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September 23, 2015 / ultrafox1963

2015-16 Premier League Predictions – as of 23 September 2015

Champions – Manchester City.

Qualifiers for Champions League – Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal.

Relegated – Sunderland, Watford, Bournemouth.

Team in 1st place on Christmas Day -Manchester City.

Team in 20th place on Christmas Day – Sunderland.

Manager of the Year – Claudio Ranieri.

First manager to leave his post during 2015-16 season – Dick Advocaat.

FWA Footballer of the Year 2015-16 – David Silva.

FWA Young Footballer of the Year 2015-16 – Anthony Martial.

Top Premier League Goalscorer 2015-16 – Sergio Aguero.

Most Premier League Assists 2015-16 – Riyad Mahrez.

September 16, 2015 / ultrafox1963


Richard Burgon MP: The end of ‘shameful weekly spectacle of MPs shouting childish insults’ at Prime Minster’s Questions – ITV News

August 11, 2015 / ultrafox1963

Foxes make flying start to season

Many Foxes arrived for the season-opener at home to Sunderland in trepidation rather than expectation. The departures of manager Nigel Pearson and talismanic midfielder Esteban Cambiasso had left fans reeling. Would their replacements be up to the challenges await during the months ahead?

On the evidence of this showing, the answer is an emphatic yes. City continued the form that had seen them pull off such an incredible escape from the drop last season, despatching a modest visiting side to leave a record Filbert Way crowd ecstatic.

Incoming manager Claudio Ranieri opted for a 4-4-2 formation, with Wes Morgan retaining the captaincy – and his place in central defence – despite being absent for the entire pre-season. In attack, Jamie Vardy was paired with Japanese debutant Shinji Okazaki. The signficance of this partnership would not become fully apparent until later in the weekend.

The encounters between these sides during the previous campaign had both been tense, dour stalemates, and it would have been little surprise to see this one follow the same pattern. Instead, though, the visitors pushed forward frequently during the opening minutes, with Jermain Defoe having a shot blocked from close range, and Kasper Schmeichel saving from Younes Kaboul and and Jack Rodwell in quick succession.

But any nerves within the home ranks were soon banished as City struck with their first effort on goal. A Marc Albrighton free-kick was flicked on by Vardy and found its way into the net via the far post.

City stepped up a gear as the Black Cats defence was left punch-drunk. Albrighton and Riyad Mahrez both caused havoc whenever they were on the ball and the duo combined to increase the home side’s lead as Mahrez glanced home another Albrighton cross.

The Algeria international continued the onslaught with a run that took him into the Sunderland penalty area. His trickery drew a foul from visiting skipper Lee Cattermole and with regular penalty taker Leo Ulloa on the bench, Mahrez himself stepped up to the spot to send City 3-0 up.

As Danny Drinkwater and Andy King commanded the midfield, City remained dominant throughout the rest of the half. Only a rare lack of composure by Mahrez stopped him from completing a hat-trick before half-time, as he blazed over from a Vardy cross.

It was the first time since October 2003 that City had led 3-0 at the interval in a Premier League clash. Although that occasion had seen them capitulate to defeat at Wolverhampton, few even among the Sunderland contingent anticipated any repetition.

Indeed the rampant home attack continued where they left off, with Vardy outstripping the Sunderland defence before sending a chip narrowly wide, while Mahrez teased and tormented a series of markers before striking the woodwork.

Another goal seemed only a matter of time, but it came against the run of play at the other end. Adam Johnson was allowed time and space to tee up Defoe and the veteran marksman duly opened his and Sunderland’s account for the season.

Stung into a response City launched further attacks on the visiting goal and Albrighton seized upon a weak Kaboul clearance to restore the home side’s three-goal advantage. The goal was no more than the winger deserved for an excellent performance in which he showed no ill-effects from what, for him more than any other City player, had been a particularly troubled summer.

Although more lax marking – which did not escape the manager’s attention – allowed Steven Fletcher to add a further consolation for Sunderland, City saw out the remainder of the game in some comfort, with Ranieri introducing summer signings Christian Fuchs, Yohan Benalouane and N’Golo Kante during the closing minutes. All did enough, along with the tireless Okazaki, to suggest they will play key roles within the squad during the rest of the season.

The icing on the cake came after the final whistle when results elsewhere ensured City would end the first day of the Premier League season in first place. Although Manchester City subsequently displaced them from top spot with a win on Monday night, this was a welcome contrast to the early months of the year when the side were marooned at the other end of the table.

There was a sting in the tail the following day, though, as a tabloid carried a story about alleged misbehaviour by Vardy in a Sheffield casino some weeks ago. The player has been mature enough to accept responsibility and apologise – a course of action which should see him avoid any lasting repercussions.

Overall, however, it was a very satisfying weekend for all connected with City and the performance should serve as a reminder to our critics – especially those among the ranks of the national media – that rumours of impending demise are very much exaggerated.

Man of the Match – Riyad Mahrez.

Opposing Man of the Match – Jeremain Lens.

