Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Glasgow - Court of Session



As regular readers know, two important appeals involving Glasgow City Council were heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh recently, ending on 4 May 2017 - the same day as the local elections.

The written decision of the court may be some time off, but here is my personal impression  of how things went and the big issues at stake.


Protection Period Claims

In the first part of the appeal the court heard about Glasgow’s pay protection arrangements and the City Council's commitment to maintain the earnings of former bonus earners at their previous levels via its Employee Development Commitment  (EDC) - without first of all bringing the pay of the women into line with the higher pay of the men.

The upshot being that when the WPBR was introduced in 2006/07 women workers were in a much less favourable financial position because their pay was thousands of pounds a year behind their bonus earning male comparators.

So before WPBR came into play a Home Carer on £12,000 (basic pay) and Grade MW5 was being paid much less than a Gravedigger on the lower grade of MW3 because bonus pay took his earnings to @£22,000 a year.

After the WPBR a Home Carer and Gravedigger ended up on the same PESB 3 Grade, but a Gravedigger’s earnings remained at @£22,000 while the Home Carer’s increased to only @£15,000.

So, the effect of WPBR was to preserve the higher, bonus-related pay of male comparator jobs - rather than to substantially improve the lot of the women’s jobs which had been undervalued and underpaid for many years.

The trade unions seemed to share this objective and a Council minute of December 2006 confirms that the unions threatened strike action in support of maintaining the earnings of the male dominated ‘red circled’ jobs.

Yet strike action was never threatened over the demand for 'equal pay for work of equal value' which would have brought the pay of Glasgow's women workers (the majority of the workforce) into line with the higher earnings of their male comparators.

If the 'protection part' of the Court of Session case is upheld, this will extend the period of people's second wave equal pay claims until at least 2009, i.e. until the pay preservation arrangements for the male comparator jobs came to an end.


Glasgow's Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) 

The judges spent a lot of time trying to get their heads round the rationale behind the WPBR which is Glasgow’s name for its own ‘in-house’ job evaluation (JE) scheme and associated pay arrangements.

Glasgow did not use the Gauge JE scheme which had been developed alongside the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement and which was recommend for use across Scotland by CoSLA (the employers umbrella body) and the national trade unions (GMB, Unison and Unite).

For some reason, Glasgow City Council decided to call in an external consultant to work up its own ‘in-house’ scheme based on one previously used in Greater London. Even more bizarrely, the trade unions in Glasgow went along with the council’s plans without putting up any resistance.

If you ask me, the local trade unions lacked the expertise and knowledge required to deal with a completely new JE scheme and let their low paid members down because local union reps were completely out of their depth.


Core Pay and Job Evaluation

The judges had difficulty in grasping the different elements of Glasgow’s WPBR which were explained as Core Pay (Basic Pay), a separate payment for Working Context and Demands (WCD) and another payment for Non-Standard Working Pattern (NSWP) - the latter replacing shift payments or unsocial hours pay.

Only the Core Pay element related directly to objective job evaluation criteria which assessed different jobs on the basis of their skills and responsibilities, using a combination of factors and weightings, before awarding a new Grade and a place on the pay ladder.

WCD and NSWP relied upon new local ‘rules’ determined by the City Council (with input from the trade unions), but many of these were drawn in such a way as to deliver a desired outcome. For example, the arbitrary rule that says only employees working 37 hours can receive 7 (working hours) points under the NSWP element of the scheme - which was worth £800  a year in 2006 (see posts below).

The effect of WCD and NSWP allowed the City Council to maintain the higher pay of former bonus earning groups beyond the original 3 year protection period, even though these two elements of pay were not related to the grade of the job. 

In other words, having gone to all the trouble of introducing a objective JE scheme with evaluation criteria based on the skills and responsibilities of people's jobs, the City Council created another set of 'rules' which disproportionately benefited the former bonus earning male groups.

If the challenge to the Glasgow JE scheme succeeds, the WPBR will fall away and the result is that women doing work of 'equal value' to the men will be entitled to the same pay as their male comparators - both up until now (from 2006/07) and going forward from 2017. 

A successful challenge to the WPBR will also open the door to a whole raft of new claims in addition to those from existing A4ES clients. 

NB The GMB union did not support the A4ES led challenge to Glasgow's WPBR at the recent appeal hearing in the Court of Session. The GMB has restricted its claims to the protection period only. 


