Arron Banks’s lawsuit against reporter a freedom of speech matter, court hears

Carole Cadwalladr’s team sets out defence in first day of libel trial brought by Leave.EU funder

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Carole Cadwalladr at Ted talk 2019

Andrew Jennings RIP. Investigative Journalist extraordinaire.

I am sorry to report the death of Andrew Jennings, a friend and colleague for forty years. He was a truly extraordinary journalist and we shared many an adventure together. My condolences to his partner Clare and the children Rosie, Henry and Sophie.

Andrew Jennings and I at World in Action, Golden Square, London W1 1991

Andrew was never one to let things go. He will be bouncing around the afterworld to doorstep the corrupt Swiss sports administrator Sepp Blatter (FIFA) and the Spanish fascist Juan Antonio Samaranch (IOC) and ask them about taking bribes and the damage they did to sport. There are a few old ‘bad men’ there he will be wanting a word with.

Meeting KGB defector Boris Karpichkov

I was reminded of the this exclusive story from 22 years ago I did with Kim Sengupta at The Independent. Recall meeting Karpichkov and then shortly after he was on hunger strike in Brixton prison. But he survived and has done many interviews since I note.

Spy who exposed money launderers faces death

Paul Lashmar, Kim Sengupta Monday 08 November 1999

FOR THE past two weeks Boris Karpichkov, a former KGB major, has been on hunger strike in Brixton prison, south London. His story, if true, is one of intrigue, greed and violence. And it may cost him his life.

Mr Karpichkov, a Latvian, is facing extradition accused of stealing $500,000 (pounds 310,000) from a failed bank in Riga, Bank Olympia. He denies this, saying the real reason he is wanted is that he uncovered corrupt links between senior figures in the Latvian government and the Russian mafia. Mr Karpichkov says that if he is sent home he will be killed. He says the mafia has taken out a $800,000 contract on him and his family.

Sixteen months ago he fled to Britain with his wife and two sons aged 13 and 16, claiming political asylum. They used false passports issued by the Latvian secret service.about:blank

A week after arriving in Britain he was arrested by Scotland Yard at the request of the Latvian government and has been held on remand. He has gone on hunger strike toraise awareness of his case.

The former major, who has limited English, said: “My family and I can’t go back to Latvia or Russia ever again. If we will return, it would mean for us only death. We lost all our property, everything we had in Latvia. We do not receive in Great Britain any help or benefits because British authorities refused us.”

Mr Karpichkov said he was given details about the mafia contract. “They have approached former officers of the KGB’s top secret unit Alfa, who specialised in assassination. At the present time these people are looking for our family everywhere and sooner or later will find us in Britain,” he said.

Mr Karpichkov, of Russian extraction and nationality, was recruited by the regional KGB in 1981 when Latvia was part of the Soviet Union. He said he was trained in the Higher Secret Services School in 1985 and as a special forces operative during the war in Afghanistan.

In early 1990, after the Cold War ended, he was assigned to the new Russian intelligence service, the FSB. It was sensitive work investigating corruption in Latvia involving prominent political figures and key people in the Russian and local mafias.

From 1993 he worked undercover running a commercial information agency. But Mr Karpichkov was actually gathering information on money laundering through Latvia’s biggest commercial banks, including Bank Olympia. The bank handled a number of International Monetary Fund credits worth millions of dollars intended for the country’s industrial and agricultural development. Mr Karpichkov said that in this period he gathered an “explosive” dossier, with tape recordings, about “the close connections between highest level officials of the Latvian state with leaders of organised crime”.

Mr Karpichkov said he passed some of this information to his bosses in Russia’s secret services. At this point, he said, they betrayed him and told the Latvian police about his work. He said this led to his arrest by the Latvian police and later by the Russian police. He said he was tortured and beaten.

When Olympia Bank failed in 1995, questions were asked about where large sums of money had gone. Although he was not seen as a central figure, Mr Karpichkov was accused of involvement with theft. He denies the allegations. He met the attorney-general of Latvia, Janis Skarstins, in 1996 and was offered a deal under which he would have been treated as a special witness in return for handing over evidence.

