work themselves . Teachers have also been caught helping pupils  to cheat during exams . The opportunity and the temptation to help ethnic minority children is there and the pressure of political correctness may cause opportunity to become actuality.

6. The disruptive effect on schools of a large number of pupils from different backgrounds with English as a second language, the type of schools where the headmaster boasts “We have 100 languages spoken here”.   The most likely white British children to be in such schools are those from the poorest homes which means they qualify as FSM pupils.  They will be lost in these Towers of Babel not only because often they will be in the minority,  but also because, unlike children with English as a second language or  ethnic minority English speakers  who will have a good chance of enhanced tuition, the white British FSM pupils  will not enjoy  such a privilege and may be actually ignored to a large extent because of the desire of the staff to assist ethnic minority children.

7 . The downplaying of British culture. The school curriculum in Britain and  especially in England (where the vast majority of the British live)   is shaped to reflect the politically correct worldview.  This means that ethnic minority culture and history  are frequently  pushed ahead of British culture and history.   The larger the percentage of ethnic minorities in a school, the greater will be the tendency to marginalise the white British pupils, who will almost certainly be drawn largely from those qualifying for FSM. They will be deracinated and become culturally disorientated.

To this school propaganda is added the politically correct and anti-British, anti-white  propaganda which is pumped out  ceaselessly by mainstream politicians and the media. This  will reinforce the idea that being white and British is  somehow at best  inferior to that of ethnic minority cultures and at worst something to be ashamed of, something  to be despised, something which is a  danger  to its possessor.

Conclusion

As far as the general public is concerned, the Select Committee report is saying the white working-class children – all of them not just those receiving FSM  – are doing less well than ethnic minority children.   The reason for this is simple, the mainstream media have reported the story in a way which would promote such a belief, both in their  headlines and the stories themselves.

A comparison between  the  white British population as a whole and the ethnic minority populations as a whole would be nearer to reality, but it would still be comparing apples and oranges for the reasons given above. The ethnic minority children would still be likely to have on average parents who would not be representative of the ancestral populations they came from, political correctness would still drive teachers to favour ethnic minority pupils,  continuous assessment would still allow teachers to illegally aid ethnic minorities, heads could still decide to divert more funds towards ethnic minorities and the promotion of ethnic minority cultures and history would still exist.

What could be done to remedy matters? Continuous assessment should stop  and end of  course synoptic exams substituted . Ethnic minority children should not have more spent on them than white British children.  School funding in different areas should be broadly similar per capita.  British culture and history should be the dominant teaching driver.  Political correctness should be removed from the curriculum generally.

As for future studies, these should be controlled in a much more subtle manner than simply using FSM  as a criterion.  Any study of all or any part of group should control for parents’ education,  income, the amount of money spent on each pupil, the teacher pupil ratio,  the quality of the teachers and the general facilities of the school.

Those suggestions would not entirely cure the problem,  but it would be good start to both getting at the truth and ending the demonization of the white working-class  which has gathered pace ever since the Labour Party decided to drop the white working-class as their client base and substitute for them the politically correct groups of gays, feminists and most potently ethnic minorities.

See also

http://englandcalling.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/the-english-white-working-class-and-the-british-elite-from-the-salt-of-the-earth-to-the-scum-of-the-earth/

 

The curse of the Blair Doctrine

The blueprint for the present international mess lies in the overthrow of Milosevic

Robert Henderson

The first Gulf War was the last Western intervention with force under the old Cold War rules. It was limited to evicting Saddam Hussein  from  Kuwait  and establishing a no-fly zone established over the Kurdish part of Iraq . No attempt was made to overthrow Hussein .  Indeed, the reverse is the case because the first President Bush deliberately lifted the no fly order in the immediate aftermath of  the War to enable Hussein to re-establish control, the USA’s  judgement being that it was the lesser of two evils, the greater  evil being  Iraq as a client state of Iran.  This was still recognisably the world of Communist East versus  capitalist West.

The wars which eventually occurred from the splitting of Yugoslavia after Tito’s death gradually  increased the West’s liberal imperialist tendencies and culminated in NATO bombing  – action unauthorised by the UN and illegal under NATO’s own rules because Slobodan  Milosevic offered no threat to a NATO member –  what remained of  the  Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. There was also something new, the desire to remake territories in the West’s image by imposing conditions on a sovereign state over part of its territory, in this case Kosovo. The first steps towards ignoring the UN Charter’s protection of national sovereignty  (chapter 7) had been taken not merely in actuality,  but intellectually.

It was the experience of the wars resulting from the break up of Yugoslavia  and the continuing difficulties represented by Saddam Hussein that persuaded Blair to develop what became the Blair Doctrine. He first outlined this in 1999 in a speech to the Economic Club in Chicago, viz:

The most pressing foreign policy problem we face is to identify the circumstances in which we should get actively involved in other people’s conflicts. Non -interference has long been considered an important principle of international order. And it is not one we would want to jettison too readily. One state should not feel it has the right to change the political system of another or foment subversion or seize pieces of territory to which it feels it should have some claim. But the principle of non-interference must be qualified in important respects. Acts of genocide can never be a purely internal matter. When oppression produces massive flows of refugees which unsettle neighbouring countries then they can properly be described as “threats to international peace and security”. When regimes are based on minority rule they lose legitimacy – look at South Africa.

Looking around the world there are many regimes that are undemocratic and engaged in barbarous acts. If we wanted to right every wrong that we see in the modern world then we would do little else than intervene in the affairs of other countries. We would not be able to cope.

