Open Letter To The BBC

Dear BBC,

At the beginning of this year I submitted the Freedom of Information Act request to yourselves that is reproduced below together with your response.

I have to say that I was disappointed by your response, in saying that what I had requested was outside the scope of the Act, and that you have no record of the number of MPs that appear on your programmes. I was however interested in your Editorial Guidelines that state that the BBC should not be paying politicians for appearances where they express political views, and for a long time I took that at face value and assumed that you did not, therefore, pay politicians for their appearances on political programmes such as Question Time.

20 January 2014

Dear Mr Wright

Freedom of Information request – RFI 20140024

Thank you for your request to the BBC of 5th January 2014, seeking the following information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000:

“Could you please tell me for the 2012/2013 Financial Year

a) How many serving MPs have appeared in BBC TV programmes (with the exception of live News Broadcasts etc)

b) What was the total sum of money paid to serving MPs for their appearance/contribution to BBC scheduled TV and Radio programmes”

The information you have requested is out of scope of the Act. However, we are happy to explain that we do not keep a record of the numbers of MPs and so would in any case be unable to give you this information. With regard to payments to MPs, you may be interested to read the policy set out in the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines, which set out the principles to which BBC employees should adhere: http://www.bbc.co.uk/editorialguidelines/page/guidelines-politicspractices-interviews#payment-to-mps . These state:

10.4.7

We should not normally pay MPs, or others clearly identified as representing political
parties, for appearances or other contributions to any BBC output in which they are
speaking as a member of their party or expressing political views. They can, where
appropriate, be paid a limited and realistic disturbance fee and/or any reimbursement for
genuine expenses.

10.4.8

They may be paid for contributions to non-political output, where they are appearing on the basis of their expertise outside politics or of their celebrity, and are not taking part as a member of their party or expressing political views. (See Section 10 Politics, Public Policy and Polls: 10.4.4)

Active politicians should not normally be paid for an appearance on, or contribution to, BBC News output. The extent to which a contributor is considered an active politician may be influenced in each case by a combination of factors including, for example, the type of programme or other content, the nature of the contribution, the contributor’s political activity or the capacity in which they appear. Further advice should be sought from Chief Adviser Politics

We hope you find this helpful. Please note that the information you have requested is excluded from the Act because it is held for the purposes of ‘journalism, art or literature.’ Part VI of Schedule 1 to FOIA provides that information held by the BBC and the other public service broadcasters is only covered by the Act if it is held for ‘purposes other than those of journalism, art or literature” 1. The BBC is not required by the Act to supply information held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output or information that supports and is closely associated with these creative activities; however, on this occasion we’re happy to provide the above information in response to your request.

Appeal Rights

The BBC does not offer an internal review when the information requested is not covered by the Act. If you disagree with our decision you can appeal to the Information Commissioner. Contact details are: Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF telephone 01625 545 700. http://www.ico.gov.uk

Yours sincerely,

Stephanie Harris

Head of Accountability, BBC News

So, not only do you claim that you could not answer my question as you don’t record that information, but you give enquirers no Right of Appeal, but instead refer them direct to the Information Commissioner.  For your information the information Commissioner’s website (which is now located at https://ico.org.uk/) says this “You should first complain to the authority and ask it to conduct an internal review.” An Internal Review that you don’t offer.  The Information Commissioner won’t act unless one has asked you for an Internal Review, and you state that you don’t conduct Internal Reviews.  Brilliant!!

Getting back to my original request, you state “We should not normally pay MPs, or others clearly identified as representing political parties, for appearances or other contributions to any BBC output in which they are speaking as a member of their party or expressing political views. “  and  “They may be paid for contributions to non-political output, where they are appearing on the basis of their expertise outside politics or of their celebrity, and are not taking part as a member of their party or expressing political views. “

Personally I would regard This Week as a political programme, and includes political views from the participants. 

For your further information, Diane Abbott MP has declared to the  Register of Members’ Interests that she has been paid £700 by the BBC for every time that she has appeared on This Week.  In the most recent version of the 2014/15 Register (8th December 2014) she has declared that the BBC have paid her £700 on 17 separate occasions.  That equals £11,900 paid for by the BBC Trust for services the the Editorial Guidelines would indicate that she not be paid for.

