Too expensive to reveal: The 2000 Whitehall emails on Just Solutions International

The  secretive and expensive world of the miniistry of justice

The secretive and expensive world of the ministry of justice

Earlier this year this blog disclosed how the Ministry of Justice had  quietly set up a profit making subsidiary with the aim of marketing justice to obnoxious and corrupt regimes like Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia and has now been revealed Macedonia.

This disclosure caused some embarrassment and a lot of anger that the United Kingdom government should be bidding to profit from advising countries like Saudi Arabia who lash bloggers and hold street beheadings which the UK forcibly condemn should the Islamic State do the same. The anger is most eloquently expressed on the blog of lawyer David Allen Green who runs a superb commentary on his Jack of Kent blog.

Naturally I thought it  would be in the public interest to find  out exactly how this rather shadowy body had been set up and what was the ministerial drive behind it.So what better device than the  current Freedom of Information Act to ask the ministry the questions. That was last January .

This was my request:” I would like to request details of all emails and communications between ministers and officials held by the Ministry of Justice and NOMS regarding the establishment of Just Solutions International  under the present coalition government.”

it took the ministry exactly 28 days( the maximum under the act)  to decide that such a request was so broad that they sent me a letter saying they would refuse to proceed with it at all unless I narrowed its scope. They could have told me the next day if it was the case.

So on February 25 I sent an amended request:

“What I would like to request  are documents and communications ( by email) between officials and ( if any) between officials and ministers which led to the creation of Just Solutions International. eg pertaining to  the reason why it was set up and. its role within noms and the ministry.”

It took until late April ( way beyond the 28 day period) to answer with a lovely letter dated xx April 2015 . And guess what evidently Whitehall has so much material debating the creation of Just Solutions International that it is too expensive to send it to me.

According to the letter it exceeds the £600 cost limit and would take civil servants more than three and a half days to find them all.

As their letter says; “In this instance to provide you with the information we would be required to locate emails, which we have estimated exceed 2000, since 2012 which detail the creation of Just Solutions international.”

They have suggested I could narrow down the request a again either to a short time period or by named official ( I don’t have the names of all the officials anyway). However in the spirit of kindly co-operation I have narrowed down the time limit to one year and see if this yields any results. I await the reply  with interest though they have not given me the courtesy of saying they received the request yet.

I suspect that the officials don’t really want to release anything – because the whole volume of correspondence – seems to suggest to me that they had a lot to discuss about why and how this  private profit making company was set up. But there is no reason yet to give up and all the more reason to probe exactly what is behind an initiative that believes making money from dodgy regimes is an ethical revenue earner for the taxpayer.

Naysayers at bay:The damning child sex abuse figures that should make them think again

Simon Bailey, chief constable of Norfolk, who is co-ordinating the Operation Hydrant figures Ic credit: Norfolk Constabulary

Simon Bailey, chief constable of Norfolk, who is co-ordinating the Operation Hydrant figures
Pic credit: Norfolk Constabulary

The disclosure by Operation Hydrant – the national co-ordination hub set up by the police to bring together all allegations of  historical child sexual abuse – this week  of a huge number of paedophile suspects should give any naysayer a shock.The figures are released on the National Police Chiefs’ Council website here should give massive cause for concern. There is a separate breakdown for Scotland here.

Basically they show that there are 1433  male suspects of which 216 are deceased Some 666 suspects related to institutions, and 261  are classified as people of public prominence.

Some 506 are classified as unidentified and 357 institutions have been identified within the scope of the operation.

The breakdown of the prominent people is 135  from the world of TV, film or radio,76 are listed as politicians –(it should be noted that these include local-level politicians, not just national figures); 43 are from the music industry and  7 are from the world of sport

Some 357 different institutions have been identified. These include:154 schools,75 children’s homes,40 religious institutions, 14 medical establishments,11 classified as being institutions in communities – youth clubs, community centres etc.,9 Prisons or Young Offenders Institutions, 9 sports venues and  28 other institutions (i.e. military, guest houses) In addition, 17 institutions are classified as ‘unknown’.

