Tag Archives: ‘political

Meghan Markle fans call her a QUEEN after Duchess makes political pitch in US

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex joined a New York Times DealBook online summit to discuss “top-down solutions” to create “opportunities for others” – in particular, women.

Meghan, 40, was one of two “groundbreaking figures” to speak at the event, called Minding the Gap.

Joined by businesswoman Mellody Hobson, President and co-CEO of Ariel Investments and chairwoman of Starbucks Corporation, the two had a conversation about “how their shared experiences influenced their thinking”.

Fans praised Meghan, with one Twitter user, @Zaggai, saying: “Wow, she’s exceptional.”

READ MORE: Meghan Markle opens up on royal struggles: ‘I’m feeling much better about everything’

Another one, @luenass, wrote: “A true hard-working queen.”

And a third one, @rianne088, added: “I just adore her.”

@PaigeMASTERS5 said: “The Duchess of Sussex is the only Queen.”

Meghan spoke about her business endeavours with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and explained a rule they always follow: “Treat people the way they want to be treated.

“We’re just doing it the same way we would want if we were employees at it.

Calling the Duchess a “skilled orator”, Ms Guerilus added: “She knows how to connect her speech and vision.

“Great points of views exchanged and Meghan made it clear that she’s in a good place in her life.”

Host Andrew Ross Sorkin touched upon Meghan’s open letter to Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Senate leader Chuck Schumer demanding American families are paid a proper wage when on parental leave.

The Duchess said: “I think this is one of those issues that is not red or blue.

“We can all agree that people need support certainly when they’ve just had a child.”

Describing paid leave as “a humanitarian issue”, she continued: “We can all agree that people need support especially when they’ve had a child.

“We have a five-month-old baby so it is a sensitive one for us.

“We had the luxury of having had that time – not just for moms but also for fathers.”

In the 1,030-word letter, Meghan wrote: “I’m not an elected official, and I’m not a politician. I am, like many, an engaged citizen and a parent.”

Stressing that millions of women have dropped out of the workforce to provide for their children since the beginning of the pandemic, the Duchess called for a “strong paid leave program for every American that’s guaranteed, accessible and encouraged without stigma or penalty”.

She used the New York Times event as a platform to keep on emphasising her message, and the effort seems to have reached the audience.

@pomsetayP said Meghan spoke “intelligently with thorough responses that had clarity and substance”.

@KindnessUplift claimed: “If I had someone like her in my business, I would never let her go.”

@_NonoTsouck wrote: “I cannot even begin to collect my thoughts around this conversation.

“So encouraging.”

Read more here Daily Express :: Royal Feed

Meghan Markle’s huge political move falls on deaf ears as Joe Biden ignores proposal

The Duchess of Sussex wrote to members of the US Congress and Senate earlier this month calling for paid leave for new parents. However it emerged on Thursday that US President Mr Biden has not included paid family leave in his scaled-back spending plan in an attempt to push it through Congress.

It was one of a series of promises missing from the spending plan.

Meghan, who is living in California with Prince Harry after quitting royal duties, penned a letter to House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate majority leader Charles Schumer earlier in October.

The move prompted accusations from some that the Duchess was interfering in US politics.

Meghan said she was writing the letter “as a mom” and “on behalf of millions of American families”.

The former actress, who is mother to Archie and Lilibet, insisted paid leave should be “a national right”. The US is one of just eight countries without national paid maternity leave.

In her letter, Meghan described how she started working at the age of 13.

She wrote: “I grew up on the 4.99-dollar salad bar at Sizzler – it may have cost less back then (to be honest, I can’t remember) – but what I do remember was the feeling: I knew how hard my parents worked to afford this because even at five bucks, eating out was something special, and I felt lucky.

“And as a Girl Scout, when my troop would go to dinner for a big celebration, it was back to that same salad bar or The Old Spaghetti Factory because that’s what those families could afford to do too.

READ MORE: Prince Harry and William tensions began before Meghan, experts claim

She said: “In June, my husband and I welcomed our second child.

“Like any parents, we were overjoyed. Like many parents, we were overwhelmed.

“Like fewer parents, we weren’t confronted with the harsh reality of either spending those first few critical months with our baby or going back to work.

“We knew we could take her home, and in that vital (and sacred) stage, devote any and everything to our kids and to our family.

“We knew that by doing so we wouldn’t have to make impossible choices about childcare, work, and medical care that so many have to make every single day.

