At the End of the Day, Sir Paul Stephenson resigns

Stephenson (l) and Johnson in conference

The media, Parliament, the police and the Judiciary are separate powers. If Hackgate teaches us anything, it is that they must be more so.

In case you were blinking or have perhaps been to the lavatory in the last two hours, Sir Paul Stephenson resigned this evening.

One shouldn’t worry about missing the odd Newscorp-related arrest, as there’ll be another one along in a minute. Rebekah’s collar having been felt at lunchtime, all sorts of speculation along the lines of ‘Why now?’ has been around: but for what it’s worth, my legal Beagle’s opinion is that this means she won’t be able to make her guest appearance on the Muppet Show next Tuesday, much as I’m sure she’d like to. I have it on reasonable authority that Weeting et al decided to arrest the flame-haired airhead once it became clear she’d probably turn up to the Goalhangers Show-trial Commons Committee.

Effectively, there’s a turf war going on here – and for once, it’s entirely justified. For Consitutional anoraks like me, there is a very clear difference between the job of the police on the one hand, the role of the Judiciary on another, and the role of the political class in general (and the Government in particular) on the third hand, should you be lucky enough to have one. David Cameron struggles to grasp it, but then life has been a continuous struggle for the Prime Minister, so this is nothing new. Recently, the PM made a hopelessly flaky speech about the separation of legal powers, and the role of the Government within that. The gist of it was that Camerlot made the laws and interpreted how those laws should work, while the police did what they were told. Somehow, the judges got a mention only in so far as they were often wrong, and thus needed to be re-engineered in some way – probably by the tabloid media.

There are few dangers to liberty greater than privileged ignorance feeding a populist media, although given the events of the last eight days, the Court of Camerlot seems to have lost an awful lot if its shine, and not a little of its power. Nevertheless, both the Judiciary and the police received Cameron’s speech loud and clear. Up until now there have only been rumblings and the odd letter to the Times. The decision to arrest Rebekah Brooks before Tuesday, however, is a clear and unmistakeable action by the police to say, “This is our business, please reverse tanks off lawn”.

I have to report that I find this act entirely healthy, and a glimmer of hope (perhaps) that just maybe there are still coppers in the Met who understand what their job is. Sue Akers undoubtedly does, and the Slog has learned that this was 98% her idea. My sliver of optimism rests solely on placing the timing of this arrest into the context of the last 35 years.

———————

Ever since the Old Left tried to take over from Parliament in the 1970s, the police have become increasingly politicised. Strike-breaking, demo-bashing, Westminster MP’s office rifling and so forth have become their unhappy stock in trade. At the same time, the senior ranks have turned into adept politicians in their own right, doing the bidding of New Even Madder Labour on the prosecution of political Thought Crime with gusto. Homophobic remarks, every form of ism, and the ludicrously titled Hate Crime sectors have been exhaustively sought out – while the cars, credit cards, and domestic home contents of Britain have been nicked at will.

This has in turn led to the top bods in the flat caps being increasingly ‘media savvy’. Policeman Andy Hayman was easily the smartest operator in this field, and I would bet several tickets to the Secret Policeman’s Ball that he still has not a clue that he was wrong to use it in the way he did. I have seen wrestlers feign injury with far more acting ability than this pompous man managed in the Keith Vaz Star Chamber last week; but his general attitude and demeanour is fairly standard in the Met’s senior ranks. These idiots thought eating steak frites and profiteroles with Newscorp was somehow something the ‘modern’ police force had to do.

What we have now, therefore, is the cops in a menage a trois with the media and the politicians. Inevitably, this led to blind eyes, deals and bungs among the three….along with threats to ‘bury’ anyone it saw standing outside the tent with the potential to p**s into it.

But a few officers (some of them retired) saw the light some time ago, and Ms Akers is one of them. So far she has decided to ignore all those who are constitutionally illiterate and ethically bereft, preferring instead to get to the task of banging people up. But the police themselves have for long had a few kangaroo-Court ideas in this area too. The practice of hiring bent ‘expert’ witnesses to jail single mothers for the social services, plant evidence on serial drug-dealer suspects they’ve never managed to nick, and invent certain body movements during arrests, is still widespread across all Britain’s police forces. Having to watch this incompetence, corruption and media-rousing from every conceivable angle sit Britain’s judges – for many years now the whipping boys of every why-oh-why tabloid from the Daily Wail to the Daily Starkers.

————————

A minority of Britain’s judges are themselves bent. Not a large minority, mind you – but not a tiny one either. You can’t follow the trail of paedophile crime and the Secret Family Courts in the UK without reaching the conclusion that some judges are degenerate, and one or two are criminal predators of the worst kind. This minority represents the main abuse of gagging orders in Britain: we all hear about Ryan Gaggs and so forth, but the bread and butter stuff is largely concerned with covering up incompetence, corruption and perversion at local level.

However, the great majority of judges do not deliver incoherent summings-up and/or daft sentences. What they do is listen to the police and defence arguments, read Acts of Parliament, try to divine WTF the EU is on about, and deliver a judgement based on all of those data. This is not a job for the faint-hearted or senile, but then very few judges are either of those. The best thing about the judiciary is that it takes, on the whole, no notice whatsoever of what the media prints and thinks.

