Friday, September 07, 2018

Britain's SFO gets another black eye

They were nearly wound up when they cost the taxpayer a bomb over their failed prosecution of the Tchenguiz brothers.  They are full of themselves, with no good reason.  They should have learned from the Tchenguiz affair that the have to be meticulous about keeping within the law but instead they took a punt -- and lost again. 

In their bureaucratic arrogance they thought they could overturn legal privilege, one of our most zealously guarded freedoms.  The only thing surprising about that is that they got as far as they did.  In the end, however, the Court of Appeal did its job of overturning perverse judgments from other courts

SFO = Serious Fraud Office

The mining group ENRC has won a Court of Appeal case that protects advice it was given by a law firm in connection with claims of fraud and corruption at the company.

The ruling will relieve corporate legal divisions and white-collar crime lawyers, who feared that material stemming from internal investigations of alleged wrongdoing would have otherwise been open to prosecutors.

In May a high court judge, Mrs Justice Andrews, ordered that communications and advice to ENRC from the law firm Dechert, which carried out a lengthy internal investigation for the company after a whistleblowing email, should be turned over to the Serious Fraud Office.

The SFO opened a formal investigation into ENRC’s activities in Kazakhstan — the home country of its three founders — and Africa in 2013 following Dechert’s internal inquiry into allegations of bribery, fraud and corruption at the mining group.

The high court ruled that Dechert’s investigation was not covered by legal privilege, which would make it confidential, stunning the legal community.

But the Court of Appeal overturned that decision on Wednesday, ruling that documents prepared by ENRC during the internal probe were in fact protected. That means the SFO will not be able to review them as part of its investigation.

Michael Roberts, partner at Hogan Lovells, the law firm that now represents ENRC, called the ruling historic, saying it was significant “not just for ENRC but for any company faced with undertaking an internal investigation in response to a whistleblower or other allegations of wrongdoing”.

He added: “Following this ruling it will remain for the company to decide whether, and to what extent, it is prepared to waive privilege.”

The Law Society, which made an intervention in the appeal, called the decision “a shot in the arm” for justice. “Maintaining confidentiality and trust between a client and their legal adviser is fundamental to our legal system,” said Christina Blacklaws, president of the society.

Colin Passmore, senior partner at Simmons & Simmons and author of a leading textbook on legal professional privilege, gave a “wholehearted welcome” to the ruling. He called it “a vast improvement on where we were a few weeks ago”.

The SFO said it would study the ruling carefully. It is unclear whether the anti-fraud agency will charge ENRC or any of its employees.

The Court of Appeal’s decision came sooner than expected, a sign of the importance the legal profession attached to the issue. Elaina Bailes, senior associate at the law firm Stewarts, said: “The quick delivery of the judgment is telling. There was a sense of urgency in resolving the issue and the court took on board concerns . . . that privilege was being eroded, particularly in criminal investigations.”

However, while the Court of Appeal’s ruling reinforced privilege in relation to corporate investigations, it left open a broader issue of who, within a large organisation, is authorised to deal confidentially with a law firm.


Immigration and welfare fears merge as Sweden lurches to the right

The great Leftist icon is going the way of Trump

Those wondering why Swedish politics are set to lurch to the right in Sunday’s election need look no further than Ljusnarsberg, a tiny central county of dense pine forests and glistening lakes.

Many inhabitants of this once-booming region are uneasy about asylum seekers after a large number arrived here in 2015. Some also feel that Sweden’s widely admired tax and welfare model has left them behind.

Fears over globalization’s effect on industrial jobs, the pressure of an aging population and a failure to integrate minorities have boosted right-wing and anti-establishment parties from Italy and Germany to Britain and the United States.

Polls indicating one in five voters in Sweden are likely to back a party with roots in the far-right fringe on Sept. 9 show that even seemingly successful political systems are vulnerable.

Several online surveys indicate the anti-immigration, anti-European Union Sweden Democrats could become the largest party, overtaking the Social Democrats, who have dominated politics for the last 100 years.

They are likely to do particularly well in Ljusnarsberg where they won a quarter of the vote in 2014, double their national score.

“I think people here want to see a change, they want society to be like it used to be,” said Mats Larsson, the Sweden Democrat’s top politician in Ljusnarsberg.

Most people in the county live in Kopparberg, where the 17th century church, with its blood-red, wooden facade and spires, hints at the region’s rich past, built on copper and iron mines.

For many years, the area was a heartland of the ruling Social Democrats. Its swing to the right highlights election themes of asylum and a split between poor rural or suburban areas home to immigrants and wealthy places like Stockholm.

Ljusnarsberg’s mines have gone - the last closed in the mid-1970s. Unemployment at the end of last year was nearly 13 percent, almost double the national level. Many live on sickness benefits, masking the figures of those relying on welfare.

As jobs have disappeared, so have people. The population has roughly halved in the last 50 years and many services have been centralized to Orebro, an hour’s drive south of Kopparberg.

“The 1970s and 1980s were a fantastic time to grow up here in this county. Now everything is falling to pieces,” said Leif Danielsson, 53, a businessman in Kopparberg, the county’s only sizable town.

