Foreign doctors ‘must be trained to work here’: Watchdog steps in as fears over patient safety grows
Foreign doctors should complete a basic training course before starting to work for the NHS, the medical watchdog has ruled. Many overseas doctors arrive with ‘little or no preparation’ for working in the UK and need more support to practise safely, said the General Medical Council.
It is to run induction courses for all doctors new to the Health Service, including graduates from British medical schools and those arriving from abroad – including the continent.
There is growing alarm that patient safety is being put in the hands of overseas doctors whose training is not up to scratch.
There is particular concern over doctors from Europe. Unlike other overseas doctors, they cannot be tested by the GMC on their competence or even their ability to speak English because this would breach European Union ‘freedom of movement of labour’ laws.
Earlier this year, it emerged that a Nigerian doctor who qualified in Italy had been allowed to work in 14 English hospitals although he could not perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and did not understand basic medical terms.
In 2008, pensioner David Gray died after Dr Daniel Ubani, who could barely speak English, gave him ten times the dose of painkiller after flying in from Germany for his first NHS shift.
The EU law also covers nurses, prompting Lord Winston, the IVF pioneer and broadcaster, to speak out twice in the past week about the threat posed by poor communication skills.
In a report on the state of medical education and practice in the UK, the GMC said that more than a third of doctors working here qualified overseas.
‘While there are some good local schemes for supporting doctors who are new to this country, there are too many examples of new doctors undertaking clinical practice with little or no preparation for working in the UK,’ said the report.
The short induction programme will cover areas such as bedside manner and the importance of explaining medical details to patients, confidentiality and the importance of raising concerns about incompetent colleagues, including senior ones.
EU regulations mean that tests of English and medical skills will not be included. However, in a separate move, the GMC will require all doctors working in the UK to be annually appraised from next year.
GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said that while some of the NHS’s best doctors were trained overseas there had been a ‘shameful’ lack of support and training available. He also said that being unable to test the English ability of EU doctors was a ‘real concern’.
Dr Tom Dolphin, of the British Medical Association’s junior doctors committee, said: ‘Being a doctor in Britain requires much more than just clinical expertise. ‘It is also important to have highly developed communications skills, knowledge of UK medical ethics and culture, and an understanding of how the NHS works.’
Illegal immigrant lived in British hospital for more than a year despite being well because red tape prevented doctors discharging him
An illegal immigrant who had no entitlement to NHS care has spent 13 months blocking a hospital bed – at a cost to taxpayers of £100,000.
The Pakistani national should have left the country when his visa expired four years ago. He became an ‘overstayer’ and was still in Britain when he suffered a heart attack last summer.
The unidentified man received treatment and was declared fit enough to be discharged in August last year. But he has remained on a ward ever since because the UK Border Agency has been unable to fix a date with Pakistan International Airlines to fly him back to his home country. Although fit to be discharged, he does need long-term nursing care, which would ordinarily be provided in the community or by a care home.
The case came to light after it was raised in Parliament by Tory MP Margot James, who branded the delays ‘an outrageous abuse of NHS resources’ and an ‘appalling case of bureaucratic inertia’.
It is understood the delay in discharging him from Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley has in part been caused by difficulties in arranging for a medical escort to accompany him home, while his family in Pakistan have struggled to find suitable nursing care for him there.
The patient could not be transferred to an immigration removal centre pending deportation because they do not have the facilities to care for his medical needs.
Miss James, MP for Stourbridge, decided to raise the matter in Parliament after Paula Clark, chief executive of the Dudley Group of Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, contacted her saying she was still awaiting a discharge date from the UK Border Agency.
During Home Office questions on Tuesday, Miss James called on immigration minister Damian Green to ensure illegal immigrants who receive NHS treatment are repatriated as soon as that treatment is concluded.
The minister said the Government took a robust stance on abuse of NHS services and the patient would be removed in the ‘near future’. The MP said although the man was not eligible for NHS treatment, ‘we’re not the sort of country to refuse medical care and I don’t think we should be’.
She added: ‘The failure in the system was the failure to remove him when his visa ran out and the fact that the UK Border Agency and Pakistan International Airlines couldn’t get their act together.’
The patient was initially treated at the Royal London Hospital following a heart attack and subsequent hypoxic brain injury, but was transferred to Dudley in July 2010 because he had a relative there.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘NHS managers need to explain why they spent so much money on a bed blocker not entitled to free health care in the UK. They’re running a hospital not a hotel. Taxpayers can’t afford to pay for an international health service.’
