Rule of Law

CAYBSDG1.jpg

One law for the rich, another for Mr Bhatt and his baseball bat

That’s what we all love about our country. It’s the rule of law, innit. No one is above the law. Everyone is equal under the law. No one can take the law into his own hands. That’s why there will be at least a handful of reasonable people who think that the police did the right thing when they cracked down on my friend the newsagent Harendra Bhatt.

For about 18 years, Mr Bhatt has run a kiosk outside the Tube, and for 12 of those years I have watched him at his work. He is a model of politeness. As soon as he spies some Islington Lefty approaching, he has the Guardian ready furled. If someone forgets their change, he calls out “change!”, and his general affability ensures that he does pretty well. It is only recently, after witnessing more and more muggings on the pavement in front of him, and after being robbed by junkies armed with a carving knife and after despairing of the police response, that he has equipped his kiosk with a baseball bat.

This piece of sporting kit is now in police custody, but I have seen the sleeve. To judge by the packaging, it is a full-sized baseball bat, manufactured in India, and presumably mainly intended for the self-protection of subcontinental newsagents.

Harendra insists — and I have no reason to doubt him — that he acquired the bat only as a last resort. He is a smallish man of middle years, and he was at his wits’ end, he says, about how to deal with the aggressive beggars. They intimidate the folks making use of the cash machine, he says, and they even go across and beg at the Tube ticket office. They recently smashed into his kiosk and stole about £50 in cash and £50 worth of chocolates, and when he came back one night to find that someone had tried to set his shop on fire, he says he was told by the police that the incident was not a high priority.

So when a drunk pitched up his kiosk at about 5pm the other day, he had little hope that the forces of law and order would spare the time to come to his aid. The thug asked for money. Mr Bhatt told him to go away, or he would call the police. The drunk then started shaking the kiosk to and fro — not too difficult: it is really just a plastic Wendy house. Mr Bhatt begged him to desist.

The drunken thug then started heaving computer magazines into the street. You or I might not bother to buy a computer magazine, but this attack now amounted to damage to Mr Bhatt’s property, and a serious nuisance. Having flipped a final copy of Computer Weekly to the pavement, the drunk started shaking the door of the kiosk, and then battering it as if he wanted to come inside. At this point Mr Bhatt finally came out of his kiosk, with the baseball bat. He says he warned the yob to go away.

The man persisted in shaking the kiosk and was plainly about to attack the plucky newsagent himself — and so what was he supposed to do? Let him get on with it? Turn the other cheek? Mr Bhatt says he applied the baseball bat once, hitting the thug on the shoulder and then — POW! — the police miraculously appeared.

Making up for all the times in which they had been Macavity-like in their absence, they now flooded the scene of the crime. They pounced. They leapt on Mr Bhatt, wrestled the implement away from him and carted him off to the cells, where he remained until his release at 1am. He now must wait until January 23 to hear whether he is to be charged with possession of an offensive weapon and common assault.

Now I suppose there will be law-abiding readers out there who will say, yes, well, a bit tough, but then Mr “Baseball” Bhatt was wrong to take the law into his own hands. Fiat iustitia et ruant coeli, they may say, if they are feeling pretentious. To which I say: oh yeah? Pull the other one, matey. If you are really telling me that it is always the “British way” to enforce the law, then may I ask what Mr Bhatt is to make of the recent government decision to quash the investigation into alleged corruption involving BAE?

May I direct you to the immortal words of Lord Goldsmith, as the Blairite junta rode rough-shod over the criminal justice system. “It has been necessary to balance the need to maintain the rule of law against the wider public interest,” he said. Now if I were Mr Bhatt, I would be inclined to think there was one law for hapless newsagents, and another law for anyone allegedly involved in greasing the palms of Saudi princelings.

You use minimal force to protect your own property — and you’re nicked, chummy. You allegedly bend the international anti-bribery rules rules in the name of flogging fighter jets to Saudi Arabia — go right ahead, my son. It is unbelievable that Goldsmith can use his hermaphrodite status — part law officer, part-politician — to keep the British cops off the well-upholstered backs of a load of arms dealers; and what makes it all the more outrageous is that the same British cops are urged to prosecute people such as Mr Bhatt.

