Dental nurse, 30, died after ‘serious failings’ by paramedics who could have saved her had she gone to hospital
A dental nurse died after ‘serious failings’ by paramedics called to her home, a coroner ruled today.
Sarah Thomas, 30, was found dead just six hours after ambulancemen told her she didn’t need to go to hospital, despite being ‘barely conscious’.
An inquest heard she would have survived if she had been taken to hospital – and been given simple injections.
Her father, Kenneth Thomas, told the hearing he was with her when she was examined by paramedics David Glover and Michael Davies.
‘Sarah looked very distressed and could hardly speak – she was conscious but was not with it totally,’ he said.
‘There was a discussion about hospitals, but the paramedics said: “You are better off here Sarah, this is the best place for you”,’ he added.
‘We were persuaded in their arguments that she was in the best place and she did not need to be sitting in an ambulance. We accepted the situation as it was.’
The inquest heard the paramedics left Sarah’s home in Port Talbot at 1.40am on 5 May 2007. She was found dead in the bathroom at 7.30am.
The inquest in Neath, South Wales, heard Sarah was battling the after-effects of a brain tumour when an ambulance was called.
Coroner Philip Rogers said there was conflicting evidence by the paramedics and Sarah’s parents Kenneth and Madeline.
He said: ‘There were serious failings in the way in which the crew went about their assessment and recording her condition that night.’
These included an inappropriate method used to assess respiratory rate, no attempt to listen to Sarah’s chest with a stethoscope and no assessment of her abdomen.
‘The blood pressure is likely to have been inaccurate and there was a failure to get details of the long-term medication Sarah was taking.
‘If Sarah had been taken to hospital it was likely she would have received intravenous hydrocortisone injections and fluids, and her death would not have occurred.’
‘But given the crew’s lack of knowledge and the rarity of Sarah’s condition, this cannot be labelled as gross failings.’
A Welsh Ambulance Service spokesman said: ‘We will be giving full and urgent consideration to the coroner’s narrative verdict to ensure that all opportunities are taken to continuously improve our service.’
NHS spends £15million (the same as 750 nurses’ salaries) on gagging 600 whistleblowers
The NHS spent £15million in three years on gagging whistleblowers, the Mail can reveal today.
The shocking figures pile the pressure on NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson, who has clung to his £270,000 role despite presiding over the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal that cost the lives of 1,200 patients.
In just three years there were 598 ‘special severance payments’, almost all of which carried draconian confidentiality clauses aimed at silencing whistleblowers.
They cost the taxpayer £14.7million, the equivalent of almost 750 nurses’ salaries.
Yet only last week, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned the NHS against silencing internal dissent.
He said for too long there had been a culture of celebrating success in the NHS, but ‘not being honest about failure’. He added: ‘We must have a culture where people are not afraid to speak out.’
Last night Steve Barclay, the Tory MP who uncovered the figures, demanded that Sir David be recalled to give evidence to the influential Commons public accounts committee to justify the £14.7million bill.
The publication of the figures for the three years up until 2011 comes after a two-year battle by Mr Barclay, who is a member of the public accounts committee.
The Department of Health and the Treasury, which are notified of the cost of the agreements by the relevant NHS bodies, had steadfastly refused to publish the costs.
The figures were finally released after Mr Barclay tabled a series of parliamentary questions.
On three occasions, Mr Barclay raised concerns with Sir David, a former card-carrying Communist, about why whistleblowers were not being excluded from the confidentiality clauses. Each time he was assured action had been taken.
On the last occasion, at the public accounts committee meeting in September last year, Sir David said: ‘I thought we had done it.’
Mr Barclay, MP for North East Cambridgeshire, has written to committee chairman Margaret Hodge, demanding that Sir David is recalled to discuss the use of gagging clauses across the NHS.
He told the Daily Mail: ‘There is a clear value-for-money implication here, both in ensuring the best possible outcomes in the health service, and the cost of the payments.
‘I am requesting the committee recalls Sir David Nicholson to examine the use of gagging clauses across the NHS.
‘These gagging clauses are having a chilling effect on whistleblowers. It is shocking that over a three-year period an estimated 90 per cent of the 598 compromise agreements entered into by the NHS included gagging clauses.
‘It means that hundreds of potential whistleblowers may have been prevented from speaking out for fear of legal action, at a total cost to the taxpayer of almost £15million.
‘It begs the question: Were NHS officials genuinely in the dark about the use of gagging clauses – in which case why were executives like Sir David Nicholson not aware it was going on? – or were they actually the ones turning off the lights when the gag went on?
‘It is glaringly obvious that many NHS employees feel they are being silenced by non-disclosure clauses in their contracts.
‘It is now clear that a whistleblower who has reported concerns internally, but has not seen improvements take place, is induced, with taxpayers’ money, to agree to sign away their rights to not take them any further.’
Some of the highest ‘special severance payouts’ were at Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which paid £224,000 in 2011.
South Staffordshire and Shropshire Health Care Trust, which borders Mid Staffordshire, made payments of £90,000, £190,000 and £35,000 in 2010/11.
A Department of Health spokesman said the number of confidentiality clause payouts was falling sharply and that in 2011/12, there were just 20 cases in NHS Trusts at a cost of just over £500,000.
However, this figure did not include costs for the 105 Foundation Trusts, which in 2010/11 racked up a bill of £2.5million on gagging clauses.
The donor culture in American versus British universities
Comment from a Brit
I came to America for the same reason as most immigrants or expats: money. Yes, I was looking for streets paved with gold, and I found it, in the shape of America’s university system. I am incredibly fortunate, and I do not take my funding for granted, but recent news has reminded me just how different the US and UK are in terms of university assets.
