Sunday, December 07, 2008

An Alzheimer's virus?

The virus that causes cold sores may be one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s disease, according to research that suggests that existing drugs could be used to treat the most common form of dementia. Compelling new evidence found by British scientists has implicated the cold sore virus, known as herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1), in up to 60 per cent of Alzheimer’s cases. Though the findings from the University of Manchester remain preliminary, they could transform scientific understanding of a brain disorder that affects more than 400,000 people in Britain, and open an entirely new approach to treating it.

The insight is particularly encouraging because cheap antiviral drugs that can control HSV1 infections, such as acyclovir or Zovirax, have been available for many years, and are sufficiently safe to be sold over the counter. If HSV1’s role is confirmed, and antivirals are proved effective against the virus in the brain, the research would raise the prospect of stopping the progressive damage caused by Alzheimer’s in its tracks. This would allow hundreds of elderly people to avoid progressive cognitive decline that is highly distressing to them and their families, and to lead independent lives.

“One thing that is exciting about our research is that we already have drugs that have been used for a relatively long time against HSV1, which are cheap and well tolerated,” said Professor Ruth Itzhaki, who leads the research group. “If we are right, there is a good chance we could make progress quite quickly.”

Despite this potential, the Manchester team is struggling to obtain funding for the next stage of its research. Grant applications to test the HSV1 hypothesis in animal models have been turned down [How British! The British medical establishment opposed IVF for years too]. Professor Itzhaki said that if she could raise money to start animal studies, these should give preliminary indications of whether HSV1 was genuinely involved in Alzheimer’s within a year or so. The next step would be to test antivirals in early-stage Alzheimer’s patients in a clinical trial, which would take three to five years.

Although HSV1 is very common, infecting most adults and causing cold sores in about 20 to 40 per cent of them, the research does not suggest that everybody or even most people who suffer from cold sores will get Alzheimer’s. If the link is proved, it would be one of several factors, some of which are genetic, and early indications are that HSV1 might contribute to up to 60 per cent of cases.

HSV1’s potential role in Alzheimer’s is in the formation of plaques of beta amyloid protein that build up in the brain cells, which are thought to be its main cause. Professor Itzhaki’s group has been investigating this process for several years, and last year published research showing that HSV1 can promote the formation of beta amyloid plaques in cell cultures grown in the laboratory.

The new research, published in the Journal of Pathology, goes significantly farther, as it has found firm evidence of HSV1 infection in protein plaques in the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients. The scientists used a sophisticated genetic analysis technique called the in-situ polymerase chain reaction to detect HSV1 DNA in these protein plaques. This shows that the virus is associated with such build-ups, and suggests that it might be a significant cause.

HSV1, a cousin of the HSV2 virus that causes genital herpes, hides in the peripheral nervous system in a latent form, and periodically becomes active to cause cold sores in 20 to 40 per cent of carriers. The Manchester scientists believe that HSV1 may enter the brain and become active as people’s ageing immune systems lose the ability to keep it contained. It may then promote the build-up of beta amyloid and thus the onset of Alzheimer’s.

Professor Itzhaki said: “We suggest that HSV1 enters the brain in the elderly as their immune systems decline and then establishes a dormant infection from which it is repeatedly activated by events such as stress, immuno-suppression and various infections.” Antiviral drugs such as acyclovir, sold under the brand name Zovirax, can control HSV1 during the active phase of its life cycle, during which it causes cold sores.

A critical task for the next stages of research will be to determine whether HSV1 contributes to plaque formation while in its latent or active phase. If active HSV1 is responsible, it should respond to treatment: antivirals are known to be effective in the brain, as they are used to treat a rare and dangerous complication of herpes infections: herpes simplex encephalitis.

Matthew Wozniak, a member of the Manchester team, said that antiviral treatment would have big advantages over other approaches to Alzheimer’s therapy. “Antiviral agents would inhibit the harmful consequences of HSV1 action, in other words, inhibit a likely major cause of the disease irrespective of the damaging processes involved, whereas current treatments at best merely inhibit some of the symptoms.”


Instinctive influences on morality

I am one of the many who believe that we all have inborn moral responses. So when people say that something is "just wrong" they are not really being incoherent but are being guided by strongly felt moral instincts in themselves. I set out my thoughts on the matter at more length here.

