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Communities secretary Sajid Javid says – irony of ironies – we should all pledge an oath to uphold “British values”. As one tweeter puts it, “Since when was an oath of allegiance a #British value?”
Javid says the oath could include phrases such as “tolerating the views of others even if you disagree with them”, as well as “believing in freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from abuse … a belief in equality, democracy, and the democratic process” and “respect for the law, even if you think the law is an ass”.
The Government doesn’t much like those ‘British” freedoms. They want to limit free speech and throttle the Press. If you believe in free speech, tell them. And tell these enemies of “British values” where to stick it.
The British government has opened up a public consultation on the next stage of the Leveson Inquiry. It is asking us two questions. Should the government implement Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013? And should the government go ahead with Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry?
Section 40 incentivises newspapers to sign up to State-approved bodies. Failure to sign up to the official censors means those publications will have to pay the costs of anyone who brings a civil suit, libel or privacy actions against them – even if they win their case.
Is that an incentive to sign up top the Royal Charter-backed press regulator? No. It’s blackmail. Join Impress, the Max Mosley-funded press regulator backed by the censorious Hacked Off, or else they’ll cut your legs off. Write anything unpleasant against the rich and powerful, and watch your organ whipped like a prostitute and most likely killed off.
You can sign here and tell the Government that guffing on about freedoms of speech means nothing if you don’t believe in it.
To Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP,
Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport,
My answers to your consultation questions are as follows:
Question 1: Which of the following statements do you agree with?
Answer: Option (c) Government should ask Parliament to repeal all of section 40 now
Section 40 would stifle freedom of the press in the United Kingdom. It would put an undue burden on publications which wish to remain entirely independent. They would be forced to shoulder legal costs of complainants whether or not they are found to be at fault.
This would have dire consequences for publications both large and small; making independent publications reticent about reporting important stories for fear of crippling legal costs and bankruptcy.
If the press is to be free, the state has no role in regulating what is published. While signing up to a regulatory body is allegedly voluntary the sanctions contained in Section 40 would constitute state coercion of the press.
Question 2: Do you have evidence in support of your view, particularly in terms of the impacts on the press industry and claimants?
* Repealing all of section 40 now is a vital and necessary step to protect the freedom of our press and the democracy it safeguards.
* With nothing to lose, complainants are more likely to launch legal cases against publications (both large and small) based on the smallest of disagreements. These are issues that can be easily resolved by letters to the editor and/or editor corrections; timely and expensive legal procedure is not necessary.
* Increased levels of legal action that will be enabled by section 40 is far more likely to stifle debate in the United Kingdom. It will have drastic effects on the financial situations of small publications, forcing them – and the wider discourse they offer – to close.
* Newspapers are public institutions. They hold historic reputations and an ongoing source of political and social engagement. The more we have, the better.
* John Whittingdale, the former culture secretary, said imposing the cost penalties outlined in section 40 would result in further losses of jobs and titles in the newspaper industry.
Question 3: To what extent will full commencement incentivise publishers to join a recognised self-regulator? Please supply evidence.
Answer: Commencement of section 40 would amount to strong arming independent publishers into signing up for outside regulation by threatening them with financial ruin from complainants even if complaints are found to be spurious.
Question 4: Do you believe that the terms of reference of Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry have already been covered by Part 1 and the criminal investigations?
Answer: Yes, the scope of Leveson Part 1 has already had a chilling effect on the British press, a further inquiry would compound this. Putting the entire British press on trial for the wrongdoing of a small number of journalists is unjust. Where the law has been broken by journalists, criminal investigation into the individuals involved should suffice.
Question 5: Provide evidence
* The Press Gazette counts 67 journalists as having been arrested from 2011-2015, more than any country in the Western world in that period. The investigations costing the taxpayer £43.7 million resulted in just 8 convictions for phone hacking (Operation Weeting) and 2 convictions for paying public officials (Operation Elveden). Operation Tuleta into computer hacking returned no convictions. As such the terms of reference of Part 2 have been covered by the criminal investigations which did not find any extensive wrongdoing, despite the vast public resources devoted to them. http://www.pressgazette.co.uk/the-67-uk-journalists-arrested-andor-charged-in-the-course-of-their-jobs-since-2011/
* According to a City partner involved in Leveson Part 1, Part 2 would be “ludicrous” as re-treading the same ground as the criminal cases would undermine the verdicts.
* In the wake of Leveson Part 1 the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) wrote a report expressing concern at the state of UK media freedom. They criticised the conflation of the hacking scandal investigated by Leveson Part 1 with debate over regulation, stressing that “British law provides appropriate remedy for illegal activity in proven cases of wrongdoing.” Launching Part 2 of the Leveson Enquiry is an unnecessary infringement on the independent role of the law in convicting those – in this particular case, journalist’s – of any wrongdoing they are accused of committing.
Question 6: Which of the two options set out below best represents your views?
Answer: • Terminate the Inquiry
The Leveson Inquiry has already damaged the freedom of the press in Britain. In the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, the United Kingdom has fallen 19 places since 2010 – we are now ranked below Tonga, Belize and Lithuania.
The Government should not need a consultation if it is serious about upholding the freedom of the press. For centuries Britain has had a free press, unregulated and unstifled by legislation or Royal Charter. Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 presents a serious threat to that proud record.
The impact section 40 could have on smaller publications could be particularly dire. The financial pressure that could be placed on local newspapers would lead to them being strong armed into joining the government selected regulator, or impose a chilling effect on their journalism. That would not be healthy for democracy, and a huge back step for Britain.
Going through with Leveson Part 2 would be a waste of taxpayer’s money, and present barriers to investigative journalism. If the Government is interested in what is best for its citizens, not just itself, it will ignore calls for obstructions to public service journalism.
The Government should not commence with section 40 or consider starting Leveson Part 2 if it is on the side of freedom. The only sensible response to this consultation, would be to bin Leveson and scrap section 40.
If you believe in free speech, you don’t need to take a poxy oath. You can just sign here.
How’s Brexit going? Well, it’s not, of course. The Government has yet to trigger Article 50. But be in no doubt Theresa May is “playing a masterful hand”. Andrew Lilico tells Sun readers May has been “crystal clear” in her plans fro Brexit. He says we need no “additional clarity”. Things are “clear” – a word he mentioned sevens times in the article. The only “unclear” thing is what Theresa May will get.
The Mirror says the country will he handed a £50bn bill to leave the EU. The money is made up of the “UK’s final two years of EU budget payments plus pensions liabilities and other commitments we have previously agreed to”. This bill has been “confirmed” by EU negotiators. The Mirror adds that EU Ambassador… anyone? Anyone? Yes, it’s Sir Ivan Rogers. Well, he says leaving the EU could take ten years.
That May has been in Brussels with the other EU country leaders has not escaped the Mirror’s eye. It says May lacks authority and presence in meetings. Her “inexperience” is a “major handicap for Britain”. Her rivals see “victim” stamped on her forehead. She was awkward when filmed standing alone as “Europe’s power players hug and greet one another at the Brussels’ summit”. It was “excruciating”. May was “desolate”. The other leader then told her to go while they all went to dinner together.
The Sun agrees. “”NO MAYTES,” it puns. May was “frozen out”.
