Thursday 10 May 2012

Jewel Robbing Spotted On The BBC

Simon Clark today reports that those tax spongers in the South West are getting all upset about Freedom of Information requests.
Smokefree South West claim that they have been "inundated by pro-smoking/choice organisations such as Forest, backed by the tobacco industry with FOI requests in relation to their campaign.

The BBC has interviewed Professor Gabriel Scally, recently retired head of public health for the South West, and they also want to interview someone from Forest.

Dr Scally, I am told, is critical of the tobacco industry, and campaigners like Forest, for their FOIs about plain packaging not only in the UK but in Australia, "in particular the expense and time it is causing them in having to respond to some 35 requests FOI requests including very detailed ones for emails".
Oh dear. That'll be partly our fault, then.

And here they are bleating about it in a video broadcast on the BBC.

These people really do have no other line of attack than to try making out that everyone who disagrees with them are funded by tobacco companies. It's really quite pathetic.

Ever since I posted a photograph of one of Smokefree South West's advertising hoardings, I've received e-mails letting me know of FOI requests readers have submitted - probably because it was unclear at the time how much they cost.
On top of the design fees, as far as I can ascertain, this space would cost around £200 per week and, of course, we don't know how many of them there are dotted around, or for how long. Add on printing costs and beer money for the bill posters and we're talking a pretty penny being spent from your taxes, I reckon.
I submitted some myself but it was a fellow jewel robber who e-mailed me this response which was the first we knew they were pissing half a mill down the drain.

Others who e-mailed me their FOI responses include a teacher from the Midlands, an IT professional, and a guy from Manchester involved in Intellectual Property, hence his interest. As for myself, regular readers will know I run a transport company which has grown from couple of borrowed vehicles in the 90s, so I'm just a glorified white van man. Remember too, that these are just those who copied me in on their responses and takes no account of any others who may have sent a request for personal curiosity without letting on. After all, it's a very simple process.

See any tobacco industry involvement there? No, it's utter arse-biscuits, of course. But they really don't like any kind of debate or questioning, do they?

You'll notice in the BBC report that they mention the half a million pounds figure that I revealed here in April. That was the first time it had been mentioned, and it's a fair bet that without the FOI requests Smokefree South West would never have revealed it. This is the entire point of the Freedom of Information Act. To force those who spend our taxes into letting us know what they are doing with them.

Far from being 'sabotage' of their lobbying plans, those requests made these people notify the public what is being done with the cash they have stolen from us by force.

Isn't it incredible that these grasping bastards are happily trousering cash by the many millions from the public trough but - once asked what they are doing with it - squeal like stuck pigs and default to spreading lies and insults.

If they don't want to be accountable to the public - which it is clear they don't - then here's an idea, STOP TAKING TAXPAYERS' MONEY!

This contemptuous deceit goes right to the top, too.

BBC South West, or whatever it's called, was happy to confirm today that the plain packs campign was "NHS-funded", yet Anne Milton denied this in March.
The Department of Health has not spent any money on advertising or marketing the forthcoming consultation on tobacco packaging, neither through the NHS Smokefree marketing campaign, nor through any other organisation.
Thanks to our FOI requests, we now know this was a duplicitous dodge at best, a lie at worst. Again, it is perfect validation of how the Freedom of Information Act enables ordinary people to cut through bullshit from politicians and discover at least some small parts of the truth.

I say small parts as - in the sphere of public health anyway - even the government has no clue how much they are spending on this kind of stuff. They don't even know how many people they have working on it, there are too many snouts in that particular trough for them to keep track of.

The chief complainant, Gabriel Scally, is apparently debating plain packaging with Snowdon and Clark in Bristol tonight. Considering he's part of a bullshit spreading campaign on the BBC today, the chances of his being truthful there are obviously very slim.

Still, to all of you fellow jewel robbers who have managed to get right up the noses of these greedy, arrogant, public-funded arseholes. Very well done!


Patnurse said...

Milton still denies it's NHS funded DP and she claims, in a response to a letter I received today via my MP from me, to be listening to ALL interested parties including HOOPs. I seem to recall that Lansley refused a meeting with HOOPs?

 I will be blogging this in detail soon. You really couldn't make it up but Milton did. 

 I also did my own non tobacco industry backed FOI about the cost of the "invisible smoke" TV ads which Milton denies is pushing THS when it clearly is. 

 "Invisible smoke" is the alleged residue left hours after you've finished smoking and it's invented with no credible study to suggest it exists or harms anyone except in Milton's own political lobby group's head.

 Milton is a liar and worse she thinks the electorate is stupid. 

Mark.S said...

So asking where the funding is coming from is intimidating the poor dears!

Detailed FOI requests seem to cause havoc too?

Dick_Puddlecote said...

It would seem so. I see that more a feature of the FOIA than a bug. ;)

FolksObserver said...

The Manchester Regional health loonies are runnning a very expensive
QUIT campaign which includes large murals on double decker buses
showing a toddler (about 2 year old ) held by his "daddy" apparently
saying "Please quit for me Daddy"
Daft really as most 20 year old Mancunians cant read let alone 2 year olds.
It would seem likely some health wacko has a nice earner with some advertising agency and the bus company.

Bus Spotter 

Mr A said...

Counting down to the next ASH document that claims the Ministry that deals with FOI requests is a Tobacco Front group.....3....2....1....

moonrakin said...

I'm one of the FoI-ers and I'm frankly appalled at response I received - the preachy, patronising tone - the gratuitous propagandizing and refusal to actually answer the questions that I asked.

I intend to pursue when work commitments allow. As far as I'm concerned they can explain themselves to the Information Commissioner's Office - they're well on the way to an appeal in my estimation.

That these pompous self serving "public health activists" are funded directly from hard pressed front line NHS funds is unacceptable - that they chose to pursue their dishonest mission of fraudulently contrived agitprop from palatial offices as far away from stinky patients and awkward medics as possible in a very "nice" part of Bristol and give themselves nice cars, generous expenses and flexi-time is really not on - not on at all....    

Michael McFadden said...

Great column!
I think you were being FAR too kind though regarding the BBC admission and Milton's denial of funding involvement when you said:"we now know this was a duplicitous dodge at best, a lie at worst."I have a hard time seeing how it could be interpreted as anything OTHER than an outright lie.  That's the sort of thing that destroyed Richard Nixon over here in the 70s: you should play it for all it's worth!  Maybe showcase it with a selected selection of the other pretty-inarguable lies that you've gathered over the last few years.Question:  What's with this "jewel robber" thing?  Is it a Britishism that just us Yanks don't know about?  I'm asking because I'm thinking that if it's more of an "in-joke" that's developed then it might be better not to use it in headlines since most of the passers-by might not bother to click/read  whereas they might click/read something headlined: "NHS caught in blatant funding lie to the British public!" Also: a thought re the statement "inundated by pro-smoking/choice organisations such as Forest, backed by the tobacco industry with FOI requests in relation to their campaign."  It's a close call, but they may be overstepping the line into outright libel over there.  The phrasing is clearly meant to indicate that many, most, or perhaps even all of those organizations are funded by the tobacco industry.  The word "backed" indicates more than simple parallel agreement: it indicates active involvement by funding/manpower/materials.  Given that in our fight the moral "score" of "the tobacco industry" in the public eye is somewhere down in the basement with Al Quaida, and given that these requesting "pro-smoking/choice organizations" are truly limited in the public eye to no more than a handful, it's actually somewhat similar to saying:"F2C, Dick Puddlecote, and the rest of the requesters are funded by, having meetings with, and are getting their office supplies and press-release services from Al Quaida." Now, if indeed there were 20 or 30 groups out there that were "involved" with Al Quaida at that level, and "F2C etc" just happened to be among the few truly innocent actors acting independently along the same lines, then the nameless grouping claim in a public statement might be justifiable.  HOWEVER... if it can/could be shown (as I believe it probably can/could be) that a majority of those FOI requests came from truly good-spirited independent and name-known sources then I think the blanket association in a public statement might be libelous.  If Milton is complaining about all these complicated, time-consuming FOI requests, how about cutting them a break and submitting a very simple one?  Just ask for the names of those 35 requesters to see how many of them actually ARE majority funded by the tobacco industry?  Hey, with a little luck and a good lawyer, maybe there'd even be a chance of folks on our side of the aisle winning a nice lawsuit and thereby getting funded by nice clean antismoking money and actually HAVING funding for a change. Heh, wouldn't the game field change then, eh?   :>MJM

Dick_Puddlecote said...

The 'jewel robber thing' is a reference to my ancestral namesake (see the 'About' tab at the top of the page). 

There's an excellent article about the whole caper here.

ivandenisovich said...

Scally is yet another medic who never really bothered practicing but felt that he could best benefit society by being a small minded, mendacious authoritarian. He trained as a GP but has been on the public health gravy train since 1986. As far as I am concerned the government owe me for the 26 years that I have been forced to pay for this nasty little man. It was money that I would have greatly preferred to have contributed to front line health services. As for the DH, it is dishonest, profligate and corrupt. Those responsible should be exposed. Has anyone heard an honest explanation from Milton re the 150K we have been forced to donate to ASH yet?   

Chris W said...

Ludicrous really when you consider all the Pollution pumped out by those buses !

Stuart H. said...

Dr Scally certainly seems to meet the Liverpudlian definition of a Scally!

Michael McFadden said...

LOL!  Great story!  Thanks for sharing!  


truckerlyn said...

The electorate aren't stupid, Patnures, sadly though, too many are just plain apathetic and lazy!

truckerlyn said...

"in particular the expense and time it is causing them in having to respond to some 35 requests FOI requests including very detailed ones for emails".

Oh dear, how sad, what a shame!  Is the expense involved taking away from his own pocket?  Perhaps he should try getting a REAL job and stop sponging off taxpayers.

The likes of Gabriel Scally, Milton and co are worse than anyone sponging in excess off the state, as far as I am concerned, because they are out and out liars and total thieves!

I really must find the time to check out about putting in some FOI's myself, just to wind them up, if nothing else!  With any luck, if enough are sent they will wind up so much that the spring will break and this lot of lying cheats might just end up scattered into individual little hitlers without any clout.

I can live in hope I guess!

James Pickett said...

"Smokefree South West is not in receipt of any funding 
from the Department of Health either in terms of annual
funding or projects and campaigns"  (from the FOI reply)

It's a shame the question wasn't simpler, e.g. who's paying?

Michael McFadden said...

Pat, I think the "invisible smoke" nonsense is just an extension of the "thirdhand smoke" crock o' merde.  See my responses at: 

for more details on that.


Patnurse said...

Of course it is Michael. That why the "smoke" seeping through the skin of a sleeping baby then disappears with the message that you don't have to see it to know it's there and its "harmful" - the basis on my complaint because it's not even proven to exist.


Jocelyn said...

Thanks for the link Michael.  I had a good laugh all the way through that article, particularly your comments on the trillions of years it would take for a floor licking obsessed child to absorb the amount of chemicals that killed the Russian.  'Dissecting Antismoker's Brains' is now a must-read for me!

Jocelyn said...

So propaganda and gruesome images are now "Education".
For the children, of course!

Dick_Puddlecote said...

"Milton still denies it's NHS funded"
If so, she is lying. Smokefree South West have spent £468,000 on lobbying the government. Smokefree South West is funded by the 14 NHS PCTs in the South West area under the auspices of the NHS Southern strategic health authority. 

It's an open and shut case. Government IS lobbying government for plain packaging. 

Without the FOI requests that Gabriel Scally is bleating about, we wouldn't know this as they refuse to tell us. Scally and his chums are invoking the BBC to try to hide their anti-transparent feathering of their own nest. 

Blazeaway said...

Can anyone help me?

I presume that if Smoke Free South West is answering FOI requests then a similar organisation in the NW should be doing.

I have FOId (last year) Our Life which has now allied to DrinkAware NW. Our Life said it was exempt from FOI requests which forced me to then FOI the PCTs that were funding it. A very time-consuming matter.

Our Life said that as an 'industrial and providential society' - a fake charity I presume - it was not obliged to respond to FOI requests.

Were they pulling the wool over my eyes?

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Yes, I can help. 

I believe there is an exemption in the FOIA for publicly funded organisations which receive funds from more than one source. That could be what they are getting at. 

Smokefree South West is solely funded by the relevant NHS PCTs so they have no get out. 

Dick_Puddlecote said...

By the way, forgot to say well done for submitting your request. Every citizen should be doing such things as a matter of course. 

They wrap us up with regulations and red tape which interfere with the way we love our lives using our money. The very least we should be doing is giving it back in spades when they are taking the piss. If they bleat, stuff 'em. 

Blazeaway said...

Thanks Dick. My FOIs to the PCTs in the North West revealed a huge amount going to Our Life from the NHS.

I guess - only guess - that probably 95 per cent or more of Our Life funding coming from the NHS, albeit through the PCTs.

It was £1.6m per year incidentally.

I suspect it is similar to what SFSW gets and also from PCTs. Which begs the question again: why does SFSW respond and not a similar NW body.

By the way, the Minimum Unit Pricing muppets from Dring Aware NW are already upping the ante on the 40p MUP. They are already issuing press releases calling for it to be 50p. All the usual claims about drink being cheaper than water etc.

Te difference this time is that they claim to have calculated 'the cost of alcohol' to each district/borough council in the NW. Bogus figures of course.

To give it credibility, they are trying to recruit district councils to issue the press release - and trying to get the councils to issue supporting statements in support not only of the 40p MUP but of the 50p MUP being called for by the prohibitionists.

All in direct opposition to the Local Government Act's Publicity Code of course...

Tooscaredtoshare said...

Now sfsw are advertising on Guido!

Michael McFadden said...

Trucker, the electorate may not be "stupid" but they CAN be "brainwashed" when they're subjected to hundreds of repetitions of the same insane messages throughout the year with virtually nothing contradicting those messages and when they're hit with them from early childhood onward.  See Lie #2 at:

(Jocelyn, that link will give you a good taste of Brains as well!)


truckerlyn said...

I agree Michael McF, however, I am sick and tired of seeing and hearing people, my mother and husband included, shrug their shoulders and say we know it all stinks, but what can we do?

They then follow up with "I have always voted Con/Lab/Lib Dem 'cos my parents did"

Then there are those that do the former but just don't vote for anyone!

People are too apathtic and lazy to look into other options apart from the main 3 and that is why we are constantly stuck with all this bullshit!

Sorry, it just makes my blood boil - causes a few fallings out in the family too!!