On Wednesday, it was widely reported that Stanford University has set a new record for college fundraising, by becoming the first university to receive donations of more than $1 billion in a single year. This is a significant slice of the all-American apple pie – overall, in 2012, $31 billion was donated across approximately 3,500 U.S. universities. Compare this to UK figures, and it becomes clear why the US is the dream destination for so many international students. From 2009-10, the total sum collected by all UK universities was £693 million, according to a 2012 Review of Philanthropy in UK Higher Education by HEFCE. In one year, then, Stanford received approximately the same amount of money as every single university in the UK combined.
No wonder that universities here are attractive prospects for so many Brits (myself included). I have spent time at two institutions here in the US – Harvard (which came second behind Stanford with $650 million of donations last year) and the Bard Graduate Center. Both institutions are well-funded, both staffed with academics who lead their field. Resources are second-to-none, buildings gleam and are up-to-date, and most students receive significant financial aid.
When I contrast these universities with my alma mater, Oxford (who recently received a newsworthy £75 million for the purposes of supporting the poorest applicants), there are clear differences. Of course, Oxford’s resources are unparalleled in the US – no institution here in America can beat centuries of collections, buildings, and reputation. But in the US, there seems to be far more funding for the best students – more money to support students who need to travel for research, well-funded conferences with budgets for speakers, better staffed libraries with brand new digital services. As I look to return to the UK, I see that funding for graduate students is harder than ever to obtain. Government cuts mean that so many UK universities have hiring freezes, and every year it seems that funded places for graduate students are axed.
Of course, I do not mean to say that all US universities are rich and full of brilliant resources, nor do I want to claim that the UK is lagging behind (far from it, UK universities are justifiably world class). But I do want to draw attention to the culture of giving that is so widespread here, and is still in its infancy in the UK. Donations from alumni are not simply commonplace in America, they are expected. Most universities get students to donate in their senior year, and the ‘Class’ donation is put towards a visible, tangible, gift. Before one even leaves, the habit of giving (usually just $5 or $20 at first) begins. Donations are celebrated, every time I log on to the digital library JSTOR, a little window reminds me that “Your access to JSTOR provided by the generosity of the members of Bard’s Classes of ’62 and ’63 in honor of their 45th Reunion.” At Harvard, I would often notice that a gate had been given by a class, or a building refurbished thanks to a reunion fund. Donors can completely transform a university – it was recently revealed that New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg has given $1.1 billion to his alma mater Johns Hopkins, enabling it to transform its campus and increase financial aid. His first donation, of just $5, was as a recent graduate.
Apart from named prizes at Oxford, most donations are not evident – though I understand that students are indebted to the thousands of generous gifts offered by alumni in the UK too. But there is no ‘Class of…” gift, no precedent to give a small sum in one’s final year. As far as I am aware, none of my friends donate, and I will admit that I have not donated either. In fact, I cannot even comprehend giving when I still have outstanding student loans. I was actually offended when Oxford first contacted me to ask for money, as they ‘suggested’ that I write them into my will – a rather blah leaflet asked me to tick a box if I wanted to leave them the entire sum of my assets, or a named amount – all quite morbid when I had received the flyer as part of my graduation information packet.
The main difference, of course, is that American universities tend to be run as businesses. Though there are public state universities, the highest ranked universities are all private enterprises, unlike back in the UK. I think British universities should remain public institutions, and do not want them to rely on students like me for donations. They are making big efforts to attract donors, and are using the US as a model for this, but it will probably take several generations of students before ‘class gifts’ and regular small donations become the norm amongst alumni. Maybe Stanford could give us Brits some crucial tips. For as long as American institutions are pulling in big bucks, there will be a steady brain drain of British students across the Atlantic.
British government’s tough immigration rules defied by top judge
The country’s most senior immigration judge has openly defied the Home Secretary by insisting that Parliament’s attempt to get tough on human rights abuses by foreign criminals is outweighed by the European Court.
In a key ruling, the head of the immigration courts said measures introduced by Mrs May last summer to stop criminals claiming the “right to family life” were overridden by judges’ previous decisions on such cases at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.
Mr Justice Blake also said that “little weight” should be given to Mrs May’s immigration rules in cases involving criminals with children because they were overruled by international agreements and a previous law passed by the Labour government.
As reported by The Telegraph last week, Mrs May is due to introduce laws to strengthen existing measures over concerns that judges were not taking them seriously. The measures are supported by The Telegraph’s “End the Human Rights Farce” campaign.
The judge made his criticisms of Mrs May’s laws in a ruling which allowed a criminal with 30 convictions to stay in Britain, even though the Home Office had tried to deport him.
The case was written as a “reported determination”, meaning that other immigration judges will have to follow its example when deciding other similar appeals.
Olufisayo Ogundimu, a former drug dealer from south London, persuaded the court that he should not be removed to Nigeria, where he was born, because he had fathered a child here and has a baby on the way with another woman.
Mr Justice Blake said in his ruling on Ogundimu’s case that the immigration rules “did not affect the circumstance” when considering the right to family life, which is guaranteed by Article Eight of the Human Rights Act.
In such cases he said that the way to interpret Article Eight was not to consider Mrs May’s rules as most important, despite them being passed with cross-party support by Parliament.
Specifically regarding one of Mrs May’s rules which was designed to mean that having a child in Britain would not strengthen a criminal’s case against being deported, the judge said: “Little weight should be attached to this rule when consideration is being given to the assessment of proportionality under Article Eight.”
Instead, he said the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and part of an immigration Act passed by Labour in 2009 took precedence.
