News reportage, anti Cornish abuse, Freedom of Information regarding Cornish language

News from Kernow Matters To Us:


7 VIII 2017

A very warm welcome to our latest members including to those who serve as Councillors. We are glad to have you with us! Together, we all believe that Kernow Matters!

Well over 100,000 people have read our information shots on social media this week alone! These range from political matters to cultural, historical and language issues.

London based media in state of confusion regarding Cornwall

Daily Telegraph report brings howls of laughter

An article which appeared in the 'Daily Telegraph' on line during the later evening of Saturday 5th August, 2017 and which was written by senior reporter Patrick Sawer claimed in its headline:

‘Germans who flock to south west confused over difference between Devon and Cornwall (there's plenty!)’.

However, the article which was covered by Hannah Maltwood of ‘Cornwall Live’ the following day, Sunday 6th August, 2017, has revealed that the German visitors to Cornwall probably know more about the Duchy than the Anglocentric press ever did.

With much hilarity, readers of the Telegraph were informed that in 927AD, England was divided into ‘shires’ each administered by a sheriff.

No mention of the fact that this did not involve Cornwall which had its own counties and which remained autonomous with its own kings and where a few years later, in 936 Athelstan's settlement fixed the east bank of the Tamar as the boundary between Anglo-Saxon Wessex and Celtic Cornwall, with the latter remaining independent.

There follows the usual tripe about the pasty being invented in Devon (or ‘pastie’ as the Telegraph strangely refers to it from time to time) which has been disproved time after time and with Devon’s claim on it being linked to a Cornish person resident in Devon writing about it. Then the usual piffle about cream on jam as opposed to jam on cream. Nothing here of the real Cornish ‘thunder and lightning’ – cream and treacle on splits!

But the greatest laughs are yet to come, as the Telegraph article places Bodmin Moor in Devon, moves Exmoor to Cornwall, talks about something called a ‘pastie’ (could this be a cousin of the pasty invented by the cunning English media? Time will tell!) and has actress Thandie Newton as being from Cornwall (she was born in London the daughter of Nyasha, a Zimbabwean, and Nick Newton, an English laboratory technician and artist).

No mention of the dozens of Cornish people who went on to achieve fame in virtually every field of discovery and invention, the arts, sports and sciences, philanthropy and exploration (we have recorded over 100 such men and women), no mention of Cornwall’s ancient and distinctive history, of its officially recognised Brythonic language reflected in placenames across the Duchy, no mention of its UNESCO recognised mining heritage, of its wide tracts of AONB recorded countryside and cliffs, no mention of its ancient and indigenous and now officially recognised people.

We suspect that it is not the visiting Germans who need a little education, but the desk bound journalists who as we would put it, ‘don’t know their ass from the elbows’ and who reflect a level of knowledge of matters Cornwall and Cornish as poor as that of the Westminster politicians.

We also make this plea to newspapers everywhere. Your circulations will continue to decline unless you let your journalists get out and report on reality and not rehash internet based gossip from desks in offices, additionally adding reporter instigated opinions which are usually wide of the mark.

Daily Telegraph:

West Briton:

Liaison with police continues

Following communication with Shaun Sawyer, the Chief Constable of Devon & Cornwall Police, our report which contained captured evidence of appalling and abusive remarks made against members of the Cornish National Minority will now be handled by a senior officer he has appointed. A copy of our most recent report has been forwarded to the Crown Prosecution Service, to the Council of Europe and to the Equality & Diversity Advisor at Cornwall Council.

We continue to collect evidence of anti Cornish racism and threats made to Cornish people and these will be reported to the police under reference ACK/COG/203/07/17/hm.

Government deceit over Cornish language raises suspicions of conspiracy.

The Cornish Language was recognised under the Charter for Regional and Minority Languages in 2003.

The Cornish people themselves were finally recognised by the Westminster government as a National Minority in early 2014 and included into the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, thus allowing those identifying as Cornish to have the same rights and protections as the more established members of Britain’s Celtic Nations and peoples, the Welsh, Scottish and Irish.

The Welsh language is supported by the Welsh Government in Cardiff, Gaelic is supported by the Scottish Government in Edinburgh but the Cornish have continually been forced to turn, cap in hand, to the distant and uncaring Westminster government in London for support.

Down the years, small sums of money were released following pleas by Cornwall’s MPs and others.

Each year, breaths were held across Cornwall whilst Westminster deliberated on releasing the paltry sums which were often far less than and MPs expense claims.

Finally, and despite its obligations, in early 2016, Westminster announced that funding support for the Cornish language, as little as it was, was to end.

This came as a shock.

Widely condemned both from within Cornwall but also further afield, the government were roundly criticised for the decision. In effect, it was holding back taxes paid by people in Cornwall and making the decision where it should be spent on their behalf.

Accordingly, members of campaign group ‘Kernow Matters to Us’ (KMTU) set about to discover why exactly such a small amount of cash was to be withheld.

