UK Governments the Real Champions of Pay Inequality?

The brilliant journalist Carrie Gracie has taken a stance over pay inequality and transferred (some said she quit) from her role as BBC Chinese editor to the BBC newsroom team. It was a noble decision but a great loss to those of us who admired her Chinese related reports.

Pay inequality discussions tend to focus on salary differences based on gender. But in the UK civil service pay inequality does exist but not gender related.

UK governments like to lecture other employers on pay inequality . Yet the said governments have allowed unfair pay structures to thrive under their noses for 3 decades across the civil service.

In the 1990s, the Conservative government decided to delegate human resources strategic (incl. pay and salary) responsibilities to each government department to handle independently.

Some government departments used this new found autonomy to bump up salary structures. Some other government departments took a moderate approach and kept their salary scales conservative.

[The less said about how recruitment and promotion practices became corrupted]

This has led to many staff across the civil service performing the same role, in the same grade (sometimes the same building), same length of service, but paid vastly different depending on their government department.

Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) is widely known as one of the most poorly paid government department for admin and middle management grades. DWP is also the most challenging government to work at, especially for frontline staff handling welfare payments and job seekers. Given the abuse they regularly face from the public.

Departments such as the Treasury and especially HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on the other hand pay their staff vastly better wages. Home Office and Department of Health pay scales are sandwich somewhere between DWP and HMRC.

Simply there is no pay consistency  at admin and management grades across the civil service.

An Executive Officer (EO) at HMRC can earn as much (sometimes more) as a Senior Executive Officer (SEO) at the DWP; even though the latter is 2 grades higher and has far more responsibility and staff to manage.

You would never hear of civil servants transferring permanently to the likes of DWP due to its lower salary structure. Even if such a transfer could mean promotion.

In 2003, Gordon Brown – then Chancellor of the Exchequer – mooted the idea of merging Customs and Excise with the Inland Revenue. Staff in both departments hated the proposal. This was due to long standing cultural animosity that existed for between both departments.

Customs and Excise and Inland Revenue staff did not feel the merger was feasible due to the salary differences that existed between both departments

E.g. Higher Executive Officer at Inland Revenue could earn £6-£10k more than their counterparts at Customs and Excise.

In 2005, Gordon Brown pushed through the merger. In one single month Brown upgraded the thousands of Customs and Excise staff salaries to match their Inland Revenue counterparts. Customs & Excise staff felt happy with the sharp pay increase while some Revenue staff were livid at salary upgrade for their new colleagues.

Some government departments would advertise their vacancies without disclosing the salary for fear of turning off potential applicants.

Yet trade unions and politicians have sat back and watched this unfair pay practice to thrive for decades. While lecturing the private sector on gender pay equality.

But with BREXIT looming now is a perfect time for a universal salary scale to be gradually implemented across the civil service. Pay inequality based on which government department employs you is simply unfair to its staff, future recruits and tax payers.

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HM Treasury – Facilitators of Pay Inequality?

 

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Cyrille Regis: One of English Football’s True Gentlemen

Yesterday we woke up to the sad news that former England footballer Cyrille Regis had died of a heart attack at just age 59.

Cyrille is regarded as one of the trailblazing black footballers in English football from the late 1970s onwards who inspired future generations of black kids to take up professional football.

The first time I came across Cyrille was in the early 1970s. He and my older brother David played football together as teenagers in the North West London area of Kilburn/Queens Park, Brent.

David was a football fanatic. He, Cyrille and other young working class teenagers found solace and camaraderie in sports. They would play a variety of sports in the local parks of Queens Park, Grange Park and Paddington Recreation Ground.

Cyrille and David played local sports alongside future sports stars such as Ricky Hill, Mike and Steve Gatting. David, Cyrille and especially Ricky Hill became local stars in junior football across Brent. For a while David and Cyrille played at the influential Oxford and Kilburn Boys Club.

By the mid 1970s my mum dragged both David and me to live in Jamaica.

