Socialist Worker

What a sting

Issue No. 1810

THE FRENCH Socialist Party is the equivalent of the Labour Party in Britain. One of its councillors has found a novel way of increasing his expenses. Claude Barral sits on the board of the Gard tourist department in the south of France. He is also a member of the Interdepartmental Coastal Anti-Mosquito Alliance (EID).

Barral commissioned a Gard tourist department report on how to combat the rapid rise in the mosquito population in the area from...Claude Barral of the EID! 'He is paying himself £32,000 for a report that is an object of universal hilarity,' says Jean-Jacques Pons, a lawyer. 'The man is an outrage.' The report contained such scientific facts as, 'Mosquito larvae develop in water and come to the surface to breathe.'

Inside job

GEORGE W Bush appointed Larry D Thompson, US deputy attorney general, as the head of his new corporate crime task force in response to the collapse of Enron and WorldCom.

He's not the best person for the job-he used to be a director of Providian Financial Corporation. When he was on the board the firm was accused of consumer, shareholder and accounting fraud, as well as insider trading.

A newspaper owner who spent £49.5 million for a Rubens painting, The Massacre of the Innocents, is now forking out another £20,000 to have it reframed. David Thomson, billionaire chairman of Thomson newspaper group, felt the previous frame was 'too static'.

An entire street has been threatened with eviction in Leyland, Lancashire, because the children supposedly make too much noise while playing in the street. The local housing association warned 12 families they are in breach of their tenancy agreements.

'The children are quite placid,' says Lydia Lee. 'We've no idea who complained.' The children have to play on the street as eight local playgrounds have recently closed.

Fleecing victims

ARTHUR Andersen, the disgraced accountancy firm involved in the Enron and WorldCom crises, strikes again. In 1996 a Canadian court forced the Catholic church to wind up the Christian Brothers of Ireland order.

The sell-off of its assets was to pay compensation to 80 victims of abuse in the order's schools and orphanages. Andersen was called in. It raised almost £3 million from the sale of the property but pocketed the money on its own fees and the lawyers it hired. Two more schools are to be sold off. Andersen says it has to get more fees before the victims see any compensation.

Getting lost in the Mail

THE DAILY Mail went hysterical when home secretary David Blunkett announced cannabis will be reclassified from class B to class C. 'The clear lesson from Lambeth is that relaxing the law is an utter disaster,' said the Mail. 'The real price will be paid by our children.'

Right wing columnist Simon Heffer described it as 'the most wicked, stupid and lunatic act this government has ever committed.' But the Mail had a very different view on drugs only a year ago. 'In the real world the use of cannabis is an everyday fact of life. Making it illegal has failed to discourage its use and, arguably, increased it,' the Mail said in February 2001. 'A debate is urgently needed, that will have to examine the arguments of those-including many with experience of fighting drugs-who want cannabis decriminalised,' wrote the Mail in October 2000. Which is the real Daily Mail?

10 million pound pad

LAKSHMI MITTAL, one of Tony Blair's favourite millionaire pals, splashed out last week. Mittal is infamous for his £125,000 donation to New Labour. Blair later backed Mittal's deal with the Romanian government to buy their steel company.

Mittal bought Sir Alan Sugar's penthouse flat for £10 million. 'You'd have thought his £9 million pad in Hampstead's millionaire row would be enough, but evidently not,' said a toff chum.

Foul food

ANOTHER FOOD scandal was served up last week. Farmers have given their livestock animal feed tainted with MPA, a hormone used in the human contraceptive pill. The contaminated feed reduced the fertility of pigs in Holland. Over 350 farms bought the feed.

Contamination started at a pharmaceutical plant in Newbridge, County Kildare, in Ireland. Waste sugar water containing MPA was wrongly labelled harmless. Bioland then supplied glucose syrup to Dutch animal feed makers. If the contamination had not been discovered the pigs would have been slaughtered for food and entered the human food chain.

Rich list rogue

HOW THE mighty have not fallen. Gerald Ronson, the disgraced businessman in the Guinness share fixing scandal ten years ago, was an honoured guest of Prince Charles last week. Ronson was jailed for six months and fined £5 million for fraud.

He was seen at the opera with the Queen Mother just weeks after his release and is now the 230th richest man in Britain, with a £140 million fortune.

THE privatised rail companies can't seem to do anything right. Connex held a 'live web chat' on Tuesday of last week for customers to ask the company questions. 'We apologise to our customers who tried to join in the webchat on 20 June,' the posters advertising the event said. Unfortunately we were experiencing difficulties.'

People who travel by Connex regularly will be familiar with those 'difficulties'.

Things they say

'I WAS embarrassed to tell people I was a chief executive. It's like being a big sinner.'
KATHY BRONSTEIN, boss of Wet Seal Inc, on the growing shame of US bosses to admit their status

'THE constitution is out of the window. They are bombing people, talking about an axis of evil, and innocent people are dying. It's all the agenda of corporate America and the military.'

'THIS WAS a racially aggravated and intentional harassment. These two men on 11 May last year were using threatening, abusive behaviour towards Gareth Reid.'
MR DARLING prosecuting David Norris and Neil Acourt (two of the suspects in the murder of Stephen Lawrence) for racially abusing a black off-duty police officer.

'GEOFF Hoon talks as if he might want to use these nuclear weapons. It is the biggest issue in the world.'
MICHAEL FOOT, former leader of the Labour Party

'LEAGUE tables necessarily involve a spiral of failure for the less successful competitors. Choice in education is a term that must be stripped of its false innocence.'
ROWAN WILLIAMS, new Archbishop of Canterbury

'KEN Jackson-always a winner.'
ICING on a cake at Jackson's planned victory party after the Amicus election

'THE fundamental question is whether a total sentence of four years for his criminality can be regarded as manifestly excessive. In our judgement, it cannot.'
LORD JUSTICE ROSE, dismissing Lord Archer's appeal

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Inside the System
Sat 27 Jul 2002, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1810
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.