Yay…after much head-scratching and the occasional pitch, i finally made it into the New Statesman this week with a piece of real journalism…as opposed to bloggery.
The story – of which there is much more to come – is about how the establishment appears to be undergoing a gradual and pernicious corruption from outside in as a result of its obsession spinning the news against student demonstrators.
In December 2010, two students were arrested and charged with violent disorder for apparently dragging a police officer from a horse during the tuition fee protests in London. The brothers Chris and Andrew Hilliard both faced five years in prison and an unlimited fine. The following day, the Prime Minister declared:
“When people see . . . police officers being dragged off police horses and beaten . . . I want to make sure that they feel the full force of the law.”
Eighteen months later, however, the Hilliards were found not guilty. As Jane Fae writes in the New Statesman this week,
Under examination, their “victim”, PC Cowling, agreed that he had failed to tighten the strap that held the saddle on to his horse and that he had later pulled off the young men’s masks and pulled Christopher’s hair. The defence argued that the brothers were the ones subject to assault.
Awful, awful stuff…when you think that a guilty verdict would have seen the individuals involved sent down for possiblky five years and facing an unlimited fine.
What offended most…far more than the original allegations…more even than the conduct of some members of the police in respect of this incident is that from very very early in the process, the prosecuting authorities must have known that this was a case without merit.
Yet they continued to put the boyts through it…for 18 long months.
By all means, when you have a horrendous crime committed, when you are pretty sure the defendants did it…then go for it. But this is far from the first case i have covered where it became clear at an early stage that there was little point to pursuing it. Yet, either through bureaiucratic incompoetence, or sheer bloody-mindedness, police and CPS have continued such cases to the door of the court.
One such case, which i shall long remember, had a defendant stressed out to the limit: on suicide watch; at the absolute end of his tether.
And it survived for all of an hour inside a court before being thrown out by a seriously unimpressed jadge.
That needs to stop. That needs to stop now.
And a good place for it to begin would be with the majority of the outstanding cases involving student demonstrators.