So how do we decide when and whether to intervene. I think we need to bear in mind five major considerations

First, are we sure of our case? War is an imperfect instrument for righting humanitarian distress; but armed force is sometimes the only means of dealing with dictators. Second, have we exhausted all diplomatic options? We should always give peace every chance, as we have in the case of Kosovo. Third, on the basis of a practical assessment of the situation, are there military operations we can sensibly and prudently undertake? Fourth, are we prepared for the long term? In the past we talked too much of exit strategies. But having made a commitment we cannot simply walk away once the fight is over; better to stay with moderate numbers of troops than return for repeat performances with large numbers. And finally, do we have national interests involved? The mass expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo demanded the notice of the rest of the world. But it does make a difference that this is taking place in such a combustible part of Europe.

Milosovec  lost a Presidential election in 2000, was arrested on April 1, 2001 and extradited to the Hague Tribunal on June 28, where he died in detention in March 2006, before his trial was completed.

What Blair saw  the fall of Milosevic as a success for the Blair Doctrine and this has  laid the foundation for all the misbegotten Western intervention since. Nor has it been simply a matter of military force.  The EU had a hand in making sure that Milosovec  did not survive by dangling carrots such as eventual membership of the EU for Serbia.  From this the EU became more and more ambitious in its expansionist plans to the East, something which is all too apparent in the EU’s messy hand in creating the Ukraine conflict we are presently witnessing by pressing for it to move close to the EU with eventual membership the end of the game.   The imperialist mindset of the EU is  unambiguously  described in an EU document  The Western Balkans and The EU:  ‘The hour of Europe’  (Edited by Jacques Rupnik Chaillot Papers,  June 2011), viz:

Today, more than fifteen years after the end of the wars of Yugoslavia’s  dissolution, the ‘Balkan question’ remains more than ever a ‘European question’. In the eyes of many Europeans in the 1990s, Bosnia was the symbol of a collective failure, while Kosovo later became a catalyst for an emerging Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). In the last decade, with the completion of the process of redrawing the map of the region, the overall thrust of the EU’s Balkans policy has moved from an agenda dominated by security issues related to the war and its legacies to an agenda focused on the perspective of the Western Balkan states’ accession to the European Union, to which there has been a formal political commitment on the part of all EU Member States since the Thessaloniki Summit in June 2003. The framework was set, the political elites in the region were – at least verbally – committed to making Europe a priority and everyone was supposedly familiar with the policy tools thanks to the previous wave of Eastern enlargement. With the region’s most contentious issues apparently having been defused, the EU could move from stability through containment towards European integration.

There are favourable trends to make this possible: the EU has emerged as the unchallenged international actor in the Balkans; the region, exhausted by a decade of conflict, is recovering stability and the capacity to cooperate; the EU has no other equally plausible enlargement agenda in sight and could use the direct involvement of some of its Member  States in the region to facilitate the accession process.

I wrote the essay below in 1999 for Free Life, the magazine of the Libertarian Alliance.  Reading it now I am glad I placed a question mark after Milosovec in the title. Milosevic  might be said to have won the war and lost the peace, for it was Western interference which did for him. Had he been left,  as Saddam Hussein was after the First Gul War, to fight to retain power in the rump Yugoslavia without international interference he would probably have remained in office. As it was when the Presidential Election was run in 2000 Milosovec

What the 1999 essay does do is show how the move from non-intervention to regime change and nation building was well under way fifteen years ago, with all the disastrous consequences we have seen since, including creating false hopes in many countries democracy could be magicked up simply by removing  a dictator.

Rousseau wrote that people must be forced to be free for their own good : the Blair Doctrine states that people must be forced for their own good  to live by the rules of political correctness.

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A victory for Milosevic?

Robert Henderson

Now that the big boys toys have been put back in the  cupboard and Mr Jamie Shea is returning to run his whelk  stall in the Mile End Road, we really do need to ask why this bizarre act of aggression by Nato occurred because it  has profound implications for Britain. What was it all about?  Well, we all know that, don’t we? To put the Albanians back  into Kosovo, stupid! Wrong! The war started because  Milosevic would not accept the Nato proposals drawn up at  Rambouillet, which was scarcely surprising for they might  have been designed to ensure their refusal.

Not only did the Rambouillet Proposals give foreign soldiers  the right to enter any part of Yugoslavia, they provided for a referendum on independence for the Kosovan population. Add to that the demand that Serb troops withdraw from Kosovo and the refusal to allow Russian troops to be part of a peacekeeping force, and it is all too easy to see why  Milosevic refused them. Moreover, the Rambouillet proposals were not put forward as a basis for negotiation, but as a  fait accompli. They then became the subject of a naked  ultimatum, issued effectively by the US in the egregious  person of Madeleine Albright.

The Rambouillet proposals would have reduced Yugoslavia to the status of a dependent territory, with the virtual  guarantee that the land (Kosovo) which had the greatest  emotional significance for the majority Serb population would  be lost to the hated Albanian minority. Moreover, they had  the knowledge that the loss of Kosovo through a referendum  would almost certainly result in the expulsion of the two  hundred thousand Serbs normally resident in Kosovo, assuming  that they had not already left after the withdrawal of  Serbian troops. Milosevic was offered the prospect of  tremendous humiliation and nothing else. If Nato had wished  to ensure a war they could scarcely have done better. As  Henry Kissinger remarked in a interview with Boris Johnson of  the Daily Telegraph (28/6/99,) Rambouillet was a provocation.

But the Rambouillet proposals were only the immediate cause  of the conflict. The war was really about the imposition of  Liberal Internationalist ideals. Since 1945, the Liberal  Internationalist cause have been growing in strength until it  has become the ostensible ideology of the ruling elites  throughout the West. During the Cold War the territorial  ambitions of the Liberal Internationalists were considerably  constrained. Since 1989 those constraints have been removed.

