The 30-page document A history of neglect: UK Export Finance and human rights shines a light on a little known agency operating out of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills – UK Export Finance (UKEF).
Peter Frankental, of Amnesty International, explained:
“Through UKEF, the Government is enabling UK businesses to engage in high risk activities without proper scrutiny of their human rights impacts.
“Export credit agencies like UKEF should not be allowed to support projects that undermine human rights and destroy the environment. And yet the British public has no real idea what UKEF gets up to.
“It is shameful that through their inaction, David Cameron’s government cannot be sure that UKEF doesn’t contribute to forced labour, trafficking or abusive forms of child labour.”
Export credit agencies exist to fill a gap by supporting transactions and projects around the world that commercial banks consider too risky. The reasons can range from political instability to the fear that they will not get paid.
In these cases companies may turn for financial assistance to export credit agencies such as UKEF.
The concern, as revealed in the briefing, is that UKEF pays too little heed to international human rights standards such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Instead, UKEF has chosen to be constrained by the weak international standard for export credit agencies, the OECD’s ‘Common Approaches’. This means that the only transactions which are potentially considered for human rights and environmental impact assessment have to hit the following criteria: be for more than £10 million; last more than two years; and not be for the aerospace or defence sectors.
UKEF’s recently released annual report showed that of the 138 transactions supported in the last 12 months only eight could have been considered for human rights and environmental impact assessments.
Peter Frankental said:
“UKEF reflects a fatal combination of an agency that doesn’t want to be held accountable for its impacts and a Government that won’t lift a finger to hold it accountable.
“Human rights should not be sacrificed in this way on the altar of trade and investment.
“That cannot be allowed to continue. As a matter of urgency, the government should be pushing for complete transparency and the highest level of accountability.”
UKEF guarantees payment to the UK company exporting or investing abroad. If the contract is with a foreign state which defaults, the debt is covered by UKEF and added to that country’s sovereign debt to the UK. Debts to export credit agencies represent the majority of the developing world’s bilateral debt.
It is said we live in modern times,
In the civilised year of ‘seventy nine,
But when I look around, all I see,
Is modern torture, pain, and hypocrisy.
And while fat dictators sit upon their thrones,
Young children bury their parents’ bones,
And secret police in the dead of night,
Electrocute the naked woman out of sight.
In the gutter lies the black man, dead,
And where the oil flows blackest, the street runs red,
And there was He who was born and came to be,
But lived and died without liberty.
As the bureaucrats, speculators and presidents alike,
Pin on their dirty, stinking, happy smiles tonight,
The lonely prisoner will cry out from within his tomb,
And tomorrow’s wretch will leave its mother’s womb
BOBBY SANDS was twenty seven years old when he died on the sixty sixth day of hunger-strike in the H-Block prison hospital, Long Kesh, on the 5th May 1981. The young IRA Volunteer who had spent almost the last nine years of his short life in prison as a result of his Irish republican activities was, by the time of his death, world-famous having been elected to the British parliament and having withstood pressures, political and moral (including an emissary from Pope John Paul II), for him to abandon his fast which was aimed at countering a criminalization policy by the British government.
A group of Conservative MPs listening to David Cameron
“What we do in the Coalition government is frankly ludicrous. We’re in chaos and one only has to see the headlines to see this fact. Is it satire or reality? It’s very hard these days to see the difference,” Edward Mulrooney, the head of the government’s PR team cited in the report.
The Prime Minister himself has vowed to change the way people view the Conservatives and said this in a high pitched falsetto voice: “Swivel eyed loons? No, I want people to take us seriously. Did I just say that? Stop sneering at me you little oik, I want you to take me seriously, waah hah hah hah eeeep eep eep!”
Nick Clegg, leader of the Lib Dems provided even more lunacy yesterday when he told everyone he was fully committed to Britain staying in the EU. To loud guffaws from the backbenches, he was stretchered off to the parliament’s welfare office crying like a little girl.
“You must take us seriously. We are serious in our policies. Honestly..” Mr Cameron said with his eyes moving around erratically.
Before I get stuck in, I want to make it clear. it is not my intent to paint Depfa as angels and HRE as devils. Depfa did stupid things. Their funding problems were not so dissimilar to Northern Rock’s. But Depfa had far better assets. And therein is part of the story.
So what went wrong? And why did HRE buy Depfa when it was already going wrong?
The fact is HRE bought Depfa and did so after the debt wave had already curled and started to break. But then again why shouldn’t the Germans be as thick as the Brits at RBS who at almost the same time bought ABN Ambro?