Diane Abbott is not alone in this, other MPs have made similar declarations to the Register.

As I can clearly not rely on an Act of Parliament to obtain the information I require, maybe Ms Stephanie Harris, Head of Accountability, BBC News, could explain this anomaly to me or attempt to answer my original question.  I see no reason whatsoever why this issue should be protected by Journalistic Privilege, I am not requesting any names, not seeking to identify journalists sources, merely attempting to establish how the British Licence Payers’ money is being spent.  Is that too much to ask?

Yours

Alan Wright

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And The Melton Mowbray Award 2014/15 Goes To……..

Well, for me it’s a close-run thing between Diane Abbott and the BBC. I am indebted to Media Guido for the article below.

Diane Abbott Pockets £110,000 of Licence Fee Payer Cash

Feel free to follow the link and you will be further directed to a schedule of payments, that Diane Abbott has properly declared, showing that every time she pops up on BBC’s This Week programme she pockets a cool £700.

In 2004, following a complaint made by Andrew Rosindell MP, Abbott was investigated by the Committee on Standards and Privileges regarding payment she had received from the BBC. They found she had failed to declare earnings of £17,300 on the Register of Members’ Interests which had been received for appearances on the television programme This Week, so, bearing that in mind she unfailingly declares her £700 per week courtesy of Auntie.

In August 2012 the BBC Trust ruled that payments to Abbott for her appearances on This Week were made in breach of BBC guidelines that banned payments to MPs who were representing their political parties. For her part, Abbott had correctly declared the payments in the Parliamentary Register of Members’ Interests. The Trust also said that Abbott had appeared on the show too often.

At the beginning of this year I wrote to the BBC and asked them this question;

“Could you please tell me for the 2012/2013 Financial Year;

a) How many serving MPs have appeared in BBC TV programmes (with the exception of live News Broadcasts etc)

b) What was the total sum of money paid to serving MPs for their appearance/contribution to BBC scheduled TV and Radio programmes”

Their reply included:-

With regard to payments to MPs, you may be interested to read the policy set out in the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines, which set out the principles to which BBC employees should adhere: http://www.bbc.co.uk/editorialguidelines/page/guidelines-politicspractices-interviews#payment-to-mps . These state:

10.4.7

We should not normally pay MPs, or others clearly identified as representing political parties, for appearances or other contributions to any BBC output in which they are speaking as a member of their party or expressing political views. They can, where appropriate, be paid a limited and realistic disturbance fee and/or any reimbursement for genuine expenses.

10.4.8

They may be paid for contributions to non-political output, where they are appearing on the basis of their expertise outside politics or of their celebrity, and are not taking part as a member of their party or expressing political views.

So, it was 2012 when she was ruled in breach of the above Editorial Guidelines.

Fast Forward to May 2014, the most recent entries available in the MPs Register of Financial Interests, and there we find our Diane still registering £700 a go for appearing on This Week, just not as often.

Much as I don’t like Diane Abbott, I can’t imagine that she would register money that she had NOT been paid, so I must assume that she has.

Therefore, by a process of elimination, I must award the Melton Mowbray to the BBC, for claiming that they don’t pay politicians for appearing on programmes such as This Week, when it is evident that they do.

Shame on you BBC, that’s OUR money.

Just in case any of you thought I was picking on the unfortunate Ms Abbott, Mr Keith Vaz has also declared that he has accepted payment from the BBC for appearing on Any Questions, which is also a politically orientated programme I believe.

Stress and PTSD

Stress and PTSD, quite current.  Lots of talk about it and quite rightly so.  Do our Police Forces understand it?  Not sure, but they never used to, although I have to say that the differences across the country are immense.

Many, many years ago, in the days of Crystal Sets and Black and White square TV screens (well 1987 actually) I took part in a BBC documentary.  It was one of the Horizon series of documentaries entitled The John Wayne Syndrome.  The subject matter was Stress in the Police Force, “Horizon investigates the effect of stress on police officers and how their increasing job pressures affect their health and relationship with the public. “

When the Producer first sought volunteers to take part in this programme he wrote an open letter to (presumably) all Police Forces asking for examples of stress within the Police Force.  I was in the middle of a period of disenchantment with the Met at that particular time and thought to myself “Stress in the Police Force?  I’ll bloody tell him about stress in the Police Force” and replied to his letter.

