DISHONOURS LIST

Gongs for pair Three clients of a who sit on panel sin­gle agent hon­oured

Daily Mail - - News - By Daniel Martin and Josh White

‘Should de­clare an in­ter­est’

THE tainted honours sys­tem was in the dock again last night af­ter it emerged that two top awards went to peo­ple sit­ting on the very com­mit­tees which hand them out.

Kanya King, founder of a ma­jor mu­sic awards cer­e­mony, and en­gi­neer Naomi Climer both re­ceived CBEs.

And three honours went to clients of a lit­er­ary agent who sits on one of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing honours com­mit­tees.

These in­clude his­to­rian Simon Schama, who was knighted, and au­thor Jeanette Win­ter­son, who was given a CBE.

Last week’s Queen’s Birth­day Honours were dubbed ‘re­wards for fail­ure’ af­ter Mark Carne, the out­go­ing boss of Net­work Rail, re­ceived a CBE amid travel chaos for mil­lions of com­muters.

The honours sys­tem has also reg­u­larly been crit­i­cised for re­ward­ing po­lit­i­cal donors and cronies with peer­ages.

Last night the Cab­i­net Of­fice ad­mit­ted that two of last week’s re­cip­i­ents sat on the com­mit­tees which rec­om­mended them for awards. But a spokesman in­sisted they had not been in­volved in the dis­cus­sions about their own awards.

All honours are first con­sid­ered by one of nine sub-com­mit­tees be­fore go­ing on to be con­sid­ered by the main honours com­mit­tee.

Miss King, the founder of the Mobo (Mu­sic of Black Ori­gin) Awards, is one of six in­de­pen­dent mem­bers of the arts and me­dia com­mit­tee, which rec­om­mends who from the en­ter­tain­ment world should re­ceive honours. Last week it was an­nounced she had re­ceived a CBE for ‘ser­vices to mu­sic and cul­ture’.

Miss Climer, trustee of the In­sti­tute for En­gi­neer­ing and Tech­nol­ogy, also re­ceived a CBE for ‘ser­vices to the en­gi­neer­ing pro­fes­sion’. She sat on the science and tech­nol­ogy com­mit­tee, which rec­om­mends peo­ple for awards from this sec­tor.

It also emerged that three au­thors and aca­demics who re­ceived awards were rep­re­sented by a lit­er­ary agent who sits on the arts and me­dia com­mit­tee. She is Caroline Michel, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Peters Fraser and Dun­lop lit­er­ary agency.

They in­cluded Miss Win­ter­son, whose nov­els in­clude Or­anges Are Not The Only Fruit, and aca­demic Dr Gus Case­lyHay­ford, who re­ceived an OBE.

It is likely that both these awards were con­sid­ered by the arts and me­dia com­mit­tee, on which Miss Michel sits.

His­to­rian Simon Schama, whom she also rep­re­sents, re­ceived a knight­hood.

How­ever, it is un­der­stood that this award – which was given for his rep­u­ta­tion as an aca­demic rather than as a broad­caster – was con­sid­ered by the sep­a­rate ed­u­ca­tion com­mit­tee, and not Miss Michel’s com­mit­tee.

A spokesman for the Cab­i­net Of­fice said sys­tems are in place to en­sure com­mit­tee mem­bers are not in­volved in de­ci­sions re­gard­ing them­selves or pro­fes­sional col­leagues. The rules state that peo­ple should de­clare an in­ter­est if they have a pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship with a po­ten­tial re­cip­i­ent.

And if a com­mit­tee mem­ber is put for­ward for an award, they are not in­volved in any dis­cus­sions re­gard­ing the case – and should not even know their case is be­ing dis­cussed.

The Cab­i­net Of­fice spokesman said: ‘ Recog­nis­ing that in­de­pen­dent com­mit­tees are com­posed of ex­perts in their sec­tors, and in­evitably have pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions with nom­i­nees from time to time, we have a full process in place where dec­la­ra­tions of in­ter­est are con­cerned. Where nec­es­sary, can­di­dates are con­sid­ered out of com­mit­tee, to en­sure that the honours nom­i­na­tion process re­mains con­fi­den­tial, ro­bust and trans­par­ent. This is the case if serv­ing com­mit­tee mem­bers are nom­i­nated for ser­vice fall­ing within the re­mit of the com­mit­tee on which they serve.’

Miss Climer and Miss Michel de­clined to com­ment. Miss King said: ‘I was to­tally un­aware of my nom­i­na­tion and any sug­ges­tion other­wise is ridicu­lous.’

WHY is the Bri­tish State so tol­er­ant of re­turn­ing ji­hadis who fought for our en­e­mies in Syria and Iraq and yet seems de­ter­mined to pun­ish for­mer ser­vice­men who have served Queen and coun­try?

