Random Musing & Observations

Squatter Jailed

The last labour government and the current tory government have issued sentencing edict called Sentencing Guidelines that make it incredibly hard for courts to jail offenders. Even when prison sentences are passed, they are often suspended. This means the offender doesn’t go to prison if he keeps out of trouble for the period of the suspension. There are lots of arguments both ways about this. I’m not going to go into them. However, it does mean that many burglars, even of dwelling houses, or people involved in very serious assaults often avoid prison.

So, a young man with no previous convictions who is living in a squat as he is homeless, would surely not receive a prison sentence? When you consider he had not forced his way into the empty flat. He had not damaged the flat and the behaviour of him and another was such that the neighbours did not even realise it was a squat. When the police arrived, he admits he is living there and fully accepts he had no right to be there.

Well, you may be as shocked as I was to realise he got 14 weeks immediate imprisonment this week for squatting.

Squatting was made a criminal offence earlier this year to deal with the situation where people were breaking into properties and denying owners their homes, often causing lots of damage and moving from squat to squat remaining until court orders were served upon them.

This squatter aged 21was not such a person.

A London man aged 21 has become the first person to be jailed for squatting under a new law.

Alex Haigh pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 weeks after police found him at a property in Pimlico. He is now in Wormwood Scrubs.

The law was brought in amid a squatting crisis in London as organised eastern European gangs and other squatters targeted family homes.

Michelle Blake, 33, arrested with Haigh, awaits sentence and possible jail, while Anthony Ismond, 46, was fined £100. Both also admitted squatting. They are the first people prosecuted since ministers acted to turn squatting — which could previously only be tackled by civil action — into a crime under new legislation which came into effect at the start of this month.

Haigh’s parents said they were “devastated” by his imprisonment and insisted he was a “well brought-up” young man who had taken “the wrong road” after coming to the capital.

The arrests came after Met officers called at the housing association flat in Cumberland Street on September 2, the day after the new anti-squatting law came into effect, to find Haigh and Blake inside.

Police say they were told the flat was being used as a squat by Ismond. He had given it as his home address after being arrested on an unrelated matterby officers investigating a burglary elsewhere in London.

Both Haigh and Blake told police they were squatting at the home and did not live there — but were arrested after being informed that the law had just changed to make their action illegal.

Haigh was jailed by West London magistrates, while Blake was sent to prison to await sentence after failing to attend a previous hearing. Ismond was recalled to Wandsworth Prison for breaching conditions of a release on licence from a previous drug offence.

Haigh left his home city of Plymouth in July to find “opportunities” in London and worked for a time as an apprentice bricklayer.

His mother Janet, who still lives in Plymouth with husband Peter, said she only learned of his offence when he called her from Wormwood Scrubs the night of his arrest.

She said: “We are worried that Alex is in prison. Both of us are absolutely devastated. He comes from a really normal family and has been brought up really well.

“He has taken a wrong road and we are extremely concerned about him. I have spoken to him about getting a solicitor but he says he is fine. Whether he will appeal or not, I’m not sure.”

Haigh’s father Peter, who runs his own construction business in Plymouth, said: “They have made an example of him. To put him in that prison environment, I don’t understand it. If he broke the law he should be dealt with but it is like putting someone who has not paid their tax into Dartmoor Prison.”

The squatted Pimlico terrace flat — owned by housing association L&Q and spread over ground floor and basement — was boarded up today.

The last tenants moved out in 2011 and most residents were unaware squatters were living there. L&Q said it began civil proceedings against the squatters in August after going to the property with a prospective new resident and discovering their presence.

Squatting was not a criminal offence then so no complaint was made to police. The association added: “The police informed us of the arrest of these individuals at this property. Prior to these arrests, we had already begun taking action to seek their removal.”

The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed the successful actions for “squatting in a residential building contrary to Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012” — and said it was the first known case under it. The law makes it an offence to occupy a residential property without the owner’s consent.

Any-one convicted faces up to six months in prison and a £5,000 fine.

Housing charities and other campaigners claim that the reform — introduced after a spate of London cases in which squatters occupied and damaged homes — is unnecessary and will unfairly criminalise the homeless.

But ministers urged the Met to be “robust” in enforcing the law, saying swift police action will protect householders from the trauma of seeing their homes “stolen” and be a deterrent.

Ex-justice minister Crispin Blunt this month said it was intended to show that “squatters’ rights have come to an end”. The Government estimates that up to 4,200 squatters could be prosecuted each year.

I have done my own research int othe facts of this story. I accept the media rarely tell the whole truth. I have been able to establish the young man has no previous convictions and he fully admitted the matter and co-operated with the police. The police do not suggest there was any damage done to the property.

I have no issue with making squatting a criminal offence, but I do have objections to the sentencing. Should we really be jailing people like him and leaving free those responsible for violent crime or those responsible for burglaries and the like.



Megan Stammers & Jeremy Forrest 

This being a teacher running off with a pupil aged 15 and only half his age. I’m amazed how many people are suggesting he’s done nothing wrong and that she went willingly. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but he is in a position of responsibility and is not only responsible for teaching her, but is also responsible when she is at school for assisting her moral and spiritual welfare. It would be bad enough him running away with her if he was  just a local male she knew, but he has abused his position of trust.

I am a little shocked at how because he is a professional that people’s attitudes differ compared to if he had been an unemployed no hoper. Parents don’t expect the local layabout to provide moral and spiritual guidance to their offspring.

On a different note, when she gets back to school, I’ll bet Megan Stammer’s essay on what she did on her holidays makes great reading.

Pete Townsend

You may remember that back in 1999 the paedophile member of The Who was given a police caution after being caught (and admitting) paying to view child pornography. At the time he claimed it was part of his research for a book on child pornography. You may wonder what happened to his book. I checked with the British Library and apparently they also are still waiting for the book to be published.