Over Pages 10 and 11, the Daily Mail sees “KNIVES OUT FOR OUR MAN IN BRUSSELS”. Sir Ivan is being attacked over his “gloomy pessimism”. Sir Ivan, notes the paper, was “top mandarin to Tony Blair”, a man whose mentioning necessitates all Mail readers spinning round three times and spitting. It adds that the aforementioned £50bn bill is a “threat”. It is a”gross upper estimate”.
As in the Mirror, the Mail shows May “friendless” at the summit. Dignitaries “turn their backs” on the Prime Minister.
But the Express has a different view. Its readers see May in conversation with Germany leader Angela Merkel and European Parliament President Martin Schulz.
On the matter of that £50bn, a number the Mirror says Number 10 “did not confirm or deny”, we hear from a “Downing Street source”, who says: “Once we have left the EU, the UK government will make decision on how taxpayers’ money is spent.”
Can education improve everything? The Mail reports on plans for all new police officers to need a degree. In the old days would-be coppers were simply handed a form on which it was written, “If you can read this, you’re over-qualified.”
The latest move by the College of Policing is for budding plods to study policing at university, complete a conversion course if they graduated in another subject, or do a three-year ‘degree apprenticeship’.
It’s absurd, of course. This need for every job to require a degree simply adds more guff to the education bubble and makes loadsa cash for colleges. The actual job – the doing part – improves not a jot.
Every season the media tells readers “Christmas is cancelled”. Here’s a list of Christmases cancelled this season of cheer.
Nottingham Post, Novembers 18: “Christmas has effectively been cancelled for dozens of young children after thieves ransacked a nursery in Stapleford.” Thieves broke in and stole computers.
Stoke Sentinel, November 21: “Christmas is cancelled in Tunstall.” Why? Because there aren’t enough volunteers to help with a council-run do.
Daily Express, November 23: “‘We are a Muslim business’ Woolworths store cancels Christmas over Islamic customers.” A Woollies in Dortmund has stopped selling Christmas decorations and seasonal tat because it’s Muslim? No. “Branch manager Seda Capakcur, 25, confirmed Christmas products had been withdrawn from sale. She said: ‘The Christmas articles are hardly in demand here. Already last year, everything remained unsold.'”
Spokeswoman Diana Preisert said: “Woolworth is, of course, not a Muslim company. Christmas merchandise is available from September onwards and should be sold out by the end of December. In this branch, however, demand was too low. Therefore the goods were distributed to other branches.”
December 2, Morning News USA: “Christmas Cancelled? Santa Banned In This Part Of Oregon.” Bah! “An Oregon school district on Tuesday decided to ban Santa and other religious-themed decorations within the classroom.” Santa is religious?
December 4, USA Today: “Christmas is cancelled: Santa breaks leg.” (Psst! He’s not the real Santa.)
Daily Mail, December 4: “Cowell tells his harem that ‘Christmas is cancelled’ as he plays happily families in the Caribbean with his girlfriend and son.” Simon Cowell has cancelled Christmas for “old flames Sinitta, model Jackie St Clair and make-up artist Mezhgan Hussainy”, who will not be joining him on his family hols in the sun.
Hull Daily Mail, December 8: “Christmas is cancelled for Hull thief Stewart Firth.” Crook told to spend Christmas thinking about his crimes.
Derby Telegraph, December 8: “Parents fear Christmas could be cancelled in Derby schools because of strike action.” Teaching assistants are thinking of going on strike. Elves union watching events closely.
Irish Independent, December 12: ““Everyone is seriously p***** off” – Jose Mourinho reported to have cancelled Christmas.” Instead of training on Christmas Day morning, Manchester United will be training on Christmas Day afternoon.
News.au, December 13: “Christmas is cancelled: Shortage of all your favourite festive treats.” Yep, the Hatchimal toy is selling out fast!
Daily Star, December 14: “Christmas is cancelled.” It’s been cancelled by striking Southern Railways staff and looming strikes by workers of Argos and the Post Office.
More to follow…
The Mail brings news of a “new drive to wipe-out anti-Semitism”. That the story is illustrated by a picture of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn gives readers a clue that the focus of this drive to wipe out hatred of Jews are not aristocrats, dinner-party guests or jihadis, rather the MP for Islington North with friends in murky places. That anti-Semitism is being used to score points is apparent when the Mirror reports on the same story with a picture of Labour MP Luciana Berger, who was subjected to horrendous anti-Semitic abuse. The Mail makes no mention of Berger, whose abuser has been jailed, but does spot the “more than 50 Labour members…suspended for anti-Semitic comments”. The Mirror leaves that bit out.
The drive is piloted by Teresa May, who says there “will be one definition of anti-Semitism – in essence language or behaviour that displays hatred towards Jews because they are Jews.” It’s odd that a definition is required, and that May should feel a need to spell it out. Anti-Semitism is racism. Simple. In defining what every Jew and sensitive soul can spot a mile away, May is politicising Jew hating and pandering to the kind of balls whereby people can say the most racist things and then plead for dispensation through ignorance.
When accused of anti-Semitism, Naz Shah, a Labour MP, and thus one would hope an intelligent and empathetic human being, explained it away by saying, “The truth is that some of the stuff I have since looked at and understood, I didn’t know at the time. I didn’t get anti-Semitism as racism.” Ms Shah, who following exposure embarked on a self-styled “journey”, added: “I had never come across it. I think what I had was an ignorance.”
After talking to a few people, perhaps about what universal human rights really means, Naz reached a shocking conclusion. She tweeted: “I understand that referring to Israel and Hitler as I did is deeply offensive to Jewish people.” Who knew?
For her accidental racism, Shah, MP for Bradford West, was suspended from the Labour Party and let back in when her journey into what does and what does not constitute racism ended – a trip that lasted a full 11 weeks.
It is intensely troubling that someone able to give free reign to anti-Semitic views should be an elected member of her community. Did Shah acquiesce to anti-Semitism on the hustings as she tried to win the seat from George Galloway’s Respect Party, despite having voted for him in 2012? That was Galloway who said, “We have declared Bradford an Israel-free zone.”
Julie Burchill wondered:
Of course, it’s possible to criticise Israel without being anti-Semitic – Israelis do it all the time, in perfect freedom, uniquely among Middle Eastern countries.
But it is anti-Semitic to say that the Jews, uniquely, do not deserve their own country – especially when Muslims have so many.
And the enemies of Israel wish there to be yet another Muslim state – Palestine, in which gay men are already exiled and women have been arrested for laughing in public.
There are 230,000 Jews in this country and two million Muslims. If the Labour party was currently committing self-immolation for purely ideological reasons, it would be tragic enough.
But the fact that they are doing it cynically, as well – to win the biggest group of voters – compounds their catastrophe.
The Guardian reported:
Guido Fawkes reports that Shah had employed a Labour councillor, Mohammed Shabbir, who is also alleged to have made antisemitic remarks, claiming Russian Orthodox Jews were involved in “the sex trafficking trade – demand is particularly high among Charedim, the conservative Orthodox Jews, many of whom are regular clients of brothels”.
The Jewish Chronicle also runs a piece on Shabbir’s comments about the decision to fly the Palestinian flag – but not Israel’s flag – at Bradford town hall.
It reports that when some councillors questioned why the Israeli flag could not be flown, Shabbir wrote: “Many here in Bradford would be nauseated at seeing the Nazi flag or some other fascist with their Nazi salutes and chants.”
