Melon Farmers Original Version

Bollox Britain


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29th December   

Pupil Watch...

Schools install CCTV and microphones in classrooms
Link Here

Schools have installed CCTV cameras and microphones in classrooms to watch and listen to pupils.

The Big Brother-style surveillance is being marketed as a way to identify pupils disrupting lessons when teachers' backs are turned.

Classwatch, the firm behind the system, says its devices can be set up to record everything that goes on in a classroom 24 hours a day and used to compile evidence of wrongdoing. The equipment is sold with Crown Prosecution Service-approved evidence bags to store material to be used in court cases.

Data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner has warned the surveillance may be illegal and demanded to know why primary and secondary schools are using this kind of sophisticated equipment to watch children. Officials said they would be contacting schools to seek proper justification for the equipment's use. A spokesman said the system raised privacy concerns for teachers, students and their parents. The use of microphones to record conversations is deeply intrusive and we will be seeking further clarification on their use in schools and, if necessary, we will issue further guidance to headteachers.

Classwatch is set to face further scrutiny over the role of Shadow Children's Minister Tim Loughton, the firm's £30,000-a-year chairman.

The systems cost around £3,000 to install in each classroom or can be leased for about £50 per classroom per month. The firm says the devices act as impartial witnesses which can provide evidence in disputes and curb bullying and unruly behaviour and protect teachers against false allegations of abuse – plus provide evidence acceptable in court.

Schools are required to inform all parents that microphones and cameras are monitoring their children.


21st December   

Update: Snapshot of a Police State...

Government clarifies police powers to stop people taking photos
Link Here
Full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

In a letter to the National Union of Journalists, the Minister for security and counter-terrorism, Vernon Kay, clarified that the police may stop photographers taking pictures or videos when the taking of photographs may cause or lead to public order situations or inflame an already tense situation or raise security considerations. The Police have already been using heightened security tensions and their powers under the Terrorism Act to remove and harass people documenting political demonstrations, which was the cause of the dialogue with the NUJ.

This signifies the Home Office coming clean and admitting from now on the Police will have ability to remove anyone at all with a camera - all the police have to do is declare, possibly not even publicly, that there are special circumstances:

Additionally, the police may require a person to move on in order to prevent a breach of the peace or to avoid a public order situation or for the person's own safety and welfare or for the safety and welfare of others.

This means if you witnessed the police bundling someone into the back of a van and decided to film it on your camera phone, you would be breaking the law. If a professional journalist did so, they would also be breaking the law.


12th December   

An Englishman's Home Was His Castle...

Man fined for swearing in his own home
Link Here

Plumber Martin Solomon was heard by neighbours as he shouted foul and offensive language at his TV, magistrates in Stroud heard.

His ranting put him in breach of an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) which had been imposed at an earlier hearing to try to stop him shouting and swearing at the television whenever he disagreed with a programme.

Simon James, defending at Stroud Magistrates' Court, said: Mr Solomon often drinks more than is good for him. He will have a drink and will return home. Then he will put on the television and if someone on the TV says something that upsets him, he will swear at the TV.

The court heard that his neighbours in Farmhill close, Stroud - among them two children aged two and 11 - were disturbed from their sleep and upset by the language.

Stroud District Council obtained the two-year ASBO order in Gloucester Magistrates' Court on September 27 last year. But Solomon broke the order on October 21 at 10.10pm, October 23 at 23.55pm and November 10 at 9.55pm, the court heard.

Solomon admitted the breach in a police interview and pleaded guilty in court.

James said: He has tried very hard to comply with the order. He said Solomon had consulted a doctor and a rehabilitation service.

Colin Peake, SDC's anti-social behaviour co-ordinator, said: It's very frustrating for the family next door who've got two young children.

He was fined £80 and told to pay £60 costs plus a £15 victim surcharge at the hearing.


11th December   

Arsehole Council Jobsworths...

Pensioner fined for littering after police knock cigarette from his hand
Link Here

A grandfather was left humiliated after being handed a £60 litter fine when his cigarette was knocked out of his hand as he walked past a scuffle between police and shoplifters.

Lazaris Michael, 76, had taken a single puff before his smoke was sent flying as officers apprehended two girls who were trying to flee a branch of Boots.

But the pensioner did not have time to bend down and pick it up before a council warden pounced on him and hit him the fixed penalty for littering in front of a large crowd.

When he begged the council to show common sense and drop the case they responded by threatening him with an even bigger fine if he does not pay up.

He has since written to the council asking them to investigate the case, which he says was the result of an over zealous council warden.

But he has been told the fee will be increased to £80 if he does not pay up.

Thanet Council's environment chief jobsworth Shirley Tomlinson said: We are happy with the process that has been followed.

Thanet Council's campaign warns people the council will take a zero tolerance approach to anyone who drops litter, including cigarette butts and chewing gum. If spotted, no excuses will be accepted. You will be handed a fine. It is therefore important to dispose of any litter in the right way. Our wardens have been doing what they have been instructed to do and we cannot make any allowances.'


10th December   

Duty Bound...

Damian Green arrest shows police are loyal to their political masters
Link Here

When three police officers came knocking at Brett Duxfield's door at 8am, he could not imagine what he had done wrong. The 39-year-old Hartlepool lorry driver was arrested, taken to the police station, questioned and kept in the cells for 10 hours. His alleged crime? Lighting a bonfire on the village green in Elwick, where he used to live. On Bonfire Night.

It turned out that this breached an ancient, but recently revived, by-law. So he was charged with arson, for which the maximum penalty is life in prison.

This kind of disproportionate reaction is becoming something of a habit for the police. When Inspector Tony Green, of Cleveland Police, announced, We are duty-bound to follow a complaint through, he was using almost exactly the same words as the Metropolitan Police did to justify arresting Damian Green, the Tories' front-bench spokesman on immigration, as well as searching his offices, seizing his computer, rifling through his private papers and freezing his email account.

Since when were the police duty-bound to behave like this? In what way does following a complaint through require three police officers to arrest someone who may have acted anti-socially, detain him for 10 hours and charge him with an offence that was once a capital crime?

...Read full article


7th December

 Offsite: The War on Photographers...

Link Here
Full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state
Police Rules of engagement

See article from


5th December   

Section 27 Football Fan Abuse...

More frightening powers for the UK police to abuse
Link Here
Full story: Football Policing in UK...Police vandalise the concept of justice

Frightening new police powers have emerged following the shocking treatment of Stoke City fans prior to their team's away fixture with Manchester United on Saturday, November 15, 2008.

An estimated 80 Stoke supporters visited the Railway Inn pub in Irlam, Greater Manchester, on their way to Old Trafford. The pub was a natural stop-off point, being on en route to the stadium via the M6 and a local railway station. By all accounts that the Football Supporters' Federation have heard it was a relatively quiet atmosphere, with little singing, never mind trouble.

However, at 1.15pm a number of officers from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) entered the premises and told fans they would not be allowed to leave the pub, would be forcibly taken back to Stoke, and not be allowed to visit Old Trafford.

Each supporter was then issued with a Section 27 from the Violent Crime Reduction Act of 2006. This allows police to move someone from a specified area for a period of up to 48 hours. You do not actually have to have committed any offence for the act to be enforced. Section 27 gives police the powers to move anybody, from any place, at anytime, if they think there's a possibility an alcohol related offence may be committed.

Stoke City fan Lyndon Edwards, who is making a formal complaint to GMP and the Independent Police Complaints Commission, was one of those in the pub: I asked for it to be stated on the Section 27 form given that I was not intoxicated and that there was no evidence of any disorder on my part. This was refused so I refused to sign the form. I was told to sign it or I would be arrested. We were then loaded onto buses and had to sit there for what seemed like an eternity.

There were no football chants being sung at the Railway Inn and no evidence of disorder whatsoever. If there had of been we would have left the pub and made our way elsewhere.

The Stoke supporters were then driven back in convoy to Stoke city centre, regardless of whether this was actually where they were from.

I have spoken to a number of Stoke fans who were there and I am quite satisfied that they did absolutely nothing wrong, but they end being hauled back to Stoke against their will and missing the game, said Malcolm Clarke, chair of the FSF and a Stoke City fan: They were treated very badly by the Greater Manchester Police. This new law gives the police a great deal of instant power which can severely affect the basic civil rights of football supporters, if they happen to be in the wrong pub or on the wrong train at the wrong time.


5th December   

Update: German Remote Forensics Trojan...

Just think of the devastation if crooks and blackmailers got hold of the ideas
Link Here

German police will get sweeping new powers to hack into people's home computers with 'Trojan' viruses sent through the internet.

Under a compromise between the hardline Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and dissenting MPs, Germany's Parliament is put unprecedented power in the hands of the Federal Criminal Police (BKA). Under the compromise, the police will need a judge's approval before using the Trojans, even in an emergency.

Trojans will carry Remote Forensic Software that can search hard drives and send evidence back to investigators without their having to enter the suspect's home.

Rolf Tophoven from the Institute for Terrorism Research and Security Policy said: We need this. The masterminds among the terrorist groups of today are highly qualified, very sophisticated people. The police need as much power as we can give them so that they can remain at the technological level of the terrorists. After all, the terrorists already have a huge advantage: they have the first shot."

Based on article from

In practical terms there are many potential drawbacks to this Trojan approach.

For starters, infecting the PC of a target of an investigation is hit and miss. Malware is not a precision weapon, and that raises the possibility that samples of the malware might fall into the hands of cybercrooks.

Even if a target does get infected there's a good chance any security software they've installed will detect the malware. Any security vendor who agreed to turn a blind eye to state-sanctioned Trojans would risk compromising their reputation, as amply illustrated by the Magic Lantern controversy in the US a few years back.


4th December   

Police Thuggery...

Police beat up innocent man and then prosecute him
Link Here

A judge has condemned a police assault on a soldier who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Mark Aspinall, 24, was thrown to the ground by three uniformed officers after a night out with friends and punched eight times.

The violent arrest - caught on CCTV - shocked a crown court judge, who called it appalling.

But astonishingly, Lance Corporal Aspinall was himself hauled before the courts and convicted of assaulting the police.

He was sentenced to 200 hours' community service and even ordered to pay compensation to the officers.

His ordeal ended only when Judge John Phipps watched the damning CCTV footage and quashed the verdict on appeal.

Judge Phipps said: I am shocked and appalled at the level of police violence shown here.

Police officers had been called to the town centre to deal with a man reportedly causing a nuisance to paramedics. But when a special constable and two colleagues saw Aspinall in the road they presumed he was the cause of the trouble.

In the footage, the soldier can be seen 10ft from them in the middle of the road as they stand on the pavement. Suddenly, the officers move across the road towards him and, startled, Aspinall falls over. As he gets to his feet one officer rugby tackles him, while the other two help pin him to the ground and attempt to handcuff him.

The footage appears to show one of the officers - Special Constable Peter Lightfoo raining punches into the back of the defenceless man as he lies on the ground. Eight blows are struck in just a few seconds and the police officer stops only when a car drives past slowly.

Eventually, Aspinall was bundled into a police van in handcuffs, with injuries to his face and neck. He was taken to Wigan police station and kept in custody for 20 hours. He was charged with two counts of police assault and a public order offence.

On September 22, at Wigan magistrates' court, the officers read statements claiming  Aspinall had been behaving violently. Despite viewing the footage, magistrates found him guilty of the assaults, sentenced him to community service and gave him a suspended-prison sentence. They also ordered him to pay £250 compensation.

He lodged an appeal against the conviction and on November 13 at Liverpool Crown Court, Judge Phipps saw the footage and asked: Where is this man of violence? I am shocked and appalled at the level of police violence shown here. The judge said he had great concerns about the CCTV footage and questioned the truthfulness of the officers' statements: I would go as far as to say the statements contain untruths.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said the matter had been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. One officer has had his duties restricted and another two are being investigated.

[How about all those responsible for the prosecution and original sentencing? Surely some jail time is due to them to]


3rd December   

Miserable Britain...

Norwich council shites threaten traders offering a christmas glass of wine
Link Here

Wishing you a miserable christmas
from all at Norwich Council

A Hairdressers who offer their customers a festive glass of mulled wine at Christmas have been warned that they face six months in jail and a £20,000 fine.

The threat was made by council chiefs, who even announced that they will send officers into salons under cover in an effort to catch offenders. Hairdressers have criticised the move as "Scrooge-like".

Norwich City Council wrote to all hairdressing businesses in the city ordering them to get a licence if they want to serve alcoholic drinks. Sent to 104 salons in Norwich, the letter states that the practice of serving complimentary alcoholic drinks is a breach of the law and requires various licences.

It then warns: To address this issue enforcement action, including the use of undercover officers, may be undertaken in the near future.

The council also declares that anyone found guilty of unlawfully supplying alcohol could face a maximum of six months in jail, a maximum fine of £20,000 or both.

