Harriet Harman

Member of Parliament for Camberwell & Peckham

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The Director of Public Prosecutions is independent of politicians and her job is not to make the law but to enforce it. And that's exactly what she is doing in respect of rape. She's trying to ensure that victims of rape get justice.  Too many don't report at all - fearing they won’t be believed.  Or drop out half way through the case because they can't face reliving the ordeal.  So the fact is that many rapists get away with it.  That is not only unfair on the victim but its bad news for deterrence.  Most of the evidence is that rape is a "repeat offence" i.e. he'll do it again until he's stopped.

We're not talking about a man making a mistake here - as Sarah Vine does.   We’re talking about a criminal offence.  If I leave a window open an inch and someone breaks in steals everything I own and ransacks my house no one would say it wasn't a crime or that the offender had "made a mistake".

Rape is the crime of sexual intercourse without consent.  If there is consent then it’s not a crime. What is at issue here is where there isn't consent and how we make sure that women are protected from rapists and that they are brought to justice.

Tackling crimes by men against women is bedevilled by the culture of men's excuses and blaming of their victims.  It was only a few years ago that we managed to change the law so that a man who killed his wife could no longer blame her for provoking him - for example by having an affair.  The so-called "nagging and shagging defence" which saw wife killers evade murder charges was abolished.  But in rape the victim blaming is alive and well.  Can't we ever leave behind the blame culture which says to the victim that she brought it on herself and therefore the man is the victim because he is accused!

The DPP will carry on her work in the best interests of justice.  And more power to her elbow.  She's doing the right thing and it’s long overdue.  It’s not my job to prosecute rapists.  It’s hers.  But I for one am backing her all the way.

Response to Sarah Vine's comments today on rape and consent

The Director of Public Prosecutions is independent of politicians and her job is not to make the law but to enforce it. And that's exactly what she is doing in...

Sometimes it seems that environmental challenges like global warming are so big we can’t possibly do anything about them as individuals. Or we are so busy and stressed in our everyday lives that we don’t have time to think about it, or to take action.But tackling environmental issues - from climate change to energy use, waste to transport - is important for our future and in our daily lives we can all be doing something to reduce the harmful impact of our actions on the environment.

Here are my five key points for action:

*Bring the tube to Camberwell and Peckham: Good public transport cuts car use, cuts noise and air pollution and cuts traffic jams. I strongly support extending the Bakerloo Line to Camberwell and Peckham. It would cut local traffic congestion especially along Walworth Road and Old Kent Road.

*Recycling household waste: Putting waste in landfill sites is very bad for the environment as some waste contains toxic substances that leak in to our soil and groundwater, and food or plant waste releases methane which contributes to global warming. Two thirds of our household waste could be recycled or composted. Recycling is easy in Southwark – your recycling, food and garden waste can be collected from your home or you can take it to the Council’s Reuse and Recycling Centre on Old Kent Road. In Southwark we've doubled our recycling rates since 2010 but we should aim to divert more than 95% of waste away from harmful landfill.

*Saving energy at home: Making small changes to the way you use energy can reduce your carbon footprint as well as saving money. Even small things make a big difference. Like turning off the lights when you leave a room, turning off your appliances at the wall rather than leaving them on standby, boiling your kettle with only as much water as you need, and drawing the curtains at night to stop the heat escaping. When Labour was in government we set up the ‘Warm Front’ scheme to properly insulate homes but the Tory-Lib Dem Government scrapped it. The next Labour government will have a major push on home insulation with at least 5 million homes upgraded over 10 years, saving the average household more than £270 a year in energy bills.

*Safer cycling: Cycling is a good thing. As well as being great exercise and a cheap way to travel, it cuts down on traffic jams and pollution. But cycling needs to be safer. Labour will make cycling safer in London and throughout the country. We have put forward a plan for tough new safety rules for HGVs. And in Southwark we want a ‘safe cycling hour’ with lorries banned from the roads at rush hour.

*Tackling environmental problems globally. The last Labour Government made progress in tackling climate change not just in the UK, but working with other governments in Europe and globally, and helping developing countries to develop more sustainably. More than ever Britain and the world need leadership on tackling the key global issues - climate change, poverty and inequality. 2015 is an important year for international action with a series of summits and conferences that can shape our future. Labour will seek a binding international agreement on climate change and global targets for cutting carbon emissions.

*The print version of this article is slightly shorter.