Court of Session Decision

The next steps in the fight for equal pay in Glasgow will hinge on the decision of the Court of Session. If the written judgment favours the claimants, Glasgow City Council will find itself in a similar position to North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire councils.

So fingers crossed and watch this space.  


  



Glasgow's Pay Arrangements (06/04/17)




A Home Carer from Glasgow has been in touch to say that she (and many others) work a 50 hour week and a 20 hour week the week week, so why don't they qualify for a NSWP payment in Week 1 at least?


Now that's a good question because fairness and common sense would suggest that such a shift working arrangement would qualify for an NSWP payment at Level B for at least half the year, perhaps more if overtime hours were also taken into account.

But I'm pretty sure that Glasgow City Council interprets these 'cockamamy rules' in a way that is to the disadvantage of Home Carers by treating the 2 weeks as a 35-hour average so that the staff concerned receive no payment. 

My own view is that the NSWP working hours payment ought to be paid on a 'pro rata' basis like other pay related benefits such as sick, holiday pay and sick pay - that way all Home Carers on a 35 hour working week would receive 35/37ths (or 95%) of a Level B NSWP payment.


The trade unions should be on to this as well if you ask me, because you don't have to work 37 hours before becoming eligible to join a union or to take part in a union strike ballot.


The real problem is that Glasgow City Council has just invented these 'cockamamy rules' which are impossible to justify as they go against the spirit and letter of the 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement which is based on equal treatment for part-time workers.

  


Cockamamy Council 'Rules' (05/04/17)


As regular readers know, Action 4 Equality Scotland is challenging various aspects of Glasgow's WPBR (Workforce Pay and Benefits Review) which the City Council introduced back in 2006/07.

One of the most controversial aspects of the WPBR scheme is over additional payments that are made under the heading of NSWP (Non Standard Working Pattern) payments.


I wrote previously on the blog site about how the Glasgow's predominantly female jobs seem to fare badly under the WPBR compared to their male colleagues, and this is also true when it comes to NSWP payments. 


Because one of the NSWP 'rules' is a requirement for employees to work 37 hours before they qualify for 7 'working hours' NSWP points.


Now points mean prizes under the WPBR and 7 NSWP points means that a 37 hour a week employee qualifies for Level B Payment which was worth £800 a year in 2006 - almost £10,000 over 12 years - and a whole lot more than people have been receiving in terms of annual pay increases, for example.


So who made up this barmy 'rule' and on what kind of twisted logic is this NSWP rule based?


Because it's completely crazy if you ask me - people don't have to work 37 hours to qualify for holiday pay, sick pay, or maternity pay - for example.


And can it really be a coincidence that the vast majority of Glasgow City Council employees who work less than 37 hours a week are women? 


Curiously all of Glasgow's hardworking Home Carers were placed on 35 hour a week contracts some years ago, so they miss out on a Level B Payment even though they work 95% of a 37 hour working week.


The 1999 Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement was supposed to ensure equal treatment for part-time workers, but that seems not to have happened in Glasgow where mysterious rules have been invented (by whom?) to exclude the council's lowest paid workers.


As far as I know the trade unions in Glasgow haven't called or even threatened a single strike to defend the rights of thousands of part-time workers affected by this cockamamy 'rule' which is a complete disgrace, if you ask me.


Because if points are to be awarded for hours worked, they should be pro-rated just like all other payments and benefits - not deliberately designed in such a way that treats women workers much less favourably than their male colleagues. 


No wonder the Labour leader of Glasgow City Council can't defend his party's position over equal pay, but readers are invited to drop Frank McAveety a note by email or Twitter and let him know what you think.


Email - frank.mcaveety@glasgow.gov.uk

Twitter - @FMcAveety


  

Girls Just Want To Have Fun



Here's a message for the cowardly extremists behind the terror attack on Manchester - western secular democracies may have their faults, but they are infinitely preferable to the intolerance, barbarism and fanaticism of groups like the Islamic State (IS).


   

Monday, 22 May 2017

Glasgow and Equal Pay



The enquiries from readers in Glasgow keep arriving on a daily basis - here's another from a Home Carer who would like to transfer her equal pay claim to A4ES.

Hi Mark

I was reading your blog. I am a Homecarer for Cordia and received a letter today from GMB about equal pay. 

Is there a way of changing it to Action 4 Equality Scotland as GMB as you say have let us down in the past. 

Many Thanks 


W


    


Glasgow Equal Pay Claims (18/05/17)


I've had a big response to my post the other day about equal pay claims in Glasgow City Council and here's what one reader had to say.

