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Friday 31 December 2021

The BBC And Ghislaine Maxwell

After former “socialite” Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty on sex trafficking charges, with the distinct possibility that she might spend the rest of her life behind bars, media players that had not already distanced themselves from backing her had a straightforward question to ask themselves. How would a reputable outlet handle the story? How would a sensible organisation have proceeded? How would Nietzsche have approached it?

Ghislaine Maxwell - remember, she got guilty

None of this seems to have concerned management at the increasingly troubled BBC, where, for starters, Alan Dershowitz, formerly Jeffrey Epstain’s lawyer and someone who is not a disinterested party in the affair, was given a platform by the Corporation to smear Ms Maxwell’s accusers. The Beeb has since attempted to deflect the welter of condemnation by claiming that the Dershowitz interview “did not meet its editorial standards”.

Tim Davie - not going very well, is it?

The BBC’s own report at least explains why the interview was not their finest hour: “Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, a human rights lawyer, tweeted that Mr Dershowitz was introduced ‘without any reference to his background; he's simply introduced as “constitutional lawyer” as if he's a neutral expert’, adding: ‘Shocked. Utterly bizarre decision and does the audience a disservice.’” But now they’ve done it again.

Because the Radio 4 Today Programme - the gold standard of radio news reportage - has this morning given Ian Maxwell - Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother - a platform to proclaim her innocence. Sonia Sodha of the Observer was surprised. “Why is the BBC now running an interview with Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother, pleading her innocence, on its main bulletin on R4? Would they do that for any other child sex offender found guilty in a court of law?

Another Tweeter mused “As #GhislaineMaxwell's brother is given a platform on #r4today to proclaim his sibling's innocence (based on no evidence other than ‘my own view’), I'm trying to recall the last time the defenders of anyone convicted of a major crime were offered sich an opportunity on the BBC”. The Secret Barrister found it mystifying.

I cannot understand why #r4today is providing a platform for family and friends of Ghislaine Maxwell to proclaim her innocence and undermine the jury’s verdicts. Is this service to be made available to all convicted sex offenders?” Mark Hebden added “Can't believe #r4today just gave a platform to Ian Maxwell … to defend his sister and undermine the testimonies of the survivors of abuse as well as questioning the court process”.

Chris Dillow suggested this may be taking the “balance” concept a little too far. “#r4today giving a platform to Ian Maxwell to protest his sister's innocence shows two features of BBC news: a class bias (do working class nonces get the same privilege?); and a prioritizing of ‘balance’ so that a jury verdict has no more weight than some guy's opinion”.

And SNP MP John Nicolson, having concluded that Maxwell’s appearance was an “odd decision”, asked “Are we to assume that all high profile, well connected sex offenders will now be allowed to use a high profile BBC platform to attack witnesses post conviction?

This kind of thing one might expect from the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine. Not the BBC. It’s high time that Tim Davie stopped grovelling before the political and media establishment - the Corporation may not survive much more of this ineptitude.

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Thursday 30 December 2021

Piers Corbyn And Far-Right Terrorism

While the Covid-19 pandemic saw former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn featuring in videos promoting vaccination events at Arsenal FC’s ground, it has also seen his brother Piers indulging in a series of anti-vax events that have seen him arrested. And his latest stunt has added far-right friends and domestic terrorism to his CV.

Amiable eccentric no more: Piers Corbyn ...

This is as a result of an excursion undertaken by Piers Corbyn and a number of his anti-vax fellow travellers which yesterday brought them to Milton Keynes. Once gathered, they staged a demonstration, but very few people took any notice. So in order to cause more people to pay attention to their cause, they marched on a Test and Trace facility.

... and his latest far-right pal, Jeff Wyatt

And while the BBC has reported thatPolice are appealing for information after anti-vaccine protesters targeted an NHS testing centre, shouted abuse at staff and appeared to damage equipment. Dozens entered the site in Milton Keynes on Wednesday, and were captured in videos shared on social media”, they missed the role of the far right.

