Alun Cairns AM – once a banker always a banker?

cairns twat

banker

As allegations of corruption against Welsh MPs grow, perhaps it’s time they took a leaf out of Tory assembly member Alun Cairns’ book?

First it was shadow Welsh secretary Cheryl Gillan’s squalid claim for pet food, then Stephen Crabb’s bill of £9,300 in reclaimed stamp duty, followed closely by Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan’s claim of £450 for a TV and Paul Murphy’s £1,000 for TV and hi-fi system.

Two other South Wales MPs have since added their names to the list of disgraced, but unrepentant Westminster politicians. Ex-Tory vicar Chris Bryant (below), Labour MP for the Rhondda since 2000, has trousered over £90,000 of taxpayers’ money to spend on properties in London and the Rhondda. Meanwhile, the sale of his West London flat in 2003 netted him a tidy (tax free) profit of £77,000, enabling him to buy another property worth £670,000. Madeleine Moon, Labour MP for Bridgend, has also allegedly had her snout in the trough. Despite strict rules to the contrary, she had furniture costing thousands of pounds delivered to Wales, while designating a London flat as her second home. 

chris bryantReaders of South Wales Anarchists’ blog and sister publication, Gagged!, will certainly be familiar with former banker Alun Cairns, AM for South Wales West. Cairns infamously described Italians as ‘greasy wops’ during a radio programme. He was subsequently forced to resign as chair of trustees of the assembly members’ pension fund when we revealed that the £10 million pension pot is currently invested in some of the world’s worst polluters, while the assembly boasts of pursuing a green agenda.

Nevertheless, even we were pleasantly surprised when Tory boss, Nick ‘iPod’ Bourne, proudly announced that from April this year Alun Cairns wouldn’t be claiming a penny of the £13,000 additional costs allowance to fund his second home in Cardiff Bay. A breath of fresh air amidst the stench of corruption, we wondered?

Not a bit of it.

Why Cairns should ever have been allowed to maintain a second home at taxpayers’ expense beggars belief. He lives in Ewenny in the Vale of Glamorgan, only 22 miles or 30 minutes by car from Cardiff Bay. Welsh assembly rules, however, allowed him to claim tens of thousands of pounds to spend on his Cardiff Bay flat because his home was deemed perversely to be in the Bridgend constituency. That was until 2006 when electoral boundary changes meant that Ewenny, once more, became part of the Vale of Glamorgan and Cairns’ gravy train came to a grinding halt. But rather than accept the change, he ‘lobbied’ members of the assembly house committee to get an exception to the new ruling and, in a secret meeting held in November 2006, the committee duly upheld his request.

Nevertheless, could his decision to ‘sacrifice’ £13,000 be a genuine desire to send a message to the voters that, in stark contrast to the crooks in Westminster, he’s now a reformed politician?

Alas, no sooner had Alun made his noble gesture, he was heading straight for one of Cardiff’s leading letting agencies to put his luxury pad up for rent. And at a going rate of up to £1,300 a month, the Tory twat could pocket £15,600 a year! Reformed politician? Don’t make us laugh…

Copwatch – October 2008 to January 2009

We’re posting the backlog of our Copwatch stories and you’ll be glad to hear that we’ll be regularly updating you on the activities of the boys and girls in blue…

Cardiff Cops “Bullied” Witness in Lynette White Case

Mark Grommek

Mark Grommek

A witness in one of Wales’s most notorious miscarriages of justice was “bullied” into lying by police, a court heard recently. Mark Grommek, a Cardiff man, initially said he knew nothing about the murder of prostitute Lynette White, who was stabbed more than 50 times on Valentine’s Day, 1988. Later Grommek signed a statement which “he knew to be a tissue of lies” after what he called “bullying” by South Wales Police. His words led to three men being convicted of murder, although the conviction was later overturned.

The CPS is now reviewing the case again to see if it can bring charges against the cops involved, but how many more innocent people are in jail because of bully-boy tactics from Welsh rozzers?

