There are times when one utterly despairs of the priorities of our police and prosecution authorities. Earlier this week the crew of an Essex police unit took time off from pursuing dangerous drivers on the M25 in order to flag down a driver for displaying offensive slogan “bollocks to Brexit” on his Mini. According to the police this constituted an offence under S.5 of the Public Order Act 1986 (needless to say they were wrong). After 40 minutes of argument the Remainers agreed to rub out the first three letters, so that the slogan read “locks to Brexit.” Result! Especially, of course, for the dangerous drivers who they didn’t catch while arguing about a public order law they misunderstood.
Jeremy Corbyn, Shami Chakrabarti and Harriet Harman all have difficulties with the idea of complainants in rape cases being asked to hand over their mobile phones as part of the police investigation. Mr Corbyn has described it as a “disturbing move.”
It is nothing of the sort.
No change in the law has taken place. Instead, rightly stung by a series of recent cases in which evidence from mobile phones suggesting innocence was withheld from the defence until the last minute, the National Police Chiefs Council and the Crown Prosecution Service have agreed a standard form to give to complainants for use when investigating sexual offences.
It deals with those cases – not every case – in which the police believe that a complainant’s mobile phone should be examined as part of an investigation into a sexual offence.
There is a somewhat distasteful expression that prosecuting barristers occasionally use after a jury has convicted: “I potted him,” they will say to anyone who happens to be listening, usually with a faintly repellent smugness.
There is more to prosecuting than potting a defendant as though he were a celluloid ball, important public service though that can often be. Prosecutors also have a critical role in protecting the innocent. A good prosecutor should never take an unfair point, should never try to adduce clearly inadmissible evidence and above all should always disclose evidence that undermines their own case or supports that of the defence. The police too are under a duty to follow all reasonable lines of inquiry and to reveal what they discover to the prosecutor even if it undermines a case they thought they were building against a guilty man. Continue reading “Wrongful convictions are a terrible risk in our frighteningly imperfect justicesystem.”
The case collapsed after three days when analysis of the complainant’s mobile phone was finally revealed to the persistent prosecution barrister, former Tory MP (and now incidentally the renowned legal blogger) Jerry Hayes. It showed that amongst the 50,000 or so messages sent by the complainant (or to use the official term approved by the College of Policing, “the victim”) were messages to Mr Allan pestering him for sex, and fantasising about “rough sex and being raped.” Mr Hayes, a member of the independent bar rather than an employee of the Crown Prosecution Service,
The assertion that thousands of British Muslim girls are getting mutilated with the passive acquiescence of the police and CPS seems to have settled into public consciousness as a matter of established fact. Last month the Crown Prosecution Service proudly tweeted that it was:
“Prosecuting more people than ever for hate crime and ensuring they receive tougher sentences.”
The response to the tweet was instructive. I haven’t read through all 671 replies. One or two questioned whether it was actually proper or desirable for the CPS to be “ensuring heavier sentences,” but the tone of a huge proportion was the same: why are you bragging about prosecuting hate crime when you haven’t prosecuted anyone successfully for FGM? Continue reading “How much is the CPS to blame for not prosecuting perpetrators of FGM?”
Blackpool Magistrates recently came down hard on a Thornton rat-catcher.
Mark Seddon’s love life had had its ups and downs. During one of its downs his girl-friend left him. She took up with a man who Mr Seddon didn’t like.
Some pest control consultants might have resorted to violence, but Mr Seddon was more restrained. He turned to social media. He sent his ex a “Whats App” message setting out succinctly his opinion of the new man in her life:
What should happen to people who make false allegations?
The issue has been put into stark focus by the publicity given this week to the case of Geoff Long.
Mr Long had a daughter called Tina from an unsuccessful first marriage. In 2010 she went to Brighton police and claimed that he had systematically abused her over thirty years earlier when she was aged between 8 and 16.
There was apparently no corroboration to her allegation, but it led to Mr Long’s prosecution. The jury believed Tina, and he was convicted. He received a sentence of 5 years imprisonment.
It is rare for anything in Fly Fishing and Fly Tyingto make much of a splash. Articles such as “How to tie a Hairy Hotchkiss” or “Agostino Roncallo demonstrates how to tie an extended body dry fly purely from cul de canard feathers”emerge (if at all, because the latter is sadly paywalled) onto the surface of the general public’s consciousness with all the fanfare of a mayfly hatching on a misty morning in a quiet meander of the Itchen.
But fishermen are patient, so it is not surprising that having cast his damsel onto the limpid waters of the letters pages of Fly Fishing and Fly Tying last November, eventually the wider press took an interest in Nigel Bond’s complaint about skinny dippers in the River Dart. According to Mr Bond, there is a growing “scourge” of swimmers disturbing the peace of Devon rivers:
“On a recent visit to Black Pool upstream of Buckfastleigh, I found the peace of the river shattered by several very aged, lily white and scrawny humans cavorting stark naked in what is one of the best pools on the lower river.”
It was not the effect on the fish that he objected to, but the effect on his own peace and quiet:
“I don’t think that the fish would have been too disturbed – the passage of an otter would have disturbed them more – but to an angler, having paid good money to enjoy a little tranquillity by the river, the sight was altogether too much.”Continue reading “Free the Naked Rambler”