Blog Updates.

October 17, 2011

Avid readers of this blog will note it hasn’t been updated in a good while. I’m temporarily ‘missing in action’ whilst I engage with other writing projects. So please note due to the passing of time this blog is in need of an overhaul. You can still contact me at the email address on the right of the page.

Several years since I heard Karen Reissman speak at the radical National Union of Journalists Conference at the Quaker Meeting House in Manchester. Now it seems even here in middle England there is an organised movement against the cuts. Tonight’s Meeting’s focus: “Defending the National Health Service” and it starts at 7.30 p.m. Guildhall Watergate Street, Chester CH1 2LA .

Cheshire West Against the Cuts: Public Meeting – TONIGHT – Wednesday April 20th, 2011 7.30 p.m. Guildhall, Watergate Street, Chester, England CH1 2LA. For more information on the campaign initiated by Cheshire West Trades Council and the Facebook group click the links.

I’ve been off this blog for a good while as you will have noticed. Busy with the International Petition to Stop School League Tables for Five Year Olds  (if you haven’t signed yet, do consider it.) It was featured in Nursery World this week:

 Nursery World article on Stop School League Tables for Five Year Olds International Petition

I’d been wondering how to pick up on this news blog once more after such a long time – but then realised that a very important High Court Judgement was served this week – highly relevant to the issues around child detention that campaigners have been dragging into the light of print (and screen) for many years. An end to child detention? Read this analysis of the High Court judgement written by Simon Parker:

“In the High Court on Tuesday, Mr Justice Wyn Williams might have driven the last nail into the coffin of Britain’s infamous and long-running child immigration detention policy. The detaining of children for immigration purposes has been denounced as a ‘scandal’ and a ‘moral outrage’ by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, yet the current Home Secretary has spared no expense in expertly and robustly defending the policy…

see..Open Democracy for the rest of this piece:

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I’ve been unable to write on this blog lately. My excuses include completing a chapter for a book on the English Early Years Education system that I was asked to write some time ago as a result of my work on the blog: “A Parents’ Guide to the Early Years Foundation Stage”.  It’s finished and submitted now. The plan is the chapter will be one of several written by internationally known childhood campaigners.

‘Childhood campaigners’. A loose kind of term – which could include those who notice (and try to address) the moral bankruptcy surrounding government inaction on child detention.

Here are some of them – writers, novelists and playwrights:

Clare Sambrook – deconstructing what the government is NOT doing about Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre – the Liberal Democrats must fight to salvage their promise to end the detention of children for immigration purposes’…

Michael Morpurgo. His new book ‘Shadow’ is fiction for truth-telling…of Afghanistan, immigration detention and Yarl’s Wood.

Shadow by Michael Morpurgo

and the playwright Natasha Walter who wrote ‘Motherland’.

At the moment, it seems the pre-election coalition government pledge to end child detention is sounding hollow. Instead of stopping the detention of children, they appear to be planning simply to deport families instead.

Today, the government pilots a fast track scheme to deport immigrant families (the e-magazine Children and Young People reports).

The move presents serious and far-reaching questions for those charities and organisations like Quakers who demanded an end to child detention.

Following leaks to the Socialist Worker the Guardian reports today:

“Children in immigration centres face deportation within weeks…

“Immigration officials charged with carrying out the government’s pledge to end the detention of children in immigration centres have launched a scheme designed to deport them and their families from the country within weeks.

The move dashes expectations of a more liberal alternative to child detention. Families with children facing removal are to be given a two-week ultimatum to leave the country voluntarily, according to a document seen by the Guardian”

See also: The Guardian report

Socialist Worker Exclusive: Tories and secret plans to deport children (report on leaked UKBA documents).

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Every year on August 6th. the city of Hiroshima in Japan makes a Peace Declaration. The Mayor of Hiroshima addresses the international community, recalling the bombings of Hiroshima and evoking the strength behind the demand for the abolition of nuclear weapons. (The word “hibakusha” is a traditional word which refers to the survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.) Mayor Tadasoshi Akiba said:

“In the company of hibakusha who, on this day 65 years ago, were hurled, without understanding why, into a “hell” beyond their most terrifying nightmares and yet somehow managed to survive; together with the many souls that fell victim to unwarranted death, we greet this August sixth with re-energized determination that, “No one else should ever have to suffer such horror.”

