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Showing posts from February, 2009

Agony Aunts and Journalists bad video recording

The video itself is not that bad, but the sound was awful. I have increased the volume, but that just about makes it audible (if you are in a quiet environment).

The meeting was a good meeting and it is sad that the sound has come out so badly.
These are the first 3 9 minute segments. The rest are uploading.

All of the videos can be found here,

Results: Thursday 26th February 2009.

Broxtowe BC, Greasley (Giltbrook and Newthorpe)
Con 1125 (49.1; +0.5)
Lab 600 (26.2; +1.6)
BNP 301 (13.1; -2.5)
LD Gwen Robb 232 (10.1; -0.9)
UKIP 31 (1.4; +1.4)
Majority 525
Turnout 46%
Con hold
Percentage change is since 2007

East Devon DC, Honiton St Michaels
LD Marion Olive 636 (51.1; +51.1)
Con 609 (48.9; -20.9)
[Lab (0.0; -30.2)]
Majority 27
Turnout 23.7%
LD gain from Con
Percentage change is since 2007

Epsom and Ewell BC, Court
Lab 377 (33.0; +2.2)
LD Julia Kirkland 343 (30.0; -10.0)
Con 281 (24.6; +7.5)
Residents 143 (12.5; +0.2)
Majority 34
Turnout 26.9%
Lab gain from LD
Percentage change is since 2007

Epsom and Ewell BC, Ruxley
Con 564 (51.3; +13.0)
Residents 363 (33.0; -11.7)
Lab 73 (6.6; -2.6)
LD Margaret Derrett 60 (5.5; -2.2)
UKIP 40 (3.6; +3.6)
Majority 201
Turnout 24.5%
Con gain from Residents
Percentage change is since 2007

Walsall MBC, Rushall-Shelfield
Con 809 (49.8; -11.2)
Lab 411 (25.3; +5.6)
LD Leslie Smith 178 (11.0; -1.5)
UKIP 165 (10.2; +10.2)
Green 61 (3.8; -3.1)
Majority 398
Turnout 18.0%
Con hold

Response from International Criminal Court

Our reference: OTP-CR-312/09
The Hague, 24 February 2009
Dear Sir, Madam
The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court acknowledges receipt of your documents/letter.
This communication has been duly entered in the Communications Register of the Office. We will give consideration to this communication, as appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
As soon as a decision is reached, we will inform you, in writing, and provide you with reasons for this decision.

This seems a reasonably good start.

Government loses on heathrow

There was a 10 Minute rule bill today. These Bills rarely get anywhere. However, there is notionally a vote on "whether the member has leave to introduce the bill".

The bill was about having parliamentary approval for new runways. The government didn't want a vote on the issue so those wanting a vote had to force a division and put in tellers on both sides of the division.

Hence I "told" for the Nos, but actually supported the motion.

The government could only scrape together 203 votes so the motion was carried.

Results: Thursday 19th February 2009.

Harrogate BC, Bilton
LD Clare McKenzie 902 (50.4; +1.0)
Con 673 (37.6; -6.9)
BNP 164 (9.2; +3.0)
Lab 51 (2.8; +2.8)
Majority 229
Turnout 42.0%
LD hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Lewisham LBC, Downham
LD Jennie Clutten 1075 Duwayne Brooks 1067 (39.3; -10.3)
Lab 655/635 (24.0; -2.0)
Con 654/632 (23.9; +6.2)
BNP 287 (10.5; +10.5)
Green 63/62 (2.3; -4.4)
Majorities 420/412
Turnout 27.4%
LD hold x 2
Percentage change is since May 2006

North West Leicestershire DC, Thringstone
Lab 593 (35.9; -6.7)
Con 520 (31.4; -2.2)
BNP 465 (28.1; +28.1)
LD Terence Morrell 76 (4.6; -19.2)
Majority 73
Turnout 46.1%
Lab hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Sevenoaks DC, Swanley St Marys
BNP 408 (41.3; +41.3)
Lab 332 (33.6; -21.7)
Con 247 (25.0; +0.1)
[UKIP (0.0; -19.8)]
Majority 76
Turnout 31.3%
BNP gain from Lab
Percentage change is since May 2007

Hereford City PC, Aylestone
LD Alan Williams 750 (52.6)
Ind 396 (27.8)
Lab 279 (19.6)
Majority 354
Turnout 29.3%
LD gain from Con

Agony Aunts and Journalists to speak to MPs

A group of Agony Aunts and Journalists will be speaking to MPs in a meeting on 25th February 2009 at 2.30pm to explain why they believe the care system and Family Courts in England is not working properly and needs more attention than the government is giving it.