The question that always circles however, is did Depfa knowingly lie to HRE about their problems? Did they somehow withhold ugly problems? Well according to one of the very senior bankers, who was there and had full and complete access to the deal, and who agreed to talk to me on condition of anonymity, it would have been very hard for Depfa to hide anything. Inside the bank there was a secure room where ALL the bank’s data, all its books and accounts were available to the two boards of Directors during the months the deal was being negotiated. This room was run and controlled by a senior German employee. According to my source the HRE people looked VERY carefully at EVERYTHING.
This still leaves the possibility that there was a board within the board at Depfa and this inner circle was somehow concealing things even from the rest of the bank and board. The stuff of conspiracy stories which I am not much given to. Could there have been a board within the board? I have evidence there was; first hand testimony from someone who was there.
Interestingly this person does not believe the purpose of an inner group was to hoodwink HRE. If anything it was to keep some of Depfa’s own board slightly out of the loop.
All in all it does not seem as if Depfa lied to HRE or concealed any hidden debts. So if HRE didn’t buy Depfa because they were sold a pup, why did they? And particularly why did they pay 2 billion over its book value!
Depfa’s collapse was due to being unable to find funding. In other words the same idiocy as killed Northern Rock. But it’s the differences from Northern Rock that are important. Let’s look at the time line. Northern Rock collapsed in September of 2007. It did so because it could not get the short term funding it relied upon to keep its loans rolling over. The wholesale funding market locked it out. Why? Because the lenders in the market, other banks, were worried that Northern Rock’s assets were so dodgy that their ability to repay became highly doubtful.
Note that at the time the HRE/Depfa deal was being signed Depfa was NOT locked out of the markets; it was a whole year later that Depfa found itself unable to get funding. This document by the huge law firm Herbert Smith (see p. 8), written just after the bail out in 08, makes it clear Depfa was having problems. They had about 35 billion euros of debt that needed funding in the markets and those markets were seizing up. Both Depfa and HRE knew about this funding need before the merger. But crucially Depfa was NOT locked out. It did not collapse in 2007 but was a going concern for another year. Why was that? What made them different from Norther Rock and others who did collapse in 2007?
The reason is simple, its funding worries were off-set by the fact that Depfa had some of the best, most solid gold assets of any bank. As noted in part one as many as 80% of their assets were rated higher than the bank itself or the banks lending to it. THAT is why HRE were so interested in Depfa and were even willing to buy it for 2 billion over book value.
HRE knew exactly how Depfa funded itself. There is NO WAY those details could have been hidden. We know that both banks were aware of funding problems. Let’s just note in passing that advising Depfa on the merger/sale was Goldman Sachs. So Goldman too would have known all there was to know about Depfa’s funding problems. Hang on to this.
It is worth pausing for a moment to understand how Depfa funded itself. It becomes important later. Depfa’s business was making large loans to cities and states for public works. 100% pure gold assets. Government backed all the way. It funded them by selling Pfandbrief and later ACS (the Irish version of the Pfandbrief called an Asset Covered Security) which the Landesbanks and others bit their hand off to get hold of. The Pfandbrief typically is a bond for 5-7 years. But Depfa, like Northern Rock and ALL the big banks, swapped this long dated debt funding for shorter debt/funding. The idea seems foolish now, and I think it is foolish, but the risk managers I have spoken to still adhere to the holy writ of relying on short term market funding. I’ll explore this piece of banking some other time. But what is important is that Depfa’s reliance on short term wholesale funding was nothing unusual. It was the norm rather than the exception.
Back to the story.
Unlike Depfa, HRE had a legacy of poor quality assets, which I wrote about in Dominoes falling from the East. HRE had also been aggressively expanding its business in Real Estate and we know from the subsequent bails of HRE’s own collapsed debts that, as this article written in 2009 makes clear,
In reality, HRE was a ticking time bomb and this is the reason it had run into liquidity problems (By the way, this is much the way I see Northern Rock – which was also nationalized by the UK government). The company has massive commercial property (CRE) exposure and the CRE market is imploding in financial centers like Frankfurt, London and Dublin and elsewhere. HRE is highly leveraged to these places.
So it’s not just me who is saying that Depfa may have triggered events but the main blast was from within HRE. HRE was a ticking bomb and HRE’s board thought buying Depfa was the way to diffuse it. HRE also relied on wholesale funding, but unlike Depfa, didn’t have great assets. It was therefore more like Northern Rock than Depfa. HRE’s poor assets would have also, and this is my speculation, have meant HRE would have started to have problems on the Repo market. Remember repo is the oxygen of overnight funding. It is also what destroyed Lehmans. Lehman’s assets became distrusted and eventually other banks would not accept them as collateral for repo funding.
