Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Software pirates: An Australian police force

NSW Police incurred a $1.8 million legal bill defending itself against a multinational software company that sued for wide-scale copyright piracy, figures obtained under government information access laws show.

Software company Micro Focus alleged in 2011 that the NSW Police Force, Ombudsman, Police Integrity Commission, Corrective Services and other government agencies illegally used its ViewNow software, which is used to access the intelligence database known as COPS.

The company alleged police and other agencies were using 16,500 copies of its software on various computers when police were only ever entitled to 6500 licences. The group initially alleged $10 million in damages but later increased this to $12 million after reviewing the results of a court-ordered, $120,000 KPMG audit of the NSW Police Force's computer systems.

The police force maintained during the court proceedings that it had paid for a site licence that entitled it to unlimited installations of the software for all of its officers.

Despite this, it settled the matter out of court last year for an undisclosed sum. The other agencies previously settled the matter out of court, also for undisclosed sums.

No internal documents were handed over to Fairfax Media as part of its government information access request.

Darren Brand, Senior Sergeant co-ordinator at the NSW Police information access and subpoena unit, denied a request for documents relating to how much was paid to Micro Focus as part of the settlement, and why the matter was settled out of court.

Mr Brand did however divulge that no one was sacked as a result of the legal action by Micro Focus and the legal costs for the case totalled $1,829,709.29.

''To put these costs in context, Micro Focus has claimed as much as $12 million in damages,'' he said.

Mr Brand said there was a stronger public interest against releasing all of the information requested. He said it would ''breach'' the NSW Police Force's obligation to maintain the confidential terms of the settlement.

Mr Brand also believed the release of that information ''could result in further legal action against [the police force], which would incur further expenditure of government funds''.

But Sydney piracy investigator Michael Speck said it "beggars belief" that the NSW Police Force had continued to pursue the case even after all other government agencies had settled.

"One can only assume [the police force's settlement] was motivated by ready access to the public purse," Mr Speck said.

"They have settled the case after fiercely resisting it on commercial terms that include the settlement being confidential. You'd have to wonder how the confidential settlement sits with the obligation that police have to properly investigate and report on alleged misconduct."

Mr Speck said the public deserved to know if police had properly investigated the matter internally, if they had taken steps to ensure something like the matter never happened again, and if action would be taken against the individual who allegedly set it on the path of software piracy

Original report here

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Ex-commando officer to sue London police for unlawful arrest

Scotland Yard faces a legal battle over claims of unlawful arrest of a senior Special Air Service (SAS) officer said to have been "treated like a terrorist" by armed police.

The individual, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was one of two British army officers arrested during an investigation by the Metropolitan Police into leaks of government secrets to Sky News. The officer was driving through Hereford with one of his young children when, it is claimed, he was stopped by armed police surrounding his vehicle.

"It was a disgrace," said a senior figure speaking on condition of anonymity. "He was treated as if he were a terrorist." Charges of breaching the Official Secrets Act were subsequently dropped and the officer, who has since left the Army, has instructed his lawyers to start legal proceedings against the force.

In a statement last night, the officer's lawyer, Simon McKay, said: "I confirm that I act for a former special forces officer, known as AB. He was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in 2011 but the investigation was unconditionally dropped last year. He has now engaged the pre-action protocol with the Metropolitan Police's legal department in connection with a damages claim for, amongst other things, unlawful arrest."

It is understood the arrests took place after Lieutenant-General Jonathan Page, former director of special forces, asked detectives to investigate suspected breaches of the Official Secrets Act in the wake of a series of stories by the Sky News journalist Sam Kiley. "Lt-Gen Page was sick to the back teeth of all the leaks, and fingers were being pointed at the regiment," said a senior military figure speaking on condition of anonymity.

Detectives claimed offences had been committed under Section 1 of the Official Secrets Act. Information had allegedly been leaked from "high-level Cabinet Office briefing room A (Cobra) meetings" relating to "military operations overseas and in the UK". This included information about special forces operations and military tactics which "was likely to have endangered the lives of military personnel", according to court documents.

Mr Kiley, now Sky's Middle East correspondent based in Jerusalem, is thought to have been in contact with at least four military officers, including a member of the Defence Board and one of the country's most senior commanders. It is not known if the two high-ranking officers were also investigated. Police arrested the other two in 2011.

The Metropolitan Police attempted to force Sky to hand over copies of emails between Mr Kiley and those arrested. But Sky appealed and managed to get the court order quashed in December 2011. High Court judges did not find grounds to suspect that information had been disclosed "which was likely to cause or to have caused damage to the security or intelligence agencies or to their work."

The charges against the two officers were subsequently dropped and they have since left the Army.

It is not known whether the other man arrested intends to take action against the police. A police spokesman said proceedings had not been issued against them. The Ministry of Defence also declined to comment. In a statement, a spokesman for Sky stressed that Mr Kiley was not arrested as part of the police investigation.

Members of the SAS are said to be upset at the way the two men were apparently singled out for arrest. One source said: "Going after two of the men like this does nothing for morale." They accused Lt-Gen Page, who recently stepped down as director of special forces, of seeking to "make an example" of the men.

Original report here

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Again: British police shoot innocent man to death

The memory stick killing: When police lost a data card with names of 1,000 informants, they questioned this father - then cleared him. Two months later, they shot him dead

An unarmed man shot dead by a police marksman as he sat in a car was wrongly suspected only weeks before of stealing a computer memory stick containing the names of 1,075 police informants.

The missing stick was stolen after a detective had taken it home. It held a mass of highly confidential data about police inquiries into drug trafficking – plus hundreds of real names and addresses of secret contacts who gave information about gangsters to police.

Father-of-two Anthony Grainger was questioned about the theft but formally cleared four months later. Meanwhile, the loss of the stick was exposing the informants to grave potential danger.

It is believed at least one of those contacts was attacked and beaten at his home. Soon after that incident, Grainger, 36, was shot dead by Greater Manchester Police officers as he sat in the parked vehicle with two friends on March 3 last year.

Police records of the incident reveal he was shot at close range through the lungs and heart during a night-time operation which involved marksmen armed with sub-machine guns, pistols, Tasers and tear gas.

A chilling statement from the crack-shot who killed him describes how he aimed his sub-machine gun at the car’s windscreen and ‘switched the safety catch to fire’.

He levelled his laser-aiming device ‘and fired one round to the centre mass of the driver’ – Grainger’s chest.

Now a Mail on Sunday investigation based on exclusive access to hundreds of pages of official documents has revealed that:

- Days after police decided they had no evidence against Grainger over the theft, they began six- weeks of covert surveillance called Operation Shire directed at him and two associates. It involved nearly 100 officers.

- Statements by the Operation Shire team reveal no sign that Grainger or the others had weapons or access to them. But on the morning of the incident, the 16-strong police armed response team involved in his shooting was briefed that he and his friends were highly dangerous and likely to fire at police if challenged.

- In the wake of his death, legal documents show, police searched Grainger’s house and those of his associates – and seized numerous computer memory sticks. None of them was the missing device.

Almost 14 months on, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has still not finished its investigation into the killing, although the armed officers all made statements – obtained by The Mail on Sunday – within five days of the shooting. An IPCC spokeswoman said it would soon be sending a file to the Crown Prosecution Service, which will have to decide whether any officer should be charged with murder or manslaughter.

The delay has left both Mr Grainger’s family and Greater Manchester Police deeply frustrated. ‘We can’t say anything because it’s with the IPCC,’ a police spokesman said yesterday.

Grainger’s cousin, Wesley Ahmed, from the #Justice4Grainger campaign, compared the case with the shooting of Greater Manchester Police officers Nicola Bone and Fiona Hughes by Dale Cregan last September. ‘Cregan was in the dock, charged with murder, five months later,’ Mr Ahmed said. ‘But if the police shoot a member of the public, the process is interminable.’

Police made the link between the stick and Grainger the month after it was stolen, when he put some Volkswagen Golf airbags up for sale on eBay. Grainger was working for his friend, Colin Waters, 42, who owned a car-breaking and spare parts business in Bury.

Why did the police think this significant? Because along with the memory stick, the officer from Grotton had lost the keys to his Golf. This was also stolen and not recovered.