A recent piece of research rather strongly supports that view. The research was based on the responses of a small group of (mainly) young women attending a minor British university so we must not get too excited about its generalizability but it may be a straw in the wind nonetheless. Below is one summary of it:
"A new study has found that people are more likely to be lenient in making decisions if they have just washed their hands. British scientists who carried out the research said the findings suggest that jurors in criminal trials who have cleansed their hands may make their verdict less severe. And voters may be more likely to excuse a politician's misdemeanours when going to the ballot box if they have just had a shower.

In the study, 22 people who had washed their hands, and 22 who had not, were made to watch a disgusting three-minute clip of heroin addicts from the hit film Trainspotting. All 44 were then asked to rate how morally wrong they deemed the series of acts shown to them on a scale of one to nine, with one being acceptable and seven being very wrong. The actions included stealing money from a wallet, lying on a job application, cooking and eating the family dog, killing a dying plane crash survivor to avoid starvation, and abusing a kitten. All said they thought the actions were 'wrong'. However, the participants who had washed their hands were less likely to judge the actions as harshly as the group who had not.

In another experiment, a group was asked to read sentences with words such as 'purity' and 'cleanliness' before being posed the same moral dilemmas. Another group was given sentences with neutral words. Again, the 'clean' group judged the unethical behaviour less harshly.

Lead researcher Dr Simone Schnall, a psychologist at the University of Plymouth, said: "We like to think we arrive at decisions because we deliberate, but incidental things can influence us. "This could have implications when voting and when juries make up their minds." Lancaster University psychologist Professor Carey Cooper described the findings as "terrifying". He said: "It suggests that washing can make us more prepared to accept wrongdoing. "It is very scary when you think of the implications, especially in the judicial world."

The original report of the research is here.

So judgments of right and wrong are simply not rational. They are instinctive. I think conservatives will be a lot more comfortable with that than Leftists are. Leftist don't think ANYTHING (except homosexuality) is instinctive.

One should note however that the setting of the research was deliberately designed to draw out instinctive responses. People on a jury (for instance) may be less influenced by irrelevancies. Nonetheless it has long been known in psychological research that incidental factors can influence research results. This is merely the latest instance of it.

The original research article gives some interesting and plausible theoretical background to what they found.

If I were being devil's advocate, I would say that the results show that middle-class young women in Britain have been taught to associate cleanliness with virtue and to associate virtue with mercy so the old "more research is needed" applies here too. Would you get the same results with Lebanese? Maybe not.

British police forbidden to store DNA profiles of innocent people

In theory, I see nothing wrong with DNA particulars being kept on file but given the appalling and endemic incompetence of British officialdom in handling sensitive information, I agree with that Tom Uttley writes below:

Those who have the stamina to wade through my weekly ramblings and rants will have gathered that I have no time at all for the European Court of Human Rights. As one of a dwindling band of believers in democracy, the least worst system of government yet devised by man, I'm appalled that so many of our laws are made by unelected foreign judges, so alien to our way of life that many of us have difficulty even pronouncing their names. For all I know, Bostjan Zupancic, Mirjana Lazarova Trajkovska, Zdravka Kalaydjieva and their fellow judges may be frightfully good chaps (or chapesses - don't ask me which). But I don't see what earthly business it is of these Slovenians, Macedonians and Bulgarians to lay down the rules under which you and I should lead our lives.

If we want absolute, unchangeable laws - applicable to every human being everywhere, without regard to their wishes, national traditions or changing circumstances - then let God lay them down, say I, and leave it to us to decide whether or not we obey Him. For the rest, I like to feel I have some sort of say in the way I'm governed - even if that means having to submit to a shower of incompetent control-freaks like New Labour (though, come to think of it, I can't remember anyone asking me if I wanted to be governed by a party led by Gordon Brown).

With my passionately felt objections to the ECHR, therefore, I find myself in a bit of a quandary when the court comes up with a judgment as magnificently just and sensible as yesterday's ruling that the British police must stop keeping DNA samples taken from people who have done nothing wrong. Should I stick to my democratic principles and say that these unaccountable foreign busybodies have no right to interfere in the law of the UK? Or should I smother them in hugs and kisses (well, perhaps not the Polish judge, who has the off-putting name of Lech Garlicki) and congratulate them on stepping in to right a grievous wrong?

On second thoughts, why not both? With apologies to Voltaire, let me turn his famous quote on its head and declare: I challenge to the death their right to say it - but, my goodness, I agree with what they say.