I think this is what HRE were worried about and why they were so desperate to buy Depfa. Depfa had what HRE didn’t – assets for the all important repo market. That is what they were trying to buy. Remember, funding problems are a threat to survival like starvation. But being unable to repo is not being able to get just one more breath.
My source tells me that HRE thought that by buying Depfa’s absolutely top quality assets, HRE would be upgraded by the ratings agencies and be able to breath again on the repo market. But instead, as my source said, “The minute HRE bought Depfa, the rating agencies downgraded Depfa.”
The merger ended with the worst of both worlds. Where each bank had exposure to one kind of risk HRE to credit risk, Depfa to funding (though I think HRE actually had both) by coming together they united the nitro with the glycerin. Sheer banking genius. Depfa brought funding worries to the marriage, HRE brought credit rating downgrades. I love you too darling.
So why did the whole thing wait a year until Oct ’08 to collapse? And what finally brought it all down?
So now we come to the nub of it. We have created the bomb with equal parts funding crisis and credit risk but even so nothing exploded for a year. During that year other banks went down. So what was it that jolted the container and set it off?
Well we know that Depfa’s funding was the trigger. So what happened to it? Turns out, while other banks like Northern Rock collapsed Depfa didn’t, because it had a sugar daddy funder. A big funder who was always happy to take Depfa’s Pfandbrief long term debt and fund it with shorter term money. Depfa’s sugar daddy was AIG’s Paris subsidiary, Banque AIG.
That should give you a bad feeling. AIG’s problems started as far back as ’06. Certainly by the 1st quarter of ’07 AIG had had to write down a 20 billion dollar loss. But the Dow was still going up. So there was still plenty of money around. By the time HRE and Depfa had kissed and exchanged vows, AIG had been downgraded and faced the first of what would turn out to be many Collateral calls. This first one was for $14 billion. Oops.
It was at this point that Northern Rock found there was no more funding. But HRE/Depfa survived.
Banque AIG in Paris was still in business, still funding Depfa’s needs. Banque AIG was not a small affair. It was systemically important for many banking clients in Europe for swapping one short of funding for another, for hedging and for derivatives. But it was also getting itself into a bit of a funding pickle. In part this was just its share of the over all implosion AIG was undergoing world wide. In part, I think, it was Paris’s own problem.
Banque AIG in Paris was an essential part of AIG’s funding mechanism. It was part of what was called AIG Financial Products (AIG-FP) whose notorious central office was AIG in London. This is where all the ‘losses were made’ and where the obligatory ‘rogue’ trader-type villain, Mr Joseph “Iron Hand” Cassano was in charge. What is a little less well known is that most of, if not all of London’s deals were routed through Banque AIG in Paris, where the deals were all supposed to be ‘reviewed’. And we know that as far as Depfa was concerned their funding was from Banque AIG.
So why tell you this? Well, on 31st of August 2007 a new branch of AIG-FP was set up in Ireland, AIG-FP Matched Funding (Ireland) Plc. Why? And why then and not before? I can’t know of course. But this is how it smells to me.
Why did any of the banks in our story end up going to Ireland? For access to money that liked the lax and laid back, ‘we have neither teeth nor balls’ regulatory atmosphere. AIG had been getting funds just fine for years. Suddenly, when AIG is in all sorts of trouble and its own funding is starting to get dicey it suddenly opens a brand new branch – in Ireland.
In under a month, on 25th September 2007 to be precise, AIG-FP Ireland issued a funding prospectus for $20 billion. AIG was already beginning to feel the heat by now and wholesale funding had already locked out Northern Rock precipitating a bank run 11 days earlier.
To me, the fact that AIG-FP opened a branch in Ireland is a hint that its normal funding was, at the very least, in need of reinforcing, if not replacing with ‘other’ sources which could be best found in Dublin. So now Depfa’s sugar daddy funder was alongside it in Ireland looking for the SAME money as everyone else, such as HRE, for example. This situation does not fill me with confidence.
But would Depfa or HRE have known of this development at the time it was doing the deal with HRE? I doubt it. AIG would not share any plans with customers. Even ones to whom it was a sugar daddy. So did anyone know? Well it’s just a little footnote but it turns out that none other than Goldman Sachs was arranging and advising AIG-FP Ireland on its funding adventure.
No way would Goldman have told one client (Depfa) what another (AIG) was doing. So Depfa did not know from Goldman about any troubles at Banque AIG. But Goldman knew. Goldman was advising Depfa on merging/selling itself to HRE for 2 billion over its book value while it also knew that Depfa’s main funder was probably in more trouble than the rest of the market suspected.
