22/06/2011 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Jeremy Paxman.

Similar Content

Browse content similar to 22/06/2011. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



Tonight, is the long arm of the Syrian police state even at work on


the streets of London. Is the Syrian embassy monitoring dissent


here to pressure the families of protestors at home. As the Foreign


Office consults with the police, what are the acceptable limits to


what are the acceptable limits to the behaviour of foreign diplomats?


Then they started harassing her. They asked her to ask me to behave


myself, otherwise she will be kicked out of her job. They claim


they can defeat cancer with their healing hands. No, no. Do you still


say you can cure cancer? Go away. Why are the faith healers so afraid


of the questions, we go undercover. There was baby I worked on over the


telephone, and from one day to the next the cancer in his stomach had


just disappeared. Obama tells America it's the beginning of the


end for troops in Afghanistan. Mark Urban is here. We have been told


how many troops the President plans to pull out, I will have the


details, we will be asking where that leaves the British military.


The turkeys won't vote for Christmas. Nick Clegg's scheme to


abolish the House of Lords, torn to shreds by the people it proposes to


replace. The Chinese release the dissident artist, Ai Weiwei, what


has happened to him during his time Foreign Office officials spoke to


Scotland Yard today about what the Syrian embassy may or may not be up


to in London. This follows allegations we put to the Foreign


Office minister, Alistair Burt, on last night's programme, that Syrian


nationals allege they are being filmed at demonstrations and being


intimidated by officials from their own home state. Tonight we have


firsthand accounts of this intimidation from Syrian protestors.


It leads to the question, what is legitimate for a foreign mission to


do in promoting the interests of the state.


The street outside Syria's embassy in London, a it has seen protests


every week for the last three months, some supporting the regime,


others, like this one, against. But if many of President Assad's


opponents here were confident, even high spirited, back in April, they


are no longer. They have been scared by had a they say are Syrian


Government attempts to identify them, whether they like it or not.


One of the embassy officers started videoing from inside the embassy,


from waind dough, using a video camera - a window, using a video


camera, aiming it at the anti- Government protestor, people were


angry at that, that definitely put their lives at risk. What were they


doing it for, what was the purpose? They were doing the pictures and


sending it to Damascus and send it to the Secret Services, and put


pressure on the family of the protestors, intimidate them.


filming, according to several protestors Newsnight has talked to,


was only the beginning. These Syrian workers in London say they


were told, after one demonstration, to attend a meeting with men they


had seen before at the embassy. were asked to either go on the pro-


Government demonstrations, otherwise, not only would our


photos be sent to Syria, but we would also be brandished as people


who are against the Government, either working together with the


Muslim Brotherhood, and that would bring serious problems both to us


and our families. Who were these people that came to see you?


have come across these people with our every day dealings inside the


embassy. Each time we have had to go in for a new document, passport,


or other documentation, these individuals have been inside the


embassy. Newsnight's also been given the


name of an accredited Syrian diplomat, whom several protestors


say has been involved in attempts to intimidate them. That is


strongly denied by the embassy itself. The Syrian Ambassador told


us he wasn't available for an interview today. But the embassy


has just sent us a statement, saying allegations about its


approach to Syrian dissenters here, are completely without foundation.


It says that the embassy's doors and services are open to all


Syrians in Britain, regardless of their political affiliations.


We have got statement from the embassy saying they have never


spyed on anyone, and the CCTV is only there to protect the building?


It is a standard statement and it is meaningless. I have seen them


videoing from inside the embassy and from outside. I have evidence,


I have witnesses, we have seen them, we have seen them standing behind


the window, from inside the building, with a video camera in


their hands. This protestor, also afraid to show her face, says


pictures of her outside the embassy were shown by Syrian security


forces to her mother in Syria. told me that someone from the


security agency, the security forces, has come to our house, they


were asking about me, what I'm doing here, where I'm going, what


I'm doing. And then they asked her why I am protesting against the


Syrian regime. She told them she denied it at first, she told them


she's not, then they told her they have evidence, and photos for me in


front of the Syrian embassy. So she said they doesn't know. Then they


started harassing her, they asked her to ask me to behave myself,


otherwise she will be kicked out of her job. She's working in the


Government offices. How did you react to that, did you change your


activities? I stopped protesting, because I know they are capable of


doing horrible things, I'm afraid for her. I had to stop protesting,


and if I want to protest I think I'm going to think twice, and I'm


going to be hidden behind the sunglasses or scarf or whatever.