Julie Bailey, of campaign group Cure the NHS, said it was ‘absurd’ that an illegal immigrant had been able to block a hospital bed for more than a year.
In theory, any foreigner who receives NHS treatment is meant to pay back all of its costs. But human rights laws state NHS staff must treat every patient who comes through their doors who has a life-threatening condition, even if they are not actually entitled to it. Many foreign patients fly home and illegal immigrants disappear without ever paying the NHS for their treatment.
The latest figures show that the NHS is owed around £7million from so-called health tourists who received some form of treatment in the last year alone.
In a statement on behalf of the hospital trust, Miss Clark said: ‘We are working with the UK Border Agency to ensure our patient is discharged safely and are awaiting a discharge date from them.
‘Our patient needed acute hospital care when admitted into hospital with complex medical conditions and was medically fit to be discharged in August 2010 but required ongoing nursing care. ‘The cost of care to the hospital has been in excess of £100,000.’
The UKBA said it first became aware of the case last December. Gail Adams, its regional director, said: ‘The NHS is a national, not an international, health service and we will not tolerate its abuse which is why arrangements for removal have been made in this complex case. We will remove those not entitled to remain in the country, even where medically difficult, and will provide medical escorts to remove those undergoing treatment if needed.’
Britain’s political police
The Leftward drift of the police — pretty much conceded this week by former top copper Lord Blair — continues.
Exhibit one: the Deputy Chief Constable of Cumbria, one Stuart Hyde, is a busy user of Twitter (alarm bells start to tinkle). He expresses vigorous disapproval of Right-wing think-tanks, accusing them of being secretive (unlike, ahem, the Police Federation, which he supports).
Guvnor Hyde does not think much of elected police commissioners. He is apparently no fan of Boris Johnson. He snorts that it is ‘an understatement’ to say Coalition policy on the police is being ‘fudged’. He suggests that ministers have no proper plan.
In short, DCC Hyde is politically gobby, and not in a pro-Coalition way. In elevated Whitehall offices this has been noticed.
Exhibit two: in rural Sussex, members of the Crawley and Horsham Hunt were recently arrested by police officers who behaved as though they were in some sort of SWAT team. Dawn raids. Sirens. Skidding stops. Handcuffs in the home.
One of those arrested runs a City investment company. Another was a veteran film-maker. Both these middle-class pillars would have happily reported to the local nick, but instead were treated like Al Qaeda suspects. Actually, that’s not fair. If they had been bearded Jihadists, they would have been offered translation services and a prayer mat and other amenities.
Some £200,000 has been blown by Sussex constabulary on prosecuting the hunt matter. Local MPs Francis Maude and Nicholas Soames have made official complaints about the police’s heavy-handedness. Mr Maude is Cabinet Office minister. He sees David Cameron and Nick Clegg almost every day.
When thick or mouthy rozzers behave like the uniform branch of New Labour, is it any surprise the Coalition cuts their budgets?
Paedophile’s park ban lifted by judge because of his human right to keep fit
A paedophile banned from public parks to keep him away from children has had the court order relaxed because it was ‘a breach of his human rights’.
Christopher Williams, 49, was jailed for seven years for tying up and molesting a 12-year-old boy, and the ban on entering parks and play areas was imposed when he was released from prison. But the paedophile claimed it prevented him from keeping fit – and now, after an appeal, a judge has relaxed the terms of the order.
Judge Andrew Woolman ruled that Williams, who has health problems, should be allowed to exercise in his local park under certain conditions. He will be able to do so for an hour at a time on weekdays when children are attending classes, but not during school holidays or weekends.
Judge Woolman, sitting with two magistrates at Burnley Crown Court, said: ‘If we did not allow him, it would be potentially damaging to his health and would probably be a breach of his human rights.’
Child-welfare campaigners condemned the decision yesterday and said the human rights of children should come first. Rosie Carter, of the child-protection charity Safechild, said: ‘We despair of this decision. ‘When that individual was risk-assessed, they thought he would possibly molest children and that’s why he was banned from entering parks and play areas.
‘I fail to understand why they would disregard that consideration. This decision would not have been taken lightly by experienced and qualified professionals.
