Monthly Archives: September 2013

Operation Elveden become nonsensical over Piers Morgan’s illegal receipt of information from the Met

Note: The most likely explanation for this absurd email from Marion Kent is that Elveden are well aware of the toxic (for them) nature of the case and they are paralysed by the knowledge.  Robert Henderson

From: “Marion.Kent@met.police.uk” <Marion.Kent@met.police.uk>

Sent: Friday, 27 September 2013, 15:12

Subject: Re: Operation Elveden and their refusal to investigate Piers Morgan et al

Sent on behalf of Det Chief Superintendent Gordon Briggs

Dear Mr Henderson,

I have been asked to respond to you on behalf of Commander Basu in his absence.

I am aware that DI Smith has now passed onto you, as you requested, the contact details of Detective Chief Superintendent Bonthron, the OCU Commander of the Department of Professional Standards. DCS Bonthron is over seeing the review into your original complaint, a review which I asked him to undertake to assess whether there may be any new lines of enquiry which can be progressed. DI Smith wrote to you on 29.07.2013 to notify you of this. Your complaint concerning Mr. Piers Morgan sits outside of Operation Elveden’s terms of reference and it was for this reason that DPS have been asked to take the lead and review your case.

DCS Bonthron has recently informed me that you have made a formal complaint about Operation Elveden’s decision not to re-investigate your allegations and whilst that matter too is being investigated it is more appropriate for you to liaise with him so that he can update you on the progress of both issues.

Yours sincerely

Detective Chief Superintendent Gordon Briggs

Operations Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta.

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

To

Detective Chief Superintendent Gordon Briggs

Operations Weeting, Elveden and Tuleta.

CC Det Chief Superintendant  Alaric Bonthron

Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards

Keir Starmer (DPP)

Alison Saunders Chief Crown Prosecutor (London)

G McGill (CPS Head of Organised Crime Division)

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Met Commissioner)

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

29  Sept 2013

Dear DCS Briggs,

Thank you for your email of 27 Sept. You write “Your complaint concerning Mr. Piers Morgan sits outside of Operation Elveden’s terms of reference and it was for this reason that DPS have been asked to take the lead and review your case.”

This is frankly bewildering. Operation Elveden’s remit is to investigate the illicit supply of information by police officers to the media. I have supplied you with a letter in which Piers Morgan admits  receiving information in circumstances which can only have been illegal.  Please explain to me  by return how that part of my complaint against Morgan is not within Operation Elveden’s remit.

To aid you let me remind you of what AC Cressida Dick told the Home Affairs Committee:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmhaff/67/67we18.htm

Home Affairs Committee

Written evidence submitted by AC Cressida Dick, Metropolitan Police [LSP 40]

Question 3—Your policy regarding leaks by police officers to the press where no payments have been made

Operation Elveden’s terms of reference are “to investigate alleged criminal offences that police officers or public officials have accepted money for supplying information to journalists”. The terms of reference have not been changed, however when suspected criminal wrongdoing that does not include payment comes to light it cannot be ignored.

Of the 64 arrests made on Operation Elveden, only one has been where payment is not a feature of the investigation. It is difficult to comment further on this issue without potentially prejudicing future prosecutions.”

And

“LETTER FROM AC CRESSIDA DICK TO EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE SOCIETY OF EDITORS, 26 MARCH 2013

I am writing to you concerning the Metropolitan Police investigation into allegations of inappropriate payments to police and public officials (Operation Elveden) which is running in conjunction with the Operation Weeting phone-hacking inquiry.

In the light of some recent reporting and commentary about Operation Elveden I thought it would be helpful to reassure editors on a number of points. I am sure you will understand that for legal reasons I will not refer to current active cases. I believe it is important to remember that we are not investigating victimless crimes nor has the remit of Operation Elveden been extended to any police officer who has simply spoken with a journalist, as has been suggested. The investigation is about police officers and public officials who we have reasonable grounds to suspect have abused their positions in return for corrupt payments. However when suspected criminal wrongdoing that does not involve payment comes to light it cannot be ignored.”

That is of particular interest because it commits Elveden to pursuing investigations even where no payment to the police can be proved. Of course, it is odds on that the Mirror did pay the police officer concerned, but whether or not that can be proved after this period of time Morgan and Edwards can be readily pursued for this part of my complaints against them. In fact,  Morgan’s letter hands you their prosecutions on a plate.

