The “multicultural” NHS

Three female healthcare assistants ‘beat two elderly patients and mistreated nine others’ on a hospital ward, a court heard today.

Akousa Sakyiwaa, 38, Annette Jackson, 33, and Sharmila Gunda, 36, are charged with several counts of ill-treatment or neglect under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, with Ms Sakyiwaa and Ms Gunda also charged with assault by beating.

The incidents are alleged to have taken place from February 27 to April 30 last year on Beech Ward at Whipps Cross Hospital in east London.

Ms Sakyiwaa, of Leytonstone, is charged with seven counts of ill-treatment or neglect and one count of assault by beating.

Ms Jackson, of Hounslow, is charged with five counts of ill-treatment or neglect.

Ms Gunda, of Ilford, is charged with two counts of ill-treatment or neglect and one charge of assault by beating.

They deny all the charges.

Sakyiwaa and Gunda accused of beating elderly Winifred Dempsey and June Evans.

Mrs Evans, who is wheelchair bound, is the only patient still alive or well enough to come to court to give evidence against them. The other patients are too ill or suffer from dementia.

Jurors heard the healthcare assistants were arrested after q student nurse Lucy Brown whistleblew on them following a placement on the ward last Spring.

John McNally, prosecuting, said: ‘The conduct complained of simply had no place on any ward. It cannot be justified.’

Snaresbrook Crown Court heard 92-year-old Lily Oliver was admitted to the ward on March 27, 2012, suffering from septic arthritis in her left knee.

Mr McNally told jurors: ‘She was bed bound and extremely frail and it is the expert’s professional opinion that she suffered from dementia and wasn’t able to make her own decisions.

‘During the time she was on Beech Ward she was under the care of Akousa Sakyiwaa. ‘Lucy Brown described Akousa Sakyiwaa as being extremely rough with Lily Oliver.

‘In the course of one encounter Lucy Brown noted that when Miss Oliver’s bandages were removed Miss Oliver said ‘mind my leg.’ After that Akousa Sakyiwaa grabbed her left knee with both her hands and pushed it towards Lucy Brown.

‘This caused her to scream in pain and turn pale before falling silent. That, we say, is what constitutes ill treatment for that count.’

John McNally, prosecuting, told the jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court that the three women were responsible for looking after elderly female patients with various physical and mental conditions including dementia

John McNally, prosecuting, told the jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court that the three women were responsible for looking after elderly female patients with various physical and mental conditions including dementia

Jurors have yet to hear about the mistreatment to the other patients who the court heard were all female, elderly and suffering from various physical and mental conditions including dementia.

Opening the case, Mr McNally said: “This case is about certain patients in the care of these defendants.

‘The prosecution case is they variously ill treated patients either by positive actions towards them or by failing to look after them when they should have.

‘The defendants worked on a geriatric ward and were trusted to provide the most basic tasks. ‘There is little doubt some of these would have been unpleasant and that elderly and demented patients could be obstructive.

‘However, this factor only serves to highlight the vulnerability of these patients and outline the fact that providing care professionally was the responsibility of each defendant. ‘An entitlement for proper care should not be a matter of chance given at the whim of the carer.’

The court heard the ward has since closed down following a Metropolitan Police investigation into alleged abuse.


Horror nurse takes vengeance on a BABY!

A midwife poured milk over a distressed baby’s face and said ‘that’s for throwing up on me’, a hearing was told today.

Joanne Scott also photographed the child on her mobile phone because her husband and daughter would ‘find it funny’, it is claimed.

Scott was working a night shift at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, in 2008 when the baby became unsettled.

She went over to calm it down but then took a photograph, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

Derek Zeitlin, for the NMC, said: ‘When questioned about it by her colleague, told her that she would send it to her husband and her daughter who would find it funny.

‘The baby was in quite an unsettled state and the registrant took the baby rather roughly in her hands and as a result of that the baby was sick over her.

‘Scott’s colleague put the baby back and remonstrated with the registrant about the rough handling and took the baby in her arms.

‘The registrant went away and came back with a bottle of milk which her colleague saw without a teat on it. ‘Scott poured that over the baby, saying “that’s for throwing up on me.”‘

The other member of staff was at first afraid to say anything as she was a junior and only reported the incident a few months later.

Scott is also accused of swearing at the husband of a woman giving birth on October 11, 2010. The midwife had previously sent the mother home after claiming that she was not in labour.

Mr Zeitlin continued: ‘The upshot of that was that when the mother did eventually give birth she did so in the ambulance taking her back to the hospital.

‘Her husband was with her at the time and he was very scared as to what was going on.

‘When they arrived at the hospital there was a conversation which took place between the father and the registrant, part of which was overheard by a colleague.

‘The father explained that he was very scared and she had no idea why he was scared because she had explained what he had to do when they got home.

