Thursday, August 30, 2007

MEDIA:If you want to talk to someone about the 7/7 Inquiry legal action story

PLEASE can you call James Oury at Oury Clark Solicitors who is acting for the victims. I am sorry but I can't take calls or answer emails; I am about to leave to attend my mother's funeral which is tomorrow. I am not available today or tomorrow or over the weekend. Thank you.

update: God, that was awful timing. I tried to get the message out that I can't be spokesperson all the time , but the calls kept coming. Everyone who called was very nice once I explained, but I wish, I wish this wasn't all going on now.

7/7 Inquiry Group vs. The Government

With the usual horrendous timing that my life is now renowned for, today I and the group of survivors and bereaved families who have been campaigning for an inquiry have today started legal proceedings to get permission to go to Judicial Review stage and try to force the Government to have an inquiry into 7/7.

We had to issue today, because otherwise we run the risk of being 'struck out' by the courts for being out of time. We got a crap fax from Dr Reid, the then Home Secretary, 3 months ago, ( after we chased for it) which arrived on 30th May, in response to our initial approach via our pro-bono lawyers. The 30/5 fax was, depressingly, the usual nonsense about 'diversion of resources' and 'understanding how we all feel'. It didn't even make sense when you read it closely, and it certainly did not answer our questions. It was insulting, quite frankly and it infuriated everyone in the group.

Since we delivered our follow-up warning of our intended legal challenge, (this month), and asked for a meeting, or a response, there has been a short written response from the Treasury Solicitors - *asking for more time to get back to us.

But it's not up to the Government lawyers to set the timings. After three months, permission to continue can be refused by the Judge, and it usually is refused. So we've been effectively forced into a litigation corner. Which is hideous; this is already a group of highly vulnerable people and frightening, costly legal proceedings are the last thing we want. I cannot understand why the burden of begging and forcing the Government to tell us the real truth about 7/7 and the events leading up to it, has been left to us for 2 years - when we have always said this is not about compensation, or money, or blame, or stupid conspiracy theories - but simply about trying to save other people's lives by making sure the mistakes that led to the 7/7 bombers striking so devastatingly, killing 52, wounding over 700, impacting on thousands of lives - don't happen again.

We know mistakes were made. We know that the bombers were known to the security services before 7/7. More on that will come out shortly. And this tired, misleading old rubbish about 'diversion of resources' will be shown up for what it is, soon enough. Oh yes. Just you wait. There are still people of good conscience in positions of power and influence and expertise, thank God.

As for 'inaccurate media reports' - the other fob-off we keep getting - it is the Government's own Official Narrative that is inaccurate, and the other effort, the ISC's report is neither independent, nor effective, nor inquiring, nor, frankly, very believable, given what has come out in trials since it was published. Careful wording can only get you so far.

The official position about why we are not having an inquiry is getting more feeble by the day. Still, we will wait for the ( late) response from the Government's lawyers, and at least we now know that we can't be struck out for lack of time because the papers went to the High Court today in lieu of a response from the Home Office.

( *Nice try)

However, I am out of action as of now because it is Mum's funeral tomorrow. So if people want to ask questions about what is going on please contact James Oury at Oury Clark Solicitors.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

On grief and grieving

Thank you to all the many people who have written, emailed, texted and called, donated money in lieu of funeral flowers to the stroke/heart disease charity CORDA ( click here) , and held the family in their prayers and thoughts. It means a lot, and I am slowly responding to everyone, my sincere apologies for delays in response. What has also helped is the suggestions of people pointing out poems and writings and useful websites and information - because I am still all at sea with this, and hungry for finding out how others have coped and whether what I am feeling - numb, sad, shocked, exhausted, angry, don't want to talk to anyone at length about it, sometimes wierdly calm and normal - is normal.

I have been reading Zinnia Cyclamen's site; Zinnia is a talented writer as well as a humanist funerals service officiator ( think that is the right term) and she has some lovely, thoughtful writing on her blog which I recommend anyone to explore. The blog is here. I also read Libby Purves' column on the media coverage of the week of Diana's death in today's Times.

Like many people, I remember where I was when news of Diana's death broke. I was woken up early by my Mum, who told me and my then-boyfriend that there had been ''some awful news''. We sat bolt upright, feeling sick - we were expecting his Mum to pass away any moment, she had suffered from MS for years and was progressively deteriorating. Hearing that it was not his Mum who had died, we were oddly, heartlessly relieved. Perhaps as a result of that - I didn't know Diana or her family - the explosion of wild public grief in the week that followed seemed strange and unreal, and the attacking of the Royal family rather nasty. When someone in the family dies, you don't necessarily want to be publicly emoting all over the place. Grief is a private thing.

My then-boyfriend's Mum died a few weeks later, and though it had been long-expected, I saw the grief and shock and the sheer hard work of all the things that you have to do to prepare for the funeral and after. I can see why leaving Balmoral and rushing back to London to ostentatiously lower flags to half-mast and tour piles of rotting flowers left by strangers was not the first priority of William or Harry, or their father and grandmother in those numb, appalled days after Diana's fatal car crash.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Mum's Fundraising Page

Brenda, my mum, January 1944 - August 2007
Following a great suggestion from Pierre, one of the blog's readers, I have started a page to raise money for CORDA, a charity that works to prevent heart disease and strokes. CORDA funds specialist, high quality research into the prevention of heart disease and stroke using early, non-invasive diagnosis and treatment.

So if you want to donate anything, in memory of Mum, you can do so by clicking here. (And if you want to grab a widget or email people about Mum's fundraising page you can go here).

