Barnard Castle Revisited 197

I was pretty diffident a year ago in suggesting corrupt backhanders as a potential motive for Dominic Cummings to visit GSK in Barnard Castle, because part of me resisted the idea that even the Tories would seek to make personal profit from a pandemic. Since then, of course, we have learnt of the quarter of a billion pounds (yes, £250,000,000) given to family investment firm Ayanda Capital for PPE procurement for which Ayanda was utterly unqualified and unsuited, numerous other examples of closed bids and completely inappropriate awards. The UK seems not just to have returned to 18th century levels of corruption, but to 18th century lack of shame about it in the governing class.

I suppose at least yesterday’s announcement by Boris Johnson that 60 million vaccine doses will be “finished” by GSK at Barnard Castle dispenses with the argument that was thrown at me by literally hundreds of trolls that the Barnard Castle facility is only some kind of large garden shed and therefore could not have been involved.

We now know about Tory corruption in Covid procurement, which I could only surmise a year ago – and let me further commend to you last night’s Panorama on the barely functional private £27 billion (yes £27,000,000,000) test and trace system under Tory serial profiteer Dido Harding. But it does, of course, take two sides to make a corrupt deal. Surely a big company like GSK would not be involved in backhanders?

Well, GSK were fined US $3 billion in 2012 by US regulators for fraud – yes fraud, overcharging and making false claims about medicines. In 2016 UK regulators fined GSK £37.6 million for paying bribes to generics manufacturers not to produce cheap drugs for the NHS. Let me say that again – for paying bribes to generics manufacturers not to produce cheap drugs for the NHS. Defrauding the NHS. That is the moral level we are looking at here.

So to say that GSK are not averse to paying a bung is to put it very mildly. And to say the Tories are not averse to personal profiteering from Covid procurement is to put it very mildly. It seems like a match made in heaven. Now I do not claim this is what happened, and I have never claimed this is what happened. It is a hypothesis. But it seems a not unreasonable hypothesis. Particularly compared to Cummings’ official explanation for visiting Barnard Castle.

I came under massive troll attack for the suggestion last year. It was claimed that GSK Barnard Castle is not physically capable of involvement in vaccine production. That is now shown to be untrue. It was also suggested that such a deal would have been struck in the main boardroom in London. I think that is to fail to distinguish between the apparent deal and the backhander. The latter are very seldom arranged in main boardrooms.

Anyway do read my article from last year. With the extra knowledge we have now, it has matured pretty well given the amount of derision it received from members of our professionally uncurious and unquestioning mainstream media.

I should also mention that I received a whistleblower tip-off that Cummings had also visited the Honeyman Group while in Barnard Castle. I tried contacting them both by phone and by email and never received any response from the Honeyman Group, and have no further information to stand this up. If anyone can add anything on this I should be most interested to hear from you.


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197 thoughts on “Barnard Castle Revisited

1 2
  • Jm

    The concerted troll attacks on you are a good indication of how close your hypothesis is to the truth.

    • Bayard

      To quote a wartime saying “when you start taking flak, you know that you are close to the target”.

  • Dom

    The very least they will do to deny Tory corruption
    is to pretend they know what happens in specific big pharma facilities, where types of deals are done, where bungs are handed over, etc.. Expect a fresh deluge from these authoritative correspondents.

  • Kempe

    If Cummings was so deeply involved in such dirty dealings you wonder how Boris dared fire him. When’s he going to blow the whistle on the deal or leak the details?

    • SA

      Boris was very reluctant to fire Cummings despite the damage it did to the policies of lockdown to the point of allowing Cummings to hold a press conference in no 10. He only fired him when his girlfriend had enough of him.

    • Stevie Boy

      Ha, you are under the mistaken assumption that Cummings was fired and that he is no longer involved in the ongoing corrupt gravy train – should have gone to Specsavers !
      Just like Ferguson and Sage, once stepped in this cesspool of corruption, you just can’t get rid of the stench.

      • DunGroanin

        Part of the narrative that Bozo is just a cheeky posh school boy and shouldn’t be responsible for the 200k excess deaths so far. The nudge to treat him like that schoolboy who has no aptitude for football but tears around pretending he is (insert name of a football great – preferably English, and not black obvs) so that everyone can say ‘ah bless he tries his best it’s not his fault that his team are letting down the side…

        The punters bought it. I hear it regularly on my WhatsApp groups which are representative.

        • Yossi

          “the 200k excess deaths so far.” Sounds like you’re one of those very punters.

          • DunGroanin

            Ain’t you quick on the trigger! Whatever your name today.

            Yup 200,000 and that’s only a year in!

          • DunGroanin

            So you are not disputing the protection of Bozo under the angle.
            You are not disputing there have been avoidable Excess Deaths.
            You want to argue about the exact numbers of unnecessary deaths?

            Just hang in there for a few more days.

            ‘ An annual death registrations dataset for 2020 will be extracted from the ONS deaths database in spring 2021 and will form the basis for ONS’s annual death registration figures.’

            When all that has been hidden is revealed.
            There have already been reports in some press which have admitted to the higher numbers.

          • Bayard

            Ok, according to those statistics, it’s “only” 70,000, not 200,000. That makes it OK then?

          • Yossi

            Depends what you mean by OK. I guess an x/s of 1 would not be OK particularly if you were that 1. I do however think it is important when trying to make a polemic point to get your figures right. Some people might think that pedantic but I think it is important.

