Abuse of elderly patients by NHS staff rises by a third in one year with a shocking 36,000 offences reported last year alone
‘Cruelty has become normal’
Thousands of elderly and vulnerable patients are being abused by carers and NHS staff, shocking figures reveal. Some 36,600 offences were reported last year, mainly involving neglect, physical violence or bullying.
And the number of cases has risen by a third in the last 12 months, according to NHS Information Centre statistics.
This could partly be due to heightened awareness among family members and staff in the wake of recent scandals, such as that of the Winterbourne View care home.
But only this week the Health Secretary admitted that ‘cruelty’ had become ‘normal’ in some health and social care organisations.
In a powerful speech, Jeremy Hunt highlighted shocking examples of abuse including the case of a dementia patient being slapped and punched by her supposed carer.
The figures show that there were 25,435 reports of abuse of the over-65s last year carried out by carers or health workers. There were another 11,165 cases in vulnerable adults with learning difficulties or disabilities.
Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients’ Association, said: ‘This is a sad indictment of society. ‘People are being abused by the supposedly caring professional who is meant to be looking after them.
The figures are based on the number of reports made to authorities by other staff, family members or patients themselves. Michelle Mitchell, of Age UK, warned that the true figures may be far higher.
She added: ‘Over the last few years there has been growing awareness of the abuse of older people and how to respond and this is likely to have contributed to the increase in the number of referrals to safeguarding boards by English councils.
‘We fear however that there are still many cases that are not reported and would encourage anyone who suspects that an older person is being abused to contact their social services department or tell the police.’
Last month, a report by the Patients’ Association highlighted how an elderly man with dementia had been so neglected by NHS staff he had been allowed to wander off and drown in a river.
Last week Mr Hunt pledged to drive up standards by bringing in detailed Ofsted-style inspections for hospitals and care homes.
At present organisations only have to achieve basic standards and he is concerned there is little incentive for improvement.
Half of those on Liverpool Care Pathway never told
Almost half of dying patients placed on the controversial Liverpool Care Pathway are never told that life-saving treatment has been withdrawn, a national audit has found. The study suggests that in total, around 57,000 patients a year are dying in NHS hospitals without being told that efforts to keep them alive have been stopped.
It also reveals that thousands of dying patients have been left to suffer in pain, with no attempt to keep them comfortable while drugs were administered.
Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, last night described the disclosures from records held by 178 NHS hospitals as “totally unacceptable”.
He said the failure to consult patients would now be examined by an independent inquiry, which will also look at payments made to hospitals for meeting targets to place people on the pathway.
Each year around 130,000 patients are placed on the pathway. The national audit by the Marie Curie Palliative Care Institute Liverpool and the Royal College of Physicians examined a representative sample of 7,058 deaths which occurred between April and June last year, at 178 NHS hospitals. Of these, X were on the pathway.
The new disclosures demonstrate just how routinely hospitals are placing patients on the pathway without informing them that steps which could hasten their death have been taken. The national audit found:
* In 44 per cent of cases when conscious patients were placed on the pathway, there was no record that the decision had been discussed with them.
* For 22 per cent of patients on the pathway, there was no evidence that comfort and safety had been maintained while medication was administered.
* One in three families of the dying never received a leaflet they should have been given to explain the process.
Critics of the pathway – which can involve the withdrawal of drugs, fluids and food, and the administration of powerful pain relief – say it is being used to hasten the deaths of the terminally-ill and elderly, in a form of “back-door euthanasia”.
Other doctors, nurses and charities for the dying have come to the defence of the approach, which they say is intended to help ensure that people can die in dignity and comfort, instead of enduring invasive and painful treatment.
In recent months, there has been mounting concern over cases in which family members said they were not consulted or even told when food and fluids were withheld from their loved ones.
Earlier this month, Mr Hunt pledged to strengthen laws to protect patients, making it illegal to put anyone on the pathway – which leads to death in an average of 29 hours – without consulting them or their families.
It comes as the Government prepares to launch a new “vision for nursing” this week which will attempt to instill compassion in the profession, amid deepening concerns about the quality of care being provided on hospital wards.
Last night Mr Hunt said the evidence would be examined as part of an independent review of the practice, which will report back to him in the New Year.
He told The Sunday Telegraph: “It is totally unacceptable for people to be put on the pathway without consent where they are able to give it – that is why we are looking at what goes on in practice to make sure this doesn’t happen.”
Mr Hunt said he was concerned that families and patients were not being sufficiently informed, but suggested the approach to end-of-life care had been mischaracterised by some of its critics.
“We need to be much better at ensuring we are giving people dignity in their final few hours and the Liverpool Care Pathway has played a really important role in improving the standard of care in hospital, to hospice level,” he said.
Earlier this month, the Department of Health began a three-month consultation on changes to the NHS constitution, which would give patients and their families a legal right to be consulted on all decisions about end-of-life care.
The rights will mean patients and relatives could sue if the requirements are not met, and doctors could be struck off if they fail to consult properly.
In a hard-hitting speech last week Mr Hunt expressed concern about the culture of the NHS, warning that too many patients were forced to experience “coldness, resentment, indifference” and “even contempt”.
He warned that in the worst institutions a “normalisation of cruelty” had been fostered.
