Monthly Archives: April 2015

‘The Seeds Of Revolution Are Present In The Machinery Of Oppression’

On Corruption and Cover-Ups, Guy Mankowski interviews Will Black

Will Black is a writer and journalist with a background in anthropology and mental health care. His latest book, Psychopathic Cultures and Toxic Empires, examines the corrupting influence powerful psychopaths have on societies.

#PsychopathicCultures front final

Guy Mankowski is a writer and academic. His current novel, Marine, explores whistle-blowing, cover-ups and corruption. He was recently awarded an Arts Council Grant For The Arts to research this subject, and has interviewed experts on corruption in sports and banking.

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Guy and Will caught up for a chat about corruption and cover-ups, subjects which are hitting the headlines increasingly often.

Guy Mankowski: I found your book a brilliant read. You say in it that “the more complex organisations are the more opportunities there are for psychopaths to seize control”. Do you think the façades of professionalism, and its attendant bureaucratic tools, are consciously employed by psychopaths to cloak their behaviour?

Will Black: It’s hard to know, and I’m sure there is variation. But certainly some people who look at the world in a selfish and exploitative way would look at aspects of ‘their’ organisation and professional structures to maximise their influence and gains. And also protect themselves from losing those things.

This has weakened, fortunately, but historically there has been a rigid caste system in Britain, encouraging relatively narrow groups of people to enter and thrive within certain professions. The ‘high walls’ and ‘razor wire’ repelling those from the wrong ‘class’ from key professions historically may have done those professions harm, as they also kept out scrutiny. And enabled the undeserving privileged to dominate for too long – which is a waste of more widely-dispersed ability.

While these little empires remained like fortresses, the cultures within them would have appeared normal to many of those within them. This gives toxic characters free rein to maintain and develop the toxicity of those organisations.

GM: Your book describes toxic cultures in which systematic child abuse has tragically occurred. Given your background as a clinician, I wondered if you think that paedophilia might, in people with a vulnerability to psychopathy, be a reaction to a specific early psychological trauma? I am wondering if such trauma, combined with the psychopathic need for power, could be an explanation for mass child abuse in toxic cultures?

WB: It’s very hard to say. It seems to be the case, in Britain and elsewhere, that celebrity figures and abuse ring procurers have been investigated and prosecuted much more readily than the most powerful have. The few reasonably influential child abusers and rapists who have been convicted appear remorseless so far and, given any opportunity, use their prominence to smear victims.

I know there is great work going on in some prisons, in the UK and abroad, which encourages sex attackers to face up to what they have done and their impact on victims. So there is potential for us as societies to gain more insight into the above. However, I think it’s more complicated when it comes to abuse rings than solitary sex attackers – and especially so in the networks of powerful abusers that authorities are finally looking into. Coming clean enough to offer insight into the above question seems less likely in this ‘elite’ group, as they have a strong sense of entitlement, are supported by and protected by institutions and wealth, and any admission would breach the fortress of the group and cast darker shadows across ‘elite’ society.

The alleged Westminster abuse networks – and other ‘elite’ networks – appear to have a stronger code of silence than the Mafia at this stage. As a consequence, we can only speculate on the dynamics within these groups and what factors led members of the rings to do what they have done. When we hear accounts of those brave victims of abuse rings who have come forward, it certainly seems to me that ‘paedophile’ is the wrong word. Brutal violent rape of children is not about an ‘attraction’ towards children. It may be about power, transgression of societal norms (as Ian Brady sought). Or some kind of twisted personal or group rite, to amplify their sense of importance and power.