          • DunGroanin

            Good Morning Yossi.
            For example,

            “ UK Covid deaths pass 150,000 milestone, analysis shows”


            I say when the MSM starts tacking away from their lies – which was aimed at minimising reported Covid Deaths through last year, by reporting the ‘government definition’ of Covid deaths, as being the ‘true number’ – they are doing so because they know they can’t hide it any longer. Having achieved the obfuscation and protected the genocide by the PM of the country against his own citizens.

            As a rule of thumb I compare us with Germany. It works on the daily and cumulative numbers of infections, it clearly shows the efficacy of timely quarantine and masks and it works on Covid deaths.

            I use the simple formula of 2.5 X German reported stats.

            The true numbers are only available via the ONS as they are independent of direct ministerial control – which does not mean they are independent of ‘influence’, which has been proved in various aspects of their ‘reports’ where their datasets/interpretation and analysis is clearly flawed by the base information they are provided by the Government departments. They are also influenced on how their data is presented and on the FOI requests they answer based on the dubious excuse of ‘expense’ of providing the answer. Hell just put up the full data sets and the various criteria and let us amateurs have our geeky fun – but that has been made very difficult with Covid.

            Fortunately for us tge ONS employs plenty of actual scientific people and statisticians. Hence when they do their final numbers on mortality based on amongst other criteria: dates of death not registration date; causes of death, including influenza types detected ; etc. The data will be in to prove to even a undergrad learning basic statistical analysis and bright A level students that the deaths due to Covid have always been higher than OUR government has admitted.

            If you had been following my comments through the year you will note that I haven’t just started focussing on this aspect.

            What perplexes me about your ‘objection’ is why you have picked a fight on that number alone? And you wilfully ignore the rest of my comment? Who or what are you attempting to defend by that?

          • Yossi


            I don’t take very much notice of MSM and certainly not the Guardian.

            There is no evidence that covid deaths are minimised by the MSM and possibly evidence of the opposite. Anyone who has been checking out the PCR protocol and reading reports from doctors who are asked to sign death certificates should look at the figures with a sceptical eye. Not sure why you choose Germany as a yardstick and no idea why you use the 2.5 multiplier.

            I agree that the true numbers are only available via the ONS. However I am more interested in x/s deaths as I think this gives a truer picture and their figure for end of March 2020 to end of January 2021 was about 70k.

            I have not been following your comments through the year and whether or not you have just started focussing on this aspect is of little interest to me. You appear to have a point to prove as evidenced by your reference to Bonzo and genocide. A lot of your comments seem to be aimed at him and his gang. I hold no brief for him and I have no time for him or Starmer. I have found that most politicians are corrupt and lie. I gave up getting involved in tribal arguments long ago. I am not picking a fight or defending anything. I have found that many people project their own feelings on to others. I am more interested in examining evidence and attempting to draw conclusions. True numbers for x/s mortality are part of the evidence.
            I have found that throughout the whole covid saga people came to conclusions quite early on and have been subject to confirmation bias ever since.
            My preliminary conclusions, which I will change if other facts emerge, are that : the virus is rather more virulent than annual flu and is particularly dangerous for old folks, those with co-morbidities, health workers and those subject to a large viral load, but not so for others; lockdown measures are ineffective and the “Focused Protection” protocol proposed by many non-Sage experts would have been much better; the long term economic effects of lockdown and the impact on other health and societal issues have largely been ignored and will have huge impacts; the government has made many mistakes and has been corrupt and lied as they always do – Starmer, or Davey, or Sturgeon or Mr X would have done no better.

          • Yossi

            Who the hell is Yosser? Oh you mean one of the blackstuff boys. Not me pal.
            Bonzo – I always think of the PM as Bonzo and his gang as the The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band. Yossi

          • Bayard

            “I do however think it is important when trying to make a polemic point to get your figures right. Some people might think that pedantic but I think it is important.”

            True, but in some cases, even the correct figure is alarming. The fact that an exaggeration is more alarming and wrong doesn’t lessen the alarm from the correct figure, though this is often asserted.

          • Johny Conspiranoid

            I’m having trouble following the report you’ve linked to because its very complicated. Could you point to the bit where it says how the figure which the 2020 mortality rate is in excess of is derived?

    • Dom

      Johnson is bulletproof when it comes to revelations of corruption no matter how blatant, Jennifer Acuri being just the latest reminder. It’s why the UK is taken so seriously when it boasts of its values.

    • Fwl

      I find Craig’s post too speculative and without enough strong supporting evidence. Also Glaxo have been underwhelming through this pandemic. It’s not as if they have been the vax star of 2020. I don’t think it is sensible to post like this and suggest Craig befriends a good media lawyer before publishing risky content. Find an intelligent junior barrister to give things the once over. I heard that Hedge funds spend a bigger % of their overheads on legal costs than other businesses (circa 13%) as they like to dance on the precipice – follow their good example.

  • Tony

    Craig this is desperate stuff.
    The only basis for your hypothesis is that Cummings was in the vicinity.
    Whilst I am sceptical of Cummings explanation, a more plausible scenario is that Cummings had advance knowledge from Cobra meetings attended it was predicted London NHS was about to be overrun. Thus he used this knowledge to his benefit.
    It would seem somewhat strange to conduct a secret meeting and announce to the world a few days later that he was working on vaccine procurement.

