I was watching ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 1’ the other day and it occurred to me that there is something of a resemblance between Prince Charles and the nation’s favourite house elf. Well, he is cute and adorable – Dobby that is! – but has a strange Windsorish look about him.
Has anyone else made the connection between Dobby and our wonderful Prince?
A spokesman for the Rebel Council in Benghazi has claimed that an Islamist militia was responsible for the assassination of Libyan rebel commander Gen Abdel Fattah Younes, who was shot on Thursday. Ali Tarhouni, a former economist in Libya and now a minister in the transitional government, said Gen Younes had been targeted by Obaida Ibn Jarrah, a group linked to the rebels. Gen Younes defected to the rebels in February after serving in the Libyan leadership since the 1969 coup which brought Col Muammar Gaddafi to power.
In a separate announcement, Nato has said it had bombed state television transmitters in Libya overnight, claiming it had knocked out three satellite transmission facilities in Tripoli, through a “precision air strike”. According to their news release this had been done in an attempt to stop “inflammatory broadcasts” by Gaddafi’s government. It also said the strikes would “reduce the regime’s ability to oppress civilians” but would “preserve television broadcast infrastructure that will be needed after the conflict”.
Tarhouni told reporters at a press conference in Benghazi that a leader of the militia had provided information on the circumstances of Younes’ death. Mr Tarhouni said Younes and two of his aides were killed after being recalled to the rebel stronghold for questioning. Younes’ shot and burned body, and the bodies of his aides, were found on the edge of Benghazi on Friday. “His lieutenants did it,” Mr Tarhouni said, but did not speculate on a motive for the killing, which he said was under investigation.
Col Gaddafi’s government said the killing was proof that the rebels were not capable of ruling Libya. Government propagandist Moussa Ibrahim said: “It is a nice slap [in] the face of the British that the [rebel National Transitional] council that they recognised could not protect its own commander of the army.” Mr Ibrahim also said Younes was killed by al-Qaeda, repeating a claim that the group is the strongest force within the rebel movement. “By this act, al-Qaeda wanted to mark out its presence and its influence in this region,” he said. “The other members of the National Transitional Council knew about it but could not react because they are terrified of al-Qaeda,” he added.
In the last few weeks – in the eye of the storm regarding the phone hacking that took place at New of The World – the Murdoch’s constant refrain has been how shocked they were at what had happened; how let down they felt, even betrayed: but they had learnt from this treachery.
This apparent contrition makes it altogether a truly shocking claim that the mother of murder victim Sara Payne may have been the victim of phone hacking by the News Of The World . This would mean that, even as News International was publishing the last edition of the paper, and using their relationship with the Payne family on the cover of the final edition, the senior executives knew that Sara Payne had in turn been betrayed by them. The stench of abuse really can’t get much more offensive than that, can it?
Sara Payne was said to be “appalled and disgusted” at the apparent callous behaviour of News International’s senior management. This latest revelation underscores the fact that this matter is not yet fully in the public domain. Indeed, far from diminishing it seems to be growing day by day. Not only is there the criminal aspect of the matter – the invasion of privacy and collusion that brought this about – but then the political fallout too as the all-too-cosy relationships between the political parties and News International comes under scrutiny. However, the latest news must be the most chilling as it was unquestionably done with the approval of Murdoch, Brooks et al.
“But in making these decisions I will want to, if I am elected, take the whole country with me. I don’t want to leave anyone behind. The test of a good society is you look after the elderly, the frail, the vulnerable, the poorest in our society.” David Cameron, 3rd May 2010
Fast forward to this week and this story fills roughly the same space that Cameron’s reassuring promise took up all those months ago. The BBC in the South-East reported that an octogenarian had had all of her care funding removed by a Conservative local authority:
A disabled Sussex woman whose care funding was withdrawn has said she is now “an accident waiting to happen“. For nine years, Pam Bartlett, 82, had 24 hours of paid care a week. Since her needs were downgraded to “moderate“, she no longer qualifies for support. Mrs Bartlett used her own funds to continue paying £240 a week for care for two months but has run out of cash.