Writing in the Indy, Ben Judah noted that Naz’s journey could have started closer to home:
Across town, in the constituency of Bradford East, the Liberal Democrat MP David Ward was using Twitter to question how long the “apartheid state of Israel” could last, and tweeting that he too would probably “fire a rocket” if he lived in Gaza. Later, he declared himself “#JeSuis #Palestinian” in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks on a kosher supermarket, after the Charlie Hebdo massacre…
Having been suspended for his comments and reinstated, Ward was selected to represent the LibDems at the 2015 election. He lost. In 2016, Ward was voted onto Bradford Council as a councillor for Bolton and Undercliffe. LibDem leader Tim Farron told the Commons Home Affairs Committee’s anti-Semitism inquiry:
“Once his (Mr Ward’s) time of suspension had completed then he retained all rights as a party member, including being able to put himself forward for reselection and approval and so on. And likewise, in the time since he ceased to be a member of Parliament, to have an involvement at local government level.
“If you’re saying should we look at processes to ensure that our selection is done appropriately and that the disciplinary processes inform that, then that would be something that would come under (Lord) Ken Macdonald’s review.”
“I think that when you look at an individual’s actions, you then have to make sure that justice is done.
“And if a disciplinary process has been gone through, either the person has not been convicted of an offence, for want of a better phrase, or indeed that they have but they have served their time, then it’s appropriate that that person would continue in any other free organisation as they would do otherwise. But it doesn’t mean I associate myself in any way with some of the comments he has made, some of which I would deem to be anti-Semitic.”
Back in the Indy, Judah adds:
The former Lord Mayor of Bradford Khadim Hussain commented on Facebook that Israel was “no doubt” arming Isis, and shared another Facebook post that complained that the deaths of millions of Africans are not taught in schools but “your school education system only tells you about Anne Frank and the six million Zionists that were killed by Hitler”…
And when I visited Bradford, a group of passionate Galloway supporters pinned me to a wall, throttled me and punched me in the head, shouting “Get out you f***ing Jew.”
If you still find it deeply confusing to spot what is is and what is not anti-Semitism, the now educated Naz Shah is here to help. She told the Commons: “Anti-Semitism is racism, full stop.”
There you go, Theresa May. No need for clarification.
The oldest prejudice is back with vigour. Bertolt Brecht’s words ring true: “Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.” Yeah, he’s been readmitted to the Party.
Karen Matthews – ‘the UK’s most hated mum’ (source: Daily Mirror) is talking through a “pal” with an impeccable memory to the Daily Mirror.
In “I need plastic surgery for my own safety” readers see a picture of Karen, the woman convicted of kidnapping her daughter for cash. Like most of you, we too had forgotten what Karen Matthews looked like. and with her dyed hair, gained weigh, new name, Bible group mates and living far away from her native Dewsbury, it would have been easy to have ignored here. But the Mirror somehow managed to spot her and her anonymous friend, and now Karen says she is living in fear.
Over page 4 and 5, we are told in an emotive headline, “People scream nonce at me in the street… but I think I deserve everything I get.”
Karen is “trying to build a new life for herself…but there are clearly many who are not ready to forgive or forget”. Given that headline, one of them seems to be Karen herself.
People have thrown fireworks at Karen (bangers, since you ask). She is “hounded”. So she needs to have her face rearranged. Well, a bit of it at least: “I would love to get plastic surgery, make my nose small so nobody would recognise me.” She was “attacked” in prison. “They hit me with a snowball,” says Karen.
The Mirror says on Page 12 that Karen Matthew getting plastic surgery on the NHS is “a question for public debate”. And Karen “deserves a fair hearing”.
Lest you still not think the Mirror is spinning a story around Karen Matthews to flog you her memoirs, Lucy Thornton tells us: “My sympathy then loathing for Karen has turned to pity.”
And if there’s enough interest, it’ll turn to a book deal.
Journalists are notoriously bad at numbers. Writing in the Guardian, Patrick Collinson is talking about how things were better years ago.
The Bank of England governor told us this week there has been a “lost decade” of wage growth. But is the truth really a lot worse than that?
It turns out that the question is rhetorical. Collinson knows. He’s looked at his dad’s old tax returns:
In 1963-64 his pay as an accounts clerk in London was £1,357 a year. In today’s money that equals a little over £25,000 a year once inflation is taken into account.
Is it? Inflation is the percentage change in the value of the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) on a year-on year basis. The Office for National Statistics tells us: “The Wholesale Price Index (WPI) is the price of a representative basket of wholesale goods.”
Changes in the prices of goods bought and sold by UK manufacturers including price indices of materials and fuels purchased (input prices) and factory gate prices (output prices).
On a particular day every month, thousands of ONS inspectors collect 110,000 prices for more than 650 goods and services in 150 places and over the internet. This basket of goods and services is based on a survey of the spending patterns of 6,000 households and is continually updated.
Since there is no such thing as a typical household – not everyone smokes, drinks, eats out, buys rail tickets or pays school fees or a mortgage – the inflation rate of each household will differ from the average.
People who spend a lot of their money on services – childcare, hairdresser visits and restaurants, for example – will have faced a higher inflation rate in recent years given the much larger rise in services inflation than goods inflation.
Inflation is measured by comparing the price of the same or comparable things over time.
In some ways that £25,000 doesn’t look so great. After all, someone working in a similar role with his level of experience at the time might expect £35,000-£40,000 today. But then look at what an income of £25,000 bought in 1963 in London.
And look at what it buys you now. Yeah, it buys you the same stuff. Collinson has compared wages by looking at inflation.
His granddaughter now works in the same city, London, for the same pay, £25,000. But what does an income of £25,000 buy you in 2016?
As Tim Worstall notes: “Well, actually, it buys you a basket of goods worth exactly the same as £1,357 bought you in 1963. Because that’s how we work out what the inflation rate is.”
PS: The Guardian is appealing for cash. It wants readers to pay £5 a month to read the paper online. And in the Guardian’s world the desired £5 donation is “the price for a cup of coffee”. The headline of Collinson’s story: “Oh for the 1960s! People earned less but could afford more.”
Life was frothier than your expensive coffee back then.
How’s the Brexit vote getting along? A few weeks ago (It was June 23rd – ed), the people democratically voted for the country to leave the undemocratic European Union. Today the Daily Express leads with “HOORAY! MP SAY YES TO EU EXIT”. Like you, we’re a little puzzled. Didn’t the demos, the great unwashed, say ‘yes’ to the EU exit with that vote? The MPs had their say in the run up to the referendum. Now they’ve had it again, and the democratically elected members who represent us have voted in the Commons by 461 votes to 89 in favour of democracy.
The Express, which has cheered for Brexit and UKIP, is delighted. By the end of March the Government will finally trigger Article 50, the move needed to get Britain out of the European Union, and the MPs will not attempt to block it.
And the country is in favour. A YouGov last week reveals that 68 per cent of people want Britain to get on with Brexit.
On page 4, we read that the 372 majority vote not to block the will of the people “does not have the force of law”. The Express then points the finger at the “89 MPs who lined up to defy the will of the people”. Er, no. They all did. They voted on something they had no right to vote on. We already did the voting. The entire exercise was about them validating themselves not about the referendum.