Well today, Paedophile Pete is quoted in the London Evening Standard as claiming he was trying to be a “white Knight” showing British Banks were linked to Russian pornography.

The Who guitarist Pete Townshend has spoken publicly for the first time about his “insane” decision to pay for access to a child pornography site— and said he was trying to prove British banks were complicit in channelling profits from paedophile rings.

He said he regretted the actions which led to his arrest in 2003 on suspicion of using child pornography, but that he was trying to be a “white knight” by investigating the practices.

The star, who was put on the sex offender register, insisted he was only looking at the pictures online for “research” for a campaign against child pornography. He claimed he wanted to demonstrate that child abuse has a financial chain that runs from Russian orphanages to British banks.

In an interview with The Times, which is serialising his memoir Who I Am, Townshend, 67, said: “It’s white knight syndrome. You want to be the one that’s seen to be helping.

“I had experienced something creepy as a child, so you imagine, what if I was a girl of nine or 10 and my uncle had raped me every week? I felt I had an understanding, and I could help.”

In 1999 he paid for the site and pressed a button labelled “click here for child porn” — but cancelled the subscription immediately. However his actions were spotted by officers investigating the sites as part of the FBI-led Operation Ore crackdown which led to almost 4,000 arrests including those of judges, teachers, doctors and more than 50 police.

When police seized his computers and files they found nothing incriminating, but the subsequent publicity left him feeling suicidal. Townshend said: “What I did was insane.”

He adds: “If I had a gun I would have shot myself. It really did feel like a lynching.” He did not speak out sooner or fight the allegations in court because “there was no sense of ‘the truth will out’. The police at Kingston station gave me half an hour to make a decision about whether to go to court or not”.

He added: “My lawyers were as surprised as I was because everyone thought I would be let off. And I thought that if I went to court they would f***ing rip me apart.”

No mention of a book this time! The Standard article states that:

When police seized his computers and files they found nothing incriminating

Well nothing incriminating if you exclude the evidence he had used his credit card to pay to view child pornography and that he had viewed such pornography. So as the Standard says, nothing incriminating at all then.

All Paedo Pete has done by giving this interview is to remind everyone he is the Gary Glitter of 1960s pop groups and to show he has changed his excuses since 1999.

Give it up Pete, you were caught viewing child pornography and admitted it. That is the bottom line.

John Terry –The FA Disciplinary Hearing

So the FA this week finally dealt with John Terry for the foul, abusive and racist language he used towards Anton Ferdinand. A 4 game ban and a fine of 9 days wages (£220,000) is the verdict. The Chelsea friendly reporter Mhir Bhose in the Evening Standard is already calling the FA all sorts for this verdict. Others are claiming that because a criminal case was brought, there should have been no FA Disciplinary panel.

Firstly, the delay in bringing the case was because the FA wanted to be seen to co-operate with the police and not to prejudice a criminal trial. However, as the criminal charges were such as could never e tried before a jury, there was no risk of prejudice in the eyes of the law. (Lay Magistrates and District Judges are deemed to be above influence by the media etc.!). So to have delayed the disciplinary hearing to after the end of the criminal proceedings was probably unnecessary, albeit done with good motive.

Now the claim that as there had been a criminal trial there should not be an FA disciplinary hearing is simply nonsense. Why? Well firstly, they are dealing with different issues. The Magistrates’ Court hearing was to decide if Terry had broken the criminal law. The FA hearing was to decide a separate issue, i.e. whether he had broken the FA rules on players conduct. These rules are different to the criminal law and also the proof needed to show a breach is different. Imagine you get arrested for viewing child pornography on your work computer. You would face a criminal trial and it may well be that you are found not guilty as the prosecution could not prove the girls (or boys) in the pictures were under 16 years old.  You would almost certainly still face a disciplinary hearing at work for using the work equipment in an inappropriate manner. The fact that you had not been convicted in a criminal court would not give you a defence to or an exemption from the work disciplinary hearing. Now imagine you were say a solicitor, or a doctor or someone else working in a regulated job, then you would also be likely to face disciplinary proceedings from the Regulators for your actions. You would expect this of the regulator, so why not from the FA who are effectively the Regulator of football.This is effectively what has happened to john Terry, except his employer has chosen to ignore his behaviour and/ or condone the same.

He was found not guilty of the criminal allegation – he was not found to be innocent. Remember in English Criminal courts, the verdict is guilty or not guilty. Not guilty means that the prosecution have not proved the allegation, it is different from saying you did not do the action alleged.



John Terry – What is a Racist?

Another issue to arise from the John Terry case is the question of what is a racist? John Terry clearly shouted towards Anton Ferdinand words along the lines of “F*cking black c*nt”. The words can be clearly lip read from the TV footage. Does this mean that John Terry is a racist? If so, what exactly is a racist? I ask this because John Terry is apparently good friends with Ashley Cole who is black and has for many years captained both Chelsea and England when there have been numerous black players who were happy to play under his captaincy and also appear to be his friends.

It would seem therefore that to be a racist, it is not about hating someone of a different colour or a particular colour or race. Indeed, John Terry used words about skin colour not someone’s race or nationality.  So, it would seem that John Terry does not apparently have an issue with all black people.

Can you be a part time racist? Can you switch between being racist and not? Are you a racist simply for uttering words, even if you are only using the word as an adjective. In his case, Terry was calling Fedinand a “C*NT” because he had allegedly been insulted by Ferdinand. The word black was an adjective in the way it was used.

