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hammer6

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ferrisconspiracy : UPDATE/A BOYD MISTAKE

 

Colin Boyd 'must lose Cabinet role'

 

LABOUR'S coalition partner is to call for Lord Advocate Colin Boyd to be removed from Scotland's Cabinet, claiming a blatant conflict of interest.

As well as sitting in the Cabinet as a government minister, the Lord Advocate is also Scotland's chief prosecutor, thereby occupying a unique political and judicial role.

 

Liberal Democrat leaders are now recommending that Boyd be stripped of his political functions, to ensure a clear separation of powers.

Party sources insist the move is not a slur against Boyd, but it comes with the Lord Advocate under massive scrutiny in the wake of the Shirley McKie fingerprint scandal.

Boyd, who is also a Labour party member, agreed to pay the former policewoman £750,000 in damages after she was falsely accused of leaving her prints at a crime scene.

 

He has since stood alongside Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson in defending the Scottish Executive's actions.

Last week Boyd was named among those being elevated to the House of Lords, where he will sit as a cross-bench member, despite his Labour affiliations.

A spokesman for the Liberal Democrats said that the party supported a reform of the Lord Advocate's role if and when Scotland's devolution settlement was reviewed.

The party wants to call a second 'Constitutional Convention' to consider ways of refining the Parliament.

The spokesman said: "It has been a long-standing view that there needs to be more separation. This is not anything personal against Colin Boyd. His role is written into the Scotland Act, but that needs to change."

Boyd sits in the Scottish Cabinet in his capacity as the Scottish Executive's chief legal adviser. As Lord Advocate, he is also the law officer who decides whether to bring prosecutions against accused members of the public.

The Crown Office was unavailable for comment.

 


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UPDATE

 

What would Orwell have made of a PM who keeps saying he 'acted in good faith'?

"Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it." Those are the opening words of George Orwell's Politics and the English Language, published in April 1946. Sixty years on, Orwell's single-handed attempt to stop the rot remains required reading, especially since its lessons are further than ever from being learnt.

One of Orwell's targets was what he called dying metaphors: "a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases by themselves". It is both fascinating and depressing to discover how many of the dying metaphors listed by Orwell still struggle on, as if with the aid of linguistic life support: "take up the cudgels for, toe the line, ride roughshod over ... no axe to grind, grist to the mill, fishing in troubled waters ... swan song, hotbed." As Orwell points out, many of these "have been twisted out of their original meaning, without those who use them even being aware of the fact' for example 'toe the line' is sometimes written 'tow the line'." Yes, and it still is.

I suppose all writers have their individual complaints about the way in which phrases which once had a particular importance have become stripped of their meaning by overuse and misuse. My own nomination would be "begs the question". The phrase, which stems from an English translation of petitioprincipii, had its origins in Aristotle's writings on logic, and is related to the fallacy of the circular argument: the question remains, "begging" to be answered. Yet politicians, and, yes, journalists, continue to use the phrase as if it meant no more than to "raise a question".

I'm sure that Independent readers have particular favourites, or rather enemies, in the misuse of English. Although this is not quite as important as saving the planet from incineration, I would encourage a letter-writing campaign on this topic' I'm sure you will find a number of your pet hates in my own columns.

Nowadays the term "political correctness" is used to sum up a whole type of discourse which seems to have become polluted by politically inspired jargon. It is not, in fact, a modern idea. Orwell was only too familiar with the way in which the Communists of his day embraced the concept, in which a person's ideological soundness was measured by the very words he used to describe events and people. It was, after all, Orwell who invented the term "thought crime".

And as he writes in Politics and the English Language: " 'Bestial atrocities'... bloodstained tyranny'... 'free peoples of the world' ... A speaker who uses that kind of phraseology has gone some distance towards turning himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved as it would be if he were choosing the words for himself .... this reduced state of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favourable to political conformity."

The terms Orwell uses in that example have disappeared from public usage, at least outside the publications of the Socialist Workers' Party. But others, more suited to our own more selfconsciously consensual age, have sprung up. Let me nominate a few: "the international community", "world opinion" (sometimes, but not always, synonymous with "respectable opinion"), and that perennial favourite: "people of good will". Tony Blair sometimes uses the simple term "we" to mean all the above. But then this is the man who declared - in his 1997 election manifesto - that New Labour was "nothing less than the political arm of the British people as a whole".

New Labour is nothing of the sort - if it were, we would be living in a one-party state. But Mr Blair's invented party is indeed the apotheosis of George Orwell's observation that "political language is designed... to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind". No government has ever churned out so many tons of verbiage, in millions of booklets which no one will ever read, to give such an impression of incessant action.

There are so many examples to choose from, but try this, from David Blunkett when Education Secretary: "With the Objective 1 Status that the Government have obtained for South Yorkshire, it will be possible to ensure that we uplift not only economic activity and employment levels but our communities' aspirations and expectations."

Or this, from Andrew Smith when Chief Secretary to the Treasury: "Working in an unscreened environment in the single work-focused gateway re-quires good security arrangements." The satirical playwright Alistair Beaton translated this as: "People whose benefits are being taken away tend to turn a bit nasty." His guess is as good as anyone's.

Orwell's most savage observation, that "political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable", would certainly be the view of the longstanding critics of Mr Blair's Iraq policy. But the Prime Minister has his own form of words to rebut those who accuse him of lying in the dossier which made the case for war against Saddam Hussein. Mr Blair tells us that he "acted in good faith".

The Prime Minister is a lawyer by training, so it is not surprising that he constantly uses this form of words, which has its origins in contract law. Mr Blunkett borrowed the "I acted in good faith" rubric whenever he got caught out doing something improper. With Blair it means "I'm not a liar". With Blunkett it means "I admit that I didn't act in an entirely proper manner, but I've only just realised it - now that you've brought the matter to my attention."

Orwell would have recognised this sort of thing from the politicians of his own era. But I wonder what he would have made of the "mission statement", in which businesses seek to adopt the worst practices of political manifestos. And I wonder even more what he would have thought of the way in which governments have in turn copied these ghastly corporate slogans.

A friend of mine who served in the armed forces a generation ago recalled to me that his training manual had a statement from Field-Marshal Montgomery on its front, which declared: "The task of the Infantry is to find the enemy and kill him." That sort of honesty would now be regarded as disgusting, and my friend wonders what the mission statement of the Army Recruitment Office says now.

I can tell him. It is: "to create the condition to enable the recruiting of young men and women irrespective of their marital status, social background, race, ethnic origin or religious background". And how is the Army meant to be able "to create the condition to enable" such a thing? I would feel a lot safer - please excuse my English - if they just stuck to finding our enemies and killing them.


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mactheknife

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Reply with quote  #78 

How Are Peers Made?


The Crown creates all peers in the Kingdom of the West, with the exception of Viscounts and Viscountesses who are created by the Coronet with the lawful (and automatic) permission of the Crown. It is the sole prerogative of the Crown to elevate peers.

 

By Corpora, the Crown must consult with the peerage Order in advance of Their Majesties creating a new peer (with the exception of Royal peers), but that is the extent of the Law in the Kingdom of the West.

 

No peerage Order can dictate to the Crown; the duty of the Peerage of the West is to advise only.

By custom, the Crown calls each of the three peerage Orders (the Chivalry, the Pelicans, and the Laurels) to meet in council at each Crown Tournament and Coronation (except, usually, 12th Night).

 

The Crown may also call a peerage meeting at other events, should Their Majesties so desire. Each Order has a Principal, or Clerk, of the Order who will take notes of the meeting and maintain lists of candidates' names, both on behalf of the Crown and for any members of the Order who may have been unable to attend the latest council.

