22/06/2011 Newsnight


22/06/2011

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


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

:00:08.:00:13.

the streets of London. Is the Syrian embassy monitoring dissent

:00:13.:00:16.

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

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

:00:20.:00:24.

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

:00:24.:00:30.

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

:00:30.:00:36.

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

:00:36.:00:41.

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

:00:41.:00:46.

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

:00:46.:00:51.

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

:00:51.:00:56.

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

:00:56.:00:59.

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

:00:59.:01:04.

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

:01:04.:01:07.

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

:01:07.:01:12.

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

:01:12.:01:17.

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

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

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

:01:25.:01:35.
:01:35.:01:37.

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

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

:01:40.:01:46.

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

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

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nationals allege they are being filmed at demonstrations and being

:01:53.:01:58.

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

:01:58.:02:00.

firsthand accounts of this intimidation from Syrian protestors.

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

:02:05.:02:11.

do in promoting the interests of the state.

:02:11.:02:16.

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

:02:16.:02:19.

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

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

:02:24.:02:28.

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

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

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

:02:37.:02:43.

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

:02:43.:02:48.

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

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

:02:53.:03:02.

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

:03:02.:03:07.

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

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

:03:11.:03:14.

pressure on the family of the protestors, intimidate them.

:03:14.:03:18.

filming, according to several protestors Newsnight has talked to,

:03:18.:03:21.

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

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

:03:25.:03:32.

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

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Government demonstrations, otherwise, not only would our

:03:35.:03:39.

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

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who are against the Government, either working together with the

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

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

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

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

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or other documentation, these individuals have been inside the

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embassy. Newsnight's also been given the

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name of an accredited Syrian diplomat, whom several protestors

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

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strongly denied by the embassy itself. The Syrian Ambassador told

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

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has just sent us a statement, saying allegations about its

:04:28.:04:33.

approach to Syrian dissenters here, are completely without foundation.

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

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Syrians in Britain, regardless of their political affiliations.

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We have got statement from the embassy saying they have never

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

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

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

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

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

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

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pictures of her outside the embassy were shown by Syrian security

:05:18.:05:24.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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They are capable of doing anything. The Foreign Office

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

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Alistair Burt, promised to look into the allegations against Syrian

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

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

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

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had evidence that people were being intimidated in this country by

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diplomats working in another country, we have taken action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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affairs select committee, and chairs the parliamentary human

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

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

:08:15.:08:18.

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

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people have suffered because of that. Have you had personal

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

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

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next to her in that particular demonstration, and another person

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

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

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again. So I was personally approached after an interview I

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

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

:09:00.:09:05.

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

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

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

:09:14.:09:18.

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

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

:09:22.:09:25.

interviewer that you are interviewing the wrong kind of

:09:25.:09:31.

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

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

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those were his exact words. practice of videoing people and

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

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

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

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

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new thing that the Syrian Government is doing, that is

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getting the families of those activists, or demonstrators, to

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

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involved in any political activities that goes against the

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

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Clwyd, three people named a particular individual who had

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telephoned them, with the telephone number and everything. That

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individual we traced to the Syrian embassy, the Syrian embassy

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

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

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

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

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

:10:55.:11:00.

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

:11:00.:11:10.
:11:10.:11:11.

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

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

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

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

:11:25.:11:28.

Syrians living, working at university, or whatever in this

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

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

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

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

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

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see him on behalf of the interparliamentary union myself

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

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

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

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

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

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kind of thing happens at all. difficulties difficulty is the

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

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

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

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

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want to be distracted by prosecuting, trying to prosecute

:12:55.:12:59.

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

:12:59.:13:03.

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

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

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

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touching their relatives and intimidating their families. It is

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

:13:22.:13:30.

action. It is quite hard decisions to make.

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

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some quack has been offering health in exchange.

:13:41.:13:45.

Is it possible that potentially fatal diseases can be stopped in

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

:13:49.:13:54.

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

:13:54.:14:00.

Anna Adams interested. Faith healers have been around even

:14:00.:14:05.

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

:14:05.:14:09.

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

:14:09.:14:13.

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

:14:13.:14:17.

