Archive for January 20th, 2010

Officer ‘hit Iraqi prisoner’

Independent: A former British soldier told an investigation into the death of an Iraqi civilian that he was “disgusted” at the brutality of a senior officer towards a prisoner. In evidence to the Baha Mousa inquiry yesterday, the soldier alleged his commanding officer at the time, Colonel Jorge Mendonca, punched the man in the face in front of more than 100 Army personnel after a raid on a derelict building.

The witness, identified only as S038, led search teams during a tour of Iraq from June to October 2003. He said: “I was disgusted. A CO is supposed to lead by example. I went into the Burma Company office and aired my views. I said something along the lines of: ‘That was bang out of order.'”

According to the witness, shortly afterwards he was having a cup of coffee in the Company Office when he heard “jeering”.

“I went outside to find that all three prisoners had been assaulted; one of their noses was burst and the others were bleeding from their lips,” he said.

He told the inquiry he suspected the assault was carried out by a female soldier, who was ordered inside by an officer.

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Hoon: Brown is to blame for Army shortages

Independent: Gordon Brown withheld funds demanded by the armed forces in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, it was revealed yesterday.

Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary at the time of the Iraq war, told the Chilcot inquiry that the Ministry of Defence had “asked for significantly more money than we eventually received” from the Treasury in July 2002, less than a year before the invasion.

Mr Hoon, who was behind last month’s failed putsch against the Prime Minister’s leadership, added that spending cuts imposed on the military by Mr Brown had led to the shortage of helicopters experienced by British troops operating in Afghanistan.

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Labour turns to grandparents in fight for the ‘family vote’

Independent: Grandparents will today be promised new rights by the Government as the battle to win the “family vote” intensifies in the run-up to the general election.

Ministers will announce plans to scrap a requirement for grandfathers and grandmothers to apply to the courts when they are denied contact with their grandchildren by the “resident parent.” An estimated one million children lose contact with their grandparents following adoption, divorce, separation or family feuds.

Some 68 per cent of grandparents feel very close to their grandchild. But while most enjoy caring for children, half of them feel stressed. A “BeGrand” website for grandparents will provide a directory of services and peer support, online advisers, information and advice ranging from cooking to legal rights. In a Green Paper published today, the Children’s Secretary, Ed Balls, will acknowledge the important role many grandparents play in supporting and caring for grandchildren.

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Cafcass: 40 per cent rise of children in care since Baby P tragedy

Times: Over eight thousand children have been taken into care in the year since the Baby P tragedy came to light — an increase of some 40 per cent.

Cafcass, the children’s court advisory service, said that the passage of time had resulted in no slow down in the number of children being removed from their homes as social workers become more risk averse.

November 2009 — a year after the news of the death of the 17-month old toddler emerged — saw 753 care orders going to court, the third highest monthly total since Cafcass records began in 2005. In total, 8,524 care applications were made in 2009 compared with 5,968 in 2008.

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Police errors left rapist John Worboys free to strike – but no officers face sack


• IPCC upholds complaints against five Met officers
• Fury from victims as none faces disciplinary action

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Rights for NHS patients now law

Telegraph: Rights for NHS patients to be treated with dignity and respect are now enshrined in law for the first time, ministers have announced.

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‘Have-a-go’ brothers Munir and Tokeer Hussain refused appeal

Times: Two businessmen will learn today how long they must serve in prison after an appeal that has reignited controversy over “have-a-go heroes”.

Yesterday the Court of Appeal rejected an application for leave to appeal against conviction by Munir Hussain, 53, of High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and also by his brother Tokeer Hussain, 35.

But the judges went on to hear argument that the sentences should be cut and will give their decision today.

The Lord Chief Justice will rule on whether to cut jail terms of 30 and 39 months imposed on Munir and Tokeer Hussain for chasing an intruder down the street and attacking him with a cricket bat.

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