 

The Clerk of the Order will also act as chair of the council meeting if the Crown declines to take on that role. In the principalities of Oertha and Lochac, it is the Coronets who call the peers to meet, and who in turn forward the recommendations of the three Orders to the Crown.

 

What Goes On In Those Peerage Meetings?


The purpose of a peerage meeting, or council, is to advise the Crown of subjects whose accomplishments merit consideration for candidacy in the Order, to discuss the qualities of those who are brought up as candidates, and, occasionally, to discuss any other topic on which the Crown desires advice or about which the Order feels concerned.

 

The Crown will solicit the Order for names of candidates, or Their Majesties may bring up a name Themselves. The Order, assembled in council, is asked if this person has reached the proper point for consideration. If the consensus is positive and it is the decision of the Crown, the person named is placed upon the candidates' list, also known as the "Long Term", or "Watch" list.

 

If the candidate was not already under discreet examination, the entire Order is now aware of the candidate and will start keeping an eye out for this person.

 

If the consensus is negative and it is the decision of the Crown, the person's name is not added to the list of candidates. There may be several reasons for this, the most common being that the person is not yet ready (it does not mean that the person's name might not be brought up again at some later date -- this is frequently the case).

 

Names of candidates are considered to be confidential. This is done to prevent candidates from becoming nervous at the thought that the Order is scrutinizing their every move and then talking about them, also to avoid embarrassing those who may be examined and found wanting.

 

Some candidates do not mind knowing they are being discussed; others become extremely disturbed by the idea. As there is no way of knowing which way a candidate will react, the names of those on the Order's list of candidates are not made general knowledge outside the Order.

 

If the candidate is associated with a peer, either formally (as squire to a Knight or Master of Arms, apprentice to a Laurel, or protege to a Pelican) or informally (such as being a friend or relative), that peer is usually expected to know the candidate's feelings on the subject and will make those feelings known to the rest of the Order.

 

[Candidate] Discussions which take place in the peerage council are always held to be confidential. It would impossible to speak frankly about a candidate, if who said what were to be broadcast publicly.

 

It can be difficult for a peer to speak out against a candidate, but the Crown depends upon the peerage for frank and truthful counsel.

Each candidate on the Watch list is considered briefly, to see if they are ready for detailed discussion, warrant further observation, or should be dropped from consideration at this time.

 

If the consensus is positive and it is the decision of the Crown, the candidate's name is advanced to the "Short Term", or "Discussion" list.

After the Watch list has been considered, each of the names on the Discussion list is brought up in turn. The peers will speak about the candidate's virtues and shortcomings (almost everybody has at least one shortcoming!) while the Crown attends to the discussion.

 

Traditionally, the Crown seeks to determine the consensus of the Order, including those who may not have been moved to speak (being in agreement with someone who has already spoken).

 

The Crown will then make the decision to elevate the candidate or not, return the candidate's name to the Watch list, or decide that more discussion is called for and retain the candidate's name on the Discussion list for next time. (Typically, candidates will be on the Discussion list for at least 3-4 meetings and frequently longer.

 

This ensures more complete review, considering that not all members of an Order will attend any one meeting.) Discussion will then begin with the next candidate, and so on down the list.

The Crown will now ask the peers if there are any new names to be added to the Watch list for next time. Time permitting, there may be some issue which is of importance to the Order which will then be brought up and discussed.

 

What Happens To The Candidate Now?

 


If the candidate is to be elevated to the peerage, the Crown will ask who wishes to be the Crown's representative to the candidate.

 

At the direction of Their Majesties, the volunteer (or volunteers) will seek out the candidate after the peerage meeting has ended and either propose membership in the Order to the candidate, or instruct the candidate to come to the Crown (not at court), that Their Majesties may make the proposition personally.

 

The Crown will also ask who wishes to act as spokesman for the candidate at the peerage ceremony, to announce to all at court the ways in which the candidate has shown those qualities that distinguish a Peer of the Realm.

 

Sometimes there is a single spokesman, sometimes there are many who fight for the privilege and therefore several spokesmen may be appointed.

 

It may be known to the spokesman that the candidate would not wish to be told of their elevation in advance, but would prefer to be "surprised," and will so inform the Order. "Surprise" ceremonies are usually avoided, unless it is fairly certain knowledge that this particular individual really, really wants a surprise.

 

The Crown may then elect to "surprise" the candidate, and may instruct the Order not to speak of the decision to elevate the candidate prior to the candidate being called into court, in order to keep the surprise.

 

Now it is time for the candidate to make his/her decision to accept membership in the Order. The candidate may decline and nothing more will be said. Should the candidate accept, the spokesman or the Crown will ask the candidate to consider undertaking a fealty relationship.

 

Fealty is a very personal choice, and there are many individual views of its meaning. No member of any peerage Order undertakes the oath of fealty lightly, although only the Order of Chivalry makes an outward differentiation (the white baldric and title of "Master") of those members of the Order who chose not to swear fealty.

 

The spokesman or Clerk of the Order will inform the candidate of the options available for the peerage ceremony, settle upon the date of the peerage ceremony and relay that information to the Crown. Arrangements may be made for a vigil, if such is the candidate's wish.

 

If the candidate is not being elevated that day, the candidate may choose to share the news of his/her upcoming elevation with selected friends.

Regalia (medallions, chains of fealty, white belt/baldric, cloak of estate, etc.) for the new peer is usually provided by the Crown from the Kingdom regalia chest.

 

Typically a peer who is particularly close to the candidate will offer an item of regalia to be passed to the candidate during the ceremony.

 

How Do You Get Considered For A Peerage? (Without any money)


The usual way is that somebody sees what you do and the word gets back to the Order. A peer may notice you, a fellow member of the populace may see what you do, or perhaps even the King or Queen personally may take notice of you.

 

The peer will speak about you at the next peerage meeting, or may mention your name to a fellow peer if what you do should be considered by a different Order; the interested friend may write a letter of recommendation to the Crown; the King or Queen may bring your name up before the assembled peers.

Anyone may recommend anyone else for a peerage; you don't have to be a peer yourself. You may make a verbal recommendation to a peer; better yet, write a letter to Their Majesties or the Clerk of the Order (their addresses may be found in the back of the West Kingdom newsletter, The Page).


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Magpie

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Reply with quote  #79 

The Sunday Times April 16, 2006

Loose talk from Dagenham Des that could wreck Blair's legacy


BY DAY he is known to hundreds of pupils as plain old “Mr Smith” — headmaster of a typical secondary school in the working-class London suburb of Dagenham.

Come the evening, Des Smith takes on a more high-powered role, wooing some of Britain’s wealthiest businessmen over dinner in the capital’s most exclusive restaurants on behalf of Tony Blair.

His taped conversations in meetings with an undercover Sunday Times reporter may yet have a crucial bearing on Blair’s legacy and the reputations of some of new Labour’s most senior figures.

Last November the reporter approached the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, set up to attract potential sponsors to Blair’s flagship education project.

Sir Cyril Taylor, its chairman, was in charge of the drive to attract wealthy backers to pay £2m each to turn struggling inner-city schools into gleaming new “city academies”.

The reporter told Taylor’s office that she represented a businessman interested in sponsoring an academy. The businessman was, in fact, a second undercover reporter using the name Malcolm Johnson.

Within weeks the reporter found herself ushered in to a private room at Mosimann’s, an exclusive Knightsbridge restaurant in a converted church, and placed next to Smith, another member of the trust.

Around the table were powerful guests. They included Sir Michael Barber, former head of delivery at No 10, two multi-millionaire businessmen and two representatives of an American multinational. Also present was “academy sponsorship consultant” Rona Kiley, wife of Bob Kiley, former head of Transport for London.