Dominic Raab, the Tory MP who has campaigned for tougher rules, said: “This chronic judicial legislation has undermined public protection and usurped the democratic will of Parliament.
“We now have around 200 Article Eight cases a year, so it is vital and urgent that Parliament amends the law to mandate deportation and brush aside these spurious challenges to the rule of law.”
Ogundimu, 28, arrived in the UK 22 years ago. Tracked down by The Telegraph at his girlfriend’s flat in Chislehurst, south-east London, he said that he was pleased at the decision made by the Immigration and Asylum Upper Tribunal.
“It’s totally wrong to send people back like that because their family lives are here,” he said. “If people are a danger to the public and doing serious offences then send them back, but with me, yeah, I’ve got a criminal record but did not do anything serious.”
He came to Britain aged six in 1991 with his family. Ogundimu first appeared in front of the juvenile courts aged 14 for obtaining property by deception.
He has 30 offences on his criminal record, including an eight-month prison term for possession of cannabis with intent to supply, in 2008.
In 2010, the Home Secretary decided that Ogundimu should be sent to Nigeria to protect the public. Ogundimu fathered a son with a British woman in 2004 and the court heard that he looks after the boy occasionally.
It also heard that Ogundimu is now in a relationship with the mother’s cousin, who is expecting his baby, which was conceived after deportation proceedings began.
The Home Office argued that Ogundimu was not in a “genuine and subsisting relationship” with his son or his girlfriend and that his removal would not breach Article Eight.
He was arrested for possession of cannabis in October 2012, for which he received a caution, but now claims he is trying to lead a blameless life.
Ogundimu moved back in with the mother of his child in June 2010 after being in prison. The judge said that he admitted doing so to convince immigration authorities that he had a genuine family life. He left her for his new girlfriend a year later.
After hearing evidence from Ogundimu’s current partner, the court decided that they were in a genuine relationship and the criminal was also playing a beneficial role in the upbringing of a nine-year-old step-daughter.
Mr Justice Blake’s ruling also indicated that the new rules on applying Article Eight should not be imposed retrospectively, even though Mrs May set out that they should.
The immigration rules say a criminal should not be deported if he or she has a British child and “there is no other family member who is able to care for the child in the UK”.
The judge undermined this by saying: “We doubt whether it is in any child’s best interests to lose the contact and support with a caring and devoted parent simply because someone else can be found to care for them.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The Government has made clear its intention to bring forward primary legislation to prevent foreign nationals remaining in the UK through abuse of the Human Rights Act.”
Revealed: British PM has broken his pre-election promise on foreign criminals as FEWER are deported
Fewer foreign criminals are being deported despite a pledge by David Cameron more than two years ago to ‘intervene personally’.
Since 2010 there has been a spectacular fall in the number sent home after committing serious offences here. In the year of the General Election, 5,342 were deported.
In 2011, in the Coalition’s second year of office, the figure was down 13 per cent to 4,649.
Figures from the first three quarters of 2012 show that 3,382 were deported. If the trend continued in the final quarter, it would mean the 2012 total is around 4,509 – again, down on the previous year, and 16 per cent down on the election year figure.
Last year the number of foreign prisoners in our jails went up. The number stood at 10,861 as of June 2012, up from 10,779 the year before.
It is the first time in at least four years that the number of foreign prisoners in our jails has increased.
One in eight inmates are now foreign nationals – costing almost £500million a year to house.
In September 2010, Mr Cameron pledged he would ‘intervene personally’ to ensure convicted offenders are sent home to spend the rest of their sentences in their own country.
gipsy cheat free to stay.psd
In October last year the Daily Mail revealed that since the promise was made, just 62 prisoners had been returned to their home country to serve the rest of their sentences.
Now the latest figures show that ministers are also failing to deport foreigners after they have served their sentences here.
Labour’s justice spokesman Sadiq Khan, who obtained the figures, said: ‘David Cameron’s promises to send back thousands of foreign prisoners and to take a personal interest in this matter ring hollow.
‘Not only has he failed to send more prisoners home, but the number in our prisons has actually risen.
‘Over half a billion pounds a year is now spent on keeping foreign prisoners in our prisons, and because of Cameron’s failings, money that would be better spent elsewhere in our justice system to keep our communities safe is being wasted.’
Some 2,220 foreign offenders are in jail for violence against the person while 1,287 are sexual offenders.
There are 947 robbers, 517 burglars, 738 thieves and 434 fraudsters. Some 2,110 of the foreign prisoners are there for drug offences while 105 have committed motoring offences.It costs around £45,000 a year to keep an offender in prison.
The figures, released by justice minister Jeremy Wright, show that the second most common nationality of overseas prisoners is now Polish – overtaking the Irish. Jamaicans top the nationality table, with 900 last year, followed by Poland on 750, and Ireland, 737.
Over the past five years, there has been a trebling of the number of Romanian offenders in our jails, even before the EU restrictions on immigration from that country and Bulgaria are lifted at the end of the year.
Romanians are now the fifth most common nationality in our prisons.
David Green, from the think tank Civitas, said: ‘If you have more immigration, it is not surprising that a proportion of them will be offenders.’
Eco-tastrophe! How MPs in the pay of subsidised eco-firms set insane new carbon targets that send your bills sky-rocketing… and drag us to a new Dark Age
David Rose is truthtelling in Britain’s Daily Mail once again
Like all MPs, Tim Yeo is paid £65,000 a year. But he never has to make do with just that. Last year alone, three ‘green’ companies paid the Conservative MP for South Suffolk £135,970.
