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Justice minister facing two inquiries over insurance shares

Justice minister Jonathan Djanogly is is the subject of two inquiries by the Ministry of Justice and the Cabinet Office after a Guardian investigation revealed he would personally profit from the changes to the insurance industry that he has been pushing for 13 months.

Members of the insurance industry advised the justice minister on legal aid reforms that would reduce insurers’ liability, the Guardian reports, and Djangoly has at least £250,000 in shares in companies with insurance subsidies.

Djanogly, who faces conflict of interest allegations over his holdings in the insurance industry, also asked leading insurers to advise him on ways to rebut possible criticisms of the legal aid changes pushed by the government.

Documents obtained through the freedom of information legislation show that other government officials working under Djanogly, had already told insurers they were “pushing at an open door” over the changes that would benefit the insurance industry by hundreds of millions of pounds.

Companies such as Aviva, Axa, Direct Line and representatives of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) were asked how they would counter claims that there would be “further costs to the NHS and other public services in providing treatment and care which would have otherwise been funded by the damages awarded”.

As the Guardian reports, such was the sensitivity of the papers recording the meetings that the insurance industry threatened the NHS with legal action before they were released.

Council handed out thousands of pounds in redundancy payments to staff before rehiring them

Stoke-on-Trent city council spent £330,000 to town hall workers made redundant, only to return to the authority in full-time positions, the Daily Telegraph reports. Figures collected after a freedom of information request show the 25 employees, some of whom spent just a few days unemployed, took different positions when they returned.

US investigating ‘pre-crime’ feasibility

Washington D.C.’s Electronic Privacy Information Centre used freedom of information laws to uncover US government tests that try to assess an individual’s likelihood to commit a crime. As the Daily Telegraph reports, the so-called Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST) programme that uses infrared cameras and pressure pads to detect fidgeting, has made civil liberties groups raise serious privacy concerns.

Family of a seven-year-old girl that died of asthma discovers paramedic liability

James McKenna, the paramedic called up to help the dying Izabelle Easen in 2008 after an asthma attack, was struck off last year for failing to provide proper treatment but the bereaved family found out just now after an FoIA request, the Daily Telegraph reports.

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