Saturday, April 28, 2007

Corrupt "social gospel" church hid the secret of the choirmaster who abused boys

The church's infatuation with homosexuals wouldn't have anything to do with it, of course

The Church of England was accused of a cover-up after a choirmaster who systematically abused children in his care was allowed to become a school governor. Peter Halliday admitted sexually molesting boys as young as nine, nearly 20 years ago. But Church authorities did not tell the police. Instead, they allowed him to quietly leave - on the promise he would change his ways.

As Halliday finally began a jail sentence for his crimes, it was revealed he was only caught after one of his victims saw a TV programme on sexual abuse in the Church. When he checked on the Internet and discovered his former tormentor was still working with children, he called police.

Child safety campaigners yesterday criticised the Church's "serious mishandling" of the case. Halliday, 61, was sentenced to two and half years in prison after he admitted ten counts of sexual abuse between 1986 and 1990. Winchester Crown Court heard the former choirmaster at St Peter's Church in Farnborough, Hampshire, was so trusted by his victims' families that the boys were allowed to stay at his home.

Described in court as "a bully and a revolting character", he attacked the boys at his home, during swimming lessons and on camping trips. Now in their twenties and thirties, the victims, one of whom is head of music at a private school, are still coming to terms with what they went through.

The court heard Halliday could have been stopped in 1990 when the rector of St Peter's, the Reverend Alan Boddington, was informed about the abuse. Yet Mr Boddington and the then Bishop of Dorking, David Wilcox, told Halliday he could leave quietly as long as he had no more contact with children. The court heard Halliday was on the board of governors of a secondary school in Farnborough from 1988 to 2000 but had no unsupervised contact with children. When he was seen at a choir concert in 1993, the victim who had already complained to the Church again expressed his concerns. But nothing was done.

Halliday, a married father, would have escaped justice had one of his victims not researched him on the Internet and found he was a school governor and working with a children's choir. After the hearing the Church insisted it had done nothing wrong, saying officials "acted in good faith".

Child protection workers said it had failed, however. David Pearson, of the Churches' Child Protection Advisory Service, said: "Had we been contacted by the Church authorities then we would have had no hesitation in telling them to go straight to the police."

Halliday was also ordered to pay 2,000 pounds compensation to each victim. One recalled his horror at meeting Halliday in 1993 on a course. He said: "I was just aghast. Younger brothers of friends were there. I was scared for myself, but also terrified for them."


A church that has forgotten how to repent its sins

More proof that its gospel is a secular rather than a Christian one these days

Turn on the Today programme, and most days you will hear some stonewalling corporate affairs sap, who has undergone "media training" and been told to stick to his script no matter what. It always makes me splutter into my coffee. Asked to defend the leaking of an oil pipeline, he will say: "The important thing is that best-practice policies are in place to ensure that clean-up procedures are strictly adhered to, and we at Polluting Petroleum want to assure you that we have the best interests of local people at heart." Translation: they're covered in oil and their crops are ruined, but I don't suppose many of them have shares in PP or will make a fuss at the AGM. As long as we get through today, we'll be OK.

You might expect such flannelling from business people and politicians. But from the Church of England? Surely not. Yet yesterday produced the worst splutterfest ever. The hapless spokeswoman was the Rev Pearl Luxon. She had been put up by the Church to talk about its role in failing to prevent a paedophile choirmaster, Peter Halliday, from abusing children. As one of the victims said: "When your first sexual experience is of a 40-year-old man forcing himself on you, it's pretty horrific." But the Church told neither the police nor social services and simply asked Halliday to leave.

Was Mrs Luxon, who is in charge of child protection at the C of E, contrite? Not a bit of it. Her first sin was to say that she could not comment on the case at all. "Why?" asked John Humphrys. "This is not a live case. The man has admitted his guilt and will be sentenced today. It is incumbent upon you to comment on this case, surely?"

