Andrew Mitchell – nasty as well as arrogant

Hardly a surprise to find out that this man is a ‘nasty’ piece of work as a career choice. No wonder he was chosen to be the chief whip. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t get rewarded by Cameron, rather than being punished, as a way of sending a message to the Party’s rebellious back benchers.

From today’s Daily Telegraph – POLITICS
How I felt the full force of chief whip’s rage, by volunteer, 21
By Steven Swinford

THE Conservative Chief Whip accused of insulting a Downing Street police officer flew into a rage with a young party volunteer who was critical of an aid trip to Africa, it was claimed last night.
Lucy Kinder said she received an angry telephone call from Andrew Mitchell when, as a 21 year-old, she drafted a newspaper article about a Conservative Party trip to teach English to Rwandan teachers in August 2009.
She claimed that Mr Mitchell accused her of betraying his trust before contacting her father and saying that he “did not blame” party members for threatening his daughter with violence.
Miss Kinder, now a trainee journalist with The Telegraph, was invited on Project Umubano after doing work experience in Mr Mitchell’s private office. She was one of 100 volunteers who paid up to £2,000 each to go on the trip, led by a delegation of senior Tory MPs including Mr Mitchell, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown and Nick Hurd. While not a Conservative Party member herself, she wanted to improve the lives of Rwandans and told organisers that she planned to write an article about her experience.
On arrival, Miss Kinder said the group faced an uphill struggle. She claimed that they were given just one day’s training and the Rwandan teachers did not receive an allowance from the country’s education ministry as promised to cover their food and travel. This meant that they had to walk up to 10 miles each morning to attend class. The ministry eventually gave them a lump sum, but only after the course had ended, she said. In an article submitted to The Independent newspaper, Miss Kinder wrote: “I found myself in a class of 45 who could barely speak a word of English. Progress was frustrating and the ministry of education did little to make this easier. It made a mockery of our fortnight. We have been instructing teachers who were hungry, tired and disillusioned.”
She praised the volunteers’ enthusiasm and the Conservative Party for the “impressive feat” of attracting so many to Rwanda. Mr Mitchell, however, was unimpressed. After learning of the draft article, he telephoned Miss Kinder at around midnight when she was on a coach journey to Zanzibar.
“He was furious,” she said. “He accused me of going behind his back and betraying the Conservative Party. He told me he couldn’t believe I had written such a damaging article and that he would make sure it wouldn’t be published. I tried to tell him it was a first draft and could be changed, but he wouldn’t listen.”
Mr Mitchell then allegedly called Miss Kinder’s father, with whom he had studied at Cambridge. “He said, ‘You know your daughter is writing this story? I can’t believe you would let her do that,’ said Miss Kinder. “He was really, really angry. He then sent him a text which said, ‘They are threatening her with physical violence and I can’t say I blame them.’”
Miss Kinder, now 25, said she felt intimidated and was forced to leave the group on her own when they arrived in Zanzibar for a week’s break.
A friend of Mr Mitchell said: “The volunteer was the daughter of one of his oldest friends. Yes, Andrew was angry but what he said was quite obviously figurative and he does not believe it could have been taken in any other way.”
A Conservative Party official said: “Hundreds of MPs and activists have worked on Project Umubano under Andrew Mitchell and this is the only time anyone has ever complained. There are two sides to every story, suffice to say that a lot of people felt very let down by this volunteer’s behaviour.”

Rubbish recycling companies are playing dirty

An important letter to all local authorities from the Local Government Association.

Judicial review of Waste Regulation: Recent press coverage

Dear Colleague,

As you may be aware, there is an important judicial review case currently under way involving a challenge to the current legal basis for waste and recycling collection.

The claimants in that case – UK Recyclate and a number of other recycling contractors – want some councils to be forced to change their arrangements at significant cost. The LGA is also a party to the case and is arguing that councils are legally entitled to retain a level of discretion to choose the appropriate arrangements for their areas.

A recent article in the Municipal Journal (MJ) by the claimants contains a number of factual inaccuracies and misleading statements. It appears to be designed to spread misinformation and persuade local authorities that the judicial review has already been decided and that they are at legal risk. The case has not been decided, and the purpose of this letter is to put the record straight.

What is at issue in the judicial review (UK Recyclate v Defra) is whether EU law requires every council to impose separate source collection of waste on its householders, outlawing co-mingled collection, or whether it permits co-mingling in appropriate cases. As you know, every local area is very different, and being forced to change to a single collection approach could have significant cost implications for many councils, and may well not be appropriate in many local circumstances.

The Government has recently made amended regulations in order to put the legal position beyond any doubt. Those regulations continue to allow for co-mingled collection where appropriate for local circumstances. They are the law of the land unless a court says otherwise. The LGA’s lawyers, and the Government’s, believe this approach is correct under EU law.

In the recent MJ article, the claimants’ lawyers attempt to tell councils that a judgment has already been made by the court and that councils which use co-mingled waste collection are now in a legally dubious position. This simply isn’t so. The judicial review is ongoing, but as yet there has been no hearing before a judge, and no finding made by the court.

As you will know, it is unusual for parties to litigation to run their arguments outside the courtroom while the case is ongoing. The MJ article therefore appears to be an attempt by the claimants to stir up local authority concern before the case even gets to a hearing, and suggests that they are arguing from a position of weakness.

It is of course in the commercial interest of the claimants that councils should move away from co-mingled collection. The LGA’s strong view is that the law permits councils discretion to make their own decisions in the light of local circumstances and in accordance with the clear legal provision made by the amended regulations.

Councils should certainly not be influenced by an inaccurate and misleading article written on behalf of parties with an obvious commercial agenda.

You may be asking yourself if there is anything you can do to influence the situation. The LGA is a party to the case and if you would like to follow events more closely and contribute, should the need arise, to developing evidence further, please do put an officer in contact with

The LGA has also communicated with your officers about this case and will be happy to provide further information on the position.

Yours faithfully,

Cllr Mike Jones
Chairman of the LGA Environment and Housing Board

Personal note: I trust that when the dust has settled on this issue, all local authorities will consider very carefully, whether or not the companies involved in this legal action would make good partners in any future ventures.