These figures come as a surprise even to journalists working on Exaro as they are higher than we  even thought.. But to anyone who has been campaigning to suggest that the almost every claim is based on ” false memory syndrome” or made up to claim compensation this should be a wake up call. Are they really going to say that all these people across the UK have made up these claims? This is just not credible.

Obviously the fact they are suspects means the cases are not yet proven but the perpetrators should stand trial if the police can gather enough evidence.

And when you think that probably each and every suspect has assaulted or molested often scores or more survivors – these are not after all long term relationships – the problem is severe. No wonder former CSA panel member, Graham Wilmer, of the Lantern Project, has told Sky News ” This is just the tip of the iceberg.”

These figures however are not just shocking- they raise questions about what sort of society the United Kingdom is now.

How come professional bodies from the police, social services, the NHS never suspected this was going on or possibly covered it up? How come the media both TV and print never discovered the scale of this at the time? What is going on now that we don’t know about?

It also raises questions about what sort of society we live in where it appears to be OK for minority to prey on children in this vile way? It raises questions for all religious orders – especially the Roman Catholic church where the issue of celibacy could be contributing factor to this problem.. From what I  know there is not  a religious order where they are not allegations of  child sexual abuse whether it is the Anglican Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses , the Methodists and the Mormons.

We also cannot wait EIGHT years for the Goddard Inquiry to decide what new arrangements are required for protecting children in the future.In case there is any doubt about what a horrific experience child sexual abuse is – read the judgement of the Supreme Court this week which lifted the ban on the publication of a book by James Rhodes, the pianist.

Classical pianist James Rhodes. Pic Credit: www.classicalmusic.com

Classical pianist James Rhodes.
Pic Credit: http://www.classicalmusic.com

This is an extract (Warning Strong Language) from the book read out in court:

“Abuse. What a word. Rape is better. Abuse is when you tell a traffic warden to fuck off. It isn’t abuse when a 40 year old man forces his cock inside a six-year-old boy’s ass. That doesn’t even come close to abuse. That is aggressive rape. It leads to multiple surgeries, scars (inside and out), tics, OCD, depression, suicidal ideation, vigorous self-harm, alcoholism, drug addiction, the most fucked-up of sexual hang-ups, gender confusion (‘you look like a girl, are you sure you’re not a little girl?’), sexuality confusion, paranoia, mistrust, compulsive lying, eating disorders, PTSD, DID (the shinier name for multiple personality disorder) and so on and on and on.

I went, literally overnight, from a dancing, spinning, gigglingly alive kid who was enjoying the safety and adventure of a new school, to a walled-off, cement shoed, lights-out automaton. It was immediate and shocking, like happily walking down a sunny path and suddenly having a trapdoor open and dump you into a freezing cold lake.

You want to know how to rip the child out of a child? Fuck him.

Fuck him repeatedly. Hit him. Hold him down and shove things inside him. Tell him things about himself that can only be true in the youngest of minds before logic and reason are fully formed and they will take hold of him and become an integral, unquestioned part of his being.”

Need I say more.

Supreme Court upholds right of classical pianist to tell compelling story of child sex abuse

An attempt to ban a book by a classical pianist James Rhodes where he revealed how he overcome his childhood trauma of  sexual abuse through music has been comprehensively overturned by the Supreme Court.

The findings and the judgement are reported in detail on the excellent Inforrm blog site here

The decision overturns what will be seen as a rogue judgement by the Court of Appeal which allowed his former wife to ban publication of the book because it could cause distress and damage to the author’s son. This extraordinary judgement has been report on this site earlier.

