Talking of vested interests….
Posted on October 21, 2009
I’ve posted a question over at Charlotte Gore’s blog today, under a guest post there by Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon:
“While we’re on the subject of ethics, and vested interests in the sex industry debate, could Belinda Brooks-Gordon clarify whether or not it’s just pure coincidence that she was employed by political lobbyists Foresight Consulting during the precise same period – Sep 2008 to Feb 2009, that Stringfellow Restaurants commissioned the firm to
“protect Stringfellows’ business interests during the passage of the Policing & Crime Bill with particular respect to government’s proposed intent to tighten the law on table side dancing establishments.”
And if it was just coincidence, does Belinda not agree that working as a “Public Policy Consultant” for a lobbying firm which represents high-profile figures in the so-called “adult entertainment” industry somewhat undermines her credibility in this debate?”
For anyone who’s confused by my question, here’s the announcement by Foresight Consulting from December 2008 regarding Stringfellows:
As the credit crisis continues to unfold, Foresight has been hired by Eliot Advisors to provide political insight and analyse on financial policy issues.
Foresight has also been hired to protect Stringfellows’ business interests during the passage of the Policing & Crime Bill with particular respect to government’s proposed intent to tighten the law on table side dancing establishments.
And here’s the APPC register (APPC = Association of Professional Political Consultants) for Foresight Consulting covering the period 1st September 2008 – 30th November 2008 where Brooks-Gordon is listed among the “Staff (employed and sub-contracted) providing PA consultancy services this quarter” and where Stringfellows Restaurants is listed as one of the “Fee-Paying clients for whom UK PA consultancy services provided this quarter.” And here’s the APPC register for the period 1st December 2008 – 28th February 2009, which shows the same.
Maybe it is just coincidence, but the APPC registers for the periods before 1st September 2008 and after 28th February 2009 have neither Belinda Brooks-Gordon ‘nor Stringfellows Restaurants listed. So it seems Belinda Brooks-Gordon was employed by Foresight Consulting during exactly the same period that Stringfellows Restaurants were hiring the lobbyists to look after their business interests in the lap-dancing debate.
Readers may remember that it was in November 2008, during the period both parties were listed in the APPC register, that Peter Stringfellow gave evidence to the Parliamentary Committee on the proposals to tighten up the licensing of lap dancing clubs.
“is an innovative, independent public affairs company with extensive experience of Parliament, Whitehall and the policy process. We offer our clients unique insights into the workings of government, working with them to present their case effectively and successfully.
The company was established in 2001 by former Downing Street adviser, Mark Adams, who is the most senior former civil servant in political consultancy. Our team includes highly qualified consultants with experience at the heart of political parties, and at the centre of government, including ministerial office.”
Now I don’t know about anyone else, but I find it hypocritical in the extreme that someone who regularly accuses others of a lack of neutrality in the so-called sex-work debate has been sub-contracted and paid as a consultant by a firm which takes money from a high-ranking figure in the sex-industry. Where precisely is the impartiality in that?
For more on Foresight Consulting, aka Foresight Communications Ltd, see here, and here, and here, and here.
This is, I know, totally the wrong place to post this, so Cath, please feel free to delete, move or ignore as appropriate, but I was wondering if you saw The Force last night?
It’s a series of three documentaries following real-life police investigations. The first was a murder investigation. Last night’s was about rape. Both have been very good, in their way, but last night’s concerned me a little overall. It (very roughly) followed three investigations. Again roughly, ten minutes were devoted to a clear-cut case that was charged, ten minutes to a case that was dropped (but appeared genuine), and forty minutes to a claim that turned out, in the end, to be malicious and false.
I’m someone who might question statistics but has no doubt that false rape claims are a tiny fraction of the whole. So I’m not posting this ‘mischieviously’. I thought it was – to say the least – oddly balanced as a programme. Did you catch it, and, if so, what did you think? Genuinely interested.
I’m afraid I missed it damagedoor, but I’ll see if it’s available online and take a look if it is.
No I didn’t see it either, but I’d observe that dog bites man isn’t news.
And TV is very rarely balanced.
Well, I can see that the ‘malicious’ accusation makes for better TV, in terms of the investigations for the other crimes they featured being less involved and intricate.
