Monthly Archives: January 2012

Royal Sandringham Mystery

The Sandringham estate is a large expanse of countryside and easy to enter. The dumping of a body there in no sense entails any connection to the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha-Battenberg household. But I am baffled by the police claims that, despite repeated attempts, they cannot extract DNA from a body they say is only between one and four months old, not even from the teeth. That seems very strange. I hope news management is not at work in this delay in identification.

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Werritty/Miliband: They Were All In It

David Miliband and William Hague are implicated in three entirely new Adam Werritty/Matthew Gould meetings admitted by the FCO in response to one of my FOI requests. Gould’s meetings with Werritty, in his capacity as Principal Private Secretary to first Miliband and then Hague, were entirely left out of Gus O’Donnell’s “investigation” into Werritty’s activities.

I have now received the following FCO response to my Freedom of Information request on Gould/Werritty:

Thank you for your email of 24 November 2011 asking for “all communications in either direction ever made between Matthew Gould and Adam Werritty, specifically including communications made outside government systems”. I am writing to confirm that we have now completed the search for the information which you requested.

I can confirm that the FCO does hold some information relevant to your request.

There are entries in diaries indicating that there were two meetings at which Mathew Gould and Mr Werritty were both present while he was serving as Principal Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary on 8 September 2009 and 16 June 2010.

Since Mr Gould was appointed as HM Ambassador to Israel on 11 September 2010 there were three further instances on 1 and 27 September 2010 in London and a dinner on 6 February 2011 in Tel Aviv. The meeting on 1 September and the dinner on 6 September are already matters of public record as they are included in the report by the Cabinet Secretary “Allegations against Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP” published on 18 October 2011. Mr Gould attended the Herzliya Conference in his official capacity. Mr Werritty was also a participant. This is already a matter of public record.

The FCO holds no information relating to written communication (either electronic or mail) between Matthew Gould and Adam Werritty at any point.

So Gould attended one meeting with Werritty as David Miliband’s Principal Private Secretary, and one as William Hague’s Principal Private Secretary. Private Secretaries in the civil service do not hold meetings on their own account. It would be very peculiar indeed for a Private Secretary to meet an outside lobbyist on his own, or to formally meet on business anyone outside the civil service without his minister’s permission. Even then, I cannot stress too much how rare this would be; the FCO has batteries of civil servants covering all subjects and geographical areas; private secretaries do not normally meet outsiders except when accompanying their minister.

What was Miliband’s business with Werritty? Does it relate to the later meeting between Werritty, Gould, Fox and Mossad at the Tel Aviv meeting? Does David Miliband’s involvement with Werritty explain the ludicrous charges of anti-semitism levelled at Paul Flynn from within his own party when he tried to dig deeper into what Gould and Werritty were up to?

Those who can count will realise that the FCO letter refers to two instances where Gould met Werritty before he became Ambassador to Israel, and three after being appointed Ambassador, but actually lists four not three – 1 and 27 September 2010 and 6 February 2011, plus the Herzilya Conference from 4-6 February 2011 (this is not the same event as the Tel Aviv dinner as it took place in a quite different town).

Either the meeting on 1 September or 27 September is a new admission. The O’Donnell report refers to only one September meeting, the infamous “briefing meeting” for Gould in the MOD between Gould, Fox and Werritty. Just before Christmas, Caroline Lucas obtained a parliamentary answer that stated there was no MOD official present at that meeting and no record was taken. The FCO letter above is the first admission of a second September meeting.

The FCO list omits the “social occasion” in summer 2010 to which Fox invited both Gould and Werritty, despite the fact that this had already been revealed in a parliamentary answer to Jeremy Corbyn. Presumably it is omitted from this Freedom of Information request because there is no written record of it within the Foreign Office. That might also explain the extraordinary omission of the “We Believe in Israel” conference in London which Fox, Gould and Werritty all attended shortly after the Herzilya Conference in Israel. In this context, am I the only one to find the formula: “The FCO holds no information relating to written communication (either electronic or mail) between Matthew Gould and Adam Werritty at any point” somewhat unconvincing. Have they even asked Gould about communications outside the FCO system?

We now have these Gould/Werritty meetings:

1) 8 September 2009 as Miliband’s Principal Private Secretary (omitted from O’Donnell report)
2) 16 June 2010 as Hague’s Principal Private Secretary (omitted from O’Donnell report)
3) A “social occasion” in summer 2010 with Gould, Fox and Werritty (omitted from above and omitted from O’Donnell report)
4) 1 September 2010 in London (only one September meeting in O’Donnell report)
5) 27 September 2010 in London (only one September meeting in O’Donnell report)
6) 4-6 February 2011 Herzilya Conference Israel (omitted from O’Donnell report)
7) 6 February 2011 Tel Aviv dinner with Mossad and Israeli military
8 15 May 2011 “We believe in Israel” conference London (omitted from above and omitted from O’Donnell report)

Only two of these eight were recorded by Gus O’Donnell in his pathetic “investigation” into the Fox Werritty affair.

It is simply impossible that Matthew Gould, a senior British diplomat, attended all of these meetings and events, yet no formal minute or note of any of them exists. Yet that is what the FCO appears to be claiming. In particular the meetings as Principal Private Secretary on 8 September 2009 and 16 June 2010 simply must have been minuted. The FCO admit they hold diary entries detailing participation, but so far have not responded to my request to release them.

I have no doubt that the near total blackout on serious media investigation into what Werritty was really up to, relates directly to the fact that he was meeting with Gould as Private Secretary to both Miliband and Hague, in this sense. There is a silent cross-party agreement among the political establishment to ally the UK strongly with the interests of Israel (and thus against the interests of the Palestinians). Werritty’s activities were therefore countenanced by both New Labour and Conservative leaderships, and the nebulous “Establishment”, including the mainstream media, have closed ranks around this.

