Memories of Yorkshire - before the blame-gaming injuries

My brother is in so much pain
That all he seems able to do
Is push away a rock called blame
So that it's weight lies on another

Near Ilkley Moor we knew better
Playing on Brimham Rocks
Running between these weather-beaten boulders
We then climbed higher, and got the big view

May my family go beyond pushing boulders
on each other's feet
Well before Dad dies
May we transcend once more
And sit together on the boulders
Enjoying a sometimes bleak yet "grand" and united view.
(That's where well-facilitated dialogue Leeds.)

Blame vs Taking Responsibility for needs

Blame, to me, is "a primitive concept"
- Understandable, of course.
When I hear your blame-gaming
I take it that it is no game to you.
You're feeling upset, I guess
And want some responsibility to be taken?
Me too, only I try to start with acknowledging the pain
And locating the pain that certain actions trigger.
The pain (in our case) doesn't come from the actors
But from the unmet need(s).
Let's start with the needs for care and consideration,
prudence and mourning & see
who owns these needs & what requests they make?

[default blog footer]
May everyone be loved well,
#FreeRange #Buddhist
Tel 0780 70 66 202

PS. How do you want to be loved?
PPS. What's my role in that?

What ApologyPlus offers is far more wholesome than pseudo-apology

Pseudo-apology serves none of us. Even my Dad (who was quick to apportion blame in the past) gets this & gets what ApologyPlus offers.

Transcript of the above film (written in 3rd Person):
"An apology from X, at this stage, could not be sincere:
First, X needs empathy for the pain he has experienced as a result of his interpretation of what happened.
2) X will then be more easily able to recognise the distress/harm caused to Y & Z etc
3) Genuine regret can only be expressed when X appreciates the harm his actions have caused
4) Z's concern/interest is in X being able to distinguish between what happened and how X interpreted what happened. Z would like an agreement about what actually happened so that we can learn from it.
5) Z would like X to get help from a mediator to distinguish between the facts and X's interpretation (just as Z is doing)
6) Z looks forward to an exchange of communications via X's chosen mediator, demonstrating what X & Z have learned from this episode."

Now try slowing down with your stories of blame and find a better way through all this by using (& providing feedback on)


Blair's apology lecture AKA Cherie Booth on Restorative Justice

The apology most asked for in recent years by the British population is almost certainly the apology asked for from the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, for the war in Iraq and the basis on which it was launched. (The political-economic reality that is Peak Oil is covered on other websites run by my company, Mediation Support Ltd -eg. In 2005 I received an invitation to meet Tony Blair and chose, in his house, to thank him for empowering many victims in the UK, to the extend that access was increasing for restorative justice. At the same time my concern was about the lack of empowerment of victims of the Iraq war.

Cherie Booth, Tony Blair's wife, has shown more interest in restorative justice, though not in relation to Iraq. Her Radio 4 talk on Restorative Justice is copied below.

The text, which I find clearly written and thought provoking, is copied below, courtesy of the BBC:

"I've been sitting as a part time judge for ten years now and for me the most difficult part of the process is the sentencing. The defendant faces me from the dock while I explain to him (and it is usually a him) why he's going to jail. He may listen carefully but I often wonder whether he feels any remorse for his crime or has any idea of the effect he's had upon his victims. This impression has been reinforced when I've visited prisons and spoken to inmates. It seems that neither the court process nor the prison experience is helping them confront their behaviour or its consequences.

And, of course, we must never forget the victims of the crime. Too often they sit in the public gallery - feeling marginal to the case, even bemused by what's happening. They're often denied the opportunity to confront the defendant directly with what he's done, nor given the chance, where he's genuinely sorry, to receive a personal apology.

All this can make it harder for them to achieve the closure they need - no matter how severe the sentence.

And it's right and proper that tough sentences are handed down in court for serious crimes or persistent offenders. Imprisonment shows society's disgust at their actions and helps protect the public by keeping criminals off the streets. But it's clear that simply locking people up doesn't itself alter their long-term behaviour. In too many cases, it only shelves the problem.

Britain's criminal justice system, of course, has been shaped by its Judaeo-Christian tradition. Often this tradition has been seen as punitive, advocating a retributive model of justice in which an angry God - or state - takes revenge on the offender for his crimes.

But there are seeds in the Bible of a very different approach - an approach known as restorative justice which has been pioneered in countries like New Zealand and Australia. It's now gaining ground in the UK, where it's increasingly used in youth justice as an alternative to the courts and in the adult justice system as an addition to the court process.

The approach of restorative justice is to see the offending behaviour not just as a crime but as a breach of a relationship; the relationship we all have as individuals with others in our communities. It emphasises repairing the harm caused by anti-social or criminal behaviour, holding offenders to account before their victims and often resulting in them making some kind of reparation.

In biblical terms it aims to create "Shalom" - a word which in Hebrew means peace, but which is best translated by the English word Justice.

Restorative justice has been in the news recently because of the publication of the Sherman report from the Smith Institute, which advocates its wider take-up in the UK. But the Christian season of Lent is also a good time to consider how to deal with offenders. Lent is the time for righting wrongs and reconciling relationships. It doesn't soft pedal on sin, but its focus is on how to make a fresh start rather than on how to get even.

Those of my generation who went to Church as children will remember the gospel story of Zacchaeus, and maybe even the actions which went with the Sunday school song we used to sing about him. It's the story of the "very little man" who climbs into a sycamore tree to get a glimpse of Jesus, and ends up taking him home for tea. But there's a whole other dimension to this tale that only really dawned on me as an adult - because actually this is a story about restorative justice.

They went into Jericho and passed through. There was a man named Zacchaeus, a chief tax collector who was very rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a small man, he couldn't, because of the crowd. So he ran on ahead, along the route Jesus was going to take, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him.

When Jesus came to the place he looked up. "Zacchaeus," he said, "Hurry up and come down. I have to stay at your house today." So he hurried up, came down and received him with joy.

Everybody began to murmur when they saw it. "He's gone in to spend time with a proper old sinner!" they were saying. But Zacchaeus stood there and addressed the Master, "Look, Master," he said, "I'm giving half my property to the poor. And if I've defrauded any one of anything, I'm giving it back to them four times over." And Jesus said, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham."

He may be a Sunday school favourite, but Zacchaeus was also a master in white collar theft. Tax collectors were outcasts in society - not just because they were collecting money for the Roman Empire, but because they appear to have been lining their own pockets at the same time. And as a chief tax collector we can assume that Zacchaeus was masterminding the whole racket.

In calling him down from the tree, Jesus is engineering a meeting between Zacchaeus and the people he has wronged. Initially, the crowd is outraged with Jesus for befriending a man whose behaviour has spread fear and mistrust even amongst those he hasn't stolen from directly. And who can blame them?

There follows a series of meetings between Zacchaeus and his individual victims as he visits them to repay what he's stolen. These are glossed over in the gospel, there are no details - but I don't think we're talking cosy fireside chats here. It must be very uncomfortable for Zacchaeus to hear first hand what it feels like to be on the receiving end of his extortion.

Such face to face meetings between offenders and victims lie at the heart of the restorative justice process. The focus begins with the victims as they are encouraged to talk about the effect the crime has had on them. Then it is the turn of the offender to talk about why he committed the crime, what led up to it and how he feels about it now.

Initially victims may wish to simply pour out their anger and resentment. Sooner or later, however, nearly all want an answer to the question, "Why me?" Most crime is random, but the victim often fears that they were deliberately targeted and might be again. The reassurance that that was not, in this sense at least, personal is evident in nearly all restorative justice meetings and helps the victim move on.

It's not appropriate to hold such meetings where the offender continues denying his guilt. And even where he has admitted his wrongdoing he may still approach a meeting with his victim with little sense of remorse, wanting to deny responsibility or to claim mitigating circumstances.