‘There must have been a serious risk identified, and parents and carers will be horrified that the Crown Court has overturned that decision. It’s truly appalling. They mention his human rights, but the welfare of children is paramount in English law, so we fail to understand how the court could overwrite the Children Act 1989. It’s frightening.’
Williams was jailed at Chester Crown Court in 1996 for indecent assault and gross indecency for his horrific attack on the boy.
On his release, he was given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order that banned him from public parks and play areas in an attempt to prevent him from coming into contact with children.
But last April a fresh warning was issued by the courts after he and another convicted paedophile, David Higgs, 28, set up home together in Rishton, Lancashire, and hosted visits by local children.
Police arrested both men for breaching Sexual Offences Prevention Orders and Higgs was jailed for 18 months. Williams escaped with a suspended prison term. After the latest conviction, Williams, who lives at a probation hostel in Carlisle, applied to Hyndburn Magistrates’ Court for his prevention order to be varied so he could go walking in his local park and play golf.
Magistrates refused the application after police objected, saying he could go walking in the nearby Lake District. But this week Williams appealed against their decision, claiming he had health problems and needed regular exercise. Relaxing the terms of the prevention order, Judge Woolman said: ‘We recognise that the possibilities for exercise under the existing regime, the existing orders of the court, are very restrictive.
‘It would be oppressive to leave the orders as they are and some limited alteration is appropriate.’
While Williams can now use his local park, he is still banned from going anywhere near the children’s play area. He is also allowed to play golf.
Williams – who also has a 1980 conviction for indecent exposure and a lifetime ban on working with children – told the court: ‘I have no reason at all to go anywhere near the swings. It doesn’t interest me. ‘I admit I have done wrong and I know my risk level will never change, but from 1996 to 2010 I have not been in trouble.’
He said doctors had told him to lose weight as he suffered from a heart condition, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
The judge said no order of the court could prevent all contact between Williams and children – he would, for example, come into contact with them when he was out shopping.
The court order allows Williams out of his probation hostel between 9am and 3.15pm, 4pm and 7.30pm, and 8pm and 11pm.
Welfare cheating not treated seriously in Britain
Last Tuesday two events occurred within hours of one another that perfectly demonstrate the gulf between rhetoric and reality.
In London, the Prime Minister announced that benefits claimants who cannot speak English will be ordered to take language classes or have their handouts stopped for up to three years.
A hundred miles away in Birmingham, a 51-year-old woman by the name of Halima Hameed was being ushered into court number 18 at the city’s magistrates court.
The single mother was accused of working while claiming more than £9,000 in Income Support.
For the three magistrates who made up the panel hearing the case, the details were laid out as follows: Hameed has been claiming benefits since 1998, but in 2007 started work as a printing press operator, doing 36 hours a week. However, she did not inform the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of her new job.
Had she done so her benefits would have been stopped. Hameed would later claim in her defence that she did what she did only ‘because of the situation she found herself in’ — namely that her daughter and grandchild had moved back in, making money tight.
Such sob stories are familiar fodder to the magistrates. But what they were especially struck by as they browsed a pre-sentence report prepared on the legally-aided Hameed is the fact that she required the proceedings to be relayed to her by a Punjabi-speaking translator who sat by her side.
‘Miss Hameed has been in England since the age of six,’ Mary Small, chair of the bench, pointed out, ‘so why does she still need an interpreter?’
She is told (via the interpreter) that while Hameed understands English she ‘lacks confidence to express herself in it’. ‘After spending 12 years in our education system?’ Mrs Small responded incredulously.
That acute observation aside, Mrs Small gets on with sentencing. She is told that Hameed, who has admitted the offence, has started paying back the money she claimed fraudulently. But because she is no longer working, illegally or legally, the repayments come from the Income Support she is still allowed to claim. At the current rate of £40 a month, it will take more than 18 years to clear the debt.
On top of that Hameed is sentenced to a 12-month community order — where the criminal serves time in the community, under the supervision of a probation officer, rather than in prison. Miss Hameed was also ordered to do 200 hours of unpaid work and told to pay costs of £100.
So you see, Mr Cameron, it is not simply the case that there are those claiming benefits who cannot speak English; there are those claiming benefits who cannot speak English but are perfectly happy to rip off the system. And, to add further insult to injury, when they are caught they are then able to milk the same system further as they attempt to mitigate their criminal behaviour.
