UK government

Hain refuses plea to testify against Israel

By Leon Symons, August 13, 2009

Cabinet member Peter Hain has refused to appear as an expert witness for five members of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign involved in a court case over an anti-Israeli protest during an Edinburgh Festival concert.

The name of the Secretary of State for Wales appeared on a list of people whom the SPSC group claimed in an email that it had approached to give expert evidence on behalf of the defendants.


Arlene Phillips is government dance champ

By Jessica Elgot, August 13, 2009

The former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips has been appointed a "dance champion" by the Health Secretary.
The choreographer, 66, was dropped by the BBC show in favour of 30-year-old singer Alesha Dixon, in a move which caused public outcries of ageism.

Now Health Secretary Andy Burnham has asked Ms Phillips to become a “dance champion” to get Britain exercising, and encourage people to take part in dance classes.


Esther Rantzen will stand for election in Luton

By Jessica Elgot, July 28, 2009

Presenter Esther Rantzen has confirmed she will stand for election as an Independent MP in Luton South in the next General Election.

Labour MP Margaret Moran is standing down for her post in Luton after she was exposed by the Daily Telegraph for using £22,500 in expenses for treating dry rot at her home in Southampton.

The former That's Life presenter and founder of children's charity Childline said she was prompted to run after feeling such outrage at the MPs' expenses scandal, and has been hinting about her intentions for months.


Jewish MP claimed £13,000 for 'nanny'

By Jessica Elgot, July 9, 2009

The Shadow Solicitor General, MP Jonathan Djanogly has allegedly claimed more than £13,000 to pay a Polish au pair to look after his children.

Mr Djanogly, the Tory MP for Huntingdon, who is a member of New London Synagogue, claimed the £640 a month to pay the woman, identified only as Miss G, to clean his second home, but later admitted it had been her only source of income and that she did sometimes look after his children, the Daily Telegraph said today.


Some of the MPs in the expenses-scandal firing line

May 21, 2009

Leeds North East Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, named this week in the Westminster expenses scandal, has denied misuse of taxpayers’ money and pledged to stand again at the next election.

The Daily Telegraph said he had claimed the maximum amount on his second home in three of the last four years, totalling £87,349, and that he had designated his family home in Leeds as his second home while living at his mother’s house in Willesden, north west London, until she died in 2005.


Tebbit attacked over call to boycott main parties

By Leon Symons, May 21, 2009

A call by Lord Tebbit for voters to boycott the main political parties in the forthcoming European elections as punishment for the MPs’ expenses scandal has been strongly attacked this week.

Ben Barkow, director of the Wiener Library, Britain’s leading Holocaust archive, said: “There are great dangers in what he said. One can see from other European countries like Austria, where far-right parties have become involved in mainstream politics, which has been bad for the country.”


Minister warns of Euro-poll hate

By Leon Symons, May 14, 2009

A government minister has warned that a lasting legacy of racial hatred could result from campaigning by far-right candidates in next month’s European elections.

Communities Minister Sadiq Khan said that the effect of literature produced by far-right parties, including the British National Party, could continue after the elections on June 4.

“The Jewish community will need to keep a very close eye on literature that could be antisemitic because it will be written in a very clever and cunning way,” said Mr Khan.


Equality Bill will help us

By Leon Symons, April 30, 2009

The government’s new Equality Bill, which received its first reading this week, will finally put an end to the problem of students being forced to sit examinations on Shabbat or festival days.

It will also mean that observant Jews will be able to leave early for Shabbat and take festivals off without taking them out of their holiday allowance — and without fear of discrimination by their employer.

The new legislation also bars discrimination in private members’ clubs, so Jews and their guests cannot be refused entry or access to a bar.


Fury over taxpayer cash for Hizbollah seminar

By Marcus Dysch, April 16, 2009

The government spent more than £20,000 of taxpayers’ money sending civil servants on a course at which Hizbollah’s media relations officer was due to be a keynote speaker. In the event, Ibrahim Moussawi was barred from entering Britain by the Home Office.

Details released to the JC under Freedom of Information legislation reveal that the Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Development each had five representatives at the Political Islam seminar, held last month at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.


Government quells fears over boycott

By Leon Symons, April 2, 2009

A special meeting to discuss the guidelines for the labelling of products from the West Bank was held in the Cabinet Office on Tuesday.

It involved representatives of food retailers, producers and suppliers and the British Retail Consortium, alongside civil servants from the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Foreign Office, HM Revenue and Customs and one non-governmental organisation (NGO), Oxfam.

But it seemed that fears of a “back-door” boycott of Israeli goods through the labelling of products from the West Bank may have receded.