Months went by and I’d heard nothing until one Friday, my wife got a message to me at work saying that the BBC had been on the on the phone and wanted to send a film crew round on the Monday morning to interview me for the programme.

It took about a nano-second for the penny to drop that in the middle of my angst, and convinced that the Beeb wouldn’t be interested in my story, I had spectacularly failed to ask the Met’s permission to take part in this programme.  I set about finding a guvnor, only to discover that there was a Service Funeral that day and the only senior officer I could find was a lonely Chief Inspector.

He was obviously a good, Bramshill-trained guvnor because his immediate reaction was “I can’t make a decision on this, I’ll have to find someone at Area”.

The end of my shift came, still no decision, Friday evening was looming and…….nothing.

Home I went still uncertain what I was supposed to do about Monday morning.

About 5 o’clock just as the missus was about to do dinner the phone rang. I answered the phone only to find a Deputy Assistant Commissioner on the other end.  Actually it was DAC Richard ‘Dickie’ Wells, a boss I actually had a lot of time for.  Having heard my side of the story he made an on-the-spot decision that I could not take part in the programme.

Plucking up as much bravado as I could muster on a Friday evening, I replied with “OK Sir, fair enough, but they also want to interview my wife and she’s not in the Job, she can say whatever the hell she likes”.   “I’ll call you back” responded Dickie.

About an hour later he called back and decided that he WOULD grant permission for me to take part in this documentary as long as I agreed for somebody from the Met’s Publicity Department to be present whilst it was filmed. To their eternal credit this lady did not interfere with as much as one single word.

The morning was spent interviewing me and Mrs Angry in our home and then I was whisked off to take part in a simulated counselling session in the afternoon.

Eventually the programme was aired and I got to see what other contributions had been made.  I was gobsmacked that SOME other Forces dealt with Stress far more proactively than the Mighty Met.

The one example that will always stay with me was the Bradford City Football Ground fire.  According to the officers interviewed for the programme the support shown to them by their Force  (West Yorkshire I believe) was First Class.

Four police officers, Police Constables David Britton and John Richard Ingham and Chief Inspectors Charles Frederick Mawson and Terence Michael Slocombe, and two spectators, Richard Gough and David Hustler, were awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for their actions.  PCs Peter Donald Barrett and David Charles Midgley, along with spectators Michael William Bland and Timothy Peter Leigh received the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct. In total, 28 police officers and 22 supporters, who were publicly documented as having saved at least one life, later received police commendations or bravery awards. Together, flanked by undocumented supporters, they managed to clear all but one person who made it to the front of the stand.

Not one single officer who took part in the programme was in any way critical of the support and counselling they had received from their Force in the aftermath of this tragedy.

The Met’s corporate reaction in those days is likely to have been something like “Right lad, see you for Early Turn tomorrow, but don’t worry if you ‘Do it in’ a bit”.

So what’s it like 25-30 years later?  I’m not awfully sure to be honest, but following on from a conversation with my reader I made a request of his/her home Force (difficult to tell who’s who with all these anon accounts).

I asked them two simple questions, the second of which was

Could you please inform me how many officers have been suffering
from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as above within the last two
years, and how many of those have been Medically Retired?

They refused to answer on the grounds that

this data is not recorded on our systems in a way that can be easily abstracted because all periods of sickness are recorded on each individual’s personal record. This will be inclusive of psychological conditions such as anxiety, depression etc. To extract the information in response to your request, we would therefore need to review each relevant employee’s sickness record with a view to establishing what the symptoms and circumstances were.

and it would be too expensive to extract that data for me.

So there you have it, 2014, and at least one of Her Majesty’s Constabularies don’t actually know how many of their officers are suffering from Stress or PTSD.  That’s encouraging isn’t it.

If my reader wants me to ‘Name That Force’ and embarrass them I’m happy to do so, but their decision not mine.

Welcome Aboard The RMS Titanic – Or The Met As She Likes To Be Called

I must thank my good friend Dai for the inspiration for this post.  There we were mulling over the problems that the Met have caused for the rest of the Policing World, each with the beverage of our choice, a Guinness for him and a White Wine Spritzer for me, although Cornflakes might have been more appropriate.

