DE MONTFORD UNIVERSITY AND VESTED INTERESTS

The Vice-Chancellor of De Montford University, Dominic Shellard, has resigned over business links he had with the chairman of the university’s remuneration committee, Anthony Stockdale.

Shellard owned shares in the Metamorph Group, a holding company run by Stockdale, who approved a 22.4% salary increase for Shellard, the largest pay rise of any UK University Vice – Chancellor this year and one that bought Shellard’s salary to £350,000. Following Shellard’s resigning Stockdale has resigned his post on the university’s governing board.

The Office for Students watchdog has now launched a probe into “regulatory matters” at De Montford.

SLEEP TIGHT

One concern many travelers have is being the victim of an infestation of bed bugs, something that unfortunately happened to the writer at the Moorfields Premier Inn, Liverpool last month.

So what’s it like? Well it’s horrible. The bites don’t really come out till two days after, when they itch maddeningly, and scratching too hard breaks the skin on the bumps that form and risks infection. Creams can stop some of the itching but I needed a course of anti-biotics and anti-histamine to properly clear it all up.

Just in case any of our readers, or their delegates, are similarly unlucky we are publishing the emails between ourselves and Premier Inn, part of Whitbread and these follow here.

1. From Premier Inn to Peter Cotterell 08 March 2019

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SHOAH : FOUR SISTERS

Shoah, for many was the ultimate Holocaust documentary, taking its French director Claude Lanzmann 11 years to shoot and spanning more than nine hours after the selections had been made from the 350 hours of footage shot. Shoah is Hebrew for “catastrophe”, also “calamity” and “destruction”.

The film, released in 1985 concentrated on four main areas – the Chelmo, Auschwitz-Birkenhau and Treblinka extermination camps in Poland and the Warsaw ghetto in Poland, and Lanzmann interviewed survivors from, witnesses to and perpetrators of what has been called the greatest evil of modern times. Excepting a poor reception in Poland, where the hatred of Polish peasantry for the Jews was exposed (without balancing this with the help given by many Poles to the Jews) Shoah was a triumph, winning universal acclaim, a 100% score on the Rotten Tomatoes website, based on 33 reviews giving an average rating of 9.2/10, and a BAFTA award for the best documentary.

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GREED ALL ROUND

More bad publicity is dogging the gambling industry after a Daily Mail reporter infiltrated the offices of Bet365 in the tax haven of Gibraltar and discovered that the firm paid problem gamblers a proportion of their losses back, commonly 10%, to keep them gambling. And many bookmaking firms do likewise, sometimes up to 20% as well as rewarding big losers with VIP freebies such as Cup Final tickets.

Bet365 pays its chief executive Denise Coates £265 million a year in salary and dividends. Another beneficiary is actor Ray Winstone who fronts chummy TV ads for Coate’s firm, urging viewers to bet on live events.

The blame for the current immoral mess has been laid at the door of former Labour PM Tony Blair, who liberalised gambling laws in 2005, many now say recklessly, and opened the Pandora’s Box. Our current Conservative government has not shown much better judgment in its delaying of a much-needed crackdown on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT’s), many installed in some of the poorest parts of the country, on the basis of government concern that the crackdown deprived the Treasury of its lucrative cut from the losses suffered by problem gamblers.

HOW MUCH TO THE CAUSE?

Charities may soon be obliged to divulge how much of the money from donors is being spent on the cause and how much is going on such items as executive salary, public relations, human resources, staffing and IT, lumped together as “support and governance” costs. In many cases these expenditures are hidden in a gross figure for “charitable spending”, or under “fundraising”. The net effect is to persuade donors that charities are spending more of their income on front-line services than they actually are.

Following a recent expose in the Daily Mail newspaper headlined ALL IN A GOOD CAUSE? there have been calls for changes in the way that charities are allowed to report their expenditure, to give donors a better idea of how wisely, or otherwise, their donations are being used. A table of “support and governance” expenditure of the UK’s top ten charities showed that the National Trust spent £61.9 million, Save the Children Fund spent £42.9 million, Oxfam spent £33.9 million, Save the Children International spent £28 million and Cancer Research spent £18.4 million, followed by British Red Cross at £17.2 million, Marie Stopes International at £13.2 million, British Heart Foundation at £4.2 million, Sightsavers at £3.8 million and Barnado’s at £2.3 million.

KNIFE CRIME

A father who’s son’s death from being stabbed while he was trying to break up a fight inspired him to set up a charity to fight knife crime was awarded an OBE for his efforts late last year.

Kyle Prince was 15 years old when he died trying to break up a fight outside his school in 2006, and his father, Mark Prince set up the Kyle Prince Foundation to advise and empower young people considered at risk of becoming involved in knife and gang crime. To this end he has given more than 200 talks in schools.

The increasing number of young lives currently lost through the carrying and use of knives, 20 so far this year, has prompted politicians to call the surge a national emergency and pledge more effort to stop it.

LIVES OF MIGRANTS SAVED BY CHARITY

Most migrants who try to reach Britain illegally by boat and get into difficulties at sea are then rescued by the volunteers of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) which funds a cost of £1,500 for every lifeboat that is launched. More than 200 migrants have tried to get into Britain this way from France in the last four months, and the charity accepts it as their duty to help anyone in difficulties, whoever they are.

Calls are now being made for the RNLI to be compensated for their work by the Home Office. The charity is reckoned to have saved the lives of 140,000 people since its founding in 1864.

Meanwhile there is a current crackdown on people traffickers with ten suspects arrested in France in the last few months and three more due for trial this year.

SICK TEENS

Britain has the highest rate of obesity, and rates of illnesses, amongst teenagers in Europe, two charities have reported.

The Nuffield Trust and the Association for Young People’s Health studied health records from 14 high-income EU countries and found that 8.1% of teens in Britain were classified as clinically obese, with less than half that figure in France, Belgium and Germany, and with British teens having the highest rate of asthma and the greater likelihood of diabetes.

COMICAL

A row has erupted over a picture of TV journalist Stacey Dooley cuddling a child in Uganda that was posted by Dooley on social media whilst she was preparing for the next Comic Relief event there.

Dooley has been accused by Labour MP David Lammy of being a “white saviour”, a sarcastic term used to describe white people who help poor non-white people in a self-serving way. Comic Relief has also received criticism that it “parachutes celebrities into some of the poorest corners on Earth so that they can burnish their reputations as saviours” and that “many young Africans despair when they see famous Westerners using their nation’s problems to polish up their own image”.

The Uganda High Commissioner, Peter Moto said that he “felt uncomfortable” with the pictures of Dooley with a child appearing on social media, well-known as a medium for personal aggrandisement that some feel cheapens and trivialises any message.

BREAST CANCER SCREENING NO-SHOWS

More women aged 50 – 70 are failing to turn up for breast cancer checks, say charity Breast Cancer Now, which points out that in the year 2017-2018 year 750,000 women at possible risk failed to show, the highest figure ever recorded.

The disease, the most common type of cancer, is diagnosed in 55,000 women every year and kills 11,500, and the purpose of the screening is to diagnose in the earlier, more easily treatable stages.