If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It–What The Country Voted For

In Camoron’s first incarnation as the Nation’s Prime Minister he set about reforming the Legal System system, amongst others.  In doing so he aimed to save about £450 Million from Legal Aid bills.  This led to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO coming into force.

This Act, which personally I had never heard of before, seems to only apply to Civil cases, but some of those Civil cases might affect us at some point in our lives.  It has removed countless cases from the scope of the Legal Aid scheme.

LASPO reverses the position whereby legal aid is accessible for all civil cases other than those excluded by the Access to Justice Act 1999. Whole categories of law have been taken out of scope for legal aid; others only qualify if they meet certain criteria. The categories now out of scope include:

  1. Family cases where there is no proof of domestic violence, forced marriage or child abduction. There has been a 60% fall in family cases granted funding and two thirds of cases in the family court now feature somebody representing themselves.
  2. Immigration cases that do not involve asylum or detention
  3. Housing and debt matters unless they constitute an immediate risk to the home
  4. Welfare benefit cases; except appeals to the upper tribunal or high court
  5. Almost all clinical negligence cases
  6. Employment cases that do not involve human trafficking or a contravention of the Equality Act 2010

The 4 out of 6 that I have highlighted are the ones that are most likely to affect us at some time. Don’t think that Criminal Law has escaped either, as from last April the government has cut the Criminal Legal Aid budget by £215 Million as well.

To clarify, this is what I wrote about the (then) forthcoming changes on another site;

“Changes to legal aid

Welfare benefit appeals

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you make an appeal against a decision on welfare benefits unless you’re making an appeal to the Upper Tribunal or higher courts.  So, once again our caring sharing government has excelled, not only do they slash benefits, ATOS assessments abound, everyone being forced off the rock and roll, but we’ve taken away the only way an unemployed/ill person can use to challenge that decision.  Without a sudden increase in charitable funding, how are these folk going to pay their legal fees to challenge what they undoubtedly see as an unfair assessment etc etc?  Surely this is akin to the school bully nicking your dinner money and then tying you up so you can’t tell anyone?  Or is it just me that thinks that?

Debt

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you with your debts unless a creditor is making you bankrupt or taking court action to evict you from your home

Housing

You’ll no longer be able to get legal aid to help you with housing problems unless:

  • there’s serious disrepair in your home
  • you’re homeless
  • you’re being evicted from your home
  • the council is taking action against you because of anti-social behaviour.

Employment

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with an employment dispute or go to an employment tribunal unless it’s a discrimination case.

Private family law

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with private family law problems unless you’re a victim or are at risk of domestic violence or there has been or is a risk of child abuse These include:

  • divorce
  • dissolution of civil partnership
  • financial disputes
  • property disputes
  • disputes over children.

Asylum support

If you’re an asylum seeker, you won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with asylum support unless you have applied for both housing and financial support.

Non-asylum immigration

You won’t be able to get legal aid to help you with an immigration application unless you:

  • have been detained
  • make an application under the domestic violence rules
  • make an application because you’re a victim of human trafficking.

Education

You won’t get legal aid to help with education problems unless the child or young adult has Special Educational Needs.

Consumer and general contract law

You won’t get legal aid for any action you want to take for consumer problems or problems you have with general contracts.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority cases

You won’t get legal aid to help with the costs of trying to get compensation because you’ve suffered a criminal injury.

Clinical negligence cases

You won’t get legal aid for most clinical negligence problems.

What will you still be able to get legal aid for

You’ll still be able to get legal aid for the following problems:

  • care proceedings
  • family mediation
  • asylum applications
  • mental health proceedings
  • community care cases
  • discrimination. “

I seem to recall reading somewhere previously that we can no longer get Legal Aid to challenge Government Decisions but as I write I can’t quite lay my hands on that gem, or I might just be getting old.  I did however find this which might mean that I’m NOT going senile.

“In a judgment handed down on 3rd March 2015, the High Court ruled that regulations brought in by Chris Grayling, the Lord Chancellor, in April 2014 to cut legal aid funding for judicial review are unlawful.

The case hinged on the MoJ’s decision to restrict legal aid for Judicial Review challenges of decisions made by public bodies

Now we’ve had our General Election and the country voted.  They voted Tory and brought in a (small) majority government with Camoron at the helm.

