An Illusion Of Protection: The Pandemic, The ‘Criminal’ (UK) Government And Public Distrust of The Media

On the 18th May 2020, David Cromwell of Media Lens wrote Editors Note: This article suggests that a strong independent Journalism would have averted the mishandling of the UK coronavirus pandemic by the UK Government. Any notion that the UK government actually considers that its primary responsibility is to protect the health and security of … Continue reading “An Illusion Of Protection: The Pandemic, The ‘Criminal’ (UK) Government And Public Distrust of The Media”

On the 18th May 2020, David Cromwell of Media Lens wrote

Editors Note: This article suggests that a strong independent Journalism would have averted the mishandling of the UK coronavirus pandemic by the UK Government.

Any notion that the UK government actually considers that its primary responsibility is to protect the health and security of the country’s population ought to have been demolished in 2020. The appalling death toll that continues to mount during the coronavirus pandemic is largely rooted, not merely in government ‘incompetence’, but in criminal dereliction of its core duties in a supposedly democratic society.

The UK has the highest death toll in Europe, and the second highest in the world (the US has the highest). On May 12, the death toll from official UK figures exceeded 40,000 for the first time, including almost 10,000 care home residents. A study by academics at the London School of Economics estimates that the actual death toll in care homes is, in fact, double the official figure: more than 22,000.

Government ministers have been scrambling to protect themselves from such damaging facts by spouting empty rhetoric. Health Secretary Matt Hancock actually declared on May 15:

‘Right from the start we’ve tried to throw a protective ring around our care homes. We set out our first advice in February… we’ve made sure care homes have the resources they need.’

Palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke, author of the bestselling book ‘Dear Life, Your Life In My Hands’,  rejected his deceptive claim:

‘This is categorically untrue. Care homes were left without testing. Without contract tracing. Without PPE [personal protective equipment]. Without support. You can deny it all you like, Matt Hancock, but we were witnesses – we ARE witnesses – and believe me you will be held to account.’

It is important to note that the coronavirus death toll is even higher than official figures because people are dying from heart disease, cancer, strokes and other illnesses that would otherwise have been treated had there been no ongoing pandemic. Chris Giles, the Financial Times economics editor, has been tracking the number of total excess deaths, issuing regular updates via Twitter. He noted that ‘a cautious estimate’ of excess deaths linked to coronavirus up to May 15 was an appalling 61,200. The FT has published an extensive analysis here with regular updates.

University of Edinburgh researchers have estimated that at least 2,000 lives would have been saved in Scotland – a staggering 80 per cent of the total – if the government had introduced the lockdown two weeks earlier. Rowland Kao, professor of epidemiology and lead author of the study, said there had ‘definitely’ been enough information about the coming pandemic in mid-February. If the lockdown had been imposed across the whole of the UK on March 9, rather than March 23:

‘you would expect a similar effect to the one seen in our research on Scotland.’

In other words, there would have been an 80 per cent reduction in the death toll across the whole of the UK: around 26,000 lives saved (assuming the official undercount by May 3 of 32,490 fatalities). This is a truly shocking statistic and a damning indictment of the Tory government.

Countries outside the UK have looked on aghast while the pandemic death toll here rose quickly, given the advance warnings of what was happening abroad, notably in Italy and Spain. Continental newspapers have been highly critical of the UK government’s response to the pandemic. The German newspaper Die Zeit noted that:

‘the infection has spread unchecked longer than it should have. The wave of infections also spread from the hospitals to the old people’s homes, which could also have been avoided. The government is now trying to pretend to the public that it has the situation under control.’

The Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant told its readers:

‘the British were insufficiently prepared for the pandemic, despite the presence of expertise in this area. The country has been catching up in recent weeks. Much of the harm has already been done.’

In France, Le Monde said:

‘Despite Europe’s worst mortality, probably too late entry into confinement and a blatant lack of preparation, the British have so far supported Johnson.’