Dan Tench, of the law firm, Olswang, writes on the Inforrm.blog :

“The Supreme Court handed down today its judgment in OPO v MLA ([2015] UKSC 32), the case in which the Court of Appeal had – extraordinarily – granted an injunction to prevent the publication of a book solely on the ground that it might cause psychological harm to the author’s son. In a compelling and comprehensive judgment, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal and discharged the injunction.

The Court clarified the tort of intentionally inflicting mental suffering, gave a powerful reminder of the importance of freedom of expression, provided important guidance on the form of injunctive relief and abolished imputations of an intention by operation of a rule of law.”

He concludes:

” The judgement is also notable for including substantial extracts from the book, perhaps the most startling and vivid prose to appear in a Supreme Court judgement.  This material gives a strong insight into the power of the book and it is plain that the judges held it in high regard (although that was no part of their reasoning).  The Court recognised that the book used “brutal language” and “dark descriptions” and confirmed previous authority that the “right to convey information carries with it a right to choose the language in which it is expressed”.

This is a powerful, authoritative and humane decision from a Supreme Court at the top of its game.  Like all the best judgements, when one has finished reading it one concludes that the law could be only this, a welcome answer to the difficulties to which the decision from the Court of Appeal gave rise.”

I thoroughly concur. Survivors everywhere should welcome this decision by the highest court in the land. They should also note that one of the judges who made this decision was Lady Hale, one of the people who sadly turned down the offer to chair the statutory inquiry into child sex abuse after it was made clear that the Lord Chief Justice did not want any sitting judges from the UK chairing the inquiry. It may be a sad loss given what this judgement concluded.

POSTCRIPT: James Rhodes is launching his book at the Hays Literary Festival on Saturday May 23 (tomorrow). the link is 

Will a Tory town hall victory in May lead to bitter defeat in July?

St Albans Civic Centre: One of the new Tory controlled councils. Pic Credit: St Albans gov.uk

St Albans Civic Centre: One of the new Tory controlled councils. Pic Credit: St Albans gov.uk

This weekend’s Observer contained a very interesting article from Toby Helm revealing that local councils are planning to lobby the government like mad to stop yet another huge wave of cuts.

What was interesting is that it was coming from the victorious Tory leaders in May’s local elections who are now fearful of having to implement heavy unpopular cuts to local services.

It has gone virtually unreported the scale of the local government gains by the Conservatives who gained of 32 councils and 541 more councillors on the back of getting a majority in Parliament. the full results are on the BBC website here.

The gains – many from  no over all control include Amber Valley (from Labour),Basingstoke, Bath,Brentwood, Broxtowe,East Staffs,Gloucester, Gravesham,Hinckley (from Lib Dems),Herefordshire,Lewes, Newark,North Warwickshire,Scarborough,St Albans,Taunton, Warwick, West Devon,Winchester,Worcester and Wyre Forest.

Labour had just three gains, Chester, Stockton-on-tees and West Lancashire but overall lost control of  three councils and lost over 200 councillors.  But this masks the scale of Labour defeat in places locally like Dacorum in Hemel Hempstead where Labour is down to two seats and the Liberal Democrats down to three, with 46 councillors from the Conservatives.The Liberal Democrats lost another 411 councillors and control of four councils, holding on to South Lakeland, Eastleigh and Eastbourne..

UKIP gained their first council in Thanet  where Nigel Farage was defeated and put on another 176 councillors.This council will become a yardstick on how UKIP run local services.

The Conservative victors have every reason to be apprehensive. Local government has borne a disproportionate share of the cuts under the now departed Eric Pickles and George Osborne is introducing an emergency budget in July. The Treasury often prefer to land local government which supplies personal services with big cuts to spare some of the lobbying from anxious Whitehall departments.

I predict that we are going to see some very radical changes to services. Private companies like Capita must be rubbing their hands with glee and many councils may have to follow the London borough of Barnet and outsource the entire council to private companies. People will soon find out that the only way to contact their council will be by a call centre – if they are lucky in England – but if unlucky in Bangalore or Chennai. The Tory victors could end up being defeated by their own austerity policies.