December 11, 2014 / ultrafox1963

Unfinished Business: Tom Watson MP speaks on media reform

Scourge of the Sun keeps up the pressure on the unrepentant tabloid and its companions

When I was a young officer in the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union, I was deeply influenced by a great industrial negotiator called Paul Corby.

Paul is one of the best read people I know. He once lovingly handed me the book by the great American journalist and politician, Upton Sinclair, The Jungle.

The Jungle tells the story of the Chicago meat packing industry at the turn of the last century. It graphically chronicles the unsanitary conditions and the exploitation of migrant labour in an industry that was crying out for reform.

At the time, President Theodore Roosevelt described Sinclair as a “crackpot socialist” he said “I have an utter contempt for him. He is hysterical, unbalanced, and untruthful.”

Nevertheless, through meticulous journalism and a beautiful writing style, allied with political campaigning, “The Jungle’ caused such public uproar that it contributed in part to the passage of the 1906 Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act in America.

I thought of the book when Trevor Kavanagh, some of you may know him, of the Sun newspaper described me as a “socialist zealot”. It reminded me of what you can do when you collectively organise against powerful institutions that belligerently refuse to change.

And that’s why I am grateful to you all for being here tonight. Many of you have been derided in national newspapers, in the jungle of national newspapers, because you stood up to be counted. And you are here tonight because you want political parties to hear your message of reform, and I’m grateful to you for that.

So it is a very great honour to deliver this second Leveson lecture. The Leveson Inquiry was a landmark in this country’s history. It was watched online by millions and it exposed two things to the British public and to the world, in a way that had never been done before.

The first was that some of our national newspapers had sunk to depths of unethical and illegal behaviour that disgraced the name of journalism. And that these weren’t just isolated incidents. They were habitual, and sometimes even matters of policy. In the judge’s words, papers wrought havoc in the lives of innocent people.

The second thing that Leveson exposed was that this was the work of a small group of companies – in reality a small group of media moguls, executives and senior journalists – who enjoyed extraordinary power.

Not only were they able to cover up for each other systematically, refusing to apply to their own industry the kind of brutal treatment they dish out on their front pages and comment pages when things go wrong in, say, social work, the NHS or our schools. No, in the little club of the Sun, the Mail, the Express, the Mirror and so on, fearless scrutiny was something you never had to experience yourself. Until Leveson.

But of course their power didn’t stop there. As the Inquiry showed us, these are not organisations dedicated to holding power to account through journalism.

That’s just the myth they propagate, the smokescreen they hide behind. They themselves, in my view, have become the power in this country.

Look at the relationship between Rupert Murdoch’s company and the police if you want to see it. As Leveson showed us, this was so close that it was impossible to tell who was working for whom. All you could say was who they were working against: and that was the general public. You and me.

And look at the relationship between these organisations and the world of politics. I have said many times before, there is a huge amount here that shames politicians. Far too many, across the political spectrum, the main parties – yes, my party included – and beyond, have allowed themselves to be seduced into giving these papers what they wanted. Far too many have compromised themselves to gain short-term advantage.

But the people who run the big press organisations and who edit the big papers led the way. They have operated like a Mafia, intimidating here, bribing there, terminating careers and rewarding their most loyal operatives and toadies. For years they could ‘fix’ any legislation that affected them, in a way that no other industry could. But it didn’t stop there. Their influence was so great that for many, it became impossible to know who was really running the country.

All of this the Leveson Inquiry laid before the country – vividly and clearly the facts. The public gasped as the editors and proprietors condemned themselves at the witness stand. Richard Desmond didn’t know what ethics were. Paul Dacre, by his demeanour, showed that he did not think the law applied to him or his paper. Editor after editor – men who routinely claim they are answerable for everything that appears in their pages – told the judge pathetically that they were completely unaware of all the wrongdoing perpetrated on their watch.

It was sickening but it was a relief. And set alongside the heartbreaking testimony of these people’s victims, it created what I believe was an unshakeable determination among the British public that there must be change, and real change.

Never again should those who run our big national newspapers be allowed to abuse ordinary British people with impunity. Never again should they be allowed to subvert the justice system.

Never again should they be allowed to subvert our democracy.

That is the legacy of the Leveson Inquiry, and I am proud to be asked to give this anniversary lecture. My theme tonight, however, is ‘Unfinished Business’.

Look around you at what is going on today. In fact, let me correct that. Look beyond the lies, the covering-up and the distortions in our big national newspapers and look, for example, at what is happening in our courts. An extraordinary series of trials is revealing mountains of new evidence of what these organisations got up to. Evidence that even the Leveson Inquiry or the legendary Nick Davies did not uncover – in fact, in a few cases evidence of things that were firmly denied by witnesses under oath before the inquiry.