But it's not so easy to deny the consequences of your actions when your victim is sitting across the table from you. Rationalisations such as "they asked for it", "it wasn't worth much anyway", tend to fall away in the face of injured human flesh and blood.

Part of the hope for the meeting, therefore, is that an experience of remorse and acceptance of responsibility will grow through the offender's encounter with the victim, that the realisation of the harm they have done may indeed be a kind of revelation. This was certainly the experience of one career criminal, Paul. Paul agreed to meet one of his victims, a doctor whom he had burgled, (and) who broke down in tears during the meeting. It marked a turning point in Paul's life. "I was thinking, I can't believe this; I am the cause of this man's pain. Suddenly I'm hearing the destruction I have caused. I could hardly speak for a week after the conference. The guilt was unbelievable."

Similarly when faced with what he had done, Zacchaeus' immediate impulse was to make some reparation to his victims, paying them four times the amount he'd stolen from them. And the idea of reparation is a key element in the Restorative Justice process. However, the most effective form of reparation is usually, simply, a genuine apology. It's the single most important thing a victim values.

As President of Barnardo's - a charity which does wonderful work with young people - I have seen for myself how they use restorative practices to alter behaviour by bringing home to youngsters the impact of what they do.

Fifteen-year-old Andy from Newry in Northern Ireland was brought before the court for attempting to attack the police. As part of a Community Responsibility Order, he met with police, fire service and ambulance crews who told him what it's like to be under attack from hooligans when they are trying to save lives. Andy began, for the first time, to appreciate the risks they took and the impact of his behaviour. He wrote a letter of apology to the police and joined the Fire Brigade cadets for a six week programme on public safety.

The programme also helped Andy look at the things in his life which made him angry and develop ways of coping with these - within his family, where both his parents had problems with substance misuse, and at school, where he was frequently in trouble.

Andy is accepting responsibility for his actions - but there's another way to look at this. The community is accepting its responsibility for Andy as well. All too often society wants to draw a "them and us" line between offenders and victims without recognising that offenders are often victims themselves. We can't ignore the fact that over a half of all 15-17 year olds in custody and a third of all prisoners have been in care at some point in their lives. Nor that the majority of women in prison say they've been victims of domestic or sexual abuse. The Archbishop of Canterbury recently called on society to recognise the part it has to play in the journey of reform and rehabilitation that the offender needs to embrace.

Because that has to be the fundamental goal of the criminal justice system. Those who have been through our courts and prisons need to be helped to return to society as full and contributing members. Just as Zacchaeus was restored to the community of the children of Abraham, and went on, we can assume, to live a useful (decent?) life.

Some, I know, will say it makes for a nice ending to a Bible story, but isn't it just plain naïve to suggest that the principles of restorative justice can work for 21st century Britain? The evidence is that they can. Not with everyone, of course, but they can work even with those who at first sight might appear hardened, serial criminals, those who might be branded no-hopers. In fact, evidence from the recent Sherman Report suggests that the restorative justice approach can be most effective in reducing re-offending where the offenders have committed serious, personal and violent crimes.

So I'm pleased that restorative justice programmes are becoming an increasing part of both adult and youth criminal justice. I want to see this role increase further still. We should consider using such programmes routinely for crimes such as assault, robbery, and stealing - in addition, where appropriate, to prison or other sentences. And with specialist, highly trained staff, they could also be used - again in addition to the normal court processes - in cases of domestic violence and sexual assault, where victims believe it will help them, and will enable offenders to fully grasp the devastating impact of their crimes.

Was Zacchaeus forgiven? His relationship with God and his community was repaired, but who knows whether his individual victims found it in their hearts to forgive him? Restorative Justice can't demand remorse from offenders or forgiveness from their victims. All it can do is open the channels of communication which makes such healing possible. That healing rarely takes place overnight; it may take years, or it may not happen at all.

But I choose to end with an extraordinary story told by a judge from New Zealand which demonstrates the full transformation - the Shalom - that restorative justice can help bring about.

It's about a young man who committed two burglaries. He'd been in trouble before, but rejected involvement in restorative justice, and the police couldn't catch up with him this time. Two years later the man found out that he was going to become a dad. Wanting to start afresh, he handed himself into the police and asked to meet the people whose homes he'd burgled. He worked out weekly repayments to cover their losses and set out his entire budget before them, including the money he'd need for the baby when it arrived.

The victims were so impressed that they said they wanted the money spent not on themselves but on the baby, to make sure that it had the start in life which the young offender had never been given. They also wanted him to attend a parenting course, because they wanted to break the cycle he'd been caught up in from a young age. They even wanted to keep in touch, and it was agreed that when the baby was six months old the young man would write a letter to them to tell them how things had been going for him and his new family.

"Today Salvation has come to this house"."

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Apology letter after 22years leads to 18month custodial sentence

The following piece illustrates the cost of one person attempting apology without mediation; access to mediators here.

"William Beebe had been haunted by that night for years.

He’d tried to send the letter before and failed. Just like he’d failed to stick with Alcoholics Anonymous. Just like he’d failed at so much in life.

This time, he was staying with the 12-step program. But should he really take that treacherous ninth step?

It told him to make amends to those he’d hurt unless doing so would injure them further.

Some had warned him to leave it alone. But he’d prayed on it.

And so, he began to write.

‘In 1984 I harmed you’, Mike Seccuro said, tossing an envelope onto his wife Liz’s lap as he climbed behind the wheel of their minivan.

Who lives in Vegas? she wondered briefly of the postmark before her eyes stopped on the sender’s name.

She froze. It was a name she had not uttered in 20 years. Her body suddenly felt cold, her brain fuzzy. With shaking hands, she opened the envelope.

Dear Elizabeth, the letter began. In 1984 I harmed you.
She wept.

In the minivan, Seccuro was crying so hard her frightened daughter had begun to wail.

I can scarcely begin to understand the degree to which, through your eyes,
my behavior has affected you in its wake, Beebe had written. Still, I stand prepared to hear from you about just how, and in what ways you’ve been affected, and to begin to set right the wrong I’ve done.

Over the next week, she felt afraid and vulnerable. Was her family in danger?

The questions finally overwhelmed her. She grabbed her BlackBerry.

How can you live with yourself? she typed.
He e-mailed back the next day.

I always felt tremendous guilt for the ways in which I imagined my conduct had damaged you, and for years too the only solution seemed to be the bottle, which worked less and less over time to assuage the guilt, he wrote. This is to say that the way that I lived with myself was of course not really living at all.

It appears I have laid the groundwork for a shattered life, and I simply do not know what to do, save for doing what you ask.

But Seccuro didn’t know what to do either. Yet she wondered: Why had he done what he’d done?

The only way to find out, she reasoned, was to write back. And so began a two-month e-mail correspondence. Seccuro told Beebe of the devastating effects of his actions; Beebe detailed the devastating effects of the bottle.

After that night in 1984, Seccuro was never the same. She reported the attack to university officials and campus police, she said, but immediately felt dismissed and disbelieved.

She became a loner. Her grades plummeted. At 22, she entered a tumultuous marriage that quickly unraveled.

Part of her felt dead. Panic attacks were frequent and frightening.
Gradually, life improved. She married Mike, gave birth to beautiful Ava, and found success as an event planner in Greenwich, Conneticutt.

But she never stopped wondering what had become of him.

His life, too, had been filled with miseries, he wrote. After that night, he was summoned to the dean’s office and told of possible judicial proceedings.

I was pinned by my failure as a person,he wrote. A day or so later I withdrew from the university, unwilling to "step up to the plate".

Even then, he wrote, his drinking was a problem. One afternoon, it hit him: Was he an alcoholic?

He entered rehab and moved home. A month later, he was drinking again. Over the next nine years, he wrote, he exhausted his parents, employers and friends. Women dismissed him as a drunken, selfish slob.