Four reasons why a partisan press helped win it for the Tories – Steven Barnett

davidhencke:

Steven Barnett’s comments are particularly interesting on the role of new media. it suggests that the dominance of the right is also being reflected on line and the danger that internet will just be the Left talking to the Left and the Right talking to the Right. The hoped for on line balance against traditional media may still be a long way ahead.

Originally posted on Inforrm's Blog:

Press ElectionBarack Obama’s hugely experienced aide David Axelrod – who advised Ed Miliband on his campaign – was unequivocal about the press hostility which he faced in the run-up to this election: “I’ve worked in aggressive media environments before but not this partisan.”

View original 772 more words

Have a laugh and watch tonight Rory Bremner and the mandarins

rory bremnerDepressed or elated about the election result? Have a few laughs tonight and watch Rory Bremner’s election special about  who was holding the real power in Britain while the country was going to the polls.

I have been working as a consultant to the one off programme  which will explore the growing power of private companies running Whitehall and the role of mandarins. I know he has talked “off the record” to some pretty well placed political and Whitehall sources. You might be surprised to find out who is running the country and where we are selling our Whitehall wares. The programme is produced by the Vera – the company that has twice exposed MPs in lobbying stings – the latest being Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Jack straw.

Plus of course the inimitable impressions and the usual stuff from this comedian. It’s on BBC 2 at 10.0pm. It’s called Rory Bremner’s Election Report.

Election 2015: Fear triumphs over hope

David Gauke, prediicted the Tories would have a small working majority last Saturday

David Gauke, prediicted the Tories would have a small working majority last Saturday

Last Saturday in Berkhamsted market  treasury minister David Gauke, my local Tory MP now safely re-elected, told me five days before polling day, that the Conservatives would be returned with a small working majority.

At that time people said to me” he would say that, wouldn’t he? ” but Gauke had picked up, presumably from constituency returns, that the Liberal Democrats were doing badly. As the main challengers to the Tories in Herts South West he might take an interest even though his seat is one of the safest in the country. And he would know that many Liberal Democrat seats were vulnerable to the Tories and that Labour had more or less had it in Scotland.

As it turns out whether he had a crystal ball or not he was right – even though the opinion polls said the result was too close to call. Yet they all showed that a lot of people were still undecided.

What appears to have happened is that  enough undecided people on the way to the polling station appear to have bought the idea that they had to keep the government in power  to ensure that the “recovery ” continued and probably thought  ” I am just about OK” not to risk a change. A substantial minority – the UKIP vote – were so disillusioned about Westminster politics – that they were happy to vote for them  and damn the consequences. And it seems quite a number were ex Labour rather than Tory voters. and certainly that applied in Scotland where Labour seemed to have lost the plot.

Labour had offered the hope of a fairer society, more support for the NHS, and some controls on vested interests like private landlords and energy companies. Both Labour and the Tories  said there would be more unspecified cuts while the Tories promised to legislate to stop tax rises. But I suspect that people did not want to risk it because of these uncertain times.

I suspect many people think these “cuts”won’t affect them – only welfare scroungers and immigrants. I  think they will be in for a very big shock because there is no way the books can be balanced without much wider reductions if not removal of services. Local government, social care, benefits for disabled people, all are likely to be hit and there is no need now for a government in power for the next five years to bother with higher pay rises for public sector workers. There will also be a bonanza for private  firms to take over the rest of the work of the state and fraught referendum on Europe and a resentful relationship between England and Scotland.

Labour will have to do some new thinking on how it is going to offer a vision to attract people to vote for them – or be squeezed between UKIP and the Greens. Otherwise the prospects for 2020 will be even worse than now after the new  more equal constituency boundaries come into play and reduce their Parliamentary representation even further.

There is a very bumpy road ahead for this government with a small majority and a controversial manifesto to implement  but an equally bumpy road for all opposition parties as a result of today’s shock result.