Key Posts

Key Posts Category

After Horizon : salvation for Postmasters but Post Office gods escape

The Post Office believed the data churned out by Horizon, its flawed computer system, over the statements of more than 900 postmasters who said they had not stolen money. Postmasters were responsible for cashing up and balancing their books with the Horizon system. Any error was the postmaster’s responsibility to correct. And those errors were mounting up.

Discrepancies between the money in the till and the money Horizon said was there began in the pennies. Gary Brown, a former postmaster from Yorkshire, tells the Times what happened when he called the Post Office helpline. He’d ask, “Is this happening only to me?” He says the answer was always “Yes”. Gary and his wife Maureen, who lived over their shop, hired a private auditor who spent five days studying their books. “No one could find a solution. The till’s shortfalls grew to thousands of pounds. They were losing money. But how? They worked longer hours. They sold hot food and decorated cakes. Gary took a loan to cover the cash shortfall. But the losses grew. They remortgaged their home. They borrowed from family and friends. Gary began taking antidepressants. In 2014, Horizon said the till was £32,000 short. Auditors from the Post Office searched their home. “It was stomach-churning. I’ve never stolen in my life. I burst into tears,” says Gary. “I was frightened,” says Maureen. “He was falling to pieces.” Gary tried to take his own life. They say the Post Office “stole our home and stolen our future”.

Postmaster Seema Misra was pregnant when she was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2010 for stealing £74,000 from her branch in West Byfleet. In court she pleaded her innocence. “If I hadn’t been pregnant, I would have killed myself,” she says. “It was so shameful. I trusted the Post Office. I trusted I was working with a good company and this is how I’m treated.” Paying back the Post Office left her family financially destroyed.

The Post Office said computer errors could not be responsible for the missing money. In 2020, the BBC’s Panorama claimed to have seen internal Post Office emails which show its legal department was told about Horizon errors shortly before her trial.

One email from the Post Office Security Team to the Criminal Law Team is about a bug in the Horizon computer system that makes money “simply disappear”. In one case, £30,611 went missing.

The security team tell the legal team they are worried the bug may have “repercussions in any future prosecution cases”.

An attachment to the email says that “any branch encountering the problem will have corrupted accounts”.

The document was printed out by the Post Office legal department just three days before Seema Misra’s trial, but it was never disclosed to her defence.

Postmasters were prosecuted using unreliable evidence.

This year the Post Office agreed not to contest 44 of the first 47 cases referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. hearing at Southwark Crown Court . Oxfordshire sub-postmaster Vipinchandra Patel has had his 18-week prison sentence quashed. He did not steal £75,000. “The past nine years have been hellish and a total nightmare, but today I feel I can start living again. I can look forward and focus on enjoying life,” he says. “I feel euphoric as I have finally been vindicated. This conviction has been a cloud over my life for almost 10 years.”

Not everyone lost. Japanese company Fujitsu, the company that devised horizon, was paid handsomely.

And the boss? Paula Vennells was Chief Executive Officer of the Post Office Limited from 2012 to 2019. In 2019 she became chair of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust in London. In December 2020 it was announced that she would be leaving this role early, for personal reasons.

Vennells is an Anglican priest. “I hear from my parishioners if the Post Office does something they don’t like,” she told the Times in 2014. “They have no compunction – I’ll roll up one Sunday and somebody will come and say something and I’ll say, ‘Look, would you mind just holding it till the end of the service?’” Vennells said her faith “influences my values and how I approach things”. She’s busy:

She is a Non-Executive Director of Morrisons Plc, a member of the government’s Financial Inclusion Policy Forum and of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group for the Church of England. She’s been a Trustee for the Hymns Ancient and Modern Group and a member of the Future High Street Forum. She served as a Non-Executive Board Member at the Cabinet Office between February 2019 and March 2020.

In the 2019 New Year Honours, Vennells was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) “for services to the Post Office and to charity”.

When she left her role, Post Office chairman Tim Parker said:

“Paula has served the Post Office with great distinction: under her leadership the business has been transformed from an organisation making substantial losses into one that is now fully profitable and on an upwards trajectory… In the course of radically improving the business, Paula has ensured that the Post Office values of care, challenge and commitment are deeply embedded in the business and we have remained true to our underlying mission as a commercial business with a social purpose. I would also like to say on a personal note, that Paula’s decisiveness, approachability and calm disposition have made her an excellent CEO to work with, and have won her many friends right across the business.”

Paul Vennells told the Times she suffers from claustrophobia. Innocent of all and any wrongdoing, she has, of course, never been locked inside a prison cell. Postmasters have. One ended up dead. Her name was Dawn O’Connell.

This is Ben Gordon QC’s statement to the court, via Post Office Central. Read it and weep:

“My Lord, Ms Dawn O’Connell is not here today, having passed away in September of last year. I myself never had the chance to meet Ms O’Connell. Her appeal against her conviction is advanced or continued in her son Matthew’s name. Matthew O’Connell and Dawn’s brother, Mark, as I understand it, my Lord, are present in court today, next door in the overflow court.

My Lord, in the years following her conviction in 2008, and the serving of her suspended sentence, Ms O’Connell’s health, both physical and mental, declined dramatically. According to her family and loved ones, her personality also changed, irrevocably. She became increasingly isolated, ultimately reclusive, as described by her family, and struggled desperately to deal with the stigma of her conviction.

She suffered, my Lord, with severe bouts of depression. She did receive treatment, medication and counseling, but she sunk inexorably into alcoholism. In her latter and final years, my Lord, I understand that Ms O’Connell made repeated attempts upon her own life. In September of last year, her body succumbed to the damage caused by her sustained abuse of alcohol and she died tragically at the age of 57.

