THERE IS further proof that Spain's former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar lied when he announced the Basque separatist group ETA was behind the bombings in Madrid. Police officers and firefighters involved in the rescue told the Financial Times last week that they knew immediately ETA could not have carried out the bombing.
'The impact of the explosions pointed to a kind of bomb and a type of explosives that ETA had not used before,' said an officer from the fire brigade who was at the scene. Yet Aznar announced the exact opposite.
He told Spain's European allies and the United Nations on the day of the bombing that the explosives marked out ETA as responsible. Aznar lobbied the UN for an immediate Security Council resolution explicitly condemning ETA. His foreign minister, Ana Palacio, rang round the representatives of the reluctant countries to swing the vote.
Spain even rejected the US's alternative resolution which expressed in general terms solidarity with Spain's fight against terrorism, including ETA. Palacio also instructed Spain's ambassadors to 'use every occasion to confirm the authorship of ETA'. She added, 'The explosives employed and the pattern of the attacks are used by ETA.'
Aznar's interior minister said at a press conference, 'The government has no doubt that ETA was responsible for the attacks.'
IN THIS WEEK - 20 YEARS AGO 1984-5
THIS Socialist Worker front page from 31 March 1984 marked the third week of the miners' strike. The strikers had begun to dig in and were facing the first examples of the police, government and media campaign stacked against them.
Dozens of commandments
THE TRIAL of the secretary at Goldman Sachs accused of taking £4.4 million from her bosses has given some insights into the way top bosses treat their staff. Jennifer Moses, one of the bosses, rang the secretary, Joyti De-Laurey, in London to complain about the air conditioning in her Hong Kong hotel. The secretary was also asked to break into Moses' home and bring her passport to the airport.
She had also been asked to mind her boss's child, who had failed to get a seat on the same flight. The trial continues.
Topping the scrooge list
Finsbury Foods is chaired by Lord Maurice Saatchi, co-chairman of the Tory party and co-founder of Saatchi and Saatchi advertising agency. It claims casual workers at the Memory Lane factory in Cardiff put too much topping on the Christmas cakes.
It blames this for the recent drop in its profit figures. Finsbury Foods now says it is planning to cut staff. Only last year this same company signed a £50 million a year deal with Nestle which they hailed as creating 100 jobs.
IT's sudden career death
NEW Labour's announcement last year of rights for parents of young or disabled children to negotiate flexible working arrangements was made with great fanfare. Information technology was one area highlighted for workers to seize the opportunity.
But a study of the sector prepared for the Department of Trade and Industry shows almost 75 percent of people who say in the IT industry they feared being punished by management if they opt for flexible working arrangements.
Claimants are swindled
PRESS AND politicians love to bash people claiming benefits with scare stories about 'rampant' benefit fraud. Yet one in five decisions on who should get state benefits and how much they get is wrong, according to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee. The mistakes mean vulnerable people don't get what they are entitled to.
Two people with the same condition claiming Disability Living Allowance can end up with wildly different amounts. There is as much as a 50 percent error rate for the allowance. More than half of the cases that go to appeal are overturned in the claimant's favour.
But many depend on how persistent the claimant is in arguing their case. The committee highlighted the complexity of computer systems, installed under PFI schemes, that have taken the place of staff.
There are 33 different computer systems dealing with benefit payment. Gordon Brown wants to cut over 40,000 jobs in the civil service, leaving even more claimants at the mercy of computer systems. There are already billions of pounds in unclaimed benefits.
Figure it out - £147.3 billion
Total wealth of the richest 300 people in Britain-a 28 percent increase on last year. There are 29 billionaires living in Britain. Last year the figure was 19. Inequality in Britain is greater than under Margaret Thatcher.
Cartoon from Mexican newspaper ridiculing the British cavers trapped underground last week with the caption 'What are the British soldiers up to stuck in the Cuetzalan caves? Maybe they are looking for the weapons of mass destruction they couldn't find in Iraq.'
'He's conscious and screaming, yeah, teach him to nick mopeds.'
POLICE OFFICER calling an ambulance from the Police Complaints Authority report into an incident where a police officer is alleged to have driven his patrol car into a black teenager
'It has to be admitted that 90 percent of the Russian people do not consider privatisation fair or those who benefited from it legal owners.'
MIKHAIL KHODORKOVSKY jailed Russian tycoon failing to mention his own £10 billion fortune from privatisation
'I have watched nearly 200 MEPs hurry in the morning to the central register, sign their names, and then set off immediately for the airport or the railway station.'
HANS-PETER MARTIN Austrian MEP on 7,200 cases of MEPs claiming their £175 attendance allowance without actually attending the parliament
'Here we are, supposedly the party of the family. What we are offering is a homosexual summit.'
ANN WIDDECOMBE Tory MP on the Tories' 'Gay Summit'
'It is sad to relate that no great invention has come for many hundreds of years from Muslim countries.'
LORD CAREY former Archbishop of Canterbury auditioning for Robert Kilroy-Silk's old job?