The family of Arthur Oszek, 86, say they did not find out he had been put on the Liverpool Care Pathway last year until he was left begging for a drink, having been taken off his drip. After almost a day of discussion with medical staff, treatment was resumed, but it was too late, and Mr Oszek died within 24 hours last August.
Ann Murdoch, Mr Oszek’s stepdaughter, said: “We asked the doctors why he was taken off his drip and we were told he was on the Liverpool Care Pathway. We did not even know what it was.” “There is no way that should have happened without asking us. We kicked up a fuss and demanded he be put back on his medication and eventually they agreed about 20 hours later.”
NHS Ayrshire and Arran said they could not comment on individual cases, but discussed their assessments with patients and families wherever possible. On other occasions, patients placed on the pathway because doctors judged that they were nearing the end of their life went on to recover.
Patricia Greenwood, 82, was put on the pathway in August, after being admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital with heart problems, and then suffering a fall. Doctors told her family that they had taken her off feeding tubes because she was not expected to last more than a couple of days.
After her son, Terry, 57, defied the hospital’s orders and gave her sips of water through a straw, Mrs Greenwood, a former pub landlady, rallied, and doctors agreed to put her back on a drip. She is now back at home and has made plans for a world cruise. The hospital trust said it had not received a complaint about her care.
A survey of 22,000 recently-bereaved Britons found relatives of those cared for in hospices rated the care far better than those whose loved ones spent their last months of life in hospital.
Less than half of families felt hospital nurses had always treated their relative with respect, compared with 80 per cent of those whose loved ones were treated in hospices.
One in six respondents said decisions were made about care which the patient would not have wanted.
Overall, health services in London were rated worst for quality of care, featuring most regularly in the bottom 20 per cent, as rated by the bereaved, while those in the South West scored most highly.
Immigration rate into Britain sees biggest fall in 20 years following clampdown on language colleges
Immigration into Britain saw the biggest fall in 20 years last year, official figures showed today. There were 536,000 people who came from abroad to live in this country, down by 42,000 in a year.
The drop was the biggest recorded since immigration went down by 61,000 during the recession of 1991 and the numbers coming in were the lowest since 2004, the year that marked the beginning of the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Polish and Eastern European workers.
Ministers hailed the figures as a major step towards achieving the Government’s aim of reducing immigration to the levels of the 1990s.
The key net migration figure – the number of people added to the population after both immigration and emigration have been counted – dropped by nearly a quarter from 242,000 to 183,000 in the latest count, which covers the 12 months up to the end of March.
The main reason for the fall was a dramatic reduction in numbers of migrants arriving on student visas. Students coming in to join courses at further education colleges went down by 67 per cent, those going to English language schools by 76 per cent.
However students going into the high end of the education system, the universities, went up by one per cent.
David Cameron has promised to reduce net immigration to below 100,000 and yesterday’s figures mean he is close to half way towards achieving the goal.
The drop is a relief to Home Secretary Theresa May who has needed evidence to demonstrate to Tory voters that she is meeting success in reducing immigration.
It may help ease pressure on ministers at a time when the effects of rapid increases in population mainly thanks to immigration have been stoking demand for services like water, power, transport and education.
This week Planning Minister Nick Boles called for an increase of a third in the amount of green land being used for development in order to provide enough housing.
Student numbers have come down following new limits on study visas for people living outside the European Union and a crackdown on bogus colleges used as routes to cheat the immigration system.
New methods, such as interviews in which the English language skills of prospective students can be checked, began to be introduced last year.
Numbers of student visas issued were 26 per cent down on the previous year.
There have also been tighter controls on the issue of work visas for low-skilled workers from outside the EU.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: ‘This is a significant fall in net migration and the total number of visas issued is at its lowest since 2005. This shows we are bringing immigration back under control. Our tough policies are taking effect and this marks a significant step towards bringing net migration down from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands by the end of this Parliament.
‘At the same time, we continue to attract the brightest and best: these figures show that there has been a small increase in the number of sponsored student visa applications for the university sector – and a further increase in student visit visas. It’s clear that international students continue to come to the UK’s world renowned universities.’
Tory Party chairman Grant Shapps said: ‘Conservatives in Government are committed to getting immigration under control. This big fall in net migration show that the tough steps we have taken to reduce the uncontrolled immigration that Labour presided over are working.
‘It beggars belief that Labour still oppose every single one of these steps, including our cap on immigration.’
The results won approval from Migrationwatch, the think tank which has led criticism of high immigration.
Its chairman Sir Andrew Green said: ‘At last we can see some light at the end of the tunnel. We can now see the first effects of the Government’s measures to reduce immigration. There is a distance to go but they are on the right track.’
But Sarah Mulley of the left-leaning think tank, the Institute of Public Policy Research, said: ‘This fall in net migration has been driven by a significant fall in the number of foreign students coming to the UK.
Steps to reduce abuse of the student visa system are welcome, but if the Government’s net migration target is to be met, they also need there to be a dramatic fall in the numbers of genuine foreign students.
The 24 per cent fall in net migration for the 12 months to April followed a recorded fall in the calendar year 2011.
But the 2011 net migration drop, from 252,000 from 210,000, was dismissed by the Office for National Statistics as ‘not statistically significant’ because of the vagaries of the survey used to gather the figures.
