Little at Large: Straw singles out Barnardo's, new home of his old colleague

Justice secretary Jack Straw alienated swathes of the voluntary sector last week with an attack on the prison reform and children's "lobby" for forgetting victims and getting lost in a "fog of platitudes" about offenders.

Strange, though, that the only organisation Straw named in his tirade was not one of the usual liberal suspects such as the Howard League, but the reliably mainstream Barnardo's.

Odder still that Straw and Barnardo's chief executive Martin Narey, who writes on page 17 this week, were famously close when Straw was Home Secretary and Narey head of the prison service. But that was before Barnardo's released a report during this year's Labour conference criticising a 550 per cent rise in child custody in the past decade. Could there have been a falling out?

- There's a new sport among MPs - "you report one of our think tanks to the Charity Commission and I'll report one of yours". The latest episode in this saga is a commission inquiry report into Civitas, a charity not noted for the espousal of left-wing views.

It appears that the regulator is getting tired of the game, judging by the less than punitive nature of the investigation. The commission told Civitas to remove its "controversial" Guiding Philosophy and Research Agenda document, but accepted that the document had never "dictated or restricted" the charity's research programme. So, given the title, what was the document there for?

- Umbrella body the SCVO is pleased to report a "partial reconciliation" with SNP MSP Rob Gibson after his assertion in April that the Scottish sector was full of "dross". Gibson took part in an SCVO-organised event last week on Scotland's constitutional future.

"We're inclined to see his willingness to come along as a sign that he thinks we're not all dross," said an SCVO insider.

Mathew Little is a freelance writer mathew.little@haymarket.com.

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