A bearded man of avuncular appearance had started early in replying to e-mails on the 17th July 2003. He was in the office of his pretty cottage, with the scent of roses telling of an English summer. The little village of Southmoor was stirring. He was to send over 80 via one of five hard drives and mostly in reply. Some would be encrypted because he was writing to friends and colleagues who like him shared secrets in the field of “WMDs”. And some would be human and ordinary as from a father of three daughters. He had delighted in seeing a new born foal and arranged to take his daughter Rachel down the village that Thursday evening to see young life together.
Many of the e-mails in his inbox were from friends expressing sympathy for his having been put through the mangle of the state machine; his responses were hopeful. In one he spoke of arrangements having been made for his return to Iraq in 8 days; he was looking forward to that. This man from the Welsh Valleys graduated with his DSc in microbiology from Linacre College, Oxford in 1971. He joined the Civil Service in 1984 and was acting head of the Porton Down ‘Defence’ Microbiology Division for 10 years. These functions on Salisbury Plain widened (1)
In 1989, he was involved in investigations into the Soviet violations of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and was a key member of the inspection team visiting the former USSR between 1991 and 1994. He was much valued as an interrogator and sought after round the world for his deep knowledge and sharp intelligence.
He was a member of the UNSCOM team finding and disabling germ and chemical weapons in Iraq. He would have seen the irony that almost all of these had been supplied to Iraq by western nations, including an anthrax strain that was originally cultured from a cow in Oxfordshire before WW2 (2). He visited 37 times between 1991 and 1998, when the team was pulled out before the bombing campaign of Operation Desert Fox. (3) He must have known that UNSCOM was also a cover for spying; the coordinates of defence systems and much else were being recorded for the later destruction of Babylon.
‘The same mission folders that UNSCOM put together to inspect specific buildings and offices in its search for concealed Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) became the basis for the targeting folders that missile launchers and pilots used in December (Desert Fox).‘ William Arkin (4)
Was he aware too during those years of the terrible suffering and the death toll of children arising from ‘sanctions’ due to foul drinking water, lack of food and medicines? This most keen observer and family man would surely have got to know.
He had the highest level of security clearance from the SIS of the US and the UK but he was not on the payroll of MI6, it is said. He was attached to the Proliferation and Arms Control Secretariat of the Ministry of Defence whilst the Foreign and Commonwealth Office paid him. His base remained the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down. He translated ‘intelligence’ into the language of science and was required to explain scientific matters within his ambit for the media when asked.
He was an important part of the complex and clandestine mechanism which was lighting slow fuses for the demolition of Iraq and for the prime benefit of an entity just two borders away. The hunt for “WMDs” in the land of the two rivers had a hollow ring given the three nearest countries – ‘Israel’, Pakistan and India have not had their nuclear weapons inspected by the IAEA. As for germ weapons (5), of the 16 non-signatory states ‘Israel’ is one and ‘No action is expected in near future.’
US, UK and UN hypocrisies flourished in the sun. UNSCOM begat UNMOVIC and UNMOVIC begat IRG. How was it this sober scientist was involved with this sham? Saddam’s Iraq had been supported in its war with Iran and April Glaspie the US Ambassador to Iraq had later passed him the green light to invade Kuwait. The litany of black lies was long and blood soaked. The ‘turkey shoot’ as Iraqi soldiers and civilians streamed back from Kuwait under white flags ended with live burial for hundreds by US army bulldozers(6). In Baghdad, the charred remains of over 400 women and children in the Amiriya bomb shelter were testament to Allied and UN evil.(7&8) And were not the two laser guided bombs WMDs?
The context in which Dr Kelly did his duty for the UN and the UK has been outlined. The intelligence for targeting, bridgeheads etc was in place. The paramount war criminal and psychopath, Anthony Blair, conspired with Bush in April 2002 at Crawford over blood oozing steaks to tear into Iraq. The black propaganda machine changed gear. A succession of signatories of The Project for the New American Century began appearing nightly, courtesy of the State Broadcaster, the BBC. We could soon tell Wolfowitz from Bolton, and Perle from Bolton. Mangold tried to scare the pants off vulnerable members of the UK public in September 2002 with sarin in the Tokyo tube and with all the focus on the rogue regime. The Sun carried the headline “Brits 45mins from doom” to its 6 million readers. The prescription of Oded Yinon from the ‘Israeli’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs was being followed to the letter (9). “Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria.”
