Archive for January 8th, 2010

Watchdog accused of ducking confrontation over MPs’ expenses

Independent: Body in charge of MPs’ expenses appears to want to water down Kelly report


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Iraq inquiry: we have every right to know why we went to war

Times: The Iraq inquiry has resumed this week, promising crucial witnesses — Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Lord Goldsmith and possibly Gordon Brown.We have been told repeatedly what it is not: a trial, an inquest, an inquisition, a court, a statutory inquiry. Nevertheless, however its investigative format is described, none of this fancy terminological footwork can evade the central expectation for a thorough, transparent and impartial quest for the truth about the way decisions and actions were carried out.

What remains is not clear. Neither a judge nor a lawyer is on the panel, which is bizarre given that one of the main questions raised by most victims and their families relates to the illegality of the war.

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Science fiction writer’s family to sue Google over Nexus smartphone

Times: Google’s new Nexus One smartphone is the latest gadget to catch the headlines, but one family is not impressed.

The estate of science fiction writer Philip K Dick is planning to sue Google over the name Nexus One, which it claims was taken without permission from Mr Dick’s book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

The story was the basis of the sci-fi cult classic Blade Runner which featured Nexus-6 androids, the sixth generation of robot humanoids. To make matters worse, according to the family of the late author, the phone’s operating system is called Android.

Mr Dick’s daughter Isa Dick Hackett said she thought the estate had a strong case against Google. “Google takes first and then deals with the fallout later,” she said.

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Founder of Oink music piracy site ‘had $300,000 in bank

Times: A man who ran a pirate music website amassed hundreds of thousands of pounds in “donations” from people who had downloaded 21 million songs, a jury heard yesterday.

In 2004 Alan Ellis founded the Oink website, which allowed people to obtain albums free, sometimes even before they had been released. When the site was shut down in 2007 it had almost 200,000 members. A police raid of Mr Ellis’s premises revealed that he had nearly £200,000 in his bank accounts.

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Case of ‘Heathrow four’ to be challenged as lone judge prepares for historic trial

Times: Defence lawyers are preparing to challenge the first criminal trial in England and Wales for 400 years to go ahead without a jury. The case is expected to be heard next week.

Lawyers for four men accused of being part of a gang that stole £1.75 million in a raid at Heathrow will seek to adjourn the trial and go before the Supreme Court, the highest in the land. They argue that the case is of public importance and that the men were denied the chance to rebut the allegations against them or to challenge the direction for a trial by judge.

The decision that there should be a a judge-only trial was made by the Lord Chief Justice and two other judges in an historic ruling at the Court of Appeal in June.

The trial of John Twomey, Peter Blake, Barry Hibberd and Glen Cameron is set to go ahead before Mr Justice Treacy in the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, rather than a criminal venue such as the Old Bailey, after claims of jury nobbling.

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10,000 own up to ‘morally unacceptable’ tax evasion

Times: Stephen Timms, the Treasury Minister, today branded offshore tax evasion “morally unacceptable” today, as HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) announced that about 10,000 people came forward to declare money in offshore accounts before the UK tax amnesty deadline on Monday.

Mr Timms said: “Hiding money in offshore accounts to evade tax is economically and morally unacceptable. It robs public services of funding and places an unfair burden on the honest majority of taxpayers.

“Some people will still be tempted, and that is why the Government will bring forward measures during 2010 to build on the significant progress made both in the UK and globally during 2009 in closing down offshore tax evasion for good.”

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OFT refers bus industry over poor service and prices

Times: The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) today referred local bus services across the UK to the Competition Commission, after an investigation found that limited competition is resulting in higher prices and lower quality for customers.

In August, the OFT published a detailed report, setting out preliminary findings that “limited competition may be leading to higher prices for bus users”. Since then the watchdog has been consulting on its findings.

It has identified several key issues, including a tendency of established companies to eliminate the competition by acting aggressively towards smaller bus companies.

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