Private Eye is a satirical magazine which is no longer a new comer in publishing. In fact it is has carved out its own slot in the industry. It has its strengths and weaknesses but what makes it rather special is that it is independently owned. Its style, its objectives, its targets are set in house and they answer to no one except the High Court when they get sued for libel. They have been down this road many times without losing too often.
Its especial virtue is that its hard news articles are genuine, hard hitting journalism at its best. They cover areas that the main stream media just do not. If you want to read about collusion between Big Government and Big Business Private Eye is the only source.
Of course the satire means playing it for laughs and they do that too. Their comic strips are good; often with a political edge to them. Their political view tends to the left. They were happier attacking the Tories than Labour but now their continuing expose of Brown's humungous fraud as the Chancellor of the Exchequer makes them the lead read. The fact that his shenanigans are carrying on now that he is Her Majesty's Prime Minister is getting comment too. They will not have pleased Blair either.
Private Eye has a virtue; they prove that the main stream media can provide real journalism instead of pandering to special interests. One reason is that their income from advertising comes from diverse sources and is small enough to make them proof against pressure from that direction. The main stream media is beholden to advertisers even if the owners are honest. The latter is by no means a forgone conclusion. Prominent examples include Robert Maxwell, late owner of the Mirror, thief, liar, murderer, traitor, oaf and Jew, Conrad Black, once owner of the Daily Telegraph, now in prison, The Spectator, thief and Zionist. Then there is Richard Desmond, owner of the Daily Express, foul mouthed oaf, pornographer and Jew.
Not all newspaper proprietors are Jews but virtually all tread the Zionist party line for one reason or another. This is what gives the Eye and the Internet their special advantages.
Private Eye Is Endorsed By The Communist Party Of Britain [ 18 January 2011 ]
"Whether it is consultancies and directorships for MPs, the revolving door between top state officials, government advisers and business corporations, the regulation racket when it comes to the City, the railways and gas and electricity distribution or the massive corruption in Britain's financial, armaments, construction and other sectors, Private Eye reports more in one fortnightly issue than in the rest of Britain's mass media put together." - Robert Griffiths (general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain), Morning Star, 20 December 2010.
Mr Griffiths does not mention his plans for destroying England. Some people tell some of the truth some of the time. In fact his article makes a good case against various capitalist swine albeit he does not mention Blair.
Vive la revelucion.
Private Eye 1233
Private Eye 1236-4
Private Eye 1235-4
Private Eye 1240
Private Eye 1241
Private Eye 1243 Page 28 - Lockerbie stitch up
Private Eye 1244 5 - Lockerbie and oil
Private Eye 1248 - Scotland Yard and race racketeers
Private Eye 1267
Private Eye - Tory Donors
Private Eye 1273
Private Eye 1274
Private Eye specials are on line but only for
subscribers:- join up and get value.
Lockerbie - Private Eye's special report into the Lockerbie disaster (Originally published in 2001) - perversion of the course of justice
Deepcut shots in the dark - First published in issue 1167 (15/9/2006) - there were four murders in the Deepcut Massacre
System Failure - First published in issue 1179 (2/3/2007) Blair pissing money up the wall
The full background to the ACTIS-CDC sell off (as highlighted in issue 1221 17/10/2008) government fraud
Private Eye 1229-26
Although HMRC has set-up what it quaintly
calls a " Time-to-pay-line", callers requesting leeway are routinely being
threatened with legal action by harassed call centre staff.
Although the government has admonished
high-street lenders for not passing on interest rate cuts to borrowers, when
hard pressed taxpayers are given more time to pay, they are told they will be
charged interest at an annual rate of 3.5 percent - a full 2 percentage points
higher than the Bank of England's base rate.
The 3.5 percent rate applies to those who owe tax from self-employment, pay-as-you-earn, VAT, stamp duty and corporation tax. And despite the negative publicity surrounding the use of credit cards and the dangers of easy lending that enabled many to build up debts they can no longer afford to pay back, last month HMRC for the first time allowed those with outstanding tax to pay with a credit card, for which the HMRC charges a handling fee of 1.25 percent.