The result has been an unhappy sequence of interventions,  covered by the fig leaf of UN colours, which have  demonstrated the utter impotence of the Liberal  Internationalist creed by invariably creating situations the exact opposite of those intended by the interveners: Somalia  is a mess of anarchy, Bosnia a UN protectorate with the  warring ethnic groups largely segregated and future conflict  just waiting to happen. The war against Serbia marked a new stage in Liberal Internationalist ambitions: naked  aggression was undertaken without even the indecent cover of  the UN fig leaf.

The persistent failure of international intervention has not  deterred the Liberal Internationalists because, like all  fanatic ideologues, the Liberal Internationalist is  incapable of admitting that his creed is plain wrong no matter have often events prove it to be so. For the Liberal  Internationalist any failure is simply the result of  insufficient resources and time, a spur to behave in an ever  more totalitarian manner; from peacekeeping through outright  war to de facto colonial occupation. Consequently those with  the power in the West continue to intervene ineptly in  conflicts inherently irresolvable in liberal Internationalist  terms. Their response to failure or the contrary evidence of  events is to embark on ever more intervention regardless of  the havoc caused or the long term consequences.

What the war was not about was morality, despite Blair and  Clinton’s inordinate and deeply risible posturing. (In fact  war is never about morality. It is always about territory,  aggrandisement, the removal of competitors and the  imposition of the victor’s will.) The nations attacking  Yugoslavia had stood by during many greater man made horrors  such as the massacres in Rwanda. Most pertinently, the West  had not merely stood by while hundreds of thousands of Serbs  were expelled from Croatia, but in the guise of the UN had  actively assisted in that expulsion by providing arms and  airpower to support the Croat military. Most tellingly, and  most repellently, because it was utterly predictable, Nato  has not meaningfully protected the Kosovan Serbs since the  end of the war. Nor could they have had any reasonable expectation of doing so, for the size of even the projected  peace keeping force (50,000 – which numbers have not been  met) was obviously inadequate to mount a general police  action against an Albania population of nearly two million in  which there were plentiful arms. A cynic might think that  Nato’s aims were from the beginning to produce a Kosovo  ethnically cleansed of Serbs.

The course of the war laid bare the stupidity, incomprehension, incompetence and amorality of the Nato members’ leaders. The objective facts say that the conflict  has greatly worsened a naturally fraught situation. Before the war, the vast majority of the Albanian population of  Kosovo was in Kosovo living in their homes. Since the war  began the, vast majority have either left the country or  remain in Kosovo having been driven from their homes. Thus,  just as the Second World War signalled the beginning of the  Holocaust, so Nato’s action signalled that of the Kosovan  Albanians’ tragedy. Without the war, it is improbable to the  point of certainty that the greatest movement of a  population in Europe since 1945 would have occurred.

The hypocrisy of the whole business was graphically  demonstrated in the Nato members’ attitude towards the  refugees. The public posturing on the need to provide for the refugees was all too clearly balanced by the fear that  any large scale import of refugees to Nato countries outside  the Balkans would arouse considerable dissent in those  countries. Amongst many stomach heaving moments, Clare  Short’s protestations that Britain did not want to move the  refugees away from the Balkans simply because Britain did not  wish to unwillingly assist Milosevic rank very high. The double standards, both amongst politicians and the media  have continued with the end of the war, as the Liberal  Ascendency quietly tolerates ethnic cleansing of the Kosovo  Serbs and the gross acts of revenge taken by the Kosovo  Albanians.

What if there had been no war? Judged by what had gone  before, there would have been continued harassment of  Kosovan Albanians by Serb paramilitaries and some action by  the regular Serb forces, the latter primarily directed  against the KLA. One simple fact alone gives the lie to  Nato’s claims that wholesale ethnic cleansing would have  occurred regardless of Nato intervention. Prior to the war,  Milosevic had ten years to undertake the task and did not  attempt it. Fine ideals are not fine at all if  they are so  out of keeping with reality that they produce evil ends.

Who won the war? Well, let us follow the Dragnet example and just look at the facts. Milosevic remains in control of  Yugoslavia minus Kosovo. Two of the prime demands of the Rambouillet proposals – that the Kosovo population be given a  referendum on independence within three years and the right of peacekeeping troops to go anywhere in Yugoslavia – have been dropped. There is also to be no referendum and the  peacekeeping force will operate only within Kosovo. In  addition, Russian troops are involved in the peacekeeping  force, a token Serb presence will be allowed in Kosovo and  there are signs that the force may eventually come under UN  not Nato auspices. Those are very significant political gains for Milosevic.

Let us make the assumptions which most favour Nato. That the agreement which was reached between Milosevic and Nato was not ambiguous. That Milosevic will keep his word. That the  peace keeping force will be Nato led under a unified  command. That the Russians involved in the peace keeping will not subvert the process on the ground. That money will be forthcoming in sufficient amounts to rebuild Kosovo. That the  KLA will allow themselves to be disarmed. A collection of pretty improbable occurrences. But no matter, let us grant  them. What then?

Even under such propitious and unlikely circumstances, it is  highly improbable that Kosovo will be quickly returned to  normality. The destruction of housing and the spoliation of  farm land alone make that immensely difficult, but given the  will and the money, the material damage might be repaired.

But material renaissance is not the heart of the problem.  That lies in the all too simple fact of the existence of  two incompatible ethnic groups occupying the same territory,  both sides replete with ancestral hatreds and recent hurts.  In such circumstances a peaceful multicultural Kosovo is a  fantasy.

We have the example of Bosnia before us. Stripped of all cant, it is now a good old fashioned League of Nations Protectorate, a mandated territory. It has the experience of several years of UN control. Yet the vast majority of the displaced populations in Bosnia have not returned to their homes and the various ethnic groups there lead largely segregated lives.

