THe Daily Mail made some interesting comments about yesturdays student demonstration in London and the subsequent trashing of the Tory Party HQ.
First they say that NETCU was disbanded in October 2010. The website is still up the last post being on the 25th when the second SHAC case concluded.
Then they say that NPIOU (who have files on 1822 of us at the last count) has had it’s budget cut by 20%.
The political police who reside on the 7th floor of Scotland Yard it would seem needed a boost and how could the government possibly justify cutting police child protection teams to the bone whilst allowing the bloated budget of NETCU, NDET, NPIOU to continue? Well a nice little riot is one way, let it happen and then terrify people about the consequences of allowing Class War and “animal rights extremists” (both seemingly blamed by a senior police officer in the DM) to be at liberty.
THe DM appears to say that FIT teams and the NPIOU should be given a big budget and licence to deal with the nasty anarchists.
Even more telling is police Inspector Gadget’s blog with one cop commenting at 08.08 this morning, “I would suggest NPIOU is a bit safer in regards its budget today”. Yes it would appear so, no doubt Nick Herbert’s speech later today will shed some light, I just hope that he remembers that when he was a student in Cambridge that his youthful high jinks did not count against him.
Regardless some people need to take security measures, no doubt the tablois will be posting up pictures of those wanted for arrest.
THe Daily Mail made some interesting comments about yesturdays student demonstration in London and the subsequent trashing of the Tory Party HQ.
I’m fed up with the histrionics, the exaggerations and the lies about SHAC and so this is my contribution to counter them.
I write as someone who was involved with SHAC in the beginning in 1999 until now (although I only attend very few demonstrations). I have been heavily involved in the campaign in the past and have been convicted of quite a few offences and feel that I am fairly well placed to challenge some of the regurgitated nonsense spewed out by the press which might assist other activists as well as share my personal experiences of the police, the legal system and HLS.
I would never have believed that back in 1999 when Hillgrove closed that our civil liberties would become so eroded. Back then, August 1999, articles were published in the national press congratulating the campaign as the RSPCA moved in and re-homed every single cat. Tactics now , of course, are VERY different and much more restrained as new laws made demonstrations outside a “home” practically illegal, in fact demonstrating against vivisection at all is a gamble as to its legality with the 4 ½ year prison sentence dealt out to Sean Kirtley under SOCPA who had done absolutely nothing which broke the law. Anti vivisection demonstrations in the last 2 or 3 years have not included home demonstrations, or running into offices, or blockades even though all of these are non violent forms of protest used by many other campaigners over decades, for example the Suffragettes would march en masse to the homes of their detractors oft bearing flaming torches (in fact some of them burnt down the Home Secretary’s new house and indeed the Oxford boat house in fact there is a picture of JRR Tolkien looking at the scorched remains). Not once was any individual harmed by SHAC, for the record the incident in which the CEO of HLS was wounded was actually publicly condemned by SHAC .Why then the state was so keen to crush SHAC with unprecedented cooperation between police forces was not because SHAC is a “terrorist” organisation but because SHAC have forced not just HLS but the entire foul industry to the very brink of survival in the UK.
So what is in the papers and on telly? A round up shows the following accusations:
A 7 year campaign of terror!
A car with “evil scum” written on it.
Some individuals were branded paedophiles.
Gladys Hammond case gets brought up yet again
“Vicious” phone calls
Nasty things being sent in the post for example used condoms and sanitary towels.
Threats to infect with HIV
Walking into offices wearing masks, talking to workers etc.
Talking about how nasty vivisectors are in the “privacy” of their own homes as well as feelings of hatred and retribution .
Not handing in petitions to the government.
That Greg is the leader of the ALF
And in the Sunday Times the best of the lot (28/12/2008) “trying to kill” people!!!!
That seems to be about it and from another perspective not one “victim” was actually harmed by any animal rights activist let alone the defendants (except the HLS CEO). So let us look at each accusation in turn.
A 7 year campaign of terror!
Three of the convicted defendants had nothing to do with the campaign in the early years, they were still at school and had never heard of SHAC or HLS, only The Times bothered to point this out. The radio and TV news actually stated that the defendants themselves were directly responsible for everything done against HLS. The grave of Gladys was shown on national TV as though the defendants were in some way responsible even though nearly half of them were not involved then. A message to us all no doubt which should be worded, “If you become part of an effective campaign you are not only responsible for the actions of persons unknown now but for the actions of those who broke the law before you even heard of said campaign, we can’t catch those responsible so you can pay with your liberty instead”.
Personally I think that if I pour paint stripper on someone’s car (not that I would you understand, this is hypothetical) that I should be the person who is arrested and taken to court not the person who made the leaflet through which I learnt something that incensed me so much I broke the law. Even less should someone who joins a campaign 3 years later be made to pay for my actions which took place when they were a child.
SHAC has always been and remains a legal campaign (even the Times says so) which highlights the atrocities carried out at HLS. Years ago The News of the World had a campaign against paedophiles and printed addresses and the inevitable happened, Should the editor be prosecuted? Should The leaders of the Countryside Alliance face 14 years each in prison because some pro hunt activists threatened to poison the water supply and some did go slow protests on the M25? Should Plane Stupid be rounded up and incarcerated for the entirety of their youth because they effectively said, “continue cheap haul flights and we
will disrupt them”?
A car with “evil scum” written on it.
Not nice for the owner and illegal but hardly crime of the century. Thousands of people face this sort of thing every day and in fact get their cars burnt out on rough estates. Funny enough the police are not too interested unless the “victim” is involved in vivisection. I am not aware that ANY of the defendants are in any way responsible for this act.
Some individuals were branded paedophiles
Vivisection is all about poisoning, burning, mutilating and other forms of torturing of innocent victims. I don’t like calling animal abusers paedophiles, most of them are not what they do is often as bad and often worse but false accusations in my humble opinion undermine the value of animals as sentient beings and cause mistrust as well as sympathy being generated for the accused. Others will no doubt disagree. A child rapist will of course serve far less time in prison than an animal rights activist showing the real values of our warped society.
Gladys Hammond case gets brought up yet again
None of the defendants had anything whatsoever to do with this. In fact no activist has admitted to, been found guilty of or has been charged with disinterring Mrs Hammonds earthly remains. A huge question mark remains over whether it was animal rights activists or a state perpetuated hoax. For the sake of argument let us say that it was animal rights activists who did this ghastly deed, horrible yes but no living creature was harmed. In fact BAA intend to desecrate 3 entire graveyards if the Heathrow expansion goes ahead. What of the sacred relics of indigenous peoples which include their dead which languish in museums? Do BAA workers and museum curators deserve to go to prison? I will just say my own personal view is that whilst I view a dead body as an empty shell one of the hallmarks of decency is to show respect for that empty shell which includes the corpses of abused guinea pigs strewn over Darley Oaks farm. I remember once in the Lake District coming across a lamb literally splattered across the road. The ewe was hysterical and it was only when I stopped the traffic and retrieved the bits of body together and placed them at her feet that her pitiful lamentations stopped, meanwhile my companion who was a meat eater was throwing up. However grotesque this act may appear it is nowhere near the depths those who experiment on animals go to when they mutilate the bodies of the living. I repeat NONE OF THE DEFENDANTS HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS. Showing the grave in connection with this unrelated case was obviously meant to intimate that SHAC and indeed all animal rights campaigners dig up corpses.
