Hello, Goodbye?

Another post, another trip abroad. Last time I was abroad for work I returned home on the day of the European Parliament elections. This time its the day of the Scottish Independence referendum.

This time, it was just a quick trip to a multi national meeting in The Hague. The home of the international criminal court. Its rather incredible that I can do a full day’s work in Holland, travel from the Hague to Schipol, fly back to England and still be home for tea. Indeed it takes nearly as long to get from the airport home as it does to fly from Schipol to London.

I flew out from the United Kingdom, but may be returning to somewhere that will soon be different. Its somewhat ironic that I was at a meeting about countries working together more closely in the criminal justice field whilst Scotland are voting to distance themselves from the rest of the UK.

Its even more ironic that as the Scot’s are voting for independence, their leader is pledging that if successful he will give that independence up by trying to get Scotland to be members of the EU. It smacks to me of a relationship break up when S is telling E, “Its not you, its me I need my space” whilst all along S is planning on getting into bed with E’s nemesis EU.

I’m not sure Scotland are actually gaining independence by moving in with a new lover who is even more controlling and manipulative than their current partner. Indeed don’t forget that Scotland will be like a Mormon wife in the new relationship, just one of many n a relationship with the EU.

So, if Scotland does vote for Independence will it be the land of milk and honey the leaders of the yes campaign promised? I doubt it very much. Will it be as bad as some in the No camp said? I doubt it.

If it turns out to be worse for the Scots than the status quo (are they still around? Rocking all over the World?) Will they come back seeking re admittance to the United Kingdom? Read the newspapers and watch the TV for the next x days to be bored witless by people pontifying on an issue they have no idea about.

Imagine needing a passport to go to Scotland. If that becomes a reality, it will be a strange situation. Who will make that decision? Not Scotland for sure. It will depend on the EU and whether they admit Scotland and force them to join the Schengen zone. Strange how getting your independence may result in someone else dictating border control issues.

A vote for independence will affect many walks of life that we don’t already realise. University tuition fees?, the balance of power in Westminster, even the Olympic games teams.

A brave new world or a foolish bit of mindless nationalism? A nation led by a visionary or sheep following a false prophet on a wave of mindless jingoism?

Who knows? Not me that’s for sure.

By the time you read this, the deed will be done, even if the result is not yet know.

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The Glamorous Jetsetting Lifestyle

So, I am on my way back from a 2 day trip to Bucharest with work. It sounds glamorous doesn’t it?

How about if I tell you the hotel we stayed in was also hosting the Vice President of the USA whilst we were there.

A hotel that has bedrooms bigger than many people’s flats. The bathroom was twice the size of my bedroom.

The hotel also had a shopping mall with shops selling Rolexes, Gucci, a diamond shop etc.

All meals were provided as well.

Think you fancy the trip?

Well let me add a few things.

Security was so tight that everytime you came into the hotel you had to be searched like at the airport. To go to the toilet from the bar, you had to undergo this procedure as well?

Tuesday I left home at 7am UK time and after travelling to Heathrow I took the flight to romania where we were taken directly to our hotel. No chance of sightseeing. Indeed we never left the hotel until it was time to return home on thursday.

Wednesday was the conference formal start at 0900 with talks & presentations until 1800, then a short break before a formal meal that we had to attend. It was around 2230 before we got a chance to be off duty. So that was around 13 hours working day.

Thursday, the conference started at 0700 UK time and at lunchbreak, we were taken back to the airport. Here we had the news our flight was 3 hours or so delayed. Bucharest Airport is not the most exciting place to loiter. As the delay gradually increased, so did the boredom.

The delay means we will not  get to Heathrow until after2100. This means that after getting baggage, several tubes and a train, I will be home about midnight, some 17 hours after starting work.

In 2 days I will have been on duty some 30 hours. I should have worked 14.5 hours in that time. Time off  in lieu? I should be so lucky . I HAVE to be in work first thing Friday morning.

Still, I shouldn’t complain as I got the chance to visit Bucharest for the first time. A chance for sightseeing at work’s expense.

