High Court legal win for student sprayed with CS gas at protest

The following article is from http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/high-court-legal-win-student-11776474

A Midland student who was sprayed with CS gas by a police officer during a demonstration has scored a legal victory against the official police watchdog.

Lawrence Green, 26, complained to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) following an incident in Warwick University ’s Senate House building during a protest about tuition fees in December 2014.

The watchdog investigated before deciding the West Midlands Police officer had no case to answer in respect of the complaint in October last year.

But deputy High Court judge , Robin Purchas QC, today quashed the IPCC decision, saying it was “not rationally supportable on the objective evidence.”

The judge added that the commission’s role was to determine whether there was enough evidence to bring a misconduct case against the officer, and not to decide whether his actions on that day were justified.

The IPCC will now have to review the case again.

Judge Purchas told the court police were called to the building after an alleged assault on a security officer by one of the protesters.

When officers arrived and tried to reach the person accused of the assault, there was a stand off between them and a group of students – including Mr Green – during which he was sprayed “at close range” in the eyes with CS gas, the judge continued.

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He added: “As a result, the claimant’s eyesight was affected and he was in pain, symptoms which lasted for some time afterwards.”

The incident was captured on CCTV and on other footage which was uploaded to YouTube.

The judge said the IPCC investigator who handled Mr Green’s complaint concluded the officer in question had no case to answer in relation to the alleged misconduct.

She based the decision on her findings that he “had to make a swift decision with limited means at his disposal” and chose to use CS gas which would not have lasting effects, the judge continued.

However, Judge Purchas said it appeared the investigator had accepted the officer’s actions were justified, when that was a decision for a disciplinary hearing.

He added: “In my judgment, if the investigator and the IPCC found as a fact that the officer was justified in the use of the CS spray at very close range, directly into the claimant’s eyes, that was not a finding which was properly part of the evaluation.

“It was, in effect, a finding that disposed of the complaint of misconduct in substance, and which they had no power to make.

“In so far as the investigator and the IPCC concluded that there was no evidence to support the conclusion that there was a case to answer, in my judgment, that conclusion is not rationally supportable on the objective evidence.

“I conclude that the decision of the IPCC, that there was no case to answer relating to misconduct, was unlawful and should be quashed.”

JUST A CORRECTION……

AOL money has ran an article titled ‘ Young jobless more likely to break rules over benefits’, if they had done their research they would know there are sanction targets for DWP staff so the headline should be ‘ Young jobless more likely to be set up for a sanction by DWP jobsworths.’

Of course the sanctions apply across the board and have lead to 1000s of people dying and dropping out of the system altogether.

Sanctions will  also now apply to in work welfare claimants under Universal Credit.

 


BBC Panorama 2015


The Guardian 2011

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Ministers believe it to be true, so it must be true then.

DWP CUT BENEFITS OF SERIOUSLY ILL,AGAIN

A WOMAN whose life has been turned upside down by a rare condition feels she is being punished after having her benefits cut.

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Julie Knight, from Pontrobert, was diagnosed four years ago with narcolepsy which causes her to fall asleep, and cataplexy, a condition which causes loss of muscle tone, stumbling, slurred speech and adverse effects from lighting, computers and flashing lights.

She also has stumbling fits when going into places like supermarkets and the condition affects her day to day living.

Despite battling on, Julie was forced to quit her job and apply for disability living allowance.

However at the end of 2015, a change in the law saw her lose part of her benefits and cause her family exceptional hardship, as they relied on family to get by.

She has told the County Times she feels punished for not being able to work, despite wanting to go out to work.

Julie said: “I tried to carry on working, but I was suffering from stumbling and falling asleep and my employer said I just couldn’t carry on working.

“My partner was looking after me, working part time, and getting a carer’s allowance, but now benefits have moved over to what is called PIP personal independence payment.

“It is made up of two components and I wasn’t granted one of the components, which meant we couldn’t get a carer’s allowance to help us, causing us serious problems.

“We have had to lean on our two adult children who live with us, to help pay bills, and my parents, and it just feels like I am being punished for having this condition which I can’t help.

“I want to work, but I can’t, and there are people out there who don’t want to work.

“How I am being treated is just wrong.”