Although Mr Karpichkov handed over documents and tapes, the deal fell through and he was placed under house arrest. But he escaped from his sixth-floor apartment by climbing down a rope made from knotted-together clothes, and fled with his family to Cyprus. Later they flew to Russia, and after meeting problems there they sought asylum in Britain.

Mr Karpichkov said he explained his predicament to the Home Office as part of his asylum claim, which was being processed normally until his arrest. The family were found housing by a local authority. They appear to live in poverty, dependent on hand-outs.

“The Latvian authorities only asked for extradition after I gave interviews to the Latvian press on the phone,” said Mr Karpichkov. He believes they only want to extradite him to stop him publishing information abroad on corruption in Latvia.

Establishing the truth of Mr Karpichkov’s claims is difficult. There is no doubt that much of his story is true, and a great deal of it is supported by Latvian and Russian newspaper articles. But whether he has defrauded a Latvian bank or incurred the wrath of his country’s officials is harder to determine.

Latvia has an extradition agreement with Britain, but it does have problems with mafia corruption at a high level. Mr Karpichkov’s case reflects the difficulties the Home Office faces in uncovering the truth of the many East European asylum cases in the years since the Berlin Wall came down.

Paris Police 1900 – The story behind the character Bertillon – the father of French forensic science

Watching Paris Police 1900, I was fascinated to see one of the characters was Bertillon. He was a real figure. Alphonse Bertillon was a French police officer and biometrics researcher who created anthropometry, an identification system based on physical measurements. Anthropometry was the first scientific system used by police to identify criminals. I first came across him when I wrote a monograph on the history of the mugshot. Bertillon was the inventor of the mugshot, as we now know it. He was keen to apply science to policing and that he knew that the only way, at the time, to identify a criminal was their name, personal identification or they had been preserved in the newly developed art of photography. The catalyst for my taking on this research was the release of poignant if much more relaxed pictures of ‘criminals’ taken in Dorchester in the early Victorian period and that predate the Bertillon system. Here are three examples.

The Juvenile Offender: Luther Gosney 10 years old. In 1876 he was committed to Dorset County Gaol charged with stealing two tin horns valued at 8d.  It was his first offence and he was sentenced him to twenty one days in gaol followed by five years in Reformatory.
George Scammell tried 4 July 1883 found guilty of obtaining money by false pretences.  Aged 56 years – sentenced to 12 months hard labour and two years police supervision.
Juvenile Offender: Priscilla Penfold. 12 years old.  She was charged with stealing a cloak valued at 25s.  She was sentenced to one month in gaol and five years in Reformatory for her first offence. 

I was struck by the difference between that an mugshots I have used to illustrate articles as journalist like Winston Silcott and Myra Hindley’s.

Bertillon systematised the photograph as a means of identification, the front and side phot and fitted it into his card record system. In my paper I argue that the mugshot’s simplicity of framing and purpose is deceptive. The mugshot genre has come to carry, sometimes on a case by case basis, an extraordinary array of meaning: spectacle, punitive, shaming, power, desire, cultural, surveillance, psychoanalytical, philosophical, psychoanalytic, criminological, colonialism, historic, transgression, deviance and art.

The mugshot is one of the simplest forms of the photograph: a rectangle, a head and shoulders image of a human being. It is planned, posed but deliberately decontextualized. The photographer is required by the judicial authorities to capture the best detailed image of the suspect that is allowed in the circumstances. Its purpose is functional and bureaucratic primarily for future registration, identification and classification. The modalities of the mugshot are deliberately limited.

I also discussed whether the systematic approach made it easier to the extend the immediate recognistion of the mugshot as casting the individual as a criminal but that was used by the Nazis to criminalise jewish people, as with the infamous Auschwitz photos. If you would like to see the original article it will be through the journal Social Semiotics (only through academic systems) or through the Brunel University open access system. The grisly Paris Police 1900 series can be seen on BBC iPlayer.

Paul Lashmar

From Kartika Sukarno, the daughter of the President that the British government wanted toppled. Follows our recent expose in The Observer of how the Foreign Office secretly encouraged those engaged in a mass murder campaign.