“No family should be faced with these decisions. No family should have to choose between earning a living and having the freedom to take care of their child (or a loved one, or themselves, as we would see with a comprehensive paid leave plan).”

The former Suits star, who signed off as “Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex”, concluded the letter by writing: “If we’re going to create a new era of family-first policies, let’s make sure that includes a strong paid leave program for every American that’s guaranteed, accessible, and encouraged without stigma or penalty.

“I know how politically charged things can – and have – become. But this isn’t about right or left, it’s about right or wrong.

“This is about putting families above politics. And for a refreshing change, it’s something we all seem to agree on. At a point when everything feels so divisive, let this be a shared goal that unites us.

“So, on behalf of my family, Archie and Lili and Harry, I thank you for considering this letter, and on behalf of all families, I ask you to ensure this consequential moment is not lost.”

Read more here Daily Express :: Royal Feed

Experts question whether Queen’s health crisis is ‘smokescreen’ – ‘Political hot potato’

According to Buckingham palace, the official reason the 95-year-old monarch cancelled her visit to Northern Ireland was due to health concerns with the monarch spending a night at a hospital. On Thursday night, Buckingham Palace released a statement stating the Queen had been hospitalised for tests.

The statement read: “Following medical advice to rest for a few days, the Queen attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations, returning to Windsor Castle at lunchtime today, and remains in good spirits.”

However, sources have now claimed that the monarch’s health was a “smokescreen” due to the Northern Ireland centenary event dubbed a “political hot potato”.

These claims come after Irish President Michael D. Higgins and politicians from Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein party reportedly turned down invites.

Dickie Arbiter, Queen’s ex-Press Secretary and royal author, has debated if it was appropriate for the Queen to attend the event.

READ MORE: William and Kate tipped to attend star-studded Royal Variety Show

One former minister questioned whether the cancellation has to do with security issues.

“I wonder whether it’s security being extra cautious,” they told MailOnline.

“But in Her Majesty’s case, it is a bit of a trek…

“Security is possible, however Her Majesty is quite elderly.”

“It is bad timing. The people hadn’t worked out that COP is round the corner.

“It is gruelling. It is gruelling even for the healthy because these commitments are quite demanding.

“Her people might have said you need to be fresh and robust for the COP summit.”

Read more here Daily Express :: Royal Feed

Strong political reactions in Sweden after two children end up injured in shooting incident: “Disgusting”

Politicians in Sweden reacted strongly to a shooting incident in Flemingsberg, south of Stockholm, where two small children were injured.

“The fact that the violence takes place in an environment where innocent children live shows total indifference and ruthlessness,” Minister of the Interior Mikael Damberg noted in a written comment to TT.

Nine people have been arrested after two children were injured due to gunfire in Flemingsberg south of Stockholm on Saturday night. According to Swedish media, the children are five and six years old and were hit in the legs.

“I want to express my horror and anger over the violence that has affected two children in Flemingsberg,” Damberg said.

“Difficult to put into words”

Johan Forsell of the Moderates believes that the incident has crossed a line.

“This is terrible. It is almost difficult to put into words because this really stands out,” he told TT.

Forsell wants more action to prevent such incidents from happening again. Among other things, he wants Sweden to do as Denmark did and double the punishment if a perpetrator who has been convicted committed the crime in a gang-related context.

“What has been lacking in the debate in recent years is society’s right to be able to protect itself against very dangerous people,” he said.

In a post on Facebook, the Liberals’ party leader Nyamko Sabuni called for more police officers, abolishing penalty rebates, and providing better tools for the police.

“Disgusting ruthlessness”

Christian Democrat leader Ebba Busch also commented on the incident via Twitter.

“This evil spares no means to cross new boundaries. It is simply sad that Sweden has ended up here, but we must acknowledge what reality looks like,” she said.

Spokeswoman for the Green Party, Märta Stenevi, said she was appalled and angry about what happened.

“The fact that violence penetrates environments where young children live is serious and completely unacceptable. Violence, weapons, and gangs have no place in our society,” she noted on Twitter.

The leader of the Left Party, Nooshi Dadgostar, also expresses his sympathy to those affected.

“Two small children who were out playing were hit by the shots. It shows a disgusting ruthlessness that frightens families. My thoughts go to the children and their loved ones,” she wrote in a Twitter message.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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This post originally posted here Norway Government & Politics News

DPP highlight Academic and Political biography of Former President Peter Mutharika

Relaxed Peter Mutharika

Former Malawi President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika studied law at the University of London, and successfully completed the bachelor’s degree in 1965. In 1966, he graduated with an LL.M degree from Yale University. In 1969 he obtained a JSD (PhD) degree from Yale University. He was 29 years old, and it was an extraordinary achievement for an African receiving a doctorate at that age in the 1960s.

Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika selected an academic career, therefore taught at several universities in Africa and beyond.

 These are

(i) University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania),

(ii) Haile Selassie University (Ethiopia),

(iii) Rutgers University (USA),

(iv) the United Nations Institute for Training and Research Program for Foreign Service Officers from Africa and Asia at Makerere University (Uganda), and

(v) Washington University (USA). As an academic, he has also served as

(i) an Academic Visitor at the London School of Economics (UK),

(ii) advisor to the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law initiative for Africa and

(iii) the Chairperson of the Institute for Democracy and Policy Studies. Professor Mutharika has also lectured at the Council of Foreign Relations of the United States of America, and the Royal Institute of International Affairs in the United Kingdom. In 2008, he received the 2008 International Jurist Award, a prestigious outfit.

Professor Mutharika spent over 30 years at Washington State University (USA), during which he rose to the position of full professor, also becoming Charles Nagel Professor of International Comparative Law and Chairman of the PhD in Law Program for twenty years. During this period, he has personally supervised over 50 PhDs from all over the world.

His Excellency Professor Mutharika is an expert in International Economic Law, International Law and Comparative Constitutional Law.

As a seasoned academic, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has numerous publications to his credit. Among his selected publications are:

i. Mutharika, A. P., Foreign Investment Security in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Emerging Policy and Legal Frameworks (book)

ii. Mutharika, A. P. (2003). “Accountability for Political Abuses in Pre-Democratic Malawi: The Primacy of Truth.” Third World Legal Studies.16: 203- 218.

iii. Mutharika, A.P. (1980). “The Regulation of Statelessness Under International and National Law: Statelessness, refugees, and related nationality problems.” Volume 2, Oceana Publications

iv. Mutharika, A. P. (1997). “Creating an Attractive Investment Climate in the Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Region”. 12 Foreign Investment Law Journal, 1.

v. Peter Mutharika, A.P. (1996). “The 1995 Democratic Constitution of Malawi.” Journal of African Law, 40 (2), 205-220.

vi. Peter Mutharika (1996). “The Role of the United Nations Security Council in African Peace Management: Some Proposals”. Michigan Journal of International Law, 537

vii. Peter Mutharika (2003). “Accountability for Political Abuses in Pre-Democratic Malawi: The Primacy of Truth.” Volume 16 Into the 21st Century: Reconstruction and Reparations in International Law. Third World Legal Studies

viii. Peter Mutharika, A.P. (1998). “Some Thoughts on Rebuilding African State Capability.” Washington State University Law Review. 76 (1): 281-291.

ix. Mutharika, A.P. (1995). “The Role of International Law in the Twenty-First Century: An African Perspective.” 18 Fordham International Law Journal, 1706

x. Mutharika, A.P. (2001). “The Alien under American Law.” Washington State University Law

xi. Mutharika, A.P. (1978). “International law of development.” Oceana Publications

xii. Mutharika, A.P. (2003). “Approaches to Restorative Justice in Malawi”, 13th Commonwealth Law Conference, Melbourne, Australia.

xiii. Mutharika, A.P. (2002). “Legal System of Malawi”, 3 Legal Systems of the World 949

xiv. Mutharika, A.P. (1998). “Some Thoughts on Rebuilding African State Capability,” 76 Washington University Law Quarterly 281

Political career

Professor Mutharika retired from active academic life at the Washington University School of Law on 1 July 2011 to concentrate on politics back in Malawi.

Professor Mutharika served as a key resource person at the Malawi Constitutional Conference in February 1995 at the invitation of the Constitutional Committee of Malawi. Prior to this, Professor Mutharika served as General Counsel of the Malawi Action Committee, the main Malawi external pressure group during the struggle for democratization in Malawi.

Following the death of his beloved brother, Late President Ngwazi Prof. Bingu Wa Mutharika in April 2012, His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika assumed the position of interim President of the Democratic Progressive Party until 18th April 2013 when he was duly elected as the DPP President and Presidential candidate for the May 2014 Tripartite Elections. Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika was declared by the Malawi Electoral Commission as Malawi’s fifth President since independence, and the fourth since attainment of democracy in Malawi.

Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika served as an adviser to his elder brother, President Bingu wa Mutharika, on foreign and domestic policy from 2004 until the President’s death on 5th April 2012. Professor Mutharika held various cabinet positions such as Minister of Justice, Minister of Education, Science and Technology and Minister of Foreign Affairs. As the Minister of Education, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika was instrumental in the conceptualization and implementation of the establishment of 6 public universities, 2 of which; Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the Malawi University of Science and Technology are now operational. A new and a third University, at Mombera, Mzimba is under construction.

International and Community Service

As a distinguished son of Malawi and Africa, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika has dedicated himself to utilizing his international acumen to promote global, regional, and national peace and unity as well as conflict resolution. To this end, the Professor was part of a 3-man tribunal arbitrating international cases. Until August 2011, Professor Mutharika was involved in two international court cases with the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes that involved Zimbabwean government for breaches of bilateral investment treaties between nationals of Switzerland and Germany. He still sits as a member of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Professor Mutharika, as a freedom fighter offered free legal services to Socialist League of Malawi (LESOMA) led by Atati Mpakati and Malawi Freedom Movement (MAFREM), led by Orton Chirwa. He was the lead person in framing the party constitutions. Not surprisingly, Professor Mutharika was a good and valuable friend of Chakufwa Chihana, Jomo Chikwakwa, Henry Masauko Chipembere and Atati Mpakati. He left Tanzania for the USA following the death of Masauko Chipemphere and Atati Mpakati, as well as the arrest of Orton Chirwa in late 1981.

Economic Development and Higher Education

His Excellency, Professor Peter Arthur Mutharika espouses commitment to education and its critical role to economic development of the country and Africa.

His values and commitments in education include:

• Increasing access and ensuring adequate female participation.

• Quality enhancement.

• Internationalization of higher education, and

• Academic excellence

– ranking

– supportive of economic development


His Excellency, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika was in 2016 awarded the African Leadership award and Medal of Honor by the African Leadership group of London for exceptional leadership and impacting lives positively.

His Excellency, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika was also inducted into the Hall of Fame which represents the highest seal of approval, confidence, and commendation from the board of the African Leadership Magazine Group.

He also received a Certificate of Honour of Citation from the Caucus of the State of Georgia, House of Representatives, USA.

In July 2016, His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika was awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree of Human Letters (Honoris Causa) by the University of Addis Ababa – Ethiopia, for his Excellency’s selfless contribution to Africa and the world and for leading Malawi from aid to trade diversifying Malawi’s economy, initiating programmes for empowering the youth, fighting climate change, fighting corruption, and providing affordable housing for people.

In November 2009, His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika was awarded the Charles Nagel Professorship of International and Comparative Law by Washington University of Law for High Level Experience in Law and his undisputed achievements in academia. Mutharika is one of Malawi’s most highly educated international lawyers with different international accolades to his name. He is the first African person to be granted this honour.

A year before this (2008), His Excellency received an International Jurist Award from the International Council of Jurists based in the United Kingdom for His Excellency’s unique contribution to academia particularly the field of legal education and development in the world – First African to receive this award.


Your Excellencies, Distinguished ladies, and Gentlemen, In April 2016, His Excellency was appointed African Development Bank Youth Programme Champion for his Excellency’s commitment to youth empowerment in Africa.

In July 2015, His Excellency was appointed Champion for Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) by The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS – (UNAIDS) for His Excellency’s vision to ensure local drug manufacturing security in least developed countries. Through His Excellency’s engagement using his role as Trips Champion – His Excellency negotiated an extension of 17 years for least developed countries to continue manufacturing drugs locally.

In July 2015, His Excellency was appointed Champion for Higher Education in Africa by Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building (RUFORUM) in recognition for His Excellency’s experienced Background in Higher Education- His Excellency is now a key driver for advancing higher education in Africa. RUFORUM has confidence in President Mutharika’s ability to deliver beyond any expectations.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished ladies, and Gentlemen, in June 2015, His Excellency, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika was crowned champion of HeForShe Global Impact by United Nations / UN Women following His Excellency’s commitment to gender equality and empowerment of women, specifically to end child marriages. HeForShe Campaign calls on men to join and be at the forefront of the gender equality movement.

In March 2015, His Excellency was crowned Champion for UNFPA Youth Programme by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for His Excellency’s exceptional credentials that improve the living standards of the youths in Malawi, Africa, and the world.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika is a Co-convenor of the Global Commission on Education Financing with the Prime Minister of Norway, and Presidents of Chile and Indonesia, and the Director General of UNESCO.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika was also appointed Champion for Global Education Partnership.