House of Commons Committee Room 17 – 2.30pm.

Camilla Cavendish (The Times), Sue Reid (The Daily Mail), Denise Robertson (Agony Aunt - ITV's This Morning) will be talking to MPs.

Other journalists and Agony Aunts that support the group include journalists Cassandra Jardine (Daily Telegraph), Kate Hilpern (Freelance working for Guardian and Independent), Ben Leapman (Sunday Telegraph), Ian Griggs (Independent on Sunday) and Agony Aunts Lorraine Kelly (Best), Dr Pam Spurr (MSN and The Times), Keren Smedley (Womens Weekly), Jane O'Gorman (Daily Star, Sunday Express 'S' Magazine and Daily Star On Sunday) Susan Quilliam (That's Life Magazine) and Jane Butterworth (News of the World).

Proposals that will be suggest…

Government Debt

There is a bit of thrashing around in the media today about the fact that the ONS has deemed banks liabilities to be those of the government where the government controls the bank. (ie has over 50% of the shares).

This really should not surprise anyone. It is also important to note that when the government forecast borrowing they did not include the financing of the bank recapitalisation. This is what gives rise to the main discrepancies between different reported figures.

Peak Oil (Demand) Article

The link is to a story that suggests that global demand for oil has peaked and that the price/demand linkage will keep demand below 88mbd in the future.

The point being that industry won't invest because of price and as a consequence we will get reductions in supply and as a consequence increases in price and reductions in demand.

I think this quote is OTT
Randy Ollenberger, managing director of oil and gas research at BMO Capital Markets, said global oil supply could decline by as much as 20 million barrels a day over the next three years if the oil industry stops investing new capital, whether by building new projects or sustaining existing ones, because oil prices are too low. This would dwarf a decline in demand of about 2.25 million barrels a day over the same period.
It is important to remember that this would be a supply reduction of over 20%.

I don't believe this forecast. I think he doesn't as well because he expects the price to go up.

Normal depletion rates for a fi…

Home Secretary, Expenses and Suspension

I have for some time been concerned at the tendency to suspend first and ask questions later. The contrast between Jacqui Smith and the police makes this quite clear. This case is about a police officer suspended for 3 years over an allegation that he had fiddled his petrol expenses. It found a mistaken over claim of £90. In the mean time he had been suspended for 3 years.

I think there needs to be some form of sanction such as a process of monitoring someone being investigated rather than simply suspending them. In Jacqui Smith's case she is not being suspended whilst being investigated. This is unfair in comparison with the treatment of the police.

The solution, however, in my view is to look at a different mechanism rather than suspension for circumstances where that is reasonable.

For example on the issue of expenses if someone is being investigated any further claims can be monitored in detail. Then once an investigation has been concluded the appropriate action can be …

Maltreatment of Mothers in care proceedings and Article 3

I have linked this blog post to the European Court Judgment that the government use to justify the lawfulness of the maltreatment of mothers (particularly, but also fathers) in Public Family Law Proceedings.

The key part of the judgment is as follows:
2. The case of RK and AK
a. Article 3 of the Convention

The Court recalls that the Government have argued that this complaint falls to be dismissed for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies pursuant to Article 35 § 1 of the Convention since the applicants did not rely on this provision in the domestic proceedings. It does not rule on this issue since this part of the application must be rejected for the following reasons.

The Court’s case-law establishes that Article 3, which prohibits torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment cannot be relied on where distress and anguish, however deep, flow, inevitably, from measures which are otherwise compatible with the Convention, unless there is a special element which causes the sufferi…

SBS research

Another piece of significant reporting today is that linked about SBS. Basically they looked at 55 babies who died in hospital from symptoms equivalent to SBS.