‘She made the comment “did you nearly sh*t yourself” and after a reply by him, “that is because you’re f***ing useless.”‘

The same month Scott breached professional boundaries by befriending on Facebook a mother who had just given birth at the hospital, it is claimed.

On 18 October 2010 Scott used her mobile phone to take a photo of another baby, referred to as Baby C, when there was specialist camera equipment available, it is alleged.

Baby C was suffering from a condition that meant it was half one colour and half another and Scott claimed she had to show the paediatrician.

But the midwife did not get consent from the mother and did not write any notes in the medical records about showing the photo to a paediatrician.

The photo was then not deleted in a ‘prompt manner’ from her mobile phone.

The midwife admits adding a mother as a friend on Facebook and all charges against her relating to Baby C.

She also admits swearing at the husband of a mother in labour once but denies saying ‘that’s because you’re f***ing useless’.

Scott denies all the other charges and claims her fitness to practice has not been impaired. If found guilty of misconduct she could be thrown out of the profession. The hearing continues.


The pupils who think cheese is a vegetable and fish fingers come from chickens: Study highlights primary children’s ignorance of food

One in three primary schoolchildren think cheese comes from plants and one in 10 says tomatoes grow underground.

A new survey reveals a young generation with unhealthy diets and an alarming belief in food myths.

Nearly one in five children says that fish fingers come from chicken and pasta is produced from animals.

Research by the British Nutrition Foundation among over 27,500 children across the UK also found many were skipping breakfast and too few eat fish.

Over three quarters of primary school children and nearly nine out of every ten secondary school pupils know that people should consume five or more portions of fruit and vegetables each day.

But two-thirds of primary school children and three-quarters of older pupils reported eating four or less portions of fruit and vegetables daily, while two in every five children at secondary school don’t think frozen fruit and vegetables count towards their five a day.

The research also shows that an alarming number of children do not eat breakfast each morning, which increases with the age of the children.

On the day of the survey, one in 10 primary school children had skipped breakfast, rising to nearly a quarter of 11 to 14-year-olds and a third of 14 to 16-year-olds.

Up to a quarter of children said they did not eat breakfast every day. Official advice is for children and adults to eat at least two portions of fish each week.

However, the survey found 16 per cent of children of primary school age never eat fish, rising to one in five children at secondary school.

Only one in six of children aged five to 16 years eats fish twice a week.

Around one in 10 children never cook at home, although three-quarters would like to cook more.

Roy Ballam, Education Programme Manager at the British Nutrition Foundation, said: ‘Through this survey one in five (21 per cent) primary school children and 18 per cent of secondary school pupils told us that they have never visited a farm.

‘This may go part way to explaining why over a third (34 per cent) of five to eight-year-olds and 17 per cent of eight to 11-year-olds believe that pasta comes from animals.’

The survey was conducted as part of the BNF’s Healthy Eating Week, which involves more than 3,000 schools and 1.2 million children.

Mr Ballam said: ‘Through Healthy Eating Week, we hope to start the process of re-engaging children with the origins of food, nutrition and cooking, so that they grow up with a fuller understanding of how food reaches them and what a healthy diet and lifestyle consists of.’


A British primary school that sounds rather wonderful

A stately pile in Shropshire houses a family-run prep school seemingly untouched by time

Boarding school heads often claim: “We’re one big family”. This is not only metaphorically but literally true in the case of Moffats, an extraordinary, quiet anomaly of a school snuggled away in rural Shropshire, which is run by eight members of the original founding family, the Englehearts.

Everyone here is someone’s cousin, or sister – or if not a member of the immediate family, then part of a community of “Old Moffats” (OMs), known unofficially as “Moffateers”. OMs frequently marry other OMs. One cousin even married the cook’s daughter…

Most of the family are former pupils themselves; the current head, Robin McCarthy (née Engleheart) lived in the house from birth, although, she is very quick to point out, she has “been away” – for 25 years; first to Oxford University, where she captained the women’s cricket team, and later as deputy head at a large prep school in the south of England.

She is the sixth member of the Engleheart family to lead the school, taking over from her brother-in-law Mark Daborn, a former surveyor and now the school chaplain, who held the post for 18 years, until last September. Mark also teaches mathematics and geography.

His wife Alex (Robin’s sister), takes English and drama; their son James offers forest crafts and survival skills, cricket and war games. “It might seem like jobs for the boys,” Robin says, “but if we need a specialist we get one in.”

The family is careful to select people who will respect the Moffats ethos. Appointments and big decisions are made by mutual agreement.

“Of course, we fall out sometimes,” Robin admits. “But there’s never anything that can’t be resolved by communication. The issue of our positions causes no friction. When Mark handed over he felt there was someone he could pass it on to without what he’d achieved being undermined.”

