Ukraine Update

Multiple sources are now reporting that the war in Ukraine is about to enter a new phase. After the Russian attempts on Kyiv and Kharkiv, which were both repulsed, their renewed focus on the Donbas region is now grinding to a halt. Despite their superiority in men and particularly in artillery, the Russians are now making little progress and continue to suffer heavy losses.

We now have an “operational pause” whilst both sides catch their breath. However, speculation is mounting that Ukraine may be on the cusp of mounting a strategic counter-offensive in the south with the aim of retaking the Kherson oblast and threatening the Russian occupation of Crimea, which they annexed in 2014.

I suggested this was a likely Ukrainian strategy when I spoke to CNN back in March and it seems my prediction may have been accurate. Much depends on whether the Ukrainian army has sufficient supplies of modern weapons and trained troops to attempt such an undertaking. Should they succeed it may well bring the northern part of Crimea within range of Ukrainian weaponry.

Crawford’s International Defence Review w/e 29th July 2022

Ukraine Update

Multiple sources are now reporting that the war in Ukraine is about to enter a new phase. Speculation is mounting that Ukraine is on the cusp of mounting a strategic counter-offensive in the south with the aim of retaking the Kherson oblast and threatening the Russian occupation of Crimea, which they annexed in 2014.

Defence Select Committee Report

The report, just published, is highly critical of the Government’s Integrated Defence and Security Review, [published March 2021] & notes that it continues to call for cuts in personnel and vehicles whilst focussing on information and cyber warfare. It makes little sense to reduce the army to 72,000 soldiers and 148 tanks in the face of renewed conventional warfare in Europe. As Chief of the General Staff General Sir Patrick Sanders, Britain’s senior soldier, famously commented recently, “you can’t cyber your way across a river”. Many senior officers say the British army is now too small to be credible in a general war scenario. There seems to be considerable resistance to this from the Treasury.

Inquiry Into SAS Operations

 The UK’s Ministry of Defence has proposed that there should be a judge-led inquiry into allegations of illegal killings of Afghan men in Afghanistan in 2010-11 by the SAS. following the Panorama programme “SAS Death Squads Exposed”. I concluded that there is no smoke without fire, and my military colleagues agree. A truly independent inquiry is to be welcomed and will either salvage the SAS’ reputation or bring the perpetrators of any illegal activity or war crimes to justice.

Righting wrongs

There are many injustices that do not get the media attention they deserve. Andrew Eborn, International Lawyer & Broadcaster, is on a mission to right wrongs and shine a light on particular issues that battle often alone


During the 1970s and 1980s patients with various blood disorders around the world including in UK, Japan, Canada and Australia were given contaminated blood or blood products infected with Hep B, Hep C, HIV or vCJD. Some people were co-infected with more than one of these life changing viruses. The blood – including some taken from prisoners who were paid – had not been screened.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater of Manchester and former Secretary of State, used his last speech in Parliament to call it a “criminal cover up on an industrial scale” To date this has cost 3000 lives in UK alone. It has been described as the worst treatment disaster in NHS history.


On 11th July 2017 Prime Minister Theresa May ordered an inquiry for victims and families into the “appalling tragedy” of contaminated blood scandal of the 1970s and 1980s. Announcing the Inquiry Theresa May pointed out “thousands of patients expected the world-class care our NHS is famous for, but they were failed… The victims and their families who have suffered so much pain and hardship deserve answers as to how this could possibly have happened.

While this government has invested record amounts to support the victims, they have been denied those answers for too long and I want to put that right. As Prime Minister, I am determined to stand up for victims and confront injustice and unfairness in our society at every turn. We will work with the victims and their families to decide what form this inquiry should take so their voices are heard and they finally get the answers and justice they have spent decades waiting for.”

The independent public statutory Inquiry is ongoing and was established “to examine the circumstances in which men, women and children treated by national Health Services in the United Kingdom were given infected blood and infected blood products, in particular since 1970.”


I have spoken with a number of victims some of whom have given evidence to the Inquiry. Their stories are harrowing. There is also an alarming pattern in that it was often several years before they were diagnosed.

Michelle’s Story

Michelle Tolley was infected in 1987 after receiving 4 units of infected blood following the birth of her son. Michelle had a second transfusion after the birth of her twins by C. Section in February 1991. It was not until November 2015 that Michelle was diagnosed. Michelle points out “I have campaigned since March 2016, to raise awareness that if it happened to me, could it have happened to you?”

Michelle now runs the support group Contaminated Whole Blood UK. The group is for victims infected and affected by Contaminated Blood.  She works very closely alongside the Hepatitis C Trust also and is a Core Participant with the Infected Blood Inquiry.

Sue’s Story

Sue Wathen was given blood infected with Hepatitis C back in the 1980s but remained undiagnosed until 2014. As Sue explained “in the intervening period I had suffered many and various illnesses, some of them serious, but never had the possibility been put to me that Hep C could be the cause. I had literally hundreds of blood tests over those intervening years but, it would appear, never one for Hepatitis.” It is believed there are many who have suffered years of ill health and never been tested. Sue points out ” it has been my mission .. since my diagnosis, to inform as many people as I can….This could be you, or someone you know.”


The virus itself can be cured and so the earlier the diagnosis the sooner damage can be minimised.

28th July World Hepatitis Day.

‘I can’t wait’ is the new campaign theme to launch World Hepatitis Day on 28th July 2022. It highlights the need to accelerate the fight against viral hepatitis and the importance of testing and treatment for the real people who need it. The campaign amplifies the voices of people affected by viral hepatitis calling for immediate action and the end of stigma and discrimination.