As an Englishman, born and raised in the land that kept the torch of freedom burning through two World Wars, I'm filled with shame at the thought that we have to take lessons in liberty from Germans, Italians, Estonians and Azerbaijanis. But, alas, those lessons have become necessary, after more than a decade of rule by a British Government intent on establishing state control over every minute detail of our lives, from what we eat and drink to how we choose to bring up our young.

We can see it everywhere, from the forest of CCTV cameras sprouting in every High Street (we have more per head than anywhere else in the world) to the monstrous plan to set up a database, recording the upbringing of all 12 million children in England and Wales - including information about their daily intake of fruit and vegetables and judgments about whether or not their parents provide 'positive role models'.

Nowhere is this creeping erosion of our liberties more insidious than in the police practice - now so roundly condemned by the ECHR as a breach of human rights - of collecting and keeping DNA samples from those who have never been convicted of a criminal offence. According to the latest estimates, the genetic profiles of between 850,000 and a million innocents are now being held on the 4.5 million-strong database, which is already one of the biggest on the planet. They include not only people who have been acquitted of crimes, but those who have never been charged or even suspected of wrongdoing - among them, witnesses and victims of offences.

Most chillingly of all, the profiles of more than 150,000 children are held on the database, to be kept there for the rest of their lives if the police and the Government get their way (as yet they may). Indeed, one of the two Britons on whose cases the ECHR ruled yesterday was only 12 years old when his DNA sample was taken, after he was arrested and charged with attempted robbery in January 2001. Five months later, he was acquitted - but the South Yorkshire police refused to remove his details from the database, saying they would be retained 'to aid criminal investigation'.

Now, I know that a great many readers will see nothing wrong with keeping the DNA profiles of children or anyone else on a police database. The more of us whose records are kept, they will say, the safer this country will be. Indeed, I've lost count of the number of letters I've received, telling me: 'If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.' I completely understand that point of view. But it was very neatly answered, I thought, by a letter in one of this week's papers, saying: 'I fear having to prove I have nothing to hide.'

There are other things I fear, too, about keeping the profiles of innocents on the database. For one, nothing could be easier for a criminal than planting a sample of somebody else's DNA at the scene of his crime. Indeed, only yesterday lunchtime I was handed a prize specimen of a stranger's DNA, in the form of a long, black human hair in my soup. Its owner will have a lot of uncomfortable explaining to do if I choose to leave it at the scene of my next robbery.

Then there's the disturbing question of what the Government might do with such a database if Britain were ever to fall into the hands of a totalitarian regime. After all, our DNA is crammed with information about our race, our state of health and God knows what else. There are some things about all of us that it's just safer for the Government not to know. I mean, just think what use Hitler or Stalin would have made of a database like this.

For all these reasons - not to mention the astronomical cost of every computer project undertaken by this Government and the near-certainty that somebody will leave the entire database on a train - I rejoice at yesterday's ECHR ruling.

Mind you, I don't suppose much will come of it. Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has already announced that she's 'disappointed' with the ruling, adding: 'The existing law will remain in place while we carefully consider the judgment.' Leave aside that the job of sifting through 4.5million profiles to weed out and erase those of the innocent will almost certainly be beyond the ability of police or Whitehall

If I know the ways of this Government, Miss Smith will seize upon the judges' 'particular concern' that the innocent on the database may be 'stigmatised' by being treated in the same way as convicted offenders. Then she will tell us that the way to avoid stigmatising anyone is to put the whole lot of us on the police database and treat us all like convicts. After all, that is almost exactly what the Government did after the judges' ruling that it was wrong for Britain to have a law allowing us to keep foreign citizens under house arrest. Very well, replied the Government, we'll introduce a law allowing Britons to be kept under house arrest, too. So much for human rights.

Ah, well, the great thing about British democracy is that once every four or five years, we have the chance to get rid of the likes of Miss Smith and Mr Brown. It may seem churlish to say this, on the day after they struck their blow for liberty, but I only wish we could say the same about the judges of the ECHR.


New target for Britain's anti-terror spies: Village paperboys - for not having the correct paperwork

They creep around in the dark spreading misery, rumour and secrets from inside Westminster. Even so, paperboys and girls are hardly likely to pose a threat to national security. One local council, however, thought it necessary to use swingeing anti-terror laws against them.

Cambridgeshire County Council used the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) to spy on eight paperboys thought to be working without permits. It sent undercover council officers to lurk outside a Spar in the village of Melbourn and take notes on the movements of the boys. The evidence was used in a criminal prosecution of the shop's owners for employing five of the boys without the correct documentation.