One of his avowed policies is to scrap the Human Rights Act.  By doing so he will be removing the following collection of Rights from the Statute Book

  • The right to life
  • The right not to be tortured
  • The right not to be a slave
  • The right to a fair trial
  • The right NOT to be punished if you haven’t broken the law
  • The right to private family life
  • The right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion
  • The right to freedom of expression
  • The right to marry and start a family
  • The right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions
  • The right to education
  • The right to free elections
  • The right NOT to be given to death penalty

Some are clearly more important than others, and I’m certainly not saying that these rights and this Act won’t be replaced by something else, but what guarantees do we have?  Do we trust a Tory government not to weaken our basic Human Rights? Will there be a replacement Act?  Why replace the one we have?

People of Britain this is what you got when you voted.  Personally I’d rather not replace something unless it’s broke. In terms of Public Protection we seem to be considerably worse off than we were.

I Can’t Quite Work It Out

The people have voted, and it seems like they’ve got Camoron for another full term.

I don’t agree with them, but I can see why the Jocks have voted SNP, at least that makes some kind of sense.

The rest of the UK have voted for some strange things

They have voted for a much reduced Police Service with a much hampered ability to respond to our various problems.

They have voted for a much reduced Armed Forces, they are at their lowest strength for decades and getting smaller.

They have voted for an NHS in danger of being dismantled and privatised.  Starved of funding, forced to fail, cue private companies riding in to pick up the pieces and rescue them.

They have voted for a shackled Justice system.

They have voted for a slimline Coastguard Service.

They have voted for Probation, Education and Prison Services to be neutered or privatised.

What do all of the above have in common?  None of them sell anything.  Traditionally they have all been sectors that soak up money without the ability to make a profit. How could they?  Until very recently consecutive governments have accepted that fact and whilst there have been minor cuts and Efficiency Drives along the way, it was always accepted that they were sectors that had to have money pumped into them to make them work with no option of getting a profit out at the end. It has always been that way, and I don’t see how it could be any different to that.  Oh, hang on,……..Privatisation might help.

They have voted for Bankers Bonuses.

They have voted for Outsourcing

I truly hope that the the great British Public do not find the need for the NHS, do not ever need a Police Officer, I hope their kids are properly educated, I hope they never need a Coastguard etc etc, because the shape of this country has changed irrevocably, and it’s what the country has voted for.

I didn’t, my conscience is clear, but very many did. I have heard it described as selfish voting. Who knows?

I leave you with one last thought, Be very careful what you wish for because you might get it.

Seems Like I’ve Got This Justice Malarkey All Wrong

For my entire adult life I have always thought that Justice went something like this:-

  1. Person reports crime
  2. Police investigate. In order to establish if a crime has indeed been committed and who may be reasonably suspected of that crime
  3. Initial investigation establishes whether or not sufficient grounds exist to warrant arresting any identified suspects(s)
  4. Suspect(s) arrested, interviewed and a decision taken by CPS to charge or not charge suspect(s)
  5. Case File submitted to CPS in anticipation of Court appearance.
  6. A Jury is sworn in to hear all the evidence and decide on Guilt or not.
  7. The Trial Judge would decide, if appropriate, if the defendant is fit to stand trial, having heard all the legal submissions.
  8. Trial either proceeds or is abandoned due to the defendant being Not Fit To Plead.

However, it seems that I have it all wrong.

Points 4 to 8 are now redundant, CPS decide on Fitness To Plead, Judge is deprived of what was his/her responsibility, defendant never even appears before the Court because it’s apparently not in the Public Interest to prosecute someone who may be unwell.

As a general principle I don’t have a major issue with that, but why oh why can’t the Judge rule on that, as has been the case before today?

On the other hand, it may simply be that I’ve misunderstood my entire life.

PENETRATION – Fact, Fiction or Theory.

Now that I’ve got your attention I have to confess that word should have been INFILTRATION.

I’m not very experienced at a Fiction writing, hardly any at all compared to some others in much higher office and their Expenses Claims.  The utter drivel I am about to reveal to the world might be fact, it might be fiction or maybe just a plausible theory. I’ll leave you, my reader, to decide which it is.

