The More Things Change…

February 24, 2009

Doreen Lawrence writing in today’s Guardian:

“Before the [Mcpherson] inquiry, black people were six times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police. Now, after all the years, and after all the work that has been put in, they are seven times more likely to be stopped. Police should be using proper intelligence, and frontline officers should not have the power to discriminate like this.”

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Oh, and from the BBC. A man from Hornchurch has been charged with “transmitting a terrorist publication.”

Watch this space for more judicial depravity.

See this section of the egregious Terrorism Act 2006 for more information about this offense which, it turns out, is not at all hard to commit.

Furthermore, the publication does not have to have any connection with a real-life plot:

It is irrelevant for the purposes of this section whether anything mentioned in subsections (1) to (4) is in relation to the commission, preparation or instigation of one or more particular acts of terrorism, of acts of terrorism of a particular description or of acts of terrorism generally.”

It all amounts to another extraordinary restriction of civil liberties.

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As did the arrest last week of nine members of an aid convoy to Gaza. Police detained the men on the M65 near Preston on Friday and all have now been released, but the affair damaged the reputation of the Viva Palestina convoy of which they were a part.

According to George Galloway, one of the organizers of the convoy, “The timing of the operation is seen locally as an attempt to smear and intimidate the Muslim community, and I must say they seem to be right. Photographs of the high-profile snatch were immediately fed to the press to maximise the newsworthiness of the smear.”

The arrests were carried out under the Terrorism Act and, as Galloway suggests, they had a strong (and predictable) effect in the  media. The Telegraph associated the arrestees with international terrorism, reporting that police “refused to be drawn on whether the men were planning activity overseas” and this claim was repeated by the Sunday Mail.

The Times’ David Leppard (spots unchanged, alas) went one step further, obtaining the testimony of  “senior police sources” who alleged that “Three Islamist terror suspects who were arrested in northwest England on Friday night planned to leave the country under the cover of a humanitarian convoy to Gaza led by George Galloway.”

In view of their rapid release, Leppard’s sources had something of a senior moment when they relayed that “The men had been under surveillance for some time as part of what police described as “an ongoing intelligence-led operation.”

There is no evidence that any of the police involved have ever been led by intelligence.

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