Editor's blog

Rattled mayor Boris Johnson in hot water over riots

On a post riots walkabout in south London and guess who I bumped into? None other than goldilocks London Mayor Boris Johnson whose summer holiday to America was so rudely interrupted by looters.

Tottenham riot: There can be no peace without justice

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King said the riot is the voice of the unheard. That does mean that, for a moment, I expected tame Tottenham Member of Parliament David Lammy to be a Malcolm X and spout “no justice, no peace” after hours of missile-throwing, burning and looting in his constituency last night. But, given that the spark was the unexplained shooting to death by cops of a 29-year-old Black man, I would have expected Lammy to say that, while he did not condone violence, he demanded swift answers from the police. He should have voiced what many of his constituents on the streets said to me, that the killing by police of a Black man was more violent than the burning of some vehicles and buildings. What happened? There are reports of specialist Trident officers tailing Mark Duggan who was in a mini cab on Ferry Lane. It is said that his last communication to his girlfriend was that “the Feds (police)” were following him. Moments later he was dead. Rumours spread quickly, particularly on social media, that machine gun armed officers shot him in the face on the ground at close range three times. That led to activists claiming it was cold-blooded “assassination”. I was in the area last night, at a West Indian Cultural Centre function to celebrate the 49th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence. Earlier, with a heavy heart, I had predicted to my partner unrest in Tottenham over Duggan’s killing. Evidence of the rage that had built up came from relatives on mine who live on the Broadwater Farm estate made famous by the uprising in 1985 that cost PC Keith Blakelock his life. Then the trigger had been the appallingly brutal death of Cynthia Jarrett, a Black mother, in the custody of officers arresting her. It was the managing director of the Gleaner and Voice newspapers group, George Ruddock, fellow guess at the Jamaican event, who alerted me just after 9pm that a riot was taking place in Tottenham, nearby. After reading about it on his iPhone, I went to the scene – using my press card to get through a riot police line and onto High Road. A adrenalin-fuelled sergeant was verbally aggressive, demanding to know why I wasn’t wearing my press card round my neck. When I responded by saying it wasn’t a war zone he told me to watch myself as if he was going to do me something.  Another officer, annoyed I was “wandering around”, gave me more grief. It’s just this surly, rude, unaccountable, megalomaniac behaviour of police that causes big community resentment, especially among the youth they stereotype as criminals.  The High Road devastation was shocking. Two burnt out cars – police vehicles I was informed. The ground covered in debris. Burnt out buildings. Shop merchandise spread over the pavement. Wailing Asian shopkeepers remonstrating with police. A menacing squad of riot officers suddenly emerging, trotting along the road, in black boots, overalls and helmets. Apparently, the unrest kicked off after peaceful protesters, including Duggan family members, marched from Broadwater Farm to Tottenham Police Station in the early evening.  According to one them, my fellow campaigner from the 1980s, Stafford Scott, they demanded that a senior police officer, of the rank of superintendent or above, speak with them and give an explanation about the shooting of Duggan. The demonstrators, including women and children, waited patiently for more than four hours to no avail. Then anger boiled over and some youths peeled away from the demo. Two police cars, parked in side roads, were torched. A double decker bus and buildings followed. Police have been criticised for being slow to move in and protect people and property. But riot police and vans were eventually pelted with missiles and officers baton charged their attackers. 
I saw that the crowd was as much Black as it was white. People yelled “murderers” at the tooled up Darth Vader officers. When Lammy and Haringey Council leader Claire Kober spoke on camera to condemn violence and appeal for calm, on behalf of the establishment, hecklers yelled, “mention justice”. And, “there can be no peace without justice”.
Stafford Scott, said: “People say that things are not the same here (in Tottenham) since 1985, that conditions are much better. But they are just as bad in terms of the stopping and searching of Black youth by the police, unemployment and poverty.”
A younger activist, Symeon Brown, said youth services had been cut by Haringey Council, the local authority, by 75 per cent. 
This is the place where officers involved in the deaths of Black people in their custody have never been prosecuted, leading people to believe that they have a licence to kill. The victims are Cynthia Jarrett (1985), pushed to the ground, Joy Gardner (1993), who had been strapped with a body belt and 13 ft of tape wrapped around her head, and Roger Sylvester (1999), who was arrested naked. Mark Duggan now joins them. It’s a tinder box that is not helped by the rough, tough law and order condemnations and threats of retribution of Lammy (Labour), Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May, her sidekick Lynne Featherstone (Liberal Democrat) and Richard Barnes (Conservative), spokesman for London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is abroad on holiday.
By contrasts, I was mightily impressed by the articulacy and passion of community spokespeople and members of the public in Tottenham interviewed live on the 24-hour TV news. They staunchly defended their community. The common theme was that they did not condone the mayhem and criminal damage, but they understood its cause, which was injustice. They demanded answers now, not God know when, after a suspect inquiry by the so-called Independent Police Complaints Commission. Why hasn’t Duggan’s cab driver spoken publicly about what happened? Is he being gagged? Politicians, who represent the Tottenham people, and police, who are paid by the public to protect them, will either heed their voices or face more rage. And not just in Tottenham.