Its in­dul­gence of Bri­tish ji­hadis can scarcely be doubted. Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter Ben Wal­lace told MPs on Tues­day that only 40 out of 400 have been pros­e­cuted on their re­turn home.

They were told not to go to Syria. And as re­cently as De­cem­ber, the De­fence Sec­re­tary, Gavin Wil­liamson, called for Bri­tish ji­hadis to be hunted down and killed in the Mid­dle East. He said no Briton who had gone to fight in Syria or Iraq should ever be al­lowed back here.

Af­front

That was, of course, an ab­surd thing to say. Mr Wil­liamson must know we can’t bump off all ji­hadis in the Mid­dle East, even if that were thought de­sir­able, and there is lit­tle we can do about them once they have sneaked back into the coun­try.

Be­lieve it or not, one of them, who re­turned from the front­line in Syria, has even been given a coun­cil flat and cheer­fully de­liv­ers takeaways on his mo­tor­cy­cle. His sole sanc­tion is the con­fis­ca­tion of his Bri­tish pass­port, which means he can’t leave the coun­try. Most peo­ple will think he should never have been al­lowed back in.

But that, alas, is not pos­si­ble be­cause our Gov­ern­ment — un­like Aus­tralia’s — has not sought pow­ers to pun­ish cit­i­zens for the act of trav­el­ling abroad to fight for our en­e­mies. Only if clear ev­i­dence of wrong­do­ing is ob­tain­able can re­turn­ing ji­hadis be pros­e­cuted.

As the MP John Woodcock aptly puts it: ‘It is an af­front to our coun­try that the dif­fi­culty of amass­ing ad­mis­si­ble ev­i­dence means there is no come­up­pance for peo­ple who went to aid an evil regime that wanted to slaugh­ter Bri­tish cit­i­zens.’

Some of these for­mer killers may have learned the er­rors of their ways, and pose no threat to so­ci­ety. Even so, it is in­suf­fer­able that hun­dreds of them (more are com­ing back) shouldn’t face any ret­ri­bu­tion for their wrong­do­ing.

We should be more alarmed by those who feel no re­gret for their ac­tions and in­tend to carry on the fight on Bri­tish soil. Sooner or later one or more of them, I fear, will be re­spon­si­ble for an atroc­ity against in­no­cent peo­ple.

Why is the Gov­ern­ment un­will­ing to in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion to pun­ish this coun­try’s en­e­mies? Is it a case of straight­for­ward in­com­pe­tence? Or are min­is­ters wary of do­ing any­thing that might be deemed con­fronta­tional in a few un­rep­re­sen­ta­tive sec­tions of the Mus­lim com­mu­nity?

What­ever the ex­pla­na­tion, there is a dis­grace­ful con­trast be­tween the Gov­ern­ment’s re­laxed in­dul­gence of re­turn­ing ji­hadis and its near-per­se­cu­tion of for­mer sol­diers who have served in North­ern Ire­land, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Need­less to say, where there is solid proof ser­vice­men be­haved il­le­gally, pros­e­cu­tion should fol­low. But, in very many cases, those who have al­ready been cleared, some­times sev­eral times, are still be­ing pur­sued by the au­thor­i­ties.

What does it say about Bri­tain? A State that seems ut­terly blasé about ter­ror­ists who could rep­re­sent a lethal cur­rent threat to its cit­i­zens nev­er­the­less hounds loyal ex- ser­vice­men who fought for their coun­try ten, 15 or even 40 years ago.

North­ern Ire­land pro­vides the most dis­cred­itable ex­am­ples. This is partly be­cause the so- called Trou­bles ended in the last cen­tury, and partly be­cause erst­while Ir­ish ter­ror­ists who com­mit­ted the most ter­ri­ble atroc­i­ties have been given amnesties while sol­diers, many now pen­sion­ers, are hauled in front of the courts.

Take the case of 75-year-old Den­nis Hutch­ings, who served 26 years in the Life Guards. He has been charged with at­tempted mur­der over the death of a man with learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in North­ern Ire­land in 1974. Hutch­ings was with an­other sol­dier (now dead) when the vic­tim was shot. Very likely they thought he was a ter­ror­ist be­cause he ran away. The other sol­dier may have dis­charged the fa­tal bul­let. Hutch­ings was in­ves­ti­gated at the time and cleared, and told again in 2011 the case was closed.

He has kid­ney fail­ure and has been given two years to live. None­the­less, he was in­ter­ro­gated by po­lice last year on 25 sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions, 11 of them on one day. Is this any way to treat a man who served this na­tion for quar­ter of a cen­tury, and has al­ready been ab­solved?

