Tag Archives: police

‘It is not the function of the police to patrol our minds’ – Peter Hitchens on free speech

Here’s an interview that is well worth watching as right-wing columnist Peter Hitchens attacks the right-wing behaviour of UK police after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

That’s correct – he’s a right-winger but he absolutely opposes the arrest of people who were merely exercising their right to free speech by calling for the end of the monarchy.

His comments on attempts to reverse the relationship between the state and the individual are particularly interesting.

And he bemoans the failure to understand how authority is exercised in a free country – by consent. Doesn’t that indicate that the UK under the current crop of Tories isn’t free?

Also interesting is his comment on the way people have started to attack others – not on the basis of what those others have said, but on what they believe those others to have said (or what they can get others to believe).

The common thread? Intolerance of dissent.

Here’s the clip:

We’re living in dangerous times for media like This Site.

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Freedom of speech row after police start arresting anti-monarchy protesters

Arrested for expressing an opinion: how can the UK still be said to be a nation that supports free speech if the police do this?

Heavy-handed policing has triggered a debate on freedom of expression after police forces around the UK started arresting people who were expressing their free-speech right to call for the end of the monarchy after the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

I wrote about this previously, but more developments have taken place. Watch this:

Now watch this:

I think Phil is mistaken; the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act is what allows the rozzers to cart peaceful protesters away – or at least, that is what I understand they are using.

The Act allows them to remove protesters who cause a disturbance or who are “annoying” others.

But is it really annoying people when someone holds up a sign saying they don’t want a monarchy here any more?

The person who shouted, “Who elected you?” at an event calls the legislation into question because it was possible for proceedings to carry on regardless and no hate speech was involved.

The police reaction does not reflect the general feeling of society – and the surprising aspect of this is that it is a feeling that is held by both left- and right-wingers.

Phil reckons the police may be acting under ancient laws that haven’t fallen off the statute books – but these would be trumped by more recent legislation; the Public Order Act doesn’t cover what’s been done here as there has been no threatening behaviour.

And there are very clear and obvious questions to be answered:

How do people express views like opposition to the monarchy – and get a debate on it – if any such expression is prohibited by our law guardians? And how can the UK government still claim that this is a nation that honours free speech if this is happening?

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Police are arresting people for free-speech protests against the monarchy – due to Tory law

People across the UK are being arrested for exercising what should be their free-speech right to protest against the continuing existence of the monarchy.

Police are able to do this because Priti Patel’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act allows them to arrest people who are deemed to be causing a disturbance, or simply to be annoying.

This is the Tory boot stamping on your face, of course. Royalists may approve of republicans being silenced, but will they be as happy when they’re on the receiving end of this repression?

Here’s the evidence:

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Why is this think tank so influential on Tory policy – and who pays for it?

The puppet PM-to-be? Liz Truss appears to be nothing more than a figurehead for shadowy business concerns. Are her strings being pulled by think tanks like Policy Exchange?

Remember the report the Tories pushed into both Houses of Parliament three years ago, attempting to claim that Extinction Rebellion is a terrorist organisation and its protests should be stopped?

A few months later it was revealed that ER had been listed as an “extremist ideology”, to be referred to the Prevent programme – which aims to safeguard vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism.

There was a row, and then the reference was described as an error and removed.

But it is widely agreed that the report played a large role in the drafting of Priti Patel’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act which heavily restricts protest, criminalises many peaceful actions, disproportionately targets minority groups including  people of colour and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

The report had been published by Policy Exchange, a right-wing think tank that is part of the Tufton Street Brexit Nexus which

ties together fossil fuel interests, climate denial groups and a whole array of Brexit campaigns, pushing for a deregulated low-tax playing field pushing profit and growth over people and planet. As well as close ties to most of the current Conservative right politicians, they reach deep into the media, influencing the output of the Telegraph and Spectator, as well as the Times, Mail, Express and Sun.