Over sea bass and fine wines, Smith expounded the benefits of the academy programme. He then suggested continuing the discussion over champagne at his favourite bar in the heart of the City of London.

The next day Smith e-mailed the undercover reporter, known as “Claire”, to thank her for a “stimulating and enjoyable” evening. “I would be very happy to facilitate a meeting with Malcolm [the fictitious sponsor] to discuss the issues of sponsoring an academy.”

A few weeks later, at another top London restaurant, Johnson and Claire met Taylor. Over lunch he explained that Smith would be the perfect choice for Johnson to develop his academy project. But what was the payback, Johnson wanted to know.

“There’s no question that sponsors of academies have access, they get invited to No 10, meet the secretary of state and people like that,” said Taylor, who is the rare recipient of two knighthoods — one from the Tories and the other from Labour.

“Some people say, ‘I’m going to buy a knighthood by doing this,’ but I think they should not think that at all because, first of all, that’s a form of corruption.

“But the fact is a lot of sponsors do get recognition.”

Smith contacted Claire again in the new year. This time he suggested dinner and champagne back at his favourite City wine bar. On this occasion the conversation was to take a more dubious turn.

He set out what appeared to be a tariff system, in which a benefactor who gave to “one or two” academies might receive an OBE or a knighthood while a donor who funded five of them would be “a certainty” for a peerage.

“The prime minister’s office would recommend someone like Malcolm for an OBE, a CBE or a knighthood,” said Smith.

“Really? Just for getting involved with the academies?” asked the reporter.

“Just for, yes, they call them ‘services to education’,” replied Smith. “Oh yeah, yeah . . . it’s a nomination and then the prime minister would write to somebody and say we’re thinking of nominating you, but we’ll choose the honour.

“It will either be an OBE, a CBE or a knighthood . . . But also what would be great is, you could go to the House of Lords and . . . become a lord.”

Two days later The Sunday Times reported Smith’s comments under the headline: “Revealed: cash for honours scandal”.

Downing Street and cabinet ministers moved quickly to distance themselves from Smith. John Reid, the defence minister, said: “All I can say about this story is it seems to be based on one guy who I don’t know who he is, and he certainly doesn’t speak for the government.”

The exposé could barely have come at a worse time for Blair. He was fighting to save his flagship education bill, which would lead to a big increase in the number of city academies.

The academies were under fire from a powerful alliance of backbench Labour MPs and teaching unions. Even Blair’s deputy, John Prescott, was opposed to some measures in the bill. Independent research questioned whether academies were succeeding in improving standards and the jury was out on their overall performance.

Initially, the furore appeared to be short-lived. Within 24 hours of the Sunday Times’s story, Smith had resigned, saying he had been “naive”.

Alistair Watson, a former police officer from Glasgow, took a different view. After reading the article, he decided to make a formal complaint to the Metropolitan police. He said that Smith’s comments appeared to be a criminal offence under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925.

“A member of the public committing a similar crime to an MP can expect to be fined, jailed etc, while the MP will possibly get a slap on the wrist from the standards committee,” he said.

Downing Street, meanwhile, continued its battle for Blair’s education bill to become law. By mid-March, with Tory backing, he had succeeded in getting it through.

“As the result of the parliamentary vote came in, and Blair saw he had won, he punched the air. He was really ecstatic,” said one of his closest aides.

“That day was really, really important for both the future of the prime minister and his legacy. He knew it, we all knew it.”

But his troubles were only just beginning. Although police had been silent for almost two months after Watson’s complaint, the “cash for honours” scandal exploded after The Sunday Times revealed how businessmen nominated for peerages had secretly loaned Labour millions of pounds.

Prompted by further complaints, Scotland Yard’s elite specialist crime directorate kicked into action. Operation Ribble set about probing whether honours had been offered in exchange for secret loans to political parties. It was not long before the funding of city academies also came under scrutiny.

The police are now understood to be investigating allegations that “efforts were made to induce the funding of city academy schools in return for such honours”.

Even before Smith’s comments, there appeared to be a strong statistical link between those sponsoring academies and those receiving honours.

Even though only 27 academies have been opened, eight of the financial backers have been honoured. They include Jack Petchey, who received his OBE for “services to young people in east London”, Sir Martyn Arbib, founder of the Arbib Foundation, Sir David Garrard and Sir Frank Lowe.

Sir Clive Bourne, who sponsored an academy in Hackney, east London, and was knighted soon after, said: “I never had any of these fancy meals, and there were no brown envelopes. No, no, no. I got my knighthood because I am chairman of a prostate cancer group.

“I’m a Hackney lad, which is why I got involved with the academy. The whole system is really something special, it has changed that area (in Hackney) completely. It is something I really enjoy. It is a great shame if this puts people off sponsoring academies.”

Another sponsor, John Laycock, who backed an academy in Bristol, said: “I didn’t even think about getting involved with city academies because of honours. I thought academies were a worthwhile thing to do. You’ve only got to look at the pleasure on the children’s faces.”

Within Whitehall, however, not everyone is convinced that backers of city academies who get recommended for honours are always worthy recipients.

Each government department has its own “honours unit” that draws up lists of names. The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) routinely recommends honours for those backing academies.

These lists are then scrutinised by specialist honours committees, made up of senior civil servants and independent experts. The community, voluntary and local services committee considers those involved with charities, including academies, put forward for honours.

This weekend, Stephen Bubb, chief executive of a group representing charity bosses and a member of the committee, revealed it had rejected several academy sponsors for honours.

“There have been a few people financially associated with city academies who didn’t get through. There was nothing else about them, apart from the academies, to support their nominations. The DfES put forward the academy people.”

The police appear to take the view that the current Whitehall system of checks and balances is insufficient. Last Thursday, at breakfast time, two officers from the Operation Ribble team arrested Smith at his home in east London.

Even though Smith may never have actually procured any honours, simply offering the prospect of them in exchange for money, albeit to fund city academies, is considered a criminal offence.

The tough approach taken by the police has stunned many in Downing Street. The trail could yet lead to the heart of Blair’s inner circle and destroy his most cherished policy.

The academy programme is the brainchild of Andrew, now Lord, Adonis, Blair’s former policy adviser who is an education minister. Lord Levy, Blair’s chief fundraiser, has also raised funds for academies, while Baroness Morgan, the prime minister’s former political secretary, is an adviser to one of the biggest academy sponsors.

This weekend the fate of Blair’s legacy and some of his closest aides may lie in the hands of the headmaster from Dagenham.

ACADEMY SPONSORS

ROD ALDRIDGE

Founder of services firm Capita. To quit as chairman after row over £1m loan to Labour. His trust has pledged £2m to an academy in Blackburn

SIR CLIVE BOURNE

Pledged £2m to Mossbourne Community Academy, Hackney, London. Knighted 2004

SIR DAVID GARRARD

Co-founder of property group Minerva. Pledged £2.4m to academy in Bexley, London. Lent Labour £2.3m in 2005

SIR FRANK LOWE

Advertising agency founder who contributed over £2m to Capital City Academy in Willesden, London. Knighted 2001

ANDREW ROSENFELD

Chairman of Minerva. Lent Labour £1m. Is supporting the Stadium Academy in Brent, London, opening in 2009

SIR PETER VARDY

Evangelical Christian car dealer. Helps academies in Middlesbrough and Doncaster

BARRY TOWNSLEY

Part of group which pledged £2m to Stockley Academy, London. Peerage nomination last year blocked


hammer6

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Reply with quote  #80 

ARCHIVE:

 

Call for inquiry after `ice-cream war' convictions quashed.(News)


The Independent (London, England); 3/18/2004; Bennetto, Jason

Byline: Jason Bennetto Crime Correspondent

TWO MEN jailed for life in 1984 for murdering a family in the Glasgow "ice-cream wars" had their convictions quashed yesterday after crucial police evidence was dismissed by the Court of Appeal.