In recent weeks, we have learned the following:

That a second employee of News Corps UK subsidiary has been convicted of corrupt payments to public officials
That the judge in the Coulson – Brooks trial was of the view that those acquitted brought the prosecution upon themselves by their conduct

• that a second Sunday Mirror journalist has confessed to hacking phones

• that Mahzer Mahmood was considered by a judge to have lied to the court

• that several prosecutions have been dropped that relied on Mazher Mahmood’s evidence

• that all convictions based on Mazher Mahmood’s evidence are being reviewed

• that Mahmood is alleged to have known of corrupt payments to police officers [and well done to Panorama for that]

• that Andy Coulson faces proceedings for perjury in Scotland in relation to his evidence in the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial. I have said this before and I say it again: the jury in the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial, were not in my view, given all the facts they required.

And the courts have heard sworn statements.…

• that phone hacking was ‘common knowledge and industry-wide’

• that senior figures at Trinity Mirror actively encouraged hacking of phones

• that newspaper bosses referred to their readers as ‘plebs’

• that Rebekah Brooks ordered the deletion of millions of emails

• that Sun journalists were told that all cash payments (including those alleged and in some cases proven to be made to officials) had to be signed off by Rebecca Brooks

• that the Management Standards Committee may have been selective in which of their journalists they chose to “shop” to the police when “draining the swamp”, in order to protect some of the swamp-dwellers higher up in the food chain

• that News Corp stopped co-operating with the police when it became clear that co-operation would not immunise them against prosecution

• that the CPS are considering charges against 9 Trinity Mirror journalists and executives as we speak

• that in all five court cases so far involving the Sun and the News of the World, journalists have complained of the bullying atmosphere at those papers

• that the Sun has a seven-foot-high safe full of material ready to be used to blackmail people

• that senior journalists at news international now say they thought that paying police for tip-offs was covered by the Editor’s Code

• that The Sun bought from a police officer the witness statements regarding a rape complaint (from a member of the public against two police officers) – which included the complainant’s statement, listing her name, address and circumstances of the incident.

• that the current news editor of the Daily Mail told a court that it is “very standard journalistic practice” to invent quotes.

It is an astonishing catalogue. And there is much more. Although, as I say, leading journalists such as the editors of the Times, the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph do not seem to think it is appropriate to tell their readers very much about it.

Where journalists are acquitted, of course, our national press reports it lavishly, often with a combination of indignation and hand-wringing.

The papers that – for example – monster Christopher Jefferies just because he had been arrested now claim to be appalled to find that a reporter might be got out of bed by police, that the process of criminal law is slow and stressful, that defendants sometimes have families who suffer. That, remarkably, some people go through all this when in fact they are innocent.

Or that they are suddenly – but selectively – converted to the idea that prisons are not holiday camps, that open prisons perform a valuable role, and that human rights checks and balances should apply to suspects and criminals.

Will these papers learn from it all? When it comes to reporting on criminal cases in the future, will they show a little humanity towards suspects and defendants? Well let’s see.

I mentioned their indignation. Boy are they indignant. Reading what they write, you might be forgiven that the employees of the Sun, the Mail, the Sunday Times were the saints and martyrs of our society. You might believe that they are spotless, virtuous souls constantly persecuted for their heroic work in exposing wrongdoing and keeping our society safe and fair.

Now don’t get me wrong. We have some great journalists in this country and we would be in trouble if we didn’t. I was moved and delighted to see Andrew Norfolk from the Times win journalist of the year last night for his work exposing organised child abuse. He has nobility. And we should never forget that it took courageous journalism to expose corrupted journalism. But we also have far more than our share of bullies and thugs passing themselves off as journalists. These people shamelessly exploit the advantages they enjoy as journalists to inflict cruelty on ordinary people – and to line the pockets of their proprietors and owners.

The British press is not being persecuted. It is not under attack. As Leveson found, and as remains the case, there is no body of opinion in this country calling for the censorship or gagging of journalism, or for state controls or anything like it. Paul Dacre constantly asserts that there is. And I saw that the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport claimed as much a week ago.

I would like to ask them both today: Mr Dacre, Mr Javid, who are you talking about? Name these advocates of state control. Who are your supposed censors and gaggers? Let’s not sink to the tactics of Senator Joseph McCarthy, slinging around allegations of conspiracies without ever naming names. We know where that led.

What Leveson recommended in relation to press self-regulation was, as he made absolutely clear, NOT state control. Parliament would never have stomached such a thing. But every party in Parliament gave its support to the Royal Charter that – entirely independently of the state – implements the Leveson recommendations. And the result has been the creation of a recognition panel that, in the words of its chair, David Wolfe QC, is ‘appointed by a process which is unique in its independence from Government, Parliament and other influences’ and which has ‘freedom from outside pressure not seen before in a public body’.

And if you don’t want to believe the assurances of a politician or a lawyer, here the words of a great editor, Harold Evans, who said

“the misrepresentation of Leveson’s main proposal is staggering. To portray his careful construct for statutory underpinning as state control is a gross distortion”.

And remember, this body’s function is not to regulate the press. Its only job is to test whether self-regulators set up by news publishers meet the basic standards of independence and effectiveness needed to give the public confidence they will be treated fairly, if they have a complaint. That isn’t state control or anything like it, nowhere near.

But given the record of so many big newspapers – and as I say we are learning more every day – it is the very least that our society should be doing to protect citizens when they are at their most vulnerable, and who are usually not rich enough or experienced enough to take on these big corporations.