He arrived at AA in 1993, after years of trying to get sober in the fellowship, he wrote. This time, he stayed.

From the moment he read AA’s eighth step making a list of those he’d harmed he wanted to
contact Seccuro. But his sponsor said that would only hurt her.

As the years passed, Beebe wrote, his sponsor fell off the wagon. The man later told him he’d started drinking again over unfinished amends.

Beebe’s new sponsor told him to pray and search for Seccuro. Twice he wrote her, but the addresses were wrong and the letters returned. Eventually, he tried again.

Seccuro read Beebe’s e-mails with growing unease.
Was this apology meant to help her or him?

Her skepticism grew when they broached the topic of what happened that night in 1984.
Were you my only attacker? she asked....

Beebe’s account, however, was disturbingly different from hers.
I ‘convinced’ you after what seemed like hesitation, that staying with me in my room upstairs was better than walking all the way back to the suites, he wrote. Of course, seeing opportunity to have a good time with you overrode any gentlemanly efforts to return you safely back to the dorms.

We started to make out in my room a while, he continued. There was no fight and it was all over in short order. When we awoke in the morning it was still chilly out, so I lent you my jean jacket, and you walked home.

There were no other men present. I was the only one.

There was certainly a fight that night, Seccuro responded angrily. She awoke wrapped in a bloody sheet, then walked to the emergency room.
I thought after all this time, you realized you had raped me and were apologizing, she wrote. I trusted that your apology came from a good and honest place and I see this is not the case.

He had been drunk that night, he acknowledged, though not so drunk he couldn’t remember what happened. But he didn’t doubt her version.

I did not get to choose being raped and having my virginity taken from me so brutally,Seccuro wrote. Now, I don’t get to choose having this wound reopened.

And something else bothered her. Why was he shying away from using the word rape?
Beebe responded.

I want to make clear that I’m not intentionally minimizing the fact of having raped you, he wrote. I did.

Seccuro felt confused and drained.
A few days later, she stumbled across a Web site dedicated to victims of rape at the University of Virginia.

She was floored. The problem suddenly seemed bigger than her own.
Minutes later, she left a message with the Charlottesville police.

On Jan. 4, 2006, Beebe was arrested in Las Vegas.

There is no statute of limitations on felonies in Virginia, and with Beebe’s written confession, it appeared to be an open and shut case.

Except Beebe, facing a sentence of life in prison, suddenly denied raping Seccuro.
She couldn’t believe it.

They were headed for trial.

Seccuro was in for another shock. She began receiving critical e-mails and letters, many from Christians condemning her for pressing charges, admonishing her to forgive.

But she HAD forgiven Beebe. Couldn’t she forgive and still want justice?

Her panic attacks returned. Some friends stopped calling. She suffered a miscarriage while nervously awaiting Beebe’s arrest.

Any leftover energy went to Ava, not her husband. Despite his efforts to understand, her experience remained alien to him.

It seemed Beebe was hurting her again.

And could she forgive him for that?

On April 17, Beebe was indicted on two felony counts: rape and object sexual penetration.

Seven months later, he stood before the judge.

Guilty as charged, he said calmly.

But he was pleading guilty to a lesser charge of aggravated sexual battery; the other charges had been dropped. The prosecution’s recommended sentence: two years in prison.

Why had they agreed to a plea?

Then the prosecutor dropped the bombshell: Investigators believed Seccuro was gang raped.

Seccuro had long suspected it. And prosecutors knew Beebe’s cooperation could be key in bringing other possible attackers to justice.

Outside the courthouse, Beebe finally spoke.
Twenty-two years ago, I harmed another person, he said. And I have tried to set that right.

The investigation into the events of that night continues. Beebe’s cooperation with authorities will be a consideration when he is sentenced March 15 2007. He remains free on bond and has been ordered to continue attending AA meetings.

Seccuro launched a donor fund called STARS Sisters Together Assisting Rape Survivors to raise money for rape victims and their families.

Some still tell her to accept Beebe’s apology and move on. Forgiveness, however, isn’t so simple, she says. She has forgiven Beebe for attacking her, and for disrupting her life. But she sometimes struggles to remain merciful."

On 15th March William Beebe was sentenced to 18 months of jail time yesterday for the aggravated sexual battery.
"In adopting a new way of life [through AA] I have a purpose and that gives life meaning," Beebe said.

The judge noted the complications of the case and the challenge "to balance all the factors."

"It is not a minor thing [Beebe's crime]; it's a horrific thing that she's been through," the judge said. "That fact that he came forward to admit his wrongdoing is admirable. I don't think the court system should discourage that."

He also emphasized that Beebe's punishment "should be on condition of significant community service," noting that part of Beebe's sentence is 500 hours of service dedicated to sexual assault education on college campuses, likely including the University's.

Seccuro spoke briefly after the hearing.

"I very much look forward to continuing my life," Seccuro said. "The past 18 months have obviously depleted me. My work as an advocate has just begun."

Seccuro also criticized the University's role in the case.

"Your silence is deafening. You should know the damage you have done," she said. "How many students will have to be embarrassed before you do something?"

She added she has forgiven Beebe but not the University for its lack of involvement in her case.

University spokesperson Carol Wood said Seccuro "is a courageous woman who is determined to see this through."(Court case report from The Cavalier)


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Ken Livingstone still does not apologise; estimated £250,000 court costs

"Ken Livingstone has won a High Court appeal against a finding that he brought his office into disrepute over comments made to a Jewish journalist.
The mayor was found guilty of being "insensitive and offensive" to Evening Standard reporter Oliver Finegold by the Adjudication Panel for England.

But Mr Justice Collins said the panel had misdirected itself.

The judge said that while the mayor should have apologised he had the right to freedom of speech.

Mr Livingstone, who was facing bankruptcy should he have lost the case, was awarded his full legal costs which were thought to be about £250,000."

BBC News report

Additional BBC video report

When will apology issues be handled in a way that doesn't lead to winners and losers at such great expense?
If you have an apology issue, start the work now at

Scottish cancer-treatment overdose patient dies; will the report improve medical negligence disclosure?

Hearing about the death of Lisa Norris, a 16-year-old cancer patient who was given massive overdoses of radiation earlier this year, raises many questions. One question is how and when responsibility was taken by Scotland's largest cancer centre, the Beatson?

Was this another hospital without full-training in medical negligence disclosure, hampered by the laws around disclosure and adding to the upset of the Norris family?

How long will it be before legislative change is being taken as it is in the US to enable medical-negligence disclosure, saving pain and much legal cost? Medical negligence disclosure advice and policy is readily available on the Sorry Works website.
"Lisa Norris, from Girvan in Ayrshire, received at least 17 overdoses during treatment for a brain tumour at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow.

An independent investigation into the case was launched by the Scottish Executive.

An executive spokesman said the investigation's findings were in the "final stages of preparation".

Scottish Health Minister Andy Kerr said: "This is deeply saddening news following what has already been a very difficult time for the family.

"Our thoughts and sympathies are with them."

Officials said the Norris family would be consulted before the findings of the investigation into Lisa's overdose were published.

Several months after the overdose was given, the Beatson was found to have given a series of other patients radiation overdoses."
(The text in quotation marks is from the BBC News web-site link)

See the Sorry Works website for more about medical negligence disclosure.


Demands for Pope to make personal, clear apology

September 17th 2006: "Demands around the world continued on Sunday for Pope of the Vatican, Benedict XVI, to make a clear and personal apology over remarks he made against Islam and Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

The Syrian Islamic-Christian Committee called upon the Pope, in a statement following an emergency meeting, to make a clear and personal apology for the remarks that hurt the feelings of Muslims.

It said that any attempt to insult or violate heavenly religions would have dangerous consequences and obstruct efforts to promote tolerance and co-existence among people of the world.