Grainger had no convictions for violence, but he did have a record for car crimes, although he had committed all but one of them more than a decade earlier.

On September 29, Grainger and Waters were arrested and questioned about the memory stick at Chadderton police station.

Mr Waters said yesterday: ‘Anthony was a good friend. He lived in my house from 2009 until a short while before he was shot. We used to buy and sell parts all the time, and he put a lot of them up on eBay.

‘When the police interviewed us, all they wanted to know about was the memory stick. They claimed the airbags were from the same model as the VW stolen from the officer. But that proved nothing. We knew nothing about that stick, and we never had it.’

Police seized computers, cash and mobile phones, and released Grainger and Waters on bail. Then, on January 6, 2012, they told them there would be no further action.

In fact, the police were about to launch Operation Shire. Ostensibly, this was directed at three men – Grainger and two associates, David Totton and Robert Rimmer – and was based on suspicions they were planning to commit armed robberies. Documents show the undercover surveillance was intense, and covered every detail of the three men’s lives. For example, on the evening of February 20, Detective Constable John Mills wrote how he covertly observed Mr Rimmer when, ‘together with a white female dressed in black’, he entered a Jamie’s Italian restaurant.

In none of the dozens of Operation Shire records obtained by this newspaper is there even a hint that the men had access to weapons.

The evidence they were planning robberies also amounted to nothing more than the fact that they were sometimes seen in places where there were commercial premises, such as supermarkets and banks.

However, the briefing given by an unnamed detective from Operation Shire to 16 officers from the Greater Manchester Tactical Firearms Unit who reported for duty at 4.30am on March 3 last year, reflected none of this uncertainty.

The armed officers made their statements five days later. They are not named, but are identified by their ‘deployment numbers’.

The fullest account of the briefing is in the statement by ‘Q9’, who describes himself as a ‘close-quarter combat live fire instructor’ – one of the unit’s most senior members and ‘a veteran of many deployments’. Before the briefing, his statement says, he drew his Heckler & Koch MP5 sub-machine gun and a 30-round magazine from the armoury, together with a self-loading Glock 17 pistol, more ammunition and a Taser.

Then, it goes on, he and his colleagues were told what to expect from Grainger and his associates:

‘The intelligence suggested that the subjects were responsible for a robbery in Preston in 2008 where they broke into a bank and lay in wait for the staff.

‘When the staff arrived they held them at gunpoint ..... and stole a substantial amount of cash.’

Q9’s statement adds: ‘It was within my knowledge that this group of offenders were in some way linked to a robbery at a bank in Bolton where one offender had opened fire on an attending police patrol.’

No evidence has been disclosed to support either of these assertions, and none of the men has ever been charged with these crimes.

But Q9 said that in his mind: ‘I was facing extremely dangerous criminals who committed robberies whilst armed with firearms.

‘I believed that members of this organised crime gang had discharged firearms towards police in the past in order to evade arrest.’

The last piece in the surveillance jigsaw was supplied by DC Steven Brown at 6.41pm, more than 14 hours after the armed officers had reported for duty that day and told to remain in a state of readiness.

He saw the car: Grainger and the two men were in a red Audi which had been stolen by unknown persons three months earlier and equipped with false number-plates.

Brown watched it enter a car park in Culcheth, a Cheshire village 15 miles west of Manchester and outside the Greater Manchester force area. By now it was dark, and unbeknown to the police, the three men in the Audi were not the group targeted by Operation Shire: Rimmer was absent, and one of the passengers was another man entirely – Joey Travers.

Their car was parked in a corner, next to a privet hedge.

The police decided to deploy the armed unit in three cars. They got to the car park at 7.09pm. Q9 was in the back seat of the lead or ‘alpha’ vehicle – a grey Audi estate.

His statement says: ‘I had hold of my MP5 by the pistol grip in my right hand and my left hand on the electric window button on the door. W4 [the driver] increased the speed of our vehicle when we were halfway along the car park. ‘I activated the electric window so it came fully down.

‘When the vehicle stopped I levelled my MP5 towards the front windscreen of the subjects’ vehicle ...... and switched the safety catch to fire. ‘From my position I was about three metres from the windscreen.

‘I shouted to the vehicle occupants, “Armed police, show me your hands.”’

Q9 saw Grainger move his right hand downwards – he says ‘suddenly’ – though a statement from one of the other officers say this movement was slow.

The officer levelled his laser- aiming device ‘and fired one round to the centre mass of the driver’ – Grainger’s chest.

It was only afterwards that Q9’s colleagues shot out the Audi’s tyres and lobbed two tear gas grenades inside the vehicle. By then – around three seconds after the ‘alpha’ car had screeched to a halt – Grainger was already dying: no tear gas was found inside his lungs.

Totton and Travers were arrested and charged, along with Rimmer, with conspiracy to commit robberies. In September they were tried but the prosecution case consisted only of the records of Operation Shire, and there was no mention of the supposed previous robberies cited by Q9.

In evidence, all three men said they had been in Culcheth to help Grainger recover money that was owed to him.

It took a jury just 45 minutes to find them not guilty.

As for his family, Mr Ahmed said: ‘There are too many unanswered questions. Who gave that briefing, and why did they say they were armed and dangerous? Why were the armed unit on duty for so long, and why was he shot so quickly?

‘I am convinced that Anthony’s death is somehow linked to the memory stick. Was someone trying to send a message to whoever really had it?

‘The only way to get at the truth is a full-blown public inquiry, and that’s what we’re demanding.’

Original report here

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

British teacher set for payout after police refused to remove unproven harassment claim from his CRB file

A police force that refused to remove details of an unproven harassment claim against a PE teacher from his CRB file breached his human rights, a High Court judge ruled yesterday. The man suffered a `killer blow' to his career after details of the allegation were handed to potential employers.

A police officer informed CRB staff he was a `lech' who children needed protection from and made an `unsubstantiated claim' he had possibly stolen school property.

The 44-year-old teacher, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is now expected to seek damages after Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said Cumbria Police were guilty of a `disproportionate and unjustifiable' breach of his right to a private life.

Last month, the High Court was told that in 2010 a pupil at his school complained the man `hugged me?.??and pressed my chest to him four or five times' while they were both in a pub. She also claimed he whispered: `I want you to come round to mine - two hours -
£ 200 every month.'

The teacher denied `having spoken to or even seen' the teenager and officers concluded no further action should be taken.

The judge added that PC Owen also suggested the teacher had `possibly been guilty of the theft of school property' - a claim that `was entirely unsubstantiated and was in any event irrelevant'. Yet assistant chief constable Michelle Skeer [bitch] authorised Enhanced Criminal Record Certificate disclosure.

The teacher sought a judicial review of Cumbria Police's decision not to remove the allegation from his Certificate. The judge concluded the force had breached Article 8 under the Human Rights Act.

Original report here

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Useless British cops again

'I trapped burglar in my porch but police let him go because he'd been drinking': Furious estate agent slams officers as intruder is let off without charge

A householder who trapped a suspected burglar inside his home told of his fury yesterday after police let the man go.

Tim Ferris, 53, realised at 2.30am that there was a man inside the rear porch of his house and that he was trying to break down an inside door.

He dashed out of the front door, ran round his house and locked the rear porch door, effectively trapping the intruder inside the porch space.

But Mr Ferris, an estate agent, said that after he had handed him over to the police, officers seemed reluctant to arrest the man for attempted burglary and only did so when he insisted.

He claimed they refused to take his statement about the attempted break-in because they were already late finishing their shift.

When he spoke to police the next day, he discovered to his fury that they had released the intruder without charge.

They had seemingly accepted the man's explanation that he had drunkenly mistaken Mr Ferris's house for his own home, and was trying to let himself in.

Mr Ferris said he did not believe the explanation, and questioned why a drunk man would climb over a 4ft 6in gate and try to `shoulder-barge' his way into his own home. `It doesn't look like the police asked many questions or made much of an effort to investigate the case,' he said..

`This was despite the fact I had caught the guy and detained him. I offered to give a statement and had done most of the officers' work. Their excuses for not charging him are lame. `What is the point in trying to protect your home if the police do not back you?'

Mr Ferris said he was asleep with his girlfriend at his secluded, detached house in February when he heard his black labrador Sparky barking to raise the alarm. He raced downstairs and locked the man inside the porch.