And so it was, that against majority opinion in the UK and the truth, a massive invasion and bombardment started 22nd March 2003. It had been planned since 1988. (10) A sceptical British public became more certain that the hell had been conjured up and brought to earth. On May 29 the author heard Andrew Gilligan at 6.20 am on the premier propaganda programme, the BBC’s Today, say that a source had told him the ‘September’ dossier had been enhanced. (There was probably no mention of the ‘Iraq Dossier’ of 3rd February which within 3 days was shown by Rangwala to be fake throughout. (11) ) The hunt started slowly, but soon the ‘government’ hounds were in full cry. Hoon and Campbell were out in front. Journalists were encouraged to call the MoD and to state the name of a suspect. Given that experts in the field were few, David Kelly’s identity as a possible source soon emerged. This act of treachery was wrong on two counts. Firstly the confidentiality of the names of public servants in charges of this sort is usually maintained. Secondly, anybody with his ‘security’ attachments should have had his identity concealed both for his sake and for the operational integrity of the establishments. The furore flowing from the ‘outing’ was fierce. The quarry felt the heat of slavering hounds about his neck.
He was called, improperly given his post, before the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons on the 15th, two days before he ‘walked’. The BBC film of an anxious man wheeling quickly into the elaborate building with his minders was played numerous times and perhaps to reinforce a picture of a man at the end of his tether. Later, at the Hutton Inquiry, it was reported this committee had concluded he was not Gilligan’s source. He was interrogated by the Intelligence and Security Committee the next day. The transcript (12) conveys a picture of a composed and honest man. There is evidence of self-delusion however:-
Howarth How did you arrive at your figure of 30% probability? It is appears to have a kind of exactitude, or is it meant to be merely illustrative?
Kelly Its illustrative, as an estimate
Howarth Illustrating a lot,a little?
Kelly Its verging to a little rather than to a lot
Mates Two to one against!
Dr Kelly had defined earlier in the hearing that he believed there was a 30% chance of ANY weapon containing biological or chemical agents. He does not appear to have revised his assessment when no such weapons were used by the Iraqi forces even though they were faced with total defeat.
Reference was made at this hearing to a letter from Hoon, the Minister of War . “…..in that normally it was Secretaries of State and heads of sections that came to give evidence and that it should not be taken as a precedent for calling in any junior official within that department.” Efforts were made to demean Dr Kelly but the evidence suggests he remained robust even though he was not used to such treatment in his very senior position.
David Kelly completed his correspondence on this the 17th of July, which included a report to the FCO, and changed from track suit into jeans and a shirt ready for a customary walk. He was described later by his wife Janice as being exhausted and shrunken within himself. She suffered from arthritis and had gone up stairs to rest on the bed. She heard him take a telephone call at about 3 pm (from Wing Commander Clarke at the MoD) and he then left for a walk. The W/Co ‘phoned again at 3.20 pm but he was away by then so Mrs Kelly answered. The W/Co ‘phoned every 15 minutes because Dr Kelly always had his cell phone with him and was always easy to contact. An ‘electronic’ voice said ‘the number you have rung is not reacting’, which is the normal one that one would expect if the telephone itself had been switched off. The number when dialled before 6 by James Harrison of the same office rang but there was no answer.
When he did not return the family were alerted. According to reports in the Guardian and Scotsman a lay search party was formed later that day, but no member was called to the inquiry (13&14). A Mrs Susan Melling was quoted. In these reports, a farmer Weaver (sic) – in fact Weaving, hailed Dr Kelly who was reported to be dressed in jeans and a shirt. Weaving might have been the last person to see Dr Kelly alive.(15) The importance of that in an inquiry into an unnatural death is obvious but he was not called either.
The family informed the police at 23.40 hours that he was missing, about 9 hours after he had left the house, and this in spite of the maelstrom swirling around the man and the very secret nature of his morbid work. The roses freshened in the night air and down the road the foal was nuzzling the mare.
David Halpin is a retired orthopaedic and trauma surgeon. He vehemently opposed the destruction of a sovereign Iraq and its people. The manner in which the investigation of this unnatural death was done and the principles of those who conducted it, will be examined in articles written by several authors which will appear twice per week in Global Research. Thus people will read what we perceive to be the truth and it will be a permanent record. We contend, on very good evidence, that due process has been subverted. We have been pleading for an inquest for 10 years and we will continue to do so as informed citizens who believe our law should rule supreme. ‘ Where ever the law ends, tyranny begins.’ John Locke 1675.
