Matthew Hedges said in the UAE last week he was a spy, and this week said he wasn’t.
He worked for a number of businesses, including an Emirati-owned consultancy, the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (Inegma).
The company conducts research and holds conferences attended by representatives of arms companies as well as generals and defence officials from Western and Middle Eastern countries.
It is a conduit for Emirati officials to engage with Western counterparts.
And as Professor of Art History and posh Russian spy Anthony Blunt never said, “Academics are never spies.”
Talking of spies, the secretive Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament issed a couple of reports last week.
The committee is made up of MPs and apparently oversees the work of the security services.
Its annual report reveals that it held some meetings. It also disclosed that the annual budget for the spooks is £2,923,515,000
It then proceeded to redact all information on how the money is actually spent.
The name of one of the organisations that spent the cash is also redacted.
The committee also published a report on the 2017 terrorist attacks in Britain.
It’s a predictable call for more resources to be given to the spooks.
It manages not to notice Britain’s role with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an Islamist militant group. In 1996, with the backing of MI6, it tried to assassinate Colonel Gaddafi. It failed and was brutally repressed.
After years of considering Libya a pariah state, the West lifted sanctions against it in 2004. Having backed it before, the British government decided to list the LIFG as a proscribed terrorist organisation in 2005.
Libyan exiles with links to the LIFG were placed on control orders.
British security services cracked down on Libyan dissidents as part of the deal.
But as Gaddafi fell they changed sides again. The LIFG were encouraged again.
In the annual report the committee says it does not know how many interogations were carried out by the British in Afghanistan, Iraq and various prisons.
Life expectancy falls for poorest women
Life expectancy for women living in the poorest areas of England has fallen.
New research showed that, overall, life expectancy rose for rich and poor between 2001 and 2016, although more so for richer people.
But between 2011 and 2016 life expectancy fell for women in the poorest 20 percent of England.
The very poorest lost nearly three months.
Researchers analysed official data on the 7.65 million deaths in England between 2001 and 2016.
In 2001, women from the poorest tenth of England had a life expectancy at birth that was 6.1 years lower than those in the richest tenth.
By 2016 that gap had widened to 7.9 years.
Those in the most affluent areas could expect to live to 86.7 years, while the poorest would die at 78.8 years of age.
The life expectancy gap for richer and poorer men has also widened to around 9.8 years.
High self-harm rates among young women
More than a fifth of young women aged between 17 and 19 in Britain have self-harmed or tried to kill themselves, as have one in ten boys.
The study, from NHS Digital, is the biggest into young people’s mental health in Britain for 13 years.
It also found in 2017 that one in eight of 11 to 19 year olds had some form of mental disorder. So did 5.5 percent of children aged between two and four.
For five to 15 year olds, the percentage was 11.2 percent—up from 10.1 percent in 2004.
A quarter of young women between 17 and 19 had a mental disorder.
Charities blamed pressure from social media, stress over doing well in education and worries about finding work.
Others said sexual violence partly explained the rising mental health problems among young women.
Tories cash in on miners
Ministers will take £617 million from the miners’ pension fund this year bringing the total removed to more than £4.4 billion in 24 years.
The Tories have pocketed two payments of £51 million in the last two years alone.
When British Coal was privatised in 1994 the government agreed to act as guarantor for its pension payouts. Surpluses are split 50/50 between the Treasury and scheme members.
The Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme has about 200,000 members who, while working, contributed 5.25 percent of their pay.
Burst pipes fixed in Spring
As freezing temperatures sweep Britain, some water firms may not be able to cope—leaving us without water.
The so-called Beast from the East earlier this year saw thousands of homes left without water for days after pipes burst.
Millions of others had to ration water.
Industry regulator Ofwat said last week that measures designed to stop a repeat of the chaos might not be completed until March or later.
Joy riding cops risking lives
Police cars are deliberately running down moped-riders during high speed chases.
Cops gloated over their footage of pursuit teams hitting mopeds and sending suspects sprawling.
So far this year officers have knocked suspects off mopeds or scooters 63 times. The Met said that none had been seriously hurt and no complaints had been made.
In December 2014 a teenage moped rider was pursued by two police cars. Four officers were cleared of misconduct after 18 year old Henry Hicks, a carpenter from north London, died in a crash during the chase.
- The Trussell Trust said its network of food banks provided almost 160,000 three-day emergency food supplies in December last year, a 49 percent increase for the monthly average for 2017/18.
The figure was 10 percent up on December 2016. The charity is expecting more this year.
- Wanting to create a “country home” interior in your house?
Head over to Anthropologie’s website, which is selling a bundle of 18 twigs for £40. A snap at just over £2 per twig.
The “Decorative Birch Bundle” apparently brings a “rustic quality to your home”.
‘Now they’re threatening our fish and chips’
The Daily Mail panics about Brexit
‘Bring on the water cannon!’
Odious columnist Richard Littlejohn urges attacks on Extinction Rebellion protests
‘A rather lurid imagination’
Lord Tebbit dismisses protesters’ claims that he drove at them on his way to parliament
‘Seeking to remove the Prime Minister risks the most appalling chaos’
Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt on the Tory crisis
‘Nowhere has a more illustrious history than Northern Ireland when it comes to the creation of recreational watercraft. The Titanic springs to mind’
Boris Johnson charms the Democratic Unionist Party by mentioning the success story of the Harland and Wolff shipyard