Yes, we ARE angry about our GPs: SANDRA PARSONS lambasted doctors who won’t visit out of hours… and the response from patients and NHS staff was overwhelming
My column on Wednesday, highlighting the fact that patients who can’t get out-of-hours care or an appointment with their GP are now turning in despair to A&E departments, provoked an extraordinarily passionate response.
Many readers wrote about the impossibility of getting an appointment in anything less than a week.
Particular fury is reserved for surgeries where GPs won’t see a patient at all, preferring to do a consultation by phone and then leaving a prescription at reception for collection.
Several practice nurses contacted me to say they believe too many GPs are putting profit before patients, employing as few doctors and staff as possible in order to maximise their own salaries.
Some outraged GPs told me in no uncertain terms that I had got my facts wrong and that they were working exceptionally hard.
‘What I would like to know from you and the Health Minister is how they would expect a GP practice with over 6,000 patients on their list to be able to meet every patient’s demand,’ wrote one infuriated practice member.
And yet, in the past, GPs have managed this, with fewer resources and just as many patients
Protect NHS whistleblowers urges consultant who lost job and home after raising concerns
An eminent hospital consultant has called for more protection for NHS whistleblowers after telling how he lost his job and home, and considered taking his life after being unfairly sacked when he raised his concerns about patient safety.
Prof Narinder Kapur was dismissed as a consultant neuropsychologist and head of neuropsychology at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge after voicing his concerns.
A tribunal ruled that he had been unfairly dismissed, yet he was never reinstated.
Amid growing concern over the treatment of those who try to raise safety fears, Sir David Nicholson, the head of the NHS, promised in March to personally intervene in cases where whistleblowers suffered harm to their careers.
Yet a letter discloses that when Mr Kapur pleaded for his help shortly after he made his pledge, Sir David wrote to him saying that although the hospital trust’s actions were unacceptable, there was nothing he could do.
Stephen Dorrell, chairman of the Commons Health Select Committee, said he was concerned about the allegations, and on Friday wrote to the trust’s chief executive to demand an explanation.
He said: “The committee has been doing a lot of work following the Francis inquiry [into appalling care at Mid Staffordshire foundation trust] about how to foster a more open culture, and how to make sure concerns can be raised and acted upon.
“I was very concerned to hear about this case because on the face of it, it raises very serious questions about what happens when attempts are made to examine safety risks”.
Prof Kapur, 63, who now works as visiting professor of neuropsychology at University College London, has now called for greater protection for people in his position.
“I raised my concerns about staff shortages and the impact on patient care several times to my line managers,” he said.
“I had a duty to do so on behalf of my patients, but I was repeatedly ignored by the hospital senior management. “They refused to pay any attention to me. If that can happen to a professor like myself, with a worldwide reputation in his field, imagine what happens when more junior members of staff try to raise the alarm.”
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS trust (CUH) dismissed Prof Kapur in 2010, claiming there had been a breakdown in their relationship because of his management style and working methods. It also suggested he had been involved in fraud involving hospital funds.
But last July an employment tribunal ruled that he had been unfairly dismissed. The tribunal found the trust “did not conduct itself as a reasonable employer in this regard” and it condemned its attempt to accuse Prof Kapur of fraud.
In its judgment, the panel stated: “There is no question whatsoever of Dr Kapur doing anything other than manipulating a financial system in order to ensure that his patients’ best interests were fulfilled in circumstances where he was dissatisfied with the resources at his disposal.”
It added: “The tribunal condemns unreservedly the way in which the NHS has conducted itself in respect of this allegation. It proved unwilling to accept without some probing by the tribunal that the position was now closed and Dr Kapur was not found to be involved in activity that could be categorised as fraudulent.”
However, the tribunal found that Prof Kapur had not been sacked because of his whistle-blowing, but because there had been “an irredeemable breakdown in trust, confidence and communication” between him and other managers. For that reason, the tribunal did not order the trust to reinstate him.
Prof Kapur claims that standards of care and patient safety at Addenbrooke’s appear not to have improved. Sources have told him that in January, a section of a surgeon’s glove was left inside a patient after an operation. It is thought to have led to a potentially serious infection.
The professor claims that the hospital failed to report the incident to the regulatory authorities, as it is required to do. He has now reported it to the Care Quality Commission and Monitor, the health care regulator.
Furthermore, he claims there were eight similar cases — classed as “never events” — in 2011-12 alone.
Talking exclusively to The Telegraph, Prof Kapur said he was determined to continue speaking out on behalf of NHS whistleblowers.
He said: “Many whistle-blowers are forced to give up because it becomes so hard to continue. Some have nervous breakdowns or they can’t afford financially to carry on.
Some even kill themselves — and I’ve come close to that at times — because they appear to have no support against an aggressive employer. “But I’m fortunate. I have the determination, the knowledge and the resources to be able to carry on. What’s more, I’ve got a moral imperative to stand up on behalf of other whistleblowers.”
Faced with raising £300,000 of tribunal costs, Prof Kapur had to sell his family’s home in Southampton. He has also had to cash in his pension.