My sources within the civil service remain adamant that the purpose of all this activity was diplomatic preparation for an attack on Iran. When those sources first contacted me, and told me to look at Gould Werritty, I genuinely had no idea that Gould and Werritty had any connection. Getting the information has been extremely difficult, but I have proven that the Gould/Werritty connection was indeed far more extensive than the Establishment were prepared to admit, and directly implicated Miliband and Hague with Werritty. It was deliberately underplayed by Gus O’Donnell’s report, in a blatant act of political lying by the then Cabinet Secretary.

I still do not have positive evidence that the purpose of this activity is an attack on Iran, but I trust my source and his or her tip-off that the place to dig was the Gould-Werritty relationship has proven to be entirely accurate. It ties in with information I have received from another source, this time a senior journalist whom again I trust, that Werritty met with Robert Gates on two occasions. I would be grateful if any of my US-based readers could try to track that down using FOI.

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The Ron Paul Effect

On balance, I view Ron Paul as a good thing.

I view myself as a libertarian and, in many ways, my criticisms of Ron Paul are that he is a more consistent libertarian than me. I want to see government provide health and welfare services, and run natural monopolies.

But much more importantly, Ron Paul is infinitely more consistent than the vast majority of those who label themselves “libertarian” in the UK and US, but are in fact just extreme right wingers with no concern at all for civil liberties, and who support the idea of a massive military force controlled by the government to annex foreign resources. Their “libertarianism” amounts to no more than a desire to be allowed to make money unscrupulously, without interference or tax. Paul Staines is the prime example of a false libertarian.

Ron Paul is not a false libertarian. His 21% showing in Iowa is going, for a while at least, to make it impossible to maintain the usual near total exclusion of anti-war and pro-civil liberties voices from the mainstream media. That is a great achievement. Having been given vastly less mainstream air time than Bachmann or Perry, that will now change for Paul – and even as they strive to limit that change, the establishment will hate that.

So, on balance a very good thing indeed. There are whispers about past racial attitudes. I have met Ron Paul, and am obliged to say I did not like him very much. But for a spell Americans are going to be able to hear someone question the trillions spent on foreign wars while US families suffer – and even a raising of the billions given to Israel. That outweighs a great deal of baggage.

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Working for Peace

A hopeful article in the Guardian claims that peace discussions between the US and Taliban have reached the stage where the Taliban may open a political office in Qatar to conduct negotiations, and that some of their leaders may be released from Guantanamo. Let us hope this is all true.

Those who have read The Catholic Orangemen of Togo will immediately see that the basic issues mooted in the Guardian are the same I was dealing with as UK Representative to the Sierra Leone peace talks, and indeed the very stuff of conflict resolution – the transformation of opposing armed forces into a political process. Demobilisation, rehabilitation, funding of political activity. It all gets very emotive and sticky. There is another similarity with the Sierra Leone process in that ostensibly the main participant is the government (be it Sierra Leone or Afghanistan) but in fact the real decisions are taken for that government in the West.

Sitting here with my laptop in Ramsgate, I believe that I would be able to make a contribution to the peace process. I am a highly experienced diplomat who knows the region. I am almost uniquely placed, as a western person with high level diplomatic background and experience of treaty negotiation, who might nonetheless be trusted by the Taliban. I resigned my career in an effort to stop the persecution and torture of Central Asiam muslims in the “War on Terror” and have campaigned consistently and in public to end the occupation of Afghanistan. I was Ambassador in neighbouring Uzbekistan and have spent the last three years studying Afghan history.

Whether they realise it or not (and I suspect they do) the Taliban will need assistance and advice in dealing with the peace negotiations and drafting of peace agreements. My opposition to neo-con foreign policy means the UK and US would never use me in the peace talks, and would block my role with any mediating agency. The only possible route to involvement – and a difficult one to achieve – would be to offer my services as an unpaid independent adviser to the Taliban side of the talks. I have at present no route of direct contact to the Taliban: if the office in Qatar materialises, I will turn up and knock at the door.

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Renationalise the Railways

Railways are a natural monopoly. There is no genuine competition between providers. For many people, the privately owned railway service is the only practical way to get to work. We have the most expensive passenger fares in the world, and a negligible amount of freight sent by rail, despite absolutely astonishing subsides pair to the private railway companies – and mostly ejected straight out again as shareholders’ profits. I was hoping to give you a figure for the total subsidies private rail companies have received since the crazed system was set up, but I can’t find a reliable series of figures anywhere – can anyone help?

We also still have a rubbish service. Some nominal punctuality improvement has been made, largely by the ruse of making timetables themselves unambitious. A member of staff at Ramsgate station told me recently of an HS1 service which left Ramsgate 18 minutes late, but reached St Pancras on time. On 27 December I left Brussels 11 minutes late on a Eurostar and made Ashford one minute late. Giving a talk in Cardiff recently, the train from Paddington spent in total almost 20 minutes standing in stations to await shceduled departure. Many timetables, particularly around London, have in fact been worsened – the ordinary commuter service from Gravesend to Charing Cross for example is now scheduled to be eight minutes longer than it was when I used to get it every day in 1986. In other cases track, rolling stock and signalling improvements that make quicker journeys possible are ignored in the timetable, all to give that margin of leeway and avoid punctuality fines and refunds.

The last five railway journeys I have been on (excluding Eurostar) all had people standing or squatting in corridors.

We have a train service which is the most expensive in the world but is still arguably the least pleasant to use among developed nations, and is very slow when you compare similar journeys with our European counterparts. It is impossible credibly to argue that the crazed multiple contact privatisation model has worked.

Rail needs to be renationalised immediately.

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