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tv   Newsnight  BBC News  March 9, 2018 11:15pm-11:45pm GMT

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that's a dangerous overcrowding. that's a summary dangerous overcrowding. that's a summary of the news, now it is time to newsnight. yesterday this programme revealed a culture of abuse and bullying that has gone largely unchallenged in the house of commons. tonight, we hearfrom more westminster staff who fear that the muted response to our revelations shows that nothing will change. that they will continue to be ignored. they are known bullies walking around the place and the house seems to think they've sorted everything out. walking around the place, the house seems to think they've sorted everything out now. so what — do we just wait until they do it again and report them ad infinitum? the investigation intensifies into the poisoning of sergei and yulia skripal. if the finger points at moscow, what action can the british government take, and would russia even care? we ask a former russian mp and kremlin adviser. we understand that you don't like vladimir putin as president of russia, because he is making russia great again, as donald trump tried to do with the united states of america. and as it's announced that the us president will meet the supreme
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leader of north korea, we get the exclusive reaction from donald trump. or at least somebody who sounds a lot like him. it's such an important meeting, usually my pout is here. for this meeting it's going to be here. i've got to bring my a game. good evening. downing street today backed calls for an investigation into complaints of bullying made against the commons speakerjohn bercow. the prime minister, we are told, retains confidence in the speaker, though a spokesman says she's "concerned". that's because last night newsnight revealed complaints against mr bercow and two other mp5. and tonight it's emerged an mp is planning to ask an urgent question in parliament on monday about those allegations. the green party's caroline lucas believes there's cross—party support for a change in the way parliament deals with complaints from its staffers. chris cook and lucinda day reported
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yesterday, on the frustrations of commons clerks who believe parliament turns a blind eye to bad behaviourfrom mps. today, they've been hearing from staff at westminster, who say the reaction to last night's report shows nothing's changed. the mp exploded at me so aggressively that my colleagues stood between us to physically shield him from me. i didn't feel that there was anywhere for me to go to talk about it. he was particularly nasty to those he felt were below him. he went mad at me. it got very personal. newsnight revealed yesterday that there is a serious rot in westminster. bullying and harassment by mps. and it's directed a shocking amount at clerks. the apolitical staff who umpire
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and run the lower house. and women clerks in particular. last night newsnight reported that three mps have been accused of bullying clerks. mark pritchard, paul farrelly and john bercow. all of them deny the claims made against them. there's more interest injohn bercow than the other two, because he is in effect the boss of the clerks and it's his job in part to fix the culture of westminster. as it happens today was a training day for clerks, an opportunity for managers to win back worried staff. they didn't do very well. the house management did send out an e—mail to staff though, saying that harassment and bullying of any kind is totally u na cce pta ble. they reassured staff that the current system, introduced
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in 2014, means things are very different now to the way they used to be. here, though, is what serving staff think of that. we have been sent written testimony from them this evening. after that e—mail went out, and after today's training day. as a commons employee, i'm disappointed although not surprised at the house's dismissal of the issues raised in your report. the house's response means i've lost any favour may have had for a complaint made under the current respect policy would achieve anything positive for the staff member involved. the house of commons has questions to answer but judging from the response to the programme pedants into think so. this worries me because there are known bullies walking around the place and the house seems to think they've sorted everything out now. so what? we just wait until they do it again, report them, wait until they do it again and report them adding from item? —— ad infinitum.
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since 2014, 17 cases have been raised under the new hr policy. none has got as far as workplace mediation. no mps have been sanctioned. any process has to demonstrate an mp being disciplined in a meaningful way. otherwise there would be any faith in it and people won't complain. remember lots of clerks have had reason for complaints about lots of mps. whilst these well—known persistent bullies and sexual horrors still walk amongst us without any shame of course none of us have any faith in the system. everyone knows who they are and what they have done. but nothing happens. this topic is not going away. when women tell you there's a culture of fear, you listen. you don't tell them it's a gross exaggeration and then quote the same policies back at them. it's as if, if they keep saying the policy works, we will take their word for it. it feels like they are treating us with contempt. there this political excitement about
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whether specific mps are bullied. but the clerks don't feel the houses taking their concerns seriously. and chris is here. chris, we'll come to you in a moment. but first, we're also joined by amy leversidge. she's the assistant general secretary of the first division association, which is the union which represents many of the civil servants who work inside parliament. let's start off with, what is your view of the situation? your union hears things, too. how bad is it compare to a whitehall department? that is an interesting question. as trade union officials we hear stories about bullying and harassment across the piece. what's different about the house of commons is that it is a completely different employer. you have got the employer and the staff, but you have also got mps who are not employees, they are elected. that is the different dimension
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about the house of commons. you have got people doing the bullying and mps who are not employees of the house. also, their reserve onto themselves the right to be the finaljudges. you've helped, along with the others involved in the process, to try and reform the system. 2007, 2011, 2014, the so—called respect policy. why has that not stopped the problem of bullying? in 2014, we work really hard on the respect policy in the house. the unions at the time worked as hard as they could to get the best deal possible. but the policy still is flawed fundamentally because there is no independent body that oversees what happens with the mps. that is the problem. obviously it's really important that staff have trust and confidence in any system.