I have included all the photos of Bucharest I took in this blog. What’s that you say, you can’t see the photos? That is probably because I never got to see anything of the place. I never got out of the hotel. That is hardly because we were partying as my bar bill at the hotel prices came to a staggering £10 in 2 days.

What did I learn on this conference? Well I learned all the stereo types are right. The UK were seen as being awkward for not agreeing to the proposals that were outside the scope ofthe work. The europhile countries oppose whatever the UK say on a point of principle. The northern european countries are our friends & the Irish like a drink

Foreign travel, glamorous? Not when you are travelling for work.

I can’t wait for my brief visit to my bed before work tomorrow. Luxury is getting home and into my bed.

Would I do the same trip again if I got the chance? Yes, most definitely. Its long hours, hard work but very interesting. A chance to make a real contribution to international law enforcement & help shape the future.

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Time Flies By When You’re….

… the pilot of a plane touching down in Camberwick & stoned out of your brain….With apologies to Half Man Half Biscuit & also to Brian Cant – I said Cant!.

This the first blog post in a long time will also be the fastest & highest I have typed. I am currently travelling at 500mph. No, i’m not on the M11, I am flying across Europe. I’m getting one back on the Romanians coming here to work as I am flying to Bucharest for work.

Indeed, work is my excuse for the lack of blog posts this year. Since I started my new job in January, I am busier than ever and working longer hours than before meaning I have less time to blog and am too tired on a night to blog.

I am flying with British Airways & flew for the 1st time out of Heathrow have 5 – more
Continue reading

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Politicians Say: Politicians Do

In london on Thursday we have the European Elections (as the rest of the country does) and also the local elections.

The number of candidates standing is incredible. area are 17 standing in the Euro Elections alone. I feel left out ad I am not a candidate. The causes / parties they stand for is as varied as you can think of. The only party missing seems to be the “Gay whales against vivisection and nuclear weapons”

There is similar variety in the local elections with 3 votes pet petson in my area. Ironically, the Lib Dems have a candidate whose posters proclaim him as Straight Gary. Ironic when one thinks back to the previous Liberal
leader Jeremy Thorpe. (Vote Liberal or we’ll shoot your dog).

As you can imagine with all these candidates, the amount of electioneering material coming through the immensely is immense. Every party wants to get its message across.

Now if you are like me, junk mail goes earth into the bin. (the recycling bin of course as I care for planet earth)

As I was throwing the latest batch of big paper into the bin, I was thinking of the waste of trees, power etc gone into producing this material no one reads. Then I noticed who the leaflet was from- The Green Party- yes, plane. bunch of tree huggers who preach about saving the planet.

Even if their glossy material was printed on recycled paper (no mention it was & I doubt it was), the amount of power used to print these leaflets, and the fuel used to corner them around the country seems to be contrary to the message the Green Party preach.

Seems its a them selves. of politicians preach one thing and then do something different themselves.

The Greens are of course not the only hypocrites, but this did seem a good example (should that be a bad example?)

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A Day in Camden

Its been far too long since I have blogged here or anywhere else.

Why is that you may well ask?

Take your choice from the options below:

  1. Well, my life has been such a whirlwind of social events and high powered business meetings that I have not had time to blog;
  2. I have been upgrading my computer to the latest spec and have not had internet access in the meantime;
  3. I have been in prison for the past few months;
  4. Michelle has banned me from blogging to ensure I don’t post anything that doesn’t tow the party line;
  5. I’ve been too lazy to write anything more than 140 character twitter messages.

If needs be, you can phone a friend (if you have any!)

Anyway, since my last blog post, lots has happened, but nothing much has changed. Rest assured, I’m not going to bore you with a lengthy post telling you all the details about my last 3 months.

This past week, I have had the great pleasure of having company staying with me. Michelle, Josh, her parents and the dogs came to stay with me for a week. This worked rather well. part of the week I was at work and part of the week I had time off. Whilst I was at work, they amused themselves with a trip on the London Eye.

