Thursday, May 15, 2014 

Allegedly guilty.

Three cheers for the Graun! They've teamed up with the Torygraph and YouTube, aka Google in a bid to host one of the expected leaders' debates next year.  An online debate is clearly necessary, as it will give "voters more opportunities to engage with debates through tweets, likes, shares or questions to politicians", all things that simply wouldn't be possible if they were once again hosted by the old media.  Translated, the bullshit puffery means they simply want to get in on the act, as the debates will be a guaranteed source of hundreds of thousands of hits: 9.4 million watched the first debate live on ITV in 2010.  Even if the novelty of seeing the big three (or possibly four, this time) engaging in mock verbal combat has worn off since then, it's certainly not going to be something they'll lose money on, which for the Graun has to be a bonus.

As to where and why it's losing money, you only need to look at the ever mounting piles of crap being served up on Comment is Free, which this week hosted an article by Becky Smith on why she wasn't a hypocrite for taking a selfie (along with millennials, quite possibly the worst neologism coined in recent times) with David Cameron in Nando's.  I would explain further, but frankly I just, I just.  I don't know.  Imagine the scene from Fulci's City of the Living Dead where Giovanni Lombardo Radice's character's head meets a huge industrial drill, and know I'd rather it was my skull than have to think about Smith ever again.

Smith doesn't have anything though on Jessica Valenti, whose latest piece goes against just about everything the Graun is meant and usually does stand for.  In it, Valenti praises the people who have named alleged rapists at New York's Columbia university as "heroes".  She agrees it would be awful if someone named on the lists pasted up all over the campus were innocent of any crime, but it's OK as all those named so far are "allegedly guilty".  Let that sink in for a second.  Allegedly guilty.  Besides, for as long as humiliating women for allegedly having sex as they apparently do on certain online forums is legal and naming those "allegedly guilty" of rape is criminal, she'll support the victims, regardless of the methods they choose to make themselves heard.

I am obviously simplifying the forces at work here.  If the men weren't reported to the police by the college authorities due to their status despite being found responsible for sexual assault, then I like Valenti don't have much of a problem with their being named.  We don't know that's the case however, and neither does Valenti.  All we have is a list of names.  In this country we were rightly sensitive when the News of the World under Rebekah Wade (now Brooks) started publishing the details and whereabouts of convicted paedophiles, precisely because it resulted in the police having to intervene to protect some of those who were named.  More recently, Bijan Ebrahimi was murdered after being falsely accused of paedophilia, while Luke Hardwood was also killed by a vigilante gang after he was pointed out as a rapist, again without any corresponding evidence.

There's an extremely fine line between protecting women from sexual predators through naming those responsible, especially when they are only "allegedly guilty" and starting a witch-hunt, the end result of which can't be predicted or anticipated.  The Guardian of all papers ought to know why we should always be cautious of welcoming anonymous accusations.  When it comes to America and the internet it just doesn't seem to matter as much.

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Monday, November 26, 2012 

Sensitivity, anti-Semitism and Steve Bell.



Back in 2002, the New Statesman was quite rightly criticised after it ran the above front cover.  Picturing a Star of David pinning down the very centre of the union flag, while asking whether there was a "kosher conspiracy" involving lobbying from advocates of Israel, it invoked the most classic of anti-Semitic tropes whether that was the intention or not.  Editor at the time Peter Wilby apologised, and ran an editorial admitting that he personally had gotten it badly wrong.


10 years on, the readers' editor at the Graun has been moved to comment on the above Steve Bell cartoon, ran the day after the assassination of Ahmed al-Jabari.  Mainly responding to a couple of letters to the paper from Mark Gardner of the Community Support Trust as well as online criticism, Chris Elliot concludes his piece by saying that in his view, journalists should "not use the language – including the visual language – of antisemitic stereotypes".  It is undoubtedly the case that Jews have in the past been caricatured as powerful puppet masters, although more usually as pulling strings rather than wielding politicians as glove puppets.

