Tuesday 30 March 2021

Unravelling a Scandal


Last night I watched Alexander Nanau’s award-winning documentary, Unravelling a Scandal.

On 30 October 2015 a fire broke out at a rock concert at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest, Romania. There were inadequate fire exits and 27 people were killed, with 37 dying later as burn victims.

There were massive street demonstrations across Romania and the government resigned. Not only had there been negligence at corporate and state level regarding inadequate fire protection, but the post-fire deaths were found to have been due to contaminated disinfectants supplied to hospitals.

All this was exposed by Catalin Tolontan, Mirela Neag and a team of journalists at Gazeta Sporturilo (Sports Gazette) who meticulously uncovered a world of political and corporate corruption, bribery, offshore accounts and mysterious ‘suicides’.

The state media and major news outlets remained quiet or joined in attacks on them as they exposed the scandal.

Of course nothing like this could take place in this country. Oh wait a minute …...

Wednesday 24 March 2021

Whose Disorder?



"This was people intent on causing serious disorder," Chief Constable Andy Marsh


The Guardian is now publishing press releases from the police and presenting them as ‘news’. The latest is “Police in Bristol feel under siege after second night of unrest." The Guardian, 24 March 2021.

The ‘article’ consists of nothing but quotes from John Apter of the Police Federation, Chief Superintendent Claire Armes, an unnamed source at ‘Avon and Somerset police’ and ‘a police spokesperson’.

It concludes with this comment about injured officers after the weekend disturbances - ‘They said neither of the officers taken to hospital were found to have suffered broken bones.’ Well that’s a relief since we had been told that the force had suffered multiple injuries.

If you turn to The Canary, Tribune and eye-witness accounts you can find the truth cannot be hidden behind a press release. This is from a demonstrator, Kieran Denman … “people were being peaceful, people were sat in front of the police station, as in literally sat. Police kicked people, pushed people on the floor. People pushed back. Police in riot gear battoned people in the head, sent in attack dogs and horsesEvery step of the way the police escalated. Every step of the way they knew that was what they were doing, but were perhaps just a bit surprised at how many of the crowd were willing to go from a sit down protest to fighting back rather than allowing the police to attack them with impunity."


Sunday 21 March 2021

David Hencke - thank you



David Hencke is the Guardian journalist who wrote my War Child story 20 years ago. Thanks to him I managed to recover my life and go on to have my account of those years published. 


I recently received an email from him saying: “I have finally managed to find the time to read your book from cover to cover. Just a note to say what a great book and what an amazing and brave life you have had. Obviously I knew about the Pavarotti Centre because I was so closely involved in reporting it all. But your descriptions of life in Bosnia and the vivid descriptions of all the characters plus your recollections of vile public school life made great reading. What also comes out is your great love of music and how important music is to you. Just thought I would drop you a line to say how much I enjoyed it.” 


Thank you David and you can now read "Left Field" online and free here.

Thursday 18 March 2021

Pablo Escobar would be jealous


The BMJ reports that the UK government has spent £10bn on its covid-19 test and trace programme, £15bn on personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare staff and £6.5bn on other ‘health’ spending. “Experts said that they were astonished at the size of the sums, including the billions paid to private companies such as Serco to run ‘test and trace’ services.”

Allyson Pollock, a member of the Independent Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, described the £10bn figure as “scandalous expenditure,” adding, “there are really serious questions to be asked about the way these contracts were set up and about their performance. Ten billion pounds spent, and the only effective track and trace is being carried out by traditional public health teams.” Pollock concludes that, “This money should have been put into supporting the established system of public health services instead of going into new parallel centralised services run by private companies, where much of it is squandered and wasted.”

Chris Ham, former chief executive of the King’s Fund, said that the numbers were “astonishing.” He tweeted: “Would be good to understand exactly what the money was spent on, especially on test and trace.”

The following are just a few of those who have been ‘awarded’ Covid-related contracts without contract tenders or any independent oversight. They range from pest-control companies to publicans, experts in offshore investment to fashion, confectionary and interior design companies.


The BMJ concludes that “The coronavirus pandemic has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale that is harmful to public health.” On a scale that would make Pablo Escobar jealous.

It is not a public enquiry that is needed, but police investigations and criminal charges.