Julie appealed the decision and had it overturned by the courts, which she thought would then allow her to claim the full amount and get back to some normality. However, the Department for Work and Pensions wrote to her, telling her they wanted written reasons from the court why the decision was made and no money would be paid until they were satisfied with the reasons.

If they are not, they will take the decision to a higher court, causing Julie and her family more prolonged financial problems.

She has admitted she feels like giving up and throwing in the towel, however she doesn’t want to do this, because she doesn’t want other people to be effected and “punished.”

She added: “It has been so stressful, and at times you can’t cope because emotion makes the condition worse.

“The government now considers conditions like this and epilepsy should be supported by the employer, but this hasn’t happened, it’s ridiculous.

“They have had all the documents from doctors about this, but are still not paying the money.

“It is so wrong, but I want to raise awareness so others aren’t treated like this.”

From- http://www.newsnorthwales.co.uk/news/165684/pontrobert-woman-being-punished-for-not-being-able-to-work.aspx

Mass European Protest against TTIP corporate Takeover: EU Commission Sanctions “Revolution Against Law”

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has its objectors – mainly the citizens of the countries involved in what can only be seen as confirmation of a corporate takeover. Governments have confirmed that democracy is no longer a principle worth pursuing.

12/07/2014 - Protestors against the EU-US trade deal (TTIP - Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) outside the Houses of Parliament march to Europe House, the London Headquarters of the European Commission and the European Parliament, in Smith Square, London.

12/07/2014 – Protestors against the EU-US trade deal (TTIP – Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership)

Three million citizens have signed a petition voicing their opposition, of which 500,000 were from Britain alone.

One month ago at least 250,000 people marched in Berlin in protest against TTIP. Nearly 500 organisations have emerged with literally millions of followers who object to TTIP. The largest ever survey carried out by the EU Commission resulted in 97% of citizens being against TTIP in any form. All ignored.

As Rosa Pavanelli, Public Services International General Secretary puts it – “what has democracy come to when the community must rely on Wikileaks to find out what our governments are doing on our behalf”.

Various leaks only go to highlight the cat and mouse game being played by the nations negotiating TTIP that only raises further citizen concerns that secret meetings are only secret as they are not in the interests of people or individual nations.

A respected human-rights expert at the United Nations, Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, says “there is a hierarchy of agreements, and at the top is the UN Charter: in case of conflict between the provisions of the UN Charter and any other treaty, the Charter prevails.” In other words, trade treaties that lead to a violation of human rights — or breach any other obligation set out in the UN Charter — are legally invalid. Most countries have signed onto human rights treaties, but “they have also entered into trade and investment agreements that hinder, delay or render impossible the fulfillment of their human rights treaty obligations.”

He goes one step further ““Allowing private arbitrators to disregard international and national law … is tantamount to a revolution against law .” The United Nations has actually called for a suspension of TTIP talks on the basis that its tactics used by multinationals in courts outside of public jurisdiction would undermine democracy and law.

The British government stance on this is well known. Their own website states “UK national income could rise by between £4 billion and £10 billion annually, with the main gains being generated by the liberalisation of non-tariff barriers.” Double speak for reducing standards to meet the common denominator and accede to corporate power.

So far, most of the opposition to TTIP has concentrated on the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause which will allow US corporations to sue EU governments for any decision that could harm their profits. But there is far more to TTIP than just secret corporate courts.

GlobalJustice.org.uk explains the dangers posed by the innocuously named regulatory cooperation chapter of TTIP (also commonly referred to as regulatory coherence) which could lead to a race to the bottom on key regulations in areas such as food safety and environmental protection.

Corporate lobbyists have expressed the hope that cooperation will make them so powerful that it will allow them to effectively ’co-write’ regulation with policymakers in each country, completely bypassing citizen concerns and previously enforced protection systems and laws.

GlobalJustice identifies that “to most people, regulations such as air pollution limits and food safety standards are common sense protections against dangerous threats. However, to many big businesses, these rules are just red tape or non-tariff barriers to trade (NTBs) which inhibit profits and are identified as such during trade negotiations. In fact, proponents of TTIP say that 80% of the supposed benefits of the deal will come from getting rid of these rules”.

It now appears that TTIP has in fact started to change previous protections in Europe without debate. For instance, the EU Commission has now dropped previous recognition of cosmetics standards. In essence, this is a serious deregulation of cosmetic ingredients and the amended paper with the TTIP agreement no longer contains a reference to “mutual recognition” of banned and authorised substances in cosmetics.