I would love to know, but never will, if Goldman had any short position on the new HRE/Depfa bank it had helped broker?
In short what I hope to have shown is that Depfa did not ‘bring down’ HRE. HRE was going to collapse anyway. And buying Depfa was an ruinously ill-thought out attempt to solve HRE’s credit crisis. The plan back-fired and made every one’s position worse than it had been.
The entity which actually brought down HRE was AIG. It was their implosion along with the general shock of Lehmans which cut off Depfa from funding which had kept it alive for a year after other banks collapsed. So it was the Americans who brought down HRE not the Irish if you really want a scape goat.
And the only people who perhaps knew the whole HRE/Depfa deal was destined to end in disaster and bankruptcy, were Goldman. Goldman knew both how Depfa was funded an WHO was their lynch pin funder, while also knowing the true state of that funder (AIG-FP).
SO to circle back to where I started. It is NOT as simple case of a dodgy Irish bank bringing down a solid German one. If anything the opposite is just as true. And therefore it is NOT the case that Ireland has some moral debt it owes to ANYONE to bail them out.
The threats are already coming thick and fast. The Irish people MUST defend themselves, their children and their country. Their leaders haven’t and won’t.
‘I spend quite a lot of time speaking to Muslim communities – they do feel that when they go through an airport it may be them that will be singled out for examination – that can’t be very nice’.
‘But, it would be great to say the problem is solved and we can scale terror laws down.’
‘Unfortunately, that’s not right’.
‘We are still seeing a steady stream of convictions of mainly men who have been planning or seeking to execute atrocities that would result in significant loss of life’.
‘There are quite hard cases of people who have been planning 7/7- style attacks’.
‘These are often people who have trained in Pakistan, downloaded images from the internet and communicating by email with radicals in other countries, and people who have been radicalised in prison.’
Meanwhile it has been confirmed that one of Britain’s most notorious radicals, Abu Qatada will now face terrorism charges in Jordan if the government there signs a treaty guaranteeing a fair trial for him.
Both the British courts as well as the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the government from sending Qatada to face trial in Jordan where evidence obtained by torture was likely to be used against him in court.
His rights under article 6 of the European Convention, ‘The Right to a Fair Trial’, would, according to the courts, been violated, had the extradition gone ahead.
The Strasbourg judges said it would make the “whole trial not only immoral and illegal, but also entirely unreliable in its outcome”.
Qatada was sentenced in absentia to life in prison on terror charges in 1999 and the Jordanian authorities wish to send him for retrial.
He has not been charged with any crime in the UK, yet the government has been trying to deport him for the last 8 years, resulting in his incarceration and bail on a number of occasions.
Mr. Anderson Q.C. says the use of evidence obtained by torture in his trial was a ‘flagrant denial of justice’.
‘I went to see him a few weeks ago; he is a complicated character’
‘There is no doubt that he is assessed as a very dangerous man.’
‘But he has been helpful in the release of at least one hostage’
It’s an anthem that is usually sung with chest-thumping pride and misty eyes by British imperialists. “Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves”. This jingoistic celebration of Britain’s former global conquest may yet degenerate into “Rue Britannia, Britannia rues the waves”.
This is because, as The Guardian newspaper reports this week, the
London government has at long last been forced into recognizing compensation payments for as many as 50,000 Kenyan nationals who were victims of torture and other crimes against humanity during that country’s independence struggle in the 1950s. The eventual bill for compensation could run up to tens of millions of pounds.
But the bad news for financially bankrupt Britain does not end there. With this precedent established of compensation for past British imperialist crimes, that now leaves the way open for a global flood of similar claims.
Jingoistic British imperialists may therefore soon rue their often-made reference to Britain ruling the waves and so many countries the world over – at the height of the British Empire some 20 percent of the globe’s land mass was under colonial domination. That’s a lot of people who can claim recompense for past British horrors and deprivation.
If the bill for Britain’s crimes against humanity in Kenya alone runs into tens of millions of pounds, then we can easily multiply that sum manifold if the millions of other victims from across the world who suffered under the British jackboot come forward to claim justice.
The Guardian listed just a handful of additional class-action cases for compensation against the British government. They included the former colonies of Cyprus, Yemen, Swaziland and British Guiana. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when measuring Britain’s global legacy of crimes and human suffering. Many others would include Britain’s dirty wars and repressive colonial regimes in Bahrain, British Somaliland, Burma, Ghana, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Oman and Zimbabwe. Even that list is far from complete.