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King said the riot is the voice of the unheard, writes Marc Wadsworth.

Who was with Amy Winehouse during her last hours?


Twenty-four hours after the shocking death of pop star Amy Winehouse we learned that she had round the clock security. So, why were news media reporting that she “died alone”? A visit by me yesterday to her smart, white-painted three storey north London home – number 30 Camden Square NW1 is not a flat as widely stated – quickly revealed that the black BMW 4x4 of Amy’s personal minder was parked outside. Witnesses said it had been there on Friday, and before. Amy’s body was found by security man, Andrew Morris, in bed, on Saturday afternoon, when he went to wake her. He alerted the ambulance service and paramedics at around 4pm said she was “beyond help”. There’s speculation she had been dead for up to six hours. A neighbour said they heard “mournful crying” late the night before.  Amy’s Island record company said she’d been drinking alone in her home. But witnesses, among the throng of sorrow-filled people lingering among the flowers and lit candles outside Amy’s house, said the singer was on a drinking binge with friends on Friday night and they went back to her house. So, a) what happened to the “friends”? b) why did the security guard apparently take hours to find Amy’s body? Some people questioned whether she had been adequately supported for her addictions by her management and record label, which is owned by the mighty Universal Music Group.
My security expert friend Alfred Samuels, who has looked after world famous celebrities including Bob Dylan, Beyonce, Kelly Rowlands, Sade, Seal and band members of Oasis and Coldplay, testified that the job of a professional like him is to watch over “the principal” constantly. He said: “Befriend them. Make sure they don’t come in harm’s way, even if that means them not harming themselves.” Ninety per cent of the job is an adult version of baby-minding rather than close protection security. I’m told Amy’s security guard was with her at the insistence of her record label and the 19 Management Company of Simon Fuller, who brought fame to the Spice Girls. In Amy’s case – even minus the tragic human cost -  there was a lamentable failure to successfully protect a hugely lucrative commercial asset. With just two albums to her name, Frank and Back to Black, Amy was reputed to be worth £10m. Aged 27 when she died, the unbridled talent that was this wild child Jewish diva with a black voice would have earned much more than that. I agree with blogger Robin P who wrote: “Respects to Family and close friends (of Amy) however maybe a Generation that knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing may now finally embrace the fact that drugs are not cool.” RIP Amy Jade Winehouse – 1983-2011.

Twenty-four hours after the shocking death of pop star Amy Winehouse we learned that she had round the clock security.

