Straw Man

Jack Straw and the Rule of Law

You would expect Jack Straw as “Justice Minister” to support the rule of law. But not only has he personally just flagrantly breached the criminal law on treating in elections, he has supported the astonishing idea that troops serving in Afghanistan should be exempt from law while off duty in the UK.

A soldier from his Blackburn constituency was caught doing 143mph – yes, 143 mph – on the motorway. The judge let hom off because he was a soldier shortly to return to Afghanistan.

Minister of Justice Jack Straw commented:

“It seems to me that the judge has shown appropriate mercy for someone risking his life for the rest of us.”

Anyone driving at 143mph on the public highway is a real threat to kill members of the public. So the Justice Minster believes soldiers should be exempt from such laws? What else will the principle be extended to? Rape? “Yes, he raped her, but he is doing important work protecting the nation in Afghanistan”.

Straw is an absolute disgrace.

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The Deeply Horrible Trevor Phillips and the NUS Monster Spawn

Trevor Phillips, New Labour hack to perfection, is Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission – and his re-appointment has caused nearly half of the commissioners to leave.

At a time when human rights in the UK have come under sustained attack, with the effective extinction of habeas corpus, extraordinarily intrusive “Anti-terrorism Acts”, and growth of the surveillance society, Phillips has ensured the Equality and Human Rights Commission has remained absolutely silent on these issues.

Nor have they said a word about the now overwhelming evidence of UK collusion in torture abroad. When Islamophobia was at its height, and Jack Straw chose to make a populist attack on veiled Muslim women, Phillips waded in to back his long term political ally. He has been entirely silent on, but privately is a strong supporter of, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Phillips is one of that extraordinary roll of former Presdents of the National Union of Students. As members of the far left, they showed an authoritarianism and disregard for democracy in their student days which has stood them in good stead as leaders, cheerleaders and administrators of New Labour’s authoritarian and aggressive right wing state. They are all ruthless careerists, and also fervently anti-Palestinian.

Jack Straw, Trevor Phillips, Charles Clarke, David Aaronovitch, Sue Slipman, all ex-NUS Presidents – a roll-call of shame indeed. Some on the left are surprised that my CV includes being a leader of the succesful movement to bring Scottish universities out of the NUS in the 1970s and 1980s. I rest my case.

(I knew Mike Phillips, Trevor’s brother, slightly and once had dinner at his home. A lovely man).

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Corruption Condoned: Lord Taylor’s Risible Punishment

Anybody who doubts the deep, deep corruption of our parliament need only refer to the laughably light punishment given to Lord Taylor of Blackburn. He was caught red-handed offering to get legislation changed for money. He went into detail on his methodology.

He then, with typical New Labour arrogance, brought upon himself official criticism for the “Disdain” he showed the investigation.

His disdain was justified. They couldn’t touch him, and they didn’t. A measly one year’s suspension? Bollocks!!

Nobody outside the inane village of Westminster will think that a year’s suspension is sufficient. A year in prison would not be sufficient.

Lord Scumbag has been peddling influence for cash for decades. He has been the highest paid parliamentary “Lobbyist” for the defence industry. This site wes detailing it for two years before the Sunday Times’ investigation.

The modus operandus of this government, again and again, is to institute an inquiry into a scandal, with terms of reference so limited as to pre-determine the outcome. Sleazebag criminal Taylor has only been invesitgated for his willingness to go along with the Sunday Times’ fake scam.

Nobody has asked the vastly more important questions.

What did scumbag crook Taylor do for the very real millions of pounds he trousered for all those consultancies and directorships in the Defence industry since New Labour came to power?

Which of the methodologies he outlined to the disguised Sunday Times reporter did he actually use on behalf of his real defence and security clients?

Why was it worth the while of the defence and security agencies to employ this retired expert in the theory of primary school education?

How much of the influence he was peddling was actually his partner Jack Straw’s influence? How much of the proceeds did Jack Straw see apart from the admitted payment by Lord Taylor of his election expenses and by companies of hospitality events in his constituency?

We have only scratched the surface of this scandal so far.

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BBC Backs Blears

An earnest BBC political correspondent has just assured the nation on BBC News that it was “Totally above board” for Hazel Blears to describe the same property as her second home to the Commons authorities to claim allowances, yet to the Inland Revenue as her main home to avoid Capital Gains Tax.