Is it any worse to call someone a “F*cking black c*nt” that to call a ginger haired person a “F*cking Ginger C*nt” and if so why? The legal system seems to  distinguish between the 2. For calling someone black rather than ginger, the courts have to give you an increased penalty and they have to announce in open court the uplift on sentence so everyone is aware of the uplift.

So, it seems that where you are born counts for more than other features when insulting someone. Now imagine you are in a bar  or pub in Berwick upon Tweed and a Scotsman and a Geordie are having an argument. The Scotsman calls the Geordie a “F*cking Geordie c*nt” and the Geordie calls the Scotsman a “F*cking Scottish C*nt”. Both are arrested and charged for their actions. They appear in court, but the Geordie will face a far higher penalty than the Scotsman because the law says Scottish are a race, but Geordies aren’t. Can this scenario be fair? Surely we should be punishing people for their actions not the silly semantics put in place by those pandering to the PC lobby.

So, what is a racist? I await an explanation.

PS John Terry is a horrid man and none of this should be seen as a defence of him or his actions.



The Weather & The Media

This week for the 3rd time in as many months,  there has been sever flooding in Tyneside and the rest of the North East. In Newburn, a village on the edge of Newcastle, at least one block of flats has been left facing demolition after the water destroyed the foundations.


The picture of the flats shows the damage done. It is spectacular and shows some of the awesome force  of the water.

On Tuesday, at one point all the major roads around Newcastle were effectively closed as a result of flooding. The town of Morpeth was facing evacuation. Indeed for at least 3 days large parts of the A1 – the main road to the North East from London were closed as they were under water.

The lack of media coverage of what has happened has been incredible by it absence. it has hardly been mentioned on the National News or the National Press. Yet, when a single snowflake falls in London, there is extended news coverage of how Londoners are coping along with pages of coverage and photographs in every media. The media bias towards what happens in London is amazing. its no wonder most foreigners think London is England.

Newburn 2



Haynes Car Manuals & 50 Shades

The best excuse I’ve heard in a long time for poor sales figures came from the publishers of Haynes Car Manuals who claim the reason for the poor sales of their car handbooks is down to the popularity of the women’s trash porn novel “Fifty Shades of Grey”. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but fifty Shades of Grey is usually bought by  women to read as soft porn, whereas Haynes Car Manual is usually bought by men to assist them to work on their cars.


Can you tell them apart!

So, can you explain how women buying Fifty Shades affects the sales of Car Manuals?

I Don’t Bl**dy Believe It

Arriving home from work tonight – now I never said I had done any work, just that I had been to my work. Anyway, after arriving home, I put the television on and looked at the Teletext news headlines. Amongst the stories regarding the weather, the financial situation in the country and the horrific civil war in Syria was one story that make me sound like Victor  Meldrew as I exclaimed aloud “I don’t bloody believe it.”

So what was the story?

It was the news that a male who claims he was the victim of public ridicule for over 20 years has written to the police to demand an apology. He blames the police for the ridicule he suffered. In this era of  ambulance chasing claims management firms and people going on about their human rights and seeking compensation, you may not think this is a news story at all.

However, the person making the demand for an apology from the police is the person who was an editor of a public newspaper for many years, and 23 years ago he was the editor of The Sun ( aka The Wapping Liar – for good reason) and authorised the publication of a story only 4 days after the tragic and awful deaths of 96 Liverpool football fans at the FA Cup Semi Final at Hillsborough. The front page of the newspaper at this time of mourning across the country had the completely false and offensive story as below


It was obvious to anyone who saw any of the footage of the disaster broadcast live on TV or in the news programmes over the following days that the Liverpool fans who survived this crushing were doing their best to provide help to the injured and dying.

You did not have to be Einstein to observe that there was simply not a shred of evidence to support these horrid lies published by the horrid obnoxious creep known as Kelvin Mackenzie. For 23 years he has either justified the story or refused to apologise for the lies published and the offence caused. Now, its not unknown for McKenzie to do an about face. In 2003, he presented a documentary, Kelvin Saves the Tories, in which he proposed a low-tax, anti-BBC and cautiously pro-capital punishment manifesto for the party. However, in February 2008, in a Sun newspaper article, Mackenzie claimed that he is now against the return of the death penalty.

So why did McKenzie publish these lies? Possibly because his hero Margaret Thatcher was anti football and pro police and these lies he published helped to spin the story against the victims and in favour of the guilty, the senior officers at South Yorkshire Police.

Anyway, it was McKenzie’s choice to run this story and to splash it across the front page with the offensive headline. Interestingly, the Daily Mirror ( biggest rival to the Wapping Liar chose not to run a similar story – why? perhaps because they knew it was false.

The information for the story came from the police and from a Tory MP. The story may have been false and may have been deliberately fed to the Wapping Liar by or on behalf of the guilty South Yorkshire Police. However, is it not the job of a journalist to find the truth i.e. to determine the facts rather than just publishing propaganda without establishing its veracity?

In any event McKenzie chose to run the story, despite as i have already said there being no evidence to support it. indeed the evidence in the form of TV footage showed the opposite. For 23 years Mackenzie has refused to apologise for either the lies he published or the offence such a story caused to the people of Liverpool and the wider football community.

After the publication of the Hillsborough Investigation Panel report earlier this month, the vile Mackenzie offered a so called apology where he blamed the police, a press agency and claimed that for 23 years he didn’t know the story was untrue. Its a shame he is blind then, and its also a shame he can’t apologise without trying to blame everyone else for his disgusting decision to run a totally false story.