I retired from the Met in 2002 so, quite rightly, I’m completely out of touch with the current goings-on and shenanigans, but before I left there was at least one successful infiltration (I say successful because it was more than a mere attempt) by a criminal enterprise. A member of said enterprise, who had no convictions, had applied, been accepted, undergone training, and been posted to a Police Station in uniform.  That person was nothing less than a ‘Sleeper’ waiting to be activated and presumably pass on information to his/her associates outside of the Force.

That is shocking.

Fortunately, it was rumbled before any damage was done but I HOPE that it served as a Wake-Up call to the organisation and alerted them to what is possible.

Then a chance Tweet got me thinking.

My old mate Obbsie may have been joking when he tweeted but what if he is right?   What if…… What if our government has been infiltrated?  Depletion of our Armed Forces, that’s certainly happening.  Would it benefit a foreign power?  Putin and ISIS are the two that come easiest to mind, but yes it would/could.

Depletion of the Police Service – that’s most definitely happening.  Would that benefit a malevolent foreign power?  In certain aspects yes. Our ability to contain Civil Disorder is almost certainly already impaired.  If Police numbers are reduced too far it cannot help but impact upon the Police’s Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism responsibilities.

The Fire and Rescue Service has been watered down by this coalition? Is this a benefit to a foreign power? In the modern era I’m not actually certain, but their attendance at a major Terrorist Incident would most certainly impact upon others elsewhere with appliances and crews being out of place with less cover available.

The National Health Service has suffered really badly at the hands of this government, even though the Tories lie through their teeth and try to deny it.  Would this be a benefit to a foreign power? Quite possibly in at least two ways.  Firstly our response capabilities (Ambulance, Paramedics, A&E Doctors & Nurses) have been diluted so we would possibly deal less well with the results of a major Terrorist Incident, their would also be knock-on consequences further down the chain.  Secondly the ever-present spectre of Privatisation would be an attractive proposition to a foreign government to pick up contracts in the UK Health sector.

Other Public Sector areas have also been affected; Courts, Probation, Education, Coastguards etc etc.  to be perfectly honest I have no idea if or how these would be of benefit to a foreign government, but the Public Sector as a whole has been CONSIDERABLY weakened by this coalition.

It may well be considered ludicrous to suggest that there could be infiltration at the very top of government but the incontrovertible fact is that our nations enemies, be they ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Argentina or Putin (maybe even the SNP???) , will have viewed the havoc wreaked upon our police, fire and ambulance services, the NHS and indeed our armed forces with a mixture of incredulity and delight.

I implore you, do not be complacent.  Unlikely and fanciful as you might find it, Infiltration can happen, it has happened and COULD happen again, either in Government, Police or the Civil Service.  Will it happen again?  I have absolutely no idea, but I wouldn’t rule it out.  If I was a foreign power I would certainly have considered it years ago.  Look at some of the recent defectors to Syria; Humanitarian or Infiltrator/Sympathiser?  Again, I have no idea, but we should be open to all possibilities.

Infiltration – Fact, Fiction or (Conspiracy) Theory?  All I will say is that I truly hope it is not Fact.

I’ll let Chris have the last word

Justice For WPC Yvonne Fletcher

Two for the price of one today.

I came across this yesterday, it shocked me I have to be honest.  John Murray has given up a considerable amount of his own time in the pursuit of justice for WPC Yvonne Fletcher.  I have Copied/Pasted it in its entirety, no changes whatsoever. Please take the time to read it, and hopefully share it.

For those that haven’t heard of John before, he quite probably devotes more time and energy to this cause than a certain Baroness you may be familiar with, but for reasons which may become apparent, has not received the same level of recognition.

The campaign for justice for WPC Yvonne Fletcher

Here is the latest update from Ex Bow Street PC John Murray on his campaign for justice for the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Lybian Embassy in St James’s Square in 1984.
“I am very grateful indeed to all of you reunion organisers who have passed these updates on to your readers, contacts and former colleagues. Some of you have been absolutely brilliant in the numbers of people that you have been able to inform about John’s campaign. I know that your support means a great deal to him on his brave and lonely quest for justice.