Doubtless this line was dictated by NuLab harridan and BBC Head of News and Current Affairs Helen Boaden. It is bad enough to have the sickening “Within the rules” mantra repeated ad nauseam by NuLab crooks. To have the BBC propaganda machine spewing out the same vomit as fact is not acceptable.

Blears is a fraudster, pure and simple.

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Jack Straw, Impresario of Torture, Lurks Towards No. 10

Having studied Jack Straw, from closer or further away, over a period of some years now, I have come to the conclusion that he is a simple careerist who believes in nothing other than personal advancement – and so is perhaps the perfect embodiment of New Labour. There are consistencies in his record – such as his close support of British Aerospace over many years, including at key moments over Hawk jets to Indonesia and the burial of the Saudi bribes investigation. But that relates simply to personal interest and the need to fund that Cotswolds mansion.

It was Straw who oversaw the noxious “Dirty Dossier” on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction and travelled to the Security Council to tell lie after lie, to help precipitate the invasion and cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands. He was centre stage then. But usually, like an impresario, he is behind the stage making things happen.

While I was British Ambassador, I was officially informed in a high level meeting in the FCO on 7 March 2003, that it was Jack Straw who instructed Sir Richard Dearlove, Head of MI6, that in the “War on Terror” we should use intelligence obtained by torture by foreign intelligence agencies. It was Jack Straw who arranged the framework for extraordinary rendition torture flights. And it was Jack Straw who repeatedly lied about both of these to the House Of Commons.

That capacity for duplicity is in full use again now. At least three Labour MPs, with apparent access to all the dark facilities of the Whips’ office, are canvassing their colleagues for Straw to “Quietly” replace Brown as Prime Minister, and are taking care to use the formula: “Of course, Jack doesn’t know anything about this and you mustn’t mention it to him.” That is even more transparent than most of Straw’s lies.

If Brown has any balls, he’ll drop the slimy one in an Autumn reshuffle. But then Brown’s balls have repeatedly been shown to be miniscule, ever since Granita.

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Jack Straw Should Be In Jail

Click to enlarge

…for starting an illegal war of aggression. But bringing justice to Bush, Blair and their criminal crew will be an uphill struggle. In the meantime we had Jack Straw bang to rights on a lesser – but still serious – crime.

On 24 April 2005, in an election rally in Jack Straw’s Blackburn Constituency, over one hundred Blackburn electors were given a full free meal by the Labour party, with Jack Straw present, having just made an election speech to the lucky partakers of this generosity.

Every reader involved in electoral politics will know that this is a criminal offence under the Representation of the People Act, formally known as “Treating” – the provision of free food and drink to electors in an attempt to influence their vote. Conviction leads to forfeiture of the election, banning from public office and a prison sentence of up to two years.

It is also an offence of strict liability – a candidate is liable even if it was organised by someone else on his behalf. A candidate is viewed in law as responsible for his campaign. But in this instance, Jack Straw was actually present.

There was no shortage of witnesses – protestors were ringing the hall. The police were actually providing protection for this criminal event, and showed no interest in the fact that the proceeding was illegal. Jack Straw runs Blackburn as a personal fiefdom.

I therefore went to a police station and made a formal complaint. This obliged the police to investigate, and to do them justice, the detectives of Lancashire Police did a very good job, establishing the facts of the incident. They then sent a file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The Crown Prosecution Service returned the file to Lancashire Police, saying that the offence was “Trivial” and there would be no prosecution. As this was one of the worst examples of large scale electoral treating since it was made a criminal offence in 1832, presumably this means the CPS has decided that the law on treating has fallen into desuetude, and candidates may now provide food and drink to electors.

Or only New Labour ministers?

I am not expecting any brave decisions by the CPS in the Cash for Honours scandal.

The copy of the invite above is from a rather tatty photocopy I was given. But I have seen an original, and the copy is genuine.

See also: Straw accused of currying favour

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Pinochet takes his crimes to the grave

There is no reason to celebrate his death because he got away with it, writes Marisol Grandon in The First Post

So El Viejo is gone. I always imagined I’d jump up to celebrate this moment like the well-meaning Swedish hippies who make merry at General Franco’s death in Lukas Moodysson’s film Together. Try as I might, I can’t enjoy it.

Pinochet was a ruthless, unrepentant dictator who got away with murder. Because he was protected from standing trial to the bitter end, there is nothing to celebrate.

My father is a Chilean political refugee. He fled the country after the military coup in 1973. After years of half-stories too painful to recount fully, last night he finally put a figure on the losses he suffered – 16 of his friends and colleagues disappeared, no doubt tortured and killed by Pinochet’s guard. The location of their bodies is still unknown today.

