Monday, 30 September 2013

Murder inquiry panel

A Manchester University lecturer who successfully challenged police corruption in the past has been included in a independent panel which has been set up by the Home Secretary Theresa May to investigate one of the UK’s most notorious unsolved murder cases.
Private investigator Daniel Morgan was found with an axe embedded in his head in a south east London car park on 10 March 1987. Although never completely substantiated it is believed Morgan was about to expose serious corruption and drug-dealing between police and private investigators.
Following numerous separate murder investigations that lasted up until 2002, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) abandoned the final attempted prosecution against five suspects two years ago.
With no likelihood of any successful prosecutions the Metropolitan Police admitted police corruption was a “debilitating factor” in the original investigation. Aware something was very wrong the Morgan family had long campaigned for a public review of his case. In May, Theresa May announced she was creating the Daniel Morgan Independent Panel headed by Sir Stanley Burnton, a retired Lord Justice.
May has now announced that criminologist Dr Silvia Casale, Michael Kellett and Graham Smith will join the panel. Their remit includes the role played
by police corruption in protecting those responsible for Morgan’s murder as well as the link between private investigators, police officers and journalists at the former News of the World.
Kellett was for 30 years a Lancashire police officer who now works as a freelance consultant for a number of international organisations that include the Council for Europe.
Smith is a senior lecturer in regulation at the University of Manchester. He is consultant to the European Commissioner for Human Rights on police complaints and is a UN recognised expert on police accountability.
Smith was assaulted thirty years ago by Manchester police officers. He did not make a complaint or speak to a solicitor and pleaded guilty to a charge of drunk and disorderly before quitting his job and moving to London.
He began investigating police corruption in the Metropolitan Police when in 1987 he joined the Trevor Monerville Campaign in Hackney. This was an east London borough with a record of police brutality that included the deaths in custody of Colin Roach and Tunay Hassan.
In January 1988 the first ‘We Remember’ commemoration was held for those who had suffered and died at the hands of local police. Six months later, Smith helped establish Hackney Community Defence Association (HCDA) and he was its key figure until 1995 when he left to pursue an academic career.
HCDA was launched because single-issue campaigns no longer offered adequate resistance to the local police’s rampage. It was a self-help group that - without ever seeking state funding for fear of compromising its independence -  developed a highly successful strategy in combating police repression.
It investigated community allegations of wrongful arrest and brutality against the police, provided mutual support for victims and campaigned against police injustice.
Rather than being advised to make formal complaints, victims of police crime were directed to use the civil courts. Victims thus avoided having anything to do with the police during the initial stages of their complaints and this gave them time to recover from the psychological trauma they had suffered. A network of reliable solicitors and barristers helped ensure victims kept control of their cases.
Police prosecution rates in the cases taken up by HCDA collapsed to under a quarter. The CPS abandoned many cases, as the police were no longer seen as reliable witnesses.
Among the allegations that HCDA started investigating were cases involving police organised crime. A picture emerged of drug trafficking, corruption and fitting-up innocent victims. Eight police officers were secretly transferred to other stations. One of them, Sergeant Gerrard Carroll shot himself with a police revolver in Barkingside police station.
Investigatory programmes by Panorama and World-in-Action highlighted HCDA’s evidence that the police were controlling the local crack cocaine trade. Convictions were quashed, with Hugh Prince becoming the thirteenth victim of the local police’s drug squad to have his overturned in December 1994. The Metropolitan Police was subsequently forced to pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation.

In 1993, HCDA helped launch the Colin Roach Centre. When this was burgled in 1994 centre members believed that MI5 or Special Branch had undertaken the operation in a desire to get their hands on a new database listing police officers involved in fabricating evidence and criminal activities.
The computer listing this information was located elsewhere and this may account for why, in early 1995, Mark Jenner was sent into the centre as an undercover police officer from the Special Demonstration Squad of the Metropolitan Police.
Celia Stubbs, whose partner Blair Peach was killed by a Metropolitan Police Officer in 1979, was an active HCDA member. She has welcomed the appointment of Smith to the Morgan panel saying; “Graham Smith did a marvellous job in Hackney in exposing and defending the victims of police corruption. I wish him well in this important task.” 

Monday, 23 September 2013

Di Canio gone but what next?

I am delighted to see Di Canio depart so unceremoniously. I think the huge outcry made by many decent Sunderland anti-fascist fans will have counted in the decision to get rid of Di Canio - whose fascist beliefs were at the core of his managerial style - and I particularly salute those who did not go during the time he was there. I’d hope they now return and the club could help by offering them a chance to purchase their season tickets at the April 2013 price. I also believe this whole situation has demonstrated a real need for a Sunderland Supporters’ Trust to be established so that one man cannot run ‘our club’ without reference to the fans.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

New digital book on Ernie Taylor at Manchester United 1958

Product description:-

Ernie Taylor, the little midfield genius that helped Manchester United reach Wembley after the Munich tragedy in 1958. Thisn is his abridged story. At 5’ 4” and barely ten stones Sunderland born Ernie Taylor is one of the smallest professional footballers ever Wearing only size 4 boots, Taylor, known as ‘Tom Thumb’, had great skill on the ball, exemplary dribbling abilities, marvellous vision and an eye for a goal. Playing in midfield he performed with distinction for four giants of the post-war football world in Newcastle United (1942-1951), Blackpool (1951-1958), Manchester United (Feb – December 1958) and Sunderland (Dec 58– 1961). Taylor played at Wembley on four occasions – winning with Newcastle United at the 1951 FA Cup final and Blackpool two years later, and then losing 6-3 with England against Hungary in 1953 and 2-0 with Manchester United in the 1958 FA Cup final. However, the very fact that the latter made it to Wembley was a remarkable feat as it was only months after the Munich air tragedy. This book examines the critical role Ernie Taylor played in making this possible.