I have said before that I was once proud to have been a Police Officer for 30 years and now I feel ashamed and tell people any old thing I can think of. After chatting with Dai, I changed my view somewhat.  Dai said something very profound; he said that the Met is single-handedly bringing us all into disrepute, and I can’t really argue with him, but it did make me think.  It can be dangerous when I think, it can lead to Tweets, blogs and all sorts of carnage. On this occasion it made me realise that I’m not ashamed to have been a Police Officer for 30 years, I’m still proud of that, but I am ashamed to have been associated with the Met for 30 years.  Since  I’ve been living in DeadBadgerShire I’ve met a few of our County Cousins and do you know, they’re not bad folk.  Making friends with Dai has led me to knowing some good and interesting people.

I gave a talk recently about my 30 years career in the Met and after it I was approached by a member of the audience, a retired local Police Officer,  who asked “was it really like that in the Met?”  He wasn’t enquiring about scandal and corruption, he was enquiring about the wealth of opportunities that exist in the Met and we take for granted, that simply don’t exist in DeadBadgerShire Constabulary. They are TOTALLY different animals, the Met and most County Forces. So, it is unfair to tar all Police Officers with the same, broad brush. Grossly unfair. By and large the good boys and girls of the Constabulary Forces do an excellent job under very trying circumstances so please don’t tar them all with the Met’s brush

Having got that out of the way, the rest of this blog is aimed solely at the Met, as it’s the only Force that I’m qualified to comment on.  If you recognise any of the problems I mention please feel free to use the Comments section at the bottom. Likewise if you can proffer any solutions.

I have never served with Sir Bernie at the helm, so I speak solely as an outsider in that respect. I have no inside knowledge whatsoever, I have not stayed in touch with anyone who could vaguely be described as Management.

Whilst I was serving I felt that the ‘end was nigh’ when Constables started calling their Sergeants Jim or Peter or whatever. Sarge or Skip was always good enough for me. Then that strange band of folk who lived above the 1st floor (Superintendents and above) started surrounding themselves with their chums. Heaven only knows what happened to ‘best man/girl for the job.  At a Divisional level that’s not too bad, normally one can live with it, but it’s not good for those on the promotion Helter Skelter, a tad unfair, and still wrong.  Within a specialist unit it’s a terrible practice, one to be deplored and if possible, outlawed.  The Met has many bosses but I’m not seeing many leaders. I’ve seen a few wankers on the 2nd and 3rd floors but I have never felt comfortable working under a wanker, who’s a chum of the boss, in a specialist post. Corrupt practice? Possibly, Discuss.

Dai had a great description of Bernie this morning; likened him to the captain of the Titanic, refusing to accept the inevitable disaster he’s responsible for, and we are the band.

Fiddling while London (Rome) burns, Ships? I see no ships, or Iceberg? What Iceberg?  I don’t know which is the best analogy, but they all have their merit.

Now Sir Bernard, this bit is for you.  I noticed the other day that the BBC had been trawling through this blog, searching for Constable James Patrick, Crime Stats, and reading my About Me page.  Why do you think that was?  Audit trails are wonderful things.  Audit trails were my bread and butter at one point of my career, one can tell a lot from a good audit trail.  I fear that the ship has sailed where Crime Stats are concerned, you had your opportunity to do something about it but you didn’t take it.  Constable James Patrick told PASC what was happening with Crime Stats, and I, and many others, am convinced he spoke the truth.  I joined the Met in 1972 and Crime Stats were being fiddled with official sanction all the way back then.  For example:-  Criminal Damage, value less than £20 – No Crime.  I could arrest a man for theft of a pint of milk (value 50p at today’s prices) and it would merit a crime book (CRIS) entry, be recorded and counted BECAUSE THERE WAS A PRISONER ATTACHED.  Breaking a pane of glass worth £19.99 would have been No Crime’d because that was the Force Policy.  Is that not fudging the stats?

A sweaty 2nd Class DS with a fag hanging out of his mouth might have said “hold onto that for a couple of days son, you can put it in as a red inker later” i.e. a crime report with a prisoner attached, looks much better.

We didn’t have s1 PACE in the 70s, but Stops were used as a Performance Indicator even then.  And YES stops were recorded from the telephone book just to make up the numbers, particularly on the run-up to Appraisal Time.