Shayan Sardarizadeh from BBC Monitoring was doing just that. “Anti-vaccine protesters hurl abuse at staff at a Milton Keynes test and trace centre today, chanting ‘shame on you’ and falsely accusing them of ‘murder’ … Anti-vax protesters throw in a bin a box of equipment they took from a Milton Keynes test and trace centre during a rally today”.

Then, after Rachel Clarke, who you can tell as she’s a doctor, mused “Imagine being so selfish - so convinced of your own righteousness - that you’d storm a Test & Trace centre, abuse staff working there, steal testing equipment, & dump it in a bin outside the centre. In a *pandemic*”, the identity of some of those present came under the spotlight.

Marc Lister was, as so often, recording events. “The usual suspects have travelled to Jeff Wyatt’s home town of Milton Keynes for a covid conspiracy protest today. Kate Shemirani has been marked on the promotional posters as one of the speakers”. Sadly for those present, the increasingly wacko (and struck off) Ms Shemirani couldn’t make it.

But what of Jeff Wyatt? One observer of the far-right knew all about him. “Wyatt was deputy leader of the extremist anti-Muslim party For Britain. After a disagreement with the leader he switched to the extremist anti-Muslim party UKIP”. That’s For Britain as in Anne Marie Waters, and UKIP in the days when it was being run into the ground under the less than benign leadership of Islamophobic bigot Adolf von Batten.

So while Thames Valley Police cast around for evidence, telling “We are aware of an anti-vaccination protest in Milton Keynes today. We're currently reviewing the activity for any criminal offences and will take swift action if any have been committed”, they should be adding domestic terrorism to the charge sheet. And including both Piers Corbyn and his new best pal Jeff Wyatt on the list of those who might assist with their enquiries.

It is becoming clear that Piers Corbyn is not some mere oddball, an eccentric who should be humoured. His participation in yesterday’s act of terrorism, and the company he chooses to keep, shows that he has drifted to espouse the far-right.

He may be about to experience his second recent arrest. What a deserving chap.

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The Spectator And Ghislaine Maxwell

Many of today’s papers splash the lurid details of “socialite” Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late and disgraced Captain Bob, getting guilty on sufficient sex trafficking charges to mean she may spend the rest of her life in jail. Ms Maxwell, it seems, worked very closely indeed with the late Jeffrey Epstein, who took his own life rather than face trial.

Ghislaine Maxwell

But while the Times, Mail, Mirror, Telegraph and Express are unequivocal in their painting of Ms Maxwell as A Very Bad Person Indeed - with some titles hinting that Prince Andrew may be, shall we say, perspiring gently as a result of the verdict - one publication may be finding itself in one of those Very Difficult Positions this morning.

And that publication is the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine, where editor Fraser Nelson may need to do rather better than put on his faux-posh sneer and claim that it’s just “something on Twitter”. Because the Speccy has been running a whole series of articles telling readers that Ghislaine Maxwell was not such a bad person after all.

Almost as soon as Ms Maxwell got herself nicked Stateside, the excuse notes arrived, not least one from July last year by one Alan Dershowitz, who has, shall we say, more than a passing interest in Epstein’s ex getting guilty: one of Epstein’s underage victims swore an affidavit in which she accused The Great Man of rape. A variety of lawsuits followed.

Under the headlineThe Ghislaine Maxwell I know”, Dershowitz asserts “My wife and I were introduced to Ghislaine Maxwell by Sir Evelyn and Lady Lynne de Rothschild, and we subsequently met her on several occasions - generally in the presence of prominent people such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Nobel Prize-winning scientists, presidents of universities, and prominent academic and business people. We never saw her do anything inappropriate. We knew her only as Jeffrey Epstein’s thirty-something girlfriend”.

Fraser Nelson, editor, the Spectator

He then puts the boot into Virginia Guiffre, accuser of Epstein, Ms Maxwell, Prince Andrew, and indeed Dershowitz himself. Then, the following month, the Spectator ran anotherThe Ghislaine Maxwell I knew”, this time by Nicholas Coleridge, who asserted “I have known Ghislaine Maxwell for more than 40 years, since she was a student at Balliol. I always liked her, everyone did, and I find it hard to reconcile the Ghislaine I knew with the heinous crimes of which she now stands accused”. So that’s all right, then.