My Lord, on behalf of her son, her brother, and all her surviving family members and friends, I feel compelled to tender to the court their sincere regret and deep anguish that Dawn is not here today to hear her case being argued.

My Lord, Mrs O’Connell’s conviction dates back to August of 2008 and Harrow Crown Court, where, upon her own pleas of guilty, she was convicted of five counts of false accounting. One further count alleging theft of approximately £45,470 was ordered to lie on the file on the usual terms and was not proceeded with. A pre-sentence report was ordered and, a month later, in September, Ms O’Connell was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for two years, with a requirement for the completion of 150 hours of unpaid work.

My Lord, between 2000 and 2008, Ms Dawn O’Connell worked as a branch manager, a Post Office branch manager in Northolt. My Lord, as with many others which are before the court today, and as my learned friend Mr Saxby did, where it is applicable to Mrs O’Connell’s case, if I may, I echo and commend to the court my learned friend Mr Moloney’s submissions. But Mrs O’Connell’s case was one in which the Horizon data was central, central to the prosecution and her conviction. The prosecution arose from an unexplained shortfall, or deficit on the system at her branch. When audited, Mrs O’Connell reported the shortfalls and indicated that she was unable to explain the anomaly. Initially, as she explained, she had hoped that the error would correct itself, but over the ensuing months it grew and accumulated.

Ultimately, my Lord, having admitted falsifying the accounts in an attempt to conceal the deficit in the hope of preserving her job, she pleaded guilty to the offences of false accounting. Throughout the audit, throughout the investigation and throughout the prosecution, Ms O’Connell repeatedly and strenuously denied theft. As I have said, this count was left to lie on the file.

My Lord, as conceded by the respondent in relation to her appeal, there was no evidence of theft or any actual loss at her branch, as opposed to a Horizon generated shortfall. There was no other evidence to corroborate the Horizon data. On the contrary, my Lord, evidence was collected from other employees which attested to Ms O’Connell’s honesty and probity.

As further conceded by the respondent in her case, no attempt was made by the Post Office, as private prosecutor, to obtain or interrogate the ARQ data. There was no investigation into the integrity of the Horizon figures, and it is recognised that the appellant herself was severely limited in her ability to challenge the Horizon evidence and therefore that it was incumbent upon the Post Office to ensure that the reliability of the evidence was properly investigated and, my Lord, this was not done.

The Post Office failed, in my respectful submission, in its duty as a private prosecutor both to investigate properly the reliability of the system by obtaining and examining the data, and to disclose to the appellant or the court the full and accurate position in relation to the reliability of the system. No disclosure was forthcoming in Ms O’Connell’s case, my Lord, in relation to any concern or enquiry raised into the functionality of the system.

Ms O’Connell’s case file demonstrates that the focus of the investigation in her case was on proving how the accounts were falsified, which of course she had admitted, rather than examining the root cause of the shortfall. In fact, as it seems, no effort was made to identify or discover the actual cause of the shortfall or deficit. During the internal audit process, and her interviews under caution, my Lord, Ms O’Connell raised the issues she had encountered with the system and its recurring anomalies. No investigation or disclosure followed.

Notwithstanding, and by reference to the balancing exercise which the court is required to undertake in a submission of this kind, Ms O’Connell was a lady of hitherto good character, about whom people were, it seems, lining up to attest to her honesty and integrity. My Lord, in the papers I have seen, I have counted somewhere in the region of 30 character statements, which I think were obtained on her behalf. My Lord, it is conceded by the respondent that for these reasons it was not possible for Mrs O’Connell’s trial to be a fair one, thereby amounting to first category of abuse of process.

However, as set out, only a short while ago by Mr Moloney on behalf of his clients, and as set out in our skeleton argument, dated 21 January, we would respectfully submit that for the same set of reasons, or in respect of the same failures in the investigative and disclosure exercises, the prosecution against Ms O’Connell was rendered unconscionable, and that bringing it was an affront to the national conscience. Accordingly, my Lord, on her son Matthew’s behalf, we respectfully invite the court to quash her conviction on both grounds, or both limbs of abuse of process. My Lord, unless I can assist you any further, those are my submissions on Ms O’Connell’s behalf.”

What next? And who knew?

Posted: 25th, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, Money, News | Comment

‘Hefty Girls Wanted For Police Force’ – the Metropolitan Police seeks ‘fairly good looking’ female officers

Hefty police met

London’s Metropolitan Police Force was looking for “Hefty Girls”. “They Must Be Hefty.” They “must never marry or their career with end”. And they must be “fairly good looking”. They will answer to Sir Philip Game, the Met’s Chief Commissioner from 1935 until 1945. His vital statistics are not revealed.

Fair Game

Posted: 23rd, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, Strange But True | Comment

Save our plastic toys: smug parents trigger Waitrose magazine ban

Waitrose will no longer sell magazines with disposable plastic toys stuck to the front. This is a huge deal for the publishing industry because those plastic toys are useful when it comes to attracting little hands and distracting minds from the mag’s other content, which is routinely rubbish. Waitrose says the toys cannot be recycled and are only useful for a very limited time. Everyone else says,”£4.99 for that!”

The move follows the bans on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds. Does anyone think the paper straws do a better job than the plastic ones? Pollution is a problem, but are plastic hairclips on magazines a burning issue?

Of course, this is Waitrose, and the middle-class larder wants to replace “pointless plastic” with “sustainable alternatives”. The “inspiration” behind the Waitrose narrative is a 10-year-old who launched a campaign to persuade publishers to stop giving away the disposable toys in magazines. How Waitrose will react to campaigns by children to buy local, support small retailers and shun chains is moot.