(13) http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2003/jul/19/uk.iraq4 Guardian 19 July 2003
(14) http://news.scotsman.com/huttoninquiry/Kelly-told-wife-this-wasnt.2445113.jp Scotsman 19 July 2003
SOLDIERS who failed to meet Afghan death targets are to be sacked.
Apaches are for closers
The Ministry of Defence said the armed forces will offer taxpayers better value for money if resources are focused solely on those troops who are consistently good at killing people. A spokesman said: “There is no point in buying someone a brand new gun if they keep missing. “And you would not believe the cost of an Apache helicopter. You can’t just hand them out to anyone who’s not related to the Queen.” The MoD is to introduce a commission-based pay structure with new recruits receiving no basic salary but 40% of the value of each dead Afghan. The spokesman added: “The platoon commander will also receive commission for each brown person killed by one of his troops, with the formula being continued all the way up the chain of command. In a good year a brigadier general could take home the best part of £1.5m.” “These days it’s all about ‘ABC’, Always Be Closing…. Afghans. “My watch cost more than your car.” Corporal Roy Hobbs said: “I had a good month in April. Booked six grand worth of Afghans and came top of my section. They gave me two free tickets to the snooker.” But former soldier Nathan Muir added: “I could have closed about 20 Afghans last month but the leads were shit. You get told to close someone but then it turns out they’re fucking miles away. “It’s all politics.” via Redundancy for soldiers who didn’t kill anyone.
Editors were asked not to publish information that may “jeopardise both national security and possibly UK personnel” in the warning issued on 7 June, a day after the Guardian first revealed details of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) secret Prism programme.
The D notice, which was marked “private and confidential: not for publication, broadcast or use on social media”, was made public on the Westminster gossip blog, Guido Fawkes. Although only advisory for editors, the self-censorship system is intended to prevent the media from making “inadvertent public disclosure of information that would compromise UK military and intelligence operations and methods”.
The warning was issued by defence officials in the UK as the BBC, ITN, Sky News and other newspapers and broadcasters around the world covered the surveillance revelations disclosed by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The leaks, reported extensively in the Guardian and also the Washington Post, have made headlines on both sides of the Atlantic for more than a week.
However, it is not clear what impact the warning has had on media coverage of Snowden’s revelations relating to British intelligence
Amongst the posts on Chris Nosworthy’s Facebook page were details of an afternoon stroll through the park, a happy birthday message to a man called Nigel and a YouTube video of a dog walking on its back legs.
Mr Nosworthy defended the contents of his Facebook page and strongly refuted claims the he is ‘non-racist’.
“My friends, family and the people who know me will tell you I’m a total racist,” he insisted.
“I’m also pretty sure that dinosaurs were wiped out by Jews,” he added.
UKIP Facebook page
A UKIP spokesperson revealed that a full investigation would be carried out and action would be taken “if necessary”.
“It might just be that Chris has been a bit naïve and made an error of judgement.
“We also shouldn’t rule out the possibility that his account was hacked by leftist flag-burning gays from the BBC.
“He’s already been for a precautionary AIDS test.”
This interview with Tariq Ali was conducted by Die Presse in Vienna and appears in German in the paper’s Sunday edition.
What is Mrs Thatcher’s legacy?
Her legacy is clearly visible in the state of Britain today. It is essentially a story of decay and ruin: A small, post-imperial vassal state dependent on nostalgia and, more importantly, the United States to keep itself afloat. On the economy the Thatcherite model (astonishingly, still being praised by blind politicians in denial) was effectively the deindustrialization of the country, the purchase of working-class votes by squandering the monies that accrued from North sea oil and laying the foundations for a financialised economic model that exploded with the Wall Street crash of 2008. We live in a world where it is convenient to personalize politics. Thatcher obviously pushed through the measures required by capitalism with a raw and ruthless energy that was her very own. She was a great believer in appealing to the lowest common denominator, to the animal instincts that remain present in the psychological make-up of individuals regardless of their social origins. Another politician could have done exactly the same things as she did using a less charged rhetoric. A number of old Conservatives were not shy in stating that their party had been taken over by English ‘poujadistes.’ She almost came a cropper. Had the Falklands war gone differently which it might have done if Pinochet’s dictatorship (pushed by Washington) had not backed Britain.
