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Newslinks for Wednesday 19th December 2012

7pm ToryDiary: Mitchell never saw the CCTV footage until after he'd resigned but David Davis insisted that he examine it

6.45pm Columnist Andrew Lilico: It's not news that some accusations are false, and we should not lose our faith over it

6.15pm ToryDiary: David Cameron charms the 1922 Committee with his plans for the next election

5.00pm Local government: 70% of Council income to be raised locally

4.45pm MPsETC: 45 Tory MPs write to the Telegraph in protest at the Charity Commission’s “unjust” treatment of a church hall in Devon

3.45pm ToryDiary: Get that lamp from under that bushel! Tories need to wear their hearts on their sleeves.

Pmqs

2.30pm WATCH: Today's session of PMQs in full

1.45pm ToryDiary: Christmas cheer and humbug at PMQs

12.30pm Local government: Food banks ARE part of the Big Society - but the problem they are tackling is not new

Noon Local government: Big rise in number of councils sharing services

11.30am ToryDiary: David Cameron decides on a withdrawal plan for Afghanistan

This morning's ToryDiary post about Andrew Mitchell: The PCC inquiry into #Smeargate and Mitchell must report as soon as possible

Last night's Mitchell-related posts: 

SinkAlso on ToryDiary this morning: Osborne throws the kitchen sink at Balls... and Balls throws it back at Osborne

Columnist Jill Kirby: The challenges and opportunities the Conservatives have for the rest of their time in government

Mark Reckless MP on Comment: The Energy Bill is a sad retreat for Conservatives

Peter Bone MP on Comment: Religious institutions should not be under attack from the Charity Commission

Cllr Philippa Roe on Local Government: Councils can help cut the deficit - but they need the freedom to do it

The Deep End: The lefties who love austerity

Andrew Mitchell 1): Evidence casts doubt on the police's version of events

Mitchell"The very next day, the Deputy Chief Whip John Randall received an email from one of his constituents saying that he and his nephew had both seen and heard the incident, and his version matched the police story that later appeared in the Telegraph almost word for word. ... When Michael Crick rang the man behind the email, he denied he was there, saying: 'I wasn't a witness to anything.' Dispatches soon discovered that he was a police officer. What we only found out last night was that he is still a serving police officer." - Channel 4 News

"Mr Mitchell demanded an inquiry into the affair, saying that it 'has shaken my lifelong support and confidence in the police'." - The Times (£)

> Today on ToryDiary: The PCC inquiry into #Smeargate and Mitchell must report as soon as possible

> Yesterday:

Andrew Mitchell 2): The new claims are "exceptionally serious", says Downing Street

"A spokesman for No 10 said of the latest claims: 'Any allegations that a serving police officer posed as a member of the public and fabricated evidence against a cabinet minister are exceptionally serious. ... It is therefore essential that the police get to the bottom of this as a matter of urgency.'" - BBC

"Government sources said the Prime Minister accepted John Randall had acted in good faith." - Daily Mail

Andrew Mitchell 3): Police chief says there's more to the plebgate row than meets the eye

"Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, has defended the decision to arrest a police officer suspected of leaking information on the Andrew Mitchell plebgate row, insisting: 'There is more to this than meets the eye.'" - Daily Telegraph

Andrew Mitchell 4): The Sun stands by its original story

Sun tweet"Last night the Channel 4 report was facing attacks on two fronts. .. Earlier in the day, Met Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe backed the officers at the Downing Street gates over claims revealed in The Sun in September that Mr Mitchell had called them “f****** plebs”. ... Meanwhile, observers pointed out the footage showed Mr Mitchell had more than enough time to say everything that cops included in their initial report to superiors — and that they were right to say members of the public had been walking past." - The Sun

Andrew Mitchell 5): Other newspapers respond

  • "The rights and wrongs of the Mitchell case are still not clear. But it is clearly more complex than it first appeared. This time it is the police who have questions to answer." - Times leader (£)
  • "We are now left in a position where the only person arrested as a result of this incident is not the politician who abused the police but the officer who allegedly put the incident into the public domain. Could the commissioner be trying too hard to keep his political masters sweet while throwing one of his officers to the wolves?" - Daily Telegraph leader

With impeccable timing, Theresa May is set to announce new measures to strengthen police integrity

May"The Home Secretary will announce new measures to improve police integrity in the New Year, which are likely to address issues such as accepting gifts and nepotism. ... A report yesterday by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) said not enough was being done by police chiefs to ensure officers act appropriately at all times." - Daily Telegraph

And the Home Secretary also has plans for covering Abu Qatada's extended stay in the UK

"The Government could use frozen bank accounts and seized assets belonging to hate preacher Abu Qatada worth £217,000 to help cover the cost of keeping him in the country. ... Home Secretary Theresa May told the Home Affairs Select Committee that officials will look at raiding Qatada's cash and assets to pay for his huge legal bills." - Daily Mail

  • Ministers informed that up to 90,000 foreign students may be living in Britain illegally - Daily Mail

David Cameron to detail Britain's withdrawal from Afghanistan

"Only 4,000 British troops will come home from Afghanistan in time for next Christmas — in a victory for the generals, The Sun can reveal. … A force of around 5,000 will remain in the Afghan badlands into 2014 to try to finish the job against the Taliban." - The Sun

  • Actors lobby David Cameron over plight of Belarusian political prisoners - Guardian