If the cartoon does then echo an anti-Semitic stereotype, however unconsciously, does that by definition make it anti-Semitic?  In this instance I would suggest it does not.  Bell states, and Elliot recognises that he has often depicted politicians as either puppets or subservient to others (Tony Blair was at times a poodle to George Bush's chimp), and Bell argues that on this occasion his intention was no different.  Bell says the whole point of the cartoon is Benjamin Netanyahu's cynicism and his manipulation of the situation leading up to the launching of Operation Pillar of Defence, with Blair and William Hague unwilling to criticise his actions despite this being a repeat of the tactics of past Israeli leaders as elections approach.

It's an argument I myself have made, and while I can see why the depiction of Blair and Hague as glove puppets will be seen by some as either lazy or offensive, taken as a whole the cartoon is clearly not anti-Semitic.  As Bell says, the entire cartoon is a take on a photograph of Netanyahu giving a statement to the media, where the backdrop was Israeli flags and there was a menorah on the lectern.  As often as there is a fine line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, and it's one where the left at times accepts prejudice it would never tolerate elsewhere, the cartoon isn't even the former; it's an attack on a politician and how he presents himself, not a country or a racial group.  It does not, even obliquely, imply that Jews as a whole are "omnipotent conspirators" as the Jewish Chronicle quoted Jeremy Brier as saying, even if it can be argued it does fall into the stereotype of depicting a Jew as a puppeteer.

The irony will not be lost on some that the Graun is the paper most associated, rightly or wrongly, with political correctness, and has on occasion ran some utterly loopy pieces on perceived bigotry.  In this case it seems to have to a certain degree reaped what it has sown, while also falling victim to those groups that do treat any criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic.  While there is nothing wrong with going to great lengths in a bid to be sensitive, what should not be silenced is legitimate criticism of politicians of any race, colour or creed for fear that a stereotype might be touched upon, regardless of the medium through which it is made.

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Friday, March 26, 2010 

Reporting according to your own biases.

Considering that this blog often focuses on general tabloid mendacity, it's worth taking a look at the reporting of the broadsheets on exactly the same release from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which features a graph on how the personal tax and benefit changes since 1997 have affected different incomes groups (PDF).

According to the Guardian, this shows that Labour's strategy has closed the income gap. The Indie says that "Labour 'has cost the rich £25,000 every year'", the FT went with "Rich hit hard by 13 years of Labour budgets", while the Telegraph decided upon "10m families have lost out in Labour's tax changes", with a subtitle claiming that "Ten million middle-income households have lost out because of Gordon Brown’s repeated tax rises, a study has indicated."

Admittedly, part of the reason for why the papers are likely to have gone with such different interpretations of the same material is that while a briefing accompanied the release of the report, the report itself doesn't directly explain the graphs in any great detail, although it does point out that it doesn't show how household incomes have changed over the same time period. This is the crucial part, and only the Independent gives (unless the FT goes into more detail in its actual report rather than just the cut-off us plebs are allowed to view without paying) the extra detail concerning these changes which provide the context in which to understand the IFS report:

However, taking into account all changes in income since 1997 – including growth in salaries, bonuses, rents and investment incomes – the UK is still a very unequal society, despite the Treasury's efforts, the IFS points out. Income inequality has risen in each of the past three years and is now at its highest level since at least 1961, according to the IFS.

Sevillista in the comments on Left Foot Forward furthers this:

It is being misleadingly reported.

What it is saying that the bottom 60% are paying less tax then they would have done if 1996-97 tax structures and rates were left in place, the upper middle are paying slightly more and the very top are paying significantly more.

What it is not saying is the rich are worse of – they are far better-off and have gained far more than everyone else (inequality measured by Gini has slightly worsened, post-tax incomes
of the top 1% have raced away).