I would further remind you that the information received illegally by the Mirror caused  me considerable damage so it definitely was not “a victimless crime”.  You might care to tuck away in your memory the fact that I had a heart attack 11 months  after the Mirror story appeared, an attack almost certainly down to the stress generated by  the story and its aftermath.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

 

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Operation Elveden: I make contact with the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards

Det Chief Superintendant  Alaric Bonthron

Head of the

Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards

23rd Floor North

Empress State Building

Lillie Road

London SW6 ITR

CC Keir Starmer (DPP)

Alison Saunders Chief Crown Prosecutor (London)

G McGill (CPS Head of Organised Crime Division)

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Met Commissioner)

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

20 Sept 2013

Dear Mr  Bonthron,

DI Daniel Smith of Operation Elveden (see first document down) tells me you are dealing with my complaints regarding the failure of Operation Elveden to investigate serious crimes involving these erstwhile employees of the Daily Mirror Piers Morgan (editor) and  Jeff Edwards (Chief Crime Reporter) ,   plus Det Supt Jeff Curtis of Scotland Yard  (who I presume is now retired) .

You will find below my complete correspondence with  Operation Elveden and the CPS.  The correspondence with Elevden comes before the CPS. You will also see I have just written to the attorney-general.

If Elveden have not passed their complete file on my complaint  to you, the only thing you may now  be missing is the recording of my meeting with Det Supt Jeff Curtis at which he promised to interview Piers Morgan and  Jeff Edwards. This he then failed to do despite having a copy of a letter from Morgan to the PCC supplied by me in which Morgan admitted receiving information from the Met Police in circumstances which can only have been illegal . A facsimile of this letter is attached.

Operation Elveden have had my complaint and evidence  since the end of January. That is an unconscionable delay in investigating Morgan, Edwards, and Curtis.  The wilful ignoring of  such clear evidence as I have provided amounts to misconduct in a public office and/or an attempt to pervert the course of justice.

Frankly, I find it very odd that you have not contacted me before now to arrange an interview. I wish to meet you to discuss this matter as soon as possible.  Please arrange to meet me ASAP.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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

From: “Alaric.Bonthron@olympics.pnn.police.uk” <alaric.bonthron@olympics.pnn.police.uk>

To: anywhere156@yahoo.co.uk

Cc: mark.lewis@thlaw.co.uk; keir.starmer@cps.gsi.gov.uk; alison.saunders@cps.gsi.gov.uk; Gregor.McGill@cps.gsi.gov.uk; Bernard.Hogan-Howe@met.pnn.police.uk; Neil.Basu@met.pnn.police.uk; Daniel.Smith3@met.pnn.police.uk; whittingdalej@parliament.uk; george.eustice.mp@parliament.uk; geraldhowarth@parliament.uk

Sent: Monday, 23 September 2013, 11:16

Subject: RE: Operation Elveden and their refusal to investigate Piers Morgan et al cont.

Mr Henderson

Thank you for the email below. I would like to point out we are currently reviewing the previous matters dealt with by D.Supt Curtis which you had sent to the MPS. This review is in hand and you will be updated in due course.

Many thanks

Alaric

Alaric Bonthron

Detective Chief Superintendent

Directorate of Professional Standards – Deputy Commissioners Portfolio

MetPhone: 786633 | Telephone: 020 7161 6633 Address: 23rd Floor, Empress State Building, Lillie Road, London, SW6 1TR

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

156 Levita House, Chalton Street, London NW1 1HR

Tel: 0207 387 5018   Email: anywhere156@yahoo.co.uk

Det Chief Superintendant  Alaric Bonthron

Head of the

Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards

23rd Floor North

Empress State Building

Lillie Road

London SW6 ITR

CC Keir Starmer (DPP)

Alison Saunders Chief Crown Prosecutor (London)

G McGill (CPS Head of Organised Crime Division)

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Met Commissioner)

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

25 September  2013

Dear Mr Bonthron,

Your email of 23 September continues the behaviour I have experienced at the hands of  Operation Elveden. I have asked you to meet me and you have simply ignored the request.  Frankly, that does not inspire confidence in me that you will deal with this matter honestly. It also  builds on my rational mistrust of the Met Police which has developed through my experience of the force over the past  sixteen years.

It is not that think the police are generally corrupt,  but rather that there are two circumstances in which the will almost invariably  act dishonestly. The first is where their own misbehaviour places them in danger, for example, selling information to the media; the second is where those with power and influence are the subject of allegations of criminality.  Both circumstances apply with knobs on in my case.

