Mother, 41, died after bungling doctors missed aggressive cancer ELEVEN TIMES in a year and said her sore throat was just tonsillitis

A mother of four died after ten different doctors over 11 months failed to spot that she had cancer, an inquest heard.

Victoria Wyers-Roebuck, 41, was diagnosed with tonsillitis when she complained of a sore throat. It was only after her death that the rare nasal cancer was diagnosed.

Coroner Ian Smith criticised the NHS over its failure to recognise the condition and what he described as ‘a complete lack of urgency’.

The inquest heard how Miss Wyers-Roebuck, of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, went to see her local GP at Norwood Medical Centre in July 2011 complaining of a very sore throat. She was diagnosed with tonsillitis. Over the next 11 months she visited the surgery 12 times, seeing a number of different doctors.

She also attended Furness General Hospital six times, including the accident and emergency department, and was admitted three times.

Miss Wyers-Roebuck’s GP, Dr Steve McQuillan, said that with hindsight if she had been seeing just one doctor she may have had an earlier referral to see a specialist. He added: ‘I have been a GP for over 20 years and I suspect continuity of care was better back then.’

Miss Wyers-Roebuck’s mother, Paula, said her daughter had been unhappy with the medical care. ‘All she wanted to do was to be pain-free and continue living her life without suffering,’ she said.

Her partner, Kevin Nelson, 39, said: ‘Vicky complained of a sore throat but at no point did she even think it could be cancer. Vicky was let down by the NHS and doctors, who should have picked it up.’

Miss Wyers-Roebuck had her tonsils removed at Furness Hospital on May 1, 2012 and they were sent off to be tested. Because of a backlog at the lab, the results did not come back until after Miss Wyers-Roebuck had died on June 20 from organ failure brought on by the disease.

The surgeon, Mohammad Yuseff Main, blamed himself for not chasing up the results. He said new guidelines meant all results were chased up after two weeks.

The coroner said there had been ‘a lack of continuity’ at the GPs’ surgery and the hospital. ‘They all just got a bit of the picture rather than the whole picture,’ said Mr Smith. ‘This is the failure of the NHS system not an individual.

He recorded a verdict of death by natural causes. The hearing at Furness Magistrates’ Court heard that the cancer was so rare there have been only 12 cases in eight years in the north of England.

Jackie Daniel, the chief executive of the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for Furness Hospital, said the organisation was ‘truly sorry’ and that elements of Miss Wyers-Roebuck’s care ‘should have been done differently’.

‘Following her death, we carried out an internal review of her care to understand what happened. We also instructed an external clinician to look at the case,’ said Miss Daniel. ‘The outcome of these reviews showed that there were elements of the care that should have been done differently.

‘Miss Wyers-Roebuck was suffering from a very rare and very aggressive form of lymphoma/leukaemia and whilst we cannot be sure whether the outcome would have been different had the diagnosis been made quicker, we did let her down and for that we are truly sorry.’

She said the trust would meet Miss Wyers-Roebuck’s family to discuss the findings of the reviews.


Coroner orders police to investigate doctor over ‘extraordinary’ delay in treating premature baby whose breathing tube fell out for 30 minutes before she died

Another “overseas trained”doctor

A coroner has asked the police to investigate the following what he called a doctor’s ‘extraordinary’ delay in treating a seriously ill baby.

Sheffield coroner Chris Dorries halted an inquest this afternoon and said he would be sending the notes to the Crown Prosecution Service to investigate a possible case of gross negligent manslaughter.

The inquest heard that seven-week-old Summer Hawcroft died from a severe brain injury after her artificial breathing tube became dislodged in the neo-natal unit at Barnsley District Hospital.

There was a ‘window’ of about 30 minutes before Dr Vishwanath Kamoji, who was in charge of Summer, reacted and had the endotracheal tube changed.

Heartbroken mother Michaela Hawcroft accused locum paediatric consultant Dr Kamoji of ‘killing her baby’ after an expert said they hoped the doctor had learned from his mistakes.

Tearful Mrs Hawcroft, 26, interrupted the Sheffield hearing and said: ‘It’s all right sticking up for him. He killed my baby.’

Experts have told the inquest the tube had been incorrectly fitted by Dr Kamoji and it was probable that the baby was starved of oxygen during this time, leading to the brain injury.

Professor Simon Mitchell, a consultant neo-natologist called to give evidence for Summer’s family, said there were several clinical failings by Dr Kamoji which amounted to a ‘fundamental error’ having been made.

He failed to discover the tube had been dislodged and properly assess the baby, did not secure her airways, ignored the clinical picture and dismissed concerns voiced by fellow nurses and a junior doctor.

In the end he brought in an on-call consultant before making the decision to change the tube.

Prof Mitchell said: ‘I think Dr Kamoji made an error in his clinical judgment and this was a fundamental error during a resuscitation situation which was compounded by failure to take account of information which was being made available to him.’

The inquest has already heard from another paediatric expert Dr Martin Ward Platt that the consultant’s inaction during the 30-minute period amounted to ‘gross failure’ and he should have changed the tube earlier.

Summer, who weighed only two pounds and two ounces when born on April 23, 2011 by caesarean section after 27 weeks gestation, had a promising start but began to suffer breathing problems.

She required several intubations and ventilation to aid her breathing but during the early hours of May 4 began to deteriorate.

Dr Kamoji inserted a larger endotracheal tube at 2.40am but her condition worsened and she collapsed at 5.03am. Staff were particularly alarmed as the baby had a large amount of gas in her stomach.

They summoned Dr Kamoji who arrived minutes before 5.35am and did checks but failed to spot the tube had become dislodged. It was eventually replaced at 6.03am.

By this time the damage was done and Summer was transferred to a specialist unit in Sheffield where she died on June 11 when she was just 49 days old.

Prof Mitchell told the hearing the tube fitted by Dr Kamoji was ‘much higher than you would wish it to be’ and the infant’s abdomen was visibly distended indicating the tube was incorrectly placed.

An X-ray was taken at 5.40am but not viewed until 6am by the doctor. ‘You would want to see it as soon as possible,’ said Prof Mitchell. ‘If the tube is in the wrong place and the baby is not being ventilated properly that is an urgent situation.’

He said the consultant’s primary aim in resuscitating Summer should have been to establish that Summer had a secure and open airway. The lack of an airway was ‘likely to have caused significant brain damage.

He added: ‘There was a fundamental failure and it was unusually persistent.’

He did not believe there was any criminal culpability but calling in a second consultant to remove the tube was ‘most unusual.’

Dr Janet Rennie, a consultant neo-natologist called by Dr Kamoji’s legal team, told the inquest the tube must have moved some time after 5am but nobody had been able to pinpoint why.

She agreed there was an ‘error of judgment’ by Dr Kamoji in failing to replace the tube during the 30-minute window but in her opinion it was not serious enough to be reported to the medical authorities.

He should have revisited standard resuscitation procedures when the baby collapsed and had adopted a ‘blinkered’ approach which was a breach of duty.

‘As events did unfold it becomes less understandable and less rational but judgment becomes clouded by the stress of these situations,’ she said.

Pathologist Dr Mudher Al-Adnani said she died from a hypoxic brain injury which was ‘quite extensive and widespread’ but it could have been a combination of several factors rather than a single event.

Dr Kamoji qualified as a doctor in India in March, 1993 and has practised in the UK since 2000. He has worked as a senior house officer on neo-natal units in Lincolnshire, Gwent, Leicester and Nottingham and has been on the specialist paediatrics register since August, 2009.

After the inquest was adjourned Mtthew Brown, the family’s solicitor said: ‘Although they continue to grieve for Summer my clients are pleased that Mr Dorries has recognised the magnitude of the failures in her care at Barnsley Hospital by referring the case to the Crown Prosecution Service.

‘We now await a decision on whether a criminal prosecution for gross negligent manslaughter will be pursued.’


Children’s play is under threat from adults who ‘over-supervise’ and ‘over-schedule’, a British report says

It says youngsters cannot develop normally and are ‘play deprived’ because of our risk-averse, regimented lifestyles.

This means many lack vital skills such as resourcefulness, independence or self-regulation.

The research, discussed on EU ‘play day’ at the European Parliament yesterday, is the work of Dr David Whitebread, a senior lecturer in psychology of education at Cambridge University.

He consulted researchers from across Europe and found children’s leisure time is cut down by too much school work, safety fears, and lack of understanding of the impact of free play.

His report, The Importance of Play, warns ‘play provision is under threat in Europe’ and adult intervention is often ‘counter-productive’.

It says the UK in particular is ‘quite risk-averse’, with children ‘heavily supervised’ and forced to play indoors or in a garden or specially designed soft play area.

This compares with the more rural Scandinavian countries where children play independently in natural surroundings. Just a generation ago, British children did the same, it adds.

Children have ‘increasingly limited opportunities for the free play and association with their peers which were so commonly available ….. to their parents and grandparents,’ the report says. Life in big cities adds to the problem, making children ‘much more heavily scheduled’.

Poor children in cities can suffer from ‘stressed parenting’ and lack of access to the outdoors, while wealthier families may be overly cautious about dangers.

The report states: ‘Children brought up in relatively affluent households may be over-scheduled and over-supervised as a consequence of perceptions of urban environments as dangerous for children, and a growing culture of risk-averse parenting.’

If lack of play becomes severe it can lead to ‘abnormalities in neurological development’.

Dr Whitebread writes that over-supervision is growing, with more and more parents worried about children playing outside due to traffic, crime, harassment and violence, abduction, and germs.

There are also problems at school, with pressure to learn the curriculum and meet standards.

Combined with curbs on free play at home, this leads to a ‘worrying picture’ across Europe, with ‘a growing tendency to reduce play time in children’s lives, both at school and home, in order to increase time for “learning”’.

The report recommends cities be organised ‘with children in mind’, to enable them to play in the street and walk to school.

Informal outdoor activities should be encouraged at school, with longer breaks to encourage more physical activity.

The European Parliament event was planned by the Toy Industries of Europe, whose members include the LEGO Group.


Revealed: The British charity that uses taxpayer cash to campaign for migrant benefits and protect a foreign rapist

Tacpayer’ money funded a team of lawyers fighting European Court of Human Rights cases on behalf of foreign criminals and illegal immigrants.

The human rights quango the Equality and Human Rights Commission quietly gave nearly £200,000 to a pressure group so it could take controversial human rights cases to the court in Strasbourg.

The group, the AIRE Centre (Advice on Individual Rights in Europe), used the money to fight and win a series of cases and represented among others a Nigerian rapist and two Somali criminals who won the right to stay in Britain.

The cases were picked as part of a policy of ‘strategic litigation’ designed to overturn ministerial decisions and rulings made in British courts, and to extend equality and human rights laws in favour of immigrants and criminals.

The centre – a registered charity – was in the news yesterday as the source of the legal complaint against Britain for restricting access to our benefits system.

It brought test cases arguing for the right of EU immigrants not to have to undergo a residency test before they can claim a host of benefits.

The European Commission has now referred Britain to the EU’s European Court of Justice in Luxembourg over the right to reside test.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith accused the European Commission of a power grab and has vowed to ‘fight every step of the way’ to retain the residency test. But yesterday the Mail revealed that the group was handed around half a million pounds over five years by the Foreign Office.

Now an investigation has revealed further funding, by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. Over three years, from April 2009 to April 2012, the AIRE Centre received £185,906.

The money was for a project designed to get around a ban on Government legal aid funding for cases at the European Court of Human Rights. The centre used the money to hire staff and recruit lawyers to bring cases before the court.

One major case it won involved two Somali criminals who won the right to stay in Britain and, crucially, led to a ruling which shackled ministers in their efforts to send home dozens of other Somali criminals living here.

Another involved a Nigerian rapist whose deportation was blocked by Strasbourg because of his right to a ‘private and family life’ under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The centre also lobbied Parliament for prisoners to be given the vote and supported cases involving prisoner voting rights before the Strasbourg court.

In its project application documents to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, the AIRE Centre said the project would ‘improve the response to systemic human rights and equality failures that exist in Great Britain by offering a strategic response’. It said: ‘The AIRE Centre targeted litigation… will maximise the impact of the European Court’s jurisprudence in specific areas.’

The money was spent on a team of human rights lawyers together with staff, administrative, training, building, and travel costs, legal and professional fees and a hotline for applicants to register their cases.

The centre’s funding application, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, said it was unable to take on cases even if it considered them ‘viable’. It said: ‘We have only been able to adopt an ad hoc rather than strategic approach to our ECtHR litigation due to our limited resources.’

The charity – set up in 1993 by human rights lawyer Nuala Mole – has also received funding from the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and Comic Relief.

Tory MP Priti Patel said: ‘It is outrageous that taxpayers’ money is being used and abused in this way. It is particularly outrageous that money is being used to undermine benefit rules when the British public are crying out for benefit reform.’

A spokesman for the equalities commission said: ‘The commission provided funding to support the centre’s work on issues including human trafficking, domestic violence and protecting the human rights of those at risk of torture.’


The Daily Mail did not kill Lucy Meadows

A coroner’s ruling that the press helped drive a transgender teacher to her death marks a new low in the culture of ‘You can’t say that’.

Since the UK phone-hacking scandal broke and the News of the World closed in 2011, it has been open season on the popular press. Self-righteous critics have felt free to blame the tabloid newspapers for everything from the recession to rape. Now matters have moved a little further down the slippery slope, with a state official effectively accusing the British press, and the Daily Mail in particular, of helping to cause the death of a transgender primary-school teacher.

Michael Singleton, the coroner for Blackburn in Lancashire, this week told the inquest into the death of Lucy Meadows that the ‘sensational and salacious’ press coverage of the teacher’s gender change had been a big factor in her decision to commit suicide in March. The coroner declared his intention to call on the government to implement Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals for controlling the press, to ensure that nobody else was driven to their deaths by such ‘ill-informed bigotry’. Singleton concluded his ruling by turning to the media reporters present in court and declaring, like an Old Testament prophet, ‘Shame on you all!’. (The Guardian headline omitted the ‘all’ from this judgement, perhaps because they were certain he could not be talking to them.)

Nobody has to like the Daily Mail, of course, and anybody must be free to criticise its coverage. But this is different. A coroner now feels free not only to declare that the Mail and others contributed to a tragic death – despite the absence of any real evidence to support that claim – but to demand that the government crack down on the press. That is a sign of how far the lobby to curb press freedom has advanced across British politics and society.