    • Scurra

      Correlation doesn’t imply causation; coincidence is far more likely to be, well, coincidence rather than conspiracy. It’s just that, from time to time, it really is conspiracy, which makes everything suspect and everyone far more prone to seeing patterns that aren’t there. And likewise, Occam’s Razor is generally the best approach.
      In this case, the simple explanation is that it appears that there really was a significant Cummings’ family event at the relevant time. Now, it is faintly possible that Cummings himself went to some clandestine meeting with GSK at Barnard Castle under cover of this family gathering but that would require an extra contortion of events. I don’t even especially buy the idea that Cummings just wanted to get out of London.
      However, everything he subsequently did, including editing his blog and not commenting on his wife’s clearly fabricated Spectator article and so on, means that it’s rather easy for the rest of us to ascribe other ulterior motives to the trip, and, at this point, there’s nothing he (or anyone else) can say that would persuade anyone…

      (Note: of course, that’s not to try and get Cummings off-the-hook as it were. He’s one of the few people in this country I disrespect more than our current PM, but I don’t necessarily assume that everything he does is part of some conspiracy. It’s more likely that he’s simply one of those people with the fatal weakness of being very intelligent but not very wise.)

      • Paul Short

        I’m afraid Occam’s Razor would indicate that though there could be several reasons for Cummings to have been in the BC area, a drug deal (because that is what it is, of course; just for legal drugs) would be the simplest, and “the simplest explanation is most likely to be the correct one” is the essence of Occam’s Razor.

        • Tony

          Simply what is the motive.
          The government asking GSK to partner in some vaccine development is not suspicious or extraordinary behaviour.
          The analogy with Ayanda is non existent. Ayanda with no track record on PPE was favoured over established companies with proven competency in the field.
          You can hardly say the same about GSK.
          GSK have done a number of deals with other pharma companies.
          I fail to see how the deal to switch vaccine production from GSK EU to BCastle is significant in this affair.
          Why not the GSK Safonic tie up announced 14 April 2020

      • DunGroanin

        Occams Razor is not necessary in the bare faced liars lies.
        There were WITNESSES.

        How else do you suppose the story got printed do you suppose?

      • George

        You mean lacking common sense. There are many individuals with similar characteristics in Westminster.

      • Bayard

        “In this case, the simple explanation is that it appears that there really was a significant Cummings’ family event at the relevant time. Now, it is faintly possible that Cummings himself went to some clandestine meeting with GSK at Barnard Castle under cover of this family gathering but that would require an extra contortion of events.”

        Does Barnard Castle hold some significance to Cummings’s family? If not, why does Cummings using a family event as a cover for a trip to Barnard Castle require any contortion of events? In any case the man himself said he’d only gone there to check if his eyesight was OK for driving.

  • Jane in France

    If GSK were fined 3 billion dollars for making false claims about medicines among other things, I hardly think we can trust them to have the health and welfare of the population at heart when it comes to producing vaccines. Attempts to develop a vaccine against SARS cov-1 were unsuccessful. There has never been a successful vaccine against a coronavirus. Look into it. There are cheap and effective treatments available for covid which governments in the pockets of Big Pharma do everything to discredit (you might have noticed that ivermectine is now going the way of hydroxychloroquine) because they want us to think that vaccines are the only way out of this mess. Curiously, even Craig seems to think this, despite his doubts about the integrity of GSK.

    • George

      The alternatives have no money in them. The vaccine route makes far more money for pharma. You need cash to pack into brown envelopes in Westminster.

      GSk changed their business strategy in 2014 and swapped assets with Novartis (Swiss company) vaccines for onacoloy products (cancer), GSK saw opportunities from governments to introduce mandatory vaccines especially the USA market.

      Also GSK were fined heavily in China because they were caught bribing Chinese doctors. The complete Chinese board were changed.

  • DunGroanin

    I guess Casablanca Captain Renaults meme gif is called for here.

    They seek him not there, that perfidious Pimpernel, Gammon Cummings.
    Has CM had a chance to look through his appearance before a committee last week where he claimed EVERYTHING was his idea that Bozo agreed to when he came begging for his help to run the country down, to his humble Hackney cave?

  • Goose

    His 260 mile , or ~500-mile round trip while supposedly ‘feeling very unwell himself and with unwell family’ made little sense at the time.

    He seemed to drop a pretty big hint in that press conference/confessional he did, the one powerful unelected official Sir Mark Sedwill authorised in No.10’s rose garden. Didn’t he mention doing vaccine deals and sorting out finance in the press Q&A after his statement?

  • CasualObserver

    Quite surprised that the BBC aired that proggy about the low professional standards encountered in a branch of the ‘Life Sciences’ that expanded by multiples of probably over a thousand in order to go from a capacity of hundreds of tests to literally millions in the space of a few months.

    Sensing a gradual change in the narrative.

    • CasualObserver

      Excellent point.

      Although if the passport/test idea was put up as a trial balloon, and judging by the reaction, its likely been put on the back burner.

  • El Dee

    Unjust enrichment, again. But our press are wilfully looking the other way and our ‘Leader of The Opposition’ is more of a Tory than Labour. If I was a Tory and wanted to plant one of my own in the Labour Party then Starmer would be my dream come true. His elevation has been unnaturally quick and he is the darling of all the right people who seems to be made of Teflon..

    • Bramble

      And, lets be honest, the voters don’t care. They got Brexit, the government is going to give protestors and immigrants a hard time, and really, what’s wrong with taking every opportunity to get rich quick, however dishonest? That is how the cookie crumbles in post Thatcher England.

  • Rhys Jaggar

    ‘Surely a big company like GSK would not be involved in backhanders?’

