the pork-bolter
No 54, June 2003

Worthing drugs shame!

A SINISTER drug-peddling organisation is operating in the heart of Worthing, we can reveal. This large-scale operation is netting massive profits out of other people’s misery and the drugs it has sold have been said to have played a part in a string of suicides and unexplained deaths. The boss of this set-up is raking in so much cash that people with a financial stake in his dealings have recently moved to stop him taking too much money for himself out of the business. With recent publicity putting this organisation in the front line of controversy, its leading members are surely quaking in their boots, spending sleepless nights in a cold sweat, waiting for that knock on the door from the boys in blue...

Err, well not exactly. Because we’re not talking about Worthing’s cannabis cafes, which were the subject of so much hysteria and so many raids from the local police during May, but about a much bigger and more powerful drugs operation - GlaxoSmithKline.

The company, which has a factory in Clarendon Road, East Worthing, made the national news on May 20 when its shareholders voted to reject a £22 million pay-off deal for chief executive Jean-Pierre Garnier if he were ever to lose his job - this was seen as a major victory for shareholder power. But Britain’s biggest drugs manufacturer has also been in the news for other reasons.

A report in the Evening Argus on May 17 reported how a woman doused herself in petrol and burst into flames just days after her dose of a controversial anti-depressant drug - made by GlaxoSmithKline - was doubled. Emma Gibson, 35, a psychiatric nurse from Brighton, was found engulfed in flames near her burning car in a country lane near Henfield, West Sussex, on March 3. Reported The Argus: "At an inquest at Haywards Heath Town Hall yesterday, Miss Gibson’s family heard her dose of Seroxat, a widely used anti-depressant, went up from half a tablet to a whole one. Coroner Roger Stone recorded an open verdict as he said there were holes in the evidence. He said he could not draw a conclusion between Miss Gibson’s death and the drug. However, he told her family he would inform the Government advisors - the Committee on the Safety of Medicines - that she had been taking Seroxat. He said recording the drug as a factor in her death might help another family in similar circumstances and said this was a cruel benefit but hoped it might offer the family some consolation in the future." Her partner John Cunningham told the inquest he and Miss Gibson’s family felt the drugs she was taking could have contributed to her death as her actions were totally out of character.

This was by no means the first time the possible dangers of Seroxat have come to light. BBC’s Panorama has now dedicated two programmes to the issue. In the latest programme on May 11, Richard Brook, chief executive of mental health charity MIND, said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency had played "Russian Roulette" with people’s lives by not listening to the experiences of people who have taken Seroxat. Many of these people have suffered terrible side effects when taking or trying to come off the drug and some people, it is believed, have died. Analysis of phone calls and 1,374 emails received by Panorama following the first Seroxat programme last October reported 16 suicides linked to Seroxat over the last two years. Over the same period the MCA only received 7 reports of suicide linked to the drug.

On March 13, The Guardian reported that a coroner in Wales had called for Seroxat to be withdrawn while its safety is fully investigated. He recorded an open verdict on a man who killed himself within a fortnight of starting a course of the drug. The Brecon coroner, Geraint Williams, said he would be writing to the Department of Health about his finding that Seroxat led to Colin Whitfield, 56, a retired headteacher, taking his own life. "I have grave concerns that this is a dangerous drug that should be withdrawn until at least detailed national studies are undertaken," he told the court. "I am profoundly disturbed by the effect this drug had on Colin Whitfield."

This sort of thing has been happening in the USA as well, where two years ago, a jury awarded a family £4.6m damages against GlaxoSmithKline after concluding that the drug - sold under the name Paxil over there - caused Donald Schell to kill his wife, daughter, baby granddaughter and then himself.

Chief Inspector Russ Whitfield of Worthing police recently justified his "zero tolerance" policy of the cannabis cafes by complaining in the Worthing Herald (May 15) that those running them were making "thousands of pounds a day" out of the cafes, adding: "What we have here in Worthing has progressed into organised crime with criminals making a huge amount of money out of an illegal activity." In February this year GlaxoSmithKline reported a six per cent increase in pre-tax profits. It made £6.52 billion in 2002. It insists the drug Seroxat is safe, refuses to withdraw it and continues to flog it to vulnerable people at huge profit to itself.

There will be no riot vans and battering rams at its East Worthing factory. Because some drug selling empires are perfectly legal and untouchable in the crazy, hypocritical world of authoritarian capitalism.


The spirit of democracy

QUOTE of the month comes from Chief Inspector Russ Whitfield, Worthing police district commander, in the Worthing Herald on May 22, when he declared on the subject of cannabis cafes: "The reason why these cafes are so rife in Worthing is because there seems to be a groundswell of people in Worthing who want to see cannabis legalised." Obviously, in a democratic society, the only reasonable course of action is therefore to launch a massive police clamp-down on everyone involved.

