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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Santa Claus is Evil

Well, this year at the time of peace on earth and goodwill to all men, that Santa Claus has revealed his evil side.

Santa Claus, also known as Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle and simply “Santa“, is a mythical figure with legendary, historical and folkloric origins who, in many Western cultures, is said to bring gifts to the homes of the good children on December 24, the night before Christmas.

So, no doubt you all got lots of nice presents and things you asked for or liked. Well my Christmases have never been like that. When I was 4 years old I asked Santa for a ride on digger. This was the one thing I wanted for a Christmas present.

Did he deliver it? Well actually he did, but it was some 40 years after I asked for it and it was now a matchbox sized toy.

Now like most of you, I always used to ask Santa Claus for a bike for Christmas. Now unlike most of you, I never got that bike for Christmas. Even if I tried to be good, I still never got that bike off Santa Claus. surely I was not always naughty was I? [At this point my parents are shouting – yes he was and my siblings are choking on their wine]

Well, imagine my joy this year at opening a present from my family. It wasn’t a bike, but it was this


Yes, cycling shoes, and they take a cleat that does not fit my existing bike pedals. Could it be that Santa Claus had finally got me a new bike and my family knew about it and had bought me the shoes to match.

Rushing down stairs, excited like a little child on Christmas Day. Well come to think about it, it is Christmas Day. What did I find under the Christmas Tree?

This is what I found


Not one , but 2 bikes, a Dura Ace equipped Carbon Trek and an Alf Webb fixed wheel bike.  The cycling shoes fit the pedals on the Trek bike.

Would you not be delighted on Christmas Day?

Well, I’m not, I’m gutted to tell the truth. Why? No, not because its 40 years late – I couldn’t have ridden these bikes 40 years ago!

Well the truth is I did not find these bikes under the Christmas Tree, I  found instead pictures of 2 bikes. So whilst everyone else is riding their shiny new bikes up and down the street, (or through the lounge if you are Josh),


I am looking at pictures of bikes and wearing my cleated shoes to Christmas Dinner.

I am convinced that this is Santa Claus’ idea of a sick joke. Giving me shoes and the picture of bikes but not the bikes themselves”!

See, I told you Santa Claus was evil.

Seriously, I am seriously spoilt, getting not one but 2 bikes. They are currently at my parents home awaiting me to collect them. They managed to not only get me a replacement fixed wheel bike for the one stolen a year ago, but also a carbon Dura-ace equipped bike. I can’t wait to get out on them when I  get back home. The fixed wheel is to be my work horse for cycling to/ from work. It however looks too good to use as a work horse.

Thanks Mum & Dad, I’ll forgive you and Santa Claus over the digger incident.


Christmas here at Chez Gilhome got off to a worrying start. Firstly, Santa drank so much wine last night that SHE forgot to put the boys Christmas presents under the Christmas Tree didn’t she Michelle? Then we discovered at least 4 bottles of the wine Michelle was drinking last night seem to have disappeared over night.

The turkey is apparently cooking and the vodka is flowing, Her Majesty has given her speech and all is well with the world.

Merry Christmas Everyone

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Freedom Fighter or Terrorist or Both

For those who have been living incommunicado, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela died on 5th December. Ironically his death was announced during the London premiere of the film about Nelson Mandela, the Long Walk to Freedom.

The World’s media and politicians have done what they do at the death of any famous person. Yes, the overdone hype and hysterical grief has been nauseating. Irrespective of who dies, the media seem unable to do anything other than go overboard about the death. This is even more so when one considers that the death of a 95 year old is not unexpected. The death of someone like Diana, Princess of Wales, was more shocking and newsworthy in that it was unexpected.

The out pouring of grief and tributes to Nelson Mandela portray a rather distorted view of his life and his achievements. There has been a large degree of airbrushing and manipulation of the truth.

He was released from prison in South Africa in 1990 after 27 years in prison. At the time of his release, South Africa was on the brink of a civil war on racial grounds. The Apartheid government was on the brink of being overthrown. The black movement was both powerful and divided. Powerful in that the apartheid government was clinging to power, and divided in that there was a lot of horrible infighting. Remember the Necklace murders?