Then, only last month, came an Oh What A Giveaway moment from Rachel Johnson, sister of our alleged Prime Minister, who told Spectator readers “It’s hard not to pity Ghislaine Maxwell”. Why so? “I intersected briefly with her at Oxford. As a fresher I wandered into Balliol JCR one day in search of its subsidised breakfast granola-and-NescafĂ© offering and found a shiny glamazon with naughty eyes holding court astride a table, a high-heeled boot resting on my brother Boris’s thigh”.

So when our free and fearless press summons sufficient courage, they might ask Bozo what he knows about Ms Maxwell and her circle of friends. Meanwhile, the Speccy has also been giving a platform to Ian Maxwell, and yes he is a relation. He’s Ghislaine Maxwell’s brother, letting Speccy readers know what “The Truth” really is.

Of course, if Ghislaine Maxwell now sings as part of a post-conviction plea bargain, we will discover the truth sooner rather than later. And so will readers of the Spectator.

Wednesday 29 December 2021

Behold Bozo’s Lousy Legacy

Our free and fearless press, much of which has been fully invested in the glorification of alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, is today registering the first sign of nerves: all those little people, the Red Wall voters who propelled Bozo to victory so he could “Get Brexit Done”, are facing a serious cost of living squeeze come the New Year. Worse, wages are falling in real terms. And Covid-19 is still very much with us.

Which is more than can be said for Bozo, and indeed a significant number of his cabinet colleagues. Given that Brexit was supposed to have brought so many benefits, one might have expected them to be there, touring the studios and promoting the good news. The thought then enters that there may not be any good news, the electorate might just be in the process of finding out, the Tories know it, and are keeping a very low profile indeed.

It is not just the Guardian warning today “UK households warned of ‘year of the squeeze’ as cost of living soars … Families face £1,200 hit as wages fall and bills rise, says thinktank”. The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph has warned “Cost of living to jump by £1,200 in April”. The warning has come from the Resolution Foundation.

Even the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, has a front page teaser warning “Families £1,200 worse off in ‘year of the squeeze’”. That wasn’t how the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog saw it in October: “The problem with this apocalyptic, food banks are growing, everything is terrible projection by Labour figures on Twitter is that it doesn't chime with most voters experience. Unemployment is low, wages are rising, jobs are plentiful for those that want to work”. But now has come reality.

As Jonathan Portes has pointed out this morning, “Real wages are now falling. As I've been pointing out since June, the idea of a post-pandemic, post-Brexit wage spike was mostly a mixture of ideology, selective use of evidence, and wishful thinking”.

There was more. Crediting the Resolution Foundation and its Labour Market Outlook, he continued “I produce a regular version of a similar chart (in levels not changes) using the (slightly more up to date) HMRC data. As with the RF chart, it shows real wages falling, including in sectors most affected by pandemic/Brexit/migration”.

As LBC host James O’Brien put it, “I guess there's still a chance that Jacob Rees Mogg, Andrea Leadsom, Andrew Bridgen & Mark Francois had a better grasp of international trade than people who've spent their lives explaining, exploring & engaging in international trade. But I think we can agree the chance is slim”. And then there was Covid-19.

With the Omicron variant driving infection rates higher, and Bozo a prisoner of the so-called Covid Recovery Group of Tory back benchers, named because its activities will set back recovery from Covid for many months, and result in rather more serious illness and death than would have been the case had the Government moved to reduce transmission of the virus over the New Year period, that just makes Bozo’s legacy yet more lousy.

The Government may be whistling sufficiently to keep its collective spirits up. But the reality is that it is gradually imploding, as Brexit is exposed as a con trick by the rich on the less well off, levelling up is seen to be meaningless, and the Tories revealed not to care about keeping the public safe. So, as ever, the losers will be us. And not them.

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Tuesday 28 December 2021

Hartley Dooda In The Legal Dooda

While those who care about the wellbeing of their fellow citizens continue to urge caution as new Covid-19 infections soar, those who show signs of caring only about Themselves Personally Now sneer and snipe from the sidelines. And there is no finer example of sneering and sniping while objecting to anything that might impinge on her ability to please herself than self-promoting TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley Brewer.

