Friday, May 11, 2012

Muslim sex gang were following their 'cultural norms'

Maverick British historian speaks the unspeakable truth

David Starkey risks fresh controversy by claiming that Asian men jailed over a major child sexual exploitation ring were “acting within their own cultural norms”.

The historian said “nobody ever explained” to the men – eight of Pakistani origin and one from Afghanistan – that women could not be treated in this way.

Dr Starkey called for better teaching of English history to create a “common identity” and overcome the challenges of multiculturalism.

But the comments are likely to prompt condemnation just a day after the men were handed sentences of between four and 19 years for the offences.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the group plied five victims with drink and drugs and "passed them around" for sex.

The girls were abused at two takeaway restaurants in the Heywood area of Rochdale by the men aged between 24 and 59. The takeaways are now under new management.Speaking at a conference staged by Brighton College, the private school in East Sussex, Dr Starkey said that the “only way we are going to get to be able to survive as a multi-cultural society is if we re-address the story – the real story – of English history”.

The historian, author of books including Elizabeth and The Private Life of Henry VIII, said: “If you want to look at what happens when you have no sense of common identity, look at Rochdale and events in Rochdale, where you have groups that are absolutely and mutually uncomprehending.

“Those men were acting within their own cultural norms. Nobody ever explained to them that the history of women in Britain was once rather similar to that in Pakistan and it had changed.”

He said a “genuine approach to the teaching of English history” should look at the origins of modern feminism.

“It is a fundamental story,” he said. “And it seems to me that if we are to make this highly diverse society work, and I desperately hope that we do, what we should be focusing on is the astonishing record of change without revolution in English history in which the political system of king, lords and commoners, has proved flexible enough to spread from a tiny deeply selective electorate to a wider and wider group who have been incorporated, have been brought in and made to feel welcome.”


New British defamation bill ‘will put a stop to libel tourism’ by shaking up old laws

Long overdue

A law to end ‘libel tourism’ and protect free speech will be published today.  The Defamation Bill will shake up antiquated libel laws to prevent wealthy individuals and corporations – often based abroad – using courts here to silence critics.

In recent years London has become the libel capital of the world. Critics say this is because existing regulations favour claimants and that the very high costs involved in defending a claim mean many publications are forced to settle out of court, even when they believe what they published was true.

In an attempt to end trivial claims, future claimants will have to show that material has caused them ‘serious harm’.  And those from outside the EU will face new hurdles before they can bring a claim in London.

Journalists will be allowed defences against defamation where they can show the material is based on ‘honest ­opinion’ or is in the public interest. And ­websites will be protected if they publish readers’ comments.

Scientific journals will have a right to publish peer-reviewed studies, even if they are critical of products made by wealthy corporations.

Last night the Libel Reform Campaign lobby group said: ‘The Bill will open the way to ending libel tourism and protecting free expression for journalists, writers, bloggers and scientists around the world.’

The Libel Reform Campaign - made up of Index on Censorship, English Pen and Sense About Science - which has been calling for legislation to reform the libel law since 2009, hailed the announcement as a victory.

A spokesman for the campaign said: ‘The Bill will open the way to ending libel tourism and protecting free expression for journalists, writers, bloggers and scientists around the world.

‘However, there is still work to be done and we will carry on campaigning to make sure that the detail in the final Bill will truly deliver reform.’

Sense About Science managing director Tracey Brown said the current libel laws had had a ‘bullying and chilling effect on discussions about health, scientific research, consumer safety, history and human rights’.

Welcoming the announcement, she added: ‘This opens the way to developing a law guided by public interest not powerful interests.’

Cardiologist Dr Peter Wilmshurst, who was sued by an American medical device company, said: ‘Patients have suffered because the draconian defamation laws were used to silence doctors with legitimate concerns about medical safety.’

Justine Roberts, co-founder and chief executive of the Mumsnet website, welcomed the proposed new protections for websites.

She said: ‘Websites and hosts of user-generated comment risk becoming tactical targets for those who wish to clamp down on criticism or investigation of their activities.’

The Bill will also end the presumption in favour of jury trial in defamation cases, which currently adds significantly to the cost of cases and the time taken to resolve claims.

In future, most cases could be settled by a judge sitting alone.


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