"No, I cannot comment on this particular case," intoned the robot again. No reason. All she would say, time and time again, was that the Church had "robust policies in place" to deal with child abuse. When Humphrys tried to make her acknowledge that things had gone very badly wrong over Halliday, her answer was so unsatisfactory that it deserves printing in full: "These matters are always reviewed after they occur and we learn from our mistakes and our good practice is improved at all stages when these matters are looked at. Robust policies are improved through learning from the past and from following the guidance and good practice that happens now." Aaargh!

Does this woman have no shame? Has she stopped to think about the consequences of the Church's actions, or rather inactions? Presumably not, as she displayed not a shred of regret, let alone apology. If I were offering her media training, I would advise her to say: "We are desperately sorry that this occurred. We got it badly wrong. We apologise to the victims and will make sure that it never happens again." It's not that hard, is it?


This is definitely a Green religion

Environmentalism may not be saving the planet, but to judge by the news it seems to be conquering the world. Some of us have long thought that it is assuming pseudo-religious status, with its self-righteous claims to absolute truth and demands for sinners to repent. Now comes confirmation that, just as old Labour genuflected to new Labour, so our old state religion has converted to the new one.

The Church of England this week launched a booklet of "green tips" for the faithful entitled How Many Christians Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb? (only 4.99, if you still have that fiver). Its eco-commandments include: thou shalt share cars on the road to church, use virtuous green lightbulbs but cast off the Devil's junk mail, and not flush the loo three times before the cock crows.

This is more than a stunt. The C of E is serious about embracing the new orthodoxy. When it launched its Shrinking the Footprint crusade last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury complained that "early modern religion contributed to the idea that the fate of nature is for it to be bossed around by a detached sovereign will, whether divine or human". Possibly those misguided early modern religionists got that idea from the bit in the Book of Genesis about God giving Man dominion "over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth". Yet now the Archbishop condemns notions of nature being "bossed around" not only by Man, but even by God. Creepy.

As with Labour, it is not the power of the new religion that explains this craven conversion but the feebleness of the old. Such is the lack of confidence within the traditional Establishment today, everybody from politicians to church leaders wants to hug environmentalism as a new form of unquestioned authority. Scientists have become the equivalent of high priests in white coats, summoned to condemn heretics; a group of them now demand that the Channel 4 documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle be amended to reflect the one true faith before the DVD goes on sale. Perhaps they would like to burn it, if not for the CO2.

When there is only one recycled hymn sheet in town and you can believe in any shade of politics or religion just as long as it's green, those of us who put our faith in humanity should surely worry more about the new dogma than the old. They all now buy into the same non-plastic bag of fashionable prejudices: that people are the problem rather than the solution, and we must be saved from ourselves. Sackcloth and ashes is the new black. As a wise man once said, kick against the pricks. Or as we might say today, give them a human footprint up the carbon emissions.


Net influx of 185,000 per annum into the UK

In 2005, an estimated 565,000 migrants arrived to live in the UK for at least a year. This was lower than the 2004 estimate, but higher than all other years since the method to estimate Total International Migration began in 1991. In the same period, 380,000 people emigrated from the UK for a year or more; over half of these were British citizens. Australia was the most popular destination for British emigrants followed by Spain and France. Net migration, the difference between immigration and emigration, was 185,000. This was equivalent to adding just over 500 people a day to the UK population.

In 2005, 80,000 citizens from the group of eight central and eastern European countries that acceded to the EU on 1 May 2004 (known as the A8) immigrated to the UK for a year or more. This was 54 per cent higher than the 52,000 estimate for 2004. This can be explained by 2005 being the first calendar year following EU accession, and A8 citizens having increased freedom to live and work in the UK. Over 70 per cent of A8 migrants arriving in 2005 were Polish citizens.

Almost 85 per cent of those A8 citizens migrating to the UK came for work reasons, that is, they were 'looking for work' or had a 'definite job' to go to. Overall, nearly half of all citizens migrating to the UK gave work-related reasons.

'Formal study' is another important reason for people migrating to the UK accounting for almost a quarter of all immigration in 2005.