“Vicious” phonecalls/Nasty things being sent in the post
Let me make this perfectly clear. Whilst I am sure that some activists did send junk mail, nasty things and make nasty phone calls do people seriously think that this was a one way street? Vivisectors and their sympathisers would often ring up threatening to torture animals, threatening to kill us, threatening all sorts of stuff. Once when I collected the Newchurch Campaign post the post office workers and I were subjected to the liquefied corpse of a mouse which stank the place out as indeed was Evesham police station where I took the little corpse and the jiffy bag it came in to have the crime recorded. Was I a sobbing wreck? No not really and I did not expect the police to spend £3.5 million investigating the offence which was just as well because they were saving their pennies for stopping peaceful protest at Sequani. On the 26th June 2003 the following came to my house; some leather bags, flowery dresses bizarrely addressed to Brian Cass, some jeans and some books and this is not uncommon. In fact sending leather knowingly to a vegan is morally the same as sending pork sausages to devout Muslims so please let us not even pretend that HLS workers are the divine paragons of innocence the media portray them as. I get lots of junk mail wittily addressed to Miss B. Hugger and lots of other amusing stuff. I have been sent pizzas that I have not ordered. I am not bothered it comes with the territory even though I have not done likewise to anyone else. I would suggest that someone who spends their days poisoning innocent creatures should stop whinging and also take this sort of thing in their stride, the wimps! Of course the police SHOULD be impartial on this matter, if 7 people are facing 14 years in prison because others sent nasty things in the post and making phone calls then should not those on the opposing side be prosecuted too? The media are aware of the fact that vivisectors and hunters threaten and harass animal rights people but always choose to omit that part of the tale which I find a bit sinister. Is it really any suprise in this climate that some activists lose all faith in legal campaigning and the courts? Talking of “nasty things” HLS and all their little fiends (sorry…friends!) love sending bits of paper to me usually attached to process servers with shades who peer into the house and last year Fidelity International sent 2 of their hired thugs not only to serve some nonsense on me but to go up straight to the window and photograph me. I can live with it but if I were to do the same to a Fidelity employee I would be imprisoned for a very long time. When did it become acceptable for private corporations to blatantly attempt to intimidate protestors at home?
Threats to infect with HIV
This is not pleasant but is clearly an empty threat. Even if a sanitary towel were infused with HIV infected blood the virus would well long dead within minutes let alone days during which it winds its way through the post. In fact some public loos pose more of a threat due to overflowing sani bins. Hepatitus is much more of a concern. What annoys me is the slack journalism that exaggerates the myth of HIV being something you get through the ether as opposed to unprotected sex or sharing needles with an infected person. Now even if someone actually deliberately infected a victim with HIV I think it is unlikely they would go to prison for up to 14 years. Very serious injuries inflicted with the utmost cruelty rarely receive even a third of this and we are talking about threats here, made not by the defendants but by other people.
Now on the news on 23rd December 2008 a bloke called Alistair Nisbet was gloating quite a bit no doubt because he was the senior prosecutor in this case. In November 2007 he made lots of threats which were as it turned out to be empty. There were many raids on 1st May2007 which included lots of people on the peripheries of this legal campaign, lots of computers were taken including mine. Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act Alistair demanded our PGP keys under pain of 2 years in prison, the fact that many of us did not use PGP or in some cases not even know how to turn on a computer or even have a computer mattered not to Alistair who basically “tried it on” in order to divide and scare people into giving him information. It did not work especially after Indymedia, the Register and the BBC all reported on the matter and lots of people were horrified by the prospect of the state blackmailing people into handing over personal files but it shows how the CPS are quite capable of playing dirty. A word of advice, often the CPS and the police are bluffing this was a prime example.
Walking into offices, talking to workers
Some papers put something about “breaking into“ offices. This is not what happens in the time honoured tradition of occupying offices and shops a tactic which MANY campaigns used not just SHAC. Nowadays there is something called Aggravated Trespass to take into account it used to only apply to “interfering with a legal activity” outside nut now applies inside too, however it is not illegal to occupy offices but can be if the right person tells you to leave and you do not. Back in the days when they could use reasonable force to move you and that was that I used to do this all the time often sitting down at board meetings, conference calls etc before being kicked out by security or the police(often literally, some of the bruises were quite spectacular!), on occasion workers and indeed managers would engage in conversation about vivisection, leaflets would be handed out. It paid to be polite and to try and be humorous, after all many workers had not heard about HLS and when they did they were outraged that the company they worked for was involved with such cruelty. On TV people in skull masks could be seen mulling around whilst one “victim” looks rather bemused, at least it made their working day a bit more exciting. Do those people deserve to spend up to14 years in prison for walking into an office, making a bit of noise, handing out leaflets and going outside again? To those who think they do get a grip!
Of course this is not pleasant for those at the receiving end but surely if Joe Bloggs reads a leaflet about how Pfizer abused African children in grotesque experiments in the 21st century in which many of them were murdered and he is incensed but with that information he has choices;
1. Hide from the information, “this can’t be true, surely SOMEONE would have done SOMETHING”.
2. He can lobby his MP and write to newspapers and donate to charity
3. He can demonstrate legally and peacefully, hand out leaflets and maybe be civilly disobedient by blocking the gates at Pfizer’s HQ in Sandwich, Kent.
4. He can read the letter sent back by his MP (who happens to have just got a nice payout from Pfizer’s lobbyists) and look in vain for his letter in the paper, he can go to a demonstration and maybe face years in prison or he can decide that the only way to have any impact on this heartless corporation is to target those who make the decisions where it really hurts. He is a good person he does not wish to hurt them physically but he does want them to stop committing atrocities and so he torches cars belonging to executives, in a way which does not cause harm to any living thing of course. If he is caught, and he has been careful no criminal record, no presence on demonstrations, he may even face less time in prison than the person involved in producing the leaflet! Leafleting and peaceful protest have now become more dangerous to liberty than firebombing. Severe sentences mean that if someone is prepared to go to such lengths that they will try and make their risks worthwhile.
If the police cannot catch Joe Bloggs is that really the fault of the campaign which produced the leaflet? Should “the organisers” serve a sentence in his stead? Should anything (including newspaper reports and programmes such as Dispatches which reported on Pfizer’s disgusting crimes in Africa) which causes a multinational to be detested be forthwith abolished or should not a decent society put the executives responsible in the dock and charge them with genocide?