    Well, there was a Wellcome Trust grant scheme called ‘Seeding Drug Discovery’ about 15 years ago.

    Those close to the action sardonically called it ‘Seeding GSK’s Drug Discovery Programmes’, as original proposals submitted by academic Professors (based on two decades of their work) miraculously transmogrified into priority one programmes at GSK rather too quickly after grant proposal submissions went in (amongst the ‘reviewers’ were GSK worthies….)

    GSK has a sophisticated set of tools for backhanders and brown envelopes are perhaps the least common…..

  • Ken Garoo

    Deal with the Devil

    Israel is frequently described in the media as leading the ‘vaccination race’. It turns out that the Israeli government signed a deal with Pfizer in which the ‘vaccine’ (are drugs allowed to self-identify as vaccines?) was provided in exchange for comprehensive epidemiological data about the people being drugged. The released redacted agreement hints that a certain proportion of the population has to be ‘vaccinated’ within a given timeframe (details redacted of course).

    I wonder if the UK government has signed a similar deal. In a rare moment off script, Johnson remarked that the UK ‘vaccine’ success was down to ‘capitalism’ and ‘greed’.

    • George

      Also the ceo of Pfizer was not allowed into Israel last month because he had not taken his own vaccine.

      What does that tell you.

  • Stevie Boy

    Follow the money. For example, very roughly:
    Vaccinate Seven Billion people at 25 Pounds a pop is £175 Billion per year for as long as the fiasco can be maintained.
    Then there’s all the associated stuff which will soak up, at least, 10 times that amount.
    This is a great, once in a lifetime, opportunity for the corrupt. Note their names.

  • Fwl

    There is much to commend private enterprise and capitalism but it is not necessarily the case that it is appropriate for all sectors and one sector that stands out for review is that of drug research and production. Some may say that nationalised industries tend toward bureaucratic inertia, but that is not always the case and Cuba for example has a good reputation in drug research (although if you say that in a Florida bar you might get an earful about doctors’ wages in Cuba) etc. How about a national drug research and manufacturing institute. A national institute could complement rather than compete with private entities and if the private entities prefer to research high reward diseases then they might be required to pay towards national research of less rewarding drugs and or to manufacture certain drugs at cost or a restricted profit element.

  • Goose

    Even if the corruption is as bad as on the face of it appears it could be, the UK doesn’t have the mechanisms or procedural infrastructure to hold anyone to account.

    Earlier this very month a court order appeared to show Boris Johnson misled parliament over the publication of coronavirus contracts. This came hot on the heels of a High Court judge finding Matt Hancock had acted unlawfully by handing out contracts without publishing details in a timely way. In the UK the posh boy Tories can do whatever they like with impunity. And with an establishment lackey/errand boy running the opposition, it’s not even going to be mentioned.

    We have a system built on the supposed integrity and honour of high office holders, in an age where ministers won’t resign unless forced to and know no shame.

  • david

    It’s not just the Tories though is it?

    Labour and PFI
    Gordon Brown giving all our money to banks he is now an executive of
    The SNP jailing journalists ( or about too )

    It’s been going on forever, no matter which political class is in power. Social media and instant communication makes it harder to cover up in the modern era.

    That of course doesn’t make any of it right. If someone is a politician they should be immediately distrusted, no matter who they are or who they “claim” to represent. Keeping people in their place has been the ruling elites main ambition since… well since for ever !

  • mark golding

    The disasterous Test & Trace programme with a staggering £37bn budget is dominated by sitting Conservative Peer, wife of Tory minister John Penrose ( Anti-Corruption Champion ), friend of former Prime Minister David Cameron, Diana Harding. This sits well in a ‘chumocracy’ with Chair of the Vaccine Taskforce, Kate Bingham, wife of Tory MP and Treasury Minister, Jesse Norman and cousin by marriage of Rachel Johnson. Norman I recall personally endorsed the retrospective 2019 Loan Charge despite there being seven confirmed suicides linked to the charge, including one in which he was named.

    It’s hard to put it better than the Commissioner for Public Appointments who wrote, ‘some at the centre of government want not only to have the final say but to tilt the competition system in their favour to appoint their allies…’

    Bob’s your uncle and English nepotism rules OK?

  • ET

    Honeyman Group company history from their website.

    “Trevor Honeyman, the founder and chairman of the Honeyman Group, has spent all of his professional life in the pharmaceutical industry, initially spending 17 years with GSK.”

    They started with developing pure water systems for use in pharmaceutical manufacture and have extended into other areas such as training and compliance. Their latest pure water system “for systems to be adaptable to meet changing production requirements and rapid deployment, without the typical high operational costs that are typically associated with system modifications.”

    “The Honeyman Group’s modular systems, customisable through instrumentation, are ideal for loop extensions, rapid deployment of new facilities or upgrade replacements. “

    The modularity and rapid deployment capabilities were probably vital to rapid development of vaccines and rapid scaling of manufacturing capability.

    They also offer testing for SARS-Cov-2 with a rapid turn around time of 24 hours. They offered Cummings a free antibody test at the time:
    At that time their antibody testing which included IG-M as well as IG-G testing was not approved by UK. IG-M testing offers earlier detection as IG-M antibodies are the first antibodies your immune system makes in response to any new antigen that you haven’t encountered before.
    I guess what Honeyman Group specialises in helped GSK to rapidly develop and scale up production and would have been integral to the process.

  • Republicofscotland

    Vindication for you Craig, your acute acumen on certain matters knows no bounds.