There are notable differences in the routes that migrants of different citizenships use to enter the UK. In 2004 and 2005, nearly 90 per cent of A8 migrants entered via routes other than the main UK airports (such as via sea ports, the Channel Tunnel, or Stansted and Luton and other local airports).

In contrast, nearly 75 per cent of citizens from Commonwealth and Other foreign countries entered the UK via Heathrow airport. Over 60 per cent of British migrants entered the UK via Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports.


Non-English Britain

Immigration correctness is having huge effects

One in five schoolchildren is from an ethnic minority - almost double the figure a decade ago. The annual school census reveals a Britain where one in eight pupils speaks a language other than English at home. The record figures include more than 40,000 children from Eastern Europe who have enrolled at schools since the enlargement of the European Union in 2004.

The statistics emerged as the race relations watchdog warned that Britain's segregated schools are a "ticking timebomb". The Commission for Racial Equality's director of policy said parents must stop sending their children to schools where most pupils come from similar religious or racial backgrounds. Nick Johnson also suggested schools should be given more money to admit a racially mixed intake. He said: "We're in fear of turning into a mini-America with racially determined schools. "Schools are where our children first learn how to get along with people from other cultures and backgrounds. Racially segregated schools prevent this from happening. This is a ticking timebomb."

His comments came as figures published by the Department for Education and Skills showed the biggest year- on-year increase in ethnic minority pupils for a decade. They account for just under a fifth (19.8 per cent) of England's 6.5 million primary and secondary pupils, up from 11 per cent when Labour came to power. Meanwhile, the number of primary pupils alone who do not speak English as their first language increased by seven per cent from last year to 448,000 - or about one child in seven. Overall, it is around one in eight.

But the Commission for Racial Equality is concerned that there are not enough resources to integrate pupils from such diverse backgrounds. Mr Johnson said he was particularly worried about Tony Blair's controversial city academies and trust schools. He added that some of these are using their extra freedoms to "cream off pupils from certain ethnic backgrounds or religions, thus ... increasing racial tensions".

The Conservatives said ministers had been caught off-guard by the increase in non-native English speakers in schools. Tory education spokesman David Willetts said: "The Government has completely failed to keep up with the rate of change in our school population." A DfES spokesman said: "The Education and Inspections Act 2006 placed a new duty on the governing bodies of all maintained schools, including faith schools, to promote community cohesion."


Pensioner is refused sight drugs – until he goes blind

Socialist "compassion" at work. Elderly people can go blind for all they care

A RETIRED policeman is going blind – because a Yorkshire health trust will not pay for treatment that could save his sight. Leslie Howard, also an ex-Royal Military policeman and former prison officer, suffers from a degenerative eye condition. The drugs needed to save his sight are available on the NHS in other parts of the country. But Mr Howard, 76, has been told by health chiefs not to expect a penny of NHS treatment until he goes blind in one eye and starts losing sight in the other. He fears that after a lifetime of public service the decision by North Yorkshire and York Primary Care Trust could plunge him into total blindness and leave him and his invalid wife Mary Ann, 70, housebound.

As his case led to a new row over NHS "health rationing", Mr Howard, of Acomb, York, said: "The problem is we have lived too long and are just pieces of meat now – a nuisance. "I was advised to go private but was quoted 1,000 pounds an injection for who knows how many injections. I can't afford that kind of money. I've paid tens of thousands of pounds in taxes and to know that I will now lose my sight because I can't afford private treatment is diabolical."

Mr Howard was diagnosed with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in his right eye in November. It can cause sight loss in three months. He says he was advised by the North Yorkshire and York PCT that it would only consider funding once he had gone blind in one eye and developed a similar condition in his second eye. He added: "It is more than three months since I was diagnosed and it is getting worse by the day. Has the Government lost all sense of compassion as well as economics?"