 I Spy…

Not content with spying on the public using CCTV and special anti-protest tactics, cops have started wasting public money by spying on their own officers!

watch out, there's a rozzer about

watch out, there's a rozzer about

South Wales Police wasted £100,000 keeping one of its own coppers under surveillance after it wrongly suspected he was faking post-traumatic stress disorder following a football riot. Eleven coppers were used to spy on Pc Mark Pugh, a dog handler, who said he’d feared for his life while policing a footie match. Pugh later became “severely depressed and even suicidal” claiming he couldn’t work any more after being on the receiving end of some rough stuff at the hands of Cardiff City and Leeds United fans in 2002.

But the former rugby player was refused a full disability pension as South Wales Police suspected he was malingering. A special surveillance op was set up to keep watch him at his home in Quakers Yard, near Merthyr. Eleven cops from two forces spied on him for months. Evidence gathered included footage of him watching rugby matches and putting the rubbish out!

Dougie Woods, chief bean-counter for South Wales Police, tried to justify the expense: “As a publicly-funded organisation, the force has a duty to manage and reduce sickness levels. Sometimes, where there is concern about a person’s prolonged sickness, we will investigate further.”

 Cardboard Copouts!

The Vale of Glamorgan’s bonkers bobbies have revealed the latest weapon in the fight against crime – life-sized cop-shaped cardboard cut-outs! The two-dimensional police officers are to be placed in the windows of businesses to deter criminals, and if successful, the scheme could be rolled out across South Wales.

spot the difference

spot the difference

So far Vale police have five cut-outs, which cost around £100 each to produce and will be put in petrol stations and supermarkets where shoplifting has been a problem in the past.

Unsurprisingly, the scheme’s precedents in Derbyshire have not been very successful – and a number have been stolen! CCTV captured a man carrying one out of a Co-op store in Long Eaton after paying for his shopping at the till. The theft has not been solved.

Welsh cop, Sergeant Matt Rowlands said: “We hope that, at a glance, thieves think the image is a real officer. We believe they will act as a deterrent and that will free up staff to deal with more serious crimes.”

One rule for us…

A South Wales police officer arrested on suspicion of drugs offences in 2007 is still suspended on full pay. Two rozzers were arrested in September last year but it’s already been decided not to press charges, and one of them is still getting his full pay-packet while putting his feet up at home.

Top cop Stuart Anderson, head of the force’s professional standards department, said: “The CPS has decided no criminal charges will be brought against either of the two officers. Any criminal or gross misconduct allegations against police officers are, as a matter of course, viewed very seriously and in this particular case a full and thorough investigation has been conducted by the South Wales Police professional standards department.”

We don’t speak fluent Cop-ese but we think this translates as something like: “Don’t you realise this is a police officer we’re talking about here? The same rules don’t apply to us, don’t you know? I can confidently predict the whole thing will be swept under the carpet in a couple of months once the newspapers have lost interest.”

Thug cop beats kid

Daniel Gaffney

Daniel Gaffney

Thug cop Daniel Gaffney from Greater Mancs Police has been jailed for three months after attacking a 12yr old boy in custody at a police station. Not content with leaving the boy with an apparent broken nose, Gaffney then lied to his bosses, claiming the boy had fallen. We can only hope that Gaffney discovers a similar problem with the stairs in whichever prison he ends up in.

Cardiff cops free to stop & search

South Wales Police is among 10 forces now being allowed by the government to stop and search people in so-called “knife-crime hotspots” without issuing a full record. This requirement was brought in following a recommendation from the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. Now cops will get away with giving a searched person a card, explaining how to complain if they are not happy with the way they’ve been treated. Police accountability? Don’t make us laugh.

Paedophile cop

Marc Mitchell paedophile cop

Marc Mitchell paedophile cop

After working on a paedophile enquiry himself in 2005, sergeant Marc Mitchell was convicted in September of having dozens of images of child porn on his computer. Mitchell escaped prison after Liverpool judges took pity on him – now where have we heard of cops avoiding prison sentences before…?

Bent copper shock!

Met anti-terrorist Det Sgt Richard de Cadenet has been convicted of running up more than £73,000 on the force’s American Express card. De Cadenet was convicted at Southwark Crown Court after the court heard how he paid for holidays in Mexico and Thailand, along with a corporate box at a Premier League club, with taxpayers’ money. De Cadenet got off with a mere 10 months and lots of sympathy from the judge.

More bent coppers shock!!

