Section 40 will curb media abuses

Section 40 will curb media abuses

Hugh Grant in The Guardian here:

Many newspapers have carried fulminating editorials and opinion columns recently about section 40, and how it spells the end of press freedom in this country. Do readers believe this stuff? Do people even read it? Is press regulation too much of a yawn?

I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do believe that one newspaper should perhaps publish the other side of the argument. Or what I would humbly call the facts. And I’m very grateful to the Guardian for giving me the space.

So here they are, in the clearest English I can muster, and in plain vanilla with no jokes and (I hope) minimal or no ranting.

At his inquiry, Lord Justice Leveson found he could apply the same answer to two of the most important issues he identified. In other words, he killed two birds with one stone.

Issue one was that people without substantial means who are libelled or have their privacy illegally invaded by newspapers find it impossibly expensive to launch civil actions against those papers. They are effectively deprived of access to justice. (A typical court fee is £10,000 up front, even before you add in lawyers’ fees.)

Issue two is that over the past 60 years there have been several public inquiries and commissions into press misconduct. On each occasion, it was clearly demonstrated that the press had failed to enforce even its own codes of ethical practice. Recommendations were made for improvements, or for a new regulator that was independent both of press control and government influence.

On every occasion, the corporate mass of the commercial press, owned by a handful of wealthy men, refused to comply. Instead they made cosmetic changes, falsely claiming that their new arrangements were a vast improvement, and then carried on exactly as before.

This is what those same papers have done now – rebranding the discredited PCC as “Ipso” – which is largely the same people working to the same model.

Just as on every previous occasion, the Leveson inquiry stopped short of recommending that papers should be compelled by law to join a “good” new regulator. Instead, it gave the press a final chance to put its own house in order.

But how to persuade newspapers to do something they have never done before: to create a fair, effective and independent new regulator? What incentives could be offered?

The solution Leveson came up with to deal with both these issues was a new regulator, which could be set up by the press themselves, which would offer a cheap arbitration service to settle legal claims.

This is the part that is seldom or never mentioned when newspapers talk about section 40. Through this arbitration service a person could have their case against a newspaper dealt with very quickly (in less than a day) and at very low cost (less than £200) without either side having to suffer the vast expense and stress of going to court.

If a newspaper chose not to join this “good” new regulator, and so deprived claimants of this low-cost system of arbitration – forcing them instead into the expensive courts – then that newspaper should have to pay ALL the costs of the court case, even if they won the case. The idea was that recalcitrant newspapers would be incentivised to create a “good” regulator.

But – crucially – there was a further incentive, a carrot as well as a stick. You will not read about this carrot in newspaper reports or editorials on section 40.

Newspapers that join this new regulator would enjoy much greater freedom to publish important investigative journalism. Hitherto, if a paper had an important story about a wealthy and powerful person, they might reluctantly decide not to publish because the threat of being dragged through expensive court actions was too great. A wealthy oligarch would only need to win once to bust the paper.

But under the new system, our litigious oligarch would first be offered the new cheap arbitration system. If he took this option, the matter would be settled at a tiny fraction of the time and cost for the newspaper. But if he insisted on going to court (as is his right) he would have to pay his own costs even if he won. This is why investigative journalists such as Nick Davies (who of course broke the phone hacking story in the Guardian in the first place) are so keen on the Leveson recommendations, in full.

This solution was voted into law (as section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act) by big majorities in parliament in March 2013. But a law that has been enacted by parliament still requires the subsequent pressing of a green button by the secretary of state. This is known as “commencement” and is a formality in 99% of cases. This government, under intense lobbying from the corporate press, has so far not commenced the law.

And here is the gentlest of nudges to the esteemed editor of the Guardian and to the Scott Trust. A recent YouGov poll commissioned by Hacked Off found that 93% of Guardian readers with an opinion on the matter (which is, of course, most) agree with the Leveson system or something stronger. That seems like a mandate to me.

