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Conspiracy thought crime puts young black men in jail

Troublemaker looks at the week's news including being jailed for thought crime, bankers' crimes and a bonus for the queen
Issue 2812
Protest against jailing of young men in Manchester for messages

Protest against jailing of young men in Manchester for messages (Picture: Kids of Colour)

Ten young black men from the Manchester area have been jailed after being convicted of being part of a violent conspiracy. But the convictions have caused deep anger with campaigners saying some of the teenagers were found “guilty by association”.

Ademola Adedeji and three friends from Moston in north Manchester were each sentenced last week to eight years in prison for conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm. They were jailed for taking part in a private group chat on the Telegram messaging app a few days after the murder of one of their friends. Kids of Colour, a youth justice organisation which organised a protest march, said the case showed evidence of “thought policing”.

It said innocent young people had been ­criminalised for sending immature  messages in the throes of grief. Most of the ten young men attended the same school in Moston. They were convicted of plotting violent revenge for the killing of their friend—a 16-year-old aspiring rapper called Alexander John Soyoye, who performed drill music under the name “MD”.

None of those named as targets in the Telegram chat were hurt. Sentencing them on Friday, the judge, Mr Justice Goose, said the case involved two rival gangs, the M40 from Moston and the RTD gang from Rochdale and Oldham. The defendants denied being in a gang, insisting M40 was a drill music collective in which some of them rapped.

Four of the defendants had nothing to do with the M40 music group, beyond having watched one or two of their videos. Roxy Legane, the director of Kids of Colour, said the case was the latest in a series of trials which had seen large groups of often black boys imprisoned for who they know.

A Met Police officer was sacked last week after an investigation found that she “turned a blind eye” to her husband’s large amounts of stolen cash stashed in a shoebox. Police searched the home of constable Inga Gherghel and found a police force body armour vest, which hadn’t been issued to her, and a shoebox with more than £10,000 in cash inside a bedroom wardrobe.

Her husband Ioan Gherghel was responsible for the theft of large amounts of cash from members of an organised criminal network, the Met said.A panel concluded that Gherghel willfully failed to enquire further into what the police vest and cash were doing in her flat.

Tory donors’ gamble wins

The billionaire Conservative party donors behind the gambling firm Betfred have paid themselves and their family a £50 million dividend. An increase in online gambling during the coronavirus pandemic offset the temporary closure of its 1,470 high street bookmakers.

Betfred’s customers gambled £6.9 billion in the year to the end of September 2021, up from £6.4 billion. This netted winnings of £526 million for the company. The company paid a dividend of £50.7 million to its shareholders, the Done family headed by the brothers Fred and Peter. The 2020 results had been boosted by a £98 million rebate from HM Revenue and Customs.

A court found that the tax authority had overcharged the company VAT between 2005 and 2013 on its  fixed-odds betting terminals. The Done brothers have donated £375,000 to the Tory party since 2017, via their Rainy City Investments vehicle.

Spending by US companies on private jets for personal use by chief executives and chairs hit the highest level for a decade last year. It rose 35 percent to £28 million among the top 500 firms—the highest since 2012. Among the biggest spenders were Facebook parent Meta and aerospace group Lockheed Martin.

Meta spent £1.3 million on private jets for chief executive Mark Zuckerberg. Leasing group Jettly’s chief executive Justin Crabbe said “it’s quite difficult to go back to flying commercial” once a group has offered executives private flights.

Queen nabs inflation busting bonus

The queen will receive an inflation-defying “bonus” of nearly £30 million from public funds over the next two years. That’s thanks to an obscure rule which means her income to fund the Royal Family’s official duties cannot go down.

The Sovereign Grant, which covers the cost of items from royal staff salaries to travel as well as the refurbishment of Buckingham Palace, is currently set at £86.3 million.  It will now remain at that level until 2024 despite a substantial dip in profits at the Crown Estate.

That’s the £16.5 billion royal property fund whose revenues are used to calculate the grant.

The existence of a so-called “golden ratchet” clause, inserted by former prime minister David Cameron’s government, means the level of the  grant cannot be reduced whatever the state of the economy.  The revelation coincided with the publication of separate figures showing that prince Charles saw his income from the Duchy of Cornwall rise by £2.6 million to £23 million.

Credit Suisse guilty of laundering drug money

Credit Suisse has become the first domestic bank to be found guilty of a corporate crime by Swiss authorities. A court found the lender failed to stop the laundering of Bulgarian drug money.  An ex-Bulgarian tennis star, Elena Pampoulova-Bergomi, who was a former relationship manager at the bank, was also found guilty of money laundering offences.

The case centred on Credit Suisse’s role in accepting millions of euros in deposits from a group of Bulgarian clients between 2004 and 2008. The Financial Times newspaper calmly comments, “Judges ruled that the bank ignored obvious red flags—including huge sums of cash being brought in suitcases and two assassinations—that hinted at the possible criminal origins of the funds.”

This included one client who was shot dead outside a restaurant in Sofia in 2005. Pampoulova-Bergomi regularly collected suitcases of cash worth more than £500,000—not quite in prince Charles’ league.

Cpt Tom charity probed

The charity linked to the late Captain Sir Tom Moore, a British war veteran who was lauded  during the coronavirus pandemic, has featured before in Troublemaker. Now the Charity Commission has announced it will investigate The Captain Tom Foundation.  The foundation was registered in June 2020 following Moore’s initial fundraising efforts with the stated aim of “the advancement of public health and wellbeing”.

But the watchdog raised concerns about links between The Captain Tom Foundation and Club Nook Limited. That’s a company controlled by Moore’s daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore and her husband Colin Ingram-Moore.  The issues revolve around a “failure to consider intellectual property and trademark issues”. They include the trademarking of variations of the name “Captain Tom” by the company controlled by the Ingram-Moores.

This could have generated “significant profit” for the company, the commission added. In March 2022, the publication of the first annual accounts of the foundation showed it had incurred £240,000 in costs and given £160,000 to good causes.

Things they say

‘If Putin were a woman… I really don’t think he would have embarked on a crazy, macho war of invasion and violence in the way that he has. If you want a perfect example of toxic masculinity, it’s what he’s doing in Ukraine. You need more women in positions of power’

Boris Johnson….the feminist??

‘Boris Johnson has been rumoured to be the one who likes assaulting women’

Diane Abbott suggests perhaps not

‘Only change linen if essential… do not change inpatients’ bed linen daily if at all possible’

Internal email circulated to workers last month at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust

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