Crooked far-Leftist British politician let off by her colleagues
No requirement to repay the £100,000-plus that she got improperly
Jacqui Smith was let off with a slap on the wrist yesterday even though Parliament’s sleaze watchdog said she was in clear breach of rules on MPs’ expenses. Labour’s former Home Secretary grudgingly apologised in the Commons after John Lyon, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, delivered a scathing verdict on her £100,000-plus second-home claims.
His devastating report – and the fact that Miss Smith’s own police protection officers contradicted her version of events – appeared to leave her political career in ruins. She decided to designate a room in her sister’s house in London as her main home – allowing her to claim up to £24,000 a year in taxpayers’ money towards the running of her family home in Redditch.
Mr Lyon said the designation was ‘contrary to the purpose as well as to the letter of the rule’. He said Miss Smith had been in breach of the guidelines on expenses from 2004 to 2009, a period in which she claimed at least £116,000 in total.
He also revealed that for months, the Home Office and Cabinet Office held up the release of police records showing how long Miss Smith spent at each of her homes. The report said that between June 2007 and March 2009, she was actually spending more nights at her constituency home than in London – contradicting claims she made when the complaints about her expenses were first raised.
But despite Mr Lyon’s damning assessment of her arrangements, the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee failed to demand any repayment. The committee, which is Labour-dominated, said there were ‘ significant mitigating circumstances’. MPs appeared happy to accept Miss Smith’s argument that she was simply badly advised by the Commons authorities on the rules.
They said it could not be established ‘with any certainty’ that the taxpayer lost out as a result of the arrangement. And they decided she had suffered enough for charging the costs of pay-per-view pornographic movies watched by her husband to the taxpayer.
Miss Smith, who looks likely to lose her marginal seat at the next election, told MPs she apologised ‘unreservedly’ for wrongly claiming for the cost of films watched at her family home. She has already insisted she did not know they were included in the claim, and has repaid £400.
But in a brief statement in the Commons chamber, she defiantly pointed out that she had received ‘written advice from the Parliamentary authorities’ saying that her decision to designate the London room as her main home was reasonable. ‘On the issue of second-home allowances, the commissioner and the committee recognise that my London home is indeed a home,’ she declared. ‘They dismiss the most usually repeated newspaper descriptions of my living arrange-and I welcome this judgment. ‘Indeed, I spent more nights in London than in Redditch for three of the four years in question. I have never flipped my designation and I only own one home.’ …
When police records were finally released, they revealed significant discrepancies with Miss Smith’s version of events.
High-handed action by politicized British police was a breach of human rights
Below is a further comment on the matter covered in the second article posted on this blog yesterday
The arrest of Damian Green was needless. Nor was it proportionate, as recognised in Sir Ian Johnston’s report. Had the police arranged an interview by appointment there would have been no need for counter terrorism officers to seek his whereabouts, lay in wait at the wrong house and get into the extraordinary tangle of covert recording in the police vehicle.
Arresting someone who is not subsequently charged has profound ramifications: he cannot enter the United States under the visa waiver programme; it is a significant interference with his human rights, carries a stigma or inference, especially in a high-profile case, and is humiliating.
Yet police frequently arrest a suspect and take him into custody when there is no need to do so. Why not ask the suspect to attend the station by appointment for interview under caution? The code brought in under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 recognises that the use of this power must be fully justified and officers “should consider if the necessary objectives can be met by other, less intrusive means”.
Of course there are many instances where the police are entirely correct in immediate detention. They have no choice if they apprehend someone in the course of a crime or about to commit one, to secure evidence or for a person’s own well-being, but The Code is clear: arrest must never be used simply because it can be used. There must be a necessity for arrest and it is exercisable only if the police have reasonable grounds for believing that it is necessary to arrest the person.
There clearly are not reasonable grounds if someone can be properly asked to come to the police station by appointment, with no real suggestion that once there he would seek to leave. If he does, there is a sanction; he can be formally detained immediately.