A few decades back England was liberally speckled with such establishments, but no longer. As Anne-Marie Hodgkiss, membership officer for the Independent Schools Association, delicately puts it: “Moffats is not alone… but it is certainly not in the majority.” The fees — £5,148 a term for boarders — are perhaps the least remarkable aspect of the operation.

The uninitiated might raise an eyebrow at the idiosyncratic spirit of the place but the school is well aware of the possible dangers of operating below the radar. “We don’t just examine ourselves,” Robin says. “We deliberately have outsiders coming in.”

Moffats functions as a limited company, owned and run by family members through a board, advised by an independent non-executive committee of former pupils, parents and local people which meets once a year, in much the same way as a board of governors. “We are all involved in things outside of school, which stops us becoming too insular,” Robin’s sister Alex says.

Also in the family are: piano teacher Francis Engleheart; Paul Engleheart, who teaches Latin, music, IT and junior sports; Robin’s youngest sister Kate, a riding instructor; and Julian Engleheart, the bursar. The ninth Engleheart, nine year-old Isabel, is a pupil.

Together – with a little outside help – they run the tiny, co-educational school of only 67 pupils, aged three to 13, over a third of whom are boarders, mostly full time. Moffats’ “home” is the daunting Georgian, Grade I listed Kinlet Hall, near Ludlow.

“People panic and say ‘How can you be viable?’” says Robin. “We say that’s our business. As for the house, we haven’t got any parts we can’t use. We have run at this size for 79 years, why should we change now? The school went up to more than 90 pupils in the Nineties but because we don’t, and won’t, and can’t build, it was all a bit of a bulge. The fewer there are, the greater the opportunities.”

With secret doors, subterranean passageways, a wargames cellar and a riding school, all set in a glorious 110 acres of Shropshire countryside, there are plenty of opportunities to engage young imaginations.

I notice rows of in-line skates, which Robin tells me are “fantastic for speed bumps on the drive”, a croquet lawn, fields of equestrian jumps and walls of photographs from the sailing camp in Cornwall.

“What we do with them in our spare time is our own hobbies,” says Robin, a croquet nut and sailor. “They learn eccentric things but they also learn that a passion for something is part of life.”

From the age of seven, children wander freely in the grounds. They share the chores, and television is strictly limited to a historical soap on Friday evenings and a film on Saturday. Hobbies are undertaken in the two-hour lunch break, with the school day finishing at 6pm.

The children have created their own games, such as Rickets (a cross between rounders and cricket), Relievo (defending an old cedar tree) and one simply called “The Game”, which seems similar to tag rugby. Despite lacking a proper gym and swimming pool, Moffats fields junior and senior teams in most mainstream sports. “But we don’t need to win matches to feel good about ourselves,” Robin says. “It’s about playing hard, winning graciously and losing well.”

Horses are integral to school life; pupils can keep their own at school or choose from seven sturdy, ever so slightly Thelwellesque school ponies. “Some schools have speech day, we have a gymkhana,” Robin laughs.

Music is also respected. In the “Big Room”, a former library, now a concert hall, final-year pupil Baska Enkhjargal, from Mongolia, is working hard at a grand piano. At lunch we meet Mikuu Oluwayemi, 13, from London, a full-time boarder and keen guitarist and Asan Hems, 10, preparing for grade one flute. The children are self-confident and polite, with impeccable table manners. Kea Waite, 12, from Devon, steals the conversation, telling us all about her 14 parrots, sister called Hannah (also at school) and a horse-mad mum who works at Birdworld.

The pupils are not shy of engaging Robin in friendly banter and using her first name; there are too many Englehearts here to have it any other way. “Don’t tell Robin,” eight year-old Tom Gameson whispers, intending Robin to hear, “but I like Alison, the ICT teacher, best. I’ve never had a bad mark.”

Tom’s classmate William Freeman, eight, loves the school grounds: “It’s like having a massive garden to play in.” His mum Sue, a former Moffats pupil herself, flies Tornados in the RAF in Yorkshire. She values the Moffats’ prized qualities of sportsmanship, confidence in public speaking, integrity and determination which, she says, helped shape her own career. “The Englehearts became my second family as my parents were abroad. There was no doubt in my mind where William was to be educated.”

As for the academic side, the Moffats method might seem a bit Heath Robinson – there is a lot of “mucking in” and doubling, or even tripling of roles – but the most recent Independent Schools Inspectorate Report (ISI), in 2010 gives a picture of a school that is doing an entirely satisfactory job of preparing its pupils for a successful transition to senior schools, and also in the trickier task of pleasing parents.

Robin insists that her staff are all of high calibre and well qualified; albeit not in every case with an actual teaching certificate. “I never think of it in those terms,” she says. “We all have some sort of professional qualification for some part of what we do, although there’s no rule that says we have to.” Indeed, four staff members are Oxbridge graduates, but unusually, there is no honours board in the entrance hall and there is apparently no hothousing of pupils for entrance examinations. “I would like to think a child does well because they are a natural scholar, not because they have been pumped full,” Robin says.