Freedom of Information requests have revealed how dozens of coppers across Wales have been arrested and convicted of a huge range of crimes in the past two years, including child pornography, sexual assault, arson, possession of Class A drugs, corruption, forgery, and best of all, intimidating witnesses. Some enterprising cops even managed to carry these crimes out while on the job. South Wales Police arrest on average a bent copper a month. And across the country, more than 800 police officers in England and Wales have been arrested for a range of offences including rape, paedophilia, child cruelty, assault, fraud, drink driving and drug charges. Between April 2006 and August 2008, 812 officers were arrested. 300 were Metropolitan officers, including 123 arrests for violence against the person and 17 for sex offences. Copwatchers won’t be running out of stories anytime soon!

BAILLIE GIFFORD IN DEEP SH*T

Monday, 19 January 2009

South Wales Anarchists’ revelations about the Welsh arsembly pension fund’s manager, Baillie Gifford Life Ltd, last week can only be adding to the woes of the Edinburgh-based partnership.

Baillie Gifford partners, Alex Callender and Edward Hocknell

Baillie Gifford partners, Alex Callander and Edward Hocknell

            In 2007 the thirty-three partners who own the company were sitting pretty on investments worth £55 billion. By September 2008 that amount had plunged to £46 billion with one of its flagship funds, Scottish Mortgage Fund, losing nearly half its value. Baillie Gifford lost a further £200 million when Northern Rock collapsed. And the international investment markets are only set to get worse.

            While the bankruptcy of such a disreputable organisation could potentially be good news, we think it could spell even more of a disaster for the environment. This is what Edward Hocknell, one of the partners had to say recently:

“We think what will get us out of the hole will be infrastructure spending,” Hocknell said. “It won’t be a consumer recovery but an industrial one.”

This strategy has led Baillie Gifford managers to continue betting on companies such as the Brazilian energy giant Petrobrás and Sweden’s Atlas Copco.

He went on: “We are very overweight in areas that are dirty and smelly-mining and engineering-because emerging markets have huge reserves to spend on their infrastructures.”

What Mr Hocknell means by that is in order to claw back profits for its clients, many of whom are UK local authority pension funds involving billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, Baillie Gifford are going to pump more money into some of the most polluting companies on the planet.

Don’t these people take any responsibility for their actions? Of course they don’t. Profits come before people: “We take a pragmatic and flexible approach to corporate governance,” say Baillie Gifford on its website. “Baillie Gifford recognises that it has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of its clients.” And if that means supporting Robert Mugabe’s murderous regime in Zimbabwe by investing funds in Anglo-American mining corporation then so be it…

We CAN do something to stop these corporate cowboys.

Baillie Gifford is one of the largest managers of local authority pension funds in the UK. Not only does it look after the interests of Welsh arsembly members, Baillie Gifford manages the pension fund of the Scottish parliament and used to look after the pension fund of the Northern Ireland assembly.

If you work in local government, check on your pension fund with your employer. Baillie Gifford is creaming off billions of pounds from Orkney to Sussex.

Contact Baillie Gifford and express your outrage at what they’re doing.

We’re doing our best to track down the 33 partners. So far we’ve come up with:

 Alex Callander –     joint senior partner

Charles Plowden –  joint senior partner

Ken Barker                                                    Elaine Morrison

Peter Hadden                                                Anthony Tait

Edward Hocknell                                           James Anderson

The company also boasts top Tory porker, lord Strathclyde, as one of its directors.

lord Strathclyde

lord Strathclyde

 Head office address:

Baillie Gifford, Calton Square, 1, Greenside Row, Edinburgh EH1 3AN

Tel: 0131 275 2000

Or you can email them on: colin.neilson@bailliegifford.com

I’m sure Colin would love to hear from you…

And if you’ve got any more information on Baillie Gifford please tell us on cardiffanarchists@riseup.net

WELSH ASSEMBLY IN PENSION FUND SCAM

AN EXCLUSIVE REPORT IN TO THE ABUSE OF PUBLIC FUNDS

While most of us will deplore Gazprom’s inhumane decision to stop gas supplies to millions of people across Europe this winter, Welsh assembly members are, no doubt, breathing a sigh of relief that the world’s largest gas extractor is putting profits before lives. That’s because Gazprom is one of the companies included in the National Arsembly for Wales Members’ pension scheme! The scheme, worth £10.5 million, is run by Edinburgh-based Baillie Gifford Life Ltd, which trousered nearly £800,000 last year for investing taxpayers’ money in companies which systematically destroy the environment, are mired in corruption and mistreat their workforce. All so that our hard-working assembly members can enjoy a very handsome payout when they retire.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the fund’s main holdings.