Shoddy reporting. Labour in taxing rich more than Tories chose to do shock, but unable to stop inequality increasing


Newspapers in reporting the news according to their own political bias isn't perhaps the most shocking revelation, but that even the supposed serious press fails, with the exception of the Indie, to put it into actual context should be a concern to those who imagine they're being treated with anything approaching respect.

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Monday, December 07, 2009 

Shorter Grauniad editorial.

We're all going to die, and it's going to be YOUR fault.

(I voted Green at the last two European elections. I believe in the climate science. I just don't believe for a second that the Copenhagen summit, even if it agrees radical enough limits, will actually ensure that those limits are then actually kept to. It's also not this generation that will be responsible; it will be the last generation, as they are still after all the ones in control. We'll sleepwalk towards the +2C rise and there's little to nothing we can do about it except start adapting now.)

(The Heresiarch also has a similar view.)

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Monday, February 02, 2009 

Have we got tax for you.

It is, as the Guardian's leader on the subject suggests, rather easier to target benefit fraudsters and those without access to good lawyers than it is to investigate tax avoidance. The paper knows this from bitter experience: it last year accused Tesco of avoiding corporation tax to the tune of £1bn, only for it to discover after publication that it had mixed up corporation tax with stamp duty land tax, and that the real sum avoided was far less. The paper quickly admitted its mistake, but not before Tesco, running straight into the arms of Carter-Fuck, had issued not just a libel writ but also a claim for malicious falsehood, although Justice Eady, the bête noire of the tabloids, subsequently threw it out.

The other reason for the Guardian to be extra careful when reporting on tax affairs is that it has also publicly admitted to be involved in avoiding tax itself, or rather that its parent company, the Guardian Media Group, has admitted such. This came about through GMG's alliance with Apax Partners, a private equity group, when it purchased the magazine publisher Emap. Quite rightly, some are therefore suggesting hypocrisy on the Guardian's part to be so apparently outraged about tax avoidance when the newspaper itself also does it. In the paper's defence, it's one of the few companies that has openly admitted some of its tax arrangements, although how much of this was in relation to the Tesco affair is unclear, while Richard Murphy, of Tax Research UK, examined all the other large media groups and found that the Guardian paid the largest percentage of corporation tax of the lot. As Richard Brooks also points out, it would be far worse if the paper's own tax arrangements stopped it from investigating "the tax gap", or even worse, if it affected its stance on it. Hypocrisy can be alleged, but it seems doubtful that the News International papers will be investigating tax avoidance any time soon, just as the Sunday Times every year mysteriously excludes Rupert Murdoch from its rich list.

Richard Brooks' involvement is one of the signs of how seriously the paper is taking its investigation, presuming of course that Brooks is the same Brooks that also works for Private Eye and who has been one of the heirs to Paul Foot's throne. That Private Eye subsequently discovered that Tesco was indeed avoiding corporation tax, as the paper had alleged, doubtless helped.

Undoubtedly, as we plunge head first into a recession, the tax receipts, taken for granted during the boom, become ever more important and should become ever more scrutinised. Peter Mandelson's famous quote, that New Labour was relaxed about people becoming filthy rich, often leaves out its second half, that this was fine as long as they paid their taxes. Half the reason why it was left off is not just so it can be used to beat Mandelson and Labour with, but also because the government itself became fabulously relaxed about companies and the individuals behind them not paying their fair share of tax. The Treasury might each year during the budget plug a few of the loopholes which are discovered by the bean-counting firms and mercilessly exploited, but the real tale, as always, was shown in the honours list, which year after year was resplendent with the burghers of industry who saw it as their duty, both to shareholders and themselves, to reduce their tax burden. Probably the most egregious example was the knighthood awarded to Philip Green, the man behind the Arcadia group - this was despite him taking £1bn out of the company to pay himself, which he funnelled to his wife in Monaco, therefore avoiding having to pay any tax whatsoever. The other gob-smacking incident was the selling off of tax offices to the company Mapeley, which is based in the tax haven of Bermuda. According to the National Audit Office's report on the deal (PDF), this saved Mapeley in the region of £55 million that the taxpayer would otherwise have had paid back to into the public purse.

