Playing Qat and mouse

By DAVID WOODING
HATE preacher Abu Qatada must be the only man in Britain who isn’t feeling the pinch.
While our schools, police, and brave armed forces face swingeing cuts, spending on the terror suspect just seems to go up and up.
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It’s bad enough that he is using human rights laws to stay in a country he despises.
But hard-working families struggling to make ends meet will be sickened to learn that last month this unwanted guest was costing them £5,058 A DAY.
The bill for legal aid, security, housing and benefits is expected to top £6 million this year alone.
That’s enough to pay for an extra 283 nurses, 347 rookie soldiers or 263 teachers.
Qatada (pictured above),  a Bin Laden stooge and inspiration for the 9/11 hijackers, is using every trick in the legal handbook to dodge deportation.
To make matters worse, soft-touch European judges seem determined to let him.
Barmy
Home Secretary Theresa May must be tearing her hair out in despair at how to get rid of him.
Even that is costing us, as government lawyers run up a £600,000 bill in their hopeless quest to find common sense in the barmy human rights laws that allow him to stay.
He’s been playing Qat and mouse with the the authorities for 12 years.
Let’s hope 2013 is the year we finally get rid of him.
Then we can end this costly madness once and for all.
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If crime levels are down, why are detection rates down, too?

By DAVID WOODING
THERE was some scepticism when new figures out last week showed that crime is down.
Some accused police of cooking the books and others claimed victims had given up reporting burglaries, fearing they’d never be investigated.
Now add this into the mix. Even with fewer offences to investigate, police are solving even fewer crimes.
New figures show that detection rates fell for the first time in over a decade last year – with 30,000 fewer crimes solved.
Just one in four offences committed in England and Wales was cleared up in the year to April 2012.
It means 2.9 million crimes went unpunished – despite new stats which show law-breaking is DOWN.
Cops say slump in arrests is down to swingeing cuts in their budgets imposed by the government.
220px-Theresa_May_-_Home_Secretary_and_minister_for_women_and_equalityAbout 9,000 police jobs have been axed under money saving measures since the coalition won power – and there’s more to come.
North Wales police, who cut the force strength last year by 39 to 1,488, now solve just three in ten case, compared with four in ten before the cuts.
In Warwickshire, where 260 officers were lost, an extra 2,063 crimes went unsolved.
Home Secretary Theresa May (pictured left) has insisted police forces can cut costs without affecting frontline crime-fighting.
She has told chief constables to make “back office” saving, which would mean MORE bobbies visible on the streets.
A Sun investigation last month suggested officers are still spending too much time behind a desk.  There’s something odd about all these figures. If there’s less crime,  you’d think police had more time to investigate those that do occur. If it’s down to cuts, you’d expect crime levels to go up.
Official figures out last week showed overall crime plunged eight per cent in England and Wales.
They led to accusations that senior cops were exaggerating the statistics.
Simon Payne, chairman of Warwickshire Police Federation, said: “We want to go out there, preventing crime and catching criminals.
“But with police stations being closed and fewer officers in our ranks that’s becoming extremely difficult.”
Labour claimed the figures would fuel concerns about the government’s “deeply complacent” attitude to policing.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, who analysed the stats, said: “Fewer crimes are being solved, fewer criminals caught and fewer victims are getting justice.
“Theresa May has cut 15,000 police officers and done nothing to help improve the performance of the police in catching criminals and solving crime.
“The reduction in violence against the person offences being solved is particularly worrying.
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“These are serious crimes that can ruin people’s lives and harm communities, yet 7,000 fewer are being solved under this Government.
“Tory policing policy isn’t working. Theresa May needs to look again urgently at how her cuts to policing and chaotic reforms are hitting the work to catch criminals and deliver justice.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “Police reform is working and crime is falling under this Government, down eight per cent in the year ending September 2012, according to the latest independent Crime Survey.
“Many forces are achieving significant reductions in crime with reduced budgets and crime is at its lowest level since the survey began in 1981.
“When the last government prioritised detection rates and set targets for offences brought to justice, it simply distorted police priorities which is why these targets were scrapped. By cutting bureaucracy we’ve allowed forces to get officers back out on the front line.
“And we have put in place Police and Crime Commissioners who are representing the needs of their community and holding their police force to account.”