That’s why exiles, survivors and families left behind will not see Pinochet’s death as a triumph, nor the conclusion of their suffering. A former political prisoner, Carlos Munoz, last night told me flatly that too many things have gone unanswered, and that all he wants now is for the commission investigating the crimes of the regime to continue.

This sentiment was echoed by the exiled Chilean novelist, Isabel Allende, who also remarked that “Pinochet will go down in history alongside Caligula and Idi Amin as a by-word for brutality and ignorance”.

While Margaret Thatcher proclaims her great sadness on the death of her friend and the Labour government studiously “notes” his passing, I can’t help wondering how Jack Straw is feeling.

When Pinochet visited Britain in 1998, Spain wanted to extradite him to face charges concerning the disappearance of Spaniards in Chile. Straw, then Home Secretary, squandered a real opportunity for due process, justice and reparation on the grounds of the General’s ill-health.

Pinochet left London in a wheelchair, yet found his legs shortly after arriving in Chile.

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US military honoured in secret by Britian

From The Observer

The government has been secretly awarding honours to senior figures in the US military and foreign businessmen with lucrative public sector contracts. The Observer has obtained a Foreign Office list detailing all non-British citizens who have been awarded honours since 2003 – the first time the complete three-year dossier has been released.

It has emerged that Riley Bechtel, billionaire boss of the US-based Bechtel Corporation, which has won big transport and nuclear contracts in Britain and made a fortune from the Iraq war, was secretly awarded a CBE in 2003.

This award has never been made public either by the British government or Bechtel. At the time Jack Straw, now Leader of the House of Commons, was Foreign Secretary. Although there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing, questions are being asked about whether the Foreign Office kept the awards quiet for fear of a political backlash.


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Jack Straw hits the road!

Jack Straw has finally hit the road and been forced out of his job as Foreign Secretary.

Straw has been removed from his post just eighteen months after Craig Murray began his high-profile campaign to expose the Foreign Secretary’s complicity in torture, and almost exactly a year after Craig’s audacious challenge in Blackburn. The move has come as a shock to many in the media, but will be less of a surprise to those familiar with the growing scandals over extraordinary rendition and torture.

Update (08/05/06): Speculation about the reasons for Straw’s removal is spreading in the media with briefings from different quarters.

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Jack Straw on banning the publication of political memoirs



Wednesday 29 March 2006

Q452 Mr Prentice: Craig Murray says that because you have an interest in all these matters, you should not be the person who has the final say, it should be an independent disinterested body of people. There is some force in that, is there not? If books are being published and they mention Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary, doing this, that or the next thing, it would be better if someone other than Jack Straw decided whether the book should be published?

Witness: Rt Hon Jack Straw, a Member of the House, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, gave evidence.

Q429 Chairman: In that case, let me start off briefly, and I apologise for the fact that we shall be interrupted. When you last came in front of this Committee you were introducing the Freedom of Information legislation and you were the purveyor of openness. My sense is that you have now come as the purveyor of closedness, that is that you take a dim view of these former diplomats and former civil servants who rush into print with their memoirs. How can one approach be reconciled with the other?


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Jack Staw is considering publishing his memoirs…

From The Lancashire Evening Telegraph 31st March 2006

JACK Straw will include no broken confidences or tittle-tattle in his memoirs if he ever gets round to publishing them.

The Blackburn MP and Foreign Secretary came under fire from MPs on a Commons committee cross-examining him about his attempts to block two books by former diplomats. They asked him if he intended to publish his own memories, and he said he might.

Mr Straw was immediately accused of hypocrisy for on the one hand savaging former Washington ambassador Sir Christopher Meyer and ex- Uzbekistan envoy Craig Murray over their tell-all books and considering writing his own.

But today Mr Straw said: “I have not decided if I am going to write a book yet. I might but if I do it will be in due time and will observe all the rules. “If I do it will be memoirs not diaries like my predecessor as Blackburn MP Barbara Castle. I don’t keep a diary. “The problem with Sir Christopher’s book was that it broke confidences.

“The case of Mr Murray’s book is still ongoing. With Sir Christopher’s book, I take responsibility for not trying to legally stop it because he did not actually break any rules. He just broke confidences and filled it full of tittle-tattle.”

“If I do publish my memoirs I shall not break any confidences and there will be no tittle-tattle but I hope it will be amusing.”

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Jack and Condi: not so much a match made in heaven as a computing error at Dateline

“Is that a rendition order in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?”

