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Monday, 26 June 2017

Sun Corbyn Trident Scare BUSTED

Another week, another desperate attempt by our free and fearless press to smear Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn on whatever subject they can dig up. Not fazed by the ominous sight of Mail pundit Peter Oborne being jeered by a BBC Question Time audience for suggesting that his paper doesn’t tell lies - ‘fraid it does, Peter - the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun have once more launched one of their own.
To no surprise, the dead cat being chucked on the table today is all about Trident. That’s our so-called “independent nuclear deterrent”, which isn’t independent and hasn’t deterred any attack on this country and its people. But it is nuclear. and although another Question Time audience, this time before the General Election, threw up some who considered Jezza to be insufficiently bellicose, loosing it off would have grim consequences.

As I pointed out at the time, the destructive power of today’s nuclear weapons puts anything that has gone before in the shade. The devices detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 are puny by comparison. That does not deter the Sun’s hacks, who have cobbled together a new nuclear frightener headlinedJeremy Corbyn pledges to ditch Britain’s nukes as he boasts he’ll be in Downing Street THIS YEAR”.

Really? Do go on. “JEREMY CORBYN has boasted that he will be Prime Minister by the end of the year, it emerged today … The Labour leader also pledged to get rid of Britain’s nukes ‘as soon as he can’ - even though his party is committed to keeping them”.

Two things here. One, as has been pointed out to the Murdoch goons, what they are quoting has been paraphrased and is secondhand. And two, “as soon as he can” is not a pledge to “ditch” anything. The Sun wants its readers to think that Britain is governed the same way their paper is run - by absolute decree. It isn’t.

We have cabinet Government and, in the Commons, a functioning democracy. You know, Sun hacks, the democracy you like to bang on about when it suits you.

Still, on with the porkies, eh? “Mr Corbyn has strongly suggested that if he became PM, he would refuse to use nukes even if the country were attacked”. No he hasn’t - he has restated that position adopted by every Prime Minister since the war (well, except Theresa May), and that is there should be no first use of nuclear weapons.

Any more creative journalism in the tank? There sure is: “A senior defence source said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn chose to go to a music festival on the day we honour the brave men and women who protect us. So it should come as no surprise he wants to ditch the nuclear deterrent that keeps us safe’”. A “senior defence source”. That they just made up.

The article also glosses over Labour’s commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, despite Britain (as well as Russia and the USA) having ratified it. After all, this isn’t about accurate and factual reporting. It’s about smearing any politician who dares to believe the press should be accountable for their decades of bad behaviour.

The Sun - lying to readers since Murdoch bought it in 1969. So no change there, then.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Tommy Robinson’s Triple Trouble

Following his recent appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, former EDL head man Tommy Robinson has carried on a low level slanging match with Piers Morgan. Anything bad about the GMB encounter was not his fault, it was a set-up, Morgan was out to get him - the roll-call of excuses has been endless. But along the way, Robinson said some things that could get him into serious trouble. Like serious legal trouble.
Tommy Robinson

And then yesterday he fetched up at Royal Ascot, where his notoriety preceded him. At the end of his Day At The Races, Robinson was captured by a coach dashcam having a violent altercation with another man. He can be seen aiming a series of blows at his opponent. This, too, is someone else’s fault. The problem for Tommy is that when this and two other strands are pulled together, it may mean even more trouble.
Let’s start at the very beginning, as it’s a very good place to start. Assed Baig posted a short video with the comment “Video of former leader of the EDL @TRobinsonNewEra repeatedly punching a man at Ascot”. Morgan then observed “Tommy Robinson hates Islam because he says it's a 'violent' religion. Here's Mr Robinson at Ascot yesterday”.
So far, so much of a wind-up. But Robinson then pleaded mitigation. Well, sort of: “Some context to the video released today, I will release a full video later. This is the Muslim coach driver who released the vid”. It was a Scary Muslim (tm) wot did it! Well, Mandy Rice Davies situation. But there is still a problem for him.
Self-defence, which if seriously provoked, as has been claimed, is one thing. But aiming a series of punches is not self-defence, nor will any court let a defendant get away with pretending that it is. And where the trouble doubles up is when Robinson makes statements about Piers Morgan (and Jeremy Paxman) that are not true.