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they will only have trust and confidence if there is an independent oversight into what happens with mp5. quite. under the current laws, and mp has to cause damage to get the reputation of the house as a whole. it is a pretty high bar. has any mp been charged with causing damage to the house as a whole? this is one of the fundamental problems. it is a very high bar. no is the answer. yes. how do you give it the independents, how do you change the machinery in order to create that independent oversight? we want to work with the employers
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and the other trade unions to sort out this and find solutions to the problems. we need to have a policy that has got the trust and confidence of the staff. as you report shows, it cannot be right, absolutely inappropriate that we have got dedicated public servants who leave theirjobs rather than raising these issues. that's not good for the house of commons either. they are losing these experienced staff. we can't come up with those solutions on our own in the time with god. so what we need to do is work together. they need to involve the trade unions. they need to involve ourselves and the others to work together to find those solutions. do you think it'll end up with an outside panel being the arbiters? that is what we would like to see. an independent body that allows their to be proper scrutiny and proper redress for people. it can't be right that mps are basically marking their own homework.
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absolutely. that is a proposal. where does this actually go from here, chris, in terms of bringing about any real change? the big thing next week as parliament coming back. we published last night. the house wasn't around today. mps were in their constituencies. we are expecting an urgent question on monday from caroline lucas. there seems to be a lot of focus on john bercow personally partly because the speaker of the house has a tricky reputation with some members of the house. he is perceived by tory mps as being april labour speaker. what we are expecting next week is a lot of his existing critics, who have cold frame to resign over a series of things before, to use this as another opportunity to call to resign. we spoke to one of those mps who has previously called for him to resign. well, i think next week lots of members of parliament will be wanting to ask questions in the chamber, wherever they can into these allegations.
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the speaker needs to be above the fray. he needs to protect mps, he's there to protect the clerks and these are very, very serious allegations. i think one of the questions about this is going to be about the interesting the horse race politics of individual mps being revealed to be unpleasant individuals, that might derail what is being done, and attempts to fix the workplace. i'm sure you will keep us posted. thank you. police investigating the poisoning of sergei and yulia skripal have expanded their search in salisbury, and called the military in for good measure. officers in protective clothing have sealed off the graves of skripal‘s wife and son. the army has gone to pick up ambulances that were used to take those affected by the poisons to hospital. tomorrow the home secretary will share an emergency meeting of cobra.
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while all this activity goes on, scientists just a few miles up the road at porton down have begun the business of analysing nerve agent samples, in the hope of finding out where the chemicals were produced. if the finger points at russia, the pressure for some sort of response will be intense. are you considering measures against russia? as the foreign secretary suggested earlier this week britain's participation in the world cup could get dragged into this. thinking ahead to the world cup this summer, i think it would be very difficult to imagine that uk representation at that event could go ahead in the normal way. we would certainly have to consider that. however, the kremlin is hardly going to lose
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sleep at the prospect of agent used on british streets. listening to amber rudd this morning, it's clear they are no moving on to where it came from. at the moment our priority is going to be the incident, which is why i'm here in salisbury today, making sure that everybody is protected around here, around the incident. making sure the emergency services have had the support they need and will continue to get it on going. it has been great to hear that is the case. in terms of further options, that will have to wait until we are absolutely clear what the consequences could be and what the actual source of this nerve agent has been. with the military deploying onto the streets of salisbury to help the police with decontamination, there's no doubt about the seriousness
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of the situation. but if downing street is preparing to point the finger at russia, what are they thinking of doing about it? there has been discussion of further economic sanctions. suggestions also that the uk should enact a so—called law. this kind of legislation has been used in the us to target russian officials suspected of human rights violations. britain could target for asset freezes and travel bans russians it holds responsible for the salisbury attack. it may go beyond that. with the uk officials sharing with allies their preliminary assessment of where the nerve agent came from, it may be a bigger sporting boycott reminiscent of olympic ones in which allies would be asked to join us. earlier, i spoke with sergei markov. he was an mp in vladimir putin's party, united russia. he's now director of the institute for political studies in moscow, and retains close ties to the kremlin. i asked him how news of mr skripal‘s
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poisoning had gone down in russia. er, of course it is awful that this gentleman and specifically his daughter can die because of poisoning. it's awful. russian public opinion reacted not to the sergei skripal case but to the great propagandist atmosphere in the british atmosphere demonising russia again. but it's also, we want to ask british journalists and british politicians, please, keep professional. keep moral values. don't violate freedom of speech. don't speed up a propagandist campaign so highly. please take into account
