Department of Health civil servants will have to empty bedpans, push hospital trolleys and clean floors if they want to be promoted

Senior civil servants in the Department of Health will have to work on the frontline of the NHS if they want to be promoted, the Health Secretary is to announce.

From next month, 200 senior officials will have to perform tasks such as mopping floors, emptying bedpans and serving meals to care home residents as the Government responds to the Francis Report into patient neglect at the Mid Staffordshire Trust.

The plans, to be unveiled on Monday by Jeremy Hunt, will require top Whitehall officials to perform roles such as GP receptionist and hospital porter for a total of four weeks a year for six years. It will be rolled out to all 2,000 of the department’s civil servants later this year.

Those who do not clock up their frontline hours will miss out on opportunities to climb the Whitehall ladder.

‘This will not be a clip-board exercise,’ a Whitehall source told the Times. ‘Officials will not do jobs they are untrained for like nursing but they will be getting a clearer idea of what it is like to be a patient.’

The Francis Report, published in March, described how patients at Mid Staffordshire had been left ‘unwashed, unfed and without fluids’ and ‘deprived of their dignity’.

But it concluded that such failings were not a ‘rare event’ and almost certainly existed at other hospitals across the country.

The report made 290 recommendations to how the NHS and Department of Health should improve patient care.

It urged health officials to make more effort to get out of Whitehall and meet patients.

Last week Mr Hunt manned the phones at GP surgeries in Kennington and Wandsworth, south London. He has also spent time as a hospital porter and cleaner in two of the capital’s accident and emergency departments.

‘To understand more about what patients and service users need and the issues which are important to them, civil servants need to walk a mile in their shoes,’ he told the Times.


‘My dying wife waited NINE hours for district nurse to turn up’: Family slams NHS 111 hotline as whistleblowers reveal a ‘computer says no’ mentality worthy of Little Britain comedy

A devastated husband has told how his dying wife was left waiting for a district nurse for nine hours as an NHS 111 call centre superviser revealed a catalogue of appalling failings at the heart of the system, which doctors say is putting lives at risk.

Michael Anthony, 84, called 111 after his terminally ill wife Anne, who was dying of ovarian cancer, took a turn for the worse.

But the retired racing driver said it took him almost four hours just to get through to the call centre and they waited a further five-and-a-half hours before a nurse arrived at their home in Hove, East Sussex.

Mrs Anthony died eight days later – after which a letter was sent asking her opinion of the 111 service, which he said caused him ‘great distress’.

His claims come as a female supervisor at a 111 call centre told how patients were waiting hours on end to get a phone call back, were receiving the wrong care, and in some cases being totally forgotten due to a lack of medically qualified staff and persistent computer problems. She told how:

* A severe shortage of nurses and paramedics prepared to work on the phones was forcing junior staff with no medical training to make life-or-death decisions;

* Ambulances were being sent out for minor conditions such as toothache, meaning longer waits for very ill patients that could be fatal;

* Call handlers had to hold ‘ambulance’ placards over their heads when they thought they needed to send one out, because they were unsure what to do;

* Persistent computer problems with doctor bookings meant staff were scribbling notes on scraps of paper – but some got lost;

* Potentially critically ill patients were being hung up on after being told they would be called back – against all guidelines – due to a shortage of nurses on the phones.

The supervisor revealed that she was promoted to being responsible for 40 call handlers before the service had even gone live because she had previously worked as a shop supervisor.

The call centre in South-East England where she worked was ‘carnage’ at weekends, she claimed, adding: ‘After knowing all the stuff that’s going on there, I wouldn’t use the service – absolutely not.’

Members of the public are supposed to call 111 when they ‘need medical help fast but it’s not a 999 emergency’, according to the Department of Health.

The idea is to make it simple for people to reach the right medical care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A call can result in advice being provided by clinicians at the call centre, a GP home visit being arranged, or, if necessary, an ambulance call-out.

But the 111 roll-out across England this spring has been mired in controversy, and at least three people may have died due to flaws with the service.

The supervisor said call handlers as young as 18 – termed ‘health advisers’ to reassure patients – were being asked to make ‘life- or-death’ decisions about how to direct calls, with minimal support from nurses or paramedics.