This time, Paul Vickers of the ONS said: ‘We think this is a real change.’ Emigration from Britain helped drive down the net migration total.
Some 353,000 people left to live abroad in the year to the end of March, compared with 336,000 in the previous year. The increase was mainly driven by more people taking jobs abroad.
Study was the main reason for immigration, but there was an eight per cent drop in the number of people coming here for formal study, with 213,000 students arriving this year compared to a peak of 232,000 in the year to March 2011.
Home Office figures released yesterday showed that in the 12 months up to the end of September student visas issued went down by 26 per cent, from 284,649, to 210,921.
British PM: ‘I’m NOT convinced by Leveson’. PM warns ‘complicated plan to cross Rubicon’ and regulate press by law COULD impinge on free speech
David Cameron today took just hours to throw out Lord Justice Leveson’s plan for legislation to regulate the press, warning it could ‘infringe freedom of speech’.
The Prime Minister warned the judge’s 2,000-page report demanding media watchdog Ofcom oversee a new independent press body would put newspapers under the control of a government quango.
Mr Cameron put himself on a collision course with his deputy Nick Clegg, who said he could see no reason not to implement the report in full.
Cross-party talks are due to start tonight, with Labour leader Ed Miliband warning ‘there can be no more last chance saloons’ for the press.
Lord Leveson has called for a new system of independent self-regulation, with a powerful new body able to impose fines of up to £1million and demand front page apologies.
But he wants to law change to give state watchdog Ofcom – which regulates TV, radio and phone and postal services – power to oversee the process.
Mr Cameron told MPs: ‘The danger is this would create a vehicle for politicians whether today or in the future to impose regulations on the press. ‘I am not convinced at this stage that statute is necessary to achieve Lord Leveson’s intentions.’
He warned using the law to control the press would ‘cross the Rubicon’ – a dramatic reference to the army of Julius Casaer crossing the Rubicon river which was considered an act of insurrection.
The Prime Minister said he had ‘serious concerns and misgivings’ about Lord Leveson’s proposals for a statutory underpinning to a new regulation system.
‘For the first time we would have crossed the Rubicon, writing elements of press regulation into the law of the land.
‘We should, I believe, be wary of any legislation which has the potential to infringe free speech and a free press.
‘In this House, which has been a bulwark of democracy for centuries, we should think very, very carefully before crossing this line.’
But Mr Clegg – who broke with parliamentary convention to make a separate statement in the Commons – bluntly dismissed Mr Cameron’s call for a period of reflection on the controversial plans.
‘We mustn’t now prevaricate. I – like many people – am impatient for reform,’ he said. ‘And, bluntly, nothing I have seen so far in this debate suggests to me we will find a better solution than the one which has been proposed. Nor do I draw any hope from the repeated failure of pure self-regulation that we’ve seen over the last 60 years.
‘We need to get on with this without delay. We owe it to the victims of these scandals, who have already waited too long for us to do the right thing.
‘Too long for an independent press watchdog in which they can put their trust. I am determined we do not make them wait any more.’
But both Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg were united in opposition to some of the recommendations, including a plan for broadcasting watchdog Ofcom to oversee a new independent regulator.
The two leaders also expressed serious concerns about imposing tougher data protection rules on journalists. Lord Justice Leveson called for significant restrictions to exemptions granted to reporters under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Powers for the Information Commissioner to prosecute the media, investigators and others for breaches should also be extended, he suggested.
Mr Cameron said he would be wary about any move to ‘reduce the special treatment that journalists are afforded when dealing with personal data’ which he said were vital for investigative journalism.
Mr Clegg also said he had ‘specific concerns’ about the idea.
Lord Justice Leveson’s long-awaited report calls for a new law to ‘underpin’ an independent press watchdog, a tightening of data protection legislation to limit journalists’ rights to use personal information and a change in the law to allow publishers to be penalised in libel and other cases if they refuse to be subject to the regulator.
The judge said the press had ignored its own code of conduct in a way that had ‘wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people’ on far too many occasions over the last decade.
Under Lord Leveson’s plan a new independent regulatory body would be overseen by media watchdog Ofcom.
But Mr Cameron said the head of Ofcom is appointed by ministers, putting politicians too close to the process of regulating the press.
‘Ofcom is already a very powerful regulatory body and we should be trying to reduce concentrations of power rather than increase them.’
Instead Mr Cameron said he wanted the press industry to implement Leveson’s principles for regulation, without Parliament changing the law.
Lord Black of Brentwood, the chairman of the Press Standards Board of Finance, warned the Leveson proposals are ‘profoundly dangerous’ and would put a state regulator ‘at the very heart of the newsroom’.
He expressed ‘great caution expressed about the role of the statutory regulator Ofcom in the new system’.
And he added: ‘That would be a state regulator at the very heart of the newsroom. Would you agree with me that, if the industry can make rapid progress in the task of establishing a new system, such a move would not be just be profoundly dangerous but completely unnecessary?’
The PM welcomed Lord Leveson’s key requirements for a new independent self-regulatory body, including independence of appointments and funding, a standards code, an arbitration service and a speedy complaints handling mechanism.
He said that it should have the power to demand prominent apologies and to impose fines of up to £1 million.
