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Pesach Special 5775

It’s been a bumper year for Passover-related current affairs, so as per tradition, find below the 5775 edition of Gabrielquotes Pesach News, brought to you – as always – by the good old BBC (Biblical Broadcasting Corporation).

Grow vegetables extensively in greenhouses!

Those are rousing words, aren’t they. Grow vegetables extensively in greenhouses! Those of you whose lives have now been given meaning, having read that proverb twice, might be slightly emarrased to learn that it was taken from a list of 310 new patriotic proverbs recently published by the North Korean government.

National leaders hope that the public will pepper their conversation with epigrams such as…


Other gastronomic highlights of the list include:




Some of the slogans are cryptic:


Some are short:


Some artfully combine both of these qualities:


One or two wouldn’t have looked out of place in George Osborne’s budget speech:


And for those contemplating any sort of project management in the near future, I can do no better than point you towards this invaluable advice:


Inpsired? I certainly hope so.

doctor who budget

Litvinenko: nothing to see here

May contain traces of polonium-210

May contain traces of polonium-210

The inquiry into the death of Russian secret agant Alexander Litvinenko is now well underway. A succession of spies, criminals and oligarchs (many of whom hold more than one of the aforementioned roles) are turning up to the Royal Courts of Justice to give evidence of facts of which they, strangely, seem to have little recollection.

But the unhappiest people in this unhappy affair are the media, who were disappointed by the judge’s ruling that some witnesses would testify anonymously.

A 9-page legal submission from the media argues: “There is an enormous public interest in these proceedings being conducted as openly as possible. The subject matter of the Inquiry does not easily lend itself to any sensationalism.”

The subject matter of the Inquiry does not easily lend itself to any sensationalism?! A Russian secret agent on the run from his former spymasters, killed in Piccadilly by being fed sushi laced with radioactive poison?

Yeah, it could happen to anyone.

In other inquiry news

What the planning inquiry could look like

Wot the planning inquiry could look like

Sussex University bosses were upset when their “Campus Masterplan” was rejected by the local council on the grounds that it would be a monstrosity and turn the peaceful, green campus into “a dense urban environment”.

Because it was all so unfair and because Michael Farthing thinks that the law only applies to him insofar as he wants it to, an appeal is underway. The University submitted a 51-page document to the Planning Inspectorate, which it has finally deigned to release to me under information rights legislation

(They only released it after intervention by the Information Commissioner, because my request conflicted with Sussex’s policy of refusing to tell anyone anything unless they bother to pursue it to great lengths.)

Horrifyingly, the University has opted to have the dispute resolved by an inquiry, at which both sides will be legally represented at public expense, calling and cross-examining witnesses… for eight whole days. What value for money, my friends!

north by northwest friends of israel copy
katy bourne theresa may copy



Congratulations for making it this far through the blog post, whether or not you had the assistance of four glasses of wine.

Gabrielquotes would like to wish all its readers a chag sameach and a joyful and restful Pesach!


In tonight’s episode, Pesach news was presented by the Biblical Broadcasting Corporation. The Litvinenko Inquiry was conducted by Sir Robert Owen and the media submission was drafted by The Guardian. North Korea was ruined by Kim Jong-un, Sussex was ruined by Kim Jong-farthing and the People’s Democratic Republic of North West Friends of Israel is co-chaired by Anthony Dennison and Stuart Ailion. This was an Gabrielquotes production!
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Trying it on with the Tribunal

The-Scales-of-Justice-Old-001[1]Breaking news on this happy Friday 13th: a three-person panel of the Information Rights Tribunal ruled that the University of Sussex unlawfully failed to publish various sections of its contract with Chartwells to me.

Partially dismissing the University’s desperate appeal for support, Tribunal Judge Robin Callendar-Smith said:

It is difficult to see, actually looking at the relevant information […] how disclosure of such information would be likely to prejudice the commercial interests of either Chartwells or the [University].

And also:

The Tribunal does not accept that it is likely that disclosure would result in detriment to Chartwells.

(Because if it was going to cause the lovely Chartwells company detriment that would have broken my heart.)

Wot no value for money?

Man wearing dark office business suit hands clutching heap of money to his chest. Image shot 2008. Exact date unknown.

Sussex lawyer Marc Dautlich declined to comment

Perhaps the most astounding revelation from the Tribunal’s reasons is that some of the information that the University was seeking to hush up, “appears to be duplicate to that” elsewhere in parts of the contract that have already been published.

So Sussex spent a yet-to-be-determined sum on legal fees – or should I say a ‘will-be-determined’ and ‘will-be-published’ sum on legal fees – in an attempt to prevent the disclosure of ‘commercially harmful’ information that was already public and already not harming anybody’s commercial interests.

Sadly this isn’t terribly unusual. In January 2014, the University admitted that it had not undertaken any assessment of the value-for-money of its decision to spend £27,115 on lawyers to evict a protest that had already dispersed itself.

Perhaps they’ll learn one day though.

Some juicy bits

Now find below, in the case of University of Sussex v Information Commissioner and Gabriel Webber (EA/2014/0148), the small portion of the documents in this case that I have available electronically, complementing the extensive paper bundles that will be ornamenting my bedroom for some time now:

Grounds of appeal: in focus

freedom-informatio_2431517b[1]Many of Sussex’s ‘grounds of appeal’ were, basically, hopeless. This is only to be expected from an organisation that, earlier this month, advertised a vacancy for a Freedom of Information Officer “able to work confidentially at all times” with – seemingly – no sense  of irony.

But only now, after the Tribunal has ruled, can they be published and dissected.

For example, in paragraph 29.1.1 of their grounds of appeal, Sussex chiefs argued (This is a catering contract so surely you mean ‘Sussex chefs’? -Ed.) that…

should the information be available to other public authorities [… they] would be able to utilise this information to negotiate a better position with the suppliers of catering services.

Oh no! Heaven forbid that publication on my blog might enable taxpayer-funded authorities to save public money!

Vice-Chancellor Michael Farthing also sought to argue that the University’s…

attractiveness to prospective students [depends on them concluding] that the University is being run in a commercially efficient manner, thus maximising fees revenue for the good of the students and the academic services.

Of course, he somehow failed to see the irony of making this argument in a (we now know) futile appeal at considerable expense. But more to the point… he’s absolutely right. He’s spot on. It is vitally important for prospective students to see money being spent wisely.

The only problem is, how is that an argument for withholding information about how University money is spent? How does Farthing expect prospective students to conclude that Sussex is a commercially-efficient institution, (a) at all, frankly, but at any rate (b) if he denies said prospective students access to the relevant information?


Until next time

It’s good-night from me! Have a safe Friday 13th folks!

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