James Delingpole beats a Press Complaint from UEA

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Guest Post by Barry Woods

The University of East Anglia has made complaints to the Press Complaints Commission about three blog posts by James Delingpole (photo at left) in the Telegraph about Professor Phil Jones and the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA, UK).

James Delingpole (The Telegraph, Spectator) is one of only a few MSM  journalists to persistently criticise the science and politics of man-made global warming in the UK not just after the climategate emails (he was the first in the UK – 20th November 2009) but for a long time prior to the leak from CRU at the University of East Anglia.  His blog post on the Press Complaints appears here

I imagine that UEA may now be regretting making these complaints to the Press Complaints Commission, as it is now officially upheld in James Delingpole’s and the Telegraphs favour, with the reasons visible to any other journalist that may take an interest (my bold).

The first complaint from UEA was this:

“In particular, the complainants were concerned that the blog posts described Professor Phil Jones as “disgraced, FOI-breaching, email-deleting, scientific-method abusing”.  They explained that Professor Phil Jones had been exonerated of any dishonesty or scientific malpractice by a series of reviews” – Press Complaints Commission

The Press Complaints Commission ruling explains it’s decision on the first blog post with evidence provided by the Telegraph:

Through its correspondence the newspaper had provided some evidence in support of the statements under dispute, and the columnist had included some of this evidence in the second blog post under discussion.

In relation to the columnist’s description of Professor Jones as “FOI-breaching, email-deleting”, the newspaper had provided extracts from an email from Professor Jones in which he had written “If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone”, and another email in which he had written

“Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?”. – Press Complaints Commission ruling

The threat of, or taking legal action against critics of ‘climate science’ does appear to be on the rise, this is a concern as few bloggers have any means to defend themselves legally. If actions like this are not fought and won, all perhaps it would take is a lawyer’s letter from a complainant with deep pockets (like UEA) for the blog owner to have to make a difficult personal and financial decision.  Additionally, these actions may result in a form of self censorship with blogger and journalists not daring to comment.

“Basically the UEA were trying to use the PCC as a way of gagging this blog from speaking unpalatable truths about the shoddy goings-on in its notorious Climatic Research Unit.” – James Delingpole

How many blog owners or other journalists without the backing of an experienced legal team and the Telegraph would have been able to take this case on? James explains the help and support he had with this Press Complaint and I imagine the case was the cause of some stress and concern for him, (he perhaps has had cause to make his own complaint recently, see his BBC experience) as not winning could have potentially damaged his livelihood as a writer and journalist.

“I’m hugely grateful to my legal advisers, as well as to experts including Steve McIntyre, Andrew Montford, Richard North and Christopher Booker.” – James Delingpole

I hope that James Delingpole and the Telegraph winning this complaint will make ‘climate scientists’ think more carefully about  trying to use legal means to gag the right to fair comment. James Delingpole sounds mightily relieved and is off on holiday for a couple of weeks surfing (in the UK, so a brave soul)

“To its enormous credit the PCC stuck up for fair comment and freedom of speech. This is a massive victory not just for me and Telegraph blogs, but for bloggers everywhere – especially those doughty souls around the world who are battling against Establishment lies, bullying and cover ups to try to reveal the truth about the corrupt, mendacious Climate Change industry.

If it sounds like I’m overdoing it, consider this: the PCC’s ruling must be among the first by any quasi-official body anywhere in the world to take the side of a Climate Change sceptic rather than that of the Warmist establishment” – James Delingpole

I was completely unaware that this case was going on until I read about in James Delingpole’s latest blog post and it did make me think what I would have done if a lawyer’s letter found its way to my blog with a threat of legal action.  So hopefully now, before ‘climate scientists’ and politicians rush to the courts they will now think more carefully of the potential outcomes. If only because it may backfire on them and that they realise as he won the complaint, others in the media might pay more attention to the reason why he won the complaint.

Press Complaints ruling in full (my bold):

Commission’s decision in the case of

University of East Anglia v The Daily Telegraph

The complainants, acting on behalf of the University of East Anglia (UEA), complained that three blog posts by James Delingpole were inaccurate and misleading and contained distorted information in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code.

In particular, the complainants were concerned that the blog posts described Professor Phil Jones as “disgraced, FOI-breaching, email-deleting, scientific-method abusing”.  They explained that Professor Phil Jones had been exonerated of any dishonesty or scientific malpractice by a series of reviews.

They were concerned that a second blog post repeated accusations that had been demonstrated as untrue, concluding that the University’s scientists were “untrustworthy, unreliable and entirely unfit to write the kind of reports on which governments around the world make their economic and environmental decisions”, and a third blog post referred to the scientists’ work as “shoddy” and “mendacious”.

The Commission emphasised that the articles in question were blog posts and were clearly identifiable as such to readers generally, as they were posited in the ‘Telegraph Blogs’ section of the website and written under the columnist’s prominent by-line.  The Commission was satisfied that readers would be aware that the comments therein represented the columnist’s own robust views of the matters in question.  Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code permits the publication of such comment provided it is clearly distinguished from fact and does not contain significantly inaccurate, misleading or distorted information.

The Commission has previously ruled [North v The Guardian] that “In the realm of blogging (especially in cases touching upon controversial topics such as climate change), there is likely to be strong and fervent disagreement, with writers making use of emotive terms and strident rhetoric.  This is a necessary consequence of free speech. The Commission felt that it should be slow to intervene in this, unless there is evidence of factual inaccuracy or misleading statement.”

Through its correspondence the newspaper had provided some evidence in support of the statements under dispute, and the columnist had included some of this evidence in the second blog post under discussion.

In relation to the columnist’s description of Professor Jones as “FOI-breaching, email-deleting”, the newspaper had provided extracts from an email from Professor Jones in which he had written

“If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone”,

and another email in which he had written

“Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?”.

With respect to the columnist’s assertion that Professor Jones was “scientific method-abusing”, the newspaper had provided an extract from an email from Professor Jones in which he had written

“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline”.

In view of this, the Commission considered that there were some grounds for the columnist’s opinion – which readers would recognise was subjective – on these points. The complainants emphasised that Professor Phil Jones and the other scientists discussed in the blog post had been cleared by a number of independent reviews.  The Commission noted that the columnist had referred to these reviews, and that readers would therefore have been aware that they had taken place.

In the first blog post complained of the columnist had referred to “unconvincing attempts to clear the Climategate scientists”, and noted that one scientist, Mike Hulme, had “managed to emerge from the Climategate scandal smelling of violets”.  He had also noted in the first blog post that Professor Jones had granted interviews “presenting himself as a man far more sinned against than sinning”.

The columnist in the second blog post complained of had expanded on his comments and made clear that the scientists had “apparently… been ‘exonerated and cleared of all malpractice by a series of independent reviews’”, although he made clear that he did not consider these reviews to have been “independent”, citing a report by Andrew Montford which was critical of the reviews.

While the complainants had expressed concern that the Montford report was “partisan”, the Commission considered that the columnist was entitled to agree with the report. The Commission was satisfied that readers would be aware of the context of the columnist’s robust views – clearly recognisable as his subjective opinion – that the scientists were “untrustworthy, unreliable and entirely unfit to write the kind of reports on which governments around the world make their economic and environmental decisions”, and that their work was “shoddy” and “mendacious”.  In the circumstances, it did not consider that there had been a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code.

The Commission noted that the newspaper had offered the complainants an opportunity to respond on the blog post.  It considered that this would inform readers of the full context of the dispute and the complainants’ position.  The Commission welcomed this offer, and hoped it would remain open to the complainants.

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John Marshall

James Delingpole only told the truth. If UEA do not like it then they should make sure that future outpourings re. climate change fits in with observable data not some altered to fit the model data that they seem to prefer. The Climategate Email saga tells it like it is.

Wow! This is very good news and not only makes the UEA ashamed, in one time, the exonerations by the different commissions were sent to the waste bin. I hope that this helps to prevent further legal attacks by the UEA and others, as these are clearly abused to silence any critics.

Patrick Davis

It appears “Climategate” still has legs. If only Gillard, in Australia, would pay attention to real information rather than the “climate economics” she receives from Ross “Gold Mine” Garnaut.

amicus curiae

they are definitely hotting up:-) the attempts to suppress gag and delete any blog comments, anywhere,
there will be NO discussion..
ve haf spoken!
and they want their word to be law, and unquestionable.
fat chance!
that brand of dictatorship is outta style.

Bomber_the_Cat

So in the UK at least, you are now allowed to officially refer to Professor Phil Jones as “disgraced, FOI-breaching, email-deleting and scientific-method abusing”. It is also now OK to describe scientists from the University of East Anglia as “untrustworthy, unreliable and entirely unfit to write the kind of reports on which governments around the world make their economic and environmental decisions”. James Delingpole referred their work as “shoddy” and “mendacious”.
But be aware, the Press Complaints Commission in the UK is not a ‘legal’ body as such, but its word does carry an enormous amount of weight and respect.

R. Shearer

It appears to me that scientific arguments, particularly around AGW, have been supplanted with legal arguments. It is permissible to suppress evidence contrary to one’s case, provided it can be done legally. One might interview several expert witnesses, but only use the testimony of that expert who strenght’s one case. That is not how science should be done.

Dodgy Geezer

“…The Commission was satisfied that readers would be aware of the context of the columnist’s robust views – clearly recognisable as his subjective opinion – that the scientists were “untrustworthy, unreliable and entirely unfit to write the kind of reports on which governments around the world make their economic and environmental decisions”, and that their work was “shoddy” and “mendacious”. In the circumstances, it did not consider that there had been a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code…”
Wow! That’s all I have to say. Wow!

TBear

Dear me.
The AGW alarmists come across more and more as facists as time goes by. Which is good news, the Bear suggests.
Afterall, facism and its innovative `school’ of public relation (a.k.a. `propoganda’) was somewhat discredited as a result of that little kerfuffle, commonly known as WWII?
No?

Bomber_the_Cat

I should also add that I believe James Delingpole to be the first journalist to release to the world news of the climategate emails, on November 20, 2009, whilst the BBC, who had the information first, were busy trying to suppress it.
See his Climategate report here

Perry

Well done James and enjoy your break.

Peter Walsh

Barry, T
Thanks for the news.
It is just wonderful to see James Delingpole coming up smelling of roses.
Well done to him and the Telegraph.

Onion

All credit to the dumb employers of the disgraced, FOI-breaching, email-deleting, scientific-method abusing professor
They have done us all a great favour

Latitude

Is it ignorance……or what
We want this to go away, disappear, so we’re going to make a big stink about it…….
All coming from a group of people that have shown zero common sense in the past.

If that came out of England, then there is hope for Freedom.

Jeff Wiita

If any AGW sceptic bloggers find themselves needing a legal defense in the US, they may want to try and tap into the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF). Yes, I know this is a Christian nonprofit organization, but James Dobson, one of the founders, is very much an AGW sceptic. This is only a thought.
Keep Smiling 🙂
Jeff

Jimbo

“….blog posts described Professor Phil Jones as “disgraced, FOI-breaching, email-deleting, scientific-method abusing”.”

Of Delinpole he won as he was merely speaking the truth.

Athelstan.

Americans should be asking why they pump tax dollars into the coffers of the CRU.
In Britain, we can’t do anything about it, we do not live in a democracy.
In the States, you guys however can put a halt to and stop most of the funding going into the CRU and thus – you have the power: to put a stop to Jones’s AGW promotion agency.
So do it.

Jimbo

Ooops! forgot to add:
Of course Delinpole he won as he was merely speaking the truth.

Ray

The Canadian Free Press should learn something from this… to defend their writers against bullies.

Dusty

James Delingpole and Christopher Booker are the only two MSM columnists in the UK who have consistently argued the non-AGW case and the need for the scientific method to be returned to its former place as the gold standard of science. They have done so with great clarity and logic, and evidence based statistics. James and Christopher have been confronted by an unscrupulous opposition who have never, to my mind, demonstrated that the evidence they so frequently cite is explicitly linked to CO2 being a specific cause for their doom-laden prognostications. I congratulate James on his legal success and salute both of them for their integrity.
Dr Tim Ball is next out of the chute, but doesn’t have the financial support that James had. I hope that he takes encouragement from James’s success and that it encourages more people to contribute to Dr Ball’s fighting fund.

jaypan

A victory for free speech and common sense. Congratulations to James Dellingpole.
Hopefully, such tailwind may help Dr. Ball and others who speak out the truth.

Werner Brozek

Will this in any way, shape or form help Dr. Tim Ball?

kim

What amuses me most is that the crew at UEA thought that mentioning the whitewashes was a point in their favor.
Oops, maybe someone at the PCC reviewed them, too.
===================

Martin Mason

To be fair it was only because he said it on a blog. If it appears in a newspaper articles it may be different.

kim

I hope Mann tries to bring his Penn. State whitewash into court.
================

John

It is still unimaginable to me that the UK, one of the places on earth where the idea of freedom of speech first blossomed, is now a place where you need an official government commission to decide if you should get sued or not for exercising that right.

Amino Acids in Meteorites

……taking legal action against critics of ‘climate science’ does appear to be on the rise…..
‘Skeptics’ have wanted to bring global warming out into the light of day in a court of law. Here it is, what they wanted. It’s being brought to them. They better take advantage of the opportunity. Otherwise they should not complain later after the opportunity passes.

Hector Pascal

Thank you James Delingpole.
My father put on the uniform in 1939, and set off to North Africa in 1940. He fought his way across North Africa, Sicily and Italy and came back home in 1946. He did this so that we could share his vision of a free pluralist democracy. He left his young wife and new baby to save the world from tyranny.
This greenshite appals me as it would have him. Where can I get a rifle?

Theo Goodwin

R. Shearer says:
April 9, 2011 at 7:44 am
“It appears to me that scientific arguments, particularly around AGW, have been supplanted with legal arguments. It is permissible to suppress evidence contrary to one’s case, provided it can be done legally. One might interview several expert witnesses, but only use the testimony of that expert who strenght’s one case. That is not how science should be done.”
Extremely important and well said. If ever so-called “climate scientists” were actually scientists, it is now clear that they have no interest in science but an intense interest in legal maneuvering, pushing their political agenda for profit, and intimidating the rest of us. I do hope they keep this up. I believe they are stupid enough to do so. If they do keep it up, then in the American election of 2012 no Democrat will be elected to any office, the EPA will be abolished, and the UN will be escorted offshore.

Theo Goodwin

Martin Mason says:
April 9, 2011 at 8:33 am
“To be fair it was only because he said it on a blog. If it appears in a newspaper articles it may be different.”
In Britain, where an interest in freedom of speech is nostalgia, at least most of the time.

Christopher Simpson

I find the Commission’s repeated use of the word “robust” to be delightfully ironic, and wonder if it wasn’t used specifically for that reason.

Cassandra King

It seems the UEA emboldened by their recent rigged whitewash inquiries began to labour under the misapprehension that they were untouchable, it appears that arrogance and conceit played a big part in their downfall. The establishment assistance has limits, it seems the UEA failed to recognize this.
From their point of view they must have viewed the rigged inquires headed by establishment stooges as meaning that they could take the fight to their enemies and would receive the same kind of covering support from the PCC, they were wrong. All the UEA have achieved is to paint a giant sign telling of their guilt and in fact if they wanted on some level to accelerate the final day of judgement they could not have done it more efficiently.
The UEA must have believed that the rigged whitewash inquiries provided them with a kind of immunity from criticism, it obviously didnt, indeed it couldnt and sceptics could have told them of this simple and obvious fact. In fact all too soon the UEA will realise that far from being a supportive mechanism, the rigged inquires will in the end be the agent of their downfall.
It is not the crime that gets you its the cover up after the fact and this is all too true for the UEA. Other inquiries will follow as surely as the dawn it is simply a matter of time, the establishment that protects them now will not sacrifice themselves for the UEA, they are living on borrowed time and do you know something? I rather think they know it deep down. I find myself in the position of pitying those at the UEA, Its obvious how this is going to end, it was obvious on the day climategate was brought to the worlds attention. All the fake inquires in he world cannot change the eventual outcome.

Gary Pearse

“The Commission noted that the newspaper had offered the complainants an opportunity to respond on the blog post. It considered that this would inform readers of the full context of the dispute and the complainants’ position.”
I wonder why they didn’t avail themselves of this golden opportunity to put things right? It is a good policy for bloggers to always invite their adversaries to comment. I know WUWT has done this on a number of occasions. Lets hope, too, that other juridictions can use The Telegraph’s reponse as a precedent.

Reed Coray

Message to all “reasonable” CAGW believers. Put the issue of AGW science aside for a moment and think about the tactics now being employed by the CAGW leadership: (1) the suing in a Canadian court of Dr. Ball by Michael Mann, (2) a quasi-legal attempt by the UEA to chastise James Delingpole, (3) and the most ludicrous of all, an attempt to suppress WUWT articles on FACEBOOK by labeling WUWT an “abusive” BLOG. If you’re reading this comment, you know WUWT is an eminently reasonable BLOG and Anthony treats, and requests that commentors on his blog treat, CAGW commentors with courtesy. Even better, contrast Anthony’s treatment of CAGW commentors on WUWT with Real Climate’s treatment of AGW skeptic commentors.
Since I asked you to forget the science for a moment, pondering these matters won’t (shouldn’t) change your position regarding the science of AGW; but by all that’s reasonable, it ought to affect your opinion of the CAGW leadership. Remaining silent about the tactics of your leaders reminds me a little bit of the German people remaining silent during the Nazi rise to power.
Speak up. Let your leadership know that even though you agree with the science of AGW, you deplore their tactics of trying to suppress any and all contrary views. Otherwise, no one will be there to defend you when the “thought police” come after you.

Barry Sheridan

I am pleased to have seen the PCC evaluate the evidence and come to the correct decision. This approach is increasingly novel in our world. So good for them and thanks to all who stood up for James Delingpole. I imagine he is very relieved.

P. Solar

Looks like UEA just found out what the word independent means when you don’t pay 139,000 pounds to redefine it.

Good post Barry. Having writting a short post about it last night too (here) I wish I’d been a bit more extensive – you did a much better job (although I did use Donna LaFramboise’s great pictures of James Delingpole, taken in Chicago last May at the Heartland Conference).

Richard111

I wonder if the UEA would consider running courses for the public on climate change? In particular a course showing how IR radiation from cold greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can increase the heat in the already warmer ground below?
I would be happy to pay to attend such a course. This would be an unprecedented world milestone. 🙂

t stone

This is great news, another point for the side of reason and freedom.

Marion

Very frustrating to think that it is us EU/UK taxpayers that are funding the UEA nonsense, not just the science but the legal attacks on the truthful too, shame it isn’t from the ‘scientists’ own pockets!

Dr T G Watkins

Well done James.
A small but significant victory for open, honest science.
Anyone who has followed the story understands the total failure of the whitewash inquiries which failed to investigate anything and I, for one, am amazed that no one faced criminal charges after the climategate revelations.

Bloke down the pub

James’ description of Prof Phil Jones reminds me of the ‘ Baby eating bishop of Bath and Wells’

ShrNfr

I hope Jones was forced to pay the court costs out of his own pocket and not out of the pockets of the British taxpayers.

Douglas

Christopher Simpson says: April 9, 2011 at 9:14 am
I find the Commission’s repeated use of the word “robust” to be delightfully ironic, and wonder if it wasn’t used specifically for that reason.
———————————————————————
Yes Christopher Simpson, I noticed that too – it gave me a wry smile.
Ha.
Douglas

Ralph

.
And to compliment this significant victory I have an ongoing PCC investigation into the Sunday Times – regarding their continual reference to electric and hydrogen vehicles being ‘zero emission’ and ‘Green’.
I also have one ongoing with London Transport, for their misleading advertising. They wrote back recently and explained that their literature was correct, that their hydrogen busses are emission free and much more efficient than their diesel busses. But this reply totally ignored the whole point of my complaint – so I have made a formal request once more, for details on where their hydrogen comes from, and the energy costs of production. Perhaps they have discovered a hydrogen spring at the foot of the Chilterns,* who knows….
I also made a complain against Prof David Mackay for his bogus claim that electric vehicles were five times more efficient than fossil fuel vehicles.** Prof Mackay has apologised if this statement could be ‘misinterpreted’. But it was bound to be misinterpreted by the vacuous reporters we have in the press and media – just as was intended, in my opinion – and the Sunday Times took the quote hook line and sinker. The Sunday Times has sort of apologised for being duped by the misleading professor, but as ever the retraction was 1/50th the size of the original article, and so the public probably still think electric cars driven by our current electrical grid are clean and are efficient.
The Greens must not be allowed to get away with this deliberate misinformation, deception and propaganda. Hit them whenever you can, via any of the complaints departments and organisations.
* Low hills outside London.
** The professor’s original statement fails to take electrical production losses into account; compares lightweight electric vehicles with an average of all cars, big and small; and compares specialist electric vehicles with ‘off the production line’ fossil-fuel vehicles.
If we compare like with like (instead of apples and oranges), the electric Aptera car does 190mpg equivalent, while the VW-1L diesel does 280 mpg. A modern European turbo-diesel will always be more efficient and more green than an electric vehicle – until the electric grid goes 100% nuclear, that is.
The ultimate Volkswagen diesel car:
http://gas2.org/2008/03/12/the-worlds-most-fuel-efficient-car-285-mpg-not-a-hybrid/
The ultimate Californian electric car:
The Aptera figures use those peculiar US mpg units, so you will have to convert them to UK mpg.
http://www.aptera.com/
http://www.markporthouse.net/rangie/fuelconsumptionconversion.htm#
.

Holbrook

The Climategate affair led to the accused being exonerated yet the statement about “deleting emails”, “hide the decline” and “Mike’s trick” leave us bemused.
And climate is just one area where the “science” leaves many of us wondering….on 9/11 high rise steel framed buildings collapsed to fire when aviation fuel burns at circa 1800f but steel does not melt until it gets to around 2750f.
Puzzling…..and that was cleared by a Commision of Enquiry.
Me thinks that there is quite a disconnect between what the Establishment tells us and what actually happens.
Funny how the 9/11 hijackers were mostly Saudi but we attacked Iraq…..how very strange.
Bit like modern climate science….you know something is not quite right but can’t quite put your finger on it and must not say anything.
Everything leaves me bemused.
Well done James and so glad you stuck to your guns and used the help at hand…. others may not be so lucky.

After another six weeks offline thanks to my ISP accidentally disconnecting me, I can respond again to those old familiar tugs at the heartstrings that have kept me here with friends for the last three years.
I care about Truth. And I am British. And btw although we have a glorious history concerning freedom of speech, please don’t ever forget that most if not all of the glorious items wer born in the murky uncertainty of adversity and not knowing whom one could trust. Magna Carta: look up King John. Church of England: Anne Boleyn paid for it with her life. Parliament as we know it today: Queen Anne had to flee for her life from her own father who was king, and as Queen spent all her time sitting with the politicians so that one side should be always balanced against the other – because she knew that royal power as it had been, would end with her death. Quakers: born through the prisons. Even Churchill’s power of speech came as a late reward for his lifelong fight against a speech impediment; his ready wisdom and courage in the real moments of need came out of years of battling being belittled and ignored. Don’t underestimate what adversity can do to strengthen people of goodwill.

Lucy Skywalker,
Wonderful post!

I liked this little phrase:
“Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code permits the publication of such comment provided it is clearly distinguished from fact”
Apparently he succeeded.

David

James Delingpole and Christopher Booker are, to my knowledge, the only UK journos who consistently challenge the warmist/alarmist agenda, including the physical evidence of state-supported lunacy; wind farms. All others seem to swallow press releases at face value, which is a pretty damning indictment of the traditional stance of the fourth estate; investigation to establish the truth.
In that regard,it is worth reminding readers that it was an exhaustive investigation by ‘Daily Telegraph’ reporters, over many months, which uncovered the scandal which was the total abuse by UK MPs of their expenses system, which in turn led to jail terms for the worst culprits.
More strength to James and Christopher; keep at ’em – we badly need a dose of sanity back amongst our political servants – and those that advise them..!