There is annother issue. Too often, when someone attends the station voluntarily, an arrest is carried out as a matter of course in the front office or in the custody suite because “a senior officer has deemed it appropriate”. There is no other more compelling explanation. It is difficult to fathom out the reason if he has attended by agreement; because if he then decides to walk out he can certainly be detained.
It is sometimes argued that an unannounced swoop rather than an appointment allows the element of surprise and that defence lawyers are prevented from discussing with clients the appropriate answers to difficult questions. That simply is not true. In attending a police station to advise a client who has been arrested without any prior inclination on any matter remotely complex, it is entirely appropriate to consider delaying answering allegations until it can be discussed properly, not in a cell or a windowless interview room.
Finally There is the question of advance disclosure of evidence. A suspect and his lawyer are entitled to this before any interview. In even a mildly complicated case, that is hopeless if given for the first time at the police station just before any interview.
The police do have a difficult job but on this occasionI hope that with mature reflection and the benefit of hindsight they will accept that they were wrong. An interview by appointment might even have avoided the controversy with the parliamentary authorities.
Perhaps the time has come for the police to be given further guidance about the circumstances when an arrest would or would not be necessary. A review carried outsimilar to that by Denis O’Connor, also published yesterday, might be very instructive.
Man had beaten cancer, then British death panel wrongly told him it had returned and let him die
They refused to do tests which would have cleared him of having cancer. They WANTED him to die. Don’t get old and sick under socialized medicine
Jack Jones was allegedly left to die after doctors decided his ‘cancer’ was terminal and stopped feeding him. His widow Pat has been paid an £18,000 settlement although health bosses refused to admit liability. To his family’s horror, they were told he could have recovered if he’d been given the correct treatment.
Yesterday, after being given an £18,000 pay-out over her ordeal, his widow Pat branded his treatment ‘barbaric’ and accused the doctors of manslaughter.
Mr Jones was being cared for at a hospice which was central to the contentious Liverpool Care Pathway under which dying patients have their life support taken away, although the hospice claims it wasn’t officially applied in his case. The scheme is used by hundreds of hospitals and care homes, and is followed in as many as 20,000 deaths a year. Supporters say it brings dignity to a patient’s final hours, but critics fear that some are placed into it incorrectly.
Mr Jones, a retired bricklayer with two daughters, was diagnosed with stomach cancer in May 2005. After undergoing chemotherapy, he had his stomach removed by surgeons at Royal Liverpool Hospital that September. He was told he was in remission from cancer, but the grandfather of two continued to suffer pain following the operation as well as difficulties in eating, and on January 3, 2006, he went to the city’s Marie Curie hospice for respite care.
While there, however, his family were told the cancer had returned by Dr Alison Coackley, a palliative medicine consultant who played a key role in drawing up the Liverpool Care Pathway. Despite the fact that no tests were carried out to confirm the diagnosis, his family say doctors instructed nurses to stop giving him food and fluids. The only medication he was permitted were painkillers, and he slipped into semi- consciousness without the chest infection being diagnosed and died on January 14.
But a post-mortem examination found he was free of cancer and had in fact died of pneumonia. Reports commissioned by Mrs Jones’s solicitor concluded that with antibiotics and a rehydrating drip he could have made a full recovery and survived for at least another two years.
The hospice and the doctors who treated Mr Jones continue to deny liability, but his widow has now accepted an £18,000 out-of-court settlement after being told she would otherwise lose her legal aid. Yesterday she said: ‘If they’d only treated his chest infection, my husband could well still be alive today. ‘We fought in the hospice to get Jack the right treatment and they blocked us, making us feel we were a nuisance. ‘I was worried it was pneumonia, I wanted them to check his chest, but they wouldn’t.’
Mrs Jones and the family want to know whether her husband was treated under the Liverpool Care Pathway. She added: ‘Jack was the life and soul of the party. He was a true gentleman. As far as I’m concerned, his death was manslaughter. It’s barbaric and I don’t want any other family to go through what we’ve had to.’