But David and I followed Cyrille’s career through British newspapers and magazines (e.g. Football Monthly) sent to us in Jamaica by family friends.

Imagine our delight in 1977 when we saw Cyrille being recruited by top football club West Bromwich Albion. He and other black players Brendan Batson and Laurie Cunningham played together at The Albion.

Having 3 black players in the same team in those days was unheard of in English football and thus caused a media frenzy. As black players in the English professional league was still a novelty.

Cyrille explained that at the time having 3 black players in one team proved too much for some fans who stepped up their racist abuse.

From 1970s – 1990s racism in English football against black players and black spectators was toxic. It just was never a pleasant atmosphere to watch your team in person as rival fans and some from your own club would taunt you at the game and on public transport.

As Cyrille said about his own experience of racism

You’d have up to 10,000 of them chanting racist abuse at you. You’d have hundreds of bananas hurled at you. You’d get called names – the ‘n’ word, ‘you black b******d’. I had a bullet through the post on my first England call-up

But the players like Cyrille, Laurie, Brendan, Ricky Hill, Bob Hazell, Vince Hilaire, Viv Anderson, Terry Connor, John Barnes, Luther Blissett, Garth Crooks, George Berry, Paul Canoville etc became cult heroes to young black kids in England and beyond.

Their efforts to combat racism – without any support from the police and football authorities – must never be forgotten.

Cyrille was a very strong physical player with supreme speed and was a powerful striker of the ball. He was a hard working player.

My dad – an Aston Villa fan for over 60 years – was pleased when Cyrille join the Villa in 1991.

Whatever team Cyrille played for I was delighted whenever he scored goals. As in a way he was one of us. Like the other few black players then in the league I wanted them all to be successful.

When Cyrille won the FA Cup in 1987 with Coventry City, David and I watched the game at our flat in Kilburn – just a few hundred yards from where Cyrille’s football journey started.

At the time David felt so proud and remarked something like  “How many black men from Brent can say they have won the FA Cup… In Brent?”

Cyrille was a credit to football both on and off the pitch. He was calm and easy to get on with. On the pitch he was a nightmare for defenders but off it he was respected by players, the media and fans. Even by some of  those same fans who had made racist chants against him.

Cyrille delved into coaching and also became a football agent. Cyrille’s unassuming demeanour earned him respect by football club owners when he negotiated contracts on behalf of his clients.

The last time I saw Cyrille in person was (with David) roughly 8 years ago at a celebrity charity football match in Hayes, West London that Cyrille organised with his nephew (former footballer) Jason Roberts.

My brother David died in Bedford, Central England in March 2013. In the very last exchange I had with him we spoke about Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille. As David had suggested that I watch a tv documentary on Laurie’s life which featured Cyrille.

Cyrille we will never forget you big man.

Where’s Laurie? In heaven? In hell? In space? He was 33. If I had died in that car crash where would I be…..I had to get some answers and, to cut a long story short, I became a born-again Christian. It gave me a perspective of earthly values and eternity. I hope I see him in heaven.’Cyrille Regis,  July 2017

“I look back over my life and can say that, although I have some regrets I have so much to be thankful and so much to be proud of. I have the privilege to mentor players and men in general, sharing the wisdom I gained through life” – Cyrille Regis, 2010.

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Cyrille and Laurie Cunningham

Laurie Cunningham Day/Leyton Orient v MK Dons  12th Oct 2013

Leyton, East London 2013: L-R Brendan Baston, Nicky Brown (Laurie’s widow). and Cyrille at the unveiling of a plaque in honour of Laurie Cunningham

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Oxford & Kilburn Boys Club, NW London where Cyrille played as a teen

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Laurie, Brendan and Cyrille – West Brom’s own Three Degrees meet their more illustrious Philadelphian counterparts

 

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Coming home: Brent lad Cyrille winning the FA Cup in 1987 at Wembley Stadium, Brent

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No Surprise that Jamaica Abstained on UN Jerusalem Vote

There seems to be some disbelief that Jamaica abstained on the recent UN resolution – that rejected Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel.