UK's Watergate is not about 'a few rotten apples'


He’d started 10 years ago as a “runner”, a general dog’s body, and risen up the ranks to become a reporter. A handsome man in his early 30s, the journalists said he’d been shocked by the documents he’d seen while photocopying them. He said: “Phone hacking was common place. The paying off of people featured in stories who threatened legal action was rife. Andy Coulson (the former editor) would say: ‘Make this person go away.’ “
Just as alarming was the journalist’s comment about the ruthless treatment of staff who, no matter how long-serving, could be sacked at a moment’s notice. He said: “One minute you’d see them in the office and then they’d be gone with no explanation.”
Surprisingly, the man said he thought the News of the World should be shut down. “It was no longer viable once the advertisers pulled out.”
On Britain’s biggest-selling paper being rebranded as the Sunday Sun, as has widely suggested, the paper had been boosted by Sun production staff on a Saturday for some time. “They made up 50 per cent of the people working on the paper and each earned £250-£300 for that day’s work and I would guess that they won’t want to lose that money.”

Phone hacking on an industrial scale. Britain's Watergate. So, it was not one rogue reporter, framed Royal Editor Clive Goodman and his £100,000 a year private investigator accomplice Glenn Mulcaire – both jailed but now out of prison.

Anti-war hero Brian Haw is dead


Anti-war hero Brian Haw is dead
Peace campaigner Brian Haw has lost his hard-fought struggle against lung cancer. The 62-year-old, made famous by his decade long protest outside the British parliament, died in a German hospital last night.
Indomitable Brian gave flesh to the Oscar Wilde saying: "The world is divided into two classes, those who believe the incredible, and those who do the improbable."
His bloody-minded awkwardness came across admirably when I briefly interviewed him for The-Latest five years ago after a bungled dawn raid attempt by the Metropolitan Police to evict him from his Parliament Square pitch. 
He irritably questioned why I was asking about his one-man demonstration against the Iraq and Afghan invasions by America and Britain when I could read about it in the newspapers.
When I refused to be rebuffed, Haw warmed to me and talked a little. 
Brian became a symbol of the anti-war campaign and of civil activism with his round-the-clock protest, which began on June 2, 2001 against sanctions imposed on Saddam Hussein's Iraq by his government and other Western nations.
His anger grew when Britain joined the US invasion of Afghanistan later that year following the September 11 attacks, and then the war in Iraq in 2003.
Sitting in his makeshift camp on the pavement opposite Big Ben, surrounded by banners and horrific pictures of war victims, the father-of-seven was passed by MPs and thousands of tourists every day.
The authorities tried numerous times to get rid of him, including introducing a new law to restrict demonstrations within half-a-mile of parliament, but they failed.
Haw's efforts were even immortalised in art - Mark Wallinger won the 2007 Turner Prize for his exact replica of the encampment, entitled "State Britain".
"It is with deepest regret that I inform you that our father, Brian, passed away this morning," his family said in statement dated Saturday on his website.
"As you know he was battling lung cancer, and was having treatment in Germany. He left us in his sleep and in no pain, after a long, hard fight."
A separate statement from his fellow protesters said he had been "relentlessly persecuted by the authorities, which eventually took its toll on his health".
An additional statement on his website from his campaign representatives said: "Brian showed great determination and courage during the many long hard years he led his Peace Campaign in Parliament Square, during which it is well documented that he was relentlessly persecuted by the authorities which eventually took its toll on his health.
He made peace a daily demand for MPs and all those who worked in Parliament, passed or visited London”
"Brian showed the same courage and determination in his battle with cancer. He was keenly aware of and deeply concerned that so many civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine did not have access to the same treatments that were made available to him.
"Parliament, the police, and courts etc, should forever be ashamed of their disgraceful behaviour towards Brian."
He won support from surprising quarters. London's Evening Standard denounced the Met Police raid on Haw's peace camp as 'heavy handed'. It added: "For many people, whether they support Mr Haw or not, his presence symbolises free speech. For the Government, however, he is a noisy embarrassment.' The Standard said Haw should be allowed to stay.
He said, of his protest: "I want to go back to my own kids and look them in the face again knowing that I've done all I can to try and save the children of Iraq and other countries who are dying because of my government's unjust, amoral, fear - and money - driven policies. These children and people of other countries are every bit as valuable and worthy of love as my precious wife and children."
Back to Irish wit Wilde, also a part of the awkward squad in his lifetime:
"We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."
Rest in peace Brian. Your struggle will live on.