They were given just four weeks’ training, during which they were told to read an 84-page booklet which, it states, aims to give them ‘a basic understanding of how the human body works’.

The thinking is that they do not need to be medically qualified because they use a doctor-designed computer system called Pathways, which helps ‘triage’ callers to the most appropriate service.

But ambulance services, A&E departments and GPs say they are being inundated with patients who do not need to be there because Pathways errs on the side of caution. The supervisor said her call centre, run by private healthcare firm Harmoni, sent out ambulances ‘left, right and centre’.

‘Ambulances have been flagged up for toothache before,’ she said. ‘One weekend shift, 29 or 30 ambulances were sent out and only five of those people needed to go to hospital.’

To overcome the problem, call handlers have been made to raise ‘ambulance’ placards over their heads when they think they need to send one out. Supervisors then go and check. No nurse or paramedic is required to verify the decision.

The woman said: ‘Me personally? I’m going to say, “Send the ambulance.” I’d rather take a chewing for sending an ambulance when it wasn’t supposed to go than be responsible for someone dying.’

She said it was drilled into recruits, paid as little as £8.10 an hour, that ‘if you make the wrong decision and something goes wrong, you are responsible’.

She resigned her £23,000 post earlier this year after six months. She explained: ‘Being in charge of a call centre and being responsible if anything goes wrong is an awful lot of stress, especially if you are not medically trained.’

During busy weekend evenings, she claimed there could be 40 call handlers and four supervisors – but at times only one ‘clinical adviser’, a nurse or paramedic. She said that sometimes potentially very ill people were being hung up on, rather than being put through to talk to a medic.

‘In genuine cases people absolutely need an ambulance, but sometimes they say, “I don’t think it’s that serious. I don’t want to make a fuss,” ’ she said. ‘We are not meant to let these people off the phone. You are supposed to pass them to a clinician. There were instances when it was so busy that they were told they would get phoned back by a clinician. That goes against all the rules we were taught. But there just weren’t enough clinicians to do it.’

GP home visits were frequently delayed for hours because of computer problems, she said, adding: ‘People were ringing back hours later saying, “Nobody has called me.” ’

This was because the system was not automatically booking appointments as it should have been. Consequently, call handlers started writing out patients’ details on bits of paper and passing them to supervisors to deal with manually.

‘At the weekend there are thousands of pieces of paper in the call centre, and things get lost,’ she said. ‘This has happened on a number of occasions.’

Once, a terminally ill patient died without receiving a GP home visit because the slip ‘got mislaid’, she claimed. ‘If they had got the visit they should have done, their death would possibly have been a lot easier,’ she said.

The same problem meant it would sometimes be 12 hours before a doctor turned up at a house where someone had just died, she said.

NHS chiefs were last night accused of trying to mislead the public over the increase in emergency patients’ death rates after Accident and Emergency departments close.

They issued a graph purporting to show a Mail on Sunday investigation was flawed. But they based their graph on entirely different figures from those used in our report – and then refused to say how they calculated it.

Some 34 A&E departments have either recently closed, or are facing imminent closure or drastic cuts in services.

This newspaper’s investigation, published last week, revealed that since the A&E at Newark in Nottinghamshire began to wind down before closing in 2011, the 30-day death rate among all emergency patients from the two Newark postcode areas NG23 and NG24 has risen by 37 per cent. It means about 80 more people are dying in the area each year.

Newark and Sherwood clinical commissioning group (CCG) is the body responsible for buying hospital services in the area. Last week its chief officer, Amanda Sullivan, claimed it was false to suggest death rates had risen, supporting her claim with the graph. This suggested that mortality has zigzagged up and down for the past five years, with the Newark A&E closure having no appreciable effect.

Yet as a label on the graph made clear, it covered only those patients who died in hospital – in other words, only those most ill – whereas The Mail on Sunday figures also included those who died within 30 days of discharge after an emergency admission. This is the usual method used by the Department of Health.

Francis Towndrow, co-leader of the Say Yes To Newark Hospital campaign, said: ‘The CCG graph is misleading as it is based upon different criteria to that published by The Mail on Sunday. As a public body funded by the taxpayer, they have a duty to supply information readily, if it is available and in the public interest.’