We don’t know the names of everybody who funds this organisation, but information that is available shows that its work – and therefore Conservative Party policy – is being driven by private business interests:

As well as receiving around £3million per year from undisclosed donors, it has received ‘sponsorship’ money from many UK energy companies for arranging meetings with government ministers, and these included Drax, E.On, Centrica, and lobbyist Energy UK. It also receives money from ‘American Friends of Policy Exchange’, a US non-profit organisation supporting Policy Exchange UK and backed by mainly anonymous donors. They were listed in a 2017 ExxonMobil worldwide-giving report  as receiving a $30,000 donation from the giant fossil fuel corporation. ExxonMobil has spent vast sums over decades on promoting climate denial.

And think about this:

Policy Exchange also funds something called the Judicial Power Project which seeks to limit the rights of our justice system to rein in the power of government ministers or question unfair or draconian legislation. Under the guise of concern over “how and by whom public power is exercised”, it’s basically pushing for more power for heavily-lobbied ministers along with less accountability to a judicial system that may be more resistant to corporate influence.

Other changes suggested by Policy Exchange include calls for amendments to the Overseas Operations Bill, giving soldiers impunity for war crimes, and for government control over appointments of judges; and it has published a major study on “judicial interference” over the government’s Rwanda deal and other anti-asylum proposals. The project strongly influenced the tabling of the Judicial Review Act, which limits citizens’ ability to challenge government decisions in court.

And now, as RealMedia points out,

we are about to face a leader elected by a tiny unrepresentative club, advised by secretly-funded policy units, and cheered on by a media owned by its rich friends and donors.

This will get messy and you will probably be badly harmed by what these people will do. The big question is: how long are you going to let them do it?

Source: The hidden forces pushing change in our democracy and rights – Real Media – The View From Below

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Is this the reason police won’t investigate Twitter disputes ‘simply because someone is offended’?

Offensive: Police have been told not to investigate Twitter posts as hate crimes just because they offend people – but is it because the person in charge of policing the internet is a principle offender? This image has offended people – and was posted by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport: Nadine Dorries.

This is interesting:

Police should stop “wasting time” investigating when people are offended, a senior police chief has said.

Stephen Watson, chief constable of Greater Manchester, admitted police had been overzealous in recording trivial online spats and legitimate debate as hate incidents at the expense of tackling mainstream crimes.

Mr Watson welcomed revised guidance by the College of Policing, the national standards body, as a “move in the right direction”. It has decreed that police officers should no longer investigate legitimate debate or treat trivial online spats as hate incidents.

The guidance, hailed as a victory for free speech, said people contributing to political and social debate must not be “stigmatised simply because someone is offended”.

But is this the reason?

Source: Police told to stop wasting time on Twitter disputes ‘simply because someone is offended’

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Lawsuit launched against Met Police for failing to properly investigate Boris Johnson and Partygate

How will the Met Police justify this? Boris Johnson is pictured toasting departing Downing Street comms chief Lee Cain at a leaving party on November 13, 2020, that the prime minister told Parliament he never attended.

Take a look at this:

Here are the details:

We are, today, issuing formal proceedings against the Met Police for their apparent continued failure to properly investigate Boris Johnson’s attendance at three lockdown gatherings, in November and December 2020 and January 2021, and their refusal to answer our legitimate questions about how they reached this decision.

The public have a right to know what really went on inside the Partygate investigation. The Met’s actions have raised grave concerns about the deferential way in which they are policing those in power. It stands in stark contrast to how ordinary people were policed during lockdown.

It was only after we threatened to sue the Met in January 2022 that they agreed to investigate at all and the Prime Minister was eventually fined for attending a lockdown gathering in June 2020.

We’ve given the Met multiple opportunities to explain why he was reportedly not sent questionnaires regarding these three other gatherings, nor issued with fixed penalty notices for attending them, when a number of civil servants and officials who did received both.

On 15 June, we wrote to the Met, giving them a week to finally live up to their duty to be honest and upfront with the public.