Nigel Matthews, owner of Nigel Alexandre salon, said: The vast majority of salons serve tea and coffee throughout the year and in the couple of weeks before Christmas offer a glass of wine or mulled wine or sherry. It seems very Scrooge-like to send a letter out just as we are entering the festive period. It is traditional, the clients are rewarded and it is all part of the customer service.

What struck me was the potential sentence – you get a lot less than that for a lot more than serving a glass of wine.

A council spokesprat said that under the 2003 Licensing Act sale by retail includes providing alcohol to customers as part of the service. He added that a letter of complaint was received last month about salons offering drinks.

We wanted to make sure small businesses did not unwittingly fall foul of the law while trying to spread a little Christmas cheer in the build-up to the festive season, he said.

Michael Stephenson, misery services manager, said: We accept the letter we sent out to hairdressers in the city may not appear to be in keeping with the festive mood and are sorry if it has been misunderstood... HOWEVER ...we are a licensing authority and there is a serious message here about the enforcement of licensing laws and helping businesses make sure they do not fall foul of the law."


26th November   

Update: A Snapshot of a Police State...

More photographers under duress
Link Here
Full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

A couple of weeks ago a 15-year old schoolboy on a geography field trip was stopped by police under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act for taking a photograph of Wimbledon train station as part of his of GCSE course.

Community Support Officers forced him to give his details and sign a form or face arrest (legal note: You do not have to give your details under and stop and search, despite what lies the police will say and never sign any police notes).

Last week the police stopped four students from Kingston University from filming an interview with the anti-war Parliament Square protesters as part of their MA in Film Making. The police approached the students and told them they would need a permit from the Council to film. Brian Haw from the Parliament Square peace camp filmed this incident, but the police curiously didn't stop him from filming! Later the students returned with a letter from the University course director explaining their work and that it was not for commercial purposes and the students were covered by the University's insurance. But police would still not let the students film and when challenged refused to check with superiors.


20th November   

Silent Night...

Scrooge alive and well and working with the killjoys of Westminster Council
Link Here

The Debenhams store in Oxford Street has been banned from playing Christmas carols after council bosses said the music created noise pollution.

Westminster council officials have ordered managers at the department store not to broadcast the festive music that traditionally accompanies its popular window display, and threatened it with prosecution if it does not comply.

Thousands of families normally flock to see the £100,000 display featuring moving reindeer and snowmen while listening to traditional carols such as Jingle Bells or Silent Night broadcast onto the street through four-inch speakers.

However, despite being played on one of the busiest and noisiest shopping streets in England, environmental health officials told the shop's management the music would have to be switched off because it constituted noise pollution.

Daniel Astaire, Westminster's cabinet member for community protection, said: If every business was allowed to blast its choice of music and advertising into Oxford Street a visit would become unbearable and inevitably affect trade.

The store offered to turn down the volume but this was rejected by the council.

An employee at the store, who wants to remain anonymous, said the music would cheer people during the credit crunch and branded the council killjoys.

He said: We've done this for decades and at a time of grimness it brings an awful lot of joy into people's lives at Christmas. We were more than happy to turn the music right down so only people standing inches from the window could hear it but he insisted it must be turned off or we would be prosecuted. We could understand the council's stance if were deliberately blaring out the usual Christmas songs by Slade with no regard for passers by. But this is a very gentle, very quiet, discreet piece, composed especially to appeal to children as they watch the show. It's clear that Scrooge is alive and well and working with the killjoys at Westminster City Council.


15th November   

Update: Vetters Need Vetting...

Criminal Records Bureau understates inaccurate vetting reports
Link Here
Full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids

More than 12,200 innocent people have been branded criminals by bungling police and Government officials, it has been revealed.

The incorrect records showing them to be paedophiles, violent thugs or other convicts were disclosed to schools, hospitals, nurseries and voluntary groups by the Criminal Records Bureau. The extent of the misreporting is four times worse than officials had suggested.

Those wrongly accused by the CRB face having their careers blighted. They also have to go through an appeals process to clear their names. By the time that has finished, they may have been stigmatised and their chance of obtaining a job or training post dashed - disclosures are sent to the potential employee and the applicant on the same day.

The CRB's annual report indicates that only 680 inaccurate disclosures were made last year. But figures seen by the Daily Mail reveal there were 2,785 last year. Since 2003-2004, more than 12,200 have been wrongly stigmatised as criminals. They contested their cases, and were proved to be right.

Figures obtained by Tory MP Mike Penning show that, in some years, virtually every contested disclosure was found to be inaccurate. In 2005-2006, 2,669 disputes were upheld, out of 2,675 that were contested.

The CRB had been effectively covering up the scale of the problem by only making public those mistakes for which its staff were personally responsible. It had not been releasing details of disclosures containing inaccuracies supplied to the CRB by other public bodies - most notably the police - then subsequently disclosed in the agency's name. Mistakes have included people having convictions wrongly attributed to their name because of a mistake by staff entering information into the Police National Computer.

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: The increase in the number of incorrect disclosures is disturbing. These are mistakes that risk ruining people's lives.

Phil Booth, of the NO2ID privacy campaign, said: One mistake in the system and your whole life can go down the pan. You are officially tagged a criminal when you have done nothing wrong.


14th November   

Update: Advertising Repression...

Northern Ireland look to restricting young adults from drinking
Link Here
Full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians

All alcohol advertisements should be banned in Northern Ireland in an effort to repress the region's drinkers.

The legislative assembly heard that raising the age limit for buying alcoholic drinks in off licences from 18-21 and outlawing two-for-one and happy hour promotions in bars and clubs are also among a series of repressive measures proposed by the SDLP.

The SDLP also called for a social responsibility tariff imposed on all licensed premises to ensure they contribute to the cost of policing the night-time economy.

The initiatives were outlined by Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey during a debate on the problems surrounding alcohol misuse in Northern Ireland.

Ramsey acknowledged that while some of his party's proposals could be legislated for by the Assembly others were devolved matters.


10th November   

The Database Rag...

A couple of amusing animations for you
Link Here

A couple of amusing animations for you from :


6th November   

Update: Cynical or What?...

Freedom dismantling, killjoy government unbelievably blames cynical bloggers for its unpopularity
Link Here

Corrosive cynicism, fuelled by politically nihilistic blogs and a retreat from dispassionate reporting, is endangering British political discourse, Hazel Blears, the communities secretary, will tell a Hansard Society conference today on growing political disengagement in Britain.

She will lambast the growth of a hermetically-sealed professional political class and call for a support network on the lines of the political women's action group Emily's List to help more people from ordinary careers into full-time politics.

In a hard-hitting speech, she will warn that the fall in turnouts among working class voters in some British cities is now so marked that it amounts to a reversal by stealth of 19th century reforms that spread the franchise.

All political parties will have to learn how to use the web as a campaign and fundraising tool, she will say, and how to engage ethnic minority groups and the working class.

We are witnessing a dangerous corrosion in our political culture, she says. In part she will blame a shrinking and increasingly competitive newspaper market which demands more impact from its reporting - the translation of every political discussion into a row, every difficulty a crisis, every rocky patch for the prime minister into the worst week ever.

She will, however, also turn her fire on some political bloggers.

Perhaps because of the nature of the technology, there is a tendency for political blogs to have a 'Samizdat' style. The most popular blogs are rightwing, ranging from the considered Tory views of Iain Dale, to the vicious nihilism of Guido Fawkes. Perhaps this is simply anti-establishment. Blogs have only existed under a Labour government. Perhaps if there was a Tory government, all the leading blogs would be left-of-centre?

But mostly, political blogs are written by people with disdain for the political system and politicians, who see their function as unearthing scandals, conspiracies and perceived hypocrisy.

Until political blogging 'adds value' to our political culture, by allowing new voices, ideas and legitimate protest and challenge, and until the mainstream media reports politics in a calmer, more responsible manner, it will continue to fuel a culture of cynicism and despair.


2nd November   

Update: Police Dopes...

Scottish police to deter pub customers with drugs test on entry
Link Here
Full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians

Pub-goers in Aberdeen are facing a drugs test before entering bars as part of a unbelievably shitty policy by Grampian Police.

Officers in the force will be the first in Scotland to use an Itemiser - a device which can detect traces of drugs from hand swabs in a matter of seconds.

The test is voluntary, but customers will be refused entry if they do not take part. They could be searched and even arrested if traces are found.

The Itemiser allows police officers or door staff to swab customers hands as they enter a pub or club. It can tell almost instantly if drugs are present - including cocaine, cannabis, heroin and ecstasy.

The device can show three possible results: green, amber or red. Customers who get a green reading are allowed entry to the pub, those who get amber are given a drug information pack and those who get red could be searched by police.

If drugs are found on that person they could be arrested and a report could be sent to the procurator fiscal.

Police said the device deters unwanted drug dealers. [and no doubt an awful lot of innocent customers]

Det Supt Willie MacColl, national drugs co-ordinator for the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency (SCDEA), said: This project offers an opportunity for collaborative working to implement an alternative intervention that will help change attitudes and reduce demand for controlled drugs. We hope that over time the model can be developed and used by community partnerships in other towns and cities across Scotland to reduce the harm caused by drugs.

The Itemiser is already being used in pubs in England where concerns have been raised about the possibility of customers getting a positive reading simply by touching a surface where there are traces of drugs.


1st November   

Update: £100,000 Bail Set for Dr Toben...

Crap extradition law diminishes UK justice
Link Here
Full story: European Arrest Warrants...Arrested in Britain for non-crimes

Oh no!...not again!...
OK...We shall fight them
on the beaches

Fredrick Töben, the alleged Holocaust denier detained in London a month ago, will be released on bail if he can raise £100,000.

The sum of money is described as “security” rather than a surety because it must be lodged with the court and not merely pledged.

Other bail conditions imposed by District Judge Daphne Wickham are residence at an approved address, daily reporting to the police, surrender of all passports, no participation in public meetings, no media interviews and no use of the internet — even to receive information.

Ben Watson, for Dr Töben, applied for bail after the district judge at City of Westminster Court ruled that the warrant under which his client had been arrested was not valid.

This was because it did not say where and when he is alleged to have committed the offence, under German law, of Holocaust denial.

It merely referred to worldwide internet publications and alleged that the offender is committing the acts in Australia, Germany and in other countries.

The court rejected an argument by Melanie Cumberland, for the German authorities, that the required information could be supplied.

The district judge said: Compliance, in my view, cannot be fulfilled by a drip-feed of information as and when the issuing authority provides it. I find that the particulars are vague and imprecise, I find the warrant invalid and therefore discharge the defendant.

She added that she had not been required to decide at this stage whether the alleged crimes were valid extradition offences.

Cumberland said the German authorities would appeal to the High Court.


21st October   

Update: Government less than Candid about Photography...

Police rules over public photography to be revised in November
Link Here
Full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

Written answers Tuesday, 14 October 2008 Home Department Terrorism: Stop and Search

Dominic Grieve (Shadow Attorney General, Law Officers; Beaconsfield, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidance her Department has given to the police on the exercise of their power under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to stop and search those taking photographs in public places.

Jacqui Smith (Home Secretary; Redditch, Labour)


Following a commitment given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in October 2007, the operational guidance issued to the police on section 44 is currently being reviewed by the Home Office, the police, community groups and other stakeholders. The National Police Improvement Agency will issue revised guidance to all police forces in November. This will cover the taking of photographs in public places, although the general position is that there is no legal restriction on photography in such places.


21st October   

Update: Crap Law Warrants Abuse...

Poland shows up how crap Euro lawmaking has become
Link Here
Full story: European Arrest Warrants...Arrested in Britain for non-crimes

Poland are abusing Euro warrants
We'd better invade

The number of extradition cases being dealt with in the UK courts has reached record levels, fuelled by a number of "trivial" requests from Europe that have exasperated the police and clogged up the system, the Guardian has learned.

Up to 1,000 extradition cases are expected to have been dealt with by the end of the year, more than double the number last year, and four times the number in 2006 according to figures from the City of Westminster magistrates court, which handles all extradition hearings.

The increase is largely down to the volume of European arrest warrants (EAWs), many of them issued by Poland.

EAWs, requiring the arrest and extradition of suspects from one EU country to another, are being used by Poland for a large volume of trivial extradition requests , according to Detective Sergeant Gary Flood of Scotland Yard's extradition unit.

He estimated that 40% of all extradition cases dealt with by the Metropolitan police originated in Poland, adding that many of the offences were so minor they would lead to either a caution or no investigation at all in England and Wales.

In one case, according to Flood, a carpenter who fitted wardrobe doors and then removed them when the client refused to pay him, was subject to an extradition request by Poland so that they could try him for theft. In another case, the Polish authorities requested the extradition of a suspect for theft of a dessert. The European arrest warrant contained a list of the ingredients, Flood said.

