REMEMBER THE reports two weeks ago that 'mystery workers' were spotted in the vicinity of the Potters Bar rail crash just before the accident happened? An appeal for witnesses to come forward to identify five unknown people has uncovered just one lead.
Jarvis is the rail maintenance firm responsible for the track at Potters Bar. It and the other firms running the privatised network have always been keen to blame the rail crash on sabotage.
But a piece of CCTV footage that is supposed to show five people close to the scene does not exist, Construction News has reported. The police say Railtrack created 'confusion' by putting out a memo mentioning video footage. Railtrack now says the police told it the CCTV evidence existed. A British Transport Police spokesperson said, 'It's not a likely scenario that five people in high visibility jackets were to sabotage a piece of line.'
Yet the companies on the railways spend a lot of energy fuelling this idea, while the families of the victims and rail users just want to know if privatisation is costing people's lives.
MORE NEWS on Jarvis. It is in charge of a contract that means pupils are cleaning their own schools. Jarvis has the repair and maintenance contract for 20 schools in Kirklees in Yorkshire.
The scheme is one of the Private Finance Initiative deals New Labour is pushing through schools across Britain. Jarvis has subcontracted some of the work to a firm called Trident. Trident is employing sixth formers to clean the corridors in the schools where they are students.
Club's foul play
IF YOU'VE been watching the World Cup you'd think that football was only about pampered millionaire superstars. But the other side of the game was seen in Scotland last week. Hamilton Academicals players were forced to lobby the club's board because they haven't been paid for three months.
'Three of the lads have had repossession orders placed on their homes,' says players' representative Jim Sherry. We do not issue the threat of strike action lightly. However, we feel that is our only option.'
A CHEF at a Zurich hotel in Switzerland recently lost a finger in a meat slicer. He submitted a claim to his insurance company. It suspected that he was to blame for the accident, and sent an inspector to check out the machine. When he turned it on, the meat slicer cut off one of his fingers too. Wonder if he'll submit a claim to his insurance company?
Tory is spooked
ANDREW Rosindell, the Tory MP for Romford in east London, has written to BBC director Greg Dyke to complain about the Spooks TV series. 'The programme sought to link Romford with racism, violence and criminality throughout, implying that the town was the kind of place where racist thugs live,' wrote Rosindell.
Surely this isn't the same Rosindell who paraded his bulldog Spike dressed in a Union Jack coat through Romford before the general election last year? Rosindell has also met members of the Italian 'post-fascist' National Alliance party.
ONE OF the excuses the US used to justify its war against Afghanistan was to defend the rights of women. Laura Bush and Cherie Blair praised their husbands sending bombers to blast civilians in the name of freedom for women.
But the US is still refusing to back a treaty that bans discrimination against women some 20 years after it was first put forward. Over 169 countries have signed it.
The treaty supports basic rights like women being able to run for political office, receive an education, choose their spouse and hold jobs. Yet John Ashcroft, the US attorney general and Christian fundamentalist, is stalling by conducting a 'review' of the treaty.
Refugees' new face
NEWSPAPERS that relish bashing refugees were forced to give a positive picture of immigrants last week. The Daily Mail and London Evening Standard described how teachers from over 20 countries are educating schoolchildren in north London. Recruitment of teachers from outside Britain turned round the fortunes of White Hart Lane School, which was described by Ofsted inspectors as having 'serious weaknesses'.
Now Ofsted has given the school a clean bill of health. Ofsted described the school as 'improving' and 'harmonious', with 'pupils behaving well and showing respect for others'. But the Mail couldn't resist getting a dig in. It highlighted an Ofsted report on overseas teachers and claimed that 'poorly deployed overseas teachers harm children's education'.
THE mask slipped off the friendly royals' new public face last week. A BBC worker who was filming at Ascot dared to wear a T-shirt in the royal enclosure.
The queen spotted his casual attire and instructed him to be removed from Ascot. 'She had a face like thunder,' said one eyewitness. The BBC was forced to apologise to her.
A WORKER who posted his application for an industrial tribunal by first class mail shouldn't have expected it to arrive the next day, a court of appeal ruled last week. Russell Sealy posted his application on 6 October 2000. It did not arrive until 10 October, two days after the cut-off date.
The ruling means that the worker's case will now almost certainly not be heard. But which employer was relying on the inefficiency of the post? It was the Royal Mail, which had sacked Russell Sealy, a postal worker.
Things they say
'THE COUNTRY is functioning normally. There is no general strike.'
Spanish interior minister RAJOY,day of strike, 1am
'THERE IS no general strike.'
Spanish minister CABANILLAS, day of strike, 8am
'THE STRIKE has been very partial, hardly general.'
RAJOY, day of strike, 9am
'THE general strike brought much of Spain to a standstill and obliged prime minister Aznar to delay by a couple of hours the start of the European summit.'
FINANCIAL TIMES, 21 June
'IN ONE respect it reminded me of the Third Reich-nobody quite knew where ultimate responsibility lay.'SIR RICHARD PACKER, former top civil servant, on Tony Blair's government
'THERE are occasions when directors are allowed to use private hire vehicles for events like this.'
RAILTRACK SPOKESPERSON after technical director Richard Middleton hired a limo to take him and his wife to Ascot, running up a £400 bill
'PEOPLE with higher incomes should pay higher tax, both raising money for public expenditure and decreasing the gap between rich and poor to create a more equal society.'
DR ROWAN WILLIAMS, tipped to be the next Archbishop of Canterbury
'THE rich countries turn their backs on the poor in the face of the AIDS pandemic and the economic crises that have hit so much of Africa, parts of Asia, and parts of Latin America.'JEFFREY SACHS, former architect of IMF policies for Latin America and Eastern Europe