Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Natasha and Emma came to lunch to talk about their work at the Medical Foundation, and particularly Natasha's project on Rule 35 - the Rule that provides that if an asylum applicant makes a claim the s(he) has been tortured that is mot manifestly unfounded, s(he) must not be detained.

At Questions I chipped in with a supplementary on David Chidgey's question on Yemen

Then to the Moses Room, where I spoke in a debate on the immigration fees regulation.

In the evening, to the Frontline Club for a showing of a film about the persecution of LGBT people in Uganda, and the problems they have in getting asylum. I need to write to Damian Green again about asylum policy on sexual orientation. He says 'it is not necessary to exclude gay men and women from a designation to ensure they receive protection.... If any asylum claim, from a gay man, a lesbian, or anyone else, is not clearly unfounded, it will not be certified'. On that basis, it wouldn't be necessary to preserve the appeal rights of women in countries that are otherwise designated as 'safe'. But since applications by LGBT asylum seekers are wrongly refused in countries that are not designated, as proved by the success of some appeals, mistakes are certain to be made in rejecting LGBT applications from designated countries, where the applicant is denied the right of appeal.

In the Nationality, Asylum and Immigration Act 2002 it is provided that states to be named by the Secretary of State are safe enough in general to justify denying failed asylum applicants in general a right of appeal against refusal of their claim. But the Secretary of State also has power to restore the right of appeal to particular categories of people identified by gender, language, race, religion, nationality, membership of a social or other group, political opinion, or any other attribute or circumstance the Secretary of State thinks appropriate. This power has only been used in respect of women from Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali and Sierra Leone; these states are designated as safe for men. Clearly, the same argument could have been used as with sexual orientation, ie that it was not necessary to exclude women from a designation to ensure they receive protection, and that if any asylum claim from a woman was not clearly unfounded, it wouldn't be certified.

PS This was the 550th anniversary of the battle of Towton, in which it was estimated that 28,000 people were killed. I wore a black tie.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Friday: meeting chaired by John Alderdice with Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland, to discuss his $50 million scheme for enabling talented young Africans to attend European universities. No doubt with his influence and contacts the idea can work.

Saturday: with Lindsay to the Baitul Futuh, the largest Mosque in Europe, for the annual Peace Conference of the Ahmadiyya Muslims, this year on the theme of tolerance Five hundred guests were at the dinner after the formal proceedings, and I had the honour of being asked to sit next to His Holiness Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. On my other side was Dominic Grieve MP, the Attorney-General

Thursday, March 24, 2011

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Lindsay with staff and volunteers from Myatt's Fields Park growing project, on a day trip to the RHS gardens at Wisley.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Text of letter from FCO Minister Alistair Burt on Bah'ais in Iran

Thank you for your letter of 19 February, about the imprisoned Baha'i leaders in Iran.

I share your concern about reports of the recent transfer of the two women Baha'i leaders to another prison unit. A senior Government official expressed our concern to the Iranian Charge d'Affaires in London on 18 February, requested further details of the reasons for the transfers, and sought assurances that they would be protected from harm. We remain in contact with the Iranian authorities about this case.

The Iranian Government has not responded to consistent messaging from the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council (HRC) and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, or the Secretary General to improve the human rights situation in country. Iran has also failed to implement any significant recommendations from its Universal Periodic Reveiw last year, including the facilitation of visits by special procedures, under their mandate. At the HRC currently in session in Geneva we are working with partners to establish a Special Rapporteur for Iran. This would ensure international scrutiny on Iran's human rights record.

Please accept my assurances that the UK remains firmly committed to taking action
on its own and together with our international partners to press the Iranian authorities
to ensure that justice is done in their cases.

Religious intolerance against Shi'a Muslims in Malayia

Text of a letter of March 14 from FCO Minister Jeremy Browne MP:

Thank you for your letter of 1 February, about religious intolerance against Shia Muslims in Malaysia.

