Category: Brexit

TaxPayers’ Alliance concedes it launched smears against Brexit whistleblower

The Guardian:

The rightwing pressure group the TaxPayers’ Alliance has conceded that it illegally sacked the whistleblower Shahmir Sanni for revealing unlawful overspending in the Brexit referendum campaign, in a case that could have a major impact on how lobbyists are described in the media.

In a development that lawyers have described as “almost unprecedented”, the group has also conceded that it illegally vilified Sanni on the BBC in coordination with a network of other “linked” organisations.

The alliance has accepted all the allegations Sanni made during his action claiming unfair dismissal, wrongful dismissal, direct discrimination and “dismissal by reason of a philosophical belief in the sanctity of British democracy”.

Significantly, it has also conceded that it is liable for what Sanni’s lawyer, Peter Daly of Bindmans, describes as “extreme public vilification”. Sanni had claimed that it was responsible for a smear attack published by the website Brexit Central, and that it coordinated “derogatory statements” made by the head of Vote Leave, Matthew Elliott, to the BBC – calling Sanni a “Walter Mitty fantasist” and “so-called whistleblower” and claiming that he was guilty of “completely lying” – before an official finding by the Electoral Commission into the conduct of the Brexit referendum.

The disclosure is likely to have far-reaching consequences for the way that broadcasters describe lobby groups. The uncontested claim has stated that the TaxPayers’ Alliance is responsible for Elliott’s Brexit Central website as part of nine “linked” high-profile rightwing “thinktanks” that operate in and around offices at 55 Tufton Street in Westminster and coordinate media and other strategy.

Details of the alliance’s relationship with Downing Street and the role of Stephen Parkinson, Theresa May’s political secretary, will now not be heard in court. A separate claim by Sanni against Downing Street is still ongoing. Sanni, who received an award from Gay Times last week, said: “It has proved that the TaxPayers’ Alliance sacked me for speaking the truth. And that there has been a coordinated effort by the Conservative establishment, including the government, to shut me down.

Details of the alliance’s relationship with Downing Street and the role of Stephen Parkinson, Theresa May’s political secretary, will now not be heard in court. A separate claim by Sanni against Downing Street is still ongoing. Sanni, who received an award from Gay Times last week, said: “It has proved that the TaxPayers’ Alliance sacked me for speaking the truth. And that there has been a coordinated effort by the Conservative establishment, including the government, to shut me down.

Chris Milsom, a barrister who specialises in whistleblowing cases, said: “It is incredibly unusual for a respondent to make a complete concession on liability as the respondent has here. To wave a white flag to avoid disclosing documents and giving evidence in court is really unusual. They conceded everything. How does an ostensibly private company come to be working with Downing Street? What is their relationship? Who are their funders?

“If this had been fully ventilated in a public trial we could have found these things out. The effect of these admissions, however, is that Mr Sanni was dismissed both because he blew the whistle on electoral crimes and because of his philosophical belief in the sanctity of democracy. We must now ask: is that an entity that is fit to be on the BBC ostensibly speaking on behalf of all ‘taxpayers’?”

Well, well, well.

 

BBC Newsnight

Tweet:

Last night, an expert on ‘ finances was introduced on as”Remain supporter” Iain Campbell. News to me. I know him as a forensic accountant. I am curious . Is this a new policy? In which case, can we now look forward to “Leave supporter Andrew Neil”?

BBC Newsnight on 8 November 2016.  04:49 in, “We asked accountant Iain Campbell, who’s a remainer, what he thought”.

Dominic Raab under fire over Dover-Calais comments

BBC:

Mr Raab told a technology conference on Wednesday: “We want a bespoke arrangement in goods which recognises the peculiar, frankly, geographic, economic entity that is the United Kingdom.

We are, and I hadn’t quite understood the full extent of this, but if you look at the UK and if you look at how we trade in goods, we are particularly reliant on the Dover-Calais crossing.

“And that’s one of the reasons why, and there’s been a lot of controversy about this, but one of the reasons why we wanted to make sure that we have a very specific and very proximate relationship with the EU to ensure frictionless trade at the border, particularly for just-in-time manufacturing goods whether it’s pharmaceutical goods or perishable goods like food.”

My emphasis.  Raab is Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.  He’s also the man too lazy to read the Government’s own economic assessments.  But you’d have thought he’d have picked up some basic geography at Oxford etc.

BBC criticised over Arron Banks slot on Andrew Marr show

The Guardian:

The BBC has been criticised for booking Arron Banks, the pro-Brexit billionaire who is the subject of a criminal investigation, to appear on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday.

Banks is being investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) after his case was referred to it by the Electoral Commission, which said there were reasonable grounds to suspect Banks was “not the true source” of £8m given to the Leave.EU campaign.

The BBC’s decision provoked widespread condemnation from politicians, lawyers and activists.