That’s right: as soon as the crime is reported, the police find themselves under terrific pressure to do something — whether it is laying formal charges or issuing some reprimand of the kind that stays on your criminal record forever. If the police fail to prosecute or otherwise chastise Mr Bhatt for his suspected crime, their ludicrous “sanction detection rate” will go down, and for that the Government is to blame, and the target culture that is driving the public services wild.

This Government makes the law an ass by hauling the police off the BAE business; but it makes the law look like a seriously mentally defective ass in encouraging the police to persecute brave and vulnerable newsagents such as Harendra Bhatt.

26 thoughts on “Rule of Law”

  1. Didn’t Roger Gale MP and then Patrick Mercer MP try to introduce private members bills about a year ago to give people more rights when defending their property? From what I remember ‘householders rights’ won a BBC Radio 4 listeners poll to propose a bill they would like to see and Police Chiefs were quite keen on the idea too.

    Labour MP’s weren’t as keen unfortuately. Then Home Office Minister Fiona McTaggart MP reckoned it would create ‘a spiral of violence and retaliation’. Whereas Stephen Pound MP thought it would lead to the ‘law enforcement of Dodge City’.

    In future Mr Bhatt should just pretend the drunk hollered some racial abuse at him before throwing his magazines on the floor. ‘Hate Crime’ is one of the Mets top priorities, they’d be there in minutes to arrest the perpetrator.

  2. He should have used a large torch or a steering wheel lock instead as the police would have a hard time proving that he had intended to use either of them, especially a torch, as a weapon.

    But, seriously, the police have a terrible attitude to crime in general. More often than not they will threaten to arrest the victim as well to “persuade” the victim to not press charges. Therefore the attackers get away with it and are only arrested when the victim is in a coma or dead and cannot be threatened with arrest themselves.
    I myself was once threatened, kicked and spat on and my friend punched in the face by a man and when the police arrived they threatened to arrest us for wasting police time. We were two young women who had to barricade ourselves in a shop to prevent a six foot man carrying out his threat of “kicking our f*****g faces in” and he got an apology and we got threatened with arrest!!! Apparently we had no right to ask for police assitance because it was classed as a domestic (apart from the fact that domestic violence is a crime-we had never met him before!)! We were told to let the police get on with real police work and left to walk home by ourselves not knowing where the man now was. My blood boils everytime I think about this incident.
    A social worker told me that in this same town the police refuse to arrest men who have beaten up their wives unless the wife stands in front of him and asks for his arrest! That makes sense does it not, a woman has been beaten up and it is where she is stood that makes it an arrestable offence.

  3. Remarkable lack of response to this one. It may be because everyone is out buying turkeys or that they quite simply agree.

    This article reminds me yet again of the absurdity of the target culture, and of Einstein’s immortal quote (roughly translated): “Not everything that can be counted matters. Not everything that matters can be counted.”

  4. The police are well known for not wanting anyone to do their job for them, so well known in fact that they appear not even to like doing it themselves.

  5. The police around here are afraid to patrol, except for the odd passing of an armoured van. The chavs and townies run riot, smashing telephone boxes, breaking windows, thieving etc. Try to defend yourself and your property, though, and you’re stuffed. It’s much easier to nick a law-abiding subject than a feral youth. Think about it. No law-abiding subject would make accusations of assault by the police upon arrest, but this is what happens to the police, when they arrest real criminals. The policeman/men in question are suspended, pending investigation, the crims are let off. I so love this country. Not.

  6. Another trick the police have is to refuse to take witness statements until days and weeks have passed. This means that people who may have seen or heard some minor, but vital detail have forgotten it and that crminals are able to think up stories to defend ther actions and get false alibis and think up false accusations against their victim. This is why Britain has a low “going to court rate” and a low conviction rate once a crime gets to court for violent crimes such as GBH and rape.

  7. My advice to Mr. Bhatt is to buy a pistol off some hoodies. It would be easier to conceal than a baseball bat(even carrying a cricket bat would make more sense for someone of Anglo-saxon/ Indian ancestry!) and you could first warn off the perpetrators by firing at their kneecaps…

    It seems the only people that fear the Law industry these days (lets not dignify it by calling it the “justice” system) are the generally law-abiding.

    You can now be put on the Sex Offenders Register for stealing clothes off a washing line and have your DNA sample retained FOREVER for any arrestable offence eg. driving in a bus lane, even if never charged.

