Saturday, July 20, 2013

Should Keogh Report "Leak" Be reported to the Police?

Thanks to @AndrewzCooper for creating such an excellent chart of govt's plans for the NHS
Last weekend the BBC, Sky News and the Telegraph all broke the story about how the Keogh report asked for by David Cameron and due to report last Tuesday on the alleged failings of some hospitals, was going to show that there had been "13,000 avoidable deaths". They proceeded to repeatedly run this story all over the weekend and all day Monday too, with other broadcast media outlets and other right wing newspapers all joining in and repeating the alleged findings as the truth.

This is distraction and diversion politics at its worse.

Having watched this story unfold and becoming increasingly angry at the dubious and unfounded political spin presented as fact by sloppy journalists and repeated in other newspapers and the broadcast media with impunity, I ask, why is it up to me and many others like Steve Walker here and here and here to take to task and expose the lies, innuendo and blatant scaremongering put out by the Conservative led coalition and their friends in the right wing press and broadcast media?  Why is the right wing press, the right wing broadcast media (including the BBC) ignoring the truth and instead publishing nonsense spin? Look at this excellent illustration by Marcus Chown, the penny must surely be beginning to drop now?

This problem has now far exceeded the boundaries of party political loyalty, this whole Keogh business now seems to be highlighting something much more sinister. Yet where is the investigative journalism all these papers and media outlets say they prize so dearly and were almost hysterical about when the Leveson recommendations were published and have since refused to sign up to them? and why hasn't one of them tried to expose the truth about the relationship between Government, right wing press editors and right wing broadcast media? Who is pulling whose strings?

The first question that should be asked is where these particular media outlets obtained their information from? It cannot be a hard question to answer and it cannot be classed as journalistic "license" as all of them appear to have been given the story at the same time.

It is certainly no coincidence that just prior to the story breaking last weekend that all Tory MPs were also briefed to personally attack the Shadow Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, in a "get Burnham" Tory dirty tricks campaign! It would appear to most people that the attack Burnham campaign and the leak of the erroneous Keogh information are linked and if they are, as Tory MPs were briefed in advance of the Keogh report leak to attack Burnham, a certain degree of premeditation and planning looks likely to have taken place between the media outlets who first broke the story and whoever it was who leaked the erroneous information and the British government.

To what extent was Lynton Crosby involved in this personal  attack on Burnham and Labour and since when has it been classed as politically OK in this country not only to seek to purposefully destroy the integrity of a well liked and respected former minister when they knew he had done nothing wrong, but to also to purposefully undermine our entire health service placing at risk the welfare of millions of patients and their relatives for no other reason than for political gain?

First on their agenda is to destroy the Labour party's excellent reputation for investing in the NHS and saving it from Tory privatisation during the Conservative's last 18 years of  maladministration in 1997.
It's all part of a much bigger agenda. It's no coincidence that the recent spell of negative reports on the NHS, (many attacking the personal integrity of our nurses and doctors) are all part of the Conservative campaign to soften the public so they can privatise the NHS and the Tories really do not care how many lies they tell, how many people they hurt, or how many people they terrify with their blatant scaremongering, just as long as they achieve their end goal which is we now know *full-scale privatisation of the NHS* and try to get re-elected at any cost.

We are in the process of losing the NHS, David Cameron is slowly selling off the NHS to his Tory doning friends and supporters in the private healthcare industry by stealth. It is a filthy squalid business, but it is happening and the PMs new bestest mate Lynton Crosby, his so-called "election strategist" is most likely the person behind the current spate of lies and negative reporting and dirty tricks.

David Cameron has brought the tobacco and drinks industry that are responsible for millions of deaths, right into the heart of British government and the Liberal Democrat poodles coalition partners stand idly by and just allow it to happen.

If Lynton Crosby is working for the Conservative PM and he has companies that lobby in the UK,  in the name of transparency Crosby must be made to declare his interests and if he isn't willing to do that, then David Cameron needs to sack him immediately. We simply cannot have even the merest of whiffs of corruption right at the heart of British Government. I really cannot understand why Cameron even considered hiring Crosby in the first place, especially after his Andy Coulson debacle!

When the Keogh Report finally came out last Tuesday it did not even mention the Tory spin of '13,000 avoidable deaths' figure touted in the media all the previous weekend and the Monday before his report was officially released and in fact the report said that he [Sir Bruce Keogh] recalled under the Labour government, the focus was on rebuilding the NHS capacity after decades of [Tory] neglect: "the key issue was not whether people were dying in our hospitals avoidably, but they were dying while waiting for treatment". However this did not stop Jeremy Hunt describing the Keogh report as Labour's "darkest moment" on the NHS since founding it and nor did it prevent The Daily Mail's four page blitz on "Labour's day of Shame over the NHS". Once again Jeremy Hunt lied to parliament and deliberately set out to mislead the public, something he has done before over Rupert Murdoch and BSkyB when he was Culture Secretary.