Mr Cameron said the press now had a ‘limited period of time’ to make its own changes, and the ‘status quo’ would not be allowed to continue.
But Labour leader Ed Miliband said: ‘We should put our faith in the recommendations of Lord Justice Leveson. There can be no more last chance saloons.’
Mr Miliband said cross-party talks ‘must be about implementing these recommendations, not whether we implement them’.
He added: ‘The press must be able to hold the powerful, especially us politicians, to account without fear or favour. That is part of the character of our country.
‘But at the same time I do not want to live in a country where innocent families like the McCanns and the Dowlers can see their lives torn apart simply for the sake of profit. And where powerful interests in the press know they won’t be held to account.’
Cross-party talks are to begin today. All three leaders are likely to accept recommendations for frontbenchers to publish details of meetings and contact with media bosses.
Mr Cameron also said he supported Leveson’s recommendations for ending the ‘cosy relationship’ between the press and the police.
The Premier also backed former culture secretary Jeremy Hunt who he said had endured ‘a stream of allegations with great dignity’ over his handling of the BSkyB bid, and the report confirmed that ‘we were right to stand by him’.
It’s not just UKIP parents who are under suspicion in Britain
The Rotherham fostering controversy isn’t a mad one-off – it’s the logical conclusion to the intensification of state meddling in parents’ lives
The Rotherham foster family controversy has scandalised Britain. Understandably so. Rotherham council’s decision to remove three children from a fostering couple simply because the couple are members of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) reeks of a McCarthy-like political authoritarianism. It is not surprising that the decision has been slammed by the press as ‘ugly’, ‘poisonous’, ‘prejudicial’, ‘Orwellian’ and ‘arrogant’.
Yet this very reaction, not only from the press but also from leading politicians, who have described Rotherham council’s behaviour as ‘indefensible’, gives the impression that what happened in Rotherham was a one-off, an act of extremism by a crazy council. It wasn’t. Rather, the Rotherham mess is the logical conclusion to the ever-more embedded idea that the state should get to say who would make a good parent and who would not; that the state has the right to determine which political, cultural and lifestyle attitudes it is okay for parents to have and which ones it is not okay for them to have. It is this idea – promoted by some of the same people now getting irate over Rotherham – which leads to a situation where foster parents who have the ‘wrong’ views can have their kids removed.
The most striking thing about the Rotherham case is how open the council was about its prejudices. Usually, when councils want to take children away from parents whom they decree to be ‘undesirable’, they will draw up a list of often exaggerated physical or moral harms facing those children as a way of justifying their actions. But in this case, officials were explicit about the fact that these kids were being removed because of the foster parents’ political views. The council’s director of children’s services, Joyce Thacker, said that because the three children are of Eastern European origin, it would be wrong to leave them with foster parents who support a party that is anti-EU and critical of the ideology of multiculturalism. ‘If the party mantra is, for example, ending the active promotion of multiculturalism, I have to think about that’, she said. ‘I have to think of [the children’s] longer-term needs.’
In essence, Thacker is saying that anyone who is critical of multiculturalism is not fit to be a foster parent – or, by extension, a natural parent – because they might inculcate children with views that Thacker considers to be wrong, insufficiently multicultural. This isn’t the first time a council in Britain has removed children from parents or foster parents who are seen as having problematic cultural views. Earlier this year, Toni McLeod, a mother-of-four in Durham, had her children taken from her, partly because, in the words of Durham council, she had developed ‘inappropriate friendships [through] the English Defence League’, a small far-right political group. ‘Inappropriate friendships’ was clearly code for ‘inappropriate views’. Last year, Eunice and Owen Johns, a Derby-based black Christian couple in their 60s who had been fostering children aged between five and 10 for years, were told they were no longer suitable foster carers because of their views on homosexuality – that is, they had told social workers they would not teach children that homosexuality was an acceptable lifestyle.
When councils aren’t removing children from parents or foster parents who have ‘unhealthy’ political views, they’re taking them away from parents who are just plain unhealthy. Under the cover of protecting children from so-called passive smoking and even from the ‘influence of obesity’, more and more councils are refusing to place kids with anyone who smokes or is fat. Last year, a couple in Essex were rejected as foster parents after the aspiring foster dad admitted to having smoked two cigars in the previous year – under Essex council’s rules, foster parents must be ‘tobacco-free for 12 months’ before they can receive children. The British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) advises that no child under two, and ideally under five, should be placed with families that include a smoker. One council in Scotland refuses to place children aged 11 or younger with smokers, and decrees that smokers must fully cleanse themselves of their filthy habit before they can foster young kids: ‘Foster carers who have successfully given up smoking should not be allowed to adopt or foster… until they have stopped smoking for a minimum period of 12 months.’
Fat people are also being denied the right to foster and adopt. The BAAF says being obese can ‘limit a parent or carer’s ability to look after a child’, and therefore, ‘practitioners need to consider obesity’ when placing children. Practitioners are doing this with relish. In 2009, a teetotal, respectable, long-married couple in their 30s in Leeds were told they were not suitable candidates for adoption because of the husband’s weight: 24 stone. Leeds Council informed the couple that people with a Body Mass Index of over 40 were ‘unlikely to be approved’ and therefore ‘[it would] be to your advantage to begin the assessment with an up-to-date medical where your BMI is clearly recorded as being under 40 and to demonstrate that you are able to maintain this weight loss’. In short, if you’re fat you don’t deserve kids; you’ll probably be too lazy and feckless to look after them properly.