Although Poland is not the only culprit - a Lithuanian was extradited last year on a charge of piglet-rustling - it has made the most requests by far.

According to Flood the volume of cases from Poland has forced the Metropolitan police to start chartering special planes to return suspects to Poland. We now arrange for a Polish military flight every three weeks, he said.

The number of requests from Poland and other eastern European countries is due to the absence of a filtering process to weed out cases that are not worth prosecuting.


20th October   

Comment: A Martyr to Free Speech...

British court to decide on Toben's extradition on 29th October
Link Here
Full story: European Arrest Warrants...Arrested in Britain for non-crimes

Poland are abusing Euro warrants
We'd better invade

An Australian wanted in Germany for alleged Holocaust denial should not be extradited because he has committed no crime under UK law, a court has heard.

Dr Gerald Toben was arrested at Heathrow Airport by British police, acting on behalf of a German court.

His lawyer told the extradition hearing that Dr Toben should only be extradited if he had made his claims in Germany or had posted them on a German website.

Police were acting on an EU warrant that provides for "fast-track" extradition of suspects who have committed alleged offences in other European countries.

The historian is wanted for publishing material online of an anti-semitic and/or revisionist nature - a crime punishable by imprisonment in Germany, but not in the UK. Dr Toben's material appears on his Australian-based website, which the German authorities say can be accessed in Germany.

His lawyer, Ben Watson, questioned the validity of the EU warrant and said that there was not enough information within the warrant to justify Dr Toben's extradition.

District Judge Daphne Wickham remanded Toben in custody until a further hearing on 29 October when she will give her judgment on whether the case should be thrown out.

Offsite: Extradition will make Dr Toben a martyr

See article from by Chris Huhne

The legal controversy does not end with the use of the warrant. Dr Toben is accused in Germany but his offence is to post on an Australian website. Germany has taken on itself the role of censor, because of the capacity to download content in Germany. It is hard to see where such an attempt to extend jurisdiction might end, or what its chilling effects on freedom of speech might ultimately be.

The legal technicalities may yet stop Dr Toben's extradition. The arrest warrant is designed to respect each European Union country's legal system by allowing automatic extradition, although it allows British courts to assess whether someone's fundamental rights are being challenged. A clause in the legislation also allows our courts potentially to refuse extradition because the offence was committed outside the territory of the issuing member state, and does not allow prosecution here.

At least one member state — Belgium — has already said that it will look behind a warrant to assess whether it should be executed. Poland issues about a third of all European arrest warrants, and are said to treat abortion as murder. However, the Belgians have said that they will not execute warrants for abortion or euthanasia. Belgium's attitude provides a precedent for refusal.

...Read full article

Comment: Crack-brained legal fiction

20th October 2008. From Alan

Interesting article by Huhne.

I particularly noticed this bit: The legal controversy does not end with the use of the warrant. Dr Toben is accused in Germany but his offence is to post on an Australian website. Germany has taken on itself the role of censor, because of the capacity to download content in Germany. It is hard to see where such an attempt to extend jurisdiction might end, or what its chilling effects on freedom of speech might ultimately be.

Trouble is, the UK is in no position to moan about this. as Huhne, a prominent MP, ought to be aware. R v. Perrin is a leading case on obscenity. Poor old Perrin was thrown in prison in England for a gay porn site he ran in the USA, on precisely the basis that it could be accessed here. A crack-brained legal fiction holds that any material which can be downloaded here is "published" here.


18th October   

Update: A Martyr to Free Speech...

British court to decide on Toben's extradition on 29th October
Link Here
Full story: European Arrest Warrants...Arrested in Britain for non-crimes

Poland are abusing Euro warrants
We'd better invade

An Australian wanted in Germany for alleged Holocaust denial should not be extradited because he has committed no crime under UK law, a court has heard.

Dr Gerald Toben was arrested at Heathrow Airport by British police, acting on behalf of a German court.

His lawyer told the extradition hearing that Dr Toben should only be extradited if he had made his claims in Germany or had posted them on a German website.

Police were acting on an EU warrant that provides for "fast-track" extradition of suspects who have committed alleged offences in other European countries.

The historian is wanted for publishing material online of an anti-semitic and/or revisionist nature - a crime punishable by imprisonment in Germany, but not in the UK. Dr Toben's material appears on his Australian-based website, which the German authorities say can be accessed in Germany.

His lawyer, Ben Watson, questioned the validity of the EU warrant and said that there was not enough information within the warrant to justify Dr Toben's extradition.

District Judge Daphne Wickham remanded Toben in custody until a further hearing on 29 October when she will give her judgment on whether the case should be thrown out.

Offsite: Extradition will make Dr Toben a martyr

See article from by Chris Huhne

The legal controversy does not end with the use of the warrant. Dr Toben is accused in Germany but his offence is to post on an Australian website. Germany has taken on itself the role of censor, because of the capacity to download content in Germany. It is hard to see where such an attempt to extend jurisdiction might end, or what its chilling effects on freedom of speech might ultimately be.

The legal technicalities may yet stop Dr Toben's extradition. The arrest warrant is designed to respect each European Union country's legal system by allowing automatic extradition, although it allows British courts to assess whether someone's fundamental rights are being challenged. A clause in the legislation also allows our courts potentially to refuse extradition because the offence was committed outside the territory of the issuing member state, and does not allow prosecution here.

At least one member state — Belgium — has already said that it will look behind a warrant to assess whether it should be executed. Poland issues about a third of all European arrest warrants, and are said to treat abortion as murder. However, the Belgians have said that they will not execute warrants for abortion or euthanasia. Belgium's attitude provides a precedent for refusal.

...Read full article


18th October   

Update: Tackling the Scourge of Drinker Abuse...

Young SNP fail to defeat policy banning young adults from buying alcohol
Link Here
Full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians

The Scottish Nasty Party (SNP) leadership narrowly avoided defeat over plans to ban anyone under 21 from buying alcohol in off-licences or supermarkets.

The party split over an amendment put forward by the Nationalists' student wing – Young Scots for Independence – which tried to force the party to ditch the proposal. Alison Thewliss, who proposed the YSI amendment, said: Penalising the many for the bad behaviour of a few is simply unfair.

The health minister, Shona Robison, pleaded with conference to allow the Scottish Government to take forward its full radical package of measures to tackle the scourge of alcohol abuse in Scotland.


13th October   

Update: Not All SNP are Puritans...

Move to debate the young adults alcohol ban at party conference
Link Here
Full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians

Alex Salmond will suffer an embarrassing rebellion at the SNP party conference this week over his hated plan to stop under-21s buying alcohol in off-licences.

Scotland on Sunday can reveal that activists opposed to the ban will force a vote on the floor of the conference, urging their colleagues to scrap the plan.

The rebellion is believed to have significant backing and, if successful, would amount to a serious political blow to the First Minister and Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. Both are pushing the under-21 ban.

The plan was rejected by the Scottish Parliament two weeks ago after the Tories, Labour and the Lib Dems all united to oppose the move.

Salmond and MacAskill have vowed to plough ahead. Under their plans, the age limit of buying a drink in a pub or restaurant would remain at 18, but people would have to be 21 before being able to buy alcohol in an off- licence or a supermarket. But if they lose the conference vote, the policy will be buried for good.

Scotland on Sunday has obtained a leaked copy of the official party agenda due to be handed out to the conference, which begins in Perth on Thursday. It shows that the group Young Scots for Independence have forced the matter into the open.

In an amendment to a motion on alcohol abuse, they urge the conference to agree that: proposals to amend legislation that would increase the age of purchase for alcohol in supermarkets and off-licences will do little to tackle the real problem with Scotland's relationship with the bottle.

SNP sources said the fact the amendment had been accepted onto the party's official conference agenda was itself significant. One senior SNP figure said: It's very interesting that they have let it go through. The point is that this under-21 ban has never been put to the party. It was just landed on people by Kenny MacAskill. I think people want to have their say on it because it isn't party policy.

Another party member said: Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill have stirred up a hornet's nest. This was dreamt up as a populist policy and they have been surprised by the sheer ferocity of the opposition to it. They are in great danger of shooting themselves in the foot.

As well as being opposed by the Scottish Parliament, it emerged last week that the plan is not supported by the Scottish police, who have written to the Scottish Government warning that the move will be ineffective, and that it risked demonising and alienating perfectly law-abiding 18 to 20-year-olds.


12th October   

Virgin' on Evil...

An evil train inspector story
Link Here

A Virgin ticket inspector threatened a passenger with arrest after he went to the aid of a sobbing pensioner who had boarded the wrong train.

Lena Ainscow, 75, was left in tears when she was ordered to pay £115 for a new ticket to London.

When fellow passenger Tom Wrigglesworth stepped in to organise a whip-round to help her, the ticket inspector said his actions were akin to begging and that he would call the police.

Mrs Ainscow had bought an £11.50 pre-booked ticket for the 10.45am Virgin service from Manchester to Euston. But her printed travel itinerary stated she was booked on the 10.15am service and when she asked staff what she should do about the error they told her to board the earlier train.

But when her ticket was inspected she was told it was invalid and she must buy a new one. She said the train manager was unmoved when she explained that she had been told to board the earlier train.

Mr Wrigglesworth intervened to help the pensioner and pleaded with the train guard for leniency. When he was told he should not interfere, he started a whip-round among fellow passengers. He said: I couldn't sit there and let this helpless woman deal with it on her own. I got a paper bag from the buffet car and told the other passengers that if we all gave 50p or £1 we would get the money in no time. Everyone was happy to help and someone even put in £30.

The ticket was duly bought, but when Mr Wrigglesworth got off the train at Euston he was met by transport police officers.

He said: Thankfully a couple of the other passengers helped to explain. Once the police had been put in the picture they walked away.

A spokesman for Virgin Trains said: We apologise for the distress caused to both passengers and have launched an investigation into the incident.


10th October   

Update: Dress Down Nazis...

British Justice compared with The Third Reich
Link Here
Full story: European Arrest Warrants...Arrested in Britain for non-crimes

Even we move with the times...
Don't forget pinstripes for
dress down Fridays

David Irving compared British justice to that of the Third Reich. The Holocaust revisionist launched his outburst as he attended court to support his friend Gerald Toben who was arrested on a German extradition warrant during a stopover at Heathrow.

Toben is accused of publishing internet material between 2000 and 2004 that denies, approves or plays down the Holocaust, which is illegal in Germany.

Outside Westminster Magistrates' Court, Irving said: This type of procedure demeans our society in that the Germans and Austrians can dictate to us what we feel and can say and what we read and write. They lost that right in 1939.

Irving, who was jailed in Austria in 2006 for denying the Holocaust, plans to invite Toben to stay at his home in Windsor if he is granted bail next week.

He went on: I disapprove of some of his views but he has the right to express them, just as people disapprove of my views but my books and views are suppressed. It's like living in Nazi Germany. What we have seen here today is like Nazi Germany, but in pinstripe suits.


8th October   

British Injustice...

Attempts to have a Holocaust denier extradited should be rebuffed
Link Here
Full story: European Arrest Warrants...Arrested in Britain for non-crimes

Ah Dr Toben...
We've been revising history too.
Remember that old nonsense about
Britain being a free country...

In comments which will reignite a row over controversial European Arrest Warrants, Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said that the arrest of Dr Fredrick Toben at Heathrow on Wednesday conflicted with Britain's tradition of free speech.

Huhne said the affair exposed weaknesses in the system and called on the Government to lead a campaign to reform it. He is writing to Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, and Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, urging them to lobby Brussels for a rewrite of what he described as "rough edges" in the treaty which underpins the warrantss.

He called for Dr Toben's case to be dropped and said the case demonstrated that the legislation wrongly allowed people to be arrested for actions which do not breach British law.

Huhne said: I think the time has come to ensure that the European Arrest Warrant's scope is effective. Some of the sloppy drafting does need to be tightened up. It was rushed through without proper thought as a knee-jerk reaction to terrorist offences.

...Read full article


5th October   

Update: Staggering On...

SNP ignore opposition to their prohibition policy
Link Here
Full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians

Nasty Scottish Government plans to raise the age limit for buying alcohol in shops from 18 to 21 have suffered a well deserved setback after being defeated.

MSPs backed a Conservative parliamentary motion, by 72 votes to 47, rejecting the proposals.

Students who claimed the plans would demonise young people earlier staged a rally outside the Scottish Parliament.

As MSPs debated the plans inside, the Injustice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, ludicrously accused his rivals of being irresponsible.

Leading the debate, Scottish Tory deputy leader Murdo Fraser told parliament: The SNP are creating a ludicrous situation whereby students cannot buy a bottle of wine or a few cans of beer to enjoy in the hall of residence or flat.

