NHS sets aside £1.2bn for lawyers
The Times reports that the NHS Litigation Authority has set aside more than £1.2bn to pay lawyers who pursue compensation claims against hospitals. The figure is approximately one-fifth of a £5.8bn provision for unresolved clinical compensation claims against the NHS. The rise in compensation has been blamed on no-win, no-fee lawyers. This is because the proportion of legal fees paid out to claimants’ solicitors in relation to the damages received by the patient has grown steadily in recent years. The Times remarks that in the last financial year the ratio of claimants’ legal costs to actual damages paid to the patient was 44.3%, up from 33.2% five years ago. It is noted that clinical claims against the NHS are also at a record high. In 2012-13 there were 10,129 claims, as opposed to 6,088 in 2008-09.
The Sunday Times, Page: 23
Companies pressed on wages
Alan Milburn, the government’s social mobility tsar, has called on companies and local authorities to reveal the ratio between the earnings of their most highly and lowly paid staff. Speaking at a conference last week, Mr Milburn said: “A practical proposal for government is – through a system of what you could call muscular transparency – to publish the pay ratios of quoted companies and, dare I say it, of local councils. Let’s see who is earning what at the top and how many are earning what at the bottom.” Mr Milburn has also backed calls for employers to pay a “living wage” and efforts to improve childcare so more women can work. Meanwhile, the Labour leader Ed Miliband has said his party plans to make large companies train a new apprentice for each skilled worker they hire from outside the EU. Labour said the policy would create up to 125,000 high quality apprenticeships over the next parliament. Mr Miliband also pledged to increase the minimum wage to help with the cost of living and said he would increase fines for employers who deliberately break minimum wage laws from £5,000 to a maximum of £50,000.
The Sunday Times, Page: 10 The Observer, Page: 1, 9 Sunday Mirror, Page: 2
BBC accused of ‘bias’ in assisted suicide debate
The BBC has been accused of acting as a “cheerleader” for assisted suicide after Lord Falconer, the former Lord Chancellor, appeared on BBC Breakfast, to discuss his plans for an assisted dying law without opposition. Dr Peter Saunders, the campaign director of Care Not Killing, was due to appear alongside Lord Falconer to argue against euthanasia, however, he was told before the show commenced that he was no longer needed. Dr Saunders has now lodged a complaint and said the BBC had “consistently promoted an agenda seeking to change the law on assisted suicide and euthanasia”. Lord Falconer said the complaint was not justified, adding that the programme’s presenters had put the opposing viewpoint to him in their questions.
The Sunday Telegraph, Page: 13 Sunday Express, Page: 27
Campaigners call for new suicide law
Campaign groups have called for new laws to reveal the true toll of suicide. The new plans would allow coroners to decide if a person wanted to end their life if it was “more likely than not” that this would be the case, currently coroners must abide by the criminal standard of proof. Charities and MPs say the present rules mean that coroners find it difficult to conclude that someone intended to end their own life, while others may try to spare the feelings of families by recording an open verdict. The Mail remarks that some coroners even avoid recording suicide verdicts in case they prevent relatives from receiving pay-outs from life insurance policies.
The Mail on Sunday, Page: 36
Campbell alleges that McBride broke law
Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former spin doctor, has alleged that Damian McBride, who was Gordon Brown’s former spin doctor, broke the law by leaking the content of confidential documents from government papers. Legal experts have said that Mr McBride may have committed an offence under the Computer Misuse Act if he accessed Mr Brown’s emails without his permission.
The Sunday Times, Page: 1-2
Labour vows action on rape and abuse
The shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, has said that a Labour government would create a “national champion” for victims of rape and domestic violence. Speaking in the Independent, Ms Cooper claims that women are less safe under the coalition government because of police and local authority cuts. She cites figures which show a 33% drop in rape prosecutions since 2010, despite the overall number of recorded incidents rising.
The Independent on Sunday, Page: 5
Lawson chimes in on the niqab
The Times’ Dominic Lawson reflects on Judge Peter Murphy’s decision to force a defendant to remove her niqab when giving evidence. Mr Lawson argues that it is simply not true that people require full sight of a person to establish an accurate opinion of her (or his) truthfulness. He points to the introduction of blind jurors as a case in point.