They are capable of doing anything. The Foreign Office


minister...$$NEWLINE On Newsnight last night, Foreign Office minister,


Alistair Burt, promised to look into the allegations against Syrian


diplomats. We have taken action against diplomats in the past and


we will do so again. I have heard of the allegations during the


course of the evening, they must be investigated by the police. If we


had evidence that people were being intimidated in this country by


diplomats working in another country, we have taken action


before and we would do again. the Foreign Office said it had


already discussed the issue with the police, and urged anyone with


allegations of intimidation to come forward. These workers haven't


complained to the UK authorities yet. They say they are now afraid


to return to Syria. Our major fear is that if the regime stays with


that approach, in Syria, neither will we be able to return to Syria,


and nor will our families actually be able to live in peace. What do


you feel, how worried are you now? We know what this regime is capable


of, particularly the Secret Services. We would not be surprised


if we got a phone call tomorrow telling us our families had been


arrested. They may have been protesting on British soil, even


that now take as lot more courage than it used to.


As you heard in that report, we did ask to speak to a representative


from the Syrian embassy, but they claim no-one was available. I am


joined in the studio by the Syrian humam rights activist and blogger,


Mahmoud Ali Hamad, and by the MP, Ann Clwyd, who sits on the foreign


affairs select committee, and chairs the parliamentary human


rights group. How swidpraed is this prak - widespread is this practice?


It is not unusual for the Syrian embassy to make threats on behalf


of the Syrian secret police, this is an old practice, actually,


people have suffered because of that. Have you had personal


experience of it? I have, actually. I have on several occasions, and


actually the lady who appeared in the video, I was actually standing


next to her in that particular demonstration, and another person


who was with me, his family was contacted, straight after that.


They were told your son is involved in this, and this should not happen


again. So I was personally approached after an interview I


have done with the BBC, back in the 23rd of March, in the first week of


the uprising, I was told we know who you are, cut it out. I used


only my first name at that point, I did not reveal my identity, it was


a radio interview and I used my Christian name. This is somebody


from the embassy? The Syrian person called me a week after that, after


an interview I have done where the ambassador, the Syrian Ambassador


was involved, and in that particular interview he said to the


interviewer that you are interviewing the wrong kind of


Syrians, that was his exact words. And right after that I got the same


phone call from what appeared to be the same person saying cut it out,


those were his exact words. practice of videoing people and


showing the photographs to their family, or saying to the family


back in Syria, we have evidence that your son, daughter, brother,


whatever it is, is agitating against the state, you better watch


your step, how common is that? is very common, and there is now a


new thing that the Syrian Government is doing, that is


getting the families of those activists, or demonstrators, to


disown their children, or their relatives. If they appear to be


involved in any political activities that goes against the


will of the Government. So it is very common unfortunately.


Clwyd, three people named a particular individual who had


telephoned them, with the telephone number and everything. That


individual we traced to the Syrian embassy, the Syrian embassy


confirmed this individual was on their staff. At first sight, this


looks like something we shouldn't tolerate in this country, doesn't


it? I agree. It is practice we was also done by the bathe regime of


Saddam Hussein. They used to do exactly the same, to Iraqis who


protested in this country, used to intimidate them, used to follow


them. I know the child of one of my friend, they tried to kidnap him


off the streets in Cardiff. So, you know, amongst the Ba' ath regime it


is a familiar pattern. What should the British Government do about it?


If somebody from the Syrian embassy is guilty of this, we should ask


them to leave the country, this is unacceptable, threats against


Syrians living, working at university, or whatever in this


country, is it is not something we should tolerate. That is a


particularly flagrant example, but there are lots of other cases that


are in the margins of what is diplomatic activity? I imagine so.