We have seen throughout the Leveson circus that anti-tabloid crusaders have used high-profile victims of phone-hacking as ‘human shields’ behind which to pursue their wider agenda of purging the press. Now it seems that some are prepared to use a suicide as a weapon in the propaganda war over press freedom. What was that about the ‘sensational’ exploitation of people’s lives to make headlines?

The story of Lucy Meadows hit the news late last year, after the head of a primary school in Accrington, Lancashire, wrote to inform parents that teacher Nathan Upton had ‘recently made a significant change in his life and will be transitioning to live as a woman’. Mr Upton returned to the school after Christmas as Ms Meadows, wearing women’s clothes. First the local and then national press picked up on the story after some parents expressed concerns about the effect this dramatic change might have on their children; one father was widely quoted as saying that his three sons at the primary school were ‘too young to be dealing with that’.

Then Richard Littlejohn, the conservative Mail’s notoriously provocative columnist, weighed in with his characteristically forthright opinion on the case. His column, published in December under the headline ‘He’s not only in the wrong body… he’s in the wrong job’, asked whether anybody had considered the ‘devastating effect’ this teacher’s gender transformation could have on the young pupils, and suggested that Ms Meadows should have left the school and gone to teach elsewhere.

In January, Ms Meadows complained to the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) about ‘press harassment’ and about the Littlejohn column in particular. As a result, the Mail removed the offending article from its website, and Ms Meadows thanked the PCC for helping to resolve the dispute.

The tone of the Littlejohn article is clear from this extract (worth reprinting since it is no longer available on the Mail’s website):

‘The school shouldn’t be allowed to elevate its “commitment to diversity and equality” above its duty of care to its pupils and their parents. It should be protecting pupils from some of the more, er, challenging realities of adult life, not forcing them down their throats.

‘These are primary-school children, for heaven’s sake. Most of them still believe in Father Christmas. Let them enjoy their childhood. They will lose their innocence soon enough.

‘The head teacher denies that pupils will be punished for referring to the teacher as Mr Upton but added ominously that they would be “expected to behave properly around her”. Nathan Upton is entitled to his gender reassignment surgery, but he isn’t entitled to project his personal problems on to impressionable young children.’

To some of us at the time, Littlejohn’s column about Lucy Meadows seemed fairly constrained by his own standards. For instance, he acknowledged her right to change gender, and to continue to teach – though not at the same school where she had been Mr Upton.

To many others, however, it seemed that Littlejohn had committed a hate crime by criticising Lucy Meadows and the school. The outrage exploded on social networking websites in March, when it was reported that Ms Meadows had been found dead in her home, having apparently poisoned herself after two failed suicide attempts. Protesters gathered outside the Mail’s offices, and launched a Twitter onslaught and online petitions calling for Littlejohn to be sacked. These petitions now claim to have gathered a quarter of a million signatures.

The gathering storm of outrage culminated this week in the coroner’s official ruling that the press – and the ‘ill-informed bigotry’ of the Mail and Littlejohn in particular – had contributed to Lucy Meadows’ suicide. He called on the government to implement ‘in full’ Lord Justice Leveson’s proposals for taming the press, in order to prevent further deaths.

In fact, as the Mail and others have since pointed out, there was no real evidence to suggest that the press coverage of Ms Meadows’ gender change contributed to her death. She left a long and eloquent suicide note, trying to explain her reasons for taking her own life. It made no mention at all of the press.

Instead, she talked about her financial problems, the stress of her job and, most importantly, the way she had been left bereft by recent bereavements, including the loss of her parents. Ms Meadows’ therapist told the inquest that she had found the media intrusion ‘very stressful’ but ‘easier to deal with than she had thought’, because she had been more concerned about the terminal illness and death of somebody she loved. The woman who had previously been married to Nathan Upton, and had his child, said that Ms Meadows had been ‘more annoyed than anything’ about the press ‘intrusion’ into their lives. She said her former spouse had first discussed suicide in February: ‘She said there was not enough to keep her here.’

Like many suicides, Lucy Meadows’ death appears to have been the tragic outcome of a complex set of personal circumstances, difficult for anybody to comprehend from the outside. Such events do not lend themselves to sweeping explanations. That did not stop the coroner, despite the absence of any evidence, declaring that the shameful press had helped drive her to her death. He acknowledged that she had not mentioned the press in her suicide note, but effectively decided that he knew better than her.

It is also worth asking: even if Lucy Meadows’ note had blamed the media coverage, or named Richard Littlejohn, would it really have changed anything? The coroner said that if she had mentioned the press at all, he would certainly have summonsed ‘various journalists and editors to this inquest to give evidence and be called into account’. Yet whatever she had said or thought, the press reports and comments about the transgender teacher would still remain only words. It would still have been her who committed the act of suicide, and the ultimate responsibility for taking her own life would still lie with Ms Meadows herself.

As her suicide note put it, ‘I have simply had enough of living. I am not depressed or mentally ill in some way. I may have different worldviews to others to the point that most may not consider this a rational act. But it is right to me. All the things I have wanted to accomplish I have done. I have no regrets other than leaving behind those dear to me and causing them pain in doing so, for which I am deeply sorry.’

Coroner Singleton complained that the case showed ‘nothing has been learned from the Leveson Inquiry’ into the ‘culture, practices and ethics’ of the press. The implication is that the treatment of Lucy Meadows shows that the tabloid press is still free to do what it previously did to such victims as the parents of Madeleine McCann or Christopher Jefferies, who were star witnesses at the Leveson Inquiry.

But from my point of view, this case shows that things have indeed moved on since Leveson – and in the opposite direction. The Mail and others did not make false factual allegations of serious offences against Ms Meadows, as newspapers did against the McCanns or Jefferies. Instead, what Richard Littlejohn did was to express his opinion about the transgender teacher returning to the same school.

That opinion may have offended many, including the coroner who deemed it ‘ill-informed bigotry’. But it remains an opinion, not an offence. Yet the expression of opinions deemed outside the respectable mainstream of polite society is now apparently considered a suitable case for punitive action by the government and the courts, acting on the word of the good Lord Justice Leveson. That is a major change – and one for the worse.

It may seem perverse to some to have to defend the principle of press freedom in such a sad case as the suicide of Lucy Meadows. But these are the hard cases in which it is important to hold the line. Not because we necessarily agree with anything Littlejohn might say, but because we agree with another popular journalist, George Orwell, that ‘if liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear’. The fact that some might use press freedom for ends of which we disapprove is no reason to allow others to encroach upon it.

No doubt a coroner should be free to express his prejudices about the press, just as a tabloid columnist is at liberty to express his opinions and prejudices and be judged on them. But there is no excuse for demanding state action to curb the expression of opinions that are not to the taste of the bench.

The discussion around the Lucy Meadows case reveals how persuasive the creeping culture of ‘I blame the media’ and ‘You can’t say that’ has become. You do not have to like the British tabloid press at all. But in a free society, I’m afraid you really should have to lump it.


Gay marriage opponents like supporters of apartheid, says C of E bishop who apparently can’t find his Bible

Is God an apartheid practitioner? Presumably he must be if we regard him as the author of Leviticus

A senior Anglican bishop has likened opponents of gay marriage to Christians who used the Bible to justify slavery and apartheid.
Opponents of gay marriage like supporters of apartheid, says senior bishop

The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam, suggested Christians should “rethink” their interpretation of Scripture in light of changing attitudes towards homosexuality in society.

In a strongly worded intervention as members of the House of Lords prepare to debate the Government’s draft legislation introducing gay marriage, Bishop Holtam told peers that allowing gay couples to wed would be a “very strong endorsement” of the institution of marriage.

Bishop Holtam previously opposed gay marriage, but is now the only diocesan bishop in the country to publicly favour the proposed new law.

In a letter sent to Lord Alli, a gay Muslim peer, and published in The Daily Telegraph, Bishop Holtam distanced himself from the Church of England’s official opposition to same-sex marriage, saying: “Christian morality comes from the mix of Bible, Christian tradition and our reasoned experience.

“Sometimes Christians have had to rethink the priorities of the Gospel in the light of experience.

“For example, before Wilberforce, Christians saw slavery as Biblical and part of the God-given ordering of creation. Similarly in South Africa the Dutch Reformed Church supported Apartheid because it was Biblical and part of the God-given order of creation. No one now supports either slavery or apartheid. The Biblical texts have not changed; our interpretation has.”

Bishop Holtam’s intervention comes as peers from all main political parties prepare to mount a last-ditch attempt to block the draft legislation, which has been championed by David Cameron.

Among peers set to criticise the Bill on Monday are the former head of the British army Lord Dannatt and Lord Lothian, or Michael Ancram, a former Conservative Party chairman.

Lord Dear, the retired chief constable of West Midlands Police and crossbench peer leading opposition to the Bill, has described the Bill as “ill-thought through”, saying its critics were not “anti-homosexual”. Earlier this week he said Monday’s vote would be “too close to call.”

The Church of England, which has 26 bishops in the Lords, formally opposes the move and there has been speculation that the Most Rev Justin Welby, the recently appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, will be among bishops voicing their concerns about the policy at the debate.

A statement issued by the Church’s House of Bishops and Archbishops’ Council last year and endorsed by the Archbishop, said same-sex weddings were against Anglican teachings and would undermine the state of marriage, as well as being “divisive” and “legally flawed”.

However, the statement prompted a groundswell of opposition within the Church and two suffragan bishops broke ranks to say it did not speak for them, nor for a substantial number of clergy and churchgoers.

Bishop Holtam, a diocesan bishop who sits in the House of Bishops but not the Lords, indicated his support for gay marriage in an interview and a speech last year but has been cautious about intervening in the ongoing debate.

Lord Alli, however, asked the bishop to set out his views for the benefit of peers debating the Government’s legislation next week.

In the letter to the Labour peer Bishop Holtam said: “You, as a gay Muslim, will not be surprised that there are a variety of views within the Church of England where we are experiencing rapid change similar to that in the wider society.”

He added: “The possibility of ‘gay marriage’ does not detract from heterosexual marriage unless we think that homosexuality is a choice rather than the given identity of a minority of people.

“Indeed the development of marriage for same sex couples is a very strong endorsement of the institution of marriage.”

The Church’s leadership indicated as part of its opposition to the move that it favours civil partnerships as a way for gay couples to demonstrate their commitment to each other.

However in the letter Bishop Holtam suggests civil partnerships are same-sex marriage in all but name, saying “this now needs recognition in law.”

He said: “Like the Archbishops now, I used to think that it was helpful to distinguish between same sex civil partnerships and heterosexual marriage. Many in the churches think the commonly used description of civil partnerships as ‘gay marriage’ is a category error.

“However, the relationships I know in civil partnerships seem to be either of the same nature as some marriages or so similar as to be indistinguishable. Indeed, the legal protection and public proclamation which civil partnership has afforded gay relationships appears to have strengthened their likeness to marriage in terms of increasing commitment to working on the relationship itself, to contributing to the wellbeing of both families of origin, and to acting as responsible and open members of society.

He added: “Open recognition and public support have increased in civil partnerships those very qualities of life for which marriage itself is so highly celebrated. It is not surprising this now needs recognition in law.”

The legislation was passed by the House of Commons last week despite an attempt by almost half of Conservative MPs, among them two Cabinet ministers, to block the move.

It includes so-called “quadruple locks”, described by Bishop Holtam as “extraordinarily robust”, to protect religious groups, including the Church of England, who do not wish to carry out same-sex ceremonies.


Homosexual weddings pave the way for polygamy, warns former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey

A former Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday warned David Cameron that his ‘equal marriage’ reforms open the door for multiple weddings and marriages between siblings.

Lord Carey said that same-sex marriage laws amount to a radical and disturbing upheaval which is likely to lead to unintended consequences.

Among them he listed the inclusion of polygamous and multiple relationships into the definition of marriage, and the right for two sisters living together to demand a legal wedding.

The intervention from Lord Carey, one of the most prominent campaigners against same-sex marriage since the Prime Minister first announced his plan in the autumn of 2011, comes as peers prepare to debate the new marriage law.

Ministers are braced for an attempt to wreck the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill next week.

A group of MPs have already written to members of the House of Lords urging them to vote down the Bill, on the grounds that in the supposedly free vote in the Commons they were warned by Downing Street that their careers would be at stake if they failed to back it.

Lord Carey, 77, said that the Bill overturns the historic understanding of marriage as a platform for a man and a woman to raise children that has lasted since the dawn of Christianity.

That, he argued in a paper published by the Civitas think tank, means that the doors will fly open for very different legal versions of marriage in the future. ‘A reason why we should be worried by the redefining of marriage is the unintended consequences of such a step,’ Lord Carey said.

‘Once we let go of the exclusivity of a one-man one-woman relationship with procreation linking the generations, they why stop there?

‘If it is about love and commitment, then it is entirely logical to extend marriage to two sisters bringing up children together. If it is merely about love and commitment, then there is nothing illogical about multiple relationships, such as two women and one man.’

The former Archbishop, who stepped down from Lambeth Palace in 2002, cited the arguments of US academic and lawyer William Eskridge, a prominent advocate of gay marriage rights, who has maintained that it is illogical to limit the number of people in a relationship. Instead he has proposed the scrapping of any laws that limit the numbers or sex of people entering a marriage.

Lord Carey said: ‘In no way do I mean to be alarmist about the possibility of this happening in a large scale way, but it is happening in the United States and there is nothing to stop the trend continuing.’

He added that the idea promoted by Home Secretary Theresa May that people who care deeply for each other and want to spend their lives together should have the right to marry is ‘a wholly inadequate understanding of marriage.’

The former Archbishop said: ‘Those of us accused of being on the wrong side of history can only plead with the Government to respect our concern that extending marriage to same-sex couples is not only unwise, but also sets a dangerous precedent.’

Lord Carey’s plea for rejection of same-sex marriage was published alongside a series of arguments both in favour and against the reform published by Civitas in The Meaning of Matrimony: Debating Same-Sex Marriage.

Among contributors was Culture Secretary Maria Miller, the minister in charge of piloting the new law through the Commons.

Mrs Miller said: ‘Much of the strength of marriage lies in its ability to change with the times. As society has changed, so marriage has changed, and become available to an increasingly broad range of people.

‘In the 21st century marriage is an inclusive – not exclusive – institution. It is available to all adults who are prepared to make vows of life-long fidelity and commitment. Except, that is, if you happen to love someone of the same sex. I believe that simply isn’t right.’