    Does nt putting people on a database even if they have nt done anything (yet) amount to a form of hostage taking by the state?

    You are being held to future good behaviour by a government who could criminalize many things in the future and even try to punish them retrospectively,things we now take for granted are our right eg.so-called “hate speech”.

    The only moves towards greater equality that Nu-lab seem to have made successfuly are more equality of punishments between the innocent and the guilty!

  8. It always struck me that those who sell arms to dependent,oppressive regimes like Saudi Arabia and who benefit financially from such deals are in a similar position to pimps and heroin/crack dealers who sell to prostitute junkies.
    ” Its creating jobs and If we did nt sell to them someone else would” they say.
    Yet if you benefit from sex being sold you can get done for “living off immoral earnings”.

    Would nt it be great if BAE ,the milk-snatcher, her son and Tony Blair were all stood in front of a jury at the old Bailey to answer to the same charges.

  9. Should anyone be thinking about aquiring a bat for any purpose, you would be wise to also aquire an appropriate ball to accompany same, as it ceases then to be an offensive weapon, being instead sports equipment. You could also hit the ball with the bat a bit, who knows, you may enjoy it. Don’t get too good though, or we may not be such easy marks for the Ozzers.

  10. K I am fascinated to read your remarks . It isn’t often your calm tone is disturbed and it is clearly an issue you feel very strongly about . It makes me furious to imagine you being threatened and I wish I could have been there to help.
    I was run down in front of a Police station , it was witnessed by about a hundred people . The uninsured or licensed driver , who thought he’d killed me ,admitted his mistake. All in all it was about a simple a matter as you could get .
    Nonetheless the police did absolutely nothing despite a couple of letters . Eventually I wrote to them pretending I was a journalists quoting much convincing background material and informed them that the correspondence and their Laurel and Hardy level incompetence was going to assume the starring role in a series of articles . I expressed the hope that they read the Daily telegraph where they would personally be featuring over the next year

    Within two weeks we had a court date .It is in January . When guilt has been established so also is the Liability and then I am going to make him bleed cash in my direction like a stuck pig. David Cameron described the Police as the last unreformed public service . This is the sort of thing that keeps my faith in him going and I hope he follows up.

    Happy Christmas

  11. Thank-you Newmania, we were very lucky though in that at least we were not really badly hurt unlike many other people in similar situations who have their lives destroyed by thugs who think they can do whatever they like because they are upset.

    In the future, if this sort of thing happens again, I would definatly stand up for myself with the police a lot more and I wish now I had made a complaint. The sad thing is that this sort of thing puts people off calling the police so criminals get more and more brazen. I had a friend who refused to call the police after being badly beaten up by strangers and then a few months later someone else in the same area was beaten into a coma, which last I heard they had not woken from.

  12. At the rate things are going, I for one won’t be at all surprised if everyone starts going round with baseball bats. This is what happens when law and order break down.

    In this particular case, it would seem that part of the cause of the appearance of violent junkies is the criminalisation of a great many drugs circa 1920, when the great and the good decided that people shouldn’t be allowed to use opium, cocaine, and a variety of other drugs, although they do not seem to have created overmuch of a problem in prior centuries when they were perfectly legal (most public campaigns of the time were against alcohol). It would appear that making something illegal, on purely moral grounds, so as to make us all ‘better people’ almost invariably has the opposite effect, in that it creates an illegal, underground market in which drugs of dubious quality, mixed with all sorts of lethal additives, are sold on the streets at the highest possible prices, with gang warfare ensuring the monopolies that maintain high price levels. If, for example, the sale of milk was made illegal (because unkind and oppressive to cows), we would soon be hearing of milk-related deaths of milk ‘junkies’ buying adulterated milk.

    In the meantime, some people may be interested in supporting a judicial review of one of the latest bits of idealistic but equally destructive government legislation (courtesy of turkey twizzler).

  13. What a sad commentary on like in Britain today.

    It is so much easier for the system to side with the criminal, who demands every last right and will not obey any sanction imposed, than the virtuous citizen who will even accept injustice out of respect, even when our mutated system deserves none.

    Such instances only bring our whole legal and moral system into disrepute.