Nor does she kowtow to the ISI: “I’m more interested in us doing well what we feel we must do well. We hope inspectors will agree but I won’t do it for the sake of inspections. We’re not part of the normal circuit of obvious names,” Robin says. “We aren’t flash. We don’t boast about our scholarships, although we do have them. We offer something completely different.” (There were, in fact, three scholarships earned last year: to Stowe, Concord College and King’s Worcester.)

What of the future? “I’m not worried about what happens in the next 10 years,” Robin says. “We don’t need to be possessive about it as a family, if someone wants to take over when the time comes.” The latest crop of Englehearts are, as yet, showing few signs of wanting to fall in line: several have gone into farming and one is an airline steward. But then, as Robin points out, she herself came back.


People whose parents live a long life are 25% less likely to get cancer

This is consistent with there being a general syndrome of biological fitness

People whose parents who live to a ripe old age are more likely to live longer themselves, and are less prone to cancer and other common diseases associated with ageing.

Those whose mothers live beyond the age of 91 or fathers live past 97 are 24 per cent less likely to get cancer, say researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School.

They discovered that overall mortality rates dropped by up to 19 per cent for each decade that at least one of the parents lived past the age of 65.

For those whose mothers lived beyond 85, mortality rates were 40 per cent lower, reports The Journals of Gerontology: Series A.

The figure was a little lower (14 per cent) for fathers, possibly because of adverse lifestyle factors such as smoking, which may have been more common in the fathers.

The research saw nearly 10,000 people questioned. The participants were based in America, and were followed up over 18 years, from 1992 to 2010.

They were interviewed every two years, with questions including the ages of their parents and when they died. In 2010, the participants were in their seventies.

Professor William Henley, from the University of Exeter Medical School, said: ‘Previous studies have shown that the children of centenarians tend to live longer with less heart disease, but this is the first robust evidence that the children of longer-lived parents are also less likely to get cancer.

‘We also found that they are less prone to diabetes or suffering a stroke.

‘These protective effects are passed on from parents who live beyond 65 – far younger than shown in previous studies, which have looked at those over the age of 80.

‘Obviously children of older parents are not immune to contracting cancer or any other diseases of ageing, but our evidence shows that rates are lower.

‘We also found that this inherited resistance to age-related diseases gets stronger the older their parents lived.’

Ambarish Dutta, from the Asian Institute of Public Health at the Ravenshaw University in India, said: ‘Interestingly from a nature versus nurture perspective, we found no evidence that these health advantages are passed on from parents-in-law.

‘Despite being likely to share the same environment and lifestyle in their married lives, spouses had no health benefit from their parents-in-law reaching a ripe old age.

‘If the findings resulted from cultural or lifestyle factors, you might expect these effects to extend to husbands and wives in at least some cases, but there was no impact whatsoever.’


British government braced for MPs’ rebellion over new 2030 carbon energy target

Radical policy not radical enough for some

Ministers are braced for a rebellion in the Commons over when to bring in strict new carbon-free targets for Britain’s power companies.

MPs will vote on Tuesday on whether to introduce an amendment to the Energy Bill which would commit the UK to have a “near carbon-free power sector” by 2030.

The MPs’ amendment would bring in the requirement almost immediately, whereas the Government is proposing separately to agree the target in 2016.

The backbench amendment would remove coal-fire and gas-fired power stations from their network unless they can capture and store their emissions.

Backers have said that cutting carbon emissions is needed to check changes in global weather conditions.

Many scientists believe that human activity that releases carbon into the atmosphere contributes to climate change.

Tim Yeo MP, the Conservative chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Committee, and Labour MP Barry Gardiner have been lobbying support for their amendment, which is due to be voted on around 4pm on Tuesday.

Westminster watchers said the vote could be close with the Government’s working majority of 32 slashed to just a single MP, by some calculations.

Campaigners said that as many as 20 Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs could vote in favour of the amendment. Late on Monday it emerged that Charles Kennedy, the former Lib Dem MP, was planning to back the amendment.

Lib Dem MPs are particularly likely to rebel because setting a 2030 target is party policy and is due to be discussed at a party policy meeting on Monday.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls used a speech on Monday to call on Lib Dems to back the amendment.

He said: “I call on every Liberal Democrat who supports a low carbon future to join us and vote with us to make this change happen.”

Duncan Brack MP, vice chairman of the federal policy committee, told “Many of us would like to see our MPs back the Yeo amendment because we believe the Chancellor’s stance on renewables has undermined the investment that’s needed. The Government needs to send a positive signal that it is committed to a low carbon future.”