Moreover, the committee warned Syrians from falling into the trap of extremism and sectarianism and to exercise wisdom.

And in Indonesia, Chief Muslim Cleric Sheikh Marouf Amin said that such insulting and hurtful statements should not be made by a man of such high stature as the Pope, noting that the late Pope John Paul II had spared no effort in bridging gaps between people of different religions.

ANTARA news agency quoted the cleric calling upon the Pope to respect other religions and encourage dialogue, while demanding a personal apology be made to Muslims and for the Pope to pledge not to make similar statements in the future.

The Pope had confirmed in a statement issued yesterday the Vatican's appreciation and respect for Muslims and said he was "extremely sorry" for the misunderstanding of what he had said.

In a speech at a German university, the Pope claimed that Prophet Mohammad brought what was "only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." (end) tk.mmk.


Pope 'sorry' for offence to Islam

For the story of the official apology, which some see as more explanation than apology, see "Pope 'sorry' for offence to Islam" (BBC News, 16th September, 15.05pm)

Another BBC report says:
"The Pope is now acutely aware that wherever he is speaking, his words will be heard around the world by an audience ready to analyse every nuance of meaning.

He may have another opportunity to explain himself to Muslims in November, when he is scheduled to visit Turkey.

In the meantime, the Vatican will be giving a lot more thought to the words and actions needed to promote better relations between the world's two major religions. "
(from BBC report "Pope remarks reveal a harder stance")

Muslim requests for apology from Pope


England - Pakistan - Umpire Darrell Hair: Apology? (Oval test match -cricket)

Is an apology due? Who has been handling this issue sensitively? Ian Botham has said:
"Apart from umpire Darrell Hair monitoring paceman Mohammad Asif shining the ball, Sky Sports have no footage which suggests any ball-tampering malpractice by Pakistan yesterday.
To accuse an individual, or a team, of cheating, you need conclusive evidence -not just to look at a few scuff-marks and make assumptions about how they got there.
And you need to inform the public of what is going on.
It was absolutely appalling that paying customers had to wait so long to find out what was happening.
It's a great shame that an intriguing Test match should be overshadowed by such a sensitive issue which, paradoxically, has been handled with such insensitivity."
Remember the phrase "It's just not cricket?"
(Source: BBC Message Board: Message 8) & October 2007 update:

Saturday news story from Conflict Resolution Network UK
New Initiatives from Mediation UK
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Conflict Resolution Network UK

ApologyPlus and CommunicatingNeeds are two new initiatives from Mediation UK, launched at a special event with Dr Marshall Rosenberg, originator of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). Dr Rosenberg created the NVC model of compassionate communication more than 30 years ago in the USA, in response to the violence he witnessed in society. He now travels the world sowing the seeds for a nonviolent culture, teaching people from all walks of life. For a fuller introduction to NVC, from Marshall Rosenberg himself, log onto Peace Talks, an online radio station that spotlights peacemaking and nonviolent conflict resolution strategies, by clicking here. The event itself was an enormous success with 88% of respondents rating the event with very good or excellent.

ApologyPlus, as its name suggests, helps us do more than just say sorry. As the homepage of this web-based resource states, when people want an apology they are often looking for empathy, remorse, reparation and changed behaviour. The website helps to explore what is going on between you and the other person, and how you might choose to communicate with them. Ultimately, ApologyPlus seeks to encourage people wanting apologies etc to refer themselves to local mediation services or to access mediators and Nonviolent Communication practitioners by e-mail and phone.

CommunicatingNeeds is the sister site of ApologyPlus. It assists the visitor firstly, by helping them fully identify the problem; then, it helps the visitor analyse their problem in more depth by looking at their feelings and those of the other party; lastly, it helps the visitor consider how they can resolve their situation.

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Unmediated apology letters welcomed by some of the relatives of 100 killed in fire.

The letter arrived this week at Dave Kane's home, a single page of unadorned cursive script tucked inside a small envelope.

He opened the letter and called his wife on the phone. Then he struggled through tears to read it to her.

"To Nick O'Neill's family and friends," the letter begins. "Please allow me to start by apologizing for the part I played in Nick's tragic death and for taking so long to convey this apology to you."

The author is Daniel Biechele, the former rock band tour manager whose pyrotechnics display at a concert at The Station nightclub three years ago started a fire that killed Kane's 18-year-old son, Nicholas O'Neill, and 99 others.

Biechele, who tearfully apologized in a packed courtroom last month before being sentenced to four years in prison, wrote personal letters to the families of all 100 people killed by the fire. The letters were written before the sentencing and are now being distributed by the state probation department to the families who want them.

Some who have received the letters say they are satisfied with Biechele's words, which have a remorseful tone and show that he accepts responsibility. In at least some notes, Biechele acknowledges that forgiveness may be impossible and that the pain of losing a child is unthinkable.

"I just believe it was sincere," Kane said Saturday in an interview at his home. "It was just real. It wasn't, 'I'll write this letter and the judge will take five years off my sentence."'

But others don't want the letters and think there is nothing Biechele could write that could soothe them.

"I have a lot of issues with Daniel Biechele," said Claire Bruyere, whose 27-year-old daughter, Bonnie Hamelin, died in the fire. "Unless he can say in the letter that he didn't kill my daughter, then I have no urge to hear what he says."

Though Bruyere did not want the letter, her relatives said she might want to read it one day, so she decided to have the note sent to her sister.

It was not immediately clear Saturday how many family members had requested the letters and how many did not want them. Unwanted letters will be returned to Biechele's lawyer.

Biechele was tour manager for the band Great White when he set off pyrotechnics during a concert at the West Warwick club on Feb. 20, 2003. Sparks from the pyrotechnics ignited flammable soundproofing foam around the stage, spreading flames through the club.

Biechele pleaded guilty in February to 100 counts of involuntary manslaughter. Club owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian are awaiting trial.

In a letter sent to the family of fire victim Tammy Mattera-Housa, 29, Biechele wrote that he would be "haunted" by his role in the fire "until the day that I die."

"The pain and suffering that so many endured is absolutely unthinkable," Biechele wrote. "If I had any idea that anyone would be harmed in the least I would never have used the pyrotechnics. I never wanted to place anyone in danger."

Leland Hoisington, whose daughter, Abbie, 28, died in the fire, said he was moved by Biechele's letter and was considering writing back to him. He said he felt sorry for Biechele and considered him a victim and the "only real man in this whole mess."

"What he had to say to us, he certainly didn't have to say it," said Hoisington, who declined to share what Biechele had written.

Kane said he still struggles to read the letter. Certain sentences particularly move him, such as, "No parent should ever have to suffer the agony of having their child pass away before they do, and yet it has happened here, partly through my own fault."

"The words about losing your child and how horrible it is kind of remind you of how horrible it is," Kane said.

Biechele told Kane in the letter that he didn't feel he could ask for forgiveness. But at the sentencing hearing last month, Kane told Biechele his teenage son would have wanted his family to accept Biechele's apology. Biechele wept as Kane spoke.

Kane and his wife, Joanne O'Neill, think Biechele might have met their son, a musician, since he was invited to hang out with the band on the day of the show.

O'Neill said she called her son and could sense the excitement in his voice.

"You're going to have a lot of stories to tell," she recalled telling him.

That was their last conversation.

(Article from the Boston Globe, June 3, 2006, By E.Tucker)

Disabled pupil "has won an apology" -having been excluded from party

A disabled pupil who was left out of an end of year party has won an apology from Hampstead School.

Zahrah Manuel, 18, was barred from attending the function onboard a boat on the Thames because it wasn't fitted with wheelchair access.

Made to feel like a second-class citizen, she took her case to a Special Educational Needs tribunal last month and won.

Zahrah, who has cerebral palsy and cannot talk or write but can communicate with her mum Preethi, said: "I was really upset. I'm really happy with the decision. I enjoyed some champagne."...