Iran presents a challenging case too. After the British-assisted coup in 1953 that led to the 26-year reign of terror under Shah Pahlavi, tens of thousands of Iranians were subjected to torture by the Western-trained and armed Savak secret police. Iranians therefore have a case for compensation against the British government.
Previously, the British House of Lords decreed arbitrarily that no cases for compensation stemming from before 1954 can be brought to an English court. Fortunately for the British establishment, that ruling excludes millions of more potential litigants from former British India, which gained independence in 1947.
Given the appalling suffering inflicted by the British overlords in India – from starvation, massacres, mass imprisonment and destruction of farming and textile livelihoods to give British exporters a competitive advantage – the resulting claims if filed to the Exchequer would definitely spell good night for Britain’s sputtering economy. Far from ruling the waves, Britannia would sink to a watery grave.
But the real point perhaps is more about principle than money – important though material redress is to victims of injustice. What the case of the Kenyans against the British government is really achieving is to strip bare the truth about Britain’s imperial legacy. British national conceit and history books are replete with double standards and moral relativism. It is too widely and fatuously assumed that Britain’s Empire represented somehow a benevolent contribution to history. British people, and unfortunately English-language academia and media across the world, tend to perceive Britain’s “decolonization” – its retreat from imperial territories – as a magnanimous gesture of granting independence. This delusional notion is best summed up in the Orwellian term “the British Commonwealth of nations”.
With conceited moral duplicity, Britain insists that Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany must pay out compensation to victims of their conquests. But no such obligation pertains to Britain, according to the British rulers. Why not? Only imperial arrogance and a certain sense of victor’s justice stemming from the Second World War are invoked to subjectively justify that contradiction. In the world of objective facts and evidence, Britain is equally liable for redress to its global victims of crimes against humanity.
When Britain set out to destroy the Mau Mau struggle for Kenya’s political independence during the 1950s, the British were not interested in benign, passive “decolonization”. For the British rulers, it was a life-or-death challenge to the entire global system of British Empire and its exploitative excrescence on the world. The same British “siege mentality” manifested ruthlessly against the independence movements in all its colonies.
Up to 300,000 Kenyans were incarcerated in concentration camps during what the British euphemistically called “The Emergency”. That same quaint word – “Emergency” – was used by the British to dissemble their barbarism and brutality in Burma against pro-independence communist guerrilla. During Bahrain and Northern Ireland’s struggle for freedom from Britain’s unlawful dominance, the preferred euphemism for repression was “The Troubles”.
But these semantics aside, the nature of repression meted out by British rulers and their officers was systematically criminal and brutal and comparable to the worst genocidal regimes the world has known.
The Kenyan Mau Mau may have suffered the most, probably owing to a twist of racist depravity among the white British counterinsurgency practitioners. Kenyan prisoners were castrated and roasted over fires by British officers using methods of torture that even classified British records explicitly sanctioned as “Gestapo techniques”.
During the British suppression of the Cypriot insurgency during the 1950s, inmates were routinely tortured by water-boarding sessions in which Kerosene was added to the drowning water. Later, during the 1970s in Northern Ireland’s conflict, Irish prisoners were incarcerated without charge and tortured by hooding, prolonged wall-standing, sleep deprivation, white noise and intimidation with guard dogs, not to mention routine physical beatings.
If such torture and generally repressive regimens sound similar to what has since been uncovered in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay it is because they are wholly consistent. These are the standard operating practices of British military doctrine and that of its close American ally.
The reason why such barbarity continues to be practiced is because of the moral duplicity and propagandized version of history that the Western media and academia instill. Barbarity is something that others perpetrate, not us.
The glacial pace of justice – as shown by the more than six decades’ delay for the Mau Mau victims of British crimes – is reflective of the massive public deception instilled by Western media on behalf of their criminal governments.
However, thanks to the courageous pursuit of justice by many people across the world, this edifice of deception will eventually be broken down. This is imperative as a matter of justice for the millions of victims of British crimes against humanity.
But, in addition, the exposure of British criminality is crucial to deleting the duplicity that serves to give contemporary British and other Western governments a veneer of legitimacy. Britain has no right to pontificate and brow beat Syria, Iran or any other nation about “international obligations”. With the full record of British criminality on display, this is a country that, far from lecturing others, should be made to hang its head in shame and remain silent.
Aamer has been cleared for release twice, but is still behind bars after 11 years. He has never been charged or faced trial but the US refuses to allow him to return to the UK, despite official protests by the British government.
A 40-strong medical back-up team has arrived at Guantánamo Bay, as the number of inmates taking part in a hunger strike continues to rise, the US military has confirmed. By Monday, 100 detainees were refusing food, with 21 having been approved for force-feeding.