He recalled that Sir Robert Francis, in his report into the scandal of high death rates at the Mid-Staffordshire hospital, said that ‘openness and candour’ were essential if such tragedies were to be prevented in future.

Retired racing driver Michael Anthony said he felt the nurses weren’t to blame after he was left waiting for more than nine hours for a district nurse to attend his terminally-ill wife.

Mr Anthony, 84, said: ‘The nurses themselves were beyond reproach – the problem is the bureaucracy that’s been put into the system.’

Before 111 started on April 1, he said the out-of-hours service had worked very well. But he added: ‘The 111 people work to a script and they’ve got no idea what you are talking about. They sent a fax to the nurses’ organisation, which isn’t as good as phoning, in my opinion. The fax clatters and nobody takes any notice.’

Mrs Anthony died eight days later – after which a letter was sent asking her opinion of the 111 service, which he said caused him ‘great distress’.

A spokesman for South East Coast Ambulance, which operates the Kent, Surrey and Sussex 111 call centre, said: ‘We received a call at 6pm on bank holiday Monday saying Mr Anthony would like the district nurse to attend as soon as possible.

‘Within minutes of that call being received, it was passed through to the district nurse. ‘We did receive two follow-up calls that evening and we also passed them through to the district nurse immediately.

‘We would like to pass on our condolences to Mr Anthony for the death of his wife.’

But a second whistleblower, who worked for a 111 call centre operated by NHS Direct in the London area, said the 111 system was so inflexible it was ‘like a parody of the Little Britain sketch The Computer Says No’ in which David Walliams plays a receptionist who refuses to accept that a little girl does not need a double hip replacement.

The nurse added: ‘We were performance-managed to be robotic. The place was run by people who didn’t have any real qualifications, who didn’t know where we as nurses were coming from. We were told not to spend longer than eight minutes on a call. But if you’ve got somebody who’s just about to jump out of a window, that’s not feasible.’

They even had to resort to Google to provide some callers with ‘the most basic information about their local health services’, she said.

Dr Richard Usher, a Macclesfield GP, said yesterday that he thought 111 was putting lives at risk. ‘Ambulances are being sent inappropriately, having serious consequences for those genuinely in need,’ he added.

Doctors in East Cheshire had rejected 111 after two days in which there were two ‘clinically critical’ incidents, he said. Instead, they had reverted to providing a local out- of-hours telephone service.

‘We felt 111 was so unsafe, with long delays, with A&E and paramedics complaining, that we decided not to use it,’ he added. ‘My own private view is that it’s not fit for purpose.’

An NHS Direct spokesman added: ‘We have safeguards to ensure staff have immediate access to clinical staff at all times.’ She said that ‘like other providers’, they had experienced computer problems ‘which, on the whole, have now been fixed’.


British teachers vow to strike after head suggests sitting in on lessons… but staff claim it puts them under ‘intolerable pressure’

After Chris Everitt was put in charge of a failing school, he thought it would be a good idea to sit in on lessons to see how the teachers were faring. But now he is facing strike action after the teachers claimed such a move would put them under ‘intolerable’ pressure.

Westwood Girls College was placed in special measures after it was rated inadequate by Ofsted in January.

Mr Everitt was brought in at Easter as interim manager in an attempt to improve standards at the school in Upper Norwood, south east London.

But teachers have responded angrily, threatening three walk-outs over the next month, when many pupils are taking their exams.

Angry parents condemned the move. Lucia Castro, 40, said: ‘It seems that the school has started to pick up again recently. ‘Some of the teachers had it cushy all this time. They are being given more of a hard time now and they aren’t happy with it.’

Butt Rehmen, 41, said: ‘I don’t think they should go on strike – they should be monitored.’

Graham Cluer, of the NASUWT, said there had been a succession of interim heads at the school and each had carried out observations. ‘It is putting an intolerable workload and stress level on teachers,’ he claimed.

Around 40 teachers at Westwood School, which has pupils aged from 11 to 16, will strike on May 22, June 6 and June 18.

Staff from Harris Federation, an academy chain that is taking over the school in September, will hold some classes for older children and ensure exams can take place. But children in Years 7, 8 and 9 will have to stay at home.