Cambridgeshire's approach is just the latest example of local authorities using the RIPA for minor misdemeanours. Such activities have been likened to those of the Stasi, the East German secret police. A Cambridgeshire bylaw states that all paperboys must have a work permit issued by the council and signed by the child's employer, headteacher and parents. Working children must also be over 13 and cannot start work until after 7am.

This week Cambridge Magistrates' Court was told that Dips Solanki, 42, and his wife Rashmi, 38, had failed to get the correct work permits for five paperboys. Prosecutor Simon Reeve told the court that the couple ignored letters and visits from a child employment officer. He said that although eight applications for work permits had been sent to the children's school, only three were signed. He produced the surveillance to prove the boys had been working. The Solankis were found guilty of failing to comply with the bylaw and now have a criminal record. They were given a six-month conditional discharge.

All the boys concerned were between 13 and 16. Other than not having the correct paperwork, they were working legally. Yesterday, the couple insisted that there had simply been a paperwork mix-up. They denied that they had been warned by council officials - and said the authority was using a 'hammer to crack a nut'. Mrs Solanki said: 'They should only do such things for a serious crime. We're innocent people trying to make an honest living. It's ridiculous and was a complete waste of everyone's time.'

Andrew Lansley, Tory MP for South Cambridgeshire, agreed, saying: 'These powers should only be used for the scope they were intended, which is to tackle serious crime and terrorism.' But a Cambridgeshire Council spokesman said: 'Delivering heavy bags early in the morning is potentially very hazardous. 'We do not want to wait until someone has an accident before we start to uphold the law properly.'

The Act was introduced in 2000. As well as allowing spying in the interests of national security, it also allows state agencies such as councils, NHS trusts and the fire service to act secretly in the interests of 'protecting public health'. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act was supposed to grant only the police and security services the power to spy on emails and phone calls. But it was extended to town halls, which have been taking advantage on a daily basis. In the last financial year, 154 local authorities made 1,707 requests for communications data under RIPA. They include Poole Council in Dorset, which spied on a family because it wrongly suspected the parents of abusing rules on school catchment areas. Councils in Derby, Bolton, Gateshead and Hartlepool used covert techniques to deal with dog fouling, while Bolton spied on suspected litter louts.


Britain has become a 'lonelier' place over the past 30 years, where even your neighbour's a stranger

Loss of traditional standards and rules has much to answer for

Britain is an increasingly lonely country where even our neighbours are strangers, research suggests. The breakdown of family ties and more people moving around the country for jobs have contributed to a society without roots or ties. Researchers say that the fragmentation of the UK started in the late 1960s, but has accelerated over the past decade. They believe that even the least cohesive communities of the early 1970s had stronger ties than any community now. Divorce, immigration and large transitory student populations have also played a role in weakening neighbourhood bonds, the report found. There is also greater movement for retirement, or for better schools and lifestyles.

The report, prepared for the BBC by researchers at Sheffield University, picked out districts where the fewest people have roots and most share 'a feeling of not belonging'. These include Holyrood in Edinburgh, Headingley in Leeds, Hyde Park in London, and the university district of Cardiff.

The index is based on the national census of 2001 and the Office for National Statistics' population estimates for 2006. Stoke-on-Trent, which scored 22.4 on the index, is among the towns where locals are most likely to stay put - and to which few outsiders are attracted.

The Changing UK report showed that where people live increasingly depends on how well off or how old they are. But it rejected the idea of a racial divide, saying that Britain 'is less segregated by race and ethnicity that in was in 1991'.


A real problem in the atmosphere

Representatives from more than 192 countries have gathered at a UN climate change conference in Poznan, Poland, to find a way to stop global warming. But a delegation from the [British] Met Office said it is just as important for the world to stop pollution, which is set to kill 800 more people every year by 2020 in the UK alone.

Dr Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office, said new scientific evidence shows pollution is a bigger problem in terms of human health than previously thought. She says that it can exacerbate the effects of climate change with deadly consequences. This is because increased pollution not only heats the planet through the greenhouse effect but stops plants from absorbing carbon, which in turn increases pollution again.

She pointed out that polluting gases are already killing 1,500 people in the UK every year and that is expected to increase to around 2,391 deaths a year by 2020. By the 2090s close to one-fifth of the world's population will be exposed to pollution well above the World Health Organization recommended safe-health level. This is expected to cause deaths from respiratory problems on top of the destruction caused by climate change.