Mr Ferris said it took police 25 minutes to reach his œ850,000 home in Bearsted, near Maidstone, Kent.

And he questioned why officers had later accepted the intruder's explanation and released him.

Mr Ferris said: `First police told me the man had been drunk - but they didn't charge him with being drunk and disorderly and he seemed sober to me.

`Then they said he had mistakenly been trying to get into the wrong house - but I heard him tell them he lived about 15 miles away in Tenterden.

`I was furious when the police phoned me the following morning to say they were releasing him because he had not done anything wrong. It was a farce.

`If the man wasn't drunk why didn't they charge him with attempted burglary?'

Mr Ferris has made a formal complaint to Kent Police about their handling of the incident. A spokesman said: `A man was arrested at the scene but later released without charge.

`We are carrying out a full review of the incident. We will be working with Mr Ferris to resolve his dissatisfaction with the service he received.'

The spokesman added: `It is absolutely untrue to suggest people are getting away with crime because we don't have sufficient resources to respond to incidents and crimes in progress. `We have officers available around the clock to respond to crimes.'

Original report here




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Thursday, April 25, 2013

British cops 'stood over vulnerable man and watched him die while commenting that he was out cold'

Two police officers allowed a vulnerable man to suffocate and die in front of them without trying to help, a court has heard.

PCs Maurice Leigh and Neil Bowdery, of Kent Police, have pleaded not guilty to misconduct in public office over the death of paranoid schizophrenic Colin Holt in August 2010.

Maidstone Crown Court that police had been called to the 52-year-old's flat in Gillingham, Kent, to bring him back to hospital as he was subject to a Mental Health Act order.

The jury were told today that Leigh, 54, and Bowdery, 29, acted with 'reckless indifference' towards Mr Holt by failing to reposition him and check on his welfare after he had been involved in a struggle with officers.

Prosecutor Duncan Penny said that as police constables, both officers 'owed a duty of care' to Mr Holt when they detained him.

Two days before his death, Mr Holt was admitted to the Medway Maritime Hospital and detained there for assessment under Section 2 of the Mental Health Act.

But some 48 hours later, Mr Holt - who was on medication for his condition - went missing, prompting police to check his flat to return him to hospital.

Leigh failed to get a response from pressing his buzzer but was eventually let into the block of flats where Mr Holt lived by another resident.

After knocking on Mr Holt's door and getting no answer, Leigh let himself and a colleague in through the unlocked door and found him sitting in an armchair.

Mr Holt pretended he was someone else but when he was asked to produce a passport proving his identity, he became aggressive towards the officers.

A struggle ensued, during which a fish tank cracked and water leaked out. Mr Penny said Mr Holt threw Leigh's colleague, Pc Reeves, towards a television, causing both men to lose their footing and land on the floor.

Emergency back-up was requested and Mr Holt was eventually handcuffed with his hands kept behind his back and brought up to an armchair so he could not lash out again.

Other officers, including Bowdery, arrived at the property and Mr Holt was seen to be handcuffed and leaning over an armchair, the court heard.

At one point, as an officer shouted out to Mr Holt asking where the fuse box was, Leigh is said to have replied with words to the effect of: 'I wouldn't bother, he's out cold.'

Mr Penny also said that Bowdery claimed that Mr Holt was 'pretending to be unconscious'.

'You will have to consider whether in the period leading up to that remark, Pc Bowdery was in reality neglecting his duty,' Mr Penny told jurors.

'Given the position in which Mr Holt had been being restrained - that is, face down into the chair - such an observation indicates that Mr Holt was not being cared for in the way he should have been.'

As another officer got closer to Mr Holt, he noticed that he had vomited and appeared lifeless. The officer, Pc Brett, shouted: 'F***, who was checking on him?'

Mr Penny said: 'Those words, of course, have their own significance. 'Pc Brett, at least, appears to have been well aware of the ongoing duty to check on the welfare of a man detained and restrained in the way Mr Holt was.'

Pc Brett laid unconscious Mr Holt on the floor face down and removed his handcuffs before attempts were made to clear his vomit-clogged airways.

Paramedics administered CPR for about 20 minutes but their efforts were to prove in vain.

Mr Penny said that police investigators arrived to conduct a forensic examination of the flat.

Interviewed under caution on January 26 last year, Bowdery declined to answer any questions but read a prepared statement instead.

In it, he said he did not believe there was ever a time when Mr Holt was face down in the cushion and that he saw no time when he was in distress.

Bowdery said he did not think it sensible to reposition Mr Holt on the floor because of the water from the cracked fish tank and because the room was cramped.

The officer also denied saying that he thought Mr Holt was 'pretending to be unconscious'. He said that he helped remove his handcuffs when it became clear Mr Holt was in difficulties.

Leigh, when interviewed under caution on January 25, 2012, also read a statement in which he denied remarking that Mr Holt was 'out cold'.

The pathologist who conducted the post-mortem examination concluded that Mr Holt appeared to have struggled against restraint 'for some time'.

He said: 'The position in which he was restrained with his abdomen and chest against the chair whilst kneeling on the floor is likely to have compromised his ability to breathe as a result of interference with abdominal and chest movements.'

Mr Holt's cause of death was given as positional asphyxiation.

Mr Penny said the officers' conduct fell so far below acceptable standards that it amounted to 'an abuse of the public's trust' in them.

He said: 'Neither officer is accused of being responsible for his death. But each is accused of the offence of misconduct in a public office.

'Because, as they stood over him, having detained him following a struggle, each neglected his duty, each failed to take reasonable and proper care of him and, through that neglect, though plainly not with that intention, allowed him to die in front of them without taking action to seek to prevent it.'

Original report here



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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Charges dropped against Elvis impersonator accused of sending poison letters to Obama after lawyer claims he was framed by former friend

Arrested on obviously phony evidence

Charges have been dropped against a Mississippi man charged with sending ricin-laced poison letters to President Barack Obama, a U.S. senator and a state judge after his lawyer argued that he has been framed by a former friend.

'I've never heard of ricin or whatever. I thought they said rice. I told them I don't eat rice,' Kevin Curtis said at a press conference today, describing the moment he was questioned by federal authorities.

Defense lawyer Christi McCoy said whoever framed her client was able to lead the FBI to his door simply by including Curtis' catch-phrase 'I'm KC and I approve this message' and a few other clues in the threatening notes that were mailed to Washington.

McCoy suggested in court on Monday that federal authorities should instead investigate J. Everett Dutschke, an accused child molester who unsuccessfully ran for a Mississippi state House seat against the son of one of the ricin targets. McCoy said Dutschke recently had a falling out with Curtis after an argument over email. Dutschke and Curtis' brother are former business partners.

On Tuesday local police and federal agents searched Dutschke home and asked him to take a lie detector test. Dutschke has denied any involvement in the threats and has not been accused of wrongdoing by authorities.

McCoy told CNN this afternoon that federal agents have not recovered any physical evidence tying Curtis to the poisoned letters. 'Kevin Curtis is absolutely 100percent innocent,' McCoy told CNN today. She added: 'He's been through sheer hell.'

On Tuesday afternoon, six days after Curtis was arrested, the U.S. Attorney dropped terrorism charges against him. He had been accused of sending letters laces with the deadly poison ricin to the offices of Obama, Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker and Lee County Judge Sadie Holland.

'I respect President Obama. I love my country and would never do anything to pose a threat to him or any other us official,' Curtis said Tuesday.

Dutschke and Curtis are both musicians, are both politically active and are both heavily interested in martial arts.

Dutske was arrested early this year and charged with molesting three girls - including a teenager he 'touched' between 2007 and 2011, an eight-year-old girl and a seven-year-old girl.

He has not yet stood trial for the charges and is free after posting $25,000 bail.

McCoy said that whoever framed her client dropped obvious clues that led federal investigators to arrest Curtis. Curtis made several posts on Facebook about the 'organ donation industry.' He signed each of his posts with the phrase 'I'm KC and I approve this message.' He also authored a book on organ donation called 'Missing Pieces.' The poison-laced notes included a reference to the book, as well.

A day earlier, FBI Agent Brandon Grant testified searches on Friday of Curtis' vehicle and house in Corinth, Mississippi, found no ricin, ingredients for the poison, or devices used to make it. A search of Curtis' computers found no evidence he researched making ricin.

