news

Arlene’s backstop balls
United Kingdom , Issue 1481
arlene-foster.jpg
RED LINES: DUP leader Arlene Foster, who doesn’t want Northern Ireland to be treated differently to the rest of the UK. Except when it suits her
NO SURRENDER from DUP leader Arlene Foster last week as she visited Brussels to restate her fierce opposition to backstop-type arrangements for Northern Ireland: “We’ve always said there’s only one red line in these matters and that’s when we’re treated differently from the rest of the UK.”

In fact Northern Ireland has long been treated differently in countless ways, from same-sex marriage to abortion. Another of the differences – and one solely brought about by Foster’s own party – is the law of libel.

When parliament passed the Defamation Act 2013, it was expected to be applied in Northern Ireland too by a motion of “legislative consent” at the Northern Irish Assembly. Before that motion could be tabled, however, DUP minister Sammy Wilson secretly blocked it without telling the executive or the assembly.

Out of sync
The DUP was alone among Northern Irish parties in its hostility to the new act. (By happy coincidence, as Eye 1339 noted, party bigwigs such as Peter Robinson and Ian “Baby Doc” Paisley Jr were themselves keen users of the old oppressive law.) When the then Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt tried to get the new law implemented via a private member’s bill, the DUP stalled for time by commissioning a “review” from a legal academic.

Alas for them, the academic concluded that Northern Ireland should indeed have libel reform. Even before he delivered his report, however, it was clear the DUP wanted to remain out of sync with other parts of Britain. As a DUP minister told the assembly in 2015: “I do not think that it would be right to follow the Defamation Act 2013 slavishly.” In the event, she didn’t follow it at all. The minister was Arlene Foster – the woman who cannot accept people in Northern Ireland being “treated differently from the rest of the UK”. Shome mishtake, shurely!

More top stories in the latest issue:

COX & BULL?
Attorney-general Geoffrey Cox talks a good game. But will he take action on a festering bribery case that could harm the UK arms trade with Saudi Arabia?

EVANS GATE
Ex-MI5 boss Lord Evans’ anointment to the committee on standards in public life shows Whitehall recruitment at the highest level is still a chummy affair.

UNIVERSAL CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE
The universal credit fiasco isn’t just the fault of Iain Duncan Smith. He had help from its architect, Stephen Brien, his one-time policy adviser.

TAMING THE SHREWS
A team of troubleshooters trying to stop Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust putting its patients at risk want answers – and they want them now.

BODGE THE BUILDERS
Construction firm Interserve is still picking up school building projects left unfinished after the collapse of Carillion. But it has big troubles of its own.

LIBYA WATCH
With the only charity ship rescuing migrants in the central Mediterranean now confined to port in a registration row, Italy faces some awkward questions.

LUANDA LATEST
Still no sign of an apology from law firm Schillings, so swift to threaten the blogger who uncovered vast corruption in Angola’s Sovereign Wealth Fund.

To read all the latest Private Eye news, get the latest edition - you can subscribe here and have the magazine delivered to your home every fortnight.

Next issue on sale: 30th October 2018
gnitty
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE
MORE FROM PRIVATE EYE
ONLY IN THE MAGAZINE
Private Eye Issue 1481 In This Issue
‘EU Treating Us With Contempt’, Says Man Who Treats Everyone With Contempt – Daily Borisgraph Exclusive… End of Austerity Marked Across Britain By No Celebration As Everyone Is Broke… May Appoints First Ever Minister for Political Suicide… Saudis Launch New Press Standards Campaign, Hacked-Up… Facebook’s UK Tax Bill Rises From Sweet FA to Bugger All… Why Aren’t My Children Drinking As Much As Me, by A Pissedoldhack… Eric Idle’s Diary, as told to Craig Brown

Jail him!
Now it’s the People vs Boris Johnson

Desert rats
Saudi stooges and the Street of Shame

Drivel in excelsis
That royal coverage in full
ONLY £2.00
SUBSCRIBE HERE

NEXT ISSUE ON SALE
30th October 2018
WHY SUBSCRIBE?
Private Eye Issue 1480