He is bitter that his attempts to bring problems at Addenbrooke’s to light have been met with indifference — if not outright hostility — by some senior NHS managers.
In his letter, Sir David said that his hands were tied, as Addenbrooke’s and CUH were separate bodies from the Department of Health, and so responsible for their own employment arrangements.
“But unless people like me stand up and fight this injustice and unfairness things will never change,” he said.
A CUH spokesman said: “We completely disagree with Narinder Kapur’s assertions that the neuropsychology service is not providing a high-quality and safe service to our patients.
“Patient safety is at the heart of everything we do, and we are fully committed to and strongly encourage a culture of open reporting about any aspect of patient care.
“Although the tribunal found that the trust had not followed exactly the right procedure to dismiss Dr Kapur, it concluded that he would have been properly dismissed shortly afterwards and that 75 per cent of the responsibility for his dismissal lay with him.”
Addenbrooke’s said it had not experienced any “never events” since August last year and that it won the Dr Foster award for lower-than-expected mortality rates last year.
The trust said that because the fragment of glove found in the patient was so small, the incident was not preventable and did not qualify as a “never event”.
British government cracks down on universities after claims that alleged Woolwich killers were radicalised at Greenwich University’s Islamic Society
Universities were under pressure tonight to crack down on Islamic extremists who spout hatred on campuses.
An investigation has been launched into claims that a series of radical speakers were invited to events and distributed leaflets to students at the University where both killers are thought to have studied. The probe will consider whether Greenwich University’s Islamic society had any role in radicalising Michael Adebolajo, 28 and Michael Adebowale, 22.
Home Secretary Theresa May yesterday pledged to look at introducing new powers to tackle Al Qaeda sympathisers who try to recruit impressionable students at colleges.
She has criticised universities for being ‘complacent’ in tackling the risk of radicalisation.
One of Drummer Lee Rigby’s killers, Michael Adebolajo, 28, converted to Islam in 2003 at the same time that he studied at the University of Greenwich. He was radicalised by the banned group Al-Muhajiroun.
His accomplice in the gruesome murder outside Woolwich Barracks, Michael Adebowale, 22, is also said to have been an undergraduate there and studied on a business course.
The announcement of the investigation came amid claims that a pamphlet written by a preacher who was banned from entering Britain by the Home Secretary in 2010 was distributed during a freshers’ fair at Greenwich University in 2011.
Dr Zakir Naik, the author, said in the booklet: ‘Every Muslim should be a terrorist,’ it was alleged.
Dr Naik had been banned from entering Britain the previous year by Theresa May after she ruled that his presence was ‘not conducive to the public good’.
Other figures known for their extreme views are said to have appeared in person at the university, including Dr Khalid Fikry, who has supported convicted terrorists.
The society has also promoted videos by another radical preacher, Abu Usamah, on its Facebook page.
Abu Usamah, a Birmingham based imam, featured on the Channel 4 Dispatches programme Undercover Mosque in which he expressed support for Osama bin Laden and said homosexuals were ‘perverted, filthy dogs who should be murdered’.
He has been banned from several academic institutions for his extreme views.
Professor David Maguire, vice-chancellor of the university, confirmed that Adebolajo had been a student there for two years but had been thrown out because his ‘academic progress was unsatisfactory’.
He said: ‘The university takes its responsibilities very seriously in terms of preventing extremism. ‘We are committed to ensuring that the university is a safe and secure place of study and debate within the confines of the law. ‘We have diverse communities on campus and these include a range of different faiths.
‘Given the seriousness of issues raised, the university is setting up an investigation into the association of these two individuals with the university, to assess whether there is any evidence of extremism in the university (past or present) and whether we need to update our policies and practices.’
Professor Maguire said the university had ‘no record’ of Adebowale being a student at Greenwich.
Mrs May is determined to stop extremist clerics using schools, colleges and universities – as well as prisons and mosques – to spread their ‘poison’. She said: ‘We need to look across institutions like universities, whether there is more work we can be doing in prisons.’
Universities UK, which represents higher education institutions, is drawing up guidelines on how to handle preachers who have a track record of inciting hatred.
It has launched a new campaign to show students, unions and academics what they can do to constrain controversial preachers.
The last Labour government introduced its Prevent strategy in a bid to stop young people becoming involved with extremist groups but ministers acknowledged this has stalled.
Rupert Sutton, from Student Rights, an organisation aimed at preventing extremism at universities, said he hoped chancellors would draw up lists of speakers liable to preach hatred or violence.
He said: ‘There is a problem with Prevent at many universities, partly because it comes from government and partly because it is seen as anti-Muslim.
‘It needs to be refocused much more clearly as being opposed to extremism of both right and left.’
In January it was revealed that Islamic extremists preached at more than 200 university events last year raising fresh fears over radicalisation on campus.
A dozen events featured speakers with links to the fanatical group Hizb ut Tahrir – a controversial organisation banned by the National Union of Students.
A study by Student Rights warned Islamic extremists were using social networking sites to radicalise students.
Videos of armed insurgents and hate-filled speeches from Al Qaeda figures had been posted on websites linked to Islamic societies at several leading universities.