They are creating an even more ludicrous situation whereby a soldier returning from a tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan at the age of 20 cannot buy a bottle of champagne from the off-licence to celebrate with his wife on his return.

Fraser said targeting 18 to 21-year-olds was discriminatory and pointed out that drink problems affected people of all ages.

Labour justice spokesman Richard Baker said it was more important to enforce proof of age cards, test purchasing and tougher sanctions for license breaches should be enforced: It is not just that the proposal is therefore in itself deeply flawed, it's that it's part of an artifice to allow political posturing from this government on tackling under age drinking to hide the fact they are failing to invest in measures which will actually make a difference .

The Liberal Democrat Ross Finnie warned against stigmatising a generation with the plan, adding: We believe it fails fundamentally to contribute to bringing about the essential cultural change in attitudes towards sensible drinking.

But MacAskill spouted that Scotland's drink problem was running up an annual tab of £2.25bn, adding : We do need legislative change, because the status quo is unacceptable. We cannot go on as we are.

Student group NUS Scotland has joined forces with the Coalition Against Raising the Drinking Age in Scotland (Cardas), to rally against raising the age outside parliament.

NUS Scotland president Gurjit Singh, said: We hope this debate will force the government to rethink its unworkable and ill-thought out proposal.

And Green MSP Patrick Harvie hit out at the Puritanism surrounding the discussion of alcohol at Holyrood.

Salmond Staggers on with discriminatory prohibition policy

Based on article from

Alex Salmond is preparing to defy the Scottish Parliament and continue with his plans to raise the age for buying off-sales alcohol to 21 – despite its overwhelming rejection by MSPs.

A spokesman for the First Minister said Salmond still believed that raising the age limit was the right approach and the policy is expected to be included in legislation when it is brought before parliament, either later this year or early next.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Greens and Conservatives joined forces yesterday to vote through a motion condemning the Scottish Government's alcohol age-limit plans.

That vote is not binding on the government, but it sent a clear message to ministers that parliament will not support the proposals. Ministers had been expected to take last night's vote on board and drop the age-limit plans from a package of measures on alcohol.


4th October   

Disorderly Justice...

Man fined for taking unchivalrous photograph in Edinburgh
Link Here

A man has been fined £100 after he took a photo of a drunk woman while she was being sick. Sebastian Prydgodzi said he took the picture because he wanted another view of Edinburgh during the capital's festival.

But he was told by Sheriff Kenneth Hogg that taking a photo of a vulnerable woman was exceptionally unchivalrous.

The woman had her head between her legs when Prydgodzi approached her and took a picture with a flash on his mobile phone. she was embarrassed and shocked by the flash, said fiscal depute Marie Vernon. She added: Her friends took hold of Mr Prydgodzi until the police arrived.

Prydgodzi pleaded guilty in court yesterday to breach of the peace and acting in a disorderly manner.

Andrew Houston, defending, said: The Festival was very much under way and he spent the day wandering around taking photos of the street performers. This girl was clearly worse for wear due to drink and, on reflection, this was an error of judgment. He was taking a photo of another view of Edinburgh and meant no offence.

Sheriff Hogg said: The lady was in that position possibly through her own accord. But you should have walked past and ignored her. It was exceptionally unchivalrous, which might be an old-fashioned phrase, but that I am. It shouldn't matter whether it's a man or a lady, but it's worse that it's a lady.


2nd October   

Thought Crimes Denied...

Traveller arrested in Britain for the non British crime of holocaust denial
Link Here
Full story: European Arrest Warrants...Arrested in Britain for non-crimes

So Dr Toben...
If the Nazis didn't exist,
how come we're running Britain?

Dr Fredrick Toben was arrested by Scotland Yard's extradition unit as he passed through London's Heathrow Airport.

He was detained under an EU arrest warrant issued by the District Court in Mannheim, Germany, that accuses him of publishing material on the internet of an anti-Semitic and/ or revisionist nature.

Between 2000 and 2004 Toben posted information online that denied, approved of or played down the mass murder of Jews by the Nazis, the charge alleges.

The Australian told City of Westminster Magistrates' Court he did not consent to being extradited to Germany. Claiming he was the victim of legal persecution he said: It's a witch trial mentality in Germany concerning this matter, which is not the case in England yet.

Tina Whybraw, representing the authorities in Mannheim, described how Toben was arrested on an aircraft travelling from the United States to Dubai.

Toben said he was sentenced to a period in prison in Germany in 1999 but returned to Australia after being granted bail. He also told the court he was currently facing jail in Australia in a matter relating to material posted on the website of the Adelaide Institute, of which he is director.

District Judge Nicholas Evans refused Toben bail and he was remanded in custody until another extradition hearing on Friday.


6th September   

Legislative Diarrhoea...

New Labour create 3600 new offences
Link Here

The UK Government has created more than 3,600 new criminal offences since it won power 11 years ago.

Critics blamed the frenzy of law-making on "posturing" by an administration keen to win easy headlines and addicted to pushing complicated legislation through Parliament.

A total of 3,605 offences have reached the statute book since May 1997, an average of about 320 a year. They comprise 1,238 brought in as primary legislation, which means they were debated in Parliament, and 2,367 by secondary legislation, such as orders in council and statutory instruments.

The tally was announced by Chris Huhne, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, as he sets out a fresh initiative to cut crime. Huhne said: In what conceivable way can the introduction of a new criminal offence every day help tackle crime when most crimes that people care about have been illegal for years.

This legislative diarrhoea is not about making us safer, because it does not help enforce the laws that we have one jot. It is about the Government's posturing on punishments.

The Home Office, which has presided over a succession of criminal justice Bills, is responsible for 455 offences.


2nd September   

Bringing the Law into Disrepute...

Photographer finds himself the victim of bad child protection law
Link Here

A photographer employed by parents to take pictures of their young daughters to turn into images of fairies has been prosecuted because the photos fell under the definition of child porn.

Under the legislation, the images of the two girls – aged 10 and 12 – were classed as level one child pornography, despite the fact their parents had asked for the pictures to be taken and were even present at photo shoots.

Marcus Phillips, a keen photographer, was hauled before the courts after staff snitches at a branch of Bonusprint reported his pictures to the NSPCC.

At Sheffield Crown Court Judge Lawler QC said it was a wholly exceptional case and sentenced the man to a 150-hour community service order, sparing him jail and stressing there was no need for him to sign the sex offenders' register.

The judge added: What is clear is that you had no base motive, no sexual motive and there was not any question of deriving sexual gratification from what you were doing.

He had heard Phillips ran a photography business in his spare time which specialised in turning photographs of clients into 'ethereal' images of fairies. As well as using professional models he also took commissions from women who wanted to be photographed in the same way.

When the father-of-three, of Crimicar Lane, Sheffield, was asked by the parents of the two girls for pictures to be made of their daughters he agreed to carry out the work. The commission involved taking close-up shorts of various parts of their bodies, which were then superimposed on top of each other, to create the fairy images.

Bonusprint staff were concerned by images which showed the girls topless and on September 12 last year Phillips's computer was seized by police.

Passing sentence, Judge Lawler QC added: You always acted perfectly properly and their parents were perfectly law-abiding, sensible people who cared for their children.


29th August   

Enemy Within...

BBC consults with government propaganda unit
Link Here

The BBC has admitted that a senior journalist making a programme about al-Qa'ida met members of a government propaganda unit before the programme was broadcast.

Suspicions over the BBC's relationship with the unit were raised after a leaked report said the unit was "pushing" material, designed to undermine al-Qa'ida among its supporters, to a BBC radio programme exposing tensions between AQ leadership and supporters.

The BBC admitted yesterday that its security correspondent Frank Gardner and a colleague met members of Whitehall's research, information and communications unit (Ricu). The programme, al-Qa'ida's Enemy Within , was broadcast on Radio 4 on 7 August. It was presented by Gardner and produced by a BBC expert in Islam, Innes Bowen.

It assessed how former Islamic extremists and scholars had turned away from al-Qa'ida's philosophy and were trying to urge supporters to turn against it. The leaked Ricu report had explained that one of the unit's aims was to show that al-Qa'ida was vulnerable to attacks by influential figures.


28th August   

Propaganda in Forums...

UK Government plant propaganda in internet forums
Link Here

A Whitehall counter-terrorism unit is using news websites including the BBC's to channel messages and plant volunteers in internet forums as part of an attempt to taint the al-Qaida brand.

The propaganda effort was revealed in a secret Home Office paper seen by The Guardian newspaper. The Guardian said the unit is deliberately targeting the BBC and other media organisations as part of a global propaganda push.

The operation is being conducted by the research, information and communication unit (RICU), which was established last year by the then home secretary John Reid.

The Guardian quoted directly from the secret paper, entitled Challenging violent extremist ideology through communications. It said: We are pushing this material to UK media channels, eg a BBC radio programme exposing tensions between AQ leadership and supporters. And a restricted working group will communicate niche messages through media and non-media.

The paper also reveals that the propaganda is aimed at overseas communicators in embassies and consulates around the world, people that work with influencers and opinion formers.


23rd August   

Update: A Snapshot of Stasi Britain...

Wrongful arrest as photographer snaps police van ignoring one way signs
Link Here
Full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

Have you got a licence for that camera?

When Andrew Carter saw a police van ignore no-entry signs to reverse up a one-way street to reach a chip shop, he was understandably moved to protest to the driver.

But his complaint brought a volley of abuse from PC Aqil Farooq. And when Mr Carter took a picture of the van then tried to photograph the officer, PC Farooq rushed out of the shop and knocked his camera to the ground.

Carter was then arrested and bundled into the van over claims he had 'assaulted' an officer with his camera, resisted arrest and was drunk and disorderly.

He was held in a police cell for five hours before being released on bail at midnight. Carter was never charged with any offence.

Carter lodged a complaint and has since received a personal apology from PC Farooq and Rob Beckley, deputy chief constable of Avon and Somerset Constabulary. The force refused to comment on the case, except to say that the disciplinary process was resolved to Carter's 'satisfaction'.


20th August

 Offsite: Gossip Not Vetted...

Link Here
Full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids
Malicious gossip could cost you your job

See article from


19th August   

Social Workers Prey on the Fat of the Land...

Local authorities get too big for their boots
Link Here

The most obese youngsters should be seen as examples of 'parental neglect' and handed over to social workers, according to the Local Government Association (LGA).

A report by the LGA, which represents 400 authorities in England and Wales, has warned that Britain is fast becoming the 'obesity capital of the world'. And the LGA confirmed that in worst case scenarios, obese children would be taken into care.

It has been estimated that by 2012 a million English children will be obese and by 2025 around a quarter of all boys will be classified as dangerously overweight.

The LGA also whinge about the cost of Britain's expanding population. Schools are having to buy bigger chairs because so many pupils are getting fatter, the GLA said. Schools are also buying bigger classroom tables, while furniture in gyms and canteens is having to be made wider for larger children for children with larger girths.

David Rogers, LGA spokesman on public health, called for a national debate about the extent to which dangerous childhood obesity could be considered as a factor contributing to parental neglect.

The GLA report also warned that the adult obesity crisis means ambulances will have to be re-equipped with extra-wide stretchers and winches. Buses and trams will soon accommodate fewer, larger passengers, the report said. The LGA said crematoria furnaces were also having to be widened at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds.


18th August   

Twin Surveillance Towers...

New York plan to photograph every vehicle entering Manhattan
Link Here

The Big Apple is turning into Big Brother, civil liberties groups have warned in response to a new plan from New York city's police chiefs to photograph every vehicle entering Manhattan and hold the details on a massive database.

New York's police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, has proposed a major extension of security measures around the city designed to prevent a third attack on the World Trade Centre as the rebuilding of Ground Zero gathers pace.

As well as placing cameras at all tunnels and bridges into Manhattan, the 36-page plan, called Operation Sentinel, calls for a security ring to be erected at Ground Zero.

The proposals are partly based on the so-called ring of steel erected around the City of London in the wake of IRA bombings in the 1990s. Though the 3,000 cameras that could be mounted as a result of the plans of the New York police pale in comparison with the multitude of cameras in operation on the UK's roads and in public places, the proposals have provoked outrage in the United States, where the concept of video surveillance is relatively unfamiliar .

Donna Lieberman, director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the idea of tracking the movements of millions of people was an assault on the country's historical respect for the right to privacy and the freedom to be left alone. The NYCLU is pressing the New York police to release further details of its intentions under freedom of information laws.


18th August

 Offsite: No Glory in Britain...

Link Here
Full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim
Britain's terror laws have left me and my family shattered

See article from


17th August   

Britishness Is...

Gordon Brown snubbed over British Library exhibit
Link Here

When Gordon Brown called on the British Library to stage an exhibition about Britishness he perhaps envisaged a patriotic celebration of the national identity.

A spokesman for the British Library said: Downing Street initially suggested a display of iconic British ideas. We took our lead from that idea but the team has developed it.

