Life in the United Kingdom

We celebrate the Royal family because it symbolises our liberty
The monarchy may reign over us, but it too is subject to the rule of ancient law

We Britons know that there is something faintly ridiculous making a baby the repository of our national story. Yet that doesn’t make our support for the institution any the less sincere Photo: Eddie Mulholland

Britain’s gone from nanny state to naggy state
Do we really need to be told to drink water or avoid getting sunburnt in hot weather?

If it’s hot, remember to drink water: stating the blindingly obvious Photo: Alamy

The 12 most liveable cities in Britain–but-the-uk-didnt-even-make-the-top-ten-8854390.html

‘Limp-wristed and lettuce-like’: MP attacks inquiry into BP and Shell petrol price-fixing allegations
Oil giants targeted by European Commission in probe into suspected market manipulation

Petrol price ‘rigged for a decade’
Motorists may have paid thousands of pounds too much for their petrol over the last decade, after two of Britain’s biggest companies were raided on suspicion of manipulating oil prices.

European investigators said the alleged price-rigging could have had a ‘huge impact’ on the cost of oil Photo: ALAMY

ByRowena Mason and Emily Gosden
9:57PM BST 14 May 2013

MPs and energy experts have raised fears motorists have been “taken for a very expensive ride”, after officials searched the offices of BP and Shell for evidence of price-rigging.

The companies are suspected of distorting the oil price since 2002, meaning drivers have potentially been ripped off for more than 10 years.

Over that time, petrol prices have risen dramatically by more than 80 per cent to around 135p per litre.

European investigators, who raided the London offices of BP and Shell, said the alleged price-rigging could have had a “huge impact” on the cost of oil, including the price of fuel for consumers.

The investigation into market-fixing already has echoes of the Libor scandal, which saw the banks falsely report key interest rates used to calculate mortgages. It cost several British banks hundreds of millions of pounds in fines.

Robert Halfon, the MP for Harlow who has long campaigned for an investigation into the oil market, said high prices have been “crushing families across Britain”.

He called for UK authorities to launch an urgent inquiry and for oil companies to “come clean and show some responsibility for what is happening to the international price”.

The raids were part of an investigation across the continent by the European Commission’s competition authorities. Offices owned by Platts, a price-reporting agency, and Statoil, a Norwegian oil company, were also raided.

European officials said several companies may have colluded in manipulating the price of both oil and green “biofuels”.

This could have happened if the oil companies provided false information to Platts, the main reporting agency that collects and reports prices to the wider market.

“Any such behaviour, if established, may amount to violations of European antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices and abuses of a dominant market position,” the European Commission said.

“Even small distortions of assessed prices may have a huge impact on the prices of crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels purchases and sales, potentially harming final consumers.”

It said the raids were a “preliminary step to investigate suspected anti-competitive practices” and “does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself”.

The inquiry comes after The Telegraph revealed growing concerns about the reliability of oil prices last year.

A study for G20 finance ministers, including George Osborne, said traders from banks oil companies and hedge funds have an “incentive” to distort the market and are likely to try to report wrong prices.

Scott O’Malia, a top official at the US Commodities Futures Commission, has also previously drawn attention to the “striking similarity” between the potential for manipulating oil and Libor. The price reporting agencies strongly deny any similarities between their methods and the way Libor was calculated.

The information published by Platts and other reporting agencies is used widely by companies as a guide for pricing their oil-related products, including petrol.
Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers’ Association, tonight said any manipulation of the benchmark oil price over a decade could have cost motorists “thousands of pounds each”.

He said the PRA has repeatedly warned the regulators that the oil price appears to have been manipulated.

An 8p rise in the price of petrol last winter cannot be explained by basic supply and demand, unusual geopolitical events or other factors, he said.

Like Libor – the interest rate measure that banks were found to have rigged – the market is unregulated and relies on the honesty of the firms to submit accurate data about all their trades.

Lord Oakeshott, a senior Liberal Democrat and former Treasury spokesman, urged the UK authorities to take a closer look at the oil market.

“Rigging oil prices would be as serious as rigging Libor,” he said. “The price of energy ripples right through our economy and really matters to every business and families.

“All credit to the European Commission for taking action if they have evidence of collusion-but why have we had to wait for Brussels to find out if British oil giants are ripping off British consumers?

“I will be putting down parliamentary questions asking who has UK regulatory responsibility for ensuring fair and open competition in the oil market and what action they have taken in the past 5 years to investigate and enforce it.”

The oil companies confirmed their offices have been raided.

A spokesman for BP said the company is “cooperating fully with the investigation and unable to comment further at this time.”

A Shell spokesman also confirmed its companies are “currently assisting the European Commission in an enquiry into trading activities”.

“We are fully cooperating with the investigation. For legal reasons we cannot make any further comment at this stage”.

Platts, the price-reporting agency, said the European Commission has “undertaken a review at its premises in London” and confirmed it is “cooperating fully”.

Billionaire Britain: Just how little the rich contribute would shock most people
We are living in an economy increasingly geared to catering to the wealthy

Linda McQuaig
Friday 26 April 2013

The case for imposing austerity on ordinary Britons – already as flimsy as Lululemon’s latest yoga pant – got a whole lot flimsier last weekend with the publication of the Sunday Times Rich List.

The annual release of the list presumably allows ordinary Britons a moment’s diversion from their struggling lives to celebrate the richest living among them – a throng of mostly foreign billionaires whose only obvious attachment to Britain is the exceptionally low tax rates the UK offers wealthy foreigners.

Most Britons would probably be surprised to learn that the Rich List actually downplays the size of the fortunes of Britain’s 200 richest people, who have acombined wealth of £318 billion this year.

Since the Rich List is based on publicly available data – and therefore doesn’t count most of the assets hidden in tax havens (estimated to be some £32 trillion worldwide) – it vastly understates the fortunes of Britain’s wealthiest.

Interestingly, the man who tops this year’s list, Russian tycoon Alisher Usmanov, worth £13.3 billion, recently consolidated his assets in the British Virgin Islands – one of the tax havens at the epicentre of the spectacular recent release of secret documents detailing offshore accounts held by thousands of individuals and corporations around the world.

While the Rich List might stir resentment in some disgruntled types, others – including Rich List author Philip Beresford – see it as a healthy reminder of the virtues of Thatcherism.

Beresford told the BBC that while the list had been mostly made up of landed aristocrats when it was launched in 1989, today it is dominated by “self-made” billionaires – a development he attributed to Thatcher’s legacy.

This seems like a bit of a stretch. Certainly the list provides little support for the contention that Thatcherism created an entrepreneurial culture in Britain, since virtually all the big dogs made their fortunes elsewhere, notably in Russia, India and Pakistan. Usmanov, for instance, acquired his key metal and mining assets in Russia after its frenzied privatization binge.

Indeed, far from being “wealth creators” in today’s alleged “meritocracy,” the Rich List abounds with characters who’ve mostly managed to capture wealth already created by others.