  • Tom74

    Well, maybe Barnard Castle was a large shed this time last year and GSK/Johnson have since colluded in a bit of a cover-up? In any case, it’s the whole ‘scandal’ was always chickenfeed compared to the wider scam.

  • Ewan

    This from PRIVATE EYE – July 2015 0 column by ‘MD’

    ‘ Will patients be harmed by the governments relentless drive for more efficiency savings in the NHS.
    Former health minister Norman Lamb believes the proposed £22bn savings by 2020 are ‘almost impossible’ ‘

    I don’t know if the efficiency drive went into operation , saving 22bn by 2020, but it is quite a coincidental date.

    If the pharmaceutical companies are prepared to defraud the NHS, couldn’t the various vaccines not fall into this category?

    • Stevie Boy

      In October 2016, Exercise Cygnus, a three-day simulation exercise, was carried out by NHS England to estimate the impact of a hypothetical H2N2 influenza pandemic on the United Kingdom.
      This exercise highlighted that the NHS was unprepared and needed extra funding for staff, PPE and ventilators – amongst others.
      The (Tory) Government Gove, Hunt, et al ignored this advice.

  • Stevie Boy

    Let’s remember the MO for producing most of these vaccines.
    The basic research and development is mainly carried out by publicly funded bodies, like universities and government labs. Commercial Pharma companies then jump in to form partnerships.
    The patents for the vaccines is then bought up by the Pharma companies who then produce the vaccines to the publicly funded patent that they now own.
    The Pharma companies then get to charge whatever they want because they own the patent – the standard excuse for high prices is to recoup the R&D costs, that were actually funded by the public purse !
    This is not accidental, or the result of incompetence, it is a politically negotiated and approved process that keeps the revolving door oiled.
    So remember, when you pay £200 at Boots for an Oxford-AstraZeneca jab that you have already contributed to the development of that jab and that the majority of the money is going straight into some fat cats coffers.

      • DunGroanin

        No profit? Is there an independent audit of the costs they incur?
        No profit? Even from their exports?

        The Chinese /Russian ones have values attached to them , low as they are.
        By June China is expecting to be making 10 million per day. And have 60% vaccinated. They are also ready to make boosters for variants.

        The later part of the year will see plenty available for the RoW.

        I’ll be ordering mine on AliBaba.

      • David

        AstraZenica are AZ, not GSK. They have in any case been well rewarded by being allowed to market these drugs without testing. So much easier next time. Any profits they do make will, for the duration, be passed to Vaccitech, who are owned by the usual suspects

      • Piotr+Berman

        AstraZeneca may be delivering vaccine “at cost”, but all Western vaccine makers insists on non-disclosure of their deals with the governments, so the actual charges are not known, and so are details about delivery schedules and so on. But as we all know, a press release is more reliable than a Bible (perhaps true, archaeologists have a lot of trouble with Biblical claims, and geologists do not even try).

    • ET

      In fairness to Oxford/Astrazeneca they have stated that they will provide their vaccine at cost both during and after the pandemic. The other manufacturers have not made such a committment.

      “Pfizer told their investors recently that as soon as next year [when booster vaccinations will be required] they’re going to be moving away from “pandemic pricing” and towards price points that are on par with other vaccines that they have on the market, at $150 or $175 per dose,” says Ramachandran. “When insurance companies have to shoulder this cost, they’re going to pass it down to us through our insurance premiums.”

  • John O'Dowd

    Its not just the English Tory government that is involved in corporate corruption. Sadly, the SNP has been giving away public resources in the form of university-generated intellectual property – to some of the very same companies (at their behest) involved in vaccine production, notably GSK and Astra-Zeneca, among many more.

    This was one of Mike Russell (now SNP President) when he was Education Secretary in Nicola Sturgeon’s government – as I reported in Bella Caledonia:

    ‘”In 2011 SFC announced an increase in teaching and research funding for Scottish Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in return for support for the “Easy Access IP” (EZIP) initiative for universities and industry “to share intellectual property”. Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong learning, Mike Russell, hailed this “voluntary agreement” “strengthening the links between Scotland’s businesses and universities” as “key to this Government’s ambitions for Scotland”.’

    This arrangement represents a direct giveaway from public funds to some of the richest – and as Craig reports here – some of the most corrupt companies on the planet. Whether bribery was involved in this, I cannot say. But of course, the other form of corrupt subvention to these companies is the ease with which they are allowed to avoid paying their social dues (e.g. for the cost of educating their scientists and managers) by virtue of the corrupt off-shore tax arrangement in which the UK is among the biggest enablers. These ‘banking’ systems are naturally run by, and for the benefit of Boris’s Old Etonian and Oxbridge chums, who like Dido Harding, are able to milk this corrupt system.

    Naturally, GSK is a major beneficiary:

    GSK “has a long history of tax avoiding, on transfer pricing and of using of tax havens” see here:

    “GlaxoSmithKline still can’t get its tax right. The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is now challenging it concerning the period from 2001 to 2003. The dispute is over inter-company financing arrangements. Call that transfer pricing by any other name. GSK, of course disputes the claim. But let’s recall, this is the company that has already settled $3.4 billion over transfer pricing issues with the IRS in 2006 (the biggest tax settlement ever), and remains in conflict with HM Revenue & Customs on the same issue for all periods since 1994.”