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that we should establish such a relationship, and of course sergei skripal was a negative figure for russia because he betrayed us but russia is a 21st century country. we are not killing our political opponents! the fact is, actually, the british government is not yet accusing russia of doing it, although we do see some indications that they are preparing to do so. but at the same time, we see commentators on the first channel, the russian official state media, and indeed president putin himself to some extent hinting that traitors get theirjust rewards. do you believe that too? because at the beginning of this interview you expressed some sympathy for sergei skripal and his daughter. i express sympathy as a christian believer who doesn't want
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anyone to die. but at the same time, channel 1 were told that the profession of traitor is very dangerous. it is even more dangerous than a member of a drug market 01’ so on. it is true, everyone knows about this. it is not to threaten other traitors, but it has an effect which everybody knows. i hear your point about, as a christian believer, you do not wish harm on him, but do you think we will effectively see a russian official position that we didn't do it but he got what he deserved. it seems to me like an obvious contradiction. it's absolutely clear,
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the russian position, by the way, we got this gentleman, we arrested him, but we decided to give him to the united states and to britain, and it's all for us. we want to forget about sergei skripal, he had already broke his life when he decided to betray russia and to cooperate with british intelligence services. and that's a victory for the british intelligence service. it is how we see this. we see that mr skripal, he's just a result of the chaotic 1990s. what can we do?
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we cannot close history. well let's look forward specifically to the next few days and weeks. if the british government, as seems likely, points the finger at russia and then starts to threaten retaliation in different forms — sanctions, or a sporting boycott of the world cup, for example, how will that be in russia? oh, it will be received in russia as a pity, characteristic of the next step of a war against russia. we understand that you don't like vladimir putin as president of russia, because he is making russia great again. as donald trump is trying to do with the united states of america. but we are supporting vladimir putin exactly for this reason. and if you attack the russian
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president vladimir putin and demonise him, we will support him more. because we understand very well and you are criticising mr putin and russian authorities exactly for the things that we like about them. i want to repeat again, sergei skripal needs a real investigation. police control the intelligence services. you are british citizens. you are not controlling your intelligence services. look what happened with ukraine. look at what happened in syria, when your spies cooperated with terrorists. we will leave it there. democracy, come back to great britain. don't leave it to terrorists to do what they are doing without controlling
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the british people. sergei markov, thank you forjoining us. that was sergei markov speaking earlier from minsk. now, good news if you work in a certain aircraft factory in lancashire — not so good maybe if you live in yemen. as saudi arabia's crown prince, mohammed bin salman rounded off a trip to the uk tonight, his country has signed a letter of intent to buy 48 more typhoon fighters from bae systems. britain is underfire from human rights groups for arming saudi arabia at the same time as mr bin salman, prince bin salman, one of the architects of the yemen war is portrayed by his country's media as the kingdom's best hope for human rights, reform and renewal. today's announcements about the planes followed meetings with theresa may, boris johnson and the queen.
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earlier, i spoke to sherard cowper coles, formerly british ambassador to saudi and former consult to bae. i asked him if this deal was good news for people in factories across the uk. yes, good news for the british economy, but also good news for british influence in the middle east. good news for our relationship with saudi arabia. good news for a britain leaving the european union, still to be a player in this sort of area. and the question you have to ask is, if we hadn't gone ahead with this order, what would have happened to our relationship? but also, where else would they have gone? but if the uk hadn't gone ahead, would it in a sense have cleaner hands, because saudi arabia is now involved in this war in yemen? it's a humanitarian disaster. they're bombing civilians with british—made weapons. it's surely becoming a bit more toxic for this country, in that sense? well, it is for everyone. the key is, do we want to retain influence?
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do we want to help bring about a peaceful settlement? do we want to remain a player? but selling more weapons helps? the alternative is not selling weapons. this is about the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. and we could break off our relationship with saudi arabia. we could have not had this week's visit. but we have had no influence, no, we wouldn't have been a player in the middle east. when you were ambassador in riyadh, a decade plus ago, was it more like the world as one might have wanted it? was it an easier, less controversial relationship? i think when i was ambassador there i was trying to encourage change. i remember briefing british ministers to raise the need to move forward on women's rights, to move forward on social rights, to move forward on education. and now we have a leader at last in saudi arabia who is doing what every friend of saudi arabia...