The highest-ranking UK-born rich person is the Duke of Westminster, whose vast fortune consists of inherited landholdings, and whose family is well known in international tax circles for a 1936 ruling by the House of Lords which allowed the then-duke, a notorious Nazi sympathizer, to deduct the cost of his personal servants through the tricky use of a tax device normally used for making charitable contributions.

Beresford and others seem keen not only to defend Thatcherism but also Britain’s bizarre “non-dom” system, which offers enormous tax-avoidance privileges today to wealthy foreigners – without any evident advantages for Britain.

Prime Minister David Cameron has made a point of wooing the rich from other countries, although exactly why isn’t clear, since the non-dom system ensures these foreigners will contribute little in taxes.

Just how little they contribute would probably shock most Britons. But unlike the US, where the government discloses annual data showing the actual taxes paid (in aggregate) by the richest 400 Americans, such data is a carefully guarded secret in Britain.

Perhaps Cameron is simply dazzled by the prospect of luring the likes of fading film legend (and French tax exile) Gérard Depardieu.

The glamour factor – and sky-high real estate prices that render much of London uninhabitable by ordinary people – are inevitable outcomes of attracting a crowd of billionaires to the UK.

Beyond that, the only known impact is an economy increasingly geared to catering to the wealthy.

Indeed, Thatcher’s true legacy for Britain may be less a culture of entrepreneurs and more a culture of servers. Certainly the presence of a very wealthy elite has meant lots of work for chauffeurs, gardeners, tax lawyers, accountants, foxhound breeders, cosmetic surgeons, butlers and others particularly adept at servicing the rich.

More than 100 of Britain’s richest people have been caught hiding billions of pounds in secretive offshore havens, sparking an unprecedented global tax evasion investigation.
Global investigation gets under way as HM Revenue and Customs acts on leaked data

Rupert Neate and James Ball
The Guardian, Thursday 9 May 2013 16.17 EDT

George Osborne, the chancellor, warned the alleged tax evaders, and a further 200 accountants and advisers accused of helping them cheat the taxman: “The message is simple: if you evade tax, we’re coming after you.”

HM Revenue & Customs warned those involved, who were named in offshore data first offered to the authorities by a whistleblower in 2009, that they will face “criminal prosecution or significant penalties” if they do not voluntarily disclose their tax irregularities, as the UK steps up its efforts to clamp down on avoidance ahead of the G8 summit in June.

The 400-gigabyte cache of data leaked to the authorities is understood to be the same information seen by the Guardian in its Offshore Secrets series in November 2012 and March this year. It reveals complicated financial structures using companies and trusts stretching from Singapore and the British Virgin Islands to the Cayman Islands and the Cook Islands.

The Treasury is working in collaboration with American and Australian tax authorities in the biggest ever cross-border tax evasion investigation, and warned that the alleged evaders may be publicly named and shamed if they fail to come clean and explain their tax affairs.

Osborne described the data as “another weapon in HMRC‘s arsenal” in the fight against global tax evasion. HMRC added it “reveals extensive use of complex offshore structures to conceal assets by wealthy individuals and companies”.

The Revenue said it was continuing to analyse the material, the equivalent of more than 200 lorry-loads of printed A4 sheets, but it has already “identified over 100 people who benefit from these structures”. A number of those “had already been identified and are under investigation for offshore tax evasion”.

It urged those who use offshore tax structures to urgently review their taxation arrangements to ensure they comply with the law, and encouraged those that don’t to ensure “early disclosure of tax irregularities. Failure to do so may result in a criminal prosecution or significant financial penalties and the possibility of their identities being published,” HMRC warned.

It is also investigating more than 200 UK accountants, lawyers and other professional advisers named in the data as advising the wealthy on setting up the elaborate offshore tax arrangements. HMRC declined to name any of the individuals, advisers or companies it is investigating.

An HMRC source said it was first offered a “taster” of the cache in 2009, but received the bulk in late 2010. A spokesman declined to state if it paid a reward to the whistleblower.

The Guardian, BBC Panorama and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) have been releasing details of UK citizens and companies acting as offshore middlemen.

Gerard Ryle, director of the ICIJ, said he expected the collaboration between taxmen in the UK, US and Australia to lead to “the largest tax investigation in history”.

He added: “We know from the data we obtained there are names of people from more than 170 countries. Some are prominent citizens – politicians, celebrities, businessmen, the elite of some societies.

“To have three major tax agencies collaborating – with the possibility of many more doing the same – is potentially a major blow to the secrecy of offshore jurisdictions.”

Among those identified by ICIJ data in the joint investigation was James Turner of York-based company formation agents Turner Little, who told undercover reporters how to set up a foundation in Belize: “It doesn’t link back to you, it doesn’t link back to your family. So it gives you complete confidentiality.”

A representative of Atlas Corporate Services, another company run by Britons but operating from Mauritius, explained to reporters how to avoid tax on a hypothetical £6m sitting in a Swiss bank account. He suggested, “off the record”, that they use an offshore entity in Panama. “If there’s a tax issue … they won’t disclose any information on that foundation under Panamanian law,” he said.

Another middleman, Russell Lebe of Readymade Companies Worldwide, advising a reporter posing as an Indian businessman, assured his client that “If we were approached by the Indian tax authority … and they’re doing tax evasion, we wouldn’t give a monkey’s.”

The Guardian, in its investigation, identified 28 individuals with ties to the UK acting as “sham” directors for more than 21,000 companies across the world, keeping the true owners of the companies off official paperwork and thus making them invisible to authorities.

However, there is no suggestion that any of the individuals identified in the Guardian/ICIJ investigation are among those being examined by HMRC.

Jenny Granger, HMRC’s director general for enforcement and compliance, cautioned that not all the individuals using offshore accounts were seeking to evade tax. “There is nothing illegal about an international structure, especially in a globally integrated economy and these arrangements may be perfectly legitimate and may have already been declared to HMRC,” she said. “However, they may involve tax evasion, avoidance or other serious offences by taxpayers. What has got to stop is using offshore structures to illegally hide assets and income.”

David Cameron has pledged to make tackling the “staggering” levels of tax evasion a key priority of the UK’s presidency of the G8 this year. The EU will hold a summit on tax evasion on 22 May. It will be followed by a G8 summit under British chairmanship in June.

Revealed: The great outsourcing scandal as firms ‘cut corners’ to cream profits off public
Private firms ‘gaming’ £100bn of government services, says think-tank

Oliver Wright | Whitehall Editor | Thursday 18 July 2013

Private companies providing public services are routinely “gaming the system” to make money for their shareholders at the expense of the taxpayer, a major new study finds today.

An analysis of the Government’s controversial £100bn “outsourcing” programmes, such as its scheme to help the unemployed back into work, found private firms “creaming off” easy cases where they could make profits while “parking” problematic ones.