She outmaneuvered the once powerful Mineworker’s Union, forcing it to call a strike on her terms and then destroyed the union and in the process broke the back of a once powerful British labor movement. She had referred to the striking miners as the ‘enemy within’. Even as she neutered the unions, she effectively destroyed the old Labour Party. Thatcher’s favorite Chancellor of the Exchequer and cabinet colleague, Nigel Lawson, while reviewing a book in the Financial Times noted admiringly that the tragedy for the Tories was that Thatcher’s real heir was Leader of the Opposition. Blair’s policies were little more than a continuation of her policies with better PR and an aggressive control of the media. Blair was less lucky with his wars. Iraq finished him off. He was exposed as a simple and straightforward liar. The Scottish writer, Tom Nairn, was accurate in his assessment: “Like other flotsam on the ‘no-alternative’ wave of the nineties, they think that the essence of ‘modernization’ is adjusting society to fit economic and technological advances. Which means serving such changes, via a machinery of collusion between government public relations, a compliant legal system and a servile press.’
With Murdoch dominating the press agenda thanks to Thatcher’s ‘generosity’, she sent her tank commanders to fire a few warning shots at the BBC. A reliable and appropriately named toady, Marmaduke Hussey, was catapulted on to the BBC board as chairman. His first task was to sack director general Alasdair Milne for “leftwing bias” and ‘not being one of us.’ Thatcher was livid that the BBC had permitted her to be grilled on the Falklands war on a live programme by an ordinary woman viewer from Bristol who successfully demolished the prime minister’s arguments. Hussey appointed a pliable Director-General in the shape of John Birt, a dalek without instincts or qualities, who transformed the BBC into the top-heavy managerial monster that it has become. When New Labour won, a New BBC was already in place. Blair and his spin doctors Campbell and Mandelson turned out to be even worse control freaks than Thatcher. Together with their subordinates, they regularly harassed producers complaining about what they perceived to be anti-government bias. Radio 4′s Today programme became a favourite Blairite target. Simultaneously they were crawling to Murdoch at regular intervals, hobnobbing regularly with the editors and staff of the Sun and happily inhaling the stench of the Murdoch stables.
What do you consider her biggest achievement?
I can’t think of any, but the English establishment would see the destruction of union power and the opposition party (Blair and his coterie Thatcherised the Labour Party as is obvious to this day) as an prerequisite to the privatization and marketisation of the country, with private money enable to enter the hitherto hallowed domains of the public sector. This was their finest hour and just look at Britain today. The film-maker Ken Loach has suggested that her funeral should be privatised too and the highest corporate bid should take charge. Or, one could add, it could be sponsored by several firms with logos proudly displayed on the coffin.
What do you consider her biggest mistake?
Everything from neo-liberalism to wars. From her point of view she was supremely successful. Her legacy lives on, thanks to Blair and Brown, except insofar that she was a xenophobe and a racist as the Australian foreign minister reminded us this week. She told him don’t let Sydney become like Fiji. He was shocked since his Malaysian wife was standing next to him. Thatcher in her election campaigns used the phrase that she feared how ‘Britain was being swamped by immigrants’. This was when 2 percent of the population was non-white! Blair and Brown preached a bland multi-culturalism. But Cameron and Miliband have started off on immigration once again.
She proved to be as divisive in death as she had been in life. Has she permanently split British society in “haves” and “have-nots”, in winners and losers, in “wets” and “dries”, in “one of us” and “not one of us”?
She did not do so as an individual. A new course for British capitalism had already been agreed to by her party under Edward Heath. She implemented it and those who followed her went even further. British society is extremely divided but there is no reflection of this in the House of Commons. All three parties constitute the extreme-centre. The democratic process is under great strain and all over Europe and North America.
How do you view the street parties celebrating her passing away?
Inevitable, but also a sign of despair. Had she been defeated politically and her legacy reversed her death might have been ignored. But I always disliked the misogynism by sections of the left. ‘The Bitch is Dead’ makes one cringe.
Is the Britain we live in today “her” country in the sense that it is still shaped by her influence and legacy, and in the sense that she would recognise it as a country developing in a way and direction she would approve of?
Without any doubt, apart from Scotland. The Scots never voted for her, but whether they will have the courage to break from her successors and come out for an independent Scotland remains to be seen. I hope they do. It will shake up politics and open a new space in England as well.
Who is her true heir? Was it New Labour? Cameron’s Tories? UKIP?
Blair, Brown and Cameron make no secret of their admiration for her and her policies. If he’s in form, Blair might manage a few tears at the state funeral she is to be given next week. They’ll turn to millstones as they fall. I hope, second-rate actor that he is, he does. It will be very diverting.