“Houses are rotting, some places are overgrown with weeds. If you have any education or contacts, you leave.”

While Kopparberg retained its health clinic, it has been unable to recruit permanent doctors, with temporary staff filling the gap.

Decades of closures have left Kyrkbacks school in Kopparberg as the only school for 6-15 year-olds in the region. It has also had problems recruiting staff and was rated as one of Sweden’s worst by the teachers’ union, long before asylum numbers jumped.

When Sweden took in 163,000 asylum seekers in 2015 as hundreds of thousands fled war in Syria and Afghanistan, Ljusnarsberg was assigned around 1,200, the highest concentration compared with its population.

Many of the new arrivals were unaccompanied minors, and the influx stretched services to the limit.

Anne-Marie Hagglund, assistant headteacher of Kyrkbacks school, said families just showed up with their migration papers. “They came back day after day until we could take in their children,” she said.

All but 260 of the refugees have now gone - mostly assigned to other areas by the Migration Agency - yet the unease remains.

Sitting in a cafe on the town green in Kopparberg, personal assistant Ulrika, 44, said that since the arrival of so many asylum seekers, women are afraid to walk the streets at night.

“There are lots of robberies. I think a lot of it is to do with immigration,” she said, declining to give her surname.

Police say the number of reported crimes fell in 2017 compared to the previous year, though they admit that many crimes go unreported. After cutbacks, the nearest police station is in Lindesberg, 40 km away.

“Of course, we should help people,” said Staffan Myrman, 53, who works at the Kopparberg brewery, one of the two major employers in the Ljusnarsberg region.

“But when 25-30 percent of the population are refugees, we need to be able to cope with that and we can’t.”

Sweden took in more asylum seekers than any other European country per capita in 2015. But while worries over immigration explain some of the Sweden Democrat’s gains, unease about economic and social change also plays a role.

“It is a target to point your anger at,” said Ljusnarsberg Liberal party politician Hendrik Bijloo. “Of course there are racists voting for the Sweden Democrats, but they are not even close to a majority.”

It is not just rural areas like Ljusnarsberg where the Sweden Democrats have thrived.

A spate of gang killings and car-burnings have sharpened concerns that authorities are losing control in poorer city suburbs where immigrants make up the majority of the population.

But welfare is also a big theme, despite that fact that Sweden is one of Europe’s richest countries, with strong growth and low unemployment.

“This election is a referendum on welfare or whether we have continued asylum immigration. I choose welfare,” Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Akesson said in a televised election debate.

The center-left government and main opposition Moderate Party both plan to spend an extra 20 billion Swedish crowns ($2.19 billion) over the next four years.

Despite those plans, and already higher spending, many Swedes believe the welfare system is in crisis.

Sweden scores highly in the quality of healthcare - for example more Swedes are alive 30 days after a heart attack than in other European countries, according to a 2015 study.

But a growing and ageing population means waiting lists for operations have grown and half of health centers have to cover doctor shortages with temporary staff, according to a report by the Swedish Agency for Health and Care Services Analysis.

Since 2000, 16 percent of maternity units have closed, a Swedish television report showed. Many women travel more than 100 km (62 miles) to give birth, while schools need to recruit around 77,000 teachers over the next five years.

Inequality, measured by the Gini coefficient, has grown faster in recent years in Sweden than in any other industrialized nation, although the country remains among those where income is most evenly distributed.

This partly explains why mainstream parties’ shift to tougher immigration policies after the 2015 crisis has failed to win back disillusioned voters.

Many locals in Ljusnarsberg are resentful about what they see as preferential treatment for immigrants.

“They get a better deal, all of them, at the dentist, with the doctor, they are first in the queue always,” said 65-year-old pensioner Torbjorn Lundgren. “That makes me angry.”

Asylum seekers get subsidized welfare, housing and 71 crowns ($7.79) a day for food and other essentials, including healthcare. Healthcare costs are capped at 400 crowns over a 12 month period. For Swedish citizens the cap is 1,100 crowns.

“It’s not the immigrants fault, it’s the politicians,” said pensioner Torbjorn Lundgren, who backs the Sweden Democrats.

“I’m going to vote for them, then we’ll see if things change or not.”


Make misogyny a hate crime, British politician urges

Great news. The Qu'ran and all those preaching its doctrines would be outlawed overnight. Sharia Law, the Burqa and the Hijab would become instantly illegal

A Labour MP is trying to change the law so that misogynistic behaviour is treated as a hate crime.

Stella Creasy wants to amend new legislation that would ban taking unsolicited pictures under someone's clothing.

Her changes would mean someone convicted of the crime could get a tougher sentence if it was "motivated by misogyny".

MPs are currently debating the draft legislation.

May 'disappointed' at upskirting law block
'Upskirting': It happened to me
Misogyny hate crime pilot 'shocking'
The government legislation seeks to ban what is known as upskirting, because there is not currently a specific law against this in England and Wales.

It has been an offence in Scotland since 2010, when it was listed under the broadened definition of voyeurism.

Ms Creasy's amendment to the draft law has been backed by MPs including former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan.