In modern Britain we do not stand by and watch the weak being persecuted. We do something – and this is probably the least we could have done.

But it’s unfinished business, because this little group of greedy, cruel men have raised two fingers to Leveson, to Parliament, to their victims and to the public.

They don’t want fairness.

They don’t want change.

No catalogue of the wrongdoing they have overseen would be long enough to shame them.

They want business as usual, so they want IPSO.

They have dusted down the utterly discredited Press Complaints Commission, applied a lick of paint and a new letterhead – literally – and a new name and announced to the world with their usual brazen dishonesty that they are complying with Leveson.

Well they are not, as the Advertising Standards Authority found – and told them. In fact IPSO would not get past base camp in any effort to satisfy the independent Recognition Panel. Which is why they are not even applying.

So, on the face of it, they continue to write their own code of conduct and continue to pull all of IPSO’s strings, ensuring that they can ignore the code whenever they choose. (And incredibly the chair of the code committee is the editor of the paper that breaks it most often – by far. You’ve guessed it: Mr Paul Dacre of the Daily Mail.)

And the victims of this are, and will be, ordinary, vulnerable people who are bullied, lied about and intruded upon – the very people you would like to think journalism is there to protect.

But here’s some more unfinished business. IPSO is not the only game in town. Another self-regulator, IMPRESS, is taking shape. Beyond having, in Walter Merricks, a very distinguished independent chair (which as we have seen from IPSO is no guarantee of anything), it appears to be constructing itself in a way that implements Leveson rather than rejects Leveson. And if it applies for recognition which I hope it will, it will change the rules of the game.

When Parliament endorsed the Royal Charter it also approved clause 40 of the Crime and Courts Act. And under that Act if a news publisher denies the public the advantages in terms of access to justice and fair treatment that go with recognised self-regulation, then there is a price to pay.

A paper can’t just say: we don’t offer cheap, quick arbitration in libel cases through our self-regulator, so bad luck, you’ll just have to sue us — if you can afford it.

A press corporation with deep pockets can’t rely on the huge costs of litigation to block justice and protect its wrongdoing. Under the Crime and Courts Act papers that refuse to join a recognised self-regulator offering arbitration will have to pay the costs of those who sue them – whether they win or lose.

In other words, it will become free to sue these titles – though of course you will have to have a case good enough to get to court. That’s the price these organisations will have to pay.

And we must always remember that the papers that are putting themselves in that position are not just behaving unfairly to the public.

They are also knowingly rejecting the historic new protections for freedom of the press that Leveson offers.

That’s right – historic new protections for the freedom of the press. The chill of existing libel laws would be removed by a new immunity for news publishers – and only such publishers – from court costs and from the risk of exemplary damages.

Because what the law now says is that any news publisher belonging to a recognised self-regulator can’t be bullied by wealthy institutions and individuals in the way they have been in the past. Just as the news publisher is obliged to offer cheap arbitration, so the wealthy complainant is obliged to accept it too. And if that wealthy complainant – say, an oligarch or a big supermarket chain– insists on going to court, then it is the complainant who pays both sides’ costs, win or lose.

Now that’s what I call fair – and a brilliant new protection for our investigative journalists. But at the Sun and the Mail they don’t want it. And they don’t want any of their competitors to have it either in the name of “press unity”.

Unfinished business. Here’s some more.

You may not remember this, and of course no newspaper will tell you, but the Leveson Inquiry is only half done. The terms of reference approved by Parliament require a Leveson 2 – not necessarily led by the same judge.

And what job does it have?

It must do all the things that could not be done while prosecutions were pending. Who gave the orders for hacking, bribing and data theft? How far up did it go? Who organised the cover-ups? Why were police slow to act? Did lawyers behave improperly or illegally? How much evidence was destroyed and on whose orders? Has the criminality stopped? What are managements doing about it?

And – as the Watergate reporters Woodward and Bernstein would put it – who knew what and when?

None of this was done by Leveson 1. For sound legal reasons it had to tiptoe around these issues. It would need to take place after the criminal process had ended. But it is absolutely vital that Leveson 2 does begin as soon as the criminal cases are over. It is vital because the papers and others claim the police somehow got off lightly in Leveson. That is because they were not the main subject of investigation in Part 1.

The nexus between the police, acting corruptly and elements of the press, which has begun to be demonstrated by the work of citizen bloggers like Brown Moses, now Belingcat, by Nick Davies, by Panorama and other investigative journalists, and by the campaigning work of people like Alastair Morgan who will not let the murder of his brother Daniel go uninvestigated and remain unsolved. All those people are here today.

But it is vital also because if we don’t see this through we are sending the signal to editors and proprietors, and corrupt police officers and the politicians who let it happen that they can do it all again and get away with it.

And we are sending the signal to their victims that they don’t matter, and that we don’t care how many more people suffer.

Everything we know about the perpetrators tells us that they are not sorry and they have not changed. They’ve never, ever been sorry. They just look for new ways to hide their misdeeds. And it’s got to stop.