I have had some experience of the Syrian regime myself. The MP that


you showed on the programme last night, Riad Seif, I tried to go and


see him on behalf of the interparliamentary union myself


three years ago, it was agreed by the speaker of the Syrian


parliament we should go there. When we went there they played around


for three day, sent us round the houses, saying it was the minister


of justice that should decide, next day it was minister of the interior,


and back to the speaker who said he was sorry. I'm not surprised this


kind of thing happens at all. difficulties difficulty is the


police in this country can only act if someone make as complaint. Are


you and your friends and colleagues reporting matters to the police or


not? I don't think we are looking at it from that point of view, we


are looking at this regime as a regime on its way out. So we don't


want to be distracted by prosecuting, trying to prosecute


individuals, this is a matter for the British Government to handle.


Of course it is the responsibility of...They Can't do anything without


being given the evidence? Lots of people are still scared to come out,


Syrians, to come out and actually do it. In fear of the regime


touching their relatives and intimidating their families. It is


not easy for everyone to have the same level of courage to take such


action. It is quite hard decisions to make.


Ever since witch doctors offered to cure with toad and chicken blood,


some quack has been offering health in exchange.


Is it possible that potentially fatal diseases can be stopped in


their tracks by allowing a healer to channel thought and prayer into


our brains, it is an astonishing claim, intriguing enough to get


Anna Adams interested. Faith healers have been around even


longer than snake oil salesmen. Now they are throwing in something that


sounds like scenes and calling it ThetaHealing. It has been showcased


on Fox News. What if someone told you the chronic pain you were


living with could go away within the hour. The theory is that


healers create positive brain wave that is can cure illness, including


cancer and HIV. A look into the world of ThetaHealing, and the


people who say they are proof it works. There are now more than


20,000 faith healers operating in the UK. But, of course, not all do


it for the money, but ThetaHealing usually charge by the hour. Some of


the work here in Harley Street is from them, but others from their


house. We sent an jumped cover worker to see Jenny Johnstone. - a


undercover worker to see Jenny Johnstone. She's one of


ThetaHealing followers, she charges �30 an hour or a course to learn.


The researcher asked what she could do for her. There was baby on the


telephone I worked with, one day to the next the cancer disappeared.


The researcher told Jenny she had been diagnosed with certificate


value cancer REPORTER: Have you - cervical cancer. REPORTER: Have you


of anyone with cancer like mine? Yes. REPORTER: Have you had


success? It is not me who heals, you heal yourself, I create the


conditions. Cancer, in many ways, is one of the easier things.


must be easy, apparently she has also healed a man's bowel cancer.


He opened his eyes, and I opened my eyes and we knew it was gone.


Science can't prove it. How much of it is true, how do you go about


trying to prove T we are here to speak to the professor who has


carried out more clinical trials into alternative medicine than


anyone else. He has been doing it for 20 years. We showed our footage


to Professor Edzard Ernst. There was baby I spoke to over the phone


and from one day to the next the cancer disappeared. What do you


think of that kind of thing? think it is most irresponsible and


criminal to make claims of that nature. They are not supported by


any type of evidence. Therefore, she's breaking the law. They give


themselves a veneer of science, it is still nonsense, though. There


have been 50 clinical trials into faith healing, and the professor


says while they might make people feel good, the trials show they


didn't actually cure anything. one trial we compared healers to


people who pretended to be healers, actors, basically. The bottom line


result was that, if anything, the actors were slightly better than


the healers. What are the dangers then? The dangers are you remain


untreated, most cancers are very treatable these days. And that you


actually die because of listening to these people. But Jenny's not


the only ThetaHealing, there are more than 600 in the UK, when we


talked to others, we heard similar pseudo scientific claims. We spoke


to one man, who feels so embarrassed when he went there with


an illness that he didn't want to be identified. They come over very


caring, and they claim to heal any desee, any time you go for a


healing it ends up costing �150 for 50 minutes. How much did you spend?