Since March 1997, when the Blairs attempted and failed humiliatingly to have me prosecuted on bogus charges, I have been given ample reason for doubting the honesty of the Met. My experience with the Blairs is neatly summarised in this Early Day Motion put down by Sir Richard Body:

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

The police refused to meaningfully investigate any of my complaints against the Blairs and  the Mirror.  I also suffered harassment throughout Blair’s premiership, behaviour which abruptly stopped when he left office.  The harassment went from ostentatiously opening my post to vicious incitements in chat rooms to attack me to death threats.  During that time I was unable to get the police to meaningfully investigate any of my complaints about the harassment.

I think that should be  enough to  put you in the picture.  Do not read into it that I am not prepared to give you a fair chance to play the honest man. Play square with me and you will have clean moral hands in this matter as far as I am concerned.  But if you attempt to shrug off my complaints you will become part of the scandal. Ask yourself this simple question Mr Bonthron; would you be happy standing in a witness box or before TV cameras trying to explain why a letter from a Fleet Street editor admitting receiving information from the Met Police in circumstances which can only have been illegal is not grounds to investigate that editor?

I ask again that you to arrange a meeting with me ASAP.  If you are unwilling to meet me, please say so and explain your reasons.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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

From: “Alaric.Bonthron@olympics.pnn.police.uk” <alaric.bonthron@olympics.pnn.police.uk>

To: anywhere156@yahoo.co.uk

Sent: Wednesday, 2 October 2013, 15:19

Subject: RE: Operation Elveden and their refusal to investigate Piers Morgan et al cont.

Mr Henderson

Thank you for your further email. I explained in the first I would be having the matters raised in your original messages to the Elveden team reviewed then would get back to you. This has not changed and I will be in contact in due course.

Thank you

Alaric

Alaric Bonthron

Detective Chief Superintendent

Directorate of Professional Standards – Deputy Commissioners Portfolio

MetPhone: 786633 | Telephone: 020 7161 6633 |Address: 23rd Floor, Empress State Building, Lillie Road, London, SW6 1TR

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

From: “Alaric.Bonthron@olympics.pnn.police.uk” <alaric.bonthron@olympics.pnn.police.uk>

To: anywhere156@yahoo.co.uk

Sent: Wednesday, 2 October 2013, 15:19

Subject: RE: Operation Elveden and their refusal to investigate Piers Morgan et al cont.

 

Mr Henderson

Thank you for your further email. I explained in the first I would be having the matters raised in your original messages to the Elveden team reviewed then would get back to you. This has not changed and I will be in contact in due course.

Thank you

 

Alaric

Alaric Bonthron

Detective Chief Superintendent

Directorate of Professional Standards – Deputy Commissioners Portfolio

MetPhone: 786633 | Telephone: 020 7161 6633 |Address: 23rd Floor, Empress State Building, Lillie Road, London, SW6 1TR

———————————————————————————————–

Det Chief Superintendant  Alaric Bonthron

Head of the

Metropolitan Police’s Directorate of Professional Standards

23rd Floor North

Empress State Building

Lillie Road

London SW6 ITR

 

CC Keir Starmer (DPP)

Alison Saunders Chief Crown Prosecutor (London)

G McGill (CPS Head of Organised Crime Division)

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Met Commissioner)

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

 

8 October  2013

 

Dear Mr Bonthron,

I refer to your email of 2 October. Yet again you have ignored my request for a meeting with you. I am not going to get into a perpetual exchange of  emails making the  request and you ignoring it, so this will be the last time I make the request.  Are you willing to meet me and if not why not?

You may think that this extremely toxic (for the Met and you)  problem will simply go away if you ignore it. The question you should be considering is what if it does not go away, what if the media censorship is broken? How would you explain your behaviour if you were in a witness box or in front of TV cameras?  I can just envisage it: “Mr Bonthron, are you seriously suggesting that the possession of a letter from a Fleet Street editor admitting he received information illegally from the Met Police does not constitute  grounds for investigation?

Think about it.

Yours sincerely,

 

Robert Henderson

———————————————————————————————–

I sent my email to the attorney-general in the evening of the 18th Sept and got messages back from DI Smith giving me the contact details for the Directorate of  professional Standards, something he had failed to do for two weeks following  my request  I also received  an  email immediately from the staff officer serving the head of Operation Elveden . This was the first time I have had any response from Basu’s office.