In 2011, Mrs May said universities were not taking the issue of radicalisation seriously enough and that it was too easy for Muslim extremists to form groups on campuses ‘without anyone knowing’.
Every school could do with a little bit of Eton
Eton’s plans to transplant a boarding ethos to the state sector have huge appeal
Eton College was set up by Henry VI, not for oligarchs or little Lord Fauntleroys but as a free school for poor, clever boys. Still, today, at the heart of the most famous public school in the world – and one of the most expensive, at £32,067 a year – that free school survives. College, the scholars’ house, provides a free education for any boy who passes the scholarship exam and can’t afford the fees.
Most of Britain’s ancient public schools were founded on these altruistic lines. It’s only as the schools proved to be so good at educating poor boys for free that rich parents started paying for the privilege. Today, at Eton, there are only 70 King’s Scholars in a school of more than 1,300 boys, with the vast majority still paying their way to the best education on earth. Now, 573 years after Henry VI did his bit for educational equality, Eton’s headmaster, Tony Little, is having another go.
Next year, Eton will open its own state-funded school nearby, at Holyport, near Maidenhead, Berkshire. Tuition fees will be paid for by the taxpayer, and families will pay around £11,000 a year for accommodation and living costs.
Eton will share its playing fields – the ones where the Battle of Waterloo were won – and its guest speakers with Holyport. It will also export its educational ethos – of a free-thinking yet rigorously intellectual kind. Most strikingly of all, Holyport, like Eton, will be a boarding school.
My friend and colleague, Damian Thompson, wrote an intriguing piece on these pages at the weekend on the fading charms of private schools. Now that they’re so expensive, and their not too popular alumni are running the country, they’re losing their charm, he wrote.
But what if you strip away the class and financial aspects from private schools, and reduce them to their elite educational bare bones: what’s not to like? The reason why Eton, and other historic public schools, still dominate the higher reaches of the league tables is not because their pupils speak posh or wear funny clothes – it’s because they’re so brilliantly educated.
Most parents would lap up the intellectual side of public school if it were transplanted to the state sector at a vastly reduced cost – but what about the boarding bit? Haven’t we moved away from Dotheboys Hall, from fagging and being roasted over Big Fire by a new generation of state-educated Flashmans?
In fact, boarding schools have moved on. One of the reasons they cost so much more now is that parents expect more comfort for their little darlings – and individual bedrooms, like all the boys have at Eton, are increasingly the norm.
Even the state sector is beginning to appreciate that boarding – far from being an outdated, brutal relic – can, in and of itself, be a progressive, educational bonus. There are now 34 established state boarding schools, and the Department for Education is opening or planning another 25. Other public schools are emulating Eton’s example, too; Wellington College, in Crowthorne, Berkshire, already sponsors a part-boarding academy.
There’s a very good argument for saying that boarding is in fact much better suited to underprivileged children than rich ones. Well-off children can go home in the evening to their book-lined homes and their professional parents, and do their homework in their quiet bedrooms. As a part-time Latin tutor, I have never worked so hard as when I’ve taught prep‑school children over the kitchen table, with their banker mothers looking over my shoulder to check I know my passives from my subjunctives.
But what if you don’t have that stable, bookish world on tap waiting for you in the evening? If there isn’t even a table for you to do your homework on, let alone a tiger mum to cram optatives down your throat?
Boarding extends the stability and intellectual atmosphere of a good school beyond the bell at 4 o’clock. I was a day boy at Westminster School, but the fact that it also took boarders seeped into its ethos, even for me.
There wasn’t a sudden rush for the exit after the last lesson. Sport, music – and detention – stretched into the evening and Saturday afternoon. There was a feeling of settled, rooted permanence – the same feeling you get from home. One friend – from a broken home, in fact – had to be ordered to go home by the deputy headmaster on a regular basis, because he so loved playing football in Little Dean’s Yard late into the night on long summer evenings.
Boarding isn’t for everyone. It isn’t, like streaming or rigorous teaching, an unalloyed good. I still meet bankers and lawyers in their forties who would do anything rather than send their children to their old boarding school, Eton included. But that’s an emotional, not an intellectual, decision for parents to make. The sort of children who like school will tend to like boarding school. School‑haters won’t want more of it.
Half a century after the comprehensive experiment began, the gulf between state and private schools has never been so wide. No one could conceivably say that comprehensives have beaten the public schools. Isn’t it time they joined them?
Climate Change: we really don’t need to waste all this money
By James Delingpole
“Don’t just do something: stand there!” Ronald Reagan was fond of telling overactive functionaries. The same rules apply to the climate change industry: trillions of dollars squandered, vast forces mobilised, public anxieties worked up to fever pitch – all to no useful purpose whatsoever.
That’s why – belatedly: there really isn’t much time left – I’m urging you to support this hugely worthwhile new film project being organised by Lord Monckton. The aim of the 50 to 1 project is to raise enough money to collate a series of interviews with the likes of Jo Nova, Anthony Watts, David Evans, Fred Singer and Vaclav Klaus, which will then be edited into a short, punchy film. It will demonstrate that no matter where you stand on the “science” of climate change the measures currently being used to deal with the “problem” are hugely expensive and counterproductive.