The completely secretive nature of the deals, as well as the highly complex nature of the avoidance schemes exists not only between the companies and those that draw them up, but also between HMRC and the companies. HMRC, possibly out of embarrassment, possibly out of the desire to keep the missing taxes due a secret, refuses to give a figure for how much they're being left out of pocket each year, although estimates range wildly from between £3.7bn to over £20bn. Part of this secrecy is because HMRC deals directly with many of the companies over exactly how much tax they intend to pay - individuals such as Mohamed al-Fayed have long had agreements with HMRC over the exact figures. This is of course in stark contrast to how other taxpayers who get into arrears are treated, and to how the aforementioned benefit fraudsters are subject to the equivalent of a 10 minutes hate every so often. Both rip off the public purse, but only one enters the public eye, while further establishing the idea that most of those claiming to be sick are in fact not.

Some will console themselves with the idea that although undoubtedly avoiding pay your dues is a bad thing, that the money would just be squandered anyway. The argument would be a lot less alluring if this government wasn't so determined to do the equivalent of pouring money straight down the drain, as it continues to do on the various disastrous IT projects, on ID cards and on the Olympics, to name but a few such schemes. At the same time, there are always other things which many of us would like to see extra money going towards, not least at the moment a more generous benefits scheme for those temporarily out of work, or additional funding for retraining. It could be used to pay off the extra debt we're taking on more quickly, so as not to mortgage another generation of ordinary workers. As could be expected, it has been those ordinary workers, such as those protesting outside Lindsey and walking out in solidarity across the country, regardless of the involvement of the far-right and the nature of some of the slogans used, that are now being hit hardest when it was unrestrained global market fundamentalism which created the mess and which has been bailed out. The least those responsible can do is pay their fair share - and closing down the tax havens and the avoidance schemes has to be one of the conditions of the recovery and subsequent re-regulation.

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Friday, July 25, 2008 

In praise of... the death of Peter Andre and Jordan.

Whichever Grauniad leader writer was responsible for this Pseuds Corner-worthy abortion on unusual names ought to hang their head in shame:

Celebrities Peter André and Jordan mixed up their mothers - Thea and Amy - to come up with Princess Tiáamii for their daughter, achieving a neat feminist counterbalance to patrilineal surnaming (though they may not put it that way).

It's already bad enough that you've had the desperate luck to be born into a family of such complete and utter cunts, but being given a name which is going to haunt you long after they've shuffled off this mortal coil (hopefully in the most violent and painful way imaginable) really perhaps ought to open them up beforehand to legal action.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008 

Migrants stole my baby part two.

You can tell just how much the Grauniad's report yesterday on how migrants have not brought a crime wave with them and how, unsurprisingly, they're not committing more offences than anyone else overall has wound up the Daily Mail and Express by the vehemence of their response today. Along with the recent immigration report by the Lords committee that, despite tabloid coverage, concluded migrants had on the whole not significantly benefited or been detrimental to the country, the crime angle is the one sure fire hit which they can rely upon to really fire minds against the current immigration policy, with their impact on public services and negligible use of benefits following closely behind. For it to blown apart just as they appeared to be getting the upper hand could not possibly be tolerated.

Hence why both have come out all guns blazing. The Express leads with "IMMIGRANTS BRING MORE CRIME", which is patently untrue as the report has already made clear, but more interesting is the Mail's account of how the Guardian report supposedly came to fruition.

The liberal Left had been right throughout, and the influx of one million eastern European migrants in less than four years - contrary to the claims of some chief constables - had created little pressure or trouble.

The source was good. A report by the Association of Chief Police Officers, prepared for the Home Secretary, had reached this firm conclusion.