'There was no apparent ricin, castor beans or any material there that could be used for the manufacturing, like a blender or something,' Grant testified. He speculated that Curtis could have thrown away the processor.

McCoy believes the only explanation is that somebody else set her client up. 'It's horrific that somebody would do this, but yes, I believe that's what happened,' McCoy said.

Still, Grant testified that authorities believed they have the right suspect. 'Given the right mindset and the Internet and the acquisition of material, other people could be involved. However, given information right now, we believe we have the right individual,' he said.

Grant said lab analysis shows the poison in the letters was in a crude form that could have been created by grinding castor beans in a food processor or coffee grinder.

Grant testified Friday that authorities tried to track down the sender of the letters by using a list of Wicker's constituents with the initials KC, the same initials in the letters.

Grant said the list was whittled from thousands to about 100 when investigators isolated the ones who lived in an area that would have a Memphis, Tennessee, postmark, which includes many places in north Mississippi. He said Wicker's staff recognized Curtis as someone who had written the senator before.

All the envelopes and stamps were self-adhesive, Grant said Monday, meaning they won't yield DNA evidence. He said thus far the envelopes and letters haven't yielded any fingerprints.



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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Australian woman says police assaulted her at home after call to counselling service

A 60-YEAR-OLD woman who claims police officers burst into her Erindale home and assaulted her after she rang a counselling service has lodged an official complaint with the Police Ombudsman.

Denyse, who did not want her surname published, alleges she was physically assaulted, verbally abused and forced to urinate on the floor when five officers attended her eastern-suburbs house on the morning of April 9.

Police confirmed that officers had attended the home and the Ombudsman was now investigating Denyse's complaint.

"SAPOL cannot, and will not, make comment on the nature of the investigation or allegations," an SA Police statement said.

Denyse said the "nightmare" incident happened after she rang a sexual assault counselling service and an apparent misunderstanding led to police being dispatched to check on her welfare.

She alleged she was sexually assaulted more than a month ago, but has provided The Advertiser with written consent to identify her so she can seek justice.

Denyse said she had never before spoken with the counsellor she dealt with on April 9 and believed the person may have misinterpreted her distress as a threat to harm herself.

She alleged she was doing housework when two male police officers burst through her front door and jumped on her without identifying themselves or explaining why they were there.

"I was washing the floors and the next minute someone jumped on me. I thought it was a home invasion," she said. "They started beating me up, they started belting me. I screamed and I screamed."

Over the next two hours, during which five police officers - four males and one female - were in her house, Denyse alleged police:

TOLD her she was not allowed to phone her husband and had no rights.

PREVENTED her from going to the toilet and forced her to urinate where she lay.

KICKED her in the hip, hit her in the face, twisted her arms and pushed her to the floor.

CONFISCATED her mobile phone, which was only made apparent when her husband Andrew recognised its ringtone and an officer took it out of his pocket.

Andrew said he arrived home about 90 minutes after police entered the home. "I'm not sure why it takes so many people to subdue a 60-year-old woman," he said.

Royal Adelaide Hospital notes provided to The Advertiser detail bruising on Denyse's arms and determined there was no evidence of psychosis.

Victims' Rights Commissioner Michael O'Connell said police management of cases such as this could be complex, but "all citizens have fundamental rights that should be at the forefront of police interventions".

Original report here




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Monday, April 22, 2013

Statute of limitations is first hurdle for misconduct charges against former DA

Last week’s arrest of Ken Anderson, a sitting district court judge, on 26-year-old allegations of prosecutorial misconduct was an exclamation point in Michael Morton’s quest to seek justice for the wrongful conviction that cost him a quarter-century of freedom.

But before the misconduct allegations can advance, they will have to survive a legal challenge from Anderson’s lawyers, who argue that any crimes — even if they could be proven — are too old to prosecute.

District Judge Louis Sturns, who presided over a court of inquiry into the Morton prosecution, found reason to believe that Anderson broke two state laws and committed criminal contempt of court by intentionally hiding evidence when, as Williamson County district attorney, he prosecuted Morton for murder in 1987.

Sturns dismissed arguments that the statute of limitations on the offenses had run out at least 23 years ago, saying the deadlines did not apply because state law on courts of inquiry do not mention time limits.

The time to raise the limitations defense, Sturns said at Friday’s hearing, would be after the arrest warrant was issued — which is what Anderson lawyer Eric Nichols promised to do on appeal.

Statutes of limitations are intended to preserve the integrity of the legal system by protecting against faded memories, degraded evidence, witness deaths and other scourges of time.

And indeed, Nichols has argued, Anderson has had difficulty defending himself because he remembers little of his prosecution of Morton, from how he prepared for trial to how he handled the appeals.

Sturns, however, found a way around Anderson’s balky memory by highlighting two details presented to the court of inquiry during hearings in February:

* Anderson’s handwritten pretrial notes referred to a booklet containing all pertinent investigative reports that had been prepared by the sheriff’s office. Those reports included a typed police interview revealing that the Mortons’ 3-year-old son witnessed his mother’s murder by a “monster,” identified important details of the crime scene and said Michael Morton was not home at the time.

* Kimberly Gardner, an assistant district attorney from 1986-88, testified that in a conversation before Morton’s trial, Anderson said: “The kid thinks a monster killed his mother.” Anderson also discussed other details mentioned in the transcript, she said.

The notes and Gardner’s testimony, Sturns said, “demonstrate a thorough review of evidence from the sheriff’s department.”

“Mr. Anderson’s failure to release the police records in question was no mistake,” Sturns concluded. “Anderson consciously chose to impair (the defense) so that he could obtain the conviction of Mr. Morton for murder.”

Nichols also complained about the difficulty of defending Anderson after the death of a key figure in the case: Judge William Lott, who presided over the Morton trial.

At the urging of Morton’s lawyers before trial, Lott ordered Anderson to submit evidence so he could review it for information favorable to the defendant.

Sturns ruled that Lott ordered all notes and reports from the lead investigator, which would have revealed helpful evidence that Lott would have been required to turn over to the defense. Instead, Anderson submitted only a five-page report detailing the first day of the investigation into Christine Morton’s murder.

Nichols has said that without the judge available to testify, Sturns was left trying to divine Lott’s intentions by reviewing a quarter-century old, potentially incomplete trial transcript. But Nichols also argued that a careful reading of that transcript revealed that Lott wanted to see only the report that Anderson submitted for review.

More here

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Compensation culture run riot among pansy British cops

A policeman was paid £8,000 compensation after being bitten by fleas while at work. The extraordinary injury claim was made after colleagues complained that their police station in Birmingham had become infested with the insects.

It was one of a number of workplace injury claims paid by West Midlands Police which, over the past three years, has spent £900,000 settling cases made by more than 50 policemen.
West Midlands police have come under attack for their compensation payouts.

West Midlands police have come under attack for their compensation payouts.The highest single payout was £22,000.

This week Home Secretary Theresa May ordered an investigation into such payouts, amid nationwide concern that routine injury claims are damaging the reputation of the police.

Just weeks ago, WPC Kelly Jones triggered public outrage and criticism from her own chief constable for suing a burglary victim for £50,000 after tripping over a kerb.

In total, just under 2,000 officers received payouts worth £19.8million last year and 6,600 officers shared £47.3million in the previous three years, Police Federation figures show.

A freedom of information request revealed West Midlands Police has been sued by 51 serving officers and 16 civilian staff in the past three years. The policeman who lodged the flea bites claim follows a £1,000 payout by the same force in 2011 over ‘insect bites’.

In other claims, a worker received £14,000 after falling from a pushbike. Another claimed £600 after being exposed to a loud noise.

The largest payout was £50,000, to an employee who sued over a data protection breach.

The majority of the cases relate to officers and workers tripping over or being bitten by dogs.

Former West Midlands police officer Ray Egan, who served on the force from 1967 to 1993, said: ‘To claim for a flea bite is just too embarrassing for words.’

West Midlands Police said: ‘Details of injuries and payments are often more complex than statistics or brief detail suggest.’