About �1,200, possibly more. What did you get back? Absolutely


nothing, it didn't work at all. I feel angry at myself, I wasted


money and time. I missed two years of proper medical treatment, there


was never any suggestion I should go back to my doctor, which is what


I needed to do. Were you at a low ebb? I was ill and needed to be


cured. I was desperate. You are slowing your brain down and


connecting to God. This is Vianna Stibal, the founder of ThetaHealing,


she writes books and set up an Institute of Healing in Utah. She


spends a fortune training her troops at lectures around the world.


I want to introduce to you ThetaHealing in the bahamas.


last appearance was in a slightly less exotic location, it was here,


One of the audience even asked her if healing could make an amputated


leg grow back. I believe it is possible to grow it back, a lady in


Italy grew back her ovary, I think if you can grow back an ovary you


can tkwro back a leg. One of the biggest claims is ThetaHealing can


make HIV disappear. That might be of interest to the Terence Higgins


Trust. There are people we have worked on who have viral loads that


haven't been detected for a very long time, like five years. So


that's kind of cool. What do you think? Well, she says it is cool, I


say it is unbelievable. It is simply not the case, once your HIV


has started to progress, and your viral load is rising, the only


thing that's going to reduce it to undetectable and keep it there for


significant lengths of time is anti-retroviral treatment. What do


you think about the idea that brain waves can actually cure you of HIV?


I think that it is dangerous to say things like that. I also think it


is a false claim and I think if someone is taking money for that,


though I would like to see them investigated, by the correct


consumer regulators, the fact is that we have seen Charlatans of


this kind all the way down through the HIV epidemic, those Charlatans


are more dangerous than ever, now that we have effective treatment.


And yet, she is saying that you can do that with brain waves. I'm sorry,


that's bullshit, in plain layman's terms. We asked for a interview


with Vianna Stibal about the claims she said at the London School of


Economics. We were told she didn't have time. REPORTER: BBC we would


like to ask you some questions? no. This time there seemed to be


another kind of laying on of hands. Go away. Then her husband attacked


our cameraman. No. REPORTER: We have every right,


this is Britain. No, go on. REPORTER: Are you going to hide


from the questions, are you going to hide from the questions. Go on.


It is far cry from the positive brain waves that ThetaHealing


promised can bring health, wealth and happiness. The London School of


Economics said they did not endorse Vianna Stibal's lecture, it was


just a commercial booking. We went back to Warrington to see Jenny,


she wouldn't give us an interview either. This is where Jenny


Johnstone treats her patients, we wanted to come and ask her why she


was still charging people, claiming she could cure their cancer, when


there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that it works. She said