It may be that some of these powerful perpetrators were abused, but we must not assume a simple correlation. Some people who have had charmed lives still manage to become sadists. Their doing so might, in some cases, be influenced by a disposition towards psychopathy, but it could also be something enabled and encouraged by malignant aspects of ‘elite’ culture that have been hidden from public scrutiny. It seems very unlikely that it just so happened that a bunch of ‘VIPs’ suddenly started abusing children in networks in the 1970s and 80s. It seems more likely to me that culture has shifted enough in the last decade or so that more survivors have come forward. Furthermore technology (such as blogs and social media) has allowed muted voices to become amplified. It may very well be that these sorts of rings have operated for considerable time, but a culture of shame, fear, denial and oppression prevented victims from coming forwards in the way many have done in recent years. Whether or not the predators abusing those children can be described as psychopaths, the rings themselves would have appeared monstrous and all-powerful to the children preyed upon.

GM: Later in the book you talk of the challenges facing those who would like to test for psychopathy, in order to undermine the power of psychopathic systems. Do you think it would it be useful for society to consider developing psychometrics to assess psychopathy in mass figures? Perhaps using their public behaviour and discourses as material instead of private material gathered in one-to-one sessions? Because – as you say – psychopaths in public positions would resist assessment.

WB: It’s a very tricky notion as, beyond the scientific integrity of doing so, in creating a shift in culture aimed at curtailing the influence of psychopaths, we could create a hostile and paranoid environment. It might turn out that this is what happens, but I don’t relish the prospect of societies feeling compelled to do something like this. Transparency is one thing, but a surveillance culture armed with psychological models could be as toxic as what we have now.
Fear of child-abusing strangers has already taken from many children the freedom my generation had to play out with friends and experiment with life – things vital to develop resilience and social intelligence. So, as well as harming their victims, abusers have cast a shadow over societies and infected culture with cynicism and fear. To create a business environment of such scrutiny that people can’t function naturally could cast a similar shadow. I think a better solution is to reward empathetic leadership practices, long-term thinking and a systemic approach to problem solving – rather than (as has often happened) reward a more psychopathic approach to business and work.

GM: I am surprised, when shocking stories about systemic abuse surface, that there isn’t a greater outcry. With regards to the Dolphin Square scandal there seems a) the widespread belief that it in due course it will be covered up and b) the sense that the government have no real appetite to address it. For instance, we saw Nick Clegg recently resist claims to investigate Cyril Smith, citing semantics about the fact that he is not in the same party as Smith was. Do you think this lack of willingness to investigate might at all be related to networks which assure mutual survival or destruction? (Without casting aspersions on any individuals).

WB: Yes, I’m sure that is true and I’m sure there are people involved who are not psychopaths and who are frankly scared and disgusted with what they have been party to. I think we sometimes credit individual ministers with too much power though. A former MI5 officer made the point at a talk a few years ago that governments come and go but the security services carry on as they see fit. And within specific intelligence services there are different factions with different agendas, but an ultimate function is to maintain social order and stability.

With that in mind – and before the internet made it possible for former care home children to have a voice, it might have seemed perfectly rational and right to help cover-up things that would unsettle society and cause unrest.
From a utilitarian perspective, non-abuser spooks covering up abuse in the past could have convinced themselves that they were doing something pro-social rather than psychopathic. However, now that more and more people can see the rot seeping out from the Establishment, it seems like a reprehensible thing to have done. It added to the abuse and betrayal of victims.

Those covering up these crimes in the 70’s and 80’s probably couldn’t have imagined that soon almost everyone would have devices that can broadcast information around the world in seconds. I’d suspect the abusers and those covering up thought victims of abuse were more likely to die young or become disregarded substance abusers than become articulate, supported people with a strong voice, compelling stories and the ability to broadcast what has happened. The problem now for the authorities is that the rot is so apparent to so many and – until people are satisfied it’s been completely exposed and cleaned up – all of politics and the security services will look suspect. As does the CPS and the police, when cases don’t make it to court.

GM: I worked in health care for quite a few years. There is lots of talk about psychopaths in business and politics, but I wonder if professions like psychology can be fertile grounds for a particularly elusive kind of psychopath, e.g. one who can call and respond with ideas of empathy and self-awareness to hide their aggression?