As for ‘getting tough’, there was precious little sign of that in Birmingham. In the 18 cases I witnessed on that single day it was alleged that a total of £160,000 had been cheated out of the benefits system. But not one of those attending court was jailed.
The nearest to prison any defendant came was Lesley Barrett, 39, who over a decade had claimed Income Support, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit as a single mother when, in fact, her partner lived with her.
As a result of the deceit she had received some £60,000 in benefits to which she was not entitled.
Despite the sum involved, Barrett was given a suspended prison sentence after a judge at Birmingham Crown Court was told that she had to care for her two epileptic daughters.
The re-payment arrangement for Barrett, as with the other defendants, had been made prior to her arriving in court. In most cases, all fraudulent claims will be paid in instalments from their future benefits.
While a sympathetic view needs to be taken in some cases, Barrett’s case also serves to reinforce the feeling that whatever a Government promises to do to reform the benefits system, there is always something that stops it being put in to action on the ground.
Benefit fraud is now so widespread that it costs the country more than £1billion a year.
What became apparent from the stream of cases I witnessed during the day I spent at court in Birmingham this week is that many of those who plead guilty to the offence commit benefit fraud out of greed and opportunity — not survival.
British women turning Right: Female voters back spanking in the home, armed police and teen curfews
Large majorities of women are calling for hardline measures to improve discipline in the wake of last month’s riots, supporting curfews on under-16s, the arming of police and smacking in the home.
A startling survey reveals that women voters have turned sharply against the culture of ‘children’s rights’ built up over several decades and want the Government to take radical steps to redress the balance.
The poll of 1,000 women by a new female-only polling company, HerSay, shows that 58 per cent now believe youngsters have too many rights and 67 per cent believe the rioters are the product of a ‘violent society’, described by some as Broken Britain.
Some 87 per cent support the naming and shaming of children found guilty of a criminal offence, 72 per cent want under-16s banned from going outside after 9pm and 76 per cent say rioters should be sent to army boot camps to be disciplined.
The poll found 40 per cent of women think parents should stop children wearing hoodies, 45 per cent support the use of the cane in schools and 49 per cent think parents of children caught rioting should have their benefits removed.
A startling 57 per cent of women support the arming of the police, and 52 per cent agree with the use of smacking in the home to instil discipline.
Some 41 per cent wish they could do something when other people’s children are misbehaving in public, while 37 per cent say that in the past they have felt threatened by children in their communities.
HerSay director Jo Tanner said: ‘This research clearly illustrates that UK women recognise the importance of personal responsibility in disciplining their children. ‘They are, however, looking for support from the wider community and the authorities, whether it be tougher measures in schools or curfews for under-16s. ‘This survey dispels the myth that British women are a soft touch on parenting and discipline.’
Tory MP Priti Patel said the findings of the poll were ‘clear and striking’. She added: ‘There has been a fundamental breakdown in society whenit comes to law and order and discipline. ‘This poll shows women in this country want a restoration of discipline and responsibility. Women want more respect for figures of authority. ‘Schools should be able to do more to discipline their pupils and off the back of what has just happened with the riots, the police do need more power to take action.
‘The riots were terrible and unfortunate, but they have focused government thinking and energy as to how we can deal with a lot of these areas. ‘We need people who step out of line to fear the full force of the law.’
Statins and Pregnancy
You may not be old enough to remember the disaster incurred by the widespread practice in Europe in the 1950’s of treating depression with the then newly discovered drug Thalidomide. When you take a Lipitor tablet you are taking a drug that, like Thalidomide, is labeled “Class X” with respect to its potential harm to the fetus, and is even worse than Thalidomide in terms of the kind of damage it can do to your unborn child. A woman who is in the childbearing age group should never be advised to take a statin drug. While there are warnings associated with the ads and on the labels claiming that you should “stop taking Lipitor” should you become pregnant, the drug companies seem intent on hushing up the fact that these drugs are toxic to the developing fetus.
Clearly it would be unethical to conduct a controlled experiment that intentionally exposes a pregnant woman to statins, and therefore such controlled studies have not been done. However, in one of the few available retrospective studies of statins and pregnancy, researchers from the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that statin use during the first trimester of pregnancy led to severe central nervous system defects as well as limb deformities. Twenty out of 52 women who had been exposed to statins during the first trimester had babies with severe deformities, which is nearly a 40% rate of severe birth defects.