Mr Everitt, who is employed by the Harris Federation, said ‘lesson observations’ were an ‘essential component’ of raising standards.

The Ofsted report noted a string of failings, including too little being known about ‘the quality of teaching in the school’.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said the threatened strikes were ‘outrageous’.


The inconvenient truth about GM

Genetic modification has so far mainly been confined to developing crops that tolerate herbicides and resist pests. It has done little to increase yields

Some 10,000 years ago, somewhere in the Middle East’s fertile crescent, happenstance sowed the seeds of much of modern agriculture. Pollen from a wild goat grass landed on primitive wheat, creating a natural – but stronger and more productive – hybrid. Alert early farmers saved its seeds for growing their next harvests, starting a long process of development that has led to all the modern varieties of wheat that feed a third of the world’s people.

Now scientists at Britain’s National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB) have deliberately duplicated that ancient accident, with a different goat grass, in an attempt to restart – and enormously accelerate – the process with new genes. Early indications are that this could increase wheat yields by a dramatic 30 per cent.

The National Farmers’ Union president, Peter Kendall, describes the potential as “just enormous”. And it is indeed the sort of breakthrough we desperately need, since – in little more than 35 years – the world will have to increase food production by a challenging 70 per cent if it is to feed its growing population. In the next half century, adds the NIAB, we will have to grow as much wheat as has been harvested since that original hybridisation occurred at the dawn of agriculture.

Hunger is rapidly rising up the agenda. David Cameron missed this week’s crucial vote on the Europe referendum because he was in New York to co-chair a UN panel setting new targets for tackling it, and will host a special hunger summit next month. And two important new books outlining solutions will feature at a session on “feeding the world” at the Telegraph Hay Festival, opening next week.

One is by Prof Sir Gordon Conway, formerly both President of the Rockefeller Foundation and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department for International Development, who is one of the most thoughtful supporters of genetic modification. But what emerges from his book, One Billion Hungry, from this week’s breakthrough, and from a host of other evidence, is how little – so far, at least – GM technology is contributing to beating hunger.

It was not involved in the NIAB’s quantum leap, which was due to conventional breeding techniques. Nor was it involved, to give an example from Prof Conway’s book, in developing new varieties of African rice, called Nerica, which are up to four times as productive as traditional varieties, contain more protein, need a much shorter growing season, resist pests and diseases, thrive on poor soils and withstand drought.

The same is true of another of his superstars, Scuba Rice, which beats flooding by surviving 17 days underwater and still achieving enhanced yields – and, within three years, had been taken up by 3.5 million Asian farmers.

CGIAR – the international consortium of research centres that developed this miracle rice (and kicked off the Green Revolution more than half a century ago) – has also used non-GM techniques to produce more than 30 varieties of drought-tolerant maize, which have increased farmers’ yields by 20 to 30 per cent across 13 African countries; climbing beans that have trebled production in Central Africa; and wheats that thrive on salty soils. A host of other successes include blight-resistant potatoes and crops enriched with vitamin A, iron and other essential nutrients.

Genetic modification, by contrast, has so far mainly been confined to developing crops that tolerate herbicides (often manufactured by the same company, thus encouraging their use) and resist pests. They have done little to increase yields per se – though they have helped by controlling weeds and insects – while varieties designed to withstand drought and floods, and improve nutrition, are only now beginning to emerge.

GM may be able to do jobs that more conventional techniques cannot manage: conferring heat resistance to cope with global warming is one candidate. But the impression often given by its proponents that it is the main source of new crops, and thus essential to feed the world, could hardly be further from the truth.

Nor is biotechnology all GM. The Nerica rices, for example, owe their existence to cell tissue culture. Scuba rice was produced through the technique of marker-assisted selection, which identifies and enables the use of a whole sequence of genes.

But in the end new crops can only do so much. Most of the hungry, in a bitter irony, are themselves farmers who cannot produce, or afford, enough of it – and the new seeds are often beyond their reach. Prof Conway stresses the importance of helping such small, subsistence farmers grow more but it is the second book The Last Hunger Season – whose author, Roger Thurow, will be at Hay – that goes into detail on how to get them the help they need. Just as 10,000 years ago, the future rests on them.