  14. Reading articles like this bring on a severe attack of depression. We know that the justice system as such has come apart at the seams, where the straight decent member of the public is an easy target, but what has happened to common sense? Is it part of police training to delete this from every new entrants brain, surely there is more satisfaction in taking the bad guy in than the good guy, even if it makes a bit more paperwork.
    Could I ask Boris to let us know what happens in court on the 23rd as I think it should be thrown out with costs against the police (that’s us of course)

  15. Not one of these posts supports the police. Yet twenty years ago the middle classes, by and large were supportive of the police, who were seen as being “on our side”. What has gone wrong?

    Perhaps it is an accumulation of small episodes, like those set out above, which bring home the dismal failure of the police, week in and week out, to discriminate and exercise intelligent judgment in their work.

    Sadly, my own experience seems to be typical. My daughter’s car, a rather snazzy little Figaro, was vandalised in Brighton. The police caught the vandal in the act. He was ripping off the trim, causing damage to the value of about £800. He was a young man, in work, who had been drinking. Was he prosecuted? Was he hell! He was let off with a caution because “he was a first offender and the police wanted to keep him out of the criminal justice system.”

    But when I got my first speeding ticket (38 mph in a 30 mph limit) after forty years of driving was I let off with a caution as a first offender? No, I was not. So an essentially law-abiding citizen gets punished and a criminal goes free.

    This has got to stop. We need police officers with a single-minded commitment to catching real criminals, judges and magistrates to lock them up, and governments to build the prisons which will be needed to hold them.

  16. Thugs and yobs are Labour’s Brown Shirts. So what does that make the police? The Gestapo, perhaps? Personal friend of the Honourable member for Henley get beaten to death outside the Police Station in the High Street and the police stay inside. Here in Japan you have police actually standing outside Police Stations. How much of a not so gentle hint do you risk-adverse need to fly the coop? Or to put it another way, how long are you going to keep taking it in the ass from those bastards? Life’s too short for misguided patriotism to get in the way of looking after No.1.

  17. My experience of the police in recent years is not a good one. One example:

    After clipping wing mirrors with a car full of Iranians (no damage done to either car) the other car, which had been on my side of the road, screached to a halt, blocking my car’s exit.

    The occupants of the other car then swarmed all over mine. One lady lay on my car’s bonnet, arms outstretched, screeching abuse and grimacing at me through my windscreen, while her friends tried to wrench off my car’s door handles and hammered on my car, screaming that I must get out of the car.

    Did I get out? You bet I didn’t. I locked my car doors and sat tight. The occupants of the other car called the police – to have me arrested, they shouted.

    When the police arrived, it transpired that the driver of the other car had a police record and had been banned from driving. Yet the police told me that since the only witnesses were the other car’s occupants – who claimed the driver had not driven the car and that I had been at fault
    – the police were going to let me off! The police had witnessed the occupants of the other car swarming on my car and attempting to drag me out of it, yet it seems that they regard this as quite acceptable behaviour in today’s UK.

  18. Think of it from the Police’s point of view. If you put a mugging or extortion by unidentified drunks/hoodies into your crime reports all you get is a lower clear up rate. If you stick to investigating crimes by harmless identifiable persons of definitely fixed abode you will have a high clear up rate.

    There are a number of cases which fit this pattern.

  19. Well, next time the police try to fob me off I will refuse to accept it and make an official complaint if need be. The more people who do that the more the police will have to reform themselves.

  20. Boris, I blogged in response to your post on this. In short, the case of Mr Bhatt and his bat is a good example of one argument for the jury system. Assuming the facts are you report, there’s every chance twelve good men and women true will let him off.

    But your unflattering comparison between the prosecutorial zeal with which the kiosk owner is being pursued and the dramatic cessation of the police investigation into bribery with the Saudis is quite weak. It is either remarkable naivety from a seasoned politician and hack or very cheap point scoring – classic opposition behaviour. You know fine well how international relations of that nature work – a bung here, a bit of information there and the Saudis stay on message regarding Al Qaeda (though much funding for terrorism seems to come from that country). Meanwhile the Saudis sell us oil and keep British people in work by purchasing fighter jets.

    It is called realpolitik. If you want to put it in legal terms, call it comity – co-operation between nations. I don’t like it in principle any more than you. But I’m not so absurdly unrealistic as to assume that anyone can or would be able to change the system anytime soon.

Comments are closed.