Friday, April 11, 2008


The furore continues but I don't have the time at the moment to comment further on it. Some links here and here and here and here and here and here. Note that there are now TWO BBC articles that are under heavy fire.


Just for a laugh, of course:

* Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest.
* Audiences are at the heart of everything we do.
* We take pride in delivering quality and value for money.
* Creativity is the lifeblood of our organisation.
* We respect each other and celebrate our diversity so that everyone can give their best.
* We are one BBC: great things happen when we work together.


Muslim sex offenders to be let off therapy?

Muslims convicted of sex offences could opt out of treatment programmes intended to stop them offending because open discussion of their crimes is against their religion. Ahtsham Ali, the prison service's Muslim adviser, said that there was a "legitimate Islamic position" that criminals should not discuss their crimes with others. The move could result in Muslim sex offenders being able to avoid sex offender treatment programmes run by the prison service, which involve group discussion of crimes.

Mr Ali is now planning to hold discussions with officials in the Ministry of Justice over the issue. He told Inside Time, the prisoners' newspaper: "I will be taking it forward as a matter of some urgency with colleagues, including those with policy responsibility for the sex offender treatment programme, who are very willing to discuss these issues."

The possibility of an exemption for Muslims came to light after a prisoner wrote to the newspaper asking for clarification of the position of Muslims on the programme. He wrote: "I have always insisted that it was against Islamic teachings to discuss your offence [with] anyone, let alone act it out within a peer group."

A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "We are seeking to ensure that the policy for the sex offender treatment programme is sensitive to the diversity of religions within the prison context." However Mark Leech, editor of the Prisons Handbook, said that a change could lead to Muslims spending longer in prison because their risk of reoffending could not be assessed. [Good one!]


Thousands of migrants win right to stay in Britain

I agree with the judge here. The British Labour party is just thrashing uselessly about and mostly hitting the wrong people in the process

Thousands of highly skilled migrants who were faced with deportation can now stay in Britain, a court ruled yesterday. The ruling is a blow to the Government and its attempt to demonstrate to the public that it is taking a tough stance to meet concern over the extent of immigration. Sir George Newman, a High Court judge, branded the new rules unfair and migrant groups claim that they could mean up to 44,000 people having to leave the country. The numbers are disputed by the Home Office, which says that only 1,370 applicants are affected.

Under the old rules migrants had to say they intended to make their main home in Britain and were allowed to stay for a year initially. They could then apply for a two-year extension and a further three years before seeking permanent settlement. The system was based on qualifications, experience and earning ability, but in November 2006 the Government suspended the scheme for a month after it was found that some migrants had entered on forged papers, others were working in unskilled jobs and some were not working at all. A new criterion was introduced where migrants would have to score points based on their education, salary and age.

The changes were attacked by the HSMP Forum, which represents those on the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme. It said that the rules were unlawful and a breach of migrants’ legitimate expectations. The High Court granted the forum a judicial review of the Government’s decision and ruled that the original system should be honoured for people already in Britain. Sir George said that the changes were unfair to those already admitted to Britain under the programme and that there was “no good reason why those already on the scheme shall not enjoy the benefits of it as orginally offered to them”. He added: “Good administration and straightforward dealing with the public require it. Not to restrain the impact of the changes would, in my judgment, give rise to conspicuous unfairness and an abuse of power.”

The court had been told by John Fordham, QC, that the goalposts had been moved for those previously admitted under the scheme. He said it was “a grossly unfair, massive change to the nature of the programme” visited on highly skilled individuals who had left their homes, relatives, friends and jobs and committed themselves to living in Britain.

The ruling comes after a call last year from the Joint Human Rights Committee of MPs and peers for the changes to be scrapped, arguing that it was a breach of the right to respect for home and family life contained in Article 8 of European Convention of Human Rights. Amit Kapadia, executive director of the HSMP Forum, said: “People left their careers, uprooted their families to come to the UK and settle down. After some time you come up with new rules and say, ‘Forget all those promises, now you have to go back to your country’.”

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, was ordered to pay the legal costs of the forum and was refused permission to appeal. The Home Office insisted that the number involved was much lower than the 44,000 figure put forward by the forum. A spokeswoman said that about 16,000 people who arrived under the old rules needed their leave considered under the new rules. She said that 7,000 had had their cases considered and that only 650 had failed. Liam Byrne, the Immigration Minister, said: “Did we give migrants a big enough warning that the rules could get tougher while they were here? We said yes, others said no. That’s why it was right for a judge to take a look at this case.”

Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: “The ruling makes it clear that the Government’s decision to change the rules for highly skilled immigrants already working in this country was not only deeply unfair but also completely illegal. The Government must now recognise that you cannot invite people to come here to build lives and careers under one scheme and then simply move the goalposts.”

David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: “It is unfair that skilled workers who have made a commitment to this country should have the rules of the game changed after they have been welcomed.”


NHS authorised ambulance teams to give restricted drugs

An ambulance service jeopardised patient and staff safety to try to improve its performance, a health watchdog said. Staffordshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust also issued staff with drugs that they were not legally allowed to have, the Healthcare Commission found. The trust took risks with patient and staff safety while making “innovative” attempts to improve its service. The service has since merged with West Midlands Ambulance.

In a 96-page report, the commission emphasised that the Staffordshire service was a “good performer” in terms of response times for emergency calls. But the eight-month inquiry found that the achievements of the service were undermined by a “culture and approach” that did not prioritise safety. Investigators found that ambulance staff and volunteer community first responders were supplied with controlled drugs, such as the sedatives diazepam and midazolam, that they were not entitled to possess. It was also discovered that medicines in the trust’s stations regularly went missing or were unaccounted for and that community first responders were allowed to drive at speed using blue lights and sirens without the necessary advanced driver training.

Commenting on the report, Anna Walker, the Healthcare Commission chief executive, said that managers at Staffordshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust were motivated by the best intentions. But she added: “Some of the practices in the trust put the safety of patients, volunteers and staff at risk. “Patients, staff and the public could have been seriously hurt as a result of the compromised safety culture. The trust sought to be innovative, and that is to be applauded, but it did not have effective systems in place to handle this innovation safely. “This undermined many of the good achievements made on behalf of patients.”


Brits can't deport bin Laden's right hand man: "The government's anti-terror policy was dealt a double blow yesterday when firebrand preacher Abu Qatada won his fight against deportation, and ministers were forced to abandon their bid to eject a further 12 terror suspects from Britain. Qatada, a Jordanian once described as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe", will remain behind bars while the Home Office appeals against his landmark victory in the Court of Appeal. In the second case, two Libyans known only as "AS" and "DD" won their appeals against deportation, leading the Home Office to drop proceedings against them and ten other Libyans suspected of terrorism."

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