Except it had done no such thing. The report itself, leaked in full yesterday, bore no relation to the BBC or Guardian headline claims.

"EU accession migrants are continuing to present challenges across a range of policing activity," reads one paragraph.

There are "notable changes in crime patterns, including extortion, 'dipping' [pick-pocketing], human trafficking and a growing sex trade", warns another.

Most curious of all, there is not a single mention of a migrant crimewave, let alone about one being "unfounded" or a "myth".


Did it really bear no relation to the BBC or Guardian headline claims? Let's go back to the Guardian's report:

The report says: "While overall this country has accommodated this huge influx with little rise in community tension, in some areas sheer numbers, resentment and misunderstanding, have created problems." It adds that the immigration from eastern Europe has been different to previous arrivals, because it happened much more quickly. The report says that new migrants may be more likely to commit certain types of offences. Polish people are linked to drink-driving, and problems have arisen in central London with some Romanian children being used by adults to commit petty robberies.

There are also problems with people trafficking and exploitation, but while these may be more likely in some migrant communities, other types of offences are less likely to occur.


Well that's strange then, isn't it? The Guardian report did mention nearly all those things that the Mail now reports, just in a different fashion, considering that the Guardian didn't have access to the full document which the Mail and Express now apparently have. The easy way to sort the whole mess out would be if us lower mortals could also get access to the full report, but it seems for now that it'll remain confidential. The Grauniad has also expanded slightly on its original points in today's follow-up:

Peter Fahy, chief constable of Cheshire, who co-authored the study, said: "Migration has had a significant impact on UK communities in past years, but while this has led to new demands made on the police service, the evidence does not support theories of a large-scale crime wave generated through migration.

"In fact, crime has been falling across the country over the past year. Cultural differences such as attitudes to offences like drink-driving may exist, but can be exaggerated.

"The influx of eastern Europeans has created pressures on forces in some areas, including local rumour and misunderstandings fuelling tensions which police have had to be proactive in resolving, and leading to significant increases in spending on interpreters, which can also make investigations more complex."


Back to James Slack's analysis of the original Grauniad report:

Even if accurate, the coverage would have begged several questions, not least who had claimed there was a migrant crimewave in the first place?

Hmm. I wonder who could have done such a thing?

The influx of Romanian migrants has led to an explosion in crime in this country, it emerged last night.

As recent members of the EU, Romanians have had free access to Britain only since January 1.

Yet in the first six months of this year, police say, they were responsible for 1,080 offences.


This is from the Daily Mail, 19th of September last year, written by.... James Slack. The Daily Express also claimed in January that "migrants send our crime rate soaring", which as Fahy points out, they haven't, as crime overall has dropped by 9%.

Cambridgeshire Chief Constable Julie Spence - whose intervention last year was the report's spur - had warned of pressure on her local force, and problems with sex trafficking and eastern Europeans drink driving.

Neither she nor any other respected critic had suggested the new arrivals were committing disproportionate levels of overall crime (indeed, it is widely accepted - not least by the Daily Mail - that the vast majority are here to work hard).

What is true is that the migrants are as likely to be arrested by the police as a British citizen, but - when this happens - consume more resources by virtue of speaking little or no English.


Gosh, could that "the Daily Mail line" be anything to do with the Federation of Poles complaining about the Mail's coverage? Obviously Slack isn't including himself or the Express as respected critics, as both, as we have seen, claimed that new arrivals were committing disproportionate levels of overall crime, the Express claiming that crime by migrants had soared by 530%.

Rather than debunking the Guardian's original article, all Slack is doing is actually confirming that its story was accurate. He agrees that migrants are no more likely to commit crimes than the average British citizen, which was the Guardian report's main point. Where the Grauniad erred slightly was that it didn't put enough emphasis in how when arrested migrants obviously use more police resources, and translation costs therefore come into the equation, something that the report makes clear, but it can hardly be blamed for not doing so when it didn't have the full report in front of them, especially considering that their source was Peter Fahy, the co-author of the report, who should himself have communicated that robustly. In any case, today's follow-up contains a lengthy quote dealing with just that from Mail's favourite police officer, Cambridgeshire's Julie Spence. Its fears that the Guardian's report would affect the extra money the police were asking for from Jacqui Smith today when they met her were also unfounded; new funding was promised.