The head of campaigns at the Royal National Institute of the Blind, Steve Winyard, said: "This is a desperate situation for Mr Howard. His care trust is leaving him to go blind in one eye even though sight-saving treatments are available on the NHS. "We hear of more and more patients being forced to use retirement funds or life-savings to pay for sight-saving treatments that should be available readily on the NHS. "In cases like Mr Howard's, where people can't afford private treatment, patients face the prospect of going blind unnecessarily."

The chief executive of the Macular Disease Society, Tom Bremridge, added: "The so-called 'second-eye' policy is wholly unacceptable on ethical and practical grounds." Losing sight in one eye could affect a person's co-ordination and increase the risk of falls, while not treating the condition meant patients had a high risk of developing the problem in the second eye. Unsuccessful treatment in the second eye could then mean total blindness, Mr Bremridge said. He added: "It also makes no economic sense to deny treatment. The cost of supporting people with sight loss far outweighs the cost of treatment."

AMD sufferer and former Halifax Labour MP Alice Mahon, who took legal action against her PCT and forced a U-turn over its refusal to provide similar injections on the NHS, said: "It is an obscene policy. It's outrageous. "The whole fault is handing over all this funding to the PCTs, so it's a postcode lottery and not a national health service. I am particularly concerned there seems to be discrimination against older people who have paid into the NHS all their lives."

The North Yorkshire and York PCT said yesterday Department of Health guidelines were that, until the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NIHCE) published final guidance on new treatments, NHS bodies should continue local arrangements to manage their introduction.

There was no NIHCE guidance yet for the drugs Mr Howard wanted. So in agreement with other PCTs in the region, the trust was funding such treatments only in cases where there was evidence they would work. If any patient felt they should be considered for treatment the PCT would examine their circumstances, a spokesman added.


And he's not alone:

A WIDOWED grandmother who devoted 30 years of her life to the NHS and twice fought off cancer has become the latest patient in Yorkshire to be warned she faces being denied vital treatment for a condition which causes blindness. Retired midwife Doreen Kenworthy was last week given the devastating diagnosis that she was suffering from the eye condition age-related macular degeneration.

But her shock was compounded when doctors told her the NHS would not pay for treatment until she lost the sight in her affected eye and began to lose it in the other – although further loss of sight could be prevented if she paid out thousands of pounds for private care. Her plight is similar to that of York pensioner Leslie Howard who was refused immediate NHS treatment, although a private hospital group has now stepped in to give him the care he needs. Dr Kenworthy, 56, of Stanley, Wakefield, has vowed to fight to get sight-saving treatment.

"I am not prepared to die of cancer, neither am I prepared to go blind whilst fighting it," she said. "I have never been a supporter of the private sector in my professional life. I believe in Aneurin Bevan's philosophy of free healthcare access for all at all levels. "I understand there are cutbacks, although I don't agree with the way the Labour Government has handled the NHS, but to be told 'Sorry you have to go almost blind before you get help' is dreadful."

Dr Kenworthy, who worked as a midwife and later trained midwives before retiring last year from Bradford University, said she was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, undergoing a year of treatment before the condition recurred in January. The eye complaint was unrelated but she had already lost some central vision in her right eye which began deteriorating a month ago. She was urgently called for tests at St James's Hospital in Leeds where specialists told her she had the eye complaint and further deterioration could be prevented only by drug injections.

She was told these were only provided by the NHS after she lost her sight in one eye and began to lose it in the other – although they were available privately at a cost of up to 1,000 each over 12-24 months. "I did not expect to be told that I couldn't be treated on the NHS but if I went into the private sector I could be treated tomorrow," she said.

Dr Kenworthy, who has twins aged 31 and four grandchildren, said the only option she had to fund the treatment was by remortgaging her home. "To have to tell your children twice you've got cancer, then to say by the way you're going blind in your right eye and can't have any treatment until it affects your other eye is very hard," she said. "It's been devastating to have cancer twice in two years, to fight it, to retire after 30 years in the NHS and then get this on top."