Thomas "T C" Campbell, 51, and Joseph Steele, 42, were found guilty of killing six members of the Doyle family, including an 18-month-old, in an arson attack. But in what has become one of the most controversial miscarriages of justice cases in Scottish legal history, the two men succeeded yesterday in overturning their convictions after a 20-year campaign.

The Court of Appeal in Edinburgh ruled that evidence given by four police officers at the men's trial, in which they testified that Mr Campbell had confessed to the murders, was unreliable. Supporters of the two men are now calling for an independent inquiry.

The murder of the Doyle family took place against a background of a battle for control of the city's ice-cream business. The turf war was said to be connected to a lucrative trade in distributing drugs and stolen goods in the East End of Glasgow.

One ice-cream van driver, Andrew "Fat Boy" Doyle, refused to be intimidated into giving up his route. In February 1984, two shots were fired through the windscreen of his van while he was trading from it.

In the early hours of 16 April 1984, arsonists set fire to Doyles' tenement flat in Bankend Street, Ruchazie. Within minutes, Christine Doyle Halleron, 25, her 18-month-old son Mark, James Doyle Snr, 53, and his sons James Jnr, 23, Andrew, 18, and Anthony, 14, were dead.

It sparked a national outcry and, with pressure mounting on police to find those responsible, Mr Campbell and Mr Steele were arrested and charged within a month.

During their 27-day trial at the High Court in Glasgow four police officers testified that Mr Campbell had said: "I only wanted the van windows shot up. The fire at Fat Boy's was only meant to be a frightener which went too far." Three officers also testified against Mr Steele.

As soon as they were behind bars the two men began a high-profile campaign to prove their innocence. Mr Campbell has gone on several hunger strikes and Mr Steele has escaped from prison several times and on one occasion he glued himself to the gates of Buckingham Palace to highlight his case.

The pair were released on bail in late 1996 pending an appeal. The case came to court after a witness who gave crucial evidence at the trial, William Love, said he had lied under police pressure. But in February 1998 the men's appeal was rejected and they were returned to prison.

In 2001 the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission, which considers alleged miscarriages of justice, sent the case back to the appeal court.

The crucial police evidence was dismissed after Brian Clifford, a cognitive psychologist from the University of East London, gave evidence at the Court of Appeal hearing in Edinburgh last month. He told the court that he considered it "very improbable" that four police officers who detained Mr Campbell would have identical recall of his statement, which was written in their notebooks.

In Mr Steele's case, where three officers noted down his statement at a police station after speaking to the accused, Professor Clifford said it would be "an extremely unlikely occurrence" for all three to write down exactly the same thing.

In quashing the men's conviction Lord Gill, the Lord Justice Clerk, said: "The evidence of Professor Clifford is of such significance that the verdicts of the jury, having been returned in ignorance of it, must be regarded as miscarriages of justice."

A third man involved in this appeal, Thomas Gray, 50,who was jailed for 14 years for attempted murder, had his conviction upheld.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Campbell said: "It has been a living nightmare for us all and now half the battle is over but we have still no justice for the Doyle family. I don't expect any justice from the investigating police."

His solicitor, Aamer Anwar, added: "It was a malicious prosecution by Strathclyde Police. At the heart of this case was allegations of police corruption, officers of the law who conspired for nearly 20 years to keep these men behind bars. We demand a full independent inquiry into Strathclyde Police, into the allegations of corruption.

The Scottish Executive said it was too early to say whether a public inquiry would be held.


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Reply with quote  #81 

Hi All... thanks for all the excellent posts with regards to the topic of 'Minister Please'. Some excellent contributions having been made, in particular by Magpie, Admin2 & Hammer6.

 

Admin thought she would take a leaf out of Mr Blair & Mr McConnell's books, and take a bit of leave for some rest and relaxation, and I am blown away (not literally), by what I have come back to! 

 

To start with, I agree wholeheartedly with Admin2's position in that Colin Boyd should not, under any circumstances, accept the peerage that he has been offered, and I base my opinion on what Jack McConnell said about how Mr Boyd deserved the aforementioned peerage because of his contributions to the Justice System and the way that he has revolutionised the Judiciary. 

 

Now, perhaps we aren't talking about the same Colin Boyd who has the knowledge, the status, and ultimately the power that his professional position brings with it, but in fact, the man who has been embroiled in such obvious cases whereby serious miscarriages of justice and cover-ups have taken place?  Taking away the freedom of innocent men and effectively ruining lives?  If that's reason for being awarded a Peerage, then I'm surprised that the majority of cops aren't queuing up for theirs too.

 

Or perhaps it is more to do with the fact that Colin Boyd is involved with the Labour Party?

 

I think it would be an absolute outrage if Colin Boyd does indeed accept his Peerage (and no doubt, he proudly will), but I think the man should at least have the good grace to decline it, and step down from his current role as Lord Advocate, given that it is now plainly clear, for all to see, that this man hasn't 'revolutionised' the Judiciary, but ultimately, poisoned it.  Shame on him, and all the others who surely must have had the knowledge that has imprisoned the innocent over the years.

 

Originally posted by Hammer6 with regards to TC Campbell:

 

His solicitor, Aamer Anwar, added: "It was a malicious prosecution by Strathclyde Police. At the heart of this case was allegations of police corruption, officers of the law who conspired for nearly 20 years to keep these men behind bars. We demand a full independent inquiry into Strathclyde Police, into the allegations of corruption.

The Scottish Executive said it was too early to say whether a public inquiry would be held.


 


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Villain: Tony Blair

So, our Tony thinks it's perfectly OK to stuff the UK parliament's upper chamber with rich businessmen sympathetic to the New Labour cause. Or "philanthropists", if you prefer. Bung a few hundred thousand the government's way and you're set for life.

Apart from being wholly undemocratic, the murky practice utterly devalues the honours system, a system which is supposed to reward outstanding people whose efforts have made a real difference to life in the UK. Not overpaid captains of industry who throw cash around in the hope of government favours.

The investigation into the scandal will likely go nowhere; perhaps a lowly nobody will be made an example of. But after a few weeks Teflon Tony will be giving it all "let's move on, dwelling on this is not helpful" as with every other piece of dodgy business that's come to light.


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Profile:Colin Boyd

 

The Rt Hon Colin Boyd QC (b. June 7, 1953) was appointed Lord Advocate for Scotland on February 24, 2000. On April 11, 2006, Downing Street announced that Boyd would take a seat as a crossbench life peer in the House of Lords.[1]

Lord Advocate for Scotland, Rt Hon Colin Boyd PC QC
Lord Advocate for Scotland, Rt Hon Colin Boyd PC QC

Contents

[hide]

Legal evolution

Colin Boyd spent his childhood in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Wick. He was educated at Wick High School and George Watson’s College, Edinburgh and graduated BA (Econ) from Manchester University in politics and economics, and LLB from Edinburgh University. He was a solicitor in private practice before being called to the Scottish Bar in 1983. Boyd was an Advocate Depute from 1993 to 1995 and took Silk (as Queen's Counsel) in 1995. He is a legal Associate of the Royal Town Planning Institute. As an Advocate he built up a practice in administrative law.

Political career

As a university student, he joined the Labour Party but left to join the breakaway Scottish Labour Party, sharing the SLP founder Jim Sillars' distrust of the mainstream Labour Party to follow through on its commitment to devolution. Boyd stood as a parliamentary candidate for the SLP at the 1979 general election but garnered only 176 votes. When the SLP disbanded, after its failure to make an impact at that election, he decided to rejoin the Labour Party rather than follow Sillars into the Scottish National Party. Following the 1997 general election, he was appointed Solicitor General for Scotland. He was promoted to Lord Advocate in 2000 upon the elevation of Andrew Hardie to the bench. He was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 2000.

