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Exaro News Is Playing A Dangerous Game With Its Paedophile Murder Story

This is a cross-post from Barrister Blogger

Exaro News has been drip feeding allegations and rumours of a paedophile sex ring in high places for many months.

Today – in collaboration with the Sunday People – it has alleged that it was not only a sex but a murder ring. A Tory MP strangled a 12 year old brown haired boy in a central London town house in 1980. Apparently,18 months to two years later two other men murdered a second boy in front of another Tory MP, “a cabinet minister.” Both MPs, are “still alive.” Its source is a man in his 40s to whom they have given the pseudonym “Nick”.

The scene was set yesterday when the BBC decided to join Exaro News in broadcasting an interview with a man in his 40s known as “Nick” who alleges that he was repeatedly raped by Conservative MPs and other “VIPs” in the 1970s and 80s. Nick, it is said, is grateful to Exaro News and to his counsellor for “allowing” him to tell his story in public, and wants to encourage others to go, as he has now gone, to the police to corroborate his account. According to the BBC he has been “in counselling on and off since he was in his twenties” and has only now “found the strength to come forward.” There was no mention in the BBC interview of any murder and Exaro have never previously revealed that Nick witnessed a murder.

Mark Watts the Exaro interviewer suggests “a lot of people will find your account hard to believe,” but that does not mean that Nick is lying. Nevertheless Exaro, and now the BBC, have acted extremely unwisely by catapulting him into the public domain.

Both the BBC’s interview, and even more so Exaro’s, go into considerable detail about the alleged abuse. We are told, for example, how Nick and other children would be driven to Dolpin Square where sex parties were held. They would be made to dance and sing, before being sexually abused by a group including MPs, “an ex-Cabinet Minister,” and other “powerful people.” Nick says that he was repeatedly raped while his head was held under water in a bath, and on a number of occasions he nearly drowned. Boys were injured, and a doctor, he says, was part of the group to treat these injuries. It was, indeed, a paedophile ring.

The first effect of broadcasting Nick’s detailed allegations is that anybody wishing to make a false allegation has now been given not just rumours, which in truth have been flying around on the internet for years, but a detailed and apparently first-hand description of exactly how another witness says the abuse took place. This, of course, flies in the face of good policing practice in which the account of one witness is never given to other potential witnesses precisely because of the danger of contamination. It is true that neither Exaro nor the BBC has actually given the names of the alleged abusers but 5 minutes on the internet would supply a selection of Tory MPs and cabinet ministers about whom rumours have swirled. Most of those who were cabinet ministers in Mrs Thatcher’s first administration are now dead, so the tidbit that the Minister in question is still alive narrows the field to about 10 suspects.

In any case involving multiple complainants the defence always strives hard to show that the complainants may have colluded with each other, or at least that later complainants knew of the substance of an earlier complaint, while the prosecution tries to show that such collusion or awareness is unlikely. Well, Exaro and the BBC together have comprehensively ensured that any future complainant will be aware of the detail of Nick’s complaint and his evidence will for that reason be devalued. In a nutshell, if a future witness relates similar details to Nick’s he will be accused of having learnt them from the BBC and Exaro interviews. It is on such issues that cases turn.

Do read the rest of Matthew’s post here.



Bermondsey Square Hotel’s ‘Sharia’ makeover

Following its sale to a Muslim businessman, the Bermondsey Square Hotel is phasing out the sale of pork and alcohol.  You can still, apparently, buy alcohol to consume on the premises and assurances have been given (in response to concerns) that there will be no discrimination against same sex couples.  This move has led to understandable frustration from some returning customers who assumed they would still be able to have a traditional English breakfast and order a drink at the bar.

Clearly this decision is going to hit the hotel’s trade. From a business point of view it seems a disastrous move. However I notice that they don’t mind guests buying alcohol to drink in their rooms – if they could extend this flexibility to the dining room, their ‘dry’ policy could be turned into a selling point, as guests would be able to avoid the traditional high mark up on wine served in restaurants.

This probably isn’t going to happen. However, to put this hotel’s new policy into perspective, it is of course the case that many hotels restrict the services available to guests on ethical or religious grounds of some kind.  Some hotels are vegetarian.  A few years ago I stayed in a very nice gluten-free hotel – that wasn’t why we chose it, but for some guests that would be a huge selling point. Observant Jews are free to choose a Kosher hotel. And you can still find the odd temperance hotel.