Flooded jungle downstream from the Ok Tedi mine. Courtesy of World Resources Institute

Flooded jungle downstream from the Ok Tedi mine. Courtesy of World Resources Institute

BHP Billitonis the world’s largest mining company. Created in 2001 following the merger of Australia’s Broken Hill Proprietary Company (BHP) and the UK’s Billiton, the company’s worst environmental crimes have been committed in Papua New Guinea where BHP ran the OK Tedi Mine from 1984 to 2002. In 1999 BHP’s boss, Paul Anderson, finally admitted that the project was ‘not compatible with our environmental values‘; rather an understatement considering BHP was discharging 80 million tons of toxic waste into the OK Tedi river system each year affecting 50,000 people in 120 villages downstream. BHP were forced to pay $28.6 million in compensation, but don’t seem to have mended their ways. In January 2007 a further claim for $5 billion was lodged on behalf of 13,000 villagers known as the Ningerum people

In 2006 BHP Billiton became embroiled in the Iraq oil-for-food scandalwhen it emerged that United Nations contracts had been inflated by £4.5 million so that BHP could recover a debt owed by the previous Iraqi regime. Involved in the same scam which impoverished millions of ordinary Iraqis, is another star performer in the Welsh Arsembly pension fund: Atlas Copco, the Swedish industrial company. The 2004 oil-for-food inquiry led by Paul Volcker, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, found that Atlas Copco paid kickbacksfrom both its construction and mining division in Sweden and Airpower, its huge air compressor manufacturing division in Belgium. Airpower paid $1.3 million on sales of $15 million while Atlas Copco CMT paid an undisclosed amount for a $500,000 contract.

The stink of corruption hangs over Vodafone, another major pension fund holding. In 2007 the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) launched an investigation into allegations of corruption involving Vodafone’s activities in Kenya, notably its links to a mysterious Guernsey-registered company called Mobitelea, which was allegedly connected to members of the family of former reviled president, Daniel Arap Moi. Vodafone refused to co-operate with the inquiry and the SFO inquiry was later dropped for reasons of ‘resources’. A year later Vodafone were accused of ‘blatant dishonesty’by the National Consumer Council (NCC) after blocking customers from legitimately quitting their contracts over price rises.

The decapitated Appalachians

The decapitated Appalachians

Following in BHP Billiton’s destructive footsteps is Arch Coal, the second largest US coal producer. Arch Coal practices mountaintop removal mining (MTR) in West Virginia, reducing the height of the Appalachian mountains in the area by 800 feet. As a result vegetation is destroyed and mining waste pours into mountain streams, causing flooding, erosion and water contamination. Due to the huge amount of explosives the company uses, neighbouring communties complain of stray rocks hitting homes, damaged water wells and endless clouds of dust.

As well as mining companies, taxpayers’ money is also being handed out to some of the world’s most notorious oil and gas corporations. Apart from Russian bully Gazprom, the pension fund has holdings in Royal Dutch Shell, Petrobras, the Brazilian giant, and Reliance Industries Ltd, India’s largest private sector conglomerate.

While Shell continue to make record profits, an alliance of human rights and green groups, including Friends of the Earth, estimated the environmental cost of the damage caused by Shell’s irresponsibility at £10 billion. We’re aware of the destruction to the Niger Delta thanks to Ken Saro-Wiwa’s efforts to expose Shell’s crimes, for which the Nigerian writer was executed. Shell has also attracted criticism over its running of the massive Sakhalin II project in Russia and the controversial Corrib gas field development in Ireland.

Meanwhile, Petrobras is doing its very best to destroy the Amazonian rainforest. It currently extracts 35,000 barrels a day from its facilities in Ecuador. However pressure from the Huaorani people, who live in the Yasuni rainforest, has meant that further destruction has been halted temporarily. Not to be outdone, Petrobras is now building a $500 million natural gas pipeline through the rainforest, despite the growing wave of protests.