These health judgements against aspiring foster or adoptive parents are also really judgements about cultural attitudes. Just as right-wing people and traditional Christians are denied the right to look after children because they’re seen as having the ‘wrong’ views, so fat people and smokers are forbidden from fostering because they have the ‘wrong’ attitude – they have failed to conform to the idea that every parent must be a super-fit, fruit-eating, multicultural, state-approved Decent Person. There’s a big class component to these judgements, too. If obesity and smoking, not to mention having supposedly un-PC views, are markers for being from a certain section of the working class, then the end result of these rules about who is and who isn’t fit to foster is that poorer people will be prevented from looking after needy kids – something that they have been helping society out with for decades.
The fact is that, for all these councils’ elitist, prejudicial judgements about what size, shape and political persuasion a foster or adoptive parent should be, around the country there are millions of natural parents who are overweight or who smoke or who have traditionalist, sometimes bigoted views that their children will either adopt or discard as they get older. Believe it or not, a fat dad who can’t run very far in the park can still be a brilliant dad; the mum who smokes 60 a day can still be a great mum; Christian parents who think homosexuals are weird can still provide loving homes for their kids. In only selecting for fostering or adoption those adults who conform to state diktats on health and PC and multiculturalism, various councils are starkly at odds with reality, with the fact that unhealthy, un-PC people are parents and are good parents to boot.
This is where we get to the nub of the Rotherham scandal and other recent efforts by officialdom to limit fostering and adoption to those people considered culturally acceptable: this is really about sending out a message to all parents, to natural parents as well as foster parents, about how they should behave and what they should believe. Increasingly, the worlds of adoption and fostering are being used as laboratories in which state officials can make clear what they consider to be a Good Parent. Because in this arena they get to select who can be a parent, they are seizing the opportunity to infuse parenting with their prejudices, to carve out a model parent – thin, tobacco-free, multiculturally on-message – whose image can be projected across society. Coupled with the state’s increasing cockiness in removing children from natural families that are considered ‘chaotic’ and its promotion of parenting classes for all natural parents, the use of the sphere of fostering and adoption to promote an idealised parent is strengthening the idea that the state should get to say what sort of people may have and bring up children.
This is all proving disastrous for children in need of care. It was reported last year that there has been a ‘steep rise’ in the number of children being taken away from their birth parents and put into care by the state, particularly following the Baby P tragedy of 2008, but that at the same time there is a ‘crisis in foster care’ because ‘tough guidelines [are] scaring off potential foster parents’. In short, the state is tearing apart more and more natural families, but it is then incapable of finding new homes for the children it removes because it is making foster and adoptive parents jump through so many lifestyle and cultural hoops. The state’s suspicion towards the family unit makes it take more children from their birth parents, and its distrust of potential foster parents means it finds it increasingly difficult to place those children in other family homes. So they languish in care, victims, primarily, of the vile prejudices and fears of our rulers.
SAS hero walks free… and thanks the Press: Sniper jailed for ‘illegally possessing’ Iraqi gift pistol has his sentence quashed
An SAS hero jailed for keeping an Iraqi pistol as a war trophy thanked the Press yesterday for helping secure his freedom. Danny Nightingale’s 18-month prison sentence was quashed by senior judges following a three-week newspaper campaign. He will now be able to spend Christmas with his young family.
The sniper’s release yesterday came as Lord Justice Leveson published a report calling for draconian controls on the Press.
But Sergeant Nightingale, who has served with valour in Iraq and Afghanistan, said: ‘For the media support that has been out there, thank you people.’
The Daily Mail had kept up the pressure with a series of stories including an interview with his wife Sally, 38.
She described him as a ‘hero who had been betrayed’ and a father reduced to a voice on the phone for their daughters, five-year-old Mara and Alys, two.
Mrs Nightingale, who raised £100,000 to fund a legal battle to free her husband, said: ‘I’m very, very happy. We have fought for this and now we have got justice.
‘I did not dare to dream that this would be the outcome. It will be brilliant to have him home. It can only be good for all the troops out there fighting for our country to see justice has been done.’
Describing him as an exemplary soldier, Appeal Court judges cut Sgt Nightingale’s prison term to a 12-month suspended sentence – allowing the 37-year-old to immediately return home to Crewe.
He was reunited with his wife in emotional scenes at the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand in London.
‘I need to say thank you so much to my wife, family and friends for their trust and support. They have been amazingly courageous and dignified in all they have done,’ he said.
‘The great British public and people around the world have been absolutely wonderful in their support. It has been extremely humbling.’
The judges also granted the non-commissioned officer permission to appeal against his conviction.
Sgt Nightingale was sent to a military prison in Colchester three weeks ago after pleading guilty to possessing a working 9mm Glock pistol and more than 300 rounds of ammunition at his home.
The sentence sparked a national outcry. David Cameron said he was ‘sympathetic’ to the Nightingale family and a protest petition attracted 107,000 signatures.
Three judges – the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, Mr Justice Fulford and Mr Justice Bean – heard the appeal and ruled that the offences were ‘committed in exceptional circumstances by an exceptional officer’.