World-renowned peace campaigner Brian Haw has lost his hard-fought struggle against lung cancer.

Twitter goes crazy about BBC apology to Primark


Cyber space is awash with people fuming about the high-handed decision of the BBC's out of touch rulers to make a humiliating apology to cut price store chain Primark. 
The decision by the BBC Trust to uphold at least part of the complaint against Panorama over its investigative Panorama is spineless and appalling.
Much respected media commentator Roy Greenslade, a former Fleet Street editor, blogged: "It goes against natural justice to find against the journalist and producers on what it calls 'the balance of probabilities.'
Dan McDougall is an intrepid, award-winning investigative reporter with a superb record in exposing human rights violations.
"Frank Simmonds is an experienced producer who has been responsible for many important revelatory Panorama programmes."
There are many issues involved in this extraordinary affair, which dates back to the screening of the programme three years ago this month, and has already been the subject of an internal inquiry.
The Trust, packed with British Establishment figures nor prepared to depend that most precious democratic pillar of freedom of the press by backing its brave journalists, has given its verdict based on just 45 seconds of filmed material in the hour-long documentary about the alleged use of child labour, Primark: On the rack.
When the clothing retailer originally complained that the segment - which showed young boys in Bangalore making clothes - was faked, the BBC's editorial complaints unit held an inquiry into the complaint and cleared the programme makers.
Primark then appealed to the Trust. It responded with a lengthy, and apparently painstaking, investigation, which included sending a representative to India.
That investigation by the Trust's editorial standards committee could not discover, one way or the other, whether the film was faked or not. It states:
"The committee considered that there was not one piece of irrefutable and conclusive evidence which would enable it to say for certain (ie, beyond reasonable doubt) whether the footage was or was not staged.
However, the committee was not required to reach a view beyond reasonable doubt... Having carefully scrutinised all of the relevant evidence, the committee concluded that, on the balance of probabilities, it was more likely than not that the Bangalore footage was not authentic."
The committee cites several reasons for this, mainly to do with supposed "inconsistencies" in their "reading" of the footage.
In other words, the Trust is accusing McDougall of unethical behaviour. And it is doing so after admitting it lacks certainty.
No wonder he has said: "I am appalled by the decision."
McDougall added: "I have rarely seen a finding so unjust in outcome, flawed in process, and deeply damaging to independent investigative journalism."
It would not surprise me if McDougall were to seek a judicial review. He more grounds than Ryan Giggs to sue for libel, with such a nasty slander against his fine reputation.
He is the Sunday Times Africa correspondent and has made other Panorama programmes. He is a former British foreign correspondent of the year and has won three Amnesty awards.
It should also be noted that in a further investigation into Primark - published six months after the Panorama documentary - McDougall exposed the company for employing illegal immigrants in a UK sweatshop, a story published in the News of the World. Yet this so-called judgment - which requires the corporation to apologise for the documentary on air - puts a dirty stain against their names on the most flimsy of grounds.
* Readers may remember our expose of Ikea. It is still one of the most popular stories on The-Latest.Com, attracting hits from all over the world.

Cyber space is ablaze with people fuming about the high-handed decision of the BBC's out of touch rulers to make a humiliating apology to cut price high street store Primark.

Labour politics and a new left leader?

It was a hoot on the General Election campaign trail with my local MP Harriet Harman. She's the most powerful female politician in Britain. Her several hats include Labour deputy leader, Chair of the Labour Party, Minister for Women and Equality, Leader of the House of Commons and Cabinet minister.

Price tag: $499. Do you want an Apple iPad?