Ed Davey, the Lib Dem Energy and Climate Change secretary, said that the amendment was not necessary to hit climate targets. He said: “Everything in this Bill is based on the premise that we need to significantly decarbonise our power sector in order to meet climate targets.

“We secured a landmark agreement across the Coalition to treble support for low-carbon investment to £7.6 billion in 2020. And we are reforming the market to provide the certainty required to attract investment in renewables, new nuclear, CCS and demand reduction.

“We have listened to views and added a clause to enable us to set a decarbonisation target for the power sector in 2016. “No political party had this issue in their manifesto, and this will be a world first, an issue that this Coalition Government has addressed head on.”


Eat less meat or face food shortage: Nannying British Liberal politicians

Utter rubbish! Aegentina and Australia will supply all the meat they want

Families should stop eating meat on a daily basis, MPs warn today. Pork, lamb and beef should be ‘occasional’ indulgences rather than dinner-table staples.

They said the global surge in meat and cheese consumption was unsustainable, with the UK ‘never more than a few days from a significant food shortage’.

The Commons international development committee said farmers should rear more animals on grass because livestock is land and energy intensive and grain should be saved for humans.

The report was branded ‘naive, dangerous and bitterly disappointing’ by farming unions. ‘Livestock farming is an essential part of the fabric of the British countryside,’ said Charles Sercombe of the NFU.

‘We turn otherwise unused parts of land into food and protein that the public can eat as part of a balanced diet. We are using the land as efficiently as possible.

‘With many farmers having been dealing with some of the most difficult conditions in years, to encourage the public not to eat meat is unhelpful to say the least.’

Phil Stocker of the National Sheep Association said: ‘The vast majority of land used for sheep farming is not suitable for any other form of agriculture.

‘Would it be more efficient just to leave the land and import our food? Of course not. Millions have grown up eating meat regularly and it is the public’s right to serve what they like on their dinner table.’

But Sir Malcolm Bruce, the Lib Dem chairman of the Commons committee, said: ‘With the UK never more than a few days away from a significant food shortage, UK consumers should also be encouraged over time to reduce how often they eat meat.

‘There is no room for complacency about food security over the coming decades if UK consumers are to enjoy stable supplies and reasonable food prices.

‘UK aid to help smallholders increase food production in the developing world is of direct benefit to UK consumers as rising world food prices will reduce living standards of hard-pressed UK consumers.’

The MPs are demanding ministers tackle food wastage – a study by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers found up to half the food bought from UK supermarkets goes in the bin, often when edible.

The committee’s report on global food security said: ‘We recommend the Government set targets for food waste reduction for producers and retailers and introduce sanctions for failure to meet the targets.’

On the topic of GM food, dubbed ‘Frankenstein foods’, the MPs recognised the technique was ‘controversial’ but added: ‘GMOs have the potential to make a valuable contribution to food security.’

The committee raised concerns about the impact of biofuels – derived from plants such as sugar cane and maize – on the environment and on food prices.

Vast swathes of agricultural land are set aside to grow fuel crops, pushing up the price of staple goods. By law, at least 5 per cent of petrol and diesel sold on British forecourts must be biofuel.

The MPs called on ministers to consider using domestic stockpiles of food to protect against price hikes.

As well as claiming grain should be fed to humans instead of animals, vegetarians and green activists tell steak lovers livestock farming is a major source of harmful greenhouse gases.

But a study in 2010 found that going vegetarian may not be as green as it seems. The Cranfield University research found that switching from British-bred beef and lamb to meat substitutes imported from abroad such as tofu and Quorn would increase the amount of land cultivated.


Fracking could make the UK self-sufficient in gas for at least 15 years

A fracking company has announced that more than ten times as much gas lies under the North West of England than previously believed – and it could make the UK self-sufficient for at least 15 years.

The exploratory energy company IGas has carried out technical studies which suggest the quantity of shale gas in parts of the UK have been vastly underestimated.

It holds a licence for an area of 300 square miles between Liverpool and Manchester and had previously calculated that more than 9 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of shale gas lay beneath the ground.

Fresh technical studies now point to there being as little as 15.1 tcf and as much as 172.3 tcf under the North West. With the company’s best estimate suggesting there is more likely to be 102 tcf available through fracking.

Only a proportion of the total volume will be accessible to the shale gas industry but even if just 10 per cent of the North West’s reserves can be brought to the surface it could end the entire UK’s dependency on foreign imports for a decade.

Andrew Austin, the company’s chief executive, told the BBC: ‘We (Britain) import around 1.5 tcf, we consume around 3 tcf a year, assuming you could recover technically something like 10 to 15 percent of the shale gas in place, then it could move import dependency out for about 10 to 15 years.’

As of 2012, 2.5 million hydraulic fracturing jobs have been performed on oil and gas wells worldwide.