This is a special online campaign, in addition to Mum's main appeal, which is for the Vidiyal Trust (working with children in India and run by one of Mum's friends) and the St. George's Church (Kitchen Fund) that was to have been Mum's next project. Donations for these two registered charities ( in lieu of flowers) can be made via Allcock Family Funeral Services.

As neither of these two (very small) charities are linkable via, I have chosen a heart disease/stroke charity instead, so that people who have emailed asking if they can donate in Mum's memory now have a secure and easy way to do so. Thank you. P.S: I apologise for the group email that has just gone out to all my address book contacts

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Old damn news

God, I had almost forgotten that I wrote this weeks ago, published today. Loads of papers wanted the story, they would not stop asking; in the end I decided to write it myself and so try to let go of it and get some peace. How ironic it feels now reading the standfirst: ''the cruellest test of her life was yet to come''. Being stalked, being raped, being bombed, I would rather all of them than lose my beloved mum.

The wretched bloody stalker woman is appealing the conviction, and before Mum got ill, I was feeling sick and frantic with stress about having to go through the whole trial again. Anyone convicted at the Magistrates Court has the right of appeal, which means a full 3 day retrial with a Crown Court Judge and 2 Magistrates. I am phobic about courts; the rape trial really upset me, I still dream about it. Now, well, hey. The harasser can do what she wants, put me through it all over again, tell her stupid lies to the Judge, have a go at me in the witness stand, whatever. I don't see how it can hurt any worse than it already does.

Of course I am angry and heartsick this week of Mum's death: I ask, I keep asking - why me, why my family, why the devastating hammer blow, yet again? Why do I have to be attacked twice by lunatics, and then tormented by yet another hatefilled stranger, and now lose my mum, all in the space of 5 years?

There is no answer to that, so I will not attempt one.

Anyway: the book is on amazon, and you can get it here, ( click) dear Sunday Times readers who have come here looking for it from the link at the end of the article. Mum was very proud of Out Of The Tunnel. I am sorry that she never got to finish reading it, before she had the stroke, and got so ill. One of the last things she told me to do was to carry on with the book reading, my first. I did it, this Wednesday 22nd August, though she had died that morning. I did it for her.

God dammit. I suppose I should now re-invite everyone to the book launch party that was cancelled before ( Mum's stroke happened the week of the launch). But it is hard to find the energy. It's just hard, full stop, these days. I am so very sad for myself, for my family, for everyone I love. I know this too will pass, but right now it is just awful; this bleakness, this grief. I just have to keep going and get through it. Everyone has to deal with losing people they love and there is a cycle, a rhythm to these things, and eventually the sun will come out again.

I wish I could have a cheerful, peaceful, normal life like I used to have. I wish nobody knew me, nobody wanted to read about me and the horrible things that happen to me. I am ordinary, nobody special, nobody important. I am not a celebrity; I didn't choose this life. I just have a blog, like 73 million other people, and I accidentally walked into the news, one day in July, and I wish I hadn't.

Fields of Gold

Because I know family friends are reading this.

Mum will be buried in a quiet Norfolk churchyard under wide East Anglian skies amongst golden fields of barley, and poppies, and hopping rabbits, and trees full of birds and squirrels. The church is full of carved angels. It is one of the smallest churches in the country, and it is very peaceful.

Mum's funeral will be at 2pm on Friday 31st August, at St. George's Colegate, Norwich, followed by a private family crematorium commitment. Refreshments will be served to all who come to the celebration of Mum's life, at Granary Court, in the Bishop of Norwich's garden, immediately after the funeral. We have stipulated family flowers only, but donations are gratefully received via Allcock family funeral directors for The Vidiyal Trust which works with children in India and is supported by this church and also to the St George's Church, Kitchen refurbishment fund, which was to be Mum's next project.

I suppose if you want to carry a single flower to the service, for Mum, that would be nice. I will be doing that, anyway. But I think Mum would be sorry to see beautiful flower arrangements bought and wasted: she would rather you had flowers in a vase in your home, and thought of her, I think, and enjoyed them all week. Or planted a tree.

I have come back to London, for the weekend. I am numb, shocked, shivering with cold, despite the heat. I cannot believe I will never see her again. I cannot believe that I do not have a Mum any more, that I will never hug her or talk to her again. Less than 4 months ago, she danced and smiled at my wedding ( see photo below of Mum on my wedding day). It is just agonising. I so want to escape from it, but I cannot. But now and again I find peace. This afternoon, I saw a white bird flying, sunlight shining on his feathers. I smelled the lavender in the garden. I felt close to her.

In the hour of Mum's death, I felt her with me, a real physical presence. I felt her kiss and her blessing. In the hospital room I had witnessed her slow, brutal struggle to the summit of the mountain, and then we could not follow her. But she came to me, after all, a last gift.

I hope as she left us, that she was glad and not afraid. That she found the sunlit summit, that she was rowed across the uppermost mountain lake to a different shore. That as she was ferried through strange waters, she told her story to a kindly listener. That she was met on the other side by tail-wagging spaniels, Oscar and Glen, plunging into the water and swimming out to meet her, and Ben, her Norfolk terrier, and Dipper, the gentle Springer, barking joyfully and scampering on the beach, and that she heard Rupert, the elderly Welsh pony whinnying with excitement. That she saw Merry, and Barley, cantering to her, and then her friends and family calling her home. I hope that she may be merrily met in heaven.