Bonthron is the head of the Directorate of Professional Standards   and the fact that someone so senior is dealing with the matter is indicative of the concern my complaints are causing. The involvement of police officers of far too high a rank to investigate the type of complaints I have made is a common thread throughout my dealings with the police since the Blairs tried and failed miserably to have me prosecuted. Since 1997 I have had these  senior  coppers dealing with my complaints:

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

——————————————————————————–

RE: Operation Elveden and their refusal to investigate Piers Morgan et al

From

Neil.Basu@met.police.uk

To

anywhere156@yahoo.co.uk

Dear Mr Henderson,

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of this e-mail and a second of the same date which is timed at 20:32hrs.

You have hopefully already received Commander Basu’s out of office notification and are therefore aware that he will be unable to respond to you personally in a timely way. I have therefore passed your messages to Detective Chief Superintendent (DCS) Gordon Briggs who is the officer overseeing the Elvedon, Weeting and Tuleta investigations. DCS Briggs will make contact to provide a response within 7 days.

Yours sincerely

Marion Kent PS 6010 CO

Staff Officer to Cmdr Neil Basu – Armed Policing

Specialist Crime & Operations

Room 1113 | 11th Floor | Tower Block

New Scotland Yard

10 Broadway

SW1H 0BG

MetPhone 761727 Telephone 020 7230 1727

Email marion.kent@met.pnn.police.uk

——————————————————————————————————-Email: Daniel.Smith3@met.police.uk

http://www.met.police.uk

Your ref:

Our ref: Op Elveden

19/09/13

Dear Mr Henderson

In response to your recent request for information I am able to supply you with the below details.

The review of the original investigation is being conducted by the Department of Professional Standards. The Officer conducting the review is Detective Chief Superintendent Alaric Bonthron.

Mr Bonthron’s address is EMPRESS STATE BUILDING, LILLIE ROAD, LONDON, SW6 1TR

Mr Bonthron is contactable via the email address ‘alaric.bonthron@met.police.uk’

The Department of Professional Standards will update you at the conclusion of the review or in month should the review not be concluded sooner.

Yours sincerely,

Detective Inspector Daniel Smith

 

Click on the tag Operation Elveden for the full story

See in particular https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2013/09/18/operation-elvedens-failure-to-investigate-pier-morgan-et-al-referred-to-the-attorney-general/

and

https://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2013/01/24/piers-morgans-illegal-receipt-of-information-from-the-police-his-perjury-and-operation-elveden/

Operation Elveden’s failure to investigate Pier Morgan et al referred to the Attorney-General

Mr Dominic Grieve PC MP

Attorney-General

20 Victoria Street

London

SW1H 0NF

CC

Alison Saunders Chief Crown Prosecutor (London)

Gregor McGill (CPS: Head of Organised Crime Division)

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Met Commissioner)

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

19 September 2013

Dear Mr Grieve,

Operation Elveden are failing to  investigate serious crimes committed by the Daily Mirror  for which they have  cast iron evidence.

The full story is in the correspondence I reproduce below. (The correspondence is divided into two sections – that with Elevden and that with the CPS). However, I realise that you are an immensely busy man,  so to take you to instantly to  the heart of the corrupt behaviour of Operation Elveden please read first the attached facsimile letter Piers Morgan  sent to the PCC whilst editor of the Daily Mirror. In this letter he admits receiving information from the Metropolitan Police in circumstances which can only be illegal, viz: “The police source of our article (whose identity we have a moral obligation to protect)…”.

The other document you need to  read is my initial email (dated  21 January 2013) to the then head of Operation Elveden  Deputy Assistant Commissioner  Steve Kavanagh – see first  document below this letter.   That will give you the background to and the range  of crimes Elveden are  failing to investigate.

I have provided Eleveden with a copy of Morgan’s  letter, together  with other evidence of criminal behaviour on the part of the Mirror’s erstwhile Chief Crime Reporter Jeff Edwards,  in receiving information illicitly from the police. I have also supplied Elveden with evidence that both Morgan and Edwards  perjured themselves before the Leveson Inquiry.  Finally, there is the misconduct of the police in not investigating these crimes for which they have cast-iron evidence.

The behaviour of Operation Elveden has been extraordinary.  They have ignored my  repeated requests to be interviewed and provide  a formal statement. Astonishingly  my only contact with them has been through written correspondence.

Despite having the Piers Morgan letter (amongst other very strong evidence), DI Daniel  Smith (see letter dated 13 June 2013) informed me that no investigation would be undertaken without giving any meaningful explanation.