A very nasty case of intimidation from the police occurred when I was attacked by PC Manton. A woman came to my aid as I lay on the tarmac splattered in blood. She was none too happy with me or SHAC but as a decent person tried to make me comfortable and then came forward to the police to testify against Manton who had left me with life threatening injuries. I bumped into her long after the trial and she told me that since she became a prosecution witness the police would stop her car 3 times a week, there were death threats at home and when she spoke to the senior investigating officer he told her that he could not protect her and that it might be best if she did not testify at all. Now that’s what I call blackmail! This was a person who did not care for the animal rights movement but was brave enough to do her civic duty and who was terrorised for doing so. During the trial some of the jury looked petrified no wonder they found him not guilty if that is how the police were operating at that time. To my knowledge NEVER has any witness or juror been threatened by animal rights activists.
Talking about how nasty vivisectors are
It is said in The Times that Heather said to Dan “referring to those who worked inside HLS, “I could kill every last one of them and I wouldn’t think anything of it””. SO WHAT! This was a private conversation at home between 2 adults now if Heather had in fact killed every single last employee of HLS I can understand how this might be relevant but are we now as a population to be judged on everything we say in private? How many times has the phrase “I’m gonna bloody kill …..(insert your own nemesis here)” even when talking about loved ones been used?. Now for those who think it is acceptable to use this as evidence imagine you are on trial and someone has cherry picked the best quotes from 2 years of your private life to show you in your worst possible light. You are letting off steam about the bastard who cut you up at the roundabout, the traffic warden, the idiot who short-changed you, you interfering mother in law , Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, ALL politicians, ad infinitum it hardly makes you a terrorist. On the other hand maybe it does now you have been warned! Not even a saint, not even Ghandi would look good. Sorry if I am making a false accusation here but I bet in the privacy of their own homes and police stations our enemies even say they would like to kill us I would not expect them to go to prison for it in fact it is their private conversation they can say what they like, I don’t care. Heather did not kill, try to kill or threaten to kill anyone, she had what should have been a private conversation and if that is the worst that they could come up with after bugging an activist house for 2 years then really the defendants have been far more restrained than most of the population. Jeremy Clarkson in the SundayTimes (28/12/2008) writing about sales assistants says “do not sell my details to anyone in India or I will come round in the middle of the night and burn your shop down”, is he a “terrorist” too? This is of course Jeremy being funny not in his own home but in a national paper, do we want him locked away for up to 14 years? (on the other hand……).
Anyway HLS workers and shareholders when they socialise what do they have to say about us? Well we don’t have our own private police force with a blank cheque who can do 24 hour surveillance, use task forces of 700 bullies to smash down doors and drag our opposition off but we do have some stuff from the pro HLS triple iii bulletin board to share with you all, here are a small sample of quotes, note the misogyny:
From “terrified vomiting beagle”, “I wish someone would just slaughter these toerags”.
From “smirking rabbit”, “Perhaps myself and Bozz could spit roast her while the others punch her repeatedly in the face. By the time they’ve finished beating her, I’ll pull up my kecks and peak over her shoulder for any sign of improvement”.
From “Lord Dave” “elephant whore”
“it is easier to monitor any activist if they live near an Army base (don’t ask “why” it just is)”.
Now we have SHAC WATCH to continue from where triple iii left off and they like to publish the names and addresses of activists, even though on at least one occasion only the police had that address. Animal rights activists have published the names and addresses of vivisectors but then those responsible went to prison for it. What are the chances of those involved with SHAC WATCH being prosecuted?
With such an uneven playing field is it really any surprise that the law is broken and held in such contempt?
Not handing in petitions to the government
The Times accuse SHAC of not handing in petitions. Petitions have been handed in. What happens is that when a substantial amount of signatures are collected I think 250,000 were handed in at some stage probably a lot more(as opposed to the pro vivisection “people’s petition” being online with only 20,000 signatures) they are then handed in. I am not surprised that the police found lots of boxes of petitions, people queued to sign them and they would have been handed in to the government at an opportune moment. As the police have taken them all off somewhere it is rather difficult for anyone to hand them in!
Greg is the leader of the ALF.
No he is not. No one leads the ALF. The ALF is a banner under which activists willing to break the law but who do not wish to harm any living being operate. If you decide to liberate a dog from a farm where s/he is tethered you are an ALF activist (if you want to be and are at least vegetarian) for the duration of the action of mercy. The ALF has no membership, no leaders, no followers. Sorry NETCU but some people are able to operate without being given orders unlike police officers and journalists!
SHAC are trying to kill people.
This is from Will Self writing in the Sunday Times magazine. It is absolute crap. Now if SHAC really did try to kill people everyone should be laughing at the ineptitude of said activists, no dead bodies at all. SHAC have not even tried to threaten to kill ANYONE let alone actually done the deed.
Which leads us onto the subject of violence.
Michelle Rokke got a job at HLS New Jersey USA in 1996. She filmed a small primate being eviscerated whilst still conscious, log on to http://www.shac.net and watch as the knife slices into the sternum and the victim flinches in agony, this is obscene violence which not one of the HLS workers will ever face. Michelle met a primate called James an inquisitive little soul who she befriended, gradually instead of greeting her at the cage door he slunk down in absolute terror poisoned to death so that we can have yet another chemical cleaner to poison ourselves with. 500 animals are murdered at HLS every day as opposed to feeling a bit upset because someone has sent something yucky in the post, this is an atrocity.
“Ah but they are only animals” no doubt some of you will be saying as indeed was the reaction of our chum CPS sumpremo Alistair Nisbet who implied in his CPS press release that HLS only does medical research . We utterly renounce this. As animal rights activists we believe that we are all animals the name itself derives from the Greek meaning “being with a soul”. There is something called the theory of evolution, we all came from single cell organisms and developed into complex beings capable of thought, feelings, relationships and suffering. To actually believe that we are the pinnacle of evolution is pathetic look at Palestine and Israel, look at people trafficking, the use of torture and the death penalty by many states, the fact that the slave trade is still alive and well, the subjugation of women, the continued extermination of the very eco system on which we depend for our very existence and come back and tell me that our species is anything but a killer ape with delusions of grandeur whose numbers have reached plaque proportions! No doubt by now someone is dusting down the old humans only have rights because they have responsibility argument so just one question, what responsibilities did the mother of baby P have? Accepting that we just another animal may be our only chance of survival as we might then stop ourselves behaving like spoilt brats. A little humility would do us no harm at all.
Some may argue that God put us in charge and that we are somehow divine which I find odd for any scientist especially as we have made such a mess of things but many of us believe in God and Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Wiccans, Hindus and atheists have attended SHAC demos.
We also believe that HLS workers are animals like the rest of us therefore they have rights too which is why the violence they inflict on others has never been visited on them and never will be. I have talked quite a few HLS employees over the years and would not wish harm on any of them after all whilst doing a stall in Diss I was told by a man that his daughter worked at HLS and one day she secreted out a box full of rats, other employees (now EX employees) have shown great courage by exposing the cruelty inflicted at HLS. Many more have left the company not because of SHAC or the ALF but because they have found themselves sickened by the abuse. As in slaughterhouses those who cannot quickly kill off part of their soul and become desensitised leave traumatised by the experience and the turnover is great.
