CPS drop case against Iceland skip-divers as “not in public interest” anymore…

29/01/2014

In my original post on this issue I wrote “you couldn’t make this stuff up!” And reality goes on to prove I’m right!

The Guardian reported that the CPS was going to prosecute 3 men for “stealing” out-of-date tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese from a skip round the back of a branch of Iceland, after a member of the public told the police he’d seen them climbing over the wall. The Crown Prosecution Service were intent on prosecuting the “thieves” even though Malcolm Walker, the chief executive of Iceland, had asked the CPS not to continue with the case. In a statement, Iceland said “We are currently trying to find out from the Crown Prosecution Service why they believe that it is in the public interest to pursue a case against these three individuals.”

One of the men, freelance web designer Paul May was going to say that he was taking the food because he needed it to eat and does not consider he has done anything illegal or dishonest in removing food destined for landfill from a skip.

This is hardly the first time the CPS have tried to prosecute people for taking out-of-date food from supermarket skips. Many years ago, two of my friends were arrested with chickens they had taken from a Leo’s (now the Co-operative) supermarket bin. They were charged with theft, elected for trial by jury at Crown Court as was their right, and the presiding judge threw out the case, angry that the court’s time was being wasted in such a way.

In this latest case, the CPS originally said there was “significant public interest” in prosecuting the three men caught last year taking tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese and Mr Kipling cakes from the dustbins behind a branch of Iceland. But a public furore persuaded them to see sense.

The case would have brought to the public eye the fact that poor members of society have to go through bins of rotten food looking for something to assuage their hunger, in scenes more reminiscent of the 19th century rather than the present day.

The case has prompted new focus on the phenomenon of “skipping” – taking discarded supermarket waste to cook and eat – and reopened the debate over how much supermarket food is still discarded. Several online petitions were launched, calling on the CPS to reconsider its decision to prosecute.

Baljit Ubhey, the chief crown prosecutor for CPS London, said: “This case has been reviewed by a senior lawyer and it has been decided that a prosecution is not required in the public interest.”

He added: “In reconsidering this case, we have had particular regard to the seriousness of the alleged offence and the level of harm done. Both of these factors weigh against a prosecution. Additionally, further representations received today from Iceland Foods have affected our assessment of the public interest in prosecuting.

“We hope this demonstrates our willingness to review decisions and take appropriate and swift action when necessary. The Crown Prosecution Service is committed to bringing the right charges to court when – and only when – it is proper to do so.”

But of course Ubhey’s explanation is a load of crap. As I reported before, the CPS have considered it correct to prosecute hungry poor people for taking out-of-date food from shop waste bins. The CPS originally valued the food “stolen” from Iceland at £33! And they would no doubt have carried on the case if online petitions hadn’t been produced.

All this case demonstrates is that the police and Crown Prosecution Service are happy to oppress the very poorest members of society.

EDIT: Since posting this, a couple of my friends suggested I might like to see the Daily Mail’s take on this story.  I don’t usually bother reading the Mail (it makes me so furious sometimes, there have been occasions in the past where I have actually shouted at a copy of the paper) but my friends’ comments intrigued me so I had a peek.

I was just about to type “Unbelievable!” but then I remembered: this is the Mail.  The story’s headline reads

A licence to steal? Let off, the ‘freegans’ who raided supermarket bins for £33 of cakes, cheese and mushrooms

The Mail clearly has a problem with “freegans” (their term for the criminals who blatantly steal unwanted garbage out of bins); their angle on the story is horror that such evil crooks are being set free to continue their crime sprees.  They mention that 15 million tons of food are being thrown away each year in the UK, Tesco alone generated 28,500 tons of food waste at its stores and distribution centres in the first 6 months of last year alone, but the Mail’s major problem is the fact that people are being “encouraged” to steal by the CPS’s decision to drop the charges.