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

:14:17.:14:21.

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

:14:21.:14:24.

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

:14:24.:14:29.

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

:14:29.:14:32.

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

:14:32.:14:37.

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

:14:37.:14:44.

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

:14:44.:14:51.

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

:14:51.:14:56.

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

:14:56.:15:03.

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

:15:03.:15:07.

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

:15:07.:15:14.

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

:15:14.:15:20.

The researcher told Jenny she had been diagnosed with certificate

:15:20.:15:26.

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

:15:26.:15:31.

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

:15:31.:15:37.

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

:15:37.:15:43.

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

:15:43.:15:48.

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

:15:48.:15:53.

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

:15:53.:15:58.

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

:15:58.:16:02.

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

:16:02.:16:04.

carried out more clinical trials into alternative medicine than

:16:04.:16:11.

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

:16:11.:16:17.

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

:16:18.:16:22.

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

:16:22.:16:26.

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

:16:26.:16:30.

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

:16:30.:16:36.

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

:16:36.:16:41.

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

:16:41.:16:46.

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

:16:46.:16:49.

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

:16:49.:16:54.

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

:16:54.:16:59.

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

:16:59.:17:04.

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

:17:04.:17:10.

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

:17:10.:17:16.

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

:17:16.:17:20.

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

:17:20.:17:24.

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

:17:24.:17:28.

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

:17:28.:17:35.

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

:17:35.:17:42.

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

:17:42.:17:46.

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

:17:46.:17:53.

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

:17:53.:17:57.

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

:17:57.:18:01.

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

:18:01.:18:06.

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

:18:06.:18:09.

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

:18:09.:18:15.

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

:18:15.:18:18.

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

:18:18.:18:25.

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

:18:25.:18:31.

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

:18:31.:18:35.

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

:18:36.:18:39.

I want to introduce to you ThetaHealing in the bahamas.

:18:39.:18:45.

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

:18:45.:18:55.
:18:55.:19:03.

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

:19:03.:19:09.

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

:19:09.:19:14.

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

:19:14.:19:18.

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

:19:18.:19:23.

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

:19:23.:19:26.

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

:19:26.:19:31.

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

:19:31.:19:36.

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

:19:36.:19:41.

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

:19:41.:19:45.

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

:19:45.:19:50.

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

:19:50.:19:54.

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

:19:54.:20:01.

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

:20:01.:20:07.

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

:20:07.:20:11.

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

:20:11.:20:17.

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

:20:17.:20:20.

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

:20:21.:20:25.

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

:20:25.:20:29.

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

:20:29.:20:36.

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

:20:36.:20:44.

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

:20:44.:20:48.

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

:20:48.:20:52.

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

:20:52.:20:56.

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

:20:56.:21:01.

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

:21:01.:21:10.

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

:21:10.:21:14.

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

:21:14.:21:19.

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

:21:19.:21:23.

It is far cry from the positive brain waves that ThetaHealing

:21:23.:21:28.

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

:21:28.:21:33.

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

:21:33.:21:37.

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

:21:37.:21:41.

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

:21:41.:21:43.

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

:21:44.:21:47.

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

:21:47.:21:51.

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

:21:51.:21:55.

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

:21:55.:22:00.

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

:22:00.:22:06.

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

:22:06.:22:09.

President Obama will tell the American people how he plans to

:22:09.:22:13.

start bringing troops home from Afghanistan. The implications are

:22:13.:22:16.

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

:22:16.:22:20.

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

:22:20.:22:24.

after another has worried in public about whether the country can

:22:24.:22:29.

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

:22:29.:22:32.

Cameron has clearly been national curriculumed by their comments. Our

:22:32.:22:35.

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

:22:35.:22:38.

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

:22:38.:22:43.

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

:22:43.:22:48.

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

:22:48.:22:52.

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

:22:52.:22:57.

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

:22:57.:23:01.

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

:23:01.:23:08.

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

:23:08.:23:16.

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

:23:16.:23:19.

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

:23:19.:23:26.

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

:23:26.:23:30.

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

:23:30.:23:34.

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

:23:34.:23:38.

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

:23:38.:23:42.