It looks like an oversized iPhone, and sports a 9.7in colour screen – the same size as Amazon's black-and-white Kindle ereader – the iPad will "open the floodgates" for the sales of ebooks, said Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive, launching one of the most hotly anticipated gadgets in technology history.
The hand-held device has web surfing, email, games, presentation software and various other tricks. But it was clear ebooks are, at least initially, Apple's highest priority for the touchscreen iPad, as Jobs unveiled a program called iBooks to let people "discover and purchase and download" ebooks directly on to the device from iTunes.
The company has signed deals with five major publishers – HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachette – to sell ebooks on the iPad.
But online reaction has been less than euphoric.
Yawn - Call me old fashioned but I'd rather go for a nice long walk in the sun with my kids than sit squinting at that that chrome-clad consumer turd.
No wonder everyone's so fakin' miserable when that's what people choose to get excited about..
It's really low spec laptop. Or a really big hi spec iphone . No idea if there's a market for that.
I'd rather read an actual book than read it on a screen
What concerns me is that this seems to be a retrograde step for computing and for consumers. The device will be firmly controlled by iTunes, which means that Apple decides what you can and cannot use it for. And, just as importantly, Apple takes 30% of all software revenues for the device.
Now imagine that was the case in the traditional computer market. Imagine if HP sold you a laptop, locked up the operating system behind its own software and only allowed 3rd party software to interface with the computer hardware and its operating system through a its own set of protocols. And imagine that anyone buying that 3rd party software had to pay 30% of the cover price to HP.
That is the degree of control that Apple has created with iTunes, iPhone OS and the App store.
We need competition authorities or telecoms regulators to look at this issue now, before the model becomes so entrenched that we take it for granted.
Can I edit video with it? 
Can I record my band's demo and mix it? 
Heck- can I Skype video call my friends in Hamburg?
Think I'll be sticking with my MacBook Pro, then.
I'm in two minds about getting one. I'm concerned that the GBP prices will be somewhat less attractive than the USD ones announced today. Also, I quite fancy the idea of the 3G version, but it's got a big ugly plastic strip on the rear that spoils the look of this undeniably sexy piece of kit.
What a fanatastic device, I admire the way in which it will consume the rabbling masses for hour-after-hour, rather like TV and the internet does. It is vital that people are controlled and herded, vital that children do not learn critical thinking and important that it is a 'must-have' item, how else to keep fools at work.
As for me and my children, well we don't even have a TV, we spend our time reading, talking, playing and going out. I am so glad that this device is out there, I hope every school child is given one and instructed to use it full-time and not worry about anything as trivial as literature, music, mathematics and science, the arts and sport.
I can hardly wait for ipods 2, 3, 4, 5...
Imagine if HP sold you a laptop, locked up the operating system behind its own software and only allowed 3rd party software to interface with the computer hardware and its operating system through a its own set of protocols. And imagine that anyone buying that 3rd party software had to pay 30% of the cover price to HP.
Would anyone care? Most people have been using whatever came with their computer for 25 years. If you?re a computer enthusiast, you can hack your iPad however you like, just like people have with their iPhones. It?s not illegal, you?re just on your own if you break it.
As far as the 30 per cent goes, I understand that's less than what you'd lose if you tried selling your software through PC World or similar. 

It looks like an oversized iPhone, with a 9.7in colour screen, the same size as Amazon's black-and-white Kindle ereader. The iPad will "open the floodgates" for the sales of ebooks, boasted Steve Jobs, Apple's chief executive, launching one of the most hotly anticipated gadgets in technology history. So, would you like one?

So small

Vicas Bailey Jnr

    I was searching for the right place
    Like a wandering drifting soul
    Clutching at straws in my own state
    But i couldn't find nothing at all

Bring on the BNP - out of the shadows

Marc Wadsworth

I detest fascism and hate racism. But the election for the first time of two members of the British National Party (BNP) to the European Parliament I welcome, rather than oppose for knee jerk emotional reasons. Democracy isn't   always pretty.