Monday 15 March 2021

Whisper in the Corner



The women’s suffrage movement is only the small edge of the wedge. If we allow women to vote it will mean the loss of social structure and the rise of every liberal cause under the sun. Women are well represented by their fathers, brothers and husbands.”  Winston Churchill

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which is being voted on in Parliament today proposes a maximum sentence of ten years for vandalising a statue. Sentence length will be determined by the statue’s “emotional symbolic value.”

The Bill goes on to propose a minimum four years sentence for serious sexual offences and to outlaw protests causing “serious unease” and/or “serious annoyance”.

Unease” and “annoyance” are value loaded words and would elicit entirely opposite responses from Home Secretary, Priti Patel and Clapham resident, Patsy Stevenson, as would what people think of the Churchill statue’s “emotional symbolic value.”

Liberty claims the Bill “threatens protest” with human rights lawyer, Kenan Malik, warning that it the Bill is voted into law our right to protest will be reduced to “whispering in the corner.”

And Churchill’s statue gets better protection than Patsy Stevenson.



Monday 8 March 2021

Rough Times


Boris Johnson on the 1% offer to the nurses: "What we have done is try to give them as much as we can at the present time, Don’t forget that there has been a public sector pay freeze, we’re in pretty tough times.”

Here is whar the ‘pretty rough times” has meant for others.

… £ millions of Covid-related contract have been given to friends or associates of Johnson and his ministers. Many were given to those without any expertise in medical equipment, provision or practise or who were insolvent or close to being so. Here are a few ...

AYANDA CAPITAL, specialists in currency trading, offshore property, private equity and trade, awarded £252 million.

CLANDEBOYES AGENCIES, a confectionary products company, awarded £108 million.

CLIPPER LOGISTICS, a logistics company servicing retailers in fashion, tobacco, alcohol and other high-value goods, awarded £1 million.

FACULTY, a technology company contracted to Donald Trump, Vote Leave, Nigel Farrage and Cambridge Analytics, awarded £500,000.]

HANBURY STRATEGY, providing political insight and analysis and communications strategies, awarded £900,000.

MELLER DESIGNS, suppliers of women and men’s accessories, homeware and beauty products, awarded £148 million.

PA CONSULTANCY SERVICES LTD, a management consultancy company, awarded £156 million.

PEST FIX, a rodent infestation company, awarded £110 million.

PUBLIC FIRST, “we help organisations understand and influence public opinion”, awarded £840,000.

TOPHAM GUERIN, a creative and digital agency, awarded £3 million.

UNISERVE,a trade management provider, awarded £186 million.

UNISPACE, interior design company, awarded £239 million,

And these are for special mention ..

CRISP WEBSITES, website designers with £18K in the bank, awarded £108 million.

TAEG ENERGY, with NO recorded infomation, awarded £43.8 million.

VENTURES LTD, an insolvent company, awarded £49 million.

Yes “We’re in pretty rough times”

Sunday 7 March 2021

Doing well from the pandemic

Nurses have been ‘awarded’ a 1% wage increase with Health Minister, Matt Hancock, saying this is "what we think is affordable given the financial pressures caused by the Covid pandemic.”

What are those financial pressures? One of them is Steve Dechan whose loss making P14 company was ‘awarded’ £276 million in PPE/Covid contracts by Hancock.

From this money he bought a 100 acre Cotswolds mansion, another home in Cornwall and a third house for his parents in Exeter. He told The Sunday Times that he had done “very, very well out of the pandemic”.

While Dechan has been busy setting up three new homes with his millions nurses have been busy saving our lives with their 1%.  

Saturday 6 March 2021

Nurses - forget the patients, catch the rats


Nurses to be 'awarded' a 1% wage increase. With the average nurses annual salary at £33,000 that is £27 a month or £6 a week increase.

Health Minister, Matt Hancock says this 1% increase is "what we think is affordable given the financial pressures caused by the Covid pandemic.”

He is right because he and his government have handed out £25 billion in Covid contracts to friendly pub landlords and rat catchers. For example Pest Fix, a rodent infestation company, were awarded £110 million.

Over one year that works out at £9 million per month or £2 million per week.

Nurses - forget your patients and start catching rats.

The coronavirus pandemic has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale that is harmful to public health.” The British Medical Journal