The 75-year-old, of Childwall, Liverpool, plans to report Dr Coackley and another doctor to the General Medical Council. Dr Coackley, 45, worked with Professor John Ellershaw at the hospice in Liverpool at a time when he was heading the writing of the LCP policy. One article they published together last year said: ‘Futile treatments should . . . be discontinued at this time and consideration should be given to the discontinuation of antibiotics and blood tests.’
Mrs Jones’s solicitor, Michael Danby, said: ‘This is a particularly sad case as it was entirely preventable. If they had examined his chest, they would have diagnosed the infection, and he could have been treated.’
The hospice’s lawyer, Dorothy Flower, said it had settled the case to enable Mrs Jones to grieve for her husband, but did not accept liability. ‘Some things are done for economic reasons, and a case like this costs a huge amount of money, which would do nobody any good,’ she said.
Marie Curie Cancer Care said it could not comment on Mr Jones’s case due to patient confidentiality. However, it insists that the Liverpool Care Pathway requires doctors to monitor patients regularly.
Crooked British health bureaucrats defeated
Nasty secrets about ill-treatment of patients not sacrosanct. Nurse struck off for whistleblowing is allowed back to work
A whistleblower nurse who was struck off after raising concerns about poor standards of care has won her fight to return to work. Margaret Haywood secretly filmed the neglect of elderly patients for a television documentary and was struck off the nursing register for misconduct in April.
She admitted breaching patient confidentiality but said that she had agreed to film at the Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton to highlight terrible conditions there. Her film was used in a BBC Panorama programme.
The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said yesterday that a High Court decision had been reached on an appropriate sanction for Ms Haywood, who is from Liverpool. The court replaced the striking-off order with a one-year caution, which means that she can return to work as a nurse. “All parties agree that the sanction decided by the court represents a fair outcome to this case,” a joint statement said.
Kathy George, the NMC chief executive and registrar, said: “Raising concerns about poor standards of care is a difficult and brave step for any nurse or midwife to take and is vitally important in driving improvements in patient care. “One of the lessons of Margaret Haywood’s case is that nurses and midwives need clearer information about how to appropriately raise and escalate concerns in a way that is safe for patients and in a way that will not bring them into conflict with their code of conduct.” She said that guidance on this was currently being developed and would be published next year.
“We are also taking steps to remind employers and managers of the need to establish clearer reporting procedures and to ensure that these are widely promoted amongst staff so that nurses and midwives can feel confident that employers will listen to and respond appropriately to their concerns.”
Peter Carter, the chief executive of the RCN, said: “We are pleased with today’s outcome, which means that Margaret will be able to continue practising as a nurse. “In reaching this conclusion it has been recognised that, while the case raised complex questions about competing duties, Margaret had an unblemished career as a nurse and contributed significantly to the care of patients. “We would like to thank patients and the public for the vast support they have given her. “We consider the matter satisfactorily resolved and all parties can now move on.”
The Panorama programme, which was broadcast in 2005, was the result of a three-month investigation. Ms Haywood, who has more than 20 years’ experience, wore a hidden camera during 28 shifts on an acute medical ward. In one scene a patient was left to die alone, while another had to wait hours to go to the toilet. The BBC journalist Shabnam Grewal also took a job on the ward with a private company that held the contract to clean the hospital and serve food.
Ms Haywood said at the time: “Seeing this kind of care makes me feel angry; it makes me ashamed of my profession. “We’re talking about basic human needs here, basic nursing care.”
A “RIGHT” TO LARGE BREASTS under socialized medicine?
This is the insanity to which government medicine inevitably leads: a British transsexual is suing for the “right” to breast enlargement surgery:
The legally aided gender dysphoria sufferer, who has been living as a woman for over 10 years, says breast augmentation is essential to her female identity and emotional well-being and the refusal to give her the op amounts to sex discrimination.
Her unique test case against the West Berkire Primary Care Trust (PCT), in which the the Equality and Human Rights Commission will also be playing a part, is now set for hearing at the High Court on October 20.