They were told the 9mm Glock was a souvenir from Iraqi soldiers Sgt Nightingale helped train in 2007. But during his tour of duty he was ordered to fly home urgently with the bodies of two fallen comrades. His belongings in Iraq – including the firearm – were packed by colleagues and sent back separately to Britain, first to SAS headquarters and then to a home he rented with other soldiers.
Sgt Nightingale intended to pass the gun to his regiment to be decommissioned and displayed as a war trophy.
But he forgot he had the weapon and ammunition after suffering ‘significant’ brain damage that affected his memory when he collapsed on a 220-mile charity trek in the Brazilian jungle.
He amazed medics by not only surviving but returning to fitness so he could deploy on operations. The Glock and ammunition were found when police raided his rented home in Hereford last year following a dispute between his SAS housemate and his estranged wife.
Sgt Nightingale, who was serving with special forces in Afghanistan at the time, said he did not remember having the weapon.
He pleaded guilty to two charges at the court martial on November 6 and was sent to the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester.
His lawyers yesterday argued that he was pressured into pleading guilty to possessing the gun and ammunition with the trial judge suggesting he would receive five years in a civilian jail if he fought the case.
William Craig QC, for Sgt Nightingale, said: ‘No defendant should be told that and no judge should indicate that to a defendant. He failed comprehensively to follow [legal] guidance.’
Lieutenant Colonal Richard Williams, Sgt Nightingale’s former commanding officer, told the Appeal Court the sniper had ‘saved many lives’ by inventing a new bandage to treat gunshot wounds.
Tory MP Julian Brazier who raised Sgt Nightingale’s plight in Parliament, said: ‘The original sentence was a serious miscarriage of justice. ‘I am delighted that Danny will be going home to his family for Christmas.’
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: ‘The justice system has worked. [CRAP! It was publicity that worked] ‘I was pleased that an appeal was heard quickly and it is right that a court should decide on whether the sentence was appropriate. ‘The Court of Appeal has decided the sentence was too harsh and has freed him.’
One of Britain’s unemployed Ph.D.s writes:
His pumped-up Leftist ego is starting to deflate as he faces reality
Passing my viva without corrections was just the latest addition to a spotless educational record. Despite any initial fears, my work was warmly-received and plans were quickly put in motion to transform the thesis into a book. This was the final validation from colleagues and mentors who had long assured me that I would have a bright future as a sociologist.
So how did I end up unemployed?
Understand that I would usually consider it distasteful to list my achievements like this, but am finding that modesty is becoming an obsolete quality in today’s labour market. I tell you my achievements only to put my recent experiences in context. Life since the PhD has been hard.
Unlike many of my peers, I did not prioritise my employability when I was still a student. Though I did teach and present at a few conferences, I chose to focus most of my energy on crafting my thesis and getting it finished within the funding period. I am passionate about my work and stick by this decision, but what I am now learning is that while I left my viva exam ready to make a mark on the world, ready to prove that I merited the praise given me, I was still just one candidate in a congested academic job market.
After graduating, I spent two months finishing my leftover teaching and marking before becoming unemployed. I have applied for around twenty jobs and received one interview, which was unsuccessful. I am out in the cold but I try to remain positive. There are undoubtedly merits to my situation as an unemployed academic; it is wonderful to have so much time in which to think and write. I do, however, feel distant from the warmth of the institution that, over the past years, has validated who I am and what I think.
One of the unfortunate things about creative achievements within academia is that they cannot always be expressed in a way that is meaningful to the ‘outside world’. Floating free of the university, I encounter few people in my daily life who care about my talents as a writer and researcher. I have been claiming Jobseekers’ allowance for the previous three months and my advisors at the Job Centre are certainly not impressed.
One of the problems I am encountering is that most of the activities that young academics need to perform in order to improve their chances of employment – presenting at conferences, networking, writing articles to satisfy the upcoming Research Excellence Framework (REF), or crafting watertight personal statements – are not seen by Job Centre advisors as legitimate uses of time as an ‘unemployee’. In a recent review with an advisor, not even my hours spent preparing for a job interview were considered a legitimate use of time. Time spent researching the role was considered time wasted, in which I should have been contacting further prospective employers.
After only three months claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance, my advisors are already suggesting that my aspirations to work in academia are unrealistic. They do not understand the nature of my qualifications and call me complacent for failing to respond to listed vacancies for cleaners and checkout operators at Asda and Tesco. It is the unperturbed nature of these tellings-off that I find most distressing; the eerily casual manner in which it is suggested that I turn my back on my vocation, my identity, and eight years worth of learning and training.
I am familiar with the theories that explain the social mechanics and emotional consequences of what I am going through – I used to teach them. This irony has been a source of wry amusement. I make a lot of jokes these days, sometimes telling friends that I am going to draw on my experiences to write a satirical sequel to Harry Potter, whereby, realising his degree from Hogwarts has no value in the labour market, Harry is forced to get a job in a Virgin Media call centre. On gloomier days I flesh out the story: the narrative will move between Harry looking depressed in his headset taking call after call, and flashbacks to the good old days with Ron and the gang, back when a young wizard’s skills were worth something. But I do wonder how long my friends will find this joke funny.