The announcement on April 11, 2006, of Boyd's appointment to the House of Lords created controversy in Scottish political circles.[2]

Lockerbie trial

Colin Boyd's role as Lord Advocate featured leading the prosecution in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial between May 2000 and January 2001. Of the two defendants, one – Fhimah – was acquitted and the other – Megrahi – was convicted on January 31, 2001 of 270 counts of murder, and sentenced to 27 years in jail. Controversy continues to surround Megrahi's conviction despite the rejection of his appeal on March 14, 2002. Evidence presented at the trial has been called into question and doubts have been expressed about the reliability of several key prosecution witnesses. According to The Sunday Times of October 23, 2005 former Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, described one such witness as "not quite the full shilling" and "an apple short of a picnic". Boyd has demanded that Lord Fraser should issue a public statement clarifying what he actually said about this witness, and what he meant by those remarks.

Fingerprint controversy

In February 2006, Boyd was drawn into the PC Shirley McKie fingerprint controversy. PC McKie had been wrongly accused by four experts from the Scottish Criminal Record Office(SCRO) of leaving her thumb print at a murder scene in January 1997. McKie was arrested in March 1998, charged with perjury but at her trial in May 1999 the SCRO fingerprint evidence was rejected, and she was acquitted. A senior Scottish police officer, James Mackay QPM, was appointed in June 2000 by the Crown Office to investigate the matter. Mackay's interim report in August 2000 suggested that the evidence given in court by the four SCRO personnel amounted to 'collective manipulation and collective collusion'. As a result, the four fingerprint officers were immediately suspended by SCRO, and Scottish ministers were informed.

Mackay's final confidential report was presented to the Crown Office in October 2000. The report remained under wraps until extracts were published in the Scotsman newspaper in February 2006. Mackay had concluded that 'cover-up and criminality' had taken place at SCRO and recommended that the four fingerprint officers should be prosecuted. However, the Scotsman also revealed that the Lord Advocate Colin Boyd had decided in September 2001 to take no action in response to Mackay's recommendation, and the four SCRO officers were reinstated.

Boyd now faces calls to explain to what extent his decision not to prosecute the SCRO personnel in the autumn of 2000 was related to the then ongoing Pan Am Flight 103 bombing trial, where he was leading the prosecution. With the eyes of the world focused upon the Scottish judicial system, it could have undermined the Crown's case to have the SCRO scrutinized and its fingerprint experts prosecuted for covering up acts of criminality. Veteran campaigner, Tam Dalyell, has asked Colin Boyd 'to consider his position', while former MSP Mike Russell maintained that he cannot continue as Lord Advocate.

SCCRC

For more than two years, the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) has been conducting a wide-ranging investigation into Megrahi's conviction, and is expected to decide in the first half of 2006 whether to refer the case back to the High Court of Justiciary for a fresh appeal.

Publications

Boyd contributed to a book The Legal Aspects of Devolution published just before the 1997 General election.

External links

See also

Want to know information about YOUR MP, check here; http://www.theyworkforyou.com/

 

 

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McConnell 'broke rules' on £300m Trump golf deal

(CHIP & WIN)

JACK McConnell has been accused of breaking the ministerial code of conduct by backing a luxury golf resort planned for Scotland by billionaire Donald Trump.

Scotland on Sunday can reveal the First Minister's close association with Trump may have broken strict rules which require ministers to remain neutral about planning applications before they are decided.

 

Green campaigners, and senior councillors in Aberdeenshire, where the resort is planned, are furious at McConnell's enthusiastic backing for the project despite serious environmental concerns. They accuse of him of putting too much effort into impressing rich businessmen rather than looking after Scotland's long-term interests.

Last night, there were calls for an inquiry into the conduct of the First Minister, who will this week travel to the Menie Estate, north of Aberdeen, for a meeting with Trump.

The tycoon wants to invest £300m in a links course, luxury hotel and housing on the estate. But opponents of the plan say it will ruin one of Scotland's most pristine stretches of coastline. Despite the mounting concern, McConnell has already met Trump twice in the US, and had numerous phone calls with him.

But on planning issues, the ministerial code of conduct clearly stipulates that ministers "must do nothing which might be seen as prejudicial to that process, particularly in advance of the decision being taken".

It adds: "Action that might be viewed as being prejudicial includes meeting the developer or objectors to discuss the proposal, but not meeting all parties with an interest in the decision."

The Executive could also face allegations of a conflict of interest as it may be asked, as the authority on planning matters in Scotland, to approve or reject the Trump plan if it is turned down by the local council.

The project has already been mired in controversy after Trump declared he would pull out unless a wind farm being planned for Aberdeen Bay was moved away from the site.

Scotland on Sunday can also reveal today that the consultant hired by Trump to advance his Scottish plans has been trying to buy up privately-owned homes on the estate using a false identity.

Neil Hobday, the UK Project Manager for the planned Trump International Golf Resort,

admits he used his middle names, Peter White, in a bid to help conceal the identity of his employer and avoid paying a premium for the properties.

A spokesman for the Green party said: "There should be an investigation into McConnell's conduct. I find it difficult to believe that this scheme didn't come up through those many phone calls they had. It is hard to believe that it wouldn't have been discussed."

He added: "If Jack McConnell had put as much effort into getting our renewable energy projects off the ground as he has spent trying to impress rich businessmen from abroad then the future of Scotland would be in much safer hands."

A source within the Scottish Wildlife Trust added: "Jack McConnell is right to encourage inward investment but you have to hope he has not given any promises."

Local councillors are also furious at what they see as the heavy-handed interference from central government over the project. Trump's company will submit a planning application next month to Aberdeenshire council, which will make the decision over the golf resort.

The LibDem councillor in whose ward the area sits, Debra Storr, said: "If a councillor had acted like Mr McConnell then he wouldn't be able to take any further part in the matter. It would be a breach of the code of conduct."

John Loveday, chairman of the Formartine Area Committee, which will decide on the planning application, added: "I am concerned when the Executive and the Scottish Parliament try and interfere with local matters. We may welcome this development, but we take the decision and we object to people saying it will go ahead when it won't necessarily. We will make the decision."

A spokesman for the First Minister insisted McConnell had been careful not to discuss the details of the project and had therefore not broken any rules. "He has been very careful not to say or do anything on the planning application. You couldn't have a situation where a minister wasn't able to meet a developer. When he has been discussing things with Mr Trump, he has been talking about his interest in Scotland, not going into the details."

The plans for the course are welcomed by many councillors in the region, but there is less enthusiasm over plans to build a hotel and holiday units alongside it. The beach area is a site of special scientific interest and is certified in the local plan as "undeveloped coast", thereby having many of the same regulations as does green-belt land.

Further concern has been expressed over attempts by the Trump organisation to buy up the homes of locals in the area to improve the value of the estate.

Neil Hobday, Trump's UK Project Manager,claimed using his middle names to try to negotiate a transaction was "standard commercial practice".

Hobday said: "Jack McConnell has done a fantastic job fighting for Scotland the Brand."He got on the plane to New York and shook Donald Trump's hand. That the First Minister of Scotland went to see him and said we would love to have your resort in Scotland made a big impression."

Hobday said that as far as the Trump organisation was concerned, the resort was a "done deal".

"It's a done deal from the point of view that Mr Trump is committed to the project. But as with any property venture - whether a skyscraper in New York or a golf course in Scotland - it depends on the proper planning process."