“I’m really pleased so many people have agreed with me and supported my petition – I want to thank everyone who has signed and shared my campaign to ban plastics from comics and magazines,” the child told the BBC. “Thank you to Waitrose for agreeing with us and no longer selling the unwanted plastic tat. I hope all retailers can do the same and then the publishers will realise this is not acceptable anymore. We really like the magazines – we just don’t want or need the plastic packaging or the cheap plastic toys.”

And then the best bit: the ban will not include educational or reusable craft items which are designed to be used multiple times, such as colouring pens and pencils, and collectable models.

So plastic toys have not been banned. The knowing simply want “tat” replaced with worthy stuff that turns home into an extension of school. Now sit back and wait until the knowing find out what they make magazine paper from. Tim-ber!

Posted: 23rd, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, News, The Consumer | Comment

How I got scammed by the Royal Mail postage fee scammers

“I mentioned yesterday that I’d been scammed out of every penny I had,” tweets Emmeline Hartley. “Thought I’d post what happened in case it helps anyone avoid being in the same position. Please save the lectures, I don’t think it’s possible for me to feel any stupider.”

She’s brave for sharing this. It could happen to any one of us. Here’s how the Safe Account scam works:

royal mail

Can’t something be done to stop these scams? These criminals are utter ****s!.

Posted: 22nd, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, Money, News | Comment

How many died when EU politicised the safe AstraZeneca vaccine?


Is it safe to assume that people did not benefit for the EU’s crass and political decision to ban the AstraZeneca vaccine, the wonks and bureaucrats leaving 7m does of the life-saving drug in fridges rather than the arms of the people it serves? If it wasn’t beneficial, then was the decision detrimental? Did people die and get seriously ill because the EU first dithered to order vaccines and then used wobbly figures and hunches to bolster its power? Surely the answer is yes, they did.

EU regulators at the EMA say that after a “thorough and careful review” people can have confidence in the vaccine’s benefits and should get immunised, despite some countries pausing use. But damage has been done. The EU has told everyone last week the vaccine was dangerous.

So what triggered the panic? In the UK, there were five cases of cerebral sinus vein thrombosis (CSVT) – all men – among 11 million people who have received the vaccine. One person died. The EMA zone recorded 13 reports of CSVT. But not link between CSVT can the vaccine has been established. you can get it, if you’re unlucky.

EMA executive director, Emer Cooke, goes on the record:

“Drawing attention to these possible rare conditions and providing information to health care professionals and vaccinated people will help to spot and mitigate any possible side effects.”

If you get the jab and suffer a server headache for four days, call your GP. If you refuse the jab and get ill, it might be an emergency medic you end up trying to talk to through a tube.

Posted: 18th, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment

Jimmy Savile all over an underage Coleen Nolan in 1979

Former Nolan Sister singer Coleen Nolan says paedophile BBC DJ and TV ‘personality’ Jimmy Savile invited her to his hotel when she was 14. The Nolans had been on BBC TV’s Top of The Pops in 1979 when the man who died innocent and blameless before being outed as a prolific child rapist promised to “look after her”. Nolan thought Savile a “dirty old man” and declined. “I’ve got four sisters on the stage that would have beaten the crap out of him.”

Here’s the footage of Savile hiding in full view – at the 4-minute mark:

Posted: 18th, March 2021 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, Music, News, TV & Radio | Comment

Video : Through Cricklewood on a London Trolleybus in the 1950s

This fabulous video was taken from the top of the 660 trolleybus from Hammersmith to North Finchley in 1957. We start at the junction of Cricklewood Lane and Edgeware Road and head down to cross Hendon Way (now a six-lane motorway and back then running single lane traffic) to Child’s Hill.

Trolleybuses served the London Passenger Transport Area from 1931 til 1962. The London system was the world’s largest, reaching 1,811 trolleybuses on 68 routes.

Via: Flashbak

Posted: 18th, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, Technology | Comment

Was Piers Corbyn at the Sarah Everard vigil – and other ‘scandals’?

Shami Chakrabarti has a question, which is most likely rhetorical but might not be: “After the Sarah Everard vigil scandal, who still thinks the police need extra powers?” Guardian readers, to whom the question is addressed, who support the idea of police having more powers to target “unwitting racism“, hate crime and lockdown might well answer “yes”.

But Chakrabarti thinks the answer must be “no”. Sarah Everard went missing on a walk home from a friend’s house on 3 March. Her body was found in Kent. Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, 48, has been charged with her kidnap and murder. That the victim of heinous crime should now be linked to a “scandal” is hugely regrettable. A friend of Ms Everard’s writes:

Since we learned of Sarah’s disappearance, this experience has been hard to put into words. It’s not something anyone would ever imagine having to deal with. But now, as brutal as the outcome is, we have some answers. It’s shocking and devastating. But I would rather know than never find out what happened to her, so we can begin the long, painful grieving process.

When I first heard of the vigil for Sarah on Clapham Common I was looking forward to attending – it felt good to be able to ‘do something’ and express my love for Sarah and my sorrow for what has happened to her. Less than a day later, I decided not to attend, as have many of her friends. I can’t speak for all of them, but my reason for not attending is this: my friend’s tragic death has been hijacked. It is not a tribute to her any more, it’s about something else – and I don’t like what it has become.