Jump off here for the UK: Looking like Casper the Ghost, migrants smuggled here inside a flour tanker… only to be set free by border officials and told how to claim asylum

Covered in flour, they clamber from a foreign lorry – to the amazement of other motorists on a busy motorway. This is the moment that at least nine suspected illegal immigrants emerged from their hiding place after smuggling themselves into the UK.

The gang brazenly strolled off into the English countryside. And although all were caught within minutes, almost half were immediately set free. They were even taken to a hostel, given free accommodation and told how to apply for asylum and benefits.

The graphic illustration of how Britain remains a soft touch for migrants occurred on the M26 in Kent this week. And it seems it was not a rare event. Kent Police say that for the past two years they have received on average one report a day relating to clandestine immigration.

The incident happened near the junction with the M25, as rush-hour traffic slowed to a crawl, and was photographed by a Daily Mail reader. The immigrants opened the hatch in the top of the German food tanker, which had apparently just arrived from France via the Channel Tunnel and was parked on the hard shoulder of the motorway.

They emerged one by one, then jumped down on to the ground in a shower of dust. Several witnesses called police, while the tanker driver was also apparently on the phone to the authorities as his stowaway passengers fled.

One caller told officers the flour-covered Middle Eastern fugitives would be easy to spot as they all ‘looked like Casper the Friendly Ghost’. They were picked up within the hour at the nearby village of Otford. But after Kent Police handed the nine men over to the Border Agency, four were allowed to go free.

The other five remain in detention ‘pending removal from the UK’ but may yet wage legal bids to stay.

It is believed the group had sneaked into the tanker – assumed to have been used previously for transporting flour or other foodstuffs – somewhere in France before being brought to England without the knowledge of the driver.

Lorry drivers face heavy fines for bringing illegals into the country, and the Border Agency – under fire for its failure to tackle unauthorised immigration – claims to have tightened security checks for stowaways, with specialist equipment to detect body heat or breath. But it seems the flow of people sneaking in continues regardless.

The Daily Mail reader who photographed the gang said: ‘I was just near the M25 when I saw this German lorry on the hard shoulder. The driver was talking on his mobile. Maybe he heard something inside his tanker, so stopped.

‘As I went past the tanker, I saw these people start coming out of the hatch on top. They were all covered in this white stuff that looked like flour, but seemed to be from the Middle East. They were a bit unshaven and shaggy.

‘They were not running across the fields, just walking slowly and smiling. I think they were happy because they managed to cross the border.’

Last night Kent Police said: ‘We were called at around 8.15am on Tuesday by several members of the public who reported seeing a group of men getting off a lorry on the westbound M26, near to where it joins the M25. The men were on foot, described as being covered in a white, flour-like powder.

‘Officers, assisted by sightings by members of the public, arrested nine men in the Sevenoaks area on suspicion of entering the country illegally. They have been taken to Dover and handed over to the UK Border Agency.’

The Border Agency said: ‘Immigration Enforcement officials were contacted by Kent Police after they attended an incident on the M26 on Tuesday.

‘Nine men – four Syrians, two Iranians, an Egyptian, an Iraqi and a Palestinian – were arrested at the scene on suspicion of immigration offences.’ But it admitted: ‘Four of the men – two Syrians, an Egyptian and an Iranian – have since been released on immigration bail while their cases are considered by the Home Office.

‘If they are found to have no right to remain in the UK they will face removal. The other men remain in immigration detention pending their removal from the UK.’

The Home Office said: ‘When suspected illegal immigrants found on lorries are arrested by police, we respond quickly.

‘We work closely with police to tackle illegal immigration. Where someone is found to have no legal right to remain in the UK we will take action to remove them.’

Last night a Home Office spokesman refused to discuss the nine arrivals in detail but suggested that the four who were set free would have been given transport to a hostel where they would be housed rent-free. They would be given information on how to apply for benefits for asylum seekers, which would start with cash payments of £36 a week, and be told to check in regularly to dissuade them from absconding again.

The Home Office spokesman claimed to have no figures for the number of clandestine arrivals caught in Kent – saying immigration control centres were in France and Belgium, not England.