New book out today on Gary Lineker - co-authored with Tony Matthews

Leicester born Gary is one of football’s greatest ever strikers. In an excellent career he appeared in a total of 648 competitive games and scored 332 goals for club and country. This is his abridged story. Lineker was a member of the Leicester team which clinched the Second Division championship in 1980. In 1985 he was a member of the Everton side that won the annual FA Charity Shield. With Spanish giants Barcelona, he won the Copa del Rey in 1988 and the European Cup-Winner's Cup the following year. In 1991 after returning to England, he helped Spurs lift the FA Cup. He is the country's second highest scorer behind Bobby Charlton and he finished up as top scorer in the 1986 World Cup, receiving the Golden Boot for his efforts. He is also the only player to have topped the First Division charts with three different clubs - Leicester (84-85), Everton (85-86) and Spurs (89-90). As one of the game's nice guys on the football pitch, Gary was never cautioned by a referee.


New book out today on Niall Quinn

The Mighty (Niall) Quinn:-

One of football’s genuine nice guys, Niall Quinn enjoyed a distinguished playing career from 1983 to 2002 with three different clubs – Arsenal, Manchester City and Sunderland. Quinn appeared in a total of 587 competitive club games and scored 170 goals. A League Cup winner with Arsenal in 1986-87, Quinn also won a First Division championship medal in 1998-99 with Sunderland. In addition Niall Quinn scored 21 international goals in 91 games for the Republic of Ireland, winning his first cap in 1986 and his last in 2002. He twice represented his country at the World Cup finals. Niall Quinn was awarded an honorary MBE at the end of his playing career after he donated all the receipts - of more than a million pounds - from his Ireland - Sunderland Testimonial match that was played before 37,000 fans at the Stadium of Light. Today, after stepping down as the Chairman of Sunderland AFC, Niall Quinn is a respected commentator with Sky Sports and a successful businessman.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

‘One of the worst cases of discrimination I’ve seen’

‘One of the worst cases of discrimination I’ve seen’
Environment secretary Owen Paterson has been asked by one of the region’s MPs to intervene in a lengthy and costly dispute between one of his constituents and her former employer, the Environment Agency.
Andrew Miller, MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, accuses the government agency of “a considerable waste of public money” in the case of Carol Donnelly. He wants it to abandon its appeal against an employment tribunal decision last year that she was unfairly dismissed when her contract was ended after she became disabled.
As a former trade union official Miller has attended a significant number of employment tribunals. In a letter to Paterson, he states: “This case is unfortunately one of the worst cases of disability discrimination I have seen for some time.” He expresses astonishment that during the tribunal nine managers from the Environment Agency (EA) were present for five of the six days.
Legal costs
Miller estimates Donnelly’s dismissal has cost the taxpayer close to half a million pounds in legal costs. He believes the EA’s appeal, which is due to start on 18 October, is “extremely unlikely” to reverse the earlier findings. He has asked Paterson to “bring the matter to the attention of the relevant official with a strong suggestion that public money should not be wasted in further pursuing this matter”.
Out of court negotiations or a tribunal remedy hearing should be employed to finally settle the matter, he suggests.
After working for the NHS, Donnelly moved to the EA in 1992 to work as a regulatory specialist in hazardous and clinical waste. She enjoyed the job and hoped to continue her work until she retired.
When she was redeployed in 2007 and asked to hot desk – share a workstation with other staff – she requested to be moved to a static working environment because of spondylitis in her spine. Her request took a number of months to be fulfilled.
Donnelly became further disabled due to car accident injuries to her leg that caused osteoarthritis. Donnelly claims this left her unable to negotiate uneven or muddy ground and “after not being able to attend two water pollution incidents
I was disciplined and then suspended for being unable to perform my job”.
She was made to compete for other jobs at the EA but despite her experience could not secure another post. A formal capability process had begun before Donnelly went off work ill with stress in January 2010. She was dismissed on 22 December 2010.
When Donnelly took her case to an employment tribunal she was successful, with the panel unanimously deciding she had been harassed, unfairly discriminated against because of her disability and unfairly dismissed. The EA lodged an appeal against the decision on the final day allowed.
As she can no longer afford to pay for qualified legal representation, Donnelly has asked for an adjournment for time to prepare her case. She has yet to receive all the grounds of appeal papers from the EA. She accuses her former employers of “hoping to wear me down, knowing I am not in great health”.
A spokesperson for the EA said that because of ongoing legal proceedings they could
not comment on the “details of this specific case but we take the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff seriously”.
The spokesperson said they would only respond to questions about the possible £500,000 expenditure on the case so far if The Big Issue in the North put in a Freedom of Information Act request.