Hobday denied Trump had received any assurances from McConnell that planning permission was a formality. "I don't think that Jack has said that. He said there was a process to go through. I don't think he has said we can circumnavigate this process or even fast-track it."


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Politics Main article:

Politics of Scotland; see also Politics of the United Kingdom and Politics of Europe The Royal Arms of the Queen in Scotland. A version without the helm is used by the Scottish Executive.

 

Jack McConnell MSP, the First Minister of Scotland.As one of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom, the head of state in Scotland is the British monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II (since 1952).

 

Constitutionally the United Kingdom is a unitary state with one sovereign parliament and government. Under a system of devolution (or home rule) adopted in the late 1990s the constitutent countries within the United Kingdom were given limited self-government, subject to the ability of the British Parliament in Westminster at will to amend, change, broaden or abolish the national governmental systems.

 

As such the Scottish Parliament is not sovereign. However, it is thought unlikely that any British parliament would unilaterally abolish a home rule parliament and government without consultation via a referendum with the voters of the constituent country.

 

Executive power in the United Kingdom is vested in the Queen-in-Council, while legislative power is vested in the Queen-in-Parliament (the Crown and the Parliament of the United Kingdom at Westminster in London). Under devolution executive and legislative powers in certain areas have been constitutionally delegated to the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood in Edinburgh respectively.

 

The United Kingdom Parliament retains active power over Scotland's taxes, social security system, the military, international relations, broadcasting, and some other areas explicitly specified in the Scotland Act 1998 as reserved matters. The Scottish Parliament has legislative authority for all other areas relating to Scotland, and has limited power to vary income tax.

 

The Scottish Parliament is a unicameral legislature comprised of 129 Members, 73 of whom represent individual constituencies and are elected on a first past the post system; 56 are elected in eight different electoral regions by the additional member system.

 

The Queen appoints one of the members of the Parliament, on the nomination of the Parliament, to be First Minister. Other Ministers are also appointed by the Queen on the nomination of the Parliament and together with the First Minister they make up Scottish Executive, the executive arm of government.

 

The current (since 2001) First Minister is Jack McConnell of the Labour Party, who forms the government on a coalition basis with the Liberal Democrats. The main opposition party is the Scottish National Party, which campaign for Scottish independence. Other parties include the Conservative and Unionist Party, the Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party.

 

Under devolution Scotland is represented by 59 MPs in the British House of Commons elected from territory-based Scottish constituencies. A Secretary of State for Scotland, who prior to devolution headed the system of government in Scotland, sits in the Cabinet of the United Kingdom and is responsible for the limited number of powers the office retains since devolution, as well as relations with other Whitehall Ministers who have power over reserved matters.

 

The Scottish Parliament can refer devolved matters back to Westminster to be considered as part of United Kingdom-wide legislation under the Sewel motion system if United Kingdom-wide legislation is considered to be more appropriate for certain issues. The Scotland Office is a department of the United Kingdom government, responsible for reserved Scottish affairs. The current Secretary of State for Scotland is Alistair Darling.

 

Until 1999, Scottish peers were entitled to sit in the House of Lords. The main political debate in Scotland tends to revolve around attitudes to the constitutional question. Under the pressure of growing support for Scottish independence a policy of devolution had been advocated by all three UK-wide parties to some degree during their history (although Labour and the Conservatives have also at times opposed it). This question dominated the Scottish political scene in the latter half of the 20th century.

 

Now that devolution has occurred, the main argument about Scotland's constitutional status is over whether the Scottish Parliament should accrue additional powers (for example over fiscal policy), or seek to obtain full independence. Ultimately the long term question is: should the Scottish parliament continue to be a subsidiary assembly created and potentially abolished by the constitutionally dominant and sovereign parliament of the United Kingdom (as in devolution) or should it have an independent existence as of right, with full sovereign powers (either through independence, a federal United Kingdom or a confederal arrangement)?

 

Finally, will the current devolution system satisfy Scottish demands for self-government or strengthen demands for full-blown independence? The programmes of legislation enacted by the Scottish Parliament have seen the divergence in the provision of public services compared to the rest of the United Kingdom.

 

While the costs of a university education, and care services for the elderly are free at point of use in Scotland, fees are paid in the rest of the UK. Scotland is the first country in the UK to ban smoking in public places.


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McConnell accused over golf resort... 

JACK McConnell was on the defensive yesterday over allegations that he broke the ministerial code of conduct by backing a luxury golf resort planned by Donald Trump.

Councillors in Aberdeenshire and environmentalists are concerned that the First Minister's meetings with the American billionaire developer could prejudice the planning process for the development. They are concerned that local homes will be lost and a pristine area of coastline ruined.

 

Mr McConnell was also alleged to have met Robert Morris weeks before the furniture tycoon received a massive pay-out from the taxpayer to relocate his factory. Mr McConnell's aides have described both accusations as "ridiculous".

Meanwhile, the communities which surround the planned golf course north of Aberdeen find themselves in a situation reminiscent of the film Local Hero, as representatives of Mr Trump offer to buy the homes of locals.

The tycoon wants to build a £300 million championship links course, luxury hotel and housing on the Menie estate.

But already locals are concerned about the influence of Mr Trump on the local planning process. A wind farm planned for the area has recently been moved closer to Aberdeen, following concerns that it would spoil views from the hotel.

Now there are fears Mr Trump could influence the planning process through meetings with the First Minister in the US.

The Trump planning application is due to go before Aberdeenshire Council next month and Debra Storr, a Liberal Democrat councillor in the area, said local residents are adamant that it must go through the normal processes.

Eleanor Scott, a Green MSP for the Highlands and Islands, called for an investigation into the First Minister's conduct.

"It's hard to believe the scheme wasn't discussed in any of the many phone calls and cosy chats they had," she said.

A spokesman admitted Mr McConnell had discussed investment in Scotland with Mr Trump, but maintained that both parties would be "acutely aware" of avoiding details sensitive to planning permission.

"There is no question whatsoever of the First Minister being compromised," he said.

The spokesman confirmed Mr McConnell met Mr Morris, briefly, at a public event - shortly before the latter was awarded £35.6 million in compensation because the M74 extension affected his factory - but referred queries to the Land Tribunal.

Related topic

 

Brown puts shackles on Executive spending
Exclusive: Gordon Brown’s department has frozen £1.5bn of Scottish Executive funds and told Holyrood ministers they must justify spending plans before money will be released. continued...


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26 April 2006 
 
1023 CONS FREED BY MISTAKE:
 

THREE murderers and five child sex beasts were set free in Britain after a blunder over foreign criminals.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke admitted yesterday 1023 foreign cons had been released at the end of jail terms instead of being considered for deportation.

In 160 cases, the sentencing court had specified they should be kicked out of the country.

But only 107 have been found and only 20 sent home since the Home Office was made aware of the error.

Last night, Clarke insisted no one should resign over the error and Tony Blair's spokesman insisted the PM had "full confidence" in Clarke and his team.

But that is unlikely to end questions about what the Tories and Lib Dems condemned as a "major failure".

 

As well as five child abusers and three murderers, the 1023 included seven people jailed for serious sex crimes including rape.

Fifty-seven had been convicted of violent offences and two of manslaughter.

Officials could not say which areas of Britain the cons were released into and admit they do not even know what 100 of them have done.

Clarke admitted: "I can't say hand on heart we will identify where each of those is, but we are working very energetically."

Tory MP Richard Bacon, who raised the issue with Clarke in October, called on him to reveal the identities of those still at large.

He said: "When the Home Office made such a hideous mistake, you'd have thought they would do every-thing possible to find them, including enlisting the assistance of the public."

Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell said it was "extraordinary" that so many people convicted of serious offences had "simply disappeared".