Hi Mark

On reading your post about the equal pay for home carers I would very much like for you to take on my case. 

I never got the chance to "go with the lawyer" like many of the other ladies, and was left stuck with the GMB who I thought were fighting on my behalf. I have been very disappointed with the GMB and didn't realise that I had any other choice but to stick with them until my friend shared your post.

I'm not sure what details that you need to assess my case but will gladly provide those that you need.

Regards


K


I've also heard that some readers (existing clients of A4ES) have received unsolicited letters from the GMB which is very odd given that the GMB did not support the A4ES legal challenge to the Workforce Pay and Benefits Review (WPBR) at the recent Court of Session hearing in Edinburgh.

So my advice to readers who receive unsolicited letters is just to ignore them.

    


Glasgow Equal Pay Claims (17/05/17)


A number of readers in Glasgow have been in touch to ask if they can transfer their ongoing equal pay claims from the GMB union to Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES).

Now the answer to that is a qualified 'Yes' - qualified because the GMB has a track record in making a terrible mess of their members equal pay claims.

As they did in North Lanarkshire, for example, where GMB members had their claims restricted to only 3 years unlike all the other claimant organisations.

In Glasgow, my understanding is that the GMB is not part of the recent second appeal in the Court of Session which is challenging the City Council's WPBR pay arrangements.

So it could be that the GMB's behaviour in North Lanarkshire is being repeated in Glasgow.

But before accepting any new claims from unhappy GMB members, the A4ES legal team would need to assess the cases on an individual basis to ensure that they can be taken forward and have not been compromised in some way.

If any GMB members would like to pursue the matter, drop me a note (in confidence of course) to: markirvine@compuserve.com 


    

North Lanarkshire Update (21/01/17)


I don't blow my own trumpet too often, but I think it's fair to say that I have played a crucial role in 'persuading' the GMB union to take a more critical and active interest in the equal pay claims of its members in North Lanarkshire Council.

Regular readers will recall that for some reason the GMB decided to restrict the claims of its members in NLC to only three years, instead of following Action 4 Equality Scotland's lead and challenging the council's job evaluation scheme (JES). 

But after I highlighted the issue on my blog site the GMB was spurred into action which resulted in the union's general secretary, Sir Paul Kenny, removing the GMB regional secretary in Scotland (Harry Donaldson) and replacing him with a chap called Gary Smith, in an effort to clear up the mess.

Now I don't know and have never met Gary Smith although to be fair he has acted decisively by effectively 'sacking' the GMB's lawyers (Digby Brown) and 'heavying-up' on Labour-run North Lanarkshire Council.

Apparently, the GMB is pursuing a formal complaint against Digby Brown and here is a previous post from the blog site which explains the background in more detail.


NLC Update (15/10/15)


A kind reader has passed on to me details of a letter from the GMB to union members in North Lanarkshire - the following two paragraphs caught my attention immediately:

"I (Gary Smith) have launched a full investigation into the North Lanarkshire case and a complete assessment of the legal strategy pursued by Digby Brown in relation to our equal pay cases in all of Scotland. If claims need to be amended, they will be, and if we have received the wrong advice we will take action to protect our members' position.

"In the meantime, if you are a GMB member and you have a case with Digby Brown, we will be happy to transfer it to a different firm if you are unhappy with the current placement. Please contact our GMB law firm - UnionLine - at pi@unionline.co.uk or call them on 0300 333 0303, If you would like us to relocate your case. UnionLine is a legal firm owned by the union and operates on a not for profit basis."

Now it seems obvious to me that the GMB must have lost confidence in Digby Brown, but in the recent members' meetings I've attended the GMB explained that a national policy decision was responsible for restricting its members claims to only 3-years.

But now the GMB appears to be blaming Digby Brown although I fail to understand how members can be invited to transfer their equal pay claims elsewhere (to another law firm), without being told, first of all, what has gone wrong in relation to their claims Digby Brown.

So the following questions need an urgent answer, if you ask me:

1 Will the results of the GMB's investigation be shared with union members in North Lanarkshire?

2 Does the GMB now accept that its legal advice was wrong?

3 Will the GMB be sharing this legal advice with the members affected?

4 Will the GMB confirm that settlement proposals were put directly to North Lanarkshire Council by, or on behalf of, the GMB trade union? 

The sooner we have an independents complaints procedure for trade unions in the UK the better - because this is a perfect example of the difficulty that ordinary union members often have in holding big union bureaucracies to account.