WB: The concept of psychopathy – or at least the term – is relatively new. I think we have a lot further to go in understanding different types of psychopaths, and others deemed to have antisocial and narcissistic personality disorders. Research into mirror neurons and the ’empathy switch’ has been illuminating, as it showed how empathy can be switched on or dialled up in certain circumstances. I suspect we will find more about how for healthy people in extreme conditions – such as war – it can be also dialled down. So in the fairly precarious, chaotic and confusing environment of a psychiatric ward or A & E service, there are certainly clinicians who previously shared no characteristics with psychopaths who learn to suppress normal human responses – like fear and horror – to make rapid decisions and manage to sleep at night. Equally, there could be some perfectly good clinicians who are drawn to the excitement and power of making life-changing decisions, but who – under different conditions – could be rather unpleasant psychopaths.

GM: In my novel I explore the fact that organisations do not protect whistle-blowers, and so social networking is increasingly exposing and confronting corruption instead. Are you concerned that powerful organisations will find ways to close this loophole? You mention in the book that the Wikipedia pages of the powerful seem to be changed very quickly if any evidence of their wrongdoing is placed there.

WB: We can’t assume that the freedom we currently have on social media will always be available to us – and many people have nothing like the power we have in the UK to communicate without being dragged off somewhere. However, the internet has become such a vital tool in business that, if it ceased to function, corporations and economies would also struggle to function. All sorts of markets are now so dependent on the internet that nations would be destabilised if the web went down. This reality means, ironically, that as long as capitalism as we know it operates, the masses will have communication tools at our disposal to challenge aspects of the system. As is often the case, the seeds of revolution are present in the machinery of oppression.

Psychopathic Cultures and Toxic Empires is available via Amazon and bookshops.

Guy Mankowski is the author of the novels ‘Letters from Yelena’ and more recently ‘How I Left The National Grid’.

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CSA Spooks Foreign & Domestic: Part 1

I tend to steer clear of this subject as I think it can be a little distracting. However, I’ve wanted to look at security service [Foreign & Domestic] involvement in the CSA internet ‘movement’  for a while now and I think Glenn Greenwald’s article, posted here in full, is a very good place to start.

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Glenn Greenwald is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law.

HOW COVERT AGENTS INFILTRATE THE INTERNET TO MANIPULATE, DECEIVE, AND DESTROY REPUTATIONS by Glenn Greenwald

Originally from The Intercept

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One of the many pressing stories that remains to be told from the Snowden archive is how western intelligence agencies are attempting to manipulate and control online discourse with extreme tactics of deception and reputation-destruction. It’s time to tell a chunk of that story, complete with the relevant documents.

Over the last several weeks, I worked with NBC News to publish a series of articles about “dirty trick” tactics used by GCHQ’s previously secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group). These were based on four classified GCHQ documents presented to the NSA and the other three partners in the English-speaking “Five Eyes” alliance. Today, we at the Intercept are publishing another new JTRIG document, in full, entitled “The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations.”

By publishing these stories one by one, our NBC reporting highlighted some of the key, discrete revelations: the monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same DDoS attacks they accuse “hacktivists” of using, the use of “honey traps” (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses. But, here, I want to focus and elaborate on the overarching point revealed by all of these documents: namely, that these agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.

Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable. To see how extremist these programs are, just consider the tactics they boast of using to achieve those ends: “false flag operations” (posting material to the internet and falsely attributing it to someone else), fake victim blog posts (pretending to be a victim of the individual whose reputation they want to destroy), and posting “negative information” on various forums. Here is one illustrative list of tactics from the latest GCHQ document we’re publishing today:

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Other tactics aimed at individuals are listed here, under the revealing title “discredit a target”:

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Then there are the tactics used to destroy companies the agency targets:

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GCHQ describes the purpose of JTRIG in starkly clear terms: “using online techniques to make something happen in the real or cyber world,” including “information ops (influence or disruption).”

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Critically, the “targets” for this deceit and reputation-destruction extend far beyond the customary roster of normal spycraft: hostile nations and their leaders, military agencies, and intelligence services. In fact, the discussion of many of these techniques occurs in the context of using them in lieu of “traditional law enforcement” against people suspected (but not charged or convicted) of ordinary crimes or, more broadly still, “hacktivism”, meaning those who use online protest activity for political ends.