But the post bombing situation in Kosovo is unlikely to be anything like so favourable as I have described. The KLA have shown no more willingness to generally disarm than the  IRA. The agreement which was reached is not unambiguous.

Milosevic cannot be relied to keep his part of the bargain.  The Russians have shown that they are not willing to accept  Nato command unconditionally. Money in the quantities suggested as needed for rebuilding (anything between 15-25  billion pounds) may well prove to be too great a hurdle for  politicians to sell to their publics who are being told of  the need for cuts in welfare – The USA and Europe are already  squabbling over who should bear the cost of rebuilding  Kosovo.

Milosevic also has one great general political advantage; he  knows that political life amongst the Nato powers is ephemeral. While he may be in power in five years time, the  majority of his opponents will not. He can afford to sit and  wait until a propitious moment comes to regain all or part of  Kosovo. Milosevic’s position is not as strong as that of  Saddam Hussain in purely authoritarian terms, but he has a vital quality which Saddam does not, namely his authority does not rely entirely on force.

Before the war started the Nato leaders must have known that  a western led occupation of Kosovo would simply replace one   form of repression with another. At best they could expect  a replica of Bosnia: at worst, an ethnic cleansing of Serbian  Kosovans. Since the end of the war, all too predictably the  worst has occurred as the western disregard shown for the welfare of ordinary Serbs elsewhere in the Balkans has been  repeated. The peacekeeping force has stood ineffectually by  whilst Kosovo is cleansed of Serbs by the KLA and their associates.

Perhaps no one has won the war, but that is often the way of  wars. The real question is who has suffered the most damage.  At the moment it may look like Milosevic, not least because the Nato countries in truth had nothing material to gain and  everything to lose from the War. Yet Milosevic has reduced  the Rambouillet demands, probably tightened his control on  Yugoslav politics and large parts of Kosovo has been ethnically cleansed. The Nato countries have made  significant concessions and committed themselves to massive expenditure and the deployment of troops indefinitely. This  will both take money from their own electorates and influence  their future foreign policies. It is a strange sort of victory if victory it be for Nato.

For Britain there is much about which to be ashamed and worried. We have bombed defenceless targets which plainly  were not in any meaningful sense military. This places us in an impossible moral position in dealing with terrorist  action. What moral argument could we have against Serb  reprisal bombs in Britain? That it is wrong to bomb innocent civilians?

More worryingly Blair has shown himself to be an unashamed warmonger. I would like to believe that Blair’s public words were simply a cynical manipulation of the public to promote his reputation and were made in the certain knowledge that  Clinton would not commit troops to a land war. Unfortunately I think that Blair was anything but cynical in his belligerence. The Observer reported on 18 July that Blair had  agreed to send 50,000 British troops to take part in an invasion force of 170,000 if Milosevic had not conceded Kosovo to Nato. Incredible as this may seem, (and it was not  denied by Downing Street) such recklessness fits in with  Blair’s general behaviour. So there you have it, our prime  minister would have committed the majority of Britain’s armed  forces to a land war in which we have no national interest,  regardless of the cost, deaths and injuries. The danger  remains that Blair will find another adventure which does  result in a land war. Over Kosovo, he behaved like a reckless adolescent and nearly came a fatal political  cropper. Yet this government appears to have learnt nothing  from the experience, vide the unpleasant and malicious fanaticism in Blair and Cook’s declarations of their intent to both unseat Milosevic from power and bring him before an international court, vide the humiliation of Russia, vide the ever more absurd declarations of internationalist intent  since hostilities ceased. That adolescent idealists’ mindset could lead Britain down a very dark path indeed. It is also incompatible with a foreign policy that supposedly encourages  elected governments (however imperfect they are) over  dictatorships.

What other lessons does this war teach us? It shows above  all the utter powerlessness of the democratic process and  the sham of international law. In the two countries which have taken the lead, US and Britain, parliamentary support  was not formally sought nor given, funds voted or a  declaration of war sanctioned. The other members of Nato have  been impotent bystanders.

The American Constitution was designed to prevent aggressive  acts of war without congressional approval. That  constitutional guarantee has been severely tested since 1945, but perhaps never so emphatically as in the past months. If  an American president can commit such considerable forces to  a war regardless of Congressional approval, it seriously  brings into question the value of the constitutional  restraint. Where exactly would the line be drawn in the Constitutional sand?

In Britain, the matter was debated at the government’s  convenience but at no one else’s. Incredibly, many will  think, support for the war was never put to a vote in the  Commons.

As for international law, that has been shown in the most  unambiguous manner to be a sham. The war was fought without a  declaration of war, in contravention of the UN Charter and in  a manner guaranteed to cause significant civilian casualties.

Yet Judge Arbour at the War Crimes Tribunal does not indict  the likes of Clinton and Blair, only Milosevic. (Readers might like to note that formal complaints to Judge Arbour about Blair and Clinton have been ignored). Law which is not  equally applied is no law, but merely a tool of the powerful  against the weak. Moreover, there does not appear to be any  illegality at which the US would draw the line. Apart from  incitements to murder Milosevic, there have been newspaper  reports of attempts by the CIA to illegally enter Milosevic’s  bank accounts and drain them of funds (we honest folks call that theft). If governments do not obey the core moral and  legal commandments of their own societies, law does not  effectively exist.

If international law meant anything, the Nato action would  be deemed objectively illegal. It was so first because of an  absence of lawful international authority, there being no  UN sanction for the War. On a national level, neither the  British nor the American Parliaments sanctioned either the  action or the expenditure which permitted the action.