He made these claims on Twitter: “Damn cheek from a man accused of hacking dead children's phones by Jeremy Paxman at the Leveson inquiry … Paxman testified how you taught him to hack phones, and later your newspaper paid £££damages for hacking dead people's phones”. Paxman did not make any hacking accusation against Morgan at the Leveson Inquiry. Nor have the Mirror group titles faced any accusation, or paid damages in respect of, hacking a dead child’s, or dead anyone’s, phone.
And explaining how hackers get into a target’s voicemail is hardly “teaching”. Paxman’s account is clearly retelling how Morgan encouraged the Newsnight presenter to change his voicemail code to something that was not the factory setting. If Morgan or Paxman were so minded, they could issue proceedings for defamation and might expect to win their cases.
Then it potentially gets even worse: after Rupert Myers passed adverse comment about Robinson, and told him “I'm sure you consider all publicity to be welcome”, Robinson replied “#trollwatch”. This refers to the practice of turning up on a target’s doorstep, or at their workplace, with his pals and a camera, for one of thosepolite conversations”.
Did Tommy Robinson tell Rupert Myers whether he intended to do that? Do we take that as a threat he has made against Myers? Well, Myers will know now. All of which, taken together, might mean serious trouble for the former EDL man. And it’s his own fault.

Tony Parsons Has Forgotten The 70s

Observers of the Pundit Establishment in all its agony will already know that this less than august body has more than its fair share of those who have gradually crossed the floor from left to right, becoming increasingly selfish, reactionary and authoritarian as they go. But when the hour demands an inadvertent comedy turn as well, one pundit has no peer, and that pundit is the preposterous Tony Parsons.
Parsons, who was accommodated by the Mirror for rather too long, but has now gravitated to the Murdoch Sun, has today indicated that he at least understands one thing: the right-wing propaganda spewed out by him and his pals is having no effect on that part of the electorate which is increasingly drawn to Jeremy Corbyn. So he has raised the white flag and told his remaining readers that a Labour Government is inevitable.

Let’s teach the Glastonbury groovers a lesson on the horrors of socialism and give them Prime Minister Corbyn” moans the headline, before Tone makes his first research fail. “IT is no good lecturing all the young groovers at Glastonbury about the horrors of socialism - they are going to have to learn that hard lesson for themselves”. The average age of Glasto-goers in 2015 was 42. It’s probably around that this year.

So after alienating a few more million voters, off he goes again: “there’s no point in the old folk droning on about the Seventies”. Why don’t yer, Tone? It’s yer favourite subject. And, indeed, he promptly does just that. “It is no good telling youngsters about three million unemployed, endless strikes and how runaway inflation wakes you up in the middle of the night with the worry about how the hell you will pay next month’s bills”. Ri-i-i-ight.

A word in your shell-like, Tone: we did not have three million unemployed in the seventies. Unemployment did not peak until well after Mrs T had come to power and the Tories inadvisedly listened rather too keenly to the advice of Professor Milton Friedman and his pals. Three million unemployed had nothing to do with socialism, and everything to do with a combination of monetarism and free market doctrine.

As for inflation, yes, it was bad in the 1970s, but laying the blame solely at the Labour Party is coming it. The “Barber boom”, so named after Ted Heath’s chancellor of the exchequer, really kicked it off, Labour under Harold Wilson failed to tame it, and after Mrs T came to power, off it went again. Bad inflation returned  - still under the Tories - at the end of the 80s (the “Lawson boom” this time) and was only tamed in the mid 90s.

Anyone would think Tony Parsons is getting forgetful. But he’s got that covered with a little ageism and abuse: “Jeremy Corbyn gurning on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street like a right-on Albert Steptoe … let’s get the senile old booby in Downing Street”. That’s probably actionable, as well as rank hypocrisy. After all, Jezza isn’t the one who can’t remember what happened in the 1970s - that would be Tony Parsons.

Isn’t it high time Tony Parsons was put out to grass? He’s done quite enough of the fraudulently scoring More And Bigger Paycheques For Himself Personally Now.