And there is unfinished business here too politicians.

One of the things we are elected to do is to ensure the weak are protected from the strong, the poor protected against the rich. We can’t walk away when that job is not done. We must keep working at it.

I see four important jobs ahead for us in Parliament.

The first is that we all – every party including my own – need to comply with the Leveson recommendations on the contacts we have with senior journalists, editors and proprietors. There is a lot of talk about the public’s right to know, well given the shabby history, the public has a clear right to know when their elected representatives are mixing with these people and why.

All parties need to do what the judge asked on that point.

The second job that falls to politicians is to ensure that we have real plurality in our news media and that no one company or individual is able to buy or build a market dominance that denies the public that plurality. I expect you know who I am thinking of when I say that, but he’s not the only one. There are huge online news providers, and they will probably be just as big a threat to a free and diverse media in the future. It is the job of our Parliament and our government to ensure, in the interests of democracy, that we have real space for a range of points of view and approaches in our news media, that it is not just the domain of a handful of big corporations.

And third, we must be on the look out for any opportunity to protect the freedoms that public interest journalism requires to enhance our democracy. That means for example safeguarding the role in UK law, of the European Convention on Human Rights, which the newspapers frequently rely on to protect their legitimate interests, sometimes without any apparent recognition of the irony of their position.

It means for example seeking to amend the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 – the hacking law – to provide the same safeguards for journalists’ sources that exist in PACE – judicial oversight of a serious crime threshold.

I have been struck by the unlikely but welcome alliance to deliver that between the advocates at the Sun, the drafters and organisers at Hacked Off and the Parliamentary amendment-tablers of the Liberal Democrats backbench. Now that is a weird and scary combination, but it is a welcome one.

It has always been a source of amusement to me that in Tony Blair’s 400 page memoir, he admits to only making two mistakes, one of which is the Freedom of Information Act. “You idiot” says Tony in the passage describing the Act. “You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop,” he goes on to say.

“There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it.” he says of his decision to support the legislation.

It’s funny because I love the Freedom of Information Act. In recent years it has helped me establish that we have UK military personnel stationed in a US Airforce Base in Djabouti, thought by many to run the covert drones programme in Yemen and Somalia. It has allowed me to establish the contents of the ministerial wine cellar and that when 1200 of my constituents were having their kitchen and bathroom refurbishment cancelled by cuts at the DCLG, David Cameron was spending £30,000 to refurbish the kitchen in the Downing Street flat.

If I can do this, with this legislation, imagine what a proper journalist can do with this Act. It is a powerful leglisation, but it has holes. I want to see a future Labour government give something back to journalism by increasing the statutory obligations on public institutions and private ones contracted in the public sector, to disclose information in a more timely fashion.

And finally, we in Parliament must see through our promises to the people and to the victims when it comes to press self-regulation. To do what Lord Justice Leveson said we needed to do if the press rejected his recommendations in the face of parliamentary approval of them. I am a Labour MP, and I want my party to commit in its manifesto to take action if the independent recognition panel produces what is called a ‘failure report’ late next year. That is to say, if it concludes that the conditions sought by Lord Justice Leveson have not been met.

A manifesto commitment is vital. Voters, and also the victims of press abuse, have to know where the parties stand on this – before the election. Nothing less is right or just.

We have had a rare all-party consensus on this. Now all the parties must be open and clear. Do they still believe in the Leveson recommendations and the Charter, or are they quietly getting back into bed with the editors and proprietors? I think the public has a right to know.

John Major said at the Leveson Inquiry, when commenting of the serial failures of previous attempts at effective independent self-regulation, up to and including Calcutt in his time. “It is politicians who are in the Last Chance Saloon”.

I want my party to accept the John Major challenge.

That is why I will be campaigning for a commitment in the Labour manifesto to see Leveson through. I hope the other parties will match it, and if they don’t I know the public will judge them harshly, because they will be letting down the victims they promised to protect, and whom they have a duty to protect.

Finally, I want to send this message to the editors and proprietors.

You are in the business of exposure, but now, at last, it is you who have been exposed. Every day, more of your wrongdoings are being laid bare. And every day you make your position worse by trying to hide the evidence from your readers, by your special pleading, by your lies and your attempts to intimidate.

In your pages you never hesitate to lecture and attack others on all sorts of matters, sometimes justly and sometimes not. But you never judge yourselves and you can’t admit that others have that right – even our courts and our public inquiries.

Well your time is up. Your lies don’t work any more. The public is not fooled. It saw clean through you back in 2011, after the terrible scandals of the McCanns, Christopher Jefferies and the Dowlers, and it still sees through you today.

All your efforts to trick the public into believing that there is some threat to freedom of expression have failed. There is no such threat in Leveson, in the Royal Charter or among my colleagues in Parliament, and you have not produced a shred of serious evidence to show there is.

Where there is a threat to freedom it comes from you. You have shown again and again that you don’t care about freedom of expression.

You have never told the truth about your wrongdoings and you do all you can to suppress the reporting of them.

You don’t care about the freedom of journalists to report on systematic intrusion into all our lives by the security services. If you did, you would not have called for the prosecution of the Guardian in the Snowden affair.