“Of the 20 babies born with malformations, five had severe central nervous system defects, and five had malformed limbs. One baby had both, according to Muenke. There were also two cases of a very rare birth defect called holoprosencephaly, which occurs when the brain fails to divide properly.” (Statins and Birth Defects) .
Doctors in Liverpool have even had the audacity to propose that statins be prescribed to pregnant women, an idea that these authors find wildly disturbing: (Statins during Pregnancy) . There seems to be a general lack of awareness, even among doctors, of the degree of harm these drugs can inflict on the developing fetus.
Great Britain now has the dubious distinction of being the only country where you can buy statin drugs over the counter (NonPrescription Statins) . This means that any naive young woman thinking she can self-treat high cholesterol may end up with a severely malformed baby, and chances are she won’t even realize it’s due to the drug.
Bring back the cane, say half of British parents as Cameron pledges to restore order in schools following riots
Almost half of parents would be happy to see the return of the cane to restore discipline in the classroom, a survey suggests today.
It found 49 per cent of parents – and 19 per cent of pupils – believe caning or smacking should be used to punish ‘very bad’ behaviour.
In more general cases of ill discipline, 40 per cent of parents and 14 per cent of children favour corporal punishment.
While 53 per cent of parents and 77 per cent of children are against the cane, the poll found nine out of ten parents – and two thirds of pupils – want teachers to have more power to crack down on bad behaviour.
The survey, conducted by YouGov, comes just a week after David Cameron pledged to restore order and respect in schools in the wake of last month’s riots.
Education Secretary Michael Gove continued the tough line yesterday when he said: ‘Parents and students know we have to give teachers more authority. Strong discipline is vital for effective teaching.
‘In some of our most challenging areas there are profound problems, as the events of last month underlined. That’s why we need to give teachers more power to keep order and emphasise that adult authority should be respected and teachers obeyed.
‘Every child deserves to be taught properly. This right is currently undermined by the twisting of rights by a minority who need to be taught an unambiguous lesson in who is boss.’
Corporal punishment ended in state schools in 1987, and in the fee-paying sector in 1998.
The YouGov researchers, commissioned by the Times Educational Supplement, polled 2,014 parents with children at secondary school and 530 secondary-age pupils between August 19 and August 30.
While significant numbers favoured corporal punishment, sending pupils out of the class was the most popular method of dealing with indiscipline, chosen by 89 per cent of parents and 79 per cent of children.
Other popular ways of cracking down on bad behaviour were lunchtime or after-school detentions and writing lines.
More than four in five parents (84 per cent) and nearly two thirds of children (62 per cent) backed expelling or suspending naughty pupils.
The survey raises parents’ concerns that behaviour in schools is worse now than when they were young.
More than four fifths of parents (85 per cent) said teachers are given less respect by pupils now than when they were at school, with 86 per cent saying teachers need to gain more respect to discipline youngsters properly.
Nine in ten (91 per cent) said they were concerned that teachers have become more fearful of their pupils.
British mother-of-four threatened son’s bullies with baseball bat after ‘school did nothing to help’
A mother threatened her son’s bullies on a school bus with a baseball bat because she felt his school and the police ‘did nothing’ to help the youngster. Natasha Hayley, 30, resorted to extreme measures after her 11-year-old’s tormentors assaulted and robbed him.
A judge said although she had been ‘incredibly stupid’, he said he was not going to deprive her children of their mother by sending her to prison.
Recorder James Mulholland QC, at Maidstone Crown Court, in Kent, was shown footage of the incident caught on security cameras on the bus.
He heard how Ms Hayley from Dartford, Kent, acted on November 29 last year over her 11-year-old son being bullied at Wilmington Academy.
Michael Smalley, defending, said Hayley’s son was the victim of an assault by a group of pupils on the school bus at the beginning of November. He said Ms Hayley had tried contacting the school and the police without any success. Kent police say they did act on the mother’s complaints.
Although he was reluctant to return to school, Mr Smalley said the boy’s mother made him go and there he was robbed in a classroom and bullied. But after informing the school she thought nothing would be done, which is why Ms Hayley says she took matters into her own hands.
When arrested, she told police she had got onto the bus to stop the bullies and took the bat in case she was ‘rushed’, after calls to the school and the police had failed to bring any action.