Can I first start by wishing all a very belated Happy New Year. I would have done this sooner but it was not possible. Can I also thank you all for your support and especially regarding my last request. The response was fantastic.
There are too many people to thank personally, but I tried to contact most of you before I left the UK, to those of you that did not hear from this was because I was away.
Libya at the moment is a war zone, it is the worst I have seen on my many visits. There are no direct flights to Libya, a journey which would normally take about 4 hours from the UK turns into 36 hours now. The border crossings from Tunisia into Libya are closed, however, without saying too much, I managed it. I met with the militia leader in Bengazi, who was well aware of my visit and had arranged safe passage for me. He also supplied two armed bodyguards, (one spoke English), and a vehicle.
The militia leader (I cannot mention his name) was in London, outside the embassy, when Yvonne was shot. He himself was also wounded and treated in the UK.
He told me that although he had been asked by the US and the UK Governments for information, he would only speak to me, as he knew all about our campaign and that he wanted justice not only for Yvonne but also for the Libyan people. He told me the name of the shooter that day and told me where he is. However the plot thickens.
As a direct result of the Lockerbie bomber, it was apparently agreed between the US and the UK, that should Libya surrender Megrahi, then Yvonne’s killer would be granted immunity and would not be pursued. It was said that Lockerbie was more important to the US and UK than Yvonne. You can imagine my reaction.
This brings to the point of ‘The Ones’. I don’t know if you have heard of this but this refers to the letters issued to IRA suspects giving them immunity from prosecution in past murders they have committed. It may be that Yvonne’s murderer has the same. If this is correct it makes a complete sham of the ‘ongoing investigation’ which is always mentioned by the MPS and the Government when I ask awkward questions.
However, all is not lost. I can promise you that. Having taken legal advice it may be that this has no basis in International Law.
I do not want to be accused of interfering with the ‘police investigation’ and I have therefore been seeking advice on what to do with all the new evidence I have obtained. I await a response which may take a few weeks.
Over the new year period I was searching for any new papers which may have been released under the 30 year rule. The one paper I really need to see is Sir Anthony Duff’s report to Thatcher. She appointed Duff to hold a cabinet enquiry into the failings of GCHQ and the spooks to deal with the warnings which were given beforehand, which would have prevented Yvonne’s murder. I again spoke with the National Archives this week, they really are very helpful, and was told that this report has been retained as a matter of National Security by the justice secretary Chris Grayling. I happen to know that this report is damning and supports our claim for an enquiry, which is why it is being retained. It is part of the papers they don’t want us to see.
To conclude I have to say that I believe that the ongoing investigation is a sham. The Metpol and Home Office are lying when they suggest something else (if they are reading this sue me in open court). This also explains why the PM, Home Sec, Commissioner and the Mayor refuses to meet me.
If they think we are finished they are wrong. We will continue until the truth comes out, it is, slowly but surely. Police officers deserve justice too. Finally, I was not mentioned in the New Years Honours, I wonder why?
I have much more to say but there is enough for the moment, as always you can contact me direct if you wish.
John Murray”

We’re Not Gonna Take It

A rare treat for you, a musical blog.

David Camoron, we’ve had enough, WE’RE not gonna take it any more, and if you don’t do something about it you may find the results at the ballot box next May.

I know you’ve been busy, I saw you on my telly box at Stonhenge the other day. Have you become a Druid? When you’re not busy being busy I invite you to take a look around you;

On Tuesday we had the announcement that PCSOs and Police Staff ACROSS THE COUNTRY had voted to take strike action.

In the not too distant past we have had lawyers on strike bringing chaos to the Courts, do you remember that?

Teachers have been striking.

Local Councils have been striking.

Fire Brigades across the country have been striking, and indeed (I believe) some of them have lost their jobs over it.

Health Service workers have been striking.

Probation Officers have been striking.

Prison Officers have been threatening strike action.

Public sector workers from courts, museums, driving test centres, Job Centres, airports and other facilities have all been striking.

Do you want to know why all these, normally loyal and law-abiding people have been striking? Well, I’ll tell you anyway.  It’s all to do with your Pay Restrictions, messing with people’s pensions and your dangerous privatisation plans.