I hope, I hope. Because I don't know, and I can't believe. I don't have that sort of faith. I don't know that I have much of a faith at all; I see love, and the spark of the unknowable divine, in people's lives and actions. I do not expect much after death. I think life is random, not fore-ordained. But for Mum, if there is such a thing as heaven, then she will have danced straight in. I envy those who have faith their hopeful certainity. I have never had it, and it is sad not to have that comfort.

I can't know, but I can only wish with all my heart that she walks in fields of gold.

The song I have linked is one Mum loved: Eva Cassidy, Fields of Gold. It will be played at the Crematorium as she is committed to the fire. And it shines with beauty, as she does and did. Blessings.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Mum and me on 28 April 2007
my wedding day

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Mum has died

Mum died in the early hours of this morning. Dad was with her. The family had been at the hospital since Monday morning, sleeping there, being there, keeping faith. Dad never left her side. Day and night, her husband, and children and brother were always with her, praying and talking, keeping silence, thanking her, holding her hand, telling her again and again how much she is loved. She knew. She was not afraid. It was terrible but it was also beautiful.

I know a lot of my friends and my family's friends read this website, so I am using this blog as a bush telegraph system to try to get the message out, because it is very hard for us to cope with lots of phone calls and emails at the moment; we are all in shock, and exhausted, and there is a very great deal of very hard things for us to do.

There have been many calls and emails already, even though we have only just woken up, but I am trying to deal with it on Dad's behalf, and so is my Uncle Ron, and this is what we are saying: thank you so much for your care and concern and prayers and love and best wishes. Thank you. We need private family time for the next 48 hours.

Please can you let us have this quiet time on our own as a family today and tomorrow and we will be ready to talk to people on Friday. On Friday morning the Bishop will be round, and we need to start communicating the family's wishes about the funeral, so if everybody else want to be in touch, please think about from Friday afternoon/the weekend as being the time when we will be starting to be able to respond and answer all your calls and emails. We really appreciate your support.

I will be doing one thing today: my book reading in Borders, Norwich, at 6.00pm because Mum asked me to. Told me to, in fact. I think it will be the hardest thing I have to do today, but I will do it because she wanted it, and I promised.

UPDATE: Someone else will be doing the Sunday service at St George's, not Dad.
The funeral will be a week on Friday at St. Georges at 2pm. We will get in touch with people about it soon but it is still being organised.
Apologies: I am likely to be slow in replying to messages right now, and sorry for that, I will get back when I can. Thank you to everyone who has sent such lovely support. It means a lot.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mum latest

Thanks everyone for your kind wishes and support. I know a lot of my family and friends, and my family's friends read this so I am sorry to have to pass on this news:

Mum is dying. My family were all called to the hospital yesterday and told she was likely to go 'within 24 hours'.Total kidney failure, massive heart failure, blood pressure crashing - but Mum is still there, still lucid. She is still hanging on: she wants to get her house in order before she leaves us.

Being told that she was dying yesterday was a shock to her, and she wants to think about it, process it, and make sure we are all ok before she lets go. The consultant has changed the prognosis to 'within 2-3 days'; like all of us he is amazed at Mum's strength of will. But there is nothing at all they can do for her at all save make her comfortable. She has had an incurable disease for over a year, and we didn't know, nobody knew. This last year has been a bonus, borrowed time, we have found.

I have stayed up all night bar 30 minutes, came home to sleep for 2.5 hours, woke up, checked in here, and am just about to go back to the hospital.

Your thoughts and kind wishes mean a lot: if you are religious and want to pray, please pray for a gentle death for Brenda, and that she finds what she has always hoped for and believed in after she leaves us.

Oh God. This is such hard work; heartbreaking beautiful shattering agonising work; watching the death of someone you love, surrounded by love.

Mum is dying with regrets that she has to go so soon, but without fear and with such graceful dignity - that is her last gift to us, beautiful dancer that she is.

I have to go back to her now. I don't think there is much more of this dance left before the music stops. I will be out of action for a while as of today.

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Mum came home from hosital two weeks ago. We were thrilled and proud of her progress. She was not able to get into the specialist stroke rehabilitation unit immediately after leaving the severe stroke ward, there was a long waiting list, so she came home instead to convalesce.

Then it started to go wrong, badly wrong. Almost immediately, Mum went down with what was thought to be gastroenteritis which has left her exhausted, and very poorly as she can barely eat, keep down her pills, or drink. She has had this for a fortnight. We kept hoping she would get better. I did not blog about it. The doctor was called several times, and visited Mum at home.

Obviously she has not been able to make any recovery from the stroke, because of all this, in fact, she is now much weaker and more ill than she was when she left hosital. It appears that gastroenteritis may have been misdiagnosed and instead she has another gastric infection, which can be very dangerous. But we still don't know what the problem is.

The hospital doctors ran tests after the stroke. She has been diagnosed with heart failure and mylenoma and this may have contributed to her having a stroke in her early sixties, fit, healthy weight, lifelong non-smoker. The mylenoma is not yet presenting any symptoms.

My father is exhausted and afraid, but coping; so am I, the whole family is, we have to.
I can't do anything to help with this one, apart from try and keep it together and be there for my family, and it is so much worse when it happens to someone you love. I am frightened by the fact that I seem to be losing my ability to cope with bad things. I am reaching my outer limits and it scares me; I can't afford to go to pieces, not now.

Last week Mum got so ill that she had to go to A&E for emergency rehydration on a drip and stay in overnight, then they let her out but the sickness carried on.

Last night she had chest pains as well as the d&v. A locum came, this morning, he has ordered an ambulance to take mum to hospital. There is a 2 hour wait because she is not having chest pains now, so it is ''not an emergency''. I hope when she gets to the hospital they can run tests and see what is causing her to be so sick. I hope they can rehydrate her and help with the nausea, so she can start to get stronger, as she needs to be to recover from the stroke and everything else.

