We often think it is best to give those receiving a Freedom of the City of London award the benefit of the doubt and assume they don’t know how dubious it is as an ‘honour’. This was precisely the line we took earlier this month when we reproduced Justin Onuekwusi’s tweet about his City ‘Freedom’.
Having looked through his (Onuekwusi’s) Twitter feed we very much doubt he realises that in the past this award was given to a huge number of slave traders. In a pervious post we explicitly mentioned George Villiers as a slave trading recipient of this award but all the slave trading City grandees mentioned in that piece will have received the ‘honour’, alongside many more who were involved in the slave trade. The City’s Freedom award has also been given to paedophiles such as Hubert Chesshyre and Keith Harding – and divisive politicians like Ian Paisley Jr.
Racist Memorials In The City of London, Islington & Beyond by Reclaim EC1, 1 July 2020.
In the case of Barbican Arts Centre grandee and Newgate Communications boss Emma Kane, her boast in an interview last year that she had ‘researched’ the Freedom award means we must conclude that either she is bullshitting or she actually is ‘thrilled skinny’ and ‘very proud’ to be associated with slave traders and paedophiles (none of whom have been stripped of their Freedom):
Alister Houghton: Finally, you were awarded the Freedom of the City of London in 2017. How did you feel when you found out you’d be receiving it and are there any perks attached to the title?
Emma Kane: Truthfully, I was thrilled skinny and very proud to have my work recognised – as a child, I loved the cartoon character Muttley who was also pretty keen on a medal! When I then researched the history, the ceremony and the names of others who had gone before me, it added a further layer of excitement… The recognition in the form of a beautiful framed parchment certificate nestles proudly alongside my husband’s (Ian Rosenblatt’s) OBE on the shelf at home.
60 Seconds with Newgate Communications’ Emma Kane by Alister Houghton, Cision.Co.UK, 23 January 2019: https://web.archive.org/web/20200712102703/https://www.cision.co.uk/category/industry-news/60-seconds-with-newgate-communications-emma-kane/
In future posts we will expose more abusers and chancers who have received the Freedom award, but for now we will simply note that to stand for election in the City of London AKA the last rotten borough in England, it is necessary to hold this (dis)honour. As a consequence every dodgy politician both past and present who has sat on our local council – including many slave traders – had a Freedom award. Alongside the undemocratic business vote system, the fact that to qualify to stand for elected office in the City of London you have to have a Freedom award, serves to discourage anyone who is forward thinking and ethical from participating in this local authority’s rigged elections. No open-minded person would want to keep company with the shower of slave traders and paedophiles who’ve been given a Freedom. Despite this, Kane has the brass neck to present herself as promoting ethical business practices; see, for example, her contribution to the Newgate Webinar Series: Will Covid-19 spark an ethical business revolution to #BuildBackBetter? posted on the Newgate Communications YouTube channel on 10 July 2020. Just because someone presents themselves as ethical it doesn’t mean that they are!
Moving on, many of those who live in the Cripplegate area will be familiar with Kane’s Newgate Communications company because they are one of the firms who have handled PR for Taylor Wimp’s contentious The Denizen / Clarendon Court development – dubbed The Turd by locals. For at least some of those in EC1 and EC2 receiving Taylor Wimpey PR via Kane’s company, the name she’s given it will trigger the repressive spectre of Newgate Prison, which stood a short walk from from their flats from 1188 until 1904 when it was finally demolished. Public executions were held outside Newgate Prison from 1783 until 1868 and the last execution at Newgate was in 1902.
One assumes that City firms hiring Newgate Communications understand the intimidatory nature of its branding since obviously communications from Newgate included notices of execution. With regard to Newgate Communications’ work on Taylor Wimpey’s Golden Lane development, these threatening associations have failed to quell ongoing protests against the replacement of 110 social housing units with 99 luxury flats. Newgate Communications is based in Basinghall Street where the City of London council’s Guildhall headquarters can also be found replete with a statue to former Lord Mayor and notorious slave owner William Beckford. Since Kane’s PR operation is located within walking distance of Newgate Prison, her firm would appear utterly disingenuous if its representatives claimed they did not intend people to link its name to this notorious prison and site of public executions. The history of the prison completely overshadows the city gate from which the jail takes its name and in which it was at first solely housed.