There is a sim­i­lar case in­volv­ing two uniden­ti­fied for­mer para­troop­ers who are be­ing pros­e­cuted over the death of an IRA ter­ror­ist com­man­der in 1972. De­spite each of them be­ing told twice that they would not face pros­e­cu­tion, they both face trial, prob­a­bly later this year.

Hun­dreds of re­tired sol­diers now in their 60s and 70s could be charged over acts com­mit­ted in North­ern Ire­land nearly half a cen­tury ago when they were cal­low, ner­vous young men — many of them from de­prived back­grounds — who were sud­denly thrown into a be­wil­der­ing and dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion.

Sham­ing

Isn’t it sham­ing that the Gov­ern­ment should have re­cently an­nounced that it has aban­doned the idea of an amnesty for for­mer sol­diers af­ter ob­jec­tions from Sinn Fein and the DUP, the lat­ter of which is, of course, prop­ping up the Tories at West­min­ster.

It’s ob­vi­ous why Sinn Fein (once the po­lit­i­cal wing of the IRA) wants ex-Bri­tish sol­diers tar­geted. The DUP’s mo­tives are less cyn­i­cal. It fears that a so-called statute of lim­i­ta­tion for ex-ser­vice­men would spare for­mer IRA ter­ror­ists. And the Tories dare not up­set the DUP at the mo­ment.

Yet the fact re­mains that some IRA ter­ror­ists were par­doned in the 1998 Good Fri­day peace deal, while a large num­ber were among the re­cip­i­ents of 187 ‘let­ters of com­fort’ is­sued by Tony Blair’s gov­ern­ment guar­an­tee­ing that they would never be pros­e­cuted.

It seems there is one law — or lack of law — for ter­ror­ists, whether they be of the North­ern Ir­ish va­ri­ety or re­turn­ing ji­hadis, and an al­to­gether stricter and less for­giv­ing ver­sion for brave men who faith­fully serve the Bri­tish Crown.

What is true of North­ern Ire­land re­mains true of Iraq. Ad­mit­tedly, hun­dreds of bo­gus al­le­ga­tions against for­mer Bri­tish ser­vice­men were ditched in 2016 af­ter the col­lapse of the ‘am­bu­lance-chas­ing’ law firm Pub­lic In­ter­est Lawyers, and the dis­grace of its lead­ing so­lic­i­tor, Phil Shiner.

But many spu­ri­ous cases re­main ac­tive. For ex­am­ple, Ma­jor Robert Camp­bell is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for the eighth time over the death of an Iraqi teenager 15 years ago.

Vex­a­tious

Ma­jor Camp­bell was wounded on ac­tive ser­vice, and suf­fers from post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der. Shortly af­ter his sev­enth in­ves­ti­ga­tion, he was awarded a dec­o­ra­tion, which he has un­der­stand­ably handed back.

What kind of Army hi­er­ar­chy treats its peo­ple in this way? Ma­jor Camp­bell and his col­leagues are the vic­tims of a fe­ro­cious of­fi­cial body called the Iraq His­tor­i­cal Al­le­ga­tions Team, which is in­ves­ti­gat­ing claims of abuse of Iraqi civil­ians by UK Armed Forces.

Mean­while, in Afghanistan, the law firm Leigh Day is chas­ing com­pen­sa­tion from the Bri­tish Army for a Tal­iban bomb-maker and con­victed ter­ror­ist called Ser­dar Mo­hammed. In a court hear­ing in April, Leigh Day lawyers ad­mit­ted they were un­sure whether their client was alive.

Theresa May pledged in Oc­to­ber 2016 that Bri­tish sol­diers would be pro­tected from the ‘in­dus­try of vex­a­tious claims that has pur­sued those who served in pre­vi­ous con­flicts’.

They haven’t been. And the Bri­tish State seems of­ten to be do­ing its best to em­u­late the self- seek­ing, am­bu­lancechas­ing lawyers.

Why can’t we have a statute of lim­i­ta­tion for for­mer ser­vice­men? Why don’t the au­thor­i­ties show them proper re­spect? And why won’t the Gov­ern­ment turn its at­ten­tion to dan­ger­ous traitors re­turn­ing to our shores?

Simon Schama: Re­warded for aca­demic work Caroline Michel Client 1: TV his­to­rian and Re­mainer was knighted

Naomi Climer Sat on com­mit­tees that rec­om­mended own CBEs

Client 3: OBE for cu­ra­tor Gus Casely-Hay­ford

Client 2: CBE for writer Jeanette Win­ter­son

Kanya King

In­flu­en­tial au­thor agent

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