The war also drove a coach and horses through the UN Charter  and the Nato Treaty. The UN Charter was breached because it  prohibits action to amend a sovereign state’s borders. As for  the NATO treaty, this only provides for action to be  taken in defence of member countries. Clearly the Yugoslav  government had offered no direct threat to NATO members because there was no attempt to act outside the territory  of Yugoslavia. Moreover, the only NATO countries  which might have called for assistance to a perceived  threat – Greece and Hungary – did not do so and made it  clear that they were far from supportive of the Nato action.

In general terms, it was impossible before the war began to  make a convincing case that Yugoslavia could present a threat  to the peace of Europe. It is a country of ten  million souls, poor with an underdeveloped industrial base. Moreover, its natural poverty had been greatly  increased by years of civil war and UN sanctions.

Balkan history tells a single story: any of its peoples  which become possessed of the advantage of numbers, wealth  or arms will oppress as a matter of course any other of its  peoples. If the Albanians gain control of Kosovo, rest  assured that they will behave as abominably towards the Serbs  as the Serbs have behaved towards them. The disputed territory is Serb by history and Albanian by present  settlement. There is no absolute right on either side.

 

The reckless mass medication of Britain

Robert Henderson

The reckless and even the enforced medication of the population grows apace.  State bodies are pressing for widespread or universal medication. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)  recommends the universal  use of statins by men over 50 and women over 60, ministers are considering  making compulsory  the addition of folic acid to flour  and  councils are being encouraged by Public Health England  to put fluoride in the water supply .

That is direct government action. But there are many drugs with potent side effects which are being given out wholesale without any government interference. Potentially the greatest risk comes from  antibiotics to which resistance is being built up all the time. The World Health Organisation warned this year that  overuse was potentially creating a crisis more serious than Aids . Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Health Security, claimed : “A post-antibiotic era — in which common infections and minor injuries can kill — far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the 21st century.”

Antidepressants are being prescribed in record numbers and the side effects, which often make people feel as though they are going around in a mental fog,  can make people feel the cure is worse than the disease. Moreover, they can be prescribed for people who either are not seriously depressed but suffering from a physical illness  or people whose severe depression is the consequence of a physical illness.

There is also the problem of addiction to such drugs with severe withdrawal symptoms experienced by some people, symptoms such as these suffered by a patient identified only as Henry“It was torture. I thought I was going to die, and I didn’t care. For two years, I was in severe physical pain and so weak I lay all day on the sofa. My cognition was severely affected, I was dizzy, with blurred vision, I couldn’t read a bedtime story to my son and couldn’t remember things that had happened just a few seconds previously.”

But even where there is no psychological problems or unpleasant but not immediately obvious damaging physical effects,  drugs can have dramatic consequences. For example, aspirin  is routinely prescribed to thin the blood, especially to those who have suffered heart attacks, but  recent research found that aspirin’s daily use  “ leads to 37 per cent increased risk of internal bleeding and 38 per cent increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke,”  while the  long term use of the contraceptive pill doubles the risk of glaucoma..

Probably the most controversial widely used medication in Britain  at present are statins. Side effects can be extreme.  Statins (which are used to reduce cholesterol)  have been the subject of much complaint by patients. There are studies which claim that statins have little or no side effects,  but the  catalogue of complaints against them is so huge that it is difficult to see how they could have come to such conclusions.

I have taken statins  for many since suffering   a heart attack,  I can I can vouch for the fact that they have powerfully obnoxious side effects. Luckily I did not  suffer psychotic episodes  such as those  which afflicted the unfortunate Dr Allan Woolley before his suicide,  which was attributed to the side effects of statins . However,  I  have experienced severe  disabling symptoms such as intense aching, especially in the hands, a permanent fatigue and a diminution of mental function, especially of memory and concentration (I had  to consciously concentrate on what I was doing rather than simply doing it without thinking, while my power of immediate recall, previously very good, became unreliable.

I only realised statins were responsible for such symptoms in 2007  – for years I attributed them to the  process of ageing and the after effects of the heart attack – after I read several articles by Dr James Le Fanu who both questioned the general value of  statins and described the side effects:  ” Statins are useless for 95 per cent of those taking them, while exposing all to the hazard of serious side-effects and  detailed the side effects….they seriously interfere with the functioning of the nerve cells, affecting mental function, and muscles.” (Sunday  Telegraph  17 3 2007).  He concluded that only those with a personal or family  history of heart trouble should take them.

But even that advice is debatable. Eating an apple-a-day is as effective as taking statins according to a recent piece of research, viz:

“Prescribing either an apple a day or a statin a day to everyone over 50 years old is likely to have a similar effect on population vascular mortality. Choosing apples rather than statins may avoid more than a thousand excess cases of myopathy and more than 12 000 excess diabetes diagnoses. The basic costs of apples are likely to be greater than those of statins; however, NHS prescription prices and convenience may drive people to purchase their apples from a store rather than through a pharmacy, thereby reducing direct NHS costs, or the NHS may be able to negotiate apple price freezes (although defrosted apples may not be so palatable).23”

There are also doubts about whether cholesterol levels have anything to do with heart attacks and strokes, so the concentration on bringing  down cholesterol levels may be pointless.

It might be thought with the ever increasing range of medications available that overall  life expectancy would be increasing and go on increasing . Not so.  In  recent years in the UK the trend towards greater life expectancy after the age of 65 has flat-lined for men and actually declined for women. “Life expectancy at age 65 in 2012 has been projected as 18.3 years for men and 20.6 years for women on average….In 2008 life expectancy post 65 was 19 years for men on average and 21.3 years for women on average. In 2010 it was 18.7 for men and 21.1 for women.”