Justice for the 96 Hillsborough disaster victims is a step closer

By DAVID WOODING

IN the end, it didn’t even need a vote.

After 22  tireless years of fighting for justice, the families of 96 fans killed in Britain’s worst football disaster finally got their way without a murmur of opposition.

In a long-overdue debate, MPs agreed to the full release of documents relating to the Hillsborough disaster.

Hillsborough Memorial and eternal flame at Anfield

The historic decision means the grieving relatives – many of them in the public gallery of the Commons tonight – have cleared a final obstacle in their hard and lonely struggle to find the truth.

The debate was triggered when more than 139,000 people signed a government e-petition demanding uncensored publication of 40,000 papers relating to the disaster and its aftermath.

But there was no need for a vote after Home Secretary Theresa May apologized for the anxiety caused to fans in the past and vowed to put everything into the open.

She revealed that all documents had been handed to an independent panel set up by her predecessor Alan Johnson in the last Labour government .

Mrs May told MPs: “I shall do everything in my power to ensure that the families and the public get the truth.

“No government papers will be withheld from the panel, no attempts to suppress publication will be made, no stone will be left unturned.”

Merseyside Labour MP Steve Rotheram, who was at the ill-fated match as a fan, took six minutes to read out the names of all 96 victims to a hushed Commons chamber. When he had finished, MPs and those in the public gallery burst into applause – rarely heard in the chamber.

Pat Joynes, who lost her son Nicholas, 27, in the pre-match crush before the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest, was among those who travelled to the Commons to hear him.

Caged

She said: “Twenty-two years is a long time to wait to find out the truth about what happened to our loved ones.

“I am hoping Nicholas and the others are looking down on us and the spirit of the 96 is with us as we hear the debate.”

Ninety-five Liverpool fans were crushed to death in caged pens in the Leppings Lane end of Sheffield Wednesday’s stadium as crowds were still arriving for the match.

The 96th victim, Tony Bland, was in a coma for three years after the match and died in 1992.

In the immediate aftermath, police “sources” claimed the tragedy was caused by drunken Liverpool fans whom they say arrived late for the match.

A carpet of flowers near the Kop goal at Anfield on the day after the tragedy.

While the allegations were discounted at an inquiry led by Lord Justice Taylor, the slur has dogged the club for years.

The long-awaited release of these documents will finally reveal the original source of these vile stories – and why they were given so much credence.

It is also hoped they will disclose what the government of the day was told about the disaster and how journalists were briefed.

The families, the club and their fans will never forget that awful afternoon. It is etched into the very fabric of Liverpool FC, with an eternal flame flickering outside the Shankly Gates.

But perhaps the release of these papers, which is expected next year, will help them find closure.

And allow the 96 to rest in peace.

Follow me on Twitter: @davidwooding

Theresa’s got her claws out for boss cat Ken

By DAVID WOODING in Manchester

KITTEN-heeled Theresa May got in a right cat flap with Cabinet colleague Ken Clarke today – over the Human Rights Act.

The Home Secretary had her claws out after he poured scorn on her claim that an illegal immigrant dodged a deportation order to look after his pet pussy.

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Home Secretary Theresa May chats to David Wooding in her office.

Mrs May had seized on the story to highlight her opposition to the controversial laws in a speech to the Tory conference in Manchester.

She won a standing ovation when she told of “the illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – and I’m not making this up – he had a pet cat.”

But moments later, Cabinet top cat Mr Clarke stamped all over her claim with his size 11 Hush Puppies by claiming she had over-hyped the story.

The Justice Secretary declared: “I will have a small bet with her that nobody has ever been refused deportation on the grounds of a cat.

“I’ve never had a conversation on the subject with Theresa, so I’d have to find out about these strange cases she is throwing out. I cannot believe anybody has ever had deportation refused on the basis of owning a cat.”