What lessons can be drawn from her reign?
The 19th century poet, Shelley, expressed well what needs to be done. Then , as now, the country is without a serious opposition.
Children of a wiser day;
Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many, they are few.
Enoch Powell famously said that “all political careers end in failure”. Is this also true for Mrs Thatcher? How will she be remembered?
I always regretted that her career ended via a putsch within her own party. She was seen by some as a martyr. It would have been far better for the country had she been defeated by the electorate, but her personal humiliation should not be confused with her political successes on behalf of the class that she represented. They, and those in their thrall, will always remember her with affection. And her opponents should heed Spinoza’s words: ‘Don’t laugh or cry, but understand.’
Tariq Ali is the author of The Obama Syndrome (Verso).
A COMPROMISE has been reached to help Britain solve its Ding Dong the Witch is Dead problem.(THATCHER)
A spokesman said: “The composers of ‘Ding Dong’ intended it to be triumphalist and optimistic. A witch was dead. A wicked witch.
“But while Margaret Thatcher left a divisive legacy, there is no evidence the Wicked Witch of the East took what she felt were the necessary though difficult steps to liberalise the Oz economy.
“She was just horrible and the Munchkins were right to dance around in the way they did.”
He added: “In order to reflect the true nature of Britain’s relationship with Lady Thatcher, a Leonard Cohen version would reflect great joy while at the same time being utterly depressing.
The corporation said it could also offer a double speed version that would make Cohen sound like an old, wise Munchkin. Like the mayor, or the one with the glasses.
Thatcher opponents have driven the song ‘Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead’ to the top of Britain’s pop charts. Was the ‘retaliatory’ promotion of a 1979 punk song fanned by fans – or a good capitalist moment?
Two songs are battling to the top of the British music charts in memory of Margret Thatcher. One is, her supporters say, in bad taste, but the one adopted by fans of the late Conservative prime minister isn’t quite what it seems, either.
Opponents of Thatcher have campaigned successfully to have “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead”, a song from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” composed by Harold Arlen and Yip Harburg, to reach the top spot Britain’s official charts.
The response from Conservative Party supporters was swift, with newspapers including The Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph demanding that the BBC refuse to play the song. The BBC has said it will play a five-second clip of the song along with a news item explaining why during its official chart rundown on Radio One, Sunday.
RECOMMENDED: Keep calm and answer on: Take our United Kingdom quiz.
Equally irritated, though less outraged, Tories had another plan: counter Ding Dong with a song of their own. They chose the little-known 1979 punk number “I’m in Love with Margaret Thatcher” by the Notsensibles.
The British press loved it — and why not? It’s a good story, in a silly sort of way: a bit of political argy-bargy in a fun and digestible package.
The media didn’t exactly work hard to uncover the truth of the story, such as it is. A phone call to the band’s former frontman, Michael Hargreaves, was all it took to discover that the campaign predated the Tories’ adoption of it.
Hargreaves himself started the campaign with a Facebook page on Wednesday that soon garnered 8,000 likes. Surprisingly, though, by Friday it had been adopted by Conservative Party supporters as a counter to “Ding Dong.” Facebook, Twitter and Tory blogs lit-up with requests that people buy the song in order to keep the anti-Thatcher song from reaching the top spot in the hit parade.
Would Maggie be proud?
In some press interviews, Hargreaves has implied, rather unconvincingly, that he is a supporter of Mrs. Thatcher. But if the song is a hit, the royalty checks may represent some private enterprise Margaret Thatcher would approve of.
Hargreaves, an ex-punk rocker who now works with adults with learning disabilities, is an unlikely figure for adoption by Conservative Party members, though he did say “Ding Dong” was disrespectful. (Read a in-depth profile of Margaret Thatcher here.)
“My grandfather was [both] a Christian and a communist. I’m a fat, 50-year-old punk. You make your mind up about my political sensibilities,” he says.
Hargreaves, who is due to perform with his old band on BBC television news in Manchester on Monday, says he doesn’t really mind how high the song charts in the end, but that the experience has been fun. “We dunked a pebble in the lake and there seems to be a few ripples.”
Eighty-five seconds of the song were previously featured in the 2011 biopic movie “The Iron Lady,” starring Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher.
“I find it hilarious that Tories have adopted it,” he says. “The song is a sort-of tribute and sort-of not.”