For Jamaica’s opposition People National Party to express surprise shows a lack of awareness on their part on the developing relationship between the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) government and Israel.

In January this year, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness made an official visit to Israel. Where both Holness and Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu cemented their diplomatic relationship. So much so that Netanyahu accepted Holness’ invitation to visit Jamaica.

At a press conference (in Jerusalem) Netanyahu said to Holness  “Our relations are always friendly. We appreciate the fact that you didn’t join the recent vote against Israel, the absurd vote in UNESCO,”

That 2016 UNESCO vote was said to ignore Jewish ties to the Temple Mount. Of the 21 votes to be casted Jamaica was the only member nation absent from the vote.

So last week’s abstention will no doubt seal the Jamaican government’s friendship with Israel even further.

Was the Jamaican government promised tangible perks by the US and Israel governments? I hope so.

Jamaica could do with significant aid in modern technology and vehicles to combat the violent crime surge. So it would have been wise – as a bargaining chip -for the Jamaican government to demand tangible support from the US and Israelis in return for abstaining.

Deals is the nature of international politics. Every nation has a price. Today, International pride and solidarity works only up to a symbolic point in theory.

  • Just ask Obama’s administration who turned a blind to Hezbollah’s drug trafficking and money laundering activities in order to clinch the Iran nuclear deal.
  • Successive UK governments of all stripes have ignored human rights violations and bribery issues committed by Saudi Arabia in order to secure major arms sales for UK companies.

The outrage in the Arab world over Trump’s decision was predictable. Egypt and Jordan raised strong objections. But does anyone really think that Jordan and Egypt would – as a protest – refuse to continue receiving the billions in aid they get from the US?

Will Jamaica pay a heavy price in the Arab world for the vote abstention? It could.  As many highly skilled Jamaicans are based there; especially in the aviation industry.

[So while there is constant focus by the UN on the Palestine/Israel impasse; the international community has quietly ignored China’s occupation of Tibet. Chinese government has – through slick lobbying and bargaining – managed to end any discussion at the UN on their occupation of Tibet. UN has not be discussed Tibet for over 2 decades.]

The Jamaican media and opposition PNP have simply been asleep in not cross checking the government’s new found stronger ties with Israel since 2016.

Now is an appropriate time for the PNP and Jamaican media to demand answers from the Jamaican government.

  • What deals have been made with Israel since Holiness’ visit?
  • Ahead of the vote did Israel’s UN officials discuss the resolution with their Jamaican counterparts?
  • Was there personal pressure from the US and Israeli governments ahead of the vote?
  • Was the Jamaican government promised substantial tangible perks or aid in return for abstaining?
  • Did the Jamaican government demand aid and other deals for abstaining?
  • Given the 2016 Temple Mount UNESCO no vote; did the Palestinian Authority and other Arab states consult the Jamaican government ahead of the Jerusalem vote?
  • Has Israel or any Arab state spoken with the Jamaican government since last week’s vote?

Nikki Haley – US Ambassador to the UN – will host a function in January to thank those nations who did not support the UN resolution to condemn Trump’s Jerusalem decision.

Let’s hope the Jamaican delegation that attends the function will walk with a shopping list. They also should remind the US not to take any Jamaican vote (or no vote) at the UN for granted.

 

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Netanyahu & Holness in Jerusalem, Israel January 2017

 

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Ian Boyne – Raised the Profile of Many Jamaicans

The news of Ian Boyne’s death on Monday sent shockwaves across Jamaica. Boyne died following a short illness. Boyne had such a big impact on many Jamaicans through his vast body of media work.

Boyne was one of the most influential journalists in Jamaica’s history. His weekly TV show ‘Profile’ spanned 30 years and featured half hour interviews with successful Jamaicans from all walks of life and also international guests: all with an inspirational rags-to-riches story to share.

Guest have included Prince Buster, Usain Bolt, Renato Adams, Shaggy, Taye Diggs, Dawn Butler, Dr Henry Lowe, Leonie Forbes, Madge Sinclair, Marcia Griffiths and  the late Lowell Hawthorne (Golden Krust).