For the Daily Mail and especially James Slack to be moaning about the Guardian slightly misreporting an important study is the height of chutzpah. Such has been Slack's record in distorting figures and baiting and switching that you can't take a single article he's ever written seriously. This blog and others have on numerous occasions recorded the Mail and Express scaremongering, churning and in some cases downright lying about immigration. It ought to come down to trust; do you regard the Mail or Express to tell the truth or be more accurate about immigration, knowing their track record, or do you overall regard the Guardian, or any "broadsheet", or the BBC to do so? Opinion polls on trust on individuals and organisations in public life show that it's overwhelmingly the latter.

Speaking of lying, to bring it back to the Express, here's how it justifies its "IMMIGRANTS BRING MORE CRIME" super splash:

IMMIGRATION from Eastern Europe has led to a huge surge in crime, police chiefs will tell the Home Secretary today.

Oh, so the report doesn't say that then, there's no evidence whatsoever to back it up, but it must be true because "police chiefs" will say so. Then there's the blatant exaggerations of its content:

The damning report will be presented to Jacqui Smith in a key meeting, at which many chief constables will demand extra funds to cope with the effects of Labour’s open-door policy.

In an alarming message, the report warns: “EU migration has brought with it a huge surge in the exploitation of migrants and organised crime.”

...

The findings provide yet another devastating sign of the pressure Labour’s immigration policies have had on our towns and communities.

Which just goes to show that you really can make black into white and white into black.

Elsewhere, 5cc clarifies further the claim that 1 in 5 crimes in London are now committed by foreigners with figures from his own freedom of information request.

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Friday, August 03, 2007 

de Menezes: The backlash commences.

The day after the IPCC report ought to have destroyed Andy Hayman's police career, it would have been expected that sections of the gutter press would have set out to attack the man (the IPCC) and not the ball as it were, but for the Guardian to join in is something that shows just how deep the apologism for the police's actions on that day has infected the media.

More on that further on in the piece, but first to the Scum, the police's eternal friend, so long as they're not investigating Tony Blair, which has some of the most disgraceful coverage of the aftermath of the report in quite some time:

One senior Met source blasted the inquiry, saying: “This has been a 21-month witch hunt that was determined to find a scapegoat.

“The shooting is something the Met profoundly regrets but what the IPCC never took into account was that on that day we were fighting a war. It feels like being left on the battlefield wounded. Scavengers, watching from the sidelines, have come along afterwards and stabbed the injured.”


Except the IPCC hasn't managed to even find a scapegoat, has it? Hayman, as the Scum article presents, despite being a liar personally responsible for the smearing of de Menezes, has been supported by Ian Blair, Jacqui Smith and Ken Livingstone, the latter of whom really should know better, but because of his personal admiration for Blair and his "reforms" has chosen to blot all the unpleasantness surrounding the shooting out of his memory.

To try and pretend that the IPCC never took the situation the police were facing that day into account is a joke. The report itself makes this clear in its very introduction. It's rather fitting that the "source" has chosen to put what was happening on the 22nd of July into the context of a war, as the Scum leader also does. Through this prism, you can either see de Menezes as a victim of friendly fire or as collateral damage, depending on your view. The point is that when fighting a war, you do everything you possibly can to avoid killing either those on your own side or innocents, something which the Met abjectly failed to do. When the police themselves think that they were fighting "a war" rather than trying to catch 4 attempted murders as quickly as was possible, it's little surprise that de Menezes' death was treated as something regrettable (collateral damage will always happen) rather than as a result of systemic failure. He was just another unfortunate who got in the way, rather than a living breathing person in the wrong place at the wrong time. To compare the IPCC to scavengers stabbing the injured is just as laughable. The two officers who shot de Menezes were back on duty before it was even decided if disciplinary action was necessary. Andy Hayman, responsible not just for the lies on that day, but also for the handling of the Forest Gate raid, was handed a CBE. Cressida Dick, who gave the order that resulted in de Menezes' death, was promoted.