When off work, we all had a day fixing the house up. Yes, I finally got round to fixing the garden shed roof that was cut off in a burglary approximately 2 years ago.  Yes, you read that right, nearly 2 years ago. (Actually, it was over 2 years ago if truth be told). Why had I not fixed it in that time? Procrastination seems to be the only reason I can come up with. Michelle’s dad and Josh were a great help in fitting a new roof to the shed and felting it etc. I’m now a two shed family, as well as having a storage box in the garden. I’ll bet you are jealous now. Of course, having two sheds means that I have more space for bikes, so I have an excuse for an N+1.

I even managed to fit new smoke alarms, a carbon monoxide alarm and a new light switch in the bathroom. One day, I will even get round to fixing new blinds in the front room. What’s that Michelle? I’ve been promising to do that since we first got together!

So, the next day I went to Camden Lock and the famous market there. I’ve only lived in London for around 16 years or so (in several spells) and have never visited it. Camden is one of the famous markets and is home to Madness and a lot of the 80s fashion scene. Given we went on a midweek day rather than the usual Sunday, the place was still buzzing. There were any amount of food places, cuisine from around the world. Lots of art and craft and tacky clothing with a number of really good clothing shops there. I wish I had visited Camden when I lived down in London in the 1980’s when I was young enough to get away with the fashions.

The Markets are a warren of little markets around Camden Lock on the Regent’s Canal. Its a lovely location and a place worthy of a visit. (Just avoid a Sunday if you dislike excessive crowds)


Sadly, all good things have to come to an end, so on Good Friday, I drove Michelle, her mother and the dogs back to Newcastle. The other two went by train. With bad timing, I was driving North as Spennymoor Town were playing in the Durham Challenge Cup Final. I also managed to miss their game on Easter Monday as I had driven back to London on Easter Sunday. Timing is not my strong point.

A great weekend in the North East was spent along the beautiful Northumberland Coast on Saturday afternoon. This is one of those beauty spots that fortunately the rest of the country don’t know about? You southerners carry on thinking its grim up north and leave the unspoilt beauty to us in the know. Saturday night brought a meal in one of my favourite pubs, The Derwent Walk Inn. Its a great pub with fantastic beer, great food and great views and in the winter it has a wonderful roaring fire.

Sunday mornings when at Michelle’s we like to go to a little tea room, St Oswald’s’ Tea Room. They do great home cooked breakfasts and are on the splendour of Hadrian’s Wall. The tea shop is run by a farmer’s wife. The car park is the farm yard. This time, the farmer had a lot of his sheep in the barns off the farm yard as they were lambing. Despite being there for a couple of hours, we never saw any live births. Two had just been born before we got there, and the remaining Ewe’s were keeping their legs crossed until we had left.

I have to confess to being fascinated watching the recently born lambs and seeing how they interacted with their mothers and the other ewes.

Sadly, Sunday night it was time to drive back to the Beautiful South. Fortunately, it seems that I missed the rain in the South East on Sunday, having a great day in the Tyne Valley and getting to London on a lovely sunny night.

So, as you see, its been a week of DIY, Market visiting and Lambing Live. Best of all though, it was a week of fun and laughter with Michelle.

Hope you all had a happy Easter.

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Northumbria Police Leadership: Incompetent, Dishonest & Unfit for Purpose–Or Why Sue Sims Should be Sacked


Hertfordshire Police on their website say:

The purpose of the Police Service is to uphold the law fairly and firmly:

  • to prevent crime
  • to pursue and bring to justice those who break the law
  • to keep the Queen‟s Peace
  • to protect, help and reassure the community
  • and to be seen to do all this with integrity, common sense and sound judgement.

Now, you might be forgiven for saying so what? Every police force has those purposes. If a police force does not fulfil those purposes, it is fair to say that it has failed to do its duty.

The Chief Constable of a Police Force is the person who is responsible for how the force conducts itself. When a police force fails to fulfil its purpose and then issues deliberately DISHONEST statements trying to pass the blame onto innocent parties, then questions are raised about the fitness of the Chief Constable to hold that office. If they have not got the decency to resign following such failures, then the Police & Crime Commissioner for the area should use their powers to remove such an incompetent and dishonest person from the role of Chief Constable.

Police forces have an often difficult task in policing high profile football matches and keeping the police. I have been to many high profile games and seen lots of violence and would not like to have the job of keeping the peace. However, that is exactly what the police force are expected to do.