there was no point in her trying to prove she had cured baby of stomach


cancer, because we just wouldn't believe her. Thank you very much


then. OK. See you then. Goodbye. Now, in an hour or so's time,


President Obama will tell the American people how he plans to


start bringing troops home from Afghanistan. The implications are


unmistakable for the thousands of British troops there, and not a


moment too soon. In the last few days, one senior military figure


after another has worried in public about whether the country can


sustain wars in both Afghanistan and Libya at the same time. David


Cameron has clearly been national curriculumed by their comments. Our


defence editor is here. What's President Obama going to say


tonight? As you say the speech hasn't happened, but the headlines


have been briefed out to the press. Essentially 10,000 US troops will


leave Afghanistan before the end of this year, and by September of 2012,


September next year, something in the region of 30-35,000 will have


left. That is deeper and faster than we understand, the military


advice that was given to him by General Petraeus in Kabul. If we


look at the figures in broad terms, we can track how historically from


a very Lightfoot brint, right up to the 9 8,000 - 1,300 troops up to 9


8,000, then coming down through October this year, and into next


year, and down to 6dld 5,000 by September 12, which is about the


same when President Obama came into office and announced this surge in


the first place. Where are they going to come from? It seems,


talking to people, that the feeling is that the great weight of the


American troops is in the south, in a few provinces, if we sketch it


out on a map. The regional command South-West, which includes Helmand


and neighbouring provinces, then regional command south, the area


around Kandahar in pink there. Between them they have the


equivalent of seven American brigades at the moment. It is


something approaching 50,000 troops in there. And that's where we will


deaf vitly she reduction, 0 - definitely see reductions, some of


the people marked in blue in the east where the Americans feel the


fighting is fiercest, on the most difficult mountainous part of the


Pakistani border and they need help. What are the implications for


Britain? The UK has its own political timetable and imperatives


here. David Cameron has said that all British troops must stop being


involved in combat operations by 2015, he reiterated on BBC Two


earlier this evening a guarantee is a guarantee. While it is not the


American or NATO formulation on this, this is a British, come what


may withdrawal. At the same time the UK is trying to sustain air


operations over Libya at quite an intense rate. Inevitably in the


last few days, that seemed to have produced some friction between


Downing Street and the service chiefs.


On the ground, in places like Nad Ali, British troops think they are


having the right effect. They point to big changes in the security


picture over the past year. So it sends to be just a shoot and scoot


type of thing, rather than a sustained exchanging of fire?


That's most of what we are seeing, shoot and scoot tactic, IEDs


followed by an ambush. But the move towards the exit by NATO's two


biggest contributors, could undermine any progress, causing


local allies to doubt the west's commitment, fears the Government is


keen to allay. We are friends of Afghanistan for the long-term. We


have said very clearly that of a transition in 2014, that means by


2015 we will not have troops here in a combat role or in anything


like the numbers. We will be friends for the long-term with our


expertise w our economic co- operation, and development said.


And it is, of course, important to plan ahead for those things now.


These are difficult times in relations between the service


chiefs and Number Ten. The forces know the Government is committed to


leave Afghanistan, regardless of conditions on the ground. And


complaints by senior officers, that operating simultaneously over Libya


is stretching their capabilities, produced this prime ministerial


rebuke. There are moments when I wake up and read the newspapers and


think, you do the fighting and I will do the talking. Today the


leader of the opposition took Mr Cameron to task for those words.


When our military chief raised legitimate concerns about the


conduct of our operations, surely it is not the right thing to say,


you do the fighting and I will do the talking. In retrospect, Mr


Speaker, wasn't that very crass and highhanded. The only point that I


tried to make in recent days, is I think when you are at war, and we


are in both Afghanistan and Libya, it is very important, whether you


are a political leader or whether you are a military leader to think


very carefully about what you are about to say.


With the Afghan fighting season fully under way, casualties have


risen again, sceptics in London and Washington argue that the military


has had its chance and the time has come to staunch the loss of life


and treasure in this violent land. So, with the President's speech


tonight, we enter a new phase, one which is far less predictable. We


simply don't know whether Afghan, in these districts, where the


British and Americans have been trying to build governance and


security, will regard this beginning of the drawdown as a spur


to get their act together and take control of their destiny, or


whether they will lose confidence and switch to the insurgency.


The River Thames will be running with much blood, according to a


former head of the Civil Service, and it will all be Nick Clegg's


fault. The apocalypse will happen if the deputy Prime Minister's


plans to reform the House of Lords get through. There was lots more


purple language in the House of Lords today, as their Noble


Lordships contemplated the prospect of being engulfed by some form of


democracy. It is hardly a matter of life and death, although it is


entirely possible that the bill to give effect to a promise first made


100 years ago, is, as was claimed, a dog's breakfast. Before we talk


about it here is this report. Before the last election, Nick


Clegg was seen as the heroic outsider who had come to save


politics from the politicians. But, in coalition with the


Conservatives, it looked more like Clarke Kent. Recently he has been


championing muscular liberalism, taking credit for saving the NHS


and pushing the reform of the House of Lords. But while he has been out


of the country this week, some of our more senior and superannuated


politicians have been hitting back. It is ludicrous that parliament


should be being treated as a kind of political football in a game


which comes at its roots from the failure of the liberal party to


retain the trust of the people, because they did not keep their


promises made at a general election. The proposal on which we are asked


to take note, must rank amongst the most inappropriate political events


minuteser in row fiddled while Rome burned. According to Mr Clegg we


are not directly accountable to the British people, that is absolutely


true, nor is the monarchy, nor is the judiciary directly accountable,


nor are the chiefs of the armed services directly accountable, nor


is the Prime Minister directly accountable, nor is his deputy, Mr


Clegg, directly accountable, nor is their cabinet. In the traft


The Government also made it clear they would listen to alternative


points of view, in an attempt to reach consensus. Following today's


mauling in the House of Lords, the draft bill will be scrutinised by a


committee of peers and MPs, until member next year. Then the


Government really will have to decide whether to push ahead, or


push off. 100 years ago a liberal Government


passed the Parliament Act, allowing the House of Commons, under certain


circumstances, to overrule the peers here in the House of Lords.


