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Government plots to avoid the blood scandal payouts  

Troublemaker looks at the week's news including government delays for blood scandal victims, Tories don't like Nadine Dorries and tax avoiding private equity companies
Issue 2866
Thousands of people were given contaminated blood or blood products in the late 1970s and 1980s (Pic: Factor 8 Campaign UK)

Thousands of people were given contaminated blood or blood products in the late 1970s and 1980s (Picture: Factor 8 Campaign UK)

The government is trying to avoid compensating victims of the contaminated blood scandal. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said last week no decisions have been made about how much compensation will be paid.

This leaves bereaved children and parents still unsure about whether they will receive any financial support. The chancellor was the last of five witnesses, including Rishi Sunak, to give evidence to the infected blood inquiry amid growing frustration that the government has not set up a ­compensation framework. Interim compensation payments of £100,000 have been made to victims and bereaved partners in line with a government-commissioned report.

Hunt was pressed as to why the ­government was not making similar payments to bereaved children and parents. He replied, “I think the straightforward answer to that ­question is that we haven’t made a decision on those wider groups.”

Defending the decision to wait until the end of the inquiry, Hunt said that because the sums are “potentially very large”, it was right to make a decision with the “full context”.

The urgency for compensation has been highlighted by the estimate that one infected person is dying in Britain every four days. There have already been an ­estimated 2,900 deaths between 1970 and 2019 of patients infected after being given factor VIII blood products that were contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C imported without screening from the US in the 1970s and 80s.

Others died after being exposed to tainted blood through transfusions or after childbirth. Jason Evans, the founder of the Factor 8 campaign, whose father died after receiving contaminated blood, said Hunt’s “inaction was a bitter sting”.

“No new information or timetable was given to the distressed victims and mourning families entangled in the infected blood scandal,” he said.

On yer bike, Nadine

A council in Tory Nadine Dorries’ constituency is demanding that she immediately resign as an MP, saying “residents desperately need effective representation now”. The former culture secretary announced on 9 June that she was standing down as the MP for Mid Bedfordshire “with immediate effect” when she was not awarded a peerage. But she has yet to formally resign.

The £87,000 a year plus expenses MP, a big supporter of Boris Johnson,  last spoke in the Commons on 7 July 2022. She last asked a written question on 20 Dec 2017, and voted just ten times between 20 July 2022 and 20 July 2023. Dorries writes a weekly column for the Daily Mail, is working on a book and presents Friday Night with Nadine on TalkTV.

In a letter to Dorries, posted on Twitter, Flitwick town council said “concerns and frustration about the situation” had been raised at a recent meeting, and councillors wanted her to “immediately vacate” her seat to allow a by-election. The council’s town clerk, Stephanie Stanley, wrote, “Rather than representing constituents, the council is concerned that your focus appears to have been firmly on your television show, upcoming book and political manoeuvres to embarrass the government for not appointing you to the House of Lords”.

Stanley claimed that the MP had not maintained a constituency office “for a considerable time”, adding that it was widely understood that she had not held a surgery in the town since March 2020.

GB News cash out of  NatWest

GB News owner Sir Paul Marshall’s hedge fund has made a multi-million pound gain on its bet against NatWest shares following the exit of Dame Alison Rose. The fund, Marshall Wace,  bet the share price would head downwards. It netted gains of around £5 million on Wednesday of last week after NatWest’s share price slumped after the departure of its chief executive. GB News employs Nigel Farage as a host and he has used his show as a platform to attack NatWest for “debanking” him. Last year, Sir Paul shared a pot of more than £720 million with a group of 23 partners.

A record number of children in England are homeless, government figures revealed last week. Data released by the Department for Levelling Up show that of the 104,510 households in temporary accommodation by the end of March—a high since records began in 1998—64,940 were households with children. Separately, the total number of children in temporary accommodation is also at the highest level since records for that measure began in 2004. A total of 131,370 children were living in temporary accommodation as of the end of March 2023.

Yorkshire Water has paid more than £60 million in dividends to its parent companies last year after reporting a big increase in profits. It is a serial offender of corporate crimes—unplugged leaks, dumping sewage in rivers, and no new reservoirs. Since 2010, it has been sanctioned 92 times, and fined £108 million.

Top copper comes a cropper over abuse 

Will Kerr was suspended last week from his role as Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police “following allegations of misconduct”. On the same day the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland announced it had begun a criminal investigation into allegations of serious sexual assault against Kerr.

Kerr has spent more than 30 years in policing and was deputy chief constable at Police Scotland before joining Devon and Cornwall. He was with the Police Service of Northern Ireland for more than 27 years and reached the rank of assistant chief constable there, leading on both serious crime and counter-terrorism.

In 2015 he was made an OBE, and he received the King’s Police Medal in the New Year Honours earlier this year. He was elected to one of the three European delegate posts for the executive committee of Interpol in November 2021, a position he will hold until November 2024.

Private equity tax scam makes vultures billions

A group of 255 of Britain’s top private equity parasites grabbed £2.7 billion in “carried interest” in a single year. The haul accounted for about 80 percent of all carried interest—the slice of profits private equity executives make on successful deals—in the 2020 to 2021 tax year, according to an analysis by law firm Macfarlanes.

Carried interest is an important part of the haul for private equity executives, often much bigger than their declared salaries if they strike successful deals.  It has big tax advantages.

Wages are taxed at a rate of 20-45 percent. Carried interest is taxed at 10-28 percent, and there is no national insurance to pay. Tax campaigner and former Clifford Chance lawyer Dan Neidle estimated that British tax authorities miss out on about £600 million a year by taxing carried interest as a capital gain rather than as income.

Things they say

‘All that stuff about them [the Met] being more accountable, that’s just coming out of the press office’

Andrew Frederick, a lawyer at Scott-Moncrieff & Associates on the news that across the seven years, the Met spent at least £87.3 million in legal costs fighting against civil claims for misconduct by its officers, of which £48.3 million was spent paying lawyers

‘I’ll be flying as I normally would and that is the most efficient use of my time’

Prime minister Rishi Sunak defends flying everywhere because he is rich and very busy

‘Long leasehold stairwell with development potential subject to planning permission’

Estate agents Barnard Marcus on a staircase that is the latest bit of property for sale in London

‘The problem with politics is not whether your politicians are honest or not’

Mass murdering war criminal  and former prime minister Tony Blair

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