One thing the police have started doing for some games is to force all away fans to travel on organised transport – so called “bubble travel”. It seems to have started with Hampshire police forcing Southampton fans to travel this way to Portsmouth and vice versa. If you do not go on the bubble transport, you cant have a ticket for the game. Even if you are a Portsmouth fan who lives next to Southampton’s ground, you would have to travel to Portsmouth to get on a bus to Southampton and after the game would have to travel to Portsmouth on the bus to then travel back to Southampton. There are no exceptions.

Sadly other police forces have copied this idea and it has even spread to non league football with the Wrexham v Chester game in the Conference. There is lots of disquiet about the use of bubble travel

Northumbria Police force have tried to force this upon Sunderland fans attending the forthcoming Derby game at St James’ Park Newcastle. This is the same police force who for many years have refused to allow Derby games to kick off later than 1:30pm, allegedly to prevent trouble.

Northumbria Police have failed repeatedly in recent years to police effectively the Newcastle v Sunderland Derby games, despite ever increasing manpower on duty, use of CCTV, helmet cameras, cctv, helicopters and drafting in mounted police from West Yorkshire. Blame the fans you say? Well, in reality, the trouble in recent years would never have been on the scale of the 1980s. The make up of football fans has changed. The NME hooligan group is now aged 50+ years and the Gremlins are all over 40. These are the so called hooligan groups attached to Newcastle. I should know, i have represented many of them in court in the past. These days most are married with kids, or even grandkids and are more concerned with keeping a roof over their heads than fighting.

What has happened in recent years at the game is the local, mainly non footballing element have misbehaved. Northumbria Police have spent their time and resources hassling the hooligans from the past and have missed the obvious before their nose – i.e. that it is not those hooligans from the past who are a threat.

As a defence lawyer, I had experience of cases where the police had not told the truth, but in 2010 I was a witness to an arrest of someone where the police tried to frame an innocent football fan after the Newcastle v Sunderland Derby. This was not an individual officer lying, but a conspiracy by officers at all levels. The arresting officer claimed to have arrested the victim who was trying to attack the visiting fans. This despite the fact that at the time of the arrest the visiting fans were still locked in the football ground. The arrest was filmed by myself and that shows the officer managing to get all material facts wrong.

The matter gets stranger as when interviewed the police show the victim cctv from a pub he had been in. When the case came to court, the police denied there was any CCTV footage in their possession. They claimed that they had not had footage in pub, even though the interview tapes clearly show officers asking about the CCTV. The police also claim that every police camera that day had malfunctioned and that there was no cctv of any incident anywhere in Newcastle that day.

Then the police sought to have the 2 police officers identities withheld from the defence. This is the sort of thing that happens occasionally in major terrorism or murder cases, not in a minor affray allegation.

Fortunately for the victim in that case, I had taken some mobile footage of his arrest, quite by chance. This helped him establish his innocence, but the police lied to the victim’s solicitors and indeed to the court re the CCTV.

This is not the act of a lone PC, this is corruption and lying coming from a very high level.

So, back to the bubble travel being forced upon Sunderland fans. It was clear that Sunderland FC were not happy about this. Both clubs are unhappy about the kick off times being no later than 1:30 pm as this prevents the games being televised.

Northumbria Police clearly employ Hans Christian Anderson as their press officer as they issued a statement containing the following gems:

Clarification regarding the transportation of Sunderland AFC fans to St James’ Park on February 1:

Assistant Chief Constable Jo Farrell said: “As we have said previously Northumbria Police cannot direct changes to kick off times or control the issue of tickets and how supporters travel to matches.

“The condition of ticketing and transportation to St James’ Park is a contractual issue between the club and supporters and is not something Northumbria Police is involved in.

“We cannot and will not direct supporters on how they travel to the game.

“That said, the transportation issue has been discussed between both clubs and the police. Based on those discussions Sunderland Football Club took this decision which is aimed at ensuring the safety of their supporters, and it is a decision which we welcome.