Not only one smearing Brexiteer ...

While posting photos of her latest holiday destination, wherever it be, Ms Hartley Dooda devotes much of her Twitter feed to shovelling on the propaganda of those whose opinions on the pandemic meet with the approval of herself: James Melville, Adam Brooks aka Essex PR, wacko pundit Allison Pearson, Laurence Fox (still sore about not becoming the new 007 eight years after the event), and the increasingly alt-right Spectator magazine.

... but also a second smearing Brexiteer

At the same time, she manages the occasional swipe at those who have the audacity to give a damn about others. After Sky News had told “Dr Julia Patterson says that the NHS is under enormous pressure and that the government has 'chosen not to act early' in dealing with latest variant”, out came the Hartley Dooda sneer. “In unrelated news, Dr Julia Patterson sells face masks at a huge profit on her website”.

As Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this claim - it was bollocks. Potentially actionable bollocks. So it should have surprised no-one when Dr Patterson responded “Julia Hartley-Brewer (who I blocked earlier today) is trolling me. We do, indeed, sell face masks. They are reusable, 3 layer cloth masks, and they’re made by our brilliant friends at @mfep_uk, who employ sewists who lost jobs during the pandemic. I do not profit from sales”. And there was more.

This Tweet is potentially actionable ...

They help to fund the non-profit I founded and run. It is called @EveryDoctorUK. I will be speaking to the barrister on our team about Julia Hartley-Brewer’s tweets”. She does not profit, and Every Doctor UK is a non-profit organisation. This appears to be a nailed-on example of defamation, with the potential to damage Dr Patterson’s reputation.

That is only made worse by Ms Hartley Dooda’s Tweet being timed at 1535 hours yesterday, and still being live at 1040 hours today. And she isn’t the only one in the frame, after Richard Tice (he’s not very nice) made a similar claim: “Perhaps [SkyNews] could ask Dr Julia Patterson where is any real evidence that masks she sells for fat profit actually work, actually make any difference? Balanced reporting”. More apparent defamation.

... and so is this one

Moreover, there are plenty of folks out there ready and willing to lend a hand to Dr Patterson’s cause. Should she consult lawyers? Former England Rugby stalwart Brian Moore, who is a trained lawyer, was unequivocal. “I would, the personal profit allegation is clear from [Julia Hartley Brewer]”. Perhaps she needs help with crowdfunding?

The Tweeter known as Russ In Cheshire had that one covered. "If you need crowdfunding for any legal action, I'd be happy to contribute, and to help publicise”. Ms Hartley Dooda, and Tice The Great Brexiteer, really should have thought before Tweeting. Maybe they did - which only makes it look an order of magnitude worse.

Will Julia Hartley Dooda say sorry? If not, it could become reassuringly expensive for her.

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Monday 27 December 2021

Meghan Inflicts Mail’s Final Humiliation

In the lead-up to Christmas, the Mail titles were at their misinforming worst, exemplified by last Thursday’s headline “OFFICIAL: OMICRON 50% LESS SEVERE … and raft of other studies confirm variant IS weaker - vindicating PM’s refusal to bring in new curbs”. What happens if Omicron is so transmissible that it brings more than twice the number of infections is not told. Misinformation and irresponsibility combine for sales and clicks.

Spot the admission - at foot of page

Who is now in charge at the Daily Mail? That would be Ted Verity, appointed as the Mail titles - both the Mail and Mail on Sunday - become one seven day operation, finally ending the bleating of the titles’ obscenely overpaid columnists that the MoS is a totally separate entity. That’s the same Ted Verity who was at the helm when the MoS overreached itself in its efforts to smear the Duchess of Sussex, and got hit with a lawsuit as a result.

So it should have surprised no-one when, just three days after the irresponsible giving of the green light for Mail readers to go out and get themselves a seasonal Covid-19 infection, the admission finally came that the titles’ Meghan obsession had resulted in their losing that lawsuit. Verity must have had sign-off on publishing the contents of her private letter; now came the coded confirmation that it had cost them dearly.