By Alison Rowat in The Herald

Condoleezza Rice is expected to pop the question when she arrives in Britain for her visit to Jack Straw’s constituency. The world’s most powerful woman and most eligible bachelorette might come out with it at the airport. Or she could wait till they are in Blackburn itself. But when the moment is right the US secretary of state will look into the British foreign secretary’s eyes and utter the immortal words: “Is that a rendition order in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?”

Expect a lot more of this as the love-in between Straw and Rice spreads across the weekend papers like an oil slick. When Straw visited her last October in her home town of Birmingham, Alabama, she took him to a football game and to a family dinner. He will escort her to what is billed as “a major industrial site” (Blackburn men know how to show a girl a good time), a school, and then on to Liverpool, home of Rice’s favourite band, Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Or it might have been The Beatles. Anyway, all will be revealed as Rice and Straw skip their way, hand in hand, through fields of swaying anti-war protesters.

So far, her visit to a mosque has been called off due to the threat of protests, and the host of a concert she is due to attend has pulled out. Faced with this level of discontent, any other pair would call the whole thing off and stay in London. Not these two. Not the Warrior Princess and the Straw Man.


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Pressure grows on the Straw-Rice visit to NW England

“The most unwelcome visit to Liverpool since Oswald Mosley came here in the 1930s.” Liverpool Echo

Blackburn: Muslims ‘withdraw Rice invitation’

An invitation to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to visit a mosque in Jack Straw’s home constituency has been withdrawn, it was claimed.

Mosque leaders in Blackburn decided on the U-turn following pressure from the local community, according to campaign group Stop the War Coalition.

The planned visit on Saturday was designed to repay a trip that the Foreign Secretary made to the Alabama hometown of Ms Rice last year.

Ms Rice will tour Blackburn and Liverpool as part of a two-day regional tour, which is due to start on Friday.

However, the Masjid Al Hidayah mosque in Millham Street is said to have cancelled the invitation because of community feelings about US and British policy on Iraq.

Liverpool: Straw in appeal to anti-war protesters

…It comes after news of Ms Rice’s impending arrival prompted the Stop the War Coalition to organise protests outside The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall and the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA), when she visits on Friday.

Already poet Roger McGough has pulled out of his booking to compere the Celebration of Liverpool concert at the Phil, and Mona Lisa actress Cathy Tyson turned down an offer to step into the role.

Visit CondiWatch for up to the minute information on the planned protests.

Update: MEP tells Rice: Stay at home

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Straw faces a torturous spell in the witness box

From The Independent

Twenty-five years after he hung up his barrister’s wig, Jack Straw faces the unwelcome prospect of returning to court. Craig Murray, our former Ambassador to Uzbekistan, intends to call the Foreign Secretary to give evidence in any legal action over his forthcoming memoirs.

This month, Straw’s staff wrote to Murray – who was sacked for blowing the whistle on human rights abuses – saying they’d “actively consider a claim for breach of confidence or Crown copyright” over his book, Murder in Samarkand.

Despite that threat, Murray’s publishers, Mainstream, tell me they “intend to proceed” with the memoir, which will hit the shelves in July.

Meanwhile, Murray has used an interview with The Bookseller to launch a personal offensive against Straw, saying he has “proof that the Government has been obtaining intelligence from torture, and that Jack Straw approved it.”

He’s also happy to take the matter to court, adding: “The Government is seeking to undermine freedom of speech … If they want to send me to prison, I am prepared.”

The Foreign Office letter to Murray was drafted by legal advisors, who are anxious to avoid a hoo-hah similar to that inspired by the publication of Sir Christopher Meyer’s memoir DC Confidential.

However, Straw’s direct involvement makes it hard for them to keep him away from any trial. With this in mind, an FO spokesman stressed that they’ve yet to decide “how to take this forward.”

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MPs accuse Straw over misleading them over ‘rendition’

The lies are catching up with him…

From The Observer

The Foreign Secretary has been formally challenged by a parliamentary committee to explain why he twice gave them misleading answers during inquiries over the secret transport of terrorism suspects around Europe.

The Labour chair of the powerful Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has written privately to Jack Straw, amid deep irritation from members over his testimony on extraordinary rendition – the spiriting away of foreign citizens without the normal extradition process, which critics argue may lead to torture.