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

:23:42.:23:47.

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

:23:48.:23:52.

and neighbouring provinces, then regional command south, the area

:23:52.:23:56.

around Kandahar in pink there. Between them they have the

:23:56.:23:59.

equivalent of seven American brigades at the moment. It is

:23:59.:24:07.

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

:24:07.:24:11.

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

:24:11.:24:14.

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

:24:15.:24:19.

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

:24:19.:24:23.

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

:24:23.:24:27.

Britain? The UK has its own political timetable and imperatives

:24:27.:24:33.

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

:24:33.:24:39.

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

:24:39.:24:43.

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

:24:43.:24:47.

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

:24:47.:24:50.

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

:24:50.:24:53.

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

:24:53.:24:58.

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

:24:58.:24:59.

Downing Street and the service chiefs.

:24:59.:25:04.

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

:25:04.:25:09.

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

:25:09.:25:13.

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

:25:13.:25:18.

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

:25:18.:25:22.

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

:25:23.:25:28.

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

:25:28.:25:31.

biggest contributors, could undermine any progress, causing

:25:31.:25:35.

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

:25:35.:25:42.

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

:25:42.:25:49.

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

:25:49.:25:56.

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

:25:56.:25:59.

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

:25:59.:26:03.

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

:26:03.:26:09.

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

:26:10.:26:13.

These are difficult times in relations between the service

:26:13.:26:18.

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

:26:18.:26:22.

leave Afghanistan, regardless of conditions on the ground. And

:26:22.:26:26.

complaints by senior officers, that operating simultaneously over Libya

:26:26.:26:31.

is stretching their capabilities, produced this prime ministerial

:26:31.:26:34.

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

:26:34.:26:39.

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

:26:39.:26:44.

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

:26:44.:26:46.

When our military chief raised legitimate concerns about the

:26:46.:26:49.

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

:26:49.:26:54.

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

:26:54.:27:00.

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

:27:00.:27:03.

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

:27:04.:27:07.

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

:27:07.:27:10.

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

:27:10.:27:16.

very carefully about what you are about to say.

:27:16.:27:22.

With the Afghan fighting season fully under way, casualties have

:27:22.:27:25.

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

:27:25.:27:28.

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

:27:28.:27:32.

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

:27:32.:27:37.

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

:27:37.:27:40.

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

:27:40.:27:43.

British and Americans have been trying to build governance and

:27:43.:27:47.

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

:27:48.:27:51.

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

:27:51.:27:55.

whether they will lose confidence and switch to the insurgency.

:27:55.:27:59.

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

:27:59.:28:02.

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

:28:02.:28:05.

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

:28:05.:28:09.

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

:28:09.:28:13.

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

:28:13.:28:16.

Lordships contemplated the prospect of being engulfed by some form of

:28:17.:28:20.

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

:28:20.:28:24.

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

:28:24.:28:28.

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

:28:29.:28:33.

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

:28:33.:28:36.

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

:28:36.:28:40.

politics from the politicians. But, in coalition with the

:28:40.:28:46.

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

:28:46.:28:49.

championing muscular liberalism, taking credit for saving the NHS

:28:50.:28:53.

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

:28:53.:28:57.

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

:28:57.:29:01.

politicians have been hitting back. It is ludicrous that parliament

:29:01.:29:06.

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

:29:06.:29:10.

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

:29:10.:29:14.

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

:29:14.:29:20.

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

:29:20.:29:26.

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

:29:26.:29:34.

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

:29:34.:29:38.

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

:29:38.:29:42.

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

:29:42.:29:46.

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

:29:46.:29:51.

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

:29:51.:29:57.

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

:29:57.:30:07.
:30:07.:30:10.

The Government also made it clear they would listen to alternative

:30:10.:30:15.

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

:30:15.:30:18.

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

:30:18.:30:22.

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

:30:22.:30:24.

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

:30:24.:30:30.

push off. 100 years ago a liberal Government

:30:30.:30:33.

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

:30:33.:30:37.

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

:30:37.:30:41.

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

:30:41.:30:45.

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

:30:45.:30:49.

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

:30:49.:30:53.