“Hate speech” in Britain

A comment from Ireland

Let’s put it this way, how fair is it that you can be arrested for using the word ‘n*gger’ in a tweet while Anjem Choudary openly boasts of sending hundreds of young men to kill British soldiers in Afghanistan and his followers carry placards with such cheery sentiments as ‘behead those who insult Islam’?

And it’s not just Britain he has his eye on – I remember debating Choudary in Dublin a few years back when he declared Ireland a worthy target for jihad because we let the Americans use Shannon as a stopover.

He also said that Irish gays and ‘perverts’ and atheists should all be subject to the punishments of that lovely Sharia law.

I remember being dismissed at the time as a racist and a bigot – I was genuinely shocked at just how patheticially accomodating the organisers were towards Choudray and his rabble. At the pre-debate meal, non-Muslims were expected to eat halal food and out of respect for the Muslim guests no wine was served, meaning that everyone else was expected to conform to Muslim dietary commands – under pain of being seen as ‘intolerant’ if they objected. I left and ate elsewhere.

In fact, when I said him and his followers were worthless savages who wanted to drag us back to the Stone Age, this was dismissed as hate speech which only ‘demonised’ Islam. In fact, one person there threatened to report me to the gardaí [police] for incitement to hatred.


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Policeman who had his leg amputated after waiting 13 hours to be seen in A&E to receive £600,000 compensation

An award-winning police officer is in line for a £600,000 compensation payout after doctors delayed his treatment for so long they were forced to amputate his leg.

Dennis Stewart, 52, who was undergoing treatment for a rare form of nasal cancer, was left waiting for 13 hours in A&E when he was rushed into hospital with a blood clot in his left leg.

Doctors at Nottingham City Hospital originally dismissed the pain as cramp on December 30, 2010. But he was rushed back to the same hospital the following day after waking up in the middle of the night in agonising pain.

Despite discovering tell-tale signs of a dangerous clot, Mr Stewart was forced to wait for over half a day for an ambulance to transfer him to Queen’s Medical Centre – just four miles away.

Because of the delay, specialists were unable to save his limb despite an operation – putting to an end his 20-year career as a policeman.

He is now in line to receive a £600,000 compensation payout after Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust admitted that the delay in his treatment was unacceptable.

The former PC, from Nottingham, said: ‘I waited far too long to see a doctor and I’ve paid my price. ‘I don’t want to criticise any doctors or nurses. They work hard – it’s the system which doesn’t work.

‘On the day it happened I woke up in the middle of the night with such searing pain in my leg that I called a friend and got them to take me to Nottingham City Hospital. ‘I was there by 3.30am. Eventually they told me a specialist would have to come from another hospital to see my leg.

‘The, at about 1pm, a nurse said she would get an ambulance for me to transfer me to the Queen’s Medical Centre. ‘But it wasn’t until around 5pm that they eventually brought the ambulance – I was in agony.

‘They rushed me into theatre once I got there – but I had lost all feeling and movement in my toes by then. ‘After the operation, when I first looked at my leg they told me I might be shocked.

‘I’ve seen murders and suicides as a policeman and when I looked down and it did not look like a leg. ‘They amputated the next day – I was devastated.’

It later emerged that the blood clot had formed while Mr Stewart was undergoing treatment for a rare form of nasal cancer which had developed behind his left eye.

During his 21-year career he was twice commended for persuading a suicidal man not to throw himself off a multi-storey car park and for stopping thieves during a post-office raid.

In 2011, Mr Stewart was presented with a lifetime achievement award after returning to work following the amputation.
Dennis Stewart

Mr Stewart’s lawyer said that the ‘tragic’ situation could have been easily avoided if the right procedures had been in place

His solicitors have told him to expect a total payment of up to £617,000 after the Trust admitted partial liability.

Mr Stewart added: ‘Firstly I want to get a new leg, the money is for my quality of life; I need to make that as good as possible.

‘I don’t mind the cancer, but it would have been a lot easier to deal with if I had my leg. ‘I miss my salsa dancing, I miss my karate. Now I want to get a bungalow I can walk around easier and go and see the world.

‘I just want the NHS to sort it out and make sure it never happens again.’

James Bell, a clinical negligence lawyer representing Mr Stewart, said: ‘Dennis’ tragic situation is one that could have been so easily avoided were the right procedures in place. ‘He should never have lost his leg.

‘This case is not about bashing the NHS, but ensuring that Dennis receives justice and is able to enjoy the best quality of life.’

Dr Stephen Fowlie, medical director at Nottingham University Hospitals, yesterday apologised for the error. He said: ‘We are very sorry Mr Stewart’s treatment was delayed, with such distressing consequences. ‘We hope to reach a final settlement as soon as possible.’


Overstretched A&Es turning away ambulances: ‘Diversions’ to other hospitals happened 357 times over the past year

Overstretched hospitals had to close their A&E departments to ambulances hundreds of times last year as the crisis in the NHS deepens. Ambulances were turned away and sent to other hospitals no fewer than 357 times in 2012/13 – up almost a quarter on the previous year.

The alarming figures, uncovered by Labour, show that on average over the past year, one casualty department had to close its doors every single day.

Extra delays can increase the risk that patients inside could deteriorate before medical help is received.

The most recent example was on Bank Holiday Monday, when the Royal Liverpool Hospital had to divert patients to Fazakerley Hospital and Whiston Hospital for periods during both the morning and afternoon. Even when it reopened, ambulances had to queue and patients faced long delays.

The figures come amid growing concerns over emergency and out-of-hours care.

Last week the Daily Mail revealed that 50 beds a week have closed in NHS hospitals since the election – piling extra pressure on A&E departments.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt last week blamed GPs for the overcrowding in England’s casualty wards – saying it was too hard to get an appointment to see them, meaning many have no choice but to turn up at A&E.

In addition, more than nine in 10 GPs opted out of responsibility for their patients out of hours in 2004 despite taking advantage of a huge pay rise as part of a botched contract.

Replacement out of hours services proved inadequate in many areas – meaning patients have to go to casualty.

Andy Burnham, Labour’s health spokesman, demanded a moratorium on the closure of casualty units across the country in light of the latest alarming figures.

‘A&Es across the country are in crisis and the pressure shows no sign of abating,’ he said.

‘Today we have yet more evidence that the situation has deteriorated significantly on this Government’s watch, with ambulance diverts up by a quarter in the last year.

‘This is a crisis of their own making. Instead of casting round for others to blame, David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt need to accept responsibility and develop an urgent plan to relieve the pressure.’

Labour obtained the figures on A&E ‘diverts’ from the House of Commons Library. These diverts are where a department has to temporarily close because they lack the physical space or staff capacity to deal with any additional patients.

In 2011/12 there were 287 such occasions when hospitals reached capacity and were unable to cope with new ambulances. A year later this had risen by 24 per cent to 357.

Over recent weeks, hospitals in London have been forced to turn ambulances away.

They include Queens, Newham and King George’s hospitals in east London, Whipps Cross and Northwick Park hospitals in north London, and the Princess Royal and Lewisham hospitals in south London.

The diversions occurred either when the ambulance was on the journey to hospital or in some cases after they have arrived. This wastes time for patients with emergency conditions before they can receive emergency care.

Now Liverpool has been added to the list.

John Heyworth, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, the body which represents A&E doctors, said: ‘The emergency department is the point in the system where the pressures of ever increasing demand and finite hospital capacity collide.

‘This leads to crowding in emergency departments and ambulance diversions. This is frustrating for our patients and difficult for clinicians to provide the prompt high quality care our patients expect and deserve.

‘Urgent action is both required and overdue to provide an emergency care system responsive to our patients’ needs.’

Labour is today holding an ‘emergency A&E summit’ to hear directly from staff about the pressures they face on a day-to-day basis.

Mr Burnham called on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to suspend all ongoing A&E closure proposals pending a personal review of the latest evdience.

‘The facts on the ground are changing fast and call into question the wisdom and safety of closing so many A&Es across England,’ he said.

‘If convincing evidence can be produced to show lives can be saved by closing A&Es, Labour will not oppose them.

‘But, as the pressure builds, the case is changing and the Health Secretary must err on the side of caution. The onus is on him to produce convincing evidence or drop these plans.’

He added: ‘Labour will present practical proposals to the Health Secretary which could help staff at the front line.

‘David Cameron and his Health Secretary have been caught out looking for scapegoats rather than finding solutions. They must cut the spin and get a grip without delay.’

When a divert is put in place, ambulances are told to take people elsewhere, although life-threatening cases are still accepted at the original hospital.

Official Department of Health guidance say they should only happen in exceptional circumstances.

‘Diversion of patients as a result of lack of physical or staff capacity to deal with attendances or admissions should be an action of last resort,’ it says.

Last night a government spokesman said: ‘The NHS is currently meeting the 4hr A&E waiting time target.

‘However, we know that over the past few years A&E has been put under increasing pressure because of rising demand.

‘That is why this government is looking at how we address the long term problems facing A&E, something the Labour Party failed to do while they were in office.’


Two in three British pupils fear university costs: They worry about living expenses and not being able to earn while studying

Two-thirds of children are worried about the cost of going to university even though they think it will help them ‘get on in life’, a new survey has revealed.

They are concerned about living expenses and not being able to earn while they study while those from middle-class backgrounds are most troubled by £9,000-a-year tuition fees.

The Ipsos MORI poll for the Sutton Trust surveyed 2,595 11 to 16-year-olds.

It classified them as being in families of high, medium or low affluence based on questions about their households.

It found that students from the least affluent families (23 per cent) were more likely to cite cost as the biggest consideration when deciding whether to go onto higher education than their richer counterparts (14 per cent).

However, middle-class youngsters – who miss out on means tested maintenance grants – are most affected by tuition fees (30 per cent) when worrying about all the costs.

This compared to 28 per cent of rich students and 26 per cent of poorer ones who agreed that fees were the ‘biggest concern’.

Overall, 65 per cent of students surveyed were worried about university finances – 28 per cent cited tuition fees; 19 per cent, the cost of living and 18 per cent, not earning while studying.

Only seven per cent said they were not troubled by the cost of going to university.

Thirty eight per cent of young people said they were ‘very likely’ to go to university and 43 per cent ‘fairly likely’.

A higher proportion of black and minority ethnic students (49 per cent) said they were likely to go to university than white students (35 per cent).

Of those who were unlikely to go into higher education, 57 per cent cited financial considerations and 49 per cent said they would prefer to do something more practical.

However 86 per cent said going to university was important in ‘helping people do well and get on in life’, with 43 per cent rating it ‘very important’.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and the Education Endowment Foundation, said: ‘It is clear from this poll that many young people remain worried about the cost of higher education.

‘Graduates face debts of over £40,000 with the higher fees and many will be paying for their university studies into their fifties.

‘We are urging the Government to means test university fees, as used to be the case, so that those from low and middle income families pay less for tuition.’

Means-testing ended in 2006 when variable fees of up to £3,000-a-year were introduced.

Those with household incomes below £42,611 can currently apply for means-tested maintenance grants.

Michael MacNeil, head of higher education at the University and College Union (UCU), said: ‘We need our brightest young people aspiring to university and the courses best suited to their talents. Worryingly the biggest barrier is the increased cost of a degree.

‘Ministers need to move on from looking at how to squeeze more money out of students and look at the damage the increased cost of going to university is already having.’


Analysis: Losing the ‘right to reside test’ could cost the UK economy up to £2bn a year, as EU says it ‘discriminates against migrants’

The row over benefits centres on two of the most explosive issues in British politics: welfare and immigration.

In 1994, the then Tory government introduced a so-called ‘habitual residence’ test to limit the number of state hand-outs available to migrants.

It stated that, in order to qualify for means-tested support, a person must have a job, be self-employed, a student, actively seeking work or have enough funds to support themselves.

This test, which was applied to UK nationals, was considered by Brussels to comply with EU rules on free movement.

The controversy centres on a second rule, called the ‘right to reside test’, introduced by Labour in 2004 to prevent benefit tourism when the EU expanded to eastern Europe in 2004.

It states that the economically inactive, who are neither in work nor seeking work, must be self-sufficient if they want to live in the UK. They are banned from receiving income support, income-related employment and support allowance, income-related jobseekers allowance, pension credit, housing benefit and child benefit.

The EU says the rules are discriminatory and therefore illegal because British citizens automatically pass the right to reside test.

The cost to the UK taxpayer of lifting the controls is hard to quantify as it depends how many jobless migrants will move here specifically to claim benefits. However, ministers consider the worst case scenario to be £2billion. Even if no new migrants arrive, the bill for lifting restrictions on those already here will be £155million a year.

The political ramifications of the EU’s decision to drag Britain to court could be huge.

If Strasbourg judges find against the British Government, it will be stripping Westminster of the right to control both our borders and access to the welfare state, encroaching into areas that are historically supposed to be off-limits.

Unelected officials will be trampling over the express wishes of our elected politicians and more of Britain’s sovereignty will be lost.

The verdict is due to be delivered in 2015. This could have a huge impact on the General Election campaign. The Tories will have a stark choice: promise to defy the EU, which has the power to fine us £225million a year until we comply, or risk seeing more votes haemorrhage away to UKIP.


Britain’s coldest spring for half a century!

For those still donning jumpers and switching on the central heating, it will hardly come as surprise news. The spring of 2013 has officially been the coldest for more than 50 years.

Following a harsh winter, March, April and May have all been chillier than normal.

The average spring temperature has been almost two degrees lower than average at just 6C (43F), the Met Office says. That makes it the coldest spring since 1962 and the fifth coldest on record.

However, the last day of spring today will buck that trend, as parts of Britain could enjoy their hottest day of the year so far.

‘Today is going to be pretty warm, with many places seeing temperatures in excess of 20C (68F), particularly in the south,’ said Met Office forecaster Dan Williams.

‘There is even a chance we may see the warmest day of the year, with the potential for temperatures to reach 23C (73.5F) in London.

This spring bucked a recent trend that saw eight of the past ten warmer than the 7.7C (46F) long-term average.

An exceptionally chilly March – the second coldest on record – was followed by a slightly cooler than normal April and May.

Although May has been wetter than average – and saw snow as far south as Devon – spring as a whole was drier than normal, with 8 per cent less rain. But it was not as dry as the springs of 2010 and 2011, which contributed to drought fears in early 2012 – only for floods later in the year.