East Sussex County Council said help was given to people with critical or substantial needs. Mrs Bartlett, from Wivelsfield Green, was left disabled after a car accident and is losing her eyesight. She said she needed help with food preparation, cleaning, shopping, and putting the rubbish out. She added: “Without any care, my life is going to be very shortened. I am an accident waiting to happen.”
Mrs Bartlett’s three carers have continued visiting her without charge. One of them, Lorne Thomas, said she continued visiting because Mrs Bartlett was almost housebound and had no family. She said: “I can’t go to bed at night knowing that she could have had an accident, she might not have had anything to eat all day, [and] she might not have had anything to drink.” Jim Baker, from Age UK, said: “People are being reassessed steadily across the country. What we know is that about two million older people need care. Age UK calculate that by 2012, one million won’t be getting the care they need.” He added: “I’m not going to have a go at councils because we know the budget coming at them isn’t too good. But the reality is reassessment tends not to increase the amount of support anyone gets.”
In a statement, [Conservative controlled] East Sussex County Council said: “To ensure that everyone is treated fairly an assessment is made of an individual’s needs and of their financial situation. Support is provided to people with critical or substantial needs and financial support if they are eligible. This ensures that resources are used effectively and as many people are helped as possible who have the most needs.”
A tax office worker who hijacked a woman’s identity and invented four children to fraudulently claim £90,000 in benefits has been jailed. Emily Barrass, a call centre adviser at tax offices in Dundee, began claiming a stranger’s benefits after moving into her former home in Arbroath. She then added four children to Susan Lindsay’s claim over the course of four years before she was finally caught. Barrass, 39, pleaded guilty to the charges and was jailed for two years.
Dundee Sheriff Court heard she began working at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HRMC) office in Dundee in March 2004 and moved into Miss Lindsay’s home a year later. Miss Lindsay, who was unknown to Barrass, had a live claim for tax credits which were being paid into her bank account. She advised HRMC that she was emigrating to the US, but payments continued to be made. Barrass, from Carnoustie in Angus, then amended Miss Lindsay’s file to claim a higher rate of child tax credit – and changed her bank details twice. The court was told she also updated the telephone contact history on Miss Lindsay’s file to indicate she had processed a call from her and removed the bank account details.
Her name is Em Barrass, she fiddled £92,589 in Tax Credits, she's overweight and she's a slimming consultant ...
Over a three-year period, she updated the account to claim Miss Lindsay had informed her of three separate children being born, increasing the payment amounts. None of the children existed. Suspicions were raised in 2009 over Miss Lindsay’s account and Barrass’s involvement, and an investigation was launched. Fiscal depute Vicki Bell told the court the fraud on Miss Lindsay’s account amounted to £77,401. In 2009, Barrass had also accessed the tax credit account of the former partner of a relative and amended the account to make payments into Susan Lindsay’s Post Office account. She then added a fourth fictional child to the claim. That fraud ran in to May 2010, with Barrass obtaining a further £15,493 over a 15-month period. The court was told the total amount received by Barrass was £92,589.
Barrass pleaded guilty to two charges of repeatedly accessing and amending tax credit claims in the name of two women between 2005 and 2009. Defence lawyer Joseph Myles said the fraud had started because Barrass, who now works as a slimming consultant, was struggling with household bills. He said: “Her children knew nothing of her conduct or her appearance in court until she pleaded guilty and told them what she had done and the likely consequences.”
Sheriff Alistair Duff told Barrass she had committed “very serious offences”. He added: “You obtained a total of more than £90,000 as a result of your participation in these crimes and that puts this case in a situation where only a custodial sentence is appropriate. There are not significant mitigating circumstances in my view. You were short of money with a number of children and times would be difficult as they are for most people. However, most people don’t resort to dishonesty. It was made worse by the element of breach of trust.”