Immigrants now make up 13% of the British population as it’s revealed more Europeans arrived in the UK in the past decade than in the previous 50 years

The number of migrants in England and Wales has doubled over the past decade, census figures have revealed.

They now make up one in eight of the population after more arrived between 2001 and 2011 than in the previous five decades put together.

The number living in the country is now 7.5million.

More than half of those arrived over the ten years since 2001, according to a national census analysis published yesterday.

The figures show 3.8million people came to Britain from abroad in the period – more than the 3.7million who came during the previous 50 years.

The breakdown comes from an analysis of the ten-yearly census carried out in March 2011.

The figures have already revealed that at the time there were almost half a million more people living in the country than previously suspected

The latest analysis provides a fresh illustration of the impact of the wave of immigration under the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

They come in the week former minister Lord Mandelson acknowledged the scale of migration encouraged by Labour had made life difficult for people who are now hard-pressed to find or keep jobs.

He said that in 2004 ‘we were sending out search parties for people to come’.

Sir Andrew Green of MigrationWatch said: ‘It is simply astonishing that the number of immigrants in the country should have been allowed to double in ten years.’

There were more than 4.6million people born abroad and officially considered to be immigrants in 2001.

Around 900,000 of them died, returned to their countries of origin, or moved on elsewhere over the subsequent decade.

According to the breakdown, nearly a third of the current immigrant population of the country arrived in just five years between 2004 and 2009 – the years after Poland and seven other Eastern European countries joined the EU.

About 2.4million people came to Britain over the five-year period, during which Labour ministers had predicted that Eastern European migrants would come at the rate of 13,000 a year.

The decade after 2001 also saw high immigration from countries outside Europe.

‘Over half of all residents born in Nigeria, South Africa and the United States arrived since 2001,’ the ONS report said.

‘For residents born in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh the decade 2001-2011 also had the highest percentage of arrivals.

‘By contrast 60 per cent of Jamaican-born residents arrived before 1981.’


The Fascist reality behind far-Left “anti-racists” revealed

Nigel Farage was caught in a war of words with Scottish nationalists last night after he accused them of being ‘fascist scum’.

The UK Independence Party leader said the left-wing extremists who trapped him in an Edinburgh pub were the ‘ugly face of Scottish nationalism’ pursuing an anti-English agenda.

He challenged Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond to condemn the protesters who had chanted ‘Nazi, Nazi’, jostled him and told him to ‘go back to England’.

Mr Farage also hit out at the BBC after a Radio Scotland presenter appeared to question his right to debate Scottish issues.

In the extraordinary scenes on Thursday night the police forced Mr Farage to take refuge in the Canons’ Gait pub on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile for his own safety after the mob of supposedly anti-racist protesters launched the hostile demonstration against him, preventing him from leaving a press conference.

Dozens of activists from the Radical Independence group, most of them students, had gathered on the street outside the press conference, where a giant ‘Vote Yes for Scotland’ banner was held up.

Offensive chants included ‘you can stick your Union Jack up your a***’ and ‘go back to England, you’re not welcome here’.

The Radical Independence group is not formally linked to the Scottish National Party, but Mr Farage suggested ‘elements’ of the SNP had the same anti-English views. He said: ‘It was a demonstration dressed up as being anti-racism but in fact in itself was deeply racist, with a total hatred of the English and a desire for Scotland to be independent from Westminster.

‘My goodness me, if this is the face of Scottish nationalism it’s a pretty ugly picture. ‘The anger, the snarling, the shouting, the swearing was all linked in to a desire for the Union Jack to be burnt and extinguished from Scotland forever.

‘I must say I have heard before that there are some parts of Scottish nationalism that are akin to fascism but yesterday I saw that face to face.’

Mr Farage hung up the phone on his BBC Radio Scotland interview after a presenter asked him to ‘remind me how many elected representatives you have in Scotland’.

He replied: ‘Absolutely none. But rather more than the BBC do.

‘We could have had this interview in England a couple of years ago, although I wouldn’t have met with such hatred that I’m getting from your questions, and frankly I’ve had enough of this interview. Goodbye.’