    And again here:

    “GlaxoSmithKline PLC is embroiled in a potential $1.9 billion court battle with the Internal Revenue Service, which says the drug maker owes back taxes, interest and penalties stemming from tax deductions Glaxo generated essentially by making payments to itself…The company claims deductions on its U.S. tax return, but no money ultimately leaves the parent company’s coffers, and publicly reported profit is unchanged.”

    But neither is Astra-Zeneca left behind:


    “AstraZeneca has settled a long-running tax dispute in a deal which sees HM Revenue & Customs refund tax payments that will now go to America instead”.

    “The pharmaceutical company announced on Monday morning that US and UK tax authorities have reached an agreement over where it declares certain profits. The dispute over so-called “transfer pricing” dates back to 2002, and was the most significant of AstraZeneca’s ongoing arguments with tax authorities. Under the agreement, AstraZeneca will pay out a total of $1.1bn (£689m) in taxes, substantially less than it had budgeted for. This means the company can unlock some of its outstanding tax provisions, increasing its earnings this year by $500m and raising its profit targets by almost 7%.

    Its effective tax rate will also be slashed from 27% to 21%.”

    And these are just some examples about which we know – most go un-detected.

    Governments are now blatantly in the pockets of corporations – and as Craig states – no longer seek even to hide the fact.

    We know this because the go to great lengths to escape discovery:

    “Jack Winder spent 30 years with the (Economic) League – which kept files on people it considered subversives on behalf of corporations. He told MPs on the Scottish Affairs Select Committee that he and a colleague, Stan Hardy, set up Caprim “to warn companies about threats to their well-being”. He said: ‘Mr Winder said they targeted campaigners against the defence, pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries’. He named GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Rhone-Poulenc, Zeneca, Monsanto, Rio Tinto, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley as among Caprim’s clients. He denied any links with the security services though he admitted that he regularly met Special Branch officers while with the League.”

    “Thus what can be said for sure about the companies who successfully lobbied the Scottish Government for EZIP, as a condition of grant for Scottish universities, is that among their number are corporations that actively avoid paying due taxes, spend huge amounts of money on influencing politicians and bureaucrats to give them favourable policies, and actively spy on and blacklist citizens who try to exercise their democratic and legal rights to influence the politicians who nominally represent them as electors in the only legal ways open to them. Clearly, one method seems to be infinitely more effective than the other.”

    So we mustn’t be too hard on Boris when there is such clear evidence that the very (and increasingly) neoliberal SNP is dancing to the same tunes – only perhaps a little more quietly!

  • Kempe

    Boris and his mates have made no attempt to cover up other shady, corrupt deals; why this one?

    At the time of his visit vaccines against Covid were barely a concept. A bit early for GSK to commit to making something they knew nothing about.

    There was no reason for Cummings to have made a visit in person to GSK’s plant at Barnard Castle to set up such a deal. It could’ve been done over the ‘phone or in an hotel room. There would’ve been no point in him inspecting the facilities there, he’s a history graduate so very unlikely that he would’ve fully understood what he was looking at.

    The day he visited was 12th April, not only a Sunday but Easter Day too so the plant would most likely have been closed. An ideal time you might think except that any visitors would’ve drawn attention.

    There is no hard evidence Cummings visited GSK or Honeyman. The fact that he was in Barnards Castle is not sufficient in itself. The presence of the Chuckleski Brothers in Salisbury is not accepted by many people on here as evidence that they were involved in the Skripals’ poisoning so why different standards for Cummings?

    Expressing a different opinion is not ‘trolling’. It’s called free speech.

    • Stevie Boy

      Apologies if I missed it but I cannot find anyone in this comments thread who have accused you of ‘trolling’.
      Opinions given are targets for discussion and disagreement, that’s how it works. Your free speech is not being abused is it ?

    • Bayard

      “There was no reason for Cummings to have made a visit in person to GSK’s plant at Barnard Castle to set up such a deal. It could’ve been done over the ‘phone or in an hotel room. “

      That goes for about 90% of all the meetings held in this country, as COVID and working from home has demonstrated. The truth is, people like to be in the same room as the people they are talking to and will go to great lengths to make that happen, nor, I sense, does DC particularly care whether the likes of Craig thinks he did something dodgy while he was at Barnard Castle. In any case, why was he there? unless you believe it was just a handy local beauty spot he could drive to to test his eyesight.

      • Georg

        It’s best to do face to face meetings, even if you go for a walk round the park. Telephone calls can be tapped along with email. So that is the best way to avoid being tapped.

  • Sam

    Oh, I think it was even more sinister than what we know so far.

    Couple things to remember – the 2 or 3-week “lockdown to save the NHS” was supposed to expire in mid-April, and that a) no coronavirus vaccine had ever been created EVER and b) the world speed record at that time for developing and deploying a vaccine was 5 years (Ebola).

    I do believe that Cummings told GSK to ramp up for production in March 2020, and that he did it based on AT LEAST a five-year timeline of guaranteed income for GSK from the UK government. Don’t look at GSK’s current stock price or what Cummings is doing now – see what they’re up to in 2025.

    • CasualObserver

      Five year guaranteed timeline ?

      One would have to infer that if such a timeline were expected, then there would be foreknowledge of repeated rounds of vaccination programs ? Meaning that it is expected that there will be a sustained period of the virus escaping the vaccines.

      Or are you thinking of the time it will maybe take to produce enough vaccine to inoculate the less developed world ?

    • George

      Cummings does not need to tell gsk. The more reliable person is Patrick Vallance who has a seat at the table. He is ex GSK r & d director. He is also chief scientific officer.

  • M.J.