Former Met Deputy Assistant Commissioner Alan Given, in charge of firearms operations during the July 2005 bombings, also defended AC Hayman.

He said: “The IPCC has come up with a few criticisms based on the language that was used in communications. It seems a long time and a lot of public money to have achieved that.”


Which proves that Given hasn't even bothered to read the report.

To the Scum's leader:

ANDY HAYMAN’S brilliant leadership in the fight against terrorism has saved dozens of lives.

He is admired by his men just as he is feared by the terrorist scum determined to destroy our way of life.


And also resulted in the end of at least one and in the destruction of others. Still, that's OK, because he's saved dozens of lives of innocents, not people like de Menezes or the Kamal family. I doubt any of the "terrorist scum" even know he is, let alone fear him. As defined by their very act, suicide bombers are generally without much fear or morals, as both tend to get in the way of ending your own life by the method of explosive backpack.

The Queen awarded him a CBE for his handling of the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings which tore the life from 52 innocent commuters in London two years ago.

Yet the Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner had his name dragged through mud yesterday after an inquiry by the academics and do-gooders of the Independent Police Complaints Committee.

His crime? He was late in telling his boss, Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, a man shot dead at Stockwell Tube station was not one of a group of madmen who tried to repeat the 7/7 carnage a fortnight later.

It's a commission, not a committee. Secondly, just a couple of weeks ago the Scum was in hysterics
after the BBC owned up to misleading the public over phone-in competitions. Hayman not only didn't inform Blair, he, to quote the IPCC report:

AC Hayman either misled the public when he briefed the CRA that the deceased was not one of the four or when he allowed the 18:44hrs 22 July press release to state that it was not known if the deceased was one of the four. He could not have believed both inconsistent statements were true.

When the BBC does it, there needs to be root and branch reform. When a top-ranking police office lies to the public, his name gets dragged through the mud for no good reason.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone was right yesterday when he ridiculed the idea that Assistant Commissioner Hayman was responsible for some “catastrophic error of judgment”.

He hit the nail on the head when he said it was all very well for the complaints panel to criticise while sitting safely in their office but “you try doing it when you’re waiting for the next bomb to go off.”


He wasn't responsible for a catastrophic error of judgment, he was personally responsible for misleading not just those around him, but for lying to the public when the probabilities suggested the man shot dead was innocent. Either you don't give a running commentary to the press, or you make damn sure that what you tell them is right to the best of your knowledge at that time. He comprehensively failed to do this, resulting in the continuing belief right down to this day that de Menezes ran from the officers when he did no such thing, as shown in the comments on the Scum's article.

And that is what those who make a living from the civil rights lobby would like us to forget.

That when the unfortunate Jean Charles de Menezes was shot by police, four would-be bombers were on the loose and London faced another disaster.

The cops who shot Mr de Menezes were in a “damned if they do, damned if they don’t” situation where a moment’s hesitation could have led to a repeat mass murder.


"Unfortunate", rather than tragic. The cops were not in any sort of damned if they do situation; de Menezes was being held down on the ground with his arms behind his back when he was shot, meaning he would have been completely unable to trigger any explosive even if he had been carrying one. That there was four bombers on the loose is no excuse for the numerous failures of that day which led to his death.

The IPCC spent £300,000 on this investigation into one small aspect of what happened on July 22, 2005.

All they managed to do was make a mountain out of a molehill.