Authorities said that the “influx” of medical reinforcements had been weeks in the planning. But the news will fuel speculation that the condition of hunger-striking prisoners at Guantánamo Bay is deteriorating. Shaker Aamer, the last British resident being kept at the centre, told his lawyer earlier this month that authorities will soon see fatalities as a result of the current action.
“I cannot give you numbers and names, but people are dying here,” said Aamer, who is refusing food.
The action is a protest against conditions at the centre, as well as the indefinite nature of the remaining prisoners’ confinement. Aamer has been cleared for release twice, but is still behind bars after 11 years. He has never been charged or faced trial but the US refuses to allow him to return to the UK, despite official protests by the British government.
Of the 166 detainees left at Guantánamo, almost two-thirds are on hunger-strike. Five of those approved by guards to be subjected to force-feeding are in hospital.
Increased media attention to the plight of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay has led to renewed calls for President Barack Obama to close the camp. In the face of pressure from Congress, Obama dropped a 2008 campaign pledge to close the camp.
The current hunger strike is believed to have begun on 6 February and initially involved a minority of detainees. But the number taking part has steadily increased. Two weeks ago, guards attempted to break the resolve of those refusing food by moving detainees from communal areas and placing them in single cells, where they could be monitored more closely. That action led to violent clashes in which US troops fired four “less-than-lethal” rounds on inmates.
US authorities said on Monday that the decision to bring in a back-up medical team was made as increasing numbers of inmates began to refuse food. “We will not allow a detainee to stave themselves to death and we will continue to treat each person humanely,” a Guantánamo Bay spokesman, Lt Col Samuel House, said.
He added: “Detainees have the right to peacefully protest, but we have the responsibility to ensure that they conduct their protest safely and humanely.”
“This is a terrible day for British justice. After fierce lobbying by the government, peers have failed to restore even minimal amendments previously included to this deeply damaging bill,”
The cherished and vitally important principle that justice must be done and seen to be done has been dealt a serious blow this evening,” said Tim Hancock, Amnesty International’s UK campaigns director.
Legal Agency Reprieve executive director Clare Algar said the secret courts will “do irreparable damage. It is deeply shameful that the government has been allowed to push these plans through parliament, despite the total lack of evidence that they are needed. Secret courts will ….. do irreparable damage to our reputation as a country which respects fair play and the rule of law,” she said.
British secret service officials, claim the Bill is designed to protect national security by preventing informers from being exposed.
Amnesty International said earlier, that the plan gives the British government the power to “simply play the ‘national security’ card whenever it wants to keep things secret”. The British government only needs the Queen’s Royal stamp of approval, to start the secret courts as new law in Britain.
Some of the public’s reaction in Britain is as follows.
All those lives lost in WW2 just to be ruled by Nazi-s again. Those that died in WW2 must be somersaulting in their graves.- Vincent
When those who oppose some British Government policies like the welfare cutbacks, bank bailouts and banker bonuses, privatisation and illegal foreign wars (like me) or those who complain about injustice start disappearing, losing their citizenship, being renditioned and killed by armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV drones) then no one in any central or local government roles including ALL employees, councillors, MP’s, and other politicians can be trusted. The number of people who criticise the British Government will rapidly reduce when the secret courts starts. It will not affect organisations like the SWP, EDL, BNP as they are funded by the Zionists, Bankers and operated by the security services MI5 and MI6 in order to control and suppress dissent among the sheople.- Student
The silence from the British legal fraternity in academia and in legal practice is shocking and a shameful indictment on the” profit without ethics” system that has pervaded every aspect of British life today. Justice must not only be done but be SEEN to be done. Having secret courts is an attempt to avoid scrutiny of checks and balances, to ignore rules of evidence and deny an accused person the right to defend themself agianst the mighty apparatus of state.
That’s why UK raceist authorities have been busay to make fake-secret documents against people they have targeted. They abuse people in UK and claiming that they have secret information about them, the information they have fabricated. UK has returned back to the medieval time. – Pam Cox
UK abused people for years and now want to kill them through their secret court so that nobody will realise what happened to them. UK is just trying to destroy the evidence of their abuse and mistreatment for the past decade so that created a legal support for themselves. I’m sure that the lives of thousands innocent people in the UK are at risk. – A Solicitor
My God, my ancestors will be turning in their graves. The Tories are finally realising what they have long dreamed of – throughout the years of the post-war settlement, they moodily incubated a determination to reverse the social and economic gains fought for and won by people of unparalleled toughness and determination, people who took on the might of privilege and wealth and defeated it. This is the New Tory moment; this when they come out from behind their cosmetic masks of reasonableness and fairness and social concern and display their true dark hearts before the world.