Boyne’s other TV show ‘Religious Hardtalk’ featured passionate debates with guests from any religion (and I mean any) or spiritual beliefs. ‘Religious Hardtalk’ was a unique talk show.  It was thought frank, thought provoking, controversial, good humoured and entertaining.

Guest have included former hardcore gangsters, dancehall entertainers, who transformed their lives due to a religious awakening.

Sometimes you had to wonder “Where does Ian Boyne find these guests?”

I will never forget the interviews Boyne did with former dancehall entertainer and now renowned preacher Goddy Goddy and some of his church members. It was just wild.

Boybe’s interview with Jamaican playwright Hugh King was also memorable to me. King – a former near neighbour – came out from decades of a self imposed hermit lifestyle to do the interview.

Having a hit TV show is never easy. So for Boyne to have 2 successful TV discussion shows on during the same period was a testament to his ability to keep both shows fresh and entertaining. Especially as both ‘ ‘Profile’ and ‘Religious Hardtalk’ were polar opposites.

All this terrific success while Boyne was still working as a senior executive at the government run Jamaica Information Service and a columnist for the Sunday Gleaner. Not to mention his ministerial duties in the church.

Boyne’s column in the Sunday Gleaner was always detailed, well researched and forthright.

But I loved ‘Profile’. Anytime I was away from Jamaica for lengthy periods, my family would video tape episodes for me to watch whenever I returned.

I have never met Mr Boyne but between 2004 and 2006 we did exchange emails regarding ‘Profile’. I admired him for taking the time to respond in the respectable manner that he always did.

In the UK, educational and social commentators lamented the perceived lack of positive black role models for young people of Afro Caribbean descent to look up to. Some didn’t like it when I challenged their lazy stereotypical perception. One of my suggestions was that they should request copies of ‘Profile’ to show and discuss in the classroom. As some of Boyne’s guests on ‘Profile’ where indeed successful Jamaicans living in the UK.

Watching this week’s pre-recorded episode of ‘Religious Hardtalk’ was humbling. It was the season finale and Boyne’s guest was gospel artiste Glacia Robinson.

Glacia described to Boyne her near death experiences due to years of ill health and explained how the strength of her Christian faith helped pulled her through some very tough times. They discussed the meaning of death in some detail.  The interview was deep, warm and engaging. The chemistry between Glacia and Boyne was real.

At the end the show Boyne turned to Glacia and simply said how for years he had been looking forward to this particular interview. It was Ian Boyne at his very best.

[Glacial has since said that her interview with Boyne was initially scheduled for the day he died. But Boyne called her and requested bringing the interview forward as he felt need to conduct it immediately. 3 days after the interview was recorded Boyne was rushed to hospital]

Here’s a short clip from this week’s ‘Religious Hardtalk’.

Jamaica is the worse for Ian Boyne no longer being a key part if its nation building. But his role in Jamaica’s development will live on through his collection of work and the people he showcased and inspired.

Let’s hope ‘Profile’ and ‘Religious Hardtalk’ will continue.

Rest in Peace.

 

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Ian Boyne 1957-2017

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The Trump Presidency so far – Winners and Losers

It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both – Niccolo Machiavelli

It certainly feels like 3 years since Donald J. Trump won the US Presidential election, even though he defeated Hillary Clinton just over 12 months ago.

A very strange reality for Americans and those of us observing from a safe distance overseas.

Trump has become the most covered, scrutinised, over analysed, despised and discussed person in modern political history: and he loves the attention.

Many of his doubters and enemies had hoped Trump would gradually mellow his usual braggadocio style when he became President. We knew from his inauguration speech – that was not going to happen.

But so far, who are some of the winners and losers during the Trump presidency?