For this, he usually did just a few hours’ work a month. Yet he may be the firms’ most valuable asset, as Mr Yeo is chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change, and so plays a key role in shaping the green economy in which his sometime employers – AFC Energy, Eco City Vehicles and TMO Renewables – operate.
And he may be about to perform his most valuable service yet.
Mr Yeo has moved an extraordinary amendment to the Energy Bill that would set a crippling and binding target for the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by generating power in 2030. It would transform the electricity industry and bring huge benefits to the business sector, which has so generously rewarded Mr Yeo.
For the rest of us, however, the effects will be very different. It will cause already high energy bills to soar further and could lead to more power cuts. The effect on business is likely to be even more dramatic.
Yet despite the considerable drawbacks, the amendment is likely to be passed into law. Following intense campaigning by an alliance of dozens of green pressure groups and renewable-energy firms, the move has won the support of Labour, many backbench Liberal Democrats and some Tories, which may be enough to push it through Parliament.
‘Even without the amendment, the long-term consequences of the Bill will be horrible,’ said Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University, one of Britain’s leading experts on energy economics. He issued a strong warning the ‘surreal’ amendment could spell the end of British industry. ‘It’s a recipe for deindustrialisation,’ he said.
EXPLODING THE MYTHS ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE
MYTH The world is continually getting warmer.
TRUTH Official Met Office data shows no statistically significant global temperature rise since January 1997. The fact was confirmed last week by Raj Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Many scientists say this means forecasts of how much warmer the world will be by 2100 must be revised downwards. Pachauri disagreed: for him to be convinced, the ‘pause’ would have to last 30 years.
MYTH Global warming is already causing extreme weather.
TRUTH If anything, weather has become less, not more extreme in the past 50 years. Professor Roger Pielke Jr of Colorado University – no climate sceptic – last week said that the past seven years had been the longest period ever recorded without a Category 3 or stronger hurricane hitting America, and that drought has decreased since the mid-20th Century. The IPCC admits there is no evidence that global warming has caused more storms in the tropics.
MYTH If we don’t take swift, drastic action to cut CO2 emissions, the world will soon become uninhabitable
TRUTH The ‘pause’ in rising temperatures, along with new research into the decline in the sun’s output and other natural factors, is leading many scientists to lower estimates of how fast carbon dioxide warms the world. Until now, the IPCC has suggested that doubling CO2 causes a worrying increase of 3.5C, but many experts say it is about 1.7C. The computer models still say the world will be at least 2C warmer by the end of the century, but they failed to predict the pause.
MYTH We’ve got to do our bit, even if it hurts. If we cut emissions, the rest of the world will follow.
TRUTH The fiasco of the 2009 UN climate conference in Copenhagen proved that China, India, Brazil and other fast-growing nations are simply not prepared to make any binding commitments to reduce their emissions. However, by cutting our own ever more deeply, all we do is increase the already rocketing price of our energy and so drive jobs abroad – while making almost no difference to world CO2 levels.
MYTH The faster we cut carbon in our power generation, the more prosperous we will be.
TRUTH We face declining energy capacity, while the Government targets on 2030 emissions would mean few firms will be willing to invest in the one proven type of power source – gas – that can fill the gap relatively cheaply. Instead of ‘green growth’, we face years of impoverished stagnation, while industry flees Britain and our sky-high energy prices.
MYTH The Arctic is going to be ice-free in summer in a few years.
TRUTH Although last summer saw a return to the relatively low levels of ice seen in 2007, the growth of Arctic winter ice this year is the fastest on record. Canadian archaeologists have been finding evidence the ice cover shrank to half its current extent during a warm period 7,000 years ago – but never vanished entirely.
Much more here
One day, turning off the lights won’t be up to you
Britain’s governments have taken suicidal gambles with our energy supplies
Readers of this column might have been astonished by the media response last week to that warning by Alistair Buchanan, retiring head of the energy regulator Ofgem, that next month we will see the closure of five major coal-fired power stations that between them contribute nearly a sixth of the UK’s average electricity needs.
Over the next few years, Mr Buchanan feared, we will be dangerously close to not having enough power in the grid to keep Britain’s lights on.
I have been trying to explain this here for so long that my readers may be weary of it. It was back in 2006 that I first reported on why, within a decade or so, we might see Britain’s lights going out. In fact, as I set out in my book, The Real Global Warming Disaster, in 2009, the writing was already on the wall in the government’s energy White Paper of 2003. Tony Blair signed us up to an energy policy centred on building thousands of windmills, already fully aware that we would be losing many of our coal-fired power stations due to an EU anti-pollution directive, and that we were unlikely to build any new nuclear power stations to replace those that by now would be nearing the end of their life.
This made a nonsense of Mr Buchanan’s claim in a vacuous interview with Evan Davis, on Tuesday’s Today programme on Radio 4, that everything was fine with Britain’s “visionary” energy policy until we were hit by that “financial tsunami” in 2008. This prompted Mr Davis to comment, “So we can blame the bankers for it, as we normally do”. (Nine months earlier I had written a column headed, “When the lights go out, you’ll know who to blame” – it wasn’t the bankers.)
The most interesting passage in Mr Buchanan’s interview was where he began hinting at what has recently been emerging as a terrifying new element in the Government’s energy policy. It well knows that electricity from the tens of thousands more wind turbines it hopes to see built in the coming years will cost between two and four times as much as that from conventional power stations. Its solution to this is to rig the market with new taxes and other devices so that this will make electricity from wind farms somehow seem competitive – not by making wind cheaper but by doubling the cost of electricity from the gas, coal and nuclear power stations that still provide virtually all the electricity we need to keep our lights on.