Through the unwavering will of the hibakusha and other residents, with help from around Japan and the world, Hiroshima is now recognised as a beautiful city. Today, we aspire to be a “model city for the world” and even to host the Olympic Games. Transcending the tortures of hell, trusting in the peace-loving peoples of the world, the hibakusha offer a message that is the cornerstone of Japan’s Peace Constitution and a beacon to the world.

The results of the NPT review conference held this past May testify to that beacon’s guiding influence. The Final Document expresses the unanimous intent of the parties to seek the abolition of nuclear weapons; notes the establishment of timelines for the nuclear weapons abolition process, and highlights the need for a nuclear weapons convention or new legal framework. In doing so, it confirms that our future depends on taking the steps articulated by Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the more than 4,000 members of Mayors for Peace, and the two-thirds of all Japanese municipalities that formally supported the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Protocol.

That our cry of conscience, the voice of civil society yearning for a future free from nuclear weapons, was heard at the U.N is due in large measure to the leadership of His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, who today has become the first UN Secretary-General to attend our Peace Memorial Ceremony. President Obama, the United States government, and the 1,200-member U.S. Conference of Mayors also wielded their powerful influence.

The ceremony is honoured today by the presence of government officials representing more than 70 countries as well as the representatives of many international organizations, NGOs and citizen’s groups. These guests have come to join the hibakusha, their families, and the people of Hiroshima in sharing grief and prayers for a peaceful world. Nuclear-weapon states Russia, China and others have attended previously, but today, for the first time ever, we have with us the U.S. ambassador and officials from the U.K. and France.

Clearly, the urgency of nuclear weapons abolition is permeating our global conscience; the voice of the vast majority is becoming the preeminent force for change in the international community.

To seize this unprecedented opportunity and actually achieve a world without nuclear weapons, we need above all to communicate to every corner of the planet the intense yearning of the hibakusha, thereby narrowing the gap between their passion and the rest of the world. Unfortunately, many are unaware of the urgency; their eyes still closed to the fact that only through luck, not wisdom, have we avoided human extinction.

Now the time is ripe for the Japanese government to take decisive action. It should begin to “take the lead in the pursuit of the elimination of nuclear weapons” by legislating into law the three non-nuclear principles, abandoning the U.S. nuclear umbrella, legally recognizing the expanded “black rain areas”. and implementing compassionate, caring assistance measures for all the ageing “hibakusha” anywhere in the world.

In addition, the Prime Minister’s wholehearted commitment and action to make the dreams of the hibakusha come true would lead us all by 2020 to a new world of “zero nuclear weapons”, an achievement that would rival in human history the “discovery of zero” itself. He could, for example, confront the leaders of the nuclear weapon states with the urgent need for abolition, lead them to the table to sign a nuclear weapons convention, and call on all countries for sharp reductions in nuclear and other military expenditures. His options are infinite.

We citizens and cities will act as well. In accordance with the Hiroshima Appeal adopted during last week’s Hiroshima Conference for the Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons by 2020, we will work closely with like-minded nations, NGOs and the UN itself to generate an ever-larger tidal wave of demand for a world free of nuclear weapons by 2010.

Finally, on this, the 65th. anniversary of the atomic bombing, as we offer to the souls of the A-bomb victims our heartfelt condolences, we hereby declare that we cannot force the most patiently enduring people in the world, the hibakusha, to be patient any longer. Now is the time to devote ourselves unreservedly to the most crucial duty facing the human family, to give the hibakusha, within their lifetimes, the nuclear-weapon-free world that will make them blissfully exclaim: “I’m so happy I lived to see this day”.

Tadatoshi Akiba
Mayor
The City of Hiroshima

I met Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba in person at a conference in Manchester, England in 2003 . Following this Meeting I initated a four-year campaign to secure Chester City Council’s affiliation to Mayors for Peace and addressed Chester City Councillors.  They voted unanimously to affiliate to ‘Mayors for Peace’ as a result. The campaign was conducted on a tiny fraction of a shoestring with minimal resources and was supported by many citizens of Chester.