This suggests that medication of the elderly is at best ineffective in extending lives on average and  may even be a  cause of the stagnation of increases in life expectancy amongst the old.

There is also a  moral question, namely,  how much medication should be given to a patient   regardless of the quality of life  they can experience?  The idea that living is desirable regardless of the nature of the life is difficult to sustain morally.  That is particularly true of the old. I have never encountered anyone over the age of 85 whose life I have known in some detail who has been averagely happy or physically comfortable.   Almost invariably by that age the body has developed some serious malady whether physical or mental.  That is not to say such elderly people generally  want to die.  Rather, it is simply that the life being led is normally miserable at worst and unfulfilling at best.  If they are loaded down with  medications, many or all of which will have obnoxious side effects,  this may extend their lives by a few  months or years,  but the patient  may well feel that there is a case for saying let nature take its course if those few extra months and years will be suffered rather than enjoyed because of the side effects of medication.

Why do patients submit to drug regimes regardless of the ill consequences? Patients generally trust their doctors and are inclined to accept advice in the vast majority of cases. But even if they do not want to carry on with a drug because of the side effects – and many commonly prescribed drugs have effects which make the enjoyment of life seriously difficult – they find it difficult to refuse a doctor’s advice. Often it is not a simple matter of refusing a single treatment, because many patients, and especially elderly ones, will have a range of ailments and  will fear that refusing to take one medication may ruin their relationship with their GP or a hospital consultant, with a consequent diminution in the quality and scope of their  future  medical care. Even if unfounded , such fears will drive patients to carry on with medication which is causing them serious discomfort.

Things could be improved if doctors were required to discuss the side effects of drugs with patients. The only warning I have ever been given voluntarily by a doctor – and I have spent a great deal of the past twenty years with chronic complaints – about side effects is drowsiness, yet most drugs which seriously interfere with the natural workings of the body will have a list of serious side effects.  For example, diuretics, a very commonly prescribed drug to increase fluid removal from the body has these side effects according to  the BUPA guidance :

Side-effects of diuretics include:

mild gastro-intestinal problems, such as feeling sick

a fall in blood pressure that is related to posture (postural hypotension), which causes you to feel faint or dizzy when you stand up

altered levels of salts in your body, such as low levels of potassium (hypokalaemia) and sodium (hyponatraemia)

Less common side-effects of diuretics include:

gout (a condition that causes pain and swelling in your joints)

impotence in men (the inability to achieve or sustain an erection during sex)

skin rashes

headaches

certain blood disorders, which can make you more likely to get infections

What can be done to reduce overmedication? First, if doctors explained the side effects to patients that in itself would probably reduce too ready prescription of medicines because the patient would be put off taking those with serious side effects simple by their recital by the doctor  and doctors would be much less likely to prescribe such drugs  unless they honestly believed a patient desperately needed them if they had to explain the side effects and overcome the resistance of patients who did not really need the medication.

Second, non-medical directions and incentives to doctors to prescribe certain medications widely, whether that be government authored or supported schemes such as folic acid in bread or drug companies peddling medicines to doctors, especially GPs, which materially benefit doctors  should be banned.

 

 

Wall Street, the Wolf of Wall Street  and the decline of moral sense

Robert Henderson

 

Wall Street (1987)

Main cast

Michael Douglas  as Gordon Gecko

Charlie Sheen as Bud Cox

Daryl Hannah  as Darien Taylor

Martin Sheen as Carl Fox

Terence Stamp as Sir Larry Wildman

Hal Holbrook as Lou Mannheim

Sean Young as Kate Gekko

James Spader as Roger Barnes

Director Oliver Stone

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The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Main cast

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort

Jonah Hill as Donnie Azoff

Margot Robbie as Naomi Lapaglia

Matthew McCaughey as Mark Hanna

Kyle Chandler as Patrick Denham

Rob Reiner as Max Belfort

Director  Martin Scorsese,

Twenty six years lie between Wall Street and The Wolf of Wall Street (TWOWS) hitting cinema screens. Wall Street is fiction, although there are reputedly people in real life from whom the film’s main characters were developed, for example  Sir Larry Wildman is supposedly drawn from  on the British financier Sir James Goldsmith. The Wolf of Wall Street (TWOWS) is based upon the autobiography of a Wall Street trader Jordan Belfort. How much of that is fact  is debatable, although the general tone of the man’s life given in the book  is plausible.

Both films  begin their action in 1980s. Both deal with the shady world of finance. Both are vehicles for the unbridled egotism of their main characters.    There the similarity between them ends.  Wall Street is about  corporate raiders, men who seek to take over companies and then  asset strip them,  sell them on  quickly for a profit or run them as a business for a while, reduce costs (especially by cutting jobs ) and  then sell them . The main criminality involved in the film is insider dealing.

TWOWS  is simply about making a fast buck and the faster the better, with not even a show of doing anything beyond making money.   These people use   any method from the huckster selling of penny shares to insider dealing and celebrate each success in the spirit of the man successfully  running a hunt-the-lady scam in the street.  They are the masters of the universe and those who lose out are suckers.   There is zero concern for or even awareness of the greater general good of a society in the film.

The protagonists in Wall Street are a young stock trader Bud Fox, and a corporate  raider  Gordon Gecko.  Bud idolises Gecko and manages to work his way into Gecko’s circle by passing on privileged information to him, information which he has received from his father Carl who is a union leader at Bluestar Airlines.

Once inside Gecko’s circle  Bud  sheds  his morals and is content to help Gecko  engage in insider trading until the point where he discovers that he is being used as a catspaw by Gecko , who is trying to take over Bluestar  to dissolve the company in order to access cash in the company’s overfunded pension plan. Bud rediscovers his conscience after a fashion and outmanoeuvres Gecko by making an agreement with  Wildman – whom  previously he had helped Gecko to  defraud  through insider trading when Wildman wanted to take over a steel company –  to buy a majority shareholding in  the airline on the cheap  and run it as a going concern.  In doing this his  motivation is more revenge for being betrayed than suddenly being disgusted with what he had become under Gecko’s influence.