Freedom of religion is enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution, albeit with some
limitations. Malaysia is a Federal state with a complex juridical system which includes the use of Shariah courts. In 1996 the Malaysian National Fatwa Council issued a Fatwa declaring Shfa to be a deviant sect. As this Council is under the Governments Islamic Advancement Department its decrees are de facto law. In December, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) arrested approximately 200 Shiite Muslims at a religious gathering, who were subsequently released on bail.

That Shiism is regarded as a deviant form of Islam and is banned in Malaysia remains a very difficult issue for many in Malaysia. Officials from the High Commission in Kuala Lumpur did not attend the first of the trials of the Malaysian Shfa Muslims you refer to in your letter, but we will consider attendance at further trials.

The EU is currently co-hosting a two day event discussing the issue of 'Religion in the
Public Space: Europe and Malaysia'. In February the EU held its first informal human
rights dialogue with Malaysia, and there are plans to continue this on a regular basis.

The issue of human rights and freedom of religion came up in the first round of talks for the EU-Malaysia Partnership and Co-operation Agreement. These ongoing processes illustrate that the issue of freedom of religion is firmly on the EUs agenda for engaging Malaysia, and that the UK with EU partners will continue to raise this issue when the opportunity arises.

The British Government and our High Commission in Kuala Lumpur regularly seek
appropriate opportunities to emphasise to the relevant authorities the importance we
attach to human rights issues including the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. We take every opportunity, including with our EU partners, to urge the
Government of Malaysia to pursue laws and practises which foster tolerance and mutual respect for all citizens of Malaysia.


Department of Cardiology
King's College Hospital ESS
02 March 2011
Dear Dr Mukhopadhyay

Lord Eric Avebury, DOB: 29-09-1928, Hospital No: D442931, NHS No: 4644474150
26 Hodden Road, Camberwell, London SE5 9LH
1. Peripheral Vascular Disease - EVAR
2. Maltoma excised by Mr Michael Marrinan in 2006
3. A Road Traffic Accident creating a Colonic Laceration requiring Laparotomy - 2001
4. Barrett's Oesophagus
5. Anaemia of unknown aetiology
6. GTN
1. Domperidone 10 mg BD
2. Bisoprolol1.25mgOD
3. Ramipril1.25mgOD
4. Omeprazole 20 mg OD
5. CalcichewD3x1BD
6. Solifenacin 10 mg OD
7. Furosemide 20 mg OD
8. Amlodipine 5 mg OD
9. Simvastatin 40 mg ON
10. Zopiclone 3.75 mg ON

I met this gentleman in Clinic today with Dr P and he remains well in himself and reports improvement in his symptoms. He is not as breathless as he was, especially during the time of the EVAR.

I have explained the results of the 24-HR Blood Pressure monitoring, which showed an average reading of 136 / 59 mmHg with little variability throughout the day. His daytime average was 140 / 58 mmHg. This is in-keeping with the readings that our machines have recorded. It was 122 / 52 mmHg this morning. I have re-checked on manual reading and it is of similar values. I have explained that this may indicate that his home machine may be giving falsely high readings, and that checking that he has the correct cuff size may be the next step.

His CTPA report is negative for a pulmonary embolus, but it shows moderate emphysema, in-keeping with his past smoking history. He stopped smoking in 1976.

He continues to have claudication and has an appointment to see Mr R soon. He asked about carotid angioplasty for his stenosis, which is around 20-40%. We have advised him against this and feel that he would benefit more from tight control of his lipid profile. Please check his lipid panel and aim to reduce his Total Cholesterol to below 4.0 mmol / L and LDL to below 2.0 mmol / L.

He can continue his Bisoproloi, but if his BP is too low or if his claudication worsens, he should stop taking it.

We have discharged him from Clinic, as his blood pressure appears well controlled now, but we have informed him that he can ask for another appointment if there is anything he would like to ask us in future.

