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Sex allegations 1) The 114 missing files were probably shredded, claims top Home Office official

Home Office“Explosive dossiers allegedly revealing the identities of a paedophile ring operating at Westminster have ‘probably been destroyed’, it was revealed last night. … The Home Office’s top mandarin Mark Sedwill has admitted that crucial files which could expose historical child sex abuse are likely to have been shredded. … However despite Mr Sedwill’s suggestion that files had been shredded, a Labour MP last night made the explosive claim that the dossier had been ‘widely circulated’ around Whitehall – and is likely to have survived.” – Daily Mail

  • “MPs have ordered the Home Office to hand over the titles of the missing 114 child abuse files by the end of the week” – Daily Telegraph
  • “Westminster’s main parties were last night forced to agree to review their whips’ ‘dirt books’ and disclose any evidence of child abuse.” – The Times (£)
  • “A senior Royal Household member who worked with the Queen was named in Geoffrey Dickens’ paedophile dossier.” – The Sun (£)
  • “Failing to report child abuse should be a crime, the head of the NSPCC has said.” – The Guardian
  • “Disgraced MP Mike Hancock faces demands for up to £150,000 from the city of Portsmouth over his sex scandal shame.” – The Sun (£)

Sex allegations 2) MPs criticise appointment of Lady Butler-Sloss to lead inquiry

Butler-Sloss“Furious MPs blasted the Government last night after Lady Butler-Sloss was charged with heading the new inquiry into child sex abuse. … The judge’s brother Sir Michael Havers was accused in the early 1980s of protecting diplomat Sir Peter Hayman over a child pornography scandal. … And MPs last night said the Baroness — who granted anonymity to the killers of James Bulger — said her appointment sent out the wrong signal. … Labour campaigner Simon Danczuk told the Sun: ‘This gives the impression that it’s going to be the Establishment investigating the Establishment.'” – The Sun (£)

  • “It might have been better to finish the inquiries into child abuse that we already have before setting up a new one” – Times editorial (£)
  • “The allegations about what went on at Westminster in the 1980s demand a rigorous investigation” – Independent editorial
  • “Only a free Press can lift the lid on scandal” – Daily Mail editorial
  • “In those days, it would seem that adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and the abuse of children were all lumped under one heading of things people really should not do, some of which were illegal.” – Andy McSmith, The Independent
  • “How hysteria can cheat us all out of justice” – Daniel Finkelstein, The Times (£)
  • “The stench of decay surrounds Britain’s politics” – Rafael Behr, The Guardian
  • “This Grand Inquisition won’t find ‘the truth’ of child sex abuse” – Simon Jenkins, The Guardian
  • “The whips can no longer maintain Westminster’s shroud of secrecy” – Matthew Norman, The Independent

> Today: Tim Loughton MP on Comment – We have the child abuse inquiry that I and others campaigned for. This is what it now needs to do.

Baroness Neville-Jones criticises the Government’s anti-radicalisation measures

Neville-Jones“Government attempts to stop Muslims being radicalised in the UK do not have ‘enough money or enough drive’, according to a former security minister. … The comments from Tory peer Baroness Neville-Jones came amid claims the policy has been hobbled because Baroness Warsi, a foreign office minister in charge, disagrees with David Cameron over how to implement it.” – Daily Telegraph

  • “Two British men who travelled to Syria to join rebel fighters have admitted terror charges.” – Financial Times

Osborne gears up for a fight with Europe…

OSBORNE SWORD“Britain will step up its legal battle with its EU partners on Wednesday as it challenges rules that it fears would damage the City of London by forcing clearing houses to decamp operations to the eurozone. … Lawyers for the UK will tell the European Court of Justice why the government believes policies from the European Central Bank on the location of institutions that clear euro-denominated transactions are contrary to single market rules. … The ultimate decision in the case, which is not expected for some months, will have implications for London’s status as host to Europe’s financial infrastructure.” – Financial Times

  • “Foot-dragging by Luxembourg over an EU probe into questionable tax deals for multinational corporations has created a potential conflict of interest for the Grand Duchy’s former premier who is set to head the EU’s executive branch.” – Financial Times