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

:30:53.:30:58.

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

:30:58.:31:01.

official Conservative backing for using the Parliament Act, there is

:31:01.:31:05.

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

:31:05.:31:09.

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

:31:09.:31:12.

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

:31:12.:31:16.

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

:31:16.:31:20.

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

:31:20.:31:24.

utterly wrong to use the Parliament Act to introduce major

:31:25.:31:28.

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

:31:28.:31:33.

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

:31:33.:31:35.

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

:31:35.:31:39.

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

:31:39.:31:43.

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

:31:43.:31:47.

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

:31:47.:31:50.

coalition agreement, only committed the Government to bring forward

:31:50.:31:55.

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

:31:55.:31:59.

opposition, despite being fully committed to an elected House of

:31:59.:32:06.

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

:32:06.:32:10.

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

:32:10.:32:15.

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

:32:15.:32:20.

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

:32:20.:32:26.

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

:32:26.:32:34.

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

:32:34.:32:39.

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

:32:39.:32:43.

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

:32:43.:32:48.

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

:32:48.:32:51.

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

:32:51.:32:54.

Liberal Democrat leader, Lord Ashdown, who supports the

:32:54.:32:58.

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

:32:58.:33:06.

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

:33:06.:33:11.

monetary policy committee who decide interest rates are

:33:11.:33:14.

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

:33:14.:33:17.

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

:33:17.:33:22.

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

:33:22.:33:24.

an appointed Monetary Policy Committee and everyone says that is

:33:24.:33:28.

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

:33:28.:33:34.

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

:33:34.:33:38.

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

:33:38.:33:42.

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

:33:42.:33:47.

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

:33:47.:33:52.

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

:33:52.:33:56.

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

:33:56.:33:58.

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

:33:58.:34:03.

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

:34:03.:34:08.

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

:34:08.:34:11.

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

:34:11.:34:14.

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

:34:14.:34:20.

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

:34:20.:34:23.

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

:34:23.:34:27.

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

:34:27.:34:32.

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

:34:32.:34:37.

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

:34:37.:34:41.

project about delivering. We are fighting wars abroad. Sacrificing

:34:41.:34:46.

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

:34:46.:34:51.

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

:34:51.:34:55.

valuable principle, power in a democracy springs from the ballot

:34:55.:34:59.

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

:34:59.:35:05.

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

:35:06.:35:15.

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

:35:15.:35:18.

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

:35:18.:35:22.

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

:35:22.:35:28.

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

:35:28.:35:32.

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

:35:32.:35:37.

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

:35:37.:35:44.

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

:35:44.:35:48.

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

:35:48.:35:53.

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

:35:53.:35:56.

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

:35:56.:36:00.

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

:36:00.:36:04.

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

:36:04.:36:08.

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

:36:09.:36:15.

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

:36:15.:36:20.

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

:36:20.:36:25.

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

:36:25.:36:31.

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

:36:31.:36:34.

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

:36:34.:36:38.

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

:36:38.:36:41.

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

:36:41.:36:45.

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

:36:45.:36:49.

balance on the excessive power of the executive, using an

:36:49.:36:53.

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

:36:54.:36:57.

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

:36:57.:37:01.

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

:37:01.:37:05.

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

:37:05.:37:11.

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

:37:11.:37:19.

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

:37:19.:37:25.

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

:37:25.:37:32.

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

:37:32.:37:35.

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

:37:35.:37:38.

Parliament Act is brought into operation when three conditions are

:37:38.:37:42.

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

:37:42.:37:47.

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

:37:47.:37:50.

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

:37:50.:37:55.

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

:37:55.:37:58.

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

:37:58.:38:01.

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

:38:01.:38:06.

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

:38:06.:38:14.

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

:38:14.:38:17.

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

:38:17.:38:20.

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

:38:20.:38:27.

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

:38:27.:38:30.

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

:38:30.:38:34.

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

:38:34.:38:38.

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

:38:38.:38:42.

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

:38:42.:38:51.

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

:38:51.:38:56.

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

:38:56.:39:00.

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

:39:00.:39:04.

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

:39:04.:39:09.