Downing Street blamed the error on a failure of communication between Prison Service and Immigration officials.

An extra £2.7million is now to be spent to track foreign prisoners and deportation moves will be started a year before they are due to be released from jail.


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27 April 2006
 
BLACK DAY FOR POLITICS ...

JOHN Prescott was humiliated yesterday by revelations of an affair with one of his secretaries.

The Deputy Prime Minister started his two-year fling with Tracey Temple, 43, at an office party.

Prescott, 67, admitted his wife Pauline had been "devastated" when he broke the news to her.

And Tracey's boyfriend Barrie Williams said: "I feel sick.

"I can't believe the woman I wanted to marry slept with John Prescott."

Tony Blair's spokesman denied Prescott was now a joke figure.

 

However, opponents were having fun at his expense in Westminster.

In the Commons bars, the Cabinet hardman, once dubbed "Two Jags" after his luxury cars, was re-christened "Two Shags".

Blair himself described the scandal as a "private matter" but the revelations are a huge blow to the PM as well as Prescott.

The affair sparked comparisons with John Major's sleaze-ridden government.

Blair was already under great pressure over the mistaken release of more than 1000 foreign criminals and NHS job cuts in England.

Prescott's fling destroys any hopes he had of hanging on to the powerful deputy PM post when Gordon Brown finally takes charge.

Hugely popular in the party, Prescott had been set to play a key role in the handover of power.

Now he faces being pushed to the sidelines in a move that could delay Blair's departure.

Colleagues rallied round last night but friends fear further embarrassing revelations in the coming days.

The famously combative MP went into hiding yesterday, failing to show at Prime Minister's Questions.

Nor was there any sign of him or Pauline, his wife of 44 years, at their family home in Hull.

The couple were thought to be trying to patch up their marriage.

His department refused to say when he might return to work.

They are said to have been shocked by the way Prescott carried on with divorcee Temple in the office.

They were caught cuddling in a lift at his Westminster department.

And they frolicked together at a Christmas party in full view of other staff.

Colleagues say there was an obvious spark between them from the day blonde Tracey was appointed his assistant private secretary.

Prescott was soon complimenting her on her clothes and even sharing racy jokes with her in front of fellow Cabinet ministers.

He once teased her about her bright-red, leather trousers in front of friend and Sports Minister Richard Caborn.

Staff began noticing he seemed to make special trips into the department just to chat with Tracey, who lives with 46-year-old lorry driver Barrie.

The flirting turned into a full-blown affair at an office Christmas party in 2002.

Tracey was dressed to kill in a low-cut black dress. Prescott made a beeline for her when he arrived and jokingly lifted her hem to see if she was wearing stockings.

The couple danced together almost all night and, after many drinks, are said to have confessed their feelings.

Tracey was among select staff invited back to Prescott's flat and only left for her hotel at 3.30am.

The next day, they cuddled on a settee in front of ministers, dignitaries and senior police invited to his office for drinks.

When a colleague discovered Tracey nuzzling Prescott's neck in a lift, he laughed it off as a joke.

He became livid when office gossip of an affair persisted, telling staff it was none of their business.

Within a fortnight of the party, the pair were regularly meeting at his plush Admiralty House flat.

He would go there and call the office to say he'd forgotten something, asking Tracey to take it around.

As the relationship continued, the pair became more bold.

In October 2003, they were photographed together at a memorial for the Iraq war dead.

The Queen was at the service at St Paul's Cathedral, along with Blair and many other Cabinet ministers.

Tracey was photographed alongside Pauline at the State Opening of Parliament the previous year.

She also posed with Prescott beside his election battle bus last year.

Recently, she is said to have spent time alone with her boss at his luxurious 215-acre country retreat in Dorneywood, Buckinghamshire.

Confessing to the affair, Prescott said: "I did have a relationship with her, which I regret. It ended some time ago.

"I have discussed this fully with my wife Pauline, who is devastated by the news. I'd be grateful if Pauline and I can now get on with our lives together."

Phil Woolas, a minister in Prescott's department, said the affair had no bearing on the Deputy PM's job.

He added: "He is one of the most incredibly able politicians I have worked with."

Blair's official spokesman rejected suggestions that Prescott had abused his position by having an affair with a civil servant.

He also said the affair would not be a distraction, adding: "Government is about dealing with unforeseen events. You don't under-estimate the impact of events but you don't allow them to distract you from the big picture."

Prescott has spent his political career pouring scorn on the Tories.

He even ridiculed unfaithful Tory MPs in a conference speech before Labour swept to power.

He said: "Some Tory MPs think ethics is a county near Middlesex."

'I feel sick. I can't believe that the woman I wanted to marry slept with John Prescott'

 

********************************************************

Sir Alan Sugar Tells UK Prime Minister, "You're Fired!"

  Written by Grant

You're fired!
Following his recent public appearances on the well documented series “the apprentice”, Sir Alan “ look sunshine, grew up in the East End didn’t I” Sugar, was playing down today the confirmation, that he has FIRED the current prime minister of the UK The Rt.Hon Tony Blair MP.

It appears that he couldn’t find a parking space in central London, so decided to park his Rolls Royce on the kerb outside No.10 Downing St, and pop in to “see how things were going”.

Apparently dismayed at the state of the house and the overall miss-management he found, he fired the PM on the spot, and was heard shortly afterwards in the street shouting “and take that woman and those kids with you ‘n’ all!”

It now is widely accepted that the “boy done good” will take office next week contrary to popular belief that either Gordon Brown the current Chancellor of the Exchequer or indeed Johnny “Two Jags Prescott” may be in the running for the top job. When questioned over the fact that he has not actually been elected either by the ruling Labour party or the people as a whole Sir Alan replied simply to a surprised journalist, “elected schmekted – get out……… you’re fired!”

Shortly before, Sir Alan, (as he likes to be known these days) was reputed to have said to Prescott - ”look sunshine, I’ve got more Jags than you’ve had pies, and believe me, from where I’m sitting that’s got to be a lot!”

After that rather swift rebuttal, Mr.Prescott was seen leaving in both of his Jaguar’s to Sir Alan’s private retreat in the picturesque village of Amstrad, Essex. – Situated close to what is known as the golden triangle or more correctly the golden rivet, leaving Gordon Brown to make his way home to Scotland on a tricycle complete with fluorescent bib.

Later, Sir Alan when interviewed after Prescott’s exit was quoted as saying “I don’t want a deputy, I wanna apprentice dunn I, + there were never any pies left in the canteen – I don’t need that, I’m a busy man!” If I needed someone to eat pies I’d hire one……..”.

Shortly after these amazing events, the leader of the opposition the Rt Hon. David Cameron M.P. held a hastily arranged press conference.
Mr Cameron who was clearly red faced and out of breath, stated simply “Sir Alan called me today, and told me that I was fired!” – I tried to explain to him that he had no right to do so – but he wasn’t taking no for an answer – so I’ll be leaving tonight……sorry”.

It is expected that Sir Alan will soon announce a major cabinet re-shuffle involving his family……daughter Demerara (34), and both sons, Tate (30) and Lyle (31). Both Tate&Lyle denied being given a “silver spoon” by their father.

Despite Sir Alan’s surprise hostile takeover, it appears not to have stopped him making immediate plans for the future. These include; all government agencies making use of Sir Alan’s technological know –how.

It is reputed that all agencies will make use of the very latest in Amstrad technology, including MI5, MI6 and the SAS the technology for which all of which will be “made in China to further relationships”.

When questioned on this issue, and it’s possible affect on UK national security, Sir Alan stated “When I’ve done a deal, I’ve done a deal, “alright” and if they don’t live up to my expectations I’ll send the boys round to all the caff’s on the Mile End road so they know not to mess”.

