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Felled by strong arm of the law

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Issue 1679

Inside the system

Felled by strong arm of the law

“POLICE ATTACKED As 1,000 Anarchists Bring Terror To Capital’s Streets”. That was the headline of the Express the day after the protest against the World Trade Organisation in central London on 30 November.

The Express might have had a different take if it had printed a report phoned in by its freelance reporter, Danny Penman. Penman phoned the paper from his hospital bed after he was “savagely attacked by baton-wielding riot police at the 30 November demonstration”, reports the latest National Union of Journalists magazine.

Penman’s right arm was broken in three places “as he was repeatedly clubbed when the Met’s Tactical Support Group stormed the 1,000-strong crowd outside Euston station”. He had a four inch plate inserted into his arm to hold the shattered bone together.

Penman told the Journalist, “I was surrounded by police, who began lashing out at me and a number of photographers. One officer aimed a blow at my head with a baton. Luckily I was able to block the blow with my arm. The blow shattered my forearm and elbow joint and I felt an incredible searing pain. As I lay on the ground I was hit several more times. I tried to pick myself up with my broken arm, whilst screaming, ‘Press- please don’t hit me!’ That just seemed to anger them more. I tried to run away but was met by another group of police coming from the opposite direction who also attacked me.”

Penman was led to safety by BBC war correspondent Kate Adie. When Penman phoned up the Express he was told not to make his story “too anti-police”. They then turned his story down and ran a “protesters bad, police good” story.

Wilson Cuba crisis

LABOUR PRIME minister Harold Wilson wanted to pressure the Financial Times business paper in 1969 to drop a survey about Cuba in case it upset the US government. Newly released cabinet papers have revealed that Wilson was terrified that an article by journalist Hugh O’Shaughnessy would upset the US at the height of the Cold War.

This was also the time when the Labour government backed the US in its war against “Communism” in Vietnam. Civil servants even told companies thinking of advertising in the survey that “it is definitely not advisable for British firms with significant export prospects or interests in the US to go out of their way to advertise their trade with Cuba”.

In the end the government mandarins didn’t need to block the survey. Cuban leader Fidel Castro, wrongly fearing that O’Shaughnessy was influenced by the CIA, expelled the journalist for “provocative behaviour”.

Trash jobs

THIS WEEK’S bad boss award goes to the Bank of America. The bank has launched an “Adopt an ATM” (cash machine) scheme for all its 160,000 employers, which pressurises staff to clean the machines in their spare time.

In a glossy brochure distributed to all the company’s banks, workers were asked to check on their ATM at least once a week. “Remove trash,” reads a card attached to the brochure. “Wipe down the ATM with window cleaner and a soft cloth.”

The brochure recommends checking the lights and trimming nearby bushes to make the machine more attractive. Bank bosses are refusing to scrap the scheme- nothing to do with the fact that the bank is planning to “downsize” a section of its workforce, of course.

GM giant Monsanto’s own staff canteen has banned genetically modified (GM) food. Canteen managers at Monsanto’s British headquarters in High Wycombe said they took the decision “in response to concerns raised by our customers”.

Digging the dirt

THE names of US grain exporters have become dirt in Jordan. There was uproar last October when a 47 ton US wheat consignment was delivered to the Jordanian port of Amman. Health officials found the grain consignment included an unofficial “protein supplement” of 57 mice, a rat, seven toads, 13 birds, a fish and a snakeskin (but no snake in sight).

Clearly the US suppliers believed that ordinary people in the Middle East deserved no better. But this was also no laughing matter for the Jordanian ruling elite, which is seen as an ally of the US in the Middle East.

But US embassy officials didn’t exactly take the grain infestation seriously. One was quoted as saying, “The Food and Drug Administration has guidelines for this, you know, that tomato ketchup can be so many parts frog.”

TONY Blair spent his last summer holiday in Tuscany vetting parts of ex Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown’s diaries! Blair hit the roof when he found out that Ashdown was ready to reveal all the details of the dirty dealings between New Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

One Whitehall insider said, “Tony was furious about the diaries. It was incredibly sensitive stuff he [Ashdown] was writing about and it would not be good for this to come out.”

Nuclear grotto

A GREEN activist turned nuclear industry spokesperson is facing the sack by his ungrateful new paymasters. Sean McGlennon used to be connected with Friends of the Earth. But four months ago he took a job as deputy head of communications at Scotland’s deadly Dounreay nuclear power plant.

McGlennon has been given a warning letter from the plant’s management and now faces the sack. Dounreay officials deny that the move has anything to do with the “nuclear grotto” fiasco. Dounreay has been embarrassed by revelations that three steel trucks managers donated for use as Santa’s grottos had previously been used to hold nuclear waste.

Things they say

“A PRISONER who had been forbidden to go to a family funeral had read in the papers that Jonathan Aitken had got special release to go to [former Tory deputy prime minister] Willie Whitelaw’s funeral. He thought it was quite unfair and he thumped him.”

  • Tory MP ALAN DUNCAN on an unfortunate incident during his convict friend Aitken’s time in jail

“HESELTINE went wrong. The way to make British industry more competitive is to make it compete a lot more.”

  • Junior Labour minister KIM HOWELLS on why he thought former Tory trade secretary Michael Heseltine was not pro-market enough

“IT SEEMS to me that [New Labour Scottish housing minister Wendy] Alexander is seeking to implement Conservative policies. I should know. I was Conservative housing minister for just on eight years.”


“IT WAS never the intention that many of the millennium projects would open by the year 2000.”

  • MILLENNIUM COMMISSION SPOKESPERSON on why nearly half of Britain’s millennium projects are not finished

“I WAS not among the multitude who wished the Dome ill, but alas, I have to admit the Dome is a lemon by any reckoning.”

  • Guardian columnist POLLY TOYNBEE

“STRAW HAS out-Heroded Herod: he has out-Howarded Howard. By past Conservative standards, let alone past Labour standards, [Straw] is preposterously right wing.”

  • Former Times editor and General Pinochet fan WILLIAM REES-MOGG

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