Around lunchtime last Monday, for instance, National Grid was showing that all our 4,300 wind turbines put together were providing barely a thousandth of the power we were using, 0.1 per cent, or a paltry 31MW (as compared with the 2,200MW we can get from a single gas-fired plant).
The harsh fact is that successive governments in the past 10 years have staked our national future on two utterly suicidal gambles. First, they have fallen for the delusion that we can depend for nearly a third of our future power on those useless and unreliable windmills – which will require a dozen or more new gas-fired power stations just to provide back-up for when the wind is not blowing.
Yet, at the same time, by devices such as the increasingly punitive “carbon tax” due to come into force on April 1, they plan to double the cost of the electricity we get from grown-up power stations, which can only have the effect in the coming years of doubling our electricity bills, driving millions more households into fuel poverty.
If our government were not lost in a bubble of complete make-believe, it would keep open those coal-fired power stations the EU is forcing us to close next month (although it may be too late), it would stop subsidising grotesquely expensive wind farms, and it would go flat out to exploit Britain’s vast reserves of the shale gas that has more than halved US gas prices in four years.
But we do not have such a government. Our lights will go out, our economy will suffer a catastrophe, our bills will double, and tens of thousands more people will die of cold in those freezing winters that our politicians were somehow fooled into believing would never come again.
Wind farms will create more carbon dioxide, say scientists
Thousands of Britain’s wind turbines will create more greenhouse gases than they save, according to potentially devastating scientific research to be published later this year.
The finding, which threatens the entire rationale of the onshore wind farm industry, will be made by Scottish government-funded researchers who devised the standard method used by developers to calculate “carbon payback time” for wind farms on peat soils.
Wind farms are typically built on upland sites, where peat soil is common. In Scotland alone, two thirds of all planned onshore wind development is on peatland. England and Wales also have large numbers of current or proposed peatland wind farms.
But peat is also a massive store of carbon, described as Europe’s equivalent of the tropical rainforest. Peat bogs contain and absorb carbon in the same way as trees and plants — but in much higher quantities.
British peatland stores at least 3.2 billion tons of carbon, making it by far the country’s most important carbon sink and among the most important in the world.
Wind farms, and the miles of new roads and tracks needed to service them, damage or destroy the peat and cause significant loss of carbon to the atmosphere, where it contributes to climate change.
Writing in the scientific journal Nature, the scientists, Dr Jo Smith, Dr Dali Nayak and Prof Pete Smith, of Aberdeen University, say: “We contend that wind farms on peatlands will probably not reduce emissions …we suggest that the construction of wind farms on non-degraded peats should always be avoided.”
Dr Nayak told The Telegraph: “Our full paper is not yet published, but we should definitely be worried about this. If the peatland is already degraded, there is no problem. But if it is in good condition, we should avoid it.”
Another peat scientist, Richard Lindsay of the University of East London, said: “If we are concerned about CO2, we shouldn’t be worrying first about the rainforests, we should be worrying about peatlands.
“The world’s peatlands have four times the amount of carbon than all the world’s rainforests. But they are a Cinderella habitat, completely invisible to decision- makers.”
One typical large peat site just approved in southern Scotland, the Kilgallioch wind farm, includes 43 miles of roads and tracks. Peat only retains its carbon if it is moist, but the roads and tracks block the passage of the water.
The wind industry insists that it increasingly builds “floating roads,” where rock is piled on a textile surface without disturbing the peat underneath.
But Mr Lindsay said: “Peat has less solids in it than milk. The roads inevitably sink, that then causes huge areas of peatland to dry out and the carbon is released.”
Mr Lindsay said that more than half of all British onshore wind development, current and planned, is on peat soils.
In 2011 the Scottish government’s nature protection body, Scottish Natural Heritage, said 67 per cent of planned onshore wind development in Scotland would be on peatland.
Struan Stevenson, the Tory MEP for Scotland who has campaigned on the issue, said: “This is a devastating blow for the wind factory industry from which I hope it will not recover.
“The Scottish government cannot realise their plans for wind farms without allowing the ruination of peat bogs, so they are trying to brush this problem under the carpet.
“This is just another way in which wind power is a scam. It couldn’t exist without subsidy. It is driving industry out of Britain and driving people into fuel poverty.”
Scotland’s SNP government has led a strong charge for wind power, promising that 100 per cent of the country’s electricity will be generated from renewable sources.
But even its environment minister, Stewart Stevenson, admits: “Scotland has 15 per cent of the world’s blanket bog.
“Even a small proportion of the carbon stored in peatlands, if lost by erosion and drainage, could add significantly to our greenhouse gas emissions.”
In 2008 Dr Smith, Dr Nayak and Prof Smith devised the standard “carbon payback time” calculator used by the wind farm industry to assess the CO2 impact of developments on peat soils.
“Large peatland wind farms introduce high potential for their expected CO2 savings to be cancelled out by release of greenhouse gases stored in the peat,” they said.
“Emission savings are achieved by wind power only after the carbon payback time has elapsed, and if this exceeds the lifetime of the wind farm, no carbon benefits will be realised.”
Even the initial version of the calculator found that the carbon cost of a badly sited peat wind farm — on a sloping site, resulting in more drainage of the peat, and without restoration afterwards — was so high that it would take 23 years before it provided any CO2 benefit. The typical life of a wind farm is only 25 years.
The researchers initially believed that well-managed and well-sited peatland wind farms could still cut greenhouse gas emissions, over time, compared to electricity generation overall.
But now they say that the shrinking use of fossil fuels in overall electricity generation has changed the equation, making the comparison less favourable to all peatland wind farms.