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, we have before us, an outstanding African Statesman.

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This post originally posted here Norway Government & Politics News

Julia Stonehouse reveals John Stonehouse’s political and personal scandals in revealing new book

It was one of the most astonishing political – and personal scandals – in modern British history. 

A Labour MP who stole a dead man’s name, left his clothes neatly folded by a Miami beach and vanished. 

Here, in the final part of our serialisation of her book about John Stonehouse, his daughter breaks a 46-year silence to explain how his financial deceit and sexual betrayal unravelled.

We were wrapping presents in my father’s study and remembering him on a surreal Christmas Eve, five weeks after he had disappeared from a beach in Florida, presumed drowned. 

What exactly had happened to our adored father we didn’t know. But we were very sure that we would never see him again.

As for any family suffering tragedy or grief, Christmas 1974 was unbearably poignant.

Our father, John Stonehouse, had always left his festive preparations until the afternoon of Christmas Eve, when he’d go shopping in Central London. 

Back home, he’d always wrap the gifts he’d bought using unusual and amusing paper and make his own gift-tags with funny little drawings on them. We missed him so much.

At about 1am on Christmas morning, my mother Barbara, brother Mathew, older sister Jane and I were still in his study when the phone rang. 

It was a newspaper reporter saying they were 99 per cent certain my father had been found in Australia.

The journalist rang back and confirmed the news, saying that the Melbourne police were going to make a statement at 4am our time.

I can’t even begin to describe our feelings at this astounding turn of events: elation, bafflement, disbelief – all mingled with despair in case it wasn’t true.

At 4am, Jane answered the phone. We saw the utter amazement on her face and heard her say: ‘Daddy, Daddy, is it really you?’

What exactly had happened to our adored father we didn’t know. But we were very sure that we would never see him again. Pictured: John Stonehouse and his wife, Barbara 

Jane wrote in her diary: ‘I went weak, cold, hot, shaky. He sounded as if all his nerves were being stretched right to their limit, ready to snap. His voice was high and he was definitely not himself. All he could say was that he was sorry, sorry, sorry.’

Jane handed the phone to my mother, who was visibly shaking. She fell into a chair.

‘John?’ she asked, unbelieving.

‘Yes, darling, it’s so good to hear your voice,’ he said.

My mother’s questions came in quick succession: ‘What’s happened? Where are you? What have you been doing?’

He replied: ‘I’m sorry I’ve given you so much trouble, darling. It didn’t work out. I tried to make it easier for you all. I’m here at Melbourne police station.’

Jane answered the front door. It was three journalists holding air tickets to Melbourne. She wrote a note to my mother, who was still on the phone: ‘Reporters have tickets to Australia. Do you want to go?’

My mother told my father what the note said and asked if he wanted her to come. ‘Yes, come as soon as you can,’ he said, adding: ‘And bring Sheila with you.’

This request came as a total shock to the family. We had no idea that Sheila, his secretary and the woman who had been his secret mistress for five years, was so important to him.

He’d had affairs before but they had always fizzled out.

Sheila was 28, Jane was 25, and I was just about to turn 24. She was our generation, not his. In her diary, Jane would later write: ‘What a nerve – he’s flipped his lid.’

But in that moment we were all crying, laughing and hugging each other and trying to analyse what he meant by ‘it didn’t work out’ and ‘make it easier for you all’. We were baffled but thrilled.

Before she packed, my mother phoned Sheila with the news that my father was alive. It sounded as if she already knew – as we’d later find out, she did.

My mother asked her not to go out to Australia and Sheila agreed. By 5.30am a three-car cavalcade was heading for Gatwick Airport.

My parents were reunited on Boxing Day at Maribyrnong Detention Centre, near Melbourne. My father looked dreadful: ashen, with glazed but wild eyes.

Sheila was 28, Jane was 25, and I was just about to turn 24. She was our generation, not his. In her diary, Jane would later write: ‘What a nerve – he’s flipped his lid’

He’d lost a stone, looked more than his 49 years, his hair was turning grey and his voice was strangely high-pitched. 

He was quite unlike the confident, self-assured man my mother knew. After warmly embracing in the full gaze of prison officers and police, they were ushered into a bleak interview room. 

My mother had many things to say to him. He’d allowed her and the family to think he was dead for five weeks, and then had the audacity to ask her to bring his mistress with her, she said. 

She’d told him before that another affair would be the end of their marriage.