He later quipped: “I heard Theresa refer to it and I sat there with a Victor Meldrew reaction. I thought… I can’t believe it.”

Mrs May was privately furious at the cat-astrophic intervention by Mr Clarke, who’s had a ban run of his own over his “soft” stance on prison sentences.

It was the fist Cabinet bust-up since the rally opened on Sunday and tonight both sides were hurling details of the case at each other to defend their corner.

A Home Office source said the case highlighted how illegal immigrants were taking the Act to extremes by exploiting the section which gives them a right to a family life.

Claws out: Ken Clarke

Mr Clarke, who is due to receive a recort on the European Convention on Human Rights,  said the Home Secretary had failed to consult him before making her remarks.

He said: “When I found out what these examples are that have upset her, I will probably find that she agrees with me. It is these daft misinterpretations of the Act which are giving the whole thing a bad reputation, when we should be a force in favour of human rights and individual liberty in the modern world, not in any way resiling from it.”

Follow me on Twitter: @davidwooding

A vote on Europe at last…but we’re staying in, says Hague

By DAVID WOODING in Manchester

WILLIAM Hague has ruled out letting the public decide whether Britain stays in the EU – even if MPs vote for it.

The Foreign Secretary has brushed off a 100,000-name petition demanding a referendum and appears to have shed his hardline Euro-sceptic beliefs, insisting: “Our place is in the European Union.”

His remarks will infuriate the Tory right-wing who are already threatening to use the issue to hijack this week’s party conference in Manchester.

MPs have been forced to stage a Commons debate on Britain’s future in Europe after Independent MEP Nikki Sinclaire handed in a petition demanding a referendum at 10 Downing Street.

More than 80 backbench Tories want voters to have the final say and many Labour MPs could back the move because it would be hugely popular with the public, who now pay an average of £299 a year each to run the EU.

It would be the first time Parliament has held a major debate on a giving the public a say since the 1975 referendum confirmed the decision to join the Common Market – and could be held before Christmas.

But if MPs vote in favour of a referendum, it would not be binding on the government.

And asked if he would grant one, Mr Hague said bluntly: “No”.

He admits the EU is “cumbersome, slow and bureacratic” but stresses the upside is the power of 27 nations uniting on vital issues such as imposing sanctions against Syria.

Mr Hague (pictured left with David Wooding) said: “When you you’ve negotiated them, 95 per cent of the sales of crude ooils are stopped because 27 nations together act on that.”

The former Tory leader’s comments are more remarkable because he fought and lost the 2001 general election on a tough anti-EU stance.

He still believes Brussels has too much power but since entering government has seen the bloc of nations acting as a power for good in the world.

Mr Hague’s referendum snub will anger his party’s Right-wing gathering in Manchester today – but cheer pro-EU Lib Dem coalition partners.

Mark Pritchard, secretary of the Conservative 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers, said: “Europe is back as an issue. That is my message.”

Human Rights

But Home Secretary Theresa May has delighted the Right by calling for the Human Rights Act to be scrapped.

She said: “I’d personally like to see it go because I think we have had some problems with it.”

Her words fly in the face of Deputy PM Nick Clegg’s speech the the Lib Dems two weeks ago when he said the controversial Act was “here to stay”.

Europe and human rights will be among the hottest issues for David Cameron in his second conference as Prime Minister.

The economy, law and order and welfare reform will also be high on the agenda.

Mr Cameron will also be keen to reach out to woman after polls show he has problems appealing to female voters.

When asked to score on his understanding of women’s issues, respondents gave him just one out of 10.

In an interview with The Sunday Times today,  Mr Cameron admits he made a “terrible mistake” with his “calm down, dear” remark at Labour MP Angela Eagle in the Commons earlier this year.

He declared: “It’s my fault. I’ve got to do better, I totally accept. I’m the one who’s got to explain who I am, what I think and what I’m like.”

Follow me on Twitter: @davidwooding