The Mail is equally chuffed with this absurdity. It was the “DAY MPS SPOKE FOR BRITAIN,” declares the newspaper’s front page. The paper says Labour was “thrown into chaos” when 23 of its MPs refused to commit to the Brexit timetable. Labour is already in chaos. The party lost the plot when it created surveillance Britain, invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, belittled the working class, approved a hierarchy of foreign people and acquiesced to racism.
“We’re the insurgents now,” says former Labour leader and PM Tony Blair. He and the 48% are the rebels? If they are look out for British politicians tuning the other way when Russians bomb them. But they’re nothing of the sort. You can’t spot the 48%. There is no popular movement. As we’ve seen, the vast majority of voters back democracy and just want Brexit done. The people rather like and value democracy; the clubby elected reps less so.
It’s “ARTICLE 50 SHADES of HOORAY,” says the Sun.
On its Page 2, the Mirror spots “lone Tory Ken Clarke” with the 23 Labour “rebels”, the LibDems and the SNP. So much for the 48%.
Meanwhile, over at the Supreme Court, Remainers are hoping rich petitioners backed by a shibboleth of old toffs – Gina Miller, her pals and the judges – render the referendum result useless. Indeed, readers, the people who bemoaned the rich and the old men and women in the street voting Leave now hope the rich and the old men and women wrapped in wigs and dead animals let them stay.
How’s that for elitism?
As the internet watches footage of a man punching a kangaroo in the face (see below), we’ve been looking at the story of the Glasgow Celtic fan who throw a burger at a police horse before the Champions’ League match at Manchester City’s Etihad stadium.
The fan was arrested and fined £90 for a public order offence.
(The horse did not eat the ‘beefburger’. Horses are not cannibals.)
Minds turn to April 2013, when Newcastle United fan Barry Rogerson, 45, threw something else at a police horse working at the match: a punch. He told the tabloids: “I reacted stupidly but I did not go out to attack a horse. I love animals. I’ve got three dogs, a fish pond out the back and I feed foxes across the road.”
Maybe it’s time police adopted the football clubs’ policy of not using real animals, but mascots? Why should animals be hurt when people are willing to put there beaks and snouts in the firing line.
“We all thought he was having a laugh, but then he called us a bunch of “c****” and after a few words exchanged he waddled off back to the Family Stand,” said one Torquay fan of club mascot Gilbert The Gull. “At the end of the game, Gilbert came over again and in front of us on the pitch, he gave the ‘come on then’ body language towards us and wouldn’t stop until hiding behind the stewards and again waddling off as we moved towards the exits.”
Others have behaved worse, like Chaddy the Owl (Oldham Athletic), who set about the Blackpool mascot. Blackpool press officer Matthew Williams told us: “I was in the press box and they were play-fighting, when Chaddy waded in and seemed to be kicking 10 bells out of Bloomfield Bear.”
And now for the kangaroo puncher. He’s Greig Tonkins, 34, an elephant keeper at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, New South Wales. He was out hunting wild pigs when his dog was grabbed in a headlock by a roo.
Tonkins wins by a technical knock out.
Kangaroos are feisty. In June a roo broke a woman’s breast implants. “Just out of the corner of my eye I’ve seen this kangaroo up on this ledge,” Mrs Heinrich told News Ltd in Australia. “I thought, ‘he’s cute’, and then he jumped on top of me and used me to launch off and on to my girlfriend. [The implants] are silicon and saline, and the saline will just go through your body but the silicon now congeals so it stays within the area but it’s very painful, it’s up there with cracked ribs.”
Greig had best take care. And watch out for those wild pigs. They’re huge.
We’re gonna need a bigger fist.
ID cards are back on the agenda. The Sun calls it a “Green Card”, but it sounds a lot like we’ll be asked to carry our papers and show them on demand post Brexit. Home Secretary Amber Rudd says some sort of ID cars “would have to be introduced” to identify the 3 million EU nationals living in the UK. The Sun says the move would “almost certainly mean Brits on the Continent will have to carry ID cards where they go.”
The Guardian quotes Rudd:
“There will be a need to have some sort of documentation. We are not going to set it out yet. We are going to do it in a phased approach to ensure that we use all the technology advantages that we are increasingly able to harness to ensure that all immigration is carefully handled.”
This throws up a number of questions, of which these are just a few. Why do we need new forms of surveillance? Why do millions of law-abiding adults need to be monitored in an effort to prevent a few committing offences? Why do we need to show the authorities an ID card and prove our innocence? Why can’t we be private citizens unwilling to share everything with the State? And how does forcing us to carry ID card enable the government connect with the public?
It’s not about us. It’s about them trying to establish a role and sense of purpose, moving on from Tony Blair’s manta of ‘Join the debate’ and David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ to take on the role of overseers. No longer connected with the people they are supposed to represent, politicians now just want to watch us to learn what we want and thereby how best to control us. You can’t opt out of their Big Conversation’ because you’re being forced to take part. You are British not because you hold British values, rather because you forcibly carry an ID card. You’ve been defined by the Government you take everywhere with you.
It’s less worrying than it is pathetic. They don’t trust us. But they demand that we trust them.
“Find out what Scarlett Moffat will not next,” says the Daily Star on its front page. Judging by the picture of the Googlebox star and now I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! winner in her bra and knickers, we’d says ‘put some cloths on’ or ‘catch a cold’. On page 4 and 5, Scarlett is a “Celebridey”. Aha! She’s going to get married!
Scarlett Moffatt is “heading down the aisle”, says the paper in an “exclusive”. Well, it is to anyone not following Luke Crodden, Scarlett’s boyfriend, on twittter, and didn’t see him tweet: “I think I wanna marry you @ScarlettMoffatt.” If that was a proposal, it’s one Scarlett didn’t see on account of her being in a televised jungle clearing with neither phone signal nor phone.
The Mirror, which also leads with Scarlett, says she’s in line for a £1m deal. In an “exclusive” Halina Watts, says Scarlett has “revealed her big plan for the future – to team up with Ant and Dec. Imagine handing out with those boys all day and having a laugh,”says Scarlett, exclusively in the Mirror. “I’d love it.”
That’s not all that exclusive to Daily Star readers who read the exact same dream on November 22, then billed as her “threesome” with Ant and Dec. Scarlett fans will have read that before when she said it in her book published last April.
Over in the Star, we read that Scarlett is due to earn £1m in endorsements and TV deals. As well she might. Last year’s I’m A Celebrity winner Vicky Pattison told the Mirror in March 2016: “I’ve just about hit the 7-figure mark for the first time. But I’m being wise with my money. I’ve been very well advised and I’m turning myself into a bit of a property tycoon.”
Find out what Scarlett does next by visiting her local estate agency.
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child.
Having led with “important” news on the hunt for the missing child only yesterday, the Sun makes not a single mention of the child. The Express, however, leads with the story on its cover. “NEW TWIST IN POLICE HUNT FOR MADELEINE McCANN,” declares the paper, the words hanging by a familiar picture of the child.
On Page 7, we get to the news. Below stories about Scarlett Moffatt winning I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! and a new treatment for Parkinson’s disease, we read: “Did people-traffickers snatch Maddy?” To which the only sensible answer is: Dunno. Did they?