Humour is a horribly transparent coping strategy. A more enduring strategy is to take a sort of sociological interest in one’s experiences. Following the philosopher Bertrand Russell, I believe that any experience that does not cause significant harm can be interesting, regardless of whether its character is positive or negative. Whilst visiting the job centre has been a particularly disheartening experience, I have certainly valued it as a source of social insight.
Still, as time goes on and I remain out of work, I can feel my sociological curiosity starting to wear off. Perhaps I am worrying too early, but I do feel like I am walking into a trap. In my struggle to find even a part-time academic job, I am forced to wonder how long the welfare system will tolerate me.
2012: THE TEMPERATURE STANDSTILL CONTINUES
It’s that time of year again when some call the global annual average temperature for the year, even though there are still two months of data remaining. Such a premature declaration is done for political reasons, such as the current UN climate meeting in Doha.
The UK Met Office, on the 28th November 2012, issued a ‘State of global temperatures in 2012,’ and it makes interesting reading.
The Met Office uses three “leading global temperature datasets” to conclude that the average temperature of 2012 is 0.45 +/- 0.10 deg C above the 1961-90 average. They add that these error bars mean that 2012 could be between the 4th and the 14th warmest year of the instrumental period, since 1850. Realistically though it’s going to be ninth or tenth. Fig 1 shows the Met Office data.
The Met Office then adds that due to a La Nina 2012 is cooler than the average for the last decade. Statistically speaking that is not the whole story. According to the data we already have, taking the errors into account, 2012 is statistically identical to all the other years of the past decade and beyond. The recent global temperature standstill continues.
What is an obvious standstill to some – the global temperature hasn’t increased for 15 years – is to others a not so rapid warming, or as the Met Office puts it; “Although the first decade of the 21st century was the warmest on record, warming has not been as rapid since 2000 as over the longer period since the 1970s.”
The Met Office continues: “This variability in global temperatures is not unusual, with several periods lasting a decade or more with little or no warming since the instrumental record began. We are investigating why the temperature rise at the surface has slowed in recent years, including how ocean heat content changes and the effects of aerosols from atmospheric pollution may have influenced global climate.”
Now I beg to differ. Since instrumental temperature records began in about 1850 lengthy standstills, such as the one between 1940 – 80, are evident. But we are not in that regime. We are supposed to be in the era of anthropogenically-dominated global warming. The IPCC put the transition between natural and anthropogenic influence as 1960-80. Since the global temperature started to rise about 1980, and continued to 1997, this makes the lack of variability seen in global temperatures since 1997 highly unusual. Indeed, as we have said before, it is the recent warm periods major characteristic, and climate models strain to account for it.
The Met Office carries on: Interannual variations of global surface temperature are strongly affected by the warming influences of El Niño and the cooling influences of La Niña in the Pacific Ocean. These are quite small when compared to the total global warming since 1900 of about 0.8 °C but nevertheless typically reach about +/- 0.10 °C, and can strongly influence individual years.
True, but a more pertinent point is that El Nino and La Nina have no effect on the 15-year global temperature standstill. Individual years go up and down due to these effects, but there is no statistically significant trend since 1997. In fact looking at the post-1997 data the El Nino and La Ninas seem to be the only statistical cause of variations from year to year.
Last year the Met Office said that 2011′s placing near the top of temperature datasets, which go back to 1850, continues a long-term warming trend in global climate. (Actually 2011 was even cooler than 2012, last year the Met Office put it as 11th warmest).
Again, the long-term warming trend is true if you combine the natural and AGW era, but not if one just considers the AGW period. Taking away 2012’s temperature from the recent data doesn’t make much difference, yet at the end of 2011 we had “the warming trend continues”, but after just one more year of data we now have “temperature rise at the surface has slowed.” If there is evidence that at the end of 2012 it has slowed, then there was also evidence it had slowed at the end of 2011.
To summarise: There is no point in putting out conclusions about the global temperature for any year until all that year’s data is available. It is misleading to only say that the global temperature rise has slowed down since 1980, when the evidence is that it has remained unchanged for the last 15 years.
The 15-year standstill is a real feature in the data. Arguments that it has been cherry picked are irrelevant. The climate models give probabilities of global temperature standstills – the longer the standstill the lower the probability. Such models do not make any stipulation other than the duration of the standstill, not its place in the dataset. The standstill is El Nino-La Nina independent.
It seems that the release of a years global temperature before the year has ended is a statistical dance we have to go through every year. But those who make decisions based on the Met Office press release announcing the year’s temperature do so without a complete picture.
Major British Science Body practices Global Warming Censorship
Shock new email revelations show that since 2007 senior members of the UK’s prestigious Institute of Physics (IoP) cynically locked down any debate about man-made global warming. Now seasoned writer, Andrew Montford, draws on hundreds of leaked emails exposing how a clique of Big Green activists hijacked one of Britain’s most venerated institutions to shamelessly promote a one-sided version of the hottest environmental issue.
In his startling new pamphlet, ‘Institutional Bias’ Montford lays out the evidence selected from a vast body of leaked internal emails. Two whistleblower insiders were the source, Peter F. Gill, formerly the chairman of the IoP’s Energy Group and Terri Jackson (MSc Mphil), former science adviser to Northern Ireland’s First Minister, Rev. Ian Paisley and Founder of the IOP’s Energy Group.