The title page of one of these documents reflects the agency’s own awareness that it is “pushing the boundaries” by using “cyber offensive” techniques against people who have nothing to do with terrorism or national security threats, and indeed, centrally involves law enforcement agents who investigate ordinary crimes:

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No matter your views on Anonymous, “hacktivists” or garden-variety criminals, it is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption. There is a strong argument to make, as Jay Leiderman demonstrated in the Guardian in the context of the Paypal 14 hacktivist persecution, that the “denial of service” tactics used by hacktivists result in (at most) trivial damage (far less than the cyber-warfare tactics favored by the US and UK) and are far more akin to the type of political protest protected by the First Amendment.

The broader point is that, far beyond hacktivists, these surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats. As Anonymous expert Gabriella Coleman of McGill University told me, “targeting Anonymous and hacktivists amounts to targeting citizens for expressing their political beliefs, resulting in the stifling of legitimate dissent.” Pointing to this study she published, Professor Coleman vehemently contested the assertion that “there is anything terrorist/violent in their actions.”

Government plans to monitor and influence internet communications, and covertly infiltrate online communities in order to sow dissension and disseminate false information, have long been the source of speculation. Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, a close Obama adviser and the White House’s former head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, wrote a controversial paper in 2008 proposing that the US government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites, as well as other activist groups.

Sunstein also proposed sending covert agents into “chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups” which spread what he views as false and damaging “conspiracy theories” about the government. Ironically, the very same Sunstein was recently named by Obama to serve as a member of the NSA review panel created by the White House, one that – while disputing key NSA claims – proceeded to propose many cosmetic reforms to the agency’s powers (most of which were ignored by the President who appointed them).

But these GCHQ documents are the first to prove that a major western government is using some of the most controversial techniques to disseminate deception online and harm the reputations of targets. Under the tactics they use, the state is deliberately spreading lies on the internet about whichever individuals it targets, including the use of what GCHQ itself calls “false flag operations” and emails to people’s families and friends. Who would possibly trust a government to exercise these powers at all, let alone do so in secret, with virtually no oversight, and outside of any cognizable legal framework?

Then there is the use of psychology and other social sciences to not only understand, but shape and control, how online activism and discourse unfolds. Today’s newly published document touts the work of GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell,” devoted to “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption”:

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Under the title “Online Covert Action”, the document details a variety of means to engage in “influence and info ops” as well as “disruption and computer net attack,” while dissecting how human beings can be manipulated using “leaders,” “trust,” “obedience” and “compliance”:

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The documents lay out theories of how humans interact with one another, particularly online, and then attempt to identify ways to influence the outcomes – or “game” it:

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We submitted numerous questions to GCHQ, including: (1) Does GCHQ in fact engage in “false flag operations” where material is posted to the Internet and falsely attributed to someone else?; (2) Does GCHQ engage in efforts to influence or manipulate political discourse online?; and (3) Does GCHQ’s mandate include targeting common criminals (such as boiler room operators), or only foreign threats?

As usual, they ignored those questions and opted instead to send their vague and nonresponsive boilerplate: “It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position.”

These agencies’ refusal to “comment on intelligence matters” – meaning: talk at all about anything and everything they do – is precisely why whistleblowing is so urgent, the journalism that supports it so clearly in the public interest, and the increasingly unhinged attacks by these agencies so easy to understand. Claims that government agencies are infiltrating online communities and engaging in “false flag operations” to discredit targets are often dismissed as conspiracy theories, but these documents leave no doubt they are doing precisely that.

Whatever else is true, no government should be able to engage in these tactics: what justification is there for having government agencies target people – who have been charged with no crime – for reputation-destruction, infiltrate online political communities, and develop techniques for manipulating online discourse? But to allow those actions with no public knowledge or accountability is particularly unjustifiable.

