Friday, 28 October 2016

The plight of children in Scotland, UK and elsewhere

Scottish child abuse inquiry
David Scott is on Skype link with Mike Robinson in the UK Column studio and they begin Friday`s programme by talking about the Scottish child abuse inquiry headed by the Right Hon Lady Smith. "She was appointed in July this year," explains David Scott, "After the previous head resigned under huge pressure from the Scottish government where there seemed to have been a trumped up character assassination attempt. One of the other three members of the panel also resigned citing government interference."

Robert Green

"So Lady Smith is the latest person to head up the inquiry and is a very interesting name to anyone who has followed the Holly Greig case, " says Scott, "Because she had a hand in the appalling treatment of Robert Green at the hands of the Scottish judiciary."

"So you wrote to her then," prompts Mike Robinson.

"Yes, we pointed out that when Robert was sentenced there was an outrageous and bigoted anti-English outburst from the [sheriff] in the case, Sheriff Principal Edward Bowen, and this showed prejudice but was entirely omitted from the official court records. Robert took this as a complaint and Lady Smith oversaw the complaint. She interviewed Robert; she interviewed Sheriff Principal Bowen and his clerk but none of the witnesses who were in the court and who heard the outburst... She wouldn`t talk to any of them. The official court record did not show the offending statements that had been made and although the entire proceedings were recorded, Lady Smith said she had listened to the recording and the phrase was not there. But she wouldn`t let Robert listen to the recording. So it was all very unsatisfactory. We had multiple witnesses who had all reported more or less the same thing, not necessarily word for word. The reports came in but they were almost identical and it was all to do with Robert`s nationality. And `How dare you come up to Scotland and tell us how to run our justice system. We know how to run the justice system in Scotland`. And these comments were stricken from the record as they would have been grounds for appeal."

"So we asked Lady Smith for comment on this and how we can trust her to enquire into child sexual abuse when we couldn`t apparently trust her to enquire into the mistreatment of a campaigner against child sexual abuse. This was the detailed response we got:"

Hi David,

A spokesperson for the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry said: "It would not be appropriate to comment on individual cases."



Plight of child migrants

The next item deals with an article in the Telegraph: France rebukes Britain over plight of children left stranded after destruction of `Jungle` camp at Calais.

Mike Robinson clarifies: "They are saying that between 100 and 200 children spent the night in a makeshift school at the edge of the `Jungle` after sleeping rough the previous night and Bernard Cazeneuve who is the equivalent of Amber Rudd - so he`s the French Home Secretary - and he told Amber Rudd he wanted to stress the need for children who remain in Calais to be properly protected."

"Well David we`ve been highlighting on this programme for quite a number of months that bringing them to Britain doesn`t guarantee that they will be properly protected. Does Scotland have a better reputation for this?"

"Clearly not. And neither does anywhere in Europe. I was seeing reports were coming in from Greece where some of the child refugees and migrants are on the street involved in prostitution. And you fear for their safety either in Britain or in France but particularly in Britain. Would they end up in the same horrible situation?"

Mike Robinson reinforces his view: "Look it`s increasingly clear to me that what`s going on here is an industry being established which is running along the same type of business model as the drugs industry. So we`ve got this notional ban on drugs from governments while in the meantime governments directly benefit from the trafficking of drugs. The same thing seems to be happening with people increasingly. So we`ve had an announcement from the Ministry of Defence, in the last day or so, they`re going to send troops over to Libya to train Libyan patrols off the coast of Libya to try to prevent people being trafficked through Libya. But of course this is the same kind of scenario: deliberate underinvestment in what you might call enforcement while in the meantime the trade continues and in this case it`s a trade in humans. It hasn`t worked for drugs and it isn`t going to work for this... The intention is that these people continue to be trafficked."

David Scott agrees that the war on drugs has been horrendous. "In the case of drugs it`s most certainly been government intervention that`s promoted it both in terms of overseas and poppy growing areas and in the trafficking of drugs particularly into America where drugs were coming in and guns were going out and ... they were getting American kids hooked on heroin, cocaine and crack in order to fund the illegal wars overseas. It was just as cynical as that. And it`s become such a huge industry that without the liquidity, it brings the entire banking system - Wall Street etc would likely collapse -  So it becomes an essential component of our corrupt system that we live under and therefore it keeps manifesting itself generation after generation and nobody really does anything to stop it. To consider human trafficking becoming something on that scale is truly horrendous."

United Nations

"Well here is Fillippo Grandi who is UN commissioner for refugees and he`s highlighting the word `invisible.` He says it`s the word most commonly used to describe what it is to be without a nationality ... And what he`s doing is promoting this campaign from UNHCR. It`s #IBELONG. Today ten million people around the world are denied a nationality. They often aren`t allowed to go to school, get a job, open a bank account, buy a house or even get married. You can help change their lives and it says the main reason people are stateless is because of discrimination, because of ethnicity, because of their religion, because in some countries women cannot pass their nationality on to their children. We believe it`s time to end this injustice. With enough courage we know it`s possible. Governments can change their laws and procedures and give stateless people their rights and a place to belong and in ten years we can ensure everyone has a nationality because if we don`t they suggest it`s going to get worse. And you know I thought it was a little ironic that the United Nations which is working so hard to abolish the idea of sovereign nations is now demanding that people belong to them. But you pointed out the graphic on the right."