North Lanarkshire Update (15/01/17)


Here are some kind words from another satisfied A4ES client in North Lanarkshire Council.

"Just a wee note to say my payment came into my account today thank you all so much again for all your hard work and patience, you all deserve a medal  D"

Now a medal would be nice, not least because I have not received one in a long time since my football paying teenage years in fact, which I still have somewhere by the way. 

But I'm just glad to have been of service and to have made such a difference to so many people's lives during the long fight for equal pay in Scotland's councils.

  


The Fight for Equal Pay (06/01/17)


I've been inspired by a recent Twitter conversation to dig into the blog site archive and revisit the key landmarks in the fight for equal pay in Scotland's local councils.
  1. The background to Equal Pay lies in the early 1990s when the big public sector trade unions (GMB, NUPE and TGWU) set out to negotiate a set of common conditions of service for all UK local government workers - with a new 'Single Status' Agreement.
  2. The goal of the trade unions was shared, in principle, by the UK employers and this was to end the widespread pay discrimination against low paid, predominantly female, council employees - in caring, cleaning, catering and school support jobs. 
  3. The unions warned the employers that if negotiations failed to deliver equal pay, then they would seek to achieve their aims via the courts, since it was obvious to everyone that the employers could not justify a Home Carer being paid the equivalent of only £6.00 an hour while a Refuse Collector was earning £9.00 per hour.
  4. At the time Mark Irvine was the Head of Local Government for Unison in Scotland and a key figure in the UK and Scottish negotiations which led to a UK wide agreement in 1997 that, subsequently, became the Single Status (Equal Pay) Agreement in Scotland in 1999.
  5. Stefan Cross (now a QC) was then a leading employment lawyer with Thompsons Solicitors and fought his first major equal pay case as far back as 1995 before setting up a practice of his own, initially based in Newcastle.
  6. The trade unions and employers were both alarmed at this development, as they had completely failed to implement the landmark UK and Scottish Single Status agreements, despite all their fine words about tackling discrimination and delivering equal pay for work of equal value.  
  7. Stefan Cross and Mark Irvine met in Newcastle in March 2005 to discuss reviving the fight for equal pay north of the border. In August 2005 Action 4 Equality Scotland was launched in a fanfare of publicity, courtesy of a major BBC Scotland news programme (see post below dated 28 May 2016 along with the original BBC web site report from 2005).
  8. All of the Scottish papers followed the story up and after years in the doldrums Equal Pay was front page news once again: Stefan Cross and Stefan Cross Solicitors provided the legal expertise and representation in the Employment Tribunals; Mark Irvine and A4ES became the campaign vehicle to get a message across to potential claimants and the wider public.
  9. Glasgow was the first council to be targeted (as the largest in Scotland) and after a few months of posturing and insisting that the City had no equal pay problem, the Council sounded a hasty retreat. By Christmas Glasgow was offering derisory sums of cash to 'buy out' people's claims.
  10. Lots of workers succumbed to the temptation, given the Council's 'bullying' tactics and the time of year. The workforce also lacked support from their own Labour-supporting trade unions who had failed to tackle the issue for years, even though all the big councils were Labour controlled, as was COSLA, of course, the self-styled voice of Scottish local government.
  11. Glasgow reached an 'interim' settlement of claims with A4ES up to 31 March 2006, but not for the period from 1 April 2006 onwards when the Council introduced new local pay arrangements and a new job evaluation scheme (JES).
  12. The hard work of extending the equal pay campaign across Scotland had begun and within two years A4ES was leading the charge in many other councils as well including  Edinburgh, Fife, North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, Falkirk, North Ayrshire and so on.
  13. I began writing my blog in January 2007 and restricted myself, initially, to news and reports about the ongoing campaign, but over the years the blog 'grew like 'Topsy' and evolved into something that I enjoy writing for many other reasons as well.
  14. Towards the end of 2008 Carol Fox joined Stefan Cross Solicitors (see post below dated 15 October 2008) and assumed responsibility for the day-to-day legal cases in Scotland. 
  15. Carol played a key role in the ongoing work in the Employment Tribunals, for example in the successful case against South Lanarkshire Council (SLC). A talented and very feisty woman barrister named Sandhya Drew presented the A4ES case and the long-running tribunal eventually found in the claimants favour.
  16. Meanwhile the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) got involved after Labour-run South Lanarkshire refused an freedom of information (FoI) request from Mark Irvine. SLC appealed a SIC ruling (in Mark Irvine's favour) requiring the Council to publish information relating to the pay differences between traditional male and female jobs.
  17. After losing its appeal case to a unanimous judgement at the UK Supreme Court in London, SLC 'sued for peace' and settlements quickly followed for or over 3,000 A4ES clients. The local unions in South Lanarkshire looked ridiculous, by the way, having previously discouraged their members from pursuing equal pay claims against the local Labour-run Council.
  18. Another person that must be mentioned in dispatches, of course, is the indomitable Daphne Romney QC who drove a veritable 'coach and horses' through the pay arrangements that North Lanarkshire Council had introduced in 2007, with the Labour supporting union again playing a very negative role. 
  19. Again thousands of low paid, predominantly women workers, were properly compensated after years of unequal pay and having the wool pulled over their eyes by their employers and trade unions. 
  20. Carol Fox decided to step back from the fray in the summer of 2015, for personal and family reasons, and since then A4ES has worked with another firm of solicitors HBJ Gateley to provide clients with first class legal support (see post below dated 6 September 2015).
  21. Ironically, after all this time has passed things have come full circle again as the equal pay campaign focuses on Labour-run Glasgow, as the only major council in Scotland not to have reached a settlement with A4ES over its post-job evaluation pay arrangements. 
But A4ES, Stefan Cross and Mark Irvine have all been involved from the start - over 20 years ago - and we are determined to see this fight through to the end. 