You don’t care about the freedom that ordinary British people should enjoy from cruel treatment by your employees. Nor do you care about their right to have access to justice.

The only freedom you care about is your own, to do exactly what you like, without consequences.

Your time is up. And I want to name you: Rupert Murdoch, Lord Rothermere, Richard Desmond, Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, the board of Trinity Mirror. Yes there is unfinished business, but you make no mistake, it will be finished.

British journalism will be raised from the mire into which you and others have sunk it and British citizens will be given the protections to which they are entitled. And as Lord Justice Leveson showed, this can and will be done while the same time freedom of expression in this country is enhanced.

The text of the above speech first appeared on the Hacked Off Website (

August 14, 2014 / ultrafox1963

51 things you may not know about Ultra_Fox

Picture of the author - July 2014.  Diets are more trouble than they're worth..

Picture of the author – July 2014. Diets are more trouble than they’re worth..

1) He was born at the former Leicester Maternity Hospital in August 1963 A blue plaque at the corner of East Bond Street and Causeway Lane in Leicester marks the site. He was present at the plaque’s unveiling in 1994.

2) His parents rented a two-roomed flat in Blackbird Road above what is now a branch of Barclays Bank. He lived there for the first 18 months of his life before the family moved to Newfoundpool.

3) He shares his first name with the 1963 Leicester City captain, Colin Appleton, who went on to lift the club’s first major trophy, the Football League Cup, the following year.

4) He was christened at Belvoir Road Chapel in Coalville in December 1963.

5) He started school at Inglehurst Infants School, where he attended for four terms. He revisted the school and met with pupils as Lord Mayor in April 2011.

6) He moved to Belgrave in December 1968 with his parents and brother Mark. He still lives in the same house today.

7) He attended his first political event at the age of five in July 1969, seeing Prime Minister Harold Wilson speak at the Durham Miners’ Gala.

8) In October 1970, he suffered serious injuries in a road accident on Gipsy Lane, Leicester. The City Council subsequently opened a pelican crossing at the site.

9) He attended his first Leicester City match with his father and grandfather at Roker Park, Sunderland on 17 April 1971. The game ended 0-0.

10) In 1973 he took part in a cubs’ football tournament at Woodstock Primary School in Leicester and can therefore proudly boast of having played at Woodstock.

11) His first game at Filbert Street was versus Coventry in September 1973. It ended in a 2-0 victory for the visitors.

12) He appeared on stage at De Montfort Hall at the age of 10 in April 1974, as a member of the Leicester Schools Choir in a production of Peter and The Wolf.

13) Before the age of 11, he contracted the “grand slam” of infectious diseases – mumps, measles, rubella and chicken pox.

14) He attended the City of Leicester School from 1974 to 1981. Other pupils during that time included Gary Lineker and Alastair Campbell.

15) He gained his first O level at the age of 14, studying the history and appreciation of (classical) music.

16) He joined the Leicester East Constituency Labour Party in September 1979, subsequently being elected to the positions of Vice-chair, secretary and Chair within the organisation.

17) He left school with a total of 9 O levels and 3 A levels, equalling the best performance of pupils in his year group.

18) In 1981 he held talks with universities in Leeds, Sheffield and York, before eventually enrolling at Essex.

19) He gave his first radio interview in February 1983, following the Tony Sibson – Marvin Hagler fight outside the studios of the former Leicester Sound radio station.

20) He left university in 1984 with a BA Honours Degree in Government. Current House of Commons Speaker John Bercow graduated in the same course the following year.

21) His first job was in May 1986 as a canteen assistant at the former Towers Hospital, serving refreshments to patients and visitors.

22) In 1987, he established the first constituency office in Leicester East, working as an assistant to newly-elected MP Keith Vaz.

23) He became a member of the trade union TASS (later MSF) in 1987. He remained a member for 14 years, and was a delegate to five union conferences during that time.

24) He became a school governor for the first time in 1988, serving on 8 different bodies at various times until 2011.

25) He stood for election to Leicestershire County Council in 1989, finishing 3rd in the Evington Ward. This remains the only election for public office in which he was unsuccessful.

26) He was first elected to Leicester City Council in May 1991, as one of two members for the Belgrave ward.

27) In 1992, he lived in Manchester on a six-month secondment for the charity NACRO, commuting to and from work by tram.

28) He was part of the City Council granting freedom of Leicester to Gary Lineker, Alan Birchenall, Sue Toensend and Englebert Humperdinck.

29) In May 1995, at the age of 31, he became Chair of the Housing Committee at Leicester City Council, overseeing a property portfolio worth over a billion pounds and the redevelopment of the St Andrews and Saffron estates.

30) In 1995, he organised an occuption by parents at County Hall as part of a successful campaign for a pedestrian crossing to be installed outside Mellor Primary School.

31) Later that year, a Leicester Mercury front page showed him wearing an air mask outside Rushey Mead Primary School to highlight high pollution levels.