No doubt some people reading this only care about human beings and so I would like to tell you about “Belate” which is a pesticide sprayed on crops in the UK which caused 42 children to be born without eyes. It was made by DuPont a customer of HLS and if not actually tested at HLS would most probably have been tested at another contract testing laboratory Covance, Safepharm, Sequani, Wickham labs etc. HLS according to their own website are not diligently working through the night curing cancer they are paid to test things on animals which are then sold making a profit for their customers. This includes artificial sweeteners and additives, household cleaners, paint, industrial chemicals, agro chemicals genetically modified organisms, plastics, anything and everything that might come into contact with humans. Testing a pesticide on a few fish and mice does not however mean that because they did not keel over and die that it is safe to be sprayed all over the place for the next 50 years until the birth defects and increase in cancer rates are proven and it is banned with those responsible either dead or retired. HLS also test veterinary products on animals which involves inducing cystitis in dogs, dosing them, killing them and dissecting them and of course it involves getting maximum profit from factory farmed animals linking up with the meat industry. Dairy cows are deliberately infected with mastitis at HLS hardly life saving research especially as milk products are luxuries not necessities.
When it comes to violence even the Animal Rights Militia are but amateurs compared to HLS. In fact if we look right back from 1999 until now over 8 years I think that out of everything that has happened on both sides I win on suffering the worst violence inflicted as a result of the conflict and of all the media outlets there are only the Hunts Post reported on this in any real depth , no one is interested in reporting police/vivisector perpetuated violence and the omission has led to a rather skewed public perception of these matters. We blocked the A1 with tripods and a police officer broke my femur in several places and smashed up my face by dismantling it with me being 20 feet up in the air. I lost a litre of blood and could have died as a result of his assault. His colleagues did arrest him and eventually charge him with GBH but only did so because the assault was so public and caused such outrage. Their revenge was swift from the arrest and remand in custody of my companion, the raids which took place 2 weeks later, to the harassment and threats only stopped when my lawyer taught them some manners, I have already mentioned how one witness was persecuted. Many activists have been assaulted, unlawfully arrested, threatened, imprisoned, watched, spied on and terrorised. Many of us regard this as part of the price we pay for being activists but others who have never and would never do anything illegal and limit their activities to getting petitions signed and writing polite letters in a so-called democracy are subjected to utterly inappropriate levels of repression. I would urge anyone subjected to police bullying to make a huge fuss about it, believe you me they want people to be frightened of them but they do not like complaints (bad for promotion and figures) or being sued.
Finally a message to all activists even activists who do not believe that this in any way applies to them and are pro vivisection. This is a precedent, the CPS and the police and their overlords in the multinationals have discovered something which will silence anyone who runs any effective campaign against the crimes multinationals are so famous for e.g. selling weapons to despots, making torture equipment, backing genocidal regimes, poisoning the water, air and soil, experimenting on children in poorer countries, killing babies by misleading populations about formula milk and so forth. Some people will go to prison for much longer than if they had beaten someone half to death or raped a child, others will no doubt follow. Read Alistair’s press release at the following link, http://www.cps.gov.uk/news/pressreleases/190_08.html and think about how this methodology could be used against other campaigns the state wants to get rid of. All grass roots activists need to think about security arrangements and worst case scenarios very carefully. I would not even put it past the powers that be to go after the larger well established campaigning groups at some stage such as the Tory party (oh!.. they already have).
A huge part of our defence is not to give in to this repression, SHAC demos continue. Even if you do not agree with SHAC this is a matter of liberty so feel free to look deeper than the national press and ask some questions about proportionality and the increasing attack on civil liberties.
Interestingly the NETCU website is down for some sort of updating but we will respond when they put up what will no doubt be a big biased piece against SHAC.
This bunch protect people like the Dalai Lama, they advise businessmen going to dangerous places and they are keeping an eye on us all. Indeed we suspect that they do lots of sinister things using ex police officers to make a mint on telling multinationals all about all kinds of activists. Maybe to raise funds we’ll tell them lots of interesting things about ourselves and share the proceeds or if we find enough pennies we’ll get them working for us! We presume that activists across the board know about them any info would be appreciated cos we really think it would be terribly rude not to show an interest. Furthermore under the Data Protection Act they are obliged to tell individual activists about what information they hold on that individual or else the Information Commissioner gets very cross indeed and might even prosecute a company for breaking the law one day. Data protection requests should be sent to the address below but really only well known activists should do this to avoid giving them information they do not already have and this is an action not to be taken lightly (unfortunately you do have to give them £10 for their costs). Obviously they have poor Brian Haw in their sights intimating that he is a terrorist is utterly disgusting. Read the attached article and please spread the word on this company.
The Data Protection Officer,
The Inkerman Group,
3-4 Elwick Road,
Oh and if you are reading this Colin, Gerald, James, John, Tim, Fay, Richard, Elizabeth and David because we know how much we fascinate you, a great big hello to you all, the fascination is mutual. Oh and happy 49th to Fay on the 7th March if you’ve got a party can we come too, just make sure you’ve got some nice vegan food, we’ll be very well behaved and we won’t bring those naughty clowns!
DISPATCHES FROM SEQUANI ANIMAL TORTURE CENTRE, SOCPA AND THE IMPLICATIONS FOR DEMOCRACY.
Sequani is a contract testing laboratory based in Ledbury in Herefordshire. They test anything for anyone for a price which includes poisoning rats, mice, dogs and numerous other animals with various products from drugs to anti dandruff shampoo to toothpaste.
Recently the women of Ledbury have been invited to partake in human trials for a tampon which contains painkillers which we presume was first tested on animals hardly life saving medical research, more like the medicalisation of normal female physiology. The menopause has long been regarded as pathological the implication being that women cannot live without medical help, utter nonsense except in a minority of cases. Notwithstanding that it is hardly healthy to take painkillers for every little ache and pain there is many issues at stake here. A woman who has very painful periods maybe should be checked over by her GP to make sure that all is well instead of rushing off to spend hard earned cash on something which may treat the symptoms but not the cause and might actually poison her into the bargain. For those who have mild period pain there is always paracetomol and a hot water bottle. Child a bit lively? dose it up on Ritalin. Feeling a bit sad? dose up with Prozac the Americans are taking it in their millions so it must be good. Of course Ritalin and Prozac may be useful drugs for some individuals but certainly not on the scale we are seeing.The drug companies are making billions out of the mass medication of people who certainly do not “need” it and in fact might be harmed by it. Oops a daisy those who took HRT to cope with minor menopausal symptoms now have breast cancer, some of those who took Zyban rather than using will power to stop smoking are ermm dead, ditto some individuals who took Baycol to lower cholesterol,etc, etc,etc. We only mention all this because we are so often depicted as arch deviants who want to stop all medical research, dig up grannies, and cause the collapse of humanity into the abyss and so pot? kettle? black?.
Well we support proper medical research because some of us work in the NHS, some of us are or may become ill, ie not for petty imagined “illnesses” and not on other species (how is a month old rat in any way comparable with a 60 year old man?))For the record no animal rights person has been charged or convicted for digging up Gladys Hammond and we only mention her because whenever we complain about the way in which we are being treated someone always brings up this incident, we have no idea whether or not animal rights people were involved and certainly were not involved ourselves. By the way BAA intend to dig up not one body (which is grossly indecent) but 3 ENTIRE GRAVEYARDS disentering the corpses some of whom were killed by aviation pollution!!!