What this demonstrated (which was already known for Glutaric Aciduria) is that there are natural circumstances under which the SBS triad occur and that without other evidence (eg bruises) that the SBS triad of bleeding in the brain and retinas and a shortage of oxygen is not sufficient to "prove" that a baby has been shaken.

The case mentioned just above is one what I have helped write documents for the Court of Appeal. This key report (which I need to properly source) will be very important to that case. There are also a number of people wrongly imprisoned based upon the flawed evidence of SBS.

Post Script:
I have since been in touch with the researchers who indicate that they did not check for the triad, but instead for Sub Dural Haematomae (one aspect of the triad) which was found in 36 cases. However, this is still im…

Stories in today's papers

The first story (link in Sunday Mirror) is about an SBS case. This is one much like the Webster case in that there is a range of claims of medical evidence, but at the start as usual a second opinion was not allowed. One key aspect of this case, however, is that the child who suffered the injury (that I believe having read his medical file was not caused by any of the parents) remains in the care of his mother, but that a later child has been taken from another mother (but the same father)

In this case, however, the child has not yet been adopted. However, the courts still want to move towards adoption.

The case is going to the Court of Appeal. I believe that the European Court will look more positively at this case than the CoA.

As usual there is no public funding for this. There was no public funding for the Webster case. It was the generosity of George Hawkes in working for nothing that allowed that case to be considered.

This story in the Independent on Sunday reveals what reversing C…

Quis custodiet ipsos custodies

From PMQ Wednesday:
Paul Rowen (Rochdale, Liberal Democrat) Hansard sourceWatch this
Will the Prime Minister tell the House what steps the Government are taking to ensure that allegations of war crimes in Gaza are investigated by the International Criminal Court? Have the Government asked the Security Council to refer these allegations to the ICC?
Add your comment

Gordon Brown (Prime Minister; Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath, Labour) Hansard sourceWatch this
The position is, first, that the United Nations Secretary-General has asked for an inquiry into what happened, and particularly into what happened to the UN headquarters in Gaza, and, secondly, the Israeli Government have announced an inquiry into their actions. We must await the results of these inquiries

Results: Thursday 12th February 2009.

Cannock Chase DC, Cannock West
Con 654 (60.6; -14.1)
Lab 333 (30.8; +5.5)
LD Susan Wells 93 (8.6; +8.6)
Majority 321
Turnout 19.4%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2008

Croydon LBC, Waddon
Con 1462 (46.0; +2.7)
Lab 1222 (38.5; +0.7)
BNP 157 (4.9; +4.9)
LD Patricia Gauge 150 (4.7; -2.7)
Green 115 (3.6; -5.4)
UKIP 48 (1.5; +1.5)
The Peoples’ Choice Exclusively For All 13 (0.4; +0.4)
The Monster Raving Loony Party 11 (0.3; +0.3)
[Pensions Action Alliance (0.0; -2.5)]
Majority 240
Turnout 28.6%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2006

Enfield LBC, Jubilee
Lab 1346 (51.3; +7.8)
Con 1049 (40.0; -3.4)
LD Dawn Barnes 69 (2.6; +2.6)
Green 60 (2.3; -10.9)
UKIP 59 (2.2; +2.2)
Ind 41 (1.6; +1.6)
Majority 297
Turnout 29.2%
Lab gain from Con
Percentage change is since May 2006

South Northamptonshire DC, Grange Park
Con 407 (76.1; -23.9)
LD Shaun Hope 128 (23.9; +23.9)
Majority 279
Turnout 19.2%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Bishop’s Stortford TC, Central
Con 540 (47.4)
LD Andrew Lewin 358 (31.4)
Lab 165 (14.5)

Judges miss the point on Second Opinions

The link is to today's judgment in the Webster case. It should not require an application to the court of appeal for someone to ask around to find if there is an alternative legal position.

This creates a mass of legal costs and a substantial procedural threshold to get what is relatively straightforward.

Second opinions should be available as of right.

Paul Rowen's question

Paul Rowen's question today about Gaza was a good question of the Prime Minister. The question was whether the UK would ask the Security Council to refer the events in Gaza to the ICC. The Prime Minister basically said no. What was surprising was that he said that the Israeli Government should do the investigation of war crimes by the Israeli Forces. That is not exactly an independent investigation.