Britain owes an apology to my father and millions of other Indonesians

How the Queen and Prince Charles came to pay income tax

Back in June 1991, a programme I had made for Granada TV’s current affairs series, World in Action, entitled ‘The Firm’, was broadcast revealing much about the Royal Family’s wealth and tax arrangements. I had worked closely with Phillip Hall, whose book on the subject, ‘Royal Fortune’ was published the next year. Phil had spent a decade investigating the Queen’s wealth. At the time, the Queen and Prince of Wales were not paying income tax.  For most members of the public, who concerned themselves with such matters thought that not being required to pay tax was privilege of the Royals throughout history.. The most significant strand of the programme’s research was to show that there was no historical basis for the tax exemption and that tax had been paid by all the Queen’s predecessors except her father, George VI (d 1952) who had been the first monarch to have negotiated an exemption for income tax. (Modern income tax is generally accepted to have been first implemented in 1799).

Before 1760 the monarch met all official expenses from hereditary revenues, which included the profits of the Crown Estate (the royal property portfolio). King George III agreed to surrender the hereditary revenues of the Crown in return for payments called the Civil List. Our research showed that members of the royal family had subsequently negotiated a series of favourable tax and financial arrangements over the years. The number of members of the family paid out of the public funds to the Civil List had grown over the years.

We had also a considered attempt at estimating the Queen’s wealth – which is veiled in secrecy – and put her as one of the wealthiest women in the world worth £7.7bn. Her assets were and are enormous, though it fair to say, much is held on behalf of the nation like her astonishing collection of art including Michaelangelo drawings. some is purely commercial. Prince Charles has turned the massive land ownings of the Duchy of Cornwall into a lucrative business for the family.

I also wrote an article of the Sunday Independent ‘Secret Deals let Queen avoid her income tax’. (see attached pdf)

Directed by Brian Blake, the programme had a massive impact at the time including a Private Eye cover. It is probably the most impactful piece of journalism of my career with a direct cause and effect. It hit a public nerve.

As I recall the Royals were not very popular the time and later in 1991, as a result of a backlash, and the Queen urged Prince Charles to start discussions with the Treasury. The Queen herself was already consulting her advisers and the Treasury about her tax status.

In Autumn 1992 with the financial discussions still going on behind closed doors, the public were also concerned that the Queen wanted public funds to repair Windsor Castle which suffered a devastating fire in Autumn 1992. The Daily Mail, unaware of the behind-the-scenes negotiations, gently proposed a public gesture. “We sympathise with The Queen. Of course, we do. But these are hard times for most people. Many of them have a truly horrid year. They have lost their livelihoods….Even been driven from their homes. The Queen should pay some tax on her income. And fewer member of her family should be a charge on the Civil List. She should offer to contribute to restoring the fabric of Windsor Castle.’ At the time, a poll carried out by Numbers Market Research for The Independent on Sunday found that nearly eight out of 10 people believed the Queen should pay tax.

Six days after the Windsor Castle fire, the then PM John Major made a surprise announcement in the House of Commons that the Queen and the Prince of Wales had volunteered to pay tax on their private incomes and that the Queen would reimburse the Civil List annuities of five lesser members of the Royal Family. John Major informed Parliament that the National Audit Office would be looking into expenditure on the royal palaces.

1992 was dubbed the Queen’s ‘annus horribilis’ We estimated the Queen’s income tax liability to be £7.2m per annum. Ever since the Queen and Prince Charles has paid income tax on the private income and there are less members of the Royal Family on the Civil List.

The question of the Royal Family’s wealth and the delicate relationship between the Civil List – payments to the Royal Family, what they are personally worth and how much personal wealth they derive from the land they hold and what exactly do they hold on behalf of the Nation, are still percolating. I expect to see new revelations before long.

PL story – follow up to last week’s Indonesia exclusive –

Survivors of 1965 Indonesia massacres urge UK to apologise

After Observer report, families say the move would help heal country’s wound

PL: We’ve got a big two-parter in The Observer on UK involvement in the Indonesia mass murder of the 1960s.

Revealed: how UK spies incited mass murder of Indonesia’s communists

Slaughter in Indonesia: Britain’s secret propaganda war