Hepatitis = Inflammation of the liver
Hepatitis C = Viral infection causing inflammation of the liver
The WHO estimates there are 58 million people worldwide living with Hepatitis C
It is estimated that 0.5 – 1% of the UK population has a chronic Hepatitis C infection.

Hep C is spread by coming into contact with the blood of an infected person. Populations especially at risk include those who abuse drugs, healthcare workers (due to risk of exposure), and those who received a blood transfusion before 1992 (as blood was not screened for Hep C before this date). There is a greater than 90% success rate in treating Hepatitis C with medications. However, the earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome by minimising the damage caused. Thus, it is critical that if you believe you may have Hepatitis C, to get tested and treated. The Hepatitis C Trust is the national UK charity for hepatitis C with offices in London and Falkirk. It has been operating since 2001. It is a patient-led and patient-run organisation: most of the board, staff, and volunteers have had hepatitis C and have cleared it after treatment.


I believe that there are many injustices which do not get the media attention they deserve, or indeed desperately need the oxygen of publicity for their cause.  This is where I hope to help.  By focusing on the injustice and assisting to promote, I am keen to give an initial helping hand in any way I can make possible. If there are particular issues you would like me to investigate please provide information here so I can to assess if I can provide you with help.

Follow @AndrewEborn @OctopusTV


Brexit means Brexit but not as we know it – Britain’s EU divorce and the media

If a week is a long time in politics it does not take the digital dexterity of our favourite figure fudger Diane Abbott to work out a year is even longer.

So one year on since the nation voted to Leave, what of the Brexit negotiations which started last Monday, 19 June?

Visual gag of the week was undoubtedly Her Majesty delivering her Brexit Queen’s Speech wearing her EU hat.

I have had the honour of meeting various members of the royal family on several occasions. I’m delighted that their sense of humour, warmth and compassion is finally being acknowledged by the media.

The last few years has seen a seismic change in the media coverage and resultant public reaction to the royal family. In complete contrast to 20 years ago around the reaction to the death of Princess Diana when the media was critical of the Queen’s initial lack of public response, the Queen is now portrayed as the nation’s chief consoler. The royals are powerful advocates helping raise money and awareness for many worthy causes from mental health to food waste.

All credit to Prince Harry for continuing to show the human side, pointing out that they only do the job out of a sense of duty: “Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so.”

Her Majesty clearly appears to have learned the lessons from history, whereas Theresa May and her advisers have ignored them and now suffer the consequences.

Having lost her majority as a result of the snap election, May’s mantra of a hard Brexit is no longer viable. Instead negotiations started with a u-turn on the initial demand for the divorce settlement to be negotiated at the same time as discussions on a future trade deal.

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It has been agreed to set up working groups on EU citizens’ rights, the amount of Britain’s “divorce bill” and borders. Talks will now only move on to trade as and when the EU decide “enough progress” had been made on these three priorities.

Brexit secretary David Davis emphasised, however, that “it’s not when it starts but how it finishes that matters” and offered an olive branch, saying “there’s more that unites us than divides us”.

A weakened May took the opportunity to announce plans to grant 3.2 million EU nationals who have lived in the UK for 5 years the right to stay subject to other EU states guaranteeing UK citizens who are long-term residents of other EU countries the same rights. This number is estimated by ONS to be 900,000 this year down from the previous UN estimate of 1.2million

The government has also announced that Britain would unilaterally maintain duty-free access for goods – other than arms and ammunition – from 48 poorer countries across the globe after Brexit.

As always, the devil will be in the detail.

Progress is being made and both sides realise the benefit of a deal. Andrea Leadsom is, however, unhappy with the media coverage.

The media has had a hot and cold relationship with Leadsom.

Leadsom went from obscurity to notoriety in the Tory leadership race against May. She faced challenges over her CV – in particular on some of the roles she previously held in the City – eventually pulling out of the race after telling the Times: “Genuinely I feel that being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake.”

The media don’t like people seeking to capitalise on others’ misfortune. May had previously been open about the effect of being unable to have children had on her and her husband, Philip.

On Grenfell, however, Leadsom initially outshone May In spite of angry crowds. Leadsom “as Leader of the Commons, on behalf of the Commons” was one of the first to visit victims of Grenfell.

Questioned on whether May was in a position of strength in dealing with EU counterparts, Leadsom told BBC Newsnight: “It would be helpful if broadcasters were willing to be a bit patriotic …The country took a decision, this Government is determined to deliver on that decision.”

Newsnight anchor Emily Maitlis hit back: “Are you accusing me of being unpatriotic for questioning how negotiations are going, questioning whether you have the position of strength that she said she wanted,”

Leadsom replied: “I’m not accusing you of anything, Emily. I’m simply saying we all need to pull together as a country. We took a decision a year ago today to leave the European Union, we have a very strong hand and we are very well prepared for the negotiations.”

Resigned leader of the Lib Dems, Tim Farron, seized the opportunity to score a few political points: “This is a sinister threat to the free media… How dare Andrea Leadsom tell the press what they should think, this isn’t a George Orwell book. She needs to apologise for these comments and realise what she said was frankly stupid.”

The media does not take kindly to any perceived attempt to control or silence it, from Donald Trump saying “Media amongst the most dishonest people I have met” to Peter Thiel funding litigation to silence Gawker to billionaires having interests in publications.

As Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Currie on 28 January 1786: “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost. To the sacrifice, of time, labor, fortune, a public servant must count upon adding that of peace of mind and even reputation.”

Jefferson goes on to point out: “And all this is preferable to European bondage. He who doubts it need only be placed for one week on any part of the Continent of Europe.”


Attack the media at your peril.

Reporting is the only job listed in the bill of rights as protected. Even the most disagreeable publications are protected by the first amendment.

Our society needs strong, independent and adversarial journalism and without that will be much the poorer and very much endangered.