Any government medicine system suffers from a fatal contradiction: health care is a “right,” but a right that must be rationed. Thus, the sort of craziness we are seeing here is inevitable:
[The PCT's barrister] told Judge Nicola Davies QC: “Public bodies who have to make rationing decisions, like PCTs, face enormous difficulties. Wherever you draw the line, there will be those who are disappointed. It would make the job of PCTs virtually impossible if their decisions were constantly attacked.”
The transsexual plaintiff’s theory is that she is being discriminated against by being treated the same as a “natal female:”
Her barrister, Stephanie Harrison, said it amounted to sex discrimination that she had been treated in exactly the same way as a “natal female”, not suffering from gender dysphoria, applying for cosmetic breast enlargment on the NHS.
Arguing that C would “derive psychological benefit” from breast enhancement, Miss Harrison said the PCT’s refusal “leaves a treatable condition and untreated” and exposed her to “significant suffering”.
Breast augmentation would be “an appropriate and cost-effective treatment” that would enable C to achieve “a congruent physical, psychological and social identity”.
But the PCT’s policy that breast augmentation will only be funded in “exceptional” cases is so tight as to amount almost to a blanket ban, the barrister added.
Once you adopt the view that medical care is a “right” which the government must vindicate with taxpayer funds, there is no end to the insanity that will result.
Britain ‘embarrassed’ by academic excellence, says head
A leading private school is re-introducing scholarships for the brightest students amid claims Britain is “embarrassed” by academic excellence. The move – by Bristol Grammar School – comes despite the fact that free and subsidised places for top students can be claimed by children from middle-class backgrounds.
Many schools have scrapped scholarships in recent years under pressure from the Charity Commission in favour of means-tested bursaries targeted at students from the poorest homes. It follows the introduction of new rules forcing fee-paying schools to prove they provide “public benefit” to hang on to £100m a year in tax breaks.
But Bristol Grammar, which charges more than £10,000, said the trend risked leading to a decline in standards. Rod MacKinnon, the school’s headmaster, said: “We live in a society in which we are almost embarrassed to celebrate excellence, which is a big mistake. We seem to constantly emphasise egalitarianism over the traditional values of scholarship. “Excellence is something that we should strive for and ensure children aspire to achieve. Although we will have bursaries as well, we are signalling, with these awards, the value we base on rewarding and celebrating academic excellence.”
Traditionally, money from fees, investments and endowments has been invested in academic, sporting or musical scholarships – giving cut-price places to the most able pupils, regardless of parental income. But they have gone out of fashion in recent years in favour of bursaries, which are reserved for pupils from families unable to pay fees. The Charity Commission has already made an appeal to schools to increase the size of bursary funds to pass a new public benefit “test”, which was introduced under Labour’s Charities Act 2006. Two out of five schools investigated earlier this year as part of a trial programme failed the test because they did not offer enough free places to the most deprived children.
A report last year from accountancy firm Howarth Clark Whitehill found more cash is now spent on means-tested bursaries than scholarships. A survey of schools suggested that around £800m was spent on fee assistance, with just over half on bursaries.
Mr MacKinnon said: “I suspect that this is unique, it is certainly against the trend we have seen in recent years. It is common for schools to be phasing out scholarships because of the pressure from the Charity Commission and also because of the laudable attempt to broaden access to this country’s great schools. “I support that – we are not reducing our bursaries – but I think you have got to do both. We need to acknowledge and reward the most able because they can have a significant impact on the school community.”
At Bristol, scholarships worth £2,500-a-year each will be awarded to 15 students a year from September 2010. Thirteen will reward academic excellence and two more will recognise pupils with outstanding ability in sport and the performing arts. The awards will be funded by the Pople Charitable Trust, established by Don Pople who was a pupil at the school in the 1930s and 40s
Weighing into family life — again
British obesity campaigners want all expectant parents to be weighed. We should tell them to get stuffed
‘Parents are stuffing food into their children. The portion sizes are too large, they are insisting the children finish what’s on the plate and much of the food being eaten has high levels of fat, sugar and salt.’ So says Tam Fry, a trustee of the UK National Obesity Forum (NOF), who will argue at the NOF’s annual conference this week that midwives should record the body mass index (BMI) of newly pregnant women and their partners. Where parents are obese, midwives should then give them advice on their eating habits on the basis that fat parents are more likely to produce fat children, and that being obese will increase the risk of a variety of health conditions, particularly type-2 diabetes.