I hope. I hope. Because 2 weeks have gone by and she is getting worse, not better.

I am on standby to leave London and go to the hospital in Norwich, but there is nothing I can do. Nothing. That is the hardest thing.

I'll try and keep on top of messages but if you don't hear from me, this is why.

We Can't Turn Them Away update (3)

The plight of the Iraqis who have risked their lives to help our armed forces, and who are now being left to the death squads is big news across blogs of all party political persusions and none. It is also being picked up in the mainstream media. If you have a blog and want to support it, Ministry of Truth has blog banners. You can also...
Reading...Ben McIntyre asks 'What's the Arabic for we'll stand by you?'in the Times, Neil McKay 'Sentenced to Death' in the Sunday Herald.
And this is devastating - Phil Sands in the Independent

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Legal Challenge to Government as Pressure Grows for Independent 7/7 Inquiry

Today I will go to the Home Office at noon with a small but representative group of bereaved families and survivors of 7/7 and serve the Home Secretary a legal letter. It is a letter before action. It outlines the legal case for an inquiry under the European Convention on Human Rights article 2, and states that we are prepared to go to a Judicial Review to challenge the Government on their continuing failure to hold an inquiry. We have been immeasurably helped by Oury Clark solicitors acting pro-bono, and by Edward Fitzgerald QC. We have given up many hours over many months to work towards this point, and it has been exhausting and painful work.

We are not asking for money, we are not ''suing'' the Government for damages, we are not vindictively trying to apportion blame, or make people lose their jobs. We are simply doing what we have always done since the bombs went off; flagging up that we believe such an inquiry is essential to save lives and spare suffering in the future and to restore public trust, and to show that lessons have been learned, particularly with regard to communication between agencies and identification of threats, that will help thousands of people be safer in future.

The London Assembly will soon release a report following the 7 July Review at the London Assembly, which looked at the response AFTER the bombings. Much good work has been done to learn lessons after the GLA scrutiny, whuich remains the only public investigation of some of the facts pertaining to the bombs and used testimony of many people involved and affected by the aftermath of 7/7. Richard Barnes, who chaired the 7 July Review Committee backs our calls for an inquiry, and has always said it was never intended to be a subsitute for an independent inquiry. The calls for an inquiry have also been backed by the Tories and the Lib Dems in Parliament.

Now we, whose lives were so affected by 7/7, want to someone independent to look at what happened BEFORE the bombs exploded. Someone with the power to compel witnesses and examine evidence and make recommendations.We particularly want to know what was known about the 4 bombers and their behaviour and associates in the months and years leading up to the blasts.

We know that the ISC is neither independent, being appointed by the PM, nor does it even have an independent investigator anymore.

We know the report they made is full of ommissions and inaccuracies - and that's being charitable. The Official Narrative, the account of the bombs, is also full of inaccuracies. The recent Operation Crevice trial showed us some of the extent to which the authorities knew about the 7/7 bombers, bugging and taping two of them having 4 meetings with men who were soon to be arrested for their plot to blow up the UK public with a giant fertiliser bomb - and later jailed for life. .

To state[carefully, oh, so carefully], as the ISC do

'' We have been told in evidence that none of the individuals involved inthe 7 July attacks had been identified, ( that is, named and listed) as potential terrorist threats prior to July...''

is ridiculous.The lead 7/7 bomber, Siddique Khan, was followed to his own house, in his own car! He and his main accomplice were photographed chatting about jihad with watched terrorists, and their movements here and abroad were known. As soon as the lead bomber's ID was found, deliberately left at 3 of the sites on 7/7, as his calling card, and run through the police database, he was ''found to have links to international terrorism'', we were told at a private meeting with the police. That link was made on 8th July 2005, for heaven's sake. 24 hours after the bombs went off. How can the ISC conduct a second report into their own failures? That is not an independent investigation, nor an impartial one.

Not everyone who is a Claimant on the letter before action wanted their name released to the public, because of the attention this brings, which can be difficult to deal with. However, the following have released their names and some of them have released details of how they were affected on 7/7/05

Danny Biddle, survivor, Edgware Rd. Lost both legs, eye, spleen
Nader Mozzaka, bereaved. Nader's wife, Nazy, died at Kings Cross
Graham Foulkes, bereaved. Graham's son, David, died at Edgware Rd
Rob Webb, bereaved. Rob's sister, laura, died at Edgware Rd
Paul Mitchell, survivor. Paul lost part of his leg and had serious hearing injuries at Kings Cross
Thelma Stober, survivor. Thelma lost her left leg and had other serious back injuries at Aldgate
Kirsty Morrison, survivor, King's Cross. Kirsty developed debililtating PTSD.
Elizabeth Alderton, survivor, Aldgate
Jacqui Putnam, survivor, Edgware Rd
Ros Morley, bereaved. Ros's husband Colin died at Edgware Rd
Lesley Ratcliff, survivor, King's Cross
Michael Henning, survivor, Aldgate. Michael had facial injuries and developed PTSD
Judy Mallinson. Judy's husband, Ross, suffered serious head injuries.
John Tulloch, survivor, Edgware Rd. John suffered severe head injuries
Ema Plunkett, survivor, Tavistock Square
Elizabeth Kenworthy, Aldgate. Survivor and first responder
David Gould, bereaved. David's step-daughter, Helen, died at King's Cross
Angela Iouannou, survivor, King's Cross
Fiona Crosbie, survivor, King's Cross
Mark Elding, survivor, Tavistock Square
Andy Brown, survivor, Aldgate. Andy lost both legs in the explosion.
Janine Mitchell. Janine's husband Paul was seriously injured at King's Cross
Janne Palthe, survivor, Edgware Rd
Thomas Ikemi, bereaved. Thomas cousin, Anthony, was killed in Tavistock Sq
Ross Mallinson, survivor. Ross suffered serious head injuries at Aldgate
Sarah Stow, survivor, Tavistock Sq
Tim Coulson, survivor, Edgware Rd
Rachel North, survivor, King's Cross

Graham Foulkes, whose son David Foulkes, 22, was murdered at Edgware Rd said:

"We were very disappointed that the Government rejected our call for an independent enquiry. We believe that our country can only benefit from an independent investigation into the largest ever terrorist attack on mainland Britain."