And so to the “scandal” in which heavy-handed policing broke up a vigil for Sarah on London’s Clapham Common. Officers handcuffed women and removed them from the gathering – much as they did when Piers Corbyn, the OAP brother of former Labour leader and Chakrabarti pal Jeremy Corbyn was treated he refused to leave an anti-lockdown protest in Hyde Park, London, on 16 May. He was later found guilty of breaching coronavirus restrictions. So much for the rules. Here’s how Chakrabarti begins her article:

The Peterloo massacre in 1819, the abuses of the suffragettes in the early 20th century, the killing of Blair Peach in 1979, the recent “spy cops” scandal: there have been many dark moments in Britain’s history of policing and protest. To this long list we must now add the scandalous police response to a public vigil held on Clapham Common, south London, marking the disappearance and death of Sarah Everard.

No mention of Corbyn.

Do the rules only matter only if you agree with the cause people are gathering for? Without irony, Chakrabarti continues:

When XR [Extinction Rebellion] blocked access to three printing presses owned by Rupert Murdoch in September, accusing newspapers of failing to report on the climate crisis, many politicians and commentators fell over one another to side with Murdoch over the climate protesters. Those who didn’t care about defending protesters’ rights when they were considered too green, or too black, have now woken up to find that a vigil for Sarah Everard has been broken up with a callous police response.

Too green, too black, too Murdoch?

If you cheered for lockdown and cheered again when the unlovely Corbyn was pinched, complaining about the lockdown rules now looks less about a demand for freedom for all and more about freedom for your own beliefs and causes.

Lead Image: Tim Dennell -A woman lays flowers at a vigil for Sarah Everard in Sheffield, UK. CC BY 2.0.

Posted: 17th, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment

AstraZeneca vaccine banned as Precautionary Principle costs EU lives

At the time of twisting, 11 European countries have temporarily suspended use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine, including Germany, The Netherlands, France, the Irish Republic, Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, Italy and Spain. These counties are wary of blood clots. About 17 million people in the EU and the UK have received a dose of the vaccine. AZ says there have been fewer than 40 cases of blood clots. But is the risk of blood clot higher than the risk of no vaccine? And how does the AZ vaccine stack up against the alternative vaccines?

AZ says th 5 events of deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) and 22 events of pulmonary embolism are “much lower than would be expected to occur naturally in a general population of this size and is similar across other licensed Covid-19 vaccines”.

The BBC Nick Triggle ads context:

The key question that has to be asked is whether this is cause or coincidence? Would these clots have happened anyway? The 37 reported cases are below the level you would expect. What is more, there is no strong biological explanation why the vaccine would cause a blood clot. It is why the WHO and the UK say there is no evidence of a link. And the EMA has suggested the vaccine should continue. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the decisions by individual nations to pause their rollouts have baffled experts.

And this is not the first time countries in Europe have exercised caution about the AstraZeneca vaccine. Germany, France and others did not initially recommend use of the vaccine for the over-65s. That has now been reversed, but the impact is still being felt, it seems.

The tabloids make it about the EU. Has it fallen victim to the precautionary principle (or precautionary approach)? Banning when extensive scientific knowledge on a matter is lacking can cause more harm than good. Don’t do it until you can be sure to have included everything in a risk assessment. But what if the evidence isn’t there and you’re waiting for nothing? It’s been a big talking point around the environment:

On 2 February 2000, the European Commission issued a Communication on the precautionary principle, in which it adopted a procedure for the application of this concept, but without giving a detailed definition of it. Paragraph 2 of article 191 of the Lisbon Treaty states that

Union policy on the environment shall aim at a high level of protection taking into account the diversity of situations in the various regions of the Union. It shall be based on the precautionary principle and on the principles that preventive action should be taken, that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source and that the polluter should pay

The Union is one thing but the 26 countries in it have their own interpretations. So there’s confusion. And in a pandemic, that’s not all that helpful.

When the win flu pandemics struck in 2009, Nick Cohen outlined the two extreme views:

Just before he died, Kingsley Amis wrote that two dismal groups fought over the use of English: the berks and the wankers. Berks were permissive types who rejected all rules. “Careless, coarse, crass [and] gross … they speak in a slipshod way with dropped ‘Hs’, intruded glottal stops and many mistakes in grammar. Left to them, the English language would die of impurity, like late Latin.” 

By contrast, wankers were authoritarians who wanted to impose every possible restriction on speakers and writers. “Prissy, fussy, priggish [and] prim … they speak in an over-precise way with much pedantic insistence on letters not generally sounded, especially ‘Hs’. Left to them, the language would die of purity, like medieval Latin.”

In France, President Macron talks of a ‘war” on Covid and sits on piles of unused vaccines. President Trump thought it best ignored. You don’t need to pick a side between the wankers and the berks. In too many countries, you’re not even given that option.

Posted: 16th, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment

Musician identifies the classical music played in famous cartoons

Vincent Alexander (@NonsenseIsland on Twitter) writes that many of us were introduced to classical music from watching old cartoons. “I’m going to identify the pieces that frequently popped up,” he writes:

One of the most recognizable is Franz Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2,” performed by those great piano virtuosos Bugs Bunny and Tom & Jerry.

Posted: 11th, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, Music, News, TV & Radio | Comment

Harry Dunn : Anne Sacoolas makes us puke

Good news is that Anne Sacoolas says she is willing to make a “contribution” to society with a bout of “community service”. Anne Sacoolas will make up for leaving a blameless teenager dead by the British roadside by clearing the American roadside of some debris not of her making. Not that Anne Sacoolas actually said that on the record, preferring to hide behind her lawyer.

Mr Dunn, 19, was riding his motorbike when he was struck and killed in a crash with Anne Sacoolas near RAF Croughton in Northamptonshire in 2019. She was driving on the wrong side of the road. She then cited diplomatic immunity and scarpered. Now her lawyer says Anne Sacoolas has “never denied that this was her fault”.