Original report here

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Judith Grossman: A Mother, a Feminist, Aghast

Unsubstantiated accusations against my son by a former girlfriend landed him before a nightmarish college tribunal

I am a feminist. I have marched at the barricades, subscribed to Ms. magazine, and knocked on many a door in support of progressive candidates committed to women's rights. Until a month ago, I would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX and for the Violence Against Women Act.

But that was before my son, a senior at a small liberal-arts college in New England, was charged—by an ex-girlfriend—with alleged acts of "nonconsensual sex" that supposedly occurred during the course of their relationship a few years earlier.

What followed was a nightmare—a fall through Alice's looking-glass into a world that I could not possibly have believed existed, least of all behind the ivy-covered walls thought to protect an ostensible dedication to enlightenment and intellectual betterment.

It began with a text of desperation. "CALL ME. URGENT. NOW."

That was how my son informed me that not only had charges been brought against him but that he was ordered to appear to answer these allegations in a matter of days. There was no preliminary inquiry on the part of anyone at the school into these accusations about behavior alleged to have taken place a few years earlier, no consideration of the possibility that jealousy or revenge might be motivating a spurned young ex-lover to lash out. Worst of all, my son would not be afforded a presumption of innocence.

In fact, Title IX, that so-called guarantor of equality between the sexes on college campuses, and as applied by a recent directive from the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, has obliterated the presumption of innocence that is so foundational to our traditions of justice. On today's college campuses, neither "beyond a reasonable doubt," nor even the lesser "by clear and convincing evidence" standard of proof is required to establish guilt of sexual misconduct.

These safeguards of due process have, by order of the federal government, been replaced by what is known as "a preponderance of the evidence." What this means, in plain English, is that all my son's accuser needed to establish before a campus tribunal is that the allegations were "more likely than not" to have occurred by a margin of proof that can be as slim as 50.1% to 49.9%.

How does this campus tribunal proceed to evaluate the accusations? Upon what evidence is it able to make a judgment?

The frightening answer is that like the proverbial 800-pound gorilla, the tribunal does pretty much whatever it wants, showing scant regard for fundamental fairness, due process of law, and the well-established rules and procedures that have evolved under the Constitution for citizens' protection. Who knew that American college students are required to surrender the Bill of Rights at the campus gates?

My son was given written notice of the charges against him, in the form of a letter from the campus Title IX officer. But instead of affording him the right to be fully informed, the separately listed allegations were a barrage of vague statements, rendering any defense virtually impossible. The letter lacked even the most basic information about the acts alleged to have happened years before. Nor were the allegations supported by any evidence other than the word of the ex-girlfriend.

The hearing itself was a two-hour ordeal of unabated grilling by the school's committee, during which, my son later reported, he was expressly denied his request to be represented by counsel or even to have an attorney outside the door of the room. The questioning, he said, ran far afield even from the vaguely stated allegations contained in the so-called notice. Questions from the distant past, even about unrelated matters, were flung at him with no opportunity for him to give thoughtful answers.

The many pages of written documentation that my son had put together—which were directly on point about his relationship with his accuser during the time period of his alleged wrongful conduct—were dismissed as somehow not relevant. What was relevant, however, according to the committee, was the unsworn testimony of "witnesses" deemed to have observable knowledge about the long-ago relationship between my son and his accuser.

That the recollections of these young people (made under intense peer pressure and with none of the safeguards consistent with fundamental fairness) were relevant—while records of the accuser's email and social media postings were not—made a mockery of the very term. While my son was instructed by the committee not to "discuss this matter" with any potential witnesses, these witnesses against him were not identified to him, nor was he allowed to confront or question either them or his accuser.

Thankfully, I happen to be an attorney and had the resources to provide the necessary professional assistance to my son. The charges against him were ultimately dismissed but not before he and our family had to suffer through this ordeal. I am of course relieved and most grateful for this outcome. Yet I am also keenly aware not only of how easily this all could have gone the other way—with life-altering consequences—but how all too often it does.

Across the country and with increasing frequency, innocent victims of impossible-to-substantiate charges are afforded scant rights to fundamental fairness and find themselves entrapped in a widening web of this latest surge in political correctness. Few have a lawyer for a mother, and many may not know about the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which assisted me in my research.

There are very real and horrifying instances of sexual misconduct and abuse on college campuses and elsewhere. That these offenses should be investigated and prosecuted where appropriate is not open to question. What does remain a question is how we can make the process fair for everyone.

I fear that in the current climate the goal of "women's rights," with the compliance of politically motivated government policy and the tacit complicity of college administrators, runs the risk of grounding our most cherished institutions in a veritable snake pit of injustice—not unlike the very injustices the movement itself has for so long sought to correct. Unbridled feminist orthodoxy is no more the answer than are attitudes and policies that victimize the victim.

Original report here. A similar tribunal led to the suicide of another demonstrably innocent man: Charles Plinton. That was in 2006. Sad that nothing seems to have been learned

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Shameless British police arrest people who blew the whistle on them

Three whistleblowers have been arrested after details of chauffeur- driven journeys taken by a newly-elected police tsar were leaked to the Press.

Cumbria Police’s decision to launch a probe into the exposure of the £700 trips – made by its Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes – has provoked a major political row.

Last night two police staff and another man were arrested as part of the inquiry into ‘disclosure of personal information’. Another police worker was suspended after agreeing to a voluntary interview.

The investigation began after Mr Rhodes’ office responded to the publishing of his expenses bill for two trips in a Mercedes by ‘raising concerns’ with police.

Last night MPs queued up to protest that the arrests stifled freedom of speech and set a ‘dangerous precedent’.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said the police had been ‘heavy-handed’ and that whistleblowers should be protected.

South Lakes MP Tim Farron added: ‘It is wrong to seek to silence whistleblowers in this case. Details of the expenses of public officials ought to be publicly available anyway, we shouldn’t have to rely on leaks to find these things out.

‘This information was in the public interest. Most councils publish this information on a regular basis so why not the police commissioner? To arrest these staff members is high-handed, a threat to free speech and a very dangerous precedent.’

The row over Mr Rhodes’ expenses began last week when the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald published details of the trips made by him in a hired Mercedes with a driver.

In one, Mr Rhodes and his wife travelled 25 miles for a dinner with the Archbishop of York at a hotel. Mr Rhodes, a churchwarden, billed the public £313 for the journey, which was not listed among his official engagements.

The second journey from his office in Penrith to another hotel, the Pheasant Inn at Bassenthwaite Lake, covered 28 miles in each direction and cost taxpayers £385.

The retired headmaster – who is paid £65,000 as commissioner – paid back the money after the newspaper exposed his expenses.

His staff also said he had used a car and driver for ‘personal safety reasons’ because of his long hours and the practice had now ceased.

However Cumbria Police then visited the newspaper’s editor, Colin Maughan, to ask for information and documents. He declined to pass either to officers, and yesterday said he thought officers had been on a ‘fishing expedition’.

On Wednesday it was revealed that police had been arresting suspected whistleblowers. A 47-year-old man and a woman, 50, were arrested on April 10. Yesterday a 54-year-old man who is not a police employee was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

Another police staff member, a 59-year-old man, was suspended after a voluntary interview. Mr Rhodes confirmed yesterday that his office had made a complaint to police about the leak.

The veteran local magistrate, who won his post as Tory candidate in November’s elections, said: ‘Nothing more than concerns were raised by my office to the constabulary and a criminal investigation was not requested.’

He added that he had now asked for an investigation into the ‘scale and nature’ of the probe.

The affair raises a number of questions over freedom of speech and disclosure of information that have become sensitive in the wake of Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations for Press regulation.

Barrow and Furness Labour MP John Woodcock said: ‘The public rightly demand full transparency on the expenses of elected officials and will be alarmed to hear about these arrests.

‘To maintain public trust, Richard Rhodes needs to make clear he had no conversations whatsoever with officers about the handling of this issue and explain why these claims apparently had to be brought to light by a whistleblower.’

Cumbria police said last night: ‘These arrests form part of an ongoing investigation which was launched after police received concerns that confidential information was leaked to the media relating to the Police and Crime Commissioner.

‘Initial concerns were raised by a member of staff within the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner after a member of the local media approached the OPCC for a comment on a story.

‘Cumbria Constabulary has internal whistleblowing policies and processes that support officers and staff who want to raise legitimate issues or concerns in a lawful and appropriate way.’