Worthing’s West Bank?

HAVE Worthing police been secretly twinned with the Israeli army? They certainly seem to have the same authoritarian attitude towards those prepared to stand up for Palestinian rights. On Wednesday May 28, a group of people campaigning on the topical issue were forced to pack up what has become a regular stall in Montague Place, Worthing, after police threatened them with arrest if they didn’t do so. They were not accused of causing any trouble - the only incident that had occurred was a pro-Israeli woman kicking over their noticeboards - and it was not clear exactly what law they were supposed to be breaking. Worthing’s town centre manager was also on the scene, muttering about "controlled" areas (did she mean occupied territories?). One passer-by who took a photo of the police harassment was himself accosted by one of the cops, who told him (quite wrongly) that it was illegal to take a policeman’s photo without his permission! One of the female campaigners who complained about the actions of the hostile pro-Israeli woman was told by the town centre manager it was a matter for the police. But when she spotted the woman in question and pointed her out to the cops, she herself was threatened with arrest for breach of the peace! So much for traditional British free speech and fair play. What exactly is going on here, we wonder.

So are we ‘entitled’ to freedom?

HAPPY Birthday George Orwell! The man who warned of a totalitarian police state Britain in his classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was born 100 years ago on June 25. And he must be turning in his grave, as the Neo Labour government propels us closer and closer to the nightmare society he depicted. The latest sinister assault on our freedom comes with the news that ID cards are being lined up for introduction in the UK. Having previously faced ridicule for suggesting that an ID card system would be a useful way to stop terrorists (if you can get your hands on Semtex, a forged or stolen card or two should not prove much of a problem), the Government is now trying to present the scheme as a way of tackling those ubiquitous asylum seekers that we are told are the real threat to our way of life (as opposed to the rich and powerful criminals who actually run this country).

In fact of course, they’ve been trying to think of excuses for imposing ID cards on us for years, as The Porkbolter has reported time and time again. The ID cards will be called "entitlement" cards because unless you have one you will not be "entitled" to receive health care or education, and other stuff we all already pay for! Reported The Guardian (May 23): "Under Mr Blunkett’s proposal, the card is expected to carry name, date of birth, address, employment status, sex, photo, national insurance, passport and driving licence numbers, and a password or PIN to authorise transactions. It will also carry ‘biometric information’ such as an eye scan or electronic fingerprint to guard against identity fraud." All of this information, will of course by held on a "new national database", which they might as well call Big Brother.

To add insult to injury, we are also to be forced to pay for the privilege of having ID cards - £25 each. This is all part of an accelerating trend towards a fascist-style police state. A report on the BBC News website on May 16 revealed that the UK authorities are routinely demanding huge quantities of information about what people do online and who they call on the phone. It said: "Police and other officials are making around a million requests for access to data held by net and telephone companies each year, according to figures compiled from the government, legal experts and the internet industry." And on May 14 the same BBC site reported the warning from leading barrister Mike Mansfield that "anti-terror legislation introduced by the Government has done more to attack people in Britain than defend them from terrorists". The report added: "The campaigning lawyer told a packed room in the House of Lords that using the atrocities in the US as an excuse, the Government had effectively declared war on Britons’ civil liberties."

The Government will be discussing the details this Autumn and is threatening to impose ID cards on us shortly after the next general election. It is the duty of anyone who cares at all about freedom in this country to ensure that it is unable to do so.

* There is an anti-ID card campaign website at www.defy-id.org.uk


Blue Tim Appeal!

POOR old Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, found himself a laughing stock when he fell for a rather silly April Fool’s joke in The Sunday Times, which claimed that the Royal Mail was taking the Queen’s head off its stamps (The Argus, May 8). The outraged Tory Tim leapt into action and fired off a written question to Trade Secretary Patricia Hewitt demanding a full explanation. He was not amused to find it was all a jape, telling the Argus reporter the whole thing was "a complete non story". But we’re worried the traumatic incident will leave its stamp on Tim and may affect the otherwise first-class performance of the Burgess Hill resident as our local MP here in Worthing. To put his mind at rest, we are launching a special appeal. All you have to do is collect used envelopes, then carefully cut the queen’s head out from the old stamps. Send your collection of heads to Blue Tim Appeal, Tim Loughton MP, c/o the Conservative Association, Union Place, Worthing (we understand he pops in from time to time). Then if Her Majesty does - heaven forbid! - one day start disappearing from our stamps, Tim will be to able launch into some queen-licking, head-giving remedial action!