New funding for the police search for Madeleine McCann will investigate a tip that she could have been kidnapped by people smugglers. The child “may have been photographed with her parents son the beach by a ‘spotter’ for a gang,” says the paper. Or may not have been. We don’t know. It’s a theory. A “police source” is quoted: “It raises hope that she could still be alive.” After that a “friend” of Madeleine’s parents Kate and Gerry McCann is quoted: “There is definite hard evidence that this is happening and they have looked into the fact someone was targeting children and may well have been sterling children to order.”
In the Star, on Page 15, readers are told, “MADDIE: 4 MOTHS TO FIND HER.” That’s how long British police have been given to locate the child who vanished in May 2007. The paper says “detectives have changed their minds about what happened “. They no longer believe she was “snatched by burglars during botched raids on the family’s holiday apartment”. They now think child-traffickers may be behind the disappearance. A “source” unnamed, as ever – says this is the “last roll of the dice”.
It’s the “last chance” to find the child, says the Mail on its page 14. Police want to “work out if she was kidnapped to order”. The paper adds that “no trace of her has ever been found”. Readers are told that the parents “were ultimately forced to raise funds for teams of private detective to chase a barrage of often spurious tip-offs”. And that the the “child trafficking theory was first raised in 2007 by private detectives who believed there could have been gang ‘spotters’ working on the resort.”
Believed. Could. But no facts.
As for four months to find the child, the Mail says when the public funding for the police search ends on April 1 2017, more money will be provided if “investigators have evidence that the few remaining leads are worth pursuing”.
Madeleine McCann went missing in 2007. Such are the facts.
Do you want the good news or the good news? Norbert Hofer, leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, will not be the county’s next president. He polled less votes than Alexander Van der Bellen.
The Mail call it “humiliation” for Hofer, whose party, it reminds readers, was “formed by a former SS commander”. He was Anton Reinthaller, a former SS brigade leader and Nazi Minister of Agriculture, who formed the party in 1956. Lest you think having one old Nazi has leader an accident, Reinthaller was succeeded in 1958 by Friedrich Peter – another former SS member.
Anyhow, the Freedom Party didn’t loose by all that much; as the Mail says, “almost half the electorate, backed him”.
Is the Mail a tad disappointed?
Hofer wasn’t set to kick out immigrants. He was all set to give the European Union a kicking. Pity the spirit of the SS lost, right?
Madeleine McCann: a look at reporting on the missing child.
The Sun (front page): ” MADDIE GANG PROBE Cops given cash to probe ‘important’ new lead that Maddie was snatched by people trafficking gang.”
Important enough for the paper’s front page – but not ‘important’ enough to avoid those inverted commas.
The rest of the Press follow the Sun’s lead.
The Mirror: ‘Madeleine McCann cops chasing ‘important new lead’ as investigation reaches “last roll of the dice”.’
The Indy: “Scotland Yard set to investigate ‘important’ new lead in disappearance of Madeleine McCann.”
Daily Mail: “Scotland Yard given extra funding to probe ‘important’ new lead over theory that Madeleine McCann was kidnapped by trafficking gang.”
It’s important. Maybe.
Over pages 4 and 5, readers are told more.
The development is being taken so seriously that senior Whitehall officials have been briefed by the Met on its progress.
Well, the hunt for the missing child has cost a lot of public money. Maybe the bean counters are worried about a lack of value for their investment?
And what of the breakthrough?
Detectives are following a tip that a gang of European traffickers snatched the tot after taking pictures of her. It could end up proving that she is still alive, nearly ten years after she vanished.
Everyone sane would like this story to have a happy ending. But how can anything prove the child is alive other than her being found?
As with so much to do with this story, an unnamed source is quoted:
A source said: “This is an important new line of inquiry which could provide an explanation on whether Madeleine was abducted and transported away. It raises hope that she could still be alive.”
Surely we only know if the new tip is important if it comes up with evidence that explains what happened to Madeleine McCann.
Retired Yard detective Colin Sutton said the extra money for the last line of inquiry means “there must be something worthwhile”.
Who needs evidence when you’re a retired detective?
The Sun adds: “Reports following Madeleine’s disappearance suggested she could have been taken to Belgium or Morocco in North Africa.”
But this is interesting:
The Met’s clubs and vice unit received a tip that the ring had placed an order for a “young girl” just three days before Madeleine went missing. Leicestershire Police, who at that point led the Operation Task effort to help find Madeleine, were also informed.
Is there any evidence to support the story?
In 2011, police in Portugal smashed a trafficking ring snatching young women and underage girls in the Algarve and Aveiro, in the north of the country.
The Portugal Resident has more:
An operation to crack down on human trafficking has led to the arrests of 12 men identified as being part of a criminal network in the Algarve and Aveiro, in the north of Portugal.The ring is believed to be responsible for the sexual exploitation of many young women in the Algarve, some of them underage, who were being coerced into acting as prostitutes in the region
During the operation, 30 Romanian women were identified as possible victims of human trafficking.
The SEF, Portugal’s immigration and border service, added:
“The movement of the prostitutes between different networks hindered the police and judicial authorities in being able to conduct a criminal investigation but authorities in Spain, Italy, the UK and Germany cooperated with us with the assistance of Europol in this case.”
Algarve Social Democrat (PSD) MP Mendes Bota was unimpressed with the suspects’ treatment:
Speaking to Lusa News Agency on Monday this week, Mendes Bota claimed that, “a few days after they were arrested”, the majority of the individuals detained by SEF Immigration Officers during the February bust “were released by a judge who decided that they should await their trial, who knows when [the trial will commence], unrestrained.”
We can’t find any news on any trail.
Such are the facts.
Stage school kids and pushy parents, listen up. Stop sharpening your elbows and start smiling beatifically.Lady Gaga has arrived in London. And she has a message, as told in the Guardian:
Singer says money and celebrity have been put on a pedestal, and the happiest people are in the poorest parts of the world
And stinking rich, super-celebrated, fame-hungry Lady Gaga, whose every outfit and manifestation seems to be the product of a focus group, should know.
Lady Gaga has denounced the evils of money and fame as she promoted her new album on the roof of one of Britain’s biggest shopping centres.
Lady Gaga looked down on the masses and told them to be as happy as pigs in the brown stuff. She might even envy you. Only recently Lady Gaga was so upset she touched a rubbish truck outside Trump Tower. The Guardian holds its nose and writes:
The singer, who has an estimated net worth of more than $250m (£200m), performed for an audience of competition winners at Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush, west London, on Thursday night.
The revolution will be endorsed.
In its front-page farewell to Andrew Sachs, known chiefly for his work as Manuel, the well-intentioned and hapless Spanish waiter in Fawlty Towers, the Mail juxtaposes the actor’s portrait by the news “MIGRANT NUMBERS HIT NEW RECORDS”.
The Mail fails to say how many migrants hail from Barcelona.
PS: Andrew Sachs was born in Berlin in 1930.
Tabloid Questions – a look at headline-making questions in the national Press.
On Tuesday November 29, the Daily Mail asked: “Have swans predicted a mild winter?” The long-necked birds haven’t been presenting the wether on cable telly in Norwegian or otherwise. The Mail says swans have been forecasting the weather by arriving in the UK later than usual, a move “often interpreted as a sign of a mild winter to come”.
In 2007, the Mail asked: “Does the swans’ early arrival mean we’re in for an icy winter?” Said the paper:
The migrating Siberian swans have landed early this year, heralding harsh weather ahead.