This was clearly an attempt by Northumbria Police to deflect criticism from the police force to the clubs. The statements that the police do not have any say over kick off times and fans transport is so patently false as to be absurd. If they do not seek to influence these matters, then they are failing in their duties.  Whether they should be imposing bubble travel and early kick offs is a different matter

Sadly for Northumbria Police it has massively back fired upon them as today, Newcastle & Sunderland football clubs issued the following statement.

Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC are surprised and disappointed with the statement issued yesterday by Northumbria Police in which the force claims that the police cannot direct changes to kick-off times for the clubs’ fixtures, referring in particular to the derby games.

Over a number of years both clubs have made repeated representations to Northumbria Police to try and reach agreement over kick-off times to enable a traditional 3pm kick-off, or later, to enable broadcasters to give the game consideration in the majority of their time slots for live coverage.

Police forces up and down the country have been able to police high-profile derby matches for years, including most recently the first Welsh derby in the Premier League, Cardiff v Swansea, on Sunday 3rd November at 4pm, Arsenal v Tottenham at 5.15pm on Saturday 4th January, and Manchester City v Manchester United on Sunday 22nd September at 4pm.

In recent years, Northumbria Police have rejected every request made by the clubs for later kick-off slots, including Saturday 5.30pm, Sunday 4pm and Monday 8pm.

Both clubs have evidence in the form of considerable written correspondence between Northumbria Police, the Premier League and the clubs, which contradicts their statement of yesterday.

Indeed that correspondence has stated that Northumbria Police would not be prepared to police the evening fixtures requested previously, as well as their confirmation to the Premier League in writing in January 2013 that the force would not support derby matches with kick-off times later than 1.30pm.

For Northumbria Police therefore to issue a statement stating that they do not direct changes to kick-off times is quite frankly false and absurd – and conflicts with the respectful and responsible manner in which both Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC have engaged with the police over many years with regard to the derby fixture.

In light of Northumbria Police’s latest statement, Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC will now inform the Premier League that all future fixtures between the two clubs will be available for kick-off times to suit the clubs, the League and their broadcast partners, if applicable, and will expect Northumbria Police to police these games, especially given the considerable costs both clubs incur for such special police services.

After considering the police position, Sunderland AFC will be withdrawing the terms and conditions of ticket sales, which previously stated that all supporters must attend the game on official transport. The arrangements to provide complimentary buses and supporters branch transport will remain in place and Sunderland AFC advises fans that this is the safest method of travel to St James’ Park.

This is an incredible statement. The 2 clubs are to put it bluntly calling Northumbria Police liars. The 2 clubs have also ensured their will be no bubble travel. Clearly there is no reason in future why games can’t kick off at 3pm or later. As the police say they have no influence on transport or kick off times.

So lets just reflect on things:

1. Northumbria Police in seeking to impose “bubble travel” arrangements are effectively admitting they cannot fulfil their purpose. That surely is a reason for the resignation or sacking of the Chief Constable.

2. Northumbria Police then lie to try to shift the blame for the kick off times and “bubble travel” to the football clubs. The clubs are clear that this is contrary to the correspondence between the clubs and the police and their letter of January 2013 to the Premier League. Remember that purpose at the start of this blog

to be seen to do all this with integrity, common sense and sound judgement.

Quite how lying, blaming others is acting with integrity and sound judgement. Again this failure surely is a reason for the resignation or sacking of the Chief Constable.

For the incidents above, Sue Sims was a senior management team member of Northumbria police if not Chief Constable. Just as she was at the time of the Raul Moat Case.  The IPCC investigated Northumbria Police over that case and in their report made damning criticisms of the Northumbria Police Force.

You will remember David Rathband was the police officer blinded by Raul Moat. Sadly the leadership of Northumbria Police failed to provided sufficient support to the injured officer and he tragically took his own life. The inquest into this has again been critical of Northumbria Police. The same Northumbria Police under the leadership (Joke?) of Sue Sims. How many times does she have to screw up before she eventually has the decency to resign?

Given Sue Sims complete failure to ensure her police force act with integrity or to do their duty, it is time for the Police & Crime Commissioner for the Area Vera Baird to step in and exercise her powers and dismiss this thoroughly incompetent and disreputable Chief Constable before she brings even more shame on Northumbria Police.

