Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Monday 1 December 2008

Police State Britain - police exposed as brutal liars

This is ironic; I have for many years been deeply concerned at the growth of CCTV surveillance in Britain - the UK is now apparently the country with the most CCTV surveillance in the world, bar none. At one level I accept that there may be some benefits, but I have always questioned whether the balance of these benefits outweighs the risks and loss of privacy. The police repeat the mantra of "If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear", assuming one supposes that it is never going to be they who will regret such rash assumptions.

And so we come to the cases of three lying, cheating police officers in Wigan who got a man convicted for a crime he never committed. At Wigan magistrates court on 22nd September he was charged with two counts of police assault and the public order offence of swearing at the officers and 'the three officers read statements to the court that Mark had been “behaving violently” and “issued challenges” ' and as a result he was convicted and 'ordered to pay PC Lightfoot £100 in compensation and one of the other officers £150', despite the magistrates having viewed a video recording of the events that night - but we'll come to that in a moment. He was also ordered to do 200 hours of community service and given a three-month suspended prison sentence.

It so happens that the person the police picked on, on this occasion, was not just some drunk (well he was drunk, but he was not violent or issuing challenges) but was a man highly praised by his commanding officer for bravery against the Taliban in Afghanistan, where he fought in the army with the rank of Lance Corporal. Of course if Mark Aspinall had actually done what the police said he had done that night his courageous military service would not have absolved him from responsibility and he would have deserved to be punished.

In any case Mark Aspinall, whilst accepting he had been 'leathered' that night, vehemently disputed the police version and decided to appeal and at Liverpool Crown Court on 13th November his conviction was quashed by Judge Phipps who on seeing the video footage below asked "Where is this man of violence?":

So far all that has happened is that Mark Aspinall has received back the payments to the two officers the GBP250- they extorted from him by their lies a couple of months ago at the magistrates court hearing. One of the police officers has had his duties restricted and the other two are being investigated. Why haven't they simply been sacked and charged with perjury?

This is the country I am 'happy' to call home, a country where police officers seem to be growing accustomed to behaving as if they operate in an environment where they think they can act with complete impunity in the style of the police in some kind of quasi-fascist police state. Much as I dislike the ubiquity of CCTV surveillance, it is only the existence of clear video evidence to contradict police statements under oath in a magistrates court that has allowed this clear miscarriage of justice to be challenged and defeated. If the Sunday Mirror report is accurate in reporting that the magistrates at the earlier hearing convicted Mr Aspinall despite having viewed the video footage, incidentally, then their continuing suitability to be Justices of the Peace must certainly be investigated urgently. If the UK is not already a police state, then it is rapidly on the way to becoming one.

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