    Another good reason not to vote Tory. Maybe someone should write a book about Tory corruption just before the next general election. Someone with the talent needed to write stuff like “Murder in Samarkand”, maybe.

    • Goose

      Read the Telegraph comments and you’ll see that’s a a forlorn hope. In their eyes, the Tories and Johnson can do no wrong. Everything is somehow the left’s fault, this despite the inconvenient fact ‘the UK left’ has wielded any significant power in the last 40 years.

      English Shire hardcoded Tory voting automatons, people who don’t care for evidence of corruption, incompetence, or for democratic choice. And for whom a fascistic one-party state would suit just fine. The only way to escape these deluded morons is Scottish independence.

    • Bayard

      MJ, the problem is that exposing Tory corruption will just make Tory voters want a better Tory party to vote for, it won’t make them abstain from voting or vote for another party. It’s like when a friend complains to you about their boy/girlfriend and you say “Well just leave them, then” and it’s the Wrong Answer. What they want is for you to come up with the magic solution that will turn the errant boy/girlfriend into the perfect person that your friend always thought they could be.

      • M.J.

        You just reminded me of a satirical film “I’m all right, Jack” made in the 60s, which was pulled just before a past general election, because it would have been seen as biased. Maybe a satire about Tory corruption might do it?

  • GM

    In reply to Rhys Jagger @13:20

    About 35 years ago I was part of a research group working on novel substances that were seen as possible drug targets (though our only interest was in doing the research).

    We were approach by a large US Pharma company (lets call it UpYou) who promised the earth and suggested we become the extramural UpYou Centre for XXXXX research (or some such).

    Each strand of the group duly submitted detailed summaries of their research and proposals based on their findings – creating a large potential portfolio (with non-disclosure agreements all duly signed off). They were ‘most impressed’ and stated that they wished to enter into a joint research programme with us.

    Our group leader – a very distinguished professor – consequently went out at their invitation to their head office in the US – ostensibly to sign-off on the collaboration, only to be told when he arrived and was kept waiting outside the boardroom, that there had been a ‘boardroom coup’, and that the research director had been replaced and they were no longer interested.

    Over the years we became aware of new drug candidates that bore remarkable similarities to the candidates suggested by our group’s research.

    When this matter was raised with them, their response was to the effect that if we thought they’d nicked our intellectual property, we were free to sue them in the states – we’d only need a spare tens of $millions to take them to court.

    I did my utmost never to work with Pharma again – and indeed to undermine their activities in my university at every opportunity. Publish don’t patent! Publish to undermine their patents!

    They are all crooks – all Big Pharma – and our governments are in their pockets.

    • GM

      As a small post-script – I retold this story as a warning to colleagues at a conference trying to persuade scientists to get on the tech-transfer band wagon a few years later, and the GSK guy there, whose job was to trawl and plunder UK university intellectual property for GSK – a truly obnoxious individual – went utterly bananas – demanding that the chair silence me – almost threatening violence.

      Never seen a guy go so purple. Reinforced my point somewhat !

    • Goose

      Big Pharma is definitely a ruthless and unethical business. But aren’t all big corporations ‘evil’ to some extent, where profit and shareholders become everything?

      I watched Dark Waters (2019) the other night, the film about environmental attorney Rob Bilott’s battle with chemical company DuPont over water contamination in West Virginia. Disturbing, to put it mildly.

      It’s on Prime currently I think. Everyone should watch it.

      • Bayard

        “But aren’t all big corporations ‘evil’ to some extent, where profit and shareholders become everything?”

        You’re forgetting senior management, for whose benefit most large organisations are run. Corporations are only run for the benefit of the shareholder, by and large, because so often senior management are large shareholders.

      • George

        I thought Julia Robert’s movie Erin Brockovich was very good. Similar topic, would recommend viewing.

    • mark golding

      And we blame China for stealing intellectual property costing $hundreds of billions a year. Mind you the same was said about Japan going back 50 years.

    • DunGroanin

      The only thing to do with gangsters like these is to name them in a truthful statement of facts.
      Without accusing them of anything but pointing out the coincidental timing of their products following them ‘collecting’ such research.

      When they are named and as other institutions catch on, there may well be National Governments who will follow up against companies, individuals AND their families as the current tit for tat actions by China show.

  • Jennifer Allan

    From The Good Law Project, presently attempting to hold the Westminster Government to account for awarding contracts without adhering to proper competition procedures. They are open to donations from the public:-

    “We are pleased to announce that our judicial review with Runnymede of the Government’s practice of handing public sector jobs to its mates without open recruitment has been granted permission. We will have our day in Court.
    The story we tell ourselves is that these things don’t happen here. That the handing out of important roles to friends, without competition, is something for abroad. But the pandemic has exposed that as a fairytale. In the real world, we are now a “chumocracy” where having the right friends matters as much or more than having the right skills.
    “All citizens are likely to have an interest in whether or not the procurement on the part of the Government is done using good governance procedures and integrity. And therefore there is a real wider public interest that has been represented by the claimant group”.
    These are not our words. They are those of the Judge in our Cost Capping Hearing in the challenge against PPE contracts awarded without competition to Ayanda, Pestfix and Clandeboye.
    So you can imagine our surprise when we received another letter from Government refusing to agree a cost cap in our case over the Hanbury contract. That letter seeks to revivify the argument that these are not “public interest proceedings.” Government estimates its costs to be £450k – half the value of the Hanbury contract – for a one day case.”
    It has become all too easy for Governments of all political persuasions to use endless amounts of taxpayers’ money to crush unfunded public dissent.