Southwark News column - Tackling environmental problems important for our future

Sometimes it seems that environmental challenges like global warming are so big we can’t possibly do anything about them as individuals. Or we are so busy and stressed in our...

Harriet Harman letter to Sajid Javid:

 

Dear Sajid,

Ofcom appointments

I am writing to you regarding the appointment of Baroness Noakes, who you appointed as Deputy Chair of Ofcom on 1st June 2014 to serve a four year term on the Ofcom board.  Your duty as the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport is to protect the integrity of the regulator of the broadcast media and not to compromise this with a party political appointment. 

On page two of the Ofcom 2013/14 annual report, it clearly states that Ofcom works:

independently, free from political influence”.

It is of upmost importance that Ofcom is, and is seen to be, scrupulously impartial.  This is underpinned by Ofcom policy which specifies:

“It is essential that Ofcom should establish and maintain a reputation for impartiality, integrity and high professional standards”.

“It is not appropriate for a Non-Executive Board Member to act as a party spokesman in the House of Lords”.

Baroness Noakes continues to take the Conservative whip in the House of Lords.  Since 2010, acting as a spokesperson for the Conservative Party, she has sat on seven committees in the House of Lords.  On the face of it this is not in compliance with Ofcom policy. 

To ensure impartiality, both Ed Richards and James Purnell when appointed to senior positions in the Ofcom and the BBC resigned from the Labour Party.  To comply with this, Lord Triesman, Baroness Young, Lord Smith and Lord Williams have all resigned the whip as Labour Peers in the House of Lords and sat as cross-benchers when they have been appointed to senior positions in public bodies, including the Football Association and the Environment Agency.

But it is not as though she has just failed to resign the whip.  There are also clear breaches to be found on Baroness Noakes’ twitter account (she tweets as @1SVN).  Her Twitter biography describes her as a “Conservative peer, non-executive director and chartered accountant”.  Her tweets attack Ed Miliband and the Labour Party, and examples can be found below: 

  • January 23rd 2015 – “Get a grip! #TVdebate May7 is about who we want as our PM Cameron v Miliband that’s the real debate” (retweeted Anna Soubry MP);
  • January 21st 2015 – “Further fall in UK unemployment. #LongTermPlan still delivering.  Must not let Labour back to destroy progress”;
  • January 11th 2015 – “Be afraid. Be very afraid if @ed_miliband and #Labour get back into power” (NB this tweet included a photo produced by the Conservative Party including a picture of Ed Miliband and the slogan “Don’t risk it with Labour”);
  • January 6th 2015 – “Labour at war over Mansion Tax bribe for Scots. Says it all”.
  • January 5th 2015 – “Any wonder they crashed our economy? Document put out by @edballsmp repeatedly confuses millions for billions” (NB this tweet includes a photo of Ed Milliband and Ed Balls sitting next to one another in the Commons chamber);
  • December 14th 2014 – “We can never state too often the basic fact that every Labour government in UK history has left the country in financial ruins” (retweeted Sebastian Lowe);
  • December 5th 2014 – “OMG: Lord Mandelson: Britain could still join the Euro via @Telegraph ttp://fw.to/uFT8dgm  Another good reason to keep Labour out”.

She cannot be upholding the impartiality of the broadcasting regulator whilst tweeting pro-Conservative, anti-Labour material about TV debates. 

 Ofcom is the regulator for our broadcast media.  It is important that at all times the regulator maintains the highest level of political impartiality, but this is even more important with the election rapidly approaching.

I would also ask that you note that Baroness Noakes has shareholdings in Verizon Communications Corp, a global communications and technology company.  Dame Patricia Hodgson, the former Deputy Chair of Ofcom, was paid £70,000 for the role.   

Given the number of breaches of Ofcom policy and the clear bias that Baroness Noakes has shown at a personal and professional level, I would ask that you reconsider Baroness Noakes’ position as Deputy Chair of Ofcom as a matter of urgency.  I ask that you write to me about this matter immediately. 

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Rt Hon Harriet Harman QC MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

 

ENDS

Harriet Harman, Labour’s Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, challenges Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Sajid Javid over Tory appointment to independent regulator Ofcom

Harriet Harman letter to Sajid Javid:   Dear Sajid, Ofcom appointments I am writing to you regarding the appointment of Baroness Noakes, who you appointed as Deputy Chair of Ofcom...


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