“Our previous work argued that most peatland sites could save on net [CO2] emissions,” they said. “But emissions factors [in UK electricity generation as a whole] are likely to drop significantly in the future.
“As a result, peatland sites would be less likely to generate a reduction in carbon emissions, even with careful management.”
The significance of the Aberdeen researchers’ work is increased by the fact that they are funded by the Scottish government and are broadly pro-wind.
They wrote in a previous paper that “it is important that wind farm developments should not be discouraged unnecessarily because they are a key requirement for delivery of the Scottish government’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.
Helen McDade, from the John Muir Trust, which campaigns to protect wild land, said: “Much of the cheap land being targeted by developers desperate to cash in on wind farm subsidies is peatland in remote wild land areas of the UK.
“This statement, from the academic team who developed the carbon calculator for the Scottish government, is a timely reminder that we must have independent and scientific assessment of the effects of policy and subsidies.”
The wind industry insisted that the impact of properly managed wind farms on peat and carbon emissions was minimal. Niall Stuart, director of Scottish Renewables, a trade association, said that damaged peatland could be restored in as little as a year.
He said the association had signed a “statement of good practice principles” with environmental groups promising that “every reasonable effort” will be made to avoid “significant adverse environmental effects” on peatland, including “properly planned and managed habitat restoration”.
Jennifer Webber, a spokesman for RenewableUK, the industry lobbying group, said: “Wind farms continue to be an important tool in decarbonisation and energy independence, with actual measurements showing wind displacing gas from the system. This is why they retain support from environmental organisations.”
Obsessive hate from the British Left
John O’Farrell’s best-selling book, Things Can Only Get Better, an account of his life as a Labour activist during 18 years of Conservative rule, is required bedtime reading for the Left.
O’Farrell, a ‘comedian’ who apparently wrote jokes for Gordon Brown (no, I can’t remember any either), explains in the memoir why he wasn’t cut out to be an MP. ‘I would always be in trouble for saying the wrong thing,’ he writes.
We now know how true this candid prediction was. In the book, named after the cloying pop song that served as the Labour Party theme tune during the 1997 election campaign, O’Farrell proudly writes that he wanted Argentina to win the Falklands War, in which 255 British serviceman died, because he believed that would ensure Lady Thatcher was voted out of Downing Street.
He has been publicly endorsed by party leader Ed Miliband, who joined him on the campaign trail a week ago. Miliband, grinning inanely like a poor man’s Mr Bean, described O’Farrell as ‘a breath of fresh air for this by-election and a breath of fresh air for politics’.
O’Farrell’s campaign was already faltering after it emerged last week that in the same book he had written about the IRA bomb at the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the Tory conference in 1984.
‘I felt a surge of excitement at the nearness of Margaret Thatcher’s demise, and disappointment such a chance had been missed,’ he wrote.
Just in case you didn’t fully grasp the full meaning of that sickening comment, what O’Farrell said was he regretted that the country’s greatest prime minister of the last 40 years was not blown to pieces by terrorists.
O’Farrell sheepishly offered a half-apology for that remark this week — but, astonishingly, the Labour party made no attempt to distance itself from him. Voters in Eastleigh have also had Polly Toynbee, The Guardian newspaper’s high priestess of feminism, knocking on their doors to canvass for O’Farrell: seemingly oblivious to the fact he said he wished that Britain’s first woman Prime Minister had been murdered.
So much for the sisterhood!
When challenged about his views on the Brighton bomb, O’Farrell said: ‘A terrible thought came into my head and I immediately castigated myself for it.
‘I was honest because I said how I felt for a split second at the time.’ Hardly the most gracious of apologies. Indeed, not actually an apology at all.
Also, his semi-remorse was utterly disingenuous in its implication that his feeling was simply a momentary lapse that happened more than a decade ago. Because the truth is that O’Farrell went on to poke fun at Lady Thatcher’s brush with death in another book he wrote only three years ago.
In An Utterly Exasperated History Of Modern Britain, a supposedly comedic take on recent British history, O’Farrell returned to the ruins of the Grand Hotel in a section headlined: ‘Apart from that, Mrs Thatcher, how was your stay?’
He wrote: ‘It was the closest anyone had come to assassinating a Prime Minister in modern times and a major embarrassment for the security services.
‘Who knows what will be revealed when the official papers are released 30 years after the Brighton bomb. One bit of correspondence from the Grand Hotel has already been removed.
‘“Dear Mrs Thatcher, thank you for your letter and under the circumstances we accept that your request for a refund is a reasonable one. However, after the search of your bomb-damaged room we were still unable to locate two towels and a hotel ashtray and wonder if by chance you might have accidentally packed . . .”.’
The sick joke underlines 50-year-old O’Farrell’s reflexive loathing for the Tories and his insatiable desire to shock.
He writes: ‘On May 8, 1945, a misleadingly positive piece of government spin was sold to the British people. They were told that they had won the Second World War.
‘The government dared to tell them after six years of crippling conflict, the destruction of homes, factories, the loss of the merchant shipping fleet, and the gold reserves, that Great Britain was somehow one of the winners.’
In An Utterly Exasperated History Of Modern Britain, O’Farrell — who is credited with the idea of making the Spitting Image puppet of the Tory Prime Minister John Major grey (to match the Left’s view of his dour character) — he shamelessly exploits the bizarre death in 1994 of the Tory MP Stephen Milligan so as to try to embarrass Mr Major.
Milligan’s body was found naked except for a pair of stockings and suspenders. He had a bin-liner over his head and electrical flex wrapped around his neck.
