Francis Beckett

One of the least comforting things I've seen recently is a police officers' internet forum where they talk among themselves about my article detailing how student Tommy Meyers was thrown to the ground in handcuffs and a police dog deployed on his face, causing injuries requiring 30 stitches and two operations; and how they then refused him access to painkillers or antibiotics prescribed by the doctor for 14 hours.

I've seldom regretted accepting a speaking invitation so much as last Sunday, when I turned up at the Sunday Times/Wellington College Festival of Education.  Apparently they're trying to get more speakers on the left for next year, and I hope no one's going to make the mistake I made, of allowing himself to be used as window-dressing for Edubusiness.

Here’s a charity which won’t be getting a penny of my money, and, I hope, not a penny of yours either: the London Evening Standard’s “charitable partner”, Volunteer Reading Help. 

So sad to see the AV campaign going down the tubes. It is - or perhaps was - our best chance in 100 years to stop the big parties blackmailing electors.

At the TUC last week, we were invited to discuss the difference it makes not having any labour and industrial correspondents any more.  Here's one big difference.

To the TUC to talk about how trade unions manage now there are no specialist labour and industrial correspondents to report on them, and the answer is: with difficulty.  Peter Hitchens, John Lloyd, Paul Routledge et al.

Here in Barnet, I've just had a letter from my three Conservative councillors.

They tell me the Council can't any longer give any financial help to Avenue House - a much valued local amenity, with pleasant grounds which on fine weekends are full of families relaxing. Without money, the building and grounds will swiftly become unusable through lack of upkeep.

I don't know if I've managed to get this story into a single national paper, yet it seems to me to be one of the biggest scandals of the past year or two.  The London Fire Brigade is placing its whole fleet of fire engines in jeopardy ny insisting on contracting them out to a firm which may well be wound up because of unpaid tax bills.

A very smooth young man telephoned me.  He said he worked for the company to which the Daily Telegraph had outsourced the production of a supplement for older people, and he was contacting me because I do media relations for the University of the Third Age.

I said I'd be delighted to help any journalist on the publication with an article about any aspect of the U3A's work, but we were not in the market for buying advertising space.

"Ah" he said.  "I don't think we could mention you without an investment."


I wrote earlier about former MP David Chaytor, now languishing at Her Majesty's pleasure for dishonestly obtaining £18,000 in expenses.  This morning I hear that wealthy bankers will once again, despite all the rhetoric about curbing them, be taking home bonuses of up to £9 million this year.