32) He attended 50 out of 51 games played by Leicester City during the 1996-97 season – in which they won the Football League Cup and finished 9th in the Premier League.

33) While working at the former British Gas offices in De Montfort Street, he joined the nearby Regent Club – sited at the home of a former mayor of Leicester.

34) He served on the Charity Appeal Committee for Cllr Phil Swift, Leicester’s Lord Mayor for 1999-2000. The Appeal raised over £100000 for the Leicester Children’s Holiday Centre.

35) In September 2000, he turned down the opportunity of a meeting with Nelson Mandela at the Labour Party Conference in order to watch Leicester City play a UEFA Cup match in Vienna.

36) In 2001-02, he captained the Leicester City quiz team in 8 episodes of the ITV football quiz show “Do I Not Know That”. The team finished semi-finalists in a series featuring over 100 clubs.

37) He made his debut as Ultra_Fox on the BBC’s former 606 message board on 10 February 2003.

38) His first published article for the Leicester Mercury appeared on 7 February 2004, previewing that day’s Leicester City game at Newcastle.

39) He briefly worked at the Leicester Mercury in 2004, creating and updating a database of contestants in the Baby Of The Year competition.

40) He was elected as Councillor for New Parks in May 2007, beating off a challenge from the British National Party.

41) The day after his election as Leicester’s High Bailiff in May 2009, he travelled to Manchester to attend Morrissey’s 50th birthday celebrations.

42) On 27 May 2010, he was elected Lord Mayor of Leicester – the first holder of that office to have been born during the 1960s.

43) Throughout 2010-11, he was the first Lord Mayor of Leicester to use Twitter on a daily basis to update residents of his activities.

44) During his time as Lord Mayor, he opened the Leicester Riders shop in Rutland Street and the Clockwise credit union office on St Nicholas Place.

45) His Forget Me-Not Appeal was the most successful civic-led charity initiative in Leicester for over 30 years. It raised nearly £180000 towards improving dementia care facilities in local hospitals.

46) He gave assistance to over 50 other local charities during his year as Lord Mayor.

47) He is currently the producer and founder of three daily online newspapers (hosted via – Ultra_Sound, Leicester Daily and #Leicester Echo – and the online blogs Electric Cello, Ultra_Fox and Leicester Voice.

48) He has seen Leicester City play at over 100 venues.

49) He has attended games in the Bundesliga, Scottish League and Serie A.

50) He continues to play an active role in local quiz leagues and has been a part of three trophy-winning teams so far during 2014.

51) He has never owned a property or motor vehicle of any type.

July 14, 2014 / ultrafox1963

Gotze gives Germany World Cup glory

German side in celebration - a sight the planet may have to get used to

German side in celebration – a sight the planet may have to get used to

A strike by Mario Gotze, eight minutes from the end of extra time, proved enough to clinch victory for Germany over Argentina in the 2014 World Cup Final.

Although the game was far from the classic that many fans had craved in order to crown a tournament that has often intrigued and occasionally enthralled, it remained tantalisingly poised until the dramatic finale.

The Germans, heavy pre-match favourites following their 7-1 semi-final victory over hosts Brazil, had dominated possession and territory for long spells, without being able to break down a determined, disciplined Argentine defence.

But the Albiceleste will reflect ruefully on the number of gilt-edged chances they spurned before Gotze’s late winner.

A foretaste of the tensions that lay ahead came during the warm-up when German midfielder Sami Khedira strained a calf and had to be replaced by Christoph Kramer in the starting line-up.

Both sides made a somewhat tentative start to the game as the pressure to lift their country’s first major honour of the 21st century was clearly felt by many players in Rio’s iconic Maracana stadium.

It was therefore no surprise that the first clear chance of the game – to Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain – should arise from an individual error.

A woefully-misplaced defensive header from German Toni Kroos sent the experienced striker clear on goal. However, he blazed wide when, at the very least, he should have forced opposing keeper Manuel Neuer into a save.

The talismanic Lionel Messi created the next opportunity with an exquisite run and pass which sent Ezekiel Lavezzi clear on the Argentine right. His cross was superbly finished by Higuain, but the striker made his run too early and an offside flag curtailed his side’s celebrations.

Meanwhile, at the other end German attacks continued to be thwarted by a blanket Argentine defence. Kramer was unable to make full use of his unexpected appearance, as he suffered concussion in an accidental clash of heads and was replaced by Andre Schurrle.

Argentina continued to threaten on the break and another Messi run almost brought them the lead. His low cross from the right eluded Neuer, but the lack of attackers in the box allowed Jerome Boateng to make a clearance.

However, Germany ended the first half as the stronger side, with Schurrle forcing Sergio Romero into the first save of the match and Benedikt Howedes wasting a glorious chance when heading a Kroos corner onto a post.

Argentine coach Alejandro Sabella made a tactical switch at the interval, replacing Lavezzi with Sergio Aguero to boost his strikeforce.

This move almost paid dividends within minutes as Lucas Biglia sent Messi clear. But to gasps of disbelief and disappointment from watching Argentine fans, he pulled his shot a foot wide of the far post.