Such craven bollocks should make you puke. But save something back. Because you need to digest this:

“We understand that community service is a typical sentence for offences like this. We have offered ever since over a year ago that she would be willing to serve that kind of a sentence and to make a contribution in Harry’s memory, to take other steps to try to bring some peace to the family.”

In Harry’s memory. Now vomit freely.

But some news: the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has authorised Northamptonshire Police to charge Mrs Sacoolas with causing the teenager’s death by dangerous driving. But the US rejected the extradition request in what must have something to do with that so-called Special Relationship.

Posted: 9th, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment

Meghan and Harry want a messy divorce

By now you’ll be wondering what Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have been getting up to since leaving the UK. Well, after the separation, they’ve being going gung-ho to secure the rights to the the narrative in the divorce. As Helen Lewis put it in an excellent take on the mess, the two sides – Meghan and Harry v The Royals – have a set of fighting rules:

But who is to blame? Meghan’s version goes like this: The Queen was lovely, but the wider institution of the monarchy – known colloquially as “The Firm” or “The Palace”—failed to help her as she was ripped apart by the British press. Worse, she sometimes felt that courtiers were actively working against her. An incident in which Meghan was accused of making her sister-in-law, Kate Middleton, cry over a bridesmaid’s dress was, she said, reported in the press the wrong way around. Kate made her cry, but then apologized, and all was forgiven. But the Palace wouldn’t go on the record with a correction. “They were willing to lie to protect other members of the family,” Meghan said, “but they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband.” The Palace refused to give her son, Archie, a title and a security detail—and there were some “concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be.” The mix of racism, isolation, and intrusion she endured drove Meghan to suicidal thoughts.

The royal narrative is that the Windsors receive millions from British taxpayers, and fulfill a public role. They can’t limit access to their lives to sympathetic listeners like Oprah. They must be accountable. Playing by those rules, you’d be mad to contest every false rumor printed about you, and declaring war on the press is counterproductive. Far better to keep your head down and let your work speak for itself. Can you see the difference in the two views? Members of the Royal Family accept a level of scrutiny and partisan attack usually directed at politicians. Meghan and Harry want to be treated like celebrities.

meghan harry tabloids

One day on from that Oprah interview and the couple keep their media stock high by issuing a newly released photo. She looks radiant and so California. Harry looks like he avoiding the sun. Does she need him as a person to carve out a new career as an influence, lifestyle force, or just the title?

But this is love. We all get it that the money and maybe even the fame are attractions when you marry Harry. But who’d want that level focus on their life that comes with tying yourself to the Firm? Meghan has this covered. “The most important title I will ever have is Mom,” she told Oprah. But Duchess, without the title, would we tune in? How many of tuned in to Suits hoping to learn your opinions on global warming and rescue chickens? “I went into it naively,” the 30-something divorcee with experience of Hollywood casting calls and family rifts told Oprah. “I didn’t do any research about what that would mean. I’ve never looked up my husband online.”

On 6 September 1997, Diana’s brother told everyone watching her funeral how his sister’s “particular brand of magic” needed no royal title to legitimise it. But without it, she’d have been a nice Sloane Ranger, an unlikely president of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, patron of the Natural History Museum, Nelson Mandela’s teatime companion, president of the Royal Academy of Music and patron of Turning Point, a health and social care organisation – Diana famously visited its project in London for people with HIV/AIDS in 1992. She later established and led fundraising campaigns for AIDS research. Doors open when you’re a Royal. Diana was possessed of skill and grace, she had charm and charisma. Had Harry been more graceful, he’d have stood a better chance of keeping his ties to the British military, something he is said to have wanted. Now he just looks a bit drippy; a tad whiney; more than a bit dull. “His skill set (flying helicopters, shaking hands with mayors) seems oddly redundant in their new life of podcasts and Netflix deals,” quips Lewis.

Maybe Harry should have briefed “naive” Meghan better? Must be hard to namecheck Princess Diana, as they did within five minutes of the interview’s start, and not be aware that for her it wasn’t all celebrity mates, yachts and Paris?

The scrutiny on Diana was intense. A tabloid editor’s job was to press f9 on the keyboard and deliver a Diana shocker.

Shocks keep coming:

Hard stuff for Harry to read that and then worry how such scrutiny could affect his wife. And he was already unhappy before he met Meghan. Now woke but once lambasted for laking about in Nazi fancy dress and calling a soldier  “our little Paki friend“, Harry is married to a professional LA habitué. Oprah and Meghan share the same cultural values: self-promotion is good; making it all about me is good; new money is great; and the past really is another country. For Harry, it’s where he was born and bred.

Posted: 9th, March 2021 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News, Royal Family | Comment

Craigslist ad: Looking for white Fiat Uno in Santa Barbara

On Craigslist, an advertiser in the Santa Monica area of California – where Harry Windsor and Meghan live – is “looking for a white Fiat Uno”.


A sick advert, surely.

Posted: 8th, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, Royal Family | Comment

Celebrate International Woman’s Day with Meghan and Kate’s Royal Rumble

Let’s celebrate International Women’s Day with a fight between Meghan Markle, aka Meghan Windsor, and Kate Middleton, aka Kate Windsor. Megs told Oprah Winfrey in a TV interview that on the morning of her wedding to Prince Harry, Kat made her cry. Some people think Megs made Kat cry, but Megs says that’s a falsehood that must be corrected on the international stage. Kat made her cry. Fact.

Women campaigners for equality, both domestic and international, will be chuffed to bits that two such high profile women are front and centre in the public eye – albeit for a bitchy row over a dress. Says an Angela Merkel from Germany, “I’m no relation. Thank god.”