Interestingly, they also mention that the three men involved (Paul May, Jason Chan and William James) were held in police cells for nineteen hours before being released!   I hadn’t seen or heard that anywhere else.  It shows how petty and arrogant the police can be, and is another reason why the police do not automatically deserve the respect they think they are due.  Basically, the police stink.  And to think, I wouldn’t have learnt this particular fact but for the Daily Mail’s website.  Keep an eye out for low-flying pigs ha ha!!!

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CPS prosecute 3 men for “stealing” rubbish out of Iceland’s bins!

29/01/2014

UPDATE: CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE SHAMED INTO DROPPING CHARGES!

Unbelievable but true: check it out.

A man will stand trial next month after being caught taking some tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese from the dustbins behind a branch of Iceland.

It is expected Paul May, a freelance web designer, will argue that he was taking the food because he needed it to eat and does not consider he has done anything illegal or dishonest in removing food destined for landfill from a skip.

Even Iceland, the “victim” of the crime, doesn’t understand why this is going on. The chief executive of Iceland has said he has contacted the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to ask why three men caught taking food from bins outside an Iceland store are being taken to court, stating that the company did not seek their prosecution.

I can remember, years ago, when I was squatting/homeless and frequently went skipping so as to avoid starvation, 2 friends of mine were arrested after stealing chickens that had been thrown out into the skip by Leo’s (now “The Co-operative”). They were charged with theft. They pled not guilty and elected for Crown Court trial, as was their right. The judge threw the case out, furious that the CPS would waste his court’s time with a case of stealing rubbish! Yes, I know that technically the rubbish still belonged to the Co-op… but out of date chickens? I can’t believe the CPS still do this! As for the Co-op, with its “ethical” underpinnings… Gah!

So it’s in the public interest to prosecute hungry people for taking waste foodstuff out of the bin? Good to now… how our corporate overlords (did I say “overlords”? I meant “protectors”) think. Actually, yeah, feed the poor on Soylent Green! Perfect solution to the problem of homelessness and poverty!

Oh, yeah! I just wanted to add: not long after the palaver, a local day centre for homeless and vulnerable people MAGGS Day Centre, Worcester) asked Leo’s (now the Co-operative) if the supermarket might like to donate this waste food to the day centre, to help keep the vulnerable from starvation. Leo’s said no: but the day centre could buy the out of date trash! Seriously, you couldn’t make this stuff up!

EDIT: Our chums at 38Degrees are on this too. Check out their piece and petition here. Maybe the CPS think it’s okay now to brutalize the defenceless, as their lords and masters are up to the same crap. We gotta tell ’em: Nooo!! Online petitions are often a waste of time, but some of them actually achieve stuff! If you check out 38Degrees you’ll see that they frequently help mitigate or even stop some of our government’s most evil plans. I like 38Degrees; so should you!

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Victim of miscarriage of justice told: Tough shit baby

25/01/2013

Jill-Dando-010
Jill Dando. She was not killed by Barry George, but the courts don’t give a toss

Barry George, the man wrongly convicted for the murder of TV presenter Jill Dando, has been told he isn’t entitled to a penny of compensation even though he served eight years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. George is one of four people whose faulty convictions and subsequent claims for compensation were reviewed by the London high court.

This is because of a Supreme Court ruling in 2011 concerning compensation payments to victims of miscarriage of justice. The Supreme Court ruling states:

“[A miscarriage of justice occurs] when a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that the evidence against a defendant has been so undermined that no conviction could possibly be based upon it…

“A claimant for compensation will not need to prove he was innocent of the crime but he will have to show that, on the basis of facts as they are now known, he should not have been convicted or that conviction could not possibly be based on those facts.”

Not all miscarriages of justice, it follows, will lead to compensation. “Procedural deficiencies that led to irregularities in the trial or errors in the investigation of offences will not suffice to establish entitlement to compensation,” the supreme court judges explained.