What he would not have expected is the resulting event, Taking Liberties, which encourages visitors to contemplate the perilous state of civil liberties in modern Britain under his Government.

The exhibition, which is the most ambitious in the British Library's history, is in direct response to a call from Brown for the institution to hold a display of patriotism, and critics have described it as a "snub" to the Prime Minister.

Visitors will be asked their views on issues such as ID cards and detention of suspects for up to 42 days, both of which are key Government policies.

Exhibits will be displayed in space in the shape of a clenched fist. As visitors progress through the exhibition, the space gets smaller and smaller to give the impression of confinement. Each visitor to the exhibition will be given a personal ID number.

David Davis, the former shadow Home Secretary who recently stepped down from the Parliament to force a by election on the issue of civil liberties, said: It is an astonishingly good idea but is clearly a snub to the Prime Minister and must be accurately embarrassing for him. Gordon Brown likes to talk about Britishness a lot without understanding that liberty is at the core of Britishness. It is our institutional DNA. Our history and tradition of freedom run longer and deeper than any other country.

A spokesman for the British Library said: The Taking Liberties exhibition is very much our own idea. Obviously we listened to the Prime Minister's initial thoughts but we decided in what direction we should go. Of course its a risque subject but the Library wanted to come up with something that was relevant to modern Britain.

The exhibition opens on October 31. The opening night will feature a display by Gerald Scrafe, the cartoonist and a performance by the band the Levellers.


12th August   

Police Playing Games...

Police seize War On Terror boardgame
Link Here

It is rare for a board game to be seized by the police. This week that distinction befell War on Terror: The Boardgame ; a set was confiscated from climate protesters in Kent.

Following a series of raids on the climate change camp near Kingsnorth power station, officers displayed an array of supposed weapons snatched from demonstrators: knives, chisels, bolt cutters, a throwing star – and a copy of the satirical game, which lampoons Washington's "war on terror".

For the game's creators, Andrew Sheerin and Andy Tompkins, web designers from Cambridge, the inclusion of their toy was a shock: When I saw the pictures in the papers I was absolutely baffled. I thought: surely no member of the public is going to believe that a board game could be used as a weapon?

You won't find the game in high street stores; retailers have all declined to stock it. The high street chain Zavvi bought 5,000 sets but strangely withdrew them for sale after one day, citing "poor sales". But since its low-key launch two years ago, War on Terror: The Boardgame has sold 12,000 copies online and through independent stockists, prominently featuring in student bedsits.

Much like games such as Risk or Diplomacy, War on Terror revolves around players creating empires that compete and wage war against each other for resources and land. The controversial twist allows them to "train" terrorist cells that either attack your enemies or, if you're unlucky, turn against you – like some anti-Western terror groups have done.

There is an Axis of Evil spinner intended to parody international diplomacy by randomly deciding which player is designated a terrorist state. That person then has to wear a balaclava (included in the box set) with the word "Evil" stitched on to it.

Kent police said they had confiscated the game because the balaclava could be used to conceal someone's identity or could be used in the course of a criminal act.


9th August   

Photography = Terrorism...

Police abuse of the Terrorism Act 2000
Link Here
Full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

Have you got a licence for that camera?

A man was labelled a terrorist after he took a picture of a police car parked at a bus stop.

David Gates found himself being questioned under the Terrorism Act after he spotted the BMW in the middle of the box reserved for buses, and decided to capture the image on his phone – apparently falling foul of the anti-terror law in the process.

Gates was then questioned by two officers who asked why he had snapped the picture of their vehicle, and they told him he was being quizzed under the Terrorism Act 2000 because the picture could pose a security risk.

They also said this law gave them the right to use stop-and-search powers.

He said: I explained I'd taken the picture as their car was parked illegally, and taking a photograph in public was not illegal. I told them I thought using the Terrorism Act and suspecting me of being a terrorist was ridiculous.

Gates said he co-operated with the officers and gave his details, which were checked. He was told the record of the incident would be kept on file for a year.

Mike Hancock, the Lib Dem MP for Portsmouth South, said: 'The whole thing is quite bizarre. I don't have a problem with them parking at the bus stop, but I do have a problem with them using this legislation for something trivial like this and keeping it for a year.

Superintendent Neil Sherrington, the deputy commander for Portsmouth police, said: Officers are given powers under the Terrorism Act to stop and search. The act states that "this power can only be used for the purposes of searching for articles of a kind which could be used in connection with terrorism, and may be exercised whether or not the constable has grounds for suspecting the presence of articles of that kind".


5th August   

Comment: No Glory at Nottingham University...

No right for researchers to hold terrorist material
Link Here
Full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim

The University of Nottingham has decided that its students and staff have no right to possess terrorism-related materials for the purposes of research, such as al-Qaeda training manuals freely available for download from US Government websites.

One Nottingham postgrad student and a clerk were held under the Terrorism Act for doing just this earlier this year, before being released without charge (though the clerk now faces deportation), the university has now made it clear that it fully supports these actions, and says that the student has no reason to possess such material. He's researching Islamic terrorism.

The student, Rizwaan Sabir, who is studying Islamic terrorism, said he had downloaded a copy of an al-Qaeda training manual for use in his MA dissertation and PhD application and had forwarded it to the administrator, Hicham Yezza, for printing. After six days in detention, neither was charged.

A police letter warned Sabir that he risked re-arrest if found with the manual again and added: The university authorities have now made clear that possession of this material is not required for the purpose of your course of study nor do they consider it legitimate for you to possess it for research purposes.

Comment: Plods on doctoral research

From Alan

The letter from Mr Plod to Rizwaan Sabir is amazing: "The university authorities have now made clear that possession of this material is not required for the purpose of your course of study nor do they consider it legitimate for you to possess it for research purposes."

The thing which immediately leaps off the screen is that the peak-capped jobsworth who produced this nonsense doesn't have the first idea of what Ph.D. research is. The reference to a "course of study" might be appropriate to a an undergraduate. A person researching for a doctorate is engaged in original research which will add to knowledge. When I defended my thesis, and when Mr Sabir eventually defends his, we have to convince senior academics, often internationally acclaimed experts in their field, that they have learned something new.

There can be no concept of "required" reading in doctoral research. The researcher doesn't know what he will find, or where he will find it. In Mr Sabir's case, he might find relevant material in a body of Arabic literature in the field of Muslim theology which has extended over a millennium and a half.

Nor do the "university authorities" emerge with any credit, since Mr Sabir was recommended to read the controversial document by his supervisor. Perhaps the best way for him to stuff it to Plod and the university's pusillanimous bosses would be to cite the document extensively in his thesis.


5th August   

Rubbish Government...

British government to impose ฃ110 on the spot fines for overfilled bins
Link Here

Guidance issued by the Government has told councils to impose fixed penalties of "no less than ฃ75" and up to ฃ110, potentially a more severe penalty than the ฃ80 fine that police often hand out to those guilty of drunk and disorderly conduct and shoplifters.

The Conservative Party condemned the move as a "new stealth tax" after uncovering the guidance contained in the Flycapture Enforcement manual produced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Offences for which the spotfines can be imposed include leaving a wheelie bin lid ajar, putting the bin out on the wrong night or leaving it in the wrong place.

The Flycapture Enforcement guidance says penalties for "waste receptacle" offences must range between ฃ75 and ฃ110 and suggests a standard fixed penalty of ฃ100.

Earlier this year Gareth Corkhill, a bus driver from Whitehaven, was given a criminal conviction after being taken to court when he refused to hand over a ฃ110-on-the-spot fine by council inspectors, who found the lid of his wheelie bin open by four inches.

He was originally asked for the fine when he was confronted by inspectors, from Copeland Borough Council in Cumbria, wearing stab-proof vests and armed with photographic evidence of his crime.

Eric Pickles, the shadow local government secretary, said Labour was creating an army of municipal bin bullies hitting law abiding families with massive fines while professional criminals get the soft touch. It is clear Whitehall bureaucrats are instructing town halls to target householders with fines for minor breaches.

In the 12 months up to April last year, nearly 44,000 were fined because they failed to close bin lids, put their rubbish out on the wrong day, or left extra black bags alongside their bins.


4th August   

No Photography: An Unwritten Law...

Since when did trying to have your photograph taken constitute a threat to national security?
Link Here
Full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

Have you got a licence for that camera?

Photographic Privacy International's fated struggle to stop the Google spy car stalking this country's streets has reminded me of my own brush with London's photography police recently.

I was being photographed in Covent Garden. As I followed the photographer's instructions and tried to come up with a smile that would get people running to the nearest shop to buy my book, a security guard on patrol around the piazza walked up and stood between the photographer and me. The guard was quite a determined professional; he put one hand in front of the camera lens and muttered darkly into his walkie-talkie.

Why would a potential terrorist (or people exhibiting suspect behaviour, as the Met likes to describe them in its anti-terror publicity) pose in front of an organic cosmetics stall and religiously follow the instructions of a white, female professional photographer who looked nothing if not an infidel? The photographer tried to test the resolve of the security guard by stepping out of the covered area and making me pose in front of a column. But the guard followed and covered the lens again; he looked like a man with a mission to save London from desperate debut writers and their collaborators in the photographic professions.

In the ensuing hour we were chased away from Nehru's bust outside the Indian High Commission, and Citibank. Even the folks at Australia House descended on us after we had set up the tripod, I had perfected my writerly pose and we were only waiting for the clouds to part.

Update: Unlicensed Hoax

Thanks to Andrea, 18th August 2008, see article from The Register

The following apology was printed in the Guardian's Corrections and clarifications column, Saturday August 2 2008

Contrary to a statement we made in the column below, the Metropolitan Police do not require professional photographers operating in central London to hold a police permit and wear a radio-linked ID tag. The material on which this part of the column was based was a hoax. This has been corrected. We apologise for its use.

This referred to a section of the Guardian article:

The photographer, very bitter by now, told me that the police treat anyone with professional photography equipment as a suspect. According to the professional group Editorial Photographer UK, if you want to take pictures in central London you have to apply for a permit at Charing Cross police station. The approval can take up to 28 days. Then, as a part of Photo Safety Identity Checking Observation you are required to wear "a thin fluorescent waistcoat" kitted with radio frequency identification (RFID) tag. The Met has assured the photographers that RFID is a cheap and "passive device that needs no batteries".

A spokesperson for the Met told the photographers' group earlier this year that cameras are potentially more dangerous than guns.


3rd August   

Government Propaganda...

Yet another step towards Orwellian Britain
Link Here

Beat: Life on the Street is a documentary funded by the Government following the lives of PCSO's. The Government-funded propaganda portrayed PCSOs as dedicated, helpful and an effective adjunct to the police

The Government has spent almost ฃ2 million to fund programmes that are all but indistinguishable from regular shows, The Sunday Telegraph has established.

But unlike normal documentaries, the programmes are commissioned by ministers with the purpose of showing their policies or activities in a sympathetic light.

The media watchdog Ofcom has disclosed that it had opened an investigation into one of the programmes, Beat: Life on the Street to see whether it breached its broadcasting code.

Media freedom campaigners, broadcasters and opposition politicians expressed alarm over the Government-funded documentaries.

The Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow said: I find it extraordinary. So the Government is funding commercial television productions highlighting government policy? Presumably they don’t criticise government policy.

The Government has funded at least eight television series or individual programmes in the past five years. Subjects range from an Army expedition to climb Everest to advice for small businessmen on how to improve their company’s fortunes.

However, the show about PCSOs and a newly commissioned programme about Customs and Immigration officers are particularly controversial because they deal with sensitive political issues and policies.

Beat: Life on the Street , which was supported with ฃ800,000 of funding from the Ministry of Propaganda. One Whitehall source admitted of the documentary: It allows the Government to have more air time and get its message across to people. Ministers are so pleased with the way the series, which drew in audiences of three million people on ITV and changed the public’s perception of the officers, that they commissioned a third series, to be broadcast next year.

But The Sunday Telegraph established that the programmes appeared to break Ofcom’s broadcasting code by not making it clear that they were funded by the Ministry of Propaganda.

In a further apparent breach of Ofcom rules, this time on independence, Ministry of Propaganda officials were directly involved in the making of the series. They were allowed to view a second edit of individual programmes and were able to suggest changes to some of the “terminology” and “language” used in the narration.

David Ruffley, the shadow police minister, said: People want the Government to put police on our streets, not propaganda on our television sets.


26th July

 Offsite: Better Safe Than Sorry...

Link Here
Full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids
Criminal record checks could hit over 14 million people

See article from


25th July

 Offsite: Glorification of Censorship...

Link Here
Full story: Glorification of Censorship...Climate of fear caused by glorification of terrorsim
Glorification of terrorism means artists and academics must watch their words

See article from


23rd July   

An Assault on Photography...