We believe that there are many important issues surrounding testing on animals and for 25 years local people have gone to the gates to demonstrate disgust at vivisection and highlight these issues. Certainly over the last 10 years this has been a small local affair and not much other than placard holding and chanting has occurred much as it would at any other demonstration. There have been a couple of minor public order arrests and some Sequani staff have on occasion been very threatening even throwing protestors into oncoming traffic but nothing terribly exciting, no corpses, no home demos, no bombs, no hate mail, no liberations, no criminal damage. So why is it that 12 protestors are now facing 5 years in prison for protesting peacefully against Sequani and why should even a fox-hunting, fur hag, foie gras eating vivisector be concerned? We aim to open some debate on this, alert the wider public and save democracy and we will begin by describing the events of 2006.
We cannot say anything about the trial because of draconian reporting restrictions. The hysterical exaggerations and fantasies of some of the staff and some police officers as well as the disgraceful manipulation behind the scenes will have to remain a mystery for now suffice to say that the state have spent millions of pounds of public money persecuting a small group of people for protesting, peacefully against vivisection. If only the victims of muggings and burglaries and organised gangs (who now rule some areas) were as well connected as Sequani….
Until now security, police and protestors all managed perfectly well. Every protestor knew that if they ran in through the gates and did “naughty” things that the police would arrest them, security guards knew that if they decided to throw protestors into oncoming traffic that it was best to do it when the police were dealing with actual crime. The police ignored protestors complaints about security staff but hey ho they were not too draconian and did not arrest people for simply holding banners and speaking out against vivisection and no one died as a result of being hurled in front of lorries. 2006 saw a massive change and we think that the police promised Sequani that they would eradicate us. Staffordshire police turned up for a couple of demos no doubt getting withdrawal symptoms from activists after Newchurch guinea pig farm closed (deep down they really must love us) and “advised” West Mercia on how best to deal with us. This started with an errr interesting interpretation of section 42. Protestors would arrive and hold banners, a police officer would arrive and look terribly important because s/he had been given a clip board and thus dear reader reached the very zenith of his/her carreer. S/he would then announce that because there were “dwellings” nearby that the demonstration could upset someone and everyone would be ordered to move under pain of arrest and not return for 7 days when the whole charade was then repeated. Using the legislation this way meant that ANY demonstration in the vicinity (vicinity is not defined it could mean 2 miles away), of any dwelling (dwelling is not defined it could mean a tent halfway up Scafell or a yacht in the English channel) would be unlawful. Fortunately the police soon learnt a year later to their considerable cost (£25,000 in all we believe) that this was in fact not the case after those unlawfully arrested sued for compensation for abduction, malicious prosecution and assault. Credit where it is due West Mercia Professional Standards (police officers who police the police) investigated on behalf of the complainants and found that there was this briefing document lurking about which was given to the police on the ground who believed that they were making legal arrests under both section 42 and under antisocial behaviour legislation when in fact they were not. West Mercia apologised and compensated very gracefully, clearly orders had come from on high and police on the ground were not to blame or were they? At that time it was impossible to tell what would happen at demonstrations because one day arrests could happen and the next a police sergeant could be congratulating everyone on their good humour and peaceful demeanor and all was well.
At present we are glad to report that the police are behaving themselves and have curbed their anti social behaviour but we suspect that this might change soon. Only 2 gripes apparently Sequani are allowed to film us as much as they want as they are utterly trustworthy, responsible and would not dream of tampering with the footage. We have been threatened with arrest if we have a video camera even if it switched off, even if security guards are hurling people in front of lorries in case they feel intimidated and so if any protest does go to court the only recorded evidence will be from Sequani as our footage will have been destroyed and equipment confiscated. How odd that footage filmed by Sequani played in court has had the sound of protestors shouting enhanced so that they can be heard over lorries rushing past? Must be a technical problem.The second gripe is that we are well behaved we really do not need a police officer each and we are sure that they would rather be elsewhere doing real police work (well most of them anyway except those who keep nicking the donuts from the Sequani security building, and the occasional officious nutter)
PUNISHING PEOPLE FOR THEIR BELIEFS
May 2006 saw the first raids to our knowledge (certainly in the last 10 years) of Seqauni protestors homes. These were dawn raids and houses were cleared out of every cd, computer, printer, leaflet, banner, everything really that was not nailed down. Initially 14 people were arrested 12 were later charged under SOCPA and are at the moment in the midst of a trial so we can say little else suffice to say that if you wish to hold up a banner (and that is all and we do mean a nice polite banner and no we do not mean a roof top demo, or one that might be on the evil one’s land) outside for example Tescos, or BAA then one day you might be in the same court room facing 5 years inside. Lucky really that SOCPA just refers to vivisection but seriously how long will it be before those who are against nuclear power, or are pro hunt, or are against phonemasts or indeed disagree with government policy in any way face the same sanctions? You could argue that we are nasty, violent graverobbers, but we are actually quite a nice bunch and whilst we are by no means perfect we do not kill people like the Fascists and believe you me you’d rather meet us on a dark night in the woods rather than some hunt supporters or badger diggers. Neither fascists or the Real Countryside Alliance face this law in all its full glory but they will one day as will all protestors. The police and their chums in the CPS are very keen to squander 4 million pounds thus far of public money on this case no doubt at the expense of ordinary folk who face an epidemic of real crime and no assistance from the law. In the West Mercia area burglaries, serious harassment and environmental desecration such as flytipping are utterly neglected at the expense of doffing the collective police cap to the vivisection industry. This does not benefit even a Sequani worker. Just imagine you work for Sequani, the police pester you for a statement to say that you felt harassed by an octogenarian holding a banner that you couldn’t quite see a year ago, you go home and find that your partner, a carpenter, has had his lock-up burgled yet again with thousands of pounds worth of tools gone. He can no longer work as he has no tools and cannot buy more tools as he can no longer work, you lose your house, the police are not interested but they still really want to know about the trauma you suffered because you might have seen this old banner. The police are being used as political pawns and some of them seem to really enjoy this role.
The message they want to send out is that if you protest however peacefully against animal experiments they will ruin your life.
First of all a dawn raid. Now apart from having the inconvenience of your door being smashed in, you being assaulted, your pets and/or children being terrorised, every little thing you own(including letters, cards, school reports, photos, bank statements) being scrutinised by some creepy Herr Flick wannabe and being dragged off in handcuffs to the police station, being raided is not too bad. It is almost an annual event for some of us, a bit like Kim and Aggie coming in and decluttering your house minus channel 4 and the glamorous sequined gloves but plus another even creepier Herr Flick wannabe(who looks like Voldemort with a hangover) filming your every move and plain old latex gloves (don’t ask you’ll find out soon enough). However if you live with your parents or a partner who are not fully understanding even if the case is dropped entirely you could still be in trouble with your nearest and dearest, a landlord/lady might throw you out especially if you are a lodger and of course others in the movement who can not risk getting raided feel forced to abstain from ANY actions unable to risk upsetting an elderly relative or their children.