Oh fiddle sticks!
WHILE the little man or woman struggling to pay the tax they owe gets it in the neck from zealous HM Revenue and Customs staff (see above), those trying to avoid paying much larger amounts are more likely than ever to get away with it.
For HMRC has decided to overlook some huge tax bills in the name of... efficiency. So severe are the 25,000 job cuts forced through under recent "efficiency" reviews that when a company becomes insolvent, the taxman will now only chase up unpaid tax if It exceeds £100,000.
Even HMRC's bosses seem exasperated at the move. Investigations director Mike Eland told staff he was trying "to deliver the best possible results with the people at our disposal. As part of this ongoing review my senior managers in SI [Special Investigations ] have taken the decision to increase the threshold for new insolvency cases to £100,000 to bring it more in line with the other work areas in SI." In other words, serious tax fiddling for less than 100 big ones is unlikely to be investigated seriously.
Slip-ups on tax returns get through, too.
Omitted income up to £5,000 - dealt with as a "minor query" - will not be followed up if one attempt to contact the errant taxpayer is unsuccessful. The case is dismissed as "no contact/no agreement" and written off, meaning up to a £2.000 windfall for a 40 percent taxpayer.
Another disgruntled tax inspector recently wrote to Large Business Service boss Melanie Dawes complaining that "staff cuts and the removal of local offices and therefore local intelligence information means they are about as likely to be investigated as they are to win the lottery". Two weeks later HMRC announced the closure of 93 offices across the UK by 2011 with the anticipated loss of 3,000 jobs- jobs which official figures confirm, recover several times their costs if used to chase the billions of tax that is going missing.
Small wonder the public accounts committee recently concluded that HMRC is "making little ground" in its fight against the hidden economy. New HMRC chairman and ex-private equity man Mike Clasper (pictured) has made his mark by launching a "vision" which concludes: "We will be seen as a highly professional and efficient organisation". But as HMRC's "customer operations director" Simon Smith admits "It is the place we want to be, but I accept that we have some way to go."
LIFE remains sweet at the top of HMRC. however, as the country's biggest tax avoiders will always stump up for good scoff for the boss.
Freedom of information inquiries by the Eye reveal that "big four" accountancy firms Ernst &: Young, KPMG, Deloitte and PwC who between them sell hundreds of tax avoidance schemes every year, are particularly keen to schmooze the HMRC director-general responsible for fighting their activities Dave Hartnett.
In 18 months up to December 2006 (the latest period for which HMRC would release information), Mr Hartnett was entertained by the big four 17 times. His most avid host, KPMG took him to dinner five times, including to the Mirabelle, the Cinnamon Club with the firm's boss, Loughlin Hickey, to supper at Simpsons and put him up in the Park Lane Hilton ahead of the firm's annual tax symposium.
Deloitte, meanwhile, also took Hartnett to his favourite Cinnamon Club to discuss "better use of consultancy support" and to the mandarins' haunt of Shepherds in Westminster to introduce an HMRC colleague.
Although the extent of the schmoozing appears to breach HMRC rules limiting hospitality to being "not too frequent" and "not part of a pattern of invitations", an HMRC spokesman insists there was nothing wrong: "Anyone who thinks HMRC would be inclined to dilute its opposition to tax avoidance as an outcome of some working dinners is clearly unaware of the recent history of tax avoidance in the UK."
Entirely coincidentally, HMRC is keen to protect what it told the Eye was a "constructive, grown up relationship with the big four accountancy firms" and has refused to say how many tax avoidance schemes they have been forced to cough up to in the last couple of years under disclosure laws.
Another firm with cause to be grateful to the Revenue in 2006 was Shell. As the Eye exposed at the time (Eye 1158), in that year's budget a let-out from a clampdown on companies dumping profits in tax havens was found specifically for the oil company in secretive circumstances. In September Hartnett attended a dinner hosted by the firm after a conference in Amsterdam.