"You cannot say you are inclusive in name only as a way of getting some kind of kudos. You have to be practising it in everything you do and planning for it."...

Apologising to Zahrah and her family, a Camden Council spokesman said: "The disco is something the school has run for many years, and unfortunately on this occasion it was not possible to book a boat that was fully wheelchair accessible. The school looked to arrange an alternative trip, but Zahrah did not wish to attend.

"Although the Special Educational Needs tribunal felt more could have been done to make the trip accessible it found the school was an inclusive school and did not award any compensation."
(From Hampstead & Highgate Express, 3rd June)


An opinion from a Newsgroup- re "The "I want an apology" Generation"

The latest addition to the whining "I want an apology" generation are the families of those who drove towards and up Mt. St Helen 25-years ago as the damn thing was getting ready to erupt. When you see a mountain getting ready to boil over, you stay off. What is it with this generation that all feel they have "apologies" owed to them by society. We have the descendants of slaves that not only want official apologies, but also monetary reparations for events that happened anywhere from 130-250 years ago; we have American Indians who want apologies for the westward expansion of the United States and the so-called "loss" of their land; add to this list every other type of self-proclaimed "oppressed minority" who feel they deserve "apologies", and you end up with the biggest kettle of whining crying wimps the world has ever produced. The good people of the United States owe NOBODY an apology. The world should be thanking US for the bright light of democracy and freedom we have given to them.

"Wallowing in Apology"

I'm sorry. I made a mistake.

Don't ask me which one; I haven't decided. But confessing to mistakes is the best way to get attention these days.

Last week commentators had a field day over President George W. Bush's confessing to Iraq related-mistakes for the first time.

No one seemed to notice, however, that the president owned up to errors of diction - choice of words - such as "bring it on" and "dead or alive." For a president who has never claimed to be a wordsmith that is not exactly a soul-baring acknowledgement of error.

The Democrats, of course, have been after him to apologize for going to war in Iraq, for cutting taxes and for practically everything else he has done, including accepting the presidency from the hands of the Supreme Court in 2000.

Such demands are routine political ploys, but the media play along just as they did during the Clinton years when the president was called on to apologize for everything from lying about sex to sending the troops after Somali warlords.

Clinton's favorite apologies were somewhat less than contrite. He tended to say "Yes, mistakes were made." That, of course, is a long way from saying "I messed up."

It leaves the impression that this or that idiot in the president's office or family made the mistake and the president, as the person at whose desk the buck stops, is nobly shouldering the blame.

An even more striking example of the new obsession with apology is the case of the current (June 5) issue of Newsweek magazine, whose cover shouts "Rethinking the Marriage Crunch." The cover story amounts to a retraction of "The Marriage Crunch" in the June 2, 1986, issue of that magazine.

"Newsweek" editors and writers have been on every possible television venue from CNN and Fox and ABC to Dr. Phil - and, for all I know, ESPN and cooking shows - explaining repetitiously why their predecessors two decades ago were wrong.

In case you have been in a coma for the past couple of weeks, the gist of the matter is that the 1986 story sensationalized an academic study saying that "white, college-educated women who fail to marry in their 20s face long odds against ever marrying." (Current figures show that, if anything, the reverse is true.)

And, just to provide a piece of errant diction to really be sorry about, some underling had added to the 1986 story an intendedly humorous aside that a 40-year-old single woman "was more likely to be killed by a terrorist" than marry.

Certainly, looking back from a post-9/11 perspective, the comparison is in the worst possible taste, besides being a wild statistical exaggeration. But now this piece of errant diction has to be apologized for over and over and over, as does the fact that the demographic prediction at the core of the story was wrong.

I suppose that in the end all the groveling will benefit the Newsweek bottom line. But if we had to wallow in apology for every prediction that has gone wrong because the world or society has changed, we'd be doing nothing else.

Imagine your favorite TV meteorologist having to apologize every time it didn't rain when it was supposed to, or did when it wasn't. Suppose a minister had to apologize every time a couple he married filed for divorce? Or an economist had to apologize for being wrong about the next recession? Or a teacher for giving a slightly better or worse grade than a student deserved on a quiz?

Even worse, suppose all of us over-40s had to apologize for mistakes we made 20 years ago?

As Elbert Hubbard said, "The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing that you will make one." The second worst, according to Ed Corson, is to overdose on either apology or denial.
(Article by Ed Corson, The Telegraph,US Newspaper delivered across 32 counties)

Iraqi asks US for compensation & apology for Haditha victims

BAGHDAD, June 1 (KUNA) -- The Iraqi government asked the US administration Thursday for an apology and compensations for families of victims killed by US Marines in Haditha last November.

A government statement said it requested compensations for families of the 24 civilians who were killed in Haditha town, south of Baghdad, and offer a formal opology for the Iraqi government.

The government, added the statement, rejected such acts against the Iraqi people.

It said the human rights should be respected and those who committed the killings should be punished. (Kuwait News)

'Request' for Video Apology & $250K Donation to charity

Lindsay Lohan is keeping her cool, relatively speaking, about billion-heir Brandon Davis' bizarre videotaped tirade that ricocheted around the Web a couple of weeks ago.

If you missed it, the vid, shot outside a Hollywood nightclub, had Davis loudly slagging Lohan...Maybe Lohan is mad, but she's also getting even...

A week after the incident, Brandon sent a written apology, but Lindsay reportedly saw that as "too little, too late." Behind closed doors, Lindsay is reportedly demanding a video apology, as well as a $250,000 donation to a charity of her choice.

"The Man Who Apologizes Too Much"

In the United States these days, a lot of people have been carefully counting each new home run of San Francisco Giants slugger and alleged steroid-freak Barry Bonds as he advances past Babe Ruth’s historic achievement. It’s almost a national pastime here.

But in Taiwan people watch many times President Chen Shui-bian has had to apologize to the nation. And this has almost become Taiwan’s silly national pastime.

In Asia, to be sure, an official apology in general is not necessarily a bad thing. In small quantities, on rare occasions, it can demonstrate a sincere respect for public opinion, a proper sense of shame, and an appropriate attempt to regain dignity.

The most notable, recent example of a classic Asian apology actually took place in New York, where superstar baseball player Hideki Matsui apologized to management, teammates and to his many adoring fans for sustaining an injury that would keep him out of the lineup for months. Even though the injury was an accident, suffered during a game in a fearless effort to make a difficult diving catch, the proud Yankee wanted to say how sorry he felt to have to be removed from the battle.

On the other hand, sometimes the Asian apology, especially when they come in large numbers, month after month, year after year, are less personally ennobling than shameful. This is the case with President Chen, first elected by the good people of Taiwan in March 2000.

In these last six years Taiwan’s president has apologized something like 13 times for 10 different alleged broken promises, misdeeds or misconducts, the latter mostly attributed to family members.

One round of apologies revolved around his wife over allegations of illegal stock trading, another involved a relative accused of corruption, another hit his son-in-law.

This is getting embarrassing.

It is a dishonorable son-in-law drama that is on center stage right now, entertaining all of Asia and serving to remind the entire world that the Chen presidency, taken as a whole, has not exactly amounted to Taiwan’s finest moment. The latest: Chao Chien-ming, the husband of Chen’s daughter, was handcuffed and officially detained by law-enforcement authorities earlier this week on allegations of insider stock trading.

The apology scorecard was not nearly so over-the-top during the administration of Chen’s predecessor, President Lee Teng-hui -only six official apologies for five miscues in 12 years, according to one count.

And as Chen’s opposition is calling for resignation, his die-hard supporters point out that none of the corruption allegations have touched Chen personally. And, at this writing, the incumbent President Chen actually has not yet issued his 14th official apology.