Even if the IPCC is right, and even if climate change IS happening and it IS caused by man, we are STILL better off adapting to it as it happens than we are trying to ‘stop’ it. ‘Action’ is 50 times more expensive than ‘adaptation’, and that’s a conclusion which is derived directly from the IPCC’s own predictions and formulae!
There’s so much rubbish out there on the internet produced by lavishly funded Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and WWF activists, junk scientists, rent-seeking corporatists and EU- and UN-funded environmental bodies.
Time we hit back with the thing these eco-loons hate most: cold hard facts.
British Leftists ban immigration critic
The Hay literary festival – once described by Bill Clinton as “the Woodstock of the mind” – has been disturbed by a row over a decision not to invite the author of a controversial book about immigration.
David Goodhart, the director of the Demos thinktank and founder and editor-at-large of Prospect magazine may not have been expecting to make a headline appearance, but he was quietly confident that his widely reviewed book would earn him a support slot at the event. However, Goodhart’s volume – The British Dream: Successes and Failures of Post-war Immigration – which has polarised reviewers with its critical appraisal of postwar immigration – left Hay’s organiser-in-chief unimpressed.
Peter Florence, co-founder and director of the Hay festival, decided against inviting Goodhart, criticising the book as “sensationalist” in an email to its author. Florence also singled out a 2004 Prospect article on the same subject in which Goodhart had written, “to put it bluntly, most of us prefer our own kind”.
“Peter said, ‘I stand for pluralism and multiculturalism’, and he made it clear that his own personal views made him not want the book at the festival,” Goodhart told the Guardian. “He said he had read my original Prospect essay back in 2004 which he didn’t like at all – on the grounds, hilariously, that he is half-Italian.”
Goodhart added that while he had no problem with Florence’s “sort of ultra-liberal, slightly lefty multiculturalist” views, he had been shocked to learn that the book was to be ignored by the festival. “It’s probably been more widely reviewed than any non-fiction book so far this year – both favourably and unfavourably,” he said, “so when my publisher said there was no interest from Hay I was a bit surprised.”
Goodhart questioned whether Florence could continue to exercise the same level of personal control at the growing event. Describing Hay as “still one man’s personal fiefdom in some ways, which is a strength when you’re creating something,” he added: “But I think it’s now too big almost for him to run it in that way”.
Lord Adonis, the Labour peer and former transport secretary bemoaned the festival’s “liberal intolerance” in tweets. “Peter Florence … rejected David Goodhart because he disagrees with him on immigration,” he wrote. “How about some free speech at the Hay festival? Extraordinary that Goodhart [was] told his views on migration unacceptable for debate.”
The Guardian’s enquiries about Goodhart’s absence from Hay met with the laconic, emailed reply from Florence: “He was never invited. The book isn’t very good.”
Florence and his late father, Norman, came up with the idea for the festival around their kitchen table in 1987, and the first Hay festival of literature and arts was held the next year. The annual event, which runs for 10 days from late May, attracts around 80,000 visitors to Hay-on-Wye in Powys, Wales, as well as scores of speakers from the worlds of the arts, science and politics.
Goodhart’s book has split the critics. Writing in the Guardian, the playwright David Edgar felt that while many of the author’s suggestions were excellent, “The British Dream raises the question as to whether someone who believes in quite so much exclusion and compulsion is any kind of liberal. Not so much ‘post’ you might say, as ‘anti’.”
But as far as the Daily Telegraph’s Peter Oborne was concerned, the “well-written, thoughtful and exhaustively researched” book was destined to be recognised as “one of the most important contributions to political debate in the early 21st century”.
Goodhart, who has attended Hay for the last 15 years, said he was disappointed by the decision as he felt the time had finally come for a calm and reasoned discussion about immigration. Florence’s reaction to the book, he said, had been “a real outlier” as the howls of liberal anger that greeted the original article had long since died down. “What I’ve been saying to people is actually how much better in some ways the debate about all this sort of stuff has got since I wrote my original essay in 2004, which caused a furore,” he said. “There was a great cry of pain and anger [from the left] at that time, but my book has been received in a very calm way.”
He feels that Florence’s reluctance to have him at the festival may reflect what he sees as its current, non-confrontational, attitude. “It’s not always universally true, but I think Peter likes to showcase things and people and ideas and he doesn’t really like having the clash there on stage, as it were,” said Goodhart.
Among the hundreds of people to have appeared at the festival – which has been sponsored by the Sunday Times and the Guardian but is now sponsored by the Daily Telegraph – are Jimmy Carter, Germaine Greer, Desmond Tutu and Hilary Mantel. Although Goodhart will not join the luminaries at the festival proper this year, he has the consolation of appearing at Hay’s smaller How the Light Gets In festival of philosophy and music. And, with a bit of luck, controversy might yet erupt in the book capital of the Brecon Beacons.
