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Archive for January 5th, 2010

Who’s telling the truth about the Tory plans?

Independent: Yesterday’s war of fiscal words will have left many people perplexed. Sean O’Grady, Economics Editor, separates fact from fiction

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Campbell to appear at Chilcot inquiry

Independent: Alastair Campbell will become the first major political figure to give evidence to the Iraq inquiry.

Mr Campbell, who was Tony Blair’s head of communications in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, will give evidence to Sir John Chilcot’s inquiry next Tuesday.

It is expected that Mr Campbell will be asked about the influence he had over the Government’s September 2002 dossier, setting out the case for war in Iraq.

Mr Campbell is known to have made several alterations to the dossier, which claimed that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons which could be launched within 45 minutes. Lord Turnbull, the former Cabinet Secretary, will also appear at the inquiry next week.

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MI5 ‘still using threats to recruit Muslim spies’

Independent: MI5 faces accusations that its officers have blackmailed and harassed vulnerable immigrants living in Britain as part of a campaign to recruit spies to report on Muslim communities.

In one case, a man who escaped persecution in Africa where members of his family were murdered claims that for the past nine months he has been harassed by MI5 agents who have tried to force him to work for the Security Service.

Isahaq Elmi, 31, says he was bombarded with more than 200 phone calls and tricked into attending meetings at police stations in Birmingham.

In one of the most recent phone calls, Mr Elmi says an MI5 officer calling himself Jahil threatened him by saying: “One way or another we are going to get you.”

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Cameron error gives Labour first blood in election campaign

Guardian: Cameron error gives Labour first blood in election campaign

• Leader forced to disavow tax remark
• Parties battle over ‘black hole’ claim

Labour today drew blood on the first day of what promises to be a long march to the general election when David Cameron ran into trouble over his promise to offer tax breaks for married couples.

During a day of bitter exchanges between the two main parties, Cameron first suggested the scale of the nation’s budget deficit meant tax benefits for being married could not be guaranteed, and then reversed his stance within hours, insisting it was something his government would do in the lifetime of the next parliament.

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New scanners break child porn laws

Guardian: The rapid introduction of full body scanners at British airports threatens to breach child protection laws which ban the creation of indecent images of children, the Guardian has learned.

Privacy campaigners claim the images created by the machines are so graphic they amount to “virtual strip-searching” and have called for safeguards to protect the privacy of passengers involved.

Ministers now face having to exempt under 18s from the scans or face the delays of introducing new legislation to ensure airport security staff do not commit offences under child pornography laws.

They also face demands from civil liberties groups for safeguards to ensure that images from the £80,000 scanners, including those of celebrities, do not end up on the internet. The Department for Transport confirmed that the “child porn” problem was among the “legal and operational issues” now under discussion in Whitehall after Gordon Brown’s announcement on Sunday that he wanted to see their “gradual” introduction at British airports.

A 12-month trial at Manchester airport of scanners which reveal naked images of passengers including their genitalia and breast enlargements, only went ahead last month after under-18s were exempted.

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Brown condemns ‘abhorrent’ Islamist Wootton Bassett protest plan

Times: Home secretary Alan Johnson pledges to issue banning order as organiser Anjem Choudary admits plan is publicity stunt

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UBS ‘whistleblower’ loses jail-term battle

Times: A former banker with UBS who triggered a huge tax-evasion inquiry by the American authorities into his employer’s business will go to jail this week after failing to secure a deal over a sentence imposed on him last August.

Bradley Birkenfeld had pleaded guilty in 2008 to helping a UBS client — Igor Olenicoff, a property developer in California — to evade taxes, but in a plea bargain with prosecutors he agreed to reveal more information about tax evasion in the Swiss banking group in return for a lighter sentence.

Yesterday, however, a federal judge, William Zloch, refused to postpone prison or consider a lighter sentence than the one of 40 months handed down in August and ordered Birkenfeld to report to jail on Friday.

Prosecutors credit Birkenfeld, 44, with exposing wrongdoing in UBS and with leading investigators to thousands of suspected American tax cheats who hid ass

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