Every year in Chester citizens gather at the Groves on the River Dee (this year they meet at 8.p.m) to cast white flowers into the river in remembrance and to pledge and hear readings which strengthen their resolve to work towards a nuclear-free future.  

See also:

Click here to find out more about the exhibition in London, jointly hosted by Quakers and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament: After the Bomb dropped: How Hirohima and Nagasaki suffered:

After the Bomb Dropped: How Hiroshima and Nagasaki Suffered’ is an exhibition that explores the destruction of the two cities by nuclear weapons through photographs and artefacts recovered from the wreckage. Transported from Japan and on display in London for the first time, this represents a unique opportunity to see first hand the destructive capabilities of nuclear weapons. The exhibition programme will include a series of events to explore further the realities of nuclear warfare, including a rare chance to hear from a survivor of the bomb, plus talks, music, and events for children and young people. Timed to coincide with the 65th anniversary of the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ‘After the Bomb Dropped’ promises to be a poignant exploration of the tragic events of August 1945.

Click here to submit an anti-Trident message to the Treasury

History of the August 6th. Flower memorial ceremony in Chester and the campaign for Council affiliation to Mayors for Peace.

Remembering Hiroshima. The Chester Flower Memorial Ceremony.

Sky News reports detainee hunger strike at Campsfield House Immigration Detention Centre near Kidlington:

Hunger Strike at Immigration Centre.

Amongst the tragic litany of human rights failings at Yarl’s Wood comes this news release I received from Clare Sambrook today. She attached a PDF file of the Executive summary of an independent review by Befordshire local safeguarding children board.

Clare’s copy follows:

The report exposes litany of failings by: Local authority managers, Local authority social workers Local police, Local GP UKBA’s ‘Children’s Champion’ and Serco.

Commenting on the report, Malcolm Stevens, former senior government advisor on Social Services said: ‘Yarl’s Wood failed these children. Here is evidence of whole system failure in and around Yarl’s Wood. This calls into question whether the children there now are being properly looked after. It calls into question the competence of UKBA to conduct the current review into arrangements for children. The government urgently needs to appoint someone with independence, experience and professional competence to run the Review into ending child detention.’
Malcolm Stevens, Justicecare Solutions.

Among the failings:

The Local Authority learned of evidence that children below the age of criminal responsibility engaged in sexual activity but failed to carry out complex enquiries in respect of two families, under section 47, Children Act, 1989.

The local authorities’ managers and social workers misunderstood the significance which should attach to the age of criminal responsibility

They misunderstood the concept of “consent” believing in error that such young children could be consensually involved in sexual activity.

They failed to investigate concerns that older children may also have been involved in the sexual abuse of a child, and that these older young people might pose a continuing threat to other detainees.

The local authority social workers:
failed to interview the mother of a child said to have been abused;
failed to liaise adequately with other agencies;
failed to carry out appropriate checks with other localities;
failed adequately to secure police involvement in the enquiries.

The police:
inappropriately terminated their inquiries without reference to specialist child protection officers.

The GP failed to recognise that this was a child protection situation, failed to ensure that the child was seen by a paediatrician.

UKBA’s ‘Children’s Champion’ failed to challenge the decisions made by local statutory agencies.

UKBA failed to brief ministers properly: ‘UKBA provided information, on the basis of which a ministerial decision was made affecting the continued detention of children,’ says the report: ‘Although that factual information included reference to the incident leading to this review, there was no evaluation of the impact that this incident had on the propriety of detention.’

Children were failed by the UKBA / Bedfordshire Council arrangements for safeguarding: ‘This Service did not challenge the weaknesses and confusion inherent in the approach of the local authorities and GP,’ says the report. ‘This raises concerns about the effectiveness of these arrangements and suggests the role of the workers within the Service should be reviewed.’

Vulnerable children fell through the gap in regulatory arrangements. ‘. . It appears that no single agency has an adequate overarching responsibility for regulation of services to children in immigration detention,’ says the report.

The report makes stringent and detailed recommendations whose severity highlights the degree and multiplicity of failures of care in this case.

Eg SERCO should:

a) ensure that it can discharge its specific duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, in a way that is not solely reliant on other agencies, and includes an assessment of a child’s welfare needs and any risks posed to or by that child.

b) review arrangements for joint working with Bedford Borough Council to ensure that there are clear systems for feedback to residents of the IRC detained with children, the outcome of any Bedford Borough Council involvement, including options for taking the matter further if the resident remains dissatisfied.

c) review the form and use of Keeping Children Safe from Harm documents. The review should take account of the Common Assessment Framework.

SERCO Healthcare should ensure that medical practitioners and other health staff providing services at the IRC are aware of their responsibility to ensure they are familiar with and follow local child protection arrangements including the need to consult a paediatric specialist.

END CHILD DETENTION NOW

End of copy.

For more on ongoing protests visit: www.stopwar.org.uk

According to a spokesperson from the charity “Refugee and Migrant Justice”  recent changes in the U.K “Legal Aid” system are putting the lives of up to ten thousand asylum seekers (including hundreds of children) at risk:

“We are facing possible closure as a result of a new system of payment of legal aid whereby payments are only made when stages are closed – which in our case is on average 6 months after work is started and can take up to two years. We are not asking for more money, just prompt payment of what we are due…

…the possible closure of Refugee and Migrant Justice will affect 10 000 asylum seekers in the UK; they will be left without legal representation, and may be forced to return to persecution, torture, and the threat of death. 900 of our clients at the moment are children.

We have been in private touch with the new Ministers but, despite some sympathy in the Home Office from Damian Green have just received a negative response from a junior Ministry of Justice Minister. So we are launching a public campaign.

We managed to get a letter of support out yesterday, signed by various public figures, and hope that this will put some pressure on the government. However, that alone is not enough. We are encouraging people to write to Ken Clarke in protest at our closure; we also want to raise awareness of the situation as widely as possible, in as many different sectors as we can.”

Possible closure of the charity looms: “As a result of a new system of payment of legal aid whereby payments are only made when stages are closed – which in our case is on average 6 months after work is started and can take up to two years”.

“We are not asking for more money” says the charity “just prompt payment of what we are due”.  

Who will be affected: (statement by Refugee and Migrant Justice)

Asylum seekers who have fled their homes and families in fear of persecution or death. Home Office officials often fail to identify asylum seekers in need of protection, including those with additional vulnerabilities, such as victims of torture, rape or trafficking. Thousands of asylum seekers are detained each year having committed no crime. They are given no indication of the length of detention and can be kept for months or years.

Children who have travelled to the U.K with or without their families. Many children are treated as adults by the Home Office. Even those who are accepted as children can face an intimidating culture of disbelief when telling their story and are interviewed without legal representation or an independent adult present. Refugee and Migrant Justice fights to help them secure protection and a real chance of a future. The Government has announced that it will end the detention of children, but many will continue to be detained while it is deciding what alternative arrangements it will put in place.

Victims of trafficking for labour or sexual exploitation. Refugee and Migrant Justice works to make sure victims of trafficking are given the legal protection they deserve and campaign to stop victims of trafficking being prosecuted for ‘crimes’ committed under duress. 

For more information contact Refugee and Migrant Justice. 

Read these blog posts alongside this piece: Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre and the 2010 hunger strike.

Email interview I conducted with a Home Office spokesperson earlier this year, in which Meg Hillier describes her views on the legal assistance available to asylum seekers and their families.

I understand there are at least nineteen people dead. Guardian article on global protests: World wide protests on Israeli attack on aid flotilla. How and where to protest see this Stop the War Coalition link. Rod Cox – who travelled with the first Viva Palestina convoy to Gaza – gives us insights on what happened here: Rod Cox and Gaza.

Update: Wednesday 2nd. June. The respected organisation “Fairness and Accuracy in reporting” published an important analysis of the often biased ways in which this tragic incident has been reported”. Read it here: Fairness and Accuracy in reporting Israeli Ship Attack.