And in one really smart use of taxpayers' money, Hartnett and a group of other civil servants trotted off to the trendy Baltic restaurant to discuss a "capability review" of the Department for Work and Pensions. The other mandarins picking up the tab were from the Cabinet Office which is next door to Hartnett's Whitehall office.
Will Tanzania get back any of the £28m it paid for an air traffic control system it did not need and could not afford? That and the size of the fine likely to be imposed on BAE for the corrupt payments made to obtain the contract, are the two issues to be decided at the forthcoming 20 December court hearing ( although the company denies bribery, the SFO does not accuse it of bribery and BAE is pleading guilty only to bad book-keeping by failing to keep proper accounting records).
BAE, Tanzania, Iraq And Bribes
Way back in February, BAE agreed to pay £30m to settle the SFO investigation as part of its overall plea bargain with thee US authorities - who collected a more substantial $400m. The fine was to be £2m with the rest going back to Tanzania. But this time it will be decided by Mr Justice Bean - who rejected a previous SFO cosy plea bargain deal and jailed DePuy International marketing director Robert Dougall for a year in April for corrupting Greek doctors to buy medical equipment. That sentence was suspended by the Appeal Court.
Bean has been in the loop for the negotiations between the SFO and BAE - as the judges have suggested, if there are to be settlements on international corruption cases. If the fine is less than £30m, then Tanzania will probably receive the balance, If it is more than that it probably get nothing. Just like the taxpayer, who, as things stand and unless Bean makes an order for BAE to pay, will receive no via the SFO despite its seven-year investigation, which cost several million pounds and resulted in just this one prosecution.
Lord Justice Thomas, the senior criminal judge, has stated that fines for corruption should be more on the US scale. But will it happen to BAE? The tariff is certainly rising. Engineering company the Weir Group was recently hit with a £l4m confiscation order for profits made, plus a £3m fine for giving bribes to obtain orders from Saddam Hussein's regime as part of the corrupt oil-for-food scheme. This started as an SFO case that was then passed to the Scottish authorities.
Meanwhile those in Tanzania who benefited from the $12m in commissions paid by BAE to obtain the radar contract are still in the money and not in jail. But then neither is anyone from BAE, despite the SFO insisting that it was responsible for covert offshore payments the knowledge of which went right to the top.
Private Eye 1233-6
"Now LET me say that while others may be tempted to shy away from their development responsibilities, we in Britain will continue to meet them and we will keep our promises on aid," promised Gordon Brown ahead of the G20, echoing a commitment at last July's G8 Tokyo summit to put food security for the poorest countries at the top of the agenda.
How strange, then, that minutes of the Department for International Development's management committee just seven months later, on 17 February, discussing how to deal with imminent cutbacks for 2009-10, showed that "agriculture and food security" programmes would be given a "lower priority". The minutes also curiously suggested that spending plans coming out of the G20 summit should be classified as capital, not day-to-day, spending.
As soon as the Eye queried these odd, ahem, developments, the department that encourages scrutiny of other governments removed the embarrassing comments from its website. In their place is the following testament to open government: "This was an internal departmental discussion. The papers are restricted."
308 Years of royal tradition which Gordon Brown is considering overturning with changes to laws of succession
15 Years since Gordon Brown ensured his own succession to the role of Prime Minister, to which he is unelected
Private Eye 1234-4
POOR SHOW, GORDON
BRITAIN's share of the $50bn Gordon Brown promised to the world's poorest countries via a new World Bank fund is £300m. But on close examination it turns out to be as big a sleight of hand as the G20's headline promise of $50bn.
The £300m will come from Britain's development finance institution - in other words the Eye's old chums at CDC, formerly the Commonwealth Development Corporation but now the publicly-owned fund that has made big profits investing in private equity businesses at the expense of more developmentally valuable enterprises.
At the last count CDC was sitting on £1.4bn of cash, having sold many of its big-earning investments. But it has made commitments to fresh investments exceeding £1.4bn. And it's some of this already-committed cash that will be lent to the World Bank's new "global trade liquidity pool", meaning that commitments already made will have to be ditched.
