THE GOVERNMENT insists that its foundation hospitals plans have nothing to do with privatisation of the NHS. But the attendance list at a government-sponsored conference on 'Foundation Hospitals: The Way Forward' last month tells a different story. The two-day gathering took place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London, and details were revealed in Private Eye magazine. Delegates paid £816 a head to hear various officials from the Treasury and the health department.
One keynote speaker was Geoffrey Spence. Spence was appointed by New Labour to advise the Treasury on pushing through 'public-private partnership' (PPP) projects like the part privatisation of London's tube system. The list of delegates at the conference reads like a who's who of the world of private health provision.
Gerry Green, boss of Healthcare Projects and a consultant on several hospital Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes, was there. So was Michael Davis of Catalyst Healthcare, the firm behind PFI hospitals like the Halifax General.
Chris Elliot of that well-known 'medical' firm Barclay's Private Equity was present. The whole event was also sponsored by accountants KPMG whose 'head of PPP/ PFI' was booked to speak on 'foundation hospitals'. No. Nothing to do with privatisation at all. Honest.
In the Frame - No. 20 Michael Ledeen
HE HAS been all over the right wing press pushing for 'regime change' in Iran. Ledeen is a member of the board of the right wing American Enterprise Institute. He was central to the Iran-Contra scandal, when the US was caught funding right wing rebels against Nicaragua's government.
BA adverts grounded
British Airways has been forced to pull a multi-million pound ad campaign. It took a pop at low budget rivals showing a departure lounge in which every flight was delayed or cancelled.
After BA staff walked out on strike the bosses' dream of one-upping their competitors turned into their worst nightmare.
Candid camera catches cop
A POLICE officer dramatically changed his tune to admit in court to threatening a man whose leg had been broken by a police car. PC David Wyvill and four other officers denied charges of misconduct while investigating reports of a man acting suspiciously in south east London.
Wyvill changed his plea only after a local resident's video was shown in court. He admitted telling the man, 'I am going to tread on your leg.' Wyvill will be sentenced in September. The four others were cleared.
Smoking out gov't cruelty
DEPARTMENT of Trade and Industry bosses slashed compensation for former miner Jack Turner. Turner was due £31,000 for lung damage and bronchitis after mining for 15 years. He admitted smoking up to THREE cigarettes a day, so the government slashed his compensation to just £3,000.
Turner said, 'I know my illness is due to mining. The dust was so bad you couldn't see two feet away.'
'Assassini' unit exposed
ITALIAN prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has sent units of armed caribinieri police to Iraq as a sign of his support for George Bush. The man commanding the units is General Leonardo Leso. He has been promoted in thanks for his great work in his previous job.
Leso was one of an elite officer group in the carabinieri which played a key role in orchestrating the savage attack on the G8 anti-capitalist demonstration in Genoa two years ago.
These led to the carabinieri's murder of protester Carlo Giuliani, and the arrest, repeated beating and torture of scores of others. The attacks on the Genoa demonstration involved an elite carabinieri unit, the Battaglione Tuscania, normally only used outside Italy.
Documents given out at the recent demonstration in Genoa, held to mark the anniversary of Carlo's death, reveal this unit's sordid history. It was at the heart of the allegations about brutality and torture committed by Italian forces who intervened in the former Italian colony of Somalia in 1993 as part of a supposed UN 'peacekeeping' operation.
Thanks to Carmela Ozzi
As sick as a parrot and after your team
ANOTHER super-rich businessman with political connections is reportedly sniffing around a major Premier League football club. Billionaire Roman Abramovich, who has taken over Chelsea, is a key political ally of Russian president Putin.
Now tycoon Gustavo Cisneros is moving in on five Premier League clubs. His main focus is Aston Villa. Cisneros is the wealthiest man in Venezuela and the second richest man in the whole of South America. He is a super-rich industrialist and media boss. He was at the centre of attempts to overthrow the democratically elected president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez.
Cisneros and other rich Venezuelans staged coups and lockouts to try and topple Chavez. They were defeated by resistance from Venezuela's workers and poor. Cisneros is a close personal friend of George Bush Senior, and goes on fishing trips with him.
Figure it out
£6 million - is all that poor Jean-Pierre Garnier, head of GlaxoSmithKIine, is paid. He moaned, 'I'm pretty much at the bottom of the pile' when it comes to pay.
'I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq.'
Paul Wolfowitz, US deputy defence secretary while visiting US troops in Iraq
'I went to Wal-Mart for the first time. I always thought it sold wallpaper. I didn't realise it has everything.'
Paris Hilton Hotel heiress
'It's obscene and unnecessary. I don't think it makes people work harder.'
John Harvey Jones, Former ICI boss on fat cat executive pay
'Whatever Labour wants, I would be happy to help in any way I can. I think a lot of this government.'
Lady de Rothschild, US-born socialite who Peter Mandelson is said to be 'smitten' by
'I was flabbergasted. They describe it as a German school but the real attraction is that it is private.'
Friend on the plans of Andrew Adonis, one of Blair's education advisers, to send his son to a private German school
'Cliff offered the villa to the Blairs long before all this blew up, but his bonhomie has ebbed away with each headline. It is as a man and a fellow Christian that he is disappointed in Tony.'
Friend of Cliff Richard explains why the singer regrets offering his villa in the Caribbean to Tony Blair for a holiday