For five minutes she explained how cruel he’d been to casually abandon his children, allowing us and her to suffer the grief of believing him to be dead when he was very much alive – not to mention leaving her to deal with all the problems he’d left behind with his numerous political and business activities.

When she’d finished, my father broke down and cried and cried, sobbing his heart out. My mother realised for the first time that he was really ill, and was almost certainly suffering a complete nervous breakdown.

A few days later my father had a consultation with an eminent Australian psychiatrist Dr Gerard Gibney, who diagnosed severe depression. 

A large part of this, he said, was to do with the fact that as an MP, my father had persisted in following causes for oppressed peoples around the world, becoming seriously distressed when he couldn’t improve their lives in the way he wanted. 

Dr Gibney said that instead of physical suicide, my father had committed ‘psychiatric suicide’, by taking on the identities of two of his deceased constituents, Joseph Markham and Clive Mildoon, and escaping into their personalities.

Leaving those new identities behind and returning to being John Stonehouse again was causing him immense mental anguish.

His doctors and lawyer suggested that it would be very bad for my father in his fragile psychological state to contemplate a return to Britain in the near future.

On December 29, he was released on bail, and afterwards moved into a flat in Melbourne with my mother and 14-year-old brother Mathew. 

John (pictured in the 1970s) and Barbara Stonehouse, celebrated their 26th wedding anniversary at their favourite restaurant in London on the evening of November 13, 1974

Members of our family would take it in turns to fly out to live with him in Australia, experiencing at close quarters his tragic and ongoing breakdown.

We never knew what to expect. Some days he would cry, scream, bang his head on the floor repeatedly, rush around shouting, and even lose complete control of his body. On others he would be found curled up in a ball on the sofa. 

Or he’d just cut out completely when somebody was talking to him by falling asleep in a chair. In public, he would put on a brave face, but in private he was a wreck.

Back in Britain, the knives were quick to come out in the Labour Party for their runaway MP.

Even while my father was still missing, the Prime Minister Harold Wilson had made a Commons statement about allegations that my father had been acting as a Czech spy. 

Josef Frolik, a defector from the Communist Czech secret service, had accused him of being one of their agents.

Frolik had no proof, had never seen my father’s file, or given him any money. The head of MI5 didn’t believe Frolik because he was a known liar: his unfounded fabrications included stories about Prime Minister Edward Heath and Labour’s Michael Foot. 

But rogue Right-wing elements within MI5 wanted to use the Frolik misinformation for their own purposes and they made sure the rumour about my father being a spy spread.

As the information came from MI5, people believed it. A miasma of suspicion and contempt fell over my father and he was doomed. 

However, Wilson said that the claims had been thoroughly investigated and disproved, as had suggestions that my father had been working for the CIA. John Stonehouse ‘was in no way a security risk’, he told MPs. But the rumours continued to rumble.

When he was arrested on December 24, my father sent a telegram to Wilson saying he’d had a mental breakdown and adding: ‘I can only apologise to you and all the others who have been troubled by this business.’ The Prime Minister didn’t reply.

By early spring, there had been so much bad publicity about the Stonehouse case that Labour politicians were keen to dissociate themselves completely from my father. My mother, too, would face years of total silence from former friends and colleagues.

Being involved in the party as an MP for 17 years meant nothing. 

There was no sympathy or understanding. So much for the supposed ‘comrades’. On January 28, 1975, a parliamentary select committee was set up to ‘consider the position of Mr John Stonehouse’. 

But, shockingly, a detailed report on my father’s condition written by Dr Gibney was kept from them by civil servants and diplomats. 

Mr A. R. Clark of the Foreign Office’s south west Pacific department had sent a memo to colleagues saying: ‘I do not think that it would be appropriate to give the [Dr Gibney’s] letter a wider distribution. If the select committee want a psychiatric report, they will no doubt formally go about getting one.’

Sir Thomas Brimelow, the permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office, agreed, adding a handwritten note: ‘The Secretary of State may think it better that letters such as this should be kept in the Private Office under Ministerial Control.’

While all this was going on unknown to my father, he himself was desperate to see his mistress. On February 6, my mother picked up the phone in our rented flat in Melbourne and found Sheila on the line.

‘Where are you?’ my mother asked.

‘Singapore,’ replied Sheila. ‘John asked me to come.’

My mother handed the phone to my father and heard them making arrangements to meet in Perth.