Losers

  1. Donald J Trump – Petty. Stubborn. Juvenile in his personal attacks. Gaffe guzzler. Likes to compare himself to former President Andrew Jackson but acts more like Lincoln’s successor Andrew Johnson.
  2. Republicans in Congress – Hold the majority in both the House and the Senate but no clue on how to govern effectively.
  3. Bipartisan politics – Not happening for most Democrat and Republican elected officials under this president. Sad.
  4. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General – Seems overwhelmed by his role.
  5. Mainstream Political Journalism–  Objective and balanced political journalism is over in the US. Even the BBC has abandoned its usual neutral stance to go 100% anti-Trump. The relentless fake news reporting is embarrassing. Glenn Greenwald sums up how sensational fake news is destroying political journalism in this article.
  6. Black and Hispanic senior appointments – Trump administration’s forgotten man and woman? Yes there’s Alex Acosta, Ajit Pai, Ben Carson, Jerome Adams. But any black judges nominated by Trump? Any black or Hispanic Ambassadors? As soon-to-be departed WH staffer, Omarosa Manigault Newman, said this week “It has been very, very challenging being the only African-American woman in the senior staff,….There was a lack of diversity that I will acknowledge.”
  7. Central America and Caribbean-  Near neighbours  but yet so far off the Trump radar – a. US no longer contributing to the Inter American Development Bank. b. Reversal of closer ties with Cuba. c. 50,000 Haitians affected by natural disasters to be deported from the US. d. Puerto Rico hurricane recovery debacle.
  8. Sub-Sahara Africa – Took the recent death of 4 US servicemen in Niger for any discussion on what is Trump’s US foriegn policy approach towards Africa. Whatever that is.
  9. Mike Flynn, Paul Manafort – key Trump campaign senior staff who have been Muellered!
  10. Lawyers – With countless political scandals, investigations, rulings and controversial policies sweeping Washington, the legal profession is having a profitable 2017.
  11. Steve Bannon, Briebart – His Lt Colombo act in influencing average Republicans is fading after the Roy Moore blunder.

Winners

  1. Donald J Trump –  “President of the United States” – each morning he wakes up with that job title means he is still winning. Tough, direct and sets the news agenda most days. Still underestimated by many of his enemies.
  2. US economy – Has strengthened sharply under Trump’s watch. (Does Obama take some of the credit?)
  3. Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN –  Her hawkish stance makes her a clear favourite to be the next Secretary of State and thereafter a prime candidate for next Secretary of State and eventually president. Her growing popularity must make Trump envious.
  4. Mainstream News Media – Their anti-Trump mantra and reporting is still doing wonders for ratings and readership. Are they and Trump in collusion ? E.g.  Trump gives the impression he hates CNN. But who is the White House’s favourite political reporter? CNN’s Jim Acosta. The media knows covering just Trump is good for business.
  5. Heather Nauert, State Department Spokeswoman – Conducts her briefings with control, succinctness and modesty. Rarely makes any controversy which is the benchmark of an effective govt spokesperson.
  6. Robert Mueller, Special Counsel – The Trump administration’s kryptonite. Although stacking his team with Hillary donors has caste a shadow over the ‘independent’ approach to Russia collusion investigations.
  7. Hillary Clinton – There are US folks serving life sentences for cumulative minor offences such as stealing a candy bar. But Hillary the untouchable – when it comes to political corruption – is just simply above US law and she knows we know it.
  8. Far right groups– Such US and European groups are emboldened by what Trump says and tweets. Also these groups feel encouraged by his silence on certain issues. (Trump’s recent retweet of a UK right wing party’s anti Muslim postings made him look like a right berk.)
  9. Women in the Trump Administration–  Little scandal, ego-free have been the likes Haley, Nauert, Kirstjen Nielsen, Elaine Chao and Linda MacMahon.
  10. The Anti-Trump Female Movement – The likes of Maxine Waters, April Ryan, Ana Navarro, Susan Collins, etc are now household names due their sustained anti-Trump leanings.  Some whose bank balances has been enriched thanks to Trump.
  11. US Politics– Never before has US politics and politicians been so well known and covered across the globe. Folks in other countries know far more of what’s happening (or not)  politically in the US than in their own state.
  12. Israel and Saudi Arabia – Trump’s anti-Iran stance has come as relief to both countries following the Iran deal. Both nations are flexing more muscle in region and even forming their own unusual alliance.
  13. China – While Trump champions an America first policy, China continues to consolidate their economic strength globally.
  14. US Late Night TV talkshows  – Not since the days of George W Bush has a president being lambasted and ridiculed on late night tv. Another TV ratings bonanza.
  15. George W Bush – Thanks to Trump the George W Bush brand has had a positive upgrade in some liberal circles.

