Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Seek-Locate-Destroy

Judge Judy has a phrase. If it doesn't make sense it probably didn't happen.

And that is the line I've stuck to over the Andrew Mitchell case despite the easy politics of Tory bashing.

It never made sense and as time has gone by, Mitchell's refusal to back down over use of the word "pleb" when the easiest way out for him would have been to bite his tongue and apologise struck a chord. His claims always sounded the most plausible version. Why? Because sometimes when people deny wrong-doing it is because they are actually not guilty and admitting to something they haven't done is something they will not do no matter how politically expedient.

Been there done it. I also apologise for things I have done!!!

Just because you would like something to be true doesn't mean it is yet all too often we've seen that prevent supposedly sane people from using their brains. Now it's one thing putting a gullible fool incapable of spotting a lie when he sees it on the South East Lib Dems European party list, but he isn't going to get elected so no harm done there. It is quite another when leaders of the opposition and others do the same. After all, we hope that they aren't gullible as a pre-requisite of office lest they take us into an illegal war

So, the question needs to be asked why were the lies about Andrew Mitchell not properly investigated?

We have to remember that 'Plebgate' occurred in the immediate aftermath of the Manchester shootings. The Police Federation's behaviour in using the deaths of brave police officers to prevent critical analysis of events and for their own self-interest was disreputable and if anyone should resign it's their leaders for using abusive and bullying behaviour on the back of a national tragedy to advance their own agendas.

Anyone who dared suggest that the police were on occasions laissez-faire with the actualité were smeared. 'How dare anyone question the word of a police officer?' was their stance.

Yet Hillsborough; fabricated video evidence during the miners' strike; Jean Charles de Menezes; lies over the G20 death and corrupt dealings with News International, showed that if you have nothing to hide you still have something to fear. The police have the power to deny you your liberty and, in some cases, life.

They may be comic book words but with great power comes great responsibility. That is why in a free society being critical of the police in the true sense of criticism rather than an unhealthy and negative obsession with "the pigs" is good.

Of course, the national cases get the headlines but just how widespread is police fabrication of evidence?

Here's an unreported case from Reading Crown court in September:

It involved a 130mph police chase on the M4. I only found out from someone who was in court that day (no, not the accused!) It wasn't reported because the local press have no resources to cover every case and on the face of it it was an open and shut case with little public interest.

However, during the trial three officers swore to events on oath and corroborated each others evidence. They made their statements believing that video of the incident was unavailable.

Unfortunately, a computer expert had recovered the disc and it was clear that they had colluded and fabricated their story. Disciplinary procedures are now inevitable.

The end does not justify the means. The problem is that every time this happens, ordinary officers are tarnished with the same brush. We owe a debt of gratitude to the police but to make them all out as untouchable is dangerous in a democracy.

An apology from the Police Federation may therefore be a useful first step in restoring faith in the police.