The Met Office said cold air being drawn to the UK from the Arctic and northern Europe was mostly to blame for the chilly spring.


“Multicultural” Britain is a different place

Ricardo Miles, 21, Daniel Ikumelo, 23, and Adebola Alimi, 22, cycled through the streets of Hackney, east London, armed with a gun searching for enemies in a gangland feud.

When an unmarked police car pulled up alongside the trio, Miles turned and fired the .45 revolver at the officers. Fortunately the bullet hit the ground in front of the vehicle.

The gang members, including Adebola Alimi (pictured) were cycling through the streets of Hackney, east London, when the incident took place

Miles then tried to fire again, but the weapon jammed and he pointed it threateningly at officers as they sped off. They abandoned their bikes and threw away the weapon before fleeing over a footbridge on January 10 last year.

Miles, from Enfield, Ikumelo, from Islington and Alimi, from Hackney, are facing years behind bars after they were convicted of possessing a colt calibre revolver with the intent to endanger life, possessing ammunition and possessing a knife after a trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court. They were remanded in custody ahead of sentence on July 5.

All three had denied involvement, claiming they were not at the scene of the shooting.

The court heard the trio, members of Hackney’s Certified Southwold Road gang, had been looking for rivals from the Gilpin Square gang.

PC Richard Gilbert spotted the group acting suspiciously at around 11.30pm and approached them in the unmarked police care with another officer in the passenger seat.

‘They were all fiddling with their waists, and I assumed they were going to drop something, or hide something, which is often the case,’ he said.

‘As they were doing that the male in the white produced a handgun and fired a shot towards us into the ground. There was a loud bang, a flash and then sparks just in front of the car where we were.

‘I put the vehicle in reverse and tried to put some distance between us and the males in question. The male in white continued to point the gun towards us over his shoulder as they cycled away.’

Jurors were played CCTV of the three males firing at the car from only metres away in Mandeville Street, Homerton before fleeing over a footbridge towards Hackney Marshes.

They also dropped a knife at the scene, less than half a mile from the Olympic Park, the court heard.

Prosecutor Julian Jones said: ‘These defendants were riding out into the Gilpin Square territory with the intention to endanger the lives of rival gang members.’

They were arrested in May 2012 after a long police investigation.

Jurors were read Blackberry phone messages between the defendants in the days after the incident saying they were ‘on the run’ because of ‘madness’. The messages mentioned someone taking ‘a burst at the feds’, slang for shooting at police officers.

There was another message sent a day after the incident from Ikumelo, to Miles, the shooter, saying ‘if you have a picture of the whistle (gun) delete them all now.’

In 2010 Miles and Ikumelo were given suspended sentences for affray after two fighting dogs were let loose in a train carriage packed with commuters at Stamford Hill station following a fight between rival gangs.

Detective Inspector Neil Bradburn, from Trident North East Shootings Team, said: ‘Today’s result is the culmination of a great deal of hard work by Trident which has lead to the conviction of three dangerous offenders.

‘More than 1,000 London gang members are now either locked up or subject to legal restrictions as a result of activity by the Met’s Trident Gang Crime Command.

‘This investigation clearly demonstrates that tackling gang-related violence remains a key priority for The Met and we will continue to target and convict those who choose to carry weapons and cause harm in London’s communities.’


Shoplifters and burglars get the right to work in schools and care homes in Britain

Burglars, shoplifters and violent thugs will be free to work in schools, care homes and hospitals under rules which come into force today.

Thousands of criminals will have their records in effect wiped clean after as little as two years – meaning they will be hidden from prospective employers.

The changes to the criminal records regime follows a human rights ruling in January.

Details about which criminals will be affected by the ruling emerged last night.

Under existing rules anyone wanting to work with children or vulnerable adults must disclose any previous convictions or cautions – which stay on their records indefinitely.

But the Court of Appeal judgment said that requiring some minor offences to be disclosed was a breach of an individual’s right to a private and family life.

Yesterday the Home Office announced which offences would be expunged and which would remain on people’s records when they face an enhanced criminal records check.

Anyone with a conviction or caution for burglary, shoplifting or common assault will see it removed after a set period of time – as long as they were not jailed for the offence or committed any further crimes.

Adult offenders will see convictions cleared after 11 years, and cautions after six years.

Young offenders will have no visible conviction record after five and a half years, and no caution record after two years.

All serious sexual and violent crimes and all terrorism offences will remain on records indefinitely.

Critics said the rules were a ‘slap in the face for victims’ and would allow potentially serious offenders to get into sensitive jobs.

Peter Cuthbertson, chief executive of the Centre for Crime Prevention think-tank, said: ‘Treating burglary as a minor offence is a callous insult to victims. Many people who are burgled lose treasured gifts and never feel safe again in their own homes.

‘Already many victims see burglars avoiding prison and receiving community sentences that don’t protect the public. To let those burglars have their criminal records wiped clean would be another slap in the face for victims.

‘If the Government wants to make this scheme workable and fair, they should ensure burglary always means a prison sentence so that no burglars will benefit.’

The changes to the Disclosure and Barring Service – which has replaced the Criminal Records Bureau – come into force today.

The appeal judges found in favour of a woman blocked from taking a job in a care home eight years after she was handed a police caution for theft from a shop in Sheffield.

The Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, said the decision to bar her from the job had breached her human rights under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.

The verdict also included the case of a 17-year-old who failed to get a job at a sports club because he had to disclose a police warning he had received for theft when he was 11.

The judgment was condemned at the time for eroding the ability of politicians to ‘protect the vulnerable’.

Ministers have been given permission to appeal the judgment to the Supreme Court, and the case is likely to be heard in July.

The rules are being changed despite the appeal because of fears of legal action and demands for compensation. It is also feared that the original judgment raises much wider questions about the entire criminal records regime and when it can be used.

Civil liberties and privacy groups have backed the changes.

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, said: ‘This is a victory for common sense and a long overdue change to a system that was ruining people’s lives.’

A government spokesman said: ‘This new system of checks strikes a balance between ensuring children and vulnerable groups are protected and making sure minor offences from the past do not make it difficult for people to get on with their chosen career.’


Scottish Olympic cyclist abused by Scottish nationalists

Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy has been subjected to offensive abuse from nationalist campaigners after he raised concerns about Scottish independence.

The Scottish cycling hero was branded a ‘bigoted anti-Scot’, a ‘t*****’, a ‘creep’ and an ‘imbecile’ by the online army of so-called ‘CyberNats’.

The disgraceful remarks have sparked fury, with a UK minister calling on Alex Salmond to take action amid fears of ‘lasting damage to damage Scotland’s reputation’.

Sir Chris has won legions of fans across the globe with his passion and professionalism on the track. But Britain’s greatest ever Olympian became an enemy for the CyberNats after he warned that Scottish athletes will find it harder to challenge on the world stage if the country becomes independent.

Last night, Scotland Office Minister David Mundell said: ‘The negative and personal tone of the attacks on Sir Chris is shameful and casts the referendum debate in a poor light.

‘I believe it would be helpful if the First Minister and the Scottish Government were explicit in their condemnation of those trying to shout down the views of Sir Chris and others. The debate on our future must be open to all.’


A lot of Scottish nationalism does seem to be anti-English hatred. Some wars of long ago have not been forgotten

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Sick nurse lost baby after hospital ignored her fears and sent her home in agony

A heavily pregnant nurse lost her baby when she went to hospital with an agonising infection – but was sent home with painkillers.

Lekha James says she knew she had a urinary tract infection but a doctor and midwives refused to listen. Instead of giving her antibiotics that could have dealt with the problem, they prescribed the painkiller cocodamol.

Three days later the 34-year-old nurse was rushed back with life-threatening septicaemia and medical staff could not find a heartbeat for her baby son. He was stillborn after labour was induced.

Last night Mrs James and her husband Santhosh Mathew condemned St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, which has admitted negligence in failing to diagnose and treat the infection that led to the death of baby Aidan.

An investigation has also exposed a ‘staff attitude problem’ and inadequate clinical assessment.

Mrs James, who lives with her husband in Manchester with their daughter Tia, six, and new baby son Aiden, said she ‘instinctively’ knew something was wrong when she went to hospital with pain in her stomach, abdomen and hips.

‘I thought that I had a urinary tract infection but no one was listening to me,’ she said. ‘I did not want to leave the hospital but I felt I was not being given a choice.

‘When I returned to the hospital a second time, I was seriously ill and I now know that I almost died because the infection had become so severe.

‘We then discovered that our baby’s heart had stopped beating as a consequence of the infection.’

Mrs James, a cardiac nurse at the Manchester Royal Infirmary – adjacent to St Mary’s – added: ‘As a nurse myself, I would never ignore what a patient tells me.

‘I knew I had a urinary tract infection but they weren’t listening, talking over us as if we were illiterate people.

‘I wasn’t happy to be sent home and the pain was so bad I needed a wheelchair. It was only when I was semi-conscious in labour I realised what had happened – it has been incredibly stressful and sad.

‘We had been trying for a baby for some time when I became pregnant, and our precious baby son was much longed for. ‘We now have another son, who we have called Aiden, but nothing can replace our baby who died.’

Mrs James, who is also a qualified midwife, hopes others will be prevented from going through the same trouble they experienced in March last year.

‘We will never fully get over our loss, but we are desperate to try to ensure that lessons are learned from our case so that hopefully we can prevent other parents from going through the same ordeal,’ she said.

Her husband, a catering supervisor who also works at the Royal Infirmary, added: ‘I don’t know how I managed to control myself when the doctor told me our baby had died. ‘We cannot describe the pain we have been through, we just want to make sure this never happens to anyone else.’

The couple are now pursuing a claim for compensation against the NHS foundation trust that runs St Mary’s and have also submitted a formal complaint to the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Their solicitor Beth Reay, who is pursuing the legal claim for the couple, said health staff had made ‘catastrophic failures’ that led to the baby’s death.

The care team, including an agency doctor, failed to spot that the infection posed a significant risk to the unborn child, which was almost full-term, she said. ‘There appeared to be a culture amongst staff that allowed them to ignore some quite basic clinical factors which has led to the death of their son,’ she added.

‘A urinary tract infection is not uncommon for women to get, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. Warning signs were there but further tests on Lekha were not carried out before she was discharged.’

The solicitor said the trust had accepted that a course of antibiotics would have avoided the death of the baby and had written a letter of apology.

‘While I am pleased to secure this admission of negligence, Mr and Mrs James need assurances that every possible step will be taken to ensure no other parents have to live through the same distressing ordeal,’ she added.

Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has launched an internal investigation into the complaint surrounding the treatment at St Mary’s and has published a 17-page report.

However, Mrs James and her husband claim they were not told about its release.

The report states there were ‘staff attitude problems’ as well as ‘inadequate clinical assessment by the doctor, highlighting learning needs’.

‘Staff need to be aware of how their behaviour is perceived by patients,’ it adds. ‘Lack of thought was given to the quality of care and patient experience.’

A trust spokesman said: ‘Unfortunately as this is an ongoing legal case we are unable to confirm any details.’


My diabetic wife waited so long for a drink in hospital I had to ring police to get her one… 4 days later she was dead

A frantic husband called police after his diabetic wife phoned him from hospital because she desperately needed a sugary drink.

Bridget Callan, 62, had repeatedly pressed her emergency button in the early hours to summon a nurse.

She was concerned that her blood sugar levels were falling dangerously low and feared she would lose consciousness.

When no nurse arrived she called her husband, Paul, at home. He immediately telephoned the ward at Tameside Hospital in Greater Manchester and spoke to a nurse. But after a further 20 minutes a distraught Mrs Callan phoned him back and said a nurse still had not come to offer her a drink.

In desperation Mr Callan telephoned the police to ask for their help but the switchboard operator directed him back to the hospital.

Eventually Mrs Callan was given a sugary drink which was necessary to prevent her becoming hypoglycaemic, a diabetic condition caused by low blood sugars that can induce a coma and even cause death.

Tragically, the great-grandmother died four days later in August last year from chronic heart failure and lung disease, as well as contracting the superbug C.difficile in the hospital.

Last night her husband condemned Tameside Hospital for failing to provide basic life-sustaining drinks for a seriously ill patient.

Mr Callan, 54, said: ‘What happened to Bridget in Tameside was terrifying. She rang me around 4am and said she had low blood sugar. She needed Lucozade. ‘She said she had been pressing the buzzer for more than 20 minutes, but no one was coming.

‘She asked me to ring the landline so I called the ward and spoke to a nurse who said, “Leave it with me”.

‘But 20 minutes later my wife rang back saying still no one had seen her. I tried to call the ward back but the landline was engaged and I couldn’t get hold of anyone. ‘I didn’t know what to do. I was so worried I rang the police.

‘Eventually, my wife rang back and said someone had been to give her a drink. The next day the matron on the ward said I shouldn’t have rung the police – but what would have happened if Bridget hadn’t been able to call me for help? She would have been in a coma.’

Tameside Hospital has been at the centre of dozens of complaints over standards and is one 14 hospitals identified as needing an in-depth inspection because of its higher than average death rates.

Mr Callan is one of more than 100 relatives and former patients who recently met inspectors.

He has made an official complaint to the Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) about his wife’s treatment. He said: ‘I think the hospital management need a kick up the backside. I can’t forget how Bridget was treated.’

Last night a spokesman for Tameside Hospital said: ‘We are sorry that Mr Callan was not reassured following conversations with the PALS team and the consultant overseeing his late wife’s care.

‘We are happy to look into his continuing concerns and would urge him to contact us via the complaints co-ordinator.’

The case echoes that of diabetic Kane Gorny who died of dehydration at a London teaching hospital after he phoned police from his bed because he was so thirsty.

An inquest heard police arrived at his bedside only to be sent away by nurses who said he was confused.

Recording a narrative verdict, Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said: ‘Kane Gorny died as a result of dehydration contributed to by neglect.’


Tim Yeo: humans may not be to blame for global warming

Humans may not be responsible for global warming, according to Tim Yeo, the MP who oversees British government policy on climate change.

The chairman of the Commons Energy and Climate Change committee said he accepts the earth’s temperature is increasing but said “natural phases” may be to blame.

Such a suggestion sits at odds with the scientific consensus. One recent survey of 12,000 academic papers on climate change found 97 per cent agree human activities are causing the planet to warm.