But perhaps the world wont have to wait too long. It’s as if Chen believes that the more he apologies, the more credible he becomes. The apology becomes an act almost of spiritual rejuvenation and public redemption.
(Article from The Korea Times, written by Tom Plate)

Tom Stoppard despairs of "Contest of Apology" England

In Tom Stoppard's new play Rock 'n' Roll, opening at the Royal Court Theatre in July, the character Lenka tells Jan, "Don't come back (to England), the place has lost its nerve; they put something in the water since you were here. It is a democracy of obedience. They are frightened to use their minds....They apologise for history, they apologise for good manners, they apologise for difference: it is a contest of apology". Being interviewed by Mark Lawson (Front Row 2nd June) Tom Stoppard said "I do think that something has been put in the water between 1968 and 1990. I think the phrases for it "a democracy of obedience", "a contest of apology" -yes, there are things about England now which challenge my congenital anglophilia."

Ken Loach asks "Where is the apology for Empire?"

Interviewed in the wake of winning the Palme d'Or, the top prize at the Cannes film festival for his film, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Ken Loach spoke of apology for empire. Asked by the interviewer, "When you spoke of the film being a small step in confronting Britain's imperialist past, what did you mean?"
Ken Loach replied: "Most people are aware that the empire was built on occupying other people's territories, taking their raw materials, subjugating them, taking our language and imposing it on them, and there are many cases of concentration camps and of various massacres in various other countries. I think we have been quite alarmed by the recent statement by people like Gordon Brown, saying that we didn't have anything to apologise for, for the empire. Well, I haven't heard anyone apologising anyway. But I think that is a re-writing of history that we just can't accept."
(From Radio 4's Today programme, 29th May, 8.10am)


No apology, say Irish Sisters of Charity

31 May 2006 20:16

The Superior General of the Irish Sisters of Charity has said her order would not align itself with other religious orders that have apologised in public for sexual abuse by non-members that took place in their institutions.

Speaking at the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse this morning, Sr Una O'Neill said she was deeply sorry that sexual abuse had taken place at St Joseph's Institution in Kilkenny.

She said other religious orders had apologised in cases where such abuse had been carried out by members of the order.

However, in the case of the Sisters of Charity, it was the abusers - who were not sisters of the order - who were responsible and should apologise.

Five complaints of sexual abuse have been made in relation to St Joseph's Institution in Kilkenny.

Three of these cases were taken to the High Court before the Redress Board was set up.

Damages of €370,000, €300,000 and €75,000 were awarded in these cases, one of which involved the abuser singing the song Nobody's Child while carrying out the abuse.

As these cases were begun before the Redress Board was set up, the State will pay the damages involved. (Story from RTE News) (For more context and support services for those who experienced abuse, click here)

Slavetrader decendant to wear yoke and chains to make Africa slavery apology

Written by Ebrima Jaw Manneh (in the Gambian Daily Observer)
Wednesday, 31 May 2006
Mr Andrew Hawkins from Plymouth, the United Kingdom, who claims to be a direct descendant of England’s first slave trader, Sir John Hawkins, will don yokes and chains at the forthcoming Roots International Festival in The Gambia to apologise for the actions of his famous ancestor.
He will be joining the lifeline expedition team, which has been journeying around with whites wearing yokes and chains while Africans and descendants of enslaved Africans accompany them. The Africans are also ready to apologise for selling their brothers and sisters to the European traders. This action is also a means of raising awareness of ongoing slavery and racism at the present time.

Sir John Hawkins is well known for his part in the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1587, but it is well known that he made slaving voyages with the support of Queen Elizabeth 1 between 1562-1568, sailing in ships such as the Jesus of Lubeck and the Grace of God.

The International Roots Festival commemorates the legendary Kunta Kinteh who according to a novel by Alex Haley was captured at Juffereh in The Gambia and held in the slave fort on James Island until he was transported to Annapolis in Maryland, USA, in a London slave ship, the Lord Ligonier. The lifeline expedition team aims to have representatives from the four European nations, Germany, Holland, France and England who at different times held slaves in the fort. They will kneel and make an apology in the yokes and chains in the fort.

Response to Europeans chained and yoked in a coffle like slaves

White people walking as penitent in chains through former slave ports such as Nantes, Bordeaux, Seville, Lisbon and Charleston South Carolina created considerable interest. They walk not as symbolic slaves; instead, the chains and yokes are the walkers’ chosen symbols of their penitence. There has been wide media coverage, but most importantly, this prophetic action has been well received by descendants of enslaved Africans. In France "Enfin!" was the most common word used. "At last, now we feel that white people are taking our story seriously. Thank you, but so much more needs to be done." Africans walking in the procession in attitude of forgiveness point to the potential for real reconciliation in the future.

Leader of the lifeline expedition, David Pott comments: "The Senegambia region is, of course, a most important region as far as the slave trade and its legacy is concerned. The roots of the system are located here because it was the closest region of Africa to Europe where substantial numbers of Africans were taken captive. The legacy of slavery is still much in evidence in terms of the ongoing poverty in Africa today. I am thankful that in spite of centuries of European oppression, Africa is not bowed down and contributes so richly in our world today. In order to heal historical wounds we must go to the roots, so I am very glad that we are able to come and take part in this significant Roots International Festival. We pray that we will be able to make our contribution in bringing healing and reconciliation." That is why we are coming here. (Story from The Gambian 'Daily Observer')

Workshop on Sensitive Apologies 27th June, Manchester

Sensitive Apologies? & Victim Clarification
‘Victims’ sometimes seek apologies. ‘Offenders’ may come to a place of remorse, within or without a context of supervision.How do we work with apologies? What makes an apology sensitive? What role has Victim Clarification?

Offenders, often separated from the damage created by their behaviour, struggle to develop empathy for those they hurt.

Survivors, seldom having the opportunity to hear from offenders, frequently wrestle with misplaced feelings of guilt and responsibility for the abuse.

This workshop will draw on Rowland Coombes’ experience as a senior therapist for the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, working with sex offenders on long-sentences. It will also draw on Paul Crosland’s experience as Head of Restorative Justice, Mediation UK & founder of

The workshop will refer to the following: the Home Office’s Best Practice Guidance for Restorative Practitioners; Beverly Engel’s ‘The Power of Apology’ (focussed on seeking apologies for childhood sexual abuse) & Phil Rich’s Victim Clarification work. There will be excerpts shown of a documentary video (made in the US) that bridges the distance between those who have sexually abused and those who have been hurt, giving each the benefit of hearing directly from the other.


Edit the ApologyPlus pages by joining CommunicatingNeeds yahoo group

If you want to be make just the smallest contribution to the editing & development of the ApologyPlus website, your best move is to join the CommunicatingNeeds yahoo group. When we have 20 members, access will be opened to the pages where you can collectively edit and add content, using the exciting potential of a wiki.


Apology without empathy first is just a ritual, says Marshall Rosenberg

“Most of the time we apologise to another person we haven’t even empathised with them first. We don’t even realise that when we apologise without even giving empathy, in order to get forgiveness to ourselves, we are adding insult to injury. The other person needs empathy before they can trust that you have sincerely mourned what you did. No apology is trusted until we feel first that the other person empathises; otherwise it is just a ritual” (Marshall Rosenberg, Six Steps to Reconciliation & Forgiveness)

Friday launched at the largest ever UK Marshall Rosenberg event

380 people were present for the launch of ApologyPlus. Banners flew from the balconies. (These banners are available for places where the TV cameras are interested in Apology issues; e.g. Ken Livingstone, Kate Moss, Prince Harry, the Home Office?).


Imagined A4 sheet for their door or to stick up somewhere where you both go

- Print & (if you want to) add the words :“I’ve been working on it”, signed......