The incredible correspondence details a conspiracy to silence any and all dissent challenging the alarmist mantra of human-induced climate change. Self-serving senior figures within the IoP are shown to have harassed and harangued every attempt for a grassroots debate among members over the global warming controversy.
Montford, a well-respected figure on the skeptic side of the debate and author of the best seller ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion,’ the book that exposed climatologist, Michael Mann’s iconic ‘hockey stick’ graph, is damning in his assessment of this fiasco. Montford argues the leaked emails prove, “The voice of the membership is increasingly being silenced, with headquarters staff having arranged to abolish the annual representatives meeting, at which grievances had formerly been aired.”
The IoP is a vast organisation of 45,000 members with a multi-million income derived from member subscriptions, journal publishing and meetings. This new evidence puts flesh on the bones of what has for too long been glibly dismissed by elements of the mainstream press as “conspiracy theorization.”
We see in black and white the email evidence of how, when the Climategate controversy hit the news, pro-green elements in the IoP and British press were quick to paper over the cracks. Despite an upswelling among members for a full debate the IOP’s hierarchy silenced criticism in preference of a “clear” message on global warming. In this the IoP chose to state “there is no doubt that climate change is happening, that it is linked to man-made emissions of greenhouse gases, and that we should be taking action to address it now,” much to the ire of disenfranchised grassroots members. IoP’s Jackson was snipped by the green censor’s scissors when a version of her dissenting article, ‘Pouring cold water on global warming’ published in The Belfast Telegraph and due to also appear in The Times, was “blocked” by green activists in London. Meanwhile Gill’s integrity was thrown into question by The Guardian.
Gill is delighted with the impact Montford’s pamphlet is making, “I must say that the reaction so far has been largely positive albeit that it has made some people sad and depressed.”
UK Energy Plan Is Dangerous And Dated
After 12 years of reviews, white papers and some legislation, the UK government has finally come forward with what it regards as a definitive set of energy policy reforms. Sadly the Energy bill is anything but definitive. Over the long period of the bill’s gestation, the world’s energy markets have changed radically.
At the heart of the bill is the idea that the government should contract directly for new power stations, agreeing in advance a fixed price for the electricity they will generate. Contracting is not in itself a bad idea. Britain needs investment, much more than the market will deliver left to its own devices. The upfront capital required to develop nuclear power stations, in particular, requires political commitment. But there is a world of difference between auctioning contracts and politicians fixing them.
Once the government is picking the winners, it matters which sectors it chooses. Ed Davey, the energy secretary, comes armed with explanations. He predicts the future will be one of “volatile” gas prices, which will head ever upwards. And Mr Davey believes that his chosen technologies will insulate Britain against them.
For the past decade, gas prices have indeed been rising. But it is one thing to know the past and another to know the future. While officials and ministers have been working away at one energy plan after another, the world around them has changed. The idea of “peak oil” (the point at which the world’s oil supplies go into irreversible decline) has turned out to be nonsense. There has been a revolution in fossil fuel technologies. With shale oil and gas, North America is rapidly reaching energy independence and the price gap between the US and Europe on gas is now so enormous as to undermine Europe’s competitiveness and begin a process of re-industrialisation in the US. America’s shale bounty will feed through to world prices – and therefore Britain’s prices.
If this part of the rationale behind the energy bill has collapsed, it might be argued that the government is at least doing something about climate change. But a moment’s reflection yields the unfortunate conclusion that not only are current renewables making little difference to global warming but that they never could. Wind in particular is a low-density, intermittent energy source. Future renewables might well close the gap, but not the current forms of renewable energy.
Before deciding which technologies to award government contracts to, it would be wise to think through what might happen if the secretary of state turns out to be wrong. Power stations tend to be long-lived, which means that mistakes hang around the economy’s neck for a long time. Suppose the future is not going to be the one conjured up by the peak oil brigade, the supporters of current renewables, and by the secretary of state. Suppose world fossil fuel prices fall but Britain is committed to high- cost current renewables.
The UK’s carbon production might indeed fall: the deindustrialisation that might result from high energy prices is a sure route to lower emissions. But that would be a false blessing, offset by carbon-intensive imports, as is already happening. Energy demand would probably fall, too – not because of the Green Deal, Mr Davey’s programme to increase British homes’ energy efficiency, but because of higher prices. Reducing emissions by contracting energy-intensive industries and reducing household incomes is hardly an attractive route to decarbonisation.
‘Provocative’ Playboy truck advert banned in Britain
Pretty mild stuff, it seems to me — JR
Few people are likely to be surprised by Playboy using provocative images in its advertising.
But when those images are plastered across the side of a truck that is then parked outside hotels frequented by the elderly, it is likely to raise a few eyebrows.
The van, which appeared in the picturesque seaside town of Ilfracombe in Devon in May, featured pictures of semi-naked women in seductive poses to advertise Playboy TV Chat.
It was deliberately stationed outside The Imperial and The Osborne hotel as, the channel said, most of its calls came from North Devon and many were from elderly people.
Playboy was, however, deemed to have overstepped the mark by the advertising watchdog, which branded the advert sexually provocative and irresponsible and banned it from appearing in public.