He continued:

"There have been reports into the bombings. None of these have been independent. And as time has gone on it has become obvious that much of what we were told was untrue. For instance, we have gone from being told that the bombers were unknown to the authorities ("clean skins", as Charles Clarke, the then Home Secretary said in the wake of the bombings) to finding out through the "Crevice" trial that at least two of the bombers were known prior to July 7 th 2005 and that one of them, Mohammed Siddique Khan (the Edgware Road bomber) had been followed home by the authorities."

This concern has been supported by the Greater London Assembly who, on May 28 th 2007, passed a motion calling for an independent inquiry following the conviction of the Crevice Defendants "given the conflicting accounts of what happened in the months leading up to 7th July 2005".

The legal case for an enquiry rests on Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This requires the state to protect life and to undertake an independent and effective investigation of the issue if the article is breached. Even if the requirement to protect life was not breached, the Article allows for an enquiry because of the obvious need for public protection.
Rob Webb, whose sister Laura Webb, 29 was murdered at Edgware Rd said:

"The drip feed of information since the attacks probably doesn't give the whole story. But it is now clear that the security services knew far more about the bombers and the possibility of an attack than we had originally been led to believe. So the state looks to have breached its duty to protect life. We all – Government, Security Services, survivors, bereaved and of course the public at large, who remain at risk of terrorist plots, need to learn all we can about the 7/7 attacks. We need to know what could have been done to help prevent them and so help prevent innocent people from suffering the fate of all those who were caught up in the awful events of that day in July 2005."

Should the Government once again turn down the request for an independent investigation, the signatories of the letter will seek a Judicial Review into the decision.

Rob concluded:

"We don't wish to take our Government to Court. But we need to ensure that everything is done to prevent further attacks. We believe that an Independent investigation will help do that, which is why we are prepared to go to Court to ensure that one happens."

Petition for an inquiry here .
Write to your MP

Graham and Rob and others will be our spokesmen today. I am proud to stand silently with them, and the others in the group, and would like to thank everyone who has helped for their invaluable support.

One last thing. The Inquiries Act 2005. Despite provocation, I have not commented on this before now because it was strategically unwise to do so. It is my personal opinion (and the opinion of some others in the group, as well as many members of the Judiciary and Amnesty International), that this pernicious piece of legislation will make it very difficult to have a truly independent inquiry. But we will cross that bridge when we come to it; at the moment, we just want a proper response from the new Government, whom we are hopeful will listen to us, look at our case and do the right thing, after two long and painful years.

Wish us luck; we need it.

Coverage: Lead story on BBC Breakfast London news, Graham and other spokespeople have just done BBC London radio, Sky, BBC News, BBC News 24, C4 lunchtime news, also Top story in Mirror, Reuters, South Wales Echo
Bloggers: Chicken Yogurt, Bloggerheads, Prisoner'sVoice , Ministry of Truth , Netherworld,
SepticIsle , Blairwatch
Thanks guys.

more soon...

late at night: Guardian website and a load of stuff via Press Association that I can't link tonight as my net connection is d-e-a-d s-l-o-w. But I know we were in Japan, Croatia, Australia and the Washingdon Post, & more.

Thursday: Guardian newspaper page 6 today, The Lawyer, Gulf News
C4 News website, Metro

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

We can't turn them away update...(2)


Monday, August 13, 2007

This American Life

The show I was interviewed for is called The Spokesman, hosted by Ira Glass and can be found here for 7 days. It is in three 'acts'. I'm act 1, introduced by Ira Glass at 8.30 minutes in. The interview begins at 9 minutes in.

Does anyone know a way to *capture the show so I can listen to it after the 7 day period has ended? ( *if that's legal?) EDIT: Thank you - got it taped. Cheers.

EDIT again - and to those who emailed & said this was a wild story, and had I thought of writing a book about it - yes, it is, ( but all wierdly true) yes, I have, it's called Out of The Tunnel and it is just out and available from , who will ship to the US. ( Not on US amazon yet, but we're working on it. If you all ask for it, they'll stock it too.Maybe. It's a small indie publisher, and a small print run, but we're all happy to scramble if you want a copy)

And thank you. I have had some totally lovely messages, anxious to reassure me you believe I do exist. You sweethearts. I love America.

EDIT again: and now they have updated the programme notes to link the blog and book, so now I look like a rabid publicity hound banging on about the book. I am sorry. All I can say this, and forgive me.
edit again: thank you for this incredibly helpful link about recording stuff from Politics at the Parish pump

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Titanic: the TRUTH at last!

''Welcome to the Unfastened Coins website. This site is dedicated to exposing the truth about the government's involvement in the sinking of the Titanic. Specifically, that they did it (and by "they" I mean Jews)...''

more c/o Maddox. Heh. There's a reason why it's called the best page in the universe....