The Metropolitan Police’s ’ Department for Professional Standards is supposedly investigating the failure of Operation  Elveden to investigate the crimes I have reported to them.  However, no one from that department has contacted me. In addition, Elveden  have failed to answer my request that they give me the contact details and names of those conducting the investigation (see my email to DI Daniel  Smith dated 6 Sept 2013).

As you will see from the correspondence, I have also tried without success to get the DPP to act on what is a clear failure on the part of the police to investigate serious crimes . That is the reason I now write to you.  I realise that the police are meant to be independent of the DPP and the DDP is meant to be independent of the law officers. However, this is a wholly exceptional circumstance because we are clearly deep into who shall guard the guards territory, with the police blatantly failing to do their duty to  investigate very clear and serious crimes.   If the police are not brought to book over this, it means they are a law unto themselves.

I ask you to take up this matter and to  use your influence to get my allegations of criminality investigated thoroughly. I would greatly welcome a meeting with you to discuss the matter.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

————————————————————————————————————————————————

Royal Mail and ideology

Robert Henderson

The starting gun for the privatisation of the Royal Mail has been fired t(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/royal-mail/10303689/Royal-Mail-privatisation-Government-confirms-flotation-within-weeks.html).

As with the banks,  the taxpayer takes the losses  and private business gets the profits. To prepare Royal Mail for privatisation the taxpayer has taken sole responsibility for the Royal Mail’s pension fund . They have done this  because its liabilities are huge and no private investor or business would take Royal Mail  on with the pension fund attached.

The pension scheme is closed to new members, which means that over time the liabilities will decline as pensioners die. However, that will take a long time and the liabilities are huge and uncertain.

The pension fund had estimated liabilities £33bn in the 2012/13 accounts (http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/hc1314/hc01/0149/0149.pdf).  This figure had risen by nearly £3bn in a year:  “The total pension scheme liability increased, from the date of transfer on 1 April 2012, from £30.547 billion to £33.378 billion at 31 March 2013.”

The scheme is “an unfunded defined benefit scheme providing pension and lump sum benefits on retirement and  death to members and former members of the Royal Mail Pension Plan (RMPP), and their dependants, in respect of their service up to 31 March 2012. The scheme is closed and has only pensioner and deferred members. As this is a closed scheme, there are no employer or employee contributions, the on-going pension payments and other payments are funded from the consolidated fund”  (Ibid)

The key words here are “unfunded” and “funded from the consolidated fund.  That means it is like the  Old Age Pension, namely, funded out of taxation.

The Pension Fund was supposedly made shipshape and Bristol fashion by the government  pumping in £2.2 billion in 2012.  However, after the first year of operation after the taxpayer bailout the “Royal Mail Group is facing an extra £300m annual bill from its pensions, one year on from a multi-billion-pound deal that was supposed to have solved its pension issues once and for all ahead of a public listing.” (http://www.efinancialnews.com/story/2013-05-31/pensions-talks-return-to-haunt-royal-mail?ea9c8a2de0ee111045601ab04d673622)

What can be expected from a privatised postal service

The experience of every other large privatisation apart from BT is of rising prices and decreased service.  Even in the case of BT the comparative success of the privatisation – the landline connections for phones and broadband are still dependent on BT’s  control of the network – would probably not have occurred if the mobile phone revolution had not taken place and  introduced genuine competition into the telecoms market.

There are a number of reasons why a privatised Royal Mail will go the same way as the likes of British Rail and the utilities.  To begin with there is the VAT exemption which is bound to vanish. As   it is a public organisation Royal Mail  does not pay VAT on most of its products: a privatised Royal Mail will almost certainly pay VAT on all of its products. The present position with VAT  is this:

“Royal Mail products that remain exempt from VAT, in addition to free products

UK

1st and 2nd Class (stamps, online, franking, account*)

Special Delivery™ Next Day (stamps and franking)

Standard Parcels

Recorded Signed For™ (if purchased with a VAT exempt service)

Keepsafe™ (personal and business)

*1st and 2nd class account is a new product that was launched in April 2012. This is a Universal Service which does not qualify for volume related discounts. Royal Mail also offers a 1st and 2nd class service called Business Mail which is available on account. Volume related discounts are available on this service for larger postings and VAT is liable

International

Airmail

Surface Mail

International Signed For

All HM Forces Mail (BFPO)

Inbound Mail

Redirections within UK (personal and business) “

(http://www.royalmail.com/information-vat-and-postal-services)

