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May calls on the police to apologise to Mitchell after IPCC judgement…

MAY Warhol“Theresa May last night called on a chief constable to apologise after an explosive report suggested senior officers had lied to blacken the name of former Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell. … In a devastating judgment, the Independent Police Complaints Commission indicated an inquiry by West Mercia Police that cleared the three of misconduct was a whitewash.” – Daily Mail

…but the police aren’t backing down just yet

“Three police chiefs are refusing to back down after criticism by the home secretary for not disciplining officers accused of trying to discredit former Tory chief whip Andrew Mitchell. … The chief constables of West Mercia, Warwickshire and West Midlands Police say they will go before MPs to explain.” – BBC

  • “It is in [the police’s] power to draw a line under this discreditable affair. Come clean. Institute disciplinary procedures. Apologise.” – Guardian editorial
  • “The ‘plebgate’ dispute is doing the police great damage. The force needs to make itself accountable quickly” – Times editorial (£)
  • “‘Plebgate’ threatens the reputation of the police” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Why did so many of us believe the police over Andrew Mitchell?” – Geoffrey Wheatcroft, The Guardian

Home Office warned about bogus civil marriages

Home Office logo“One in five civil marriages in parts of Britain may be bogus, it emerged yesterday. … Some 15,000 such ceremonies a year are taking place simply to get around immigration law, estimates one of the country’s most senior registrars, Mark Rimmer. … Last year the Home Office received nearly 1,900 warnings about potentially bogus unions.” – Daily Mail

Britain’s most senior judge criticises the Government’s curbs on judicial review cases

“Government proposals to save money by reducing the number of judicial review cases may deter valid applications and save only ‘a pathetically small sum’ of money, the UK’s most senior judge has warned. … In a speech entitled Justice in the Age of Austerity, the president of the supreme court, Lord Neuberger, signalled his growing concern about the spate of legal reforms being introduced.” – The Guardian

  • HS2 rail plans were rushed, opponents tell Supreme Court – The Times (£)

> Today on the Deep End: The rule of law is important, but trust is the true foundation of a free society

Osborne’s “lovefest” with China leaves US bankers cold

OSBORNE red and blue“US bankers and UK lawyers attacked the new light-touch regulatory regime proposed for Chinese banks in the City on Tuesday, accusing George Osborne of political interference in regulation. … ‘It is extraordinary to treat Chinese banks differently,’ said one bank chief. ‘It’s very inconsistent. This is just a crazy lovefest.'” – Financial Times

  • “If he succeeds, the chancellor will have preserved London’s position as clearing house to the world.” – Financial Times editorial
  • “Give a warm welcome to China, our new best friend” – Hamish McRae, The Independent

Will fracking create as many jobs as Cameron has claimed?

“Britain’s shale gas industry will create far fewer jobs than the 74,000 figure cited by David Cameron this summer, according to a forecast produced on behalf of the energy department. … an alternative figure of about a third of that level has been put forward by AMEC, the engineering consultancy that is advising Decc.” – Financial Times

  • “An army of junior press officers is to be recruited centrally for the first time to sell the Government’s message before the general election.” – The Times (£)

Stephen Dorrell questions the Government’s care home plan

“Former minister Stephen Dorrell said a plan to offer loans to pay for care was not delivering ‘the objective the Government set out’. … Mr Dorrell, chairman of the Commons health select committee, particularly questioned a proposal to limit loans to people with assets of less than £23,000.” – Daily Mail

“Ministers on Tuesday promised people would not be forced to sell their homes to pay for care in their old age, after a government proposal to restrict the ability to defer payment came to light.” – Financial Times

  • “Was it really only four months ago when ministers gave us a categorical assurance that the elderly would never again have to sell their homes to pay for social care? How quickly their pledge has unravelled.” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “People needing care shouldn’t have to sell their homes” – David Lipsey, The Times (£)
  • “This elderly care plan will punish the prudent and favour the feckless” – Simon Heffer, Daily Mail

Handing over the power of life and death ought to simpler, say ministers

“Labour’s 2005 Mental Capacity Act – which gave legal status to ‘living wills’ – allowed people to also choose an  attorney with the right to end their life. … Now ministers plan to remove the legal necessity for someone to sign a special page of their form, and have a witness to the decision, when they choose to hand over life-and-death powers.” – Daily Mail

Pickles plans to better scrutinise landlords and letting agents

PICKLES Eric 2009“The government is preparing to announce rules to better regulate the private rented housing sector, including a requirement that all letting agents join a new compulsory redress scheme. … The redress scheme, requiring new legislation, would allow complaints about poor service or hidden fees to be independently examined, and where a complaint is upheld, receive compensation…” – The Guardian

  • “The housing crisis doesn’t just need new homes, it needs new towns” – Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph

> Today, by Tom Papworth on Comment: Give people power over housing

Cameron should leave foxhunting alone, advises Alice Thomson

“David Cameron has decided to look ‘with some sympathy’ at amending the hunting bill. Insane, I know. Why on earth does he want to bring up a subject that pitches town against country, divides parties, ferments class war and is best left well alone?” – Alice Thomson, The Times (£)

