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Wednesday, 20th December 2006

  • Stephen Smith
  • 20 Dec 06, 05:18 PM

veil203b.jpgExploring the extraordinary allegation that Britain's most wanted man slipped out of this country using his sister's passport, wearing a niqab. Could it really have happened? And does the government really have a clue who enters and leaves the country? Also: bungs report analysis; and political correctness and Christmas.
Comment on Wednesday's programme here.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 07:20 PM on 20 Dec 2006,
  • Rick B wrote:

Um ok, so it's feasible but what's the evidence? Did his sister buy a one-way ticket out but is still in the country? Did she 'lose' her passport and apply for a duplicate? As Joe Friday used to say "Just gimme the facts".

  • 2.
  • At 08:15 PM on 20 Dec 2006,
  • pippop wrote:

Should ANYONE be passing through customs covered up like this? It is a bit of a mockery wouldn't you say?

I suggest that if women insist, or their men, or the culture insists that they dress in this anonymous way then they should be sifted out of the queue and sent through a section where women customs officers check them, and I mean ALL and everyone who is dress in this way. Its common sense. Why on earth should we expect passport control officer to make a decision about a pair of eye, could you? This is just plane reckless with regard to security. We should not allow this garment to make fools out of our safety procedures. Come on now, we've made so many stupid mistakes with cultural relativism, we keep being taken for a ride by allowing unacceptable behaviour to flourish. Lets have the courage to stand by our values. Open, uncovered faces for all, who pas through customs No exceptions.

  • 3.
  • At 08:27 PM on 20 Dec 2006,
  • Anna wrote:

I cannot understand why we should celebrate as Season's holiday, the most improtant Christian holiday, that is Christmas. No sure but I think that the muslins can smile or worse, about this sort of defeat of the Christianity. To me Christmas is Christmas and we need to celebrate with all our happiness, and sweetness that this Holiday has got. And I am sure we can have the respect of all the Muslins. Now, I am sure they will read our weakness and our confused sentiment for our Christianity.

  • 4.
  • At 08:52 PM on 20 Dec 2006,
  • Rick B wrote:

Anna - you know the thing I sense in both US & UK is "religion envy". For some reason some Christians seem to compare everything with what muslims might think or do.

My advice is - go and see what happens in a predominantly muslim country. I think you will see that most muslims are ordinary people just getting on with their lives, just like everyone else they don't have time to worry about what's happening or not happening somewhere else.

  • 5.
  • At 11:21 PM on 20 Dec 2006,
  • James wrote:

I have been CRB checked twice in conjunction with my voluntary work with children and fully support the system. However I feel I have to point out that £30 may be the price of a not very good meal to Esther Rantzen but to a person on the minimum wage it is nearly 6 hours earnings.

  • 6.
  • At 11:32 PM on 20 Dec 2006,
  • Rory Meakn wrote:

To the odiously smug lefty complaining about his free money and being ‘treated like a number’, what do you expect? You get a regular account with the bank and you are treated like a number. You pay extra and you get the pampered service. You say to your fellow citizens, “I’m not doing anything to earn my keep – so give me some free money or they’ll lock you up” (remember – you don’t pay your taxes, you get locked up) and guess what? You don’t get the pampered service. Yep, you get treated ‘like a number’. You don’t want to do a job you think is beneath you? Fine, but don’t force me to pay for your upkeep while you hang around waiting for something more becoming of your talents.

  • 7.
  • At 11:50 PM on 20 Dec 2006,
  • Keith Donaldson wrote:

The possibility of the veil being misused and dishonoured as a means of evading justice is heinous. Perhaps in focussing on this potential abuse of the veil, it might be possible for people on all sides of the current argument to come together?

Fortunately all those not living in Scotland were spared the pain of Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrat MSPs supposedly engaging in a grown up debate on the future of Britain's independant nuclear deterrant. What we were treated to was pathetic and a travesty of mature political debate on all sides. It may be possible for them to use the Scottish Parliament as a childish mud-slinging arena, but they should try to remember that Scottish voters are blessed with at least a modicum of intelligence, which tonight, they insulted massively!

  • 8.
  • At 11:51 PM on 20 Dec 2006,
  • Liam Coughlan wrote:

A continued assault on the role and importance of men in society has brought about many aspects of what is today described as political correctness in this country. Johnny Ball correctly pointed out that all men are deemed by society to be potential child molesters until they prove otherwise when volunteering or applying for jobs involving teaching or training children. Few have been willing to stand up to the Feminist movement that has succeeded in almost removing men from involvement in shaping the lives of children.