All those exemptions will  be under threat with privatisation,  not least because  EU competition commissioner is likely to  be after them like a shot as the exemptions would be viewed as illegitimate state aid ( http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2305592/Price-class-stamp-soar-1-just-years-Royal-Mail-privatised-campaign-group-warns.html) . There will also be challenges by private postal companies and TNT Post UK has already said they will try to get the courts to rule that “ the exemption should be removed from all Royal Mail services apart from stamps and services directly connected to the obligation it has to provide a universal service six days a week”. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/journalists/steve-hawkes/10309856/Legal-fight-threatens-Royal-Mail.html).  If successful that would put 20% VAT on bulk mail deliveries.  In time, it is reasonable to expect even more dramatic challenges to any VAT exemption.

Then there is the question of raising capital. The official line is this: “ To help protect the future of the universal postal service, we aim to end Royal Mail’s dependence on unpredictable funding from the taxpayer and allow them future access to private capital. We will do this by selling shares in Royal Mail. “ (https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/ensuring-the-future-of-the-universal-postal-service-and-post-office-network-services)

On the face of it this is a nonsense statement.  As a matter of simple fact the British government can raise money by way of borrowing far more cheaply than a private company, no matter how large, can do (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/21/royal-mail-public-sector-privatise).

The claim becomes less odd if the real reason why capital cannot be raised by Royal Mail is the EU competition commission’s resistance to  state aid. The commission  is especially keen on stamping on state aid  in relation to EU postal services, which it desperately wants to see in private hands or at least with a mixture of private and public providers competing on the same basis, as it seeks to have a uniform postal service throughout the EU ((http://ec.europa.eu/competition/sectors/postal_services/cases.html).  It is probable that a publicly owned  Royal Mail would not be allowed to raise cheap money through the offices of the government because the assistance  would not be available to other private postal competitors and, hence,  would be judged as unfair competition by the EU competition commissioner.

But not all state aid is bad in the EU commission’s eyes.  They  were willing to collude  with the  UK government to prepare Royal Mail for privatisation by allowing what amounts to massive state aid through the removal of the deficit laden Royal Mail pension fund from Royal Mail , viz:

“The European Commission approved UK plans to relieve the Royal Mail Group (RMG) from excessive pension costs relating to its past monopoly position and to provide RMG with restructuring aid consisting of a debt reduction of GBP 1089 million (around EUR 1311 million). The Commission concluded that RMG’s revised restructuring plan would ensure a sustainable future for the group in its twofold function of providing universal postal services and of granting access to its delivery network to other providers in the UK. Moreover, the plan negotiated with the Commission included appropriate measures to minimise distortions of competition induced by the aid (IP/12/260).” (Ibid)

The sale is also ostensibly  odd in that it comes at a time when  Royal Mail is making a solid profit  (£400 million in the past year). However, the strangeness of the decision vanishes when it is realised that  the Royal Mail has been deliberately fattened up for privatisation  by the massive price increase in the cost of postage stamps in 2012 (First class stamps rising from 46p to 60p and second class from 36p to 50p.  Parcel charges have also risen substantially http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17859782. Incidentally, iIt is a moot point how much of the £400million profit arose from people buying huge numbers of stamps at the pre-rise prices, but nonetheless the increase in profitability is too large to be  ascribed to that one off event alone ).

The obligation to maintain the universal  postal service (UPS )  – the obligation to deliver  post anywhere in the UK at the same price six days a week –  is protected by the Postal Services Act 2011 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2011/5/introduction) and the  EU Postal Services Directives (http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/post/legislation/index_en.htm). However, once Royal Mail has private shareholders  this could change, especially if a majority private shareholder emerges. This could easily occur  if much more than 50% of shares are sold  to the private sector . The intention of  the government is for a  majority of shares  to be in private hands  with the rest held by the government. The  percentage to be retained by the government might be very small  and this is suggested strongly because ministers  has been very coy on the matter of the size of government’s holding .  It could be as low 10% for all we know.

If a majority shareholder does emerge,  they  will inevitably argue that they cannot compete with other private operators who are not bound by the UPS. Their complaint could well be upheld either by the UK or the EU competition authorities on the grounds of practicality, that is, the impossibility of running Royal Mail as a private business when it has the  UPS obligation which its competitors do not have to honour.  If the VAT exemption is lessened or even abandoned altogether, that would  add to the argument to dilute or even remove entirely the UPS obligation. It is worth  remembering that the so-called “golden share” held by the government in Jaguar cars was limply given up by the government  not that many years after being introduced (http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1989/dec/06/golden-shares).