Prior to and following his release from Prison, Mandela led the ANC in their negotiations towards free , fair elections in South Africa. He achieved the seemingly impossible in that between his release from prison in 1990 and his death in 2013 civil war did not break out in South Africa. To my mind that is an incredible achievement and that peaceful transition to majority rule in South Africa post 1990 is to be remembered.

His words of forgiveness and reconciliation after his release from prison are remembered by many

“Great anger and violence can never build a nation. We are striving to proceed in a manner and towards a result, which will ensure that all our people, both black and white, emerge as victors.” (Speech to European Parliament, 1990)

“Without democracy there cannot be peace.” (South Africa, May 9, 1992)

“Reconciliation means working together to correct the legacy of past injustice.”  (December 16, 1995)

“I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended.” (From Long Walk to Freedom, 1995)

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” (From Long Walk to Freedom, 1995)

“If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” (From Long Walk to Freedom, 1995


However, to remember him only for  these sound bites and his actions post 1990 is to airbrush out important parts of history.


Whilst Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for terrorism offences, others carried on the anti apartheid struggle. It is to underplay the work they all did if we give all the credit to Nelson Mandela. He himself never claimed the praise or the glory for the struggle against apartheid. He recognised the limited role he was able to play.

In the UK for example, we had the continuous protest outside South Africa House. (Incidentally a protest that would not be able to happen now under the latest legislation passed by recent Labour and Tory governments!), the trade unions, student unions etc. with their boycotting of companies that traded with South Africa – e.g. student boycotts of Barclay’s Bank. The sporting ban on teams going to South Africa or on musicians playing Sun City in South Africa.

Perhaps one of the things that did the most to raise awareness in the UK was the song by the Special AKA, “Free Nelson Mandela”. This song perhaps did more than anything in the previous 20 years to make the public aware of Nelson Mandela.

This of course is not to suggest that it was only because of those in the UK that Nelson Mandela was released.  The ending of apartheid was as a result of the efforts of people across the world and in particular in South Africa.

By the time Mandela was released from prison the tide had turned against the South African Government, and Mandela was effectively a charismatic figure head for the anti apartheid movement.

He was however, either shrewd enough or magnanimous to realise that bitterness and armed struggle was not the way to get black majority rule in South Africa. It is to his credit that he managed to prevent a civil war and bring about peaceful change. Virtually no other African country has undergone such a peaceful change to black majority rule / independence


What cannot be ignored is the fact that Nelson Mandela remained to his death a convicted terrorist. Now of course one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Mandela as part of his campaign against apartheid supported the use of violence and terrorism to achieve that end. It is clear that he was a thorn in the side of the authorities and they tried everything they could to stop him.

However, terrorism is not the appropriate response in my view. Ghandi in India brought about change by totally peaceful  methods. Mandela was not content to take peaceful action. He wanted to use violence and terrorism to force his will on others. There is nothing democratic about terrorism.

Mandela played a key role in bringing the ANC to the view that force had to be met with force if black liberation were ever to come to South Africa.  After calling for a general strike in May 1960, Mandela had vanished underground.  The strike attracted less support than Mandela hoped, and he began telling friends “the days of nonviolent struggle were over.”  In June 1960, Mandela proposed to the ANC executive the undertaking of an armed effort against the South African government: “The attacks of the the wild beast cannot be averted with only bare hands,” he said.  The ANC executive initially decided, however, that the time was not ripe to take up arms.
Eventually, Mandela’s arguments won over the ANC, which voted to establish a separate and independent military organ,

Umkhonto we Sizwe, or “Spear of the Nation” (or MK, for short).  In June 1961, Mandela sent to South African newspapers a letter warning that a new campaign would be launched unless the government agreed to call for a national constitutional convention.  Knowing that no such call would be forthcoming, Mandela retreated to the Rivonia hideout to began planning, with other supporters, a sabotage campaign.  The campaign began on December 16, 1961 when Umkhonto we Sizwe saboteurs lit explosives at an electricity sub-station.  Dozens of other acts of sabotage followed over the next eighteen months.  (Indeed, the government would allege the defendants committed 235 separate acts of sabotage.)  The sabotage included attacks on government posts, machines, and power facilities, as well as deliberate crop burning.