Yours sincerely

Dr C
Cardiology SHO

Secularist of the year

Saturday afternoon, at the Secularist of the Tear event. This year's award winner was Sophie in 't Veld MEP, who spoke very well about the work she has been doing in the Dutch Parliament. She is a member of Democrats 66, part of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Orpington Circle Dinner


Left to right: The Rev Paul Hunt, Chairman of the Orpington Circle, Chris Fox, Chief Executive of the Liberal Democrat Party organisation, Lindsay, me, Simon Hughes MP and Nick Perry, Parliamentary spokesman for Hastings and Rye
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Paul is thinking of a bigger event to celebrate the 50th anniversary next year, and wants to start collecting names. It certainly would be great if we could persuade Pratap Chitnis to attend, and there must be other veterans of the by-election who would like to come, Suggestions please.

Visitors from OSISA


Visitors from the Open Society Institute of Southern Africa:Ital Zimunya, programme manager; Takawira Musavengana,Human Rights and Democracy Building Manager and Richard Lee, Programme Manager for Communications and Campaigns.
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Thursday, March 17, 2011


Kishwer Falkner had the topical question this morning, on Bahrain:


11.28 am

Asked By Baroness Falkner of Margravine

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their assessment of the political situation in Bahrain.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): My Lords, the Government are gravely concerned about the deteriorating security situation in Bahrain and are monitoring the situation closely. The Prime Minister spoke by telephone to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa on 15 March and called on him to end the violent oppression of street protests in Bahrain. The Prime Minister said that it was vital that the Bahraini authorities responded through reform, not repression, and he called for restraint on all sides. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary reiterated those points when he spoke to the Bahraini Foreign Minister yesterday. The Government call on the authorities in Bahrain to respect the right to peaceful protest and to respond to the legitimate concerns of the Bahraini people. There must be open access to hospitals and medical care. The Government call on the protesters to refrain from violence and we urge them to respond positively to the offer of national dialogue.

Baroness Falkner of Margravine: Does my noble friend accept that Britain has a special moral responsibly in the case of Bahrain, as it promised independence and constitutional government when it handed independence to Bahrain in 1971? Given the invitation from the Bahraini royal family for the Saudis to intervene, does my noble friend agree that this has eerie resonances of the Warsaw pact in 1956 and 1968 and, most recently, of Afghanistan in 1979? Does he intend calling in the Saudi ambassador and asking what the Saudis’ intention are and when they expect to go back over the causeway to oppress their own people, which they seem to do rather well?

Lord Howell of Guildford: With respect to my noble friend, the historical analogies can be overdone. The situation in Bahrain is different, as the king and the ruling authorities have sought dialogue, although it is perfectly true that this pattern does not seem to be working out at present. As to the position of Saudi Arabia, it is correct that Gulf security forces—I emphasise that it is not just Saudi but GCC forces, including a UAE deployment—have been deployed in Bahrain. We are of course concerned at the escalating situation and it is clearly vital the outside forces exercise the highest restraint and avoid violence. I am informed that the incoming forces are not involved in direct policing but are concerned with safeguarding installations. Dialogue and discussions with the Saudi Arabian ambassador are no doubt in hand and the Foreign Office will have close contact with him and other authorities.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, is not the United Kingdom’s position somewhat compromised since we have not only been an ally of the Bahraini kingdom but supplied equipment to be used in riots and so forth? What is being done to review those exports?