The UPS is under attack already from retailers who rely on posting goods to customers. They are under no obligation to use Royal Mail. This means they can charge whatever they like for postage within the UK and there are claims that some online retailers are charging multiples of the postage cost  which Royal Mail would charge for deliveries to out of the way addresses. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-24069354).  This will be happening because  the contracts the retailers  have agreed with postal providers other than Royal Mail will stipulate that this must be done.  If Royal Mail had retained its monopoly of small parcel deliveries (or even had the size of parcels in its monopoly increased) this would not be able to happen with anything like the same frequency.

The privatisation of Royal Mail also threatens the Post Office network, which is now an entirely separate organisation, Post Office Ltd.  Governments have been cynically undermining the Post Office for decades with a gradual removal government services which bulked out the postal services. The threat is not immediate because “We have committed £1.34 billion of funding for the network from financial year 2011 to 2012 to financial year 2014 to 2015. This will enable the Post Office to maintain and modernise its network to help safeguard its future.” (https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/ensuring-the-future-of-the-universal-postal-service-and-post-office-network-services). However,   looking ten years or so ahead it is probable that the cry will go up from politicians that the Post Office is a white state-owned elephant because there is every chance that a privatised Royal Mail will refuse to continue the contracts with the Post Office which currently exist on the grounds of cost and convenience.  

Why the privatisation is happening

Royal Mail would be perfectly viable as a public service if the old monopoly of letter post and small parcel post was maintained. It is true that email and other forms of digital messaging have reduced considerably the number of letters sent. But this drop has been offset by the considerable increase in parcel post arising from e-commerce, an increase which is likely to continue for quite some time.    Indeed, with the monopoly restored and modern sorting machinery being introduced, Royal Mail would almost certainly be able to make enough for necessary  future investment  whilst keeping postal rates moderate.   A cheap postal system would be a considerable boost to the economy generally.  The Post Office network could also be underpinned by the use of the offices as collection points for goods ordered through the Internet.

If that is so why is privatisation being driven through so ruthlessly  for transparently false reasons? The answer is ideology. The globalist, laissez faire ideology has infected to a lesser or greater degree all of Britain’s major political parties.  That  ideology dovetails with the supranational mentality engendered by the EU , commitment to  which is at the British political elite’s political core. It is doubtful if any senior British politician  not firmly committed to either laissez faire  globalism or the EU; most are committed to both. That is the simple truth.

Replacing the BBC licence fee

Robert Henderson

I have always had objections to the licence fee. It is a poll tax enforced by an extensive and expensive bureaucracy armed with extensive powers to harass the public. The practical consequences of the fee are the poor subsidising the rich and thousands of the poor, mostly women, brought before the courts each year for non-payment of the licence fee. The last is far from being a small matter because recently it has been revealed that an incredible ten per cent of court cases in the UK (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/10256679/TV-licence-offences-account-for-one-in-ten-UK-court-cases.html).

But whether or not you think the licence fee is the best solution to funding public service broadcasting (PSB), your opinion  will become academic in the foreseeable future  because the technology is moving on rapidly. TVs as we know them will  be on the way out by the time the BBC charter comes up for renewal in 2016, as computers (and conceivably something completely new) become the means to view what we now call television. (A tax on personal computers is currently being mooted. Take it from a retired Inland Revenue Officer, this  is administratively bonkers).

The alternatives to the licence fee fill defenders of PSB with horror, and in most instances, justifiably so. Voluntary subscriptions could never provide the necessary finance and advertising would corrupt programming because of the need to draw audiences.

But there is one means of funding which could preserve the status quo – direct funding by the taxpayer. I have never understood the objection in principle to this. If direct funding could be cut off or reduced at any time by a Government, so can the licence fee. In principle, Parliament could pass a Bill tomorrow overturning the BBC’s current charter. More realistically, a future Government could simply decide to destroy or at least severely emasculate the BBC through legislative action.

Can anyone honestly say that the World Service (WS), which is (and always has been) directly funded by the taxpayer, has been the creature of any government? Has any government seriously reduced WS funding because it did not do what the government wanted? I think most people would give a pretty firm no to both questions. The BBC domestic service is in fact already receiving substantial direct payments from the taxpayer in the shape of  payments of around œ400 pa to compensate the BBC for the licence fee exemptions made for the over-75s. Has that made any noticeable difference in the relationship between the BBC and the Government?