He added in a statement issued by IGas: ‘The announcement of the gas in place volumes of up to ca. 170tcf in our North West acreage follows the completion of a very thorough study by the IGas Technical team and supports our view that these licences have a very significant Shale Gas resource with the potential to transform the company and materially benefit the communities in which we operate.

‘The planned drilling programme, commencing later this year, will further refine these estimates and advance our understanding of this shale basin. We will in due course carry out further analysis and reinterpretation of existing seismic and subsurface data to evaluate the potentially prospective Shale resources in the East Midlands and Weald Basin licence areas.’

Shares in IGas rose to a four-month high of 107.5 pence on Monday morning, falling slightly later in the day but by mid-afternoon were still up by about 12 per cent on the previous day.

Drilling is planned for later this year, which would refine the estimates and the potential of the basin, the company said.

Analysts at Jefferies said that while the estimate range was large, the most likely forecast of about 100 tcf showed the significance of the licence, both relative to IGas’s resource base and the UK’s existing gas reserves.

“While only a portion of that will be recovered even in a success case (U.S. shale recovery factors generally estimated to be about 10-30 percent with current technology/development plans), total proven gas reserves of the UK are about 7 tcf, indicating the materiality of the potential,” they said.

According to government figures, the UK’s total current proven, probable and possible gas reserves stand at around 25 tcf, including 17 tcf of proven and probable gas.

Another energy company, Cuadrilla, announced two years ago that it believes 200 tcf of shale gas lie in its licence areas and that up to 30 per cent could be recovered.

The IGas estimate was, however, treated with skepticism by environmental group Greenpeace


British Liberal attacks papers who report ‘destructive’ climate sceptics

Newspapers are wrong to give a “platform” for campaigners and groups that question whether climate change is caused by human activity, Ed Davey, the energy secretary, will say.

Mr Davey will attack “destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism” about climate change, and criticise parts of the media for the way they report that scepticism.

The minister’s comments come as MPs prepare to vote on a new legal target to cut carbon emissions from Britain’s power plants.

An amendment to the Energy Bill would commit the UK to have a “near carbon-free power sector” by 2030.

Backers of the amendment say that cutting carbon emissions is needed to check changes in global weather conditions.

Many scientists believe that human activity that releases carbon into the atmosphere contributes to climate change.

One recent survey of 12,000 academic papers on climate change found 97 per cent agree human activities are causing the planet to warm.

Some scientists and politicians question that consensus.

Last week, Tim Yeo, the chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change committee, said it was possible that “natural phases” in the climate may explain warming, and not human activity.

Lord Lawson of Blaby, a former Chancellor, has also questioned the consensus on climate change.

According to a speech text given to the BBC before its delivery, Mr Davey will attack newspapers who give what he says is undue space to reporting those who are sceptical about the climate consensus.

“Of course there will always be uncertainties within climate science and the need for research to continue.

“But some sections of the press are giving an uncritical campaigning platform to individuals and lobby groups,” the minister will say.

“This is not the serious science of challenging, checking and probing.

“This is destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism born of vested interest, nimbyism, publicity seeking contraversialism or sheer blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness.

“This tendency will seize upon the normal expression of scientific uncertainty and portray it as proof that all climate change policy is hopelessly misguided.

He will add: “By selectively misreading the evidence, they seek to suggest that climate change has stopped so we can all relax and burn all the dirty fuel we want without a care.

“Those who argue against all the actions we are taking to reduce emissions, without any serious and viable alternative, are asking us to take a massive gamble with the planet our children will inherit, in the face of all the evidence, against overwhelming odds.”

Some Conservative MPs say that the most important change required in energy policy is to allow more “fracking”, the extraction of shale gas from the earth.

Shale gas has transformed the energy market in the US, reducing American dependency on imported oil and gas, and some MPs say Britain could follow suit.

IGas, a company licensed to explore for shale gas in northern England, today claimed that reserves in the area are much larger than previously thought.

The company said there may be up to 170 trillion cubic feet of gas in the area. That is almost 20 times more than previously thought, and equal to more than 50 years of the UK’s current annual gas consumption.


Britain’s social work Gestapo again

Secret court jails father for sending son 21st birthday greeting on Facebook after he was gagged from naming him

A father has been jailed at a secret court hearing for sending a Facebook message to his grown-up son on his 21st birthday. Garry Johnson, 46, breached a draconian gagging order which stops him publicly naming his son, Sam, whom he has brought up and who still lives with him.

In a case which is certain to fuel concerns about Britain’s shadowy network of secret courts, a judge sent the former music executive to prison for contempt at a closed-doors family court hearing in Essex at the beginning of last month.

He was not arrested by police or even represented by a lawyer.