Reliance Industries Ltd is doing its bit to destroy the environmentand accelarate climate change through its involvement in a multi-billion dollar project to build dams in the Himalayas. ‘Mountains of Concrete’, a report published in December 2008 by International Rivers, a non-governmental organisation which protects rivers and defends the rights of communities that depend on them, concludes that ‘the projects are likely to have huge social, environmental and cultural impacts, impacts that will be especially harsh on locals, tribal people, farmers and others living in the remote valleys of the Himalayas. These projects threaten not only livelihoods but often the very identity and culture of these people.’

Also included in the assembly members’ managed pension fund is United States Steel, which finished second in the Toxic 100, a list of top US air polluters in 2002 compiled by the Political Economy Research Unit of the University of Massachusetts. Another fund holding, US company, Berkshire Hathaway, whose directors include Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, came thirty-fourth.

Our investigations into Hon Hai Precision Industry Company, which trades under the name Foxconn, a Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer, have revealed widespread abuse of workers’ rights. An inspection report commissioned by Apple, a customer of Foxconn, found that workers were forced to work up to an extra 80 hours per month even though labour law restricted over time to 36 hours. A quarter of employees were denied at least one day off a week and workers were punished by being made to stand to attention for long periods of time. 

Of course, no Baillie Gifford pension fund would be complete without a link to the defence industry. Step forward the Taiwan Semi-conductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest dedicated semi-conductor foundry. In a 2006 report entitled ‘Defence Critical Technologies‘ published jointly by the US Defence Department and UK Ministry of Defence, TSMC was on the critical technologies list.

Neither should we exclude British American Tobacco (BAT), whose

Start 'em young!

BAT likes to start 'em young!

shares form part of the pension fund’s UK equities. Last year the company’s activities in Africa were the subject of a BBC2 documentary which found that BAT targets childrenthrough music, competitions and the sale of individual cigarette sticks; practices which broke BAT’s own code of conduct and company standards.

And, finally, we shouldn’t forget the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), whose beginnings date back to Britain’s involvement in the Chinese opium trade. Last December,the US Justice Department expanded its criminal investigation into banks that sell offshore private banking services to include HSBCand Credit Suisse. The investigation centres on allegations that the two banks helped wealthy Americans hide as much as $30 billion in offshore accounts in order to avoid tax. Meanwhile HSBC is growing its private banking division by 24% a year, making over $1.5 billion in 2007.

And when arsembly members plead ignorance over their shameful support for these criminal corporations, don’t believe them. While Baillie Gifford run the scheme, politicians from all parties sit on a board of trustees to which Baillie Gifford report.  Alun ‘greasy wops’ Cairns, the diminutive Tory AM, currently holds the chair; Eleanor Burnham represents the liberals; Carwyn Jones and Rosemary Butler represent labour and Mohammad Asghar is plaid’s man.

Just how are they going to explain themselves?

Road to perdition

Greedy pigs

Three South Wales Valleys councils (Rhondda Cynon Taf, Bridgend and Merthyr Tydfil) have recently struck a £75 million deal to manage road and other civil engineering projects with Capita, one of the UK’s most notorious outsourcing companies. Graham Cogswell, Crapita’s managing director said:

“We have a proven track record of improving services and job creation through local authority partnerships across the UK and Wales in particular.”

Improving services? We wonder what planet Mr Cogswell has been on for the last decade. Despite winning contracts worth hundreds of millions of pounds of our money, Crapita and its vast network of subsidiaries are bywords for incompetence and, in some cases, corruption. They’ve botched staff administration services at Leicester Hospitals NHS Trust and the BBC where staff details were lost. Crapita was awarded the contract to run Individual Learning Accounts (ILAs), the government adult skills policy, which collapsed after fraudulent claims resulted in a £60 million overspend. In 2002 the company failed to provide adequate computer systems to the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) causing lengthy delays in the provision of police checks for people wanting to work with children. And to cap it all, Capita Financial Administration was fined £300,000 in 2004 by the Financial Services Authority after some of its staff helped to defraud customers.

So why does Crapita carry on winning lucrative government contracts? Could it possibly be because its former chairman, Rod Aldridge, made a secret loan of £1 million to Crapita’s New Labour pay masters before the last elections?

Clearly councillors in RCT, Merthyr and Bridgend have every confidence in the new partnership. South Wales Anarchists, however, do not and we deplore the way public services are being hived off to private sector cowboys. Watch out for the pot holes!