Report from Kobane

Richard Engel of NBC News managed to enter the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane and has an excellent report (properly critical of the Obama administration) on the brave Kurdish women and men resisting the Islamic State forces trying to capture the town.

“Women and men live together and fight together. There are no formal ranks, no organized units, and everyone calls each other ‘comrade’. The Kurds of Kobane are a throwback: progressive idealists in a region that may be descending into medieval darkness.”

Reminds me somewhat of George Orwell’s description of the POUM militia in which he fought against the fascists in the Spanish civil war. Let’s hope the Kurds are more successful.


With Russia’s economy starting to tank, Putin sets his priorities

Remember when the reliably gullible soon-to-be former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann claimed (based on a debunked Indian press report) that a visit to Asia by President Obama would cost a staggering $2 billion, including the diversion of 34 Navy ships for security?

(Fortunately for fans of Congressional Republican loopiness, Louie Gohmert of Texas was reelected this month with 77.5 percent of the vote.)

Well, Bachmann’s fever dream is Vladimir Putin’s reality.

Vladimir Putin is underlining his presence at a major summit of world leaders in Australia by stationing warships in waters off the country’s northeastern coast, prompting the Australian prime minister to angrily accuse Russia of trying to reclaim the “lost glories” of the Soviet Union.

The diplomatic drama, which has been simmering since a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down over an area of Ukraine controlled by Russian-backed separatists in July, threatened to overshadow Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s goal of keeping this weekend’s G20 summit focused on economic growth.

But Abbott, who had previously said he would physically confront the Russian president over the Flight 17 disaster that killed 298 people, including 38 Australian citizens and residents, did little to dampen tensions with his latest critique of Putin’s Russia.

In recent days, four Russian warships have entered international waters off the northeast Australian coast to coincide with Putin’s visit to Australia for the summit that brings together the leaders of the world’s 20 biggest industrialized and developing economies. Australia, in turn, sent three warships of its own to monitor them.

The Russian embassy said on Friday that Russia’s Pacific fleet was testing its range, and could be used as security for Putin.

Can anyone explain how Russian warships off the coast of Australia could protect Putin on the ground in Brisbane?

I don’t know how much it cost to send Putin’s naval escort. But with the price of oil dropping 30 percent since June, and possibly heading lower, the Russian regime might want to reconsider such profligate power plays.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Russia’s economy is suffering from falling oil prices, as oil revenue makes up about half of the state budget revenue, while the sanctions imposed by the West in response to Moscow’s policy toward Ukraine have almost shut the global financial markets to Russian companies.

Russian inflation is at a three year-high, the ruble is trading at new lows, and capital outflows are expected to exceed $100 billion this year. The ruble is under downward pressure both from higher demand for dollars, as companies find it hard to borrow abroad, and from lower oil prices. It has already weakened by more than 20% since the start of the year.

Russian consumers are already paying the price as food costs soar compared to last year.

And Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in September that the government would raid the state pension fund to prop up cash-starved state companies.

But Putin clearly has his priorities. And beside chest-thumping displays of naval power and expansionist military adventures in Ukraine, one of them is the Russian government propaganda outlet RT (formerly Russia Today).

According to The Times of London, RT will receive a 30 percent budget increase (to about $400 million) for 2015.

Whether that means George Galloway’s £76,800 ($122,880) annual salary from RT will go up, I can’t say. But I’m sure the Russian people will be pleased to put up with higher food prices and less secure pensions if it means, among other things, that Galloway can continue to spread his pro-Putin and anti-Western message to the world.


Ken Livingstone’s inflammatory remarks condemned across the political spectrum

Yesterday, it was reported that Ken Livingstone had encouraged supporters of Lutfur Rahman to adopt intimidatory tactics when dealing with government commissioners sent to investigate allegations against Tower Hamlets Council:

He added: “When these commissioners turn up, find out where they live and then have a peaceful demonstration outside their homes so their neighbours know that these are the type of people that turn out and overturn a democratically elected mayor.

Both Labour and Government spokespeople have condemned these remarks. James Bloodworth said the Labour Party needed to consider the option of expulsion.  Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, stresses that Livingstone in no way speaks for Labour:

“That’s deeply disturbing. It’s almost inciting people to the level of intimidation.