The order silencing Mr Johnson – which follows an acrimonious divorce eight years ago – means he cannot mention either of his boys, 21-year-old Sam and Adam, 18, in public, even by congratulating them in a local newspaper announcement when they get engaged, married or have children in the future.

The extraordinary gag is set to last until the end of his life, although his boys are now adults. Last night they condemned their father’s jailing as ‘cruel and ludicrous’.

After their parents’ divorce, the two boys chose to live with their father, following a series of rows with their mother over her new boyfriend.

But within a year of the divorce, Mr Johnson’s ex-wife made allegations to Essex social workers that he was neglecting the children and not feeding them properly at his smart family home.

An investigation by social workers cleared him of any wrongdoing and said the boys were fine.

A year later, in 2006, she made further allegations to social workers that he was mentally unfit to care for the boys.

Medical documents shown to the Mail by Sam and Adam reveal that Mr Johnson was examined three times by a local psychiatrist hired by social workers. The doctor wrote to social workers saying:

‘There is no evidence of mental illness. I cannot understand why there are concerns about Mr Johnson’s mental health.’

Social services refused, as a result, to get involved.

In 2007, the ex-wife started private care proceedings to remove the boys from their father. A judge put the boys under a ‘living at home with parent’ care order.

It meant they would continue to live with their father, but under supervision by social services.

This care order was accompanied by the gagging order to stop an increasingly anguished Mr Johnson talking about the case publicly. Even naming his sons in the most innocuous circumstances – such as on Facebook – became a contempt of court.

The care order on Sam expired on his 18th birthday three years ago. The one on Adam in October last year when he reached 18. Normally, a gagging order imposed by a family court judge on a parent expires at the same time as a care order on the child. This one did not.

Mr Johnson was imprisoned at the height of the Mail’s campaign against jailings by this country’s network of secret courts.

The secretive family court system, which jailed Mr Johnson, deals with custody wrangles, children’s care orders and adoption.

Mr Johnson received a letter in late April from Chelmsford County Court officials ordering him to go to Basildon Magistrates’ Court building on May 2 for a hearing regarding his children.

He was not warned he might face imprisonment or that the hearing was about his Facebook message, posted on Sam’s birthday a few days earlier on April 23.

On arrival, he was escorted by court security guards to a private room in the building for a half hour hearing under family court rules before His Honour Judge Damien Lochrane. He was not warned that he might need a lawyer.

At the private hearing, Mr Johnson learned he had breached a gagging order, imposed by the family courts in 2007, by sending the Facebook message.

He informed the judge that he had had four heart attacks and was awaiting a triple by-pass operation. But he was sentenced to 28 days’ jail and sent down to a court cell to await transport to Chelmsford prison.

In the court cell, he had a heart attack caused by the shock. Rushed to a local hospital by ambulance, he was then shackled and handcuffed to a bed while on oxygen and receiving morphine.

A team of prison officers were put on 24-hour shifts beside his bed to make sure he did not escape.

He recovered and was sent to prison two days later, serving two weeks of the sentence before being released. Details of the horrifying case were made public to the Mail by his sons, who are not subject to any gagging order according to their Essex-based lawyer, Alan Foskett.

The jailing provoked a horrified response from MPs last night. John Hemming, the Lib Dem MP who has campaigned against the secret courts, said: ‘This is yet another example of how the secret courts are stopping freedom of speech. I have never heard of a gagging order of this kind going on into adulthood. This is a surreal case.’

Mr Johnson’s local MP, John Baron, said: ‘I have helped Mr Johnson and his sons – who always wanted to live with him – over several years. To find he has been imprisoned for sending a birthday message to one of them is troubling.

‘Whilst I appreciate the need to protect children, the family court system often ignores the legitimate wishes of families. This needs to change, and quickly.’

Sam, a telesales manager and former professional footballer, said last night: ‘My dad is a good father and has never been in trouble with the police. He was treated like a criminal. This ludicrous gagging order should not exist and must now be lifted.

Both Adam and myself are adults. This cruel ruling is now hanging over my father to silence him about the sons he loves for the rest of his life. That is a terrible thing in what is meant to be a free country.’

Mr Johnson was imprisoned a day before senior judges, on May 3, reacted to the Mail campaign by saying they planned to stop courts jailing defendants in secret for contempt.

The Ministry of Justice this week said that it does not count up people jailed by the family courts because the numbers are ‘so small’.

A spokesman said of the courts: ‘It is very rare for anyone to be imprisoned for contempt of court and it only ever happens in extreme circumstances when a person has continually disregarded legally binding requirements made by the court and clearly communicated to them.

‘A person accused of contempt of court will always be given their full legal right to defend himself or herself at a hearing will always be heard in an open court.’

However, it is estimated by campaigners and MPs that up to 200 parents a year are imprisoned for contempt by the family courts. Because of the controversial secrecy rules, some have been sent to jail for discussing their case with MPs or charity workers advising them.