She won. The MoS lost

Yesterday’s Mail on Sunday, an issue that may be expected to have a lower circulation than those published outside Bank Holiday periods, confirmed that the attempts to put off the moment when it was forced to publish a front page admission of defeat are over. “The Duchess of Sussex wins her legal case for copyright infringement against Associated Newspapers for articles published in the Mail on Sunday and posted on Mail Online”.

That part, despite a “the courts say she won but we don’t” tone, will have hurt dearly. It was always the contention of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre, now back in the fold at the Northcliffe House bunker, that front page corrections were Streng Verboten: loss of control over any part of the front page could never be countenanced.

Consistent. As in consistent misinformation

It got worse for those following the advice to “See Page 3”: “Following a hearing on 19-20 January, 2021, and a further hearing on 5 May, 2021, the court has given judgment for the Duchess of Sussex on her claim for copyright infringement. The court found that Associated Newspapers infringed her copyright by publishing extracts of her handwritten letter to her father in the Mail on Sunday and on Mail Online”. And worse still.

Ominously, the Page 3 as-close-as-the-Mail-titles-are-likely-to-get-to-an-admission ends with “Financial remedies have been agreed”. That means once more, on top of all those other occasions when the Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail have lost lawsuits, this loss is going to cost Associated Newspapers a significant amount of money.

The final confession

How much? If the MoS has to pay all the legal costs, they could be looking at somewhere around the £2 million mark. That’s the penalty for an editor who apparently has so little knowledge of the relevant law and/or has little or no regard for its provisions, green lighting a hit job on a media hate figure. An editor who then didn’t get carpeted, but promoted.

This isn’t about Royalty or privilege. It’s about a rotten and out of control press pack who give the impression that the law doesn’t apply to them. Well, guess what? It does.

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Friday 24 December 2021

Telegraph Champagne Desperation

As realisation dawns on an increasing number of the electorate that Brexit is not going to bring us sunlit uplands, unicorns or edible sovereignty, so the need to talk up non-existent benefits of leaving the European Union has meant that the right-leaning press has had to resort to barrel-scraping, in addition to whistling, in order to keep their spirits up.

Available down your local Aldi. But not in pint bottles

So it should surprise no-one to see the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph telling readers todayHopes that EU ‘hangover’ will be cured with pints of sparkling wine … Ministers are pushing for a return of the imperial measurement for fizz favoured by Winston Churchill and vintners alike” under the by-line of deputy political editor Lucy Fisher. One wonders if Ms Fisher volunteered to write this drivel, or was volunteered.

Because this is yet another example of the kind of “journalism” that would, in the old days of the Tel, have ended up on the spike. It starts badly, with “Before the UK joined what later became the European Union in 1973, it is claimed that 60 per cent of all champagne sold in the country was in imperial pint-sized bottles”. “It is claimed”? YOU DON’T KNOW.

And it gets worse. “Upon accession to the Common Market, however, the UK was forced to fall into line with an existing Brussels ban on the glass container, as well as other uses of imperial measurements”. Why then, pray, can I buy Newcastle Brown Ale in a pint bottle? Or Carlsberg, Heineken and Stella in pint cans? Why, all through the 70s and 80s, could I buy other beers in pint bottles, especially Guinness? And, indeed, who is going to provide Champagne in pint bottles now? The answer is a nice round number.

The development is good news for Rathfinny Estate, which produces sparkling wine in Sussex and laid down 800 pint-sized bottles in the wake of the UK voting Leave, although the winemaker had been campaigning for the return of the ‘modern pint’ long before Brexit”. Who is this “modern pint” of which the Tel speaks? Ready for the let-down?

Here it comes: “the modern pint, which holds 50cl”. THAT’S NOT A PINT. 55cl, the Newcy Brown size bottle, is as close as makes no odds. Strictly speaking, a pint is 56.8cl. Worse for this lame Brexiteer propaganda, the only source of this “modern pint” sparking wine is a producer in the UK. So, by definition, it is NOT CHAMPAGNE.