Following discussions, on 28th October, 2016, a request made under the Freedom of Information Act, 2000 was sent to the government department responsible for the decision, notably the Department for Communities and local Government (DCLG).

The request read as follows:

"We request sight of All and any documents relating to this decision [to cease annual funding to support the indigenous Cornish minority language] including, among others, the brief for ministerial decision, any explanatory notes, any impact assessment, other documents which set out the rationale and projected consequences of the decision, as well as any internal, cross-governmental and external correspondence (including e-mails) including any written notes, emails, or records of meetings involving the following MPs: James Wharton MP, Sheryll Murray MP, Steve Double MP, Scott Mann MP, Sarah Newton MP, Derek Thomas MP and George Eustice MP and any other Minister, MP or Civil Servant.

James Wharton MP was the Minister responsible at the time and the other named persons were Constituency MPs in Cornwall mentioned in view of the fact that KMTU had received information that at least one of them had engaged in urgent discussions with the Minister in order to stop funding."

Some weeks later, a response was received albeit addressed to a completely unrelated address due to confusion within the DCLG.

This informed that the government refused to disclose the information as requested under the provisions of section 36 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2000.

This section states that:

Information may be withheld, the release of which:

(a) would, or would be likely to, prejudice —

(i) the maintenance of the convention of the collective responsibility of Ministers of the Crown, or

(ii) the work of the Executive Committee of the Northern Ireland Assembly, or

(iii) the work of the Cabinet of the Welsh Assembly Government.

(b) would, or would be likely to, inhibit—

(i) the free and frank provision of advice, or

(ii) the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation, or

(c) would otherwise prejudice, or would be likely otherwise to prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs.

Bearing in mind the fact that this decision had been sent to an incorrect and unknown address, the decision was made to enter a formal complaint against the DCLG and to have the matter and decision escalated to an Departmental Appeal Officer.

A letter to this effect was emailed to the DCLG on 23rd November, 2016.

A reply was received on 22nd December, 2016 informing that the decision and mishandling of the original request had been reviewed, that the DCLG apologised for forwarding their response to an incorrect and unconnected address but that the decision remained under section 36.

In other words, we won’t answer your questions.

A decision was then made to take this request and decision by the DCLG to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and on 31st December, 2016, a letter was sent to the Information Commissioner outlining the original request and detailing the response received by DCLG.

The very detailed three page letter ended with, ‘What has the Government got to hide? As before, there is immense interest over this issue and clarity over language issues exists in Scotland and Wales but not, it seems, in Westminster.’

This appeal to the Information Commissioner was acknowledged on 18th January, 2017 and given a case reference number and allocated to a Case Officer.

There followed a long period of silence with occasional communications being sent to the ICO requesting updates.

Such reminders were sent in March, April and May and then on 17th May, 2017, a communication was received from ICO to inform that a Senior Case Officer had now been allocated the request.

A long period of silence then resumed.

Several reminders were sent to the ICO with a final one being made on 1st August, 2017.

A response received on 2nd August, 2017 indicated that a full inquiry had been conducted and Decision Notice would be sent in the post.

The Decision Notice arrived that very day, dated 1st August, 2017.

A covering letter and a nine page document which outlined the request but noted that the DCLG had now changed and relied on section 35 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2000.

This decision appeared to have arisen during the ICO process because until that time, in every communication the DCLG had talked of section 36 but NEVER of section 35!

Section 35 of the Act states amongst much else that:

Information held by a government department or by [the Welsh Assembly Government] is exempt information if it relates to—

(a)the formulation or development of government policy,

(b)Ministerial communications,

(c)the provision of advice by any of the Law Officers or any request for the provision of such advice, or

(d)the operation of any Ministerial private office.

The Commissioner’s report clearly outlines that there is substantial public interest in this matter. It also agreed with the surprise our request outlined in that what could possibly be so important as to withhold information concerning the expenditure of a few thousand pounds of taxpayers’ money when compared to an overall government budget of some £814 billion! 

There were no national security implications evident and so what were the government trying to hide?

It appears that government ministers and officials need something called ‘safe space’ when coming to policy decisions and that such ‘safe space’ was needed to safeguard the decision making process.

Further, this ‘safe space’ is still applied regarding all discussions, decisions, funding and support for the Cornish culture, language and heritage.

So there we have it, all decisions regarding the Cornish people will be conducted behind a veil of complete and utter secrecy and nine paragraphs of the document underline that requirement.

So, we must continue to ask,

‘What has the Government got to hide? As before, there is immense interest over this issue and clarity over language issues exists in Scotland and Wales but not, it seems, in Westminster.’

After months of prevarication by the government, we now have 28 days to decide whether to take this matter to appeal before the First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights), doubtless a very complex and time consuming process!

Whilst we consider our options, a briefing paper on this whole issue is to be handed to the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn MP who visits Cornwall on Thursday and who many of our members have booked to see.

We will not be giving up on this, rest assured!

Kernow bys vyken!


This blog is provided for general informational purposes only. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone and not necessarily those of