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie described Mr Farage’s treatment as an ‘attack on free speech’ and urged Mr Salmond to condemn it.

‘We’ve always known that supporters of independence can be very passionate for their cause but the offensive and aggressive behaviour toward Nigel Farage was unacceptable,’ he said.

‘Of course I disagree with Nigel Farage on his unpleasant and dishonest agenda but he will be defeated by argument not aggression.

‘It was deeply ironic when these self-proclaimed anti-racist campaigners told an Englishman to get back to his own country. Anti-racists turned racist but were too ignorant to notice. I am sure most people in Scotland will be appalled at this behaviour.’

George Galloway, the Respect Party MP, said the protest was bad for Scotland.

In a message on Twitter he said: ‘Events in Edinburgh yesterday forcing the evacuation of Nigel Farage were a pure embarrassment for Scotland. And the shape of things to come.’

The Yes Scotland campaign which is pushing for independence in next year’s referendum on Scotland’s future, distanced itself from the ugly protests. A spokesman said: ‘Yes Scotland continues to run a positive campaign and we condemn any and all forms of intimidation.’

But the SNP said Mr Farage had ‘lost the plot’. Mr Salmond, who leads the Scottish Nationalist Party, claimed Mr Farage knew ‘absolutely nothing’ about matters north of the border.

He added: ‘This is a man who doesn’t like getting challenged because when the obnoxious views of his party are put to him then his bubble deflates very quickly and that is what we saw in his panicky interview this morning.’

Lothian and Borders Police confirmed two men were arrested for assault and breach of the peace at Thursday’s protest.

One revealed on Twitter that he is English, and criticised Mr Farage for branding yesterday’s protest ‘anti-English’. He said: ‘As a proud Englishman, arrested yesterday for protesting, I dispute these claims.’

Liam O’Hare of the Radical Independence group also defended the protest, saying: ‘Our protest was to make it clear that UKIP’s rise in England is in no way reflective of Scotland.’


Shit British social workers again: They ignored warnings about safety of 13-month-old boy before he was beaten to death by mother’s boyfriend

Social services are under fire for failing to prevent a 13-month-old boy being killed by his mother’s boyfriend – despite desperate warnings from his father in the weeks before his death.

Slater Sharkey was repeatedly being abused by Richard Morgan, who lived with his mother Rachel Peacock. When the toddler died in December 2010, he was covered head-to-toe in 25 bruises.

His father Carl Sharkey had complained to officials that the boy was at risk, but they told him they had ‘no concerns’ for Slater and refused to investigate his care – later saying they were distracted by strategy meetings.

It has also emerged that Peacock took her son to a GP when he was having trouble breathing, but ignored the doctor’s advice to visit hospital to treat the bruises on his head.

A report has criticised child welfare agencies for failing to act on a series of warning signs, and concluded that Slater was not ‘properly safeguarded’ in the 24 hours leading up to his death.

Although Mr Sharkey contacted both social workers and police, his concerns ‘do not appear to have been acted on’.

The report found that as well as poor communication with the victim’s father, information about the boy’s welfare was recorded inaccurately.

‘The child’s father, who lived with him for the first ten months of his life, and who then cared for him overnight for the final three months of his short life, was not visible,’ it said.

‘He had to ring the social worker, rather than the other way around. He expressed concerns to the social worker, police and the HV, but these do not appear to have been acted on.’

A spokeswoman for the Durham Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) apologised for the failures and said no one could have predicted Slater’s death

Gill Rigg, the author of a serious case review for LSCB, said that on the day of Slater’s first birthday in November 2010 concerns had been raised when Peacock contacted medical professionals.

She wrote: ‘There were sufficient concerns identified on that evening, and on the following day that could and should have triggered a child protection investigation had the totality of the information been considered at a strategy meeting.

‘Slater’s mother initially said he had stopped breathing but failed to seek help for several hours.

‘Slater had a bruise on his forehead. His mother arrived at the GP surgery with no warning, and left before the GP could complete the referral to the hospital. She then failed to attend hospital as directed.’

Mrs Rigg said social workers had failed to challenge medical opinions about his injuries, and the meeting with the GP had not been recorded properly.

Senior managers claimed they had not carried out a review of Slater’s care because ‘too many strategy meetings were being held’.