Ironically, Liverpudlians have a reputation (deserved or not) for taking an approach of believing they are always the victim and never to blame for anything. ( As Manchester United fans have been known to sing about). Well this is exactly the approach the scum Mackenzie adopts to his own situation. It wasn’t his fault that he CHOSE to run THAT story and that he CHOSE not to apologise for his lies for 23 years and that he CHOSES to blame everyone but himself for his actions

Now, he has apparently instructed his lawyers to write to South Yorkshire Police demanding an apology from them for the 23 years of vilification he has suffered since he chose to run that false story. Remember he chose to run the story. It was not the police who made him run the clearly false story. It was not the police that prevented him from apologising for the story in the intervening 23 years. It was not the police who made him issue a grudging apology blaming everyone else for his evil story.

Mackenzie, you are scum.  You are one of the most despicable people in this country. You deserve every bit of vilification you have received and more. If anyone was in any doubt about this, your demanding an apology from the police for your actions prove it to everyone.

In case you are in doubt about this demand for an apology, then the story is reported in many media outlets including the BBC and the Guardian website. Mackenzie has achieved one thing through this action and that is to make himself even more  unpopular than anyone thought possible.

In the wake of this demand from Mackenzie for an apology for his evil actions, i am confidently expecting Peter Sutcliffe to demand an apology and compensation from West Yorkshire Police for taking so long to catch him, and for an apology from the family of the victims for having a relative at the location where Sutcliffe picked them up.

Perhaps an apology is due  to the deceased Doctor of death Dr Harold Shipman for allowing old people to be his patients. In the world of Kelvin Mackenzie, Shipman would be the victim and society and the elderly would be to blame for Shipman suffering imprisonment.

In case he is in any doubt, Mackenzie, in my opinion you are an odious, obnoxious sub human scum. I’m quiet happy to provide you with my contact details, and await your lawyers wasting their time and your money demanding an apology. You won’t get one from me and I’d be happy to justify my views in a civil court if you have the bottle to sue me.

Ground hopping: Chelmsford City FC v Leatherhead FC FA Cup 2nd Qualifying Round 22nd September 2012

    I decided to satisfy a few historic questions by going to this game. Spennymoor were playing away at Trafford FC in Manchester and I couldn’t afford to go there, so of the local FA Cup ties to me, this seemed the one with the most interest.

    Chelmsford City FC are trailblazers in that for many years they were called “City” even though Chelmsford was only a town! It was only in March 2012 that Chelmsford was awarded city status. Chelmsford City FC have a long distinguished history in amateur football and used to have a ground at New Writtle Street in Chelmsford next to the County Cricket Ground. The first couple of times I travelled to Ipswich in the mid 1980s to see Newcastle play, I was always impressed by the size of the ground as the train passed nearby it over the viaduct.

    Chelmsford city ground

    Chelmsford Main Stand

    After their establishment, Chelmsford City played at the New Writtle Street ground, which they purchased in 1939. During the early parts of World War II it was shared by Southend United, before it became a barrage balloon site in 1942. After World War II it briefly hosted greyhound racing. The record attendance of 16,807 was set for a local derby with Colchester United on 10 September 1949. Floodlights were installed in 1960. Several plans were made to increase facilities at the ground, including installing a swimming pool and building office blocks or a hotel, but none came to fruition.

    In 1997 the site was sold to developers and the club had to move out of Chelmsford. They initially shared at Maldon Town’s Wallace Binder Ground, before moving to Billericay Town’s New Lodge. In January 2006 the club moved back to Chelmsford when they became tenants at the Melbourne Athletics Stadium, also known as Chelmsford Sport and Athletics Centre. The first game back at Melbourne Park was against former landlords Billericay Town and was played in front of a record crowd of 2,998. The club has plans to upgrade the stadium to a 5,000 capacity capable of achieving the necessary ‘A’ ground grading.

    As for Leatherhead, I last saw them play in 1978 when they lost 2-1 at Spennymoor in the FA Trophy Semi Final second leg, but won 3-2 on aggregate. 34 years of hurt. So as you can gather, I was hoping for a home win.

    Being a relatively short trip was good for me as I was supposed to be decorating my house today as well as scoring at Lee Valley Youth Cycling Club where they were hosting cyclocross races as part of the Eastern Cross Cyclocross Series. So as part of a busy day, I was up early, put a coat of paint on the walls and ceiling in the kitchen. Then a quick shower, off to Redbridge Cycle Circuit and scoring for the first two races before heading off to Chelmsford for the game. After the game I would have to head back home to put another coat of paint on the walls and ceiling in the kitchen. That would then leave me to paint the lounge and gloss both the lounge and kitchen on Sunday. Remembering of course that Sunday is a day of rest!

    The ground at Melbourne Park is an athletics stadium. This is never a good venue for football – West Ham please take note. The Olympic Stadium will destroy the atmosphere you have at Upton Park. There is a large free car park at the ground which is a plus point. Admission to the ground is a rather pricey £11.50 to stand or £12.50 to sit down in the main stand, but you can sit for free on the opposite side. That sounded a bargain, but I will come back to that.

    Once through the turnstiles, there was a stall for the supporters club at which they were recruiting new members and were collecting for Truro City who are in administration and facing imminent bankruptcy.

    Next to that was a wooden programme hut, selling the match programme at £2.50 a time. This is in my view very expensive for non league football. Certainly it is nearly as much as some clubs in the Northern League charge for admission!

    The view through the turnstiles was not too promising


    Fortunately, the viewing area is not next to the turnstiles.


    Passing the club shop and the programme hut, there is a relatively new building which houses the bar, function room and changing rooms. This is an impressive building. The club have clearly thought about how to maximise their income. Outside the clubhouse is the most important facility, the food van. Now, this being Essex and rather pretentious, ordinary burgers are not good enough. Here they serve Paninis instead and decaffeinated coffee.


    However, the real face of Essex was also on show with this attempt to out do everywhere else


    Sadly, like usual, Essex fails to realise that big is not necessarily better.