Corbyn Does Glasto - Cue Moaning

The annual gathering that is the Glastonbury festival comes to a close today, and among all the music in yesterday’s line-up, there was one extra guest who received a reception little short of rapturous. Yes, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had arrived from London and was there to make a speech from the Pyramid Stage. He later gave a second impromptu speech from the festival’s Left Field. But not everyone was happy about his visit.
Those in the press establishment who are still having problems with the idea that Jezza is actually popular, and increasingly so, among much of the electorate were ready and waiting - to put the boot in. And first out of the blocks was Mail Online, with the sneering and partisan sense of entitlement well to the fore.
The Tweeter known as Not The Tory Press could not believe the headline - soon deleted, but captured for posterity - which read “So much for your eco-credentials, Jeremy! Corbyn visits Glastonbury’s green fields in a convoy of gas-guzzling 4x4s - shortly before taking to the stage to denounce environmental destruction”. That Corbyn had travelled from London to nearly Castle Cary by train was not permitted to enter. It was not satire! Come to think of it, it wasn’t worth calling journalism, either.
Next up for a sip of whine was Piers Morgan, who carped “I'd like to have seen Jeremy Corbyn try to address the #RoyalAscot crowd like he did Glastonbury” before renewing his efforts to blag a table at the Chiltern Firehouse so he could bore the other diners crapless telling them how famous he was. And on it went.
Ross Kempsell, apprentice sandwich monitor (oops, sorry, “senior reporter”) for the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines at the Guido Fawkes blog, latched on to a Tweet from the BBC Radio 1 account, using it to fashion a predictably tedious hit piece.
Also ready with an elitist sneer was Kempsell’s predecessor, the odious flannelled fool Master Harry Cole, now pretending to be a real journalist at the Murdoch Sun, with “‘Directly to the dispossessed’ who had each paid £238 to be there”. Two things here: one, it was for four days’ entertainment, and two, Master Cole had no room to try that one, as the Tweeter known as cricketfan reminded him: “Instead of the £1,000 a plate that Hedge Fund Managers and Oligarchs pay to go to the Conservative Black & White Ball?
Meanwhile, the media establishment whores at Spiked (so titled because it should have been) tried to get in on the act with “If this was Theresa May at a country fair and the only black person in the pic was a security guard, lefties, Buzzfeed etc would go wild”.
And they failed. But the pièce de résistance came from Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, trying desperately to score some attention from Corbyn’s appearance. “Why should we pay the BBC licence fee just so they can promote @JeremyCorbyn? Outrageous” he moaned.

That campaign progressed not necessarily to his advantage, with Jonathan Fisher replying “Why should I pay the BBC licence fee when they so frequently ask a man who's lost seven election campaigns for his political insight?” and Andy Lewis, aka Le Canard Noir, added “I'll tell you what would be worth the license fee. Farage on the Pyramid Stage with 100,000 people chucking bottles of piss”. Jealousy duly gets its deserved comeuppance.

Top Six - June 25

So what’s hot, and what’s not, in the past week’s blogging? Here are the six most popular posts on Zelo Street for the past seven days, counting down in reverse order, because, well, I have to be out and about later. So there.
6 Corbyn - The Sun Loses It One Sun editorial tells you all you need to know about the realisation by the Murdoch goons that they are losing the plot.

5 Corbyn Royal Bow Smear BUSTED Another Fawkes and Sun joint promotion, the claim that Jezza should have bowed to Brenda at the State Opening of Parliament was another pack of lies.

4 Grenfell Tower - Breitbart Lies BUSTED The convocation of the terminally batshit that is Breitbart, under the less than benign leadership of Raheem “call me Ray” Kassam, span another all too obvious pack of lies about responsibility for building and maintaining the tower block involved in the disastrous fire.

3 Daily Mail Profited From Torture If the Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor Paul Dacre had problems with a mere Guardian cartoon, a new judgment from the ECHR would be a lot worse. Here’s why.

2 Grenfell Tower - Idiot Blames Corbyn There’s always one Tory supporting troll out there, and this one calls himself Malcolm Knight.

1 Paul Dacre’s Guardian Meltdown The Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor lost his shit in true Mr Creosote style over a Martin Rowson cartoon in the Guardian.

And that’s the end of another blogtastic week, blog pickers. Not ‘arf!