In an unprecedented step, before his report was released, Sir Bruce Keogh was forced to deny the reports in the press and broadcast media, he said:
I agree with your sentiments entirely. Not my calculations, not my viewsDon’t believe everything you read, particularly in some newspapers: 
It was Professor Brian Jarman that came up with the 13,000 figure and he apparently is not too happy with the way it was used. I don't buy that,Professor Jarman gave an interview which was repeatedly run on Sky News and BBC where he made some serious allegations which appeared to give weight to information that was supposed to be appearing in the Keogh report and yet that information did not appear in the Keogh report, in fact Sir Bruce Keogh said:
However tempting it may be, it is clinically meaningless and academically reckless to use such statistical measures to quantify actual numbers of avoidable deaths.
Keogh's report actually rejects claims that poor care in 14 Trusts caused thousands of avoidable deaths and what Jarman was saying on TV last weekend was not vindicated. 13,000 deaths is a pretty precise figure to come up with, where did he get it from? He must have seen something or someone must have told him something. Why did the Daily Mail decide to re-run Brian Jarman's "20,000 needless deaths claim"?  Why did the BBC and Sky News run clips of him more or less saying that Andy Burnham had swept these 13,000 mythical deaths underneath the carpet when nothing could have been furthest from the truth? When the Francis report into Mid Staffs has also repudiated that claim? There is absolutely no doubt from the tone of the articles in the Telegraph the Mail, the BBC and Sky News that the intent was to join in with the Tories "get Burnham" campaign and to try even harder to dislodge Labour as the party most trusted by the public to run the NHS properly. This is why Jeremy Hunt has used such emotive terms to describe what the government are doing such as "hit squads" and placing hospitals in "special measures". There is absolutely no need for language like this and as ever with situations like this when so many are affected it is so important to keep things in context. The NHS treats upwards of three million people every single week, the vast majority of them are pleased and satisfied with their treatment, the ratio of satisfied people to complaints is quite remarkable for a public service as big as this. Also the this country has 160 hospital trusts of which Hunt has placed 11 in 'special measures'. If there was no report, if there was no scare mongering, if you just took this at face value, then 11 out of 160 would be about average for action, this is not to say that we should not strive to improve the NHS, everyone who works in the NHS wants that and no one wants people to feel their concerns are not being treated properly or that they or their relatives and friends are not getting the correct treatment, but it is still important to keep this in context.

Like the Francis report, the Keogh report did not lay any blame for failings in the NHS at the door of the previous Labour government, but that hasn't stopped the right wing press like the Daily Mail running with a wholly inaccurate banner headline putting the blame entirely on Labour anyway! It's almost as if the paper had already thought of the headline and written the story and even though they knew their story was wholly inaccurate, they decided to publish it anyway. I have complained to the Press Complaints Commission.

What happened in the Telegraph, the Mail and Sunday Mail, the BBC and Sky News was scaremongering on an unprecedented scale, they actively sought to undermine the NHS and the confidence that the public has in the NHS. This behaviour could have deterred many people from seeking medical advice which could have lasting implications on their health, yet these organisations felt they could use unconfirmed statements from a report that was not published, these organisations themselves could be charged with causing avoidable deaths, pain, suffering, distress and anxiety! Their behaviour and the way they felt sure enough to publish and report the Keogh report raises many questions.

  • Professor Jarman used the 13,000 figure that was a pretty concise figure, he obviously didn't just snatch it out of thin air, so where did he get it from?
  • Jarman appeared to be talking about the Keogh report, so he may have been fed the same erroneous information - by whom?
  • It would appear that these media outlets broke their stories all at the same time, which is pretty odd, this kind of thing usually takes on an "exclusive" identity. Were they in touch with each other prior to releasing the story?
  • Who purposefully briefed them entirely inaccurate information and how did they manage to satisfy their legal teams before publication?
  • If so who is the common denominator? Who leaked the same erroneous story to all of them?
  • After all the problems concerning Saville and abuse of power that the BBC has had, who at the BBC gave the go ahead for this information to be broadcast and what did they see that convinced them they could publish?
  • Who allowed BBC Newsnight to once again broadcast wholly inaccurate information?

Up until that point, only the government had sight of the Keogh report, so was it a member of the cabinet who leaked this story? For all of these media outlets to have been able to get this past their legal departments and feel confident enough to publish/broadcast these comments, they must have been pretty secure and have a lot of trust in their source, so it wasn't just anyone - who was it?

These questions are so serious that inquiries should be launched by the Committee for Standards in Public Life; The Department of Health and NHS England to discover who it was that leaked what looks to be a deliberately erroneous briefing on the contents of Keoghs findings to media outlets.