It has only been used handful of times since. Last month Nick Clegg


got David Cameron's approval to use it once again, if necessary to push


through the long-awaited reforms of the Upper House. That may sound


like a famous victory for the deputy Prime Minister, but there


are some rather substantial snags. Snag number one, while there is


official Conservative backing for using the Parliament Act, there is


not much enthusiasm. We are a long way from using the Parliament Act,


that is part of a process when both houses are disagreeing with each


other, when there is a Government bill before them. And at the moment


there is no bill, there is only a draft bill. Snag number two, the


opposition say they would create a storm of protest. It would be


utterly wrong to use the Parliament Act to introduce major


constitutional reform, which is is what this would be. And if the


Parliament Act were used, what would the consequences be for the


Government's programme? Completely screwed, they would get none of


their policies through. Snag number three, Nick Clegg has to get the


support of MPs here in the House of Commons in the first place. Up to


70 Conservatives might fail to back him, that is because, they say, the


coalition agreement, only committed the Government to bring forward


proposelias for reform, not actual legislation. As for the Labour


opposition, despite being fully committed to an elected House of


Lords, they might just prefer to give Nick Clegg a bloody nose


instead. Isn't this political opportunism? No, what I'm oppose


something the draft bill, this is bad bill, I want good reform and a


good bill, that is while the whole of my front benchers are opposing


this bill because it is a bad bill. Dinosaurs took a long way to die,


and if the time is not right now, when will be it. There are many for


the bill but enormous numbers are against. It looks as if Nick Clegg


will have to be more muscular if he wants to force through reform some


time in this century. With us is Lord Lawson, a former Tory


Chancellor and opponent of the reform, we are joined by the former


Liberal Democrat leader, Lord Ashdown, who supports the


Government's plans. Would you not like to be legitimate, Lord Lawson?


I am legitimate, you are legitimate, the judiciary are legitimate, the


monetary policy committee who decide interest rates are


legitimate. When I was chat Chancellor, I was an elected


politician, and I decided interest rates, it was an elected politician,


there is a reform, we have an independent Bank of England, with


an appointed Monetary Policy Committee and everyone says that is


better. What proportion of members of the House of Lords do you reckon


support this plan? Do you know, Jeremy, it is an unusual turkey


that looks forward to December, and the House of Commons, the House of


Lords today showed it didn't very much, who can be surprised at that.


Very few, is the answer. The Liberal Democrat bench, mostly,


overwhelmingly support it, as indeed do I. It, by the way, has


been in the manifesto of clearly all three parties. The Conservative


Party in Tony Blair manifesto was committed to this, Labour was as


well. Labour are committed to things in theory but when it comes


to practice they choose opportunism. Let's take up that point, your


party leader supports these ideas? There was support from the party


leader, never support from the party as a whole. We form our own


judgment. I have to tell you that I am amazed, that we're spending time


on this issue. We have as a country a whole range of problems, and a


whole range of problems would need to be addressed, serious problems


would need to be addressed. The House of Lords, Jeremy, is not


problem. It is a vanity project for Nick Clegg, isn't it? No, it is a


project about delivering. We are fighting wars abroad. Sacrificing


some of our own people, in favour of democracy. We don't even have it


at home. Look there is a basic principle, Jeremy, and it is a very


valuable principle, power in a democracy springs from the ballot


box, from nowhere else, we have a second chamber, the House of Lords,


whose existence depends on the patronage of the powerful. We are


placemen, nothing else but that, we're jolly polite and wise but we


are still placemen, put there by the Government of the day, to do


the Government's business. I thought that principle of democracy


went out with the Stuart kings, but it seems we still want to preserve


it one of the chambers of the House of Commons. What is wrong with


having what 61 nations of the world have with an elected second chamber.