Last October, Straw denied to the committee that Britain had received any requests for rendition. In fact, as he conceded in a parliamentary statement less than six weeks later, it had received three in 1998 and approved one. Appearing before the committee in December, Straw ridiculed claims of British involvement in the interrogation of Pakistani terror suspects arrested in Greece as ‘nonsense’, only to confirm three weeks later that British intelligence officers were present, although abuse is denied.

The row comes ahead of an interim report from the Council of Europe into claims that the US has ‘rendered’ suspects in Europe.

Paul Keetch, a Liberal Democrat member of the committee, said it was ‘unacceptable’ that Straw had had to correct himself twice, while Labour member Eric Illsley said he was ‘cheesed off’ with the Foreign Secretary describing allegations as nonsense, only to find out from newspapers that they were true.

Straw also admitted that while foreign flights to military airbases normally require clearance from the Ministry of Defence, American planes have a ‘block agreement’ to come and go freely. This might help explain a leaked memo from Straw’s office, disclosed last week in New Statesman magazine, advising Downing Street to ‘avoid getting drawn on detail’.

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Straw under fire for refusing CIA flights inquiry

By Catherine MacLEOD in The Herald

CRITICS gave the government a rocky ride in parliament over its refusal to mount a judicial inquiry into claims that the US has used UK airports to fly terror suspects abroad for torture.

In a written statement, Jack Straw, foreign secretary, disclosed that the UK had refused a US request in 1998 to refuel a flight carrying detainees en route to the US. In December, he had told MPs that another request had been refused, while two others had been approved when Bill Clinton was in the White House. To little avail, he repeated assurances that a trawl of Foreign Office records had found no record of any requests for extradition rendition flights to pass through the UK.

In the Commons, MPs demanded that the government should set out the grounds on which it judges the flight requests, but Kim Howells, foreign office minister, was unmoved.

Nick Clegg, the LibDems’ foreign affairs spokesman, maintained the government had doubts about the US policy, whatever its public protestations. He said: “The ambiguity of the government’s position on this clandestine practice of extraordinary rendition seems to deepen with every answer given. “Clearly (Mr Straw’s answer) indicates that the government, at least behind the scenes, had much graver doubts about this clandestine practice than it has been prepared to give so far. Why were these flights refused?”

Mr Howells dismissed Mr Clegg’s objections as anti-US sentiment. He argued that the LibDems were employing typical tactics to throw mud at the Bush administration in the hope some of it might stick. He said: “This government is opposed to torture, it does not torture anyone, nor would we ever put up with any other administration torturing individuals. We will watch this very carefully as we always have done.”

William Hague, shadow foreign secretary, sought assurance that the rendition through the UK leading to torture in a third country had not taken place, and Mr Howell was adamant that the government would never co-operate in any operation involving torture.

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Jack Straw Caught Lying Again? – British admit being at terror grilling

From The Observer

British officials have admitted MI6 officers were present during the interrogation of 28 Pakistanis in Greece, despite apparent denials by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. They insist, however, that the officers took no active part in the men’s arrest, questioning or abuse that was later alleged.

As the story of the interrogation of the Pakistanis, picked up in Greece following the 7 July London bombings, has turned into a political scandal in Athens, officials in the UK have retreated from Straw’s insistence that the allegations of British involvement were ‘fabricated’ and ‘utter nonsense’.


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Foreign office staff threatened resignations in bid to stop US bombing of Al Jazeera. Jack Straw lies over CIA flights.

From Ringverse

The British Foreign Office privately accepts that CIA rendition flights did pass through its territory, a diplomatic source told United Press International.

The well-placed source said the Foreign Office “totally accepts” that the United States used British airfields to transfer prisoners abroad for interrogation, and is “extremely worried” about the political consequences.

The revelation comes amid growing signs of divergence between London and Washington over the way in which the war on terror should be conducted.

When British Prime Minister Tony Blair learnt in April 2003 that the United States had bombed a Baghdad hotel in which several media organizations were housed, killing three journalists, he “literally jumped out of his chair,” the source told UPI. The Foreign Office was “horrified,” considering the attack to be “obscene,” the source said.

London took the same attitude towards a U.S. suggestion that it would attack the Qatar headquarters of the Arabic language television al-Jazeera, the source said.

Foreign Office officials threatened to resign if the Americans went ahead with the attacks, revealed in a Downing Street memo leaked to the British media earlier this year.

Blair reportedly talked U.S. President George W. Bush out of the attacks, warning it could fuel a worldwide backlash. The Mirror newspaper quoted a source as saying: “There’s no doubt what Bush wanted, and no doubt Blair didn’t want him to do it.”

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