Direct funding could be guaranteed on the same basis as the licence fee, a ten-year charter with a guarantee that direct funding would last for the period of the charter. Ideally, the funding would be linked to some objective criteria such as a proportion of the total UK broadcasting spend and adjusted annually according to whatever the total UK spend was for the past year. This would both guard against politicians interfering during the period of the charter and  provide less opportunity for the private side of the industry to complain about unfair competition because the proportion of the overall UK spend would remain static. That would remove the private sector fear that the BBC’s seemingly remorseless expansion will have limits. The BBC could strengthen their position further in that respect if they eschewed any active commercial activity beyond selling programmes which they have made in-house or funded directly from an independent production company.

Direct funding would also improve the relationship between the BBC and the public. All experience shows that direct payment by the individual is what causes friction. Hence, the Council Tax causes more friction than paying income tax, VAT etc from which central government pays the majority of local council spending. Hide the expenditure in general taxation and complaints usually die. Even the most  belligerent member of the “Why should I pay the licence fee when I don’t watch the BBC” brigade would find it difficult to rally under a “Why should I pay my taxes to directly fund the BBC” banner.

In the end PSB is reliant on what politicians do. But  there are several good reasons why they would not willingly damage the BBC. To begin with politicians are human beings (just)  and many have an affection for the Corporation. A substantial hard-core are committed to PSB in principle. Others see it as a prestigious British institution which deserves to be preserved for that reason. There are also the base political reasons. The first is obvious: dismantling or seriously damaging an organisation as large and influential as the BBC would be a risky business for any government, which would risk being caught in pincer movement of journalistic wrath and public resentment at the loss of a unique service (the BBC is one of those institutions which will not be truly appreciated until it ism not there).

The second base reason is wonderfully self-serving and simple. The continued existence of the BBC is convenient for politicians, because it provides them with political coverage and opportunities which no private broadcaster can offer. This advantage may grow as privately financed  broadcasting becomes increasingly fragmented in the future. Politicians need large audiences. Broadcasts with small and diminishing audiences is not what they want. If the BBC  continues to exist in something like its present size and importance, a large audience can be guaranteed.

In an ideal world, the public would have such elevated tastes that PSB would not be necessary because only the best programmes would be broadcast as the market acted to select them. However, the world being far from perfect, PSB funded by the taxpayer offers the best hope for broadcasting which is not driven solely or largely by the meretricious hand of demand.



Operation Elveden update – Stony silence to date from Met Police’s Department of Professional Standards

SCO12 – AC Private Office & Business Support

SCO12 AC Private Office & Business Support

Mr Robert Henderson

2.211

Jubilee House Putney

230-232 Putney Bridge Road

London

SW15 2PD

Telephone:

Facsimile:

Email: Daniel.Smith3@met.police.uk

http://www.met.police.uk

Your ref:

Our ref: Op Elveden

06/09/13

Dear Mr Henderson

Further to our previous communication I can confirm that the Department of Professional Standards are reviewing the investigation. The review is not yet complete and I am therefore unable to provide you with the result.

I will provide you with more information when I am able to do so. But If I am unable to provide you with a conclusion within a month I shall inform you of this by letter.

Yours sincerely,

Detective Inspector Daniel Smith

————————————————————————————————————————————–

Detective Inspector Daniel Smith

Operation Eleveden

Metropolitan Police

New Scotland Yard

8/10 The Broadway

London  SW1H OBG  CC

CC Keir Starmer (DPP)

Alison Saunders Chief Crown Prosecutor (London)

G McGill (CPS Head of Organised Crime Division)

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe (Met Commissioner)

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

7 Sept  2013

Dear Mr Smith,

I have your email of 6 September. Please supply me by return with the following:

1. The full  name(s) and rank(s) of those undertaking the investigation of my complaints.

2. The address of the office they are working from.

3. Their contact emails and phone numbers.

I wish I could say that I find it extraordinary that none of those investigating the complaints have contacted me. However, sadly I cannot say that because this very odd behaviour  is par for the course since I lodged the complaints with Operation Elveden.  Despite my repeated  requests to be interviewed and  to provide a formal statement I have had no meeting with the police. The only plausible motive for such  behaviour  is a desire by the police to avoid having to maintain to my face the absurdity that there are no reasonable grounds to investigate Piers Morgan et al when I have provided Elveden with a letter from  Morgan to the PCC in which he admits receiving information from a Metropolitan police officer  in circumstances which can only have been illegal when he was editor of the Daily Mirror.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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