In the face of all this, and in the face of an astonishing volume of dis and misinformation on this issue, it’s vital that people who care about the standards and practices of the national press make the case for full Leveson.

Corbyn distrusted on the NHS

The public’s satisfaction level with the NHS has risen from around 40% to 60% in the last 20 years. More importantly, dissatisfaction has halved from 40% to 20%. This gives the public an NHS net satisfaction level of 40%.
Three times as many people are satisfied with the NHS as are dissatisfied. Labour can argue that the improvement happened on their watch, the fact of the satisfaction however is ongoing, this presents a strategic problem for Labour.
By the time of the 2015 general election Cameron was more trusted than Miliband on the NHS by 22% to 20%. Survation (and other pollsters) find May is more trusted than Corbyn by 35% to 24%, Corbyn is actually distrusted on the NHS by 45% to 31%. The NHS is now a negative for the Labour leader.


Original post can be found at

I was bullied by other kids, teachers and faculty, my own family at times and bosses and yet I couldn’t communicate what was happening until I was well out of my teens.

By Christina MacNeal

As someone who was an autistic teen and is now an autistic adult I want to share the problems of bullying that are faced by those on the spectrum of any age together with some solutions that can be implemented. Furthermore, this article comes right after anti-bullying week and this is a topic not addressed in our community as much as it needs to be.

This is coming from someone who was bullied from a young age into some of my adulthood. At the time I was unaware that I was being bullied; I just thought that is how people engaged with each other. As a result of being bullied for much of my adolescence it seemed much more normal and tolerable than it should have been. I was bullied by other kids, teachers and faculty, my own family at times and bosses and yet I couldn’t communicate what was happening until I was well out of my teens. I had to relearn how people are supposed to treat each other and what to look for, how to recognize a bully and what I should not accept in others behaviors toward me.


Hopefully you can use this information and be more aware in order to protect yourself or your loved ones from being bullied. It is important to remember that there is no set age, look or role that a bully plays and he/she can be anyone from a classmate, friend and co-worker to a spouse; really it can be anyone.

These are solutions that are sometimes easy to overlook and there are others that you may not have thought of before. Maybe it will enable you to see something you are doing in a different light that you can cut out of your loved ones life. Or possibly you will find something to add to you or your loved ones life that helps combat bullying.

As most of us would agree the ideal end to bullying would be for it simply not to happen. That a child is shown the love and compassion they deserve and in turn they show the same to others. Until that happens prevention, awareness and action are the best options.

The purpose of this article is to share some insight from someone who has lived to tell the tale about what made my autistic childhood and adulthood experiences amazing and things that I could have lived without.

Bullying is something that should never be taken lightly and it is something that happens more often than not to those on the spectrum. There are multiple factors that play a part into this happening more frequently to those on the spectrum than neurotypical counterparts.

While human beings and particularly those on the spectrum are known for their resiliency, bullying takes away more than a bloody nose from someone even on the spectrum. Bullying takes away the things that are the most difficult to get back. Things that can shape the way a person views themselves, who they allow in their life and the choices they make for a life time.

Here are the some of the major reasons why bullying happens to those on the spectrum with tips that apply to teens and adults for helping prevent you or your loved ones from being bullied.



We all have to some degree or another an inability at times to effectively communicate what is happening to us and to those around us; this makes bullying someone on the spectrum easier than someone who is not.

Make it part of the routine at the end of each day to address how treatment from others went as an assessment and use a chart if needed. Verbally asking doesn’t work for a lot of people on the spectrum; however use the favored communication tool, whether it be writing, assisted technology/typing, art, verbal communication or even pointing.

Being aware of how treatment from others was experienced every day sets someone with ASD up to be thinking about it into adulthood and the more of a routine it is the easier it becomes. Stay away from feeling-based questioning as it is harder to give a clear answer. Communication is key and the more people are on the same page about making sure that bullying isn’t happening the more successful prevention or intervention will be.