    The ground is dominated by the running track, an 8 lane running track and long jump pit etc. means that fans down the touchline are a long way from the pitch.


    Above is a view of the main stand, below is the view from in front of the main stand. Notice how far away the pitch is from the fans. This is not conducive to creating an atmosphere.


    The distance however should prevent trouble between the bench and spectators.

    The opposite side of the ground has seating at a lower level which are built into the wall of the sports centre. The problem with these seats are they are too low down.


    Indeed, it is not really possible to see the pitch from these seats. This probably explains why most people on this side stood at the fence to watch the game and did not use the seats. The photo below is taken from sitting in the seats on this side.


    The good news is that there is another food van on this side of the ground!

    These are the bad points about the ground. Chelmsford City have attempted to overcome some of the problems at this ground. In front of the raised main stand, there are some temporary terracing sections to increase the capacity. However, the best thing is behind ach goal, where the club have installed temporary standing sections in the infield section of the running area. This means that fans can view the game from directly behind the goal not with a running track in the way. However, the access to these 2 standing areas is only from the main stand side of the ground. Barriers and temporary matting is placed over the running track to minimise the damage to the running track.


    Two views above of the covered stand at one end. Newton Aycliffe may want to note the use of a terraced flooring makes the stand more useable.

    The other end of the ground was an open terrace which in the first half was populated by the Leatherhead Massive


    Despite being so small in numbers, they made far more noise than the Chelmsford fans. Indeed, it was very noticeable how quiet the crowd were. I would suggest this was due to the distance the crowd were from the pitch as a result of the running track. However as you saw in the earlier picture the majority of the crowd were behind the goals


    The game itself was dominated by Chelmsford. They had a very promising left winger, but failed to make their dominance pay. They took the lead shortly before half time and extended that in the second half, before Leatherhead pulled one back at the death.

    It was nice to watch an entertaining game and share a bit of crack with some Leatherhead fans who had come to Spennymoor all those years ago. It was interesting to learn how history has treated their club. Even a chance to reminisce about The Leatherhead Lip Chris Kelly.


  • Despite being at an athletics stadium Chelmsford have tried to create a football ground atmosphere with the stands in the infield area of the athletics track.

  • The clubhouse and commercial set up at Chelmsford are impressive and give the impression of a club going places

  • The home fans failed to create any atmosphere at all. This is disappointing when there was a crowd of in excess of 500 there

  • The admission prices are high compared to the Northern League (as is the programme price).

  • It was a pleasant day out and despite the ground not having the character of their old ground, it is a pleasant venue.

  • Chelmsford look like a club who will be in the Conference North before long.

    • I’ll end this blog with a couple of oddities I saw at the ground. The first was the sweet stall in the ground.


      Then there was this strange sign. I’m not sure whether I would consider eating here




      PS I did get all the painting done!

      The Other Side

      The tragic murder of 2 unarmed police officers today in Greater Manchester brings to the public attention the other side of the role of the police from that in my recent post.

      BBC Report

      The South Yorkshire Police Force, the West Midlands Police Force and others were revealed to have been involved in the most extensive and sick cover up of their own criminal activities surrounding the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster. The Hillsborough Investigation Panel report revealed how the South Yorkshire Police force’s senior management conspired with officers, other emergency services and the Police Federation to lie and falsely blame innocent football fans for the total failings of the police force.

      The country was shocked to learn the extent of the police activities to hide the truth whether by using the might of its spin machine, public briefings by tame newspapers,  MPs in the police pockets etc. or by the deliberate falsifying of statements presented to inquiries or inquests. There is a growing clamour for the Crown Prosecution Service to bring charges now against the guilty.

      We also have Sir Norman Bettinson, now the Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police and at the time of Hillsborough issuing statements that day after the Hillsborough Investigation Panel reported that the fans were not to blame. Bettinson is still blaming the fans for making the police job on the 15th April 1989 harder. Clearly by turning up to a game they had tickets for they were making the police job more difficult. I mean why doesn’t everyone just stay at home everyday as this would make the police job much easier. Hopefully the referral of this issue to the Independent Police Complaints Commission by the West Yorkshire Police Authority means a pratt like Bettinson will be facing his just deserts in due course. Its hardly inspiring to the public at large when they see the Chief Constable of a police force showing so little respect for the truth, the families of the deceased and the country as a whole.

      The other side of the coin is that individual police officers put their lives at risk everyday patrolling the streets to uphold the Queen’s Peace and keep us all safe. The most danger most of us come to face at work is an irate boss. That is hardly ever a risk to life and limb.

      It appears today that these two women were responding to a call of a burglary in progress. They arrived at the scene and it is sad that there was a gunman waiting there for them and shot them repeatedly before using a hand grenade. Several hours later a man handed himself into Hyde Police Station.

      These two young females, aged 23 and 32 are sadly not the only police officers to die this year.

      Nicola Hughes

      Police Constable

      Greater Manchester Police

      Died 18th September 2012, aged 23

      She was working with PC Fiona Bone when they were sent to reports of a burglary. Upon arrival a male emerged from an address and ambushed them. Using a firearm and grenades the male attacked both of the officers; fatally injuring them.

      Nichola had completed three years service with Greater Manchester Police.

      Fiona Bone

      Police Constable

      Greater Manchester Police

      Died 18th September 2012, aged 32

      She was working with PC Nicola Hughes when they were sent to reports of a burglary. Upon arrival a male emerged from an address and ambushed them. Using a firearm and grenades the male attacked both of the officers; fatally injuring them.

      Fiona had completed five years service with Greater Manchester Police.

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      Ian Dibell

      Police Constable

      Essex Police

      Died 9th July 2012, aged 41

      Whilst off duty in Clacton-on-Sea he had cause to intervene in an incident close to his home. Protecting the public from an armed male he sustained fatal gunshot wounds.