Mr Smalley said Miss Hayley, who admitted affray: ‘She accepts she went over the top. She has remorse and regret. She says she was stupid.’ Her son had since left Wilmington Academy and has settled at a new school.
Miss Hayley received a six-month sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to do 150 hours’ unpaid work and was handed a curfew. She said her punishment was ‘unfair’. Speaking at her home in Dartford, Kent, she said: ‘Nothing had been done about my son being bullied. ‘If my son was to be robbed in the street that’s robbery but because it was in the classroom he did not even get questioned. I am now planning to sue the school for misconduct.
‘My son was the victim in the beginning of this – he had barely turned 11. All I wanted to do was to get to their parents.’ Speaking about the incident on the bus, the single mother said: ‘The people who beat my son up should never have been allowed on the bus. ‘I should never have got on the bus with the baseball bat. I should have gone to the parents’ house and spoken to them. ‘If the school and police had done their work I would never have had to do it.’
The vigilante mother also claims she never intended to use the bat. She added: ‘I know you can’t touch children – they’re children for God’s sake. ‘Not one parent I know would accept [their son being beaten up]. I do not feel like I am wrong because I feel like I had to do something to stop my son being bullied.
‘I would never touch a child. I’d never dream of it in a million years. I hope [what my son went through] never ever happens to any one of my children. ‘My son was a victim and all of all of a sudden that was ignored. My son then had to deal with people thinking I was a bully and I’m not a bully. ‘I do not send my children to school to be bullied – I cannot believe the school allowed it. I think it’s atrocious really.’
Recorder Mulholland said he sympathised over the ‘horrific’ bullying but Miss Hayley had ‘gone off the scale’. He added: ‘It is so far removed from what one would hope a parent would do.’
But chief Inspector Mark Arnold said the matter had been resolved: ‘Kent Police was contacted in relation to an assault which occurred on 15 November 2010. The matter was fully investigated and regular contact was made with the victim’s mother.
‘The matter was dealt with by the school and was resolved without further police involvement, at the agreement of those involved and in line with the Kent County Council and Kent Police Schools Policy.
‘Advice was provided that should further issues arise or a satisfactory outcome not be achieved, officers should be contacted. No further allegations were made to police by the victim or his family.’
Coldest British summer in 20 years wipes out two-thirds of the common blue butterfly
Hey! Where did that global warming get to??
Butterfly numbers have fallen after the coldest summer in two decades, a survey shows. In particular, nearly two thirds of the common blue species were wiped out.
Numbers of all butterflies were down 11 per cent on last year as winds and heavy rain devastated their reproductive patterns.
The figures come from more than 34,000 people who joined the Big Butterfly Count, organised by the Butterfly Conservation charity. A spokesman described the results as ‘very worrying’. Butterflies play a key role in pollination. But they are unable to fly, feed, find mates or lay eggs in cold, rainy weather. Almost half of the 59 British species are now under threat.
Experts are concerned about the future of the brightly-coloured species, which was once a regular sight in Britain’s gardens and parks.
The Big Butterfly Count was launched last year by Sir David Attenborough who is president of the charity Butterfly Conservation and has spoken of the ‘catastrophic drop’ in numbers.
‘It used to be that if you had a buddleia in your garden, you couldn’t get to the flowers because of the sheer number of butterflies,’ he said. ‘I live in Richmond near the park and river and Kew Gardens but the variety and number I get in my garden has gone down. ‘Walking in the countryside in my youth there were so many butterflies. But I don’t know anywhere where I could match that today.’
Must not hint at the fact that most of the London rioters were black
Boris Johnson is the Mayor of London
“One of Boris Johnson’s closest political aides was tonight facing calls to resign after he was accused of making a racist joke about the London riots.
Tory Richard Barnes, who is Johnson’s deputy mayor, was apparently overheard making the offensive comments by colleagues.
Barnes, who is openly gay, is reported to have said: ‘Why did police put Persil in the water cannons? To stop the colours running?’
Today his comments have been described as ‘disgusting’ and there are calls for him to resign as Equality Advisor.
Linda Perks, UNISON’s Regional Secretary for London, said: ‘It beggars belief that the Equality Advisor to the Mayor should make racist jokes.
Persil is an old-fashioned laundry detergent, apparently marketed as good for washing colored clothes, which can sometimes “run” (i.e. lose some of their dye)