Home > Features > This Week in the News: Week Beginning 02/11/2009

This Week in the News: Week Beginning 02/11/2009

Two interesting stories in the news this week. Firstly, Alan Johnson and his intolerance of Nutts. Secondly, a high profile case of bullying in the tower.

By Monday 2nd November, it was made clear that Professor David Nutt, Government Adviser from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs had been sacked by Alan Johnson. This is what happened, to put it in a ‘nuttshell’:

It seems, to me at least, that it’s the politicians who are sending the mixed messages here. Fair enough, if you think there is a case and a purpose for making certain drugs a higher or a lower class, then it is your prerogative to do so. You are the decision makers after all. However, don’t sack one of your leading advisers because he advised against it on a basis of harm. And certainly don’t say, in response to why you have made a class decision, ‘why? well, because’. I’m afraid it’s just not enough, Mr Brown.

In other news, it was reported on Monday 2nd November that The Tower of London’s first female ‘Yeoman Warder’ – or Beefeaters as they are more famously known – Moira Cameron, has been met with two counts of harassment and one of bullying by three fellow colleagues since her induction in July 2007. The Tower of London released a statement regarding the issue today, commenting that, “we can confirm that three Yeoman Warders are under investigation in response to allegations of harassment. Two have been suspended. We take such allegations very seriously and our formal harassment policy makes it clear that this is totally unacceptable.” They further made comment that “we believe everyone is entitled to work in an environment free from any form of harassment, a principle that we expect all our staff to value and uphold”.

This isn’t the first time Cameron has received negative attitudes towards her previously male-dominated role. Back in 2007 when she began her position at the Tower, Cameron commented, “I’ve had some comments. I had one chap at the gate one day who said he was completely and utterly against me doing the job. I said to him, ‘I would like to thank you for dismissing my 22 years’ service in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces’.”

Yeoman Warders act to protect the boundaries of the Tower of London and its grounds, which currently house the Crown Jewels. Most recently, their role has played more of a tourist attraction for the millions who visit London every year. The Beefeaters, noted as such for the rations of meat, particularly beef, that they were famously apportioned from the “King’s table”, live on the premises of the Tower. Only individuals – previously only men – who had served a minimum of 22 years in the Armed Forces and hold a ‘long service and good conduct medal’ can compete to be one of 35 Warders. Cameron beat five men to gain her position.

The outcome of the investigation will be known in two to three weeks.

I thoroughly appreciate the action that the Tower of London have taken with regards to the above incident. It seems that by introducing Cameron in 2007, the powers that be wanted to show that it wasn’t necessary for the warders to be male-centric, or perhaps she was just more qualified for the job than her competitors. Regardless the reason for choosing her, by doing so, they presented a very clear message that she was qualified for the role and they are not discriminatory towards gender and whether she’s qualified for the role isn’t for the public or the warders themselves to decide. I hope this is the start of changing attitudes in the public as well.

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