Whilst the State has a crucial role in protecting children from abuse, the current background checking system has not been shown to be effective, whilst at the same time demonising men generally.

Is there a connection between the decline in interest in hard sciences, and the decline in the proportion of male primary teachers? Is there a connection between the rise in bullying in schools and the decline of the proportion of male teachers? Is there a connection between rising lawlessness amongst young teenagers and a decrease in the number of years that children live with a father, as well as mother?

In recent weeks we have read much about the failure of the State to monitor the whereabouts and activities of known paedophiles when released either on parole or at the end of their sentences. Police often do not have the resources to either adequately follow up complaints about suspected child molestation and abuse. The State seems to be far more effective at checking up on innocent men than monitoring those who are known or suspected to be guilty.

Whilst the all-female team who take care and teach my 3.5 year old daughter for 3 hours a day do a fantastic job at the local Nursery, and are irreplaceable, I was struck recently by the discovery that there was just one male amongst the entire staff of the entire primary school. The number of male parents who attended this school’s performance of the seasonal school play was a tiny fraction of the total. In this country, it seems socially unusual for a man to take a few hours off during the day to see his children at a daytime event, whilst the mother is expected to attend.

Nobody would or should question the importance of the mother, or women generally in a child’s life. It is just pitiable that society has excluded men to the extent that the cost to society in the longer term probably exceeds the presumed benefits.

Feminism has succeeded in righting past discrimination. But the Movement has now passed its sell by date. We need a movement for the advancement of people, not women. We need a stronger movement for the advancement and development of children, not one that curtails them. Thanks to scaremongering, few kids walk to school (or anywhere) and are driven, fewer participate in sports and they are fattening as a result, and fewer have any contact with Fathers (theirs or anybody else’s in the form of teachers or trainers). Fresh thinking is required to protect our children and at the same time re-introduce balance in their lives.

Gavin may be onto something here. The decline in the role of men in shaping the next generation should be one theme for 2007’s Newsnight. For far too long the Ordinary Decent Bloke has been represented by more extreme groups such as Fathers for Justice etc…

Or to put it another way:


At the Moon’s subtle insistence
Woman ebbs and flows as a siren sea,
inexorably calling to Man.
As the Moon cycles
Woman waxes and wanes in harmony,
loosing her bounty.
Beneath Selene’s shape-shy sheen
ill-defined Man’s works come to naught -
except he serve Woman.
What dark beam now shines,
leading Woman to forget she is Daughter;
seeking things of the Son
in the Sun’s harsh glare;
complimenting with the frown-shadow of man-days?
Misled, She has lost Her way
and neither orb, it seems,
can now enlighten.

  • 10.
  • At 08:13 AM on 21 Dec 2006,
  • Gramsci's gal wrote:

Barrie - I don't agree with your perspective exactly because I think the issues are far more complex than the poem suggests but nevertheless I really like your poem, congrats.

  • 11.
  • At 08:52 AM on 21 Dec 2006,
  • Mahmud Ibrahim wrote:


Let's not jump to conclusions about this veil issue, once again.

Let's see the evidence. It might just be another of those tabloids witch -hunting of Muslims. Those who know the workings of an Airport, will find it difficult to believe what is said to have happened.

Have we forgotten the case of Molly or Misbah, the Scottish girl?

The tabloids were in a frenzy telling us that an innocent girl was supposedly kidnapped by some 'crazy' Muslim (Pakistani) father!

It seems our memories are so short-lived in this country!

This kind of sensationalist media coverage is perhaps deliberately aimed at creating public furore against Muslims.

  • 12.
  • At 08:53 AM on 21 Dec 2006,
  • Brian Kelly wrote:

As per the first post, why doesn't someone tell us some facts, I understand Police spokespersons have put this debate in the media....So did this wanted man's sister have a passport? does she still have it? & how do it show her facial picture in that passport...& thats a general question for all Muslims who insist on wearing some type of full facial veil... thats the question the Home Office, Minister Liam Byrne should address. Not good enough to rattle-on about security in FOUR YEARS TIME.. We are told terrorists attacks are immenient... so it follows that our borders in & out should be robustly secured NOW. It requires customs officers at EVERY port & airport to check the face against that in the passport, if anyperson refuses they don't travel/are denied access...not much to ask is it?

  • 13.
  • At 10:16 AM on 21 Dec 2006,
  • G Cheeseman wrote:

As John Denham so kindly pointed out not only have we lost control of our borders but we should also learn to live with the menace of those who to choose to abuse our hospitality even if 'it sticks in the throat'.