This means that it makes no difference whether you have committed the crime or not. You’ll get compensation only if compelling new evidence comes to light. A flawed police investigation, or faulty behaviour by court officers at the time of the trial, mean nothing. So Barry George, who wrongly served eight years, gets nothing by way of compensation. Neither will Ismail Ali, who was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm upon his wife at Luton Crown Court in 2007; Kevin Dennis, whose conviction of the murder of Babatunde Oba was declared unsound and whose retrial was abandoned when the trial judge agreed with submissions there was no case answer and directed the jury to acquit Dennis of murder; and Justin Tunbridge whose convictions for two counts of indecent assault in 1995 were eventually quashed by the Court of Appeal in April 2008. Another eleven miscarriage of justice cases are due to come before the High Court soon, but these rulings make it unlikely that any compensation will be paid to these innocent people.

This is what it boils down to: it doesn’t matter if you actually committed the crimes you were sent to jail for. In Barry George’s case, he served eight years for a crime he did not commit. His wrongful conviction made him a hate figure to the public who loved Jill Dando. And now he’s been denied compensation, which will make people think “there’s no smoke without fire – he must have done it, otherwise he’d have got compensation.” This could happen to any of us. And this is British justice? Gaddafi’s Libya would probably have been fairer.

Make no mistake: George, Ali, Dennis and Tunbridge did not commit the crimes for which they were imprisoned. They’ve had years stolen from their lives, they have been labelled murderers,or sex offenders, labels which tend to stick. And what compensation do they get? None. British justice is a sadistic farce.

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British police can kill whoever they feel like killing – no one’s going to punish them

21/07/2012

PC Simon Harwood, a member of the Met’s infamous “Territorial Support Group”, is a killer.  Nothing libellous about that claim: he dodged the bullet that was the charge of the manslaughter of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 demo in London (and remember, Tomlinson was not a demonstrator but merely a member of the public trying to get home after a day’s work), but the jury for the inquest into Tomlinson’s death found that he’d been “unlawfully killed” by the police officer – and the inquest jury came to this conclusion after seeing and hearing evidence just like that used in the subsequent trial.  So PC Harwood is a killer, who unlawfully killed Ian Tomlinson by way of a cowardly attack from behind.  Coward and killer – I foresee a successful career for him in the police.  How come he hasn’t been promoted yet?

Of course, Harwood is just one of a great many police officers who have killed people and gotten away with it scott free.  According to a Guardian article today, no police officer has been convicted of manslaughter for a crime committed while on duty since 1986, though since then hundreds have died in police custody or soon after contact with the police.  It was only because of Tomlinson’s family’s tenacity, the accumulation of evidence against Harwood and, perhaps most crucially, the video of the attack made by an American tourist, that Harwood was taken to court. And still he got away with it.  Many many people have been killed by the police, but these slayings are never even investigated, never mind prosecuted.  In her piece for the Guardian, Nadine El-Enany goes on:

Harwood’s actions were not exceptional. Not only have hundreds died in police custody, but also police violence at public events is commonplace, most recently during the student demonstrations of 2010, during which anti-fees protesters were charged at by officers on horses, atacked with batons and kettled late into the night. In a statement today, Defend the Right to Protest has highlighted the importance of “supporting all those in their struggle to hold the police accountable for their actions, whether on demonstrations, in our communities or in custody”.

Until the pyschopaths and thugs, potential killers, or actual killers like Harwood, are sacked from the force, until the police abandon such brutal forms of crowd control tactics like kettling, and accept that the right to free assembly and to demonstrate are clear-cut human rights, trust in the police will continue to fall. How can we trust and respect people like Harwood to defend us?

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4 years for “inciting” non-existant riots… WTF are the British authorities up to?

17/08/2011

Yesterday (16 August 2011) Chester crown court sentenced 2 men to 4 years imprisonment for “trying” to incite riots that never actually happened. And David Cameron, who is supposed to be the prime minister of Britain, not a judge or legal commentator, said it was “very good”, adding:

“What happened on our streets was absolutely appalling behaviour and to send a very clear message that it’s wrong and won’t be tolerated is what the criminal justice system should be doing.”