But I reserve my greatest contempt for those of us on the left; this is all happening on our watch. We betray those people I mentioned above, who vanquished the landowners and the factory and coal owners. And what are WE up against? a couple of Bullingdon hooray-henries and a leadership reject with the political acumen of petrified bird droppings . But the neoliberal apologists and careerist politicians that have infested the Labour Movement see only the votes of bigoted Middle Englanders and the ignorant Sun reading dross that posts here waiting to be harvested. The latter busy calling for their own enslavement, too ignorant or misinformed to notice the turkey staring back at them in the mirror of a Christmas Morning. And in the new Dark Age heralded in by IDS, every morning will be Christmas Morning for the beneficiaries, the businesses who will exploit this measure to access free labour, the talk of charities being a transparent smoke screen to hide the fundamental dismantling of the human right for a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
Make no mistake, this is just the beginning. Anyone who thinks that once the principle of unpaid labour has breached the social repugnance it generates that it will stop at a month’s work for ‘idlers’ is the kind of fool the Tories are relying on get this through. These are the descendants of people who built vast fortunes and empires on the sweat and death of their factories and workhouses; they are past masters at dressing up inequality and evil in Protestant work ethics and biblical rhetoric denouncing the peril of idleness – except where it’s practised in its purest forms of course, by digital fortune shufflers and land owning parasites drawing their subsidies while they indulge Mediterranean waves with their oversized cock-yachts.
Shame, shame on us all. Tolstoy said everyone was innocent. I say everyone is guilty. And our children will never forgive us for allowing this to happen. The Tories talk of not saddling future generations with our debt; I think only of future generations facing the return of evils greater than any debt, that we had long thought banished from the lexicon of social intercourse and post war economics, all presented as some kind of economic panacea. Who is really ‘taking the piss’ here?
No doublethink, no prevarication, no quarter.
On both sides of the Atlantic, politicians are intricately linked to the oil industry.
Last Thursday, OCI revealed that the 5 cosponsors of the latest pro-Keystone XL bill have received, on average, over $662,000 in fossil fuel-related campaign contributions in their careers.
But it is not just in America where Dirty Energy Money clouds the political system. Great new research by the World Development Movement has revealed that one third of Ministers in the UK government are linked to the finance and energy companies driving climate change.
This “energy-finance” complex as WDM calls it is “at the heart of government is allowing fossil fuel companies to push the planet to the brink of climate catastrophe, risking millions of lives, especially in the world’s poorest countries.”
The three most important Government’s Ministers including Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary William Hague and Chancellor George Osborne are all embroiled in the nexus of money and power fuelling climate change.
WDM argues that “If we are to move away from a high carbon economy, the government must break this nexus and regulate the finance sector’s investment in fossil fuel energy.”
And its not just the House of Commons, either. The House of Lords is also home to dozens of people linked to either big Finance or big Energy. An investigation has recently revealed that a sixth of Lords have remunerated links to the financial sector.
Let us not forget that Big Finance and big Energy are intricately linked in a complex web of personal and funding. Between 2010 and 2012, the UK’s five biggest banks underwrote £95.5 billion in corporate bonds for fossil fuel companies and another £74.5 billion in new share issues.
All five British banks have people on their boards who are linked to the fossil fuel industry.
Beyond Hague, Cameron and Osborne, other members of the British Cabinet are also deeply linked to the oil industry: Let’s look for a moment at Vince Cable, The Liberal Democrat who is the Business Secretary who is also the “Minister for Shell”. And where did Vince once work? Shell. As WDM point out Vince’s “past at Shell, where he worked for seven years between 1990 and 1997, is well known.”
I once phoned Vince up to ask him about persistent rumours that he had been part of a team from Shell who had “negotiated” with the Nigerian Government over the imprisonment and potential release of Ken Saro-Wiwa in the weeks before the writer’s death in November 1995.
Vince flatly denied the accusations and even phoned me back after having spoken to his diary Secretary: No he hadn’t been in Nigeria in the weeks before Saro-Wiwa’s death, he said. There was no substance to the rumours, at all, he maintained. In the years since we spoke, nothing has come to light to challenge Vince’s version of events.
But years later the fact that Shell’s ex-senior economist is now in government as a Minister, including being the “Minister for Shell” has somehow escaped the scrutiny and outrage that it should have done. In part this is because the intricate web of politics and oil and finance has become so normalised that it nearly goes with comment or criticism.