(For the uninitiated, this is a spoof of 'Loose Change', a risible 9/11 conspiraloony film that has spread across the internet like a rash and can be found here - with rebuttals). More pointing and laughing here, here, here, here, here, here, here and in many other places where reason reigns.)

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hello America

Hello and welcome to anyone from the US who has come here after listening to This American Life. I've just heard the programme and it is a great show. Big thanks to Jon Ronson for interviewing me. Jon's book Them is one of my top non-fiction reads of all time.

My book wasn't mentioned on the show, (but hey, can't win 'em all). It's called Out of the Tunnel, and the interview was based on it. The book is available from amazon UK, and an interview about it can be found here, and there's more stuff -reviews etc - in the right hand blog sidebar. I'll link an MP3 of This American Life on Monday, when the show becomes available to listen for free for 7 days.

UPDATE: It's here - the show is called 'The Spokesman' and I'm the second interview

Friday, August 10, 2007

We can't turn them away: update

UPDATE: From Dan Hardie who got this campaign off the ground
ABC News ( yesterday)

UK soldiers call for visas to Iraqi translators
British Army officers have asked the UK Government to give refugee visas to Iraqis who have worked with them.
But interpreters who have worked closely with British forces have been told to use the same channels as any other asylum seeker and join the queue.
Army officers want Gordon Brown's new Government to do much more. The British tabloids have clearly taken the side of the servicemen, writing, "We cannot pretend to be civilised liberators and then condemn to death those who risk so much to help our cause."
The "condemned" are 91 Iraqi translators who have worked with the British Army and have been told they will not get any special treatment when they apply for refugee visas, despite the fact they have been specifically targeted by militia because they worked with the UK.

Independent report 8th August
Last night, the Government indicated that it was also preparing to " look again" at the cases of Iraqi translators who assisted the British military but were denied refugee status while Mr Blair was prime minister. They were subsequently left to the dangers of Iraq, just as Western troops are reportedly preparing to scale back from the country.

See also Guardian , Times. The Danes have already done the decent thing. Now we hear that Gordon Brown has ordered an urgent review.

“That’s why the prime minister has made it clear that we will review how best to [carry out] our duty of care to these people.
“That’s in hand, I have a responsibility on that, as does the foreign secretary and we will report to ministers in the autumn.”

But Justin has nailed why this is NOT GOOD ENOUGH

‘In the autumn‘? ‘Appropriate pace’? This isn’t good enough. These people are dying right now. And not by a nice swift, lights-out bullet to the back of the head. They’re being power drilled in the hands and legs and head so their mutilated bodies can serve as warning to others. Those 91 interpreters could be dead ‘in the autumn’.

Following this post, please sign the petition if you haven't already.

Even more important than a petition, please take 4 minutes of your life and

please write to your MP. It is easy and it is very important.

Letters to the Home Office get results.
Tim has a template to help you.
Dan has an update, here .

Thank you.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Further mouse news

The famous mouse has now been spotted helping itself to turkey whiskas chunks out of Miff's bowl. It was licking its whiskers in satisfaction when I walked in. Miff has meanwhile taken to hiding in the study on a bookshelf rather than face predatory rodents who bully her mercilessly in the sitting room.
I am running out of ideas as to how to establish a vermin-free household. It's a plague, you know, ( hat-tip newshound/prophet of mousedoom Hendo)

I would like to reassure everyone who has been emailing me expressing concern for Miff's welfare, that she is much recovered following the antibiotics course, receiving daily affection and adoration, despite her utter uselessness as a predator, and is losing weight steadily as per vet's diet instructions. Meanwhile, the mouse is putting weight on, and also appears to be extremely comfortable.

UPDATE: The end of the saga

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Top bloggery

Iain Dale wants to know your top 20 political blogs so please go and let him know and let the bunfight continue by leaving your thoughts in the comments or emailing iainAT iaindaleDOTcom. You can see Iain Dale and many other famous bloggers appearing as South Park characters over at Daily Referendum.

Speaking of blogging votes, I am grateful to Mr. Eugenides, for alerting me to the fact that I have been voted 'Blogger you'd most like to shag' in the Witanmegot Awards. Erm, thanks.
Meanwhile, Britblog round up continues at Photobiblion with another round-up of goodies. My top blog post of this week is Girl with a one track mind, who writes about the fall-out after having your anonymity shredded by bullying journalists.
And on that note, I am off to write an article on the dangers of blogging.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Richard & Judy interview on YouTube

For those who missed it, Richard and Judy interview with me and Dad is here. Many thanks to Justin Chicken Yoghurt for YouTubing it


Mouse update: Miff shame continues

I am typing a post about Brian Paddick for London Mayor when I hear a yell from J on the sofa in the sitting room.

'The bloody mouse! It's back! Looking at me!''

''Where?'' I say, rushing into the room.

''It's in the it's behind the TV. Right there. By the pile of DVDs.''

The mouse is indeed there, strolling about the book shelves behind the television. It does not look remotely bothered that we are shouting at it with such indignation.

J demands to know where the damn cat is. I suggest that she is likely to be sunbathing. This infuriates J and he rushes off, and comes back with the cat clamped under his arm. Miff emits a strange groaning noise like a pair of furry bagpipes.

''Can you still see the mouse?'' hisses J, crouching, still holding a struggling Miff.

''Yes'', I whisper, pointing behind the TV where the mouse is picking its way delicately over wires, jaunty tail held high.

J reaches to the side of the TV, leans down, and deposits Miff next to the mouse. She lands with a flump, like a heavy beanbag.