Was it harsh? The Met Office told us:
December 2007 saw close to average daily mean temperatures over the UK, with January and February 2008 recording well above average temperatures.
In 2015, the Mail reported:
… while the magnificent bird was probably relieved to reach the warmer climes of the UK, its arrival – the earliest in 50 years – may well usher in a particularly harsh and unforgiving winter.
Was the winter especially harsh? The Met Office tells us:
Winter 2015/16 was third-warmest for the UK in a series from 1910, behind the winters of 1989 and 2007. For England and Wales, it was the warmest winter in the series.
So have swans predicted a mild winter?
Still not sure? Maybe the Mail can help us to answer the question?
In conclusion: never trust a Russian swan when you’re picking your winter coat.
Such are the facts.
The Mirror leads with the “FOOTY Paedophile Scandal”. We hear from former Chelsea player Gary Johnson, who says he was paid £50,000 last year to keep quiet about the abuse he suffered at the hands of a club scout in the 1970s.
Over pages 4,5,6, and 7, Gary Johnson claims he was sexually assaulted by Chelsea scout Eddie Heath “hundreds of times in three years”.
Eddie Heath is dead.
Says Johnson of Chelsea: “I think that they were paying me to keep a lid on this.” If they did, will Chelsea be asking for their money back? Johnson says Chelsea “asked him to sign a gagging order”. “They may have paid others for their silence,” he adds. We then learn that Chelsea “waived the clause in Gary’s settlement banning him from speaking about abuse after details of his claim were leaked to the media.”
Did Chelsea know Johnson was being abused in 1973 when he was a 13-year-old at the club, continuing until Gary was “around 16 or 17 and happened two or three times a week”, as he says?
Gary Johnson says Heath got him to perform in threesomes with other boys, “so I know there are mother victims out there.” He adds: “it is now up to them if they come forward”.
Do we expect them to?
Brendan O’Neill writes:
In these post-Savile times, we’ve come to think that all former victims of child abuse have some kind of responsibility to parade their wounds. We have come to expect, somewhat greedily, even perversely, that the abuse of decades ago must be relived, as publicly as possibly, in order to ‘raise awareness’. I’m sorry, but I think it’s possible there’s an element of moral titillation to all this. And I think it’s possible that it makes abuse victims even less likely to get over their experiences by making them go through it all again for our viewing or reading pleasure.
We learn that in 2014, Gary Johnson contacted the Met Police’s Operation Yewtree. He says he was “advised to go back to Chelsea with his case”. The police palmed him off to the club? If so, that’s abhorrent. Did they investigate? We’re not told. Mr Johnson says the “Professional Footballers’ Association did not return his calls”. So he contacted lawyers, who asked Chelsea for compensation.
Says Gary Johnson: “What makes me so angry is that I went to them to say I had been abused an they basically said, ‘prove it’,” Was that wrong of them? Chelsea are no longer owned by the Mears family, as they were in the 1970s. Why should the new owners take anything on face value alone when a man is asking for money and claiming to have been the victim of heinous crimes by a former employee? Gary Johnson says Chelsea’s “attitude when I came forward was to sweep it under the carpet”.
His claim was supported by Roger Kennedy, who says: “Mr Johnson has been haunted by the abuse for most of his life, but the intensity of the flashbacks have increased since he has become more aware of the nature of what happened due to the publicity around Jimmy Savile.”
The Mirror is quick to blame the club, saying Chelsea used its “financial might to cover up abuse”. It is the “tip of the iceberg”. Did Chelsea behave badly? All we know of the money and the deal is that Mr Johnson says: “I think that they were paying me to keep a lid on this.”
The Mirror says the story “implies they [Chelsea] cared more about commercial rights and sponsorship deals than helping survivors cope with the torment of abuse”. The paper says Chelsea are “morally questionable”.
What of the police, then, and the PFA, two institutions Mr Johnson says failed him? What of the lawyers who accepted an worked on the deal?
Writing in the Mail, Martin Samuel confronts the matter of a club’s role. He says the current Chelsea owners are part of the club’s heritage.
Yes, the sport is different now. Yes, stricter protocols and procedures are in place, and those in charge of youth development may protest that the past is a foreign country. But it isn’t.
Modern clubs must assume responsibility, be the custodians for all those years. Everything, from the fanbase, to the location, to modern revenue streams, and items in glass cases that directors view with pride, they owe to those ancient dates and what followed. And much of it may have been good.
But what isn’t, what is almost too poisonous to contemplate, cannot be disowned.
When you buy a club, you buy the heritage, the good and the bad.
It’s a shame we don’t know the full terms of Mr Johnson’s deal and how the £50,000 sum was agreed upon. Chelsea are investigating. Hopefully, Chelsea will be transparent and we will know more soon. Dare they be anything but? The Mail leads with the headline: “FA VOW TO HIT CHELSEA HARD.” Any club “who have given a child abuse victim hush money will be punished”. Chelsea are “in the dock”, says the paper. The club may well ask, “On what charge?”
By way of a footnote, the Mirror says Eddie Heath trained Barry Bennell, the convicted paedophile, when he was a 14-year-old at Chelsea. The Mirror says there is “no suggestion” Bennell was a victim of Heath’s.
Heath is dead. Also dead is Frank Roper, a man who former footballer Paul Stewart says abused him “every day for four years”. Gary Johnson says Paul Stewart encouraged him to tell his story.
We can expert to hear others.
Prince Harry has taken an HIV test to promote World Aids Day. It works. The papers are all covering the blood letting as Harry tours Barbados. It helps, of course, that Harry was not alone, accompanied as he was by pop star Rihanna.
This was his second public test. In July Harry took an HIV test on Facebook live. The Guardian said Harry “admitted to being nervous before the result came back negative”. The results of yesterday’s test are, as yet, unpublished.
The Telegraph reported that following Harry’s test the Terrence Higgins Trust saw a fivefold increase in orders for testing kits in the days after.
All good, then. A man who seems to live an airbrushed life, Harry has found a use and a use has been found for Harry.
PS: Of course the tabloids need a twist on what was a pretty routine afternoon’s PR work for Harry, so we get the Daily Express saying Rihanna was “flirty” with Harry and talked about not having sex in a barber’s hop; the Sun punning “Wince Harry”; and the Mail asking “Is it really worth testing 11 million Britons for HIV?”
The Star once more leads with Lotto news. And as ever it’s bad news. “Lottery site hacked, it could be you,” warns the front-page headline. The story goes that hackers have “stolen” the passwords of 26,000 people registered with the National Lottery’s website – “Dozens had email addresses and passwords stolen”. It looks like they did. But the theft did not occur on the Lotto site.
‘Experts say it could have “serious consequences” for those who use online bank accounts,” says the paper. Why the Star should lead with this story can have nothing to do with the fact that it’s owned by Richard Desmond – the Press baron who also owns the Health Lottery, a rival to the Lotto.
The Mirror has a slightly different angle on the same story:
Thousands of National Lottery players’ accounts are feared to have been hacked after Camelot confirmed “suspicious activity”. Around 26,500 accounts fear to have been compromised after the log-in details were accessed by a third party. Camelot claims it doesn’t believe it’s own system was hacked, but that the details were taken from elsewhere. It added that no money has been withdrawn or added to any accounts.
And in the Guardian, we get this:
About 26,500 National Lottery players are facing compulsory password resets on their online accounts after they were apparently accessed by cybercriminals.