Mandela spent much of the early months of the sabotage campaign at the Rivonia safe-house, where he went by the name of “David.”  At Rivonia, Mandela met with other leaders to shape strategy and plan a possible future guerrilla war against the South African government.  His goal, he always said, was not to establish a government ruled by blacks, but to move to a multi-racial democracy that would abolish repressive laws that separated African families, restricted their travel, imposed curfews, and denied other basic human rights.  In February 1962, Mandela left South Africa to garner support from foreign governments for the goals of the ANC and to receive six months of military training is Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


It should not be forgotten that Nelson Mandela admitted to the acts of sabotage at his trial. It was therefore by his own words that he is a terrorist, not by the words of an unjust government.

The aims of Nelson Mandela and his colleagues to establish a multi racial democracy is one that today we would say is an honourable one. Back in the 1970s or early 1980s for example, the majority view regarding racism was very different.

One of the undoubted facts of history is that it is always written by the winners. Have you never thought how come the good guys always seem to win? So it is with Nelson Mandela, the history is written by those who opposed apartheid and so he is feted as some sort of saint and his past is airbrushed from history.

Indeed the quote I used earlier from his speech in 1990 to the European Parliament should be looked at again.

“Great anger and violence can never build a nation. We are striving to proceed in a manner and towards a result, which will ensure that all our people, both black and white, emerge as victors.” (Speech to European Parliament, 1990)”

Now, ask yourself how that sits with his acts of terrorism for which he was jailed?


History often distorts the truth. The reality is that Mandela had many great qualities, but he also had other less pleasant qualities.

The same is true of everyone. Indeed, the person I and many people regard as the greatest ever Britain, Winston Churchill is remembered as a great wartime leader and the man who saved Britain from Hitler and the Nazis. He was indeed a great wartime leader and it is his leadership that did help defeat Nazi Germany.

However, Churchill was also a person with some very unpleasant views.

For example, this on the use of chemical weapons. Something that would result in War Crime charges being brought today. Indeed it was partially the use of chemical weapons that resulted in the invasion of Iraq

I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes.
Writing as president of the Air Council, 1919

Or how about his views on Ghandi and on India itself:

It is alarming and nauseating to see Mr Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the east, striding half naked up the steps of the viceregal palace, while he is still organising and conducting a campaign of civil disobedience, to parlay on equal terms with the representative of the Emperor-King.
Commenting on Gandhi’s meeting with the Viceroy of India, 1931

(India is) a godless land of snobs and bores.
In a letter to his mother, 1896

Or how about his views on Racism in particular in the USA and Australia

I do not admit… that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia… by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race… has come in and taken its place.
Churchill to Palestine Royal Commission, 1937

On Hitler in 1937:

One may dislike Hitler’s system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated, I hope we should find a champion as admirable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations.”
From his Great Contemporaries, 1937

From the Guardian

Then there was his decision as home secretary to use troops against unarmed striking civilian miners at Tonypanddy in Wales.

These quotes/ views/ actions are like those of Nelson Mandela airbrushed out of history because they do not portray the image of the subject those who write the history want us to have.

All history is subjective and the truth is rarely fully told by any one party. Most people have a less pleasant side as well as the pleasant one people want you to remember- similarly with those portrayed as evil in history, there is usually a more palatable side to them as well.


One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter is a common statement.

Last night someone said to me

Mandela was a courageous freedom fighter who inspired South Africans to overthrow the evil Apartheid system.…..

Now, try changing a couple of names there

Osama Bin Laden was a courageous freedom fighter who inspired Muslims to (attempt to) overthrow the evil Western system….

Why is one deemed to be acceptable and one not to be? I would suggest it is because of your view on the “Evil” system, not because of your views on the actions.

You oppose the latter view and support the former? Why? Both used terrorism to support their views.  Thus you are not condemning terrorism because you think it was fine for Mandela to use terrorism to achieve his ends.

