Thursday, 27 August 2015

Mark Jenner - police spy

I contributed heavily to this excellent piece of research on police spy Mark Jenner:-

Tuesday, 25 August 2015


A slightly revised version of this will be the September book of the month for Unite Education.


Edited by David Whyte, Professor of Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Liverpool. 

Pluto Press.

Bribery may not routinely happen in British police forces, public services or in government. But, as 
a wide range of campaigners demonstrate in this book there is endemic institutional corruption and that Parliament, regulatory bodies and the police are so implicated in this that they cannot hold others to account. 

So successful has been the neoliberal project, which was started by Pinochet in Chile in the 70s and advanced by Thatcher and Reagan in the 80s, in establishing corporate control, even in liberal democracies, that when the banks collapsed because of their own dodgy, frequently illegal, practices in 2008 and Chancellor Alistair Darling stepped in with £500 billion of public funding he didn’t even reference Parliament. Instead he negotiated with a hand-picked group of elite bankers whilst eating a Balti takeaway. 

Five years later David Cameron flew 131 business leaders to China on a government trade mission. The delegation included companies involved in bribery allegations connected to Chinese officials plus a broker fined for participating in the LIBOR rate-fixing scandal. Cameron defended the participating firms because he knew that if he vetted them for their unethical practices then the trade delegation would have be much smaller. 

The 'big four' accountancy firms - Deloitte & Touche, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Ernst & Young and KPMG - assist many UK companies to avoid paying tax, including income tax on bonuses for an elite that includes corporate executives now earning 160 times the average UK worker’s pay. This is 20x the 18:1 ratio in 1980.

With its overseas territories and crown dependancies, Britain's role as the world's number 1 purveyor of financial secrecy ensures the City of London controls 25 per cent of the global market for offshore financial services. This helps conceal tax evasion and avoidance, estimated at £120 billion in 2012/13. David Cameron is himself the product of an offshore dynasty as his father chaired a  Jersey investment firm and co-founded a Panama registered investment company. 

In the U.S, the big four, who, of course, gave the UK banks a clean bill of health when they audited them before the crash, have all been fined for corrupt practices. There has been no effective retribution here though. What may have helped the four was donating £3.5 million to the Tories before the 2010 General Election plus previous hefty donations to New Labour when it was in government. 

There is also the ‘revolving door’, now common right across the state and corporate sector, whereby senior figures move from the private to public, and vice-versa, sectors. Former PwC staffer Mark Hoban thus became treasury minister responsible for oversight of tax laws between 2010-12. PwC partner Richard Abadie has been head of private finance policy at the Treasury.

The authors in this book, which includes essays on state torture, Hillsborough - including one from Sheila Coleman - and child sex abuse scandals, understand that many people realise how serious corruption is in Britain. What concerns the writers is that the public will regard corruption as unstoppable and something they can do nothing about. That each crime reported will lead to apathy, alienation and atomisation. It is up to all of us to ensure that is not the case.  

The first player to score 40 goals in a top-flight season: Ted Harper

One of the most radical changes in the rules of football took place at the start of the 1925-26 season when the offside trap was reduced from three to two players. One man benefitted more than anyone - Ted Harper!

The Golden Boot: Football's Top Scorers by Mark Metcalf via @AmazonUK

Season: 1925-26 
Goals scored: 43 (out of 91) 26 home, 17 away 
Percentage: 47%
Runner-up: David Halliday (Sunderland) 36 
Blackburn Rovers finished twelfth

Born in Sheerness, Kent on 22 August 1901, Ted Harper arrived at Ewood Park in 1923 from Sheppey United on the strength of his goalscoring record in the Kent League. Critics said he looked clumsy and had no ball control but as a goalscorer there were few better. He was quickly off the mark with 18 goals in his first season. 

In February 1925, Rovers signed Syd Puddefoot from Falkirk for £4,000. Despite being aged thirty, the ex-West Ham United favourite was a gifted playmaker whose vision and passing ability would - particularly in light of the new rules that reduced the offside trap from three to two players - carve out the sort of chances Harper could happily put away. The result was that in their first full season, Harper was to become the first player to crash through the barrier of forty goals in a League season. It remains a record no one at Ewood Park has seriously threatened since. 