So for you to say that you were unaware of the practice of fudging Crime Stats is something I find difficult to believe.  You had the opportunity after Constable Patrick’s appearance before PASC to get him onside and advise you as to what was going on, how it was being done,  and how to address it, make it right.  Did you do so? No, one of your Senior Management Team appeared on TV implying that Constable Patrick was ‘mistaken’.  He was not mistaken, as a general principle Stats have been fudged since before I joined the Met, I find it absolutely unbelievable that senior officers can claim they had no knowledge of the practice.

Constable Patrick has tendered his resignation now. I haven’t discussed it with him, but it is possible that he may have been willing to act in some sort of consultancy role after his resignation.  Events now make that prospect highly unlikely, but as I say, I haven’t discussed that with him, so I may be wrong.

Corruption? Yes the Met undoubtedly has some officers who are corrupt, and there are undoubtedly those out there who seek to corrupt your officers. I had the privilege, and I mean that, of working on half a dozen or so murder enquiries during my time and I can honestly say that I NEVER encountered a single officer on those enquiries who did not want to solve the murder.  We encountered alleged interference from a well-known North London family once, but it was managed.  The SIO on that occasion I would happily follow to the end of the earth.  He was a hard taskmaster but he appreciated what the troops did for him and would fill the fridge out of his own pocket at a successful conclusion (fruit juice and lemonade of course).

I NEVER knowingly encountered corrupt officers on a murder enquiry, although that was only in one part of London, I never served in the part of London people are discussing at the moment. I have a very simple, innovative, resource-efficient way to help restore public confidence where corruption is concerned, but I too have been ignored. What should I make of that?  It might not work, but it is not expensive to implement and why not try something different? You never know it might work, and if it doesn’t nothing has been lost.

Bullying? The latest scandal to hit the Met.  I personally have no idea whether there is currently a culture of bullying within the Met.  I hear officers say that there is, I know that there used to be. “Just F***ing Do It” was a frequent method of conveying an instruction from Inspector Level officers (well some, not all, to be fair). Were the previous Management really unaware of this practice? Are the current Management unaware of it now?

I’ll be charitable, inappropriate/unprofessional behaviour by DPS officers.  One or two allegations are beginning to surface that DPS officers haven’t always behaved professionally.  Non-Disclosure of things that might weaken their case seems to be a common factor (allegedly).  If this is true, this cannot possibly be allowed to continue, and any officers found to be engaging in such practices should really be firmly dealt with.  There is a perception out here in Publicland that DPS are used as Management Henchmen with little regard for Justice, a law unto themselves, maybe even chasing their own KPIs who knows? Or maybe they are just inefficient and are in the wrong posting.

So, the Titanic has hit its Iceberg and is listing badly to starboard.  May I suggest that you have one option left?  Put right everything that is wrong with the Met, and I do mean everything. Stop promotion from being an ‘expectation’. Post Senior Officers to a post because they’re good at what they do, not because of who they’re friends with, or what golf club they belong to, and don’t even get me going on The Lodge. It will be painful, it will not happen overnight, but I truly believe that officers and public alike can be patient and understanding if they are appraised of what is happening, why it is happening and that it is all for the greater good. To rebuild the Met once more into a world-class Police Force, but you only get one shot at it.

So which do we fancy?

  1. I see no ships?
  2. Fiddling while Rome Burns?
  3. Iceberg? What bloody Iceberg?
  4. or Isaiah 58:12 ( I don’t normally do Biblical References but this one seems appropriate)  “And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in..”

I’d go for Option 4 myself.

So Just How Much DO the Beeb Pay Politicians For Their Appearances?

I’m sorry, you’ll probably find that a boring question, but after seeing the same old faces time and time again on Newsnight, Question Time et al, I rather thought that I’d like to know.

So I took out my trusty quill and asked the BBC that very question;

Could you please tell me for the 2012/2013 Financial Year

a) How many serving MPs have appeared in BBC TV programmes (with the exception of live News Broadcasts etc)?

b) What was the total sum of money paid to serving MPs for their appearance/contribution to BBC scheduled TV and Radio programmes?

And today I got my answer;

“The information you have requested is out of scope of the Act. However, we are happy to explain that we do not keep a record of the numbers of MPs and so would in any case be unable to give you this information.”

