When the “pleb-gate” saga initially broke out, I wrote on this very paper how Mitchell’s becoming irate at the end of a long frustrating day was not a particularly interesting news story. The alleged use of the word “pleb” was the cause of public ire, and such an utterance would of course have been a severe PR gaffe on Mitchell’s part, but the story seemed, on the whole, blown way out of proportion.
Now all of a sudden, with accusations that the use of the word “pleb” had been fabricated, the story is interesting. Channel 4 News has alleged that a police officer sent an email, under the guise of a member of the public who witnessed the row, with the “pleb” allegation. CCTV coverage suggests no-one, other than the officers, would have been within earshot of Mitchell’s irate dealings with the officers. The email had been sent to Deputy Chief Whip John Randall who passed it on to No 10. There are now rumours that Randall, who allegedly doesn’t get on particularly well with Mitchell, may have been implicated in the fabrication process – Randall has refused to comment further.
The Queen has had a busy day. For the last event to commemorate her diamond jubilee, she attended the cabinet meeting – the first monarch to do this since King George III in 1781 during the US war of independence. Since then much has changed – the Queen’s role in the state has become merely a ceremonial one while the USA has unfortunately gained independence. She met ministers who gave her 60 place mats to mark the event. The Queen sat in the PM’s usual seat with Cameron and Hague either side. Her father also attended cabinet, but King George VI attended a war cabinet during the Second World War rather than a peace-time cabinet.
Michael Harby, who served his country as a Royal Marine, found himself deserted by the same country he served for 17 years when he was sentenced to an 8-week imprisonment after being denied the right to trial by jury.
When he returned home from a military deployment, Mr. Harby found out that his wife committed adultery while he was away. He tried to resolve the issue to keep his family together, but his wife filed for a divorce. After the divorce was finalized, Mr. Harby's children were taken by his now ex-wife.
It reads like a John le Carre novel. The murdered former KGB spy, Alexander Litvinenko, was apparently working as a triple spy. On the payroll of MI6, bankrolled by the Spanish secret service and known to his barrister wife as Martin, to say Litvinenko’s life was a tad convoluted is an understatement.
At the time of his death, British and Russian governments were at loggerheads at each other as Britain demanded the extradition of former KGB agents Andrei Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun – the former was believed to have murdered Litvinenko – but Russia refused. This remains the case as a pre-inquest hearing yesterday established that Moscow has plenty to answer over the assassination in London.
So we’ve all been to fancy dress parties. And we all know the stresses that accompany such events – I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been short of ideas for their Halloween costumes at a party before, having to face the ignominy of turning up wrapped in toilet roll saying they’re a mummy. Recently there has been a rising popularity in sailor costumes especially and sailor fancy dress is certainly an example of where slapdash efforts appear pronounced amid your fellow sailor’s greater creativity and effort. Turning up in a stripy t-shirt and some white trousers is simply not enough if you want to do sailor fancy dress well!
Journalism is obviously a global thing. It has been for many years. But not only are there newspapers everywhere around the world, there are now newspapers of all languages around the world, whether that is an English paper in France or a Spanish paper in the USA. Take English speaking papers for example.
Expats in Hong Kong would once have imported their news from The Daily Telegraph or another such home-based paper, but now such is the rise of linguistic proficiency and the ease with which people can create papers online, they can now look at a relatively new paper like Hong Kong Morning Star (www.hongkongmorningstar.com). The same can be said in Tokyo with the Tokyo Morning Star (www.tokyomoringstar.com) and in the Philippines too (www.manilaherald.com).
The internet’s increasing monopoly has also meant that most of our news comes from going on websites rather than reading through broadsheets or even watching the televisions. So in South America, rather than watch BBC World, you may instead go onto a site like www.southamericanherald.com and in a country like India www.sunofindia.com may be of easier accessibility such is the mobility of the internet via laptops, tablets and even phones. Wherever you are in Africa you can now access www.theafricanherald.com, you can access www.bangladeshdailysun.com anywhere in Dhaka and you find out what’s happening in Pakistan from anywhere on the world by going onto www.pakistandailysun.com.
This transformation in journalism has also made the access to expert analysis, and the opportunity to provide it, so much easier. Sites like the Huffington Post or www.sunofeurope.com have become genuine forums on which people can voice their opinions on anything happening in the world. This can only be a good thing as the scope for reasoned debate via the freedom of speech that the internet allows has never been so huge – whatever your view on Pussy Riot, you can read or write about it on www.russiamorningstar.com.
The ability to create newspapers is also bigger than it’s ever been. In the past the creation of a newspaper like The Independent was the result of prolonged campaigns and serious investment, but in recent times online newspapers have sprouted from the ether with no difficulty or serious financial stimulus. Take www.australianmorningstar.com or www.eveningtribune.co.uk for example – neither existed 10 years ago abut look at them now!
Some of the leading papers in the world are now solely online. The Huffington again is an example of this, as well as the BBC’s online news service and also www.westminsterjournal.com and www.newyorkdailysun.com. This is a good thing though. Journalism as a market has been opened up by the internet. So many of the mentioned papers including The Huffington Post and the New York Daily Sun would not have been possible before it.
The EU Home Affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom gave the warning days before the Prime Minister made a major speech setting out his vision for a fresh relationship with Europe. Ms Malmström said it was a difficult process to opt out of a package of laws and then opt back into some of them.
It’s a big and major task for the Prime Minister on how to deal 136 powers related to law and order. It’s the first step for the Cameroon towards negotiating wider powers over areas such as agriculture, justice and employment laws.
Drugs have been the main issue here at the Home affairs committee, issues on the prevalence and the updates report on the usage of drugs and its harmful effects. An inquiry says that charities, ministers, and Russell Brand, who called committee member Michael Ellis his “mate” during evidence.
Committee members still haven’t had a such a good response from the ministers. The Home Office believes that’s there’s a need to push more work and efforts to enact the laws. They believe that it needs a Royal Commission to be able to monitor the best way of tackling drugs policy in today’s globalized world. It also suggested that decriminalization ‘merits significantly closer consideration’, the idea that has unsurprisingly received the most attention in the press this morning.
There has been plenty of debate about the draft Communications Data Bill this week. The PM is responding to criticism about the bill and is “committed to fixing the problem” and also acknowledges the “difficult” issues at stake with the bill. Allegedly a “snoopers’ charter”, the Bill is designed to allow the police access to internet data, but the invasion of people’s privacy is a concern. But such a bill is required in some form such is the needed measures in counteracting crimes such as paedophilia, extremism and fraud that can be made online. The Tories and the Liberal Democrats agree on this, but on the specifics they don’t such is the intricate line between good policing and privacy invasion.
The draft bill has five major points. Firstly, internet service providers have to store online communication in the UK; they will have to store Briton’s web browsing history and messages sent on social media, webmail, gaming and so on; police will not have to seek permission to access details of these communications when investigating a crime; police will have to get a warrant to see the content of any messages; four bodies will have access to the data: the police, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, the intelligence agencies and HM Revenue and Customs.
Former Prime Minister Sir John Major backed David Cameron on the ever-enduring debate on Gay Marriage. He also insisted Tory Traditionalists should support it as well because “We live in the 21st Century”. This occurred when David Cameron issued a public message of support for the controversial plans, and have created a damaging-splinter in the Conservative Party. Already more than 100 Tory MPs are expected to oppose the plans in the coming year, and some have accused Mr. Cameron of “Arrogance” for pushing ahead. Sir John had this to say: