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The State rarely apologises for its actions but in recent times there has been a spate of apologies for the misdeeds of the past.

One wonders what criteria the State applies to a public admission of wrong doing. Two criteria stand out, the passage of time and the possibility of incurring a financial penalty.

The official line is that the apologies are an expression of regret for policies that are now deemed inhumane, like 'disappearing' children to the Colonies or for a failure to act appropriately in response to corporate misdeeds, as in the case of Distillers.



Did Union Carbide ever apologise for their criminal actions in Bhopal. No, they changed their name and hoped no one would notice. In fact, UC was snapped up by Dow Chemicals but they didn't want the Bhopal plant, that went to Eveready Industries India Ltd - remember that the next time your torch needs a battery.


The Irish Potato Famine and the Slave Trade


Soon after Tony Blair took power in 1997, he apologised to Irish people for the country's potato famine 150 years before. How far was this lunatic prepared to extend his elasticated sincerity. Ten years later he expressed sorrow for the UK's role in the slave trade, although his words fell short of the unconditional apology. Under media pressure he did finally say sorry to Ghanaian president John Agyekum Kufuor in 2007. He also apologised to the 11 people wrongfully imprisoned for the IRA bomb attacks in Guildford and Woolwich in 1974 which killed five people. Paul Hill, Gerry Conlon, Patrick Armstrong and Carole Richardson spent 15 years in prison before the convictions were overturned by the Court of Appeal in 1989.

Blair also expressed much sorrow for his part for the carnage of Iraq but he never will say sorry.


The Amritsar Massacre


However, Mr Cameron also has trouble saying sorry. He called the Amritsar Massacre in 1919 a “deeply shameful” episode in British colonial history and expressed his condolences but couldn't say the magic word. In fact he is in 'good' company, the Queen also has problems with the 's' word:

“It is no secret that there have been some difficult episodes in our past...But history cannot be rewritten, however much we might sometimes wish otherwise. It has its moments of sadness, as well as gladness. We must learn from the sadness and build on the gladness.”

For the record.....

An inquiry commissioned by the Raj colonial authorities found that 379 people died in the public gardens of Jallianwala Bagh, though this figure has been widely challenged by Indian sources, who put the death toll at 1,000 or more.




50 Years After... UK Government apology to Thalidomide survivors.

Fifty years after the one of the worst disasters in medical history, hundreds of survivors of the thalidomide scandal today got an apology from the Government and a new £20 million compensation package. There are 466 thalidomiders still living with their deformities brought about by their mothers taking the drug Distaval for morning sickness in the early months of pregnancy between 1958 and 1961. Around 2000 babies were affected by the drug, half died within months of birth. Compensation was eventually paid (£28 million) to the survivors after a campaign by the The Times newspaper by Distillers, the manufacturer (now Diageo) in the 1970s.

Mike O'Brien, minister of health, told Parliament (2009):

"The Government wishes to express its sincere regret and deep sympathy for the injury and suffering endured by all those affected when expectant mothers took the drug thalidomide between 1958 and 1961."

What exactly was he apologising for, we wonder? Was it the shabby treatment victims initially received concerning compensation. Or was it the fact that when the use of Distaval was blocked in the US, due to insufficient testing, the British Government allowed its use regardless. Or was it because in 1957, the World Health Organisation had warned the UK that its lack of adequate regulation was courting disaster and the British Government ignored the warning.

Like a typical politician O'Brien apologises but doesn't actually say what for. Perhaps he's apologising on behalf of all those lazy dead buggers, the Tory lounge lizards, too busy worrying about the price of a gin and tonic to focus on the criminal activity of Distillers Biochemicals.

Interestingly, proper regulation didn't appear until the Medicines Act 1968; this was a direct result of the Thalidomide scandal.




The Transportation of British Children

Shipping children from care homes off to the Colonies was official government policy for over 60 years - the purpose, to keep up the 'white stock'.

Gordon Brown (2009) offered a formal apology to tens of thousands of British children forcibly sent to Commonwealth countries during the last century, many of whom faced abuse and a regime of unpaid labour rather than the better life they were promised.

Children were cut off from families and some falsely told they were orphans in the programme that sent 150,000 abroad between 1920 and 1967.

Officially the scheme was called the Child Migrants Programme, about 7,000 are still living in Australia, where Prime Minister Rudd had a go at apologising himself to the 'stolen generation'. Rudd was apologising to 500,000 children entertained by Australia, including aboriginal children forcibly removed from their parents.


Ed Balls, then children's secretary, famously said the child vanish migrant programme was "a stain on our society".


Some stains just can't be removed by Vanish.



A Long Overdue Apology - Atomic Blasts and Human Guinea Pigs.

As yet, no government has apologised to the British servicemen used as guinea pigs during nuclear testing in the 50s and 60s.

Of course, to apologise would be to acknowledge responsibility for the damage done to the soldiers health following these nuclear tests. To date only the USA has paid compensation to its serviceman. The Government here appears to be waiting until they are all dead.

The nuclear tests of this period were not a secret, in fact they were very public, designed to promote the scare mongering and prevailing cold war neurosis of the time. However, the scale and frequency of the testing was not public knowledge - in one mad month in the late 50s, up to 40 tests were carried out on Pacific Islands and in Australia, 20,000 British troops were involved.

Some testing facts:

Of 2,500 men surveyed in 1999 30% of the men had died, mostly in their fifties.
  • In their grandchildren spina bifida rates are more than five times the usual rate for live births in the UK.
  • More than 200 skeletal abnormalities were reported.
  • More than 100 veterans children reported reproductive difficulties.

The British Nuclear Test Veterans Association's slogan is "All We Seek Is Justice". Our slogan is "The Best of British Luck".

Footnote: February 25, 1952. Windscale (now Sellafield) sets up plutonium operation to supply the fission material.



Nuclear Testing - the fall out

Gaining a grasp of what is actually going on is difficult, some issues are complex, some confusing, and some are deliberately made so.

Let's take an example of what John Berger once called 'ways of seeing'. Berger's focus was the art work of the old masters, here, let's consider British efforts to test nuclear bombs in the 1950s and the damage done to British service men, used as guinea pigs in the experiment.

Back in 2010 the Law Lords in all their wigs and finery found in favour of the MOD in their denial of compensation to nuclear test guinea pigs, dating back to the 1950s.

The MOD said:

"We recognise the invaluable contribution of all service personnel who took part in the nuclear testing programme. We are grateful to them for the part they played in ensuring UK security." MoD.


'Thanks very much, now get lost, we found out what we needed to know, people exposed to radiation get ill a long time after exposure and die slow, painful deaths.'

Children born to the 22,000 British troops sent to witness nuclear blasts during the 1950s in the South Pacific had 16 times the normal rate of birth defects and the men’s partners suffered 50% more miscarriages and stillbirths.

Prime Minister David Cameron promised to consider setting up a £25 million fund for survivors and their families. That was in April 2014. Thus far there has been no sign of any money from the government.

The French and American governments have paid compensation to their test servicemen and their families. Here, the MOD seems to believe a simple thank you very much is good enough. The generational damage done to the victims of these tests is beyond argument. The amount of money on offer cannot be the stumbling block for Cameron, which leaves us to draw the conclusion that the generals and politicians who thought it was a great idea to expose our own troops to nuclear fall out do not want to admit they are either idiots or heartless, calculating bastards.



The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment - an American Apology, not quite.

The Public Health Service, working with the Tuskegee Institute, began the study in 1932 and ended in 1972.. Nearly 400 poor black men with syphilis from Macon County, Ala., were enrolled in the study. For participating in the study, the men were given free medical exams, free meals and free burial insurance. They were never told they had syphilis, nor were they ever treated for it. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the men were told they were being treated for "bad blood," a local term used to describe several illnesses, including syphilis, anemia and fatigue.

By 1947 penicillin had become the standard treatment for syphilis but the 'researchers' never used it? What on earth was going on in Tuskegee?

This socalled experiment was all about finding out about the long-term untreated affects of syphilis. The question is why did it continue when there was nolonger any need to continue with the experiment.

Revelations about the Tuskegee experiment led to a whole raft of legislation to protect human subjects.

In October 2010 it was revealed that during the 1940s in Guatemala, the project went a step further: American doctors deliberately infected prisoners, soldiers, and patients in a mental hospital with syphilis and, in some cases, gonorrhoea. It transpires that a key player in this crime was none other than John Charles Cutler, a government researcher involved in Tuskegee.

President Obama let it be known that he was regretful.




Families waited 17 years for an apology

Flight ZD 576 crashed into the side of a mountain on the Scottish island in dense fog on the night of June 2, 1994. The Government apologised for blaming RAF helicopter pilots for the Chinook crash that killed 29

The Government today apologised to the families of two pilots after an independent report cleared them of blame for a 1994 helicopter crash which killed senior police, Army and MI5 intelligence officers.

Flight-Lieutenants Jonathan Tapper, 30, and Richard Cook, 28, were found guilty of gross negligence for flying too low and too fast when their Chinook crashed during a flight from Belfast to Inverness, a 1995 RAF inquiry concluded.

The pair have now been exonerated by a fresh review into the Mull of Kintyre disaster that claimed 29 lives including those of the four crew.
Cleared: Flight Lieutenants Jonathan Tapper (left) and Richard Cook have been exonerated for a 1994 helicopter crash which claimed 29 lives
Defence Secretary Liam Fox said he had now written to their relatives to apologise for the distress caused by the RAF's original findings.

After an RAF board of inquiry found the most probable cause was the selection of the wrong rate of climb over the island, a report by two air marshals - Sir William Wratten and Sir John Day concluded Flt Lt Tapper and Flt Lt Cook, from Hampshire, were 'negligent to a gross degree'.

Successive defence secretaries resisted pressure to reopen the case, but in May last year, Dr Fox announced he was ordering a review of the evidence, honouring a pledge made while the Conservatives were in opposition.

Real negligence must lay elsewhere. What halfwit thought it was a good idea to put all your spies on one craft. And who at the RAF was listening when the pilot told his superiors that he felt ill-prepared to make the flight?


The Chagos Islands: Or how to disappear a whole people.

In the 1960s and 1970s the Chagos islanders or Ilois, were forced from their "paradise" homeland to make way for the US base on Diego Garcia.

The Americans wanted a launch pad in the Indian Ocean for their B-52s and elements within Wilson's government offered them the Chagos Islands, in return for a large discount on Polaris submarines. A memo from then Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart to Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1969 admitted that the payment was kept secret from Parliament and the US Congress.

One key condition was that the Chagos contained no people. The British assured the US that there were only seagulls. In truth, 1800 people lived on the islands; these people were intimidated off of the islands to live in squalor on Mauritius. As a bribe for accepting the Chagossians Mauritius was given its independence from Britain and £3 million to keep quiet.

Making the people of the islands disappear took some time and cunningly the British made the Chagos Islands disappear first, by renaming the islands the British Indian Ocean Territory, or BIOT by using an order-in-council. Orders-in-council are not public knowledge, essentially a ritual takes place involving the Queen and the Privy Council, no debate takes place, the orders are read, the Queen agrees and no one need be any the wiser.

The important thing was to maintain the fiction that the islands never had any permanent residence, since residence have rights.

A telegram sent to the UK mission at the United Nations in November 1965 summed up the problem:

"We recognise that we are in a difficult position as regards references to people at present on the detached islands. "We know that a few were born in Diego Garcia and perhaps some of the other islands, and so were their parents before them.

"We cannot therefore assert that there are no permanent inhabitants, however much this would have been to our advantage. In these circumstances, we think it would be best to avoid all references to permanent inhabitants."

Sir Paul Gore-Booth, senior official at the Foreign Office, wrote to a diplomat in 1966: "We must surely be very tough about this. The object of the exercise is to get some rocks which will remain ours... There will be no indigenous population except seagulls..."

As the judge in the case, Mr Justice Gibbs, said: "It is clear from some of the disclosed documents that, in some quarters, the official zeal in implementing those removal policies went beyond any proper limits."

It's interesting to note that although Chagossians didn't officially exist, they were banned from returning to the islands. The British High Court has twice overturned this ban, in 2005 and 2007, but the Government continues to ignore the Court.

British Governments, from Wilson through Heath and beyond to the present have not been properly compensated the Chagossians for the loss of their homeland. Now, the cost of resettlement makes getting back home even less likely.

If nothing else, the story of the Chagos Islands tells us everything we need to know about liberal democracies like Britain and the US. Parliament and Congress kept in the dark, the public kept in the dark, for the sake of geo-political ambitions 1,800 people were disappeared without a second thought.

Note: Diego Garcia is also the home of Camp Justice, a less well known relative of Guantanamo Bay. Sami al-Saadi, paid to keep quiet by the UK government, was rendered to Camp Justice before being sent back to Libya and more torture.


The Latest Twist in this sad tale

An unexpected ruling this month (Feb' 2013) by the permanent court of arbitration in The Hague, which arbitrates in disputes over the United Nations law of the sea, that it can hear the case challenging the UK's unilateral declaration in 2009 of a marine protected area around the Chagos Islands. UK prime minister, Gordon Brown promised the Mauritian prime minister that MPA would not be put in place and then promptly put the MPA in place?

The legal battle, begun more than two years ago, raises fundamental questions about who has sovereignty over the Indian Ocean territory. Mauritian government officials believe it could lead to the unravelling of Britain's disputed claim and the eventual return of the islanders.

The Foreign Office claims:

"The no-take MPA around the British Indian Ocean Territory (Biot) is the largest no-take MPA in the world. The MPA provides refuge and breeding sites for migratory and reef fish, marine mammals, birds, turtles, corals and other marine life. The MPA will help reduce regional loss of biodiversity and, it is hoped, in replenishing fish stocks in the Indian Ocean."

The Real Reason for the MPA

In 2014, the US lease on Diego Garcia runs out and Britain wants to be in a position to re-new the lease. It cannot not do that if the Chagos Islanders get their islands back. So Britain pretends to care about biodiversity and ignores the rights of the islanders or 'Man Fridays' as the Foreign Office prefers to call them.

Britain's sovereignty over the Chagos Islands and America's lease for the Diego Garcia military base could be thrown into doubt by an international court hearing due to open in Istanbul on Tuesday.

Mauritius is mounting a legal challegne to the MPA. The case will be heard in secret by the permanent court of arbitration, a UN-backed tribunal, rulings are supposed to be binding?

Why, we may wonder are the court's proceeding to be held beyond the public gaze and we may also wonder if the secret communications between the Foreign Office and their American friends be heard by the court.



Hillsborough: an apology but no justice yet

September 2012

Prime Minister David Cameron offered a "profound" apology to the families of the 96 people who died, telling the House of Commons that today's report made clear that "the Liverpool fans were not the cause of the disaster".

Ninety six Liverpool supporters died in a crush at Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough stadium on April 15, 1989 where their team were to meet Nottingham Forest in an FA Cup semi-final.

Chief Superintendent David Duckenfield was in charge of policing at the ground, he gave the order to open gates so that hundreds of fans could be herded on to the already crowded terraces at the Hillsborough stadium. Minutes after the disaster, Duckenfield "deceitfully and dishonestly" told senior FA officials that the supporters had forced the gate open themselves. Duckenfield admitted that he had lied about certain statements regarding the causes of the disaster. All that was 20 years ago, following a private prosecution against Duckenfield, afterwhich he sailed off into the sunset on a full pension.

Mr Cameron's apology followed the publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel inquiry into the disaster, carried out by Bishop James Jones, the Bishop of Liverpool.

Inquiry findings.....

In its summary the panel said: "It is evident from analysis of the various investigations that from the outset South Yorkshire Police sought to deflect responsibility for the disaster on to Liverpool fans ... there is no evidence to support this view."

The documents also reveal the "extent to which" to statements by South Yorkshire Police to remove or alter "unfavourable" comments about the policing of the match and the unfolding disaster, "substantive amendments were made".

The report found that 116 of the 164 police statements identified for "substantive amendment" were "amended to remove or alter comments unfavourable to SYP." "impugn the reputations of the deceased by carrying out Police National Computer checks on those with a non-zero alcohol level".

The Inquiry also found "It was also wrong that neither Lord Justice Taylor nor the Coroner, Dr Stefan Popper, looked properly at the response of the other emergency services." but worse the coroner ruled that by 3.15 all the victims had received fatal injuries, which meant that the inquests did not examine the chaotic response after that time. The South Yorkshire Metropolitan Ambulance Service were also at fault.

Sheffield City Council also apologised today for the part it played in licensing and carrying out “inadequate and poorly recorded inspections” of the Hillsborough stadium. The Inquiry also found that Sheffield Wednesday's ground "failed to meet minimum standards under the Safety of Sports Grounds Act 1975".

Kelvin who wrote the headline The Truth has offered his “profuse apologies to the people of Liverpool for that headline”. "I had absolutely no reason to believe that these authority figures would lie and deceive over such a disaster."

MacKenzie got the story from White's News Agency and was based on meetings with police officers and interviews with Conservative Sheffield Hallam MP, Irvine Patnick and Paul Middup, the secretary of the South Yorkshire Police Federation.

What next?

Attorney General Dominic Grieve will review the report as quickly as possible in order to decide whether to apply to the High Court to quash the original, flawed inquest and order a new one. It will be for the court to make the final decision... and then, hopefully, start arresting the liars and criminals responsible for the disaster and its cover up.

The Truth about the Truth

Mackenzie never questioned the lies peddled by the police, their version of events fitted perfectly into his dim limited world view. The police, the political elite, the gutter press ( ranging from the Spectator to the Sun) hated football supporters with an unhealthy intensity. In this atmosphere it was easy to convince the wider public the Liverpool fans were to blame, and easy to forget the whole nasty business and to make amends, by removing the cages at football grounds and to introduce all-seater stadia - so even the most inept policeman would never again manage to asphyxiate 96 people.

However, should we now believe that those bad days are behind us, that such an almighty cover up could never occur again - we'd be as silly as Kelvin MacKenzie to believe that. There have been several cover ups in the years since Hillsborough because the agencies of the State are rotten, riddled with cockroaches scurrying about in the dark without purpose, except the propagation of their kind.


Pat Finucane: State Cover-up and Collusion


It was interesting to read one of the Guardian bloggers suggesting that some nasty things happened 'all that time ago' during the Troubles. Pardon me, Finucane was killed in 1989 and it's a fair bet that everyone involved in his slaying - shot six times in the head, in his home, in front of his wife and children - are still alive, covering-up and colluding. Let's forget about all this nonsense, calling on us to put some context around the death; it was State murder you arse, it doesn't matter about the context. It matters not that Finucane's brothers were para-militaries and it doesn't lesson the crime of his slaughter by suggesting that he was also a member of the PIRA. The security services and the police knew that Finucane was a target but did nothing to protect him - they colluded in his murder but didn't have the guts to do their own killing. The Finucane family are not happy with the Saville Report because it does not put anyone in the dock.

So far, only one of Finucane's butchers has been charged, Ken Barrett in 2004, but none of the sponsoring agents; from the police, Special Branch, or Force Research Unit, who recruited and trained double agents has been brought to trial for their part in the murder.

The Northern Ireland Secretary, Theresa Villiers, remarks ' that the details of the the report are being looked into and at this stage it's unclear if prosecutions will be brought' generally mean that she is not expecting anything to happen. Prime Minister Cameron made an apology in Parliament and now hopes the whole thing will go away. He needn't worry too much though, it's already clear from the coverage of this murder that as ever, few on the mainland give a flying wotsit about anything that happens in Ulster.

If any good comes from the Saville Report, it just might be that people wake up and start to seriously question Tory plans for Secret Courts for a whole series of cases, like the one used to examine the Finucane evidence, leaving questions unanswered, leaving the guilty to hide behind the cloak of so-called 'security'.

The Peace Process is a joke, communities are as divided as ever, the killings continue and soon we will have half the British army stationed in the province again.






Page Links


Irish Potato Famine

The Amritsar Massacre

Chagos Islands

Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment


Deporting Children

Atomic Guinea Pigs

Chinook crash


Pat Finucane