FNF and the Lib Dems

Families Need Fathers (an organisation which has a number of mothers as members) has been in existance for a number of years.

There was a joint meeting between FNF and the Lib Dems yesterday at which they raised a number of questions including that of grandparents where relationships come to an end.

I have tended to concentrate on public family law, but the problems there are often similar to those in private family law and cases often overlap.

The party does not have a detailed policy in this area and perhaps we should look at doing this. However, there are some principles that I think should apply.

Firstly, as it stands the system of laws etc create an environment which encourages paople to split up. Benefits and taxes all encourage splits rather than encouraging people to remain together. A priority has to be to avoid instability.

Secondly, if people do split up there needs to be a default position which encourages both parents to cooperate in the interests of children. Far too ofte…

Equalities and Human Rights Commission intervenes on RP case

I am quite pleased that the EHRC has intervened on the RP case. The nub of the case that many people ignore is that RP does not have a "significant learning disability" and does have the capacity to instruct a solicitor - which should have been obvious to the judges when they heard her present her own case.

This is a case that affects something like 150-200 cases a year.

Election Result 5/2/9

Chichester DC, Plaistow
date: 05/02/2009
Con 455 (57.1; -21.0)
LD Ray Cooper 342 (42.9; +21.0)
Majority 113
Turnout 21.3%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2007

Tameside MBC, Hyde Newton
date: 05/02/2009
Lab 1379 (45.6; +9.0)
BNP 889 (29.4; +1.9)
Con 485 (16.0; -7.8)
LD Peter S Ball-Foster 172 (5.7; -6.5)
Green 69 (2.3; +2.3)
UKIP 33 (1.1; +1.1)
Majority 490
Turnout 32.0%
Lab hold
Percentage change is since May 2008

Wolverhampton MBC, Heath Town
date: 05/02/2009
Lab 621 (49.1; +3.1)
Con 497 (39.3; -14.8)
LD Steve Birch 147 (11.6; +11.6)
Majority 124
Turnout 17.2%
Lab hold
Percentage change is since May 2008

Wrexham UA, Rossett
date: 05/02/2009
Con 604 (63.7; +2.8)
LD Mark Perry 218 (23.0; -8.2)
Ind 85 (9.0; +9.0)
Lab 41 (4.3; -3.5)
Majority 386
Turnout 38.0%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2008

North Tyneside MBC, Tynemouth
date: 05/02/2009
Con 1538 (62.2; -5.4)
Lab 701 (28.4; -4.0)
LD John Webb 233 (9.4; +9.4)
Majority 837
Turnout 30.1%
Con hold
Percentage change is since May 2008

Election Petitions 2008

I have obtained a copy of both of the election petitions from 2008. I have not identified any conclusions from the petitions.

Northwood and Birches Head Ward - Stoke
This petition raised by Eve Maley alleges procedural problems at the count. She was an independent against "Potteries Alliance", BNP, Labour and Lib Dems and lost in the end by one vote.

Quoting from the petition:

"The result of the first count was that the Petitioner had won by one vote. A recount was requested on behalf of [the winner] and the result of this recount was that the Petitioner had one more vote than the [the winner]. [the winner] asked for another recount, the result of which was also that the Petitioner had won by one vote.

"The petitioner was advised during the count that the third recount ahd produced the same result as the previous counts, but that on the fourth recount, held again at the request of [the winner] two extra ballot papers had been count, marked in his favour and the rea…

Travel to Parliament - Monday

As is often the case I started out with a meeting in The Council House in Birmingham. I then got on the 12.30 train from New Street which left about 20 mins late (thereby cancelling the 12.50). I went to Waterloo to find that the Jubilee Line wasn't working and hence walked to the House of Commons and got there by 3pm.

I really do wonder what has happened to the UK infrastructure. I think a lot arises from "spoiling the ship for a ha'porth of tar". The West Coast Main Line coped reasonably well.

Bulimia Nervosa self-help group Birmingham

I have been contacted by constituents who would like to establish a discussion group for people suffering from bulimia nervosa in the Birmingham area. Ideally this would include people who have recovered. This would enable people to discuss the issues involved and find resolution.

If anyone is interested in the Birmingham (UK) area can they please email me at