Documents referenced in this article:

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This is posted in full originally from The Intercept

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Justice Goddard: CSA Inquiry To Investigate Lord Janner

Kicked into the long grass… (No interim public report from CSA Inquiry until Nov 2016. Inquiry not due to report for 5 years)

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Goddard

Justice Goddard, Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, today announced that the Inquiry will conduct a full investigation into the issues surrounding the allegations of sexual abuse against Lord Greville Janner.

The Inquiry’s investigation will examine and review:

  • the conduct of all institutions that have played a role in the case from the outset, with a view to determining whether those institutions properly discharged their duties of care to protect children against sexual abuse and bring perpetrators to justice. The institutions falling within the remit of the investigation will include relevant local authorities, the relevant care home, the Home Office, Leicestershire police and the Crown Prosecution Service
  • the factual basis for the allegations and, in doing so, will seek evidence from relevant victims and witnesses. If the evidence permits findings of fact to be reached concerning the allegations against Lord Janner, the Inquiry will record and publish these findings
  • the allegations that improper attempts were made to influence the decision-making of relevant institutions by figures of public prominence
  • the previous police investigations and all relevant prosecutorial decisions

Justice Goddard said:

“The depth of public concern surrounding the Janner case exemplifies the need for a thorough and wholly independent investigation intoCSA Inquiry the adequacy of institutional responses to child sexual abuse, particularly where persons in positions of influence are alleged to have abused children in institutional settings and have, for one reason or another ,escaped prosecution over a number of years.

“It would of course be quite wrong to pre-judge the outcome of our inquiries in any way, but there is, in my view, a clear public interest in conducting an exhaustive
and critical examination of the institutional decision-making processes
in this case and in exposing them to public scrutiny.

“Given the prominence of this case, and the controversy that surrounds it, I am
taking responsibility for leading this investigation. I have asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to provide the Inquiry with the full files held by her office and she has undertaken to do this. I expect nothing less than full co-operation from all relevant institutions.”

CSA Inquiry

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Michael Mansfield QC Launches Judicial Review Of CSA Inquiry.

Here is the full press release. I’ll comment below.

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The Chambers of Michael Mansfield QC supports the Survivors’ two grounds of judicial review. Firstly, that the Survivors of Sexual Abuse are excluded from membership of the Inquiry panel because of a claim that they will lack the necessary objectivity. It should be noted that this bar to membership of the panel in fact only targets Survivors who have disclosed their abuse; this of course serves only to punish and stigmatise Survivors.

Secondly, that the Victims and Survivors Consultative Panel (VSCP) involvement is so limited as to be meaningless. The VSCP was said to have been created to allow Survivors to participate at the centre of this Inquiry. Instead the VSCP will meet with the Inquiry team on two days per month and not have access to the Inquiry papers. Each of these decisions sidelines the participation of the Survivors. As Michael Mansfield QC has said:

” The process has been marred by a Government which has tried relentlessly to manipulate the appointments, remit and terms and conditions of any Inquiry. The only way forward is to ensure a collective approach by survivors standing firm and together on clear objectives.”

Notes to editors:
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse was announced by the Home Secretary on the 12th of March 2015
The Hon Justice Goddard DNZM has been appointed to Chair the Inquiry; in her letter posted on the 12th of March she stated that “the appointment of victims or survivors to the panel will not, in my view, be consistent with the objectivity, independence and impartiality that is required of members of an independent panel”
On the 9th of April the Inquiry team announced that the VSCP would be limited to two days per month and stated, to Survivors, that members of the VSCP would not be provided with Inquiry papers.

Mansfield Chambers

Firstly, do I think he can win ?

In my view yes, on grounds of discrimination however this second part “The VSCP was said to have been created to allow Survivors to participate at the centre of this Inquiry.” is incorrect the correct phrase used as I understand it was that “the experience of Survivors” should be at the centre of the Inquiry. It is a small difference but it invalidates the second argument.