Civil servants also suggested that big outsourcing companies were monopolising services in certain parts of the country – making it harder for smaller companies to compete and potentially pushing up costs to the taxpayer. The Government currently keeps no central record of the contracts it awards which would identify if this is happening.

The report, by the independent think-tank the Institute for Government (IfG), concluded that the Government still did not have the skills to manage private sector contracts effectively. It called on ministers to slow down plans for further outsourcing – including handing over the probation service to outside providers – and carry out a review of all major new contracts.

“Too often the focus of Government is on getting the deal out of the door and not thinking about how it will work in the long term,” said the report’s author Tom Gash. “There is also a reluctance to penalise companies that under-perform, meaning there are no consequences for failure.”

The report, which conducted anonymous interviews with dozens of senior civil servants, found:

* Private care companies sending residents to hospital for minor conditions – developing a mentality of “just ring 999” to transfer costs on to the NHS.
* Private contractors cutting corners in the Government’s welfare-to-work programme by “parking difficult cases” and “creaming” money for getting people into work who would almost certainly have done so without their involvement.
* Significant concerns that plans to outsource the probation service will not be cost-effective and private companies could be paid for work carried out by local authorities and the NHS.

The IfG found that even in areas such as education – which have not been outsourced but where schools have been given much more independence to run their own affairs – gaming also exists. Some academies, which are run outside of local authority control, admitted they encouraged their students to take vocational qualifications which would boost exam performance – even though teachers considered they were not the most valuable option. “Schools that turn themselves around often do it [by] exploiting tactics to improve exam results in the short term which are not about the experience that every child gets in a lesson,” one headteacher told the IfG.

The report comes just days after the Government placed all the contracts held by two of the UK’s largest outsourcing firms, G4S and Serco, under review, after an audit showed they had charged for tagging criminals who were either dead, in prison, or never tagged in the first place. The two firms are the major private players in both the privatisation of the criminal justice system and the Work Programme. Experts say it is difficult to see how any further large-scale outsourcing of police, probation or prison projects can succeed without their involvement.

The IfG warned there were significant concerns over their dominance in the market. “A number of large providers now deliver a wide range of services, commissioned by separate government departments in particular areas of the country,” the report warns. “This allows these providers to undercut competitors making them attractive to commissioners.”

Both Serco and G4S denied they were abusing their market dominance. On the claim that contractors may be monopolising services in some parts of the country, a G4S spokesman said: “That is simply not true. We employ people in every constituency in the country.”

The report found particular concerns with the Work Programme, where private companies are paid by results to get the long-term unemployed back into work. It found companies regularly playing the system to ensure they made money. One expert adviser told them: “If providers cannot make money doing the things you expect them to do, they will make money by doing the things you don’t want them to do.”

One director of a Work Programme contractor added: “These contracts are on the edge of being financially viable. You have to aggressively cream and park.”

Mr Gash, director of research at the IfG, said mistakes can have a “real impact on people’s lives and value for money”. He continued: “We want to see government carry out external reviews of all new outsourcing programmes worth over £100m per year to assure themselves and the public that they will work.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman said the Government was also encouraging the voluntary sector to get involved in delivering services. “Our reforms already address the need for the Civil Service to improve its commercial capability and how it manages contracts,” he said. “But we must accelerate the pace of

Godless UK: A quarter of Britons have no religion with Christians increasingly likely to be retired people

  • One in four people in Britain no longer believes in any religion
  • Figure rises to more than a third of under 25s
  • 2011 census shows number of Christians fell by 4.1million
    PUBLISHED: 18:23 EST, 16 May 2013 | UPDATED: 01:39 EST, 17 May 2013

    One in four people no longer believes in any religion, official analysis of national census returns found yesterday.

    It revealed Christianity is in decline and Christians are increasingly likely to be older or retired people.

    Many young people, young men in particular, appear to be rejecting religious belief altogether. Nearly one in three under-25s – 32 per cent – say they do not have a religion.

    The rise of atheism has gathered pace in the decade since 2001, the census showed, a period when churches found themselves under pressure from equality laws and secular groups.

    At the same time the UK’s second-biggest religion, Islam, frequently found itself on the defensive because of the actions of extremist groups.

    The 2011 census showed the number of Christians fell by 4.1million to 33.2million. Of these, only a third attend church outside of weddings, baptisms or funerals.

    There was a 45 per cent rise over the same period in those who say they have no religion, to 14.1million in 2001. While the decline of religion was at its fastest among young people, there has been ‘an increase in the reporting of no religion across all groups between 2001 and 2011’, the Office for National Statistics said.

    More than nine out of ten of those without religion are white and born in Britain, and they include the highest proportion of people who are in work of any group of believers or non-believers.

    The city where religion is in the greatest decline is Norwich, where 42.5 per cent of the population say they have no belief.

    But there are five areas where more than half those under 25 say they have no religion: Norwich and Brighton and Hove in England, and Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, and Rhondda Cynon Taf in Wales.

    The most Christian area in England and Wales was Knowsley on Merseyside, where more than four out of five people, 81 per cent, professed Christianity.

    What kind of people have we become?
    Churchill would be dismayed by modern Britain’s capitulation to jackboot egalitarians, says Jeff Randall.

    Britain finally deports Abu Qatada to Jordan after decade long saga
    Britain deported radical Islamist cleric Abu Qatada to Jordan on Sunday to face terror charges, ending a nearly decade-long legal battle to expel the man once dubbed Osama bin Laden’s deputy in Europe.

    A mega mosque in a suburb that was 90 per cent white 30 years ago and the polite apartheid dividing Britain

  • David Goodhart argues that a new patriotism can unite our nation again
  • We will have an ethnic minority population of around 25 per cent by 2020
  • Goodhart says a confident and inclusive national identity can emerge

  • New landscape: Merton’s mosque, which dominates the skyline of the south London suburb, and can accommodate 10,000 people

    The mosque in Merton, which dominates its neighbourhood, replaced an Express Dairies bottling plant which provided a few hundred jobs for local people and lots of milk bottles — an icon of an earlier, more homogenised age.

    The symbolism is not lost on the mainly white older residents, who, when I was there researching the effects of mass immigration on British society, did not seem to be embracing diversity with as much enthusiasm as the proponents of multiculturalism think they should.

    They are not unusual. Thanks to over-rapid immigration in recent years, Britain is heading for an ethnic minority population of around 25 per cent by the end of this decade.

    And in Merton in South-West London, and too many places like it, a polite apartheid reigns: an accommodation rather than an integration. The white population has more or less reluctantly shuffled along the bench and allowed others to sit down.

    Since 1980, Merton’s minority population has risen from 10 per cent to over 50 per cent today. Its primary schools — which were still majority white as recently as 2003 — are now 64 per cent ethnic minority. The area has become, in the jargon, ‘super diverse’.