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      Preston Gurr


      Metropolitan Police

      Died 28th April 2012, aged 53

      Having finished duty after a night shift he travelled home on his motorcycle from Westminster Borough. Just before 7.30am he was involved in a collision with a car at a junction in Mitcham. He sustained fatal injuries when he came off of his motorcycle.

      He is survived by his wife and their two children.

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      David John Rathband

      Police Constable

      Northumbria Police

      Died 29th February 2012, aged 44

      On Sunday 4th July 2010 David was sat stationary in a patrol car, single crewed, on the outskirts of Newcastle. A lone gunman approached and using a shotgun shot David twice through the vehicle windows, leaving him for dead the gunman fled. David underwent extensive medical treatment, his eyesight couldn’t be saved but he recovered and remained a police officer with Northumbria Police.

      David was previously a Special Constable, joining Northumbria Police as a Police Constable in 2000. In 2006 he became a traffic officer.

      He is survived by his wife and their two children.

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      Karen Paterson

      Detective Constable

      Cambridgeshire Police

      Died 6th January 2012, aged 43

      Karen was fatally injured in a car crash as she travelled in to work to report for duty.

      She was stationed at Thorpe Wood police station in Peterborough. Karen also worked out of Bridge Street police station as a schools liaison officer. She joined Cambridgeshire Constabulary in 1997 after transferring from Surrey Police which she joined in 1987.

      She is survived by her husband and two sons. This year there have been seven names added to the Police Roll of Honour in the UK.

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      Andrew James Stokes

      Detective Constable

      Greater Manchester Police

      Died 3rd January 2012, aged 46

      Andrew was on duty when he collapsed and died of heart failure.

      He originally joined Merseyside Police, working St Helens Divsion at Prescott before transferring to Greater Manchester Police.

      He is survived by

      his wife and two children.

      This compares to 84 in the United States of America so far this year. (Figures courtesy of the ODMP) This is perhaps why these two deaths have caused so much shock in the UK.

      So, why do the UK have such a low fatality ate amongst our police compared to the USA? This is even after allowing for the difference in size of population between the 2 countries. Well one reason is said to be because our police are not routinely armed. It is said that arming the police will lead to more criminals arming themselves – in effect an arms race.

      Policing in the UK is said to be policing by consent – ie with the agreement and co operation of the public. Arming the police would alienate the police from public making them seem less approachable. This is recognised by the rank and file police officers. In 2006, the Police Federation polled its members about whether they wanted to carry arms routinely. The motion was voted against by a huge percentage of the police (> 80% opposed it).

      Whilst its easy to criticise the police, and we all do it at different times, remember the risk and dangers they face to protect society. We should never forget the risks and dangers they face, doing what is often a job that is wouldn’t do


      The Police Are There “To Protect & Serve”?

      Today, the 12th September 2012 should go down in history as one of the most significant dates in the history of British Policing and Politics. Today, the Hillsborough Investigation Panel have released their report into the Hillsborough Disaster. The report is 389 pages long. The executive summary is at pages 1 –22 of that report and is very readable and I commend it to you.

      As most people are aware 96 people were killed at the FA Cup Semi Final Match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15th April 1989. The story of what happened is told very well by the BBC Website. I do not intend to repeat what is said there. I commend that website to you, in particular for the graphic showing how the crushing developed.

      The disaster left the city of Liverpool devastated and many families bereaved. The names and ages of the deceased reveal just how young the deceased were and how many were related. Young men and women who had gone to see their team compete for a place in the FA Cup Final but who ended up coming back to Liverpool in a coffin.

      John Alfred Anderson (62) Thomas Howard (39)

      Colin Mark Ashcroft (19) Thomas Anthony Howard (14)

      James Gary Aspinall (18) Eric George Hughes (42)

      Kester Roger Marcus Ball (16) Alan Johnston (29)

      Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron (67) Christine Anne Jones (27)

      Simon Bell (17) Gary Philip Jones (18)

      Barry Sidney Bennett (26) Richard Jones (25)

      David John Benson (22) Nicholas Peter Joynes (27)

      David William Birtle (22) Anthony Peter Kelly (29)

      Tony Bland (22) Michael David Kelly (38)

      Paul David Brady (21) Carl David Lewis (18)

      Andrew Mark Brookes (26) David William Mather (19)

      Carl Brown (18) Brian Christopher Mathews (38)

      David Steven Brown (25) Francis Joseph McAllister (27)

      Henry Thomas Burke (47) John McBrien (18)

      Peter Andrew Burkett (24) Marion Hazel McCabe (21)

      Paul William Carlile (19) Joseph Daniel McCarthy (21)

      Raymond Thomas Chapman (50) Peter McDonnell (21)

      Gary Christopher Church (19) Alan McGlone (28)

      Joseph Clark (29) Keith McGrath (17)

      Paul Clark (18) Paul Brian Murray (14)

      Gary Collins (22) Lee Nicol (14)

      Stephen Paul Copoc (20) Stephen Francis O’Neill (17)

      Tracey Elizabeth Cox (23) Jonathon Owens (18)

      James Philip Delaney (19) William Roy Pemberton (23)

      Christopher Barry Devonside (18) Carl William Rimmer (21)

      Christopher Edwards (29) David George Rimmer (38)

      Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons (34) Graham John Roberts (24)

      Thomas Steven Fox (21) Steven Joseph Robinson (17)

      Jon-Paul Gilhooley (10) Henry Charles Rogers (17)

      Barry Glover (27) Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton (23)

      Ian Thomas Glover (20) Inger Shah (38)

      Derrick George Godwin (24) Paula Ann Smith (26)