The Sunday Times, Page: 28
Berezovsky died wealthy
New evidence has revealed that Boris Berezovsky, the Russian tycoon who died in March, had assets worth £500m, casting doubt on the theory that he killed himself because he was believed to be broke. Informed sources claim Mr Berezovsky died with a portfolio of “trophy” French properties, business assets and art that far outstripped his debts. It has also emerged that Mr Berezovsky tore up his original will the week before he died. He subsequently replaced it with a document which cut out his first wife Nina and his second wife Galina, and their two children. His new will leaves 18% to each of his remaining four children and his ex-girlfriend, with the remaining 10% being shared between his assistant and his mother, who has since died.
The Sunday Times, Page: 6
SFO examines “London Whale” scandal
The Serious Fraud Office is examining details of the “London Whale” trading scandal at JP Morgan to identify whether there is a case for launching a criminal investigation. The development comes after the U.S. bank was fined $920m (£574m) last week by regulators in America and Britain over the $6bn scandal. Documents which were released by the Financial Conduct Authority alongside its ruling revealed that traders kept false records and “deliberately misled” regulators on their trading positions. The documents have since been passed on to the SFO, who are now liaising with the FCA and U.S. counterparts.
The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 1
DfT starts East Coast Main Line re-privatisation
The Department for Transport has hired PwC to help re-privatise the East Coast Main Line. PwC’s appointment is aimed at ensuring the tendering for the line runs smoothly after a similar contest for the West Coast Main Line ended in a farce last year. Poor calculations by the government, which did not seek help from an accounting firm, led to the collapse of the £5bn contract on the West Coast Main Line. The DfT has also replaced its long-time legal adviser Eversheds with Norton Rose Fulbright. Virgin Rail Group, FirstGroup and National Express are expected to compete for the franchise, while there has also been interest from the Far East.
Sunday Express, Financial, Page: 1
Balls: Labour will help middle and lower incomes
The Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, writes in the Sun that Labour will support working families and act to make work pay. He pledges that the value of the national minimum wage would be restored, the party would reintroduce a 10p starting rate of tax, and it will help to reform banks and back SMEs who are struggling for credit. Mr Balls explains that Labour will pay for the measures through a mansion tax on properties worth more than £2m, restrictions on pension tax relief for the very highest earners and it will repeat the tax on bank bonuses. Elsewhere, the Times warns that Labour has created a £27.5bn “black hole” of unfunded promises to raise welfare spending in its first year of office if it wins the next election. The paper claims, according to analysis by the Conservatives, that to meet spending commitments made by Labour frontbenchers earlier this year that each household would have stump up an extra £1,059.
The Sun, Page: 14 The Sunday Times, Page: 1-2
Switzerland leaves Treasury nursing £2m hole
The Times reports that George Osborne’s raid on wealthy British residents who have hidden wealth in Switzerland has raised significantly less than initially projected. Figures released by HMRC reveal that a deal between the Swiss tax authorities and the Treasury recouped less than £1bn. The Treasury had expected that the amnesty would bring in £3.2bn. Accountants said the scheme is unlikely to raise much more because the bulk of the tax due should have been paid in May.
The Sunday Times, Business, Page: 1
Loophole may be reopened
A tax loophole that lets firms with a Channel Islands base ship goods to the UK free of VAT may be reopened by MPs, according to the Mail. The Low Value Consignment Relief was abolished in April last year after a long campaign by high street businesses. However, the Parliamentary Justice Select Committee is looking at the effect of abolition on Channel Islands firms.
The Mail on Sunday, Page: 81
Green Deal loophole
The Sunday Express investigates how the Government’s failure to close a legal loophole means that millions of rented homes will remain ineligible for Green Deal financing until at least January 2014.
Sunday Express, Financial, Page: 3 The Observer, Page: 49
Salaries soaring in key professions
New research by Adzuna, the recruitment website, will reveal this week that salaries in IT, manufacturing, engineering and retail have grown over the past year. Adzuna will report that salaries in the IT sector have soared by 7.1%, while engineering wages have climbed by 4.7% and those in retail by 4.4%. Manufacturing wages have grown by 0.5%. The positive news about salaries will chime with figures from the ONS which is expected to report that the British economy has grown even faster than expected in the second quarter. Economists believe the ONS will say that GDP rose by 0.8% during the second quarter, instead of the 0.7% it estimated last month.
Sunday Express, Page: 2 The Independent on Sunday, Page: 59
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