…after signing a deal to help British companies build in India

“George Osborne on Tuesday announced a £1bn credit line to help British companies invest in Indian infrastructure, as the chancellor launched a diplomatic and commercial push in New Delhi. … Mr Osborne arrived in the Indian capital with a mission to foster good relations with Narendra Modi, the new Indian prime minister, who was ostracised by Britain for a decade after interfaith riots in his home state of Gujarat in 2002.” – Financial Times

  • “Foreign Secretary William Hague has defended promoting British weapons sales to India on the same day he announced plans to erect a statue of pacifist icon Mohandas Gandhi in London.” – The Independent
  • “A senior Treasury adviser has claimed he was sacked after blowing the whistle when civil service bosses ‘killed off’ a flagship proposal by George Osborne.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “A closer relationship with India is a building block of Britain’s future economy” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “Gandhi memorial is a mutually beneficial tribute set in stone” – Ruth Dudley Edwards, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday: Amandeep Singh Bhogal on Comment – India is now open for business and Britain should be willing to engage

But is Juncker warming to Britain’s cause?

EU Exit“Britain will be able to claw back powers from Brussels ahead of an in-out referendum on the country’s membership of the EU, Jean-Claude Juncker has said. … David Cameron last month failed in his bid to prevent Mr Juncker becoming president of the European Commission. … However, despite Mr Cameron’s attempt to block his appointment, Mr Juncker has said that he will not oppose attempts to repatriate powers from Brussels to Westminster.” – Daily Telegraph

However…

  • “Jean-Claude Juncker gave a thumbs-up gesture in response to a call for David Cameron to be dumped at the next general election, as the Luxembourger let his true feelings show yesterday following their recent clash.” – The Times (£)

HMRC wants access to people’s bank statements…

“Thousands of personal bank statements would be handed to the UK tax authority under plans to dip into personal accounts to collect unpaid tax debts. … HM Revenue & Customs plans to ask banks for the statements of individuals targeted by new debt collection powers, so it can work out how much money it can take out of their accounts without causing ‘hardship’, MPs were told on Tuesday.” – Financial Times

  • “More than £340billion of savers’ cash is languishing in bank accounts that pay a pittance in interest, it has been revealed.” – Daily Mail
  • “Shop prices fell at the steepest rate for at least eight years last month as the popularity of discount stores among the middle classes helped to drive down the cost of clothing and consumer goods.” – Daily Telegraph

…perhaps it will look more closely at celebrities’ accounts

UK notes and coins“George Michael, four members of Arctic Monkeys, Sir Michael Caine and a loan shark convicted of rape are among more than 1,600 people who tried to shelter £1.2 billion through one of Britain’s most aggressive tax avoidance schemes. … Investors in the Liberty tax strategy, who include top businessmen, criminals, celebrities, QCs, NHS doctors, party donors and a judge can be exposed after a secret database of members was leaked to The Times by sources concerned at Liberty’s manipulation of Britain’s tax code.” – The Times (£)

  • “Taxpayers have forked out almost half a million pounds in legal fees to defend disgraced former Royal Bank of Scotland boss Fred Goodwin, it emerged last night.” – Daily Mail

And comment:

  • “Tax avoidance schemes can be legal and still wrong” – Times editorial (£)

Gove joins with other education ministers to call for reform

michael-gove“Today our countries, and every other developed nation, face a new challenge. New economic realities, and the accelerating pace of social and technological change, mean we must ensure all our citizens have what it takes to succeed in the future. … The only way to give our children greater economic security and individual opportunity is to reform our education systems with the same passion and commitment. What unites us is a simple vision, a shared moral mission: to give every child, whatever their background, a great education.” – Michael Gove, Nuno Crato and Lucía Figar, Daily Telegraph

  • “The failure of Britain’s school system is putting huge strain on society by forcing businesses to turn to millions of foreign workers to fill low-skilled jobs. … Too many school leavers lack even the most basic skills to ‘look people in the eye and get out of bed’, according to immigration experts. … They are also given little incentive to work by the benefits system, the government-appointed Migration Advisory Committee claimed.” – Daily Mail
  • “A muslim girls’ state school which recruits only female staff has been criticised by Ofsted inspectors for a lack of male influence on pupils.” – Daily Mail
  • “Good manners are as important as GCSE and A-level grades when it comes to teenagers forging a successful career, according to the editor of Tatler.” – Daily Telegraph