So why this lame rubbish? Here’s your two clues. One, “An ongoing review into ‘hangover’ EU laws has been taken on by Liz Truss”. Lame Telegraph article promotes equally lame Tory leadership candidate no shock horror. And Two, “Brexiteer MPs have also welcomed signals that the Government is preparing to scrap the EU ban”. Guess who that means?

Mark Francois, chairman of the European Research Group, commented that ‘if you are an optimist, you go through life believing the glass is half full, rather than half empty’, but urged ministers to allow British vintners to go ‘even further and offer to make the pint glass full to the brim’ with sparkling wine”. He didn’t personally take out half a dozen Jerry pill-boxes in storming the Normandy beaches just to have litres imposed on himself.

Whatever Liz Truss, Mark François (note cedilla under the c) and the Tel’s credulous hacks say and do, there will be no pint bottles of Champagne any time soon, if ever.

Nor will there be any Brexit benefits for the vast majority of voters. Sad but true.

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Thursday 23 December 2021

Maajid Nawaz - Decision Time For LBC

As with the unwritten rule that the press doesn’t call out its own - as Nick Davies put it in his seminal work on the industry, Flat Earth News, “dog doesn’t eat dog” - those who work in broadcast media do not openly pass adverse comment on their fellow presenters. So when someone does call out a fellow presenter, folks sit up and take notice.

Maajid Nawaz

That breaking of ranks came yesterday afternoon as Iain Dale told his followers “In 11 years on [LBC] I have never publicly called out a fellow presenter. But I can't stand by while this sort of irresponsible and dangerous propaganda is spread by someone who ought to know better. Shame on you, Maajid. Shame. On. You. Boosters Save Lives. Scientific Fact”. His patience with Maajid Nawaz had finally expired.

Iain Dale

What caused Dale to act as he did is not hard to see. Nawaz had already declared last month that “I am double-jabbed. On PRINCIPLE, to protect vulnerable, working class & minorities from further abuse by STATE MANDATES: I RESCIND MY CONSENT FOR ANY MORE COVID JABS … UK government, if you turn FASCIST & LOCKDOWN the UNVACCINATED, you will give rise to the British Resistance”. This month brought more.

Despite this SPIKE in all-cause MORTALITY, potential for SIDE EFFECTS & danger of creating vaccine RESISTANT STRAINS through mass vaccination during a pandemic, government wants to MANDATE, while Big Pharma is IMMUNE from ANY consequences. YOU KNOW SOMETHING’S WRONG”. It’s like a Sun editorial, where the bits you HAVE TO READ are in CAPITALS so you KNOW they’re VERY IMPORTANT. But do go on.

Based on my above - I believe, fully scientific & verified - CONCERNS around potential for CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, I have had no choice but to become a CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR in #solidarity with the UNVACCINATED. I will NOT be getting any BOOSTERS”. And it was that outburst to which Dale took exception.

He was not alone: Sunder Katwala, who has been keeping watch on Nawaz’ pronouncements for some time now, added “I think [Iain Dale] is right to say that this apparent labelling of the programme of booster vaccinations by Mr Nawaz as being potential ‘CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY’ is lurid and irresponsible” (thread HERE).

And just in case anyone had thought that LBC’s management might be able to sit this one out, Miqdaad Versi of the Muslim Council of Britain reminded us, and them, “Regular reminder: [LBC] still chooses Maajid Nawaz to be a presenter with his own radio show”.

Meanwhile, Nawaz has used the services of British Airways to take his leave of the UK and cross the pond, telling his followers “Off to beloved Tennessee to reunite with family & friends for Christmas” before slipping in another mini-rant: “And finally, no. I will not be getting a 3rd, or any further booster. I am a conscientious objector, in solidarity with the vaccine-free”. Although, whisper it quietly, he’s already had two jabs.

The problem for LBC can be seen in the replies to Dale and Nawaz’ pronouncements: rather a lot of people take the latter’s rantings as unvarnished fact, at a time when getting vaccinated against Covid-19 is critical to preventing the NHS being overwhelmed.

The time of Maajid Nawaz at LBC was for a time, but possibly not for all time.

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