Secondly Work. Those who are retired, on benefits, the self employed, or who are really valued by an organisation who do not wish to lose valuable skills should be OK. Anyone else could be in trouble. Imagine explaining to an employer that not only have you been arrested but that you need a day off for court the following week. You go to court and another date is set, then another, you have to then take days off to discuss strategy with your legal team, you use up all your holiday and then a trial is set to last 13 weeks. Your name might be all over the press. Many employers would be none too chuffed and even the most sympathetic might think of getting rid of the activist if not there and then maybe at a later date when the police repeat the process or another event for example a car crash or having to care for an elderly relative causes more friction. The point is of course to punish those who criticise vivisection. West Mercia police also made a point of arresting people at work and searching people’s places of work in a vindictive attempt to make people lose their jobs. Again some other activists would have had to stop legal, peaceful protest unable to risk losing their livelihoods. Even if the case is dropped people’s jobs are still in jeopardy especially if the police do the same thing repeatedly which they have been known to do.
Thirdly money. A 13 week trial traveling to and fro and supporting self and family with no wages is somewhat difficult which is why the trial is taking place in Birmingham rather than Worcester or Hereford.For those on benefits it is almost impossible if the defendant wants to eat as well. Clearly another attempt to intimidate and send out a wider message that what has been regarded as legal protest in the past is now only the preserve of the very wealthy who can afford such disruption.
Needless to say all of these factors make a guilty plea appear to be the much easier option!In spite of the intimidation only one defendant has pleaded guilty so far.
The reason we mention all this is not to cause panic or to spread paranoia, but to make it very clear that the right to protest in a traditional way is under an onslaught which has severe ramifications for us all. We utterly oppose any attack on democracy and whilst we are the enemies of hunters we are opposed to them being arrested for wearing “bollocks to Blair” Tshirts, obviously we are opposed to the attacks on Brian Haw and Mia Evans and numerous other activists but this is not a matter of an arrest at the scene of the offence, a day in the magistrates court, a fine and a criminal record. These things are bad enough when one has only protested in an orderly manner but it is quite possible to continue pick up the pieces and continue with life, we know as we have done this repeatedly. What is happening right now starting with animal rights activists is the total dismantling of people’s lives and many seem to think that this is appropriate but think again do you really deep down feel that an animal rights activist who has gone into an office, let off an air horn, handed out a few leaflets and walked out again is worse than a child rapist? Recent sentencing of activists have included 4 years for a few office occupations, 6 years for putting paintstripper on cars, 12 years for running a campaign and an indefinite sentence for property damage. Many who rape and kill will be freed long before animal rights activists, clearly human beings rate far less than a company’s profit margin! We have read and heard of many views that support the crackdown on us but if you really think that the powers that be will stop once we have been rounded up, demonised and interned then you are seriously deluded. You may not like what we have to say but in a democracy if someone wants to protest outside Barclays that space pixies from Venus have stolen their pencil case it is the right for that person to protest that is important not the fact that you do not like what they are saying. The bottom line is that if you want to live in a democracy we come as part of the package, if you do not like the pictures of tortured animals walk past and bear in mind we find your McDonalds corpse burger and your fur coat far more offensive and we happen to think that skinning animals alive is extreme ditto factory farming. Even some leading Pro-test members have expressed disquiet over draconian legislation which could potentially limit all anti vivisection protest to a carefully worded occasional letter to the press or an MP. Imagine if the unions and the Suffragettes had been thus limited and then think what sort of regime we will all have to endure a few years from now. The outcome of the Sequani trial will partially set the precedent for whether or not we continue to enjoy liberty or face a tyranny unheard of for centuries.
We will continue to protest until we are locked up or indeed maimed (at least one of us has suffered life threatening injuries from the police requiring a 2 week hospital stay)as we have a duty to speak out for the animals and to those brave souls who handed us the legacy of a free (ish) country after suffering torture and death for their beliefs. We do not fear the police or the courts and if they persecute us we will challenge them for as long as we possibly can. For those who think that this does not apply to them do not expect too much sympathy when the door is smashed in and it is you who are hauled off for handing out leaflets against a phone mast, or holding a banner at a farmers blockade at Tescos. You have all been warned please take note. If you disagree with SOCPA then come to Ledbury, or any anti SOCPA demo, write to your MP and say so even if you also disagree with us.
Filed under: Animal Rights, Arrests, Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Convictions, Corruption, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Injunctions, Justice??, Police State, Protests, Raids, Repression, Sequani, SOCPA, Speak Campaign | 5 Comments »
Police chief’s ‘Orwellian’ fears
BBC News May 20th 2007
A senior police officer has said he fears the spread of CCTV cameras is leading to “an Orwellian situation”.
Deputy chief constable of Hampshire Ian Readhead said Britain could become a surveillance society with cameras on every street corner.
He told the BBC’s Politics Show that CCTV was being used in small towns and villages where crime rates were low.
Mr Readhead also called for the retention of some DNA evidence and the use of speed cameras to be reviewed. His force area includes the small town of Stockbridge, where parish councillors have spent £10,000 installing CCTV.
Mr Readhead questioned whether the relatively low crime levels justified the expense and intrusion.
‘Every street corner?’
“I’m really concerned about what happens to the product of these cameras, and what comes next?” he said.
“If it’s in our villages, are we really moving towards an Orwellian situation where cameras are at every street corner? “And I really don’t think that’s the kind of country that I want to live in.”
There are up to 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain – about one for every 14 people. The UK also has the world’s biggest DNA database, with 3.6 million DNA samples on file.
The first NUJ Photographers’ Conference heard claims that police are using their powers of arrest to seize journalists’ material and circumvent the Special Procedure Material protections in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.
Solicitor Mike Schwartz of Bindman and Partners told conference attendees that police were circumventing the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) Special Procedure Material safeguards, designed to protect journalistic material such as photographs and notebooks.
“Sadly, I think one of the dangers is that the police are using their powers to arrest journalists and photojournalists in order to get round the protections which are built into PACE which are supposed to protect journalistic material.”, he told the conference.
“The police are arresting journalists, seizing their equipment, treating them as suspects, looking at their photographs, taking copies, perhaps returning them to them, taking no further action often (but not always) and they’ve got, straight away, what they want.”
“Police seeking your evidence”
The session, one of four held during the one-day conference, saw talks by Commander Robert Broadhurst, responsible for policing all public order events across the Metropolitan Police Force area, Mike Grannat from the Press Card authority, and barrister Anthony Hudson.
Schwartz, who advises a number of campaign groups on criminal and public order law said that the nature of newsgathering meant that press photographers were often in a better position to gather evidence than police photographers and videographers.
“At public order events, [press photographers] have got an inside track as to what is going on, much better than the police ever will. Their own clearly marked photographers are often behind police lines, whereas you are there as close to the action as possible, and that makes the material that you have in your possession of great value to the police.”