At this point the Sir Alan terminated the press conference as the new contractors for the houses of parliament canteen had arrived in a jellied eel van outside No.10.


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Any rows and you're fired, Scotland!

AT 36,000 feet, on board a private jet luxuriously equipped with pale leather armchairs and gold-plated seat-belts, Donald Trump surveyed the plans of his new Scottish empire.

Laid out on the conference table on board his Boeing 727, and illuminated by Waterford crystal lamps, sat the artist's impressions of "the greatest golf course in the world".

 

Yesterday, rested from the use of the plane's private bedroom and accompanied by his senior advisers, Mr Trump touched down in Aberdeen to unveil the vision of a six-storey, 500-room hotel in Victorian style, complete with a luxury clubhouse and a golf course which one day could host the Open Championship.

The American billionaire also revealed that the course would be accessible to the public, but he reiterated his opposition to any wind-farm development off the coast.

He said: "When I look out to the ocean from the 18th hole of Trump International Golf Links, I want to see the ocean, I don't want to see the windmills."

The man whose net worth is estimated at $2.7 billion also made it clear that he would not stand opposition or delay: "If for some reasons the officials or the people of Aberdeenshire don't want this, I will not be insulted. I will go elsewhere."

Mr Trump also made a robust defence of Jack McConnell, the First Minister, who has been accused of overstepping his ministerial responsibility in lobbying the billionaire to build his course in Scotland.

"I have read some things in the press, both good and bad about Jack and his dealings with us, and frankly he has done an amazing job in trying to get us to come and spend our money. He has made absolutely no commitments to us; he's worked very very hard to get us to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in Scotland."

Accompanied by the skirl of the pipes, Mr Trump descended from the steps of his black Boeing which, with his name emblazoned in ten-feet-tall gold letters on the fuselage, was the largest private number plate ever parked at Aberdeen airport.

A red carpet had been prepared for the occasion, as well as an honour guard of local dignitaries, while, behind a wire-mesh fence, gathered a collection of plane-spotters.

Mr Trump said to the assembled media: "I could kiss the ground."

He and his management team, flanked by architects and the designer of the new course, Tom Fazio II, then marched into a press conference, where Mr Trump began by explaining that his late mother, Mary Macleod, from Stornoway, was the inspiration behind the project. "I am building this maybe to a larger extent than I know, in honour of my mother," he said.

The £300 million venture, to be based on 800 acres of sand dunes and coastline on the Menie Estate, just outside Aberdeen, would be "the greatest golf course in the world".

He then unveiled design drawings that reveal the proposed hotel to be six floors high and in a grand Victorian style, while the members' clubhouse would have a wrap-around porch. He also explained that, although initially planned as a private club, like his other clubs in America and accessible only to multi-millionaires, the Trump International Golf Links would be open to the public.

Mr Trump said: "We are looking to do something so good that it would be unfair to not let the public come in and play."

He also said he would be delighted if Sir Sean Connery would strike the first ball when the course is completed. "He loves golf and I love him."

However, Mr Trump made it clear that he still harboured deep concerns about a proposed £40 million wind farm, though he said his team had recently been in talks with the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, the organisation behind the idea to have 20 turbines offshore.

Last night, the Green Party questioned whether Mr Trump's golf course was the right type of development for Scotland.

Shiona Baird, the MSP for the North East, said: "We have serious concerns about the environmental damage that will be involved in building a golf course and hotel complex in such an undeveloped area."

After the press conference, Mr Trump and his team were ferried in a silver minivan and coach to the Menie Estate and its country house, near Balmedie.

Shortly before 2pm, he was collected by helicopter to attend a second press conference at St Andrews, where he explained his ambitions to one day host the Open Championship.

Between his arrival and departure tomorrow afternoon, Mr Trump plans to walk the vast dunes with Mr Fazio, the golf-course designer, and work with architects and engineers in deciding the location of the complex's extensive infrastructure so that a formal planning application can be submitted by the end of May.

Tonight, he will host a cocktail party for local dignitaries and residents. When asked if Mr Trump had any plans to bring his hit US TV series, The Apprentice, to Scotland in order to pit the contestants against a challenge connected with the new links course, he said: "It's a real possibility."

His wit and wisdom

'Money was never a big motivation, except to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game'

'It's tangible, it's solid, it's beautiful, it's artistic. I just love real estate'

'I wasn't satisfied to earn a good living. I was looking to make a statement'

'Deals are my artform. Others paint or write poetry. I like deals, preferably big deals. It's how I get my kicks'

'My mother, she's seriously Scotch'

'There's no arguing, no anything, no beating around the bush. "You're fired" is a strong term'

'All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me - consciously or unconsciously. That's to be expected'

'What separates winners from losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate'

'The point is, you can't be too greedy'

 

*****************************************************

McConnell accused over golf resort... 

JACK McConnell was on the defensive yesterday over allegations that he broke the ministerial code of conduct by backing a luxury golf resort planned by Donald Trump.

Councillors in Aberdeenshire and environmentalists are concerned that the First Minister's meetings with the American billionaire developer could prejudice the planning process for the development. They are concerned that local homes will be lost and a pristine area of coastline ruined.

 

Mr McConnell was also alleged to have met Robert Morris weeks before the furniture tycoon received a massive pay-out from the taxpayer to relocate his factory. Mr McConnell's aides have described both accusations as "ridiculous".

Meanwhile, the communities which surround the planned golf course north of Aberdeen find themselves in a situation reminiscent of the film Local Hero, as representatives of Mr Trump offer to buy the homes of locals.

The tycoon wants to build a £300 million championship links course, luxury hotel and housing on the Menie estate.

 


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BBC NEWS Saturday, 29 April 2006

 

Cannabis found at John Reid home
Defence Secretary John Reid, pictured visiting Kabul, Afghanistan
The discovery was made at Mr Reid's home several days ago.
A small quantity of cannabis resin has been found at the Scottish home of Defence Secretary John Reid.

Police are to take no action over the discovery, made during a security sweep of the property in Lanarkshire, since it was unclear who had owned it.

Sources close to Mr Reid said the cannabis - worth less than £1 - was found in a guest area and could have been there for up to 20 years.

A spokesman for the minister said he had no idea where the drugs came from.

The house is within Mr Reid's former constituency of Hamilton North and Bellsill.

Street value

Assistant Chief Constable John Corrigan, of Strathclyde Police, said in a statement: "I can confirm that we have investigated the discovery of a small piece of cannabis resin in a guest room of a house within the force area.

"The substance found weighed less than one gram with a street value of approximately 85p."

The BBC's political correspondent Mark Saunders said the drugs were thought to have been found while Mr Reid was on an official visit to Afghanistan to visit British troops.

In his statement Mr Corrigan said the owner of the house "has co-operated fully with police and is not suspected of having committed any crime or offence".

He said it was a regular occurrence for Strathclyde Police to find or become aware of very small quantities of Class C controlled drugs that were not in someone's possession.

Ministerial heavyweight

Mr Reid's spokesman told BBC Scotland the MP had "absolutely no idea where it came from".

Sources close to the minister, who after boundary changes is now MP for Airdrie and Shotts, said the drugs could have been in the house for as long as 20 years, during which time "hundreds of people" had been through the house.

They said that as part of the official investigation it had never been stressed that the cannabis belonged to Mr Reid or any of his relatives and insisted: "He doesn't use cannabis."

The accommodation was the Reid family home when his first wife, Cathy, was alive. She died in 1998 and the couple had two sons.

Mr Reid, 58 and one of Labour's biggest ministerial heavyweights, later married the film director Carine Adler.

 

He has previously served as health secretary, Northern Ireland secretary, Scottish secretary and leader of the house.

 


 

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