Here in the UK, honest and responsible journalism would have made it clear, regularly and prominently, that many deaths were avoidable and a consequence of damaging government policies including:

  • the imposition of ‘austerity’ in past years
  • the deliberate corporate-driven break-up of the National Health Service
  • the government’s lack of preparedness for a pandemic
  • the belated move to lockdown and the present rush to ‘open up the economy’ and send children back to school

If we had an actual functioning ‘mainstream’ media, it would be holding this disgraceful government to account, properly and comprehensively. BBC News, as the country’s well-funded ‘public service’ broadcaster, would be to the fore of critical and forensic journalism. In a piece published on the progressive ZNet website, Felix Collins dissected the government-friendly propaganda campaign in the UK media, including the BBC:

‘On April 10, as UK daily deaths became higher than any recorded in Italy or Spain, media coverage led with Boris’ recovery [after being in intensive care], while BBC News’ main headline was about the “herculean effort” of the Government to provide NHS with PPE. Subsequent headlines featured nurses describing treating Johnson as “surreal”, something they’d “never forget” and that he was “like everybody else”; orchestrated artificial grassroots support to boost public opinion about Boris and his government seem likely. The notions of supporting the country and supporting its leader are being conflated.’

In a small concession to the damning truth, BBC News aired Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, a statistician from the University of Cambridge, who was granted a moment on the Andrew Marr Sunday programme to call the government’s daily press briefings ‘completely embarrassing’. They are ‘not trustworthy communication of statistics’ and no more than ‘number theatre’. But this was a deviation from the broadcasting norm which has regularly seen BBC correspondents, notably political editor Laura Kuenssberg, serving up meek accounts of the crisis on prime-time BBC News at Six and Ten. An article in the Economist was actually titled, ‘The BBC is having a good pandemic’, even as it quoted one unnamed senior BBC journalist who let slip that:

‘the [BBC] bosses are keen that we come out of this with the sense that we looked after the interest of the nation, not just our journalistic values.’

In effect, there should not even be the pretence of ‘impartiality’, but a shoring-up of state propaganda by the BBC on behalf of the government. In fact, this has long been the reality of BBC performance ever since BBC founder John Reith wrote in his diary during the 1926 General Strike that ‘they [the government] know that they can trust us not to be really impartial.’

One welcome exception was the Panorama programme investigating the appalling lack of preparation for the pandemic; not least the inadequate provision of PPE for NHS staff and workers in care homes. But, in yet another sign that any dissent will not be tolerated, Tory Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden then attacked the BBC for straying momentarily from the state-approved script.

‘You Dropped The Ball Prime Minister. That Was Criminal’

Suppressing Evidence Of Public Distrust Of UK Press

Read whole article in Media Lens

Authoritarianism is Shoddy

On the 21st May, Craig Murray blogs Editors Note: This article is on Press Freedom and not immediately associated with Julians plight. Craig has been covering Julian’s hearings as Our Man in the Gallery, all of which have been reposted on this site. He asks for your help in this article. Well, it is really … Continue reading “Authoritarianism is Shoddy”

On the 21st May, Craig Murray blogs

Editors Note: This article is on Press Freedom and not immediately associated with Julians plight. Craig has been covering Julian’s hearings as Our Man in the Gallery, all of which have been reposted on this site. He asks for your help in this article.

Well, it is really happening. It is something of a shock to see yourself listed as a criminal for writing the truth. I have a tiny extra glimpse now into the way my friend Julian has been feeling.

Three appeal court judges even at the procedural hearing – though not unheard of, that is not normal. The state is sparing no resources on this; in a sense I am flattered.

There will be no jury at the eventual trial, and this worries me. Not least because the indictment (called a “petition”) contains within itself evidence that this process is a stitch up. Please help me here, and read paras 49 to 56 of the indictment after reading this explanation.

Para 49 of the indictment is an utter garble. It states that I sent a twitter message beginning “It is respectfully submitted…”. 

I sent no such twitter message. Para 50 is missing. This is not a misnumbering, para 50 really is missing. I assume my twitter message, intended to be quoted at para 49, and whatever led in to the Crown’s argument beginning “it is respectively submitted” were in the missing section.

At para 53 the same thing happens again. It explicitly states that I published another tweet starting: “it is respectfully submitted that”.

I published no such tweet. Again the indictment does not give the actual text of the tweet complained of, even though it claims to do so. This time two paragraphs are clearly missing, and again this is not just a misnumbering, because of the missing material. It jumps from 53 to 56.