The papers are delighted. Meghan and Harry are tabloid gold. Expect to hear lots more quotes from Harry & Meghan about their televised quest for privacy against the terrible tabloid press in the tabloid press:

Posted: 8th, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, News, Tabloids | Comment

Prints by Marius Rossillon – O’Galop, the artist who gave us Bibendum

Bibendum, aka The Michelin Man, was created by Marius Rossillon, aka O’Galop (1867-1946).

O’Galop began his career around 1893, drawing cartoons for magazines. He created his first advertisement Michelin in 1898 and would continue creating posters for the company featuring the character until 1911.

O’Galop was born in Lyon in 1867 and died in Carsac-Aillac in 1946.

Buy Prints by O’Galop in the Flashbak Shop

Posted: 5th, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, The Consumer | Comment

BBC invites panel of non-Jews to declare that Jews cannot be victims of racism

politics live jews

Does the BBC have an issue with Jews? Dear old Auntie is trying to spot them. It’s got a televised panel on Politics Live to join in a bout of lunchtime Jew ‘rausing’. So how do you identify a Jew? Through eugenics? Watching them pray? By giving them a badge to wear? And why does it matter?

Any Jew looking into their Sephardi ancestry and perhaps taking up those countries’ offer of a right to return, after the Inquisition expelled them on pain of death, is not asked to prove any religious credentials. No-one in Lisbon or Seville asks how often the applicant goes to synagogue. The Gestapo never asked Jews that question either. But on the BBC’s Politics Live show, four non-Jews formed a panel discussing whether Jews are a race. It was a revolting spectacle, reminiscent of that New Statesman cover about the ‘Kosher Conspiracy’. Because if Jews are not a race (clue: they are) they cannot be victims of racism. Jews are fair game.

anti-Semitic new statesman kosher conspiracy

The BBC has form here. The BBC’s biography on new Labour leader for Scotland Anas Sarwar (born 14 March 1983) says he’s “the first minority ethnic leader of a major political party in the UK”. He isn’t. Three Jews have led major UK parties: two Conservative; one Labour.

The BBC changed that to read: Mr Sarwar “is the first non-white leader of a major political party in the UK”. All Jews are white? No. On the census forms, there is no room for ‘Jew’. This is useful because Jews are prone to getting murdered and making a big list of who they all are and where they all live can be dangerous for them. But nowadays, there should be the option.

BBC Jews

But some people don’t get it, or don’t want to get it. People like Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner, who tweets: “I am so proud that our party has elected the first ever ethnic minority leader of a political party anywhere in the UK.” Nope. Wrong.

Angela Rayner Jews

If you’re going to use race to score points and big yourself up, why not work to get it right? Ed Miliband, Benjamin D’Israeli and Michael Howard are the three Jews who’ve led major UK political parties. To the BBC and Angela Rayner not count.

Politics Live host Jo Coburn then put it that because Jews have progressed so much in society they might not be “seen as a group deserving recognition”. Got that? As one Jew said in his advise to British Jews, “don’t dare fail.” They get you for that. You’re swarthy, immigrant “vermin”, as one Manchester paper and the far-Right put it. And if you do well, you’re privileged whites who run the world, as the righteous Left have it (see above). The one thing you are always is a Jew. And racism is what leads to your murder.

Posted: 3rd, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, News | Comment

Blood diamonds: Meghan and Harry’s Oprah interview is beyond satire

When they tire of telling us via their PRs, lawyers, Netflix, Spotify, photoshoots and Oprah Winfrey about the horror of media intrusion, Prince Harry and Meghan Windsor, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, may reflect on why it was the media is obsessed with them.

Today’s Meghan missive reaches us via The Times, in which she is the subject of a story that alleges the American was rude to Palace staff, was accused of “bullying” and this:

The Times can reveal that the duchess wore earrings to a 2018 event that were a wedding gift from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, said by the US to have approved the murder of the Jamal Khashoggi.

The dinner took place three weeks after the killing.

Blood diamonds? In 2019, the UK imported a million metric tons of crude oil. She wears Saudi goods mined underground, you stick the country’s produce in your car. Who is the more guilty? The Sussexes busy lawyers are dismissive of the “spurious allegations regarding the use of gifts loaned to The Duchess by The Crown”.

The Times goes for it:

After a newspaper revealed that a PA had left after only six months, it is understood that the duchess became extremely concerned about the number of stories in the press about staff leaving. Her lawyers state that she did not read the press…

When the duchess wore the earrings in Fiji given by the crown prince she told aides who were preparing to brief the media about her outfit for the state dinner that they had been “borrowed” from a jeweller, a source said, an explanation that was widely reported. This was three weeks after the murder of Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Lawyers for the duchess said she may have stated they were borrowed but did not say they were borrowed from a jeweller and denied that she had misled anyone about their provenance.

Following it? Lost the will to live? Or are you wondering if everything to do with the Royal Family is beyond parody? Get this anecdote from Tory MP Michael Ellis, via the Telegraph’s Michael Deacon:

Before any more is said, let is be placed on the record that the supremely gorgeous, never wrong, rich and highly intelligent Duchess (also very litigious – ed) says it’s untrue she bullied anyone. Well, a spokesman for the Sussexes says it’s all part of a “smear campaign” and the duchess is “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma”. These are “defamatory claims” “based on misleading and harmful misinformation”. To which the media says: “Phew! Thank god she didn’t ignore it and start training in to be a nurse.”

Meghan Windsor bullying

We are told that two Sussex PAs left their jobs:

Both PAs signed non-disclosure agreements. There is no suggestion that Meghan tried to prevent them from speaking. Lawyers for the duke and duchess stated that she had no knowledge of the agreements and that they believed staff to be comfortable and happy.

No knowledge is not the same thing as saying the NDAs do not exist.