What you are doing is condemning Osama Bin Laden because his views were not the same as yours. If terrorism was fine for Mandela to use, then surely it is fine for Bin Laden to use as well?

Alternatively, terrorism was not an appropriate action for either party to use. We should be condemning terrorism no matter who uses it, irrespective of the cause behind it. As someone once said:

“Great anger and violence can never build a nation.”

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Seeing Through Other People’s Eyes

I recently watched an episode of  Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners on TV. For those who haven’t watched it, its a rather formulaic TV programme where they put 2 extremes together.

The send round someone who cleans to excess to the home of someone who doesn’t. The cleaners can spend several hours each day cleaning their home. Indeed in one recent programme, the cleaner, a man was so obsessive that he would not sleep in his bed because it would crease the sheets. Despite this he still changed the bedding every 2 days despite not using the same.

The slobs are extreme, some people are hoarders whose houses you cannot find a surface not covered in junk.

Jade from Cornwall meets Deborah from Dunstable and Deborah’s six goats. And clutter-bug and amateur inventor Scott locks horns with self-confessed control freak Lynsey in Blackpool.

Jade is from St Austell and cleans uninterrupted for six hours every day. Her fear of coming into contact with grease is so bad she uses sandwich bags on her hands and hates any form of pet hair and mess.

Jade is taking time out of her cleaning routine to help 48-year-old Deborah, from Dunstable, who is known locally as ‘goat lady’. Deborah’s three bedroom house has been overrun by her six goats, who have free run of the kitchen, living room and conservatory. Self-confessed control freak Lynsey can vacuum up to 20 times a day. Lynsey is going to the home of newly married couple Scott and Faith from Blackpool.

Scott is an amateur inventor who’s constantly collecting scrap and their house is full to bursting point. Scott’s stubborn streak surfaces when he and Lynsey don’t see eye to eye.

As it happened, as the programme was on TV I was actually cleaning my house. Yes, you read that correctly, I was cleaning my house!

Why, I hear you ask? Well, Michelle is coming down this weekend and I fear that she will think my house looks like one of those in the TV programme. I am I think on pretty safe ground in thinking she will not mistake my home for that of an obsessive compulsive cleaner. That is right isn’t it Michelle?

I have to say that since I met Michelle, I know now what that thing called a duster is and what furniture polish is for!

I dread to think what Michelle really thought the first time she came to visit my house. Apparently, buying cleaning products is not sufficient to clean a house. It seems that you have to use them as well! See all these things I have learned over the years.

I am told that it is not normal to clean my bicycles more often than my house. That surely can’t be correct can it?

I’ve discovered that it is possible to use a steam cleaner without requiring medical treatment. I’m not sure other people believe that though!

Anyway, after spending the evening hoovering, cleaning the floors, disposing of out of date food etc., the house is nearly fit to welcome Michelle down. Good job I’m off on Friday to finish cleaning the house.

I don’t want to disappoint those of you with a mental image of me doing the cleaning, but I don’t wear a pinny, nor do I wear yellow marigold gloves to clean the bath. Although when I use that evil steam cleaner I feel I should be in some sort of asbestos protective suit.

I’m definitely not an obsessive compulsive cleaner, but I would hope that these days I am no longer a total obsessive compulsive non cleaner.

We can put a man on the moon, send unmanned probes to Mars and beyond. Surely we can invent a self cleaning house?

Or is that why God created wives?



PS Their may be a degree of artistic licence in the above article

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Is Murder really Murder?

The high profile case involving several marines who were involved in an incident where a Taliban fighter was shot ha provoked lots of attention. I am a little concerned at the approach taken by some of the commentators.

Let me start by saying I am not brave enough to have been a soldier in a combat zone (war zone). I cannot begin to imagine the thoughts and emotions that go through a soldier’s mind when engaged in combat with an enemy fighter.

My comments in this thread are not based on any view I have about the legitimacy of the British Army’s involvement in Afghanistan. I am looking at things from a purely legal point of view.