“At every demonstration, the police are figuratively scratching their heads as to how they can get hold of your material. That’s what they’re after.”
“The police take action, they often get what they want, and allow the lawyers in court to mop up what’s happened afterwards. That’s one of the trends and areas where there is a real problem: the police arresting journalists and seizing their material in order to use it in prosecutions.”
“Not a police state”
“What often happens is journalists are arrested, their material is taken from them, prosecution is not pursued, but then that material is used as part of the prosecution of non-journalists.”
“There are more formal mechanisms, with more rigorous protections for journalists and photographers, that the police are supposed to use to seize journalistic material, but my worry is that these mechanisms are being sidetracked by arrests of journalists being used as a way to getting hold of the material.”
Commander Broadhurst denied the allegations: “The idea of this police state where whenever you go out we’re going to take your photographs, we’re going to arrest you, so you can do our job for us with regards to collecting evidence is not a world that I recognise.”
“I personally don’t know of any incidents where we have gone out of our way to arrest photographers in order to seize footage. We will, however, pursue things through the courts if we feel that you do have something of value to us.”
Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, material such as a journalist’s notes, photographs, computer files or tapes are classified as Special Procedure Material, which have a higher level of protection than ordinary possessions.
However, according to Schwartz, the same material can be seized and examined by police if the journalist is arrested as a suspect and the material is considered evidence in the alleged crime for which they have been arrested.
“I’m not suggesting that there is a large scale conspiracy, but the reality is that the effect of the policing is that innocent journalists are at the time, not after the fact, arrested, searched as all arrested people are, the threshold for arrest is petty low, and barring the exceptional immunity for freedom of expression defences, that power is misused.”
Using photographs to track down G8 rioters
Last year, EPUK reported that Lothian and Borders Police were using photographs taken by professional press photographers in a public appeal to identify suspects who were allegedly involved in riots in Edinburgh in the runup to the G8 summit at Gleneagles.
Because the electronic metadata had been left on the images, the photographers and publications which supplied them to the police could be easily identified. While it is still not clear under what circumstances the police obtained the high-resolution original digital files, EPUK understands that no court injunctions were sought or obtained by the police in respect of the material.
While EPUK knows the identity of the photographers and publications involved, we did not identify them in the original piece. Lothian and Borders Police removed the identifying information after being tipped off by EPUK.
First hour of chaos
Commander Broadhurst said that some of the conlicts between police and press attending hard news events came from both parties arriving on the scene at the same time with very different priorities.
“The role of the police is to bring order and control in that first hour of chaos, but it’s probably in that first hour of chaos when the best pictures will be taken.”
Referring to an anti-war demonstration last October in Parliament Square in which EPUK member Marc Vallée was badly injured, Commander Broadhurst said that it was difficult to discriminate between professional press photographers and other protesters.
“I was expecting small groups of ten or twelve protesters to pop up all over Westminster, doing their best to disrupt Parliament, locking themselves onto gates, scaling towers, all sorts of stuff. In the end, they fell into the trap, they all came out of the tube at the same time, and you’ll remember the pictures of us coralling them into a circle in a bit of a standoff.”
“Press card no use in a melée”
“Photographers such as yourself had free access and free movement around that. The problem is, so do the protesters’ own photographers, because they bring their own photographers in the same way that they bring their own lawyers. Our guys and girls cannot differentiate between those people who are out to make mischief, and those who are genuinely there to take pictures.”
Asked as to whether this was an issue that the National Press Card was designed to address, he added “The Press card is fine, if you’re in a controlled situation. In a situation like the one I described, in a melée of people we can’t start to differentiate between members of the press, members of the public and anyone else with a camera.”
Speaking to the conference, Mike Granatt of the Press Card Authority said that in future it was possible that photographers would need to carry a further form of photographic identity, such as a driving licence or passport, in addition to the national press card. Buckingham Palace already insists on a second form of identification for press photographers.
The conference, the first of its kind for NUJ photographers, and free for NUJ members was widely seen to have been a huge success, although it is not yet clear whether it will become an annual event. Other sessions included talks on photographers rights, copyright and intellectual property, and strategies for business survival.
Original Article here
The harassment law now being used against anti-dumping protesters in Oxfordshire is turning into the riot act of our day (George Monbiot)
If any of you doubt that protest is being criminalised in the United Kingdom, take a look at an injunction posted at www.epuk.org. Granted in the high court by the Honourable Mr Justice Calvert-Smith, it forbids the people of a village in Oxfordshire from “coming to, remaining on, trespassing or conducting any demonstrations or protesting or other activities” on the claimant’s land.
As this land is also the villagers’ most treasured local amenity, it means they have to abandon any effective means of trying to protect their quality of life. If not, they could end up with five years behind bars.
On second thoughts, don’t look at the injunction – it will turn you to stone. A cunning clause ensures that it also applies “to any other person who has been given notice of the terms of this order”. In fact, you have probably already been injuncted by reading the first paragraph of this article. So, if you value your liberty, you can’t now go near Thrupp Lake.
The lake is the haunt of kingfishers, otters and even rarer wildlife, such as Cetti’s warblers and water rails. It is the place where local people walk their dogs, swim, fish and picnic. But for the giant energy company RWE npower, which runs Didcot power station, it is the next dump for its pulverised fly ash, a byproduct of burning coal. The company intends to empty the lake, line it with clay, and pour in at least 60,000 tonnes of grey slurry – the fly ash mixed with water – then wait for years until it solidifies before attempting “remediation”. Fly ash typically contains lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium.
The project, in other words, is an abomination. The people of Radley village, as anyone would, have tried to stop this dumping. They have marched and demonstrated and photographed the cutting down of trees and the destruction of habitats. And now they have been confronted by one of the most brutal instruments on the statute book.
The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 is, on the face of it, a sensible piece of legislation defending people from stalkers. But when it was drafted, several of us warned that it failed to distinguish between genuine harassment and legitimate protest. Harassment includes “alarming the person or causing the person distress”, which could mean almost anything: you can alarm someone, for example, by telling them that pulverised fly ash contains mercury. It requires a “course of conduct” to be pursued, but this means nothing more than doing something twice. If you take two pictures of workers felling trees, that counts. Conduct also includes speech.
Worse still, the legislation was the first of several “behaviour acts” which blur the distinction between civil and criminal offences. The victim of the course of conduct may take a civil claim to the high court. On the basis of far less evidence than a criminal case requires, the court can grant an injunction against the defendant. If the defendant then breaks that injunction – by continuing to talk to the people he is seeking to dissuade, or to march or picket or protest – he then commits a criminal offence, carrying up to five years’ imprisonment.
We warned that the legislation had the makings of a new sedition law. No one took us seriously. But the first three people to be arrested under the act were peaceful protesters. Since then it has been used repeatedly to stifle what should be legitimate dissent.
The injunction was granted on the grounds that the site’s security guards were feeling threatened by the protesters. Many of the guards are former members of the armed forces. In the photos I have seen they wear black face masks. They allege that protesters have spoken threateningly to them and photographed them. I don’t know whether or not this is true, but the guards claim that this has made them feel scared and intimidated for themselves or their families. It seems to me that the security company has hired a bunch of right cissies. But all the act requires is a judgment that the men felt “alarmed” or “distressed”.