      Roy Harry Hamilton (34) Adam Edward Spearritt (14)

      Philip Hammond (14) Philip John Steele (15)

      Eric Hankin (33) David Leonard Thomas (23)

      Gary Harrison (27) Patrik John Thompson (35)

      Stephen Francis Harrison (31) Peter Reuben Thompson (30)

      Peter Andrew Harrison (15) Stuart Paul William Thompson (17)

      David Hawley (39) Peter Francis Tootle (21)

      James Robert Hennessy (29) Christopher James Traynor (26)

      Paul Anthony Hewitson (26) Martin Kevin Traynor (16)

      Carl Darren Hewitt (17) Kevin Tyrrell (15)

      Nicholas Michael Hewitt (16) Colin Wafer (19)

      Sarah Louise Hicks (19) Ian David Whelan (19)

      Victoria Jane Hicks (15) Martin Kenneth Wild (29)

      Gordon Rodney Horn (20) Kevin Daniel Williams (15)

      Arthur Horrocks (41) Graham John Wright (17)

      Every football fan can tell you where they were when they learned what had happened  that sunny Spring afternoon in Sheffield. Newcastle were playing away at Arsenal. I was not at the game as I flew to Benidorm that day for a holiday. A doorman there who I had met 2 years before broke the news to me. The holiday was over in my mind as the horor of what had happened was unfolded via the newspapers. There was no internet then. The papers were received 24 hours late in Benidorm. I spent a relative fortune that week buying every English language  newspaper.

      Those who were at the Arsenal game say the match was irrelevant when the news broke of what happened at Hillsborough.

      This blog is not to repeat the events of the day. In my view there were (like with most disasters) a series of incidents colmunating in the loss of life

      1. The delayed arrival of Liverpool fans owing to traffic problems

      2. The funnel like entrance to the turnstiles

      3. Insufficient turnstiles at that end of the ground (23 turnstiles for 24000 fans)

      These 3 factors resulted in dangerous build up of fans outside the ground and in order to alleviate possible disaster outside the ground the police commander outside sought permission from the police match commander to open the gates to let fans in. Sadly what was not done was the tunnel leading to pens 3 &4 was not closed off so fans surging in headed into these already over crowded pens resulting in a crush barrier failing and people being crushed.

      This was a tragic incident and if the truth had been exposed then this matter would have ended in 1989.

      Sadly, the actions of South Yorkshire Police Senior Management and others in position of authority is incredible. All real football fans knew their had been a cover up by the police, but this report laid before Parliament today with a full apology from the Prime minister reveals amongst other things:

      1. 164 statements were amended, 116 to take out criticism of the actions of South Yorkshire Police. Many witnesses were put under pressure by SYP (often their employers) to falsify their accounts. It appears that SYP’s solicitors were in collusion with this. Perhaps a matter for the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority to investigate?

      If SYP are prepared to falsify/ manipulate/ re write evidence to deflect the blame from themselves, how many cases did SYP officers do the same to obtain convictions against people.

      2. The police started from the outset of briefing the media that the fans had forced the gate to get in, were drunk, robbed the dying and urinated on the police. The infamous Sun headline “The Truth” came about as a result of a police briefing.


      Now, this story raises an intriguing question in my mind. Given the Sun have been vilified for the 23 years since they ran this story, why in that time have they never revealed SYP as the source of the story? If they had, it would have confirmed what many thought and deflected some of the anger to the real source of the story.  At present there is a huge Metropolitan Police investigation into relations between police officers and News International (NI) the owners of the Sun. This is Operation Elveden and is looking at corrupt relationships between the police and NI

      3. At least 41 of the deceased could have been saved if they had received medical treatment. For whatever reason, the police prevented any more than one ambulance entering the stadium.

      4. This was not the first time there had been serious crowd problems at FA Cup Semi Finals at Hillsborough. In  1981 at the game between Spurs and Wolves there were serious problems at the Leppings Lane End of the ground. Watch the video below. How reminiscent of the 1989 disaster is this?

      5. In 1987 at the Leeds V Coventry Semi final, which was the first after 1981 to be held at Hillsborough, the game had to be delayed owing to crowd congestion. However on that occasion the police had set up road blocks on the 2 roads leading to the Leppings Lane turnstiles so as to prevent a build up of fans at the turnstiles. There were several roadblocks and the flow of spectators were regulated. I attended this game and entered the ground via the Leppings Lane turnstiles. There was no serious problems that I recall outside the ground, although as in 1981 and 1988 there were problems of overcrowding within the ground.

      Why did the police not use the same simple but effective measures to prevent crowd congestion in 1989? This question does not seem to have been asked at any time by any of the inquiries.

      The shocking thing about all of this is the extent to which SYP lied and falsified evidence and tried to blame the victims by the deliberate spreading of lies. We’ve seen it so many times before – Jean Charles De Meninez, and Mark Duggan being just 2 recent examples along with Ian Tomlinson’s death at the hands of police at the G20 summit. Or to quote a more recent example the arrest of all those evil terrorists of Critical Mass at the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics- the same people of whom 166 of the 182 arrested have been advised they are no longer required to answer bail and the case has been dropped against them.

      My hope is that this report leads to a proper investigation and hopefully criminal charges against those responsible for the falsifying of evidence and trying to blame the victims of incompetent and inept policing. Yes David Duckinfield, I’m looking at you, as well as your fellow senior officers and the force solicitors.

      I want to end this post by paying tribute to the families of the victims who have campaigned for the last 23 years with such dignity. To hear people such as Trevor Hicks (whose 2 daughters were killed that sad day) speaking so rationally and objectively about what has happened is incredible. How it is possible to be so dignified after such a loss is beyond me. Trevor Hicks composure and objectivity reminds me of that of Jim Swires who lost his daughter in the Lockerbie Plane Bombing back in 1988

      Finally, I started this blog with a question The Police Are There “To Protect & Serve”?