Writing for the Metro, Ms Creasy called for an extension of a pilot project by Nottinghamshire Police, which has been recording misogynistic behaviour as either hate crime or hate incidents, depending on whether or not it is criminal.

"Crimes like upskirting don't happen in a vacuum," she said.

"They happen in a world where we don't see violence against women as a priority for action; where we tell young women to not walk around late at night as a way of staying safe, rather than those who hassle them that their behaviour is unacceptable."

Misogyny involves showing dislike, contempt or ingrained prejudice against women.

The amended law would allow a sentencing judge to take into account if the offender "demonstrated towards the victim of the offence hostility based on the victim having (or being presumed to have) a particular sex characteristic".

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said of Ms Creasy's amendment: "We already have robust legislation that can be used to protect women from a range of crimes.

"We are determined to see the upskirting bill passed as soon as possible, to better protect victims and bring offenders to justice."


Italy: Interior Minister Accused of Kidnapping Migrants

"Being investigated for defending the rights of Italians is a disgrace."

"The investigation notice sent to [Interior Minister Matteo] Salvini could in fact be seen as a direct attempt to prevent a minister from carrying out his political activity in accordance with the vote expressed by the majority of Italians on the basis of precise electoral commitments." — Gianni Alemanno, former Mayor of Rome, denouncing the investigation into Salvini as unconstitutional.

"I am amazed at the astonishment of a political left that now exists only to challenge others and believes that Milan should not host the president of a European power, as if the left has the authority to decide who has the right to speak and who does not — and then they wonder why no one votes for them anymore." — Matteo Salvini, Italian Interior Minister.

Opinion polls show that Salvini's anti-immigration stance has boosted his League party's approval rating.

Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is under formal investigation for "kidnapping" after he refused to allow illegal migrants to disembark from a ship at a Sicilian port. The investigation, a political move aimed at blunting the government's hardline stance on illegal immigration, has threatened to plunge Italy into a constitutional crisis over the separation of powers.

Sicilian Prosecutor Luigi Patronaggio said that the investigation into Salvini, the head of the anti-immigration League party, would focus on "kidnapping, illegal arrest and the abuse of power."

Salvini responded:

"If he wants to interrogate me or even arrest me because I defend the borders and security of my country, I am proud and I look forward to it with open arms. Being investigated for defending the rights of Italians is a disgrace."

Salvini added that we could not be "cowed" and that he would not reserve his right to immunity from prosecution: "I only did my job as minister and I am ready to do it again."

The investigation was initiated after Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister, prevented 150 mostly Eritrean migrants from leaving the Italian Coast Guard ship Diciotti unless other European Union member states agreed to take some of them in.

On August 15, the Diciotti rescued approximately 190 migrants from the Mediterranean Sea, and on August 20, the ship docked in Catania, Sicily. Roughly 30 unaccompanied minors were allowed to disembark, and subsequently another 13 women and men were allowed to leave the ship for medical reasons.

Salvini refused to allow the remaining passengers to disembark, arguing that other EU member states should share the burden of mass migration. More than 600,000 migrants arrived in Italy over the past four years. Under EU rules — known as the Dublin Regulation — migrants must seek asylum in their country of arrival, which, for reasons of geography, places an inordinate burden on Italy.

On August 22, Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio tweeted: "Italy is no longer the refugee camp of Europe. On my orders, no one disembarks from the Diciotti."

On August 23, Di Maio threatened to withhold Italian payments to the European Union if a top-level EU meeting in Brussels scheduled for August 24 failed to find a long-term solution to the issue of migrant rescues. In an interview on Italian TV, which he also posted on his Facebook account, Di Maio said:

"If tomorrow nothing comes out of the European Commission meeting, if they decide nothing regarding the Diciotti and the redistribution of the migrants, the whole Five Star Movement [Di Maio's party] and I will no longer be prepared to give €20 billion euros ($23 billion) to the European Union every year."

On August 24, after the EU meeting failed — predictably — to produce a solution for the Diciotti migrants, Di Maio wrote on Facebook:

"Today the European Union has decided to turn its back on Italy once again. At this point, Italy must take unilateral measures. We are ready to cut the funds we give to the European Union. They want €20 billion paid by Italian citizens? Let them demonstrate that they deserve it by taking charge of a problem that we can no longer tackle alone. The borders of Italy are the borders of Europe."

European Commission spokesman Alexander Winterstein responded:

"Let's not engage in finger-pointing. Unconstructive comments, let alone threats, are not helpful and they will not get us any closer to a solution. The EU is a community of rules and it operates on the basis of rules, not threats."

In a subsequent interview with the public broadcaster RAI, De Maio said:

"The EU was born of principles like solidarity. If it is not capable of redistributing 170 people, it has serious problems with its founding principles."

On August 26, the Italian government announced that the remaining 150 migrants would be allowed to disembark after a deal was struck with the Roman Catholic Church, Albania and Ireland. Under the agreement, Italian bishops pledged to take most of the migrants under their care. The migrants will go to a Catholic center at Rocca di Papa near Rome. Albania, which is not an EU member, and Ireland, which is an EU member, would each take 20 people.



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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


No comments: