OTHER MAJOR ISSUES

 

Remove Katie Hopkins as a Columnist 

Change.org  IZZIE SAUNDERS

Katie Hopkins malicious words were once more published in The Sun newspaper on the 17th April in an article on Mediterranean migrants, following the sinking of a migrant vessel on the 12th of April which saw 400 people drown.

The majority of migrants who make this crossing are from war-torn Syria which they flee for their own safety, or Eritrea which they leave to avoid extreme oppression and human rights violations. These people, who can pay sums of £10,000 and sometimes more to make this desperate journey, were called cockroaches by Katie Hopkins. Inexplicably, she described them as ‘feral humans’ despite her own flagrant lack of humanity.

Katie claims she ‘doesn’t care if migrants die’ which is an opinion she is entitled to, despite it being a sad and selfish one. I am not attacking her right to an opinion, however I do not believe The Sun newspaper should encourage these poisonous opinions.Presenting these extreme views as normal is dangerous and only encourages further demonisation of immigrants in our own country. Between 2001-2011 migrants contributed £25 billion to our economy, and only 1% of unemployed migrants were on benefits in 2011 compared with 4% of UK nationals. Immigrants are not detrimental to our society but essential.

We live in a forward thinking society and Katie Hopkins’ views should not be encouraged; this is why I ask The Sun newspaper and editor David Dinsmore to remove Katie Hopkins as a columnist, at the very least to redeem yourselves from publishing this prejudiced article in the first place.

London Housing Costs

With the average London home now costing 13 times the median income, three million adult children live with their parents because they cannot afford to buy or rent, and poor tenants are being priced out of their homes by an unfair bedroom tax.

Mr Cameron’s proposal, to sell off Housing Assoc. stock cut price to their tenants… as Margaret Thatcher sold off council housing, but did not replace them, will only serve to vastly deplete the meagre stock of social housing as well as being unfair to private renters.

Mr Cameron cannot really believe he is wooing the struggling classes.

His other gambit before the manifesto launch, is to exempt homes worth up to £1 million from inheritance tax, this benefits the wealthy as opposed to those eking out a living in urban areas or modest suburbs.

London Property Purchased With Laundered Money – Needs to be Stopped!

Billions of pounds of corruptly gained money has been laundered by criminals and foreign officials buying upmarket London properties through anonymous offshore front companies – making the city arguably the world capital of money laundering.

Some 36,342 properties in London have been bought through hidden companies in offshore havens and while a majority of those will have been kept secret for legitimate privacy purposes, vast numbers are thought to have been bought anonymously to hide stolen money.

The flow of corrupt cash has driven up average prices with a “widespread ripple effect down the property price chain and beyond London”, according to property experts cited in the most comprehensive study ever carried out into the long-suspected money laundering route through central London real estate, by the respected anti-corruption organisation Transparency International.

Some sources claim it has skewed developers towards building high-priced flats and houses rather than ones ordinary people can afford. While corruption and tax evasion are likely to be the biggest sources of the illicit money, drug dealing, people trafficking and sanctions busting are also common, police say.

Transparency International Research, which includes previously unreleased internal figures from the Metropolitan Police Proceeds of Corruption Unit, found that 75 per cent of properties owned by people under criminal investigation for corruption are held through secret offshore companies.

London has become a global magnet for corrupt funds, Transparency International said, due to the high prices of property – enabling millions of pounds to be laundered at a time – and Britain’s notoriously lax rules on the disclosure of property ownership.

Any anonymous company in a secret location, such as the British Virgin Islands, can buy and sell houses in the UK with no disclosure of who the actual purchaser is. Meanwhile, TI said, estate agents only have to carry out anti-money-laundering checks on the person selling the property, leaving the buyers bringing their money into the country facing little, if any scrutiny.

Anti-corruption activists including Boris Nemtsov, the Russian opposition figure murdered in Moscow last Friday, have repeatedly expressed frustration that the UK does so little to stem the flow of money stolen from their countries.

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Boris Nemtsov was outspoken about the UK’s efforts to clamp down on money laundering (Getty)

Robert Barrington, executive director of Transparency International said: “This has a devastating effect on the countries from which the money has been stolen and it’s hard to see how welcoming the world’s corrupt elite is beneficial to communities in the UK.”

Over £180m of UK property has been investigated by police in the past decade, but this is likely to be only a small proportion of the actual amount, the report says. UN figures suggest only 1 per cent of money laundering flows are   detected.

Detective Chief Inspector Jon Benton, director of operations at the Proceeds of Corruption Unit, said: “Properties that are purchased with illicit money, which is often stolen from some of the poorest people in the world, are nearly always layered through offshore structures.

“In nearly all the grand corruption cases we investigate, we find – what we suspect is – proceeds of corruption being used to purchase high-value properties.”

Preferred option: the British Virgin Islands

Companies set up in the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories such as Jersey, British Virgin Islands and Gibraltar are the preferred option for concealment of corrupt property purchases.

More than a third of company-owned London houses are held by effectively anonymous firms in the British Virgin Islands. Jersey companies own 14 per cent and the Isle of Man and Guernsey 8.5 per cent and 8 per cent.

Mr Benton said: “The lack of access to beneficial ownership information about offshore companies that hold property in the UK is a major barrier for our investigations.”

The Transparency International report highlights how little reporting of potential corruption there is from estate agents. Along with financial services firms, lawyers and art dealers, they are designated as “gatekeepers” who must file reports to the National Crime Agency if they see anything suspicious.

However, property agents only filed 0.05 per cent of all such Suspicious Activity Reports last year – a mere 179 across the whole of the UK.

Not for nothing is The Bishops Avenue in north London known as “billionaires’ row”.

The average selling price over the past three years of the vast mansions that dot this suburban street was £16m. The most recent sale registered on the Zoopla tracking website was for £33.7m.

Carlton House on The Bishops Avenue in north-west London, owned by Mukhtar Ablyazov (Susannah Ireland)

Yet one property, Carlton House, has remained unsold for years at £14m. Perhaps buyers are put off by the 10-person Turkish bath, the flashy 50ft ballroom or the place’s passing resemblance to a souped-up Barratt home.

More likely is the fact that this is part of the chattels of the alleged money launderer and fraudster Mukhtar Ablyazov. The property is being sold to repay the Kazakh bank BTA part of the $6bn (£3.9bn) it claims he embezzled – a charge that he denies.

Mr Ablyazov, currently awaiting extradition in France to Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, claimed the property was not his, and that he was only renting it. But the High Court in London, after scrutinising the network of offshore companies used to buy it, concluded he was the buyer.

As with most such cases, the hugely complex task of tracing the owner was undertaken by a law firm working on private court actions.

Mukhtar Ablyazov, former chairman of Kazakh bank BTA (Alamy)

Money laundering is rarely prosecuted by the UK criminal authorities. However, a rare criminal action was taken against James Ibori, a Nigerian politician who stole millions of pounds of oil revenues from Delta State, where he was the governor.

He was found guilty of fraud and money laundering in the UK criminal courts in 2012. A massive police investigation here found that, using offshore companies in secretive locations, he had bought a host of London properties including a six-bedroom house with an indoor pool in Hampstead for £2.2m and a flat opposite the nearby Abbey Road recording studios. The court heard he also owned a property in Dorset, a £3.2m mansion in South Africa and further real estate in Nigeria.

Saadi Gaddafi, the playboy son of the Libyan ruler, had his £10m Hampstead Garden Suburb mansion seized as the post-revolutionary government there sought to capture the billions of dollars believed to have been plundered by his family and laundered abroad.

As would be expected, his ownership of the eight-bedroom house, featuring a suede-lined private cinema, was not simple to prove. He had bought it in the name of a British Virgin Islands company with the typically meaningless name Capitana Seas Ltd.

Corporate Fraud

Fraud committed and admitted by HSBC and HMRC, the ‘apology’ by HSBC is not enough George Osborne is playing ‘dumb’. Our special fraud office should be investigating. USA, Spain, France and Belgium are pursuing HSBC in court but we are doing nothing?

Welfare

George Osborne believes Britain needs a smaller welfare state to survive. Cutting it down to size in pursuit of his vision of world beating prosperity. In his eyes is not callous but opstimistic, inspirational and essential! We have led the world with our NHS and being a caring society with our Welfare system! Which has changed over the course of  David Cameron ‘leadership’ I.e. There were 42 food banks, there are now 460 run by volunteers who appreciate the need for this essential life-line however, no food banks should be necessary!

Child Abuse

Since May 2011 I have been involved with Bucks Children Services. Five children who had been taken from their Mother were initially put in my care. Two of these children remained with me for a period of 6 months, three went on to separate foster homes. After 3 years the youngest two were adopted by a single man.  This is an example of what is broken in our child protection system. More and more abuse cases have been coming to light. Abuse appears to be widespread, cases of thousands of school children targeted by grooming rings in Rotherham, children abuse in Oxford and despicably while in care by professional in position of trust. Furthermore, there is an increasingly amount of children being removed from their families by these so-called professionals. Finding and fixing our child protection system must be addressed with the upmost of urgency and yet in recent weeks the ‘topic’ appears to have gone very quiet.

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Broken Promises

Many voters are disillusioned with our politicians, we need more honesty, commitment to promises and more transparency. The constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip has been picked as a ‘safe seat’ by the Conservatives so that a third Bullingdon boy can join David Cameron and George Osbourne – although Boris Johnson is just not in their league.

A living wage was promised for people in London by Boris Johnson; not happened. Youth unemployment has increased plus many young people now earn less than the minimum wage. Remember his promise in 2008 to keep the ticket offices open BUT it was announced in 2013 that by 2015 all ticket offices will be CLOSED.

David Cameron in 2010 promise no VAT increase, immediately after his government took power VAT was increased to 20%! Can we believe his statements now saying it won’t happen in 2015.

Children are our future

 Educational policies are failing our children and our teachers by continually changing. This is likely to produce people who have not achieved their full potential.

Overseas Aid Budget

While I support aid for overseas countries less fortunate than the UK, I believe that all donations must have stronger control to ensure that the money is well spent and not used for purposes that it was not intended. i.e.. buying arms and funding rebels. We must see more transparency and confirmation as to where this money is going and for what purpose it will be used.

Foreign Aid soared by 28% in 2014, meaning the UK spent 0.7% of GDP. In real terms this equates to 12 billion pounds., making us the most generous contributor in Europe and 2nd only in the World the United States of America.

Defence

This government has cut the defence budge to the point that NATO may not consider the UK  able to provide support.

The Mayor

The legacy the Mayor wants to leave London is another folly – a Garden Bridge and expects the taxpayers will foot the bill for any shortfall in the cost. Plus we will pay the annual upkeep of £3.7million! The most outrageous plan the Mayor is advocating is for Heathrow to be closed at the expense of thousands of jobs and moved to the Thames estuary (Boris Island) even the staunchest Conservative must consider the consequences of closing Heathrow and the effect on job losses and how this will affect Uxbridge and South Ruislip and the surrounding constituencies. Boris Johnson is currently the Mayor of London not standing down for another year. His record for the last 7/8 years is not impressive and should be taken into account when voting. He made pledges when he became Mayor. One was to tackle rough sleeping which unfortunately has risen each year and is now nearly doubled. Transport subsidies have also been removed so fares have vastly increased. Social housing has diminished to make way for £1million properties. Another issue that need to be addressed are that Boris cut investment in Education and Youth activity from 22.6 million in 2014 to 10.4 million this year and plans to make further cuts in 2016/2017 to 2.3 million as he leaves his Mayorship.