Friday, 30 November 2012


"It has been over a year in the making, cost £5m, and runs to almost 2,000 pages. Yet, within hours of the publication of the Leveson report into the ethics of the press, David Cameron rejected its key finding." The Independent

"There have been too many times when, chasing the story, parts of the press have acted as if its own code, which it wrote, simply did not exist. This has caused real hardship and, on occasion, wreaked havoc with the lives of innocent people whose rights and liberties have been disdained." Lord Justice Leveson

Among Lord Leveson’s main findings in his mammoth 1987 page report were:

• Unethical practices by the press extended far beyond the News of the World and went on for many years. Editors at a number of newspapers “talked and joked” about phone hacking but did nothing to stop it while unwanted intrusion and surveillance of celebrities was common place.

• Newspaper “recklessly” prioritised sensational stories, irrespective of the harm that they could cause to those affected and “heedless” of the public interest.

• Meanwhile proprietors and in particular Rupert Murdoch paid scant attention to regulating the activities of their newspapers that often “intimidated” or took “retribution against complainants or critics”.

The report was, surprisingly, much kinder to politicians who courted the press, concluding that there was no evidence they were unduly influenced by need to gain press support. In particular Leveson cleared the Government of being unduly influenced by News International in its decision over the BSkyB takeover - a finding criticised by political opponents.

Leveson said there was “no credible evidence of actual bias” on the part of the former Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt in deciding on the takeover, but criticised the role given to his special advisor Adam Smith, which he said gave rise to a “perception of bias”.

Leveson report: Volume One

Leveson report: Volume Two

Leveson report: Volume Three

Leveson report: Volume Four

Leveson report: Executive summary 

Leveson inquiry: The essential guide

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Green Deal in tatters as no-one registers

The Green Deal encourages homeowners to take out a loan to make their house more energy-efficient. The project goes live in 10 weeks but households have had since October 1 to have their home assessed for the scheme prior to its launch.

However Greg Barker, the climate change minister, has admitted that “no assessments have yet been lodged” on the Government’s official register by homeowners. The Coalition had hoped that owners of up to 14 million draughty homes will sign up to the scheme.

Luciana Berger, the shadow climate change minister, described the Green Deal as a “shambles” and said its launch is “lying in tatters”. 

The Police & Crime Commissioner elections

‎'David Cameron suffered a humiliating blow on Friday when his plans to democratise the police were met by overwhelming voter indifference, with the lowest ever turnout in a national poll threatening to undermine the new elected commissioners' legitimacy.'

Martin Rowson, Guardian

Secret trials and non-disclosure of evidence

"Secret trials and non-disclosure of evidence are potential characteristics of repressive regimes and undemocratic societies."

• That's what the Law Society and the Bar Council think of part two of Ken Clarke's justice bill. 

• They write that the proposals "undermine the principle that public justice should be dispensed in public and will weaken fair trial guarantees and the principle of equality of arms." 

• Opponents fear the powers will enable ministers, rather than judges, to manipulate the way evidence is withheld or presented, depriving litigants of a fair trial.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Iain Duncan Smith redefines poverty

Child poverty is to be measured by how long children have two birth parents looking after them, the length of worklessness in households and school achievement under controversial new plans announced today. Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, will downgrade Labour's system of measuring poverty relative to the rest of the population, which he believes can provide a skewed picture of household finances.

A new range of indicators will be introduced including family stability, worklessness and educational achievement. Duncan Smith, in a joint move with the schools minister, David Laws, claimed the new measures better reflect the reality of poverty in the UK today.  Guardian

Appearing on BBC Breakfast this morning, Duncan Smith said:

“What we’re saying to everyone out there is ‘look, we could go on playing this game saying we’re going to put more money in'. The truth is the last government spent £171bn on tax credits, they raised expenditure on welfare by over 60% during a time the economy grew, and they still failed to meet their poverty targets for children. By 2010 they quite dramatically failed.”

You can read the government’s consultation here or a summary of the consultation here. Both are pdf documents. There is also a response form (Word document) for plebs to air their opinions.

Sunday, 11 November 2012