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Brexit Is Going Backwards

Returned to not very much power after a General Election where she went out to catch the public mood and somehow dropped it, Theresa May has now shifted her focus to the Brexit negotiations. Emboldened by her not particularly strong hand, and the magnificent delusion of many in and around our free and fearless press, she has gone to Brussels to tell those ghastly foreigners exactly where they get off.
We will, so the narrative goes, take back control, become once again masters of our own destiny, able to go out into the world and discover just how little clout our name carries nowadays. The problem, as ever, is the gulf between the version of reality peddled by the Tories and their press pals, and the actual reality for the other 27 EU member states. So it should surprise no-one that the PM’s efforts are going nowhere fast.
It's so bad that SHE is now a cabinet minister

This was made abundantly clear when Ms May declared that she had made a generous offer on the rights of EU citizens in the UK. The move was cheered to the rafters by the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate. Jakub Krupa of the Polish Press Agency, however, noted that the view from his country was less positive: “Poland's Europe Minister Szymański says he appreciates May's proposal, but considers it incomplete and not meeting all EU requirements”. He was not alone.
Guy Verhofstadt told “May’s ‘generous offer’ does not fully guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK”. The Independent reported “European leaders tell Theresa May her 'big offer' on EU citizens isn't good enough”. Nick Eardley of the BBC added “Donald Tusk says UK offer could worsen situation for citizens and falls below expectations”.
Labour MEP Richard Corbett helpfully explained “Why #TheresaMay offer on #rights of EU citizens already living in #Britain is in fact not so generous”. It was because she was telling those citizens they could have some of the rights they already enjoyed. And Rupert Myers reported Nick Clegg’s response to the mess: “The fate of EU citizens is the easiest bit, and they've screwed that up as well”. Could it get worse still?
As if you need to ask. Leader of the Commons Andrea Leadsom appeared before the inquisition of Emily Maitlis on Newsnight and told her “It would be helpful if broadcasters were willing to be a bit patriotic”. Strewth, did we just declare war on someone?
John Harris of the Guardian, pausing to note caustically but correctly “Oceania is at war with Eurasia again”, had more interesting quotes from Ms Leadsom, including “We’re very well prepared for the negotiations” (no we’re not), “We have a very strong hand” (evidently not), and the magnificent “I am simply saying we all need to pull together as a country”.
What use “pulling together” will be when what we need is someone else to pull us out of the mire into which we have voluntarily fallen is not told. And the idea that a little censorship will stop Britain from being regarded across Europe as a laughing stock is beyond delusional. As the football chant goes, “they don’t know what they’re doing”.

Meanwhile, the Brexit clock ticks on. And nobody in the Government has the sense to stop it, and maybe ask if this is really such a great idea. I’ll just leave that one there.

Tim Hunt - Guilty All Along

Nobel laureate Tim Hunt’s remarks to a conference in the South Korean capital Seoul - “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls … three things happen when they are in the lab … You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry”, when he then “said he was in favour of single-sex labs, adding that he didn’t want to ‘stand in the way of women’”, are widely known, thanks to one person’s intervention.
Has Tim Hunt got unwelcome news for her

That intervention came from (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch, who took up Hunt’s case in uncompromising style, berating, browbeating, bullying, accusing, harassing, insulting, and occasionally defaming anyone of opposing opinion. Some of those she accused found themselves on the receiving end of abusive emails - from her. No stone was left unturned in pursuit of proving that He Didn’t Mean It.
Ms Mensch’s obsessive defence of Hunt, together with her equally obsessive pursuit of anyone opposing her crusade, used the support of the Gamergate mob. The resulting aggression and unpleasantness left a bad taste with many in the scientific community.