Fry told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘I know some people will think this goes too far down the road of the nanny state, but I think if you tell people that their own habits can put their future children at risk they just might listen.’
There are practical problems with such a proposal, as pointed out by Janet Fylde, policy adviser to the Royal College of Midwives: ‘If you say to a woman that you want to weigh her and her partner, to see if they are likely to have fat children, you are putting your whole relationship with them in jeopardy, and also increasing the risk of women going on diets when they are pregnant, which could harm the baby. We absolutely disagree with this proposal.’ (2)
Mere trivialities like the inefficiency and potential harmfulness of this kind of intervention and the way it infringes on parents’ rights have never stopped obesity campaigners and health guardians from meddling in family life in order to ‘save’ children. But the consequences of their proposals and actions can be very serious indeed.
A year ago, I debated Tam Fry on BBC Radio 2. He argued that overfeeding children should be regarded just as seriously as child abuse and that very fat children should be taken into local authority care (see Childhood obesity is not a form of child abuse, by Dr Michael Fitzpatrick). It seems local authorities agree with him: The Times (London) recently reported on a case where two children from Dundee were taken into care because they were deemed to be too fat.
And yet the assumption that fat parents produce fat children who become fat adults who die young – and that drastic intervention can prevent this – is full of holes.
Firstly, children may be overweight for particular periods while growing up, but then lose such ‘puppy fat’. Secondly, it is far from inevitable that larger parents will start ‘stuffing food’ into their children. Frankly, most parents find it hard enough getting their children to eat what is put in front of them. The idea that parents could force kids to eat more than they want seems bizarre.
Thirdly, it is far from inevitable that children will copy their parents’ behaviour rather than make their own decisions about how to life as adults – including choosing different eating habits or being more active. It would be better to allow children to grow up and decide for themselves than interfere in what should be private matters between parents and kids.
Fourthly, obesity must, to some extent, be genetic, like many other aspects of how we look. If parents are fat because of a hard-wired disposition to lay down body fat, their children may very well inherit this propensity. Guilt-tripping expectant parents or, worse, taking children away from overweight parents in such circumstances seems pointlessly cruel.
As Professor Jeya Henry of Oxford Brookes University told spiked earlier this year: ‘There is no evidence that an overweight young person, whether six, seven or eight years old, will become an overweight adult.’ He noted that while we should not ‘belittle the issues of obesity and overweight’ we need to ‘keep these issues in proportion’ (See ‘Whatever next: fat babies? Fat fetuses?’, by Tim Black).
The real problem is that obesity is treated as a disease, in and of itself. The alleged need to cure this ‘disease’ is used as an excuse to intervene in relationships that should, as far as possible, remain private. But obesity is not a disease – it’s a body shape. There appears to be a strong relationship between extreme levels of obesity and ill health, but simply being big does not automatically mean you are ill. The majority of fat people are in good health, while many thin people are chronically unwell. Body shape does not automatically determine health.
There is a very strong correlation between high BMI and type-2 diabetes. However, it is not clear that obesity itself is the problem. For example, it may be that there is some other factor that both increases a person’s propensity to pile on the pounds and to become diabetic.
However, these health effects really are only very strong amongst people who are ‘morbidly’ obese – with a BMI of at least 40. In adults, that equates to being roughly 40 kilogrammes (about 90 pounds) over the so-called ‘ideal’ weight range. In the most recent statistics from the Health Survey for England, that means about 1.2 per cent of adult men and 2.2 per cent of adult women. That’s not exactly common, then.
That is not to say that being very overweight is much to celebrate. The vast majority of obese people would love to lose weight for much more practical reasons than the possibility that they’ll lose a few years’ worth of old age. Mobility, clothes shopping, even basic self-esteem must all be major problems for those who are very overweight in a society that simply loathes obesity.