“I’m doing an event at the Globe, talking about identity politics with Peter Tatchell and George Galloway,” he said, adding: “We’re probably going to have a bit of a barney.”
Until our leaders admit the true nature of Islamic extremism, we will never defeat it
By Melanie Phillips
Ever since the spectre of Islamic terrorism in the West first manifested itself, Britain has had its head stuck firmly in the sand.
After both 9/11 and the 7/7 London transport bombings, the Labour government promised to take measures to defend the country against further such attacks.
It defined the problem, however, merely as terrorism, failing to understand that the real issue was the extremist ideas which led to such violence.
Accordingly, it poured money into Muslim community groups, many of which turned out to be dangerously extreme.
When David Cameron came to power, his Government raised hopes of a more realistic approach when it pledged to counter extremist ideas rather than just violence. This approach, too, has failed. The Government still has no coherent strategy for countering Islamist radicalisation.
Following last week’s barbaric slaughter of Drummer Rigby on the streets of Woolwich by two Islamic fanatics, the Prime Minister has announced that he will head a new Tackling Extremism and Radicalisation Task Force. And the Home Secretary has said she will look at widening the banning of radical groups preaching hate.
But at the heart of these promises remains a crucial gap. That is the need to define just what kind of extremism we are up against.
The Government has been extraordinarily reluctant to do this — because it refuses to face the blindingly obvious fact that this extremism is religious in nature.
It arises from an interpretation of Islam which takes the words of the Koran literally as a command to kill unbelievers in a jihad, or holy war, in order to impose strict Islamic tenets on the rest of the world.
Of course, millions of Muslims in Britain and elsewhere totally reject this interpretation of their religion. Most British Muslims want to live peacefully and enjoy the benefits of Western culture. They undoubtedly utterly deplore the notion that the kind of carnage that occurred in Woolwich should take place in Britain.
And let’s not forget that, worldwide, most victims of the jihad are themselves Muslims whom the extremists judge to be polluted by Western ideas.
Nevertheless, this fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran is what is being spouted by hate preachers in Britain and on the internet, and is steadily radicalising thousands of young British Muslims.
Now the Prime Minister says he will crack down on such extremism. Yet after the Woolwich atrocity, he claimed it was ‘a betrayal of Islam’ and that ‘there is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act’.
The London Mayor Boris Johnson went even further, claiming: ‘It is completely wrong to blame this killing on the religion of Islam’ and that the cause was simply the killers’ ‘warped and deluded mindset’.
Yet the video footage of the killers — who had shouted ‘Allahu Akhbar’ when butchering Drummer Rigby — records one of them citing verses in the Koran exhorting the faithful to fight and kill unbelievers, and declaring: ‘We swear by Almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.’
Frankly, these comments by the Prime Minister and London Mayor were as absurd as saying the medieval Inquisition, for example, had nothing to do with the Catholic Church, but was just the product of a few warped and deluded individuals.
Their comments were also deeply troubling. For if politicians refuse to acknowledge the true nature of this extremism, they will never counter it effectively.
But then, government officials have always refused to admit that this is a religious war. They simply don’t understand the power of religious fanaticism.
Of course, there are fanatics in all religions. Within both Judaism and Christianity, there are deep divisions between ultras, liberals and those in between.
In medieval times, moreover, Christianity used its interpretation of the Bible also to kill ‘unbelievers’, because early Christians believed they had a divine duty to make the world conform to their religion at all costs. That stopped when the Reformation ushered the Church into modernity, and today no Christian wants to use violence to convert others to their faith.
The problem with the extremist teachings of Islam is that the religion has never had a similar ‘reformation’.
Certainly, there are enlightened Muslims in Britain who would dearly love their religion to be reformed. But they have the rug pulled from under their feet by the Government’s flat denial of the religious nature of this terrible problem.
Some people instead ascribe the actions of the Woolwich killers to factors such as thuggish gang membership, drug abuse or family breakdown. But it is precisely such lost souls who are vulnerable to Islamist fanatics and who provide them with father figures, a sense of belonging and a cause which gives apparent meaning to their lives.
Many people find it incomprehensible that such fanatics remain free to peddle their poison. Partly, this is because the Security Service likes to gather intelligence through their actions. But it is also because of a failure to understand what amounts to a continuum of extremism.
There are too many British Muslims who, while abhorring violence at home, nevertheless support the killing abroad of British or American forces or Israelis, regard unbelievers as less than fully human, and homosexuals or apostates as deserving the death penalty.
Such bigotry creates the poisonous sea in which dehumanisation and religious violence swim.
To the failure to understand all this must be added the widespread terror of being thought ‘Islamophobic’ or ‘racist’.
It is quite astonishing that universities mostly refuse to crack down on extremist speakers and radicalisation on campus — despite at least four former presidents of Islamic student societies having faced terrorist charges.
In a devastating account published at the weekend, Professor Michael Burleigh, who advised the Government on revising its counter-radicalisation strategy, described how this process descended into a ‘sad shambles’. He related how the Federation of Islamic Student Societies (FOSIS) had created a sexually segregated environment in which young people were being systematically indoctrinated in anti-Jew, anti-homosexual and anti-Western hatred by Islamist speakers on campus.