Dr Pope will be lobbying the conference to try to reduce pollution as well as climate change at the conference. She said: "It is not just a question of climate change and rainfall change and the impact of that. A lot more people suffer from air quality problems than suffer from heat. It is an additional problem that people have not really taken into consideration that now needs to be looked at as part of climate change negotiations."



This morning I awoke to a truly hilarious (if inadvertent) moment on BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme ['Listen Again' from 07.17 am onwards]. There was good old Roger Harrabin sounding like some doleful Eeyore braying on about how terrible it was that Italy, Poland, France, and all the rest were likely to scupper the EU's efforts to save us all from "dangerous climate change", only to be followed by an item from a poor soul who was stuck up North somewhere because of heavy and unseasonal snow. The cognitive dissonance was deafening, yet none of the presenters flinched, nor had the wit to make a comment, such is the BBC's increasing deafness on the subject of climate change.

Here is what the 'Today' programme website says about Roger's item: "Environment analyst Roger Harrabin reports on the threat from Italy, Poland and other East European nations to veto the climate package because, they say, it would cost too much." The choice of the word "threat" speaks volumes; it never crosses the mind of the BBC that Italy, Poland, and the rest may actually be correct. I for one believe that they are, and so do millions of other people.

Sadly, I thus think that the situation at the BBC is now a serious one with respect to their uncritical reporting of climate change. Around the world, the grand narrative of 'global warming' is dying, strangled by the cold realities of the economic crisis, by world politics, by the fact that an increasing number of people are seeing through the exaggerations and distortions of much of the Green movement, but, above all, because of climate itself.

We now know that the world's average surface temperature has flat-lined, and then fallen, since at least 2001, but possibly since 1998. Indeed, during the last two years, the curve has plummeted, leading to severe winters in many countries. It is further arguable that we are about to enter a significant cooling phase, partly driven by two specific phenomena, the Pacific Multidecadal Oscillation (PMO) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), coupled with the lateness and the weakness of Solar Cycle 24, leading to low sunspot activity.

What is worse, climate models have failed to predict these trends, a fact which is hardly surprising, because we know so little about 80% of the variables - from cosmic rays to clouds and water vapour - driving climate. Belief in 'global warming' is a little like crossing a bridge for which the engineers have understood about 20% (if that) of the forces involved. Moreover, modelling is essentially 'soft' science, dependent on the choice of factors inputted. Models are thus less subject to rigorous falsification, and they can only be judged with respect to historical contingency and real-world outcomes - like heavy snow in Yorkshire!

This would indeed all be hilarious, if the impacts of our ridiculous climate-change policies in the UK were not so potentially damaging economically. In these most straightened of times, they could well undermine our economy yet further, and thus our future capacity to adapt to climate change, whatever its direction, hot, wet, cold, or dry. If this happens, we must hold both the BBC and our bandwagon politicians fully accountable.

Worldwide, 'global warming' as a trope is on its way out [this is partly why I have moved to this more general blog from my old blog, 'Global Warming Politics' - it was becoming so old hat and boring]. Furthermore, we should not be kidded by Obama's team on this; although America will surely 'talk-the-talk', their prime interest is always going to be in energy security (and rightly so).

The BBC really does need to chill out over its coverage of 'global warming', and quickly. Regrettably, however, I suspect that the 'global warming' corpse will still be twitching in the UK when the stake has gone through its heart in pretty well every other country.



Roger Helmer MEP, Chairman of The Freedom Association, has led the growing opposition to the EU's plans to destroy jobs through its draconian attempts to reduce CO2 emissions. Here is the speech he made in the European Parliament today: "I have no doubt that we are facing the greatest threat we have seen in my lifetime. That threat is posed not by global warming, but our policy responses to it.

The world has certainly been warming, slightly and intermittently, for the last 150 years. But that warming is entirely consistent with well established, natural, long-term climate cycles established over thousands of years. We have seen the Holocene Maxima, the Roman Optimum, the Mediaeval Warm Period. We now seem to be entering a new 21st Century Climate Optimum.

The fact is that sea level is rising no faster than it has done for centuries. The fact is that total global ice mass is broadly constant. The fact is that extreme weather events are no more common now than they were a century ago. The Polar Bear, far from facing extinction, has seen a massive population increase in recent decades.