Another communication point for those on the spectrum and/or their loved ones to consider is this – do not assume that because it has not been addressed it isn’t happening.

Also make sure that the questions include anybody and everybody; that way you won’t miss anything and there is no distinction made between the different roles of the people that interaction occurs with. (As in no one is thought to be more important or not capable due to their role).


Equally appealing to bullies are behavioral differences such as repetitive behaviors and either a visibly responsive reaction or a visibly unresponsive reaction to bullying. Those with ASD respond differently than neurotypicals and any of the responses are appealing to bullies because of the reactions they generate.

Those on the spectrum don’t have control over how they react to things a lot of the time. However, knowing how the person with ASD or one’s self normally reacts to different situations and people can be extremely helpful as with that knowledge you have something that you can count on to work with. If you know that normally an individual is under responsive and when it is time to go somewhere or meet someone the individual makes a visibly responsive reaction, you’ll know something is not quite right.

The opposite is just as true of someone who is normally overly responsive. These can be warning signs that something including bullying could be going on. Being aware of the subtle differences in time and behavior is imperative to understanding if and when bullying might be taking place and with whom. It is a good reason to inquire from those who can offer any input, but most importantly asking the person with ASD or oneself what is going on and why this is happening when it is. (This asking, of course, not being while the person on the spectrum is going through these reactions or responses.)

Yet another reason our behavior can result in being bullied is that we are different from those of our neurotypical peers and unfortunately popular culture dictates that different is less even though our community knows otherwise. This again can be prevented by being aware of differences in behavior, time in behavior shifts and by clearly asking as many people as you can including the person on the spectrum. Communication with staff, other parents or students and the community about autism behaviors can greatly ease bullying due to behavioral reasons.


Not being able to process, or having a hard time processing what just happened and why is something typical for those on the spectrum and that includes if bullying occurred. Keep in mind bullying can be extremely obvious but it can also be very subtle in the way it is conducted.

This is a large problem for those on the spectrum when discussing why bullying goes unreported. It is not to say that it didn’t or doesn’t affect the individual in a huge way, it just means it has passed the point of communication. That isn’t to say that there is no memory or thoughts about it. It can be or feel very similar to when you are thinking about or talking about something and the answer is on the tip of your tongue and you know what the answer is, but you are unable to say it or tell anyone.

Also more than likely the reason for the bullying happening does not make any more sense to the person on the spectrum than it does to the non-bullying neurotypical. Whoever is around during the larger parts of the day, be it a caregiver, teacher, parent supervisor or yourself you can all but stop this from happening with regular how are you and observation behavior check-ins that should happen at least every three hours and be documented. For many on the spectrum charts with pictures or pictures and words are going to work better than just words. If emotional and behavioral check-ins are done correctly within a few months’ time you will have documented a pattern as to why this is always happening during this time or on this date(s). You can then yet again use steps one and two and you will have an even better picture about what is or isn’t most likely happening.

Social Skills

Those on the spectrum, generally speaking, tend to give their trust very easily and do not recognize dangerous situations. This coupled with a lack of social peer support and a strong need or desire to make friends leaves those with ASD a more open target for bullying because they are either unable or less likely to question people and situations they might end up in.

Those on the spectrum can give trust to others freely; as it doesn’t always occur to them that someone has ill intentions. The other part of giving trust freely and not recognizing danger is impulse control as living in the moment is where it is at for most with ASD.

Being optimistic about others isn’t a negative trait to have and it helps everyone on and off the spectrum live happier lives. The real problem is being more prone to be taken advantage of, becoming trusting of the wrong people or putting too much trust into the people we are told to trust and they become the bullies. Those with ASD are not picking up on the danger and just as hard as it can be to get into a situation, it can be equally as difficult to get out of one.

Make sure there is a well-known, trusted and compassionate group of people that have proven they are trustworthy and that can see, advise or point out danger to the individual with ASD. Another suggestion is social and peer groups online for socializing and advice; Facebook has the best ones. It is a support network that helps the person on the spectrum through life and those with ASD can mutually mentor, teach and learn from each other.