But although the Government condemned FOSIS for its failure to ‘fully challenge terrorist and extremist ideology’, with the Home Secretary even ordering that civil servants withdraw from its graduate recruitment fair, the Faith and Communities Minister, Baroness Warsi, actually endorsed it by attending one of its events at the House of Lords.
Nor has the Government done anything to stop extremist preachers targeting and converting criminals in British jails at a deeply alarming rate.
On top of all this official incoherence is the paralysis caused by the excesses of the ‘human rights’ culture.
Thus the Home Secretary is facing a monumental battle to get through Parliament a Communications Bill that would give police and security services access to records of individuals’ internet use.
It is said that some of these extremist preachers exploit loopholes in the law. If so, then the law should be changed.
But we all know what would befall any such attempt. It would be all but drowned out by shrieks that we were ‘doing the terrorists’ job for them’ by ‘undermining our own hard-won liberties’.
Well, it’s time to face down such claims as vacuous and lethal nonsense.
The people threatening our liberties are Islamic radicals determined to destroy our way of life.
It is those who refuse to acknowledge the true nature of this threat who are doing the terrorists’ job for them.
And unless Britain finally wakes up from its self-destructive torpor, all who love civilised values — Muslim and non-Muslim alike — will be the losers.
I hate censorship but the BBC’s wrong to pander to our enemies
By Quentin Letts
Back in the bloodiest days of Northern Irish terrorism, Margaret Thatcher called it ‘the oxygen of publicity’ – a vivid phrase for a knotty dilemma.
To what extent should the media report extreme views? The BBC is accused of giving undue prominence to Muslim demagogue Anjem Choudary, the cleric who stands accused of having inspired Woolwich murder suspect Michael Adebolajo.
Another associate of Adebolajo, one Abu Nusaybah, was arrested at BBC studios just after giving an interview about how the blood-soaked suspect was once courted by our security services.
Mrs May said it was inappropriate to interview Choudary in the wake of Drummer Rigby¿s death
The decision to ‘go’ with studio guest Choudary was that of a management which is even more remote from its viewers than our much-criticised politicians are from their voters.
Home Secretary Theresa May yesterday signalled her unease at liberal broadcasters’ readiness (some might say precipitous desire) to make media stars out of these unalluring men. Does she have a point?
Chauffeurs were dispatched to convey Choudary to BBC and Channel 4 studios, as though he were some sort of celebrity. He was accorded the full courtesies of a member of London’s ‘punditocracy’.
Had the make-up girls combed that beard? Sure looked like it. He was given the powdered, soft-backlit treatment normally extended to politicians and representatives of respectable views. So what did he make of the Woolwich butchery?
Choudary conceded to feeling ‘shock’. But he certainly would not condemn it.
Here was a so-called man of religion, dressed in the clerical garb of one of the world’s great faiths.
Yet he would not criticise two machete-wielding motorists who mowed down a pedestrian and then tried to sever the defenceless soul’s head from his neck.
Ye gods. And now over to Liam for the weather.
Defenders of the BBC will say it is important that we know such violent sympathies bubble under society’s facade. Society has, in its darkest pockets, men and women who believe in all sorts of Satanic misdeeds.
But liberals, rightly, would never contemplate giving them a platform on prime-time network television.
If they bubble under society’s facade, let them stay there. Don’t turn them into gurus for the masses.
As a journalist who dislikes politicians meddling in the media, I would normally be tempted to side with the BBC.
Indeed, I find it more difficult to feel disquiet about Channel 4, whose news reporting has long been testing and rigorous, even if it often dresses to the Left. It is harder to give the BBC the benefit of the doubt. This is a Corporation which for years has promoted political correctness at the expense of journalistic truth.
This is a Corporation whose news editors have been bullied into silencing criticism of working-class views about multiculturalism and immigration.
You agreed with Enoch? Your voice went unheard. The middle-class snoots of the BBC hierarchy would not hear of such intolerance.
You support the death penalty, English nationalism, a flat tax rate, an end to the welfare system? No airtime for you.
Would Anjem Choudary have been given such a comfortable ride on primetime telly if he had been attacking wind farms; if he had been calling for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union; if he had been questioning the MMR vaccine?
This conditioning of BBC editors as to what is and what is not ‘acceptable’ – a conditioning which earlier this month prevented them telling us the Pakistani background of most of the Oxford sex ring – explains how Choudary sauntered into a BBC studio to abuse our country.
Free speech is not the same as naïvely giving houseroom to enemies of the state.
When journalism tries too hard to be politically correct it becomes opaque, dishonest and, in this instance, culpably unpatriotic. The timing was wrong. The tone was wrong.
The decision to ‘go’ with studio guest Choudary was that of a management which is even more remote from its viewers than our much-criticised politicians are from their voters.
When the country’s most powerful media organisation (by far) is so out of touch, is it any wonder democracy is in such ill health?