Harper’s season hardly started with a bang, but after failing to be selected for the first three games of it - all of which Rovers lost, including a 6-2 thrashing at Roker Park - he scored a stunning five goals in his first match, aiding his side to a 7-1 win at Newcastle United. The home side had beaten Notts County heavily in the previous game and were in a confident mood before kick-off. 

Few could have predicted how wonderful the away side would play as a team, yet by half time they were already three goals up. Long before the end Harper joined the select band of players who have scored five goals in a top-flight match. He did it by staying well up the field, constantly seeking to break through Newcastle’s continued use of the offside trap that a few short years earlier had been the best in the business, but was now unable to come to terms with the law changes. With Puddefoot inside him, and wingers Joe Hulme and Arthur Rigby outside Harper was presented with numerous chances and did his best to grab as many goals as possible. In the event, five wasn’t too bad. 

Back at Ewood, Harper then scored his first of the season there with a penalty against WBA. Two days later, at Bramall Lane, the Kent lad got his seventh of the season in a 1-1 draw. 

There was a large crowd inside Ewood for the return fixture with Sunderland. They witnessed some of the qualities that had brought Rovers success at Newcastle. Puddefoot, given a roving commission, pulled the Wearsiders' defence apart and after Rigby opened the scoring, Harper added two more in the second period in a 3-0 success. Harper’s nine League goals in just four matches rose to 12 in five in the next game as Cardiff were beaten 6-3 at Ewood Park. 

Two more in his next two games meant it was fourteen in seven. Newcastle arrived much better prepared than in the first game and shocked the home support by winning 2-1, and also stopped Harper scoring for the first time in the season. Bolton repeated the feat at Burnden Park, but Notts County were unable to and his two goals, one a penalty, took Harper’s record up to sixteen in ten starts. 

This rose to nineteen in eleven and as the hat-trick was at Turf Moor, there was extra joy for the Rovers fans that were able to make the short journey to Burnley. With the game tied on 60 minutes at 0-0, Harper pounced when Harold Hill and Jerry Dawson dallied over who should clear the ball. It was a typical opportunist goal, one of many the Rovers man happily picked up during his time with the club, and on 80 minutes he was again in just the right place to accept Puddefoot’s pass and make it 2-0. Just before the end, he again scored to ensure his side won 3-1. A penalty at home to Leeds the following weekend made it twenty in twelve games. 

At home to Everton on Christmas Day, Harper got another couple. The first, reported the Liverpool Echo, was ‘a brilliant equaliser, Harper, after a run of many yards (In which he thrice mastered efforts by McDonald to stop him) leaving Hardy helpless with a fine shot.’ It was now twenty-five in nineteen games. Three more followed in his next four matches before a temporary blip in form saw him score just twice in Rovers’ next five games. 

Nevertheless, with seven from the next eight games it meant that prior to kick-off against Manchester United on 10 April, he had notched thirty-seven League goals and needed just two to overtake Everton’s Bert Freeman and Bolton’s Joe Smith, whose thirty-eight in 1908-09 and 1920-21 respectively remained a League record. Furthermore, a hat-trick and Harper would also overtake David Brown as the top scorer in any league, the Darlington man having scored 39 in the previous season’s Division Three North. 

Despite his successes in front of goal, the Rovers man was not even assured of finishing as Division One top scorer.  Sunderland’s David Halliday had already scored thirty-eight and with Harper certain to miss Rovers’ penultimate game of the season to  represent his country in his debut match against Scotland then he really needed to find the net.

He certainly did so, hammering home four goals in a 7-0 win. Each of his goals was greeted with special cheers, especially the second that took him on to thirty-nine for the season. 