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Update Wednesday 9th. June, 2010 F.L: At the time of writing the blog post which follows – I was unprepared for some of the reactions it engendered. As a result and with respect for the ethics of blogging as described by Rebecca Blood  (Blood) instead of changing the core substance of what I’ve written I’ve added several updates to the post which can be viewed at the end. 

I wrote the post (perhaps wrongly?) assuming regular readers of this blog would already be familiar with many of Pauline Campbell’s outstanding achievements – especially since the work she did with organisations such as the Howard League and Inquest had been referred to many times in previous blog posts and articles. We know Pauline’s many contributions included her input in the development of the Corston report, for example. Without Pauline many feel the report would never have existed. My assumption (i.e that readers of this blog were already familiar with these achievements) sadly led one reader to conclude that I wished to diminish Pauline’s work, which was not my intention at all.

In the short piece of writing which follows my intention was to focus on some of the little known aspects of Pauline’s story. In voicing an opinion on the campaigns with which Pauline was involved (based on information from interviews documented on this blog) I’ve also met with differing views on this very recent history. Some of these views are included in the updates at the bottom of this post.

I’m aware the writing of recent history can be problematic and should remain a reflective process. I’ve tried to make the point on this blog many times that I believe the documentation of Pauline’s life to date is incomplete. One reader questioned my use of the term “official” story. Of course there is as yet no ‘definitive’ history of Pauline’s life – since the publication of this blog post I’ve become aware of just how many different narratives exist. But with the writing of this post – I hope a little more of the picture has come to light. I’ve always acknowledged there is more work to be done. In the public interest and not least because people are still suffering now from miscarriages of justice in penal institutions.

Since the publication of this blog post – I have come under considerable pressure to change what I had written or remove it. This too, has prompted much reflection. When a journalist  and/or blogger is asked to change what they have written or remove it – (unanswered) questions remain – not least regarding whether or not there truly is such a thing as ‘the freedom of the press’. From a professional point of view – I took the step of discussing the current version of the blog post in some detail with the ethics hotline at my union (the hotline serves as an educational mechanism).  No outstanding ethical issues could be discerned at the present time. End of Update.

Prisons campaigner Pauline Campbell who died on the 15th. May, 2008 became known as a “suffragette of penal reform”.  Like the suffragettes of the 1920s – when she died many of her papers and records of core aspects of her life and work were lost. The police had confiscated Pauline’s computer and belongings were taken away in bin bags.     

Is Pauline’s life now destined to become the subject of a television documentary drama?  The gifted screen writer Emilia di Girolamo has been commissioned to write  a script. Emilia visits Cheshire this week. Of course we know the journey from page to television  is a long one – and brings many challenges with it. Only when the script is finished will it be considered as a story for the screen.

The documentary-drama-in-the-making would have the prison campaigning that Pauline was a part of as a central focus.

In the years since Pauline’s death I have researched and recorded many of the lesser-known aspects of this campaign.  I met Pauline in 2005. I believe the public meeting I organised in Chester in 2006 which I had asked her to chair must have marked the onset of her public appearances and her political engagement (see update at the end of this post). 

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I attended Pauline’s Campbell’s funeral, her inquest, demonstrations after her death and memorial gatherings, including the memorial seminar held at Manchester Metropolitan University last year where I was invited to present some of this research(see links below). The research journey had often taken me to Joan Meredith – a close friend of Pauline Campbell.

So I heard, researched and recorded not only the official account of how Pauline lived and died but also what happened in the friendships between Pauline and the activist women she knew and worked with.  I learned that like other suffragettes throughout history –  for Pauline it was friendship and solidarity between activist women which sustained her work and informed her campaigning and the political ideas she had.

Having gained an NUJ card since Pauline died – I became acutely aware of how Pauline’s work, her personality and her life were being portrayed by the mainstream media. There was a tendency to individualise what she was trying to do. Journalists often spoke of ‘her’ campaign – almost as if no-one else had ever been involved.  I’m going to suggest some reasons why they did this: 

Firstly, from a journalist’s point of view, the tragic and dramatic details of Pauline’s life and the death of her daughter Sarah at Styal prison easily became a human interest story. Pauline’s arrests produced dramatic photographs and video footage. One grieving mother against the system?

Secondly, many of the journalists who have documented aspects of her life did not live locally in Cheshire. Maintaining a professional stance – many of them could not possibly have been privy to the countless late-night phone calls Pauline made to her friends – the hours and hours of political talk and planning that took place between Pauline and her (sometimes male) but usually female friends.

Thirdly, Pauline – meticulous as she was – often insisted that she be left to stand alone in front of the cameras and downplayed the assistance of other campaigners. She herself would have referred to the campaign as ‘her’ campaign. For very good reasons she wanted to be in control of the information flow at all times. She issued her own reports of demonstrations and often wrote to journalists – correcting their inaccuracies.

Pauline Campbell stopped prison vans to protest against the death of women in prison. Truth or fiction? Is that how the campaigns worked?

In a word, no. From the beginning, it wasn’t Pauline who physically stopped the prison vans. Joan Meredith did (together with other activists). I believe these activists included Yvonne Scholes, mother of Joseph Scholes. When the prison van was stopped the other activists ‘faded’ using a technique well-known to those familiar with direct action leaving Pauline in centre stage to face the media.

What does it matter who stopped the vans? It matters. The stopping of the vans became the symbol of a movement of which Pauline was an important (but not the only part) and as Joan Meredith put it: “stepping out in front of the prison van was as important as Emily Davidson throwing herself in front of the King’s horse”.

At Pauline’s funeral I recall sitting together with Helen John and Joan Meredith to research the article I wrote for Peace News. Pauline Campbell learned from and worked with these activists on a broad scale and if she had held out longer  – she would have continued to do so. This is not something which has been mentioned or discussed in the mainstream media. Ignoring this central fact about Pauline’s story means underestimating the true impact she had on society and politics. And she continues to inspire us.

The proposed title of Emilia di Girolamo’s documentary drama script is “A Duty of Care” (her web site tells us).

 A duty of care. We need to see it in the prisons system. We need to see it in Yarl’s Wood and Dungavel. We need to see it on our television screens.

Read these pieces alongside this blog post:

May 2010 meeting in Leicester of families – paying tribute to those who have died in custody. Report by the Institute of Race Relations (The day marked what would have been the forty-fifth birthday of Mikey Powell, who died in September 2003 after being detained by police in Birmingham and also marked the second anniversary of the death of Pauline Campbell).

Remember Pauline. Remembrance site.

Link to blog post interview written to commemorate the first anniversary of Pauline’s death. Includes photographs of the files Joan Meredith assembled which detail core aspects of Pauline Campbell’s life in particular with regard to direct action and her connections with other activists much of this information has now been passed on to the Welsh women’s archive. Pauline was a lecturer at Newi college in North Wales.

Link to Manchester Metropolitan University Seminar 2009 attended by myself and Joan Meredith. The event was called “The Social Reality of Prisons” – Joan Meredith read out her words featured in the interview about the stopping of the prison vans. Other speakers at the event included:

– Dr Eileen Berrington, Manchester Metropolitan University speaking on: “Not a faded memory: keeping alive the balance of activism,justice and rights”

–  Professor Barry Goldson from the University of Liverpool speaking on: “Abuses of power and violations of rights: child imprisonment in a punitive age. A lecture in memory of Pauline Campbell”

– Dr. Farida Andersen MBE – Chief Executive of Partners of Prisoners & Families’ Support Group (couldn’t locate a link for this, does anyone have one? Let me know…)

– and Frances Crook of the Howard League, speaking on the ‘Lost daughters’ campaign.

Peace News feature I wrote after Pauline Campbell’s death

Interview with Joan Meredith about the stopping of the prison vans

Blog post about public meeting in Chester chaired by Pauline Campbell, speakers included Annie Machon, former partner of David Shayler

Letter to the late Pauline Campbell – Quakers and Criminal Justice in the 21st. century

Pauline Campbell’s Obituary by Eric Allison

Scriptwriter Emilia di Girolamo’s website

Joan Meredith’s Story – published on the BBC My Story website

Guardian Article on Joseph Scholes

Manchester Evening News Article. 2002 Protest. Pauline Campbell and Yvonne Scholes protest together. Includes picture of the two women.

Joan Meredith’s Blog. Post describes a demonstration at Styal Prison in 2009 to protest against the death of Alison Colk. Pictures by Frances Laing. Demonstration also attended by Yvonne Bailey (formerly Scholes, mother of Joseph Scholes). I travelled with Joan Meredith as Pauline often would have done. Joan told me the details of the journey were the same as with Pauline, they always took flowers and Joan even described how she was the one who used to make Pauline’s sandwiches and coffee.

Helen John stands against Tony Blair in the General Election Sedgefield constituency

Update later that day:

It’s been pointed out to me that Pauline Campbell stopped prison vans on her own in later phases of protests.  In the original blog post my intention was not to give the impression that every single protest she had ever been involved in was conducted in the way I’d described here. Since we are still at the beginning of documenting Pauline’s life adequately – how could we possibly know this?

I used the words “from the beginning” to describe where and why the idea and the action had originated. My understanding is – that Pauline learned how to stop the prison vans from Joan Meredith and other activists and then went on to do this herself using the same technique.

Update: Saturday 29th. May, 2010

As facts and feelings emerge into the public domain, researchers link up and continue to put the pieces of the jig-saw puzzle together – fresh details of Pauline Campbell’s life come to light. In the original blog post I wrote “I believe the public meeting I organised in Chester in 2006 which I had asked her to chair must have marked the onset of her public appearances and her political engagement”.  

On a second reading of previous blog posts I note that (if the information I have to date is correct) of course Pauline had already attended the United Friends and Family gathering in 2003. (See this link). Nevertheless, the Chester meeting I believe was a important turning point for Pauline in terms of her political consciousness and her confidence. To my knowledge it was the first time she had taken on such an important public appearance – significantly – in  a location so close to home.  It must have taken tremendous courage to do so – and she did it magnificently.    

As far as the Manchester Metropolitan University Memorial Meeting in 2009 is concerned, sadly there wasn’t a video recording facility, but I have now received documentation of the event, including the running order of the speakers and for information, some of the memorial messages and a presentation that was given. 

A spokesperson for MMU confirmed: “Pauline generously gave up her time to visit MMU to talk to final year Criminology students. I understand she also made similar visits to students elsewhere in the region (e.g. University of Central Lancashire)”.

 I shall endeavour to find out whether or not the lecture given by Professor Barry Goldson at this meeting has been published. The title was: “Abuses of power and violations of rights: child imprisonment in a punitive age. A lecture in memory of Pauline Campbell” and the lecture included many vital insights into how and why our government continues to violate international human rights obligations – something which is particularly relevant to current campaigns and debates on child detention. It is hoped that MMU will be holding the event every year, although this is uncertain at present.

Update Wednesday 9th. June, 2010

I offer the following comments (in inverted commas) and alternative viewpoints – for consideration to the reader. They are comments made in the comments box of this blog. All comments are moderated as a matter of course.

Comment: “Fortunately papers and records were not lost” – for an alternative  viewpoint  – (see this interview )

Comment: “Pauline stood in front of the prison vans on her own many many times but had people, including Joan around her who were all part of the military style approach to her protests, each one having a key part to play”.

Comment: “Pauline stopped numerous vans alone right from the onset…she attended some of the very early protests with just a few close personal friends – no experienced activists in sight. This was also true of many of the later protests – the experienced activists had clearly ‘faded’. End of comment. (See interview conducted in December 2009 for an alternative viewpoint. F.L).

End of update

I vowed to post once a week on this blog and have kept it up so far with the exception of last month. Rest assured readers – if you don’t see me here for a while I’m dealing with some other journalistic work generally relevant to the issues at hand.

There appears to be some movement in the coalition agreements as far as the detention of immigrant children is concerned. See these latest reports on the Coalition Agreement to end the detention of immigrant children from the magazine “Children and Young People Now”.

See also: Coalition government urged not to split up asylum-seeking families.