NHS troubleshooter ‘given free Porsche and exotic holiday’ is sued for £250,000

A former high-ranking civil servant who was given a free Porsche and a luxury Caribbean holiday is being sued for alleged corruption by the Department of Health. A High Court writ issued in the name of Health Secretary Andrew Lansley claims up to £250,000 in damages and compensation from Ken Anderson – the controversial Texan businessman drafted into Whitehall by Tony Blair to encourage more private-sector involvement in the NHS.

The writ claims he was given a Porsche Carrera 911 by a former colleague whose consultancy firm was being paid £1,300 a day by the Department of Health, and a week-long holiday with his three sons in the Turks and Caicos Islands, gifts to which he was not entitled.

Mr Anderson, who lives in an £800,000 farmhouse near Wantage, Oxfordshire, was head of the Department of Health’s commercial directorate for four years until 2007. At one stage he was seen as a possible contender for the top job of NHS Chief Executive.

He left the health service to become a banker and is now being sued by Mr Lansley ‘in respect of benefits received corruptly and in breach of duty’, according to the writ. Mr Anderson strongly denies the allegations against him.

The 180mph sports car was allegedly given to him by Tyrone Robinson, whose consultancy firm, Broadsword, was hired by Whitehall officials in 2003 to advise them on NHS reforms. The writ says the two men had first met several years earlier when they worked together at infrastructure company Amey, where Mr Anderson was involved in bidding for Government-backed private finance contracts.

The gift of the £70,000 car was intended to ensure that Broadsword retained its Department of Health contract and that Mr Robinson was paid above the market rate for his services, according to the 20-page legal document.

It says Mr Robinson was given a 100 per cent pay rise within a year of starting work with the NHS, boosting his daily earnings from £650 to £1,300 in a deal overseen by Mr Anderson. He was also promoted several times, becoming the directorate’s Chief Operating Officer.

Broadsword’s contract with the Department of Health ended in 2005 after it had received £226,000 in fees. The consultancy was struck off the Companies Register and dissolved in 2007.

The Caribbean holiday referred to in the writ was allegedly arranged by law firm Eversheds, which gives advice to the Department of Health and other Government bodies.

Mr Anderson’s family stayed at the luxurious Osprey Beach Hotel which has a private beach from where guests can scuba dive on the world’s third-largest coral reef. Although Mr Anderson had only two brief meetings with local officials, at which healthcare policies were discussed, the entire trip, including flights and hotels, was paid for by the Turks and Caicos government.

Mr Lansley’s writ includes the text of emails between Mr Anderson and Eversheds partner Alun Cole.

Mr Cole wrote on August 15, 2005: ‘Hope you all had a good weekend! This time next week hopefully we’ll be enjoying a beer on the beach! I have gone out of my way to stress to TCIG [Turks and Caicos Islands government] that this is your holiday week with the boys. I believe that you will have only two formal appointments. There may be informal invitations . . . but you are and must feel at liberty to turn any or all of them down.’

Three days later Mr Cole sent another message: ‘The government of the Islands has paid for you and I to go Business Class. I’m afraid the boys will have to slum it in Economy!’

Mr Anderson replied: ‘Alun, that sounds great! Am starting to feel a little like a free loader! Have checked into diving. Not a busy time of year so we will leave it until we arrive and do a little resort-based stuff I would imagine. Thanks for setting this up . . . the boys and I are very excited indeed.’

On his return, Mr Anderson discussed his trip with Neelam Sekhri, a San Francisco-based healthcare consultant who was then a member of the Department of Health’s Commercial Advisory Board.

Ms Sekhri, who is married to an eminent British professor, Sir Richard Feachem, was subsequently hired by the Turks and Caicos government to help implement its health service reforms. The £24,000 bill for her services, however, was paid by the Department of Health – on Mr Anderson’s instructions, it is claimed. According to the writ, this was improper use of public money and Ms Sekhri’s fee, as well as the cost of the holiday, should be returned to the taxpayer.

Mr Anderson worked for private healthcare firms in the US and Germany for more than a decade before moving to Britain. At the NHS, he oversaw the introduction of treatment centres run by independent operators, a policy opposed by health campaigners and unions. He is now based in London as a managing director of Swiss-owned financial services giant UBS.

His solicitor, Sue Thackeray, of Finers Stephens Innocent, said: ‘Mr Anderson vigorously defends the allegations. He will serve his full defence within the next week that will put his position clearly forward.’

Mr Cole’s solicitor, Phil Sherrell, said his client had done nothing wrong. He was invited separately from Mr Anderson to the islands to advise on a health project. He had no knowledge of any arrangements that may have been made for Ms Sekhri to provide consultancy services to the Turks and Caicos government.

Ms Sekhri was unavailable for comment. The Department of Health said: ‘We do not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.’