Researchers from the University of Nottingham in the U.K. say their test looks for a combination of markers in the blood that wave red flags for the neurodegenerative illness. These flags include amyloids, the misfolded proteins that can accumulate in plaques in the brain; apolipoprotein E, or ApoE, a variant of which is linked to Alzheimer’s; and other proteins linked to inflammation.
“Our findings are exciting because they show that it is technically possible to distinguish between healthy people and those with Alzheimer’s using a blood test,” University of Nottingham professor Kevin Morgan told the BBC. “As blood tests are a fast and easy way of aiding diagnosis, we are really encouraged by these findings and the potential they hold for the future.”
But don’t hold your breath: it could be 10 years or more before the test is available to patients.
When the test does become available, it could be used to screen people for the disease long before symptoms appear.
“The way we see it working is you can test people and it will tell them if they have the all-clear, or if they are medium- or high-risk,” Morgan told the BBC. “If they are medium-risk, they can be monitored closely and high-risk patients can be referred to a specialist for more in-depth testing.”
Meanwhile, a cure for Alzheimer’s is still a long way off.
“We’ve had a lot of failures in Alzheimer’s drugs. But you learn from them,” Guy Eakin, vice president of scientific affairs at the American Health Assistance Foundation, said last May.
In May 2012, federal officials announced the start of the first clinical trial of a drug aimed at actually preventing – not just treating or curing — Alzheimer’s disease.
The trial – a $100 million collaboration between the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Arizona-based Banner Alzheimer’s Institute, drug giant Genentech and the University of Antioquia in Colombia between — approaches the disease from an unusual angle. Instead of testing drugs on patients with full-blown dementia, the trial focuses on around 300 people in the U.S. and Colombia that carry a genetic mutation that usually triggers Alzheimer’s symptoms around age 45. Most of the study subjects are from a single large extended family.
Prevention efforts for Alzheimer’s focus on a mutation that affects the gene PSEN1, which is involved in the production amyloid protein. Clumps of beta amyloid proteins, known as plaques, and smaller aggregations of amyloid known as ‘ligomers’ are thought to play a key role in Alzheimer’s disease when they build up in the brain.
Crenezumab, the drug being tested, is an antibody that binds to beta amyloid and helps clear out those excessive deposits.
“The big question of course is who knew about the trade in Irish horses on false passports, and when” BBC Spotlight on the horse meat scandal broadcast 5th March 2013
On 5th March 2013, the BBC in Northern Ireland broadcast a Spotlight special on the horse meat scandal in which the horse meat trade in (the Republic of) Ireland was scrutinized. You can watch the 40-minute special in three parts on YouTube here(see below). This edition of Spotlight reminded me of the special last year on the Sean Quinn international property dealings – crisp, information-rich, simply and engagingly presented; it is the best TV coverage so far on the horse meat scandal in the (Republic of) Ireland that I have seen.
The programme reported that 24,637 horses had been slaughtered in Ireland in 2012, and that this was far more than in the 9,405 in the entire UK. It reported the mark-ups, that traders were buying a lorryload of horses for GBP 1,000 and selling it for GBP 5,000.
“In the Republic, we also know of one approach to the Department of Agriculture which had hard evidence of wrong-doing, in fact that approach was made by our insider” BBC Spotlight
It also uncovered allegations that our own Department of Agriculture had been told about concerns about Irish horses with false passports, and the “insider” on which the programme relied, alleged he was told by the Department to “let the mess clean itself up”, presumably meaning that eventually the supply of horses would dry up, and meanwhile no-one would be any the wiser having already consumed horse meat. A separate Irish whistleblower had written to the UK authorities last year with allegations about false passports and Ossory Meats, and the UK authorities say that it is standard practice for such allegations to be shared with the Irish authorities.
The programme uncovered evidence of passports being switched, with a risk being that medicine-contaminated or unhealthy horses were being presented at slaughterhouses with bogus passports, as if they were fit for human consumption. Ossory Meats in Banagher, county Offaly threatened a Midlands horse sanctuary with libel proceedings for suggesting that a horse was switched by their company for one which is still alive today.
Jennifer O’Leary who presented the special, reported that our own agriculture minister, Simon Coveney was contacted for comment, as was his Department, but none was forthcoming with the Minister too busy and his Department unable to comment on ongoing investigations. The Department did claim that it was not informed about the second whistleblowing about Ossory Meats to the UK authorities.
