Conservative AM criticised by judge for inappropriate suit

Mohammed Asghar, a Conservative member of the Welsh Assembly, has been criticised by a judge after the collapse of a libel case he brought against three members of the Pakistani Muslim community in South Wales.

Wales Online reports that Asghar faces legal bills amounting to tens of thousands of pounds after costs were awarded against him.

The case pertained to what he claimed were defamatory statements against him, which were printed on leaflets distributed at a public meeting in Newport. These claimed that Asghar was involved in corruption and criminal activity.

The South Wales East AM and a friend in fact won £45,000 from a one of the defendants in April. However the judge claimed that there wasn’t any evidence that the other three men being sued had been involved in publishing the material.

Northern Irish anger as unions back Corbyn

The News Letter reports anger at the decision of three of Northern Ireland’s biggest trade unions to support Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for the leadership of the Labour Party.

The far-left challenger, who will be addressing the West Belfast Festival today, hosted convicted IRA bombers in Westminster weeks after the Brighton attack and observed a minute’s silence for eight slain terrorists in 1987.

The local branches of unions like Unite, which include members of local political parties such as the Ulster Unionists, are not bound by the decisions of their national executives.

Local figures have criticised the Islington MP for favouring the hard-line republican stance of Sinn Fein over more moderate local left-wing voices, such as the SDLP or Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Police Scotland accused of spying on journalists

Police Scotland, the unified force created by the SNP administration from Scotland’s previous regional forces, has come under pressure over allegations that it has illegally spied on journalists.

The Daily Herald relates that a report by the Interception of Communications Commissioner Office (ICCO) – a watchdog which monitors use of the Regulatory of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) – claims two of Britain’s police forces have breached a new code of conduct, introduced in March, which banned monitoring journalists without judicial approval.

Despite attacks by the unionist parties neither Police Scotland nor the Scottish Government have denied that the force is one referred to by the ICCO.

Indeed, according to the Guardian the SNP discovered a sudden respect for the authority of Westminster, with a spokeswoman claiming that the matter was a reserved issue.

Police Scotland is no stranger to controversy, and has previously come under attack for a drive towards the routine arming of officers.

Devolved governments join forces in fight over BBC

Ministers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have banded together to demand an ‘equal voice’ on the future of the BBC, according to Wales Online.

Ken Skates, the deputy minister for culture, sport and tourism in Cardiff’s Labour administration, claims that the future of broadcasting in Wales is not in “serious jeopardy”.

Ministers from Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast reportedly met in Glasgow to discuss the defence of their “shared interests”.

Meanwhile Plaid Cymru, the nationalist party, have expressed concerns over S4C, a Welsh-language TV channel. It faces substantial budget cuts which they claim put hundreds of jobs at risk, although the channel has frequently had to fight off concerns over low viewership.

On Monday Carwyn Jones, the First Minister and a man ever ready to play the nationalist card, accused the Government of not caring about Welsh broadcasting.

Dairy farmers revolt in Ulster and Scotland

More than two hundred dairy farmers have protested in the grounds of the Northern Ireland Assembly during a mounting crisis over the state of their industry.

The News Letter reports that representatives from the milk producers and Ulster’s five biggest banks will hold a summit, organised by the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) to try to “stave off disaster”.

The root of the problem is that many dairy farms are reportedly losing up to £900 a week, with the low cost of milk meaning it costs more to produce than it recoups to the farmer.

Last week farmers blockaded shops in County Londonderry and cleared milk from the shelves of an Asda in Tyrone.

Meanwhile similar protests have occurred across the water, both in Kilmarnock and Ayr in Scotland and in the South West.

SNP members quitting over lack of separatist fervour

It seems hard to believe, but Buzzfeed brings word that people are resigning their membership of the Scottish National Party over its soft-hearted stance on independence.

Whilst most unionists see Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister, as angling quite openly for a second shot at the prize, most commentators agree that she is unlikely to seek battle before circumstances have changed sufficiently from last autumn’s ten-point defeat that she thinks this can win.

This is not enough for some purists, who have been posting pictures of their shredded membership cards on Twitter.

Some also seem to fear that the huge Nationalist delegation at Westminster will draw their party, supposed to be radical outsiders, into the British establishment.