O’Farrell, without a hint of compassion for the 46-year-old’s family and friends, writes: ‘One Tory MP was found dead in his London flat, hanging from a noose of electrical flex, dressed in nothing but stockings and suspenders with an orange in his mouth and a plastic bin-liner over his head.
‘It was hard for John Major to say, “Well, we’ve all done it, haven’t we?. I mean, who can honestly say that at some time or another they haven’t masturbated while hanging by a home-made noose, sucking on amyl nitrate while wearing ladies’ lingerie. I know I have!”’
O’Farrell may now have cause to regret ridiculing Milligan, who happens to have been the popular MP for Eastleigh, the very seat O’Farrell is now contesting.
Incidentally, it won’t help his cause at all that he has arrogantly told voters that even if elected, he won’t bother to get a home in the constituency — but will commute from London.
O’Farrell’s writings also direct poisonous bile at the Royal Family, mocking the bulimia of Princess Diana and comparing the ‘contrived’ public reaction to her death in 1997 to the fervour on display at a Nazi rally.
In his Exasperated History, he writes: ‘Perhaps somewhere in a parallel universe there is another 1990s Britain where the death of the Princess of Wales was mentioned in passing as an insignificant news event, like the death of a former sitcom star or the closing of a famous London boutique.
‘The news was unimportant in the general scheme of things . . . but was probably worth just mentioning as it might be of trivial nostalgic interest for its own sake.’
Instead, however, ‘the sudden death of Diana was a massive news event, but only because of the way she had been built up over the previous years as one of the lead characters in the national soap opera’.
He writes that ‘the nation embarked on upon an utterly surreal week of very public mourning ….. It was a nationwide Nuremberg rally of contrived sentiment and displacement grief’.
He adds, sarcastically: ‘But what was a great comfort to all of us in this dark hour was the high quality of the souvenirs produced as a tribute to the life of the so-called “Queen of Hearts”.
‘Diana porcelain dolls that featured some of her most memorable dresses, hand-painted and individually numbered by the traditional royal potters of Taiwan.
‘Commemorative mugs, featuring that unmistakable coy smile. A children’s Diana doll which allowed you, by pulling a string on her back, to relive those favourite catchphrases: “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded” and, “I’d like to be a Queen in people’s hearts”.
‘The Princess of Wales Memorial plate for that tiny half piece of lettuce that could be puked up later.’
Yet still O’Farrell — who stood as the Labour candidate for Maidenhead in the 2001 General Election and was trounced by Theresa May — is feted by the Labour leadership, with Harriet Harman, the deputy leader, also joining his campaign.
Lord Tebbit, whose wife Margaret was among those injured in the attack on the Grand Hotel which left her paralysed from the neck down, characteristically cuts to the heart of the issue.
‘The question is not just whether any rational or decent Labour voter in Eastleigh will vote for this creature,’ he says. ‘It’s a test for the Labour leader. Does he endorse O’Farrell and his disappointment that the attempt against Margaret Thatcher failed?
‘Or will he have the decency and courage to repudiate him?’
We now know the answer to that and it tells us all we need to know about Ed Miliband as well as his candidate in next week’s by-election.
Conservatives go to war on ‘bias’ at the BBC
A bitter battle is breaking out between senior Cabinet ministers and the BBC, with claims that the corporation is “biased” and “too close to Labour”.
Senior Conservatives frustrated with the broadcaster include Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, and Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary.
Grant Shapps, the party chairman, has also complained about coverage of the Coalition’s housing policy.
Ministers are angry that the BBC habitually describes reduced spending as “cuts” rather than “savings” for the taxpayer.
As a result, the Department for Work and Pensions has made more than 20 formal complaints to the BBC over the past year, with accusations of “bias” and “inaccuracies”.
Aides say coverage of welfare reforms often feature only the plight of people who will suffer most from the changes, while measures to soften the blow often go unreported.
Over the past few months, Mr Duncan Smith has been particularly angered by the reporting of the housing benefit reforms referred to as “the bedroom tax” by Labour and the BBC.
The changes will mean reduced payments for anyone living in council or housing association properties that have more bedrooms than they are judged to need.
“You could look at the BBC’s TV news coverage [of this policy] and think this was a change that would apply only to disabled people,” one government source said.
“We have allocated £155 million for local authorities to help soften the blow of the measure, but this never features in the BBC’s news coverage. How is it possible not to think that is biased?”
Details of the increasingly fractious relationship come just days after David Cameron criticised the BBC for behaving “badly” and “stupidly” in its coverage of next week’s Eastleigh by-election.
The Prime Minister berated the broadcaster for thinking its coverage was the “most important thing in this by-election” when the Tory candidate declined to attend one of its hustings events.
However, the touch paper was lit by the appointment of James Purnell, the former Labour culture secretary, to the BBC’s board. He is to be paid £295,000 a year as director of strategy.
“This gives the impression that there is a swing door policy between Labour and the BBC,” said one ministerial aide, adding that the appointment had “lit the touch paper” on a range of grievances.
The director of strategy post has been created by Lord Hall, the director-general in waiting who joins the BBC in April and who hand-picked Mr Purnell for the job, which was never advertised.
The BBC said the new director-general “did not want to waste time with a long and costly recruitment process” for the role. A similar post at a commercial broadcaster would pay more, it added.
However, a senior ministerial adviser pointed out that Lord Hall was appointed by Labour to lead the Royal Opera House in 2001.
At that time, Mr Purnell was working in Downing Street under Tony Blair, but there is no suggestion that he had a hand in Lord Hall’s appointment.
“It is beyond a joke,” the source said of the decision. “It all looks far too cosy.”