And further comment:

  • “Unless school standards improve — and soon — Brits are going to carry on losing jobs to immigrants for years to come.” – Sun editorial (£)

> Today:

> Yesterday: Robert Halfon MP on Comment – We must be the party of aspiration – but in new ways that voters will notice

Ministers urged to devolve more powers to England

“MPs have urged ministers to show the same enthusiasm for devolving fiscal and spending powers in England as they have in Scotland and Wales, to promote more balanced growth across the country. … Although English councils have been given more responsibility for spending and partial control over business rate revenues, they still have far less scope than the Scottish parliament or Welsh assembly, says a report by the communities and local government committee.” – Financial Times

McLoughlin announces tougher anti-terror checks…

McLOUGHLIN Patrick mouth“A dramatic escalation of airport anti-terror checks on electronic gadgets was announced by ministers last night. … Tests on mobile phones, laptops and tablets that had been limited to passengers flying to the US will now be massively expanded to cover destinations around the world. … Mr McLoughlin told the House of Commons that the new advice ‘is in line with that issued by the US, and we have updated our official advice to passengers accordingly’.” – Daily Mail

  • “The handling of two big train contracts by the Department for Transport sowed confusion in the industry and potentially missed out on better-value alternatives, according to a report from the National Audit Office.” – The Guardian
  • “Boris Johnson’s proposal to build an airport in the Thames estuary has received a setback after research showed its construction would cause widespread damage to conservation sites, adding up to £2bn to the final bill.” – Financial Times

…as the passport backlog grows

“Passport Office chief Paul Pugh told MPs this afternoon that the number of applications in the backlog had soared by 25,000 to 508,000 since June. … But Mr Pugh, appearing before the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, insisted his staff were getting on top of the problem. He added: ‘The Passport Office is not in chaos.'” – Daily Mail

Paterson’s diary-planning comes under question

PATERSON floods“The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson turned down the offer of a briefing on climate change from the Met Office’s chief scientist made in the run up to a series of landmark reports from the United Nations, The Independent has learnt. … Professor Dame Julia Slingo made the offer on 24 September – days before the release of the first report from the UN International Panel on Climate Change. Mr Paterson was later criticised for making what critics said was an ‘irresponsible and immoral’ analysis of the panel’s findings.” – The Independent

  • “Three-quarters of the UK’s flood defences are being inadequately maintained due to budget cuts, the government’s climate change advisers warned on Wednesday.” – The Guardian

Fears that women are being overlooked for Tory safe seats

Rosette shield“With candidates selected so far for 10 safe seats, the new batch of Tories replacing retiring grandees are predominantly white men, bound by a mistrust of Europe and an independent spirit. … Nusrat Ghani and Lucy Frazer are the only two women to have won one of the nine safe seats being vacated by men. … ‘When a solid, impressive man stands in front of them and looks like an MP, they forget their good intentions,’ sighs one senior Conservative woman involved in candidate coaching at Conservative Campaign Headquarters.” – Financial Times

  • “David Cameron’s team ignored civil service advice not to slim down the Number 10 machine when it came to power, the Institute for Government has suggested.” – Financial Times

Leadsom’s brother gives money to the Tories…

“An offshore financier who is the brother-in-law of financial services minister Andrea Leadsom has donated £816,000 to the Conservative party since she first successfully ran for parliament at the last election. … Peter de Putron, a banker who lives in Guernsey and is married to Leadsom’s sister Hayley, also made a further £1m of donations to a party-backed campaign and a rightwing thinktank. Leadsom herself said that she was unaware of the donations made by a member of her own family, but a Labour MP asked whether the payments in effect amounted to a ‘cash for political office’ arrangement.” – The Guardian

…but it’s not as much as the unions have given Ed…

Miliband Labour Left“Striking unions have poured tens of millions of pounds into Labour coffers since Ed Miliband became party leader, The Sun can reveal. … More than one million public sector workers are set to take part in the industrial action. … Among the unions involved are the Labour-supporting Unite, Unison and GMB. … Analysis of Electoral Commission figures shows that between them, they have donated a staggering £23.6million to Labour since Mr Miliband became leader in 2010.” – The Sun (£)

  • “A week after the Tories raised £160,000 by selling a game of tennis with David Cameron and Boris Johnson, the Labour party will on Wednesday be auctioning a five-a-side football match against the ‘shadow cabinet all-stars’.” – The Guardian
  • “Public sector workers are £2,245 worse off as a result of the coalition’s austerity policies, according to the Trades Union Congress.” – The Guardian

And comment:

  • “Strikes and state ownership – is this really Labour’s fresh vision?” – Dan Hodges, Daily Telegraph
  • “Public sector bonuses are as bad as MPs’ expenses” – Ross Clark, The Times (£)

> Today: ToryDiary – What voters want: A Labour Government… headed by Cameron

> Yesterday: ToryDiary – Maude is right to take on striking militants – now he must woo Tory trade unionists

…as donations also pour into the Better Together campaign

“Billionaire bankers, property companies and Conservative party supporters have led a deluge of donations to Scotland’s anti-independence campaign in the past six months, giving it a big boost with just 10 weeks to go until the vote. … Figures published by the Electoral Commission on Tuesday show Better Together collected £2.4m between December 18 last year and June 26. They say they also received a further £1.6m in smaller donations of less than £7,500 each, which do not have to be registered with the commission.” – Financial Times

  • “Military shipbuilding in Scotland would be ‘finished’ if the country goes independent, MPs were warned on Tuesday as union officials criticised the SNP’s promises over the referendum.” – Daily Telegraph

And comment:

  • “Business should be heard on Scotland” – Financial Times editorial

Cable backs away from science deals

CABLE Vince Royal Mail sell-off“The business secretary had let it be known in May – as AstraZeneca resisted a takeover bid from US rival Pfizer – that he was sympathetic to extending a public interest test to an industry considered strategically important. … But on Tuesday Mr Cable explained why doing so may be neither desirable nor practical, given it would need EU approval and could leave companies open to ‘capricious activity by ministers’.” – Financial Times

There no such thing as Google’s “right to be forgotten”, claims Hughes

“There is no such thing as a ‘right to be forgotten’ and people should not be able to remove material from the Internet just because it is inconvenient, a minister is expected to say on Wednesday. … Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat justice minister, will tell peers that people do not have an ‘unfettered’ right to ask companies like Google to remove links to sites that contain information about them.” – Daily Telegraph

Labour discusses its housebuilding plans

“Local councils will be judged not just by the amount of land they make available for development, but also by how much of that land is built on, the chair of the Labour review into the future of housebuilding told the Local Government Association conference on Tuesday. Sir Michael Lyons has been given the task of drawing up a plan for ensuring 200,000 homes a year are built by 2020. … His remarks suggest the National Planning Inspectorate will, if anything, have a bigger role in ensuring houses get built.” – The Guardian

Harman: Brown sidelined me because I’m a woman

BROWN Scotland“Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman will tonight claim Gordon Brown sidelined her because she is a woman. … In a speech on sexism in Westminster she will claim that a man would not have ‘put up’ with being overlooked for deputy prime minister after she won the battle to be Labour’s number two in 2007. … She will also reveal how Mr Brown relegated her to a dinner for leaders’ wives at a major summit. … But the claims were immediately dismissed as ‘utter bilge’ by Mr Brown’s former spin doctor Damian McBride, who suggested the Labour deputy leader was ‘useless’.” – Daily Mail

  • “Mr Clegg’s oppo’ is Harriet Harman and she only entered the fray yesterday during the Topical Questions section near the end. Miss Harman is another politician who could do with a tickle under the armpits.” – Quentin Letts, Daily Mail