How bad is this one may ask. The EU Commission is now stating (in an attempt to put a good spin on the story) that it would accept banned chemicals in cosmetics, which would significantly risk lowering safety standards in the EU. More than 1,300 substances are prohibited in cosmetics in the EU, while only 11 are in the US. That includes lead in your lipstick.

How does the EU get away with this? While producing lipstick that contains lead would still be illegal in the EU, US companies will still be able to export it to the EU as long as it passes US safety tests.

It gets worse as it turns out that US officials have successfully used TTIP proposals to bully the EU into disregarding plans to ban 31 dangerous pesticides with ingredients that have been shown to cause cancer and infertility.

In a similar situation, the EU had previously banned the treatment of beef with certain acids being used to conceal poor and unhygienic practices common in the US. EU commission officials pressured MEP’s in stating that TTIP negotiations will be threatened if the EU ban wasn’t lifted. The pressure was great enough that MEP’s then repealed the ban.

The EU has now implemented a programme called ‘Better Regulation”. This is designed to reduce the regulatory burden and seeks to eradicate new rules on things like safe levels of chemicals. Trade unions say that Better Regulation has already been responsible for 100,000 deaths from cancer.

America, along with its ‘partners’ is designing a new world order all of its own. The TTIP agreement is as dangerous to world harmony as the cold war because that is what the agreement will become.  Its aims are clear – to create a global economic arena outside of the WTO framework. Its sees TTIP as an opportunity as part of a much wider picture as a geopolitical economic strategy against the BRICS countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

These negotiations will end with 53 countries accounting for two thirds of the global economy. The treatywill create a new international legal regime that will allow transnational corporations to bypass domestic courts, evade environmental protections, police the internet on behalf of the content industry, limit the availability of affordable generic medicines, and drastically curtail each country’s legislative sovereignty. US Senator Elizabeth Warren has said “They can’t make this deal public because if the American people saw what was in it, they would be opposed to it.”

The EU has admitted that TTIP will probably cause unemployment as jobs switch to the US, where labour standards and trade union rights are lower. It has even advised EU members, including Britain to draw on European support funds to compensate for the expected unemployment.

Britain’s most powerful TTIP advocate, an anti-democractic corporate public relations lobbyist masquerading as Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to “fire rocket boosters‘ under the deal without public debate on the world’s largest agreement of its type ever considered.

David Cameron went to considerable length to assure people the NHS was not part of the deal.  The government spent months trying to brush the threat of TTIP under the carpet but massive public pressure has forced the them to admit the NHS is part of the deal and therefore at threat from American corporations looking to cash-in from the multi-billion dollar health service as a profit centre.

Currently, there are around 500 cases of businesses versus nations going on around the world as a direct result of TTIP like agreements and they are all taking place before ‘arbitration tribunals’ made up of corporate lawyers appointed on an ad hoc basis, which according to War on Want’s John Hilary, are “little more than kangaroo courts” with “a vested interest in ruling in favour of business.”

John McDonnell, the UK’s shadow chancellor, has described TTIP as “toxic” and resulting in a huge transfer of powers to Brussels and corporate interests. What then if Britain leaves the EU?

TTIP has nothing to do with citizens or their rights. It is about forcing governments to see the whole of society from the single viewpoint of big business. The UN expert, Alfred-Maurice de Zayas is right – this is a revolution against the law.

#protest, #protests, #ttip, #ttp

Jeremy Hunt’s £40m cuts will hit our work to prevent disease, councils warn

Town halls could be forced to cut back on immunisation campaigns and work to prevent teenage pregnancy and the spread of diseases such as HIV and TB after the Government announced plans to axe £40 million from the capital’s public health budget. 001

Council leaders, including Tories, said the move by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was “very disappointing” and a “false economy”.

The Department of Health has announced it is going ahead with plans to cut public health grant allocations by £200 million nationwide this year.

London Councils, which represents the capital’s local authorities, warned that the cut to its £578 million budget would disproportionately affect the poorest boroughs.

More than a fifth of the national cuts will be made in London, with 30 per cent higher cuts per head for the average Londoner compared with the rest of England. Seven of the 10 authorities losing the most are in the capital.