A group of British climate scientists is demanding changes to a skeptical documentary about global warming, saying there are grave errors in the program billed as a response to Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth." "The Great Global Warming Swindle" aired on British television in March and is coming out soon on DVD. It argues that man-made emissions have a marginal impact on the world's climate and warming can better be explained by changing patterns of solar activity.

An open letter sent Tuesday by 38 scientists, including the former heads of Britain's academy of sciences and Britain's weather office, called on producer Wag TV to remove what it called "major misrepresentations" from the film before the DVD release -- a demand its director said was tantamount to censorship.

Bob Ward, the former spokesman for the Royal Society, Britain's academy of science, and one of the letter's signatories, said director Mark Durkin made a "long catalogue of fundamental and profound mistakes" -- including the claim that volcanoes produce more carbon dioxide than humans, and that the Earth's atmosphere was warmer during the Middle Ages than it is today. "Free speech does not extend to misleading the public by making factually inaccurate statements,'' he said. "Somebody has to stand up for the public interest here."

Durkin called the letter "loathsome." "This is a contemptible, weasel-worded attempt to gag scientific criticism, and it won't work," he said. "I don't believe they're interested in quality control when it comes to the reporting of science -- so long as it's on their side." Durkin acknowledged two of the errors highlighted by the scientists -- including the claim about volcanic emissions -- but he described those changes as minor and said they would be corrected in the expanded DVD release.

But the scientists do not want the DVD released without edits to completely remove the material they object to -- something Ward said would fatally weaken the film's argument. "The fact is that it's a very convincing program, and if you're not very aware of the science you wouldn't necessarily see what the errors are," Ward said. "But the errors are huge. ... Without those errors in, he doesn't have a story."

Ward has also complained to Britain's media regulator, which said it was investigating the matter. British broadcast law demands impartiality on matters of major political and industrial controversy -- and penalties can be imposed for misrepresentations of fact.

The decision to broadcast Durkin's documentary on Channel 4 was an unusual move in a country where the role of man-made carbon emissions in heating the globe is largely taken for granted and politicians regularly spar over which party has the greenest environmental policy. As for the former vice president, Gore has been hired as an adviser to the British government, which plans to send copies of his film to schools around England.



A FLAGSHIP EU scheme to cut pollution is "counter-productive" and could damage the Welsh steel industry, the chief executive of Corus warned yesterday. Philippe Varin, pictured right, said the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, first introduced in 2005, was a major contributor to rising electricity prices, one of the firm's big headaches. A 6.2bn pound takeover of Corus by Indian firm Tata steel was finalised earlier this month, and some fear the move will have serious implications for its Port Talbot plant, which employs more than 3,000.

Around 90% of new capacity in the steel industry is being developed in the 70% of the world not covered by the Kyoto agreement on cutting greenhouse gases. The current system involves EU Governments setting an emission cap for all manufacturing plants covered by the scheme. Each firm is then given an allowance, and can sell on any surplus if it cuts its pollution.

But there are many anomalies, including the inclusion of steel but not aluminium, and the lack of a similar scheme outside the EU. Asked by MPs about the impact on the firm if the scheme were not changed, Mr Varin said, "The consequence would be we wouldn't expand at all, then shrink production. We would import steel, we would continue to produce as much CO2 and it would be worse. "Production would be relocated to other countries."


Another triumph of British bureaucracy: "The Government's bungling over farm subsidy payments is clearly far from resolved after it emerged one Yorkshire claimant due more than 20,000 pounds has received just 89 pounds. Susan Maudsley, 60, from near Settle, who had expected subsidies in excess of 10,000 in 2005 and 2006, is a striking example of continuing chaos at the Rural Payments Agency (RPA). The RPA admitted last summer that it was at fault in her case - and yet officials are even refusing to pay out her 2006 subsidy until the previous year has been resolved. Shadow Agriculture Minister Jim Paice called the case "an outrage" that showed Ministers at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) were still failing to get a grip on the RPA which has come under fierce fire over the late payment of subsidies to thousands of farmers."

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