The affair is the second row in a week over attempts by police to put pressure on local papers.

Sergeant Paul Beale of Hampshire Police phoned staff at the New Milton Advertiser to say that 80-year-old councillor Goff Beck was ‘not happy’ with a story.

Days later he visited the newsroom and said the councillor was dissatisfied that the paper had ‘raked over previous stuff’. His actions were condemned by MPs and freedom of speech campaigners.

Original report here

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

TX: DNA testing bill hopes to end wrongful conviction

DNA testing of defendants prior to trial may soon be required if Senate bill 1292 gets passed.

SB 1292 was recently written and introduced by Democratic Senator Rodney Ellis (TX, District 13). SB 1292 requires the DNA testing of defendants who are accused of committing certain capital cases prior to being tried, in an attempt to avoid wrongful conviction.

Currently, the bill has support from both parties—written by a democrat and approved by the republican attorney general.

According to the Director of the Sam Houston State University Student Legal & Mediation Services, Ralph Roberts Jr., support from both ends of the spectrum gives the bill a good chance of becoming a law.

“The fundamental purpose of our criminal justice system is to seek justice,” Roberts said. “If this bill provides prosecutors and defense attorneys with a tool that can be used to make sure that justice is being served—that is, only the guilty are convicted—then I cannot think of a reason why this bill should not be passed, especially given the bipartisan support it is recieving.”

According to Roberts, this bill is not just an option, but it is a vital necessity to upholding the integrity of the United States criminal justice system.

“The death penalty is the only punishment that, if a mistake is made, nothing can be done to make the wrongfully accused whole,” he said. “That’s why the attorneys in death penalty-eligible cases have to meet stringent criteria and why the court system makes every effort to review these convictions in the appellate process. The sponsors of the bill say that it will help to make sure that those who are guilty of crimes are convicted and that the innocent are not subject to deprivation of their liberty.”

According to Roberts, although the passage of this bill will affect the entire country, it will also present the community of Huntsville, as well as SHSU, with a unique opportunity to continue its leadership in the Texas criminal justice system.

“If this bill becomes law, I suspect that we will need individuals who are uniquely trained to test and make conclusions about DNA and other biological evidence,” Roberts said. “The state will need these individuals, as will defense counsel. I believe that Sam Houston will continue to lead the state in training individuals who will have the education, training and insight to make sure that our criminal justice system not only seeks justice, but is just.”

Assistant Professor of the philosophy dept. Diana Buccafurni-Huber said she is still undecided about her vote on this bill due to some vagueness it holds.

“This bill seems to be motivated by good intentions,” she said. “Conviction of the innocent is certainly something we want to avoid. However, it is not clear that the crimes for which the bill is proposed are the kinds of crimes for which DNA ought to be required—such as forgery. But, if conviction of the innocent is something we want to avoid, then I suppose it can be the case that DNA samples are justified.”

Although she agrees that DNA testing is a reliable resource, Buccafurni-Huber said she is not so keen to claim its applicability to all crimes.

“I think requiring DNA evidence is certainly required for criminal homicide like capital murder,” Buccafurni-Huber said. “I think such evidence is better in terms of quality versus some of the other evidence that is called upon—evidence that has shown to be unreliable such as false confessions and mistaken eyewitness testimonies. Expanding the scope of crimes for which DNA is required, though, I am not yet convinced is justified.”

Thirty-five of the 50 states allow capital punishment with Texas being the leader in death penalty executions with 492. According to The Bureau of Justice Statistics, a total of 1,226 executions have occurred in the U.S. since 1976. Additionally, 130 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence.

Roberts said with the advances in science and technology today, the justice system has an obligation to its citizens to use these tools to their full-advantage.

“We now have the technology to test biological samples that are found at crime scenes, and just as fingerprints were once new science, but generally speaking widely accepted today, I think that DNA testing will be widely accepted, if it’s not already,” Roberts said.

Not only will the bill help in preserving the innocence of those who truly are guilt-free, but according to Roberts, if passed, it may also save time and money, the average cost of a death penalty case is $2.4 million according to the Bureau of Justice.

“This bill may also help save the court system from costly and time-consuming appeals because DNA testing will take place early in the justice process and not as an appeal point later in the process,” he said. “But most importantly, it can help to increase the likelihood that the guilty are punished and the innocent are free.”

However perfect this bill may seem, Roberts said there are also a few concerns it raises.

“One item that needs to be carefully examined is the quality and integrity of the DNA testing labs,” Roberts said. “Unfortunately, we’ve heard several stories recently of labs where tests were either falsified or not undertaken. We need to make sure that processes are in place so that Texas doesn’t experience what’s recently happened in Massachusetts.”

Original report here

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Australia: Victoria police hiding behind secrecy to cover up their failings

TRIPLE-0 emergency call data used to help expose under-reporting of violent crimes by Victoria Police is now being hidden from the public.

The Herald Sun revealed last year that police were sent to 25,000 more assaults in Melbourne and Geelong by triple-0 dispatchers in 2010-11 than were recorded in Victoria Police crime figures.

When fresh data was sought by the Herald Sun, the Emergency Services Telecommunication Authority, which operates the system, said information on incidents that police were sent to, including assaults, brawls, domestic arguments and neighbourhood disputes, could no longer be released.

Police Minister Kim Wells promised new laws to end the secrecy after being contacted by the Herald Sun.

The State Ombudsman had repeatedly urged the force to make greater use of triple-0 data since finding in 2009 that police had abused recording procedures to improve crime clearance rates.

CEO Ken Shymanski said ESTA recognised the legitimacy of the public interest in the information and "would prefer to have a capacity to share generalised information about call-taking and dispatch", but had been advised this was no longer possible.

Mr Shymanski said ESTA had sought legal guidance as to its obligations late last year following an information request from a member of the public. He said that advice cast doubt on the legality of past releases.

"In short, ESTA must not publicly release 'any information' relating to calls received or messages communicated by the authority in the course of providing emergency services."

ESTA declined to release the legal advice.

Mr Wells said the secrecy was an unintended consequence of strict privacy provisions included in the ESTA Act when it was introduced by the former Labor government in 2004. "We will amend the legislation to strike a better balance between the public's right to know how the service is performing and the need to protect the privacy of Victorians who have used the ESTA service."

In February, Victoria Police said it would launch an external review of the way it collected data on assaults after the Herald Sun revealed the Australian Bureau of Statistics' victim survey had put the number of assaults in Victoria in 2011-12 at 588,600 - 14 times the 42,076 recorded by police.

Original report here. (Via Australian police news)

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

British cop who tried to intimidate local paper for criticising a councillor

A police sergeant has been accused of attempting to censor stories in a local newspaper about a ‘controversial’ town councillor.

Paul Beale challenged the weekly paper over its ‘editorial policy’ after the councillor was upset by a critical article. The officer telephoned the newspaper and later visited its offices where he spoke to an editor about its style of reporting.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said the incident was a direct consequence of the Leveson Inquiry into Press standards.

He said: ‘It’s outrageous that a police sergeant should think it is part of his role to question the editorial policy of a newspaper. But is not surprising given the attitude of some politicians and police to the Press. Since the Leveson Inquiry, people think it is fair game to try to interfere with legitimate reporting by newspapers.’

The New Milton Advertiser described Tory councillor Goff Beck as ‘controversial’ and revealed he had been accused of making homophobic remarks to an openly gay colleague. It also said he had been reprimanded for bullying a female councillor.

Mr Beale, of Hampshire Police, initially telephoned staff at the newspaper to say Mr Beck, 80, was ‘not happy’ with the article, adding: ‘To be fair, he has got a point.’

Days later he visited the newsroom and said the councillor was dissatisfied that the story had ‘raked over previous stuff’.

Mr Beale told the newspaper he did not want to be made out as a ‘guardian’ to Councillor Beck but added: ‘He feels his credibility as a person of good standing is being undermined.’

But the actions of the police officer were condemned last night.

Conservative MP Conor Burns, a member of the Commons culture select committee, said: ‘It’s not the role of the police to take it upon themselves to question editors of newspapers about any particular line they take in a story. To do so steps way beyond the legitimate role of the police.’