One small aspect? This goes to the very heart of what happened and what went wrong: that the Met was responsible for lying statements and for attacks on Menezes' own character, which were only corrected when an outraged IPCC worker leaked them to ITV News. We wouldn't have known the truth for possibly over a year if she hadn't done so; her reward was having her door broken down at dawn.

It is time we let Andy Hayman get on with hunting our enemies.

Further raking over of this sad incident would lead to the charge of wasting police time.

And giving comfort to the enemy.


I agree with the second statement. If Hayman won't resign, he should be fired. The police's actions on that day were the only comfort to the "enemy"; if they fail to kill anyone, they can at least rely on the police to do their job for them.

The Guardian's leader, while at least acknowledging that mistakes were made, fails to even mention Andy Hayman, concentrating instead on Ian Blair. After attempting to excuse the police in the same manner as the Sun does because of the "context" of what was going on that day, it then instead turns its fire squarely on the IPCC:

However, yesterday also poses questions about the IPCC itself. Its report examines inconsistencies in the way the police processed information during a frantic 36 hours, at the end of which the Met got the essential facts right and owned up to them in public - and it has never subsequently wavered from them.

This is patently untrue, as examined above. The Met continued to maintain its own version of events until the evidence which exposed the reality were leaked.

Yesterday's report is long and detailed. It comes more than two years after the events it examines. It cost at least £300,000. The public is entitled to ask if this is proportionate to the problem, and whether it could have been done more quickly and less expensively. Independent police complaints procedures are important and necessary. But this has not been the finest hour of the police, nor of those who watch over them.

The IPCC then, having done all the hard work of getting to the very bottom of what happened, having been sued by officers for daring to even think of criticising them, gets just as much blame as the Met itself. It's little wonder that the police thought themselves so above this that those in charge on that day were promoted: even the Guardian won't dare to raise its voice loud enough against them.

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Friday, July 27, 2007 

The devil weed returns.

Is it possible to go a whole week without yet another scare story about cannabis causing collective psychosis in the media? The Grauniad, usually more immune than others to over-hyping scientific studies, highlighted the scary figure that smoking the drug can increase the risk of schizophrenia by 40%, which most of the rest of the media have picked up on.

Unity provides a lengthy fisk, but the most important points are thus: firstly, smoking cannabis does not increases the risk of developing schizophrenia by 40%, it increases the risk of developing "any psychotic outcome", not just schizophrenia. Secondly, this quite wonderful figure of 40% needs to be put into context. The figure is taken from the statistic that 1 in 100 of the population have a chance of developing severe schizophrenia; according to the Lancet study, smoking cannabis increases this chance by 0.4%. In other words, an average user of cannabis, if there is such a thing, increases the possibility of developing "a psychotic outcome" by a massive 0.4%. Doesn't look so frightening now, does it? Unity additionally points out that that the 1 in 100 figure comes from the US, while the National Statistics Office puts the chance of developing a psychotic disorder here at 1 in 200, further lowering the risk.

The study really doesn't tell us anything we don't already know. Those under 18 are at greater risk from smoking cannabis, cannabis increases the risk of developing a psychotic illness, and those with a genetic disposition towards mental ill-health increase the risk of developing such a complaint by smoking cannabis. All these things have been known now for years, and have been considered by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs when coming to their conclusion that cannabis should be, and should remain, a Class C drug.

Still, we can at least be slightly sated that the Grauniad didn't jump to the sheer lunacy of the tabloids. The Mail and Sun, who also just happen to both be hysterical campaigners against the downgrading of cannabis to Class C, try to outdo each other with their own misleading articles. While both claim that smoking just one roll-up increases the risk by 41%, the Mail tacks on the sensational tales of 3 murderers, all of which it attempts to claim were in some way influenced by their use of cannabis. The Sun, on the other hand, just went straight for the jugular. Despite Rebekah Wade previously going on a mental health training course after she splashed "BONKERS BRUNO LOCKED UP" on the front page when he was sectioned, the piece is tastefully headlined "'Psycho' risk from one joint".

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