Welsh Labour minister sacked

“Sacked Welsh Cabinet Minister Alun Davies has apologised and pledged to continue to work with the First Minister and the Welsh Labour Government. … The former environment minister also said sorry to his civil servants, whom he says he ‘placed in a very difficult situation’. … The former environment minister was yesterday dramatically sacked from the Welsh Government Cabinet after it emerged he had emailed officials looking for financial information on farming subsidies received by his opponents.” – WalesOnline

> Today: Henry Hill’s column – Henry Hill: Welsh minister Davies sacked for abuse of power

Farage reckons MPs should be paid £100,000 (if they stand up to Europe)

Nigel Farage“MPs should receive a pay increase of up to 50 per cent if Britain leaves the EU, Nigel Farage has said. In an intervention that risks re-igniting anger at Commons pay, the Ukip leader said MPs in a more powerful Westminster should be paid up to £100,000 a year. … Mr Farage, who is poised to fight a seat in Kent at the general election next May, said that such an increase would put MPs, who currently earn £67,000 a year, on a par with head teachers.” – The Times (£)

NHS chief announces an extension of personal budgets

“Billions of pounds of health service and town hall budgets are to be handed over to the most vulnerable patients to purchase health and social care services in the community, in a dramatic change of policy being unveiled by the NHS’s new boss. … Frail elderly people, disabled children and those with serious mental illness or learning disabilities will from next April be offered individual pots of money to spend as they see fit on health and social care services such as carers, physiotherapists and psychotherapy sessions, in an attempt, in part, to keep them out of hospital.” – The Guardian

  • “The number of frail elderly and disabled people in England receiving care has slumped by almost 30 per cent since the financial crisis despite greater need than ever, NHS figures show.” – Daily Telegraph

Air-raid sirens sound across Israel, as tanks are moved towards Gaza

Israel flag“Air raid sirens were sounded across Israel last night as the country’s armed forces stepped up their offensive in the Gaza Strip. A series of explosions hit Jerusalem as apparent rocket attacks were carried out by Hamas which has seen its territory in Gaza pounded by airstrikes throughout the day. … [Israel’s] military have called the massive display of force in the air Operation Protective Edge, and are calling up reservists for a potential land invasion of parts of the Gaza Strip, a senior officer said. Up to 40,000 would be called into active duty, while tanks are being moved to the border with Gaza.” – Daily Mail

  • “Britain’s intelligence and security agencies are facing claims that they were complicit in the brutal torture of a British man secretly detained in an African prison.” – The Independent
  • “Britain oversaw the sale of chemicals to Syria that were eventually used in the manufacture of the deadly nerve agent sarin, it has been reported.” – The Independent

And comment:

  • “Israel must avoid stoking the fires of fanaticism” – Daily Telegraph editorial
  • “The dangers of another intifada” – Financial Times editorial
  • “One Afghan spat the West could do without” – Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph
  • “‘Washing our hands’ is not a foreign policy” – Roger Boyes, The Times (£)

> Yesterday: Garvan Walshe’s column – Are Israel’s Jacobins an acute threat to their country’s survival?

News in brief

  • Afghan presidential candidate hints at parallel government – The Guardian
  • Iran needs greater uranium enrichment capacity, says Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – The Guardian
  • Pubs lowering strength of house wine to help tackle binge drinking – The Sun (£)
  • Germany beat Brazil 7-1 in World Cup semi-final – The Sun (£)

And finally 1) Short shrift for Bercow

John Bercow“In rural Japan, crowds at a market swooshed apart while I glided solo through the space in between, like a visiting alien dignitary. I was handed food and beer, and people had their photographs taken beside me. It was flattering, but also exhausting: ideally, when on holiday, you don’t want to end up becoming a tourist attraction. In short, Mr Bercow, it’s a short person’s world. We tall folks are just stooping through it.” – Robbie Collin, Daily Telegraph

And finally 2) “I see no political future for him” – Asquith’s wife on Churchill’s prospects

“Winston has finally departed [he resigned as First Lord of the Admiralty after the disastrous Gallipoli campaign]. I see no political future for him. I would almost say I see death on the battlefield.” – Margot Asquith’s diaries, quoted in the Daily Mail

3 comments for: Newslinks for Wednesday 9th July 2014

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