Rather than work with us in a spirit of transparency, or address to the substantive issues raised in our case, their response focuses on our right to bring this action at all (known as ‘standing’). Yet even here, they haven’t properly explained themselves. We asked them who, if not us, would have standing and they refused to answer.

We strongly believe that Good Law Project and our co-claimant, former senior Met Officer Lord Paddick, have standing to represent the public interest in this matter. If we aren’t allowed to bring this claim, we don’t believe anyone else will be in a position to do so.

So now we’re forced to sue the Met for a second time.

Lord Paddick: “Members of the public will have seen Boris Johnson raising a glass at a party that he was apparently not even questioned about, and thought ‘If that had been me, I would have been fined.’ We are determined that the Prime Minister should be held to the same standard as the rest of us.”

From its failure to hold the Prime Minister and those around him to account for their lockdown breaches, to shocking reports of institutional misogyny, discrimination and sexual harassment, the public’s faith in the Met has been shaken to the core this year. This is their moment to finally begin repairing the damage their inaction has done.

Our challenge is grounded in a single, simple idea: for the law to have any meaning, it must apply equally to us all. The Met must explain their seeming lack of action in this matter. We won’t stop until the full story is uncovered.

The Met have until 22 July to respond. We will keep you updated.

Source: New Met Police legal action will get to the truth about the PM’s Partygate – Good Law Project

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Fascism? Anti-Brexit protester silenced (almost) on day anti-protest Act comes into law

How do you like the new British fascism?

On the very day the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act that bans “noisy” protest became law, police swooped on anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bray and confiscated his amplifiers.

Mr Bray, of Port Talbot, has been a regular feature in Westminster for many years, protesting against Brexit. He regularly used his equipment to broadcast protest songs about Boris Johnson, notably during Prime Minister’s Questions.

But after the new Act came into force, which extends a “controlled area” around Westminster where activities like sleeping in a tent are restricted, around 15 police officers swooped on Mr Bray and took his equipment:

According to the Mirror,

One clause that commenced this morning is for police to “impose conditions on one-person protests” – a law critics have speculated was drawn up because of Mr Bray.

A senior police officer can impose conditions on a one-person protest if they “reasonably believe” the noise it creates “may result in serious disruption to the activities of an organisation in the vicinity, or have a significant, relevant impact on people in the vicinity.”

This disruption includes if people in the organisation can’t “reasonably carry out any one of their activities for a prolonged period of time.”

This Writer has seen no evidence that this was the case when Mr Bray’s equipment was taken.

I would certainly encourage you to read the Mirror article, especially the comments by representatives of organisations opposing the draconian measures in the Act. They make its consequences very clear.

This is likely to be the mildest example of the new policy’s enforcement.

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Investigation launched against four Met Police officers who strip-searched black schoolgirl

All four Metropolitan Police officers who strip-searched a 15-year-old black schoolgirl while she was on her period are now being investigated for gross misconduct, it has been revealed.

It had been claimed that the girl, known as Child Q, smelled strongly of cannabis and may have been in possession of drugs.

So police were called to her school and subjected her to an intimate body search without any other adults present.

The incident took place almost two years ago but only came to light in March this year after a safeguarding report was published. This Site has previously reported on the incident here.

The Local Child Safeguarding Practice Review found that the strip search should never have happened, was unjustified, and racism “was likely to have been an influencing factor”.

“Four constables have now been advised that they are being investigated for potential breaches of the police standards of professional behaviour at the level of gross misconduct,” the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) said.

However, it added that this “does not necessarily mean that disciplinary proceedings will follow”.

“We are looking at complaints that her mother was not given the opportunity to be present during the strip search, and that there was no other appropriate adult present,” it added.

“We are also considering whether the child’s ethnicity played a part in the officers’ decision to strip search her.”

If the officers are found to have breached policing standards, they could be dismissed from their jobs.

Source: Investigation launched against four Met Police officers who strip-searched black schoolgirl

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Was Tory crackdown on protest really prompted by this oil-funded think tank?