What may also leave a bad taste is the news that, whatever Hunt’s supporters might have claimed, the man they championed most likely did mean what he said at the conference in Seoul - because he’s been opening mouth and inserting boot all over again.
At a discussion of Nobel Laureates titled “The role of science in the 21st century”, Hunt reprised his Seoul howler. As science journalist Sue Nelson observed of the live stream of the event, “22'10" onwards. Tim Hunt responds to the only woman on the panel re working in lab & compares it to a love affair”. And there was more.
The response to Hunt’s awkward moment followed: “Her good natured response: 'I think more about the people in my lab as children…’”. And the target of Hunt’s ill-advised encore? “The woman, by the way, is Nobel prize winner May-Britt Moser”.
But Ms Nelson is an interested party to the Hunt affair: she was one of the targets for Ms Mensch’s vitriol. Perhaps this was an isolated view? Well, no it wasn’t, as astronomer Tanya Urrutia confirmed: “Oh goody. Tim Hunt talking about love affairs in science. And the only person calling for diversity vs. lone genius is a woman”.
Ms Urrutia was not alone in passing adverse comment, being joined in this by Curt Rice: “Nobel laureate Tim Hunt just referred to the atmosphere in a lab as being like a love affair. #starmus #awkward”. So what has Ms Mensch had to say this time?
As if you need to ask: there has been silence from the woman now representing the distant constituency of Manhattan Upmarket, who earlier this year told her Twitter following “Sir Tim Hunt was viciously lied about by a pack of liars. It was a great honour to help clear his good name”. Seems she backed the wrong horse once more.

Her defence of Tim Hunt was a sham. And remember, they allowed her to become an MP.

Dan Hodges’ Grenfell Diana Meltdown

In the wake of the catastrophic fire which consumed the Grenfell Tower earlier this month, local authorities across the country have been reviewing the safety of high rise blocks on their patches. As a result, Camden council ordered the evacuation of towers on the Chalcots estate in Swiss Cottage yesterday evening. The blocks had multiple safety issues - it wasn’t just about potentially flammable cladding.
He's desperate, Dan

As the BBC reported, “Camden Council said it will remove external thermal cladding from five tower blocks on the Chalcots estate … It also said there were concerns about the insulation of gas pipes going into flats, and fire doors”. But one know-all member of the Pundit Establishment knew better: the Mail on Sunday’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges duly dispensed his superior insights.
Whatever was happening in Camden, he declared, was wrong: “Sorry. Camden ‘evacuation’ is nuts. People need to get a grip”. He then doubled down in no style at all, ranting “Grenfell was horrific. But this is becoming a Death of Diana moment. Needs some sense of perspective”. At least 79 people - and probably many more - incinerated in their homes, and efforts to prevent a recurrence are a “Death of Diana moment”. Ri-i-i-ight.
The response to this singularly ill-judged Twitter excursion was typified by Ellie Mae O’Hagan, who took issue with the Diana comparison: “No, it's like Hillsborough. Rage and despair at injustice, the sense that it was a crime not a tragedy, the fear that nothing will change”. Hodges’ flippant comeback to her did not help his standing: “You're being facetious and disrespectful about the deaths of innocent people including children now”.
Another passing severely adverse comment on Hodges’ stance was Lauri Love, responding to Desperate Dan’s punt on cladding with “who gives a shit? it needs to come off because it's been shown to be incredibly hazardous to human life”, and exposing Hodges’ ignorance when he asked “are you seriously suggesting they're paying to have people temporarily rehoused at expense without risk warranting it out of some dramatics?
Hodges was saying exactly that. The London Fire Brigade had told Camden Council they could not guarantee the safety of residents in those buildings. There’s Mail on Sunday research standards for you. Meanwhile, Dawn Foster joined the ranks of those objecting to the Diana quip: “Dan, dozens of people died in a preventable tragedy and were let down by the law and the state. No comparison”. The Great Man disagreed.
People, he declared, were thinking emotionally, not rationally, an opinion which might have proved interesting to the London Fire Brigade. Ms Foster was yet more unimpressed: “You can do both. People are angry because the state failed them. I've reported from day one and there is no comparison. Grow up”. Hodges’ campaign had, not for the first time, progressed not necessarily to his advantage.

Still, what’s another lost argument to an overpaid pundit who called the Labour leadership, EU referendum and US Presidential election all wrong? Stay classy, Dan.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Fawkes Backs Hacked Off BY MISTAKE

Whenever it seems that the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate and its bottom-feeding hangers-on cannot make themselves look worse, when one is convinced that they cannot possibly scrape bedrock any further, they are the ones who come galloping to the rescue. So it has proved for the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who have inadvertently scored a major own goal today.
Under the heading “FAKE NEWS” - a sensitive area chez Fawkes, given they have been caught out peddling the very same kind of dishonestly by this blog twice in the past week (HERE and HERE) - readers are toldHospital Admits Sun Man Didn’t Impersonate Grenfell Relatives”. And just in case anyone had difficulty comprehending this, the post helpfully added “Hospital Admits Sun Reporter DID NOTHING WRONG”.