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New Year–Same Old Sh*t

A Happy New Year to you dear reader.

Have you ever asked yourself what the difference is between yesterday and today? Its merely a paper/ calendar change rather than the start of something different. It was the middle of winter yesterday, it still is today and tomorrow. In a lot of ways, it was far more sensible to celebrate the New Year as starting on the 1st April as at least there would be spring in the air and the start of growth around us, giving the feeling of a new start.

Instead, the New Year started with a horrible wet windy day. The sort that makes you want to curl up on the sofa and feed your face. [More on this later].

No New Year’s resolutions to comply with for me this morning. Why? Well I never make any resolutions until I get home from my holiday/ time away, so its still party time here for me.

Waking up this morning, we discovered that  the alcohol thief that had visited on Christmas Eve had visited last night. On Christmas Eve they stuck mainly to wine, but last night it appears several bottles of red wine, 2 bottles of vodka, champagne and Prosecco had been consumed by this thief. Knowing Michelle as well as I do, it wouldn’t be her responsible for this(in any event she was unconscious snoring for England during the night), so if its an inside job, then either its the dogs, or Michelle’s mum was sneaking extra drinks.

If the truth be known, I don’t think Michelle’s mum had the opportunity, that leaves the 2 dogs to blame. Michelle agrees that it must have been the dogs as neither of us drank that much!

New Year’s Day morning was very much a CBA day, so instead of cooking a nice breakfast, we decided to head to Morrison’s Supermarket in West Denton for their breakfasts and to see the sights. The population of West Denton are the sort who believe it is appropriate to go out shopping etc. in their pyjamas. Now, call me a snob, but don’t these people have any self respect? It really is not appropriate to go out shopping etc. in pyjamas. I am not the most sartorially elegant, but even I would not go out without having a shower and getting suitably dressed.

Sat near to us in the restaurant (Cafe?) was a female with 3 children between about 5 and 12 years old. All wearing various forms of pyjamas. After tucking into their breakfast of sugar and e-numbers, they got up to leave with mother barking threats and orders at her brood. The mother then said to the children, “look at the mess you’ve made” whilst gesturing to the scene of rubbish and devastation on the table. She then ordered the children to leave the restaurant, leaving the mess as it was.

I had thought it was her intention to get her brood to clear up the mess, but it seems she was proud of the mess and it was somebody else’s responsibility to clean up after her brood. Still, I suppose it is  too much to expect someone who has so little respect for themselves that they go out in pyjamas, to have respect for others or to do anything to help.

This family were not the only ones in pyjamas out today. Others off assorted ages, with and without children were around West Denton in pyjamas and or onsies. What happened to the days when one would not think of going out without at least shaving? (The men also used to shave before going out).

Heading home, a relatively lazy day followed before Michelle announced we were to have a roasted ham joint for tea. This however was not the normal ham, a close look at the label


reveals it was a DUTCH SMOKED JOINT. Now, like many of you, I have (allegedly) smoked a Dutch joint before. Still I suppose it is a way to get the New Year off on a high.

For me, today also marks the start of my new job. Yesterday being technically the final day of my previous employment and my final pay from my former employer. Its a shame that my former employer has failed to pay me all of my wages owing. What sort of employer shafts an employee for 1/2 month’s salary, especially at this time of year, and without notice or any cause? A disreputable employer you say? Well its not what I would expect from the government – then again, perhaps it is exactly what I should have expected.

Lets hope my new employer is more trustworthy, some chance of that as I am now working for another government organisation!

Out of the Frying Pan and into the Fire is what I am currently thinking.


Tonight is sadly my last night with Michelle for a couple of weeks as I am heading back to London tomorrow, via my parent’s house to collect my Christmas presents (the 2 bikes) and take them back home. Then its a couple of days to sort myself out to start my new job on Monday. Its exciting to be starting a new job, especially one that present new challenges. Its a shame the job is based in London rather than on Tyneside, but c’est la vie. The new job is based right in the heart of London, in Trafalgar Square itself. That is a rather iconic location to be working in.

New Years Resolutions? More about those after I am back in London and in my routine

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