In short, the indictment from paras 49 to 56 is an inoperable jumble, with three paras missing from two different locations and which does not even contain – though it states it does – the very tweets which form part of the alleged offence with which I am charged.

You may argue this does not matter, and clerical errors are easily corrected. But that is to miss the point. I used to prepare official documents in my 20 year diplomatic career, from ministerial replies to members of the public to fully fledged international treaties. 

A Diplomatic Note to a foreign government, which has a legal status, might be the best comparator from my work to this indictment or petition. I always scrupulously proof read every one I sent before signing. It is unthinkable that a Diplomatic Note would be sent containing not one but a series of major, material errors.

Is this document any less solemn? It is an indictment on which they are attempting to brand me a criminal and potentially send me to prison for up to two years. It is signed by Alex Prentice, Depute Advocate General on behalf of the Lord Advocate, and by the senior judge, Lord Turnbull. 

But one thing is abundantly clear. Neither Alex Prentice nor Lord Turnbull can have carefully read through the document before they signed it. I do not believe for one moment that they would knowingly sign off a document containing such major errors. The judge, in particular, is meant to weigh carefully the matter to see if there really is a case to answer before he signs the Crown’s “petition”. But, I say it again, plainly Lord Turnbull has not actually read through it; or he would never have signed this garbled mess.

I am advised that it may be “contempt of court” for me to point out that Lord Turnbull signed this without reading it. But when a law makes it illegal to point out a blindingly obvious fact, then the law is an ass. 

If Lord Turnbull does not wish to be criticised, he should try doing his job properly and actually paying attention to what he signs.

Contempt is the right word. I have a great deal of contempt for anybody who would send me such a portentous legal document rotten through with utterly careless error which would have been spotted by even a cursory reading of the document.

They did not read it. The judge who approved it did not read it. 

Neither of them bothered to read the indictment or petition because it had already been decided to “get” Craig Murray and it therefore did not matter what the document actually said. The content of the charges is immaterial to them. Otherwise, they would have read them before signing. There can only be two reasons for that failure. The first is incompetence. The second is corruption. In a sense, it does not matter which it is in this case. 

A state which is turning to authoritarianism to crush dissent does not need to be very careful about matters of process.

The failure of both Prentice and Turnbull to read before signing is not important for the mistakes in the document, which can be remedied by a new document. It is important because of the clear indication of attitude. This prosecution is abuse of process, a clear Article Six violation under the European Convention on Human Rights. 

A series of facts make this abundantly plain. The abuse of process lies in this combined with the extraordinary selectivity in prosecuting me, when others who can be objectively proven to have much more effectively produced “jigsaw identification” are not prosecuted. There is a very clear political motivation behind the selection of who to prosecute and who not to prosecute.

When you put together the facts that there is overwhelming evidence that mainstream media journalists were more guilty of “jigsaw identification” than I, that systematic police action is being taken to harass only supporters of Alex Salmond, and that they don’t even care what the indictment to be used against me actually says, the overall picture becomes very, very clear.

Authoritarianism doesn’t have to worry about mistakes in the indictment, because it can just smash you in the face with the jackboot. That is what is happening here.

My own view is that they were so keen to “get” Craig Murray they just signed without any proper scrutiny whatsoever. I don’t see any other conclusion. Do you?

They do not have the excuse that this is routine. Major prosecutions for contempt in Scotland are extremely rare – the last one was Aamer Anwar about a decade ago (it failed).

So why could the state be so keen to prosecute Craig Murray, that is doesn’t even care what is in the indictment, or even if it is drawn up with the most basic level of competence? Well, I refer you to this excellent letter setting out the fact that the state is only acting against those who defended the innocent Alex Salmond, even though his detractors were much more in contempt of court. And I refer you to the Panelbase opinion poll which showed that very substantially more people who know the identities of the accusers, learnt them from the mainstream media. 

I remain clear that I identified nobody. If I had wanted to, I would have done so openly. I have never been noted for cowardice. 