The balance just struck me, is all. The programme made a lot of the ‘rape is difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt’ argument, which I can understand, but then seemed to focus primarily on a case that was demonstrably false (to a degree anyway). It seemed very unfairly weighted.
But anyway … sorry for the hijack.
Oh and getting back to the topic, I was about to say that I didn’t see what the problem was with a professional PR person lobbying on a subject. It wouldn’t undermine her credibility per se, just being paid to put a case. But I do if she’s claiming to be an unbiased bystander.
Also I didn’t know being anti drug prohibition made you a libertarian, but there you go.
She claims to be an unbiased academic/researcher on the subject, someone the govt should listen to rather than the Poppy Project and others, who she claims have a vested interest in massaging the trafficking figures and exaggerating the harms of the sex trade…..
Apparently Belinda Brooks-Gordon adheres to the ‘don’t do as I do do as I tell you’ theory. Because it is acceptable for her to claim ‘neutrality’ whilst constantly claiming The Poppy Project is ‘massaging’ statistics and factual evidence in respect of women involved in prostitution. As we all know, prostitution is not prostitution but just a job like working at McDonalds.
I must have missed McDonalds changing their policy from selling food to one wherein male customers can demand female employees be made available for them to sexually masturbate in/on female bodies.
Obviously Belinda Brooks-Gordon notion of ‘neutrality’ is totally different to my definition, but then that is what I would expect from someone who is so devoted a fan of the sex industry.
The Poppy Project, but she has carefully kept hidden her financial association with Peter Stringfellows, who as we know specialises in lap dancing clubs. Lap dancing clubs being of course, places where men visit in order to ‘revitalise’ their male egos whilst
Nope. Nothing here to refute Belinda Brooks-Gordon’s claims either. Just the same smear campaign.
I wonder where that info could be, then?
Evidently you’re now feeling better, Cath!
However, I think you will have a job to refute the assiduous work and findings of Belinda Brooks-Gordon and her associates on any factual basis, particularly in view of the absurdly inflated figures on trafficking invented by the anti-choice brigade.
BTW – Who bankrolls the Poppy Project? Could it by any chance be a bankrupt and discredited government, frantically trying to wangle its corrupt Policing and Crime Bill through Parliament before it’s too late?
Talking of vested interests….
See now David, it’s coments like yours that illustrate precisely why stuff like the Nick Davies piece that the Guardian saw fit to publish is potentially so dangerous/damaging.
Even Davies doesn’t try and pretend that trafficking into the sex trade doesn’t exist, but predictable as ever, this is exactly how you and your thicko ECP chums have chosen to interpret it. Like flies around shit, your lot have leapt on this one in order to further your pro-prostitution agenda, not caring how many real life trafficking victims you trample on on your way.
I may disagree with the position Unity over at LibCon has taken on this, but there’s one point I completely agree with him on:
In other words, even if the figures are as low as some are suggesting, they’re still high enough to warrant significant funding and continued investment in services.
But what would you and Nikki Adams and Carrie Mitchell like to see ? An end to any funding and no support services in place for the victims of this heinous crime.
Shame on you.
Yes, they would like to see an end to any funding for support services in place for victims. Sex industry lobbyists have tried to defund programs in the USA for helping victims and focusing prevention attentions on johns.
Last year in San Francisco, the Erotic Service Provider Union tried to pass Proposition K making police ignore prostitution and rescinding the estimated $1.6 million to $3.2 million the city spent on prostitution-related arrests. Specifically targeted for complete defunding was The SAGE Project, a 17-year-old antiprostitution program founded by a survivor that runs the John School and helps women exit.
The largest donors for Proposition K were ESPU founder Maxine Doogan, $pread Magazine, and Jeffrey Klausner, director of STD Prevention and Control at the San Francisco Department of Health.
The largest donors against Proposition K were lifelong member of NOW Twiss Butler, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, and Gloria Steinem.
Maxine Doogan actually sued to try and prevent Gloria Steinem’s and other feminists paid-for opinions from appearing in the voter pamphlet. A superior court ruled against Doogan’s attempt to suppress feminist speech and let the “No on K” campaign’s words stand.
Thank you for blogging on this. I was just today trying to find some information on Foresight Consulting with respect to Belinda Brooks-Gordon.
Oh dear! I’m really in the soup now!