The Department for International Development says the money will be "sourced from CDC's balance sheet", but still dresses up this redirection of existing money as: "New financial boost for businesses in developing countries from UK government". In fact it's as new as the spinning behind it.
And what of the $50bn promised? In fact G20 governments have agreed "to provide $3-4bn in voluntary bilateral contributions", while the remaining $46-47bn is optimistically predicted to be coughed up by the private sector. So, er, not quite $50bn after all.
Private Eye 1235-4
"SECRET police intelligence was given to private firm," screamed the main headline on the Guardian's front page on 20 April. "Emails show civil servants passed data on protestors to security officials at E.ON."
The Grauniad was appalled that Scotland Yard and Whitehall had shared information with the energy giant about environmentalists who objected to its new power station in Kent. As Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty told the paper: "The government is in danger of turning police constables into little more than bouncers and private security guards for big business."
No doubt this will be carefully noted by the newspaper's own executives who are organising the Guardian Climate Change Summit 2009, to be held in central London on 15 June, which is receiving generous sponsorship from ... E.ON.
AT LAST a successor has been found to Paul "tax havens" Myners as chairman of the Guardian Media Group.
Until a couple of weeks ago the favoured candidate was John Peace of Standard Chartered; but then the Eye drew attention to his bank's tireless efforts to satisfy clients' "offshore financial needs". So Amelia Fawcett, former Morgan Stanley banker, has got the job instead. The Grauniad can resume its high-minded campaign against tax havens with a clear conscience.
But wait a minute: Fawcett is also a nonnexecutive director of DS financial firm State Street, which cheerfully admits on its website that "our approach to offshore fund servicing is simple. We provide our clients with consultative experience that is unrivalled in the industry, then back it up with a complete array of products and quality service to help you complete even the most complex offshore transactions."
All a bit embarrassing for editor Alan Rusbridger, no doubt. But very reassuring for private equity firm Apax, which has set up a string of offshore companies with Guardian Media Group in the tax havens of Luxembourg and the Cayman Islands.
Private Eye 1235-6
Brown keeps evil company but then Brown is evil - Editor
Always The McBridesmaid, Never The McBride
IT WAS as long ago as December 2006 that Lord Campbell-Savours first tabled a parliamentary question about the antics of Damian McBride, then Gordon Brown's special adviser at the Treasury, who had just lambasted Sky News for allowing the Blairite Stephen Byers to comment on Gordon Brown's pre-budget report. ("Out of interest," McBride asked sarkily, "who do you have on for Labour?")
Campbell-Savours, an austere old Labourite, was appalled: special advisers, as civil servants, are meant to keep out of intra-party feuding and mud-wrestling. He asked ministers "whether the contents of the email sent by special adviser Damian McBride to Sky television complied with paragraph 14 of the code of conduct for special advisers, and, if not, what action they will take".
On behalf of the government, Lord McKenzie replied that "all Treasury members of staff are expected to follow the relevant codes of conduct for their employment, whether they are special advisers or civil servants, but we do not discuss individual cases". Campbell-Savours repeated his question again in January 2007, and yet again in March, but on both occasions was fobbed off with the same mantra: "We do not discuss individual cases."
Fast forward to April 2009. When McBride's scurrilous emails were exposed, the PM and his fellow-ministers rushed to the nearest microphone to express their revulsion and to point out that McPoison had been dismissed at once. Whatever happened to the stern refusal to discuss individual cases?
Like so many political "rules", this turns out to apply only when ministers find it expedient, as they did in December 2006. Gordon knew by then what sort of chap McBride was - a red-faced lout plotting to undermine Blairites in blithe defiance of Whitehall codes of conduct. But, as Peter Sellers used to say, he felt that "one must have such a man". Nobody paid much attention to Campbell-Savours' lone campaign, and Gordon was able to enter No 10 with his henchman at his side. For all his recent protestations of ignorance, the thuggishness he now deplores was the very quality that he valued in McBride.