The programme reported that in the instance of their informer, it was four years ago that the horse meat scandal started. That criminals were forging passports and inserting microchips on an “industrial scale”. PhenylButazone or “Bute” and another steroid Cortizone were routinely given to the horses.
How did the BBC verify the claims? They visited a site where the insider said horses died if they were too sick for export or transports, the BBC found horse remains. The Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reporting that one horsetrader named by the insider had been found with 40 forged Irish horse transports and box of microchips. One horsetrader, against whom the insider made allegations, was arrested transporting horses and also cannabis.
In the Dail this week, the Sinn Fein finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty asked Minister Coveney about the programme, and the parliamentary questions are shown below. Yesterday, the Department published a report in which it said that it was two months ago, 14th January 2013 that it learned of the horse DNA scandal. The press release is here and the report is here.
So, on the face of it, we have a scandal that is at least four years old, we have criminals making huge sums of money from the trade in horses on false passports, with chipping and false passports used on an “industrial scale”, we have the horses routinely provided with bute and Cortizone and evidence of passport switching. We have allegations that the Department of Agriculture knew about the issues some time ago, but the Department refuses to comment. According to the Department of Agriculture report yesterday “On Friday 8 th March, the Department carried out identification checks on horses presented for slaughter at Ossory Meats. In respect of the horses presented, 25 of them had irregularities, these irregularities related to passport and microchip identifiers. In some cases, while the microchip in the equine matched the passport, the marking on the horse and the passports were very different. In other cases horses presented as yearlings were in fact much older. These animals were humanely slaughtered and destroyed. The company has since been suspended from operations.”
The BBC programme looked at just one angle to the horse meat scandal – the initial slaughtering of horses – it didn’t examine how horses then got into the human food chain. But its examination of how loose the systems are at the horse slaughter end of the chain will only exacerbate the worry that things were just as bad at the food-labelling and beef processing plant part of the chain later on. And perhaps now, that the Department of Agriculture has concluded its investigation, it might find time to comment on what it knew and when.
Stills above are screengrabs from the BBC Spotlight programme.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to the broadcast of a BBC Spotlight programme on 5 March 2013 on the horse meat scandal, if he will confirm that his Department responded to an approach two years ago which raised concerns about Irish horses and the food chain; and if the approach was responded to by his Department with a statement “the mess will clean itself”
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to the broadcast of a BBC Spotlight programme on 5 March 2013 on the horse meat scandal, if he can confirm that he was requested to provide a comment to the programme makers but responded that he was too busy; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to the broadcast of a BBC Spotlight programme on 5March 2013 on the horse meat scandal, if he will confirm that information was provided to his Department two years ago which raised concerns about Irish horses and the food chain; and if so, the way in which his Department responded to those concerns.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to the broadcast of a BBC Spotlight programme on 5 March 2013 on the horse meat scandal, if he proposes to investigate the claims made in the programme regarding passports for low weight and less valuable horses to the meat trade being switched for higher weight and more valuable horses to the meat trade.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to the broadcast of a BBC Spotlight programme on 5th March 2013 on the horse meat scandal, if he will confirm the number of horses slaughtered in the State in 2012, and if he will quantify the way the slaughtered animals were subsequently processed.
Deputy Pearse Doherty: To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine further to the broadcast of a BBC Spotlight programme on 5 March 2013 on the horse meat scandal, if he will confirm that he is satisfied with the operation of Ossory Meats in Banagher County Offaly; and if any of the concerns raised in the programme will be investigated by his Department.
Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney: I propose to take questions 13081/13, 13082/13, 13083/13, 13084/13, 13085/13 and 13086/13 together.
11,402 horses were slaughtered in slaughter plants approved by my Department in 2012. The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has advised that 12,960 horses were slaughtered in local authority approved slaughter plants in 2012. I understand that the bulk of the meat from these animals was exported for human consumption, some following further processing in approved cutting plants in Ireland. The remainder was exported as full carcasses. The main export markets are Belgium, France and Italy.
Under EU law, responsibility for compliance with food safety and traceability requirements rests in the first instance with food business operators (FBOs). This is augmented by official controls, applied at different stages in the food supply chain. My Department implements official controls in relation to horse identification at marts and other sales venues, in abattoirs under its supervision and at points of entry to the country.