Miff looks surprised and indignant as she hits the floor. She does not seem to see the large brown mouse a few inches from her whiskers. Instead she goes straight to her food bowl which is a yard away to the right. The mouse swerves casually round Miff, and runs under the chest where we keep DVDs and and videos. I drop to the floor and squint under the chest. The mouse eyeballs me back. I can see its ears flicking as it blinks at me.

''Right!'' I shout, getting cross at the continued defiance from intransigent vermin. ''Grab the videos! Pile them round the chest! Block off its exit! Get ready with Miff!''

J and I pile videos frantically. When we have finished, we find Miff has vanished. She is discovered back into the bedroom, lying in a patch of sun on the carpet and purring. This enrages me. Miff is petted and adored and generally lives the life of Riley. All we require of her is that once a year she does something useful, and attempts to catch a mouse. I take Miff to task for her indolence. J is tasked with scooping up Miff and bringing her back to perform her feline duty. He carries her back, his jaw set, his back stiff, in a manner that suggests he has a serious plan. In his other hand he carries a long garden cane. He positions himself next to the chest, holding Miff firmly.

I lie on the floor again and insert the cane under the chest. Then I sweep the cane violently from side to side to flush out the mouse, whilst instructing J to remove one of the videos at the corner of the chest near his feet so the mouse has to run out of the gap.

Under the chest, in the almost-darkness, the mouse skips about, leaping nimbly over the stick as I wiggle it. But it becomes increasingly agitated and finally it runs out from under the chest where J is crouching with Miff in his arms. J carefully drops Miff right on top of the mouse. The movement is perfectly executed: Miff does not even need to extend her claws; she could kill the mouse simply by falling on it and suffocating it with her fat spotted belly.

''What's she doing? Has she got it in her mouth?'' I call, scrambling to my feet and spitting out dustballs dislodged from poking about under the chest.

''She's sniffing her bloody food bowl'' says J in despair. I turn my head to see the mouse. The mouse is pausing to stare briefly at Miff, then it trots back to the fireplace, and vanishes into a hole in the wall which leads to the next door neighbours' house.

Miff comes up to me, and rubs her face hopefully against my leg. She blinks at me, looking meaningfully at the empty bowl. Then she lies down on the floor and smiles at us, asking for a belly-rub.

'' You've got to be joking'' says J, shaking his head.
UPDATE: Further mouse shame

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Paddick for Mayor rumours resurface

Rumours have abounded since 2006 that ex top cop number 2 Brian Paddick will step forward to run as Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London after his retirement form the force. If he does, I will be thrilled. I can see that blogging Boris 'Bumbling' Johnson is a valuable contribution to the gaiety of the nation, and he is good on civil liberties stuff, being a useful contributor to Chris Atkin's excellent Taking Liberties movie but London Mayor? Shurely shome mistake.

If a Tory were to win, I would prefer Richard Barnes, whose diligent work as Chair of the London Assembly's 7 July Review Committee led to the most useful analysis of lessons learned after the London bombings of July 2005.

But now step forward Commander Brian? Fellow urban75-ite Brian took some of the most repellent homophobic abuse ever dished out by British newspapers after his innovative and hugely successful community-policing strategy in South London, notably in Brixton and Lambeth. Supported by then Commisioner Sir John Stevens, now a Brown Cabinet adviser, Brian pioneered an on-the-spot confiscation/warning policy for cannabis user offences, rather than prosecution, leading to enhanced relations with locals. Previously Brian had been in charge of the Notting Hill Carnival policing, But the right-wing press turned on him and attacked him for being 'soft on drugs', and apparently - 'being gay'. The Mail on Sunday was forced to apologise and pay damages after it published a story from his former partner alleging he had used cannabis. Brian also got into hot water when he contributed to a thread on urban75, a lively Brixton-based message board. It was reported by idiots in newspapers that he was an 'anarchist', in fact he'd said that

''The concept of anarchism has always appealed to me. The idea of the innate goodness of the individual that is corrupted by society or the system. It is a theoretical argument but I am not sure everyone would behave well if there were no laws and no system. I believe there are many people forced into causing harm to others by the way society operates at the moment. They would not have to behave in this way if the current system did not exist or was radically different. What am I saying here? I am saying that the way society operates at the moment, with all the injustice and discrimination, pushes people to act against their nature to damage and harm others. Eradicate all injustice and discrimination - would that stop all people damaging and harming each other - I am not sure. If there were still people who would continue to exploit and harm others, how would you stop such injustice if you had no system, no society?''

Which is fair enough, as part of a discussion about anarchy and political systems.

There were rallies in support of him when he announced he was leaving Brixton. Unheard of for a copper.

Brian was also superb on July 7th and after when he gave out most of the Met press briefings as senior spokesman; like Ken Livingstone, the current Mayor, he articulated London's shock and exuded calm dignity whilst stressing the need for unity and giving out clear information. He was a good contributor on urban 75 ( I have just read all his old posts). With his listening skills, his reasonableness, his intelligence, and his ceaseless efforts to engage with communities, he'd pose a real threat to Ken Livingstone if he did stand. And he's proved he can withstand a media storm. Whether the de Menezes tragedy and his outspokenness will cast a shadow over any political ambitions he has remains to be seen. I hope his book comes out soon and sells bucketloads. And if he runs, I'll vote for him.

Brian posting on urban 75...

'Where do I start? I am here as myself. I am a police officer and a human being. These are my own personal views. I am not giving some official view. I am doing this in my own time because I want to. I think it is really important that I talk to all sorts of people from all backgrounds to make sure I have a more balanced view of life. I really want to try to move beyond all the hate and anger people feel although I understand people are expressing how they really feel. This board provides an important place where people can express themselves and I would like to express myself as well.'