Much of the outrage from Fleet Street hacks is equally disingenuous. Despite all their choirboy disgust, McBride was as much the recipient of lobby hacks' gossip as its originator. Political insiders knew that the McBride email published by blogger Guido Fawkes was genuine as soon as they saw he had hailed Derek Draper et al as "Gents". This sort of sub-golf-club chumminess was very much McBride's style. Few of his "clients" - the lobby hacks he spoonfed - were women. He is the sort of man who addresses drinking partners as "squire" and, on being offered a tincture, utters the witticism "foolish not to".
In Moncrieff's press bar at the Commons, McBride's lewd email theory about a female Tory MP was old hat. Unverified scuttlebutt has long been exchanged by press bar drinkers while Clive the barman innocently dries the glasses and struggles to keep the white wine shelves stocked during the daily depredations from the Press Association, Sky News, the Sun and certain regional newspapers ("make it the usual, Clive").
McBride's best pals in the lobby, apart from Daily Mirror columnist Kevin Maguire, were Patrick Hennessy of the Sunday Telegraph, Andrew Porter of the Daily Telegraph, George Pascoe Watson of the Sun and Ben Brogan, until recently of the Daily Mail but now chief political commentator on the Daily Telegraph. McBride's tactic was to appeal to Thatcherite newspaper readers dissatisfied by David Cameron's liberal tone.
Left-wing Etonian Hennessy and wet-behind-the-ears Porter are part of a beer, golf and football cabal in the press lobby set. They spend more time discussing Chelsea and Arsenal scores, or how wellied they got the previous night, than chewing over political philosophy. They regard earnest Blairites as "tossers" and Cameroon Tories as "toffs". Management at the Mirror clearly had a shrewd idea of what Maguire was up to with his mate Damian: the weekly column in which he did much of McBride's dirty work was titled "Kevin Maguire and Friends". The readers seem to have twigged as well. "Just what is the truth of Cameron's alleged embarrassing complaint of a highly personal nature?" he mused on his blog last week, prompting one reader to reply: "Whatever the complaint in question, let's hope it's not the one that you've been suffering from for the past three years, Kevin. Having his head wedged inextricably up his own arse."
Those outside McBride's gang of chums included the dry New Labour couple of Grauniad political editor Patrick Wintour and his wife Rachel Sylvester, now a columnist on the Times but previously on the Telegraph. There was surprise last year when Sylvester left the Torygraph, having been there all her career. Naive onlookers thought Telegraph editor Will "Thirsty" Lewis might have fought hard to hold on to such a big name writer, particularly one who wrote well-informed, largely critical pieces about Brown. But Lewis is also a karaoke singing chum of Damian McBride. The Downing Street spinner, who was seen lounging in Lewis's office, has a capacity for drink almost equal to that of "Thirsty". Exit Sylvester. Lewis had now changed the entire Telegraph political team, including straight-as-an-arrow George Jones.
McBride must have been delighted. The last paper to remain loyal to McBride, even after his email surfaced? Lewis's Telegraph.
The McBride media operation was not always carried out by him or at his behest. Ed Balls sometimes pulled the strings. Junior ministers such as Tom Watson, plus union schemer and ex-Treasury spin doctor Charlie Whelan, occasionally passed nuggets to trusted scribes. The involvement of Draper suggests that Peter Mandelson (Draper's longstanding controller) has also had one of his long, lean digits in the pie. Mandelson could not bear being in the same room as the oafish McBride so Draper was detailed to meet the Brown/Balls crowd at the sleaze frontier on his behalf.
McBride's mitt was not on the smoking revolver last summer when David Miliband was done in after making a clumsy bid to succeed Gordon Brown. Miliband was described as "shitty" by a 10 Downing Street figure. Those keen to identify that person could do worse than study the telephone records of another McBride operative, former Treasury special adviser Ian Austin MP.