Police making it up as they go along about banning photography
Link Here
Full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

A householder who took photographs of hooded teenagers as evidence of their anti-social behaviour says he was told he was breaking the law after they called the police.

David Green left his London flat to take photographs of the gang, who were aged around 17, he said one threatened to kill him while another called the police on his mobile.

And he claimed that a Police Community Support Officer sent to the scene promptly issued a warning that taking pictures of youths without permission was illegal, and could lead to a charge of assault.

Green, a television cameraman, said he was appalled that the legal system's first priority seemed not to be stopping frightening anti-social behaviour by aggressive youths, but protecting them from being photographed by the concerned public.


15th July   

Update: CRB Vetting: UK Apartheid 2008...

Mother stopped from travelling with son in taxi to school
Link Here
Full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids

A mother has been barred from travelling in the taxi provided by the council to take her own son, Alex, the five miles to school.

Her offence? Not to have had a Criminal Records Bureau check.

Mrs Jones has fallen foul of the council's policy which considers anyone travelling with the teenager to be working on its behalf and, therefore, obliged to have CRB clearance.

Now Alex, who has cerebral palsy, must travel alone until his mother passes the police check.

The Merthyr Tydfil Council Pedantry Officer said: The CRB checking is a requirement of our transport provisions in relation to adults travelling on home-to-school transport in the capacity of an escort.

This is a standard requirement and has been for several years. Any adult acting as an escort will, in the public gaze, be viewed as acting with the full acquiescence of the council and hence with its implied authority.

For the protection of the council and all vulnerable persons in its care it's essential all those endowed with an authority, implicit or explicit, should meet the security requirements within the transport contract provisions.

A recent study has warned that the rapid spread of child protection checks and health and safety rules has 'poisoned' relations between adults and children and left youngsters at greater risk. It said CRB checks and the rise in other regulation have fuelled an atmosphere of suspicion and left adults afraid to intervene or take responsibility.


8th July   

A Snapshot of a Police State...

Police can make it up as they go along about banning photography
Link Here
Full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

Have you got a licence for that camera?

Photographic Surveillance in public can be, and is, used deliberately as a legal harassment technique, both by Police and sometimes by their opponents.

According to the British Journal of Photography (BJP), the General Secretary of the the National Union of Journalists, Jeremy Dear, wrote a letter to the Home Secretary, complaining about such harassment, even of Press Card accredited journalists and press photographers.

It seems that the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has replied, with even more evidence that Britain is a "surveillance society", where basic freedoms are being curtailed, not just through the law, but by administrative policies.

Local restrictions on photography in public places are legitimate the Home Secretary has stated in a letter to the National Union of Journalists. While Jacqui Smith reaffirmed that there are no legal restrictions, she added that local Chief Constables were allowed to restrict or monitor photography in certain circumstances.

First of all, may I take this opportunity to state that the Government greatly values the importance of the freedom of the press, and as such there is no legal restriction on photography in public places, Smith writes. Also, as you will be aware, there is no presumption of privacy for individuals in a public place.

However, the Home Secretary adds that local restrictions might be enforced. Decisions may be made locally to restrict or monitor photography in reasonable circumstances. That is an operational decision for the officers involved based on the individual circumstances of each situation.

It is for the local Chief Constable, in the case of your letter the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Force, to decide how his or her Officers and employees should best balance the rights to freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the need for public protection.


7th July   

Update: In a Sorry State...

700 innocent peopled wrongly deemed unsafe to work with kids
Link Here
Full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids

Hundreds of innocent people have been wrongly branded as criminals by the Government agency set up to vet people working with children, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Thousands of people are being forced to have multiple CRB checks for different jobs because the checks are currently not transferable

People applying to take up jobs as teachers, nurses, childminders and even those volunteering to work with youth groups are likely to have been among those falsely accused of wrongdoing by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB).

Those wrongly accused by the CRB face having their careers blighted or being stigmatised by their communities. They also face having to endure an appeals process to clear their names.
Article continues

The CRB, an agency of the Home Office, was set up to vet those working with children or vulnerable people. It carries out checks on criminal convictions, cautions and reprimands, while an enhanced check also examines any other information held by local police forces.

However, figures seen by The Daily Telegraph disclose that in the year to February 2008, 680 people were issued with incorrect information on their background checks by the CRB.

The disclosure is likely to deter many from applying for positions which require a check.

The Daily Telegraph has further learnt that the CRB agency is plagued by delays and mistakes which is jeopardising its efficiency. It is the latest Government agency to face questions over its handling of sensitive personal data.

Last night, the Conservatives said that blocking innocent people from working with children was "completely unacceptable" and that the CRB needed an urgent overhaul. It has also emerged that:

David Ruffley, a shadow Home Office minister, said: Nearly 700 mistakes that could ruin people's lives is 700 too many. There is an emerging crisis of public confidence in the handling of this public information.

The Home Office admitted that mistakenly branding innocent people as criminals was "regrettable".

A Criminal Records Bureau spokesman said: The Criminal Records Bureau's first priority is to help protect children and vulnerable adults, and we will always err on the side of caution to help ensure the safety of these groups.


29th June   

Unequal to the Task...

UK equality minister champions inequality
Link Here
UK Government

New Labour
More equal than YOU!

Equality minister Harriet Harman has set out plans to allow firms to discriminate in favour of female and ethnic minority job candidates.

The new Equalities Bill will also force public sector employers to disclose the gender pay gap in their organisation.

The plans, which will be adopted in England, Wales and Scotland, will also ban all age discrimination.

Setting out the plans in a Commons statement, Harman said the proposed bill - due later this year - would "address the serious inequalities that still exist" in the UK.

Allowing "positive action" would help organisations such as the police better reflect the communities they serve by recruiting more female and ethnic minority officers, said Harman. But if, for example, a headmistress wanted to discriminate in favour of a male teacher to balance an all female team that would be allowed too.

See also Harriet Harman Unruffled from the Times

She is known as Harriet Harperson and she was the happiest that I have ever seen her as she unveiled her beloved Equality Bill. She’s on her white horse (make that a mare) and she’s going to shake things up. Young and old, black and white, female and male. We’ll all be better off in Harriet’s brave new world.

Fiona Mackintosh, the Labour MP, was exasperated. The Daily Express describes this as ‘White Men to Face Jobs Ban’. she said: I would think they would have welcomed it given the age of their readers. But will you give some articulation that this is not a proposal to ban white men from jobs?

Harriet nodded: I absolutely can. I share your frustration at the deliberate misunderstanding. This is about promoting fairness! As she said this, Harriet Harperson looked ferociously earnest. For her, this is as close to Heaven as it gets.

See also This equality for women is an injustice for men from the Times by Minette Marrin

White men are no longer to be equal to everyone else; they will lose their rights in employment tribunals (unless they are beyond retirement age, when they may possibly regain them); they are to pay for the sins of their fathers (or rather for the sins of their fathers’ bosses) against working women and against ethnic minorities by being unjustly treated in their turn. And Harman is prepared to do this terrible thing on the basis, merely, of unexamined assumptions about the facts.


28th June   

Update: Poisoned Relationships...

11 million potential child abusers to be vetted in Britain
Link Here
Full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids

A quarter of the adult population faces vetting in an escalation of child protection policies, according to a report.

The launch of a new Government agency will see 11.3million people vetted for any criminal past before they are approved to have contact with children aged under 16.

But the increase in child protection measures is so great it is "poisoning" relationships between the generations, according to respected sociologist Professor Frank Furedi.

In a report for think tank Civitas, he said the use of criminal records bureau checks to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults has created an atmosphere of suspicion.

As a result ordinary parents - many of whom are volunteers at sports and social clubs - now find themselves regarded "potential child abusers".

Professor Furedi said most adults now think twice before telling off children who were misbehaving, or helping children in distress for fear of the consequences.

He said that the need for the checks had transformed parents in the regulatory and public imagination into potential child abusers, barred from any contact with children until the database gives them the green light.

From next year the new Independent Safeguarding Authority will require any adult who come into contact with children or vulnerable adults either through their work or in voluntary groups to be vetted.

But Prof Furedi's report, Licensed to Hug, highlighted examples of when adult-child relationships were distorted by the need for CRB checks already being required by schools and other organisations.

In one example, a woman could not kiss her daughter goodbye on a school trip because she had not been vetted. In another, a mother was surprised to be told by another parent that she and her husband were "CRB checked" when their children played together. In a third example, a father was given "filthy looks" by a group of mothers when he took his child swimming on his own.

Prof Furedi details how one woman was made to feel like a "second class mother" because she was barred from a school disco because she did not have a CRB check.

Prof Furedi, a sociology professor from Kent University, said that adults are no longer trusted or expected to engage with children on their own initiative. When parents feel in need of official reassurance that other parents have passed the paedophile test before they even start on the pleasantries, something has gone badly wrong in our communities.

We should question whether there is anything healthy in a response where communities look at children's own fathers with suspicion, but would balk at helping a lost child find their way home.

Figures show that volunteering is on the decline with 13 per cent of men saying they would not volunteer because they were worried people would think they were child abusers, according to a survey last year. The report comes after Children's Commissioner, Sir Al Aynsley Green, said 50,000 girls were waiting to join the Guides because of a shortage of adult volunteers, partly caused by the red tape of the CRB process.


26th June   

Asda Arsewipes...

Asda censors baby's bottom for fun cake
Link Here

It was meant to be a gently embarrassing centrepiece for her son's 21st birthday.

But when Gail Jordan asked bakery staff at Asda to print a photograph of him as a baby on to a cake they didn't see the funny side.

After one look at the photograph – which featured her son David at about five months and lying on his front – they declared that putting it on the cake would constitute pornography because his bare bottom could be seen.

And when the supermarket censors finally agreed to use the picture they insisted it had to have a strategically-placed star.

Yesterday Miss Jordan said It's ridiculous – I understand they have rules, but there ought to be a place for common sense as well.

A spokesman for Asda confirmed its blanket ban on bare flesh: We have a policy, as do many other retailers, of no nudity, whatever the age of the subject. In this case we offered a number of alternatives including enlarging and cropping the photo, increasing the border size or applying a strategically placed star to save his blushes.


18th June   

Update: No Pleasures in Scottish Life...

Proposal to ban alcohol off sales to under 21s
Link Here
Full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians

Under 21s will be banned from buying alcohol at supermarkets and off licences under a rights abusing plan to shake-up Scotland's drink laws.

Ministers want to stop teenagers buying cheap alcohol and believe a three-year increase in the age limit will reduce the nation's chronic drink-related violence and health problems.

A major action plan on alcohol will be unveiled by Injustice Secretary Kenny MacAskill who has waged a campaign against Scotland's drinkers since taking over the job last year.

Over-18s will still be allowed to drink in pubs and bars but ministers are said to be insistent on the need for radical reform of off-sales, arguing that "enough is enough" in the battle to bring an end to Scotland's "booze culture".

Along with the increase in the age limit, MacAskill will also propose setting minimum prices for alcohol and banning three-for-two and buy-one-get-one-free deals.

Last night, the drinks industry reacted angrily to the proposals, claiming they will "demonise and mystify" alcohol for teenagers.

The increase in the age limit to 21 for off-sales follows a pilot in the West Lothian town of Armadale where the restrictions were enforced recently.

Sources say MacAskill has also been influenced by the example of Sweden where the age limit for off-sales is 20, two years more than the bars and pubs limit.

But retailers and drinks bosses accuse him of having railroaded his plans through with no consideration for their own trade, or for household pockets, at a time when the cost of fuel and food are increasing.


16th June   

Spray First, Ask Question Later...

Man pepper sprayed by police after falling off his sofa
Link Here

A man ended up being arrested and charged - after laughing too much at BBC TV's Have I Got News For You.

Chris Cocker from Blackburn, was chuckling so vigorously at a comment by comedy panellist Paul Merton that he fell off the sofa.

A concerned neighbour in the flat below heard the thud and called the police.

But when he refused to co-operate, Cocker was arrested. He admitted in court to resisting a police officer and was given a conditional discharge.

A charge of assaulting a police officer was withdrawn when Cocker appeared before magistrates in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Cocker said: I fell off the settee in hysterics and hit the floor and got myself up and started carrying on watching the telly and the next thing I know there was a knock on the door.

The bit where I lost it the most was when I shut the door and the policeman had stuck his foot in the doorway and was refusing to let me shut my own front door.

After being sprayed with pepper spray, Cocker was put into a police van and taken to a police station where he said he was stripped naked and spent a night in the cells.


15th June   

MOD Declare War on Patriotism...

MOD harangue Next shop for the use of the roundel motif
Link Here

The Ministry of Defence has launched a legal battle against a high street shopping chain because a duvet cover features the RAF's insignia.

The MoD's legal team has lodged a claim in the chancery division of the High Court against Next's use of the RAF's red, white, and blue roundel.