The first was another piece of opportunism and cheeky skill, pouncing on the ball after Alf Steward had saved to drill it just inside the post as he fell backwards. Then after beating Charlie Moore for pace, he cleverly placed the ball beyond the ‘keeper. His third was similar, a brilliant run and a powerful shot, and when he touched home his fourth the crowd roared its approval. Coming off he then learned that Halliday had failed to score against Arsenal, to leave him three ahead of the Sunderland man. 

It was the perfect boost prior to his first international, but with Puddefoot alongside him it was to prove a disappointing afternoon as Scotland won 1-0 at Old Trafford.  Never selected again for his country, it meant Harper never played at Wembley because when Rovers got to the FA Cup Final in 1928 he had already left the previous year to join Sheffield Wednesday.

Back home for the final League game of the season Harper struck a further two goals against Aston Villa to take his seasons record to a remarkable forty-three goals in thirty-seven games. 

At Sheffield Wednesday Harper scored thirteen goals in eighteen games and helped the Owls, with five goals in six games, capture the First Division title in 1928-29. He moved to Spurs in 1929 and scored sixty-two goals in sixty-three League games before returning to Lancashire with Preston in 1931. He saw out his career back with the Rovers in November 1933 before joining the club’s backroom staff until 1948. He broke individual goalscoring records at Blackburn, Tottenham and Preston during his career. His Rovers record reads 177 League and FA Cup Apps, 122 goals. Ted died in Blackburn on the 22 July 1959.

Friday, 7 August 2015


Business owner’s first mistake over employee

Her son was killed in industrial accident

 Taken from Big Issue in the North magazine. 

A prominent safety campaigner has criticised the authorities’ treatment of a dying businesswoman. 
Linda Whelan’s care company in Bishop Auckland was closed down after she was prosecuted for breaching safeguarding laws for the first time.

Diagnosed earlier this year with bowel cancer and given six months to live, Whelan had herself become a health and safety campaigner after her son died in a fire at his workplace.

Now Hilda Palmer, co-ordinator of the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre, says “justice has been turned upside down” for Whelan.

Whelan set up Unique Home Care in 2002. A domiciliary care company, it grew to have 200 clients under the care of 90 staff with contracts from Darlington Borough Council and Durham County Council among others.

The business was inspected annually by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which in August 2013 raised no cause for concern.

But in late 2013 a client reported the loss of some money after a UHC worker, Veronica Newton, had completed her home visit. 

In a previous job, Newton had been placed on the Protection of Vulnerable Adults (POVA) list of care workers who have harmed vulnerable adults in the past, following a theft in a client’s home.

But for her job interview with UHC she forged a letter from Durham Constabulary recommending that her name be removed from the POCA list. 

Following the UHC client’s complaint, Whelan discovered Newton should not have been working with vulnerable adults and she was sacked.

Whelan handed over Newton's file to the police. Newton was convicted of fraud and theft. An eight month prison sentence was suspended for two years. 

The CQC then ruled that UCH was failing in a number of areas including clients being inadequately protected from the risk of abuse and Whelan pleaded guilty at the Magistrates Court on 16 July 2014 to “allowing a person to engage in an activity regulated by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006”. She received a conditional discharge for six months, the minimum sentence at a magistrates court. 

The CQC told Whelan, an experienced care worker before going into business, that she must remove herself from UHC's day-to-day operations. 

Whelan employed a new manager to run the UCH but closed the company in April this year after the CQC rated the company as inadequate in four out of five categories. 

Whelan said: “Whereas other care companies would have sacked Newton I believe they would have avoided going to the police for fear of damaging their business. I felt I was doing the right thing. I had successfully undertaken hundreds of staff checks before and was harshly treated for making one mistake.”

Whelan’s 23-year-old son Craig, a steeplejack, died in 2002 when he was helping demolish a chimney at Bolton company Carnaud Metal Box and fire broke out.

Three Metal Box managers admitted breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act by knowing the chimney was unsafe and failing to pass on information that it was “flammable and toxic”. The three men said they had not received sufficient health and safety training. Fines totalling £17,000 were imposed on the company.

