... and a camera!

Sorry, it wasn't just a carton of orange juice that brave Sergeant Delroy Smellie felt so threatened by in the video in my previous post ... Nicola Fisher was holding a carton of orange juice and a camera!

That makes much more sense. The police have good reason to be afraid of cameras, as last night's report on Newsnight shows:

     

What sort of society is the UK becoming? Protesters treated as if they were terrorists. A prosecution service that wants to make an example of protesters and seems to be to be stacked in favour of the police ... which enables them to act with carte blanche, knowing they can get away with things that would not normally be tolerated.

For example, look again at the video in yesterday's post of Sergeant Smellie repeatedly beating a protester. Sure she was shouting and swearing at him, and was certainly "in his face" ... but she didn't attack him physically. I can't see that she even touched him. Now I can imagine that happens fairly regularly in domestic confrontations. So is it now an allowable defence for a man to say that he felt in genuine fear that the bottle of baby milk in his partner's hand was an offensive weapon? And if he then beats her, claiming he was acting in self-defence, can we imagine the judge saying:

"It was for the prosecution to prove this defendant was not acting in lawful self-defence. I have found the prosecution has failed in this respect and the defendant has raised the issue of lawful self-defence and as such is entitled to be acquitted."

... as if the mere mention of the words "self-defence" can shift the burden of proof?

It appears that things are moving bit-by-bit towards a situation where the legal system can apply different standards both in favour of its own, and against those who it doesn't approve of. This should make us angry ... the cool, hard anger that demands we work to change things.

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So let me ask this question: If police and criminal justice were devolved to Wales, what would we do? Can we imagine a Welsh Home Office allowing this sort of policing? Can we imagine a Welsh Ministry of Justice adopting the same sort of shabby practices and policies in the prosecution service and courts as were all too clear in the second video?

I can't see that we ever would. Is that being hopelessly optimistic about Wales and England having different standards? Or should we simply look north to see that Scotland, where policing and justice are devolved, seems to have remarkably better standards than England in this respect?

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1 comments:

Siônnyn said...

George Monbiot makes the point in his blog that the scandal here is that the case was heard without a jury! http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbiot/2010/apr/01/george-monbiot-police-trial-by-jury

I can't imagine any jury, in England or Wales falling for the 'Blind spot' , 'Self defence' nonsense. This is carte blanche for Her Majesty's constabulary to trample further on what little liberty we have left!

There has to be more to this story than meets the eye. I just can't see what it is yet, but I'm sure more will come to light in the coming months.

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