Mr Yeo, an environment minister under John Major, is one of the Conservative Party’s strongest advocates of radical action to cut carbon emissions. His comments are significant as he was one of the first senior figures to urge the party to take the issue of environmental change seriously.

He insisted such action is “prudent” given the threat climate change poses to living standards worldwide. But, he said, human action is merely a “possible cause”.

Asked on Tuesday night whether it was better to take action to mitigate the effects of climate change than to prevent it in the first place, he said: “The first thing to say is it does not represent any threat to the survival of the planet. None at all. The planet has survived much bigger changes than any climate change that is happening now.

He went on: “Although I think the evidence that the climate is changing is now overwhelming, the causes are not absolutely clear. There could be natural causes, natural phases that are taking place.”

“But there is at least a risk that the increased concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is a possible cause. We’ve just gone through the 400 parts per million [a measure of the atmospheric concentration of CO2] this year. I think a prudent policy would say if we can do things about that which are no-regrets polices like being efficient in the use of energy, looking at none-fossil fuel sources, I think that’s prudent to do so.”

Mr Yeo has previously spoken with great certainty about the science of climate change. He said in 2009: “A significant number of core Conservative voters – mostly among older people – are reluctant to accept the evidence. I don’t think they [doubting Tory MPs] will be a significant influence in the next parliament and will gradually diminish in the population.

“The dying gasps of the deniers will be put to bed. In five years time, no one will argue about a man-made contribution to climate change.”

Mr Yeo, who was speaking to an audience of energy industry representatives and diplomats at the Westminster Russia Forum, renewed his call for the Government to build a third runway at Heathrow. He said waiting for Sir Howard Davies’ report on aviation capacity which is due after the next election was a “ludicrous response to a clear national need.”

He said without better air links to east Asia, Europe risks becoming a “sort of third world backwater quite quickly.”

Asked about the comments this afternoon, Mr Yeo said: “It is possible there are natural causes as well, but my view has always been that – for twenty years – I have thought the scientific evidence has been very convincing. The strong probability is that it is man-made causes contributing to greenhouse gas concentrations.”


Britain’s families face more green tax pain as power stations carry on polluting: £300 a year bill for renewable energy by 2020

Britain’s power stations are still pumping out increasing amounts of greenhouse gases while families face a rise in taxes designed to cut emissions.

The escalation in pollution levels comes as the average household is being forced to contribute £112 in green taxes each year.

By the end of the decade, families will have to pay almost £300 a year to fund renewable energy, such as wind and nuclear, as well as insulating older homes. Both policies are being heavily promoted by the Government in a bid to cut the nation’s carbon dioxide gas emissions in order to meet stringent international targets.

But last year, the levels of the gas pumped out by Britain’s energy companies increased by 4 per cent compared to 2011, as the amount of coal burnt for power leapt up by a quarter. For each unit of energy, coal produces double the amount of carbon dioxide than gas or oil.

The UK is one of only four European countries that have increased pollution from power production, with only Malta doing worse. The other 23 EU nations managed to reduce emissions from power companies.

Carbon dioxide accounts for more than 80 per cent of Britain’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

With 40 per cent of emissions coming from the energy sector and only 15 per cent produced by households, critics say targeting families while increasing output from power stations is pointless.

Dr Lee Moroney of the Renewable Energy Foundation, which publishes energy data, said: ‘It is unreasonable that hard-pressed householders are being made to fund increasingly expensive and diverse energy policies which these latest figures show are clearly not working.’

The latest estimated emission figures were produced by Eurostat, the European Commission’s statistical arm, which found that across the EU, carbon dioxide output for energy use had gone down by 2.1 per cent.

A Eurostat spokesman said: ‘At the moment, the global price for hard coal is down and we see in the UK a huge increase in its use – 27 per cent compared to the previous year – while gas and oil use has fallen.’

Since 1990, there has been an overall decrease in UK carbon dioxide emissions of around 19 per cent.

In 2011, Britain delivered the biggest emissions cuts in the EU, reducing total greenhouse gas output by 40 million tons, a fall of 7 per cent.

Earlier this week, Energy Secretary Ed Davey said he will push for the EU to adopt the most stringent green targets in the world.

He said he would seek a legally binding target to cut collective greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 50 per cent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.

A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: ‘Cheaper coal relative to gas has resulted in a short-term increase in the amount of carbon emissions from UK power stations.

The amount of coal generation is expected to decline rapidly by 2020 as a result of our move to a low carbon economy.

‘Global gas prices have primarily been pushing up household energy bills – not green subsidies.

‘Investing in home-grown alternatives is the only sure-fire way of insulating our economy and bill-payers from international energy price volatility.

‘Our household energy-efficiency policies are more than offsetting the costs of clean energy investment. By 2020 the average household bill will be £166 lower than it would be if we were doing nothing.’


The BBC and its bias towards pro-immigration lobby: Report accuses ‘left-wing Corporation of downplaying violence by Islamists’

The BBC gives too much weight to pro-immigration voices and ‘almost totally ignores’ the negative social impact of multiculturalism, a new study has claimed.

The corporation suffers from left wing ‘groupthink’ that prevents its journalists from challenging institutional bias and results in pro-immigration ‘propaganda’, according to the research published yesterday.

It was also accused of ‘downplaying’ violence by Islamists while being happy to criticise Christianity and report on the activities of other violent extremists.

The report, by independent think-tank The New Culture Forum, looked at coverage by BBC news and current affairs programmes since 1997.

It comes as the BBC undertakes an ‘impartiality review’ by former ITV and Sky executive Stuart Prebble to see whether it gives ‘due weight’ to a full range of opinion on controversial topics, such as immigration.

The study’s author, Ed West, concluded: ‘In its coverage of the topic of immigration, the BBC has given overwhelmingly greater weight to pro-migration voices, even though they represent a minority – even elitist – viewpoint.

‘And in its coverage of the economic arguments for and against immigration, it has devoted somewhat more space to pro-migration voices.

‘In terms of the social costs, the BBC has almost totally ignored certain areas. The more awkward a subject is for polite society to deal with, the less coverage the BBC gives it.’

He added: ‘It would be no exaggeration to say that a foreigner who subscribed only to the BBC might visit this country and be blissfully unaware of many of the social problems associated with immigration.’

According to the study, it is ‘common practice’ for the BBC to give a platform to multiple pro-immigration spokesmen with no dissenting voices.

Mr West said: ‘Between 1997 and 2013, of the hundreds of immigration news reports that I have personally watched, listened to and read, in literally just a handful have anti-immigration voices not been outnumbered.’

The report was particularly scathing about a BBC Online article on ‘Migrant Myths’ published in 2002.

The article said the idea of the ‘scrounging, bogus asylum seeker’ was a ‘misconception’, while opponents of mass immigration were guilty of ‘racism, political opportunism, misinformation, media mischief-making and sheer cowardice’ as well as genuine concern.

Mr West said: ‘However laudable its intentions may be, a feature like this – which presents only one side of the argument – is propaganda.’

He said BBC bias was often unintentional or provoked by ‘basic decency’ and a desire to protect the underdog.

But he said by focussing on personalised, emotive cases of asylum seekers and immigration success stories, the BBC failed to cover the views of ‘working class natives’ or to ask awkward questions about the difficulties of integration.

Damagingly, in the wake of the Woolwich killing last week, the study accused the BBC of failing to report accurately on violence by Islamic fundamentalists.

It said: ‘In contrast to violence perpetrated by white-skinned extremists, the BBC tends to downplay any violent activity on the part of extremists.’

It added: ‘The BBC feels uncomfortable tackling Islamic extremism or aggression by minorities; it feels more at ease to see Muslims as victims of racism or Islamophobia.’

In 2010, the BBC’s then director general Mark Thompson accepted the corporation had once been guilty of a ‘massive’ Left-wing bias and admitted its coverage of immigration and Europe had been ‘weak’.

He said: ‘The BBC doesn’t always get it right. I think there are some areas, immigration, business and Europe where the BBC has historically been rather weak and rather nervous about letting that entire debate happen.

In 2007, a BBC Trust report into the BBC’s impartiality found the corporation had self-censored subjects it found unpalatable.

The BBC said coverage of immigration is ‘impartial and balanced’, but Trustees are carrying out a review to see if ‘due weight’ is given to a range of opinions on hot topics.


Machete attack horror: Muslim outrage in Lancashire

MACHETE wielding thugs have left two men with ‘serious injuries’ after attacking them in an Accrington barber’s shop.

The two victims had been inside the shop in Ormerod Street when four masked men carrying machetes and knives forced their way inside.

Detectives investigating the incident said the gang attacked the pair before forcing them into the street.

The thugs also attacked a parked car during the incident at midnight on Saturday.

Police said they were alerted to the incident after witnesses called an ambulance.

The victims both suffered deep wounds and had to be taken to hospital by paramedics.

One of the men, a 23-year-old man from Accrington sustained a serious head injury while, the other a 24-year-old man also from Accrington suffered a serious cut to his arm, police said.

Both men are being treated at the Royal Blackburn Hospital and their condition was yesterday described as ‘serious but not life threatening’.

Detectives investigating the incident are now urging anyone who witnessed the incident to come forward.

DI Claire Holbrook, of Eastern division’s public protect unit, said: “We are treating this incident extremely seriously.

“Despite the offenders wearing facial coverings we will endeavour to bring these extremely violent offenders to justice.

“I urge anyone with information about the attack to come forward and contact police.”

Extra police patrols have been launched in the area to try reassure residents. Police said they were looking for a gang of Asian [i.e. Pakistani] men in connection with the attack.


What if homophobia is also “natural”?

Most people I have talked to express an instinctive distaste for homosexuality — JR

If you’re like me, sometimes you are unlucky enough to watch an episode of Question Time that doesn’t feature Nigel Farage or David Starkey, and is therefore a festival of liberal banality. Last week’s programme, broadcast from Belfast, was one such: the only enlivening moment came when Ian Paisley (Jr) struggled to get beyond his remarks, made in 2007, that homosexuality “repulsed him”.

As I watched Paisley wriggle in his straitjacket of shame, I began to feel a tad uncomfortable. Because I, too, am a tiny bit homophobic. That is to say: when I see gay men kissing, I get a brief twinge of ewww – until my better liberal self takes over.

Before you beat me to death with rainbow flags, let me explain. I have homosexual friends (yes, this sounds like “I’m not a racist, but…”). One of my oldest friends is, indeed, a post-op transsexual. And I love my friends (platonically); I am therefore happy for them to have whatever kind of consenting adult sex they wish, and to marry with similar freedom.

I make this judgment not because I’m incredibly nice, but because I have a brain, and I’ve realised that homosexuality is genetic. Instinctive. It’s something people are born with. “Hating” gays for “being gay” is therefore like hating penguins for being flightless. Ludicrous.

Moreover, it’s quite probable that gayness extends some benefit to our species, as it is so persistent over time – and so common in virtually all species. Gibbons, for instance, like threesomes. Antelopes are prone to transvestism. Ducks are fond of lesbian orgies. American bison are bi-curious. Weasels are just completely kinkyboots. All this is true.

But if gayness is natural, why do I feel that brief, reflexive twinge of disgust when I see gay men kissing? Some would argue that I have been conditioned by society into accepting the norm of straightness, and my repulsion is therefore mere bigotry.

But what if it isn’t? What if homophobia is also “natural”?

Evolutionary psychologists have debated this point, and it is at least arguable that homophobia is unconscious – and inherited. And it’s not hard to see why such a reflex might have evolved: before the era of the test tube baby and artificial insemination, parents who happily tolerated gayness in their kids would be smiling on the extinction of their genes. Not good.

All of which presents us with a liberal paradox. If we’re going to extend equal right to homosexuals, because homosexuality is perfectly natural, we also need to extend equal rights to homophobes, for exactly the same reason. How we celebrate this rich diversity is a difficult issue, though. Perhaps both sides could have marches on their special days, through different parts of the same town? Ian Paisley Junior could help organise.


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Breast cancer survivor has just weeks to live after being refused a scan which would have identified FOUR deadly brain tumours

Scans cost money

A breast cancer survivor has just weeks to live after doctors missed four deadly tumours growing in her brain – despite her repeatedly asking for a scan.

Mother-of-two Lindsey Scrimshire, 52, claims that medics at Leicester Royal Infirmary took no action after she complained of violent headaches in August 2011, following a battle with breast cancer.

Mrs Scrimshire, from Leicester, claims that despite repeated requests for a brain scan, she did not have one until last month, where it was revealed she had four cancerous tumours.

She has now been left to plan her own funeral after being told she has just ‘weeks’ to live.

Mrs Scrimshire complained to a nurse she was suffering violent headaches in 2011 after she finished treatment for breast cancer, which included a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Mrs Scrimshire said: ‘I had severe headaches and pain down my shoulder – the side where the breast cancer was.

‘I asked if I should be scanned to check if it was cancer as I was worried, but she said it was not necessary.

‘I was confused as to why I was not given a scan. The pain was such I went to see my GP regularly.’

The former customer services supervisor said she had an X-ray in October 2011 and was told by her GP she was suffering from arthritis and was given painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs.

In the same month she saw her GP and was again told she was suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and given drugs.

She also went for an operation to remove a bowel blockage at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

Mrs Scrimshire said: ‘I told them about my pain and worries but was told a scan was not necessary.’

She said she was finally scanned after she went into the accident and emergency department at the Leicester Royal Infirmary on April 22 because the pain was so bad.

Her husband, Mark, 47, said: ‘A doctor came back with the results and she was crying. She told us Lindsey had four large tumours in her brain and there was nothing they could do but give her palliative care. ‘Then a full body scan showed it is in her lungs and liver, too.

‘If they had scanned Lindsey when she asked, nearly two years before, or even last year, she might have a chance of at least fighting the cancer.’

Claire Esler, consultant oncologist and clinical head of service at Leicester’s Hospitals said: ‘We are sorry that Lindsey did not receive a scan at her follow up appointment but it was felt at the time the symptoms were not related to the breast cancer.

‘Our thoughts are with Lindsey and her family during this time and we have met with them to discuss the treatment options.

‘Lindsay’s treatment for breast cancer back in 2011 was completely appropriate and under national guidance we do not scan patients after treatment. We are happy to meet again to discuss any of their concerns.’

Mr Scrimshire has consulted a solicitor and is considering legal action.


The price of under-staffed hospitals? Study finds link between the thousands that die and wards with too few doctors

Thousands of patients are dying due to a chronic lack of doctors in England’s worst hospitals, according to a shocking new study.