A tale of two councils

MUCH outrage was expressed by Worthing’s Tories after the Lib Dems managed to cling to power after the dead heat in the local elections. The Lib Dems declined to share the reins of power with their Conservative rivals, prompting the Tories to accuse them of "opposing the democratic will of the people", with leader Steven Waight declaring: "The Lib Dems have effectively said ‘forget democracy’." (Worthing Herald, May 15). What they weren’t mentioning was that up the road in Horsham district exactly the same thing had happened - in reverse! Reported the West Sussex County Times (May 9): "The Conservatives stood accused of ignoring voters’ wishes this week as they looked set to take full control of Horsham District Council despite losing their overall majority". In contrast to Mr Waight’s protestations in Worthing, his fellow Tory leader in Horsham insisted "it would be better for the council to have one party in charge". No wonder most people won’t vote for any of them any more...

Terror made in USA

THE USA, leader of "the war against terrorism", is considering using terrorists to overthrow Iran’s islamic government. The proposed plot was "among the top items on the agenda when high-level US policy-makers led by Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz met yesterday". Where did we read this? In the latest edition of "Mad Left-Wing Conspiracy Theory Weekly"? Nope, on page two of The Sun (May 31).

PORK-SCRATCHINGS

ACTION is coming up on the Titnore Woods issue, with a a new planning application expected any week now. Campaigners will be calling for the area to be included in the new National Park in a protest outside the pre inquiry meeting at the Pavilion Theatre, Worthing, at 2pm on Monday July 7. For more info on Titnore go to www.protectourwoodland.fsnet.co.uk, send them an email or go to the next worthing eco-action meeting at 7.45pm on Tuesday July 1 upstairs at The Downview, West Worthing.
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PLANS to upgrade the A24 north of Worthing with a series of underpasses would make it an attractive alternative to the A23 in linking the M25 and the A27 - and attract massive amounts of new traffic. That’s the warning from pressure group the A24 Alliance, which has been holding meetings to mobilise local opposition all the way from Worthing to Dorking. Contact info@a24alliance.fsnet.co.uk or go to www.a24alliance.fsnet.co.uk
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SPURRED on by the involvement of thousands of school kids and students in the anti-war movement, as well as the anti-capitalist protests, youngsters here are setting up a new group, Worthing Anarchist Youth, and are looking for people to get involved. Contact them by email or by post c/o The Porkbolter. And any anarchists out there too old to get involved in that particular group can console themselves by reading a new pamphlet, Against All Tyranny!, Essays on Anarchism in Brazil, published at £5 by the excellent Kate Sharpley Library (BM Hurricane, London WC1N 3XX)
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EVER sat at home on a Saturday night and bemoaned the fact that there’s nothing ever going on in Worthing, apart from the odd 1940s Nostalgia Tea Dance and Nearly-new Crochet Exchange at the Pavilion Theatre? Well, that’s not strictly true - it’s just a question of finding out about stuff. One good place to start is with punk/alternative gig organisers tatty seaside town, who’ve got an impressive schedule of events lined up over the next couple of months. Popular local punk band Flatpig. For a different type of scene try the Sunny Worthing Arts Group. And for web-based innovation and music take a look at local site wubfur. Meanwhile, taking the mick out of George Bush is not exactly difficult, but rarely is it done as well as on the dr parsons website.
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WE ALL know that big business lies to cover up the way its profit-hungry machineries are destroying our countryside and wildlife. We all know that spin doctoring the news to suit certain interests is a lucrative and ever-expanding industry. And we all know that the corporate media agendas conspire to keep the public in the dark about what’s really going on. But it’s not often you come across a detailed account of how this is all carried out. You can get this from the superb 285-page Global Spin - the Corporate Assault on Environmentalism by Sharon Beder (Green Books, £12.95). Even if you think you’ve heard it all before, this will shock you. And if you’re new to the whole scandal, then prepare to have your mind blown away.
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"VIRUSES and bacteria could be genetically engineered to evade the human immune system, to create a more effective biological weapon, a leading researcher into bio-weapons said yesterday." (The Guardian, May 20). Where would we be without science, eh?

Matrix Reloaded: A warning

CINEMA goers have been warned that any similarity between the sinister "matrix" in the popular film of that name and the capitalist system in which we live is entirely coincidental. Said the Minister for People’s Culture: "Cinema is made available for entertainment purposes only and it is important that people do not attempt to activate their brains at any point during the performance, as it can cause cancer. Eat more popcorn, enjoy the special effects and go straight home to bed. Do not take the red ‘reality’ pill."

Our cure for depression - subscribe!

The Pork-Bolter is a local totally independent volunteer-produced newsletter produced entirely without the use of dodgy drugs like Seroxat. We have found that the best therapy to cope with the deeply depressing mess the world is in today is to actually try and do something about it. To get the next six issues (including the cartoons that you don't usually see on here!) through the post send a donation of at least £3 payable to The Porkbolter. Drop us a line at PO Box 4144, Worthing, West Sussex BN14 7NZ or send e-mail to porkbolter@eco-action.org. Free e-mail subscriptions are also available, which include notification of events etc in between issues.

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and finally ...
Reclaim Your Town, Reclaim Your Life!

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