Jimmy Savile is dead, other British child abusers still alive


Jimmy Savile wearing a Stoke Mandeville T-shirt after running a marathon in aid of the hospital. Photograph: PA

From weekly The Observer in Britain:

Stoke Mandeville hospital ‘still putting children at risk’

Independent study of Buckinghamshire hospital’s child protection policy criticises it as ‘vague’ on eve of Savile reports

Alex Renton

Sunday 15 February 2015 00.05 GMT

On the eve of the publication of two explosive reports into the abuses – thought to involve more than 60 victims – committed by Jimmy Savile at Stoke Mandeville, an independent study of child protection policy at the Buckinghamshire hospital claims that it still puts children at risk.

Two years after Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust claimed that it had revised policy, following the initial revelations about Savile’s two decades of abuse at the hospital, the children’s safety campaigning group Mandate Now says that the trust’s “vague” policy offers little support to junior staff who want to report their suspicions.

Former staff have said that Savile and other sexual abusers at Stoke Mandeville capitalised on a “bullying” regime that left junior staff too frightened to report abuses and a senior management that ignored allegations.

These issues are expected to feature prominently when the Department of Health publishes a “lessons learned” report later this month, alongside Buckinghamshire NHS trust’s ownreport. It will bring to 29 the number of hospitals and other institutions that have been investigated since Savile died in 2011.

Delayed for nine months by the volume of evidence and by outstanding prosecutions, the Stoke Mandeville investigations, overseen by former barrister Kate Lampard, are expected to provide details of even more alleged crimes than a similar report into Savile’s activities at Leeds Infirmary, where 64 victims came forward. It was published in June last year, but failed to find any fault in senior management.

But the Stoke Mandeville report is likely to be different. Liz Dux, of the solicitors Slater and Gordon, represents 44 people who claim to have been assaulted by Savile at the hospital, some as children, others as staff. Dux told the Observer that her clients, most of whom have been interviewed by the two inquiries, had evidence that management – including a senior nursing sister – were informed about Savile’s abuses. “The scale is extraordinary. Savile was absolutely indiscriminate. He assaulted children, autograph hunters, nurses, people who worked in the chapel,” said Dux.

Savile had a flat at the hospital and his own office beside the children’s wards. He appears to have been allowed access to medical records. Staff who worked there have said that their only recourse when the DJ visited the hospital was to tell children to pretend to be asleep if he visited their ward.

Two former senior doctors at Stoke Mandeville have been accused of rape and other abuses of children at the hospital at the same time, though there is no evidence yet that they colluded with Savile. One, Bruce Bailey is dead; the other, Michael Salmon, was jailed last Thursday for 18 years, having been found guilty of eight indecent assaults and two rapes of girls aged 12 to 18.

Stoke Mandeville’s former director of nursing and a now-retired Thames Valley police detective have already said that their concerns about Savile’s abuse of girls were dismissed by authorities. “Subtle bullying” by hospital managers helped maintain Savile’s extraordinary power and freedom at the hospital, Christine McFarlane, former director of nursing and patient care, told the BBC.

Savile’s clout came from the millions in donations – no exact figure is known – he raised for Stoke Mandeville and its spinal injuries work. He also worked in wards as a volunteer from the mid-1960s. In 1988 he was appointed to the trust that then managed the hospital by health minister Edwina Currie.

Mandate Now – which is campaigning for a legal duty to report suspicions of abuse to a third party – has audited child protection policies at schools, the BBC and other institutions. The current one for Buckinghamshire conforms “to the bare statutory minimums”, it says. The 53-page document leaves many uncertainties, including who is responsible for protecting children and deciding whether suspected abuses “should” or “must” be reported to independent authorities. “Many institutions which have had serious safeguarding failures have subsequently been found to have similarly vague safeguarding arrangements,” says the Mandate Now analysis.

It says key information is missing – like a promised phone number for nurses to report suspicions. Web links in the policy document to important information from outside authorities are broken or do not work.

The reports into Stoke Mandeville are unlikely to lead to any further prosecutions, because there is no law that makes the inaction of senior management a criminal offence. Reporting of alleged abuse in schools, hospitals and other institutions to an outside party is at the discretion of managers.

“The victims I represent find it inconceivable that no one can be prosecuted,” said Dux. “These people were complacent and nothing can be done about it. Even if it’s found that the senior management of the time deliberately turned a blind eye, there’s nothing that can be done, because we don’t have a law.”