Hospitals currently being investigated for having high death rates employ far fewer doctors per patient than others, academics have discovered.

While many think hospitals provide similar standards of care, the Plymouth University team found wide variations in staffing levels. A&E departments are particularly stretched, warn doctors.

Professor Sheena Asthana and Dr Alex Gibson made their conclusions after looking at staffing in 14 hospital trusts recently identified as having high death rates.

These are now the subject of a review ordered by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and being led by NHS Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh.

The researchers found that on average these troubled hospitals have 17 per cent fewer doctors per 100 beds than those not under investigation. They also have five per cent fewer nurses and 22 per cent fewer cleaners.

Those being investigated have on average only 56 doctors per 100 beds, while those not being reviewed have 68.

Four of the 14 trusts – which run hospitals in Tameside, Dudley, Cumbria and Blackpool – have fewer than 50 doctors per 100 beds. By comparison, Guy’s and St Thomas’ in London – the best-staffed hospital trust in the country – has 125. Its death rate is 22 per cent lower than the average.

Prof Asthana said the shortage of doctors was costing lives. ‘The health service needs large numbers of staff on the front line to deliver good quality care,’ she said. Her views were backed up by Professor Brian Jarman, an expert on hospital death rates, and a member of Sir Bruce’s review panel. He said lower death rates were ‘very strongly associated with more doctors per bed’.

Prof Jarman recently calculated almost 3,000 people may have died unnecessarily at the 14 trusts under investigation in one year. He said staffing levels were too often ignored, despite evidence a lack of doctors costs lives.

Dr Patrick Cadigan, registrar of the Royal College of Physicians, said: ‘The most shocking example of this is A&Es. They probably have only half the number of doctors they need for safe staffing.’ Julie Bailey, who founded the group Cure the NHS, said: ‘If you don’t have enough staff, patients suffer.’ She launched the group when her mother Bella died after being dropped on the floor by staff at Stafford Hospital.

Sir Bruce Keogh said: ‘Staffing levels are being investigated as part of my review into mortality levels.’


Four out of 10 British graduates will never pay back their student loans

Around four in 10 graduates will have their student loans written off leading to a huge hole in public finances, a study has shown.

At least 40 per cent of the cash borrowed by students will never be repaid – a figure far higher than Government estimates have previously suggested.

Ministers had previously believed that around one third of the total students loan bill would be lost as those students fail to make enough money to pay it back.

However, leading university vice-chancellors, who carried out the study for the Institute for Public Policy Research, suggest that the total would in fact be closer to 40 per cent.

At present repayments do not start until a student is earning £21,000 a year, and any remaining debts are written off after 30 years.

The missing money would leave a multi-billion pound black hole in government finances and makes the current funding system ‘unsustainable’, according to the research, due to be published on June 10.


Stay-at-home degrees

Normal in Australia but seen as novel in Britain

Today’s IPPR study claims that a number of radical reforms are needed to make the existing funding system more sustainable.

The report calls for the creation of a new generation of cut-price degree courses priced at £5,000-a-year – significantly less than the current £9,000 maximum – for “stay-at-home” students to cut down on the amount of money being loaned by the Government.

It suggests that students could be encouraged to take places on these “fee-only” courses provided that they agree not to borrow money for accommodation or living expenses – cutting the overall loans bill.

The courses would be orientated towards students living at home and those working part-time in a move that could save the Government £10,000 per student.

Nigel Thrift, the vice-chancellor of Warwick University, and chairman of the IPPR’s higher education commission, said: “We are going to need to make major cost savings in the short-term, as well as grapple with longer-term arguments about the future of fees.

“The only way we will be able to afford to expand the number of students is if we offer a new type of degree.

“The current funding system privileges full-time residential courses supported by student loans. But this is not appropriate for many potential students, who want to study vocational courses in their local area, live at home and combine their studies with paid employment.”

Currently, universities can charge up to £9,000-a-year in tuition fees. Students can borrow the full amount from the Government – alongside a further loan for maintenance costs – but are not expected to repay until they earn at least £21,000.

The outstanding amount is written off after 30 years.

Previous Government estimates have suggested that losses to the taxpayer through the system will peak at almost £191 billion by 2047 before the Treasury starts to recoup some of these losses from graduate repayments.

The IPPR study – backed by vice-chancellors including Sir Rick Trainor, of King’s College London, Sir Steve Smith, from Exeter, and Prof Janet Beer, from Oxford Brookes – said: “The current student funding system is unsustainable.

“It shows that there is a black hole in the current system which could be as big as £1bn.

“The commission uses new modelling to show that a more accurate estimate of the total value of student loans that will go unpaid is for 40 per cent of the total value of loans.

“The Government first predicted that it would be 30 per cent but amid concerns that this was an underestimate, subsequently raised this to 32 and then 34 per cent.”


Boy, 2, who was fighting for his life with meningitis is cured using daily doses of ASPIRIN

A gorgeous boy. How wonderful that he was saved

A baby boy who developed a deadly infection that made his brain swell has made a miraculous recovery – after doctors used aspirin to save his life.

Robert Airey was nine months old when he was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis and respiratory failure.

He was rushed to Southampton Children’s Hospital as the infection caused a series of minor strokes and affected the nerves to his vocal cords.

And as doctors fought to save Robert’s life, his brain continued to swell. It was then consultant paediatric neurologists Professor Colin Kennedy and Dr Neil Thomas took the unusual step of giving Robert daily doses of aspirin.

The decision proved a defining moment as the drug treated the blood clots in Robert’s brain and the brave boy made a miraculous recovery.

The infection, which causes inflammation in the brain and spinal cord, affects around 200 people, mainly babies, every year. More than 20 per cent of those die from the illness and half experience long-term health complications such as deafness or brain damage.

But Robert, who turned two in March, has incredibly survived the infection – and escaped any of the life-changing repercussions.

His mother Sarah, 34, who is a GP, said: ‘Miracle can be an overused term, but I think it’s relevant here.

‘From what we expected, to him making it and then recovering so well – it was an against the odds job.

‘And to see him playing in the mud, rolling around and playing with the other children is an amazing sight.’

Robert first fell ill at his family home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, in the days leading up to Christmas in 2011. He’d had cough and cold symptoms for a few days, but by Boxing Day his temperature had become very high and he was suffering with sickness.

That evening worried parents Sarah and Paul noticed their baby suddenly felt limp and his breathing had become very fast. His skin was pale and his hands and feet were also very cold.

They rushed him to Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, Berks, where he was diagnosed with pneumococcal meningitis and respiratory failure.

Sarah said: ‘From one minute being at home enjoying our first Christmas with Robert, we found ourselves in hospital being told he had severe meningitis and was suffering from respiratory failure. It was terrifying.’

Robert was in need of an urgent transfer to a specialist children’s intensive care unit to receive the care his life depended on. But with nearby hospitals at full capacity, doctors called on the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at Southampton Children’s Hospital in Hampshire.

Sarah said: ‘We struggled to take it all in, but the gravity of the situation was clear. At one stage, we were discussing transfer to a children’s hospice.’

After initially responding to antibiotic treatment, Robert’s immune system went into overdrive and set off a second round of inflammation in his brain.

Consultant paediatric neurologists Professor Colin Kennedy and Dr Neil Thomas then decided to administer him with a daily dose of aspirin.

Professor Kennedy said: ‘This is a rare, but particularly aggressive illness and, despite seemingly beginning to do well, there was a marked deterioration in Robert’s condition in his second day in PICU.

‘Aspirin is not a conventional treatment for children with meningitis, particularly babies, but the severity of this situation and the need for fast action changed the likely balance of risk and benefit.’

The decision proved life-saving and Robert was moved out of the unit four days later – his dad Paul’s birthday.

IT project manager Paul, 35, said: ‘After such a rollercoaster of emotion in such a short space of time, it was almost unbelievable that Robert was well enough to leave intensive care – it was the ultimate birthday gift.’

Robert, who has made an almost full recovery since being discharged from hospital in October, now spends two days a week at nursery.

Sarah added: ‘We were told Robert had even escaped some of the life-changing consequences, such as hearing impairment and severe brain damage, and I put that down to the exceptional medical team and the outstanding nursing care he received.’


Italy is furious with Britain after UK blocks its bid to ban plastic shopping bags across Europe

Britain’s decision not to back a European law banning plastic bags has caused friction with Italy and stunned environmental campaigners.

Italy’s Environment Minister has criticised Britain’s lack of support for the law, describing it as ‘astounding’ particularly for a seafaring nation.

Environmental campaigners have also been left flabbergasted by Britain’s move earlier this month, especially given the Coalition government’s support for reducing the environmental impact of bags on the landscape and wildlife.

However, a Government spokesperson said in a statement to the Mail Online: ‘While we are determined to tackle the blight caused by discarded carrier bags, the proposed Italian scheme is illegal under EU packaging law.’

Andrea Orlando, Italy’s environment minister, pointed out the risks to the environment of adopting Britain’s position.

Quoted in The Daily Telegraph, he said: ‘The bags are a serious problem, above all at sea, and it is astounding that Britain, which is serious about the environment and has a seafaring tradition going back centuries, does not want to defend the seas from plastic pollution which suffocates and kills many marine animals.’

Three years ago, Italy’s coastline had one of the worst records for plastic bag pollution; Italians consumed one quarter of all Europe’s single-use plastic shopping bags. A study showed that plastic bags accounted for 72 per cent of the waste washed up on its coasts.

But since 2011, Italy has introduced a ban on supply of the carrier bags; supermarkets and shops are only allowed to provide biodegradable plastic bags or thicker reusable ones.

The Mediterranean country now wants to go one step further; to be able to impose fines on shops that fail to comply with the rules. To do this, it needs an EU law to rubber stamp the ban.

This month a report by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) revealed that for every mile of Britain’s coastline, there are on average 72 disposable shopping bags washed up. The problem is also getting worse.

To tackle the growing problem, Scotland has pledged to introduce charges and Wales and Northern Ireland have already imposed fees resulting in bag use dropping by up to 96 per cent in some supermarkets.

But England has fallen short of imposing a ban.

Environmental charity Friends of the Earth has campaigned for years for plastic bags to be banned as long as alternatives are adequately highlighted, people and shopkeepers have enough time to prepare, and it does not have a ‘disproportionate impact on the poor’.

British ex-pat and waste expert David Newman, who lives in Rome called the British position ‘astonishing’. Mr Newman, head of the Italian Composting Association, told the Telegraph: ‘The UK has been called to order on this at home yet it is opposing it in Brussels – it’s paradoxical.’


Immigration is driving up home prices, says the minister who believes housing takes priority over green fields

Immigration is helping to fuel rises in house prices that are preventing young people from owning their own home, the Planning Minister has warned.

Nick Boles said he has changed his mind about immigration after seeing how the arrival of 2 million new immigrants over the last decade has left Britain short of houses. He warned that failure to build enough homes would mean only the professional classes would be able to buy a house.

Mr Boles told the Mail: ‘I have become much more critical of immigration. A very substantial contribution to housing need comes from the level of immigration in the past two decades.’

The Planning Minister revealed that he has changed his views since becoming MP for the Lincolnshire towns of Grantham and Stamford in 2010 and minister with responsibility for liberalising the planning system to promote house building last year.

He said: ‘I had the classic metropolitan view about immigration that it was broadly good for me because it made life more varied and interesting and there were lots of people bringing different skills into the economy.

‘I wasn’t really aware of the effect on people who were competing for relatively low skilled jobs and competing for public services.

‘I was someone who had spent much of the last 10 years in London. It was only when I found myself in rural Lincolnshire that I saw the other side of it for people working hard and trying to get on.

‘Immigration has made my ministerial job more challenging. It has meant that we need to build more houses than we would otherwise have done.

‘And it has made it more difficult to persuade people that we need to build more houses. Peoples’ response is that we are building homes for new arrivals rather than for their children.’

Mr Boles said young people are being priced out of the property market, citing figures which show that the number of first time buyers who get a mortgage without help from their parents has halved from 69 per cent in 2005 to just 35 per cent now.

‘The biggest block on home ownership now is affordability,’ he said.

‘Are we really prepared to sit back and accept that the only people who are able to buy homes will be people whose parents can help them?’

Mr Boles has been criticised by Tory supporters for putting the need for new housing ahead of the preservation of greenfield land.

But he said Conservatives should back his reforms because they will help preserve the dream of a property owning democracy promoted by Margaret Thatcher, who grew up in his Grantham seat.

He said: ‘She made some very, very strong statements about home ownership. “A home, like food,” she told her constituents, “is a basic need in our lives”,’ he said.

‘Home ownership, she argued, “gives people independence and a stake in their country”. She was very critical of council tower blocks just as I’m very critical of the ugliness and impersonality of many modern housing projects.

‘What she thought then was that backing home ownership and generating that sort of pride in your own place and that investment in community, and that natural human instinct to improve where you live because you own it, she absolutely believed in that and I believe in it now.

‘Aspiration in terms of housing is going backwards. We are reverting, slowly but surely to the 19th century, where the only people who could own their own homes were the professional classes on large incomes and the landed gentry.

‘If we’re not careful, we will have done the most extraordinary feat of regressing in terms of the availability of what Margaret Thatcher said was as fundamental a human need as the desire for food.’


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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.’


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Watch out… soon GPs will ban patients altogether!

The NHS should be renamed care Not Holidays, Saturday or Sundays

If you’re going to get sick, please can you try to plan it well in advance, preferably before 5pm, Monday to Friday?

In the modern NHS (which should be renamed care Not Holidays, Saturday or Sundays) getting to see our local GP at a time when it suits us rather than them has become a pipe-dream, like finding a parking space you don’t have to pay for by mobile phone, or bagging a trolley at the supermarket when you haven’t got a pound coin.

A&E departments are in meltdown, swamped with an extra million people a year (compared with three years ago). They can’t see their local doctor since new contracts in 2004 gave them a 45 per cent pay increase and allowed GPs to opt out of working unsocial hours.

Worse, after sitting patiently in a queue in casualty for hours in the evening or weekend, there’s a one in five chance the person who sees you will be a junior doctor with just a few months’ experience.

Many have not been long in the UK, are on short-term contracts, have limited English, and certainly no knowledge of any of your family history.

Many consultants and senior doctors, like GPs, don’t work at night. Millions of us have lost faith in out-of-hours helplines, run by private companies who use nurses instead of doctors, and would rather take pot luck at hospital instead.