Camelot, the firm that operates the game, said it had become aware of “suspicious activity on a very small proportion” of accounts, and it was now taking steps to understand what had happened. Logins may have been stolen from other websites where players use the same details, it said.
Far be it for us to stick up for the greedy, kak-handed so-and-sos at Camelot, but it’s useful to have all the facts.
We would like to make clear that there has been no unauthorised access to core National Lottery systems or any of our databases, which would affect National Lottery draws or payment of prizes. In addition, no money has been deposited or withdrawn from affected player accounts.We do not hold full debit card or bank account details in National Lottery players’ online accounts and no money has been taken or deposited. However, we do believe that this attack may have resulted in some of the personal information that the affected players hold in their online account being accessed.
The advice is to change your passwords and use different passwords for different products. And if you read the Star, look at least one other news source for the full story.
We are at a loss. Cultural imperialism is rife. The Sun reports on “mum” Priscilla Terumalai, who was “hauled” into Mayville Primary School in Leytonstone, East London, to explain why her 5-year-old daughter and her classmates had been giggling at their teacher: Miss Butt. For some reason, the figurative blighters found the name funny.
Indeed, dear reader, this is grim news. Miss Bottom, Miss Gluteus Maximus or Miss Arse would all be more suited to triggering laughter at a traditional British school. Miss Butt is so Americanised. It can’t be long before the kids are finding Miss Booty-Call hilarious.
Anyhow, Priscilla says the school is unhappy that Miss Butt was the butt of the kids’ laughter and may now move her children Annalise and Destiny to… Yes, Destiny.
Stop that! Stop that laughing. Stop it now!
PS: the local newspaper began its report: “A MOTHER says she feels ‘intimidated’ by a school after a teacher became the butt of her daughter’s humour.”
Free speech. No butts.
IT’S “FOOTBALL’s BIGGEST EVER CRISIS,” says the Daily Mirror as it continues to lead with the sex abuse story. Is it? Is it bigger than the Hillsborough disaster that saw 96 people lose their lives and be branded criminals by the State’s lying police force? Barry Bennell, the awful man at the epicentre of the story, is a convicted paedophile. He’s now been charged with eight sexual assaults involving a boy under 14 dating between 1981 and 1985.
Bennell has been living as a free man in Milton Keynes. Is that justice? Eric Bristow thought it not. He said he’d have smashed the “poof” Bennell’s face in, as “real men” should. The men who did not confront their abuser are “wimps”. For expressing his crass opinion on twitter, Bristow has been sacked as a pundit on Sky Sports and paraded throughout the media as a pariah, an enemy of any right-minded human being.
You could compare Bristow to Eamonn Holmes, the Sky News presenter who earlier this year said an attack by West Ham fans on the Manchester United team bus was like Hillsborough. “Now this is going back to the 70s and to the 80s to everything you were seeing that was bad about Hillsborough for instance,” opined Holmes on the TV. Unlike Bristow, he wasn’t shunned, and sacked.
Does the media operate a hierarchy of outrage, with being ‘unlawfully killed’ and branded a killer – and do consider 10-year-old Jon-Paul Gilhooley, the youngest to die in the horror (the coroner ordered a sample of his blood to be checked for signs of alcohol), Phillip Hammond (14), Victoria Jane Hicks (15), Peter Andrew Harrison (15), Lee Nicol (14), Philip John Steele (15) and Kevin Tyrrell (15) – lower in the table than child abuse, the horror that can be a useful way to showcase your own sound morals?
Holmes apologised and kept his job. Bristow deleted his tweets, apologised and lost his.
When 96 people died at the football in 1989, the media blamed the victims, the State stomped on their relatives and presented all football fans as suspects. It took an arduous 26 year fight for the Hillsborough campaigners to be told the blameless dead had been unlawfully killed.
The story of sexual abuse in football is grim. Child sex abuse is an evil. But to say it is a worse football scandal than the horrors of Hillsborough is a cop out. Bennell is alive. Bennell’s victims are speaking out and being heard. They could have spoken out earlier. They might be heard in court yet. Bennell appears to have attempted suicide. He’s thought to be in the Lister Hospital, Stevenage.
The story of sex abuse in football has faces to attack, blame and shun.
The victims of Hillsborough could not speak. The coppers who lied to make killers of the victims all escaped court. They still await justice. Maybe the bereaved and abused should do as Bristow advises, take the law into their own hands and crack skulls. But that’s not easy when the weight of the State is against you. Where do you begin?
The hideous story of sexual abuse in football rides high on the news cycle. The grim testimony from victims of an evil has taken on a life of its own. It’s become a good way to prove the country’s morals. In directionless times it’s useful to have a cause to rally round. We don’t know what we are but we know what we’re not: paedophiles.
Barry Bennell, a convicted paedophile, has been billed as football’s Jimmy Savile. He’s not. Bennell has been tried and found guilty. Sir Jimmy Savile died a national treasure, feted by the great and good. What both men do share is an eagerness to portray them as part of institutional failure. For Savile it’s the BBC, the NHS and children’s homes (but not the police, the Royal family and politicians); for Bennell it’s the FA and the nation’s favourite sport.
Everyone involved in football is now a suspect. If you are not suspicious of adults you are a fool or worse. Trust is for victims.
So the NSPCC opens a hotline, the police trawl for corruption and Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, says people “must come forward… Come and give your story, you will be listened to, you will be believed”. The media plays along, looking for someone on the wrong side of the panic to update the story. And today it finds Eric Bristow, aka ‘The Crafty Cockney’, five times World darts Champion in the 1980s, an MBE holder and last seen eating kangaroo gonads on I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! with Limahl from Kajagoogoo.
As such his views are, er, entirely relevant to the horrific crime child sex abuse. And – irony of ironies for a man who walks to the oche to Rabbit by Chas and Dave (“With your incessant talkin’, You’re becoming a pest”) – Bristow’s chat has attracted ire.
The BBC says Bristow has been “condemned on social media” for suggesting football abuse victims are not “proper men” – and asking why they did not “sort out” their abusers “when they got older and fitter”. Not only on social media (see BBC). The Mail sees fit to repeat Bristow’s tweets for those readers not following the man: “Might be a looney but if some football coach was touching me when i was a kid as i (sic) got older i would have went back and sorted that poof out. Dart players tough guys footballers wimps. Bet the rugby boys are ok ha ha.”
He went on: “U got to sought him out when u get older or dont look in the mirror glad i am a dart player proper men. Trouble is nowadays u cant tell the truth what do u feel out there tweet me. Everybody that works on tv is frightened to say the truth because they are frightened to lose their job, life shouldnt be like that.”
Katie Hopkins, that jobbing to-deadline Aunt Sally, must be gutted. Used to seeing unattractive people from the 1980s telly unearthed to help police with their enquiries, it’s a novelty to see one helping the media in its narrative.
Having seen and very possibly enjoyed the shitstorm, Bristow backtracks a little on twitter:
Britsow’s language update shows he’s a man can move with the times. If he carries on like this, there’s a job as a tabloid columnist heading his way.
Update: Sky have sacked him as a darts pundit.