    Major terror attack on scale of 7/7 foiled every year in UK, police reveal
    Police and MI5 are foiling a plot as big as the July 7 attacks every year, the country’s second most senior terror officer has revealed.

    Second university sounds alarm over segregation at Muslim student events
    A Second university in a matter of weeks has launched an investigation into claims that Muslim students are enforcing segregation between men and women at public events.

    UK: Yet another Muslim gang convicted of sex crimes against girls as young as 11

    Asian grooming gang convicted of appalling acts of depravity on children
    Police and social services have apologised for the failings and missed opportunities that allowed a gang of men to carry out appalling abuse on young girls in Oxford for six years.

    Left to right, top: Akhtar Dogar, Anjum Dogar, Kamar Jamil, Assad Hussain. Bottom: Mohammed Karrar, Bassam Karrar and Zeeshan Ahmed Photo: PA

    Oxford grooming gang: We will regret ignoring Asian thugs who target white girls

    What a god-awful mess this country has got itself into over multiculturalism, and once again our fear of racism will lead to the betrayal of hundreds of young girls

    By Allison Pearson
    8:28PM BST 15 May 2013

    Rochdale, Rotherham, Derby, Oxford. The towns change, but the pattern is always the same. Gangs of men, mainly of Pakistani Muslim heritage, lure white girls as young as 10 with gifts and displays of affection. Next, the girl is raped as a way of “breaking her in”. Once the child’s spirit is subdued, and her mind fogged with drugs, she is sold for sex to multiple men at £200 a time. If the girl tries to break away, a gang member might threaten to behead her or firebomb her home. Mohammed Karrar, who was found guilty in the Oxford sex-grooming case this week, took a scalding hairpin and branded an M on one girl’s bottom so she would know she was his property. Later, the gang gave the same girl a DIY abortion. She was 12 years old. And this, all this, is happening in Britain now.

    In a particularly warped twist, the pimp will teach his victim that her parents are racist towards Asians, which is why they disapprove of their relationship – absolutely nothing, of course, to do with him being a violent, controlling thug. Gang members have grown wise to the wimpy ways of Western society.
    They exploit the fact that police, newly trained in “cultural sensitivity”, are terrified of being accused of racism. So the pimps operate with impunity until, years later, the slave girls find the courage to testify in court against their masters.

    We all know what happens next, don’t we? Leaders of the Pakistani Muslim community – essentially a Victorian society that has landed like Doctor Who’s Tardis on a liberal, permissive planet it despises – are at pains to deny that the grooming gang’s behaviour has anything to do with ethnic origin or contemptible attitudes towards women.

    Then Sue Berelowitz, the lamentably foolish deputy children’s commissioner, trots out her lame line that Asian men targeting white girls is “just one of a number of models”, even though such “models” account for an improbably large proportion of all gang sexual abuse. Did Berelowitz not hear Nazir Afzal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for North West England, when he blamed “imported cultural baggage” for appalling crimes by members of his own community? “The men think that women are some lesser being,” he said.

    The chief constable who was in charge while all that torture and rape was going on in Oxford appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday and said that she took “full responsibility” for shocking police failures. But, no, Sara Thornton, head of Thames Valley Police, would not be resigning. Why ever not?

    Because saying you take responsibility is the new not taking responsibility, stupid. All that remains is for the panel on tonight’s Question Time to do a little gentle hand-wringing about the Oxford horrors before it concludes that no particular group is implicated in these vile, misogynistic crimes. And, once again, the fear of racism will have trumped sexism, and hundreds of young girls – or the “hollow shells” of girls, as one tearful copper called them – will be betrayed. Then we can all sit back comfortably and wait till the next hideous court case comes along, probably in Bradford, where at least 30 men have been arrested in the past few months over child sex-grooming allegations. Sue Berelowitz may believe the perpetrators could turn out to be Buddhist podiatrists. But I wouldn’t count on it.

    At least some good has come from this spate of incredibly distressing cases. Those brutalised young women have not testified against their tormentors in vain. Courageous Muslim writers and community workers have spoken out with repugnance and great moral clarity. Kris Hopkins, the MP for Keighley and Ilkley, believes the police crackdown in Bradford reveals that the political correctness that made the authorities reluctant to act in the past is gone.

    Maybe. But what remains is a political class still far too timid to challenge growing and alarming separatism in Muslim education and law. It is 30 years since I first taught English to Bangladeshi women in their flats in Tower Hamlets, and I still remember how those smiley, interested ladies shrank and cowered when their husbands came home. Only one thing can permanently change the misogynist behaviour of certain Pakistani men and that is the education and empowerment of their daughters. Female emancipation drags societies with even the darkest attitudes towards the light. But what hope is there of those girls getting the education and status they need to take their men to task?

    Back in January, there was a profoundly disturbing case at Nottingham Crown Court. Adil Rashid, who had “raped” an underage girl, was spared a prison term after the judge heard that the naïve 18-year-old attended an Islamic faith school where he was taught that women are worthless. Rashid told psychologists he had no idea that having sex with a willing 13-year-old was against the law; besides, his education had taught him to believe that “women are no more worthy than a lollipop that has been dropped on the ground”.

    If the fresh-faced Rashid had picked up that view in a madrassa in Karachi it would be profoundly depressing, though not surprising. But the school he attended was in Birmingham, for heaven’s sake! Although it cannot be named for “legal reasons”, the school is voluntary-aided – mainly funded by the taxpayer. At this hugely popular Islamic school, where a majority of pupils are from a Pakistani background, boys and girls are taught in separate classes; a segregation policy no normal comprehensive could get away with.

    Rashid’s barrister said: “The school he attended, it is not going too far to say, can be described as a closed community.” So, the defence against a rape charge by a young Muslim living in 21st-century Britain was not just ignorance of the law (which should be no defence at all). It was that the law and, indeed, the values of the wider country, were irrelevant in his Islamic school, even though it was a state institution funded by citizens who would go straight to jail if, for instance, they tried to have sex with a child.

    The fact that the judge accepted Rashid’s defence shows what a god-awful mess this country has got itself into over multiculturalism.

    I reckon Britons in a hundred years’ time will look back at us in outraged astonishment for allowing Islamic schools to flout the laws of the land and teach boys that women are worthless. All Islamic schools should be obliged to introduce mixed-sex classes, so boys can learn at first hand that girls are their equals, or those schools should be closed.

    If you teach boys that a female is no better than a lollipop that has been dropped on the ground, eventually you produce a pimp who thinks that you break a girl’s spirit as though she were a horse, before branding her with your initial. That man and those attitudes have no place, no place at all, in Britain now.

    Sermons preached in mosques will do nothing to prevent child sex abuse in south Asian communities
    There is no doubting the good intentions of Together Against Grooming, but their actions will only reinforce anti-Islamic assumptions and distract from the real issues

    The truth is that beyond the names of the perpetrators, Islam has little to do with these crimes. The real problem instead lies with cultural taboos and a hesitance by traditional communities to engage with such sensitive topics, which is readily exploited by criminal groups. The result of this continued silence is more victims of abuse and further hostility toward the majority of law abiding Muslims.