Test Riding ApologyPlus –your opportunity to role-play on-line

Test Riding ApologyPlus –your opportunity to role-play on-line

This role play is not a rush to get to a particular place.
If you are working on it alone, take as long as you are willing to give it & please then go to the feedback & suggestions page.
(If you are working with colleagues e.g. on different computers in the office at the same time, then the co-ordinator could practice and decide how long they would like their team to spend working this through.
At the end of the agreed time period, people can be asked to go to spend 5 minutes on the ‘feedback and suggestions’ page and then meet together to discuss what did & didn’t work for you.)
This isn’t surfing, this is riding a wave.

Your ApologyPlus test-ride

1) Think of a city in the UK where you will imagine that you live.:……………………………………
(If you are a co-ordinator of a mediation service, please choose your own town!)

2) Keep your same name (& use ‘Test-ride’ as the first line of your address if asked for it)

3) In role playing on-line, imagine the party you choose to play to have the same level of familiarity with how the web works as you have.

4) Choose whether you want to be Person A, B or C:

Person A (Married, with children)
You have made a complaint first to your neighbour, Person B. Then you have made the complaint more fully to your Housing Association Landlord about Person B. Your complaint in full is that Person B has been making verbal threats against your children, they are noisy and they are intimidating.
(Please choose a name for Person B to make this situation more real to you:……………).

Person B (A single father)
You have heard Person A & Person C complain to you about the noise you and your children make. You have replied by letting Person C know that her oldest son has been “bullying and harassing” your children. (Please choose names for Person A & Person C to make this situation more real to you:…………… & ……………….)

Person C (A single mother)
You have the same complaints as Person A. You also spoke to Person B about it and were told that your oldest son has been “bullying and harassing” Person B’s children. (Please choose names for Person A & Person B to make this situation more real to you: ……………………………………….)

5) A letter has come from your Housing Association Landlord:

“Dear Tenant
We are aware of some tension between some of the neighbours. We hope this can be sorted out. We don’t know what it will take to sort it out. As a first step, we suggest that you use the confidential website and see if it has any relevance to your situation. If you are keen to work on resolving the issues between you we will be willing to find resources to pay for mediators. (More information about what mediators do is available via the website).
Good luck.
Yours sincerely,

(Housing Officer)”

P.S. If you do not have access to the internet or know anyone who can help you use it, we suggest that you phone the touch-tone ApologyPlus helpline (01**** ****) or approach one of the following. Ask them if you can spend an hour there, with some support, to go through the website
1) The local Citizen’s Advice Bureau (Tel…..)
2) The local Library (Tel…..)
3) An Internet Cafe
4) “Social Services” (if you are a client of theirs)

5) One of our housing officers, or someone more independent who we may be able to find to visit you with a portable computer.

P.P.S. You may, or may not, choose to indicate to your neighbours that you have visited
(One way of letting your neighbours know that you are taking this issue seriously and following our advice would be to drop the ApologyPlus flyer in their door or post it in a public area, with or without the words “I’ve been working on it” & with or without your name.)


Truth and Reconciliation in Glasgow?

One of the Bristol 'slavery apology' debate organisers has let me know of plans to take the debate -with a Truth & Reconcilliation panelist- to Glasgow next:

Andrew Kelly from Business West emailed too say:
I thought the debate was helpful and useful and hopefully we can move things on. I agree with you on the truth and reconciliation aspect - in fact, I amplanning another debate on this issue, this time in Glasgow for next February, and am trying to get Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela who served on theTruth and Reconciliation Commission and has a book out here later this year on her experience which covers forgiveness. I've already spoken to Ekow Eshun about participating. We hope to pursue these debates too as part of our reading project early next year which covers slavery in part. I've read the Apologist, too. Regards, Andrew


Some Logo Work in advance of 21st May launch to mediators and NVC practitioners

Ways forward with the 'slavery legacy & reparation' debate

Following on from last night’s ‘apology for slavery?’ debate I met up with Ekow Eshun today in Bristol and discussed what was missing from the debate. Last night there were different views on where the injustices (and responsibility for them) lay. From the floor, Martin Upchurch (Respect Party) said that an apology means everything and it means nothing.

Toyin Agbetu pleaded for dialogue: “I want to conduct a conversation in which we can exchange views. An apology is to do with making it possible for me and you to live in the same space on equal terms. My children and your children too. We need to recreate a Britain which includes a wider perspective.”
In support of this another speaker said “An apology might well be political and evasive. But what it will do is tell all of us there is something for us to discuss & that is deeply important. We must use every instrument to open apologies wherever we are”. Reparation was discussed too, and education was seen as a key part of this reparation to build a world of greater equity/equality and less tokenism. Ekow Eshun said that “It is difficult & exhausting to explain that Britain, for all its strengths, is a racist country. That racism comes out of the self-confidence built up over centuries. The word sorry isn’t a very big word, but it is a very meaningful word.”
Today I gave Ekow a copy of “The Apologist”; he knows Jay Rayner and will talk further to him about his novel. Ekow agreed with me that missing from last night’s panel was the voice of a mediator; someone whose daily work is in the facilitating of difficult conversations and witnessing people repairing the harm between them, with or without an apology. In Ekow’s words, the experience of ‘Truth & Reconciliation’ would have greatly enhanced this discussion. Ekow and I touched on the dynamics of finding mediators who would engage the stakeholders. Neutrality and impartiality are two of the mediator’s values which play a crucial role in engaging stakeholders in discussions. Who are the stakeholders with power to do something? If they can be identified, how do we gain their confidence to discuss & address the harms for which acknowledgement (and redress?) is sought? [If it is about Englands Port Cities, this link has much history]
As the discussions develop on ‘what fairness looks like’ in a world with a legacy of slavery and racism, I will be working to bring mediation values, skills and opportunities to those who have frustration? regrets? and can be engaged in communication. In debates, more mediator panelists please.


Debate: Should we apologise for the past?

The Bristol Festival of Ideas is holding the following debate:
10 MAY: 7pm Debate: Should we apologise for the past?
(Venue: British Empire and Commonwealth Museum)

The decision of the General Synod of the Church of England to apologise for its role in the slave trade, and Tony Blair’s apology to the Irish people, have opened up again the question of whether we should apologise for the past. Do such apologies work? Are they meaningful? Do they go far enough? Should Bristol apologise for its role in the slave trade? As the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade approaches, leading historians, writers, broadcasters and artistic leaders debate this critical moral, ethical and political issue.

Chaired by Christopher Hitchens,author most recently of a book on the ethics of bombing Germancities in the second world war, Dead Cities,
Ekow Eshun, author of Black Gold of the Sun, which charted his search for his roots in Africa
Isabel Hilton, director of the Royal African Society
Richard Dowden,
Professor Deepak Lal,
Professor Stephen Howe,
Dr Mike Phillips,
Toyin Agbetu (Ligali Organisation)
& Professor Hugh Thomas.
(For an imagined apology click here; and for Jay Rayner's reflections on his protagonist's imaginary apology click here) Please comment below.


“The Apologist” author rings to set the record straight

Jay Rayner, author of "The Apologist" and Observer journalist etc, phoned me today, concerned at the quote about the apology for slavery being taken out of context.
His novel is satirical and particularly cynical of the usage by politicians of apology. Apology, Jay believes, usually has more integrity when it is interpersonal and not mixed with power-politics and public press statements. Jay emailed: "I believe is that it makes far more sense that we address inequalities present in society now in a meaningful way and in practical terms, rather than mouthing platitudes that cost nothing and make no difference." Please click on comments (below) to add your thoughts, observations, feelings, needs, requests etc.


How do I find Nonviolent Communication training in the UK?