Following her son’s death Whelan became a founder of the Families Against Corporate Killers (FACK) campaigning group, which is assisted by the Greater Manchester Hazards Centre. With 142 people killed at work in 2014-15, FACK wants “government action to halt the complacency about deaths at work and introduce decent laws which will bring dangerously negligent bosses to justice”.

Palmer said: “What has happened to Linda Whelan is not good enough. Justice has been turned upside down. I think the fact the magistrates imposed the minimum sentence indicates their sympathies. Linda has been badly let down by a state that allows a firm that was responsible for her son's death to pay a small fine. Yet she makes a mistake and ends up losing a previously very well run business, which I know she wanted to see continue under her son, Dean's, direction.”

A CQC spokesperson said: “We are satisfied that the findings of our reports and judgements are correct. Consistency and fairness are core principles that underpin our work… In addition any regulatory decision that CQC takes is open to challenge by a registered provider through a variety of appeal processes.”

Whelan – who has refused treatment for her illness and wants to “die with dignity” – has requested all CQC's materials on her. She has been told she needs to submit a Freedom of Information request and will be charged £750 for the retrieval of the information. 

She said: “I will pay it. I want my family to go through it carefully after my death as I believe what CQC has done requires further investigation.”

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Unite book of the month for August

Lydia Becker plaque commemorates suffragette

Lydia Ernestine Becker, Chadderton, Oldham 

The Lydia Becker blue plaque was unveiled at her family home of Foxdenton Hall, Foxdenton Park on 28 September 1999. She was born in 1827 and was the eldest of 15 children. After hearing Barbara Bodichon lecture on women's suffrage at a meeting in Manchester in 1866 she became converted to the idea that women should have the vote and spent the rest of her life campaigning on the issue. 

Becker supported Radical MP John Stuart Mill when added an amendment to the 1867 Reform Act that would have given women the same voting rights as men. The amendment was lost. In 1870, Becker established the Women's Suffrage Journal and when the 1870 Education Act allowed women to vote and serve on School Boards, Becker was elected to the Manchester School Board and took a keen interest in raising the educational standards of girls in the city.

Between 1881 and 1884 Becker was the paid secretary of the Central Society for Women's Suffrage and was elected in 1887 as president of the National Union of Women's Suffrage. She died on 21 July 1890. 

Many thanks to Alan Bedford, a Unite safety rep at BAE Systems at Middleton, Manchester for ensuring Lydia Becker features on Rebel Road. "As a local Oldham lad I am proud of my town's radical traditions and want to see them replicated today. I am delighted to know Unite has the Rebel Road project," said Alan.

Alan Bedford 

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Joseph Burgess plaque in Failsworth, Oldham commemorates ILP creator

Taken from Rebel Road project at Unite Education. 

Joseph Burgess, Failsworth, Oldham 

A blue plaque at the birthplace of journalist and Labour politician Joseph Burgess was unveiled at 64a, Old Road, Failsworth in October 2007. Failsworth Historical Society had campaigned for the erection of the plaque with Kevin McPhillips dissertation key to the resurrection of interest in Burgess’s life and work.

Burgess, a Christian Socialist, spent his life, talents and energy in the cause of the working class. He was just six when he began work in a card-cutting room and worked as a cotton operative until he was 28 when he began work as a correspondent for a local newspaper. 

His talents as a journalist could have earned him an easier life but he refused to compromise to satisfy the major print employers. Burgess established and worked for a number of socialist papers including the Yorkshire Factory Times and Bradford Pioneer

Burgess was active in the creation of the Independent Labour Party (ILP), a socialist party established in Bradford in 1893 and which was affiliated to the Labour Party from 1906 to 1932. Burgess was unsuccessful on a number of occasions when he stood as an ILP Parliamentary candidate but he was elected as a member of Glasgow City Council and served between 1902 and 1905. 

Burgess married three times, had six children and died January 1934.

Many thanks to Alan Bedford, a Unite safety rep from Oldham, for ensuring Joseph Burgess is on Rebel Road.

“I want to help ensure that the labour movement heroes of the past are not forgotten as hopefully they can act as an encouragement to activists today.” said Alan.