"Yes... when you look at this #IBELONG when the man is crouching down pretending to be a globe. So it seems to me to be saying `I belong to the globe`; it`s a unitary planet-wide identity ... seems to be suggested there even though they are talking there on the surface about nation states."

The Named Person scheme

They move on to the Named Person scheme where the headline on NO2NP website is: Swinney accused of snubbing concerned parents and constituents.

"Yes he was, and people were asking to meet him. He went public and said we want to have a discussion; we want to consult; it`s going to be an enormous consultation but we don`t want to consult with people who don`t agree with us. You have to agree first in order to be included in the consultation. So some concerned parents wrote to him and asked him for some time to meet and discuss the issues surrounding the Named Person and the following letter was the ... reply: And we see here reference again to `We are only willing to talk to people who accept the sovereign will of parliament` essentially. So it`s the divine right of parliament rearing its ever uglier head again and the sovereign will of the people is irrelevant because parliament has spoken. And that is what is being told without a hint of a smile is democracy..."

"It is a pretty spectacular approach both from the Scottish parliament and the Westminster government that really we cannot comment or criticise or change the mind of parliament because the will of parliament is supreme and in fact if we go to court in order to try to force them to behave in a particular way, well the court can be ignored as well. This is a staggeringly unconstitutional position to take," says Mike Robinson.

"On a happier note the NO2NP campaign was nominated for Political Campaigner of the Year in the Scottish Political Awards 2016... and NO2NP won..."  David Scott reports that the news was not received well by opponents.

The Highland Investigation

"Now the Highland Investigation, you had a meeting in the Royal Highland hotel last week. How did it go?"

"It was very good, very good turn out, very interesting conversations which lasted for quite a few hours and extremely worthwhile.  So thank you to everyone who came along to that..."

David Scott is asked to remind viewers and listeners what the Highland Investigation is setting out to achieve.

"Highland Council has been held up as the testing ground for the Named Person and the whole GIRFEC approach which surrounds every aspect of the state`s interaction with children and families and it has been held up as a wonderful success. And the apostle of GIRFEC [Getting it Right for Every Child] is a gentleman called Bill Alexander from Highland Council and his constant refrain is: `Come to Highlands and see how well it`s working. No-one could have any problems with this. It`s been proven to work so well on the ground.` So we started to make some enquiries and we found an entirely different story."

"We found Council officials behaving in the most dreadful way towards loving parents and what we`re doing is we`re gathering information; we`re gathering stories; we`re gathering accounts and we`re seeing patterns. So it`s not just one or two stories, we`re seeing patterns as to how GIRFEC and the Named Person really operates. One thing that came out of Wednesday night was the realisation that almost nobody in Highland Council who was a child or who had a child during the GIRFEC Named Person trial - and remember Named Person we`re told is a single point of contact; so parents know who to talk to if there`s a problem - almost nobody knew they had a Named Person because Highland Council simply didn`t tell them. It was secret. So they didn`t get many complaints because nobody knew the scheme was actually running. How can you have a single point of contact if you don`t know they exist?"

Mike Robinson interjects: "So effectively what was going on there was somebody was spying on families and children and they had no awareness of that."

"That`s exactly correct. It was a single point of contact about families, not for families."


Returning to the account of the nine-year-old girl who tried to commit suicide in front of her classmates as a result of bullying, David Scott points to a statement made by local councillor Roddy Balfour in the local press: "There`s no doubt there`s been problems with bullying but I`m satisfied that it has been addressed by the school.  So nothing to see here. Now it transpires that Roddy Balfour has quite a lot of other connections to quite troubling cases. We had one where the parents were involved, again with severe bullying, and they went to Roddy Balfour for assistance and they took with them lots of documentation to justify their case that they were being badly treated by Highland Council. And he was shocked; he said he`d do something; he was right on their side and extremely supportive. And off he went to meet the council officials and nine months later the parents hadn`t heard anything from him and they contacted him and he said he`d been warned off."

"So we wrote to him. We said, Mr Balfour, we`ve been passed information regarding a request constituents made for you to intercede on their behalf with Highland Council Education Department. I understand you visited this family in the home and expressed outrage and disbelief at what they were going through. Armed with documentation from the family that supported their view and claims, you attended a meeting with Mr Hector Robertson and Mr John Bruce of the Highland Council Education Department. You had no contact with the family following this meeting until nearly nine months later when one of the parents telephoned you. They asked you why you had abandoned them to which you responded you`d been warned off at the meeting with Mr Robertson and Mr Bruce. I understand that the family`s advocate also contacted you over your remarks and you told them you had been advised to walk away from it... Clearly some pressure was brought to bear on you. Could you explain how and by whom and if known to you why this was done?  Could you also explain why you complied?"

"So that was the question that went in to Mr Roddy Balfour and a similar one went in to Ms Glynis Sinclair who had a similar lack of response once interacting with the Council. Now the reply that came back was essentially that Mr Roddy Balfour had no recollection of these events..."

Despite more correspondence with Mr Roddy Balfour there has been no further response.


A number of other topics were discussed for those who are interested. See  

No comments:

Post a Comment