No journalist wants to return to the days of Mrs Thatcher’s attempt to prevent Sinn Fein leaders ever being heard on air (the BBC, rightly, got round that authoritarian ban by employing actors to voice the words of Gerry Adams and Co).
But the comparison to Irish republicanism is instructive. Sinn Fein was and is a political party. Not so Anjem Choudary.
This row weakens the BBC. Politicians are pouncing. Shadow Justice Minister Sadiq Khan said that Choudary was an ‘offensive and obnoxious media tart’.
The Tories’ Lady Warsi deplored the promotion of extremist ‘idiots and nutters’.
Sucking up to the Centre Left and its grubby electoral scheme of multiculturalism was once seen by the BBC’s ruling Left-wing clique as a good career move.
It has backfired terribly, not just on them and on our country, but most terribly on the family of Drummer Rigby.
Suspected terrorist who tried to kill a French soldier in copycat attack was ‘caught on security camera footage removing his robes’
Paris police today conceded that the stabbing of a French soldier was inspired by the terrorist murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.
Private Cedric Cordier, 23, was stabbed in the neck while on patrol in the business district of the French capital on Saturday evening. He is now recovering in hospital.
The attacker, who has not been caught, was 6ft2in, of North African origin and wore a long, Arab garment called a djellaba.
In a copycat of an ambush in London in which a British serviceman was murdered, the attacker struck in front of dozens of passers-by, stabbing his victim in the throat and neck.
Police spokesman Christophe Crepin said: ‘You don’t have to be a great observer to see that people are taking inspiration from what’s happened abroad.’
Politicians also acknowledged the similarities. ‘The sudden violence… could lead one to believe there might be a comparison with what happened in London,’ said interior minister Manuel Valls.
And defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that attack had undoubtedly been an ‘attempt to kill’ the soldier, whose regiment had recently fought in Afghanistan.
Two comrades from the 4th Cavalry Regiment were with him, and carrying automatic rifles, but they failed to react before the man ran off.
‘We are looking through video surveillance footage,’ said an officer at the scene of the crime. ‘He was seen taking off his Arab-style robes and running away wearing European clothing.’
Detectives are convinced that the attacker was ‘inspired’ by the savage murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, who was allegedly hacked down by two radical Islamists in Woolwich, south London, last Wednesday.
While Drummer Rigby was off duty, Private Cordier was on an anti-terrorism patrol in La Defense business district of west Paris.
France’s defence minister Jean Yves Le Drian said that attack had undoubtedly been an ‘attempt to kill’ the soldier, whose regiment had recently fought in Afghanistan.
Private Cordier lost a considerable amount of blood but would survive, and is being treated at the nearby Percy military hospital.
France is considered a hotbed of radical Islamists, and the country’s Vigipirate anti-terrorist surveillance plan is currently in action.
Last year Mohammed Merah, a 23-year-old French-Algerian Islamist, murdered three French soldiers near the south west city of Toulouse during a killing spree which also claimed the lives of four civilians.
Eleven people across UK arrested for making ‘racist or anti-religious’ comments on Facebook and Twitter about British soldier’s death
No free speech in England — except for Muslim preachers, of course
The murder of soldier Lee Rigby has provoked a backlash of anger across the UK, including the attacking of mosques, racial abuse and comments made on social media.
Eleven people have been arrested around Britain for making ‘racist or anti-religious’ comments on Twitter following the brutal killing in Woolwich on Wednesday.
The incident has also prompted a huge increase in anti-Muslim incidents, according to the organisation Faith Matters, which works to reduce extremism.
Before the attack about four to eight cases a day were reported to its helpline. But the group said about 150 incidents had been reported in the last few days, including attacks on mosques.
Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, told BBC Radio Five Live: ‘What’s really concerning is the spread of these incidents. They’re coming in from right across the country.
‘Secondly, some of them are quite aggressive very focused, very aggressive attacks. And thirdly, there also seems to be significant online activity…suggesting co-ordination of incidents and attacks against institutions or places where Muslims congregate.’
It comes as 22-year-old man appeared before magistrates in Lincoln today charged with posting a ‘grossly offensive’ anti-Muslim message on Facebook following the Woolwich murder.
Benjamin Flatters, of Swineshead, Lincs, faces a charge under the 1988 Malicious Communications Act following a message he posted on Facebook on 22 May which is alleged to be offensive to Muslims.
No details of the message were given at the hearing but another man was warned about his conduct on social media.
Flatters, who spoke only to confirm his name, age and address, was refused bail by Lincoln Magistrates following a 20 minute hearing.
The court was told he faces further matters including four charges of inciting under-age girls to engage in sexual activity by sending sexual messages by Facebook as well as two drugs charges.
Flatters was remanded in custody until Wednesday when he will appear before Skegness Magistrates via video link.
His court appearance came within 24 hours of Lincolnshire Police warning users of social networking sites such as Facebook that they face arrest if posts were likely to incite racial hatred or violence.
A force spokesman said ‘We have received a number of reports from local members of the public about tweets and Facebook comments that could potentially incite racial hatred and violence.
‘These are currently being investigated. If such communications are reported to us and they do breach the law, those messages may be monitored; captured and robust police action will be considered.