    • Bayard

      “So you can imagine our surprise when we received another letter from Government refusing to agree a cost cap in our case over the Hanbury contract.”

      I’d imagine your surprise was non-existent. As Mandy Rice-Davies put it, “they would say that, wouldn’t they?”

  • Jennifer Allan

    At the time Dominic Cummings was ‘testing his eyesight’, the GSK plant at Barnard Castle was producing the adjuvant for the French Sanofi Covid Vaccine. There have been major efficacy issues with the Sanofi vaccine, delaying any public roll out until at least the end of 2021.The US Novovax Covid vaccine was originally to be produced in Billingham, but this was recently changed to the Barnard Castle plant. GSK is to produce the vaccine under licence.
    The vaccine trials seem to have produced good safety and efficacy results, and the vaccine manufacture does not use mRNA instructions direct to cells. Instead the spike protein is produced externally. I am considering vaccination with this vaccine when it becomes available.

    • ET

      The Novarax vaccine is being made by Fujifilm in Billingham and possibly other of their facilities. GSK is going to take that and put it into vials for them otherwise it might have had to be transported to Germany for “bottling.” Given the current spat with the EU I guess UK GOV didn’t want to take the chance the EU might block it’s then re-export back to UK. It also gives them the chance to big up themselves and the UK. I don’t have a problem with a UK government bigging up UK manufacturing capability, in fact, that’s what they should be doing.
      GSK’s capacity to be able to bottle it for Novarax partly comes from the fact that their partnership with Sanofi didn’t work out and they have spare capacity.
      Btw, the AZ vaccine isn’t an mRNA vaccine either and uses a vector adenovirus.

    • Goose

      @Jennifer Allan


      Presumably you’re not in UK, where there isn’t a choice?

      The news tonight about more young people in Germany and Canada having deadly reactions to O-AZ are concerning. There seems to be a UK news blackout on this, with BBC, ITV and Ch4 all avoiding the subject of it being maybe temporarily? suspended in those countries. mRNA vaccines developed by Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech should inherently carry less risk of such adverse reaction.

      • Jennifer Allan

        Goose – I live in Scotland. I was offered the Oxford/Astrazeneca Covid vaccine and refused it. I was not happy with the experimental mRNA technology, vectored by a chimpanzee adenovirus. The recent admission this can cause bloodclots in some cases, told me I had made the right decision. I have not yet properly researched the Novovax Covid vaccine. Like I said ‘considering’.

        • Kempe

          The reports mention the blood clots as being ‘rare’. Blood clots generally are frighteningly common, 1 or 2 per 1,000.

          The AstraZeneca vaccine does not use mRNA. It’s a straightforward vaccine. I had my first shot on 1st February (no side effects) and booked into for my second tomorrow (yeah I know, it’s 1st April). I’ll let you know how I get on but I reckon I’ve a greater risk of death or serious injury during the drive to and from the health centre.

          • Jennifer Allan

            Kempe – I’m talking personally. My own medical history makes it unwise for me to take any medication which might increase the risk of bloodclots. The official advice in the UK is to seek medical help if a post vaccine headache persists for several days. That could be too late. In Germany, several instances of bloodclots in younger persons has halted the rollout of the Astrazeneca vaccine. Several other countries are also being cautious.
            I am not an ‘anti-vaxxer’, but vaccines, in common with every other medication, can have potentially dangerous side effects. It is very wrong to promote Covid vaccines in the same way as advertising new types of detergent. In the US, where several fatal cases of anaphylaxis have been linked with the Pfizer Covid vaccine, persons with a history of serious allergic reactions have been advised to take another vaccine instead. It would be nice if our UK Governments would issue similar Astrazeneca vaccine warnings for persons who have a history of bloodclots, certain types of migraines, or heart rhythm abnormalities. There are newer, said to be safer, Covid 19 vaccines in the pipeline, and it seems our UK Government is intending to administer these to younger persons when they become available. Remaining UK stocks of the AstraZeneca vaccine, (Europe is preventing orders from being imported), will be used to administer second doses of this vaccine.

          • Goose

            Kempe is correct:

            The mRNA vaccines are the ones developed by Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech, they’re less stable, hence require the ultra-low temperature storage. These mRNA vaccines carry the genetic blueprints for making antigens which prime the immune system. The older technology used for AstraZeneca vaccine puts the body straight into fight mode hence the risk of minor sides like headaches, or worst case, some of the more serious adverse reactions.

          • ET

            The “blood clots” that are concerning Canada and certain German states are cerebral venous sinus thromboses which are indeed rare. That’s not to say that DVT’s and Pulmonary Emboli are not concerning as they can also be life threatening and are more common.
            The AZ vaccine introduces DNA coding for the spike protein into the cell’s nucleus which is then converted there into mRNA and after that passes out of the nucleus into the cell then into spike protein by cellular apparatus.

          • Goose


            People with multiple allergies (to foods and medicines) should maybe wait. The risk of adverse sides is small, winning the lottery small, but for healthy people under 50 for whom the virus itself may be perfectly survivable ,you can understand why some wouldn’t want to take a risk.

            If someone isn’t an anti-vaxxer and simply wants the mRNA vaccine because of better efficacy and fears over adverse sides, I think that’s a perfectly reasonable position to take and GPs should be allowed more freedom.

            The question is do the govt want the young vaccinated or not? No point digging their heels in over O-AZ.

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