In late 2017, after Harry and Meghan’s engagement was announced, a senior aide spoke to the couple about the difficulties caused by their treatment of staff. People needed to be treated well and with some understanding, even when they were not performing to their standards, they were told. Meghan is said to have replied: “It’s not my job to coddle people.”

Are you more bothered by alleged non-coddling or Prince Andrew’s antics? Are you amazed we are supposed to look up to these people, of whom only one matters – and she’s sat on the throne? So what do we get?

One former staff member said: “I had unpleasant experiences with her. I would definitely say humiliated.”

After Jason Knauf, the couple’s communications secretary, made his bullying complaint, another member of staff was worried about spending time with her the next day because she feared that Meghan was about to find out. “This is why I feel sick,” they said.

Another time there was a row about whether Meghan had been told that the media would be present at an event. When she rang the aide, they rang back but she did not pick up. “I feel terrified,” the source said. “I can’t stop shaking.”

An unnamed source adds:

“There were a lot of broken people. Young women were broken by their behaviour.”

The Times editorialises:

The issue boils down to whether Meghan was a demanding boss with high standards, or a bully. Did her team fail her or did she ask the impossible?

To help us decide a source (again unnamed) is quoted: “Everyone knew that the institution would be judged by her happiness,” a source said. “The mistake they made was thinking she wanted to be happy. She wanted to be rejected because she was obsessed with that narrative from day one.”

And it must be noted: “Lawyers for the duchess said this was entirely wrong. The duchess wished to fit in and be accepted and had left her life in North America to commit herself to her new role.”

Lawyers are said to be delighted.

Posted: 3rd, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family | Comment

Grand National trainer sits on dead horse: why not race the corpses?

Leading Irish horse trainer Gordon Elliott, 43, says the photo of him sat on a dead horse is authentic. Elliott says he took a phone call and sat down on the horse “without thinking”.”I apologise profoundly for any offence that this photo has caused,” he says. The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is “appalled”.

Elliott has thrice trained the winner of the Grand National. The race yielded 7 fatalities out of 439 horses taking part between 2000 and 2010. In 1998, three horses died: two were injured in the race and then offed by the vet; one suffered a heart attack whilst jumping a fence. But the racing fraternity is aghast and agog and one man using a dead horse as an al fresco office.

‘MURDER?’ – Winner of the Grand National in 1973, 1974 and 1977, the UK’s best known and most loved racehorse is pictured with fans on a visit to Bristol at Castle Park on March 15th 1980.

“I can categorically state that the welfare of each and every horse under my care is paramount and has been central to the success that we have enjoyed,” says Elliott. “The photo in question was taken some time ago and occurred after a horse had died of an apparent heart attack on the gallops. At what was a sad time, which it is when any horse under my care passes away, my initial reaction was to get the body removed from where it was positioned. I was standing over the horse waiting to help with the removal of the body, in the course of which, to my memory I received a call and, without thinking, I sat down to take it. Hearing a shout from one of my team, I gestured to wait until I was finished. Such background information may seem trivial at this time and will not allay the concerns of many people both within and outside the world of horse racing.”

He’s right. It doesn’t.

Image: An edited version of an image of Gordon Elliott released by the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, via BBC, no copyright note.

Posted: 1st, March 2021 | In: Key Posts, News, Sports | Comment

The BBC forgets the Jews and identifies Labour leader Anas Sarwar by colour

The BBC’s biography on new Labour leader for Scotland Anas Sarwar (born 14 March 1983) says he’s “the first minority ethnic leader of a major political party in the UK”. He isn’t.

Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, KG, PC, FRS (21 December 1804 – 19 April 1881), was a Conservative Party leader who twice served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He was an ethnic Jew.

It was not until the Jews Relief Act 1858, also called the Jewish Disabilities Bill, that Jews seeking to become MPs did not have to swear the Christian oath of office. The bill allowed “any Person professing the Jewish Religion, [to] omit the Words ‘and I make this Declaration upon the true Faith of a Christian'”.

Other Jews have led major parties. Michael Howard, Baron Howard of Lympne, CH, PC, QC (born Michael Hecht; 7 July 1941), served as Leader of the Conservative Party and Leader of the Opposition from November 2003 to December 2005.

This is how Labour Party attacked Howard and another Tory MP Oliver Letwin (also Jewish) in 2005 – you might see hints of Fagin and get a load of those Jewish pigs:

And there’s Ed Miliband (born 24 December 1969), Leader of the Labour Party and the Leader of the Opposition between 2010 and 2015. His mum and dad were Polish Jewish immigrants. In April 2018 – irony of ironies – Jeremy Corbyn fanboy Owen Jones called out “antisemitic dog-whistles” aimed at Miliband, which included “smearing his dad as ‘the man who hated Britain’, and harping on about the weird “north London intellectual”.

So well done Anas Sarwar. But you’re not the first.

Update: the BBC has changed the bio. It now says, Mr Sarwar “is the first non-white leader of a major political party in the UK”. Non white? Are all Jews white? Do all whites see Jews are white? Isn’t being Jewish to belong to an ethnic group? Are Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews less white than Ashkenazi Jews? Is the BBC looking at skin colour only when it sees a politician, including one whose father Mohammed Sarwar was the UK’s first Muslim member of parliament?

On ethniticity, the UK Government says:

In England and Wales, there are 18 ethnic groups recommended for use by the government when asking for someone’s ethnicity. These are grouped into 5 ethnic groups, each with an ‘Any other’ option where people can write in their ethnicity using their own words. These groups were used in the 2011 Census of England and Wales.

So which group is the one for Jews? And should all MPs first be identified by their skin colour before a word on their policies is mentioned?