He spoke as though there were no alternative to the present arrangements - maybe this type of politician with the despairing 'we cannot do anything attitude' should stand aside and allow common sense and decency have it's say.

  • 14.
  • At 11:40 AM on 21 Dec 2006,
  • Mel R wrote:

Yes, yes, but what I want to know is why at the end of last night's programme they couldn't show us some of today's newspapers' front pages "following legal advice"? That left me going to bed with a puzzled frown - I like my heads-up on the next day's front pages.

  • 15.
  • At 02:24 PM on 21 Dec 2006,
  • Ben wrote:

I agree with Mel R. Newsnight - you have a duty to explain to viewers why you couldn't show us the papers following "legal advice". Either do this on this forum, or mention it in tonight's programme please. Thanks.

  • 16.
  • At 07:17 PM on 21 Dec 2006,
  • Derek wrote:

Motorcyclists are not allowed to wear their face-covering helmets within a bank or building society, even if they are only popping in for a few minutes.

Young people are not allowed to wear their 'hoodies' in shopping centers.

In both these examples our society demands that people accept certain constraints on the way they dress and leave their faces visible. The justification presented for these demands is that due to the risk of criminal or anti-social activity there is a need to be able to identify people, though most motorcyclists are not bank robbers and most young people are not hooligans.

I cannot see why those who wear face veils should have 'rights' that motorcyclist and young people do not have.

As part of its duty to UK citizens our government has to police people crossing UK borders; as they seem a bit unclear on what this involves let me spell it out for the government - they have to be able to identify, and apprehend as necessary, those who attempt to enter and/or leave the UK. If the government cannot or will not carry out its duties it should, at the very least, provide a truthful explanation to UK voters.

However, we know that this government has a track record of being overly pedantic with words when making announcements, so much so that it sometimes hides the truth. Therefore, in the interests of clarification, a couple of questions to the Minister who said that passport officials have the power to look beneath the veil:

a) if they have the power they do always actually use it?
b) how many veil-wearers go through passport control without clearly showing that their faces match their passports?

  • 17.
  • At 08:28 PM on 21 Dec 2006,
  • Anne Wotana Kaye wrote:

I don't know if a criminal actually left the country wearing a veil, but I do know an excellent method of verifying the sex of a suspect without causing embarressment by removing the veil. If a suspicious person is too 'modest' to raise the face covering, simply turn the suspect upside down. Men have much shapelier legs than women, so the sex can be ascertained whilst the face remains covered.

(:o) Oh Gramsci's gal! It's only complicated BECAUSE She has lost her way. HER WAY. First fire, then farming, then ever bigger settlement - all man stuff. We are the "Ape Confused by Language" who has achieved a cultural direction diametrically opposed to Nature's subtle direction.
But thanks for liking the poem. I really did not think it's relevance would be admitted. (It was one I made earlier.)

  • 19.
  • At 11:04 PM on 21 Dec 2006,
  • Jason wrote:

Liam Coughlan (8) is right.

I went to the hospital for a test my son was having. I waited with him and his mother in the waiting room. When we were called in, I was advised that there was only room in the testing room for one parent (a fact not mentioned in the appointment letter) so could I wait outside. I was therefore excluded from both the test and the discussion with the consultant about the condition. I felt like a spare part and my contribution was to sit in the waiting room.

The thing I found disappointing was the assumption had been all along that only the mother would be at the hospital with the child. And next time she will because I won't want to spend the whole time in the waiting room again.

Society has no interest in the contribution that men can make in the lives of children. A father is simply a source of funding but they should be so much more to their children. It is a sad indictment of our country that we still have not addressed the discrimination against men / fathers.

Derek (16) has hit the nail on the head. Another example of our PC society gone mad!

  • 20.
  • At 12:32 PM on 22 Dec 2006,
  • June Gibson wrote:

What a forlorn hope, Brian (No. 12)to expect Ministers to do anthing at all immediately. Don't forget how hard it must be to follow through plans in the short times of Parliamentary sessions! And which of them is around for long enough to see that any orders are being enforced by the bureaucratic tiers below?

  • 21.
  • At 02:32 PM on 22 Dec 2006,
  • George Anchor wrote:

I hope the policeman who made the frivolous remark about the criminal's possible disguise-a horse!- has been severely castigated.This is an alarming breach of security-after so many stories surrounding illegal and undesirable immigrants this felt like the straw that broke the camel's back.Or is it?Heaven knows what idiocies will result from the UK's taking such a lofty attitude towards home security.

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