On the evening of Friday 9 April, the BBC went wall-to-wall in its coverage of the death of Philip Windsor (aka, the duke of Edinburgh). BBC 1 and BBC 2 provided the same content for the entire evening, and all BBC 4 programmes were cancelled. Subsequently, the state broadcaster was forced to publish a complaints page on its coverage (but it has since been removed).
But with spectacles like this, it’s a good time for the government and its friends in the media to ignore other matters. For example, as reported by The Canary:
- There are the ongoing protests against the draconian Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
- Proposals within that bill for ‘secure schools’ for young offenders.
- Loyalist riots in the north of Ireland challenge Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.
In addition, two other, very different stories stand out:
From deaths in their thousands…
openDemocracy has published an exclusive by James Cusick and Peter Geoghegan on the scientist who advocated a herd immunity approach to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. It shows that Oxford epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta met with Boris Johnson and advised him not to proceed with a lockdown. Professor John Edmunds of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine disagreed, but he was ignored. Only one day later, Johnson agreed that the lockdown shouldn’t go ahead.
openDemocracy argues that this decision led to a second wave of coronavirus cases. And that it may have, in effect, caused up to “1.3m extra Covid infections”.
openDemocracy also revealed evidence that earlier in 2020 Gupta received over £88k from the Georg und Emily von Opel Foundation. This was to fund research “into the prevalence of COVID-19 in the population”. Notably, this same foundation donated “more than half-a-million pounds” to the Tory Party when led by David Cameron.
…to one death too many
In February, The Canary reported on an appeal court case. The court heard how a spy agency, a secretive research unit, and a UK prime minister intervened in the prosecution of construction workers for merely participating in a legal picket. Unlike prince Philip, one of the pickets – Des Warren – died prematurely. He never fully recovered from his ordeal in prison following conviction.
Following that ruling, Undercover Research (UR) and the Public Interest Legal Centre (PILC) published a report. It provides further details on what happened in the lead-up to, and during, the prosecution of the pickets. The report showed the appeal court accepted that statements which could have been useful to the defence had been destroyed. But the report went further and argued:
We say this was wholesale and deliberate destruction of evidence that was enacted to assist the State Prosecution
The report also provided details of the role played by a TV documentary, The Red Under The Bed, which was broadcast during the prosecution of the workers. It was also shown that former News of the World reporter Simon Regan, who fronted the documentary, had fabricated evidence. The report further shows that the Industrial Research Department (IRD) introduced Regan to the documentary makers. IRD is part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Furthermore, IRD provided the documentary producer Woodrow Wyatt with “background material”. Conservative prime minister Edward Heath also expressed his support for the documentary. And another organisation that played a role in all this was Industrial Research & Information (IRIS), which was funded via the ‘secret vote’ (state funding of intelligence and security agencies).
Together with the Blacklist Support Group, PILC is now calling for an:
independent public inquiry into the involvement of the state in criminalising the Shrewsbury 24, the scandal of blacklisting in the building industry, the role of the state and the construction companies.
Make no mistake that this has ruined lives, criminalised innocent people, and reaches – we say – to the highest levels of government.
Indeed, any attempt to undermine the status quo will likely be met with disproportionate force. We’ve seen this during the 1984/5 miners’ strike and many other attempts by people to improve their lot.
But there’s always a distraction
The BBC continues to broadcast meaningless stories about Philip Windsor. No doubt this royal arse-licking gives a glimpse into the kind of absurdity that will be thrust upon us when his missus dies, too.
Meanwhile, although the real stories and scandals haven’t completely disappeared off the radar, the Johnson government undoubtedly hopes otherwise.
Featured image via Pixabay/Caroline Booth
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?