“The Labour front bench welcomed the statement from Eric Pickles and have accepted the need for commissioners to be sent in to Tower Hamlets, so Ken is clearly not speaking for Labour party policy.”

It’s worth listening to Zoe Conway’s robust coverage of the controversial meeting on the Today programme (2:39).


Follow-up: Ex-CEO indicted in connection with deadly mine blast

In 2010 we posted about the terrible safety record at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia, where 29 miners lost their lives in an explosion.

The Massey Energy Company, under CEO Don Blankenship, routinely ignored government safety citations and the federal agency in charge of mine safety failed to act decisively.

Now in what may be a first step toward justice for the miners and their families, Blankenship has been indicted on federal charges related to the explosion.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said a federal grand jury indicted former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship on charges that include conspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards, conspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials, making false statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission and securities fraud.

Blankenship could face up to 31 years in prison if convicted.

The indictment alleges Blankenship conspired to violate mine safety and health standards at the Upper Big Branch Mine from January 2008 until April 2010, when an explosion at the mine killed 29 coal miners.

Specifically, the indictment said Blankenship was part of a conspiracy to provide advance warning of federal mine safety inspections, allowing mine bosses to conceal and cover up safety violations.


At the Oslo Freedom Forum

The Human Rights Foundation has posted videos from the Oslo Freedom Forum in October.

The keynote speaker was Bassem Youssef, whose hugely popular satirical TV show in Egypt was taken off the air (although President al-Sisi denies having anything to do with that):

Members of Pussy Riot discussed their Soviet-like imprisonment by the Russian government and their efforts to establish a media presence in the country:

And the great dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez discussed the underground digital revolution in Cuba:

Although it’s not in book form, Yoani’s blog Generation Y deserves to be included in any Decent Left reading list– and this post from last year above all.


Decent Left Book Club suggestions

Although nobody (so far) has volunteered to organize a Decent Left Book Club, we did accumulate an impressive list of suggested readings in response to my post last week. (Thanks to all who offered them.)

Special thanks to Steve Watson, who went to the trouble of searching through the thread and organizing the suggestions in alphabetical order by author’s names, along with the names of the suggesters.

If you want to save the whole thread before it vanishes into the ether on Friday, you can do so by making sure the thread is fully expanded, then right-clicking on the page and selecting “Save Page As…” (or whatever the equivalent is on your browser).


University of West London cancels presentation on campus extremism [updated further with response from Charlie Klendjian ]

An event  presenting a new report on radicalisation on campus, due to be held tomorrow at the University of West London, and hosted by the UWL Law Society, has just been cancelled, apparently because of fears of bad publicity and complaints of lack of balance.  Extremist speakers regularly address student audiences.  The notorious Haitham Al-Haddad is one obvious example, and the University of West London itself has apparently been happy enough to allow Murtaza Khan to speak unhindered in the past.

The complaints of lack of balance seem particularly unconvincing; the Islamic Society had specifically been invited to the event and a full hour of the planned two hour session would have been devoted to questions and challenges from the audience. It is indeed ironic that a report highlighting issues of censorship should be silenced in this way. The NSS has more information.

Update

CBinTH, writing in the comments, has raised some concerns about the report which would have been discussed at the cancelled event. He notes that Charlie Klendjian refers to the dangers of ‘Islam’, rather than only identifying certain interpretations and practices as problematic. I don’t see any evidence for his suggestion that Klendjian is trying to ban Islam on campus, but his point is still a reasonable one.

He also raises a concern about the views of Anne Marie Waters – and she is certainly someone who has been criticised on this site. The LSS does not routinely fail to distinguish between different teachings of Islam – in their extensive coverage of the Sharia wills issue it was pointed out that the controversial guidance reflected only one strict interpretation of Sharia. I would imagine that Klendjian would not have refused to acknowledge, if challenged on this point, the existence of secular Muslims who feel much as he does about segregation and censorship.  Jay Marshall, the UWL Law Soc President, would, judging from this post he left on the UWL ISOC Facebook page, have ensured the event was welcoming and inclusive.