Trump’s mantra is “Make America Great Again” but what he’s achieved so far was to “Make America’s Politics Popular” across the entire globe.

Oh well, 3 more years of this to go. Could it really be 7?

“I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.” Machiavelli

Trump

Endless Turbulence @ Ground Level

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Lewis Hamilton, a Winning Formula for 3 Decades

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Young Lewis with mentor Ron Dennis (left) and David Coulthard (right)

Congrats to Lewis Hamilton for winning his 4th World Formula One drivers championship. A superb achievement. Yet given Lewis’ unique talent what took him so long?

Fair to say Lewis should have been 6 times Formula One champion by now but for a few run-ins with former teammates such as Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg.

The success of Lewis has been a truly major achievement for him, his family and supporting staff.

The first time I came across Lewis Hamilton’s name was in the mid 1990s when he was featured in the weekly British black newspaper The Voice.  In that article the young Lewis and his father Anthony Hamilton shared their dreams of success and following in the footsteps of the late Ayrton Senna.

In those days seeing an article featuring  a British black kid racing driver was different and unusual.

The Voice carried further articles on the young Lewis and that made me (and my late brother) develop a keen interest in his career. Lewis’ time in Formula Three racing was just astonishing.

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Anthony and Lewis Hamilton

I have been Formula One fan for a long time. My two favourite drivers were Ayrton Senna and Ronnie Peterson. When I worked at Heathrow Airport during the late 1990s I made a discreet point of seeing some of the drivers whenever they came through Terminal 4.

In 2007 Lewis got his big break with Formula One with the Mclaren team. I was as excited as if it was my own son who won the drive.

Pundits expected Lewis – in his first year of Formula One -to play 2nd fiddle to his more illustrious team mate and 2-time world champion Fernando Alonso. But knowing Lewis’ career up to then I suspected he was never going to be anyone’s number 2.

The head of the Mclaren team was Ron Dennis and he was also Lewis’ mentor from his junior days. Dennis gave Lewis the freedom to race Alonso fairly.

Hamilton had an incredible first season with Mclaren which infuriated Alonso. I was convinced Hamilton was good enough to win the world title as a rookie.

Irritatingly, Lewis missed out winning the title by just 1 point (same points as Alonso) to eventual champion Kimi Räikkönen. Alonso decided to leave Mclaren after just one season with the team.

Whenever Lewis won Formula One races I was ecstatic. If he crashed out off went the TV.

Lewis has had many controversial moments throughout his career. His aggressive racing style was not appreciated by some. There were times Lewis felt the world was conspiring against him after a few untimely engine failures, pit stop blunders and run-ins with the race stewards.

When Lewis and his dad had a major falling out I was disappointed knowing how hard and long both had worked to get to the top of motor racing.

Some British fans lost respect for Lewis when he moved to Switzerland for tax purposes. Last week’s news (via the Paradise Papers) on Lewis’ more recent tax avoidance maneuvers added fuel to their anger. Those fans have a point. Given the exorbitant ticket prices for the British Grand Prix.

But in Lewis’ defence most current and previous Formula One drivers play by the same tax avoidance rules. Such as British drivers Jenson Button (Jersey), David Coulthard (Monaco) and Nigel Mansell (Isle of Man) and they were hardly criticised.

Whatever we say about Lewis he brings excitement and thrills both on and off the track. Even the fashion police take a keen interest in Lewis’ off the track attire.

Formula One fans either hate or love Lewis. Spanish fans usually gave him a rough time due to their affinity with compatriot Alonso.