Andrew Adonis, a leading remain campaigner, said in a letter to the BBC that Banks’s expected appearance was the result of “a very serious editorial misjudgment, influenced by a culture of accommodation to extreme Brexiteers now deeply embedded within the BBC”.

Tweet:

“A man under criminal investigation would like to come on and do some spin” “Book him” “Why?” “Literally haven’t got a single fucking justification for this one, just do me a favour and book the possibly criminal prick”

Of course, Marr has form – remember the absurd pairing of Isabel Oakeshott and Carole Cadwalladr?  Cadwalladr has done serious investigative journalism on foreign influence in Brexit …and Oakeshott hasn’t.  And then there’s Oakshott’s puzzling behaviour described in Cadwalladr’s tweet:

Flashback! Watching ? Remember when they invited on to attack my investigation? Turns out she KNEW then about ‘ Russian connections. Had known for MONTHS…

 

 

Russian intervention in Brexit

This tweet, noted this exchange (4 mins in) from 21 March 2018 with Senator Mark Warner, top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee in which he says:

Not only Russian attempted interventions in our elections but attempted Russian interventions in the French elections, observations they intervened in the Spanish Catalan elections, the British have come and visited us now because they’ve seen Russian intervention in terms of the Brexit vote.  We in western democracies have to be on our guard.

My emphasis.  Again, perhaps something for the BBC to follow up on?

 

Will Banks’ investigation affect Brexit?

Laura Kuenssberg in a :

Banks probe unlikely to affect Brexit process.

But allegations against Aaron Banks may well increase bitterness in debate that long ago turned sour.

Nick Cohen observes in a  Tweet:

What has been so disgraceful about the BBC’s treatment of the alleged corruption of the Brexit referendum is that it puts journalism last.

Instead of using its resources — which are far larger than any other news organisation — to report and investigate, its reporters and editors pontificate about the consequences of the journalism of others.

Here opines about that the National Crime Agency investigation into is “unlikely now to have a material effect”. It’s not just that she has no possible way of knowing this — BBC journalists can no more see the future than you or I can.

Proper journalists put the story first and worry about the consequences last – if at all. The BBC won’t use its vast resources to cover the Brexit story because all it thinks about is consequences.

 

 

There is a Brexit deal the country can live with, but the government cannot

Simon Wren-Lewis:

Finally there are two interesting asides from this basic argument worth making. I talked to a very well known BBC presenter last week who was convinced that Brexit was nothing to do with the BBC. They are wrong on the economic costs, because the BBC did not regularly say that the overwhelming view of academic and business economists was that Brexit would do economic harm. Too often they assumed that this was self evident because all the major institutions (OECD, IMF etc) said this, but the ‘anti elite’ theme of Leave was designed to counter that, and giving equal time to both sides without any context (and of course constant newspaper propaganda) allowed Leavers to believe they would be better off.
But my criticism of the BBC is not just about the economic costs. One of the Leave messages that was attractive to many people was being able to do trade deals with other countries. I do not remember constant reminders from journalists saying that this was incompatible with membership of the SM, and so we had to choose between frictionless trade with the EU or doing these new deals. This statement is not controversial but a simple fact. It is also a fact that anything short of a CU and SM for goods will require a hard Irish border. This was the kind of basic information that the public craved for, and the BBC did not give it because their priority was not to upset either side. It is academic how important this all was to the final vote: the fundamental point is the BBC departed from its mandate to educate and inform at just the point the public needed and wanted it most..

John Humphrys and Brexit (again)

Tweet:

John Humphrys’ first question to Kier Starmer was wouldn’t the patriotic thing be for Labour to support Theresa May on Brexit. Patriotic?? What’s patriotism got to do with any of this? #r4today

2:14:01 in on BBC Radio Four Today 15 October 2018.

Tweet:

John Humphrys at his scintillating best on #r4today

Humphrys: “You haven’t mentioned a People’s Vote in this interview so far”
Starmer: “You haven’t asked me about it”
Humphrys: “Well I am now”
Starmer: “What’s the question?”

2:21:25 in on BBC Radio Four Today 15 October 2018.

Theresa May announces Festival of Great Britain and NI plan

BBC:

The government has announced plans for a Festival of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to take place in January 2022.

Downing Street described the nationwide festival as a “unique event” that echoes the 1851 Great Exhibition and will take place 70 years after the 1951 Festival of Britain.

“Just as millions of Britons celebrated their nation’s great achievements in 1951, we want to showcase what makes our country great today,” said Mrs May.

I think this is the single dumbest, most partisan idea I’ve ever heard.

A Guardian roundup of the suggested attractions include: games of pin the blame on a remainer, workshops on cooking chlorinated chicken and buying unregulated medicine on eBay, and the presence of an innovative jam pagoda.