Targeted: Extinction Rebellion members – here protesting at a Murdoch print works – were briefly defined as an extremist group. Although they have now been removed from the list, Home Secretary Priti Patel has continued to refer to climate protesters as “criminals”.

A Tory crackdown on legal political protest was devised by a right-wing think tank that is funded by the US fossil fuel corporation ExxonMobil, it has been alleged.

And it is easy to see the reason: it removes the right of ordinary citizens to protest against the climate-wrecking policies followed by the oil industry.

According to Open Democracy,

Policy Exchange explicitly said the government should pass legislation to target Extinction Rebellion (XR) in a 2019 report that got the attention of Tory MPs and peers.

The report called for protest laws to be “urgently reformed in order to strengthen the ability of police to place restrictions on planned protest and deal more effectively with mass law-breaking tactics”.

Sections of Priti Patel’s controversial policing bill, which became the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, appear directly inspired by the Policy Exchange report.

The Policy Exchange report that appears to have contained the seeds of the policing bill was later cited in the House of Commons by Tory MP Steve Baker, who urged ministers to read it, and in the Lords by Tory peer Matt Ridley. Baker is a trustee of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate sceptic group that has received money from groups with oil interests in the US. Ridley is a member of the group’s academic advisory council.

Patel said openly that the legislation was intended to stop tactics used by Extinction Rebellion. The home secretary first pledged to introduce the bill just over a year after the Policy Exchange report was published.

Policy Exchange does not disclose its donors, but openDemocracy has uncovered that ExxonMobil Corporation donated $30,000 to its American fundraising arm in 2017.

There is much more information on the Open Democracy site (link below).

Circumstantial evidence?

Maybe – but then it isn’t likely that the Conservative Party, Policy Exchange and ExxonMobil are ever going to admit conspiring to silence legitimate political protest.

Source: Policy Exchange: Was oil-funded think tank behind anti-XR policing bill? | openDemocracy

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Partygate: Met Police Acting Commissioner pathetically tries to whitewash Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson: the prime minister is pictured participating in a party to mark the departure of Lee Cain from his Downing Street communications job – but according to Acting Met Police Commissioner Sir Stephen House, there is “no clear evidence” that he took part in the rampant Covid-19 rule-breaking there.

A police officer who witnessed “a large number of people” at a “crowded and noisy” party, where “some members of staff drank excessively” did not immediately take action over Covid-19 rule breaches because he was there for security and not to “police what goes on inside the building”, according to Met Police Acting Commissioner Sir Stephen House.

Have you ever read such nonsense? Police officers are sworn to uphold the law at all times, no matter what their stated duties are said to be. Would he have turned a blind eye to burglary, or rape, because he was assigned to “security”?

Apparently the same officer did not feel that a large number of drunken people in a crowded and noisy room breached Covid-19 regulations that strictly prohibited such social gatherings.

It’s no wonder this “acting” Commissioner’s other comments are also shockingly inadequate in the light of this.

House told the London Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee there was “no clear evidence” that Johnson had breached Covid-19 rules many times in Downing Street, despite the very clear photographic evidence of him participating in a party to mark the departure of Lee Cain from Downing Street on November 13, 2020.

This was not a “works gathering”. Far too many people were present and they were socialising and drinking alcohol – as was the prime minister, who gave a speech. The amount of time he spent there was immaterial because the rules in place at the time prohibited all such social events from taking place at all.

At least one attendee was fined for being at this event but there was “no clear evidence” that Boris Johnson was there or took part, according to House.

House also suggested that it was difficult for his officers to work out which gatherings were work-related and which were not. How daft! If alcoholic drinks were visible in the room, then they weren’t work-related. And in any case, if the room was packed with people, meaning they were not at least 2m away from each other in accordance with social distancing rules, they were breaking the law.

House said he was personally involved in the decision-making and was confident in the outcome of the police investigation. That should be enough for us to demand that he surrender his badge.

Is he selling us down the river so he can gain the favour of the top Tories?

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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