In Argentina’s next attack, Neuer sent Higuain sprawling when rushing to punch the ball away. But Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli – who gave an exceptional display on the evening that wholly justified his selection for the occasion – rightly waved away penalty claims.

As the half went on, Germany gradually regained their rhythm, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil particularly influential. The Argentine defence stood firm, though, allowing the German strikers few clear opportunities.

Gotze, replacing the veteran Miroslav Klose after 87 minutes, attempted a sensational winner in stoppage time. However Romero easily dealt with the substitute’s long-range effort.

The game exploded into life early in extra time as both Schurrle and Ozil were denied in quick succession, before Aguero wasted another Argentine chance, blazing wide when a cross to Messi might have brought better reward.

As fatigue set in on both sides, tackles flew thick and fast and several players came perilously close to receiving second yellow cards. But the referee showed common sense in resisting the clamour for dismissals.

Finally, with the prospect of another penalty shootout looming large, Germany struck the decisive blow. A Schurrle cross from the left found Gotze in space and he showed commendable composure before beating Romero with a left-foot drive.

Messi had one further opportunity to earn redemption at the death when given a free-kick 30 yards out. But his effort sailed harmlessly over the crossbar, taking his nation’s hopes with it.

His indifferent performance, together with those in previous matches, continue a pattern which has become all too familiar during big games in 2014.

Time and again during the past season, Barcelona looked to Messi to deliver in big games against the Madrid clubs, and time and again he was found wanting.

The hope was that in the biggest game of his career, he could finally produce a display which befitted his undoubted talent. But it proved not to be, though he was subsequently given the somewhat-hollow consolation of being awarded the FIFA Golden Ball for player of the tournament – to the consternation and astonishment of many observers.

Many Argentine fans will not unduly care about missing out on a tournament that few of them expected to win. For them, success was finishing further than Brazil – a mission that their side duly accomplished.

Others, though, will agonise about the missed opportunities and wonder whether Sabella made best use of the resources at his disposal. In particular, the early deployment of Aguero, who was clearly far from fully fit, may have tipped the balance of the game in Germany’s favour.

However, on the evidence of their performances in the tournament as a whole, the Germans were deserved winners. Joachim Low’s squad possessed the most quality, resilience and depth of any seen during Brazil 2014. Although occasionally vulnerable in defence – as shown again last night – their extra ruthlessness in front of goal proved to be the factor that ultimately propelled them to the summit of the world game.

The German trophy drought – which had lasted since the heady days of Wembley and Euro 96 – has now been brought to a close.

Few expect that this team will have to wait another 18 years for its next honour.

June 28, 2014 / ultrafox1963

Golden prize still up for grabs

Destiny of the trophy remains a mystery

Destiny of the trophy remains a mystery

Fans hoping for a festival of football at this summer’s World Cup will have been thrilled with what they have seen so far.

Many of the world’s top players have flourished in the tournament to date. The Brazilian public, despite discontent about the cost of the event, have backed it in impressive numbers. And underdogs such as Costa Rica, Algeria and the USA have sprung a few upsets.

Seven of the eight top seeds have made it to the knockout stages, with only defending champions Spain missing out. Selection blunders by coach Vicente Del Bosque – most notably the inclusion of clearly-unfit striker Diego Costa – were duly punished by group opponents Chile and the Netherlands.

Sadly for England, its role in the extravaganza was brief and far from memorable. A record of one point from three games was the worst record of any European nation at the tournament.

Although Roy Hodgson may have satisfied his FA bosses with his claims to be “building for the future” many fans are far from convinced that progress can or will be made during his stewardship. Only the lack of a credible English alternative for his position has enabled Hodgson to escape the scrutiny and criticism an under-performing manager on a £3.5m annual salary should anticipate.

However plenty of Premier League players – including Leicester winger Riyad Mahrez – still remain in the World Cup. While many – Vincent Kompany and Robin van Persie being notable examples – have displayed the quality that many would have expected of them, others have performed at a level well beyond that witnessed on a weekly basis by long-suffering followers of their clubs.

At this stage, choosing a likely winner of this World Cup is far from easy. While all of the main contenders have impressed in front of goal, they have also displayed defensive weaknesses which can be exploited on any given day. As a consequence, more shock results are likely to occur, especially as certain teams – particularly Brazil and Argentina – have struggled to cope with the burden of expectations their fans have placed upon them.

Although talismen such as Neymar and Lionel Messi have risen to the challenges placed before them so far, with four goals apiece, it remains to be seen whether either or both can maintain such a standard of form during the next two weeks. Of the two, the more experienced Messi, playing in his third World Cup and with more talented strikers alongside him, appears better suited to lasting the pace.

Meanwhile Germany have been their usual formidable selves and should feature in the closing stages, while Colombia, despite the absence of prolific striker Radamel Falcao, have caught the eye and look the most likely of the tournament’s dark horses.

The standard of refereeing at the tournament has not always been the best, with many off-the-ball incidents being missed and some very questionable penalty decisions being made. Fortunately, though, this has yet to affect the overall quality of the World Cup, and many fans will hope it stays that way.