    Will no one take the blame? As gang took girl of 12 as a sex slave, her father was walking the streets in vain, clutching her photo

    PUBLISHED: 18:21 EST, 15 May 2013 | UPDATED: 02:24 EST, 16 May 2013

    The girls braved a hostile interrogation in court, branded liars by the gang’s barristers. A QC suggested one girl of 13 had ‘enjoyed herself’ during sex.

    Another suggested they were ‘naughty girls doing grown-up things’. But the jury believed them. SAM GREENHILL and INDERDEEP BAINS recount their awful stories.


    A classroom swot, Girl A was a ‘bright and happy child’ from a loving home.

    Then, aged 12, she turned into a ‘lost soul’.

    Within a few short months, she was playing truant, self-harming and going missing for days on end.

    Her bewildered parents begged her to tell them what was wrong, and why she had cigarette burns on her arms and blood stains on her underwear.

    Sickening: Brothers Anjum Dogar and Akhtar Dogar, have been convicted of offences involving underage girls

    Their once-diligent daughter simply shrugged off their questions.

    Whenever she failed to come home, her father wandered the streets of Oxford bearing her photo as he searched in vain in pubs, nightclubs and cinemas.

    Her mother said she felt a failure, and recalled: ‘There was no emotion left in her whatsoever. She didn’t laugh. She didn’t cry.’

    Their daughter would return home refusing to say where she had been. Often, her lips were cracked, her skin was filthy and her hair was matted.

    Her parents repeatedly reported her missing to police, and begged social services for help, but were met with indifference – and after 70 occasions, they lost count.

    Eventually her father was actually asked by police to stop looking for her – astonishingly because officers ‘felt it was detrimental to her wellbeing’.

    It was only years later, at the Old Bailey, that Girl A revealed the full horror.

    She told how she had informed police and social workers several times that she was being abused – even showing them her cigarette burn injuries – yet was ignored.

    Her grooming had begun gradually but they soon proffered alcohol, drugs and places to ‘chill’ away from home. She enjoyed the attention, and thought it was ‘exciting’.

    Before long, they were luring her into sex and taking her to ‘parties’.

    She said: ‘By parties, I mean everybody coming and having sex with me.’

    She was eventually taken into care, to the relief of her ‘heartbroken’  parents, who hoped she would at last be safe. But if anything, she became less so.

    Her abusers brazenly came to pick her up from the care home – staff simply let her walk out the front door.

    She even told police a 25-year-old man, Akhtar Dogar, was forcing her to have sex.

    The reaction from police? ‘They threatened on a number of occasions to arrest me for wasting police time,’ is the heart-stopping answer given by Girl A.

    She is now 21, having rescued herself from her horrific life by walking away, going to college and finding a job. But as she puts it: ‘Adults should be doing their jobs. It is not down to a child.’


    Girl B was told she would be shot if she did not have sex with men when she was 14.

    Predators would wait for her near her children’s home and she would be driven to various places where she would be plied with drink and drugs in order to be raped or sold to other men.

    She said Akhtar Dogar threatened her when she refused to perform a sex act, telling jurors: ‘He said if I didn’t do what I was told he knew someone who would shoot me.’

    Once, when Girl B and Girl A returned together to their care home in a taxi, staff refused to pay the fare – and the driver drove Girl A back to the gang who raped her.

    In August 2006, she was taken to a flat off Rectory Road, Oxford, and rang police after realising she was with 11 men who wanted to have sex with her.


    Gradually turned against her family, Girl C ended up being given drink and drugs and forced to have sex with strangers while being filmed at the age of 13.

    Incredibly, even after being taken into the supposed ‘care’ of Oxfordshire County Council, she was groomed, raped and trafficked under the noses of staff.

    Girl C’s miserable life had begun with abuse, and she was taken away and adopted.

    But by the age of 12, she was running away from her adoptive home and drinking – making her easy prey to the Oxford paedophiles.

    She revealed: ‘The grooming was so clever. At first, they treat you like a princess. They make you feel wanted, cared for, and ask you about your life and your family.

    ‘They buy you gifts. That goes on for about six months, by which time they know exactly what to say to get under your skin.’

    The gang got her addicted to crack cocaine, and then heroin. They trafficked her across the country to be raped by strangers.

    Her adoptive mother spent two years begging the council for help.

    Eventually, the council agreed to place the girl in temporary care – where the very people paid to protect her simply ignored her desperate plight.

    According to her adoptive mother, staff at a children’s home actually bought ‘sexy underwear’ and stiletto-heeled boots for the girl, despite knowing she was being sold for sex.

    She visited home one day wearing ‘a hideous lacy black and red corset’, said her mother, who add: ‘She lay on her bed and sucked her thumb and we sang nursery rhymes to try to soothe her.’

    Girl C said of the staff: ‘I tried to tell two members of staff all the things that had been happening to me but they told me it was inappropriate to have the conversation at that time.’

    One night in November 2006, at the Nanford Guest House in Oxford – the gang’s favoured lair – a cocaine-fuelled Bassam Karrar raped her twice, strangled and beat her, all while subjecting her to verbal abuse and threats to kill.

    She managed to escape naked into the street.

    During the trial, she was cross-examined by Karrar’s QC, Mark Milliken-Smith, who suggested her account was ‘lie upon lie because you’d been caught by police naked in a hotel room with a man you were not supposed to be with’.

    He added: ‘You cried rape, didn’t you?’

    Aged 16, she fell pregnant by one of her abusers, and after her son was born the ruthless gang threatened to behead the boy unless she recruited younger girls into the same cycle of abuse.

    She was eventually rescued by her adoptive mother, who moved her halfway across the country with her son.


    Groomed from the age of 11, Girl D was turned into a sex slave by an older man who loaned her out for £600 a time.

    In a now familiar pattern, Mohammed Karrar plied her with drink and drugs, and declared his undying love.

    The brain-washing was so effective, she believed he cared even when he raped her.

    The sick brute physically branded her flesh so other abusers would ‘know I was his’, she recalled.

    When she was 12 she was gang-raped by four cocaine-addled men on a kitchen table.

    Men would call her ‘our baby girl’, and inject her with heroin.

    Her torment ended only aged 15 when she was moved into a foster family away from Oxford.


    Girl E loved school and was a ‘teacher’s pet’ before becoming ensnared by the men when she was just 12.

    Like many of the others, she became a sex slave at the grubby Nanford Guest house.

    Girl E’s mother said she had reported her daughter missing more than a hundred times.

    She said yesterday: ‘We did everything we could to try and keep her indoors and away from them.

    ‘We would lock all the doors and windows at night. We were so desperate.

    ‘I was on the phone to [social services] every day. We needed help but didn’t get it.

    ‘They knew what was going and knew she was being taken to that guesthouse.’