      I can answer that question in the case of SYP

      There role seems to be to protect themselves and their incompetent senior officers and to serve their own ends. The public are just an inconvenience that can be treated like sh*t.


      Hopefully today we are one step nearer justice for the 96 and one step nearer exposing the corruption at the heart of some senior police officers and at the heart of government of all colours or persuasions.

      Ground Hopping: Newton Aycliffe FC v Bishop Auckland Ebac Northern League Monday 27th August 2012

      A Bank Holiday, and sadly Spennymoor’s game at Shildon had been postponed owing to the hosts having an FA Cup replay that week. So, what should I do? The obvious thing was to make the most o the time with Michelle and Josh and spend some quality time with them. So, that’s what I decided to do.

      What could be better time together than to go to a new ground and see a game of football between 2 teams, neither of which I support!


      Being a Bank Holiday, the weather was less than perfect with strong winds and squally showers. Perfect weather for travelling 40 miles to Newton Aycliffe for a 1pm kick off. I thought better of going to see Durham City’s 11 am kick off game on the way to Aycliffe. That would probably have been a liberty too far.

      Newton Aycliffe are relative newcomers to the Northern League having only been in the league four seasons. This is already their second season in the top division. It is an amazing rise for a former park team. I am not going to repeat the history of the club. It is set out on their website HERE.

      The ground itself, Moores Lane is situated between the Old A1 ( now A167) and the town centre in Newton Aycliffe.

      The club are based at the Newton Aycliffe Sports Club which also hosts a rugby club and cricket club on the site. To conform with league rules, the football ground is fenced off from the other pitches and is accessed by walking round the clubhouse at the Sports Club and along the path past the cricket club. Indeed, if you did not know the football club was there, you would not realise it was there. Indeed the fixture board outside the clubhouse helpfully does not list today’s game! This despite it being a local derby!


      The view from the clubhouse towards the ground.


      Having planned the trip so that we arrived at  the ground early enough, we had time for a drink in the clubhouse. Despite a sign on the door saying it was a members club, there was no one on the door and they were happy to serve anyone. So after alcohol was taken on board, it was time to head to the ground itself. Unlike most ground you’ve been to, there are no turnstiles at the ground. There is just an open gate and a chap in a wooden hut to take the admission money.

      The cost of getting into the ground was reasonable at £6 per adult and £3 for concessions. Once into the ground, there is the almost obligatory raffle ticket and programme seller. However, it was an unusual choice of programme seller.


      Yes, Elvis was selling the raffle tickets. I didn’t ask if the 1st prize was a trip to Memphis! In fact when the draw was made, the 1st two prizes were meat!


      The ground itself is a very new ground with an almost flat pitch surrounded on four sides by hard standing, but no terracing.


      The seating was courtesy of a temporary stand. It is cheap to provide and for a small club with limited finances makes it sense. Next to the seating was a small covered section. This was rather odd as it appears to be missing the floor, The stand appears to be designed to have a terraced floor so everyone under cover could see the game. For some reason there was no floor, so unless you were one of the dozen or so people in the front row, you would not be able to see the game. This probably explains why so many people stood out in the rain to watch the game.


      The changing rooms at Moores Lane consisted of portacabins. Not the glamorous facilities that you would get at a Premiership club, but it is cost effective and there is no reason to think the facilities were not adequate.


      The dressing rooms were to the left of the entrance gate, and to the right of the entrance gate was what is one of the most important facilities at a non league ground, the tea hut. Once again, portacabins were used to provide the catering facilities, the committee room next to it, and the toilet facilities. All were spotless and served the purpose.


      Now, purely in the interests of boosting the finances of a non league club, we all sampled the burgers and teas before the game. They were excellent value and very tasty. The only problem was that by half time they had run out of pies and hotdogs, so we had to have more burgers at half time. The catering staff deserve a mention for their friendly helpful manner. Without the catering staff, football matches would be less pleasurable at this level. Unlike at Premiership level, food is affordable at Newton Aycliffe.

      Once fed and watered, we made our way to the seats, mainly because they were undercover. Now, I found myself sitting next to a noisy neighbour who insisted on making noise every time anyone shouted. I’m not sure if they were joining in, or were just upset by the noise.


      You don’t get to sit next to a dog at St James’ Park or Old Trafford. This was not the only dog in the ground, but was certainly the funniest as it barked every time a player shouted. At half time, I met a number of fellow Spennymoor fans who had come to the game as our game was off. Indeed, there were probably in excess of 12-15 Spennymoor fans  in the crowd of 340. The second half was spent sniggering at the antics of the Newton Aycliffe goalkeeper who appeared to be afraid of the ball. He dropped the ball gifting Bishop their first goal and was at fault for at least another two of Bishop’s five goals. Indeed the only time it seemed he got near the ball was when he was unable to get out of the way fast enough. On this performance, Michelle questioned if he was actually a goalkeeper or an outfield player filling in for the day.

      From a Spennymoor fan’s perspective the good news was that on the following Saturday, Spennymoor play Newton Aycliffe and with Coco the Clown in goal for Newton Aycliffe, a win was surely guaranteed. [More on that in a later post]

      The game ended up with a 5-1 win for Bishop Auckland. The sad thing was to see how few fans Bishop have these days. Behind the gal bishop were attacking were  only a handful of bishop fans. Whilst admittedly others would be in the seats or stood down the side, there were only a small band of loyal two blues fans. It was a far cry from the crowds bishop used to get in the past at Kingsway. Sadly, despite offering excellent value and a friendly atmosphere people no longer seem to want to go to non league games.