SOURCE

Green taxes are killing the British steel industry — and more

PRESSURE on Britain to cut its carbon emissions cost 1,500 jobs yesterday – and they will not be the last, the Government has been warned. Tata Steel announced the redundancies at its Scunthorpe and Teesside plants, blaming ­climate change legislation required by Brussels and the UK’s new Climate Change Act. The prospect of higher energy costs aimed at reducing carbon emissions by imposing limits would push the price of British steel to uncompetitive levels.

Karl-Ulrich Köhler, head of European operations for Tata, Britain’s largest steelmaker, said: “EU carbon legislation threatens to impose huge additional costs on the steel industry. “Besides, there remains a great deal of uncertainty about the level of further unilateral carbon cost rises the UK Government is planning. These measures risk undermining our competitiveness and we must make ourselves stronger in preparation for them.”

Godfrey Bloom, MEP for Scunthorpe and Ukip’s business spokesman, said: “The mad drive to Islington-friendly green enery is driving jobs out of the north. You cannot pile billions of pounds of extra costs on industry without a price being paid. “That price is the livelihoods of steel workers. The Government and the EU are dangerous, damaging and deluded if they think that throwing people on to the scrapheap of unemployment will effect the sea level in Fiji.”

He attacked Energy Secretary Chris Huhne and the EU over ­“misguided” legislation and “confusing targets” that made a bad commercial situation “far worse”. He said: “Extra costs and additional targets are clearly undermining business confidence. “It is clear that British manufacturing is put at high risk by the ideologically charged Climate Change Act and Mr Huhne’s latest environmentalist nonsense. “British jobs are at risk, British competitiveness is undermined. Why? So our Government can preen in a European spotlight.”

According to an independent report, the UK’s drive for green energy will send £60billion and 600,000 jobs “up in smoke” by ­creating the “highest energy costs in the world”. It says Mr Huhne’s blueprint, more wind farms, green levies and taxes aimed at making Britain a world leader in cutting greenhouse gases widely blamed for global warming, will “undermine” Britain’s ability to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by forcing out innovative companies.

The Civitas think-tank study accuses the Government of “sacrificing jobs for no green benefit”.

Britain is already committed to cutting emissions by 34 per cent from the 1990 level by 2020 – the highest target of any industrialised nation. But Mr Huhne is pressing for it to be 50 per cent by 2025 and potentially 60 per cent by 2030. The report calls it “too much, too soon”.

Report author David Merlin-Jones said: “There’s no economic benefit to pricing ourselves above competitors. At this rate when the present Government is long gone, its binding targets will still be decimating the UK economy.”

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “It is vital that Government strikes the right balance between climate change and industrial polices.”

The Indian steel giant, which employs 20,000 Britons, is cutting 1,200 jobs in Scunthorpe and 300 in Teesside at its Long Products division, loss-making due to falling demand. That’s about eight per cent of its UK ­workforce.

The firm said demand for steel in the UK was only two thirds of that seen in 2007 and is not expected to recover before 2016. But Tata did announce a ­£400million investment in the division over the next five years to help turn it around.

Keith Hazlewood, national secretary of the GMB union, said: “This is a devastating blow to UK steelmaking, to the local communities and to the UK economy.”

SOURCE

Another gross miscarriage of justice by British social workers

Why would they not return a child to a loving father who wants her? It’s just vindictiveness and shows absolutely NO regard for the welfare of the child

The man at the centre of one of the country’s [New Zealand’s] most public custody fights is about to lose his daughter for a second time. Kiwi Stephen Jelicich, who took baby Caitlin into hiding in 2005 in the middle of a bitter tug-of-love with his former Welsh wife Diane Ellis-George, has revealed his daughter is about to be adopted.

Ellis-George, a nurse, died two years ago of breast cancer and Caitlin was put in the care of her 27-year-old half-sister in the UK. In 2005, Jelicich sparked a police hunt with his actions after an Auckland court awarded the mum custody. After nine days on the run, he gave himself up.

Jelicich said he had hoped Caitlin, now aged 7, might eventually “be returned to me” – but he could not afford to fight for her any longer. The half-sister told him recently she would soon adopt Caitlin and “there’s nothing I can do about it”.

A teary-eyed Jelicich said he had come to accept Caitlin would grow up in Wales. But he was immensely grateful the half-sister had allowed him a little into her life now. He skyped Caitlin only a couple of months ago and sent her Christmas presents and sometimes penned letters too. “I let her know her dad is here and loves her and will always be here – and I hope to see her when she’s old enough and wants to catch up.”

Jelicich, 46, now a farmer in the Manawatu, has since become the proud dad to a 3- year-old daughter whom he wants to shield from publicity.

Asked if she helped heal his heart, Jelicich replied, “no”. Both daughters “are separate”, very much loved and neither could replace the other, he said. “You are going to make me cry again. I’m still not over it and will never be over losing my daughter,” he said. “There’s a hole in my heart and nothing can ever fill it … not a day goes by that I never think of my daughter.”

He revealed that he was a typical parent when it came to a relocation dispute – he had spent $30,000 fighting his case, almost exactly what Otago University researchers say parents spend on these types of cases. He is still paying off this debt.