Mum was devastated, telling my father: ‘If she comes to Australia, she can take on the role of nursemaid, secretary, chief cook and bottle-washer. I’m going home.’

There was a silence, and then my father lost control.

He grabbed my mother and threw her to the floor, yelling: ‘Why can’t you understand?’

My mother was face-down on the floor and my father leaned over, grabbed her hair, and used it to bang her head up and down.

My brother was in the sitting room and came running in, shouting ‘Stop it, Dad, stop it!’ and pulled him away, telling my mother to get in the kitchen and shut the door.

Mum stood with her back to the door, panting and amazed. Nothing like that had ever happened to her in her life before. He’d turned into a monster. Usually my father was so gentle.

In the bedroom, he was banging his head against the wall and crying his heart out.

My mother reached for the phone to try to contact his psychiatrist, but my father burst into the room, snatched the phone from her hand, and shouted: ‘Who are you calling? I suppose you’re calling the police.’

‘I’m trying to get the doctor,’ my mother replied. ‘You need help.’

He shouted: ‘Yes, I do need help! Your help! And what do you do? You call the police. You bitch!’

He then pulled the phone cord from its socket and started beating my mother about the head with the handset.

My mother had no idea it would be their last ever anniversary dinner. Six days later, my father flew to Miami. Pictured: John and Barbara with their children, including Julia (left), in 1965

It broke, shattering on the floor. Then he put his hands around her throat and started banging her head against the wall. My mother thought he’d choke her to death, but Mathew managed to drag him off.

My father broke loose, and rushed out of the front door, shouting: ‘I’m going. Do you hear? This is the last you’ll see of me! I’m going to kill myself. That’s what everybody wants and then you’ll all be happy.’

Mathew ran after him, but he was in the car and away.

It was many hours before my father’s solicitor Jim Patterson tracked him down, by which time he was subdued and contrite.

But it was not to be the last such terrifying episode.

The day after the attack, my father went to Perth to meet Sheila. 

My mother by this time had decided she’d had enough and was driving to Sydney to fly home with Mathew. But perhaps against her better judgment, she was persuaded by Patterson that it would be good for her to talk to my father and Sheila face to face.

With emotions running so high, a showdown was inevitable.

The ill-fated meeting took place in the early evening at a picnic area near a dam at Albury, New South Wales. 

As the love triangle sat together, my father told my mother he wanted both women in Melbourne: his wife so she could transcribe a book he was writing; Sheila so she could help him with questions about his business affairs from the Department of Trade and Industry, whose inspectors would be arriving shortly.

The insensitivity didn’t seem to occur to him.

My mother told him: ‘No. I won’t have that girl there. If she goes to Melbourne, I go back to England.’

He shouted: ‘I want you both! You are both important to me.’

‘Look,’ my mother said, ‘our suitcases are packed and in the boot of the car. I’m ready to fly to England tomorrow with Mathew and I will do so if you bring that girl back to Melbourne.’ She meant it. 

His manic behaviour was truly frightening 

Suddenly, he jumped to his feet and yelled ‘If you leave me, I’ll kill myself’, and started running towards the dam.

Sheila screamed at my mother: ‘Barbara, you must do something!’

Something inside my mother snapped and she turned to Sheila and said: ‘You do something.’

Sheila ran after him. My brother, who was waiting in the car nearby, turned the headlights on in time to see my father climbing up on to the edge of the dam.

Mathew drove up to my mother and she slipped into the driving seat and sped towards my father and Sheila.

By now, he was off the dam and he and Sheila were sobbing in each other’s arms.

Somehow my father persuaded my mother to stay on in Australia, and they returned together to the flat in Melbourne. Sheila, who had until recently wrongly believed she was pregnant with my father’s child, remained in Sydney.

My father’s manic behaviour was so out of character that it was truly frightening. It could well have been a symptom of him withdrawing from the drug Mandrax on which he had in recent years become dependent – a procedure so dangerous it often necessitated hospital supervision.

Perhaps he had taken some Mandrax or Mogadon, the other prescription drug he regularly used, to Miami when he faked his death and he had reached the last of his supply? 

Eventually the medical profession became wise to the dangers of the highly addictive Mandrax and it was banned in the UK in 1984 – ten years too late for my father.

In March 1975, my father and Sheila were arrested on various charges relating to his disappearance, including conspiracy and the theft of four cheques that belonged to one of his companies worth £7,500, £6,981, £2,112 and £3,029.

My father faced a further 15 charges including not paying his most recent credit card bills, applying for a credit card and passport in the name of Joseph Markham, and obtaining birth certificates in the names of Joseph Markham and Clive Mildoon.

