Abuse of the law and public inertia

Or, The State We’re In.

Our current condition throws up some examples of how power crazed bureacurats are falsely charging themselves with the power to stamp on individuals who rightly stand up against bureaucracy and public service failings and challenge unaccountable and unsanctioned decision making. Two cases make the papers today that should be spread far and wide.  But as always there is little or no ‘follow through’ by the journalists to connect the dots and display the bigger picture for people, so we have to rely on the blogosphere to do that.

Firstly we have the case of blogger Jacqui Thompson, author of ‘Camarthenshire Planning Problems and More’. She tells the story of how she was arrested for allegedly breaching the peace this week for filming part of a Camarthenshire County Council meeting from the public gallery to bring events to a wider audience.

Ms Thompson then goes on in a follow up blog post to describe her treatment after being arrested and presents readers with an evident example of the law being abused by Camarthenshire Councillors and the police to suit the ends of the establishment. A polite refusal to acquiesce to an unreasonable demand – namely to stop filming when filming is not banned by the Council’s own standing orders – is not a breach of the peace.

A legal action for false arrest seems justified as to deny this woman her liberty for wishing to highlight failings in the supposedly democratic process is an abuse under the law. There was no need for the Council to suspend proceedings and no grounds to instructing her to leave the public gallery. The police were not only heavy handed, they were resorting to stereotype number one, that the establishment is in need of protection and the ordinary taxpaying member of the public is the aggressor.

Secondly we have the case of blogger Daniel Sencier, author of ‘Prostate Cancer – My Journey!’ and a former cancer patient at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle.  He tells the story of how North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust are bullying him using threats of legal action for daring to speak out about the experience of newly diagnosed Prostate Cancer patients at his local hospital in Carlisle.

The Trust is giving the impression of having more power than it actually possesses, as once you read the content of their solicitor’s letter to Mr Sencier you can see how little they can do to prevent a protest they believed Mr Sencier was planning. But the abuse becomes evident when you see the Trust’s threat against Mr Sencier if his blog contains what they consider to be:

…unsubstantiated criticism of the care you received at the Trust the Trust will have no hesitation in considering taking legal action against you

Criticism is subjective and if Mr Sencier considers the care he received was substandard then he has the right to say so. It is his opinion and there should not be any need for his opinion to be substantiated by anything. At any rate, as if to underline the blowhard position the Trust is only saying they won’t hesitate to consider taking legal action. They know they will almost certainly have no grounds for doing so, but that doesn’t stop them trying to intimidate a dissatisfied member of the public into silence.

This is the reality of Britain in the 21st Century. We supposedly boast the mother of all Parliaments and the finest model for legal systems that has been much duplicated around the world. But what we see here is not only examples of the corruption of our democracy but the extent of the assault on our liberty and individual rights by the State in service of its own interests against ours.

For how much longer will the public stay silent on matters such as these and shy away from taking back from the establishment the power that is ours by right?  It cannot continue. We need to make a stand.

(Cross posted at Orphans of Liberty and Independent Political Bloggers – links on the right).

11 Responses to “Abuse of the law and public inertia”

  1. 1 Brian H 11/06/2011 at 9:46 am

    Power holders are eager to become corrupted by having as absolute a power as they can arrogate to themselves.

  2. 2 Martin Brumby 11/06/2011 at 10:50 am

    I am supportive of the idea that members of the public should be free to say what’s on their mind unless it is flagrantly illegal.

    What amazes me is the fact that the ‘usual suspect’ environmental groups, with full time paid staff, are seemingly free to say whatever they want, including the most bare faced lies – and they are never challenged. (Indeed, they are now almost invariably treated as ‘consultees’ in planning and other inquiries!)

    I know that (for example) BigOil doesn’t like to rock the boat and can usually see a way of turning a buck no matter what daft law or regulation is introduced.

    But will they NEVER turn round on the activists?

  3. 3 Edward 11/06/2011 at 11:15 am

    Yes Martin well said, it’s OK if you lie for the State – no problem!

    But, if you’re perceived to be a trouble causer, a whistle blower or Heaven forfend! show them up for the bunch of incompetent nincompoops that they actually are, then hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.

    Just who do these a^$eho**s think they are?

    Yep, they know they are above the law – this is what you arrive at when democracy has died and lawyers and micro-managing control freaks run the executive under the Aegis of a tyrannical dictatorship.

  4. 4 NeilMc 11/06/2011 at 11:44 am

    Absolutely right as ever, but will the people actually do anything about it. I fear not. The only time they did was the Poll Tax. Semmingly unlikly to create such a furore but brought down a once popular politician and gave us back the ruling class.

    Your quote on Referism at the top is interesting. David Cameron stating that:

    ‘the state is our servant, never our master. It should defend people from every threat, but should never be used as a premise to infringe unnecessarily on the freedom of the individual’.

    Seems that as ever with Cameron, he says one thing and actually thinks and does another.

    Where is the hope for liberty and democracy in the UK.

  5. 5 AJC 11/06/2011 at 11:48 am

    Bureaucratic cover up in another case?

    Children’s hospital in Baby P ‘cover-up’ as Great Ormond Street boss tried to keep clinic out of the scandal

  6. 6 Uncle Badger 11/06/2011 at 11:55 am

    It is reading stories like these that makes my blood run cold when politicians play around with ideas like ‘localism’.

    Decentralising power may be ‘a Good Thing’ but not if the bodies endowed with that new power remain as secretive, inept, arrogant, corrupt and unaccountable as our local councils and regional quangos.

    Before they are given a single Watt more power, there needs to be a thorough clean-out of local government, starting with council officers, who so regularly behave like little Hitlers, through to the trough-divers who man the council chambers.

  7. 7 Jim 11/06/2011 at 12:56 pm

    I think the simplest solution to all these problems is to pass a law stating no public official may demand an action (or demand inaction) from the member of the public without written advice that states which law (and the specific clause) they are using as a legal basis for their demands. This would include police officers (though that might have to be verbal and confirmed in writing later). Any public official incorrectly using a law would be liable for punitive damages for harassment. A fast track legal system similar to the small claims court could then be implemented so members of the public could get a ruling as to whether the law as stated was applicable in their case. If not an automatic fine on the public body responsible would be made, with no appeals.

    If public officials had to rely on actual law rather than bluster and bullying, they would soon curtail their actions.

  8. 8 llondel 11/06/2011 at 1:33 pm

    While not currently in a position to need it, my response to threats would be to ask exactly which bit of law backs the threat, and if not forthcoming, publicise the existence of the threat and the failure to justify it. The home education community is getting better at this, as a group that is regularly on the receiving end of toothless threats from some local authorities. Sadly it’s not the old hands that get the threats, but the new and often confused families who have yet to find their feet. This is undoubtedly mirrored in other areas, where those who know the relevant law will stand their ground and those who are unsure will often fold.

  9. 9 Dan Sencier 11/06/2011 at 2:18 pm

    I have been overwhelmed by the support I have recieved on every forum today and it has given me all the strength I need to see this through. I was starting to weaken a bit last week, but not any more. Thank you so much. Dan

  10. 10 Autonomous Mind 11/06/2011 at 2:41 pm

    It is a real pleasure to give some small encouragment to a citizen of this country standing up for their right to free speech. I hope your recovery is continuing well Dan.

  11. 11 Jeremy Poynton 11/06/2011 at 6:24 pm

    Dan – Nil carborundum. And show your contempt for them, couched in the politest language possible. Good for you

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