Part of Clarendon Court Newsletter Issue 24, Summer 2020. Note the contact details for Perry Miller of Newgate Communications that uses one of this company’s email addresses – and we assume one of its phones.
Lurid stories about the horrors of Newgate have been published and circulated for hundreds of years. The items above edited by George Theodore Wilkinson and issued by Panther Books in the 1960s serve as two examples of how an association between the word Newgate and torture and capital punishment is longstanding in English popular culture. Collected editions of the monthly bulletin of executions by the Keeper of Newgate Prison under the title The Newgate Calendar first appeared around 1750 and within the British Isles it was one of the most popular books of the eighteenth and nineteenth-centuries. Depictions of Newgate Prison in literature date back to the medieval period and can be found in Chaucer’s The Cook’s Tale, it even functioned as defining element of a nineteenth-century genre known as the Newgate novel.
Emma Kane is currently chair of Barbican Centre Trust and a member of the Barbican Centre Board. Needless to say she is not the only member of the Barbican Board to create the impression they’ve no interest in adhering to the diversity and inclusion policies that such organisations ought to – but all too often don’t – follow. As we reported back in 2018 the “chairman of the Barbican in London (Giles Shilson) has apologised after comparing the Welsh language to being dyslexic.” Many were appalled both by Shilson’s racism and his ableism but it seems to have no impact on his standing at the Barbican; he is currently deputy chair of the Barbican Centre Board to Tom Sleigh’s chair – but such positions are swapped around among the elite as a matter of course in the City of London. In our 2018 post about Shilson we also addressed the fact that as a City of London councillor he wasn’t sufficiently transparent about his activities as a freemason on his register of interests.
Our 2018 probe indicated that Shilson was involved in A & A Rite which appeared to be shorthand for Ancient and Accepted Rite, sometimes known as the Scottish Rite or 33rd Degree Masonry. Given this and Shilson’s ongoing involvement with the Barbican Arts Centre and City of London council, we’d find it helpful if he publicly clarified his positions on the confederate general and influential 33rd Degree mason Albert Pike, whose statue in Washington D.C. was toppled by Black Lives Matters protestors last month. Pike was the author of Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (1871), which remains influential in Scottish rite freemasonic circles to this day despite large portions of it being plagiarised – seemingly without proper understanding – from Éliphas Lévi’s Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie (published in two parts 1854 & 1856).
The backward attitudes of members of the Barbican Centre Trust and Barbican Centre Board highlighted here are of consequence not just because of the way in which this arts complex hierarchically dominates parts of London cultural life with its bland and dead-on-arrival corporate programming, but also because it is acting as a front for the City of London council as the latter pushes forward an agenda that is marginalising and socially excluding less privileged local residents through its Culture Mile project. We’d like to see much of Barbican Centre Board and all of the Trust sacked – but especially the two featured in this post alongside Shilson’s fellow City of London councillors and freemasons ‘Sir’ (Michael) Roger Gifford, Simon Duckworth and Tom Hoffman.
Other City of London councillors we are keen to see removed from the Barbican Centre Board are David Graves, Judith Pleasance, Vivienne Littlechild and current lord mayor William Russell. Although he’s not a councillor, Nicholas Kenyon moves so closely in step with the City of London council we’d also like to see him step down from the Barbican Centre Trust and as managing director of the arts complex; preferably this would coincide with a clear out of the entire senior management. Given the above and that both the chair and deputy chair of the Barbican Centre Board are City of London councillors, it should be readily evident that this local authority is firmly in control of the arts complex and its involvement in the Culture Mile. Like the Museum of London and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Barbican is not as the City of London claims ‘a partner’ in the Culture Mile, it is a cat’s paw.
Emma Kane of the Barbican Arts Centre and Newgate Communications.