    The girl, now 16, is living in secure accommodation for her own safety.

    Her mother said: ‘Her life is ruined. Last time I went to see her she had chopped of all her hair and had written the word “help” all over her body.’

    Police chief constable and council chief executive refuse to stand down despite catalogue of errors in Oxford sex ring scandal

  • Sara Thornton, who has been chief constable of Thames Valley Police since 2007, rejects suggestions she should resign
  • Joanna Simons, chief executive of Oxfordshire County Council whose social services failed to help the girls, also refuses to resign
  • Seven men found guilty of catalogue of offences involving underage girls
  • Verdicts delivered at Old Bailey at the end of a five-month trial
  • The seven men have been remanded in custody for sentencing next month
  • Girls were so young ‘they had just stopped believing in the Easter bunny’
  • Police identified as many as 22 girls who were ‘sold for sex and worse’
  • Two of three care homes where victims lived have been closed down but only one member of staff was sacked


    Rape victim giving evidence is forced to watch harrowing CCTV footage of attack in which she was smashed over head with bottle and dragged into factory by her hair

  • The woman was made to relive her ordeal at the hands of Mohammed Azim
  • She was forced to do so in front of a jury at Wolverhampton Crown Court
  • Footage showed Azim smashing her over the head with a bottle
  • Dragged her into a factory by the hair and subjected her to a 25-minute rape

  • Rape: Attacker Mohammed Azim was jailed for a minimum of 16 years at Stafford Crown Court on Friday

    Patients are badly treated by politicians in the US and Britain

    President Barack Obama should learn the lessons about governments controlling health care from the recent failures in the NHS

    Run the NHS like PC World, says Britain’s leading doctor
    Health service must offer more quality for less money, says Sir Bruce Keogh

    Sir Bruce, who recently completed a report on care failings at 14 hospitals with higher-than-expected mortality rates, and is investigating the crisis at Britain’s A&E wards, said he would fight “absolutely to protect” the principle of a public health service, free at the point of need. However, the NHS needed to learn from the commercial sector, in which the expectation that budgets could not be guaranteed was a constant driver of innovation and efficiency, he said.

    ‘Arms race’ over £5bn in NHS work

    The sick truth about the great NHS redundancy racket: How countless health bosses are being lavishly paid off and then re-hired to do almost identical jobs

    Tuesday 16 July 2013
    The Keogh report leaves us asking – what is Government for?
    The cost of various Health Secretaries’ interventions has been heavy

    The Keogh report into 14 hospital trusts with unusually high death rates focuses, naturally enough, on local standards of care and treatment. But what was the responsibility of successive governments in these unnecessary deaths? I say “successive” because no recent government has an unimpeachable record in its management of the NHS.

    Politicians have never been able to leave the National Health Service alone. They have an urge to keep on reorganising it, overturning what went before. That itself is a part of the explanation of what has gone wrong. In 1991 the Thatcher government brought in the so-called internal market and put GPs in the driving seat only for Tony Blair to come into power in 1997 determined to scrap these reforms and replace competition with collaboration. But three years later, Labour reversed course. It brought back competition and markets; it drew up a vast array of performance targets and national guidelines in an attempt to create uniform standards of care. Primary care trusts were created to purchase healthcare on behalf of GPs.

    Enough already! So before the 2010 elections, the Conservatives sensibly promised to avoid “massive structural reorganisation”. And then the new Secretary of State, Andrew Lansley, launched probably the most substantial reorganisation the NHS has ever known.

    The cost of these interventions by Secretaries of State, who lacked knowledge of public health or experience in running large organisations, has been heavy. Not only were they expensive, but also they had the effect of switching the attention of senior medical staff away from their patients to organisational matters, and unsettling everybody else down to the most junior nurse. While well-managed hospitals could take these zigzag changes in their stride, the weaker ones, those on the Keogh list, found they were one more heavy burden.

    More important still, a lot of the problems uncovered at the 14 hospitals have to do with staffing levels. And for “staffing levels” read financial resources, the responsibility of government. Earlier this month, Sir David Nicholson, chief executive of
    NHS England, said the health service faced a £30bn black hole in its finances by the end of the decade because of rising demand. And while it would not be the whole answer, it would help if the NHS was able to streamline by centralising services such as accident and emergency care,  cardiac surgery and maternity units. But no, politicians of all parties conspire to thwart plans to save resources.

    Even three Cabinet ministers – Foreign Secretary William Hague, who opposes the downgrading of maternity and children’s services in his constituency; Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who lead protests about threats to local A&E units – are prepared to frustrate necessary reform. In at least 15 areas of England the NHS is attempting major reconfiguration but always in the teeth of opposition from MPs of all the main parties. Lord Darzi, the heart surgeon who spent two years as a health minister under Labour redesigning NHS services, calls this “the politics of saving lives versus the politics of saving votes”.

    Moreover, if saving votes were more important to politicians than saving lives, you would think that they could partly redeem themselves by designing effective regulation that would give a clear signal of problems at individual hospitals. Indeed they did try. The Healthcare Commission was set up in 2004 to promote and drive improvement in the quality of healthcare and public health in England and Wales. It aimed to achieve this by becoming an authoritative and trusted source of information and by ensuring that this information was used to drive improvement. In 2008 the Care Quality Commission replaced it.

    However, to see how badly these eminent bodies discharged their duties, take the example of one of the hospitals on the Keogh list, Basildon and Thurrock, where the “mortality ratio” from 2005 until last year was 20 per cent above the NHS average, with up to 1,600 more deaths than there would have been if it had the average level of deaths among its patients. From 2005 until 2009 Basildon and Thurrock was given a “good” rating by first the Healthcare Commission and then by its successor, the Care Quality Commission.

    I have left until last the most shocking example of political incompetence – or, rather, negligence. It comes from the testimony of Sir Brian Jarman, now 80 years old, who was Professor of Primary Health Care from 1983-98 at Imperial College School of Medicine and President from 2003-4 of the British Medical Association. He devised the “The Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio”, the methodology used in the Keogh report.

    Earlier this month Sir Brian went on to the main TV news channels to accuse the Department of Health of having been “a denial machine”. His data on high death rates was ignored for a decade. “We felt we were banging against a locked door. They were denying our data even though there was no real reason. At the time there was pressure from Downing Street and pressure from ministers… Ministers have an electoral interest in getting out good news…Effectively they had to deliver good news for the minister. The minister then indicated that the pressure came from No 10.”

    Andy Burnham, who was Secretary of State at the time and who still takes responsibility for health questions in the House of Commons, rejects Sir Brian’s charges. But I fear Sir Brian’s comment accords with all we know about the behaviour of government ministers. They believe to confess failures in a public service would be as foolish as a car maker admitting, say, that there was a steering fault in one of its models. It doesn’t do sales any good!