And thje PM will meet with the other party leaders to talk Leveson

"Talks between Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary; Harriet Harman, her Labour shadow and Lord Wallace, a Lib Dem minister, who met again [yesterday], have failed to find a consensus. So Mr Cameron is due to discuss the issue today with Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg." - Independent

Ken Clarke's concession over secret courts

KC"Cabinet minister Ken Clarke gave ground on the Justice and Security Bill after a series of defeats in the Lords. He told MPs that judges, not ministers, will have the right to decide what is heard in secret, even in cases of national security. ... But he admitted that secret hearings could be used when families of dead servicemen sue the Government for negligence." - Daily Mail

The Government's human rights commission can't make up its mind

"The Commission on a Bill of Rights cost £700,000 and took 19 months, but did not look at whether Britain should pull out of the discredited European Court of Human Rights. ... The commission, filled with lawyers proposed by David Cameron and Nick Clegg, could not even reach a unanimous conclusion on the central question of whether there should be a new British Bill of Rights." - Daily Mail

  • "A farce from the start" - Daily Mail leader
  • The law-makers, not the likes of Abu Qatada, are the greatest threat to our precious liberties - Mary Riddell, Daily Telegraph

Stephen Lawrence's mother accuses ministers of retreating over race relations

Lawrence"'With the new government in, the whole thing around race has changed completely,' said Lawrence, who will unveil a series of events on Wednesday to mark the 20th anniversary next year of Stephen's murder. 'Race is definitely not on the government's agenda.'" - Guardian

Chris Grayling's drive to cut reoffending

"Around 50,000 criminals who were spared jail went on to commit another crime within a year, figures revealed yesterday. ... Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is set to announce within weeks that charities and businesses will be brought in to tackle entrenched reoffending as part of the ‘rehabilitation revolution’. Yesterday he said the majority of probation work would be outsourced." - Daily Mail

Lords committee rejects Michael Gove's claim that race is holding up adoptions - Daily Telegraph

Ministers failed to put a senior figure in charge of the West Coast Mail Line contest, says a Department for Transport official - The Times (£)

  • The head of the Civil Service reckons people need to "face up" to a rising pension age - Daily Mail

Dominic Raab: Green energy subsidies are failing to deliver cheap low carbon power

DR"...we need to protect households from rip-off green subsidies. That does not mean giving up on renewables. If we want to back the low carbon technologies of the future, government should spend less trying to pick commercial winners, and more promoting genuine scientific innovation. Yet in 2011, government investment in energy research and development was just 6 per cent of the RO and FIT subsidy – less than France, Germany, the US, Canada and Japan." - Dominic Raab, City AM

Alex Shelbrooke's plan to block claimants from spending their benefits on cigarettes and alcohol

"Alec Shelbrooke wants to prohibit benefits being spent on luxury items by introducing electronic cash cards which could only be used for essential items such as food and clothing. ... The cards would be similar to a chip and pin debit card but with a blocking function for non-essential items, the MP for Elmet and Rothwell told the House of Commons." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday on MPsETC: Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke introduces Bill for Welfare Cash Card, to stop claimants buying cigarettes and alcohol

Lord McAlpine settles his libel actions against the BBC and ITV - The Sun

  • BBC bosses to face criticism in report on Jimmy Savile coverage - Daily Mail

Patrick O'Flynn writes about the Tories' Ukip troubles

UKIP"...we have now reached a point where not even the most complacent member of the British Establishment can ignore the rise of Ukip. Three separate opinion polls on Sunday put it on a 14 per cent vote share. More polls yesterday confirmed that it is in double figure territory. This does not mean it is yet on course to win a slew of seats at the next general election – though that is no longer an unthinkable scenario – but it does mean it is taking millions of voters from the Westminster parties." - Patrick O'Flynn, Daily Express

> Yesterday:

Tony Blair's "thinly veiled warnings" to Ed Miliband

TB"Tony Blair yesterday delivered a series of thinly-veiled warnings to Ed Miliband over Labour’s positions on immigration, welfare reform and the Leveson Report. ... In a highly unusual intervention into British politics, the former prime minister declined to say whether he would campaign for the Labour leader at the next election expected in 2015." - Daily Mail

  • Blair the fantasist refuses to acknowledge mistakes - Daily Express editorial
  • The Nats may be mocking Blair, but he’s a proven winner - Alan Cochrane, Daily Telegraph

> Yesterday on LeftWatch: Ed Miliband is now being undermined by both the Scottish and Welsh Labour parties

Union anger over measures to speed-up redundancies - Daily Mail

Taxpayers face a £25,000 bill for the Met chief's libel battle - Daily Mail

  • A former police worker defends his expenses leak - Daily Mail
  • Police have given up on my son Stephen, says Doreen Lawrence - Daily Mail

Councils are, increasingly, sharing services to cut costs - Financial Times (£)

Grammar schools unveil plans to overhaul entrance tests - Daily Mail

And finally... The Queen puts a smile on ministers' faces

Queen laugh"Sending the entire Cabinet into a fit of  the giggles would be quite a feat, even for the most persuasive of photographers. ... This one, however, had a helping hand – from the Queen. ... As he initially stuck to official instructions to take only five frames, she remarked ‘that was quick’ – making the whole Cabinet burst out laughing." - Daily Mail

> Yesterday: 

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