So to see Lewis crowned four time champion and the main attraction for the sport reminds me of those early Voice articles and the Hamilton family’s early dreams of Formula One success and stardom.

Well done all.

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Jamaican Dies in Immigration Removal Centre? Who Cares?

Five weeks ago a Jamaican man detained at the UK’s Morton Hall Immigration Removal Centre in Lincoln died. How do we know this? Thanks to a single Guardian article (see below) published on 4 October.

“…Investigation has been launched into the death of a 38-year-old immigration detainee after the Home office confirmed that a Jamaican man died on Tuesday while he was being held at Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Lincoln. It is the third such death in less than a month and human rights campaigners have expressed alarm at the incident. The prisons and probation ombudsman has begun an investigation.

The charity Medical Justice, which works to improve the health of immigration detainees, has documented deaths since 2000. With this latest case the death toll of those who have died in immigration detention or shortly after release since that time stands at 43…….”

Since then there’s been little information in the public domain on this death apart from a letter written by detainees at Morton Hall sent to The Unity Centre in Scotland. Excerpts from detainees’ letter below …..

Mr Carlinton Spencer was a detainee here at Morton Hall. Unfortunately Mr Spencer aka (Rasta) died in hospital on the 2nd of October 2017.

This whole ordeal started on Thursday the 28th of September 2017 when two of Mr Spencer’s friends turned at his room in Fry Unity 3/06. They noticed that the door was unlocked and the room was dark, however they heard some sort of distress voice coming from inside. They both came in and switched the lights on. They found Mr Spencer lying in floor in agony and unable to get back in bed. They assisted him and put him on his bed. One of them went to the office in Fry unit and informed the officers. Two female officers arrived an started speculating that Mr Spencer’s condition was induced by drugs consumption. Few minutes later a nurse came in and failed to assess Mr Spencer’s conditions properly. The nurse put a tissue on Mr Spencer’s hand, asked him to wipe his own nose when she could clearly see this was not possible. According to these two detainee’s testimony the nurse assisted Mr Spencer’s hands to wipe his own nose but his hand kept pulling back down. The officers and the nurse asked Rasta’s two friends to leave the room but one of them insisted to stay.

On Friday the 29th of September 2017 about midday, another detainee went to Mr Spencer’s room to check on him. But this point Mr Spencer was shaking in his bed and looking in a very bad state. This detainee informed the officers in Fry unit while another detainee went to the health care and dragged the medical professional to come to check on Mr Spencer’s conditions. Few detainees were standing outside Mr Spencer’s door when the nurse and doctor arrived. The officers asked the detained to go away but they decided they would not leave until Mr Spencer is taking to a hospital. An ambulance arrived at about 2pm and Mr Spencer was then taken to hospital.

It has now been said that Mr. Spencer suffered another stroke while in the back of the ambulance on his way to hospital and in fact he was in a (non induced) coma in hospital and died on Monday 2nd of October 2017. We were not told by IRC Morton Hall staff of this until Wednesday 4th of October 2017.

I know one detainee Mr T put a written complaint on Saturday because he directly witnessed what happen to Mr Spencer and how he was neglected. Mr T was moved to the CCU on Monday 2nd of October 2017 in the afternoon and now has been moved out of this centre but no one can get a hold of him.”

  • Why has the UK & Jamaican media paid little attention to this tragedy?
  • Why the silence in the UK black community?
  •  Has the Jamaican govt – through its UK Ambassador – issued a public statement or update?
  • Has an autopsy been conducted and details published?

The death of detainees based at UK immigration removal centres is nothing new. The mental and physical abuse of detainees is common and well documented. Even the UN has raised concerns in the past.

Those detainees who know the rules and try to fight back legally are threatened by UK authorities with immediate deportation.

Yarl Wood Immigration Revmoval Centre has had a poor record of abuse against detainees. Just recently officials at a removal centre near Gatwick were suspended following abuse and assault claims.

The silence in the coverage and interests in Carlinton Spencer’s death is sad but not surprising.

 

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