They are upset that the fashion store is using the image on a range of bedroom furnishings and decoration aimed at seven-year-old boys.

The offending material includes a £35 cotton and polyester duvet cover, rugs, curtains and wall stickers. The patriotic bedset design also includes Union Jacks with images of a car, a guitar and a scooter.

Defence Secretary Des Browne is the claimant and a writ has been issued, although it is not thought to have been served yet.

The incident began last September when the MoD first accused Leicester-based Next, the UK's third-biggest clothes retailer, of copyright infringement.

However, Next argues that the symbol is also the emblem of the 1960s 'Mod' movement, revived by Paul Weller's band The Jam in 1978 and forever associated with the Franc Roddam film Quadrophenia. The band Oasis and shirts by the firm Ben Sherman also use the roundel image as part of their branding.


13th June   

Camera and an Arabic Ringtone...

Suspicion enough for arrest and being locked up for 2 days
Link Here
Full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

Have you got a licence for that camera?

Two asylum seekers were arrested under the Terrorism Act and quizzed for 44 hours after filming themselves in a park.

The Iraqi pair, who had been in Wales for just two months, were using a camcorder in Bute Park, Cardiff, when an undercover cop swooped.

He asked the men, both 20, what they were doing before one of their mobile phones went off with an Arabic music ringtone.

According to the Iraqis’ solicitor Hanif Bhamjee, the cop then radioed for back-up.

Minutes later uniformed and plain-clothes officers arrived in the popular park, which was packed with tourists and city residents soaking up the sunshine.

The pair, who speak little English, were formally arrested under the Terrorism Act for what police last night claimed was “a suspicious incident”.

Bhamjee said the terrified asylum seekers, who fled sectarian violence in their war-ravaged country, were asked a series of questions during hour after hour of gruelling interviews.

The lawyer, of Cardiff-based Crowley and Co, added: There were 40 detectives involved. They raided their houses like they were looking for explosives. These poor people didn’t know what the hell was happening. They were very shaken – they didn’t know what had hit them so they were panicking. It’s outrageous, the police response was well over the top. If they had made any elementary inquiries they would have realised these kids were nothing to worry about.

Assistant Chief Constable David Morris, of South Wales Police, said: Two men were arrested on Wednesday under anti-terrorism legislation, following reports they were acting suspiciously in the centre of Cardiff.

Both men were detained while enquiries were undertaken to establish their backgrounds. Once we were satisfied they posed no threat to the safety of the public, they were released from custody and no further action was taken.


12th June

 Offsite: Terrorised by Hollywood...

Link Here
Full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state
Are photographers really a threat?

See article from


3rd June   

Update: Spreading Cult of Bollox Police...

Birmingham police the latest to ban the word 'cult'
Link Here

Protestors against scientology have been told by Birmingham police that if they have the word Cult on a sign or flyer they will be arrested for religious hatred.

It also seems that the police are using anti-littering laws to selectively control pamphleting.


2nd June   

Update: A Dangerous Cult of Bollox Police...

Now Glasgow police ban the word 'cult'
Link Here

Police have again been accused of "trampling on basic rights" after ordering protesters to take down banners accusing Scientology of being a cult.

Officers banned the placards during a demonstration against the self-styled church in Glasgow city centre last weekend. Civil liberties campaigners have warned a dangerous precedent is being set for the suppression of free speech.

Strathclyde Police's intervention follows a similar incident in London last month when a youth was left facing prosecution. The 15-year-old had refused to remove a sign stating Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult.

Human rights lawyer John Scott said:  This latest incident sets a dangerous precedent and I hope the police do not have to be taken to court for them to accept the right of free speech.

Last Saturday's demonstration was organised by Anonymous, an anti-Scientology group. Its members protest where the church is holding public sessions.

Strathclyde Police admitted officers had stopped activists using the word "cult" after receiving a complaint. A spokeswoman said: The word is not a breach of the peace in itself. However, in this case it was exacerbating the situation and our stance was that we had to remove that.

Last night, Anonymous - a leaderless, internet-based group - said it had recovered the banners and would be launching a fight to use the word.


2nd June   

All Brits Targeted as Criminals...

UK police routinely target ordinary people rather than serious criminals
Link Here

Caught walking on the
cracks in the pavement

The middle classes have lost confidence in the police, a stark report has warned. They fear they have been alienated by a service which routinely targets ordinary people rather than serious criminals, simply to fill Government crime quotas.

The attitude of some officers has also led to spiralling complaints about neglect of duty and rudeness.

The report from the Civitas think-tank says incidents which would once have been ignored are now treated as crimes - including a case of children chalking a pavement.

The report warns that a generation of young people - the police's favourite soft targets - are being criminalised, putting their future prospects at risk.

Some offences being prosecuted are now so minor that senior officers have even begun talks with the US authorities to prevent such a 'criminal record' stopping decent citizens obtaining a visa to cross the Atlantic.

Meanwhile responses to crimes such as burglary are slow and statements given by victims of serious crime are often left lying idle for months, the report warns.

Miss Sergeant warns: 'The loss of public confidence is a serious matter. The police cannot police without the backing of society. Without trust and consensus it is very difficult and costly to maintain law and order.'

Her report says: Complaints against the police have risen, with much of the increase coming from law-abiding, middle-class, middle-aged and retired people who no longer feel the police are on their side.

The report details how officers are expected to reach a certain number of 'sanction detections' a month by charging, cautioning or fining an 'offender'. Arresting or fining someone for a trifling offence - such as a child stealing a Mars bar - is a good way of hitting the target and pleasing the Home Office. Miss Sergeant says performance-related bonuses of between £10,000 and £15,000 a year for police commanders depend partly on reaching such targets. This leads them to put pressure on frontline officers to make arrests for the most minor misdemeanours.


31st May   

Update: Dangerous Policing of a Dangerous Cult...

Liberty to ask Police how they decided to issue summons
Link Here

The police force that issued a teenager with a court summons for calling Scientology a cult could face a judicial review over the legality of its policing guidelines.

Although prosecutors last week declined to take the 16-year-old to court, freedom of speech campaigners, Liberty,  are to ask City of London police to explain how the initial decision to issue the summons was made.

Campaigners said they would call for a judicial review if it is found that the force's guidelines for policing demonstrations led officers to confront the schoolboy.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the civil liberties organisation Liberty, which spearheaded the teenager's defence, said: We want to know who gave the instruction to issue this summons. Curtailing people's freedom of speech is a very serious issue and it's important to know whether this is part of the force's policy or a decision relating specifically to the Church of Scientology. There is the possibility of a complaint to the IPCC or a judicial review.

Chakrabarty said she was concerned the police action could have a "chilling effect" on other protesters who wanted to express their opinions: Some people are very easily intimidated and will be put off exercising their right to free speech by the thought that they may face court action over it. We have to defend that right and show how wrong the police were in issuing this summons.


25th May   

Update: Liberty vs City of London Police...

Liberty considering action against the City of London Police
Link Here

A human rights group has pledged to take action against a police force which tried to prosecute a teenager for branding Scientology a "cult".

The 16-year-old faced prosecution after refusing to get rid of a placard which said Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult at a protest outside the church's headquarters in London on 10 May.

He was told that his sign breached the Public Order Act, which makes it an offence to display a sign that is threatening, insulting or abusive, but the Crown Prosecution Service said no action would be taken against the teenager.

The human rights group Liberty, whose lawyers have been advising the boy, is now considering action against the City of London Police.


10th May   

Insufficient Evidence...

Suffocated under police restraint
Link Here

This is the moment a tourist died in the street after being restrained by police.

Frank Ogboru, 43, was sprayed with CS gas and pinned down after a minor row. CCTV footage captured him losing consciousness after screaming: I can't breathe. I can't breathe.

The Nigerian businessman, who was in London on holiday, stopped breathing and was declared dead in hospital.

Witnesses said officers had their "knees and feet" on him as he "wailed like a dog". But the CPS decided there was "insufficient evidence" for any of the officers to be charged in connection with Ogboru's death in Woolwich in September 2006.

Officers were called to Calderwood Street where Ogboru had rowed with the girlfriend of the man he was staying with. CCTV footage shows him calmly talking to two officers but when they order him not to return to the flat a struggle ensues.

Two more officers arrive to help restrain him. Footage appears to show one officer's knee over his neck as his head dangles over the kerb. When the police saw Ogboru had stopped breathing they tried to revive him but it was too late.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission investigated and the four officers were questioned under caution. A pathologist gave "asphyxia during restraint" as the cause of death but the CPS decided "a jury would find that the restraint was not unlawful" as there was not sufficient evidence that the officers had breached their duty of care.

The four officers remain on restricted duties. The IPCC will send a file to the Met for its recommendation on whether disciplinary action should be taken. The IPCC will then take the final decision.


7th May   

Child Protection Gone Mad...

Teaching becomes a particularly risky career choice
Link Here
Full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids

A headmaster caught fishing with an out-of-date rod licence is waiting to hear if he will lose his job for having a criminal record.

Bob Yeomans described his predicament as 'child protection gone mad' after his conviction for forgetting to renew the £25 permit was referred to a council panel.

Yeomans, the head of St John's Church of England Primary in Walsall for 26 years, was caught by a water bailiff last summer while on a fishing trip on the Dove in Derbyshire. Horrified at his oversight, he immediately pleaded guilty. He later paid a £50 fine and £70 costs and considered it the end of the matter.

But almost a year later the offence was flagged up by the Criminal Records Bureau following a routine background check.

The chair of governors was notified there could be an issue with a CRB check and rang to tell me, Yeomans said. I said, 'Is it a member of staff?' and he said, 'No, it's you'.

I was shocked. In effect, he was being asked if I was fit to work with children for forgetting to renew my rod licence.

As required by procedure, the chairman referred the matter to a council panel that decides whether staff can continue teaching.

It's a bit of a joke in the school now, he said. But you'd have thought someone would have had some common sense at an earlier stage. It was just child protection gone mad. It was clear the offence was irrelevant.

Mick Brookes, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: He forgot to renew his fishing licence... that is the level of trivia that is bedevilling us all - it's petty.

A spokesman for Education Walsall, part of the Serco group which runs education with the council, said the panel dealing with such cases looked at factors including the seriousness of the offence or allegation, the history of offences and time since the event in question. In the vast majority of cases, a positive trace will not mean that a person cannot be employed or continue to be employed.


11th April   

Her Majesty's Tax Bullies...

Website reveals the bullying tactics of UK tax inspectors
Link Here

A tax payer subjected to a lengthy investigation by the Revenue has set up a website to expose what he describes as its bullying, intimidation and waste.

Nick Morgan, a freelance journalist who regularly uses the self-assessment tax system, was told three years ago that an investigation had been opened into his returns. Even though the case involved only £2,500, Morgan says the investigation quickly snowballed into a nightmare.

Inspectors from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) took a forensic interest in his finances, he says, demanding to know details such as how many pieces of paper he used in correspondence and the number of business calls made to London. They even questioned him about £10 he spent on a biography of David Beckham as research for a celebrity interview.

Morgan says he was confronted with a frightening blur of figures and informed that there was a lot wrong with his tax return and that he had shown neglect. He was accused, incorrectly, of receiving undeclared payments amounting to £325.

Infuriated by the aggressive nature of the HMRC inquiries, Morgan filed a request under the 1998 Data Protection Act, which allows anyone to see most of the files held on them by HMRC. He discovered that the HMRC's internal view of his case was different from the manner in which he was treated.

I was astounded, Morgan said. In a phone call, the investigating officer had told me that things were very bad for me and I was a terrible case exhibiting gross negligence; but in her e-mails to a colleague she drew a very different picture. In one e-mail, the inspector wrote: I'm feeling a bit lost in all this . . . it's not a large settlement.

The investigation may have cost as much as £50,000, according to Stephen Camm, a former HMRC investigator who is head of tax investigations at Price Waterhouse Coopers. Yet HMRC has offered to settle with Morgan if he will pay just £2,530.

HMRC enjoys draconian powers over taxpayers. Investigations can be started at random, without evidence of wrongdoing. If a “discovery” is made, the previous 20 years of a taxpayers' finances can come under scrutiny. HMRC can levy hefty fines for offences as simple as late payment - and the burden is on the taxpayer to prove his or her innocence.

More than 99,000 taxpayers complained about HMRC last year.

Morgan concluded: HMRC have a whole range of bullying tactics. They are all legal and practised every day.


11th April

 Offsite: Victory for Protest...

Link Here
Full story: Protests at Parliament Square...Banning protests outside UK Parliament
Repeal of Parliament Square ban on protests

See article from


2nd April   

Update: Puritan Scotland...

Young adults to be banned from off licenses in Armadale
Link Here
Full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians

A West Lothian town is to become the first in Scotland to ban alcohol off-sales to people under 21.