''In my opinion, some but not much street crime is carried out by chaotic drug users. Many are not up to running after people and attacking them. Chaotic users tend to go for shoplifting, breaking into cars, burglary and begging - the non-confrontational stuff.In my opinion, street crime is primarily carried out by intelligent, scheming, physically fit young men and women who are either very quick or very violent. It is seen as an alternative (some think the only alternative) way of getting the designer gear, living the life the advertisements say they should be leading, rather than getting a job. "Why work at McDs for £5 an hour when you can make 10x that from street crime and get your thrills at the same time?"

The tragedy is, if they turned their physical and intellectual abilities to something useful many would succeed.Two things need to be done to defeat street crime. First, make it more difficult to commit street crime e.g. getting potential victims more street-wise, improved street lighting, more police patrols, improved criminal justice systems (not just jail). Second, make it easier for people to earn an honest living e.g. improved education tailored to young people's needs, more employment opportunities, real efforts to eradicate discrimination against poor people, black people, ex-offenders, homeless people, in the job market, and providing reasonably paid jobs with dignity for young people.

According to the criminologists, there is no proven causal link between drugs and crime. There is a causal link between poverty and crime and between poverty and chaotic drug misuse. We need to do some cost-benefit analyses on, how much do we save around crime and health service costs if we lift people out of poverty through job creation, and decent welfare benefits for those who cannot work?

Drugs can screw your life up - even if you start in control things can soon get out of control. You then lose your job, then you might turn to crime because you have no income to fund your habit. If you have enough income to fund a chaotic habit, you can be a crackhead or a smackhead and never commit a crime (other than drugs offences) as many celebs allegedly do!D o 90% of people arrested for crime have traces of illegal drugs in their system because they are all chaotic drug users trying to fund a habit? Or if you are the sort of person who breaks the law and ends up being arrested, are you also someone who probably does not care too much about the drugs laws either? I go for option 'B'.''

''I really appreciate all you guys entering the debate. The thing about views that you strongly disagree with is they make you think. They make you question what you do and what you believe in. That has got to be healthy. I hope none of you are completely unchanged by what has been said here.At the end of the day, I just wanted to try to make things better within the limited sphere in which I operated. I will leave the revolution to you guys!''

See? Completely sensible. Come on Brian, publish - and then stand!
Meanwhile Boris has a new book about cars out. It was next to mine in the Buy One Get One Half Price shelf at Books Etc.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Moose loose aboot this hoose!

I got in late last night after doing Radio 5 live Friday 'Up All Night' to find a large brown mouse sitting outside the front door. I waved my foot at him, to shoo him away and he casually walked about a yard away and then hid behind a recycling box. Not very effectively, I could still see him peeping at me and twitching his whiskers. J opened the front door and we hugged, and I came in and we shut the door behind us. And the mouse ran in too, but we didn't see him.

Later on we were sitting on the sofa watching The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and we suddenly saw a slim tail, waving, on the bookshelf, then disappearing behind the sofa. We jumped up and pulled the sofa to one side. No mouse.

'Get Miff!' I shouted. 'It's her moment! Come on fatso! Mouse time!'

Miff is on yet another diet. She doesn't like being on a diet, and is constantly whinging and collapsing on the floor pathetically, and so we assumed she would be thrilled to get her claws on some protein.
Miff was discovered on the bed, paws crossed, eyes closed, like a fat puddle of tabby fur. She did not seem very pleased to be removed and plonked in the sitting room (where the mouse had been spotted) with instructions to get on the case.

She sniffed about and then started to lash her tail excitedly. J and I waited for her to spring into action, eyes darkening, tail rigid, transformed from placid moggy into killing machine. But after a few minutes she gave up and sauntered over to her bowl to look for food. There was no food, so she threw herself on the floor dramatically and let out a long sigh.

We ignored her theatrics, as the vet had told us to do, and carried on watching TV.

A few moments later, there was a commotion behind the sofa. Claws skittering, and a hissing noise. Then thundering feet sprinting down the hall. We leapt up again.

'Go, Miffler!' I shouted excitedly. ' Well done! Get that mouse!'

'Oh, for God's sake', said J, watching the scene in the hall.

'What?' I asked.
The cat was running flat out, ears back, down the hall . The mouse was streaking down the hall too, heading for the bedroom, and freedom, through the open French windows into the yard.

But the laws of nature had been shamefully inverted. The cat was running in front of the mouse. Miff was running away as the mouse chased after her. They both disappeared into the garden. The mouse went left, under the garden gate and into the street, and the cat ran under the garden table, where she sat down heavily, and began licking her paws.

'Your cat is rubbish', J told me, as he headed back inside in disgust.
'She caught a mouse before', I said, defending Miff.
'No, Rachel, she found a half dead baby mouse and sat on it and hummed at it for three hours. You had to finish it off' said J.
'Well, she's ill. She has a temperature, remember,' I pointed out.' I've just had to lash out £100 at the vet to get her tablets'.
'She's crap', said J.' She's an embarassment. She saw a mouse and she ran away and hid'
Later on, Miff put on a great performance of sniffing about behind the sofa again, looking extra-diligent and alert.
J openly mocked her.
I fear he was right to do so.
As I type this, I think I can hear the skittering again of tiny paws.
UPDATE: More mouse drama: Miff's shame continues

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

This week's Britblog round up

can be found over here. Enjoy. I am off to Norfolk to see Mum and Dad, back on Friday.