Daniel Finkelstein: “Restrictions on freedom of speech always spread”

“Those who want a “dab of statute”, just a tiny bit you know, nothing to worry about, think they are the knights in shining armour, the defenders of the weak. In the end, however, restrictions on freedom of speech always spread, becoming the tool of the intolerant and the enemy of liberal engagement.” – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)

  • Three-out-of-four people suspect that future Governments will use new press laws to muzzle the media – The Sun (£)

> Today’s ConHome Interview: Boles – “There is no legal reason why the press should play along with the Royal Charter”

Con Coughlin: “The Government is bent on cutting costs, no matter how damaging to our Armed Forces”

DEFENCE cuts“…yesterday’s spectacle, in which several hundred veterans from 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers marched through Whitehall to protest against its disbandment, was a timely reminder of the mounting resentment that many current and former personnel feel about the way their cherished units, and the military as a whole, are being treated by the Government.” – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph

Clegg hints at spare room rethink

“The Coalition’s so-called ‘bedroom tax’ leaves some families facing ‘dilemmas which need to be addressed, Nick Clegg has said as he disclosed that research is being carried out into the benefits reform. … The Deputy Prime Minister hinted in the House of Commons that ministers are considering ways to soften the impact of the policy.” – Daily Telegraph

Baker wants harsher penalities for the owners of dangerous dogs

“The owners of dangerous dogs involved in violent attacks could face similar penalties to those found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, Home Office Minister Norman Baker has said. … Mr Baker said the Government would be bringing forward amendments in the House of Lords to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill to introduce tougher penalties for the owners of dangerous dogs.” – The Independent

Labour accuses Gove of waste, but should have looked in the mirror first

Mirror, mirror“Attack dog MP Michael Dugher tried to embarrass the Tories by probing how much taxpayers’ cash had been spent at the Education Department. … But the bill under Michael Gove since 2010 is just £696,000 — compared to £16.6million when Mr Balls was in charge. … That included £12million on an office makeover — which Labour insists was part of a ‘long-term efficiency programme’.” – The Sun (£)

  • “Education Secretary Michael’s Gove’s exam reform will ‘wreck’ the English education system, the head of admissions to Oxford University warned yesterday.” – The Independent

> Today, by John Bald on Comment: The impulsiveness of Dominic Cummings

> Yesterday, by Mark Hoban MP on Comment: It’s time for academies to have the freedom to borrow

Former Labour minister accuses spies of undertaking mass surveillance without parliamentary consent

“A former Labour cabinet minister has warned that GCHQ and Britain’s other intelligence agencies appear to be undertaking mass surveillance without parliament’s consent because the coalition failed to get the so-called ‘snoopers’ charter’ passed into law after Liberal Democrat opposition. … [Nick Brown] said that it ‘looks very much like this is what is happening anyway, with or without parliament’s consent'” – The Guardian

  • “In this, as in other respects, the security services enjoy a degree of legal and operational autonomy that exceeds what many MPs and ministers, if they knew about it, would judge appropriate.” – Guardian editorial

de Piero says she understands why girls may resort to topless photoshoots

“Labour’s new women’s spokesman Gloria de Piero yesterday defended doing a topless photoshoot when she was a schoolgirl, saying she understood why girls make the decision to strip off. … Newly promoted to Ed Miliband’s Shadow Cabinet, she revealed yesterday that she thought topless Page 3 girls were ‘totally out of date’. … But she added: ‘I’ve always said don’t blame the girls. I understand how they might think it would be a way out.’” – Daily Mail

Tax the rich and spend the proceeds, says the Fabian Society

“A blueprint for a future Labour government to spend at least £20bn a year more than the Conservatives, financed by tax rises for higher earners, is published today. … A commission set up by the Labour-affiliated Fabian Society proposes that Labour may need to cut £5bn off the welfare budget but that raising overall spending by 1 per cent more than inflation from 2016 is ‘realistic, credible and consistent with deficit reduction’.” – The Independent

“The Fabian Society will today push the Shadow Chancellor, a former vice-chairman of the organisation, to reexamine benefits for wealthy pensioners” – The Times (£)

  • “Labour needs plans that will tackle the vast deficit, yet still be different from its opponents’” – Independent editorial

Miliband shouldn’t be moved into offering an early EU referendum, writes Jackie Ashley

Jackie Ashley“Imagine that Labour commits to a referendum, wins the election, and then delivers its promise. At this point, of course, Ed Miliband has neither tried for a renegotiation with Europe nor delivered one. The eurozone is still mired in low growth and high unemployment. With the British right having just lost, and seething, I just don’t see how a referendum could be won for the pro-European cause.” – Jackie Ashley, The Guardian

  • “Slovakia offers a benign model for quick and constructive Scottish independence. It depends, though, on a readiness of the Scots to curb their sovereignty — first by signing up to Schengen (and persuading the rest of the UK to do likewise) then perhaps to the euro, to banking union and all the trappings of deeper EU integration — all for the sake of freedom from the English.” – Roger Boyes, The Times (£)
  • “Our leaders have always misled us about the EU” – Andreas Whittam Smith, The Independent