Having a Laugh!

Image result for having a laugh + images

Kezia Dugdale pledged the other day that Labour will end the gender pay gap in Scotland without appreciating the irony that over the past 12 years, the big Labour-run councils have been the worst offenders.  

A quick visit to North Lanarkshire Council, South Lanarkshire Council or Glasgow City Council would have put Kez right.

Alternatively, Kezia could have saved a lot of time and effort by simply reading my blog about the fight for equal pay in Scotland which has been raging since 2005.

Read the full story via the link below to The Scotsman.

  


http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/labour-pledges-to-end-the-gender-pay-gap-in-scotland-1-4451421

Labour pledges to end the gender pay gap in Scotland




Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale visits the Glasgow Science Centre. The MSP has pledged to close the gender pay gap in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL

BY CHRIS MCCALL - The Scotsman

Women in Scotland face earning £60,000 less in their lifetime than men because of the gender pay gap, the latest research on the long-running issue has found.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale described the gap as “shameful” and vowed her party had plans to close it. 
Labour’s analysis of figures from the Office for National Statistics found in every age group, women earn less than men on average in Scotland, which builds up to a median of £60,000 less over a woman’s working life.
The SNP responded by claiming it had done more in government that any other party to promote gender equality in the workplace, adding that female employment in Scotland was among the highest in Europe. 
Plans to close the gender pay gap in the Labour manifesto include introducing a £10 real living wage, forcing businesses to publish pay ratios and creating a civil enforcement system to ensure compliance with gender pay auditing. 
Ms Dugdale said: “It is shameful that under the SNP and the Tories women in Scotland could earn £60,000 less than men on average well into their careers. “Closing the gender pay gap isn’t just a question of fairness - it is essential for our economy. 

Trump Echoes Nixon



Donald Trump echoes Richard Nixon with his claims of a 'witch hunt' in response to the appointment of a special counsel to investigate his campaign ties with Russia.


  



Irony Is Not Dead (20/05/17)



Irony is clearly not dead in America with the news that Donald Trump confided in Russia's foreign minister and told him that the director of the FBI (James Comey) was a 'real nut job'


  



Loudmouth in the White House (16/05/17)


I said the other day that Donald Trump looked far too cosy during his recent meeting with Russian officials at the White House - and event to which the President banned the American press from attending, allowing only a Russian photographer to be present on the day.

But the BBC alleges that Mr Trump actually shared classified information with his Russian guests whom he seems very friendly with it has to be said.

The President has dismissed the accusation as 'fake news', but he would say that - wouldn't he and he has a terrible track record for being a boastful braggart.


  




Trump 'shared classified information with Russia'
Image copyright - AFP Image caption - Mr Trump (centre) jokes with Mr Lavrov (left) and Ambassador Sergei Kislyak

President Donald Trump revealed highly classified information about so-called Islamic State (IS) to Russia's foreign minister, US media report.

The information, related to the use of laptops on aircraft, came from a partner of the US which had not given permission for it to be shared with Russia, says the Washington Post.

Mr Trump received Sergei Lavrov in the Oval Office last week.