    As a result of the manifest shortcoming of politicians – and here, as you will see, I engage in wishful thinking – I should like to see a parallel exercise to Sir Bruce Keogh’s: “A review into the performance of recent Secretaries of State for Health”.–what-is-government-for-8711475.html

    Our six-week-old baby died after THREE doctors in nine days missed his treatable illness, say heartbroken parents who now plan to sue

  • James Payne developed a cough and wheezing a few weeks after his birth
  • His mother took him to a GP who gave him nasal drops and paracetamol
  • His breathing worsened a few days later so she took him to out-of-hours GP
    Was told he probably had a viral infection and that was normal for his age
  • Was taken to another GP a few days later but died later that afternoon
  • Coroner says he died from fluid in the lungs caused by a viral infection
  • All three doctors claim they were not told he was wheezing – but James’ mother strongly refutes this claim
  • James Payne died in November 2012, when he was six-weeks-old, after developing a cough and wheezing

  • An inquest into James’ death heard he died from a build-up of fluid in his lungs caused by a viral infection. His mother says she doesn’t know how to tell Chloe what happened to her brother

    Exclusive: Second report into baby deaths scandal was buried
    Another NHS boss in line of fire over CQC cover-up

    You have 82% more chance of DYING after surgery at the weekend: Shocking death toll following routine NHS operations

  • Study found death rates for elective procedures increase through the week
  • Imperial College London looked at four million elective NHS operations
  • Monday was the lowest risk day with Friday and the weekend the highest
  • Calls for rethink on whether elective surgery should be held at weekend

  • The study has led to calls for a rethink on whether elective surgery should take place at the weekend

    Baby died ‘because he fell ill at the weekend’: Panicking hospital nurses told mother ‘there are no doctors’

  • Merilyn Bartley, 46, said family ‘badly let down’ after death of baby Dominic
  • Described an ‘air of panic’ as nurses frantically searched for a doctor
  • Prompt action would have saved the child’s life, an inquest heard

  • He arrived on a Friday evening and the next day his condition started to deteriorate

    The price of under-staffed hospitals? Study finds link between the thousands that die and wards with too few doctors

    The millionaire GP ‘on call’ in his mansion 140 miles away: Out-of-hours doctor on £230k was called 114 times before responding

    Two-thirds of nurses are ‘too busy to talk to patients’
    Thousands more nursing posts have been cut since the research uncovered under-staffed wards


    Two-thirds of nurses have had to sacrifice time spent comforting and talking to patients because they are over-worked and wards are under-staffed, new research has shown.

    The vast majority of ward nurses admitted to having to ration care, according to a survey published in the BMJ Quality and Safety journal, because they did not have time.

    The Royal College of Nursing called the findings “depressing and unfortunately not surprising” and criticised recent cuts to nurse staffing levels.

    Rationing of care was reported by 86 per cent of almost 3,000 registered nurses working at 46 NHS hospitals between January and September 2010. Since then nearly 5,000 nursing posts have been cut.

    Analysts from the National Nursing Research Unit divided care activities into 13 categories.

    The most likely activity to be dropped due to time pressures was comforting and talking to patients, with 66 per cent of nurses saying they were unable to find time for it. On average nurses were missing out four care activities in a normal shift.

    Educating patients and updating and developing care plans were also severely rationed.

    The fewer patients a nurse looked after, the less likely it was that care would be missed or rationed, the researchers found.

    Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “These are depressing findings and unfortunately not surprising. When nurses are overloaded with tasks, and have extremely limited time to complete them, something has to give.

    “Without enough staff on the ground, it’s vital care such as having the time to talk with, and reassure, patients that suffers.

    “Cutting nursing posts to save money is a false economy – it leads to poor care which in turn creates more strain on the system, particularly in accident and emergency departments. We need to prevent poor care by making sure wards are well-staffed, not just use poor care as an early warning sign. We urge all employers to make use of this research.”

    The report’s authors said their findings raised “difficult questions for hospitals in a climate where many are looking to reduce, not increase, their expenditure on nurse staffing”, and urged hospitals to reduce the number of patients per nurse to seven or fewer.

    Last week NHS England announced plans to appoint more than 4,000 new nurses in the coming year, partly in response to an unprecedented number of trusts missing A&E waiting-times targets last winter.

    A spokesman for NHS England said: “We are committed to ensuring that all patients receive compassionate and competent nursing care.

    “We welcome this report and expect providers to use the evidence available to ensure they have sufficient staff on wards with the right skill mix to provide high-quality services to patients.”

    Scandal of doctors paid more to do less
    Senior hospital doctors have received pay rises of up to 28 per cent following the introduction of a “nonsensical” contract that allows them to refuse to work in the evenings and at weekends, a report warns.

    Cover-up over hospital scandal
    The NHS watchdog conducted a “cover-up” in which senior officials ordered that evidence of its failure to prevent a scandal at a hospital maternity unit be destroyed, a report will disclose.

    Sunday 23 June 2013
    The shocking callousness at the top of the NHS
    For the CQC leaders, the patients seemed to have been an irrelevance. The system had to survive

    I fear the NHS, one of our nation’s most virtuous and precious creations, is speeding towards annihilation.

    Post-war courage, big political dreams and remarkable human endeavour shaped and created the service. Cowardice, meanness, lack of humanity and vision may well cause its total disintegration. Ever since the days of Thatcherism, fanatical privateers and profiteers and their political allies have been flapping their predator wings, waiting to fly in an American-style system where money buys good health and those without suffer avoidable diseases and deaths. These vultures must be cheered to witness the latest in a line of NHS scandals. Another catastrophic failure has burst into the media and public consciousness, another self-inflicted wound which bleeds the confidence of doctors, nurses and patients.

    This time it is the Care Quality Commission (CQC), an over-centralised body set up by New Labour in 2008 to monitor service delivery and good practice in all healthcare trusts. Its job was to inspect 22,000 health and social care providers – including hospitals, GP and dental surgeries and care homes. It seems plain to me that too much was asked of one body but few seemed to have objected at the time. Why would they when there were such well-paid and venerated positions available for the “great and good” who sit on such commissions, a thriving sector for a small, select circle? It has now been alleged that three of those at the top of the organisation acted little better than those bankers who played fast and loose with investments, did not value the importance of accountability and, if the allegations are proved, didn’t seem to give a damn about their customers or the entire profession which they brought into grave disrepute. Sure, those at the top of the CQC loved the NHS, but they also seemingly loved themselves, their cliques and power much more. The CQC named three women who are currently facing disciplinary action, Cynthia Bower, Dame Jo Williams and Jill Finney, although all deny any wrongdoing. Remind me of that the next time I eulogise about my sensitive, compassionate gender.