Human rights fraud

He may not be much of a comedian, but he’s certainly having a laugh: Paul Shiner and The Great Human Rights Swindle

For the past decade, Phil Shiner, head of the Birmingham-based Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), has made a handsome living suing the British taxpayer – at the British taxpayers’ expense

For the past decade, Phil Shiner, head of the Birmingham-based Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), has made a handsome living suing the British taxpayer – at the British taxpayers’ expense

Human rights lawyers are not famous for their sense of humour. So it was something of a surprise to learn that the sour-faced solicitor Phil Shiner lists comedy as one of his hobbies.

For the past decade, Shiner has made a handsome living suing the British taxpayer — at the British taxpayers’ expense.

Shiner is head of the Birmingham-based Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) — not to be confused with the post-punk band Public Image Limited (PiL), put together by Johnny Rotten after the self-immolation of the Sex Pistols.

Rotten once starred in a movie called The Great Rock ’n’ Roll Swindle. If Shiner is ever immortalised on the silver screen it should be called The Great Human Rights Swindle.

Shiner’s firm specialises in bringing actions against the British Army.

I first crossed swords with him on TV during the Iraq war when his representatives were harvesting claims in the back streets of Baghdad and Basra. PIL is a yuman rites version of one of those Blame Direct outfits who advertise on daytime TV.

Have you been tortured by a British soldier? You could be entitled to com-pen-say-shun.

Shiner is always on the lookout for a jihadist with a grievance which can be used to discredit the Army and win some hard cash. Unlike Blame Direct and the rest of the ‘no win, no fee’ brigade, Shiner gets paid win, lose or draw.

He is bankrolled out of the legal aid budget.

Over the years he has secured £3 million compensation for his clients, mostly foreign nationals who have alleged abuse at the hands of British troops in Iraq.

His work won him the prestigious accolade ‘Human Rights Lawyer of the Year’ in 2004. I bet that was a fun night.

We don’t know how much he has earned, but legal aid fees clocked up in cases filed by PIL must run into millions.

And at a time when the Government is attempting to bring under control the burgeoning £2 billion legal aid budget, Shiner continues to thrive.

As part of the proposed £350 million cuts, members of middle-class households with an annual income of £37,000 will no longer be entitled to legal aid for a whole raft of civil claims, including debt and divorce.

Yet the funding for firms such as PIL to bring claims for damages on behalf of foreign nationals over incidents alleged to have taken place thousands of miles away would appear to be unaffected.

This week Shiner turned up on Radio 4’s Today Programme peddling his latest crusade for truth and justice. He was given a prime platform by a gleeful BBC to denounce ‘Britain’s Guantanamo Bay’.

Shiner claimed that dozens of Afghans are being held in a ‘secret prison’ at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province.

He demanded they should be brought before a court or released. He said: ‘This is a secret facility that’s been used to unlawfully detain or intern up to 85 Afghans that they’ve kept secret, that Parliament doesn’t know about, that courts previously when they have interrogated issues like detention and internment in Afghanistan have never been told about — completely off the radar.

‘It is reminiscent of the public’s awakening that there was a Guantanamo Bay.

‘And people will be wondering if these detainees are being treated humanely and in accordance with international law.’

This must be where Shiner’s legendary sense of humour comes into play. He should know full well that this isn’t a ‘secret prison’. And he is aware that the Army has been trying to get rid of these prisoners for years.

Back in 2010, Britain wanted to hand over the detainees to the Afghan justice system. Eventually the High Court in London ruled that they could not be transferred to the Afghans because they might be tortured, which would breach their yuman rites.

Far from being ‘detained unlawfully’ they are being held in British custody on the specific orders of a British court.

You’d expect Shiner to know that. Because in 2010, the original Camp Bastion case was brought by, you guessed, one Phil Shiner. On legal aid, natch. So how does he explain telling the BBC this was a ‘secret camp’, ‘off the radar’, that the courts haven’t been told about?

Now, three years later, he’s heading back to court to argue that the detainees should be put on trial or set free.

Talk about playing both ends. Like Boris Johnson, Shiner appears to be pro-having cake and pro-eating it.

But thanks to the success of his earlier lawsuit, the High Court has ruled the prisoners can’t be entrusted to the Afghan legal system.

Since Shiner doesn’t approve of military justice, that means they would have to be released back into the local community, where they would be at liberty to resume their terrorist activities.

In comedy, as in life, timing is everything.

Just a week after a British soldier was murdered by Islamist terrorists on the streets of South London, this is an odd time to argue that we should be releasing their comrades-in-jihad on to the streets of Afghanistan to kill more of our troops.

Whatever happens next, one thing is certain: yet again the final bill will fall to the mug British taxpayers.

Shiner may not be much of a comedian, but he’s certainly having a laugh. And the joke’s on us.



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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