McBride, who is only in his mid 30s (though he looks older) has not left Downing Street a rich man. He needs a job, fast, if only to allay fears he might spill the beans on how Brown's No 10 works. There is evidence he feels betrayed by the way Ed Balls disowned him with indecent haste after the email story broke. Last autumn Ben Brogan rode to McBride's defence when Mandelson returned to the government and McBride was demoted after dumping on Ruth Kelly in a 3am briefing at the Labour conference, Brogan wrote in his Mail blog that "when the Day of Reckoning comes, Damian McBride will emerge with great credit from this madness", Following Balls's disowning of McBride, Brogan used his new Torygraph blog to call Balls a liar.
And what, finally, of Kevin Maguire? His presence at a meeting with Draper, McBride and Labour party chairman Ray Collins to discuss a leftwing scandal blog, Red Rag, may have damaged his lucrative sideline as a politics pundit for the BBC. Shortly after quitting, McBride received an urgent message from a certain "gent" of political journalism desperately asking him if there were any other unexploded emails which might betray him as a Labour stooge. In reply McBride replied: "What do you mean? Half of them were your ideas in the first place!"
'Gavel Basher and Friends'
Goldman Sachs And Greed
Greed is good? 1236/37
1243 Page 28
EARLIER this year the Eye predicted that the Scottish courts would hear only a small part of the appeal of Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi before it would be abandoned and he would return to Libya to die with his family (Eyes passim).
Ever since Jack Straw, the justice minister, stuck two fingers up at parliament's human-rights committee and rushed through the prisoner transfer deal with our new best friend, Muammar Gaddafi, Megrahi's release was always on the cards. After all, the deal suited all the main players, cementing relations with Libya as well as halting an appeal that threatened to prove a major embarrassment to both the UK and US governments. News last week that Megrahi was to be returned on "compassionate grounds", because he was dying of cancer, briefly raised hopes that his appeal could continue in his absence. But that was never going to be allowed to happen, and Megrahi, who had always said he would never return to Libya until his name was cleared, duly dropped his appeal.
The casualty is justice and the truth about the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, which claimed 270 victims. For, as readers of the Eye's special report by Paul Foot in 2001 are well aware, Megrahi's trial was a travesty. There were the testimonies of two witnesses who were paid huge sums by the CIA - one a notorious liar and paid informer, Abdul Giaka, who first put Megrahi in the frame; the other the Maltese shopkeeper who identified him as the man who bought clothes said to have been packed round the bomb. He had been shown photographs of Megrahi.
Some forensic evidence appeared to have been tampered with and much evidence withheld including the fact that there had been a serious breach in security at Heathrow at the Pan Am baggage area in the early hours of 21 December 1988, the day of the bombing. A padlock on the door had been professionally cut and the area open to intruders. Coupled with the testimony of baggage handlers about two extra cases going on board - one matching the description of the bag said to have carried the bomb - this would have featured heavily in Megrahi's appeal.
And then, of course, there were the similarities to the modus operandi of a Syrian-backed terrorist cell operating out of Frankfurt, including altitude-sensitive timers, which the judges did not allow Megrahi's defence team to raise at trial.
Because the appeal in Edinburgh has been dogged by delay, none of these troubling issues have been aired. And now, short of the public inquiry demanded by the families of the victims, they never will be.
Allowing the only man convicted of the bombing to be returned to Libya has produced howls of outrage on both sides of the Atlantic. (That is, apart from the rare voices of the UN observer at the trial and some of the British victims' families, who have studied every aspect of the case and believe there has been a miscarriage of justice.) That outrage would be better focused on the governments and justice systems that have ensured we have all been denied the full truth about Lockerbie.
• Paul Foot's 2001 special report, Lockerbie - The Flight from Justice, is available to download at www.private-eye.co.uk, price £5
Libel Most Foul
Or not as the case may be. To be fair they did not kill many and they were only blacks somewhere else.
Errors & omissions, broken links,
cock ups, over-emphasis, malice [ real or imaginary ] or whatever; if
you find any I am open to comment.
Email me at Mike Emery. All financial contributions are cheerfully accepted. If you want to keep it private, use my PGP Key. Home Page
Updated on 29/12/2012 17:35