He's wrong about that. I'm not wrong about you being a placemen so,


am I. What is democracy, this is crucially important, democracy is a


situation in which the people have the ability, peacefully, to chuck


out the Government of the day. That is the position in this country.


The fact that the House of Lords is not elected is neither here nor


there. If it is the Commons, the majority in the Commons, who form


the Government, and it is the majority of the Commons incidently


from where the major offices of state are filled. Paddy Ashdown,


one is bound to think after Nick Clegg's triumph with the other


wheeze, the alternative vote, if you want to defend the status quo,


get Nick Clegg to oppose an alternative. The issue is, are you


prepared to have a second chamber. The first act of an elected


Government is to take the majority it has in the House of Commons on a


particular Thursday afternoon in May, and replicate it in the House


of Lords, so that the House of Lords capacity to act as a check a


balance on the excessive power of the executive, using an


overwhelming majority in the House of Commons, to drive through stupid


legislation, legislation like the poll tax, legislation like going to


war in a silly war which was illegal, can be checked by the


House of Lords. I don't say we have a veto, but we have the right to


say no, and we would say no. If you want to continue with what is a


bicalm ral parliament in theory, but a mono camoral parliament with


something at the other end, in practice, don't call it a democracy.


Why won'ts the Conservatives use the Parliament Act to force it


through? I don't think it is helpful to threaten that. The


Parliament Act is brought into operation when three conditions are


in place, the first is, that it was in party manifestos, it was, the


country voted for this, all three party manifestos. The second is,


when the primary institution of our parliament, that is the Commons,


votes for something, and by the way, everybody who spoke against the


bill today went on asserting the primacy of the House of Commons.