National Security Adviser HR McMaster dismissed the reporting as "false".

The Trump campaign's alleged links to Moscow have dogged his presidency and are part of several investigations.

But the president has dismissed such allegations as "fake news".

During the election campaign, Mr Trump repeatedly criticised his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, for how she handled sensitive material.

Russia: The scandal Trump can't shake

A knife in the back? Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

The fallout from this story could be enormous and not just because there is a boundless trove of Republican quotes over the past year - directed at Mrs Clinton - about the utmost importance of protecting top-secret information.

There is the Russian connection, of course.

The FBI is currently investigating the Trump campaign for possible ties to Russian interests. Meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak featured prominently in the firing of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Russian investigation matters.

Then there is the question of whether US allies will be more reluctant to share sensitive intelligence information with the US, lest the president put sources at risk.

This will only stoke accusations by Trump critics that the president is undisciplined and inexperienced in the delicacies of foreign policy, where his shoot-from-the hip style presents an ongoing danger.

Finally, it is worth remembering the simmering feud Mr Trump has had with the US intelligence community. It took less than a week for this highly embarrassing story to leak. If the revelation was a knife twisted in the president's back, it is not hard to suspect where it came from.

Read more:
Russia: The scandal Trump can't shake
Trump and Comey: What is the firestorm about?
Could Trump be guilty of obstruction of justice?
The verdict on Trump so far

What actually happened?

In a conversation with the Russian foreign minister and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office, the president revealed details that could lead to the exposure of a source of information, officials told the Washington Post and the New York Times.

The discussion was about an IS plot. The president reportedly went "off-script", revealing specifics of the plot, thought to centre on the use of laptop computers on aircraft, and the city from which that threat had been detected.

The intelligence disclosed came from a US ally and was considered too sensitive to share with other US allies, the papers report.

Others present realised the mistake and scrambled to "contain the damage" by informing the CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA), says the Post.

Mr Trump's actions would not be illegal, as the US president has the authority to declassify information.

The meeting came a day after Mr Trump fired his FBI chief, James Comey, sparking criticism that he had done so because the FBI was investigating alleged Russian ties.

The Trump-Comey firestorm explained
What has the White House said?

National Security Adviser HR McMaster told reporters that the story, "as reported", was "false".


Media caption - US National Security Adviser HR McMaster: "I was in the room, it didn't happen"

"The president and foreign minister reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation," he said.

"At no time - at no time - were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known."

In a statement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson echoed the point that "the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations".

The Washington Post, which first broke the story, said this did not amount to a denial.

Speaking to the BBC, reporter Greg Jaffe said the Post's story made it clear the president did not disclose sources or methods.

But he added: "Our story says that the nature of the information provided would have allowed the Russians to 'reverse engineer' to discover the sources and methods. He said so much that they could figure it out."

What has the reaction been?

The Senate's second-highest ranked Democrat, Dick Durbin, said Mr Trump's actions appeared to be "dangerous" and reckless".

A spokesman for Paul Ryan, Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, said: "We have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation's secrets is paramount.

"The speaker hopes for a full explanation of the facts from the administration."

The Republican head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, said the story was "very, very troubling" if true.

"Obviously they're in a downward spiral right now and they've got to figure out a way to come to grips" with it, he told Bloomberg.


Trump's Body Language (12/05/17)



Notice the very warm body language between Donald Trump and the Russian visitors he welcomed to the White House the other day - foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador.

Compare and contrast with the boorish behaviour exhibited by Trump when Angela Merkel visited the White House back in April.

The man is a clown and an ill-mannered one to boot.


  


Guilty As Hell (04/04/17)



Donald Trump appears to be completely shameless about saying one thing and then doing another when it comes to his comments about standards in public life.

Because during the presidential election campaign 'candidate' Trump asked the rhetorical question:

"If you're not guilty of a crime, what do you need immunity for?"

Yet President Trump now supports a request for immunity from prosecution from his former national security adviser Mike Flynn, in return for Flynn giving evidence to a Senate inquiry into Team Trump's ties to Russia.

True to form, Flynn expressed exactly the same views as candidate Trump did before the election which means that even judged by their own standards both men must be guilty as hell.


  

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39461356

Fired Trump aide Michael Flynn's immunity bid 'momentous'

BBC US & Canada


Image copyright - REUTERS Image caption - Mr Flynn "has a story to tell," his lawyer says

Trump takes office 

The House Intelligence Committee's top Democrat says a request by the fired US national security adviser for immunity to testify to the panel is "momentous".