But Mrs Rigg said the true explanation was ‘more subtle’, and a ‘misunderstanding’ meant senior managers had failed to properly safeguard Slater.

Following the review, in which Slater was referred to as ‘Child R’, Mrs Rigg said the boy’s death was ‘not predictable’ but a ‘different course of events’ should have occurred in November 2010.

Following a trial at Newcastle Crown Court, Peacock, 31, was found guilty of cruelty and sentenced to a 12-month community order by Mr Justice King.

Morgan, who lived with Peacock in Tantobie, County Durham, claimed he had left the baby in the living room and found him collapsed when he returned.

He was sentenced to seven and half years in prison for manslaughter after a jury found he had inflicted the fatal injuries.


British Police chiefs prepare to defy government by imposing ban on naming suspects

Police chiefs are preparing to defy the Prime Minister by imposing a ban on identifying arrested suspects.

Despite warnings from David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May, the Association of Chief Police Officers is pressing ahead with plans to impose a policy of almost total secrecy.

A draft of its draconian new guidance – due to be approved next week – states: ‘Save in exceptional and clearly identified circumstances, the names or identifying details of those who are arrested or suspected of a crime should not be released by police forces to the press or the public.’

It flies in the face of a hugely significant intervention by Mr Cameron on Wednesday, when he said there should be a ‘working assumption’ in favour of identifying crime suspects. He backed Mrs May, who last week said that police should be free to name those who have been arrested if it is in the ‘public interest’.

Campaigners say it is vital that officers should not have their hands tied by rules that could prevent victims and witnesses coming forward.

In the case of Stuart Hall, a string of victims contacted the police only after the media reported that the TV presenter had been arrested for indecent assault.

But despite the warnings, Acpo are pressing ahead with their guidelines.

The phrase in the rules ‘save in exceptional circumstances’ echoes the Leveson report, which called for anonymity in the event of arrests. This is despite Mrs May and Mr Cameron pointing out to officers that, while the issue was raised in the Leveson report, it was not one of the judge’s substantive recommendations.

Last night campaigners attacked the plan for secret arrests.

Kirsty Hughes, of the Index On Censorship, said: ‘De facto anonymity for people who have been arrested would reverse the principle of open justice we have in the UK and could lead to people being arrested and taken into custody without anyone knowing about it.

‘It’s a very difficult balance to get right … making public the details of the arrest can help to bring forward evidence and bring forward victims. Therefore it is completely in the public interest’

Peter Watt, director of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children’s helpline, said: ‘Sex offenders frighten children into staying silent and make them feel they are partly responsible for what’s happening. This can leave the victim feeling isolated and unaware there may well be others suffering the same ordeal.

‘When a suspect is named in the public interest – for example when there is a child protection issue or because the police believe there are more victims – it gives others an opportunity to come forward, which helps build a stronger criminal case.’

Last week, Mrs May wrote to police chiefs to insist they must not continue with the practice – which has been adopted by a third of all forces – of refusing to identify suspects even after they had been charged. One force insisted they had adopted the policy in direct response to Leveson.

But Mrs May said it risked undermining ‘transparency in the criminal justice system’.

She added: ‘I believe there should be a right to anonymity at arrest, but I know that there will be circumstances in which the public interest means that an arrested suspect should be named.’

On Wednesday, five days after the letter was first made public, reports on the BBC suggested this meant Mrs May was herself in favour of anonymity except in exceptional circumstances. However, when this was put to the Prime Minister by journalists, he made it clear this was not the case.

Mr Cameron said: ‘I know some people want to connect it specifically with Leveson. But actually it’s a long-standing debate about how to get the balance right between making things public, which as Theresa has said should be the working assumption, but also respecting privacy where that is appropriate.

‘It’s a very difficult balance to get right. On the one hand, making public the details of the arrest can help to bring forward evidence and bring forward potential victims. Therefore it is completely in the public interest. Sometimes it is right to respect the privacy of the individual because the publicity around these sorts of arrests can be genuinely life changing. There is no simple answer to this.’

Mr Cameron added: ‘I saw Theresa’s approach in advance and I think it’s the right one.’



About jonjayray

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