Of course it’s terrible that riot and looting went on across England. But what do the riots that actually happened have to do with what Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan did? Moreover, Blackshaw and Sutcliffe-Keenan pleaded guilty to the charges – which makes me wonder what kind of low-grade legal advice they’d been given – and an early guilty plea is supposed to result in a reduced sentence. So this pair of clowns would have got maybe 10-year sentences if they’d pleaded not guilty? 10 years for not inciting a riot? What are our judges smoking before entering their court rooms?

MPs and civil rights groups have spoken out against the sentences, unsurprisingly. But what should be surprising is that prime minister Cameron said the sentences were “very good” – before adding that it is down to the courts to decide sentences. So, which is it, Cameron? Do judges have the discretion on sentencing here? Or are you sending (barely) concealed message to the court that anyone who says anything not in line with his beliefs deserves to rot in jail for as long as possible?

In Britain, the government proposes laws. Parliament debates, fine-tunes then passes the laws. And the police and courts enforce those laws. Cameron shouldn’t be telling judges how to do their jobs. Lord Carlile, the government’s former terror advisor accused ministers of appearing to “steer” the courts into handing down the more stringent sentences. Lord Carlile, a barrister and former Liberal Democrat MP warned that the sacrosanct separation of powers between the government and the judiciary had appeared to have been breached by some of the messages coming out of government since the riots engulfed neighbourhoods last week.

Fortunately, not all judges have been castrated by Cameron and his henchmen. The same Evening Standard article reports that a court in Bury St Edmund’s let a teenager walk free after his guilty plea. He had sent Facebook messages saying “”I think we should start rioting – it’s about time we stopped the authorities pushing us about. It’s about time we stood up for ourselves for once so come on riot – get some – LoL” Bad, to be sure, but hardly evil. His barrister said his client “had been a bit of a prat” – which pretty sums up Blackshaw’s and Sutcliffe-Keenan’s actions too.

Also, a Lambeth teenager who had been caught on CCTV hurling sticks and spades at officers, was allowed to walk free after his uncle, a Premier League football player, offered him somewhere to live outside of London.

This variation in judicial decisions is good, as it demonstrates that not all judges are bowing and scraping before their governmental overlords. But it is clear that a substantial number of judges are all too keen to please their masters. In the Guardian, Lord Carlile said:

“I don’t think it’s helpful for ministers to appear to be giving a steer to judges. The judges in criminal courts are mostly extremely experienced and well capable of making the decisions themselves. Ministers should focus on securing the safety of the public.”

The lord, who served for six years under Labour and the coalition until March as the government’s anti-terror adviser, added: “”Some judges may feel that and some ministers may feel that they have had a responsibility to use the language of sentences rather than policy.”

The authorities doubtless think it’s important to stamp down hard on some people’s recent behaviour. But that doesn’t mean the courts should become kangaroo courts blindly following the government’s instructions. Every single case is different, and each should be dealt with on its own merits. The government is beginning to see the consequences of its actions and policies; and they are scared of those consequences. Instead of knee-jerk reactions, they should try to fix the damage they have done. Otherwise today’s Britain will be just like the 1980s, when widespread civil unrest rocked the country.

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Super-injunctions must die!!

10/05/2011

The twit who tweeted about which wealthy people had taken out super-injunctions to gag the press has certainly stirred up some controversy, even though he (she?) seems to have got some of his facts wrong. For instance he claimed that Jemima Khan had taken out such an injunction to prevent publication of prurient photos of her and Jeremy Clarkson, presenter of the BBC’s TV show Top Gear; but Jemima says it’s not true, and it appears that the twit had been confused because Jemima and her brother Zac Goldsmith (a dickhead who inherited lots of money) got a super-injunction in 2008 to prevent publication of emails from “hacked” accounts.

Goldsmith has taken advantage of the controversy to suggest that Britain needs a proper privacy law to prevent inappropriate disclosure of people’s private lives. But of course he would. The real reason why these super-injunctions are wrong is because they are used to gag the press to a horrendous degree. Anyone who’s rich enough to get such an injunction (and believe me, it’s only the rich who can afford these measures) can not only silence the press, they even prevent the press from reporting that the injunction has been taken out! An example of the extreme effects of super-injunctions is when the oil trading company Trafigura stopped the Guardian newspaper from mentioning in any way a scientific report on Trafigura’s horrendous waste dumping in west Africa.