The other accusation, that I wrote articles stating that the prosecution of Alex Salmond was a fit-up, is something I state again here. It is a proper exercise of my freedom of speech under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Actually, you don’t have to go past the very first sentence of the indictment to understand what is happening here. It reads “On 23 January 2019, Alexander Elliott Anderson Salmond was arrested by police officers in relation to a number of incidents that had taken place in Scotland.”

“That had taken place”.
Not “alleged to have taken place”.
“That had taken place”.
And Prentice wrote this, and Turnbull signed it off, after the acquittal.

After independent witnesses gave eye witness accounts that several of the incidents had not taken place at all. After it was demonstrated in court that the accuser of the most serious offence was not even present when she claimed the offence took place.

After the jury threw out the pile of ordure that the very same Alex Prentice as prosecuting counsel presented to them. 

“That had taken place”. No, most of the incidents had not taken place at all, and none in the form alleged. 

Right at the start, this wording gives away the motivation. The conspirators have still not psychologically processed the fact their attack on Alex Salmond was foiled by the jury. The Crown is now coming at Mark Hirst and at me in an effort to get some kind of victory from this massive waste of public resources. The conspirators seek to assuage their massive humiliation in the failure of a prosecution that stank and quite obviously ought never to have been brought.

I am not going to pipe down under this abuse of process and attack on freedom of speech. On the contrary, this will be a reasoned, forceful and very public resistance.

TWO WAYS YOU CAN HELP

The hearing on 10 June is supposed to be public, but it will be virtual because of coronavirus. While it is a case management hearing, I shall nevertheless be grateful if you are able to “attend” virtually, as I am very keen indeed that I am not stitched up out of the public eye. Please send an email requesting access to the virtual hearing on 10 June to judicialcomms@scotcourts.gov.uk. I am very keen as many people do this as possible. Journalists please in addition copy in communications@scotcourts.gov.uk for accreditation. 

Secondly, many people come to this blog through social media and I am currently suffering a very high level of suppression, on Facebook and especially on Twitter. Rather than just retweet and share any soical media post that brought you here, (which may appear on the face to have worked but the dissemination will be suppressed), I would be very grateful if you could also write your own new posting and put a link. If you have your own blog or access to one, a commendation of this post with a link would be very welcome, even if it is not your normal policy. And finally of course, the entire post is free as always to copy, republish and translate as you wish.

Read original post at Craig Murray’s Blog

Worldwide mass surveillance by Germany’s intelligence service declared unconstitutional in landmark ruling on press freedom in the digital age

On 19th May 2020, Reporters Without Borders reports Editor’s Note: Whilst not directly related to Julian’s plight, Julian’s plight is all about Press Freedom . This article has been included to show that Press Freedom can be won back through directed and diligent hard work by the many In a much-anticipated verdict issued this morning, … Continue reading “Worldwide mass surveillance by Germany’s intelligence service declared unconstitutional in landmark ruling on press freedom in the digital age”

On 19th May 2020, Reporters Without Borders reports

Editor’s Note: Whilst not directly related to Julian’s plight, Julian’s plight is all about Press Freedom . This article has been included to show that Press Freedom can be won back through directed and diligent hard work by the many

In a much-anticipated verdict issued this morning, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court has put an end to the groundless mass surveillance of global internet traffic by Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). The ruling, the most far-reaching in this field in the past 20 years, sends an important signal for the protection of press freedom in the digital age.

The court ruled that the BND law disregards both the freedom of the press guaranteed in article 5 and the freedom of telecommunications guaranteed in Article 10 of the Basic Law as it does not recognise that foreign surveillance must be conducted in conformity with the Basic Law. When revising the BND law, the legislature will have to take into account that foreign surveillance without cause is only possible in very few cases. Vulnerable groups of persons such as journalists must be granted special protection. Tighter criteria must also apply to the targeted surveillance of individuals. Furthermore, international surveillance must be controlled much more effectively by independent bodies with their own budgetary sovereignty. The ruling thus sets new standards in international human rights protection and for freedom of the press.

The Federal Constitutional Court has once again underlined the importance of press freedom,  said Christian Mihr, Executive Director of RSF Germany. We are delighted that Karlsruhe is putting a stop to the escalating surveillance practices of the Federal Intelligence Service abroad”, Mihr added.

Read complete article in Reporters Without Boarders Web Site
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