Law Review: Bullying, skirts, projectile vomiting and torture – a tale of life in modern political Britain.

Gordon Brown hit by fresh bullying allegations

Pressure mounts on cabinet secretary to launch inquiry into claims prime minister abused Downing St staff - The Guardian

Yesterday, being a Sunday and my mood frivolous, I wrote about the Andrew Rawnsley allegations against Gordon Brown.  I also engaged in a bit of nonsense on Twitter with @KerryMP when accused of the ‘mortal sin’ of not reading the newspapers. This was twitter nonsense.  I enjoy @kerryMP tweets – and at least she is out there, engaging with other twitter users.  I was faffing about.
I do, however, feel that the allegations about Gordon Brown’s behaviour are ‘far from silly’ and the intervention yesterday by the CEO of the Bullying National Helpline raises the stakes.  The serious newspapers are all covering the matter.  I continue with my very simple stance.  Denial and spin will not make this story go away.  It will, of course, drop off the headlines but the fact of the matter is that a serious and well regarded journalist, Andrew Rawnsley, who maintains his sources are ‘impeccable’, has made serious allegations about the behaviour of a serving prime minister.  To dismiss these allegations as ‘colourful’ because Rawnsley wants to sell a book – may well be a sensible tactic.  If Rawnsley has got it right, then Brown, has a few questions to answer. We do have a right to know if the man or woman at the top, leading a government, is in control, is reasonably competent to carry out the very demanding work of a prime minister.  There is too much at stake for this simply to be dismissed.  We shall see what happens this week when Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary,  appears before the Justice Committee in the House of Commons.   The Times reports this morning...” A senior government source said ‘The timing for us is dreadful.”

In another bizarre twist, Iain Dale, well known conservative blogger, seems to have got himself into a bit of ‘hot water’ by covering the ‘art works’ of Louis Sidolo who ‘ got in touch with Dale to ask if he could cover his work.  Dale did so and incurred the wrath of the ravening horde. The comments section to the post reveal the extent of that wrath. One of the artworks is pictured left.

Girls, you can take the skirts off

Is not a headline one would have expected to see in The Times on a wet and grey Monday morning.

EQUALITY and human rights law may make it illegal for schools to force girls to wear skirts — because uniforms discriminate against transsexuals. Official guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission warns schools that insisting that girls wear skirts may breach the rights of those who feel compelled to live as boys.The watchdog, which has enforcement powers against public bodies that break equality law, says “requiring pupils to wear gender-specific clothes is potentially unlawful”. The Times

But back to the increasingly bizarre world of politics with this story from The Daily Mail…

Projectile vomiting MP downed so much champagne during drinking contest on official trip friends feared he might die

The Mail reports…

“Two Labour MPs took part in a champagne drinking contest on an official Commons junket to Paris, which led to one of them being violently ill. Left-winger Bill Etherington drank so much that a doctor was called.”

Apparently, Geraldine Smith MP took the sensible course by chucking her champagne into nearby flowerpots.  Etherington did not and ended up…”

in a “confused” state en route to a dinner in a splendid French restaurant. More champagne was guzzled. [He] had consumed a near lethal quantity of alcohol.

‘He was placed at the top table where he babbled incoherently. The event was a dinner for delegates from about 20 countries….The reputation of the British is still damaged by this incident. It was not the idiotic competition or the wild inebriation that left an indelible memory. It was the display of projectile vomiting across the top table.”

Bizarre, indeed.

Rather more serious is the conduct of the British government in relation to torture.  The Times reports this morning…

MI5 may face new torture inquiry

The Times: “AS befits Britain’s most senior spy, Jonathan Evans is noted in Whitehall for being cool under fire. That quality will be tested this week when MI5’s director-general learns whether his service is about to be engulfed by one of the biggest crises in its 100-year history. For the past 10 weeks a senior lawyer in the office of Baroness Scotland, the attorney-general, has been studying the cases of five British men alleged to have been unlawfully detained and tortured in Pakistan with the complicity of MI5. Scotland may rule there is insufficient evidence to call in detectives but if she does refer the cases to the police, it could in effect paralyse the agency that Evans has led since 2007.”

And finally, for this post…from The Telegraph

Judge criticises ‘waste of money’ case after pensioner threatens boys with hammer

A Crown Court case against a pensioner who threatened four boys for climbing trees was a waste of taxpayers’ money, a judge has said.

“Beryl Welch, 61, was charged with affray after scolding four scouts aged 11 to 13 who were clambering up trees at a scout camp next to her garden in Cosgrove, Bucks. After her pleas were ignored and fearing the trees were being vandalised, she got a claw hammer from her house and angrily waved it at the youngsters.

She was arrested after the four scouts, from the 1st Newton Longville Scout Group, claimed she had swung the hammer at them twice, missing one of them by inches. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) charged her following the incident on February 21 last year and bought the case before Northampton Crown Court this week. But following a two-day trial, a jury of six men and six women cleared Mrs Welch of affray and found her guilty of the lesser charge of threatening behaviour. Judge Charles Wide QC gave Mrs Welch a 12-month conditional discharge and criticised the prosecution and the CPS for bringing the case to trial.He told Mrs Welch she would not have to pay any costs because the CPS’s charge of affray was too harsh and the matter could have been heard in a Magistrates’ Court without huge costs to the taxpayer.”

8 thoughts on “Law Review: Bullying, skirts, projectile vomiting and torture – a tale of life in modern political Britain.

  1. Though the NBH side of the story is unravelling by the hour. My feeling is the net result of the NBH’s intervention is to take the heat off Brown: steers the discussion away from “fitness to govern”, allows allegations to be presented as politically-motivated attacks by Tory stooges (rather than one of our best political correspondents).

    As for the Mail’s story re drunk MPs: all very unedifying, though if that’s typical of Etherington’s behaviour then it’s no wonder the whips are so keen to send him out of the country as often as possible…. And I could’ve done without the po-faced “deeply damaging to Britain’s reputation” stuff, but that’s the Mail for you. There’s also a deeper story lurking there about alcohol abuse among MPs.

  2. Re the Beryl Welch case. The CPS charged her with affray (Public Order Act 1986 s3). It is an either-way offence. I cannot imagine that the magistrates would have actually declined jurisdiction if the reported facts are true. If that is right, then it must have been Beryl Welch who elected for jury trial (as is her right). IF any charge was necessary here then I would have thought that Public Order Act 1986 s4 would have covered it adequately and would have kept the case in the magistrates’ court. I think that this was the point the judge was actually making.

  3. Re: Beryl Welch, I think if she elected for a jury trial it might indicate she had a fairly canny solicitor advising her. It certainly seem to work out pretty well. I think a magistrate would have had a harder time denouncing the charge without the jury’s reaction to back them up.

    In other news, gravy train MP throws taxpayer champagne into flowerpots.

  4. I suspect I may not get many opportunities to type this so here goes….

    I agree with Ann Widdecombe!

    About the inadvisability of the National Bullying Helpline’s approach that is…

    They have really opted for the worst of all possible worlds. They have gone public but without naming names (which they can’t because of the small matter of client confidentiality) so it just hangs in the air, neither verifiable or falsifiable.

    Not very bright…

  5. WR – yes…rather foolish….. still.. the government spinners are spinning away and, predictably, Clegg and Cameron are calling for an Inquiry…

    Nothing will ever happen….. unless, of course, Rawnsley can get sufficient to bring a libel action against Brown?

  6. Projectile vomitting MP…tax payers money…and then some insist on first class train tickets because us normal people behave differently?

    Vidocq is confused to a higher level now. Well done, Charon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>