John Whittingdale, the Conservative chairman of the Commons Culture Committee, said he would ask Lord Hall about the appointment when he is next before the committee.
Mr Whittingdale will meet fellow committee members tomorrow to see if there is an appetite to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr Purnell’s job.
Philip Davies, a Conservative MP on the committee, described the former Labour MP’s selection as “totally unacceptable” and “very provocative”, adding: “It is not as if the BBC is not already over-balanced with Left-leaning people.
“If Lord Hall thinks the answer to the BBC’s problems is picking this former Labour minister for such a senior role it shows he does not have a good grasp of what is really going wrong at the corporation.”
A further complaint has come from Mr Shapps about a report on BBC1’s News at 10 investigating the Coalition’s “new homes bonus”, a grant paid to councils that build more homes.
Downing Street also complained late last year about the conduct of Evan Davis, the presenter of Radio 4’s Today programme, when interviewing George Osborne. He repeatedly talked over the Chancellor and was accused of “shouting down” Mr Osborne by Tory MPs.
A BBC spokesman said: “Our coverage of government policy is approached in the same independent and impartial way as our coverage of any story.”
The BBC also said an individual’s personal views did not impact on their ability to carry out their work in an impartial manner and there were strict guidelines which must be observed at all times.
RSPCA wasted ‘tens of thousands’ of taxpayers’ money in latest case against a hunt
The RSPCA has been accused of wasting tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money after its latest case involving a hunt collapsed.
The charity had accused Keith Watson, his partner Tanya Norlander and his daughter Hannah Watson, 18, of interfering with a badger sett while assisting the Cheshire Hunt in February last year.
Within days, the family were subject to a police raid and taken individually to a police station for hour-long interviews. For a year they lived under “extreme stress” while the case came to court. Miss Watson, now 19, was “unable to sleep” or study for her A-levels.
Almost a year later the case collapsed when the RSPCA admitted at Crewe Magistrates’ Court there was not enough evidence and the prosecution withdrew the case. The cost of defence, paid for by the hunt and estimated to be around £10,000, will be paid by the taxpayer.
Stephen Welford, solicitor for the Watsons, said it will have cost “tens of thousands more” to the taxpayer to pay for the court and judge. He said the RSPCA, that is funded by donations, will have spent around £30,000 on the case.
Any private individual can bring a private prosecution, and the state will pay if it collapses, but Mr Welford said charities should be more responsible about bringing cases that may fail at the taxpayer’s expense. “It was an ill-informed decision to bring the prosecution,” he said.
The Charities Commission is already questioning the RSPCA’s use of its own funds to bring prosecutions after a judge criticised the charity for spending £326,000 prosecuting David Cameron’s local hunt the Heythrop.
Tim Bonner, Director of Campaigns at the Countryside Alliance, said the RSPCA is ruining lives and wasting money in their “vindictive” campaign against hunts.
He said the RSPCA have two more ongoing cases connected to hunts in the North West and Wiltshire, one also involves interfering with a badger sett.
“It is simply disgraceful that the RSPCA is using the criminal justice system to pursue a vindictive campaign against the hunting community. The Watson family have suffered more than a year of stress over a prosecution so unjustified that it fell apart within minutes of the trial starting.
“There is no way on earth that the police and Crown Prosecution Service would have prosecuted on such flawed and weak evidence, but the RSPCA pursued Mr Watson and his family simply because they were part of the Cheshire Hunt.
“This case only reinforces the need for proper scrutiny of a charity which is using money donated to protect animal welfare to pursue a political, animal rights campaign.”
Mr Watson said he regularly assisted the hunt by legally killing foxes at the landowner’s request. Usually this is done by chasing the fox out of the earth into a net with a single dog. The animal is then shot with a “humane” pistol.
On February 16th last year, he said he used a terrier to try to flush a fox out of an earth. No animal was harmed but a few days later his farm was raided, buildings searched and firearms seized.
His family was taken to a police station individually to be interviewed.
Mr Watson said activists had “hidden behind bushes” to film activity at the fox’s earth.
It was claimed it was a badger’s sett but he insisted it was not being used by badgers.
The farmer said he and his family were targeted for doing nothing wrong in an effort to bring down the hunt.
“The RSPCA are not interested in animal welfare, they are just going after the hunting community. They do not have to pay the bills, it is the taxpayer.”
Mr Watson lost his firearms licence for the year and was unable to control pests on the farm.
He said his family was targeted in order to get to the hunting community.
“It is a nightmare when you know you are not guilty and you have done nothing wrong but you are being picked on to make an example of.”
Hannah Watson, who is now 19, said she suffered sleepless nights and was unable to study for her A-levels. “I feel my family was targeted,” she said. “It was intimidating and very scary.”
The RSPCA insisted there was sufficient evidence for “instituting proceedings for an alleged offence of interfering with a badger sett”, supported by independent expert evidence, as well as video footage.
However on the morning of the trial it became clear for the first time that the prosecution’s expert now had reservations as to whether the sett had been “interfered with” as is legally understood.
“As soon as the RSPCA became aware of this, it decided to offer no evidence and the case was dismissed. This was a responsible decision taken on the day in light of new circumstances that could not have been anticipated,” said a spokesman.
The charity pointed out that the case was reviewed against the Code for Crown Prosecutors and at all stages leading up to the trial, it had been considered appropriate to prosecute.
“The RSPCA believes that if it is presented with evidence of alleged offences concerning animal cruelty they should be properly investigated and prosecuted where appropriate.
“It is extremely rare that RSPCA cases conclude like this. We prosecute roughly 1 per cent of the incidents we are asked to investigate and have a success rate of around 98 per cent,” the spokesman added.