If you add up all of those people either striking, threatening or contemplating strike action it would come to a very big number indeed.  What on earth would you do if they all chose to strike on the same day? Once you’d summoned COBRA or RATTLESNAKE or whatever it’s called you’d panic because you would then be told that there weren’t enough Police Officers left to deal with the problem.  Plan B, call in the Army. Ooips, can’t do that either, same reason, got rid of too many already.  Maybe the French could let you have some CRS Troops on Mutual Aid, after all, the Mayor of Calais is asking for British Police to go and sort out the carnage with illegal immigrants there.  Oh how I laughed at that one.

Police and Armed Forces aren’t allowed to go on strike, so you’re reasonably safe there. Although I am informed that we are the only country in the EU that does not give our Police Officers Employment Rights.

Maybe you could explain to us exactly why it is that you politicians are reluctantly accepting your generous pay and pension awards?  If the problem is that the law doesn’t a;;ow you to decline them, then maybe you’ve got enough time left in the government to change the law, to make it lawful. After all, you managed to do that with so many public sector pensions, why not your own? #JustAsking.

While you’re at it, in the week that another 5 years of Austerity has been announced, more cuts, 5 more years of no, or inconsequential, pay rises, how is that we have money to spare to drive a road tunnel underneath Stonehenge? Could that money not have been better spent elsewhere? #JustAsking

Does none of this bother you? Are you even aware of the carnage you’re causing? Silly question, you must be.

In 2010 we were fooled, many of us voted Tory but got lumbered with a toxic coalition that nobody had voted for.  Many of us will not make that mistake again, we won’t be fooled by your insincere rhetoric.  Maybe you don’t get it, but many of us have seen through what you’re doing. We may be small in number but your own actions and those of your ridiculous collection of ministers is doing our work for us. You are spreading the word yourselves. More and more people are realising what you’re doing.

WE Won’t Get Fooled Again

 

RIP Keef & The Ox

People in Glass Houses – Remember That

People in Glass Houses really shouldn’t.

I wasn’t going to write about this sorry saga, I’m sure numerous other people will have done so already, but it got the better of me.

This is, of course, the story of the now infamous meeting between 3 Police Federation Representatives and foul-mouthed Andrew Mitchell MP.

As a direct result of this meeting West Mercia Police conducted a disciplinary investigation into the conduct of the three Federation reps.  It has been stated that West Mercia Police referred the investigation to the IPCC, who declined to investigate it, but made a decision to ‘Supervise’ the West Mercia disciplinary investigation.  To the best of my knowledge that is exactly what happened.

After conducting what I assume was a thorough investigation into the conduct of the 3 officers West Mercia Police announced that there was no evidence of Misconduct or Gross Misconduct on the part of the 3 Fed Reps.  That really should have been the end of it, but oh no, Deborah Glass, Deputy Chair of the IPCC and IPCC Commissioner for the LONDON area, decided that wasn’t good enough.

For some really obscure reason she has publicly stated that the West Mercia investigation, whilst carried out to her apparent satisfaction appears to have reached the wrong findings. She says that three Police Federation officials may have given a “deliberately misleading” account of a meeting with the Conservative MP, who has always denied calling officers in Downing Street “plebs.” and ”the evidence indicates an issue of honesty and integrity.”. Her organisation, the IPCC Supervised this enquiry from start to finish, and now she comes out and says something like that.  The I in IPCC stands for Independent, Really?

It truly doesn’t say much for the credibility and ability of the IPCC if she can go all loose cannon on us and come out with a statement like that which surely reflects as much on the IPCC as it does West Mercia Police.

Then, our revered Home Secretary, Theresa May, bundled into the arguement saying things like “she felt that disciplinary proceedings should have been taken against the Police Federation officers.” and “the IPCC’s report “made troubling reading”.

At the end of the day Andrew Mitchell has NEVER made a complainst against any Police Officers in relation to this matter.

Despite claims to the contrary, whilst he has been vociferous in denying what he was attributed as saying, he has not yet publicly stated what he DID say, although he maintains that he has a clear memory of what he said.

I can only conclude that this is another chapter in the ongoing war between the Government and the Police. The IPCC have chosen their side and stand alongside Andrew Mitchell and Theresa May.

As @OldBill_43 put it yesterday “I have had court cases resulting in acquittals. Would it be OK to issue press releases stating how convinced I am of their guilt?”

If this is British Justice at it’s best, Guity when found Innocent, then I fear for the future of our country.