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Archive for October 22nd, 2009

Keir Starmer says Tory plans to scrap Human Rights Act would bring shame on Britain

Telegraph: The Director of Public Prosecutions has launched an unprecedented attack on a key Conservative policy by insisting that scrapping the Human Rights Act would bring “shame” on Britain.

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BBC ‘will lose trust for giving airtime to BNP’

Independent: A BBC presenter has attacked the decision to invite the leader of the British National Party (BNP) on to BBC1’s Question Time tonight, warning that the move “completely contradicts” rules on impartiality and would erode the public’s trust in the Corporation.

Michael Rosen, the former children’s laureate, accused the broadcaster of “hiding behind” the BNP’s European election victories to justify its decision, adding that executives “were relishing” the ratings that the broadcast is expected to receive. “It is failing in the very impartiality that it claims to be trying to uphold,” he said.

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MPs challenge payment demands

Independent: Several MPs have challenged a demand for them to repay tens of thousands of pounds in expenses because they rented homes from relatives.

They hope to persuade Sir Thomas Legg, the former civil servant auditing all MPs’ claims, to drop his repayment demands because Commons officials actively encouraged them to pay low rents rather than claim mortgage interest of up to £24,000 a year. Over five years, that amounts to £120,000.

Some senior MPs believe that Sir Thomas may soften the payback demands for up to £50,000 – far more than his orders to return money for gardening and cleaning.

One MP said: “This is ludicrous. Some people queried whether they could claim with the [Commons] Fees Office and were told that the rents were lower than the market rate and provided good value for money for the taxpayer. There was no one else to ask.”

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Hague tells Clinton not to fear Tories’ EU allies

Independent: William Hague, the man most likely to be Britain’s next foreign secretary, yesterday assured Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other top US policymakers that a Conservative government would be “active and activist” in European affairs, despite its scepticism about EU institutions.

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Party faces fine for filing accounts late

Independent: The BNP is facing a fine of up to £5,000 by electoral watchdogs for failing to file its accounts on time, amid claims the far-right party is in financial crisis.

Nick Griffin, the BNP leader, has issued a plea to members for extra donations after admitting the organisation was “suffering acute financial pressure” and was “fighting for [its] very existence” following a dip in its income and a £600,000 bill for its campaign in the June European elections.

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Fraudster jailed for crash-for-cash scam

Independent: “A fraudster who staged almost 100 separate road traffic accident occurrences, and used the insurance payouts to fund a glamorous lifestyle, was jailed yesterday.”

Mohammed Patel, 24, charged £500 to set up accidents which enabled fraudsters to claim an average of £17,000 from insurers. In total, the scams cost the insurance industry £1.6m. He staged at least 93 crashes, earning himself around £46,000, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard.

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BBC is right to allow BNP on Question Time, says Mark Thompson

Guardian: Censorship is decision for ministers not broadcasters, insists corporation chief

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