DiCaprio’s Jordan Belfort is a trader who loses his job  with a Wall Street broker when the firm crashes, moves into boiler-room trading in penny shares (which are barely regulated and allow for huge commissions to be charged to naïve investors who are often buying shares which are next to worthless). He makes a small fortune doing this.

Belfort then decides to strike out on his own account in rather more up-market  surroundings. With a friend , Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill),  he sets  up  a suitably Ivy league sounding firm of brokers Stratton Oakmont.  They operate on the principle of “pump and dump”  (artificially inflating a company’s share price by tactics such as spreading false rumours or simply buying heavily and then selling the shares rapidly). Stratton Oakmont is given lift off by an article in Forbes magazine which calls Jordan a ‘twisted Robin Hood and the “Wolf of Wall Street”,  which appellations prove a first rate recruiting sergeant for Stratton Oakmont  with hundreds of young stock traders flocking to make money with him.  From that point on he becomes seriously rich.

What the films do admirably  is show the difference between the cinematic portrayal of  the American financial world  in films released  in 1987 and 2013.   To refresh my memory I watched Wall Street again before writing this review. The striking thing about the film is how restrained it is compared with TWOWS.

Michael Douglas’  Gordon Gecko is far more disciplined than DiCaprio’s Belfort.  He  has some semblance of intellectual and arguably even moral  justification for what he does, most notably in a scene where he is addressing a shareholders’ meeting of a company he is trying to take over. This is where Gecko utters the most famous words in the film “Greed is good”. The words have serious context. Gecko is peddling  the laissez faire  line that competition is an unalloyed good because it is the agency which creates natural selection amongst companies and it is only that which keeps an economy healthy. He also  puts his finger on a real  cancer in big business: the development of the bureaucratic company where the company is run for the benefit of the senior management rather than the shareholders. Gecko  rails against  the huge number of senior managers on  high salaries  in  the company he wishes to buy, a business  which has done little for its shareholders.  Whether you agree with the raw natural selection argument in business  – and I do not – at the very least it shows that the likes of Gecko feel the need to  justify what they do, to provide an ethical cloak for their misbehaviour.

There is also a serious difference in the general behaviour of  Gecko and Belfort.  Gecko  for all his faults is not a libertine. For him money is both an instrument and an end in itself. It gives him power and status, a medal of success in his eyes and the eyes of the world he inhabits.  There is purpose in Gecko.  He enjoys the material trappings of wealth but is not overwhelmed by them. In Belfort there is merely an ultimately empty grasping of licence  with drugs,  whores  and absurd status symbols such as an outlandishly large yacht , which his ego drives him to wreck by ordering the ship’s captain to sail in weather which the captain tells him is unsafe to sail in. He acquires a trophy girlfriend , He dumps his wife. There is no solid foundation to any part of his life.

The other big general difference between the films is ethical.  Wall Street has a moral voice which acts  as a  foil to Gecko’s amorality.   Bud Fox’s father Carl puts the case against capitalism red in tooth and claw. After Bud’s  discovery of Gecko’s attempt to buy Bluestar Carl’s dissenting ideological  voice  is added to by Bud. In TWOWS there is no moral voice or pretence by Belfort (or any other character) that what they are doing has any social function or ethical content. Instead the public are simply viewed as a bovine herd to be milked as ruthlessly as possible.  The fact that what is being done – whether it be selling penny stocks in a boiler room or using insider information in more sophisticated company –  is no better than a confidence trick does not cause Belfort and his fellow participants the slightest discomfort only unalloyed joy. They are getting rich at the expense of suckers. It’s all a game whose only end is to make the individual rich and to be rich is a validation of their existence.

Gecko and Belfort end up in prison, so in that respect at least they honour the old American  film tradition of never showing the criminal getting away with it, although  in the case of Belfort he ends up in a place which is not so much a prison as a country club.

Both films are strong in all the technical ways – script, plot, characterisation and acting – that are used to judge films. Michael Douglas’ is a more studied performance than that of  diCaprio who brings an amazing energy to the role.  But arresting as Douglas’ performance is  the film the film has ample space to fill out other characters. Indeed, in terms of screen time it is Bud who wins out.

DiCaprio’s   Belfort has strong claims to be the  best performance in an already  long career, but it utterly dominates the film and consequently the other characters have little room to develop than TWOWS.  They either remain one rather dimensional or like Matthew McConaughey  appear only in cameos.

The quality of the films as films is reason enough to watch them, but their primary value , as a pair,   is their charting, unwittingly,   of the decline of moral  sense between the 1980s and now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Civitas Meeting  – The trouble with Europe  19 May 2014

Robert Henderson

The sole speaker was Roger Bootle of the Daily Telegraph and Capital Economics

Bootle was  promoting his book The trouble with Europe.  The main thrusts of his argument  were

-          Europe is a declining political and economic power.

-          The growth rate within first the EEC and then the EU has been poor overall compared with economies outside the EU.

-          The EU has undermined European economic performance through promoting too generous welfare states.

-          That much of the regulation comes not from the EU but national governments within the EU.

-          That the EU has smothered competition between nation states and this has hindered innovation and enterprise.

-          That Europe’s period of  greatest world dominance was a time of intense competition between European powers.

-          That EU countries have suffered a loss of identity through mass immigration and those with empires had  a further blow to their national self-confidence through their loss.