That is why WDM’s report and wonderful Infographics are brilliant and another useful tool in the growing tide of evidence about the desperate need to separate oil and state, and about getting Dirty Energy Money out of politics.
Because until we do, the climate crisis is just going to get worse.
A FORENSIC scientist who was fined for making cannabis oil to treat his own pain is to bring a legal challenge in the European courts.
John Anderson (59) is appealing a conviction handed down at Sligo District Court for possession of cannabis.
Sligo District Court heard the former UK government scientist admit he developed liquid cannabis 10 years ago and used it to treat a tooth problem and shoulder injuries. He was fined €200 for cultivating the plant.
“I had an abscess, and while I was given antibiotics and paracetamol it was agony, so I bought some seeds and grew some cannabis,” he said.
“Smoking cannabis made me sick, so it was a simple process for me as a scientist to develop it into liquid form. It was the perfect relief and got me through until I could have surgery. The relief lasted from a week to a fortnight with just one rub to my jaw.”
When he suffered two separate shoulder injuries – one in a fall and one in a traffic accident – he turned again to cannabis.
“My physiotherapist told me the injuries won’t heal, so I got some cannabis seeds and made more stuff,” said Mr Anderson.
“The Government classes cannabis alongside heroin and cocaine and it states in our laws that cannabis has no medicinal benefits. Research going back 5,000 years says otherwise.”
Big Energy front company and survey results falsifiers Cuadrilla are to be granted permission by British government ministers to resume a controversial method known as fracking to exploit what it says are huge shale gas reserves off Lancashire.
Okay, okay, the official line is that “a decision is awaited on this matter”, but I ask you, what is the likelihood of it not happening, eh? The government has already indicated its backing for the move by proposing tax relief for shale gas and producing a gas generation strategy.
Although don’t ask UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey – who presumably was appointed to this role because of his ability to produce vast amounts of hot air – about it, because he is on record as being both in favour of fracking and opposed to it. Often within the same speech.
The advantages of fracking to Cuadrilla itself and to individual government figures are clear: vast amounts of cash, generated by huge taxpayer-funded subsidies received by a private company whilst it simultaneously babbles on about freedom from government interference on the one hand, and massive kickbacks to individual politicians on the other. But what about the advantages to the general public?
Well, for a start, there’s the fact that fracking is so safe. After all, Cuadrilla had to stop test-drilling in 2011 after the process caused two minor earthquakes near Blackpool. Oh, hang on a minute – that’s a disadvantage of fracking. Hmm.
Okay, what about the fact that fracking will safeguard British energy supplies for years to come, bringing down heating bills for the UK consumer and reducing our reliance on all those irresponsible foreign types?
Well, as the Parliamentary Energy and Climate Change Committee stated in a recent report, shale gas would have little downward impact on the level of energy bills in the UK. In fact, a dependence on gas could force household bills much higher than relying on renewable energy and nuclear power.
According to PECCC chairman Lord Deben, the Committee’s its analysis showed that the average household electricity bill could rise by £600 a year by 2050 if the UK relied on “unabated” gas power that had no technology to cut its emissions, as a result of
The great bog of Ireland, spoken of in song and story, could become the host to hundreds of wind farms which would generate electricity exclusively for the United Kingdom’s national grid.
According to the Guardian,the plan is already being considered by Irish government ministers. Element Power, the company behind the $8 billion dollar proposal, hopes to build more than 700 turbines and transport the power generated through two dedicated undersea cables across the Irish sea to the UK.
The plans have also been discussed among the UK coalition government and appear to have won their support.
To help finance the Irish project, the company would need access to the subsidies currently given to UK wind power, but that sets a potentially awkward precedent – which could imply that any foreign energy projects could request UK subsidies – presenting unusual challenges to the project.
Mike O’Neill, the president of Element Power, sees only a win for British government, however. “Our experience is that it is easier to get planning permission in the Republic of Ireland, if you do it in a sensible and sensitive way,” he told the Guardian.
O’Neill’s plan acknowledges that Britain’s electricity suppliers are obliged to provide an increasing percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, cutting the carbon emissions that drive climate change and meeting their own targets.
Element Power claims its project, entitled Greenwire, will provide electricity at two-thirds of the cost of building an offshore wind farm, which will reduce the amount that needs to be charged to the UK consumer by £7 billion over 15 years. It added that the project could provide 3GW of electricity capacity and employ thousands of workers.
O’Neill said the project could start generating power from 2018, if the subsidy obstacle could be overcome.
Currently there are more than 1,100 turbines in operation in Ireland, mostly located at 176 onshore windfarms with a further seven offshore.