On July 17, escorted by Scotland Yard, the pair returned to Britain.

DURING my father’s trial at the Old Bailey in the summer of 1976, the judge, Edward Eveleigh, told the jury it was not their business to consider mental health issues.

‘Those are matters which can be taken into consideration in mitigation by the court, if appropriate, but they are not matters which affect guilt itself,’ he said.

The difficulty faced by my father’s defence team was that he had seen a psychiatrist only after his arrest. The court was constantly trying to press the idea that he wasn’t crazy before his arrest, but only became so because of it.

To us, as his family, it was patently obvious that a sane John Stonehouse wouldn’t adopt alternative personas and fake his own death. But people just weren’t interested in the mental health aspect of what had happened.

If this trial was happening today, experts would be asked to describe the psychological effects of taking too much Mandrax and Mogadon, taken individually and in combination, over a two-year period. 

But this was 1970s, when those drugs were handed out like sweets, and the subject of men’s mental health was not talked about. 

Convicted on charges of theft, fraud and deception, my father was sentenced to a total of 95½ years in prison, to run concurrently, which meant he would be locked up for just seven.

Judge Eveleigh said the extraordinarily harsh sentence was about being a deterrent.

‘Its principal object is to inform others that they cannot profit by this kind of behaviour or any criminal behaviour,’ he stated.

Sheila was given a suspended sentence of two years. The lead prosecutor, Michael Corkery QC, accused her of being a ‘shrewd and tough operator’. 

But having read all the trial statements, I see nothing to indicate that Sheila had any idea what was going on inside my father’s head before he faked his death.

While I might not admire her capacity to have an affair for years with my father, she was never the wild sort of character who’d go along with such a mad plan.

John Stonehouse was escorted from the Old Bailey to Wormwood Scrubs in London before being transferred to a high-security prison at Blundeston in Suffolk.

From there, he wrote to the family: ‘I have been feeling happier and more relaxed than for at least four years and possibly longer. I feel more like a whole person.

‘The worst possible conditions at the Scrubs are so much better than the tension and desolation that I had to bear before. I am learning at last what a joy it is to have an “ordinary” life.’

He was released from jail in 1979, and married Sheila in 1981. He died in her arms at the age of just 62, seven years later after a series of heart attacks.

I wish my father had never been caught in Melbourne and had succeeded in his escape from reality, living a calm, new life, playing chess, listening to jazz and classical music, soaking up the sun.

He might have lived to the age of 83, when he could have used newly released files from the Czech secret service to prove that he was, in fact, innocent of the allegations of treason that never quite went away.

For most people, John Stonehouse will for ever remain the infamous runaway MP. But to me, my wonderful father was a hero.

Everywhere I’ve gone in my life, I’ve met people across the world who were helped by him.

Travelling around East Africa in the late 1960s, I spoke to many who remembered his efforts on their behalf in their struggle for justice and independence.

For years, I wasn’t allowed to pay in Indian restaurants in Britain because many are run by people from Bangladesh (another country he helped), and when they saw the Stonehouse name on my credit card or cheque they’d say: ‘No, no, you must accept our gratitude. Come again, any time, no charge.’

My father taught me something invaluable: that the world can be changed if people talk enough and work enough together.

After all he suffered, he is at peace. I send him my undying love and respect.

John Stonehouse, My Father: The True Story Of The Runaway MP, by Julia Stonehouse, is published by Icon on July 19 at £16.99. 

To pre-order a copy for £14.44, go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193 before July 25. Free UK delivery on orders over £20.

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This post originally posted here The European Times News

Norway’s Foreign Minister criticizes Belarus after arrests of activists: “Political prisoners must be released”

Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide (H) strongly criticized Belarus on Thursday.

Belarusian security officials stormed the offices of activists fighting for civil rights in the country on Wednesday.

The rights group Vyasna states that the office in Minsk and the home addresses of at least five of the members elsewhere in the country were visited by the security agents. Several were arrested.

Norway strongly condemned the actions of President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.

“The authorities in Belarus show a total lack of respect for fundamental human rights,” Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide tweeted on Thursday.

“Norway condemns the attacks on civil society and the arrest of human rights defenders in Vyasna and other organizations. Political prisoners must be released immediately,” she added.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

Do you have a news tip for Norway Today? We want to hear it. Get in touch at info@norwaytoday.no

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This post originally posted here Norway Government & Politics News