Tom Perry of Mandate Now, which audited the Buckinghamshire NHS trust child protection policy, wants legislation to make reporting of abuse allegations obligatory, as it is in many countries. “Discretionary reporting has failed for 65 years. It is a key reason why we now have child sexual abuse inquiries in England, Wales and Scotland.”

Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust said “it took its safeguarding responsibilities extremely seriously”. Since the first Savile revelations, it said, “We have strengthened our internal processes, for example, by introducing a comprehensive training strategy; by appointing named safeguarding leads within the trust; and through the launch of an awareness campaign to enable staff to speak out safely … We are never complacent and are always working to strengthen our approach.”

PRIME MINISTER David Cameron was under pressure to investigate top Tory officials last night following claims they plotted a paedophilia smear campaign against “senior Labour figures.” Crusading Labour MP Tom Watson went public yesterday over his month-long hunt for answers on the allegations, which surfaced at a dinner date involving a senior Daily Telegraph journalist: here.

British government sabotages marine life conservation


This video says about itself:

Seaham Dive Survey: marine life near Seaham

11 December 2009

A video of marine life near Seaham, North East England, by members of the Seaham Sub Aqua Club (narrated by diver and Marine Biologist Yvonne Townsend).

From Wildlife Extra:

Marine life at risk as number of new Marine Conservation Zones are cut

The Spiny Seahorse is one of the marine creatures that is in need of protection

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS), the UK’s leading marine charity, has expressed great disappointment in the latest round of Marine Conservation Zone designation in English waters.

Thirty seven sites had been proposed to go forward to a second public consultation on Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs), all identified by Government’s scientific advisers as vital to plugging “major gaps” that currently exist in the development of a UK network.

However, only 23 sites have made the final list when the consultation was launched on Friday 30th January.

The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is supported in its criticism by the National Trust, which owns 750 miles of England’s coastline.

The Trust says the underwater landscape of England’s coastline must be protected in the same way the visible land is and the protection must be put in place now before it’s too late.

MCS says sound scientific advice has once again been ignored with 14 important sites not included in the consultation.

The charity says this tranche had been promoted as one to fill in major gaps, but instead appears to have slowed the MCZ process right down.

“We are alarmed that these proposed MCZs have been shelved, at least for the time being,” says MCS Biodiversity and Fisheries Programme Manager, Dr Peter Richardson.

“We believe all of the sites are necessary to achieve the Government’s stated commitment to deliver a full network. Delaying 14 sites means that a number of the UK’s iconic marine places and habitats are still not adequately protected.”

Simon Pryor, Natural Environment Director at the National Trust, said: “Steady progress is being made to have a good network of Marine Conservation Zones around the coast of England.

“However, it’s disappointing that we’re not even half way to the original target of 127 that the Government outlined just two years ago.

“With good stakeholder buy-in to the original network of 127 MCZs, we believe the Government should have the courage to bring forward the consultation on controversial sites, in order to work through any difficulties.

“Protecting the seas around the English coast must be a priority as they face unprecedented pressure. Without the protection that they deserve marine wildlife and the quality of our seas will suffer.”

Both groups say that important sites missing from the consultation will leave huge gaps in the network. Studland, Bembridge, Norris to Ryde, and Yarmouth to Cowes have all been dropped, putting at risk the future of the spiny seahorse, mantis shrimps and large seagrass meadows.

MCS says that all the 23 sites that have made it to the consultation stage must be designated. These include well-known Cromer Shoals Chalk Beds referred by many as the “great barrier reef of Norfolk”, Farnes East which hosts an array of seabed life such as sea pens, and Newquay and The Gannel known for its crawfish, pink sea fans and migrating eels and salmon.

Last year, NGOs delivered a petition of over 350,000 signatures to the Prime Minister calling for a network of marine protected areas.

Over 150 cross-party MPs have signed a Marine Charter calling for an ecologically coherent network of Marine Protected Areas.

Recently, the Natural Capital Committee, an independent advisory group, told the Government that England’s natural environment decline is damaging the economy.

MCS and the National Trust are urging their supporters and the wider public to take part in the public consultation by going to www.mcsuk.org/mpa.

Ferguson, USA solidarity in Britain


Black Lives Matter co founder, Patrisse Cullors speaking at The Drum in Birmingham, England

From The Voice in Britain:

#BlackLivesMatter campaigner ‘disturbed by UK police deaths

Patrisse Cullors was speaking in Birmingham on a UK-wide Ferguson Solidarity Tour

Written by Poppy Brady

30/01/2015 12:40 PM

THE WORLD would not have woken up to what is happening to black families in America if the people of Ferguson had “just gone back home” after unarmed teenager Michael Brown was shot by a police officer, said a leading US black civil rights campaigner.

Patrisse Cullors, co founder of the group Black Lives Matter, was speaking in Birmingham on a UK-wide Ferguson Solidarity Tour where she stressed that “change will not happen until people force it to happen”.

She told of how the now well-publicised protests in Ferguson, Missouri, began with just a small number, but grew to the extent where people were able to shut down Walmart supermarkets and police departments to make the world sit up and take notice.

She had a warm welcome in Birmingham where she met several high profile families who are still fighting for justice following the deaths in custody of their sons, brothers and cousins.

Cullors told The Voice before speaking at a meeting at The Drum arts centre: “I am disturbed but not surprised by what is happening in the UK. Anti-black racism is a global issue, but I am also hopeful that through Black Lives Matter we can change minds and attitudes.”

She explained how she started #BlackLivesMatter on social media following the shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012 by vigilante George Zimmerman. The movement has since gone viral.

“I remember crying but feeling unsurprised by the US criminal justice system when Zimmerman was acquitted of murder,” said Cullors. “Instead of him, Trayvon Martin was put on trial and became the cause of his own death.”

In a stirring speech, she called for a minute’s silence after reading out the “unacceptable litany” of names of those across the UK who have died following contact with police.

She met and talked with several relatives, including Sonia Webster, the mother of Julian, who died after being held in a “chin-lock” by security staff outside a Manchester bar in 2009; Tippa Napthali, whose cousin Mikey Powell died on the floor of a police mini-bus in Handsworth in 2003 following his arrest.

Kadisha Burrell told of how her brother Kingsley dialled police for help in 2011 and ended up dying in hospital three days later after a blanket had been put over his head in a bid to restrain him. In all these cases no police officers or security guards have so far been held responsible for the deaths.

Napthali, the brother of renowned international poet Benjamin Zephaniah, told of how his cousin’s murder had changed his life, transforming him into a campaigner for justice.

He said he is now seeking volunteers to help in the launch of Red Alert, a 24-hour phone advice service for people who are concerned about a loved one being held in police custody.

An eight-strong panel at the Drum, who took questions from a packed audience, included Maxie Hayles, who chairs both the Justice for Julian Webster and Justice for Kingsley Burrell Campaigns, community activist Desmond Jaddoo, Kehinde Andrews, of the New Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, and Hannah Dee, of Defend the Right to Protest.

Hayles, who said the black community must stop suffering from a dependency mentality, said: “Every time our people are killed, the government says ‘we are learning from this’ but nothing changes. We are fobbed off with claims of insufficient evidence from the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Independent Police Complaints Commission. In my opinion they are not fit for purpose.”

Jaddoo, who earlier said how some of the circumstances of the US killings mirrored those in the UK, said: “We should never have to apologise fore being black. We need to stand up without fear.

“It’s so important that we come together like this. Stop looking at what divides us. Look at what unites us.”

For the Ferguson Tour, Cullors had stepped in at the last minute to replace leading campaigner Rev Osagyefo Sekou, who suffered a heart attack hours before boarding a plane to London. He is said to making a good recovery.

4th Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) for Tunisia found at Djerba, Gulf of Gabes


Originally posted on North African Birds:

A Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) was found at Djerba Island, Gulf of Gabès (Tunisia) on the 5th January 2015 by Italian ornithologists Andrea Corso, Michele Viganò, Chiara Sibona, Loris Golinelli and Leslie Parks. This is the 4th record for Tunisia.

Un Pluvier fauve (Pluvialis fulva) a été observé à Djerba, dans le golfe de Gabès (Tunisie) le 5 janvier 2015 par les ornithologues italiens Andrea Corso, Michele Viganò, Chiara Sibona, Loris Golinelli and Leslie Parks. C’est la 4ème observation pour la Tunisie de cette espèce rare qui se reproduit au Nord et l’Est de la Russie et l’Ouest de l’Alaska.

Andrea kindly sent us this observation along with the excellent photographs of the bird that Michele took. The following is the email of Andrea:

“Hello my friend

I am a true lover of N African birds and fauna and I visit Tunisia, Morocco, Sinai every…

View original 251 more words

Birdwatching in Morocco report


This video is called Birds of Morocco: Levaillant’s Green Woodpecker.

After earlier birdwatching in Morocco, here a recent report.

From The Birder and Biologist blog:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Morocco Trip Report Part 1: Dec 26-28, 2014

And so the adventure begins…my first trip to Africa, and going solo.

December 26, 2014

Day 1 was essentially a travel day, slowly making my way from Oxford to Marrakesh. It began with a quick cab ride from Littlemore to the downtown Oxford bus station, and then a relatively long 2-hour ride to London-Gatwick airport (thank goodness for Sudoku). I had about 3 hours to mill about the airport, so had some lunch, studied the bird guide a bit, and tallied five species from the airport windows: Common Wood-Pigeon, Eurasian Blackbird, Common Buzzard, and Eurasian Magpie.

That is four species; not five.

At 3:40pm my EasyJet flight departed on time, and landed ahead of schedule thanks to a strong tail wind. It was quite strange watching the sun set for nearly the entire flight, as we essentially flew down the edge of the sunset bell curve.

Once in Marrakesh, my luggage was there to meet me (unlike in the UK), getting through customs was relatively easy, and renting my car was painless. …

December 27, 2014

Day 2 and my first full day of birding in Morocco. Today’s plan was to head to a ski hill at Oukaimeden in search of two key species: Alpine Chough and Crimson-winged Finch. I woke at 6:10am and departed the hotel at 7:10am, about 15 minutes before sunrise. My day began with some common European birds on the hotel grounds, including Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, Blackcap, and European Blackbird. For the first several miles, or about half the trip, driving was along a relatively fast and straight road. At Douar Ouriki I saw a Common Stonechat, and in the village of Trine I saw my first lifer for the trip, Common Bulbul. Also in Trine was another Blackcap, and Chaffinches of the African race. At Trine I turned off to begin the long climb up the High Atlas to Oukaimeden. Birding was slow going, and almost every possible pullout had somebody selling something. And if a pullout had nobody selling anything and I chose to pull over to scan for birds, it wasn’t long before someone pulled up on their motorbike with something to sell.

At Tinichchi I found another two Common Bulbuls, as well as two Rock Buntings, and a Black Wheatear. I arrived at Oukaimeden with great expectations a little after 10:00am. Unfortunately, expectations were soon crushed by the swarms of people, especially the numerous peddlers pushing their wares. I spent about an hour at the resort, pulling over to scour the land wherever I could get a bit of peace. I couldn’t for the life of me find a Crimson-winged Finch, so that was a huge disappointment and my first big miss. I did however get Alpine Chough, about 40 of them mixed in with the even more numerous Red-billed Chough, and so managed to get one of two target birds. The only other species with decent numbers was Horned Lark (14 of them), among which was a single Linnet. At Oukaimeden Lake, which was completely open, I observed a lone White-throated Dipper foraging at the mouth of a small stream that flowed into the lake. This was my third lifer for the trip, and a pleasant surprise. With several more hours to spend birding, and Oukaimeden decidedly not being the place to do so, I began to make my way back down the long and winding road, now playing it by ear as to where to go.

Save endangered spiders in England, petition


This video from England says about itself:

Plymouth native, the horrid groundweaver, faces extinction

13 January 2015

Conservationists are warning that despite its trifling size and shy demeanour action needs to be taken to protect Nothophantes horridus, which is found only in a single British city.

From Buglife in Britain:

One week to save Critically Endangered spider

To: Planning Inspectorate

A new development is being proposed in a local wildlife site which is home to one of world’s most endangered spiders.

Originally the development of 57 houses in Radford Quarry, Plymouth was refused by the City Council but the applicant is appealing the decision and a planning inquiry is due to start on the 20th January. Buglife are asking for your help to stop this development by signing this petition.

We are asking for the planning inspectorate dealing with the appeal to dismiss the inquiry for the development at Radford Quarry, Plymouth.

Why is this important?

Plans to build new houses in an old quarry in Plymouth, could push a Critically Endangered spider, the Horrid ground weaver (Nothophantes horridus), even closer to extinction. We only have one week left to make sure the planning inspectorate know how critical this site is to the spider’s survival.

This tiny money spider is only found in Plymouth and nowhere else in the world. It is only known at three sites, one of which has already been lost to development. The proposed development, for 57 new houses in Radford Quarry in Plymouth, would destroy the second site and a vital ‘green lung’ of Plymouth.

To find out more about this campaign click here.

You can sign here.

See also here.