But even if it could be shown that interventions in pregnancy and childhood could guarantee healthier lives for children in the long run, such interventions would still be a problem. The relentless rise of state interference into family life robs us of an important, private sphere in which we can make decisions for ourselves. We should defend our freedom to decide what is best for our children, and not have our decisions dictated to us by target-setters in Whitehall or social services departments closer to home.
Must be VERY careful when talking about a “bisexual”
“Dannii Minogue [above] has apologised for poking fun at a bisexual contestant on the hit British television talent show, X Factor. Minogue, who is one of four judges on the show, rattled fans of bisexual teacher Danyl Johnson, 27, after commenting on his decision to change the lyrics of a song.
Johnson altered the words to And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going, Jennifer Hudson’s love song to a man in the movie Dreamgirls, so he was singing to a woman instead.
After he performed the song on Saturday night’s show, Minogue remarked: “If you’re to believe everything you read in the papers, then you didn’t need to change the gender references in the song.”
Minogue’s jibe sparked 2500 complaints from X Factor fans, many of whom called for her to be sacked.
I think she was saying that there are a lot of homosexuals about. What is wrong with that? Aren’t we supposed to “accept” homosexuality?
Gun control in Britain: “At what point does the government change from protecting its citizens to controlling them? This is not an easy question, and it is one too often ignored by both citizens and governments. Government has a duty to protect its citizens from enemies and at times from each other. However, it is a slippery slope that leads governments down the path to total social control in the interest of protecting everyone everywhere all the time. Although the government should indeed be able to police its own citizens it should never be allowed to absolutely remove any single right. Does the government have a right to outlaw the possession of firearms by its citizens in the interest of protection if it means that they are severely limited in their own ability to protect themselves? Absolutely not.”
After 12 years of Leftist government, Britain is the worst place to live in Europe : “Britain is the worst place in Europe to live despite offering the biggest salaries, a study reveals today. High incomes in the UK are cancelled out by long working hours, poor annual leave, rising food and fuel bills and a lack of sunshine. Researchers weighed up official data for ten countries, including France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Poland. It found Britons enjoy the highest aftertax household income of £35,730-a-year, more than £10,000 above the European average. But most of it goes on keeping a ‘roof over our heads, food on the table and our homes warm’, according to the uswitch.com European Quality of Life Index. After comparing 17 quality of life measures, the study ranked Britain at the bottom-with Ireland second from last. The best quality of life can be found in France and Spain. Britons can expect to work three years longer – retiring at 62 years and 6 months – than the French, and die two years younger at 78.9. Workers here get the least annual leave in Europe, with 28 days a year, compared with 41 in Spain. We also have to contend with a higher cost of living, paying more for fuel, food and transport.” [The Brits were once well ahead of Europe in most ways after Mrs Thatcher's reforms]
Plan for women bishops put on ice to avoid defections from Church of England: “Plans to consecrate women bishops in the Church of England have been delayed by at least four years in an attempt to avoid mass defections by opponents of women’s ordination. Church legislators have backtracked on a decision made by the General Synod, the Church’s governing body, last year to consecrate women bishops with minimal concessions to opponents. The Church will now be asked again to approve the plans for “super bishops”, which were rejected in July last year and which will create a new class of bishop, operating in traditionalist zones “untainted” by the spectre of women bishops. But the revisions are expected to be strongly contested by supporters of women’s ordination.”
The nutty archbishop again: “The Archbishop of Canterbury has called for “unsustainable” air-freighted food to be replaced gradually by homegrown produce from thousands of new allotments. In an interview with The Times, Dr Rowan Williams said that families needed to respond to the threat of climate change by changing their shopping habits and adjusting their diets to the seasons, eating fruit and vegetables that could be grown in Britain. He said that the carbon footprint of peas from Kenya and other airfreighted food was too high and families should not assume that all types of food would be available through the year. Dr Williams called for more land to be made available for allotments, saying that they would help people to reconnect with nature and wean them off a consumerist lifestyle. The Archbishop was accused, however, of threatening the livelihoods of a million families in sub-Saharan Africa, who depended on exports of fresh produce to Europe.”