Padraig Reidy, of the freedom of speech campaign group Index on Censorship, said: ‘It’s not the sort of thing that should happen in any democratic country. It’s political policing.’ Mr Satchwell added: ‘Hopefully, before it’s too late, people at the top of politics and policing will wake up to what is happening in what is supposed to be one of the most revered democratic countries in the world.’

The New Milton Advertiser ran the article about Mr Beck, who was also a member of the Hampshire Police and Crime Panel, last October. It didn’t complain about the approach by Mr Beale at the time but a resident subsequently raised the issue with the police.

John Caine, 53, a software engineer from New Milton, has been involved in a dispute with Mr Beck over a planning issue. He said: ‘You don’t expect the police to get involved in what appears in newspapers. It is more akin to a fascist or communist regime.’

Hampshire Police said Mr Beale has since been given ‘suitable advice’ by a senior officer for his ‘poorly judged comments’ and ‘perceived lack of neutrality’. A spokesman for the New Milton Advertiser and Lymington Times said: ‘Clearly the police must be seen to be independent and free from any suggestions of favourable treatment for certain people.’

Mr Beck has since stood down from his role as chairman of New Milton Town Council’s amenities committee. It came after half of the 18-strong Tory council signed a motion in a bid to force him to resign from the authority. They claim his previous behaviour had brought the council into disrepute

Original report here

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Another powder-puff cop in Brtitain

A policewoman sued her own force for nearly £5,000 after cutting her thumb while cleaning up a cannabis factory.

Kerry Ann Taylor, 34, won £4,837 by successfully arguing Hampshire Police breached its duty as an employer by exposing her to fumes and failing to provide thick gloves. The WPC injured herself when she tried to open a window and put her hand through it.

Fumes from cannabis plants in the property had made her feel ill and she wanted to let in some fresh air.

It cost the force £145,000 in legal costs to take the case to London’s Court of Appeal this week in a battle to ­overturn the ruling, the Sunday Mirror reported today.

WPC Taylor’s lawyer Andrew Roy, urged the court to uphold the 2008 verdict because the flat-turned-drug factory in Southsea, Hampshire, was 'dangerous premises' with a foreseeable risk of injury. He told the appeal judges: 'The only protective equipment provided was thin latex gloves.

'There was limited ventilation and her case, accepted by the judge, was she was suffering the effects of inhaling ­cannabis fumes. 'There was cannabis drying out and the place was a nest of wires.'

Geoffrey Weddell, for the police force, told the judges: 'WPC Taylor had simply not been ­allocated any task that required the provision of thick gloves.

'It is absurd to suggest the Chief Constable ought to have provided such gloves.'

And Lord Justice Elias said: 'She was pulling out cannabis plants. There were no sharp edges involved at that time. There is no obligation on the Chief Constable (to provide thick gloves) at that point.'

Mr Roy argued that Hampshire Police’s own guidance at the time said officers entering cannabis factories should in fact be ­provided with body armour.

But Judge Elias said officers 'don’t need body armour' for going in to clean up a cannabis factory.

Judge David Blunt QC made the original ruling against then Chief Constable Alex Marshall at ­Winchester Crown Court in 2008.

The court reserved judgement until a later date in the case of WPC Taylor who is still with Hampshire Police.

A Police Federation spokeswoman told MailOnline: 'I can confirm that the matter is with the Court of Appeal. 'Whilst we await the judgement it would not be appropriate to comment further.'

The appeal came as it was revealed last week that a police officer was paid £10,000 compensation after falling off a chair on London Underground premises.

Details of the award to the British Transport Police officer were released after it emerged Norfolk Police officer Kelly Jones is suing a petrol station owner for £50,000 because she allegedly tripped while responding to a 999 call.

Original report here

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Married British cop 'had sex with girlfriend in police van and used national database to track women he wanted to chase'

A married police constable had sex with his girlfriend in a police van and used the police national computer to track three women to chase, a jury heard today.

Twice-married Pc Matthew Fisher, 37, allegedly spent four years coaxing sexual favours from five different women through his role as a police officer, sometimes refusing to take no for an answer, Hull Crown Court heard.

He would make flirting remarks, grab their hands and place them on his genitals, and try to look down their top while on pay from North Yorkshire Police, it is alleged.

He met two women by offering them lifts home in a police van.

Prosecutors claim he looked up the mobile numbers on police databases for three women when he had no professional reason to do so.

Fisher, of Selby, is accused of four charges of sexual assault, one charge of attempted rape and a charge of misconduct in public office by accessing the police national computer and using a police radio for personal communication. He denies the charges.

He has admitted two charges of misconduct in public office.

One relates to having sexual contact in a police van outside of Selby Bus Station.

The other relates to having consensual sexual contact with woman he met in while she was on a night out and he gave her a lift home in a police van.

Crown barrister Simon Waley told the jury the allegations arose from his work as a police officer in the Selby area and had spiraled from two to four complaints when girls read he had been charged, but some of the sexual contact was consensual.

Mr Waley said Fisher would meet the women as victims of crime or patrolling and befriend them before beginning to flirt and offer his sexual services - usually in their own homes.

'He has targeted women he wished to have sexual contact with and in some instances has tracked down their personal details using police information systems,' said Mr Waley.

With others he forced his sexual intentions on them, confident in the belief that they wouldn't bring themselves to report him - for example that they had been the victim of an offence that he was there to assist them with or that they had criminal records which made them think that they would never be believed over a police officer or simply that they were drunk, the court heard.

'In each instance he was content to take advantage of those vulnerabilities.'

Mr Waley said the first woman would tell the jury she was dependent on heroin and Pc Fisher had gone to a shared flat where she had been drinking to ask her to turn down music.

She said he took her home, drunk in his police car and when they reached her address he started some flirtatious conversation

He grabbed her hand to his manhood the woman said she swore at him pulled her hand away and made to get out the car.

'He asked her not to tell anyone and that he was getting engaged soon,' said Mr Waley.

The second woman called him to help her after being assaulted by her partner. She said he asked her to demonstrate how she was assaulted.

She said Fisher had said: 'You're not wearing any knickers.' She commented she did not think that was very professional.

She said he make an excuse to use her toilet and came out into her bedroom with his trousers undone.

She told police he grabbed her, pushing her on to a bed, trying to kiss her.

'She was asking him what he was doing and telling him to stop,' said Mr Waley.

He told the court Fisher tried to make her perform a sex act after taking off his protective vest.

Eventually he gave up and said to her: 'I know things about you, so you're not going to tell on me are you?'

Mr Waley said the third woman they would hear from needed police help, after her son was involved in an incident.

He made repeated home visits on duty. 'He often made sexual comments to her and she describes him pulling at her top and looking down at her breasts on more than one occasion,' said Mr Waley.

'She said on one occasion Pc Fisher gave her a lift home in a police van and sat of her sofa before unzipping his trousers. She asked him what he was doing as there were children in the house.'

She said on a further occasion he had arrived at her home when she was putting make up on ready to go out when he backed her into a kitchen corner.

'He put one hand onto her upper body and with his other hand he took hers and placed it on his groin,' said Mr Waley.

'She pulled her hand away but she had foundation on her hand which left a mark on his trousers.'

Mr Waley said the fourth complainant met Fisher on a night out in Selby when he when he pulled up in a police van and offered her a lift home.

She was happy to go along with it and gave him her phone number and when they got to her house he kissed her. He used his police radio to call her and Mr Waley said the pair had consensual sexual contact one or two weeks later.

'You should not he has pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office to reflect the fact in the course of his duties he called on this lady to have sexual contact.'

Mr Waley said in total Pc Fisher made 52 attempts to contact her using both is police radio and personal mobile.

Mr Waley said in March last year Fisher was interviewed about the allegations made by two women and in prepared statement denied he assaulted them in anyway.

Enquires were made into Pc Fisher's use of police systems and his personal contacts. Mr Waley said Fisher accessed a police data base for three women - obtaining their personal mobiles and then calling them.

'One has given a statement in which she says that Pc Fisher had admitted he had 'taken the liberty of looking her up' with respect to her number and car details.

Mr Waley said Fisher first struck up a relationship with this fifth women he met in a supermarket and had consensual sexual contact with her in a police van outside Selby Bus Station.

He said: 'Matthew Fisher has entered a guilty plea to misconduct in public office with having sex in a police van.'