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the crown prince is doing what we have all urged him to do. do you think he is for real? he is definitely for real. highly intelligent, very enthusiastic, very curious. very decisive, very young. someone who needs friends, needs supporters, who needs people around him to help him deliver this vision. someone immensely popular in his country. but there is another interpretation, isn't there? some western friendly steps, like allowing women to drive, allowing cinemas. but a rate of public executions that is higher than ever. and indeed an anti—corruption drive, which, when you talk to some saudis, just seems to be like a shakedown operation to bring in a lot of money from rival princes. well, as i say, you take the world as it is, not as you'd like it to be. it is an imperfect world. but here is somebody who is delivering reform.
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it is not a question of it being western friendly reform. it is people friendly reform. it is what the young people of saudi arabia want. and we need to use our influence with him, administering tough love in private to get the kinds of results we want. and tough love, does that mean saying to him in private, "get out of yemen, solve this yemen problem quickly — because it is extremely damaging to the image of saudi arabia and the uk, providing you with weapons? " well, it's not a question of the image of saudi arabia. it's a question of the right solution for yemen, for the arabian peninsula, for the region as a whole. you need to remember, mark, that saudi arabia is actually threatened from yemen. rockets have been fired from yemen. it is now. they are firing missiles, but that was after saudi began its intervention. those attacks were coming across the border before saudi intervened. this is part of a perfectly legitimate operation. a lot of people will tell you that the crown prince,
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mohammed bin salman, is the architect of this disastrous intervention in yemen. is he therefore the man to get saudi arabia out of it? he is absolutely someone we need to work with. i'm quite sure yemen was high on the agenda. it was notjust us lecturing the saudis just to get out of yemen and leave behind chaos, but work with everyone involved to produce a solution that delivers stability, that delivers security and above all delivers some relief for the poor suffering people of yemen on all sides. sherard cowper coles, thank you so much. that was the former ambassador to saudi arabia. a moment for tomorrow's papers. some of you old—school viewers may enjoy it when we do this. the daily mirror leading on the sergei skripal story and the fact that they have now sealed off the graves of his wife and son.
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the ft also promises its readers a long read on the poisoning of sergei skripal and his daughter yulia and the police officer who went to help them, but their lead is the white house— north korea summit plan. the white house trying to deny the koreans, a sort of pr win on that one. the i newspaper has, once again, the nuclear gamble with north korea. i suppose, reflecting the idea that the talks could promise much but what will president trump actually say when he gets into the room. and finally the daily mail goes its own sweet way, council parking charges soaring. that's all on the front pages. rarely comes a friday evening these days when one couldn't safely remark that donald trump has had quite a week — but this week donald trump really has had quite a week.
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few in the white house or even the pentagon were expecting his shock announcement that he is to meet with kim jong—un. we are told the meeting could take place before may. certainly a major gamble so what is the president thinking of? to help work out what he might have planned newsnight cordoba earlier with mr trump himself. ——caught up. at least we're pretty sure was him. emily is here on monday. have a great weekend. i thought mark urban was great tonight. i thought he was really first class. he's a great rapper, great guy, very lucky man being married to nicole kidman. what are we talking about? this is going to be a very friendly meeting. it's going to be very charming. it's going to be so bigly convivial you would not believe it. we will exchange gifts. kim jong—un will give to me a korean piece of vintage pottery. i will give to kim jong—un vintage american porn star stormy daniels. it's a fair exchange. it's such an important meeting. usually my pout is here.
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for this meeting it's going to be here. i've gotta bring my a game. fl=wfla fl is a as“? visit to america. come on the gnlicnurse,,-., ”s s.. let's have some fun. i'll give you lots of bowler hats that you can throw at people, just like the guy out of goldfinger. it's going to be so much fun. there are bigly big differences we've got to resolve. kim jong—un wanted to destroy america. he's justjealous i got there first. and thank you for calling me a dotard. i don't know what that is, but if it's good, then i'm in. are we done? next on the failing bbc, fake weather or the test card, or something. i don't care. hello and welcome two sports a. the
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penultimate weekend of the six nations could be in a pivotal weekend for ireland, if they beat scotla nd weekend for ireland, if they beat scotland in dublin and england lose in paris, the title will be theirs. it is also we the footballing rivalries. a variant beat hearts fully fit time in and read ari. and root roy walters in florida. —— rory mcilroy.
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