To be frank, the VSCP was always going to be limited and meaningless as far as the oversight and direction of the Inquiry was concerned but important as far as ensuring survivors who participate get proper support and an essential way of getting the large survivor charities ‘on board’, and through them survivors.

The entire point was to restrict the access to the confidential and highly classified documentation and keep it in safe hands.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the skill set that is obviously lacking from the current CSA Inquiry panel is held by professional, experienced, and independent investigators (retired police officers or journalists) regardless of whether the investigator is a survivor or not.

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Peer Pressure: How To Strip A Lord Of His Title

You can sign the petition to have the decision not to prosecute Lord Janner reviewed HERE

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How do you strip a peer of his title ?

The short answer is that it isn’t very easy. Not as easy for example as stripping a Knight of his title which is done by the Honours Forfeiture Committee which is convened at the request of the Prime Minister. If that committee concludes there is sufficient evidence that an individual has brought the honours system into disrepute a recommendation by them is forwarded to the Queen through the Prime Minister’s office and she has the final say.

Well known individuals who have lost honours in this way include [Sir] Anthony Blunt, Lester Piggott [OBE], and [Sir] Fred Goodwin but the Honours Forfeiture Committee can only recommend the forfeiture of honours Knighthood and below. In other words, not peers of the realm.

To understand how a peer of the realm can be stripped of their title we need to take a look at the only time it has ever occurred almost 100 years ago, and the Titles Deprivation Act 1917 as a result of which both the Duke of Cumberland and the Duke of Albany were stripped of their titles for treason.

Click on image to enlarge.

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Now, to be fair to the Duke of Cumberland and the Duke of Albany they were also the Prince of Hanover and the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha respectively. They both lived in Germany, would have considered themselves German, and so supported Germany during World War One.

If you read the Titles Deprivation Act 1917 you will recognise that it addresses a specific issue of a specific  time. This act of parliament is not, and was never intended to be, a general mechanism for removing the title/s of a peer of the realm.

(1) His Majesty may appoint a committee of His Privy Council, of which two members at least shall be members of the Judicial Committee, to enquire into and report the names of any persons enjoying any dignity or title as a peer or British prince who have, during the present war, borne arms against His Majesty or His Allies, or who have adhered to His Majesty’s enemies.

To do that, to strip a peer of his or her title, you need an entirely new act of parliament. Either another specific act like the Titles Deprivation Act 1917 or a more general act of parliament which does create a mechanism for the removal of a peerage by, for example, extending the power of the Honours Forfeiture Committee (mentioned above) to include peers.

It is precisely because it is so difficult to remove the titles of peers that Baron Archer (perjury and perverting the course of justice), Dame Porter (gerrymandering), and Baron Hanningfield (false accounting) are still able to lord it over the rest of us despite having all seriously ‘ brought the honours system into disrepute’.

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George Carmen QC’s Son: ‘Interference’ In Janner Case.

Incidentally, the DDP in 1991 was the ‘Kerb Crawling’ Allan Green QC who picked up one prostitute too many and left one year later in 1992.

The son of barrister George Carman, who was hired by Lord Janner in the early 1990s, told ITV News his father once believed the Labour peer would have to face charges over child abuse allegations.
ITV News Social Affairs Editor, Penny Marshall reports.
Dominic Carman says his father felt there had been, “some interference and some pressure brought to bear,” after the case was dropped.

The police and the Crown Prosecution Service have admitted it missed four opportunities to prosecute the peer.
Lord Janner has always denied he used his position as an MP to abuse young boys in childrens’ homes in Leicestershire, his family have said he is innocent of the allegations against him.

ITV News Mon 27 Apr 2015

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Never Forget That You Vote Every Single Day

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Youth votes, ethnic votes, female votes ?

Understandably there has been a great deal in the media about these and every demographic that might vote on the 7th May but voting isn’t something that you do once every 5 years.

Every single day you have the opportunity to vote for change, not with a cross in a box but by how you choose to spend your money.

That is the vote that the most powerful people in the UK are afraid you’ll use. Not the one on 7th May because that choice has already been limited but the one you can use every day.

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