The cost was worth every cent, he said, because “you can’t put a value on having your child with you” and at least he knew he tried everything he could.

Jelicich said any parent who faced similar circumstances would have spent all their cash trying to get custody. He was not surprised some Kiwis spent close to $200,000 on custody and separation disputes.

He said fighting for custody through the courts was like “whacking your head against a brick wall … but how could you not try [for custody]?”

SOURCE

A fight for Britain’s remaining selective schools

David Cameron was last night facing a fresh row over academic selection as protesters mounted the first bid in a decade to axe the 11-plus. The Prime Minister was braced for calls to come to the aid of two long-established grammar schools which are facing a concerted campaign to abolish them.

In the first move of its type since 2000, campaigners are poised to force a ballot on changing the selection policy of the two schools in Reading, Berkshire.

Last night, local Tory MP Rob Wilson angrily condemned the campaign as ‘profoundly wrong and retrograde’ and called on his constituents to fight to retain the schools.

But the battle will revive the bitter internal Tory splits of four years ago when Mr Cameron sought to rebrand his party’s image by promising that a future Conservative Government would make no effort to revive grammar school education across the country.

The row, one of the fiercest in which Mr Cameron was involved as Opposition Leader, led to Tory MP Graham Brady angrily resigning from the front bench after party bosses claimed the schools impeded social mobility.

One Conservative MP privately said last night: ‘Cameron was never against existing grammars but this whole issue is always incredibly toxic for us.’

The dispute will also prove difficult for several leading Tory MPs, including Immigration Minister Damian Green, who went to one of the grammars at risk – Reading School for boys.

It is now 11 years since campaigners against the 11-plus last tried to abolish selection at a particular school – Ripon Grammar in North Yorkshire. Using legislation introduced by the Labour Government in 1998, they forced a ballot on the admission policy there – but were defeated.

But last night it was confirmed that a group of parents in Berkshire had begun the process of forcing a vote on the future of the Reading School and the town’s other grammar, Kendrick School for girls.

The group said grammar schools were ‘a luxury Reading can no longer afford’ and claimed the ‘vast majority’ of children educated in them came from outside the town. In a joint statement, the two schools hit back by saying they were both recognised as ‘outstanding’ by education watchdog Ofsted and that scrapping selection would fundamentally change their ‘unique character’.

A statement said: ‘Parents rightly want their children to go to outstanding schools. Reading and Kendrick Schools believe that many parents would therefore wish to keep open the option of grammar school education for their children.’

Under schools legislation, parents of local ‘feeder’ schools for the two grammars are eligible to vote in the ballot. But Mr Wilson raised fears that as they had to ‘opt in’ to be registered to vote, a determined minority of anti-selection parents could carry the day. ‘I urge parents to sign up to vote in the ballot and ensure their voice is heard. We must not allow excellence and aspiration to be destroyed by the misconceived action of a small number of people,’ the MP said.

In the mid-seventies, there were more than 800 grammar schools across the country. But years of anti-selection policies and fears of ‘elitist’ education have seen their number whittled down to just over 160 now.

In 2007, Mr Cameron – keen to transform the Tories’ traditional image – made it clear that a future Conservative Government would not seek to reverse the grammar school decline. ‘There will be no reintroduction of grammar schools and no re-introduction of the 11-plus in the huge swathes of the country where they were abolished,’ he said then.

SOURCE

That ‘healthy’ bowl of granola has more sugar than coke… and more fat than fries: Busting the diet food myths

Combining rolled oats, brown sugar or honey, dried fruit, and nuts, granola is undoubtedly a delicious breakfast option. But is it a healthy one? Advice from experts is: Make sure you read the box carefully.

‘Most granolas are classified as high sugar, with more than 12.5g of sugar per 100g, much of which has been deliberately added to make it taste more palatable than the granola once found in health food shops,’ says Anna Raymond, dietician and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association. ‘Health guidelines recommend consuming no more than 90g of sugar in a day. Don’t be fooled by the addition of honey – it’s still a sugar, and no more healthy.’ With this in mind we asked Anna to examine six leading granolas available on the High Street, and give her verdict. The results may come as a surprise…

SULTANA AND NUTS GRANOLA BY PERTWOOD ORGANIC, £3.71, 500g

Ingredients: Oat flakes, sugar, sultanas, rapeseed oil, coconut, hazelnuts, honey, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds.

Nutrition (all figures given for 100g without milk unless indicated otherwise): 416 calories, 9.4g protein, 59.5g carbohydrate, (of which 23.8g is sugars), 15.6g fat (of which 4.8g is saturates), 7.6g fibre, 0.006g sodium.

ANNA SAYS: Although this initially looks healthy, it has the highest saturated fat content of them all, which comes from the addition of coconut. A large portion of McDonald’s fries has only 2g of saturated fat and a hamburger just 3g. A bowl of this could contain half your saturated fat for the day.

However, the granola has good fibre content and the addition of seeds makes it healthier and more likely to fill you up compared to a fast-food breakfast.

More here

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About jonjayray

I am former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party. The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody
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