They then referred me to the Beeb’s Editorial Guidelines for Payments to MPs.

What an interesting document that is, and it contained the following advice;

10.4.7

We should not normally pay MPs, or others clearly identified as representing political parties, for appearances or other contributions to any BBC output in which they are speaking as a member of their party or expressing political views. They can, where appropriate, be paid a limited and realistic disturbance fee and/or any reimbursement for
genuine expenses.

10.4.8

They may be paid for contributions to non-political output, where they are appearing on the basis of their expertise outside politics or of their celebrity, and are not taking part as a member of their party or expressing political views.
(See Section 10 Politics, Public Policy and Polls: 10.4.4)

Active politicians should not normally be paid for an appearance on, or contribution to, BBC News output. The extent to which a contributor is considered an active politician may be influenced in each case by a combination of factors including, for example, the type of programme or other content, the nature of the contribution, the contributor’s political activity or the capacity in which they appear. Further advice should be sought from Chief Adviser Politics.

So, there you are, MPs do it for free Plus Expenses.

What Do I Want For 2014?

Happy New Year to my reader.

One thing I don’t want for 2014 is World Peace. If I say I want that I’ll end up being elected as Miss World 2014 and that would never do.

What I do want is for our Government and the Press to stop lying to us. A bold statement, but true I feel.

The government have stated and the press have reported that Migrants and Overseas Visitors will soon have to pay for their treatment for NHS services.  Well I’ve got news for you. They should be paying already.

To the best of my knowledge no-one from outside the EU is entitled to free NHS treatment whether they be Health Tourist or Holidaymaker.  They are supposed to be charged for their treatment and reclaim it from Health/Travel Insurance if applicable.

EU residents can be issued with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which is a re[placement for the old E111 us codgers will remember.

Your EHIC lets you get state healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. It will cover you for treatment that is needed to allow you to continue your stay until your planned return. It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care, as long as you’re not going abroad to give birth.

The EHIC is valid in all European Economic Area (EEA) countries, including Switzerland.

Nothing there states that it is free except in certain circumstances.  The reverse is true when Johnny Frenchman comes to visit us, he has to produce his EHIC and pay the reduced rate, even at GP surgeries.

When Mrs Angry and I left these shores for France we were summarily expelled from the NHS, had our medical records stored gathering dust in Newcastle somewhere and if we needed to visit the doctor whilst visiting family in the UK then we were supposed to pay and claim it back from the French authorities or Travel Insurance upon our return.

Where it went wrong was that the well-meaning NHS staff didn’t understand the system and why would we be charging a British National for his/her healthcare?  Lack of education/training by NHS bosses, simple as that.

For the government to state and for the press to report differently to that is WRONG. Not a mistake, not a misunderstanding. Iain Douglas Smith’s DWP (yes him again) produce a plethora of leaflets in a multitude of languages informing anyone who sends for one what the situation is.

The NHS’ own website has this to say on the subject ”

If you are moving abroad on a permanent basis, you will no longer be entitled to medical treatment under normal NHS rules. This is because the NHS is a residence-based healthcare system. You’ll also have to notify your GP so that you and your family can be removed from the NHS register.

You will no longer be entitled to use your UK-issued European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access healthcare abroad.”

It also says “If you are a visitor from the European Economic Area (EEA) then you are strongly advised to bring a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you, otherwise you may be charged for your healthcare.

Your EHIC lets you get state healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes free. It will cover you for treatment that is needed to allow you to continue your stay until your planned return. It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care, as long as you’re not going abroad to give birth.

Bear in mind that the UK’s healthcare system may be different from your home country’s and therefore your EHIC might not cover everything that you would expect to get free in your country

I can’t speak for all countries but in France healthcare is NOT free for French residents. Except for certain welfare cases the State pays 60-70% of your healthcare costs and the remaining 30-40% can be repaid by your Health Insurance if you have any, except for 1 Euro. The French government decrees that 1 Euro cannot be reimbursed by anybody, heaven only knows why, those bureaucratic French, don’t you just love them?

If, as British holidaymaker in France you needed to visit the doctor, you would have to pay 23 Euros (last time I was there), probably in cash, and then be charged for any medicines prescribed. The EHIC entitles you to the same service as the French, and that’s what they get.