-          That European elites have had their energies eaten up with trying to create uniformity within the EU to the detriment of such things as investment and productivity.

-          That the Euro is the biggest  economic disaster the EU has suffered,  dwarfing the Common Agricultural Policy.

-          The EU as it is presently constituted is obsolete.

Bootle laid down his terms for Britain  remaining within the EU: an end to ever closer union,   a guarantee of no second class status for the UK if she remains a member, a reduced EU budget, repatriation of powers to EU member states. National governments to be empowered to reject EU legislation and restrictions on the free movement of labour.

These conditions  are  so improbable that it is reasonable to conclude that Bootle in reality wants Britain out of the EU. If Britain does leave the EU, Bootle is in favour of what he called the WTONLY option if a good free trade agreement with the EU cannot be arranged. The WTONLY option is to simply leave the EU and then rely on World Trade Organisation rules to give Britain access to EU markets.

During questions it was heartening to see how many of the questioners were utterly hostile to the EU, despite the fact that many  of those there came under the heading of the great and the good, the sort of people who would normally be considered unvarnished  Europhiles.   Most promisingly, voices were raised against the wholesale takeover by foreigners of British business and the ill effects of multinationals.

I raised the question of how Britain should deal with the mechanics of leaving bearing in mind that the entire British political elite were Europhiles who would do everything to subvert the wishes of the British electorate by stitching Britain back into the EU through an agreement which included the four so-called EU freedoms, the free movement of goods, services, capital and labour within the EU. I suggested to Bootle that Article 50 was a poisoned chalice which would enable British politicians to do just that.  Rather surprisingly Bootle said that he did not think that the mechanics of leaving were important.  I was not able to question him further because of the number of people wanting to ask questions. However, I have addressed the subject and others in the email I sent to Bootle after the meeting. If I receive a reply I will add it to this blog post.

———————————————————————————

E mail sent to Roger Bootle 31 5 2014

Dear Mr Bootle,

A few points I  was unable to put to you at the Civitas meeting of  19 May.

1. How much do you think the status of the  Euro as  the second largest reserve currency has contributed to the survival of the Euro?  I enclose a note on this at the bottom of the email.

2. You advocate giving both sides of the story, of admitting that leaving the EU will not be without costs both material and moral.  The problem with that is twofold.

a) political knowledge and understanding amongst the electorate  as a whole  is  minute. Most will respond to the fear factor points not the reassuring points simply because they do not know enough to assess the situation rationally.

b) all the STAY IN camp will be peddling is the fear factor. Hence, the electorate will be hearing the fear factor language from both YES and NO camps but only the reassuring points from those who wish Britain to leave.

3. How the UK leaves the  EU is not a trivial matter as you suggested. The danger is that regardless of the wishes of the electorate ,  the British political elite will stitch us back firmly into the EU if they are given a free hand over the negotiation. This is so because we have a political class – especially the leading members of the class –  which is  overwhelmingly prepared to act as Quislings (Quislings in the service of the EU in particular and internationalism in general) to ensure that Britain does not escape the tentacles of the EU.

Of course such a betrayal could apply regardless of whether article 50 is activated or a simple repeal made  of the various Acts binding  us into the EU, but  Article 50 carries far more dangers for those who want us out of the EU than a simple repeal of the Acts  would do.  If Britain accepted the legality of Article 50  we  would have to put up with any amount of prevarication and dirty tricks for two years.  Worse,  the time to reach any  agreement between Britain and the EU under article 50 can be extended if both parties agree.

As those negotiating on behalf of Britain would inevitably be politicians who have sold their souls to the “European Project”, the odds are that they would use any obstruction and delay by the EU to justify making an agreement which would practically speaking nullify the vote to leave.  As sure as eggs are eggs, the agreement would  place  us  firmly back into the EU’s clutches  by signing Britain up to the four EU “freedoms” (freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and labour)  and all the rules regulating the single market.  If the break with the EU is done simply by repealing the various Acts which bind us in, our politicians will not be able to use the restrictions and difficulties raised by Article 50 as an excuse for selling the voters down the river with an agreement such as I have described.  Instead, they would have to take full responsibility for whatever they agree to.  Article 50 is a particularly toxic poisoned chalice.  Don’t drink from it.

It is essential that before any referendum takes place that all mainstream UK parties make it clear that whatever  agreement  is reached by those negotiating on behalf of Britain this should only be ratified if the British people vote for it in a second referendum.  Unless this happens the political class will give us something which binds us back into the EU.

5. It is a dangerous argument to claim that competition between governments is a good thing if you are relying on the historical example.  In your Telegraph article Europe’s politicians must embrace competition or face slide into obscurity (19 May) you write:

It is very striking that Europe’s golden age, when European countries bestrode the world and European influence was at its height, was an era of competition between nation states. Admittedly at times this competition went too far and spilled over into war …

The reality of European history is that it has been primarily a history of war as far as you care to go back. War not peace has been the norm. The period of European ascendency was no exception to this and because of technological developments became more and more efficiently brutal.    Use the European historical example and you are simply inviting the Europhiles to say “Told you so. Nation states can’t be trusted to behave”.

6. At present I also have a problem with  all political discussions  and especially those referring to the economy.   We are within striking distance of the production of general purpose robots which will be able to do not only most of the jobs humans now do but most of any new ones which arise.   The implications of this are so profound that they bid fair to render any political solutions or policies currently in play obsolete.  Politicians should be planning for such developments but they are simply ignoring them.  If you read  these two pieces you will see where I am coming from:

http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/robotics-and-the-real-sorry-karl-you-got-it-wrong-final-crisis-of-capitalism/

http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/technology-out-of-control/

Yours sincerely,

 

Robert Henderson

 

 

 

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