It is obvious that the so-called erroneous "leak" was leaked with the sole intention of doing as much damage to the NHS, Andy Burnham and the Labour party as possible by means of using the NHS and undermining it purely for political purposes.

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt statement in the House of Commons on the Keogh report was also shocking, it less of a statement and more a political diatribe, he was pulled up several times by the Speaker before finally being silenced by him. But once again (because he has done this before over Murdoch and BSkyB) Jeremy Hunt has used the cover of parliament to make his own completely erroneous statements. He failed to even mention that overall mortality rates have been reduced by 30% over the past 10 years. It's obvious why Hunt omitted to mention this, it's because it did not fit in with his narrative of blaming Labour for for the wrongs this government are actively causing in the NHS.

It's this government's strategy that whenever anything goes wrong they simply turn around and blame Labour and they think nothing of using lies, smears, cheap and dirty tricks and innuendos. Under cover of parliament David Cameron continues to lie and deliberately mislead the the British public, I have written about it on here several times.

However what occurred last weekend was something entirely different. This was someone in this government who has deliberately leaked a pack of lies to the press and broadcast media and in my opinion this needs to be referred to the police for proper investigation and if the Conservatives and their right wing friends in the press still refuse to reveal who told these lies then I think they should be forced by a court of law to reveal their source because of the criminal nature of it.

It is slanderous, libellous and Jeremy Hunt's ongoing and wilful misinterpretation of the truth about the NHS, in order to deliberately malign, hurt and endanger a person's career should not go unpunished.

This is political sabotage by means of using disinformation, if it was a member of the Conservative led coalition government, or a strategist, or an adviser who leaked this story then they must be identified and held accountable.

It should also be the very last time that this government led by David Cameron should use the House for political grandstanding and totally abuse of power.

It's not good enough to ignore this it has all gone way too far, this is our NHS that is being deliberately undermined and it is not only maligning the former health secretary, it is also deliberately maligning NHS staff and accusing them of virtually 'killing people' and it can no longer be tolerated. It is not only the deliberately maligning of dedicated men and women who work in the NHS, it is also placing at risk the health of the nation by deliberately misleading public over the NHS. This government has a duty of care towards the people of this country and not for the first time (remember them causing panic at the petrol pumps to deliberately malign the unions and Labour as a distraction from their disastrous budget?) This time they have deliberately placed in great danger the health and wellbeing of the nation, this cannot and should not go unpunished, what this government did is wholly reprehensible.

 It is time to call in the police and ask them to conduct an official investigation. If the British government have colluded with the right wing press and the broadcast media to deliberately mislead the public in order to bring down Her Majesty's Opposition and a former minister as well as the NHS by means of using lies and deception, then surely this must be a criminal offence? If the police cannot do anything then other legal channels must be looked at. Or perhaps for once the press will do their job and report accurately what is happening and help bring this terrible government down, before they cause the people of this country real and lasting damage by destroying our NHS.


nyeannebevan said...

Fantastic article - and this matter should be reported to both the Parliamentary Standards Committee and the Police.

Andy Burnham has alleged that the "leak" came from one of Jeremy Hunt's SPAD's at Conservative Central Office. This is the second time one of Hunt's advisers has been caught leaking information - remember the Murdoch fiasco?

I sent an email last Tuesday to the editors of every paper and TV News programme I could find addresses for - condemning them for their "unsubstantiated" facts and "attack-dog" reporting of a "leaked document" prior to publication. That both the right-wing press and the BBC and TV News chose to spout "government propaganda" rather than attempt
"fair and balanced" reporting of such a crucial "News" story is a shocking indictment of the dishonesty and depravity of the British Press!

The BBC and Newsnight in particular, should be investigated over their disgraceful and undemocratic "calculated attack" on both the NHS and Andy Burnham in particular! The BBC is no more than a "mouthpiece" for government propaganda, "spewing" it's twisted rhetoric and lies, and reading from the script of Lynton Crosby!

This issue should not be dropped! This is about a government and a right-wing "poodle press and broadcast media", which colludes in the most disgusting way to fabricate stories, ignore the facts and suppress the truth in order to push their poisonous, "ideologically driven" political attack on the NHS and public services!

It is a disgusting abuse of power which should be investigated and those responsible should be held accountable and punished!

Gracie Samuels said...

Thanks nyannebevan and I absolutely agree 100%. I have complained to the BBC. I have also written to the PCC about the Daily Mail's personal attack on Andy Burnham, Labour and the way they used unsubstantiated facts to undermine the NHS and the public's confidence in it.

This cannot be allowed to continue, all the press and broadcast media who ran this report and reported as fact should publish front page and prominent retractions and the Coalition government needs to apologise.