However, no one is claiming that there is no trafficking at all into the UK – indeed, a figure of zero in all the circumstances would be just as questionable as Denis MacShane’s beauty of 25,000, a cumulative total apparently conveniently extrapolated by the Daily Miiror from a Home Office guess of beteen 2,000 and 6,000 per year. MacShane then foolishly claimed that because of this the figure of 25,000 had Home Office authenticity, which of course it did not. The true cumulative total is probably a few hundred – a few hundred that certainly matter, I agree.
No, I’m afraid I cannot agree with you there. The ECP is extremely concerned about the wellfare of all women working in the sex industry, particularly those who have been subjected to trafficking. I think you will find that Niki Adams is also a member of Legal Action For Women, the organisation that brought the first private prosecution for the rape of sex workers in the UK.
The Poppy Project is no doubt similarly supportive to trafficked women, using government funding, but has made the catastrophic mistake of becoming involved in generating artificially inflated estimates of the number of trafficked women and feeding them to their paymasters, the Home Office, in an attempt to influence changes in the law. That is a completely unacceptable use of government funding, which would be far better paid to the ECP as far as the welfare of trafficked women is concerned.
There are a now a good many people, from me to the Big Bells in the House of Lords, who strongly object to the law of the land being corrupted by the injection of false statistics. The strict liability element in Clause 13, for example, seeks to punish the client for the trafficker’s crime, despite and probably because of the fact that very few traffickers are ever actually caught. Whatever sort of justice this?
The Lords have yet to formally vote on whether Clause 13 should remain in the Bill at all. However, the Third Reading is on the 11th November, probably the last day of the current Parliamentary session, so something has got to give soon. I shall be very interested to see how much of Clauses 13 – 20 survives.
Hope that clarifies a few points.
Dick Puddlecote. If someone is claiming to be a neutral party, when in fact they’re being paid, I think that is relevant. Especially when they are criticising others for doing the same thing.
David. As I understand it Poppy receives govt funding for service provision, it does not receive govt funding for its research.
And I do actually agree that the ECP/Legal Action for Women (same organisation using one of its many many aliases) have done some good work with trafficked women, which is why it’s all the more shameful when they stand up and start yelling that trafficked women don’t exist…
I’m sure the ECP would agree that there are some trafficked women entering the UK, or they’d be out of a job!
Clauses 13 – 20:
In the 1600s and 1700s they used to have a “whipping boy” in royal households, who was the one who got whipped if the prince misbehaved – a very similar form of justice to Clause 13!
“The true cumulative total is probably a few hundred – a few hundred that certainly matter, I agree.”
Can you define true for me?
How many were trafficked to Canada via UK airports, or Cyprus, Ireland, or Malta?
I do know the lists we got from one single sex trafficker, had hundreds of girls listed, and I suspect quite a few of them were sent all over the place.
When Ben Perrin et moi were doing our hrsdc campaign in Canada, London’s airports were an issue re: Bucharest.
Ben is a hero in Washington
Do we include transit to Canada in the estimates?
Polly, so who pays the Poppy Project, then?
Actually, don’t bother. Cath has answered that one.
Do keep up Dick, that is the point that Cath was making. Brooks-Gordon is slagging off the poppy project for doing what she does herself.
Brooks-Gordon has now posted a comment in response over on t’other blog:
Fair enough, Polly, but it still isn’t the point is it? I see this in so many spheres where someone stands up against righteous moral indignation and challenges dodgy stats.
Instead of debating the differing point of view, the person advancing it is denounced as impure and the debate is shifted (as it has been here) sideways.
The Poppy project lobbies the government and is paid to do so. Why should those arguing against such organisations be required to be unpaid? It doesn’t change the argument.
Additionally, many of the lobbying organisations pose as ‘charities’ when they are anything but what the public would view as such. It’s quite valid to point that out.
Poppy project paid, BBG paid. Right, now that’s all clear, what of the points BBG raised?
And Cath, I think your link to BBG isn’t the one which should be used. I know it’s your site and all that, but perhaps BBG’s credentials as an academic, as detailed here might be more appropriate, instead of linking to a local politics page which is irrelevant to the subject matter.
I’m sure readers of your blog would be more interested in BBG’s Birkbeck stats rather than the stance of the Cambridge Lib Dems on road humps and street lighting. 😉
Cath, I have just read your note via the other site but I see you have already linked to where I have answered this. Thanks for that.