Representative Adam Schiff said they were interested in hearing Michael Flynn's evidence, but it was too early to shield him from any prosecution.

Two congressional committees and the FBI are investigating alleged Russian meddling in the US election.

Mr Flynn's ties with Russia have been under scrutiny.

The retired army lieutenant general was sacked in February after misleading the White House about a conversation he had with the Moscow ambassador shortly after the election. 

Trump dossier key claim 'verified'
Russia 'tried to hijack US election'
Putin makes fresh overtures to Trump
Russia: The scandal Trump can't shake
Michael Flynn: Former US national security adviser

On Thursday night, his lawyer said in a statement that his client "has a story to tell" to the Capitol Hill inquisitors.

But the attorney added it would not be reasonable to submit to questioning in a "witch-hunt environment" without assurances against "unfair prosecution".

Why immunity? Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, Washington

Michael Flynn may have a "story to tell", but what it is at this point is anybody's guess.

Donald Trump's critics will probably imagine grand revelations of possible campaign contacts with Russian operatives or even the "c" word - collusion. Beyond the news reports of ongoing conversations between Mr Flynn's lawyer and federal investigators, however, there is no firm ground for such speculation.

It's entirely possible the immunity request is nothing more than the former senior Trump adviser attempting to insulate himself from legal trouble if he were to answer detailed questions about his foreign contacts and lobbying efforts. For instance, if he actively represented overseas interests, he may have run afoul of federal disclosure rules.

There's also the chance that Mr Flynn could be uneasy about what he told FBI agents in January, when they asked about his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

Either of those possibilities would be of great concern to Mr Flynn, who has a six-figure military pension to preserve, but it wouldn't be the kind of political bombshell that would directly threaten Mr Trump or his administration.

Given the uncertainty of the situation, however, there's sure to be some sleepless nights ahead for the White House.

On Friday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted that his sacked former aide should ask for immunity, also arguing it was a witch hunt.

Mr Schiff said in a statement that the panel would discuss any such request with the justice department and the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Mr Flynn's step was "grave and momentous", he added.

The California Democrat also said: "As with any investigation - and particularly one that grows in severity and magnitude by the day - there is still much work and many more witnesses and documents to obtain before any immunity request from any witness can be considered."

Meanwhile the White House continued to insist that there was evidence that the Trump campaign was subject to "politically motivated" snooping.

No evidence has been provided for the president's claim, which has been repudiated even by his fellow Republicans.

But press secretary Sean Spicer told journalists on Friday that the Obama administration had done "very, very bad things".

Mr Flynn was forced to resign as national security adviser on 13 February for failing to disclose talks with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak about US sanctions on Moscow.

He also misled US Vice-President Mike Pence about the chats, which occurred before Mr Trump took office.

Russia has denied allegations it hacked emails of Democratic groups and leaked information to tip the scales in favour of Mr Trump before last November's presidential election.

But the Senate Intelligence Committee, beginning its hearings on Thursday, heard claims the Kremlin had tried to sway the vote through "propaganda on steroids".

Ranking Democrat Mark Warner also said Moscow had paid an army of more than 1,000 people to create fake anti-Hillary Clinton news stories targeting key swing states.

Image copyright@REALDONALDTRUMP

Critics have highlighted a comment that Mr Flynn made in an NBC interview last September in which he said: "When you get given immunity that means you've probably committed a crime."

He was talking about reports that some of Mrs Clinton's aides had been granted immunity from prosecution amid an FBI inquiry into her emails.

At last summer's Republican party convention, Mr Flynn led chants of "lock her up" aimed at the Democratic candidate.

Image copyright - REUTERS Image caption - Mr Flynn was pictured dining with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in December 2015

10th Rate Flynn (15/02/17)



Depending on which White House spokesperson you believe Lieutenant General Michale Flynn was with sacked or allowed to resign his post as national security adviser after was exposed for having inappropriate contact with Russian officials weeks before he even took up his great office of state.

Yet here he is rabble rousing a crowd on Donald Trump's behalf while gleefully accusing Hillary Clinton of putting America's national security at risk.

  



Trump Mired in Scandal (14/02/17)


The BBC reports that Vladimir Putin's spokesman (Dmitry Peskov) tried to help America's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, cover up the fact that he had spoken with the Kremlin officials about sanctions on Russia.