The pilot scheme in Armadale will initially run for six weeks.

Every off-sale retailer in the town has signed up to the new scheme which means anyone who looks under the age of 25 will be asked for identification.

Those who cannot prove they are at least 21 will be denied alcohol. The aim of the scheme is to prevent people from enjoying themselves

This strategy has been tried before in the north of England. Cleveland Police introduced a similar scheme and it proved so successful in spoiling youngster's fun that it was adopted permanently.

It's a very good example of a local community including fun hating shopkeepers working together to tackle what is obviously a serious problem in many parts of Scotland. The Armadale pilot is a partnership with the local council, police and retailers.

A decision on whether it should be extended to other towns will be taken once the initial six weeks have been assessed.

West Lothian councillor Isabel Hutton backed the project: This initiative will not prevent all youths getting hold of alcohol, but I am sure it will help in reducing alcohol-related, anti-social behaviour, and that will be beneficial to the Armadale community.

Pc Phillip McIntosh, of Lothian and Borders Police, said: Youth disorder is often linked to alcohol, and Armadale is no different to any other town in West Lothian, or indeed Scotland, where a minority of young people can get their hands on alcohol and often leads to anti-social behaviour. Our intention is not only to limit under-age access to alcohol but to educate those who may have been involved in supplying alcohol to children that they are committing an offence.


31st March   


New bill seeks to give ministers the power to change any law on a whim
Link Here

Ministry of Silly Walks

The Human Rights Act
has just been repealed by
the Minister of Silly Walks

Danger! Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill Part 6 tries to remove even the limited constitutional safeguards of the "destroy Parliament" Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006

It looks as if we will have to again go through all the fuss and lobbying that we saw over the wretched Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006, the previous attempt by this Labour Government to neuter Parliament by Order of a Minister.

Part 6
43 Power to make consequential provision

(1) A Minister o the Crown, or two or more Ministers of the Crown acting jointly, may by order make such provision as the Minister or Ministers consider appropriate in consequence of this Act.

(2) An order under subsection (1) may --

(a) amend, repeal or revoke any provision made by or under an Act;

(b) include transitional or saving provision.

(3) An order under subsection (1) is to be made by statutory instrument.

(4) A statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (1) which amends or repeals a provision of an Act may not be made unless a draft of the instrument has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(5) A statutory instrument containing an order under subsection (1) which does not amend or repeal a provision of an Act is subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.

What happened to the supposed "super-affirmative procedure" and the whole of the debate in Parliament and in the UK political blogosphere over the wretched and controversial Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006 then?

The abuse of the catch all, excessively broad wording "amend, repeal or revoke any provision made by or an Act" means that even the Constitutional Acts like Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights 1689, Habeas Corpus, the European Communities Act, the Human Rights Act, the Civil Contingencies Act etc. can all be repealed or amended without the need for a full debate, or for new Primary Legislation, simply by Order of a Minister.


14th March   

Update: Life and Death Publicity...

Gay Iranian reprieved as publicity endangers both him and Jacqui Smith
Link Here

The gay Iranian teenager who's partner was executed in Iran for being gay is to be allowed to stay in Britain because his case is now so notorious that it would be dangerous to deport him to Tehran.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, granted Mehdi Kazemi a temporary reprieve yesterday as she announced that his case would be reconsidered when he returns from the Netherlands [where he lost his case to claim asylum there]. In reality, the case of Kazemi has now received so much publicity in Europe that if he were sent back to Iran, there would be a real risk of him facing persecution.

Smith intervened after receiving representations from MPs and peers alarmed that Kazemi, 19, could face execution if returned to his homeland. In a statement, Smith said: Following representations made on behalf of Mehdi Kazemi, and in the light of new circumstances since the original decision was made, I have decided that Mr Kazemi’s case should be reconsidered on his return to the UK from the Netherlands.

More than 60 peers had signed a letter to the Home Secretary urging the Government to halt the deportation.

Borg Palm, Kazemi’s solicitor in the Netherlands, welcomed the news but said that it would give his client a future only if he was granted asylum: He is very much afraid of being allowed to stay in Britain but without being granted official permission. That would then put him in a no man’s land. He would be very unhappy in the long term.

A relative of Kazemi, who lives in London but asked not to be named, told The Times that the teenager would be relieved: It has been a long time coming and a very long struggle,. What I do not understand is why the Government got itself into this mess in the first place. It should always have recognised that gay people are killed for being themselves in Iran.


12th March   

Britishness is...

Destroying liberty, banning fun, then expecting people to pledge allegiance to Britain
Link Here

Britishness is...
Emigrating to somewhere

Young people leaving school would take part in ceremonies to mark their move from students of citizenship to active citizenship , says a Government review by Lord Goldsmith.

The former attorney general said the events would involve swearing an oath either to the Queen as head of state, or to the nation: The ceremony should be seen as a key stage in engaging a young person in the life of the community and the responsibilities of citizenship .

As an incentive to making this transition, students would be encouraged to join a National Citizens' Corps and take part in civil activity.

There is also a suggestion to add an additional public holiday to celebrate Britishness.

Although the United Kingdom's constituent nations each has a saint's day, only St Patrick's Day (March 17) is a public holiday, in Northern Ireland.

But Lord Goldsmith does not want a date laden with historical significance. His preferred model is Australia Day, which is used to celebrate what it means to be an Australian, the achievements of the country and…to identify the improvements that can be made.


10th March   

Update: A Queer Definition of Asylum...

Partner of lesbian sentenced to death to be deported to Iran
Link Here

An Iranian lesbian who fled to Britain after her girlfriend was arrested and sentenced to death faces being forcibly returned after losing the latest round in her battle to be granted asylum.

The case of Pegah Emambakhsh, 40, comes a day after The Independent reported on the growing public outcry over the plight of a gay Iranian teenager who fears he will be executed if he is deported to Iran.

Both cases have provoked international protests against Britain and led to calls for an immediate moratorium on the deportation of gay and lesbian asylum-seekers who fear they will be persecuted in Iran.

More than 60 MEPs have signed a petition asking Gordon Brown to reverse the decision on Mehdi Kazemi, 19, who escaped to the Netherlands after the Home Office refused him asylum last year. His case is still before Dutch judges who will decide this month whether he should return to Britain where he faces deportation to a country which has already executed his boyfriend.


9th March   

Hanging in the Balance...

Partner of hanged gay Iranian to be deported to Iran
Link Here

A gay teenager who sought sanctuary in Britain when his boyfriend was executed by the Iranian authorities now faces the same fate after losing his legal battle for asylum.

Mehdi Kazemi, 19, came to London to study English in 2004 but later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.

In a telephone conversation with his father in Tehran, Kazemi was told that before the execution in April 2006, his boyfriend had been questioned about sexual relations he had with other men and under interrogation had named Kazemi as his partner.

Fearing for his own life if he returned to Iran, Kazemi claimed asylum in Britain. But late in 2007 his case was refused. Terror-stricken at the prospect of deportation the young Iranian made a desperate attempt to evade deportation and fled Britain for Holland where he is now being detained amid a growing outcry from campaigners.

He appeared before a Dutch court yesterday to plead with the authorities not to return him to Britain where he is almost certain to be sent back to Iran.

In a letter to the British Government, Kazemi has told the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith: I wish to inform the Secretary of State that I did not come to the UK to claim asylum. I came here to study and return to my country. But in the past few months my situation back home has changed. The Iranian authorities have found out that I am a homosexual and they are looking for me. If I return to Iran I will be arrested and executed like my former boyfriend.

Kazemi's future will now be decided by a Dutch appeal court, which will rule whether to grant him permission to apply for asylum in Holland, which offers special protection to gay Iranians, or whether he will be deported to Britain. His case has attracted support from leading gay rights groups across Europe who are campaigning to allow him to live in Britain.

Peter Tatchell, of the gay rights campaign group Outrage, described the Government's policy as outrageous and shameful. If Mehdi is sent back to Iran he will be at risk of execution because of his homosexuality. This is a flagrant violation of Britain's obligations under the refugee convention.

It is just the latest example of the Government putting the aims of cutting asylum numbers before the merits of individual cases. The whole world knows that Iran hangs young, gay men and uses a particularly barbaric method of slow strangulation. In a bid to fulfil its target to cut asylum numbers the Government is prepared to send this young man to his possible death. It is a heartless, cruel mercenary anti-refugee policy.

The Home Office's own guidance issued to immigration officers concedes that Iran executes homosexual men but, unaccountably, rejects the claim that there is a systematic repression of gay men and lesbians.


5th February   

Dixon of In the Dock Britain...

Police chipping away at their public respect
Link Here
Sometimes, though, the bobby on the beat acts in a way that only feeds the growing belief that the police are the enemy.

At Christmas 2006, Frank Gibson was driving back from midnight mass to his home in Gravesend in Kent. He claimed he took his car, within the speed limit, into the middle of the road to avoid parked cars, as one does. A police car behind started to flash its lights. Since Mr Gibson believed he was doing nothing wrong, he assumed the officers were not trying to stop him. However, they were.

He stopped as soon as he safely could and turned off his engine. He has since told friends that he tried to wind down his window but, it being electric and his engine being off, it would not open.

The prosecution claimed he refused to get out of the car and was "persistently confrontational and argumentative". The officer opened his door, removed his car keys and hauled him out. The hauling out is important. For, you see, Mr Gibson was 81 and, having just had an operation on his ankle, he walked with a stick.

If you remain to be convinced of how small a threat Mr Gibson is to society, and indeed to the burly officer about a third of his age who hoiked him out of his car, let me also state the following for the record.

As well as being in his eighties and frail, Mr Gibson is the governor of two schools, a trustee of two charities, has a fine war record, worked as a district officer and magistrate in Africa, has been a borough and county councillor for many years and Mayor of Gravesham, and received the OBE for service to his community. As his barrister told a court, he is a man of "previous exceptional character".

None of this would have been known to Pc Steven Cole and Pc Thomas McGregor of the Kent Constabulary when he was dragged out of his car.

Mr Gibson, who was convinced he had been doing nothing wrong, who was bemused at being treated in this fashion and no doubt rather alarmed, is then alleged to have assaulted these two brave officers.

This arthritic old man allegedly twisted Pc Cole's thumb so hard that it made him "yelp". Possibly even worse, Pc McGregor was shoved in the chest.

Who can blame them, subjected as they were to such a vicious attack, for bundling Mr Gibson into their car, handcuffing him and locking him in a cell for five hours? The public - and police officers - manifestly have to be protected from savages such as Mr Gibson.

Mr Gibson claimed he was driving slowly in the middle of the road because it was the middle of the night, and he was trying to avoid hitting any of the parked cars. He passed a breathalyser. He could have been bound over to keep the peace, but refused, for it would have meant admitting guilt.

So the case went to court to, I hear, the embarrassment of the Kent police and the chagrin of the county's police authority. Still protesting his innocence and after two hearings spread out over many months, Mr Gibson was fined £910 and given a six-month conditional discharge last week.

The bench said he had "allowed his temper to get the better of him". Kent crown prosecution service said that the officers' behaviour was ''not unreasonable, but proportionate".

I would submit that no story about the apparent insensitivity of the police should cause us to hate them as a class, not even this one, though my God it comes close.

I know there will be many decent officers as outraged, shocked and appalled as I am by Pc Cole's and Pc McGregor's treatment of Mr Gibson. Is this how they train them in Kent? Do they bother to tell them that elderly people are often slow, easily confused, easily frightened, above all vulnerable?

I don't care what wonderful careers Pcs Cole and McGregor might have had. By this one act of heavy-handedness, they have raised disturbing questions about how officers are trained to exercise discretion. This case has made it that little bit easier for the respectable classes to withdraw their support from the police in general.


30th January   

A Snapshot of Bollox Britain...

Police seize photographers film for nothing
Link Here

An amateur photographer has told how police seized his film as he was out taking snaps in a Hull shopping centre.

Steve Carroll, of Kent, was visiting relatives in Hull in December when he decided to do some "street photography" in the city's Prospect Centre.

Shoppers reported him to the police, who took his film because he seemed to be operating in "a covert manner".

Carroll lodged a complaint against Humberside Police but an investigation concluded its officers acted correctly. Officers have common law powers of seizure, a force spokeswoman said.

Having developed Mr Carroll's pictures, the force conceded that none of the material was out of the ordinary.

Carroll, from Sittingbourne, said all the pictures were taken quite openly and were of people engaged in everyday activities. He stressed that none of the images was of children.

A Humberside Police spokeswoman said: Camera film was seized by Humberside Police following complaints from members of the public about photos being taken in the area of the Prospect Centre. Any person who appears to be taking photos in a covert manner should expect to be stopped and spoken to by police to enquire into what their business is. Humberside Police would expect other officers within the force to act in the same manner if given a similar situation.

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