Of course, rich assholes like Goldsmith say that the Trafigura case is an exception, and that private citizens need to be able to keep their private lives private. Media lawyer Charlotte Harris says the stories subject to super-injunctions were quite often cases of “nasty blackmail”. She said: “You should be allowed to end a relationship with somebody, whether you are married or not, without having that person say ‘right, I’m going to go to the paper, I’m going to destroy your life, I’m going to tell everybody every intimate thing about you’. You should have some protection.”

The way she puts it, it all sounds so reasonable. Everyone’s entitled to a private life, surely? But these super-injunctions go far beyond what is reasonable. For a start, they are only available to the rich. And why do these gagging orders need to ban reporting that a gagging order has been imposed? These injunctions are not about protecting people’s private lives. They are a mechanism to censor the press. The courts allow these super-injunctions when the stories involved are not “in the public interest”. But who decides what is or is not in the public interest? A judge, listening to an expensive lawyer who’s in the same clubs as the judge and who possibly sodomises the judge on a regular basis.

So super-injunctions are wrong. But what will replace them? Should we have a privacy law like Zac Goldsmith suggests? I say no. Britain already has ridiculously stern libel laws. That should be enough for those who feel they need “protecting”. Let the press report their stories: if they are false, the injured party can sue them for libel. And if the stories are true? Well, if they’re true, they’re true, and the press should be free to tell us things that are true. If the individuals involved are ashamed of what they’ve done, that’s an issue they’ll have to sort out with their analysts. If they don’t want us to know about their sins, they shouldn’t sin. Pretty simple really.

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So UK police admit illegal stop and search in “Kingsnorth 3” case… so what about the hundreds of thousands of cases we’ll never hear about?

14/06/2010

Kent Police have finally conceded that their stop and search procedures at the 2008 Kingsnorth power station demo were illegal, and have agreed to pay a (so far undisclosed) sum of money to the three.

In a way, this is a victory – it’s pretty unusual for the police to ever admit they’ve done something wrong. But thousands of protesters were dealt with in a similar fashion, and I doubt very much that any of them will see a single penny of compensation. Protester Sarah Horne told the Guardian:

‘Hundreds of people’s possessions were seized, from walking sticks to crayons to health and safety supplies. ‘Riot police burst onto the site on a number of occasions and started beating people with batons, without warning or provocation.

‘Kent police have offered compensation to three people – but thousands of members of the public were searched, attacked or otherwise harassed at the 2008 Camp. Are Kent Police going to compensate and apologise to them all?’

It was only the tenacity of the “Kingsnorth Three” that ensured the police didn’t get away with their gung-ho approach. And two of those three protesters were children – twins just 11 years old!

The law used by the police to justify the use of stop and search powers requires police officers to have ‘reasonable suspicion’ that an individual is carrying prohibited weapons or articles that could be used to cause criminal damage.

However, during the case, brought against the police by the three protesters, it emerged that police had been conducting a blanket stop and search policy. Kent police now admit that search policy was ‘unlawful’ and ‘should not have happened’. Of course, what they mean is that this policy should never have come to light. The police, and many of their friends in government, would love to make it illegal to demonstrate.

So thousands of protestors were unlawfully detained, searched and physically abused; but only three are to receive compensation. Also, the police conduct at the demo has been characterised as “unlawful”; so police officers broke the law while on duty. It is very probable that these unlawful actions were authorised, even ordered, by senior officers. This needs to be investigated by an impartial commission, and any officers found to have broken the law should be sacked and possibly sent to prison.

There’s an oft-quoted question: “Who watches the watchers?” The answer, of course, is us. The police are entrusted with great power. When they are found to have abused that power, they need to be stamped on. Hard.


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