A Royal Marine Sergeant known as Marine A was convicted of murder following his actions in 2011 when he shot and killed an injured Taliban fighter. It would appear that the Sergeant and 2 others came across an injured Taliban fighter and had detained him. He was in effect now a prisoner of war. There was video footage (helmet camera) that was found on a laptop and reported to the police. It appears that one of the 3 retained the footage of the killing.

The Taliban fighter (prisoner) was, as I understand posing no threat to the Marines at this point (no doubt he had previously been trying to kill British soldiers.). The video footage shows Marine A shooting the Afghan prisoner with a 9mm pistol, and saying: “There, shuffle off this mortal coil… It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.”

He adds: “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention,” to which Marine B replies: “Yeah, roger mate.”

The comments of Marine A make it clear that he knew what he was doing was illegal.

The Geneva Convention

This international agreement concerning the treatment of captured and wounded prisoners of war was first signed in Geneva in 1864. It was later revised in 1949 and consists of four treaties.

Article three of the third convention rules that members of the armed forces who have laid down their arms or who cannot fight due to sickness, wounds or detention should be “treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria”.

To this end, it is prohibited to pass sentences on prisoners or carry out executions without a constituted court judgement. Prisoners may not be harmed, degraded, humiliated or taken hostage.

Under the convention, the wounded and sick should be collected and cared for by an impartial humanitarian body, such as the Red Cross

This was a cold blooded killing on an injured fighter. It was not an act of mercy. It was an extra judicial killing done knowingly in contravention of the Geneva Convention. This was not an act done in the heat of battle. It was from the video footage something done cynically, and Marine A knew when he did the act he was acting in breach of the Geneva Convention.

It is no good complaining about the Geneva Convention. Soldiers know at the time they sign up that their actions in the combat zone are governed by the Geneva Convention whether they like it or not. The Convention has to be obeyed whether the soldiers like it or not.

Once a court or tribunal has convicted  someone of murder ( not manslaughter) then there  is only one sentence available to that body – namely life imprisonment. The body have to set a “tariff” period i.e. the minimum period before that person can be considered for release. However for the rest of their life after release, the murderer will be on licence and liable to recall to prison if they breach the terms of the licence.

It is worth repeating that Marine A was convicted of murder, not manslaughter. The court martial after hearing all the evidence decided that Marine A was guilty of the cold blooded killing of the victim – in short he was guilty of murder.

Retired Major General Julian Thompson has suggested that the court martial should show clemency to Marine A and he should be sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. I wonder if he would be suggesting a lenient sentence for someone convicted of murdering one of his family? What is interesting is that he appears to accept that the killing was indeed murder and was “a totally unforgiveable act”.

Displaying some perverse logic, he suggests that the more experienced a soldier is, the more lenient a court martial should be on sentencing.

Maj Gen Thompson told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme: “I understand that he’s quite an experienced guy. People are talking about him being battle hardened and therefore there is no excuse.

“Well actually it’s the other way round, the more times you do tours in that filthy war, the more pressure there is on you.

I wonder if he thinks that should apply elsewhere? Perhaps he thinks repeat burglars should be treated more leniently than first time offenders.? The experience Marine A has gained should have made him more aware of the serious consequences of his actions. With experience comes additional responsibility, except in the perverse world of Major General Julian Thompson.

Major General Thompson says this was an unforgiveable act and then suggests we should not treat it for sentencing purposes as such.

One of the things we expect of our armed forces, and one of the things they have come to represent is discipline. Sadly Marine A let down his colleagues and his cold blooded summary execution of a wounded prisoner is a stain on the reputation of Britain and its armed forces. It is only right that criminals are punished in accordance with the law. The only sentence available for murder is life imprisonment.

If Major Thompson and others have issues with Marine A being convicted of murder, then they should be campaigning for a re trial, not for a sentence that does not reflect the crime that he is convicted of.

As I said at the start of this post, I am commenting on the legality of the sentencing issues, not the morals of the actions of Marine A.

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At the going down of the sun and in the morning

They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam


Posted in My Life, Politics/ Current Affairs/ Law | Leave a comment