And there’s more: “An allegation made against a reporter working for the The Sun, whipped up by the Guardian and left-wing news sites [yawn], has turned out to be completely untrue. King’s College Hospital had ‘formally written’ to IPSO to complain about a journalist who was accused of impersonating a friend or relative of a Grenfell victim while seeking an interview in the aftermath of the fire”. Yes? Yes yes? Yes yes yes?
The Sun strongly denied this at the time, and now the complaint has been withdrawn. A News UK spokesman said: ‘They accepted that our reporter did not “impersonate relatives” or “friends”. As a result of this the hospital has withdrawn any IPSO complaint’”.

Which brings us to the inadvertent howler: the Fawkes mob then come over all righteous and demand “Will MediaGuardian, who sent this false allegation viral, ensure their correction is just as prominent?” And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here.

One, Media Guardian reported the story. They did not make any false allegations. And claiming they “sent it viral” suggests deliberate action, an inference which The Great Guido is unable to stand up. And two, sham press regulator IPSO, to which the Sun has signed up, has declined to order equal prominence corrections when its members get it wrong - and thus far the Guardian has not been shown to have done anything wrong.
There is only one organisation that has consistently advocated for equal prominence corrections - in other words, if the howler is in a front page banner headline, so should the correction - and that is campaigning group Hacked Off. Their submission to IPSO’s “external review” has all the relevant information (HERE).

So The Great Guido has come round to the Hacked Off point of view, and I’m sure Evan Harris, Daisy Cooper and their team will be more than pleased to see this latest example of the One Sinner That Repenteth. What the Fawkes rabble’s press establishment masters will make of such deviant behaviour, though, does not bear thinking about.

There’s nothing like the Fawkes blog to inflate a news soufflé beyond the limits of viability and then put their foot in it. Another fine mess, once again.

Grenfell Tower - Now It’s Manslaughter

As Zelo Street told the day after the catastrophic fire which tore through the Grenfell Tower in West London, the cladding that had been recently applied to the exterior of the building was immediately suspected of being the reason the flames spread so rapidly. Raynobond, two sheets of aluminium with a polyethylene core, was believed not to be fire resistant. Worse, similar cladding had been shown to be highly flammable.
The work to clad Grenfell Tower had begun in 2015. By that time, the report from the fire in the Lacrosse Tower, in Melbourne’s docklands, was available. And that tower’s cladding, Alucobest, was similar to what would soon cover Grenfell Tower. An ABC report toldIn a CSIRO test of combustibility commissioned by Melbourne's Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Alucobest caught fire in less than a minute … The cladding that should have been used is called Alucobond. It has the same aluminium outside but has a mineral fibre core inside, which is fire resistant”. The information was out there.

There had been other fires which were later found to have been at least exacerbated by external cladding, one notable example being the unfortunately-named Torch Tower in Dubai. The 86-storey residential block was damaged, but there were no injuries. However, as al-Jazeera noted, “External cladding on the corner of more than two dozen storeys from roughly the 50th floor to the top were mangled and charred black”.

Worse, it seems Grenfell Tower had another serious flaw, as the Guardian explained: “A local councillor, Judith Blakeman, who sits on the tenant management organisation, raised concerns in March about the National Grid installation of gas risers or pipes in the main stairwell as part of the refurbishment. She was assured by the landlord that they would be boxed in with ‘fire-rated’ protection, but this does not appear to have been done. The London fire brigade said on Thursday morning they had not been able to put out the flames until they had isolated a ruptured gas main in the block”.

Gas pipes in a tower block. That has been a rarity ever since the Ronan Point collapse in 1968. There, a gas explosion in an 18th floor flat blew out load-bearing walls and caused the progressive collapse of a whole corner of the 22-storey building. Now we know that not only did Grenfell Tower have gas pipes, but also that there had been a ruptured gas main somewhere within the building. So there were two sources of fire spread.

That put the compartmentalisation of the building at risk: this is the idea that underpinned the advice from the emergency services to residents to stay put in their apartments. Fires would be contained within one area. Indeed, the initial fire, in a fridge freezer on the fourth floor, had been put out by firefighters. But then the flames erupted.