‘We would urge people to consider the very real impact of their online comments in relation to this matter.’
Flatters court appearance comes after two men were arrested and released on bail for making alleged offensive comments on Twitter about the murder of Lee Rigby.
Complaints were made to Avon and Somerset Police about remarks that appeared on the social networking website, which were allegedly of a racist or anti-religious nature.
A 23-year-old and a 22-year-old, both from Bristol, were held under the Public Order Act on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred.
Detective Inspector Ed Yaxley of Avon and Somerset Police said: ‘These comments were directed against a section of our community. Comments such as these are completely unacceptable and only cause more harm to our community in Bristol.
‘People should stop and think about what they say on social media before making statements as the consequences could be serious.’
Two men will also appear at Thames Magistrates Court today charged with religiously aggravated threatening behaviour over an incident in an east London fast food restaurant on Thursday.
Labourer Toni Latcal, 32, and plasterer Eugen-Aurelian Eugen-Beredei, 34, both from London, were arrested following the incident at 9.15pm on Thursday. Latcal was charged with religiously aggravated threatening behaviour and causing criminal damage, while Eugen-Beredei was charged with religiously aggravated threatening behaviour.
Surrey Police said a 19-year-old man has been charged in connection with comments placed on a social media website following the murder of the soldier.
Mohammed Mazar, of Balmoral Drive, Woking, has been charged with improper use of public electronic communications network under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.
A police spokesman said Mazar has been freed on police bail to appear at South West Surrey Magistrates’ Court on June 11.
Superintendent Matt Goodridge said: ‘Surrey Police will not tolerate language used in a public place, including on social media websites, which causes harassment, alarm or distress.’
Another unemployed 28-year-old has been charged by police after allegedly posting an offensive message on Facebook.
Sussex Police said Adam Rogers, of Kingsman Street, Woolwich, was arrested in Hastings, East Sussex, yesterday.
He will appear at Brighton Magistrates’ Court later today accused of sending an ‘offensive, indecent or menacing message’ online.
A police spokesman said: ‘The entry was allegedly in connection to an incident in Woolwich on Wednesday.’
Meanwhile, a 23-year-old woman has been charged with allegedly sending a ‘grossly offensive’ message on Facebook, Hampshire Constabulary said.
Michaela Turner, of Lumsden Road, Southsea, was arrested at her home yesterday evening after a post was uploaded at 10.42pm on Wednesday. The post has since been removed.
Turner was charged overnight with an offence contrary to Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003. She has been bailed to appear at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on June 7.
A police spokesman said: ‘Following the terrorist incident in Woolwich this week, Hampshire Constabulary is working closely with local partnership groups to safeguard all members of the community.
‘This includes monitoring social networking sites, and we will seek to arrest and prosecute anyone inciting hatred or violence online.’
Police have also arrested three people ahead of an EDL protest for allegedly making racist tweets.
Northumbria Police said two people from Gateshead and a third from Stockton, Teesside, were held earlier. The EDL has planned their demonstration for months, but the horrific murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich on Wednesday has heightened tensions in the local community.
A counter demonstration by opponents of the EDL has been planned.
Northumbria Police said it will ‘allow people the right to peaceful protest, protect the safety of everyone in the city and prevent serious disorder and damage’.
Newcastle area commander chief superintendent Gary Calvert said: ‘We appreciate that the events in London on Thursday may have heightened community concerns about this weekend’s planned protests in Newcastle.
‘We are constantly monitoring the situation and will continue to adapt accordingly.’
Cricket is racist?
Pesky that the great majority of cricket enthusiasts are brown. Cricket is sometimes said to be India’s only national religion
Through all his incarnations, Doctor Who has fought selflessly to ensure the survival of all manner of life forms across the Universe. But now an international group of academics has branded the heroic Time Lord ‘thunderingly racist’.
The Doctor’s new foes claim that his dismissive attitude towards black companions, his contempt for ‘primitive’ people, and even his passion for cricket are all proof of a reactionary ‘whiteness’ pervading his adventures.
Their concerns are published in a new book, Doctor Who And Race, which says the BBC programme is based in attitudes ‘that continue to subjugate people of colour’.
One of the more bizarre theories is offered by Amit Gupta, an American professor, who argues that Peter Davison’s cricket-loving incarnation of the character in the Eighties was thinly disguised nostalgia for the British Empire. He wrote: ‘[He] portrayed the amateur English cricketer of the late 19th Century when the game was characterised by both racial and class distinctions.
‘Cricket also had a role in maintaining the status of British imperialism through the exercise of soft power as it was successfully inculcated by the colonial elites. Davison’s cricketing Doctor once again saw the BBC using Who to promote a racial and class nostalgia that had already outlived its validity.’
And the BBC said: ‘Doctor Who has a strong track record of diverse casting among both regular and guest cast. Freema Agyeman became the first black companion and Noel Clarke starred in a major role for five years [Mickey Smith].
‘Reflecting the diversity of the UK is a duty of the BBC, and casting on Doctor Who is colour-blind. It is always about the best actors for the roles.’