All equines (which include horses, ponies and donkeys) are required to be identified in accordance with EU and national legislation. Equines issued with a passport after 1 July 2009 must have a corresponding microchip implanted by a veterinarian, which is recorded in the passport and creates a link between the passport and the animal. The passport includes information on any veterinary medicines administered to equines. An equine for slaughter for human consumption must be accompanied to the slaughterhouse by its passport and the information on the passport determines whether the animal can be slaughtered for human consumption. Horses treated with certain veterinary medicines such as phenylbutazone, known in the industry as ‘bute’, are permanently excluded from the human food chain in order to protect public health and the passport of the horse in question is endorsed by the prescribing veterinary practitioner to this effect.
My Department has detailed procedures for the slaughter of horses in abattoirs under its supervision and has communicated these and the checks required both to its staff and the business operators. It has liaised with passport issuing agencies in Ireland and has developed protocols to allow abattoir operators to check the details of passports with these agencies to seek to ensure that they are valid and that only those horses eligible for slaughter are slaughtered. Where forged or tampered passports accompanying horses to slaughter are detected, it is the policy that such animals are destroyed and removed from the food chain.
Ongoing vigilance is maintained in relation to official controls in this area. In that connection, the European Communities (Equine) (Amendment) Regulations, S.I. No. 371/2012, introduced recently, provide for the updating of S.I. No. 357/2011 (European Communities (Equine) Regulations 2011) to strengthen the powers of the Minister in relation to approval of an issuing body for equine passports, authorised officers and prosecutions in relation to equine identification.
My Department is establishing a centralized equine database. The intention is that this database will be used at abattoirs to assist in verifying the authenticity of horse passports for the equine presented and to record its date of slaughter.
I can confirm that my Department has received a number of complaints in this area, some of which have been non-specific in nature. Information received in relation to alleged illegal activities in this State is taken seriously and investigated as appropriate by my Department and in certain cases by the Gardai. There is ongoing contact in this regard between the Department and the authorities in Northern Ireland and Britain. It must also be noted however that some claims have been made in the public domain in relation to this issue which, when examined by my Department, did not stand up to close scrutiny or warrant further investigation.
While my Department does not comment on ongoing investigations, appropriate corrective action is taken if non-compliances are detected. I can advise that during 2011-2012 the Department issued Compliance Notices to two horse slaughter plants under its supervision. This led to temporary suspension of activities while corrective measures were put in place. In addition the approvals of one organisation to maintain a stud book and issue horse passports were revoked during 2012.
With regard specifically to the BBC Spotlight programme on 5th March, it would not be appropriate for me to comment publicly on allegations made. I was not available for interview for this particular programme because of other commitments but I can advise that my Department did comment on queries received from the programme makers. I understand that some of the allegations made in this programme relate to activities outside the State, in which case appropriate checks would be a matter for authorities in the jurisdictions concerned. I understand issues were also raised in relation to an equine slaughter plant in this jurisdiction, which at the time concerned was under the supervision of a local authority. At present there are two local authority supervised equine slaughter plants in operation – one in Co. Offaly and one in Co. Limerick. I have decided to take both these plants under the supervision of my Department.
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Occupy the SEC, Frustrated With Regulatory Defiance of Volcker Rule Implementation Requirements, Sues Fed, SEC, CFTC, FDIC and Treasury « naked capitalism
If you read the claim below, you’ll see that the various regulators were given specific dates as to when to complete the rulekmaking. Not only are the out of compliance, they appear to have no intent of finalizing the Volcker Rule.
Occupy the SEC Volcker Rule Lawsuit 2/26/13 by
It is easy to dismiss this sort of undertaking as quixotic or agitprop, but that misses the point. If you look at effective opposition movements in other countries, such as Otpor in Serbia, they used stunts and humor to, as the BBC put it,
…dispel fear among those who want to show their opposition to the government.
And for long periods of time, while the rest of the opposition was in a state of slumber, Otpor demonstrated that there was a group of people who were prepared to overcome an all-pervasive apathy and demonstrate against the regime. Whatever the methods used, Otpor has always given proof of a seriousness of purpose.
In the US, the challenge is somewhat different. While the issue of widespread apathy is the same, one critical difference is that much of the public still fails to understand the degree to which the ruling classes no longer represent their interests. Oh, they may resent the banks, and they may also hate Congress, but most people deeply need to believe they live in a system that is fair and where business and political leaders (some if not all) still deserve respect and admiration. So efforts like this suit, which in a few short pages sets forth regulators have simply refused to do their job, whether out of intellectual laziness or due to their indulgence of bank stymieing tactics, puts another chink in the official defenses of cronyism.