Posted: 28th, February 2021 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment

The Radiohead Public Library is open and free to use

Radiohead are giving away free music. They stole the hackers’ thunder when demos for the band’s 1997’s smash hit album OK Computer were stolen by releasing 18 hours of the material free to stream or buy for a limited time. All proceeds went to charity. Then more. The band’s archive is available in a free “public library” – go there to claim your click and print library card.

Spotter: Rolling Stone.

Posted: 26th, February 2021 | In: Key Posts, Music | Comment

Covid-19: The NHS is scared of Gwyneth Paltrow

Reading of a senior NHS leader’s response to Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow’s Covid-19 routine minded me of a joke told by the abrasive Glaswegian comic Jerry Sadowitz. “Prince Diane put her hair in a bun,” he begins, “and her **** in a toaster.” How much information do we need and what does it have to do with us? The BBC reports that Paltrow has a “duty of responsibility” when talking about Covid treatments. Paltrow is not a doctor, not medically trained and the last time I looked made a living pretending to be other people to deadline. Jane Seymour’s views on Covid-19 are unknown, but when Dr Quinn Medicine Woman breaks her silence the NHS will surely be all ears.

Paltrow says he had Covid-19. It left her with “some long-tail fatigue and brain fog”. She took her foggy brain to see a “functional medicine practitioner”, who had advised “intuitive fasting”. She takes “ketop and plant-based diet”, never eats before 11am and partakes in “infrared saunas” (aka: sitting too close to patio heaters).

NHS England’s Prof Stephen Powis says such methods are “really not the solutions we’d recommend”. Well, hard cheese. Paltrow never consulted you. But Prof Powis never studied for years to support such stuff and says that he is more into “serious science”. “Like the virus, misinformation carries across borders and it mutates and it evolves,” he says. “So I think YouTube and other social media platforms have a real responsibility and opportunity here… We need to take long Covid seriously and apply serious science. All influencers who use social media have a duty of responsibility and a duty of care around that.”

The message is clear: listen to us; don’t listen to them. I’m want to be an influencer. And you’re all thick.

Posted: 25th, February 2021 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts, News | Comment

‘Julia Roberts finds her holes get better with age’ – newspaper regrets the typo

typo Julia Robert holes

Hollywood mega-star Julia Roberts ‘finds that her holes get better with age’. The Post-Journal regrets the error.

As do these throbbing organs:

Posted: 22nd, February 2021 | In: Celebrities, Key Posts | Comment

Harry and Meghan are Duke and Duchess in a country that gave us true royalty like Prince, The King and Zsa Zsa Gabor

Where do the Duke and Duchess of Sussex rank in the USA, a country that gave us Prince, The King (Elvis), King (a town in North Carolina (see above The Count (of Sesame Street), The Godfather of Soul and Emperor Norton, a citizen of San Francisco, California, who proclaimed himself “Norton I, Emperor of the United States” in 1859? Harry and Meghan will not work as members of the Royal Family. The spare to the heir and his wife have no duties to fulfil connected to their titles. They cannot hold their honorary commands and patronages and live in California. A series of cataclysmic events could still result in Harry becoming King. But that seems unlikely. They could become the King and Queen of Netflix and Podcasts. Or name their forthcoming child Empress, Princess or Queen.

Right now, Harry and Meghan resemble extras from a dull Hollywood soap opera. Not quite as regal as Zsa Zsa Gabor and less grand than Dynasty’s Prince Michael of Moldoiva. But maybe one day popular enough to appear at Caesar’s Palace casino in Las Vegas.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s being handed back to the Queen:


Captain General, the Royal Marines
Honorary Air Commandant, RAF Honington
Commodore-in-Chief, Royal Navy Small Ships and Diving
President, The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust
Patron, the Rugby Football Union
Patron, the Rugby Football League


Vice-President, The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust
Patron, the Royal National Theatre
Patron, the Association of Commonwealth Universities

Posted: 19th, February 2021 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family | Comment

Daily Express leads with terrible Prince Philip photo; Diana might be dead

The Duke of Edinburgh has been resting in a London hospital. He’s 99. Prince Philip’s trips to hospital are not infrequent. But it’s easy news. It helps newspapers tread water whilst Philip’s obituary they’ve had primed and ready to go for decades gathers dust. But do they like Phil? Specifically, does the Daily Express likes him?

This is how the Telegraph, Mail and Sun lead with news of Phil’s latest trip to the doctors. He looks fresh-faced and spry.

And here’s Philip on the cover of the Daily Express. He looks decidedly ill. For added spite, the paper’s slapped him next to a picture of a smiling Princess Diana, her face radiant, and a picture of her sons, one of whom is actually pointing in his direction.

What can it all mean from the paper that brought you this news:

daily express diana philip

Posted: 18th, February 2021 | In: Key Posts, News, Royal Family, Tabloids | Comment

Covid-19 : Armageddon did not begin in Bournemouth

 Covid beach

When the fist lockdown was ended, we headed to beaches. But the ‘Covidiots’ never did spread Covid-19 on Bournemouth’s golden sands. SAGE epidemiologist Mark Woolhouse tells the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee that crowded beaches did not lead to a single outbreak last summer.

“Over the summer we were treated to pictures of crowded beaches, and there was an outcry about this, but there were no outbreaks linked to crowded beaches… there has never been a Covid-19 outbreak linked to a beach ever anywhere in the world, to the best of my knowledge.”

What did the papers and say? The Indy and Telegraph were scathing:

Bournemouth Covid
Covid bournemouth

One local MP was hot on Covid. Tobias Ellwood new the rules:


As you were.

Posted: 17th, February 2021 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians | Comment