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

:39:09.:39:13.

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

:39:13.:39:18.

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

:39:18.:39:24.

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

:39:24.:39:28.

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

:39:28.:39:34.

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

:39:34.:39:37.

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

:39:37.:39:41.

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

:39:41.:39:46.

very much. The Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, who

:39:46.:39:49.

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

:39:49.:39:53.

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

:39:53.:39:57.

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

:39:57.:40:03.

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

:40:03.:40:08.

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

:40:08.:40:12.

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

:40:12.:40:16.

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

:40:16.:40:21.

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

:40:21.:40:30.

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

:40:30.:40:36.

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

:40:36.:40:45.

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

:40:45.:40:51.

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

:40:51.:40:58.

more political. He made these sculptures of CCTV cameras to

:40:58.:41:02.

satirise his own life under surveillance. This is made of

:41:02.:41:05.

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

:41:05.:41:08.

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

:41:08.:41:13.

collapsed. His criticisms also appeared in constant blogging and

:41:13.:41:17.

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

:41:17.:41:24.

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

:41:24.:41:30.

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

:41:30.:41:36.

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

:41:36.:41:41.

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

:41:41.:41:45.

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

:41:45.:41:49.

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

:41:49.:41:53.

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

:41:53.:41:58.

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

:41:58.:42:03.

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

:42:03.:42:06.

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

:42:06.:42:12.

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

:42:12.:42:18.

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

:42:18.:42:23.

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

:42:23.:42:28.

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

:42:28.:42:32.

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

:42:32.:42:36.

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

:42:36.:42:41.

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

:42:41.:42:46.

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

:42:46.:42:54.

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

:42:54.:42:58.

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

:42:58.:43:04.

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

:43:04.:43:09.

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

:43:09.:43:12.

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

:43:12.:43:16.

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

:43:16.:43:20.

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

:43:20.:43:25.

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

:43:25.:43:30.

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

:43:30.:43:34.

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

:43:34.:43:38.

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

:43:38.:43:44.

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

:43:44.:43:47.

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

:43:47.:43:53.

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

:43:53.:43:59.

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

:43:59.:44:02.

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

:44:02.:44:11.

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

:44:11.:44:15.

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

:44:15.:44:22.

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

:44:22.:44:25.

released on bail under these circumstances will effect what's

:44:25.:44:29.

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

:44:30.:44:38.

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

:44:38.:44:44.

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

:44:44.:44:48.

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

:44:48.:44:52.

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

:44:52.:44:59.

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

:44:59.:45:05.

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

:45:05.:45:11.

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

:45:11.:45:15.

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

:45:15.:45:18.

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

:45:18.:45:28.
:45:28.:45:29.

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

:45:29.:45:39.
:45:39.:45:56.

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

:45:56.:46:06.
:46:06.:46:07.

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

:46:07.:46:13.

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

:46:14.:46:23.
:46:24.:46:26.

promise a second coming so don't # Spiderman Spiderman

:46:26.:46:29.

# Does whatever a spider can # Spins a web

:46:30.:46:33.

# Any size # Catches thieves

:46:33.:46:36.

# Just like flies # Look out

:46:36.:46:40.

# Here comes the Spiderman # Is he strong

:46:40.:46:43.

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

:46:43.:46:48.

# Take a look overhead # Hey there there goes the

:46:48.:46:57.

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

:46:57.:47:00.

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

:47:00.:47:04.

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

:47:04.:47:08.

afternoon for eastern England, sunshine and scattered showers

:47:08.:47:12.

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

:47:12.:47:15.

particular, across Yorkshire down into Lincolnshire, scattering light

:47:15.:47:19.

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

:47:19.:47:22.

showers in Wimbledon during tomorrow. The driest weather will

:47:22.:47:25.

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

:47:25.:47:30.

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

:47:30.:47:35.

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

:47:35.:47:37.

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

:47:37.:47:42.

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

:47:42.:47:46.

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

:47:46.:47:49.

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

:47:49.:47:53.

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

:47:53.:47:56.

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

:47:56.:48:00.

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

:48:00.:48:05.

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

:48:05.:48:10.

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