The boroughs share responsibility for HIV prevention — more than 30,000 Londoners are living with diagnosed HIV and more than one third of new diagnoses in 2013 were in the capital.

They are also tasked with halting the spread of tuberculosis — London has one of the highest rates of the disease in western Europe.

Councillor Teresa O’Neill, London Councils health spokesman, said: “It is very disappointing to hear the Government is going ahead with these in-year cuts to public health budgets. This will mean London boroughs have to find a further £40 million of savings within this year.

“Everyone agrees that more focus and funding should go on prevention — helping people to avoid ill health and thereby reducing pressures on cash-strapped NHS and council services. It is a false economy to cut these budgets.”

The capital’s town halls believe it is more important than ever to invest in public health.

London has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity among similarly sized cities; 8,400 Londoners die because of a smoking-related illness every year; and there were more than 113,000 new sexually transmitted infections diagnosed in the capital last year.

The move could also hit Health Visitor and Family Nurse Practitioner services for children under five, which transferred to councils last month.

London Councils has already warned that handling public health funding differently to the wider NHS, simply because it moved across to councils in 2013, was “unfair and short-sighted”.

From- http://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/hunt-s-40m-cuts-will-hit-our-work-to-prevent-disease-councils-warn-a3108426.html

#cut, #cuts, #health, #healthcare, #mental-health, #nhs-2

Don’t bring your child to your Jobcentre interview. Pay a childminder yourself to look after them. And other obscene comments and rulings made by Jobcentre staff.

Source: Don’t bring your child to your Jobcentre interview. Pay a childminder yourself to look after them. And other obscene comments and rulings made by Jobcentre staff.

No Longer Willing to be Bullied and Fracked, How One Pennsylvania Town Fought Back

“They are mobilizing against a system of law that empowers corporations over communities, and empowers government to preempt communities from protecting their air and water.’

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In defiance of a corporate lawsuit over a proposed fracking wastewater injection well, the citizens of Grant Township, Pennsylvania on Tuesday evening adopted the country’s first municipal charter establishing a local bill of rights—a document which codifies environmental and democratic rights, and bans such drilling activity as a violation of that pact.

“The people of Grant Township spoke loud and clear: They have rights, and they will protect those rights,” said Chad Nicholson of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), who served as a consultant to the commission that drafted the charter.

Grant Township initially adopted a Community Bill of Rights in June 2014 in an effort to halt the drilling project but was overruled when a court sided with Pennsylvania General Energy Company (PGE) and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA), which argued that the rights of the fossil fuel companies trumped those of the citizens.

CELDF explains: “In its lawsuit, PGE claimed that it had a ‘right’ to inject wastewater into the Township. PIOGA has also declared that there is ‘no constitutional right to local self-government’ or to be free from the harms associated with oil and gas production.”

However, Tuesday’s vote, which called for a “transformation of the community into a home rule Township,” now invalidates most of that court ruling, according to CELDF.

Local efforts to prohibit extraction activities, such as fracking, over concerns of its impact on air and drinking water quality have faced fierce resistance from both drilling companies and state governments. In Denton, Texas, for example, a community fracking ban wasoverturned after the state government passed a law barring such ordinances.

This has forced grassroots groups to devise increasingly creative solutions in order to maintain sovereignty in the face of what campaigners say are deep pocketed—and politically connected—corporate interests.

Nicholson notes that close to 200 communities across the U.S. have advanced some form of community rights, though many are amendments to existing charters. The Grant Township Bill of Rights is the first written entirely on the basis of asserting and protecting “the right to clean air and water, the right to be taxed fairly, and the right to local community self-government.”

“This isn’t David versus Goliath,” he added. “This isn’t just one community standing up to say ‘no.’ Grant Township is joining with communities across the country who are standing up collectively and saying to government and corporations, ‘We’re no longer willing to be fracked, poisoned, and polluted.’ They are mobilizing against a system of law that empowers corporations over communities, and empowers government to preempt communities from protecting their air and water. Communities are saying this is not acceptable, it’s not sustainable, it’s not democratic, and it’s going to change.”

From- http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/11/04/no-longer-willing-be-bullied-and-fracked-how-one-pennsylvania-town-fought-back

#activism, #fracking, #protest, #protests