Sunday, November 13, 2011
"Britain's FBI" is just another useless bureaucracy
The elite unit set up by Labour to fight major criminals has failed to catch crime bosses because it is ‘too difficult’ and may even have been infiltrated by the underworld, says a whistleblower.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is supposed to be Britain’s answer to the FBI. When it was launched, Tony Blair pledged the organisation would ‘make life hell’ for the country’s ‘Mr Bigs’. It recruited from the cream of the police, immigration, customs and MI5 and had more than 4,000 staff in offices all over the world.
But Tim Lee, a former intelligence officer with SOCA, claims the agency has been blighted by corruption and bureaucracy. Mr Lee, 58, who joined SOCA in Nottingham when it was formed in 2006, paints a damning picture of his five years in the organisation. He claims:
* An investigation into a crime boss was mysteriously dropped when a SOCA officer with alleged links to the suspect took over the running of the case.
* Allegations of serious sexual misconduct made by a female SOCA worker against a male colleague were covered up.
* Hostility arose between police, customs and immigration officers when operational units were first formed in 2006.
* SOCA officers were criticised for spending weeks driving around Europe while following a drug smuggling trail.
* In a recruitment exercise, a white actor ‘blacked up’ as the suspect, generating a flood of complaints about offensive stereotyping and poor taste.
* SOCA recruits were abused in a surveillance selection course.
* A major case collapsed because of failures to follow normal legal disclosure rules.
Mr Lee, who is bringing claims for disability discrimination and constructive dismissal against SOCA, worked at a regional office.
He says: ‘When SOCA opened for business the directors made bold statements about how they were going to tackle a “list” of top crime barons.
‘In my time, they went after three who weren’t even on the top tier and gave up on all of them because they fell into the “too difficult” box. All three had been unsuccessfully targeted previously by the National Crime Squad.’
Mr Lee believes there may be more serious reasons why SOCA has failed to penetrate some of the big crime gangs.
In an allegation of corruption he made to the Independent Police Complaints Commission earlier this year, Mr Lee claims that an investigation into a suspected Nottingham crime boss in 2007 was halted because the suspect may have had contacts inside SOCA.
The alleged criminal was named in a tape played at an inquest of a murdered man who alleged that the businessman had used his contacts in the police to run a drug-dealing empire.
Mr Lee alleges that the suspect and a senior SOCA officer investigating the case used the services of the same plasterer to decorate their homes. The officer, who owns properties in Nottingham, has since left SOCA and is now believed to be in Africa.
In his disclosure to the IPCC, Mr Lee alleges that the security of the operation may have been breached. He says: ‘Security was always an issue. Eventually, the operation was passed to a senior intelligence officer (SIO).’
He claims that the officer ‘was understood to have employed tradesmen also used by the subject of the operation’ and that the SIO ‘fought hard to take charge of the investigation’.
He adds: ‘Within a short time of the appointment of this SIO and despite a wealth of intelligence, active connections to very serious criminals and the corruption concerns, the operation was wound up.’
Mr Lee claims in the complaint that the deputy SIO in the case told him the subject of the investigation was ‘just a businessman now’.
He also alleges that because of SOCA failures to follow disclosure rules, one major case has been abandoned. In a case currently before the courts, Mr Lee says a SOCA officer is being treated by the Crown Prosecution Service as a ‘hostile witness’ because she has disclosed documents which suggest other members of the team have failed to surrender material that might aid the defence.
SOCA’s intelligence operations were hindered by red tape, says Mr Lee, who claims that surveillance operations were run ‘by committee’ so that authorisation took too long and opportunities to catch criminals were missed.
‘If you needed to run any surveillance, it went to a committee where they talked and discussed the purpose but nothing was ever decided in time,’ he claims.
But from the first day that SOCA opened its doors in 2006, there were cultural problems between the mix of police officers, immigration officers and customs officials, Mr Lee alleges.
‘The attitude of police officers and other National Crime Squad staff towards immigration staff ranged from welcoming through ambivalence to openly hostile,’ he claims.
There were also disturbing allegations of bullying, sexual misconduct and abuse which were covered up, says Mr Lee. In one case, a female SOCA officer made an allegation of serious sexual misconduct against a male colleague who went to her home as part of a welfare visit.
Mr Lee says that when the female officer complained of ‘inappropriate sexual behaviour’, she was permanently transferred to another SOCA directorate. He also alleges that the case was not properly investigated. Bullying and abuse claims were not properly investigated, and when officers spoke out they were victimised, he alleges.
Queer Britain again
Outrage as supermarket chain backs gay festival... but drops support for cancer charity event
Tesco has triggered outrage by ending its support for the Cancer Research ‘Race for Life’ while deciding to sponsor Britain’s largest gay festival. Some religious commentators and groups have condemned the decision and are calling for a boycott of the supermarket chain.
Tesco has worked with Cancer Research for more than ten years, raising hundreds of millions of pounds to help combat an illness that will affect one in three of the population.
The chain’s main contribution was support for the annual fundraising Race for Life, the UK’s largest women-only charity event, which has raised more than £400million for the fight against cancer since it began in 1994. But shortly after Tesco announced the partnership would end, the firm said it would be a headline sponsor of Pride London.
This is Britain’s largest gay pride event, and will be adding a second day next year when it hosts the global WorldPride 2012 festival in July. Tesco’s chief executive of retailing services, Andrew Higginson, said: ‘Our “Out at Tesco” team will be working closely with Pride London to ensure next year’s event is even more fun.’
Francis Phillips, a commentator at The Catholic Herald, condemned the shift, saying: ‘Tesco is a supermarket. Its remit has been to sell good-quality food and other items at very reasonable prices, and in this it has been hugely successful. Why has it now aligned itself with an aggressive political organisation such as Pride London? ‘Why has it given up its sponsorship of Cancer Research? Or at least…why hasn’t it taken up with another mainstream charity such as the British Legion or Age UK?
‘There are thousands of ex-servicemen and wounded soldiers needing help in this country, and millions of elderly people in danger of neglect. They are a fundamental part of the fabric of our society – the kind of fabric that Tesco should be reflecting.’
David Skinner of the Anglican Mainstream organisation, which supports traditional marriage and family life, has written to complain to Mr Higginson and Tesco chief executive Philip Clarke.
He wrote: ‘For Tesco to sponsor a tiny homosexual minority – according to the Office for National Statistics, that amounts to little more than 1 per cent of the population – will be showing the utmost contempt for a large proportion of British society that still adheres, more or less, to the morality and values of the Ten Commandments.’
Both Mrs Phillips and Mr Skinner are calling on consumers to boycott Tesco. ‘Let’s send Tesco a message: stick to groceries and stop dabbling in dubious fringe political movements,’ said Mrs Phillips.
Catholic campaign website Protect the Pope said Tesco’s decision was ‘a sign of how out of touch they have become from ordinary families’.
Cancer Research UK, which gave no sign of disappointment about losing Tesco’s support, is looking for a new partner for the Race for Life. Emma Gilbert, who organises the event, said the partnership ‘came to a natural end’ for both parties. But she added: ‘Tesco employees have taken part in events across the UK, raising over £7million for our life-saving research, and we hope they will continue to take part in the events.’
Tesco said it was in talks with the charity to support its work in other ways and would encourage staff to continue taking part in the Race for Life.
A spokesman said the decision to drop its support ‘is not connected to our £30,000 sponsorship for Pride, which is one of hundreds of community and charitable events that we will be supporting next year’.
Pride London chairman Paul Birrell said: ‘Whilst Pride is organised entirely by volunteers, it costs in excess of £800,000 to run each year. ‘We are proud that Pride London remains a free event, but this is only possible because of companies like Tesco and their generous support.’ He added that Tesco’s contribution would be used to run an entertainment area for families and children at next year’s festival.
White male Swedish firefighter wins compensation for being discriminated against by racist Fire Dept.
A Swedish firefighter who filed a discrimination lawsuit after being denied a job because he had the "wrong" gender and ethnicity has been awarded 100,000 kronor ($16,000) in compensation.
“This is literally speaking a 100 percent victory,” Clarence Crafoord, head of the Centre for Justice (Centrum för rättvisa), in a statement.
Crafoord represented firefighter Simon Wallmark in his case against the Södertörns Brandförsvarsförbund (SBFF), a fire department responsible for a number of Stockholm's southern suburbs.
Wallmar sued the fire department in July 2011 after being denied a position as a summer trainee, despite having the required vocational training as well as previous work experience.
He was told that he “wasn't qualified” because the jobs were “reserved for women and people with foreign backgrounds”.
Out of the 32 people finally hired by the fire department, ten lacked the relevant education for the job.
At the time, the fire department defended its decision not to hire Wallmark by arguing it was making a conscious effort to recruit women and minorities.
But after several hours of pre-trial negotiations overseen by a judge at the Södertörn District Court on Wednesday, the fire department decided to settle the case for the full 100,000 kronor demanded by Wallmark.
“This is an important signal that it's illegal to give people special treatment due to their gender or ethnic background,” said Crafoord.
In a statement issued following the settlement, the fire department explained that settling the case, rather than pursuing a court hearing scheduled for May 2012, was in the best interests of the department. “It's important for Södertörns Brandförsvarsförbund to put this matter behind us before the next recruitment period, which is set to start soon,” the department said.
However, it added that it would continue its efforts to “increase diversity and equality” in order to “better reflect society”.
The fire department also maintained that the skills and competence of the candidates hired fit with the requirments of the job.
Montana Mental Health Worker Who Reported Child Pornography Fired
An employee of a Missoula mental health center who told police about a client's computer search for child pornography was fired, in part for making the report, according to court records.
The client, John Gribble, has been charged with sexually abusing a child after a DVD with photos of nude children was found at his house, the Missoulian reported Wednesday.
An employee of Three Rivers Mental Health Solutions contacted police about Gribble on Oct. 17 after seeing the words "female child nude" and "preteen nude girls by themselves" in the browser window of Gribble's computer.
The employee first told her supervisors, who told her not to report Gribble because her concerns did not meet the criteria for notifying authorities, according to an affidavit filed by Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jason Marks.
Three Rivers administrator Shea Hennelly said reports that break medical confidentiality must include the names and address of the child involved, the names of the child's parents and others responsible and the nature and extent of the child's injuries.
"In order to provide mental health services, we can't engage in dual roles," he said.
Under state law, health care professionals must report to the Department of Public Health and Human Services when they "know or have reasonable cause to suspect, as a result of information they receive in their professional or official capacity, that a child is abused or neglected by anyone ..."
"She didn't witness someone abusing a child," Hennelly. "What this woman reported to this office was she saw the tab of Web browsers that said teenage girls. That's a lot different." He said there was no way to identify potential victims.
The affidavit said the woman was concerned about the young daughters of two single mothers for whom Gribble babysit. She relayed those concerns to supervisors, "but the employee couldn't tell me any names," Hennelly said. "In the past, this gentleman babysit kids and we were able to identify the mother and were able to carry out our duty to warn."
Hennelly said there were several reasons the woman was fired, and making the report after being told not to was one of them.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.