The Health Department reckons that 93 per cent of doctor’s surgeries in England are not open when it is convenient for patients – but what have they done about it? Nothing.

The Care Quality Commission says emergency wards can’t cope. The body which represents A&E doctors agrees. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt blames GPs.

But even when you are lucky enough get to see your family doctor, in the over-stretched, reconfigured cost-efficient NHS, it’s a dispiriting experience.

First, they hardly look at you, and stare at their computer screen. They spend your precious few minutes of face-to-face time typing in information and reading stuff online.

When you have blood tests you have to ring up a couple of days later and speak to the over-worked receptionist, who will tell you if the results are normal or not. That’s a medically unqualified secretary who has a line of patients waiting for appointments and prescriptions standing right in front of her.

If you require a follow-up appointment, then you will have to go through the ridiculous procedure of bagging a convenient slot all over again.

Recently, my arthritis medication was altered, and the new drug requires blood tests for three months, but I was told they couldn’t be put in my diary now as the surgery doesn’t work that far in advance!

When I asked for a printout of my last blood tests, I was told I couldn’t obtain them online as so many were done every day. I have been given a password to log in and order repeat prescriptions, but I can’t communicate directly with my doctor online about changing anything. This is half-baked: either you use the internet properly as a service to patients, or not.

A friend was worried that the whites of her eyes looked slightly yellow, which could mean – although she felt ok – she was suffering from a serious liver complaint, or hepatitis.

She waited days for her appointment, and then was disgusted when the GP (whom she’d never seen before) looked up ‘yellow eyes’ on Google in front of her!

Recently, Mike Farrar, head of the NHS Confederation, told a committee of MPs that he thought patients should email their doctors with their symptoms to free up surgery time. Labour MP Valerie Vaz said: ‘I thought medicine was based on observation.’

In fact, wouldn’t doctors’ surgeries run better if we just Googled our own symptoms and sent an email to the GP for a second opinion? (Only joking).

Another sign that patients are regarded as stumbling blocks to efficiency is a controversial policy document on the Conservative Policy Forum website, an organisation chaired by Oliver Letwin and backed by party co-chairman Grant Shapps, which asks party activists to vote on various proposals to make the NHS more ‘efficient’.

To my horror, they ask if it’s a good or bad idea to limit the number of visits we can make to GPs in a year, and whether appointments at weekends and evenings are ‘a luxury the country cannot afford’. Another gem asks whether ‘families should take care of their infirm relatives’.

This website plays an important part in determining the Conservative Party manifesto – so you have been warned.

It’s perfectly plain that the NHS of the future would run so much better without us, the annoying patients who clog up doctors’ surgeries and A&E units.

Family doctors provide a service we pay for – increasingly, it’s one that suits them, rather than their customers.


100 patients a day wait an hour in an ambulance before they reach A&E

Up to 100 patients a day are being forced to wait more than an hour in ambulances outside overstretched A&E units.

More than 37,000 people needing urgent treatment were held in so-called ambulance ‘jams’ last year – with delays of up to four hours recorded at some hospitals.

The latest number is more than double the 14,580 who waited to be admitted in 2010-11, despite official guidelines that say patients should be handed over to medical staff within 15 minutes of arrival.

Even the number of those stuck in ambulances for 30 minutes have increased – from 99,661 three years ago to 193,088 last year.

The delays in treatment come as many A&E departments are struggling to cope with a surge in patient numbers.

Chaos in out-of-hours care and the botched launch of the Government’s 111 non-emergency number have also been accused of pushing many hospitals to breaking point.

Earlier this year, staff at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital’s emergency unit were so stretched they erected a tent in a car park to act as a makeshift ward.

And in a leaked letter last week, 20 senior A&E doctors warned they could no longer guarantee safe care for patients.

Jamie Reed, Labour’s health spokesman, said hospitals had reached ‘crisis point’.

‘The collapse of social care, which means older people cannot be discharged back home, the failure of the new 111 helpline service, more than 4,000 nurses cut since the General Election and walk-in centre closures are all piling pressure onto A&E departments,’ he said.

‘The result is patients waiting longer for treatment, being left on trolleys and unable to be transferred to wards because the beds are occupied.

‘David Cameron is taking the NHS backwards, with ambulances queuing outside A&E and one hospital even having to erect a tent to receive patients.’

Last week, NHS Confederation boss Mike Farrar also said emergency care was in a ‘state of crisis’ and called for patients to be able to email their GP instead of going to see them.

However, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has blamed the problem on GPs giving up responsibility for out-of-hours care and allowing care to be provided by unreliable private firms.

The number of patients who waited longer than four hours in A&E has almost tripled in four years, from 344,772 in 2009-10 to 888,289 last year, NHS figures reveal.

Casualty units have been told to treat 95 per cent of patients within four hours, but almost a third of trusts failed to meet the target.

An NHS England spokesman said: ‘While more than 90 per cent of A&E patients are seen within this time, waiting an average of 53 minutes, a high number of patients are still waiting longer than we would want. ‘There is no single cause or factor that can explain longer waits in A&E departments and issues vary from hospital to hospital.’

A Department of Health spokesman said the NHS is ‘coping well’ after the number of casualty patients rose by a million in three years.

‘Patients shouldn’t face excessive waits for treatment and we expect NHS England to take action to address ambulance handover times, including fining trusts when there are delays of 30 minutes or more,’ he said.


School league tables: privately-educated British pupils ‘better prepared for top universities’

The extent to which private school pupils are being prepared for places at elite universities was laid bare today in new-style league tables showing how they dominate top grades in core academic subjects.

For the first time, data shows how many teenagers are leaving schools and colleges in England with good A-levels in a range of core disciplines seen as a vital stepping stone to sought-after Russell Group institutions.

It emerged that 150 out of the top 200 schools in the new table are from the fee-paying sector.

St Paul’s Girls’ School in west London and Magdalen College School in Oxford saw 70 per cent of 18-year-olds reach the standard – the highest proportion in the country.

At the same time, around a quarter of sixth-forms – almost all from the state sector – failed to produce a single pupil with good A-levels in a range of academic subjects such as maths, English, science and foreign languages.

The results are likely to tighten private school pupils’ grip in places at leading universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and University College London which demand a string of top grades as a basic entry requirement.

It also appears to reinforce universities’ claims that the dominance of independently-educated students is a reflection of academic standards in schools – and not discrimination by admissions tutors.

The disclosure comes after universities were told to set tough targets to increase the proportion of pupils admitted from “under-represented groups” including poorly-performing state schools. Around half of members of the Russell Group set themselves a state school admissions target.

Tim Hands, the master of Magdalen College School, welcomed the figures but warned against the use of narrow performance measures.

“Of course it’s right to ensure the right pupils get access to the right subjects and then on to the right university destinations,” he said.

“Independent schools, not least because they are less subject to Government interference, have a greater chance of doing this, as the table makes very clear.

“However, suddenly inventing this new competitive measure is yet another unnecessary political initiative and a further misuse of league tables. There is a danger of making many pupils who want artistic, vocational or practical qualifications feel further undervalued.”

Wendy Piatt, director-general of the Russell Group, said: “We agree A-level choices really matter. Too few students realise that some subjects and subject combinations can keep open wider degree course options at leading universities.

“However, it would be wrong to use this simple indicator as a measure of the number of pupils in a school who are qualified to apply successfully to a Russell Group university.”

Today’s performance tables show how many students get two As and a B at A-level in key subjects – maths and further maths, English literature, physics, biology, chemistry, geography, history and modern and classical languages. Data relates to more than 2,500 schools teaching A-levels in England.

It follows the publication of research by the Russell Group showing that students taking academic disciplines are much more likely to win places.

But figures show that 600 – one-in-four – did not produce a single pupil with good A-level grades in these subjects. Just 60 were from the independent sector.

Three-quarters of the 200 leading schools were from the independent sector, including seven in the top 10.

Aside from St Paul’s Girls’ School and Magdalen College School, the other fee-paying schools in the top 10 were: Concord College in Shrewsbury, the Stephen Perse Foundation in Cambridge, St Paul’s Boys’ School in west London, Wycombe Abbey School in High Wycombe, the Lady Eleanor Holles School in Hampton and St Swithun’s School in Winchester.

Queen Elizabeth’s grammar school in Barnet was the top performing state school with 65 per cent of pupils hitting the A-level target. Colchester Royal Grammar School in Essex and the Henrietta Barnett School, north London, were also listed in the top 10.

Figures also show a drop in the overall A-level pass-rate nationally.

The percentage of students who achieved passes equivalent to at least two A-levels decreased from 94.1 to 93.6 per cent in 12 months. The proportion of teenagers with three or more A*/A passes was down from 13.1 to 12.8 per cent, it emerged.

Stephen Twigg, the Shadow Education Secretary, said: “The decline in results at A-level and the fact that many pupils do not get the top grades for university is worrying.

“With 10,000 teachers having left the profession, and leading universities warning that the Government’s exam changes will jeopardise fair access to universities, David Cameron is putting social mobility is at risk.”


London Police Took 20 Min to Respond to Muslim Beheading, But Quickly Arrest 85-Year-Old British Woman for Islamophobia

Priorities, priorities. Witnesses claim it took London police 20 minutes to show up and stop the two Muslim killers. The official police narrative is something like 9 minutes for the unarmed police and 14 minutes for the armed police (those crazy Americans with their guns everywhere, really.)

But when it comes to something truly serious, like protecting Muslims from elderly British women, then the coppers were on the case.

“An 85-year-old woman has this afternoon been arrested after abuse was hurled at Muslims outside Gillingham Mosque. The pensioner was handcuffed and taken away in a van by officers attending the Canterbury Street mosque for Friday prayers. As worshippers gathered outside the venue, a woman at a nearby bus stop shouted: “go back to your own country”.

The arrested woman, from the Maidstone Road area of Chatham, was taken away by officers at about 1.45pm and is now in police custody. A Kent Police spokesman said: “An 85 year old woman from Chatham was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence.”

This woman survived WW2 and presumably learned all the wrong lessons about resisting fascism. But if she had been a Muslim beheading a British soldier, she could have just strolled away while the police took 20 minutes to come around.

And the same police that could not be bothered, when it came to protecting Muslims from angry Britons shouting things, then no expense was spared and no time wasted.

An extra 1,200 police officers were deployed on the streets of London after an impromptu English Defence League protest descended into violence in Woolwich, south-east London, following Wednesday’s terrorist attack.

EDL leader Tommy Robinson, was among a group of around 250 men, who gathered in Woolwich near the scene of the terror attack, chanting anti-Islamic slogans.

Mr Robinson told supporters: “They’re chopping our soldiers’ heads off. This is Islam. That’s what we’ve seen today.”

He added: “They’ve cut one of our Army’s heads off on the streets of London. Our next generation are being taught through schools that Islam is a religion of peace. It’s not. It never has been. What you saw today is Islam.

Well that’s a crisis. People are speaking the truth. Can’t have that.

If two Muslims butcher a soldier in broad daylight, the police will one day show up. But if 250 men chant that this sort of butchery represents Islam, then 1,200 officers have to be sent in to keep the peace. And by peace, we mean Islam.

In Bristol two men were detained following allegedly racist messages that appeared on Twitter following the terrorist murder. A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said two men aged 22 and 23 were being questioned over the incident.

He said: “The men were arrested under the Public Order Act on suspicion of inciting racial or religious hatred. They are currently in custody. Our enquiries into these comments continue.”

If the authorities had been similarly motivated to take in Muslims who incite racial and religious hated in the name of Islam, the attack in London would never have happened.

But why bother learning any lessons? Just shoot the messenger.

The spokesman added: “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.”

Yes, do stop and think. You wouldn’t want to end up in jail for asking why the authorities are ignoring Muslim terrorism.


British guilty of disguised anti-Semitism, says Israeli minister

A senior Israeli government minister has attacked British attitudes towards his country as “disguised anti-Semitism” and said that Britain was more hostile towards the Jewish state than other Western countries.

In frank comments on the eve of a visit to the Holy Land by William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s intelligence and strategic affairs minister and a confidant of Benjamin Netanyahu, voiced fears about British “animosities” towards his country.

Speaking exclusively to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Steinitz suggested that there was growing antagonism – taking the form of hostile media coverage, “incitement” and boycott campaigns – and intimated that a less friendly attitude may be being reflected in official Britsh policy.

He also issued a coded warning to Mr Hague and other Western statesman against lecturing Israel about Jewish settlement building in the West Bank, which the Foreign Secretary has repeatedly condemned.

Asked if Britain was still a “friend of Israel”, Mr Steinitz replied: “It’s difficult to say. Traditionally we had good relations with Britain and currently we have good intelligence cooperation with Britain and it’s very successful.

[But] we are concerned about the relations, about what we see as some animosities, some incitement in Britain, in the media, made by NGOs [non-governmental organisation] against Israel. I hope we will be able to use [Mr Hague’s] visit to improve relations.”

He pointed to campaigns calling for boycotts of Israeli products, academics and universities – a movement which recently saw Prof Stephen Hawking, the renowned British physicist, withdraw from a conference hosted by Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, next month in protest at the occupation of the West Bank.

Expressing “disappointment” at Prof Hawking’s decision, Mr Steinitz said: “I didn’t hear that Prof Hawking or other British academics, who are so easily boycotting Israel, are boycotting other Middle East countries. Or if they have reservations about America invading Iraq, they so easily boycott American universities. So some Israelis feel that there is some kind of double standards.

“The fact that Israel is treated differently, the fact that some people can say so easily, let’s do something against Israel, let’s boycott Israel, let’s boycott Israeli products, this is some kind of disguised anti-Semitism. In past times people said that they are against the Jews. Now, especially after the Holocaust, nobody says that they are against the Jews, but people are against the Jewish state.”

Mr Steinitz – a former finance minister – said British perceptions of Israel were more negative than those of other Western or European countries and drew comparison with popular sentiment in the US, Canada and Australia.

“There should not be much difference between people in America, Canada, Britain and Australia,” he said. “[They have] the same language, very similar cultures. And still in America, Canada, in Australia in opinion polls, most citizens support Israel with a very warm feeling. In Britain it is much less.

“When you think that all four are Anglo-Saxon democracies, why should people in America, Australia or Canada have different relations to or appreciations of the minuscule Jewish state than the people of Britain? Just recently, there was a very general poll in the United States. The support for Israel in the United States was stronger than ever. I’m not confident that this is the case with Britain as well.”