Here is the final piece of advice about stopping you and/or your loved one from being bullied.

Starting as young as possible, educate the individual on the spectrum about bullying; about what they should look out for and what to do if they are bullied. Be sure to include why it’s important.

Remember that you alone will not be able to prevent bullying from happening to yourself or a loved one with ASD and that it takes a chosen group of trusted people for support in this effort.

Education and discussion about ASD within the community you live in and in places that the person who has ASD will be frequently attending are pivotal points for reducing bullying. It will also afford the person with ASD more freedom and options.

If you or someone you know is experiencing bullying or for more information go to:
Ability First 877-768-4600 310-855-4673


Christina MacNeal is a writer, journalist, activist, artist and public speaker who has autism. She is currently the director of development at The Gadget Guys Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping those on the autism spectrum. She also runs the organization the Autism Collaboration Project. Prior to that she was an editor and communications director. For more information about Christina or for any questions or comments she can be contacted at or

Make Autistic hate crime as punishable as racism

Far too often in the United Kingdom we see some of the most vulnerable members of our society i:e the Autistic community being abused to the highest degree, they are subjected to horrific levels of bullying and psychological torture; often by those who pretend to befriend them just so they can exploit them for their own personal gain and amusement.

Autistic teenager 16 year old Emily O’Reilly (pictured above) was brutalised on her way to a friends house.

If you follow the link above then you will see the urgency of this epidemic, the consequences of such treatment and atrocities are often fatal; why should it be allowed to continue that the lives of some of our most vulnerable are left so undervalued in both society and the justice system?


The 1 in 100 people in the United Kingdom who are born with this condition who will most likely experience this kind of abuse is far too many to not implement stronger sentencing for those who commit targeted violent attacks against the autistic community.


I urge the government to advise and work with the justice system to put in new legislation, and to follow the guidelines in sentencing already regarding racially, religiously and sexually motivated attacks;  let them be just as protected under hate crime laws as everyone else.

UK Unemployment – down again!

Unemployment remains at 11-year low

Over the last seven years we have been working hard to create more opportunities for ordinary working people. That starts by helping more people into work so that they can earn a living and provide for themselves and their family.

Five years ago there were more than 2.6 million people who were unemployed. Today that number has fallen by almost a million.

And there’s more good news – since 2010 almost 2.7 million people more are in work. That’s millions more people going to work, earning a living and better able to provide for themselves and their family.

With more people in work than ever before, unemployment at its lowest in more than a decade, our economy growing and wages rising, our plan to support ordinary working people is working.

But whilst this is good progress, we know that there is so much more to do if we are to truly build a country that works for everyone.

Share this important news, and together let’s build a country that works for everyone.

Internet Stalker

Internet Stalker

Thanks for the many emails and messages.  I’m sorry, still no end in sight.

My personal internet stalker seems to be unable to stop talking about me, pretty much relentlessly.

This obsession he seems to have and the harassment it entails are ongoing.

It has become very creepy and my family have asked me to continue not to blog as they are concerned about the situation.

Sorry for the time out.  It is necessary.

Sorry, Still The Same

Sorry, Still The Same

I’d like to thank the people who have written or contacted me asking about when the blog will restart.  It is really nice to have your kind support and well wishes and I appreciate it.

Unfortunately, the snipes and character assassination by the local newspaper Editor have, if anything, got worse.  Tweet after tweet, comment after comment and article after article I find myself the target, while the Usual Suspects circle around him and join in the character assassination.

Nor am I the only one.  Increasingly, others are finding that if they dare to challenge they become a target themselves.

So I wont be restarting my blog as it only gives him and his mates ammunition.

It is a shame that it has come to this after nearly a decade, but you can’t fight the power of a biased newspaper Editor.  You just have to hope and have faith that the truth will win through.

In the meantime I will continue to do the best I can for my constituents and my community.  Same as always.