When that is passed, the House of Lords must accept that primacy, and


if they don't, and I hope they would not be so foolish as to do


that if the House of Commons were to pass this backed by manifesto,


the Parliament Act becomes something we can use. I hope the


House of Lords wouldn't be put in this position. That is you banged


to rights? I don't know what you mean. He's threatening you? I'm not


threatening him, I'm saying to the House of Lords accept the primacy


of the House of Commons. To use the Parliament Act, distinguished


lawyers in the debate over the past couple of days who ugt ised, and it


may well be the case, that it would be illegal to use the Parliament


Act in this context, let me try to reach out to Paddy Ashdown, Paddy


is terribly confused. He would like to have a much stronger second


chamber, and if you had a much, much stronger second chamber,


something like the United States Senate, then I would agree it would


have to be elected, obviously, that would be a democratic imperative,


that is not what we are offered. The coalition Government, including


his party, have made it absolutely clear that the very puny House of


Lords will not get an iota more power than it has at the present


time. How do you get a second chamber which has no power at all


to stop anything like wars in Afghans or Iraq or whatever, how do


you get people of calibre to go into it and scrutinise legislation,


you have to appoint them, that is the only way to do it. Thank you


very much. The Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, who


was arrested and held in April, has been freed. He was picked up as


part of a crackdown on over 100 humam rights activists. The Chinese


authorities claim to have released him on bail, because, they say, he


has confess today tax evasion. It was widely agreed he was picked up


and left without access to a lawyer, less for his accounting practices


than his beliefs in freedoms. Ai Weiwei was arrested in April on tax


evasion charges, but many activists suspect he was detained as part of


a larger crackdown on critics of the Beijing Government. Released on


bail today, he posedouts side his In the past he has had plenty to


say, and was a well known critic of the Government. In this country,


though, he became best known for his huge installation of porcelain


sunflower seeds in the Tate Modern gallery. His art in China have been


more political. He made these sculptures of CCTV cameras to


satirise his own life under surveillance. This is made of


thousands of children's back packs to represent those killed in the


earthquake three years ago. The question, why so many schools


collapsed. His criticisms also appeared in constant blogging and


tweeting. Speaking to Newsnight last October, he had no doubt China


has to change. They have to come to a much more liberal and democratic


society, everybody knows it. It is just a matter of time and what will


trigger the change. Let's talk now to Alison Klayman, a film maker and


good friend of Ai Weiwei. You spoke to him on the phone when he was


released, how did he sound? sounded really happy to be home,


and said he was with his mom right then. As I'm sure all of us would


feel not really wanting to spend too much time on the phone with


other people. I know that a lot of people reached out to him, and he


made it sort of clear that he wasn't going to speak about what's


been happening right now. He said to me what he said to a lot of


people, which is that he's happy and he's OK, and that he can't


really talk too much about anything else. There is talk that's not well,


as regards his health, did he sound OK to you? He did sound OK, and


insisted he was OK, but that was something from day one when he was


taken into detention, with no word about his treatment, or location,


that everyone that knows him was worried about, that he does take


medication every day, that people were concerned about how his health


would be treated. It is really great to see that he does look OK,


maybe a little bit lighter, but he looked OK and happy to be home.


are a good friend of his, have you known where he has been during this


time he has been detained? No, I have been asked by lots of people


where he is, and nobody knew. Even his wife who was brought to visit


him didn't quite know where they were, or if that was really where


he was regularly kept. I'm not sure whether we are going to get those


details, that is kind of a big question right now, about what and


if the terms of his release are. Typically when people are held and


then released, you don't always get the full story, because there are


conditions for being released. It is a question right now, because Ai


Weiwei is someone who pushes so much for transparency, and you know,


I think we're all waiting to see what his first tweet will be. To


see to what extent he can communicate with the rest of the


world openly and freely right now, there is a lot of unknowns now. We


may not know right away how it will all play out? What do you make of


his alleged confession to tax evasion charges? I don't know what


to make of it. I think we will wait and see also how those play out and


whether's going to have any trial, if the charges stay. That's all I


think to be determined. There must be a concern that it will, being


released on bail under these circumstances will effect what's


able to do with his art. There must be that concern, isn't there?


a big question, for sure, because art and speech, expressing yourself,


no artist would want to work under the conditions that we can't create


as they want to. There is always the question of whether there is a


dichotomy there, whether you can even say with him whether there is


art and actism and if if - activism, and whether those are separate or


not. If there is going to be travel re strictions and on his


communication, all of this would affect an artist in practice. There


is demand around the world for him, it shows you that this is


definitely a happy day. But there is a lot of being questions about


how this will work in the coming year and beyond that for him. The


That's all from tonight, shad news from the news of shape shifting


Superhero news, Peter Parker's Spiderman will be killed off by its


makers. Here is the theme tune synonymous with the character they


promise a second coming so don't # Spiderman Spiderman


# Does whatever a spider can # Spins a web


# Any size # Catches thieves


# Just like flies # Look out


# Here comes the Spiderman # Is he strong


# He's got radioactive blood # Can he swing from a thread


# Take a look overhead # Hey there there goes the


Before it gets very much warmer later in the weekend it will turn


wetter. We have got some rain in had the morning tomorrow, across


northern England, and then we are left with some heavy showers in the


afternoon for eastern England, sunshine and scattered showers


around elsewhere. In the afternoon heavy showers over the Pennines in


particular, across Yorkshire down into Lincolnshire, scattering light


showers through the Midland, sharp ones in East Anglia, the threat of


showers in Wimbledon during tomorrow. The driest weather will


be in the south west of England, very few showers in the afternoon.


Not as breezy as it was today. Temperatures still startling, 16,


17 at best. Wales, South Wales seeing plenty of sunshine in the


afternoon. North Wales seeing more showers. Across Northern Ireland a


lot of cloud around, more showers to come again. Those temperatures


only 15 degrees. Not much warmer in Scotland, where we will see more


showers in the north-east compared with today. Turning dryer in the


south west. We have some showers in Edinburgh on Thursday, there may be


the odd one around even on to Friday as well. Most of the showers


in the north-east of Scotland t has to be said on Friday. Further south,


heavy showers, London fewer showers in Cardiff, but it does cloud over


Download Subtitles