So an instrument designed to prevent intimidation in turn intimidates. As well as being forbidden to step on to the land they have walked and played on for years, the villagers and other protesters are forbidden to loiter “within five yards of any of the protected persons (whether on foot or in vehicles) in the vicinity of Radley Lakes”. In other words, should one of the security guards approach them, they must step well back if they want to avoid the possibility of five years inside. The injunction has thrown a great bucket of cold water over their attempts to protect the neighbourhood.
At first I thought these uses were an accidental product of bad drafting. Now I am not so sure. The law company serving the writ, Lawson-Cruttenden, describes itself as “the market leader in obtaining ground-breaking injunctions on behalf of individuals and corporations who have been the subject of harassment by direct action protest groups”. It also boasts that it “assisted in the drafting of the … Protection from Harassment Act 1997″. Are such apparent conflicts of interest normal? Did Lawson-Cruttenden know that the act would support a lucrative line of business? Did Michael Howard, the home secretary at the time, know that companies like this would use the law like a new riot act?
The journalist Henry Porter, who has done more than anyone else to draw attention to some of our illiberal new laws, believes that they result from Tony Blair’s “authoritarian streak” and his attempts to build a “fussy, hairsplitting, second-guessing, politically correct state”. On this matter I think that he is wrong.
Some of the most illiberal laws of recent years – the 1986 Public Order Act, the 1992 Trade Union Act, the 1994 Criminal Justice Act, the 1996 Security Service Act, the 1997 Police Act and the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act – were drafted by the Conservative party. Blair has supplemented them with all manner of pernicious instruments (such as the 2000 Terrorism Act, the 2001 Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act, the 2001 Criminal Justice and Police Act, the 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act, the 2004 Civil Contingencies Act and the 2005 Serious Organised Crime and Police Act). But this illiberal trend long pre-dates him.
I think it arose partly in line with rising inequality, and the ever more urgent demands by corporations and the super-rich that their assets and their position be defended. But I think it also reflects something else, seldom discussed by the press: the over-representation of lawyers in British politics. Lawyers have an instinctive love of new laws, as this is how they derive their power over the rest of us. In this respect, Blair differs not a jot from Margaret Thatcher, Howard, Jack Straw and the other barrister-legislators. When you elect lawyers, you get laws.
I have met quite a few lawyers – not always voluntarily – and some of them are able to perform a passable impression of human beings. Like teenagers, they are generally quite harmless by themselves. But sensible voters would ensure that they were never let loose in a representative chamber. People of the same trade seldom meet together but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public. Lawyers are no exception.
George Monbiot, The Guardian, Tuesday March 6, 2007
Breakdown of article posted on the Indymedia website
Microwave beacons are being installed on 150,000 lamposts to allow fixed cameras, and hand held scanners, to both see through your clothing and see through the walls of your house.
The police will then store the 3D images in a central database. Of course, it is still illegal to walk around nude as this would take the fun out of it for them – not so much a case for tin-foil hats but for tin-foil underwear.
Although developed in the US a lot of the development work is being done in the UK and of course is going to be the most widely implemented in the UK since we are all enemies of the state.
The relevant patents are held by or developed for the Secretary of State for Defence but the lamppost beacons are being implemented by The National Roads Telecommunications Services Project for the Department of Transport.
The larger version of the device, about the size of a shoebox, can be mounted on a patrol car, displaying the image on a monitor inside the vehicle. The smaller, battery-operated version is hand-held, like a radar gun.
Plans to test the device on the streets are in full swing, despite the serious Constitutional issues of illegal search and seizure.
Police must have reasonable suspicion to justify frisking a subject; the Millimetrix device is designed for efficient mass surveillance. A police officer can aim the hand-held unit into a crowd up to 90 feet away.
The device can even be used outside a room to scan individuals inside. But don’t worry — Millimetrix points out that although the imager can see through clothing, it still leaves citizens “some privacy” and “does not reveal intimate anatomical details of the person.”
· Present curbs are too light, Met chief to tell Goldsmith
· Rights groups say officers would be ‘censors in chief’
Monday November 27, 2006
Police are to demand new powers to arrest protesters for causing offence through the words they chant and the slogans on their placards and even headbands.
The country’s biggest force, the Metropolitan police, is to lobby the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, because officers believe that large sections of the population have become increasingly politicised, and there is a growing sense that the current restrictions on demonstrations are too light.
Trouble at recent protests involving Islamic extremists has galvanised the Met’s assistant commissioner, Tarique Ghaffur, into planning a crackdown. His proposals are due to be sent to Lord Goldsmith, who is reviewing how effective the current laws are in tackling extremists.
The police want powers to proscribe protest chants and slogans on placards, banners and headbands. Human rights experts say that such powers could also be used against protesters such as animal rights and anti-globalisation activists. The civil rights group Liberty said the powers would make the police “censors in chief”.
Mr Ghaffur has previously advocated banning flag burning. But this document would take the police a lot further. Mr Ghaffur says there is a “growing national and international perception” that the police have been too soft on extremist protesters, which has led to rising anger across the country. “The result has been to create an imbalance in public perception that is manifesting itself in passionate responses from elements of the community not traditionally given to publicly protesting. What we are seeing in effect is a rise in the politicisation of middle England and the emergence of a significant challenge for capital city policing.”
As well as the absence of a law banning the burning of a flag, there is no law banning the burning of a religious text.
The police want powers to tackle a “grey area” in the array of public order laws. At present, causing offence by itself is not a criminal offence.
“There must be a clear message that we will not allow any extremist group to display banners or make public statements that clearly cause offence within the existing law,” the document says.
The document continues: “Is the sand shifting in our collective viewpoint around what constitutes ‘causing offence’? Equally, we need to have a clearer determination of current community perceptions around what ‘public offence’ actually means. We also need to think more laterally around how we police public demonstrations where ‘offence’ could be caused, while still respecting the British position around freedom of speech.”
The document, entitled “The widening agenda of public demonstrations and radicalisation”, says Islamic extremists have learned how to cause offence without breaking the law. It also reveals that the government has yet to implement the bill outlawing religious hatred which received royal assent in February. It says that the law may prove useless against extremists: “Virtually all activity by protesters could constitute insulting or abusive language, behaviour or banners towards particular religions, but would fall outside the remit of inciting religious hatred.”
The director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, said: “[The proposal] misunderstands the nature of law and free expression in a democracy and casts the police as censors in chief. It aims to protect people from ‘offence’ rather than harm, slates the CPS and muses wildly on ‘public perceptions’.”
After protests against the Danish cartoons in London, organised by a radical Muslim group, Scotland Yard received 100 complaints demanding action against the protesters.
A solicitor who has defended protesters, Mike Schwarz, said: “Causing offence, if there is no other ingredient, is not against the law.” He said such proposed powers would clash with article 10 of the European convention on human rights which protects freedom of expression.