The paedophiles in football story continues unabated in the Mirror, which leads with the front-page headline “10 questions the FA must answer”. It must? No. This is the newspaper making a story that first appeared in the Guardian into its own campaign. On November 16, former footballer Andy Woodward told the Guardian’s Daniel Taylor about the “horrific abuse he suffered from the age of 11 by one of his coaches, in the hope that others will come forward too”.
Taylor noted on November 26 in a story headlined “When I started talking to Barry Bennell’s victims, I had no idea how deep abuse ran in football” that the story throws up questions.
Some of those questions may never be addressed properly and, all the time, there is that nagging sense that, when it really mattered, the sport of Andy Woodward, Steve Walters, Paul Stewart, David White, Chris Unsworth, Jason Dunford and Ian Ackley – and I dread to think how many others – looked the other way.
So to the Mirror today and its 10 questions, which can be summed up as, ‘Who knew what and why wasn’t Barry Bennell exposed sooner?’ We’d add: “Why didn’t newspaper get hold of this story before Andy Woodward felt brave enough to tell all?
“Only now, at the age of 43, I feel I can actually live without that secret and that massive, horrible burden,” Woodward told Taylor. “I want to get it out and give other people an opportunity to do the same. I want to give people strength. I survived it. I lost my career, which was a massive thing for me, but I’m still here. I came through the other side. Other people can have that strength.”
Bennell began his football career coaching juniors in 1970, when he was 16. On a 1994 tour with the Stone Dominoes, a 13-year-old club player claimed that Bennell had sexually abused him.
The Dominoes’ website has a note:
A professional coach joined from Crewe Alex and ex Manchester City, and accelerated development. Tours to the USA took place in 1993 and 1994 with great success.
5 Wedgwood Keele Classics were collected with several Championships and Cups as well.
Unfortunately the coach was dismissed by the Club in 1994 for gross misconduct and a review of the club’s situation undertaken.
The Mail notes:
The founder of the Stone Dominoes football club, where Bennell was working in the early 1990s when first arrested and convicted of sex offences against boys, has told this newspaper that a lawyer connected to the League Managers’ Association did ‘due diligence’ on Bennell before they hired him, and after consulting previous employers, including Manchester City and Crewe, ‘cleared’ Bennell as a suitable man to hire.
Bennell’s convictions can be listed (via the Mail):
1994: Barry Bennell is sentenced to four years in prison in the United States after pleading guilty to six counts of sexual assault, including the rape of a boy, while coaching Staffordshire side Stone Dominoes during their youth tour of Florida.
1998: Bennell was found guilty at Chester Crown Court in 1998 of 23 offences against six boys, aged from nine to 15, and was sentenced to nine years in jail.
2015: Bennell was given a further sentence in 2015 when he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing another boy at a camp in Macclesfield in 1980.
The 1997, the Independent warned readers: “Football-mad boys are being put in “potentially dangerous situations” where they could be abused by the people who train them, according to a Channel 4 programme to be screened tonight.”
The show was Dispatches, a documentary series on Channel 4.
An investigation by Dispatches says that the hold coaches have over their school-age proteges – the chance of a career in professional football – can give them the opportunity to abuse boys for years with little fear of discovery.
One former coach, Barry Bennell, who worked at Manchester City, Stoke City and Crewe Alexandra is currently serving four years in a United States prison after admitting buggery and assault on a boy.
Another amateur club, Ipswich Saracens, found that their coach Keith Ketley was a convicted sex offender. Despite this he had been able to set up another team with Football Association affiliation. He is now serving five years in jail after being found guilty on four counts of indecent assault…
One of the boys was Ian Ackley, who played for a Derbyshire side coached by Bennell. “Looking back on the things that have happened [I have] lots of regrets really,” he said. “It reminds me very much of the control he had basically over people. And how he very much had people in his grip.”…
It was not until 1994 when Bennell took youth teams from Staffordshire on tour to Florida that a 13-year-old boy spoke out about the abuse he suffered and Bennell was arrested. He could only be charged with offences committed in the US.
Ketley had run a team in Southend-on-Sea, but after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting boys he was sentenced to 18 months. He moved to Ipswich, changed his name and started up another club.
Around 43,000 clubs are currently affiliated to the Football Association (FA). The chairman of Suffolk FA told the programme: “No checks would necessarily be made on their background unless we were particularly suspicious.”
In 2005, the Observer reported: “Child abusers who shame British football.”
The mother’s voice trembles as she describes the night her 14-year-old son was sexually assaulted at the home of a referee he had befriended on a FA course.
‘He fled from the house at 4am wearing just his trainers, a fleece and his boxer shorts because the man had hidden his clothes. He called 999. It was terrible,’ she says. ‘It’s a parent’s worst nightmare and for my son it’s a life sentence.’
Over pages 4 and 5 in the Mirror, we learn that more than 20 players have now made accusations they were abused. The paper lists clubs implicated: Leeds United, Blackpool, Manchester City, Stoke City, Newcastle United and Crewe Alexandra.
In the Mail, on page 10, we learn that the FA is to launch an independent inquiry into the abuse scandal. On page 75, Martin Samuel writes:
“It is false to speak of past crimes or misdemeanours as historic. Football clubs mine those centuries, milk them for all they are worth, certainly in commercial terms. They are not directly responsible for events that happened decades ago; but are not separate to them, either. The duty of care extends way beyond the present day.”
Some victims will come forward. Not all will. In 2012, we read in the Telegraph of the late Gary Speed:
As a junior player, the Wales football manager, who committed suicide last November, was considered “special” by Barry Bennell and stayed at his house as a child.
Can we make a link between Gary Speed and Bennell on anything but speculation?
The coroner returned a narrative verdict after deciding it was impossible to determine whether the 42-year-old had intended to end his life. Mrs Speed’s lawyers, Harbottle & Lewis, denied that his death was linked to Bennell.
The lawyers issued a statement to The Sunday Times Magazine: “Whilst Gary Speed knew Mr Bennell through football connections, he was not a ‘victim’ and thus played no part in the investigation. The Speed family have been assured that the police investigation at the time was exceptionally thorough and there is no legitimate reason to link Mr Bennell to Mr Speed.”
Nonetheless the Mail makes a link to Bennell and suicide:
At least one of the agencies working on the fallout from the scandal is examining the possibility that there may have been multiple suicides among players who were coached by Bennell.
And then there is this:
Former Wales manager Gary Speed took his own life five years ago this week. Speed’s family have said he was ‘not a victim’ of Bennell, as far as they are aware
The Mail seems to be ignoring the word of the family to make a link where no proof of one exists.
The Mirror adds: “Tragic Gary Speed stayed at paedophile coach Barry Bennell’s home but was ‘too clever’ to be victim, says dad.”
Gary speed’s father, Roger Speed, had been talking to the Telegraph. It headlined the story “Was Gary Speed a victim of sex abuser Barry Bennell?”
It’s an unpleasant story. Roger Speed lost his son and is now being asked to speculate. The Mirror notes: ” During his interview with The Telegraph, Roger also said he does not believe his family will ever get the answers they want over his son’s passing.”
Cardiff council has invested £30,000 renting the biggest Christmas tree in the country.
At 40 metres the fake tree made of metal, plastic and more plastic would have been the envy of every municipal council in the land. But something went wrong and the tree if only 40ft high.
The tree, made in China, was hired for £10,000 a year on a three-year contract.
The council has yet to put an ‘angel’ on the tree but the city’s head of parks and gardens is being lubed up as we write.