    Last week the independent Grant Thornton report revealed the way they believe that these leaderenes had deleted a previous report which severely criticised the CQC’s investigations into the Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust which managed hospitals with the highest mortality rates in this country for newborn babies and mothers. In 2012, Kay Sheldon, a non-executive director at the CQC, bravely spoke out, told Andrew Lansley, then Health Secretary and others in power that the commission was failing in its duties. She told Independent journalist Nina Lakhani how she then became a marked woman. In the style of the old Soviet Union, Williams is alleged to have commissioned a covert assessment of Sheldon’s mental health. Without meeting her, the obliging doctor suggested Sheldon, who suffered from bouts of depression, was possibly a “paranoid schizophrenic”. Dame Jo Williams had been previously chief executive of the disability charity Mencap. It all beggars belief.

    Meanwhile the survivors – dads who had lost their partners and babies, mums grieving for their tiny infants – were not listened to by the hospitals. Some midwives and others on staff colluded to hide evidence of malpractice. It gets worse. Carl Hendrickson was a low-paid cleaner at Furness hospital, where his wife Nittya and baby son Chester died in 2008 during birth. He was visited at home by the Trust chief executive Tony Halsall who allegedly offered him £3000: ‘“We’ll find you a job in Preston. You can move from this area and we can all move on with our lives”. There are many such appalling stories. For the CQC, which should have dealt with such callousness, patients seemed to have been an irrelevance. The system had to survive.

    Obviously no health service can guarantee no mistakes, no accidents. But there can and must be better safety rules and systems and behavioural conformity to tested guidelines. As vital is team work and a culture of respect between colleagues and for patients. The CQC failed on all these essentials and was not fit for purpose.

    Next Thursday at a conference on patient safety organised by Imperial College and the Imperial Health Care Trust, I am interviewing Martin Bromiley, a pilot whose wife died in 2005 in hospital after a routine sinus operation, the result of human error and dysfunctional hierarchical norms. Two nurses could have intervened to save her life, but didn’t feel able to. That bereavement made him into a driven and highly respected advocate for a safer NHS, as safe as flying. The chances of a passenger dying in an airplane accident is one in ten million; in our hospitals it is one in three hundred. The speakers and attendees feel as passionately as Bromiley that things can and must get better.

    Like the majority of British citizens I believe NHS frontline staff and managers who maintain this complex structure, on the whole, do a brilliant job. Successive governments have made it harder and harder for them to function and hang on to ideals, yet most have carried on with integrity. They must now fear that the end of our beloved NHS will be hastened less by external forces, more by committed insiders. How shall we grieve and mark its passing? How will we forgive ourselves for letting this happen to an institution that cared for most of us from cradle to grave, or promised to?

    Julie Bailey, who helped expose the horrific neglect at Stafford Hospital (bottom right) which cost up to 1,400 lives, says ‘vipers’ have victimised her ever since she set up Cure the NHS. She started the pressure group in her own cafe (top right) following the death of her mother at Stafford hospital. But yesterday she handed over the keys to the business, having agreed a cut-price sale on eBay. She said the final straw was the ‘desecration of my mum’s grave’ (left) that continued for six weeks.

    Hospital bosses face prosecution over care failings


    Hospital and care home managers who allow neglect and abuse to take place on their watch could face criminal prosecution and unlimited fines under new Government plans designed to restore trust in the health service after a series of high profile NHS scandals.

    Directors of all healthcare organisations will be subject to compulsory “fit and proper” tests to prove they are up to the job, while the powers of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to prosecute health bosses will be increased, under proposals to be outlined by the care minister Norman Lamb today.

    The new powers will abolish a loophole that has allowed directors to escape prosecution by the CQC. Currently the regulator can only prosecute in cases where it has previously issued a warning notice with which the provider has failed to comply.

    There have been no prosecutions for care failures since the CQC was set up in 2009 and fines of just £4,000 have been levied against organisations that failed to meet national care standards.

    “Scandals like Winterbourne View and Mid-Staffs have damaged confidence in our health and care system,” said Mr Lamb. “Part of our commitment to rebuilding that trust comes from making sure that people at all levels are held to account for failings when they occur.

    “Whilst there must be a sharper focus on corporate accountability, more needs to be done to ensure those responsible for leading a care organisation are up to the job. I hope that providers and people who use services and their families will respond to this consultation as we look to take these proposals forward.”

    The Department of Health said that it was still considering what charges could be brought against individual hospital and care home bosses, but said that maximum fines of £50,000 could be ordered. The Ministry of Justice is investigating whether the caps on such fines can be lifted altogether.

    Peter Walsh, the chief executive of the medical negligence charity Action against Medical Accidents, welcomed the proposals but said that they must go hand-in-hand with a duty of candour – a key aspect of the Government’s response to the Francis Inquiry into catastrophic failures at the Stafford Hospital.

    “It is very good news that the CQC’s powers to prosecute breaches in fundamental standards are to be strengthened in line with the recommendations from the Mid Staffs inquiry,” he said. “This must include the new ‘Duty of Candour’. It could help make CQC fully fit for purpose at last.”

    The CQC has previously issued “fixed penalty notices” – action short of prosecution – four times, twice against nursing home operator Rosewood Care LLP, totalling a £8,000 fine, as well as £4,000 fines each for Dav Homes Limited which also failed to meet national care standards, and St Martins Care Ltd, a residential home operator, which failed to meet medicines regulations.

    CQC chief executive David Behan said: “Those who run health and care service are accountable for the quality and safety of the care they provide. People have a right to expect that care homes and hospitals meet basic standards of care.

    “The power to prosecute, along with a ‘fit and proper’ person test for directors, gives people who use services greater assurance that poor care will be challenged and that they will receive safe and effective care.”

    CQC chief admits to ‘culture of suppression’

    CQC chairman David Prior told MPs yesterday that a report into an alleged cover-up at the organisation had revealed “incompetence, complacency, dysfunction” and a “culture of suppression and oppression”.

    Mr Prior, who assumed his post in January, was appearing before the Health Select Committee with CQC chief executive David Behan to answer questions about its handling of the Morecambe Bay NHS Trust scandal. Conservative Charlotte Leslie asked if it was proper the CQC was still advertising for a marketing manager whose job would be to “expertly manage our reputation and proactively build our profile”.

    Brits are worst lovers in Europe… according to Brits! Nation comes bottom of list that asked residents to rate sexual performance–according-Brits-Nation-comes-list-asked-residents-rate-sexual-performance.html

    Blondes may have more fun but it’s BRUNETTES who make the better lovers, men say

  • Almost six in ten (58%) of people say brunettes are better in bed
  • Just 16% chose blondes
  • Black (12%) and red (9%) were the other hair colours to be rated
  • An indecisive 5% claimed they ‘didn’t know’ which they preferred


    A teenage thug who killed a ‘heroic’ off-duty police officer with a single punch in an unprovoked attack was today jailed for just three-and-half years.

    Victim: PC Chris Findlay, 33, was walking home from a night out with friends when he was attacked by Dale Dixon. He died 10 days later in hospital

    Attacker: Dale Dixon who was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in a Young Offenders’ Institution after admitting manslaughter

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