> Yesterday:

The Public Accounts Committee questions the Beeb’s relocation costs

“The BBC has been condemned for paying its staff up to £150,000 each to move to its new base in Salford without keeping a full record of who authorised the sums. .. In a report published today, the public accounts committee of MPs said many of the allowances, which totaled £24million, were ‘excessive’ and ‘difficult to justify’ to licence fee payers.” – Daily Mail

  • “The BBC Trust needs to be more probing of how the broadcaster spends licence fee money, MPs have said, despite limitations on its powers as defined by the royal charter.” – Financial Times
  • “Alan Yentob, the creative director of the BBC who earns £300,000 a year, has admitted he and other presenters at the corporation are paid too much.” – Daily Telegraph

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, attacks negligent parents…

Michael Wilshaw“Sir Michael Wilshaw attacked ‘hollowed out and fragmented families’ where parents suffer a ‘poverty of accountability’. … He said child abuse and neglect were not the fault of councils alone. Such issues were the product of social breakdown.” – Daily Mail

  • “The Government must step in, examine the system nationwide, work out its failings and put them right before more children are starved or beaten to death.” – Sun editorial (£)

…and brands Birmingham a “national disgrace”

“Birmingham has been branded a ‘national disgrace’ by Ofsted’s chief inspector, who said the city is one of the worst places to grow up in the developed world.  … Sir Michael Wilshaw highlighted the infant mortality rate in Britain’s second city, which is higher than Cuba’s and almost twice the national average.” – Daily Mail

Top GP says patients could soon pay for “extras” such as better food

“Patients could soon have to pay for ‘hospital extras’ such as better food or IVF, a top GP has warned. … Michael Dixon, president of the NHS Clinical Commissioners and chairman of the NHS Alliance, said doctors had to consider introducing new charges to balance the rising costs of treatment and an ageing population.” – Daily Mail

  • “The mental health service in England is in crisis, according to a leading psychiatrist, as new figures show many trusts are running at full capacity.” – The Guardian
  • “The Liverpool Care Pathway is of little clinical benefit for dying patients, according to the first randomised trial of the controversial scheme.” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Some hospital trusts spend as little as £4.15 per day feeding patients – less than half the national average, new figures reveal.” – Daily Mail
  • “In 2012, the General Medical Councils received 8,109 complaints [about doctors] – a 24 per cent increase since 2011 and a 104 per cent increase since 2007.” – Daily Mail
  • “Three out of five young doctors on hospital wards and in GP surgeries are women.” – Daily Mail

The use of food banks has tripled

“The number of people resorting to food banks for emergency help to feed their families has more than tripled following the squeeze on benefits which intensified in April. … David Cameron’s own poverty tsar warned last night of the danger of food banks becoming an ‘institutional part’ of the welfare state – and urged the Prime Minister to set up an inquiry into the issue.” – The Independent

US credit rating put on negative watch, as the debt talks resume

Storm over Congress“Fitch Ratings placed the triple A credit rating of the US on negative watch, as efforts to end the budget impasse faltered during a day of drama on Capitol Hill capped by the reopening of talks in the Senate late on Tuesday. … Spokesmen for Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader in the Senate, and Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader, said after talks in the House had broken down that they had resumed negotiations and were ‘optimistic’ about success.” – Financial Times

  • “The world no longer needs to discover America; but America urgently needs to discover the world’s view of America.” – Timothy Garton Ash, The Guardian

The Times warns of the rise of far-Right parties across Europe

“The problem, of course, is that nationalism is no kind of solution to Europe’s or the world’s problems. It is not the fault of immigrants or foreign companies that Euro­pean countries incurred so much debt and were so vulnerable to the banking crisis. It follows that protectionism and isolationism are unlikely to make any of us any richer.” – Times editorial (£)

News in brief

  • Almost half of new mothers are now aged over 30 – Daily Mail
  • Grandparents are now paying £647 million a year to subsidise grandchildren – Daily Mail
  • The average British house price has doubled to £247,000 in the last decade – Daily Mail
  • Doreen Lawrence takes her seat in the House of Lords – The Sun (£)
  • OFT to scrutinise government IT contracts – Financial Times
  • Anger at late delivery of Royal Mail shares – Daily Telegraph

And finally 1)… Quentin Letts previews today’s deputy Speaker election

“Today the Commons will elect a new deputy Speaker. The job pays £102,000 a year. Sounds a lot but there is a drawback: you have to work under John Bercow. Danger money.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

And finally 2)… The importance of Boris’s looks

borisfringe“Which brings me to my proposition: Boris Johnson is losing his looks, and with them his opportunity to be prime minister. This is not objectification of a man who is always happy to objectify women, but a prediction and a warning to other empty but sexually promising politicians with dirty eyes…” – Tanya Gold, The Guardian

35 comments for: Newslinks for Wednesday 16th October 2013

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