Asked if this difference in attitude might be reflected in the Foreign Office or in Government policy, he replied: “This might be the case.”

Anti-Semitism existed in Britain to a “certain extent”, he added, manifesting itself in negative attitudes to the Jewish state.

Widely believed to be Mr Netanyahu’s favoured choice as Israel’s next foreign minister, Mr Steinitz was almost certainly reflecting his boss’s views. One official close to the prime minister has told The Daily Telegraph that Mr Netanyahu views British public opinion towards Israel as “very tough”.

Mr Steinitz insisted that he was not accusing Mr Hague or other British ministers who had criticised Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank of anti-Semitism, saying this was a “legitimate view”.

“Not every kind of criticism is anti-Semitism,” he said. “I didn’t say that any criticism of Israel was anti-Semitic or unfair even. If somebody has some criticism of Israel, this is one thing. The same person can also have some criticism of his own country.

“But if somebody is following criticism of Israel and becoming anti-Israeli, saying ‘I’m ready to cooperate with Israel’s enemies or boycott Israel, or Israelis or Israeli academia or Israeli institutions’, this is something different.”

But he rejected the view – voiced by Mr Hague and other Western statesman – that continued settlement building threatened to torpedo chances of a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

“I think those allegations about the settlements are fundamentally wrong. To come to Israel and say why are you doing this and this, this is totally wrong,” Mr Steinitz said. He cited the dismantling of settlements in Sinai in Egypt after the 1979 Camp David accords as proof that Israel would uproot settlers in return for genuine peace.


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Pensioner with penicillin allergy dies after being given injection containing the drug ‘because hospital staff didn’t move Post-it note to check medical records’

An 80-year-old patient died in hospital days after he was given a drug to which he was allergic. John Dudding, of Plymouth, Devon, suffered a severe reaction after being given a penicillin-based injection at Derriford Hospital in the city – and died one week before his daughter’s wedding

Now she is suing the hospital for clinical negligence, claiming the penicillin allergy was clearly labelled on her father’s medical chart – but could not be seen because there was a Post-it note in the way.

Kim Tremaine, 54, said her father was also wearing a red wrist band to warn he had allergies – but claimed nobody rolled up his pyjama sleeve to check.

Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Derriford Hospital, has admitted the ‘serious drug error’.

Mrs Tremaine said: ‘In my opinion Derriford Hospital killed my father and did very little to save him. My dad didn’t go in there ill enough to die. The care he received was appalling, disgraceful.’

Mr Dudding died in February last year and his daughter said the drugs blunder happened three days after he was admitted having suffered a fall at home. An inquest is set to be held by a local coroner.

A Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust spokesman said: ‘We let Mr Dudding down in terms of the care we provided because there was a serious drug error and we apologise sincerely for this. ‘We don’t know how, or if this drug error contributed to Mr Dudding’s death. That is for the inquest to determine.’

The 1,100-bed hospital in March reported five ‘never events’ since November which all related to treatment or surgery to the wrong part of the body. ‘Never events’ are defined as serious and mostly-preventable incidents which should not occur.

Almost 50,000 people pass through the hospital’s entrance weekly – and it has more than 900 beds.


Patients in hospitals are not being put first, healthcare professionals say

Patients in hospitals are not being put first, three quarters of health professionals believe, according to a damning report which warns that the NHS has lost its purpose.

The study, by influential think tank the Kings Fund, paints a devastating picture of a health service culture in which the needs of the sick come second to management targets and ministers’ priorities.

It says NHS reforms which were introduced last month have increased the risks to patients – and the likelihood that a scandal like that at Mid Staffordshire Hospital is repeated.

The report, based on a survey of more than 900 healthcare professionals which was undertaken before the head of the NHS, Sir David Nicholson, announced plans to retire, found little confidence among frontline staff and managers about those in charge of the service.

Just one per cent of those polled thought the leadership of the NHS was very good, with 13 per cent rating it as good – compared with 40 per cent who said it was poor or very poor.

The report found that 73 per cent of those surveyed said quality of care is not given enough priority in the NHS, and warns that those in charge of the health service need to ensure patients are put first.

It says: “In future those leading the NHS at the national level must demonstrate that caring and compassion are core values within the service. This means setting clear national goals for improving quality and safety, and supporting staff to deliver them … The actions and behaviours of NHS leaders must be consistent with these values and goals. “

The report warns that a plethora of new NHS organisations set up last month when the health service was restructured has increased the risks to patients.

“One of the challenges to be addressed is that senior leadership in the NHS has become more fragmented as a result of the Government’s NHS reforms,” it says.

“Unless these organisations demonstrate an uncommon commitment and ability to work together, there is a real risk of NHS staff receiving mixed messages, with a lack of clarity and direction on what really matters. In this scenario, a repetition of the failures that occurred at Mid Staffordshire is more likely.”

The report says the health service now needs to “rediscover its purpose” and learn from other countries, with high-performing health care organisations with effective leadership and a culture that puts patients’ needs first.

It calls on health service leaders to develop a culture that promotes openness and honestly, and encourages staff to raise concerns about quality and safety without fear of retribution.

While 40 per cent of those polled said time and resources were the biggest barrier to good patient care, more than one quarter said the culture of the NHS stood in the way, with half of senior managers identifying this as the greatest obstacle.

In the report, Prof Chris Ham, the think tank’s chief executive, and Nicola Hartley, director of leadership development, say that “nothing less than a transformation of systems, leadership and culture” is needed throughout the health service, to prevent a repeat of the Mid Staffordshire scandal, where up to 1,200 people died amid appalling failings in care.

Ms Hartley said: “It’s the responsibility of all NHS organisations and professionals to make care patient-centred – to put patients’ needs above those of the organisation, team or profession. Our survey suggests that we have a long road to travel to achieve this.

“We know that most NHS staff are intrinsically motivated to help people who are at their most vulnerable. It is a failure of leadership if those staff consistently face barriers to treating patients and their families well.”

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary said: “The quality of care needs to be a priority for the NHS but it is clear after Mid Staffs that we need a change of culture to make that happen.”

“The introduction of a new Chief Inspector of Hospitals will mean that every patient will be treated in a hospital judged on the quality of its care and the experience of its patients.”


British Employers warned against giving jobs to more qualified students

Maybe they should just roll dice to select whom they employ. That would be “fair”

Top companies should ignore unpaid internships and degree classifications during the recruitment process to create a “level playing field” for applicants from poor backgrounds, a Government-backed report has recommended.

Employers should attempt to boost social mobility by ensuring that all barriers to good jobs are “eliminated”, it was claimed.

The study found that large numbers of public and private sector organisations were “unintentionally” using tactics that acted against the interests of people from disadvantaged families.

It criticised employers who looked “favourably” upon students who gained experience through unpaid internships, suggesting that sons and daughters of well-connected parents were far more likely to take advantage.

This follows controversy over an auction run by fee-paying Westminster School of exclusive work experience placements for its students.

MPs have written to companies – including Coutts Bank and Fabergé – asking them to withdraw their internships from the auction amid fears it is “explicitly favouring privilege”.

But the latest study – by the Association of Graduate Recruiters and Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services – found that employers may also be discriminating against disadvantaged applicants by selecting staff based on their degree classification and university.

Figures show students from poor backgrounds are less likely to go onto the very top universities.

Criticism has also been made of the existing degree classification system – in which students with firsts and upper-seconds are prioritised – amid claims it is too crude and fails to assess students’ wider abilities.

The report describes a number of barriers to social mobility, including “employers making decisions on the basis of a graduate’s choice of university or educational achievements and experience gained through unpaid internships being looked on favourably”.

It adds: “We would like to see employers acknowledge these barriers, and eradicate them.

“We did find a number of companies leading the way in this area, providing best practice examples to other organisations.

“For instance, some companies do not stipulate degree classifications and instead use clear descriptors for their entry requirements whilst others use anonymous application forms in assessment centres.”

David Willetts, the Universities Minister, has previously warned that graduate employers are “fishing in an unduly narrow pool” of talent, which risks discriminating against students from less prestigious institutions.

Backing the latest report, he said: “We want to make the most of the great wealth of graduate talent we have in the UK.”


Grandmother won’t make Double Gloucester for cheese-rolling event after ‘heavy-handed threats’ from British police

Police have been criticised after banning an elderly grandmother from making a giant Double Gloucester wheel for an annual cheese rolling event.

The event started in the early 1800s and sees competitors chasing the massive 1ft diameter cheese down the 200-yard Cooper’s Hill near Brockworth, Gloucestershire, as they race to reach the bottom first.

Farmer Diana Smart, 86, has been making her handmade cheese for the downhill run for a quarter of a century and it is something, she said, that brought her ‘such joy’.

This year, however, Mrs Smart, who has provided the large piece of cheese since 1988, has now been warned off doing so after a visit by police.

Three officers visited her farm and told her not to donate five 8lb wheels of her cheese in a bid to prevent the “dangerous” event.

Mrs Smart said the “heavy handed” police visited her home last week and told in a “threatening” manner she would be responsible for any injuries caused – and so has pulled out.

“They threatened me, saying I would be wholly responsible if anyone got injured,” she said. “I’m 86, I don’t have the will or the cash to fight any lawsuits. It’s crazy.”

It is the first time in its 200-year history that police have banned a cheesemaker providing the cheese – leaving organisers outraged by the polices warnings.

A spokesperson said: “It’s outrageous. Completely unbelievable. You cannot stop someone selling cheese. If they try and stop us we will use something else”

It has been found, however, following health and safety fears, 2009 was the last official cheese rolling event but unofficially the event is still held every year – without proper medical cover or insurance.

A Gloucestershire police spokesman said: “Advice has been given to all those who have participated in any planning of an unofficial cheese rolling event. We feel it is important that those who could be constituted as organisers of the event, are aware of the responsibilities that come with it so that they can make an informed decision about their participation.”

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, slammed the police for threatening Mrs Smart.

He said: “Taxpayers will be appalled that the valuable time of three police officers was wasted trying to scare an elderly lady into withdrawing her involvement in a centuries-old tradition.

“People expect the police to be keeping us safe and solving crime, not badgering innocent old ladies.

“Anyone participating in the cheese-rolling needs to take personal responsibility for themselves and the idea that Diana Smart should be liable for any injuries is frankly ludicrous.”


Useless British police again

If you “offend” someone they will be after you — but stolen property does not matter to them

When Dean Parnell realised his iPad had been snatched from a table in a busy city centre bar, he was determined to get it back.

Within an hour, the quick-thinking solicitor had traced the £750 Apple tablet computer to four possible addresses ten miles away thanks to an in-built tracking application.

But despite repeatedly asking police to recover the device, he was told they were too busy to attend.

So he travelled from Birmingham to the village of Water Orton in Warwickshire to recover the iPad himself.

Last night, Mr Parnell, 45, condemned West Midlands Police for failing to help him. He said: ‘I went to the police station. I was able to demonstrate that an apparent crime was taking place and I was turned away.

‘I guess I am more angry about the way I had been treated at the police station than I was about an opportunist who had pocketed my iPad.’

The drama began on Friday last week when Mr Parnell realised the 32GB retina display iPad had been taken from a table in a bar.

Staff at a nearby Apple store showed him how to use the inbuilt tracking system and quickly pinpointed it to a train heading out of Birmingham.

Mr Parnell, from Northamptonshire, said: ‘The train stopped at Water Orton and the iPad began moving slowly as if someone was walking to a car park, then it began moving quickly.

‘I called the police and they said someone would be along shortly but no one turned up. I then rang them again and they said someone would ring me back, but they didn’t.’

At a local police station he was told nobody was available until the following day – even when he said there was a greater chance of ‘an incident’ without assistance from officers.

Four more calls to West Midlands Police proved fruitless – and during the final attempt he was told it was now Warwickshire Police’s problem because he was now within their jurisdiction.

Mr Parnell then had to ‘go through the whole story again’ and was told a patrol car would be there within the hour. It didn’t arrive, and when he called back, he was told the nearest car was still 30 miles away.

The commercial litigation partner eventually got the device back when he knocked at one of the four doors pinpointed by the GPS tracking application and recognised the stunned householder as a fellow patron of the bar he had been to.

The suspect returned the tablet computer – claiming he had found it and was planning to hand it in to Apple the following day. Police later gave him a ‘stern warning’.

Mr Parnell, who has now received an apology from police, said: ‘The whole event took some four hours from beginning to end. Had it not been for my persistence, my iPad would have ended up as another statistic. ‘I appreciate the police may have been busy but it was their total lack of interest that was what really bothered me.’

Superintendent Danny Long, of Birmingham West and Central Police, said the ‘standard of service’ fell short and that officers should have been dispatched quickly.

An investigation had found that a crime had not been committed, he said. Warwickshire Police declined to comment.


BBC goofs over the Woolwich killing

With minutes to go before the BBC News at Six I was told by a senior Whitehall source that the incident was being treated as a suspected terrorist incident and being taken very seriously indeed. This information changed the news from a crime story to something of more significance. The police had, I was told, described the attackers as being “of Muslim appearance” and shouting “Allahu Akbar”. On air I directly quoted a senior Whitehall source saying that the police had used that description.

That phrase “of Muslim appearance” clearly offended some who demanded to know what it could possibly mean. Others were concerned that it was a racist generalisation.


The constipated language used by police seems to be the problem here. To police a woman is a “female person”. But they tripped themselves up with this as there is plainly no such thing as a Muslim appearance. There are all sorts of Muslims.

But the BBC guy should have picked it up. Why didn’t he? I suspect that both the police and the BBC were trying to avoid saying the obvious: “Of African appearance”. In the service of political correctness they made ninnies out of themselves.

Whitehall is the London street where most government offices are located. It is therefore a metonym for “The government”.

Woolwich is an area of London with extensive military connections

More attempted censorship over the Woolwich murder

It turns out that ITV’s video of the comments made by one of the murderers in the Woolwich atrocity yesterday was censored. Not, you might imagine, to remove graphic images of bloody violence, but for a different reason.

If you watch the broadcast version of the ITV video, you can see that a voiceover has been put over the beginning of the tape. The killer is speaking, but we can’t hear what he is saying.

The censored words are, “There are many, many ayah throughout the Koran [referring to religious verses] that says we must fight them as they fight us, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”

In other words, this is further evidence that the killer used the Koran to justify his actions. Why do you think that people didn’t want us to hear that?


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