We have invited a variety of student groups, but we would especially love you guys to attend, being this is obviously a subject you are well educated in. But I want to assure you this isn’t an attack on your faith by any means. That I can guarantee, and I believe me, I will be held personally accountable if it was. Please contact me ASAP, and if you have any questions, queries or concerns. Feel free to ask. Thank you for your time

The LSS has an update (worth reading in full) about the cancellation where it is stated that

The LSS also understands from Jay that many Muslims were excited about the event as they thought it was very important.

Although CBinTH’s questions are valid ones, Waters and Klendjian cannot be equated with the preachers they are so worried about. The best way to demonstrate that they might want to frame some of their concerns in a different way would be for secularists (including Muslim secularists) to attend the event, echo the report’s criticisms of hate preachers, but argue that not all Muslims follow an extreme form of Islam, and that many embrace secular values.  But now that opportunity has been lost.

Here is a response from Charlie Klendjian
To tell you the truth I’m fed up with people obsessing over different strands of Islam, and the Islam v Islamism debate. We don’t do that for other religions. The problem is Islam, it’s quite simple really. These people call themselves Muslims and they call their religion Islam – it seems reasonable that we do the same. And no that doesn’t mean that all Muslims are terrorists and need to be imprisoned, because people have rights but ideas don’t, and all Muslims are individuals. Some Muslims are good people and some are bad. This is basic stuff as far as I’m concerned. It’s secularism 1.01. I’m fed up debating about what the debate is about. It’s a very academic thing to do.

It’s very reassuring to find out me and AMW are not “extremists” (thanks by the way!!), but I think that just feeds the idea that we might be. When we should be talking about some highly unpleasant people given free rein to spout their hate on campus, and the university shutting down a talk about a report highlighting some really worrying stuff, all of a sudden we now have a sideshow discussion about whether me and AMW are “extremists”. It’s quite sad really.

I’m absolutely exhausted fighting this battle on two fronts – one against people who want to kill me, and one against people who want to call me racist/extremist/Islamophobe/whatever other bullshit terms there are. I don’t know why secularists are obsessed with this idea that they and their fellow secularists might be “extremists”. It’s the people who want to cut heads off, kill Jews, butcher vaginas, enslave women and utterly crush democracy who are the extremists – not the people who are highlighting that. It’s a good idea always to keep that in mind.

And yes of course I welcome Muslim allies and I have some – but I will never compromise facts and honesty just to earn their support. It would be nice if there were more of them though wouldn’t it? And I don’t just mean people who condemn a beheading of an aid worker – I won’t dance in the street about that, as if it’s some zenith of decent morality. I won’t be grateful to people who don’t want me dead.

If there were more liberal and secular Muslims willing to rise up – in large numbers – then maybe I could get on with the rest of my life and watch Eastenders and they could sort their fucking religion out themselves. But no, I’ll do it and for my trouble – as well as taking a physical risk – I’ll be forever trying to prove a negative: that I’m not racist, not extremist, not Islamophobic, etc.

People will say it’s “difficult” for Muslims to speak out. Yes it is. But it’s difficult for non-Muslims too – how about we acknowledge that as well? The more we keep saying it’s difficult for Muslims to speak out, the more we reinforce that idea, the more we discourage Muslims from speaking out, and the more we excuse their failure to speak out. And I refuse to assume that every Muslim who fails to speak out, especially in the UK, is scared to do so. Maybe some Muslims are just too lazy to speak out and are happy to leave this battle to other people to fight. And the same people who say it’s difficult for Muslims to speak out will often refuse to acknowledge there is a problem with Islam – when you think about it, logically these things can’t both be true.


Head-covering Christians

An article in The Roanoke (Virginia) Times about a local woman who turns 111 years old today (she stays in shape by lifting cans of beans) reminded me that Muslim and Jewish women aren’t the only ones who wear head coverings for religious reasons (one of the topics discussed– or beaten to a pulp– in this thread).

Rosa Beckner is a member of the Old German Baptist Brethren, which is among the Christian groups that take literally the admonition of 1 Corinthians 11:6.

Some Mennonite women also follow the practice, and in western Maryland (where I once lived) and parts of central Pennsylvania, head coverings are a fairly common and uncontroversial sight on women of all ages.

I for one would not want to deny Ms. Beckner and other Christian women the right to cover their hair (or not to cover it) any more than I would want to deny it for Muslim or Jewish women.