Flynn has now been forced to resign in disgrace after days of dissembling during which his story became a version of the 'Yes, No, I Don't Know Show'.  

Strangely enough the recent telephone conversation between President Trump and President Putin is the only one of its kind for which no official records exist because  White House aides turned the recording equipment off. 

After just three weeks in office Donald Trump's presidency is mired in scandal and controversy.

  


Michael Flynn: Trump's national security adviser quits

BBC US & Canada


Image copyright - REUTERS Image caption - Michael Flynn encouraged a softer policy on Russia and a harder line on Iran

Donald Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has resigned over his contacts with Russia, the White House has announced.

Mr Flynn is alleged to have discussed US sanctions with the Russian ambassador before Mr Trump took office.

He is said to have misled officials about the conversation.

Earlier, US media reported that the Justice Department had warned the White House about the contacts late last month.

They said that Mr Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

Senior Democrats had called for Mr Flynn to be fired.

It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy, and the calls happened late last year before Mr Flynn was appointed to the administration.

The national security adviser is appointed by the president to serve as his or her chief adviser on international affairs and defence. 

What did Mr Flynn say about the phone call?

In his letter of resignation, Mr Flynn said he had "inadvertently briefed the vice-president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador".

A White House statement said Lt Gen Joseph Keith Kellogg had been appointed as interim replacement for the post.

Image copyright - APImage caption - Questions have been raised about Mr Flynn's closeness with Russia. He was pictured dining with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in December 2015

Mr Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, initially denied having discussed sanctions with Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, and Vice-President Mike Pence publicly denied the allegations on his behalf.

However, Mr Flynn later told the White House that sanctions may have been discussed.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Monday that Mr Flynn and Mr Kislyak did not discuss lifting sanctions.
Is Trump implicated? - Anthony Zurcher, BBC North America reporter

Image copyrightREUTERS

From inauguration to full-blown scandal punctuated by a high-level resignation in 24 days. That simply has to be some kind of record.

Donald Trump never does anything small. If his administration is going to have a political crisis, why waste any time?

From the day he was announced as Mr Trump's national security adviser, there were concerns about Michael Flynn's questionable contacts with Russia both before and after November's election.

The ground crumbled beneath his feet only recently, however, after revelations that his conversation with a Russian ambassador included talk of US-imposed sanctions. The mortal blow came late on Monday, with reports that Obama-era government officials had warned the Trump White House about the details of these calls in January.

Now Mr Flynn has been cut loose, but that may not be enough to staunch the bleeding.

Congressional Democrats - and perhaps some Republicans - will want to find out who was informed about Mr Flynn's contradictory stories and why nothing was done earlier. How far up the chain of command does it go?

All of this has some observers dusting off language from the mother of all presidential scandals, Watergate.

What did the president know, and when did he know it?
What was the reaction to the phone call?

Several House Democrats have called on Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz to launch an investigation into Mr Flynn's ties to Russia.

Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said it would also be "troubling'' if Flynn had been negotiating with a foreign government before taking office.

Mr Flynn, who was previously fired by Barack Obama as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was an ardent supporter of Mr Trump during the campaign.

He became a close ally of both the president and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

He encouraged tougher policies on Iran and a softer policy on Russia, but questions were raised about his perceived closeness to Moscow.

How Flynn floundered
  • Mr Flynn is known to have spoken with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak several times by phone in December;
  • Mr Flynn denied that he and Mr Kislyak had discussed US sanctions and Vice-President Mike Pence also denied the claims on his behalf;
  • A spokesman for Mr Flynn then backtracked, telling reporters the adviser "couldn't be certain" he had not discussed the sanctions;
  • On Monday, White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway said Mr Trump had "full confidence" in Mr Flynn;
  • White House spokesman Sean Spicer later said the president was "evaluating the situation". Hours later, Mr Flynn resigned.
Who's the man who replaces him?

Image copyright - REUTERS

Retired Lt Gen Joseph Keith Kellogg has been appointed acting national security adviser, and is far from a newcomer to the Trump team.

He brings more than 30 years' experience in the army, and served in Vietnam, Cambodia, Panama and the Gulf.

During the Iraq war, he helped manage the coalition authority running the country in 2003 and 2004, before working for a defence contractor, according to Bloomberg.

More recently, he advised Mr Trump on national security issues during his campaign, and went on to be appointed chief of staff in the new administration's National Security Council.

Former CIA director retired General David Petraeus and Robert Harward, a former deputy commander of US Central Command, are also under consideration for the post, a White House official has said.