And now has come news that the Metropolitan Police is considering manslaughter charges. Along with that is the admission that some of those who perished in the blaze may never be identified. Now that the cops are on the case, we might just get some answers. It’s just a pity that so many had to die first.

The blackened shell of Grenfell Tower is coming to stand as a monument to cutbacks, ineptitude across Government, and the gaping inequalities in our society. The consequences of this tragedy will play out for many years yet.

Daily Mail Profited From Torture

If the Daily Mail’s legendarily foul mouthed editor Paul Dacre had problems with a cartoon in the Guardian, he will find yesterday’s judgment from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) far worse: this has concluded that what happened to protesters who were savagely beaten by an out of control faction of the Italian Police at the Genoa G8 summit in 2001 amounted to torture. And the Mail was a significant beneficiary.
Yesterday’s judgment “held, unanimously, that there had been: a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights … The case concerned the ill-treatment to which 42 demonstrators were subjected by police officers inside a school, in the context of an anti-globalisation demonstration organised to coincide with the 27th summit of the eight major industrialised countries (G8)”. And there was more.

The Court found in particular that the treatment to which the applicants had been subjected should be regarded as torture, on account of the ‘severe’ physical and psychological suffering it had caused them and its particularly serious and cruel nature. The applicants had been both victims of and witnesses to the use of uncontrolled violence by the police, with officers systematically beating each of the school’s occupants, including those who were lying down or sitting with their hands up, despite the fact that the occupants had not committed any act of violence or resistance against the police”.

One of those who had been in the Diaz Pertini school the night of the Police raid was journalist Mark Covell, who was covering the G8 and protests for Indymedia. He ran out of the building to witness 300 Police storming through its gates. He was singled out for an especially savage beating: his injuries includedeight broken ribs, smashed teeth, a collapsed lung and internal bleeding. He lost consciousness and slipped into a coma”.

As he lay, heavily sedated, in hospital, “The day after the assault he awoke to find a man and a woman in his room. In his drugged state, he assumed the personable woman to be from the British embassy and therefore answered her questions, including the name, address and phone number of his mother. But he said he became suspicious when the man asked to take a picture of him and, at that point, the woman explained that she was Lucie Morris, a Daily Mail reporter. It transpired that the man was Nick Holt, a Mail photographer. Covell immediately asked them to leave”.

The Mail then doorstepped and aggressively questioned his mother, extracting sufficient information to feed into the following day’s front page claim that Covell had led the rioters and “helped to mastermind” the G8 attacks. He hadn’t. The Mail made it up.
Worse, a source close to the story has told me that the Mail reporter and her photographer bribed their way into Covell’s hospital room. It was asserted that no fewer than three Police officers were paid off in the process. And now the ECHR has ruled that the summary justice the Police dispensed that night amounted to torture.

And it’s not as if the Mail has a get-out clause here: not only did Covell clear his name and secure an out of court settlement from the Italian interior ministry of €340,000, he also took the Mail to the cleaners, the result of which has remained secret to this day.

As Roy Greenslade at the Guardian explained, “The Daily Mail's senior executives, legal advisers and Morris herself defended their actions, arguing that the hospital interview was justified in order to highlight that Covell had been badly beaten. They refused to acknowledge that Covell had a worthwhile case but, such was the force of his argument and the obvious central falsehood of the Mail's story, that the paper decided it could not face a court case”. So the Dacre doggies settled without going to court.

After he was forced to issue proceedings, the Mail suddenly agreed to pay Covell damages and his legal costs and, in a major climbdown, even acceded to his request for a formal letter of apology. Its contents must remain private: the letter can be shown only to Covell, his close family and to the courts in Italy”.

Covell’s solicitor Louis Charalambous later observed “The conduct of the Daily Mail and Lucie Morris is the worst example of its kind I've ever come across”. And he has many years’ experience of dealing with the press.

Greenslade mentioned two other Britons, Nicola Doherty and Richard Moth, who were still awaiting justice following the Diaz Pertini raid: their names are cited in the ECHR judgment. The Daily Mail profited handsomely from its coverage of the G8 protests: now it is on record that what happened that night in Genoa amounted to torture.

Something to consider next time you read anything from the Daily Mail.