Mr Waley said in interview Pc Fisher accepted he had carried out checks, but could not recall details of those checks.

When interviewed about the other two women he accepted knowing one as a victim of crime and attended her house on police business, but denied any sexual remarks or misconduct

Instead he said she behaved flirtatiously to him exposing herself and asking him when they would have sexual relations.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Scotland Yard sergeant resigns in disgrace over Thatcher tweets in which he hoped her death was 'degrading and painful'

A serving police officer who sent a series of sickening tweets about the death of Margaret Thatcher has today resigned from his job at Scotland Yard.

Sergeant Jeremy Scott said he hoped the former prime minister’s death at the age of 87 was ‘painful and degrading’.

The 52-year-old Metropolitan Police officer also suggested the world would be a ‘better place’ if David Cameron, too, were dead.

Scotland Yard said today: 'The officer concerned, today submitted his resignation and it was accepted with immediate effect.'

However a spokesman said he would be 'receiving his full pension at an appropriate time' but refused to give further details of the amount involved.

Met Commander Allan Gibson added: 'This officer's behaviour was completely unacceptable and it is right that he has resigned.'

Writing on Twitter, Sgt Scott questioned whether a flypast would ‘bomb’ Lady Thatcher’s coffin and said her passing was ‘87 years too late’.

He said: ‘Goodnight Twitter. The world is a better place today now that c*** is dead. Now for Cameron, May and Osborne.’

The comments of the police officer, sworn to uphold the law, mark a new low in the bitter hate campaign ahead of Lady Thatcher’s funeral.

Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe had been under growing pressure to suspend the officer last night, but it appears Scott quit before he was sacked.

Tory MP Iain Stewart, who represents Sgt Scott’s constituency of Milton Keynes South, said he was ‘absolutely disgusted’ by the comments.

He said: ‘I will be writing to Sir Bernard and asking him to investigate this further.’

The Met has shown no mercy to other staff caught abusing social networking sites, with seven sacked in the past five years. A further eight resigned or retired after complaints.

Sgt Scott, who earns up to £45,000 in a back office role, sparked an internal inquiry when he contacted senior officers within hours of being confronted by the Daily Mail.

However, asked at his £300,000 home in Milton Keynes if he regretted his comments, he did not apologise. Instead he said: ‘I have about as much remorse as she did.’

A Mail investigation identified Sgt Scott as being responsible for an outspoken anonymous Twitter account called ‘ThinBlueSpeck’.

He used the site to fuel dissent against government reforms of the police service and criticise his superiors.

He advertised his comments as mainly about ‘punk, sex, bad politics and good policing’, adding they are ‘very sweary at times so be ****ing warned’.

A short time after the announcement of Lady Thatcher’s death, he commented: ‘I hope it was painful and degrading’ before labelling her the ‘architect of the hole that is Britain today’.

After lawless outbursts across Britain, the next day he wrote: ‘Marvellous stuff! Margaret Thatcher’s death greeted with street parties in Brixton and Glasgow.’

He later added: ‘Not sure why we should show respect for someone who showed utter contempt for the vast majority of this country.’

He signed off that message with the word ‘dingdong’, a reference to the campaign to make the song Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead number one in the music charts.

In a further disturbing twist, we can reveal that Sgt Scott is also responsible for a second Twitter account called ‘GovernmentThug’. On it, he described himself as a ‘pleb and proud’ – a reference to the Andrew Mitchell affair.

In one series of messages about Home Secretary Theresa May, he described strangling her, digging out her heart with a dagger and sexually assaulting her.

He added: ‘After all she’s screwing us and giving nothing back so it’s only fair I do the same.’

At his home, he smiled when confronted with the evidence of his online messages. Wearing a rock band T-shirt and jeans, he refused to answer further questions, adding: ‘I really don’t want to talk about it.’

On his MySpace page, Sgt Scott lists his status as ‘swinger’ and occupation as ‘pig’. Under interests, he wrote: ‘Sex, music, wine and sex. Preferably together, usually apart.’

Original report here

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Dual Personalities Emerge in Wrongful Conviction Cases

Jonathan "Flip" Moore had already served almost a dozen years for murder when he suddenly got help from an unexpected source. Two cops with the same department that had arrested Moore began re-investigating his case in 2011 based on a tip from a confidential informant. Moore was innocent, the informant told detectives John Munn and Darrell Moore from Aurora, a blue collar town about 40 miles southwest of Chicago.

The Woodward and Bernstein of law enforcement relentlessly pursued "Deep Throat's" lead, interviewing old witnesses and finding new ones. The Aurora PD eventually involved the Kane County State's Attorney's Office, and together they reached a painful conclusion: fellow police and prosecutors had convicted the wrong man.

On March 6, 2012, Moore was brought to a Kane County courtroom in shackles, clueless about why he was there, only to hear State's Attorney Joseph McMahon move to vacate his conviction. A couple of hours later, the 30-year-old Moore was enjoying pizza with his lawyers and an uncle. Thanks to law enforcement, his nightmare was over.

Amid the ensuing fanfare, Officers Munn and Moore were named the Aurora Police Department's 2012 Co-Employees of the Year. "Your actions were courageous and heroic," Police Chief Greg Thomas said at a ceremony honoring the officers. "Innocent individuals serving time in prison is wrong. You took it upon yourselves to correct the situation," Thomas added.

But the feel-good story had a brief shelf life that ended when a man named Jonathan Grayson presented a distinctly different picture of the Aurora PD. In a federal civil rights lawsuit filed last month, Grayson accused eight Aurora cops of pinning a murder on him by coercing witnesses and concealing evidence. The cops allegedly had let the actual killers slip through their fingers by interviewing them near the scene, but failed to pursue the lead. These actions were part of "a routine practice of the Aurora Police Department to pursue wrongful convictions through profoundly flawed investigations and coerced evidence," Grayson's suit claimed.

A spokesperson for the Department declined to comment on the lawsuit, but it's not hard to guess what the cops were saying privately: No good deed goes unpunished. You see, Jonathan Grayson was the inmate formerly known as Jonathan Moore. (Despite changing his surname, Grayson retained "Flip," a nickname given by his mother.)

Grayson's attorney, Jon Loevy, cushioned the legal blow by noting that the detectives who'd locked up Moore were different than the duo that freed Grayson. "By no means are we condemning the entire Police Department." Loevy insisted.

If you're confused by the dual personalities and role reversals in the Moore/Grayson controversy, better get used to it. Law enforcement agencies across the country are increasingly reviewing old cases and proudly reporting their mistakes. Prosecutors have launched conviction integrity units in San Jose, Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Lake County (IL), Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The Brooklyn unit was responsible for the high-profile exoneration last month of David Ranta in the rabbi slaying case, noteworthy also because the prosecutor who initiated the review was personally involved in Ranta's unjust conviction. In Dallas, reform-minded DA Craig Watkins exonerated 19 prisoners between 2007 and 2011, more than doubling the county's entire total for the previous two decades.

In 2012, law enforcement was actively involved in 34 exonerations, according to a recently updated report by researchers at the University of Michigan and Northwestern University. For the first time since the researchers began tracking exonerations in 1989, a majority (54 percent) of the innocent prisoners cleared last year benefited from the active cooperation of police and prosecutors. That compares to an average of 20-30 percent in most of the preceding 24 years.

This trend "may reflect a change in climate, a growing recognition by prosecutors and other law enforcement officers that false convictions are a serious problem that they need to address," the researchers concluded.

Of course, as in Jonathan Grayson's case, admitting mistakes can trigger collateral consequences. A number of exonerations have led to federal civil rights suits against law enforcement, and questions have been raised about the motives behind "Do-Over Squads". In the Brooklyn case, for example, some have alleged that D.A. Charles Hynes freed Ranta for political reasons, while in Cook County, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has been accused of running a unit that is purely window dressing.

But State's Attorney Joseph McMahon cut to the heart of the issue when he decided to free Grayson. "It's about justice, not a conviction," said Kane County's top lawman.

As for Grayson's future, he returned to Aurora after his release, but trouble seems to follow him. Shortly before he filed suit, he was arrested by Aurora cops (not Munn and Moore) and charged with two counts of felony aggravated battery.

Did he do it? Perhaps the justice system will get it right the first time around.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE or here