Lord Howell of Guildford: It is perfectly correct that we have regarded Bahrain as a friend. Indeed, the GCC forces, which include Bahraini forces, have a variety of equipment, some of which is of British origin. As the Trade Minister told your Lordships the other day, all export licences are considered on a case-by-case basis in the light of prevailing circumstances and, once approved, are kept under review. Every licence is scrutinised in the light of changing facts on the ground and if the situation in a country changes significantly, as is clearly happening not just in Bahrain but in other Middle Eastern countries, it is normal practice to review licences, as was done for Bahrain back in February. Of course there are dilemmas and difficulties, but we seek to support those aspects of the situation—in this case, national dialogue—that will bring stability and peace and minimise bloodshed.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am sure the House is very grateful to the noble Lord for giving us that update on the political situation in Bahrain. However, the Foreign Office is having to assess not only the political situation in Bahrain but the consular implications, given that we hear today that Britons are being advised to move out of Bahrain if they can. This is not the only crisis that the Foreign Office is dealing with, as there is the crisis in Japan—of which we are all acutely aware—and the crisis in Libya, too. We have three major crises, any of which would at one time be a huge burden on Foreign Office capacity. We have heard that there have been slip-ups over people going into Japan. I am not making an issue out of that but I am saying to the noble Lord that the Foreign Office is working all hours with this huge burden of three simultaneous crises. The noble Lord is a wise man and a very sensible man, and I do not say that in a back-handed way but because I think he is the most experienced head around the ministerial table. Will the noble Lord now ask his colleagues to look again at Foreign Office staffing, and in particular at the staffing for consular issues that arise out of such crises?

Lord Howell of Guildford: The noble Baroness speaks from considerable experience and she offered, I think, some kind words—I am not quite sure how kind they were. She is absolutely right that these crises come not in ones and twos but in battalions. I actually make it that we are dealing with five major crises at the moment in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and this of course places a considerable strain on our extremely dedicated and hard-working staff. The question of support at the consular and other levels is under constant review. We believe that in the present situation—she has mentioned Japan, but there is also the Libyan problem, the Middle East generally and Bahrain, which we are talking about—we can cope with these matters efficiently and are doing so in terms of giving the right travel advice. For those who have been advised to get out of Bahrain, we are offering support for their travel and removal with charter flights. These things can be done. Occasionally there are, inevitably, some hiccups and problems, but we believe we are on top of the situation, and the question of staffing is under constant review.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, while welcoming the statement by the Prime Minister yesterday calling for reform and not repression, is it not a fact that we have spent years cosying up to the hereditary dictators in Bahrain, which makes it difficult for us to change our line to suit current circumstances? Is the noble Lord doing anything about the killing of six peaceful demonstrators yesterday, the importation of the foreign mercenaries and the re-arrest of six opposition leaders who have only just been released from weeks and weeks of illegal detention and torture?

Lord Howell of Guildford: I have considerable respect for my noble friend, who is constantly campaigning for human rights and justice in all these areas, as he is right to do, even among those with whom we have had good relations in the past. I think that “cosying up” is slightly the language of the media. We were dealing with a country which was at peace, was well administered and was supportive of dialogue and reform. There is no comparison at all with Gaddafi and his crazed approach in Libya, where there is a different situation.

However, my noble friend is also quite right that the arrests of political figures give us great concern. We do not want to see a reversion to the days when Bahrain routinely held political prisoners. We argued against that. The Government and the security forces must respect the civil rights of peaceful protestors, including the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. We make those points to those who have been our friends and we believe that, having had well intentioned relationships in the past, we can carry more influence. Of course, in the present situation we have to work hard to get that influence through

OSISA and Orpington Circle

Over lunch, I had a very useful discussion with a delegation of visitors from the Open Society Initaive for Southern Africa: Itay Zimunya, OSISA's Programme Manager for Southern Africa;Takawira Musavengana, Human Rights and Democracy Building Manager at OSISA, based in Johannesburg; Richard Lee, Proramme Manager for communications and Campaigns at OSISA, and Russell Pickard, Acting International Advocacy Manager at OSISA

Yesterday we attended the fourth annual dinner of the Orpington Circle at the National Liberal Club. Speakers were the Chairnanm the Rev Paul Hunt: Chris Fox, Chief Executive of the Patty, Simon Hughes MP and me. The objective of the Orpington Circle is to raise money to help candidates at by-elections, in which it has been moderately successful and hopes to become even more so Harry Cowie, who was Director of Research in the 60's, was among the guests.

The Circle is planning a big event for next year, which will be the 50th anniversary of the by-election.

Latest from KCH

Department of Neurology King's College Hospital

Clinic Date: 10 February 2011 Denmark Hill

Dear Dr M
Eric Avebury,
26 Flodden Road, LONDON, SE5 9LH
I have just reviewed your patient Lord Avebury, who as you know had been seen in this clinic because of a non-specific episode of a fall associated with possible minor confusion and possible slight slurring of speech. EEG was unremarkable and showed some sharp transients over the temporal lobe which were not felt to be epileptiform in origin. He has had a 24 hour ECG and the heart rate dropped as low as 37 beats
per minute and was bradycardiac during the day as well as at night. Lord Avebury is on Bisoprolol 2.5 mg daily and when he saw Dr MA recently he was considering decreasing or even stopping this completely. In view of the bradycardia, I have asked Lord Avebury to reduce the Bisoprolol today to 1.25 mg daily. He is then due to see Dr MacCarthy next week who can make further adjustments as necessary.
His blood pressure is now better controlled at 122/54 mmHg.

I do not think that Lord Avebury would benefit from ongoing follow-up in this clinic but please do not hesitate to re-refer him should the need arise.
Yours sincerely

Dr V
Consultant Neurologist

Bradycardia is a heartbeat slower than 50 beats/minute. I'm still taking the Bisoprolol and for the last week or so the rate has only dropped below 60 once

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Scythia

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The Scythia, on which I was evacuated to Canada in 1940

Monday, March 14, 2011


Towards the end of his life, the former Rajah Muda, whose obituary in The Times is quoted below, wanted an acknowledgement by the British Government that he had always been a loyal servant of the Crown. He had opposed the cession of the territory to Malaysia by peaceful means, but he felt that his name had been tarnished when he was banned from entering Sarawak under the 'Undesirable Persons Enactment for fear that his presence there "might lead to insurrection". He had a loose connection with the group who plotted the assassination of the Governor, but an investigation by MI5 on behalf of the Colonil Office exonerated him of any wrongdoing (National Archives reference Anthony Brooke KV2/1855)

After independence Mr Brooke was welcomed back to Sarawak by the Malaysian government, so the ban was lifted de facto. Nevertheless it was never officially lifted by the Colonial Office or its successor the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The FCO told me in correspondence that the only documentation on their files relating to the exclusion order was a statement by Mr Brooke himself on December 18, 1946, the day after the order was made. The order itself, and the legislation under which it was made, have vanished without trace. For this reason they concluded that the FCO had no power to issue a statement such as we had requested, and they added that the only authority which might have power to do so was He Majesty the Queen. But now that Mr Brooke has died at the age of 98, the purpose of all the correspondence over more than a year has expired with him.

Anthony Brooke

Anthony Brooke

Last of the dynastic 'white rajahs' of Sarawak who fell out with his family and the British Government over his plan for independence

For more than a century the kingdom of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, was ruled by three generations of the Brooke family. The power of the "white rajahs", as they came to be known, end ed only with Sarawak's invasion by the Japanese during the Second World War and its subsequent ceding to Britain. As the Rajah Muda or crown
prince, Anthony Brooke was heir to the throne and the last member of the family to administer Sarawak's government He also led a lengthy campaign for Sarawak's independence.

Brooke's great-great uncle, James Brooke, a former soldier of the Indian Army, was proclaimed the Rajah of Sarawak as a reward by the Sultan of Brunei in 1841. An adventurer and opportunist, he had bought a ship after his army career ended, trained its crew in the Mediterranean, and set sail for the East in the 1830s. After landing in
Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, he earned the Sultan's gratitude — and the title of Rajah— by helping him to quell a rebellion of rival rulers.

The British flag was hoisted in Sarawak — an area half the size of the UK—and James Brooke set about cementing his rule, earning the title 'Tuan

The family saw it as their duty to protect the country's way of life

Besar” or Great Man. His territorial expansions and campaign to stamp out piracy and headhunting drew criticisms of brutality and violence But his exploits made him popular in Britain and on visiting England in 1847 he was hailed as a hero and knighted by Queen Victoria. He was later immortalised in George MacDohald Fraser's sixth Flashman novel, Flashman's Lady.

With no legitimate children of his own, James Brooke chose a nephew, Gharles Brooke, as his successor before his death in 1868. For the next 70 years the Brooke family ruled Sarawak as a sovereign state, in 1888 accepting British control of its foreign affairs.. They saw it as their duty to hold the state in trust for the people of Sarawak and protect their way of life from exploitation.

Anthony Walter Dayrell Brooke was Brooke in 1948 with Sarawak Malays at his home in exile in Singapore where they gathered to oppose the postwar ceding of Sarawak to the British Crown born in England in 1912 to Gladys Palmer and Bertram Brooke, the Tuan Muda of Sarawak, the younger brother of the third Rajah, Charles Vyner Brooke. The previous Rajah had expressed his wish that the brothers should act as joint rulers. While Brooke was young his parents separated, He was educated at Eton and Magdalene College, Cambridge, before studying Malay and Islamic law at the School of Oriental Studies in London.

Brooke was first attached to the Malayan Civil Service, from 1934-36; then the Sarawak Civil Service for the next three years, and was appointed District Officer in Mukah in 1939. His uncle, the Rajah, granted Brooke the title of Rajah Muda and in 1939, in the absence of his uncle, it fell to Brooke to declare war on Germany.

His uncle, announcing that Brooke was "not yet fitted to exercise the
responsibilities of his high position", removed his title. Brooke was reappointed
as a District Officer in Sarikei in 1940. A year later, the pair fell out again over proposals for a new constitution that limited the Rajah's powers. On Christmas Day, while the Rajah was in Australia and Brooke on his way to England to join the British Army, Sarawak was invaded by the Japanese.

In 1945 Sarawak was liberated Brooke was reappointed Rajah Muda and made head of the Provisional Government of Sarawak in London as his uncle withdrew from public life and his father suffered ill health During discussions with the British Government he was keen that the island people be allowed to decide their future.
Instead, in 1946 the Rajah, having dismissed Brooke, handed Sarawak over to Britain as a colony in return for a pension. Brooke then began a five-year campaign, alongside the Malay National Union, the Sarawak Dayak Association and the Sarawak Youth Movement, to restore independence.

His actions angered the British Government, which banned him from entering Sarawak. The Colonial Secretary, Arthur Creech Jones, described him as "a completely irresponsible person". Brooke co-ordinated the campaign from his mother's house in Singapore where he was visited by Sarawak campaigners. However, the movement was weakened in 1949 when a splinter group fatally stabbed Sir Duncan Stew art, the new Governor of Sarawak.

Brooke stepped back from the independence campaign in 1951 in the face of the growing threat of communism. In 1963 Sarawak became part of the Federation of Malaysia. In 1975 Brooke co-founded with his second wife, Gita, a charitable trust called Peace Through Unity, to promote harmony between different cultures. They settled in New Zealand in 1987.

In the early 1990s Brooke returned to Sarawak to campaign for the Penan, a nomadic tribe whose way of life in the rainforest was being destroyed by logging companies.
He is survived by his wife Gita, a son and a daughter, A second daughter predeceased him.

Anthony Brooke, Rajah Muda of Sarawak, was bom on December 10,1912. He died on March 2,2011, aged 98

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Professor Yunus

Daily Star, Dhaka, March 13, 2011

Prof Yunus a political victim: Lord Avebury

Lord Avebury, vice-chair of the UK Parliamentary Human Rights Group, has said the removal of Grameen Bank founder Prof Muhammad Yunus by the government from his post raises serious concerns about the creeping politicisation of development work and civil society in Bangladesh.
In a joint statement in London issued on March 11 supported by some British MPs and academics, Lord Avebury and some British MPs and academics said the microcredit approach to poverty reduction pioneered by Prof Yunus was an important innovation in the fight against poverty.
He said there are 8 million women borrowers in Bangladesh and the basic idea of microcredit has been copied by many other public and private agencies across the world.
“At the same time, advocates of microcredit have sometimes made exaggerated claims about its efficacy, and in some countries the sector itself has been poorly regulated.”
However, Lord Avebury said: “The government’s decision to take action against Yunus now appears to be motivated more by a desire to gain short term political capital by cashing in on a current global microfinance media backlash, than by evidence of any wrongdoing.”
He said: “No substantive reasons have been given for the sacking, nor has there been an opportunity for Prof Yunus to answer any criticisms of his performance as managing director.”
“It looks as though the government is punishing him for attempting to form a new political party in 2007 that could have challenged the existing two-party system, rather than for proof of any wrongdoing.”
The statement is supported and consented by Lord Avebury, Peter Bottomley MP, Charles Tannock MEP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Prof Geoff Wood and Dr Joe Devine of Bath University, Prof David Lewis of London School of Economics, Ms Maggie Bowden, General Secretary, Liberation (human rights organisation), and Sadat Sayeed, Barrister at Garden Court Chambers, Lincoln’s Inn.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Human trafficking

John William and his friend Ed, with their exhibit on the plight of trafficked human beings designed by Ed, at the Russian Embassy this evening


Debate on my motion today calling attention to the situation in Zimbabwe


Question on rights of gay asylum seekers, on Monday:

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Christine Parker


Christine Parker's obituary in the Daily Telegraph. She and her husband John were the stalwart pillars of Liberalism in Orpington in the years before the 1962 by-election, laying the foundations for that victory by their concentration on the local elections, and building up the support base of activists who pitched in with enthusiasm when the opportunity arose. Her distinguished record of public activity, from wartime service to her effective chairmanship of the Orpington Urban District Council, comes across in this article, but I remember her best as a close personal friend and mentor. It was Christine who proposed to the local party executive that I should be the candidate at the by-election. To add a sentence to this account, when our previous candidate Jack Galloway was reluctantly persuaded to stand aside because of his marital problems, Christine telephoned the Chief Whip, Donald Wade MP, to ask his advice on choosing a successor. Donald said that a local person should be appointed, because the writ might be moved at any moment. "Haven't you got a local councillor who would be suitable?" he asked. She reported this conversation to the executive, and pointed to me as one who filled the bill.

The writ wasn't moved until several months later, but that's another story.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


Abduljalil Alsingace, human rights leader, released from prison as a result of the Bahrain uprising:

أتقدم بوافر الشكر والتقدير لكل من ساهم وأظهر دعمه ومؤازرته لقضيتنا أثناء الاعتقال ومن عمل على اطلاق سراحنا من المعتقل، أشكركم جميعا من القلب أيها أيها الأخوة والاصدقاء والزملاء أين ما كنتم ومن أي موقع تصرفتم. أقدر عطائكم كثيراً واعدكم بمواصلة درب العطاء والتضحية من أجل رفاهية جميع البشر وصيانة واحترام حقوق الإنسان على هذه الأرض.

المخلص أبداً

عبدالجليل السنكيس-البحرين
I would like to express my deep thanks and appreciation to all those who participated and presented their support, in any way, towards my release from my detention. I thank you all (Brothers and sisters, friends and colleagues) from the bottom of my heart. I very much appreciate your contribution from any position held and promise you that I will continue deliverance towards prosperous life for man kind, maintenance and respect for human rights on earth.
Yours ever,
Abduljalil (AJ) Alsingace- Bahrain

Monday, March 07, 2011

Where did last week go to?

Last week seemed to be very busy even if I can't point to specific events. Monday there was a meeting of the Zimbabwe All-Party Group, and Wednesday I spoke on two Orders to do with Gypsy sites and security of tenure under the Mobile Homes Act. The Coalition Government has completed the process started by Labour, for which they should be given due credit.

Also on Wednesday I attended Dr M's cardiology clinic at King's. The tests he had ordered show that all is OK.

This afternoon I had an unsatisfactory answer to my question about LBGT asylum seekers. I don't think the Minister, Earl Attlee, had understood the note I had sent him explaining it, and I'll have to see if I can get it across in a letter/