The French Healthcare system is, in the main, an excellent one. Waiting Lists are hugely lower than they are here, but do not, for one minute, let the government convince you that it is free, not even to the French, except, as I say, basic healthcare for the really poor and disadvantaged.

Our government cannot claim that healthcare in the UK is free to overseas visitors, because EU citizen or not, it should not be free.

It has been estimated that by charging overseas properly for their healthcare could save the NHS £500 Million per year.

But don’t be fooled, this is nothing new, the system already exists, but I know from personal experience of having to tell a doctor or a dentist that they should be charging us for our treatment most NHS employees don’t know because they have not been told. I didn’t hide my address and pretend I was a British resident, I told the truth, and they still didn’t know how to charge me for my treatment.

It’s Lies, plain and simple. Tell the truth Camoron, BBC et al and put systems in place that allow for charging to be carried out as it should be, and report the news accurately and responsibly.

I have no complaints whatsoever about paying for my Healthcare in France, because I was treated the same as a French National, and I hadn’t paid anything into their Health System, but don’t let Camoron,Hunt and Smith convince you that’s free for EU Nationals cos it ain’t.

Happy New Year

Just Who Runs The BBC? Pravda?

I have devoted much thought over the last few months to the BBC, and, for the few remaining brain cells I have left, it is thought that I could do without wasting.  I have long thought that the BBC is not reporting news that the government might not want us to know about.

The most recent example of this was Mark McGowan’s noble quest to push a toy pig to Westminster to highlight the selling off of our beloved NHS.  How much of the #WheresDaddysPig campaign did you hear about on the BBC? Did you hear anything about it at all?

I don’t necessarily subscribe to the subsequent Conspiracy Theory regarding F***Book and their alleged censoring of @Scriptonite’s blog, but I would certainly have expected something as wacky as this, for a cause so important, to have been reported on.  We had regular updates on the man in the diver’s suit running (walking) the London Marathon for charity a few years back, so why not #WheresDaddysPig?

So what else have the BBC NOT reported on recently?

In September last year, I told you that the BBC had not seemingly reported that our Lords are benefiting to the tune of millions, if not billions, by privatisation of the NHS, but no-one seems to notice. When 6,000 nurses got the sack, and Lord Ashcroft’s business replaced them with temps (earning him untold fortunes), no-one seemed to notice.  Interestingly, like the Police reforms, the BBC chooses not to report these things

In all things Plebgate the BBC appears to be on the side of nice Mr Mitchell. I’m not going into whether or not he said ‘Pleb’ or the supposed orchestrated campaign to bring him down. Enquiries are still ongoing and no doubt the truth will out eventually.  However, the BBC has chosen to report the issue with a scathing attack on the Federation which includes the line “Mr Mitchell has always denied swearing at police officers and using the word “pleb”, although he did apologise for the words he did use and not treating the police with respect.”  Other journalists see it differently;

The Sunday Telegraph understands that the Chief Whip’s own version of events is that after asking officers to open the main gates to Downing Street for his bicycle, and being refused, he said: “You guys are supposed to f***ing help us.”  So is using the F word not swearing any more? Slanted journalism or what?

An article in The Grauniad in March this year reports that the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, has issued instructions that probation officers face the risk of disciplinary action if they publicly criticise on Twitter or other social media his plans to outsource 70% of their work with offenders.  I can’t find any reference to this in the BBC News section. Why would that be?

It has been reported in the free press that certain ex Scotland Yard senior officers have received large cash payouts in return for signing Gagging Orders preventing them from speaking out about their treatment etc.  Neither the Met nor the Mayor’s Office, MOPAC, will answer my FOI request to establish whether this is true or not, so I am left to make my own decision.  Was the BBC amongst the agencies that reported these alleged Gagging Orders? No. Why not? Is it not newsworthy, even in London?

There is a Tweeter some of you may know, @J_amesP, who is currently being investigated by the Met DPS for his Tweetings and writing of a book, the proceeds of which were donated to charity. The plight of this young officer and the possible consequences of this investigation have been reported in the press at various times and publications.  Reported by the BBC? Not that I can find unless you know differently.

These are but a few examples, I’m sure you, dear reader, can provide many more.

The real, more serious, question must be “Why are the BBC NOT reporting the News?” Simple, End of.