Pay It Forward

The Pay It Forward Foundation was established in September 2000 by author Catherine Ryan Hyde and others to educate and inspire students to realize that they can change the world, and provide them with opportunities to do so. By bringing the author's vision and related materials into classrooms internationally, students and their teachers are encouraged to formulate their own ideas of how they can pay it forward.
The teacher and protagonist in the book “Pay It Forward,” starts a movement with this voluntary, extra-credit assignment: THINK OF AN IDEA FOR WORLD CHANGE, AND PUT IT INTO ACTION. Trevor, the 12-year-old hero of “Pay It Forward,” thinks of quite an idea. He describes it to his mother and teacher this way: "You see, I do something real good for three people. And then when they ask how they can pay it back, I say they have to Pay It Forward. To three more people. Each. So nine people get helped. Then those people have to do twenty-seven." He turned on the calculator, punched in a few numbers. "Then it sort of spreads out...See how big it gets?"

NVC podcast discussions

Vaestro is a new interactive audio tool on the internet which offers new opportunities for sharing Nonviolent Communication (and other society-changing initiatives). Below is the link to the NVC part of this free audio interactive POD cast program (launched April 2006) which contains much audio material and can be used to start topic discussions or present NVC using voice rather than email.You can find conversations on NVC including current research projects at: -an opportunity to play, learn, and contribute.


Be part of Channel Four's forthcoming “Making Amends” programme?


What mistakes have you made in your life?

Do you want to put the past behind you, move on and have fun in the process?

This could be your chance to wipe the slate clean and come out the other side a better person. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

It doesn’t matter what you did or when you did it, it’s time to show the world you are not a bad person.

Channel Four are making a new non-judgmental programme called “Making Amends”. If you are interested in taking part or just want some more details you can call or email us in confidence on 0207 861 8465 or email


ApologyPlus is on-line is now up and running as a basic website. It is imagined that the ApologyPlus website will be promoted by many as a place for people to take their frustrations, regrets, and interpersonal issues. From the ApologyPlus website, the user has an option to learn more about apology, including an extract from the "Power of Apology". After reflecting on the value of apology to the website user, the user is encouraged to access all the resources of which is being built both as an interactive-empathy site, facilitating Nonviolent Communication and as a referral route for mediation services. is only one of many issue and/or context based websites that may bring someone to an interest in NVC-mediation. (Please build the other websites to route people to .) Meanwhile please take a look at what conflict-resolution potential may be built on the web at
Please use the 'feedback and suggestions' option on the left of the pages.

Imagined apology for slavery

March 2007 will be the 200th anniversary of the official (UK) abolition of the slave trade. In advance of the anniversary, copied below is an imagined apology for slavery. (This comes from the novel, The Apologist by Jay Rayner, p257):
"and the wounds, though they shall never be bound up, are now recognized. The pain and hurt that has passed from generation, from father to son, from mother to daughter, is our pain too for we, the perpetrators, accept our guilt. The tongue that we now share, that was forced upon the peoples of Africa by our ill deeds, is overburdened by the language of domination but ill-equipped when it comes to the making of amends. Only one word presents itself, a tiny word compared to the magnitude of the task set before it, but we offer it now in all humility for it is all we have.
That word is sorry. We are sorry for the grievous crimes of slavery, sorry for the centuries of deprivation, sorry for the river of blood that we have caused to flow. On behalf of myself, my family, and the peoples of Britain and the USA, I ask now that you accept both the apology late though it be, and the sincerity with which it is given". Having read this quote please click here

Sneak Preview of

To take a sneak preview of a new Nonviolent Communication (NVC) Conflict Resolution and Mediation Website go to
Please go to the 'about this site' page and then join the CommunicatingNeeds yahoo group to participate in the development of the site.
Once the 21st May 2006 'discreet NVC and mediator' launch of the hub site has passed, much of my focus will be on funding applications to create and publicize tailored websites to link to .
Whilst Apology remains my favoured issue to link to, there are many other issues and contexts which could be developed by anyone as gateway sites to :
(Issues: e.g. Accusations, Anger, (Avoiding Litigation), Regret, Separation)
(Contexts: e.g. Business, Civil Law, Criminal Law, Health Service, Neighbours, School, Workplace)
The funding applications will both be for developing sites and for publicising them, which is why I'd really value some comments and creative sparks, either here or at the CommunicatingNeeds yahoo group.


Seeking feedback on the link to

The ApologyPlus idea originated in December 2004 once I had reflected on The website is a gallery of thousands of people who have each photographed themselves with a self-written “sorry message”; the apology being one made to the world by American citizens for the November 2004 ‘offence’ of their country having re-elected the President who had taken them into war. I guess that achieved wide circulation because it was perceived by recipients as containing a poignant combination of heart, humour and all the humanity of hurt and regret in it. I was inspired to re-connect with what apology means to me and what potential it has for change, personal and public. Whereas has messages giving apologies –on behalf of others!- around one theme, I wondered if one virtual location could be created as a place where apologies were both given and received, in relation to events national, local and inter-personal.

I’m really glad to see that has now led to a site called Whilst the apologies are often not given or received in ways that I would value personally, there is a strong sense that the website(s) have provided a valued and original means of empowerment, giving voice, creating community and connection between people who may never meet yet share the same world regrets.
Please add your comments below on how you respond to the content of What you say and do next can help the development of ApologyPlus and will inevitably change your world!

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Seeking feedback on the links to Marshall Rosenberg

On the right of the most recent web log entry are links to web sites that have stimulated the development of the ApologyPlus idea.
Please add your comments below on how you respond to the content of the links that lead you to the work of Marshall Rosenberg.


£50,000 bid to the ICT Hub –and how ApologyPlus will help individuals and organisations

Mediation UK today submitted a £50,000 funding bid to the “Information and Communication Technology Hub Unmet Need Fund” (part of the ‘ChangeUp’ fund for restructuring the voluntary and community sector.)

In Mediation UK's funding application it was explained that
ApologyPlus will be:
-a network of individuals and organisations helping with difficult communication at no cost to individual service users.
On line we will provide opportunity to;
- explore what you are needing
- make requests
- be heard
- reach agreements about changed behaviour
- learn and deliver mediation processes.”

The ApologyPlus project delivers:
-strategic information and communication technology innovation to mediation services and the wider voluntary sector
-an increased choice of cases for the local mediation services to choose to prioritise and which otherwise might stay hidden
-a means of access to cases (funded or pro bono) for the spare capacity out of the 2500 trained volunteer mediators and a comparable (or greater?) number of individuals trained in Nonviolent Communication.
-a cumulative database built through users’ web-clicks of their needs and strategies to get their needs met
-a healthy mediation sector and wider voluntary sector dialogue about what parts of the work can and can’t be delivered with innovative ICT.


Apology Workshop at forthcoming Mediation UK Conference

Culturally Enabling Apology-Mediation
Apologies developed as an alternative to duels, enabling the saving of face without risking lives. Mediating apologies is a difficult journey through regret, empathy, responsibility, repair and change. Emotional danger lies in the dynamics of one party feeling guilty and accepting negative self-images. Legal danger lies where taking responsibility is not separated from taking legal liability, a necessary distinction for a culture of openness to replace a blame culture. This workshop will explore how the mediator meets and engages with oppressive blame-shame cultures to transform the communication so that each party is able to acknowledge the other’s needs. Sharpen your skills in assisting parties in healthier forms of expressing regret.
For more information about the conference, click here.


ApologyPlus to be launched on 21st May 2006

The ApologyPlus project which Mediation UK is developing seeks to encourage people wanting apologies etc to refer themselves to local mediation services or to access mediators and Nonviolent Communication practitioners by e-mail and phone. Individuals accessing an 'empathy on-line service' may progress to assisted communication of both people's underlying needs. Prior to further development of Mediation UK's website, there will be a brief opportunity to explore with Marshall Rosenberg his experience of helpful and harmful on-line communications and to register your interest in developing this project.
(A leaflet advertising the Marshall Rosenberg day -'Getting to the heart in resolving conflict' can be found at and at
Other matters relating to the 21st May event are posted at