It is true that CO2 is a greenhouse gas - but a less important greenhouse gas than water vapour. The climate forcing effect of CO2 is not linear. It is a law of diminishing returns. From current level of around 380 ppm, further CO2 increases will have a trivial effect.

Meantime our emissions policies are having a devastating effect. They are doing vast economic damage. Our unachievable renewables targets, especially with regard to wind power, threaten widespread black-outs and power shortages. These measures will fail, just as Kyoto has failed. Even if the West cuts emissions, China and India will not. CO2 levels will keep rising for at least half a century.

The fact is that 1998 was the hottest year in living memory. Since then, we have seen ten years of global cooling. In that context, the climate policies we are debating today represent an unprecedented collective flight from reality."


Doctor who carried out unnecessary hysterectomies still fine to work in the NHS

A doctor who left two women unable to have children after carrying out unnecessary operations "for research" has been allowed to continue working. Dr Martin Quinn, a consultant gynaecologist, was found guilty of misconduct by the General Medical Council (GMC) which ruled he should not have carried out hysterectomies on both women. He was suspended from working for six months but will be allowed to practise after that time.

One of the women involved said that she was "bewildered" that a consultant who had "terrified" her into believing that radical surgery was her only option would still be allowed to work in the NHS. The GMC found that Dr Quinn had failed to act in the best interests of both women. The panel found him guilty of misconduct and that his fitness to practise was impaired.

Dr George Lodge, chairman of the panel, told Dr Quinn that his actions represented "misconduct so serious as to call into question whether you should continue as a registered doctor, either with restrictions on registration or at all." He added that the panel was concerned that he had allowed his research interests to "intrude unacceptably" into his care of patients. But the panel suspended Dr Quinn for six months, saying they were satisfied there was no evidence of a general lack of competence and no previous evidence of misconduct.

Dr Quinn, who has been a doctor for 25 years, was suspended from his 80,000 pounds a year role with Hope Hospital in Salford, Greater Manchester in April 2005 and his employment terminated in May last year. In recent months he has been working at St George's Hospital in London. A spokesman for St George's said: "Martin Quinn has been working at St George's as an unpaid honorary clinical fellow since June this year. In this role, he has been supervised at all times when in contact with patients."

David Dalton, chief executive of Salford Royal, the trust which runs Hope Hospital, said: "We have always and will continue to put the needs of patients first." All 600 patients who were treated by Dr Quinn at Hope Hospital between September 2002 and April 2005 have had their cases reviewed and a number have been offered extra support by the hospital.

One of the women who had an unnecessary operation spoke of the pain the surgery had caused her family. The 32-year-old mother-of-two from Salford told Dr Quinn that she and her husband wanted to try for another child but he convinced her that she needed a hysterectomy. She was "bewildered" that he had not been banned from practising medicine, she said. The woman, who did not want to be named, said: "He took my fertility and prevented my partner and I from having another baby. "He terrified me into thinking a hysterectomy was the only safe option." She added: "I just wanted justice and the reassurance of knowing he will not be able to work in gynaecology in the future and mess up other people's lives."


A small twitch of life from the British immigration authorities

Police and immigration officers have arrested 32 suspected illegal workers during a raid on a plastics factory. Officers wearing stab vests surrounded Siva Plastics factory at Spitfire Quay, in Hazel Road, Southampton, Hampshire, after intelligence tip-offs. Thirty one male and one female Indian nationals were detained and proceedings have begun to remove them from the UK.

In a statement, Siva Plastics said it "believed that its recruitment policy was sufficiently robust". But a spokeswoman for the UK Border Agency said the company could now face a fine of up to 10,000 pounds per employee. Hugh Ind, area director for the UK Border Agency, said: "Illegal working hurts good business, undercuts legal workers, creates illegal profits and puts those employed at risk. "We have teams throughout the region who visit businesses to ensure they are not breaking the law. "Our message to employers is simple - if you employ illegal workers you could be named and shamed and face criminal charges."

A Siva spokesman said the company would co-operate fully with the UK Border Agency. "Siva also intends to provide assistance to the detained employees and their families," he said. "While Siva believed that its recruitment policy was sufficiently robust to ensure that no illegal immigrants were employed by it, in view of the current investigation... it is undertaking an immediate and comprehensive review of its recruitment policy. "Siva remains a committed and responsible employer and has never knowingly employed any illegal immigrant workers."


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