In short, judges interpret the law. Much of it is carelessly drafted and confusingly written by Ministers and their Sir Humphreys; police lie and pervert justice; bent briefs do the bidding of highly valued clients; sentencing guidance is useful up to but not including guidance; and at any minute, the media might wind up vote-centric politicians, thus bringing even sillier and anti-libertarian legal instruments onto their radar.

But judges too have noted the rank hypocrisy of Camerlot, and decided to reinforce their position as being entirely above the political cock-fight – and entirely separate from the agendas of Party Leaders who believe that a soundbite a day keeps the wolves at bay. In this sense, Justice Vos has come through Hackgate with more steely dignity than most of the rest of the players put together. Without Vos, I can assure you, Newscorp could easily have got way with it.

——————————–

The bottom line is very simple. Legislators sit in the nation’s Sovereign body, Parliament. They pass Bills and frame instruments which become Law. They do it badly and often for the worst of reasons. The police’s job is to prosecute, without fear or favour, all those who break that law, and deliver suspects to the Courts. They perform that task incredibly badly most of the time, and sometimes for corrupt reasons. The judiciary guides juries and takes views in each individual case brought before them, sometimes using reporters in Court as a means of pointing out when those laws they’re given are asses. Most of the time they do the job quite well; and almost always, they ignore (or bridle at) political criticism as being very probably based on grubby motives*.

My conclusion is that this is a media-police-Government mess, in which the judiciary is scarcely involved at all. But whatever one’s personal take on this is, Separation of Powers is the only way a State can deliver equality before the Law. And without that equality, there can be no citizen protection, no guarantee of citizen liberty, and no true democracy. If the Establishment learns no lesson beyond this from Hackgate, then all this upheaval will have been worthwhile

As I sit here tapping away, there is (I’m glad to remark) a recognition in most media channels that the course of investigation and prosecution of criminal activity must take precedence over what is, essentially, a political scrum. This too I find healthy: Parliament is our sovereign body, but it is not impotent. The police have a job to do: the time has come for them to follow the judges’ example by ignoring the ego-driven squeals of spineless MPs keen to get a moment in the spotlight.

Sir Paul Stephenson’s resignation press conference is on BBCNews on a near-loop. The bloke seems decent enough, but he is still smug – and firmly stuck in arse-covering mode. He says he didn’t suspect Neil Wallis, which makes him a lousy copper. And he hired him in the first place, which makes him a lousy judge of character.

David Cameron showed the same odd melange of sloppy naivety in hiring Coulson and befriending Brooks. I’ll be writing about his likely fate tomorrow.

17 thoughts on “At the End of the Day, Sir Paul Stephenson resigns

  1. Sir Paul’s resignation announcement included no mention of the freebies Cop1+Spouse enjoyed, simply because he was Cop1.

  2. If he had not resigned he would have been pushed. With his resignation statement he gives the usual bullshit, “For the good of the Met”. These people never ever admit that it’s because they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. The amount of legislation passed by New Labour and the explosion in criminal offences they created was of such an overwhelming amount, it never did or could be scrutinised effectively by Parliament. This is what happens when you start knee jerk legislation and try to change peoples deeply held beliefs into crimes. It was New Labour who wanted global warming denial to be turned into a crime, thankfully they never succeeded apart from the billions this scam will cost us all. Look at fox hunting and the amount of time given to debating that compared to real and important issues like the Iraq war. There may be faults with the judiciary but I have more faith in them than politicians, police, cps and media combined. BUT not much more.

  3. Haven’t read all this good stuff (being drunk and all) but this seems to be a BoJo move – he’ll be the death of Cameron and no-one else.

    “David Cameron showed the same odd melange of sloppy naivety in hiring Coulson and befriending Brooks. I’ll be writing about his likely fate tomorrow.”

    He’s finished. Over. Kaput. Pining for the fjords. John – there’s no doubt that you are among the top one (copyright B. Clough) bloggers out there, but even you must accept the inevitable – Dave is finished.

  4. OK, so Dave is finished. But when exactly did he start? Over a year ago we were told that things were dire and a lot needed to change. That did indeed seem to be the case. Then Dave found that it would be unpopular to change anything and if he did make changes there could be riots and starvation among the hordes of state dependants. Spite and stuff like that would be flowing from Left to Right in greater than usual quantities. He told Sir Merv to redefine inflation in a favourable manner and keep interest rates to the lowest ever level, indefinitely, as the hordes who would be dispossessed by having to pay the mortgages they had signed up to or the business loans that apparently they could now not afford would rise up and bite him and his pale blue cronies in their marginals. Clegg might gain share!
    No, I didn’t think much of Cameron in opposition, all those open goals left unsullied, Labour hardly ever challenged. Now he is PM, his weakness is simply more visible. Vacillating inactivity is not becoming in a PM.

    • No, you’re missing the point – you still think that Cameron is a “classic” politician who wanted to be Prime Minister.

      He didn’t. Just like the premiership footballers who don’t really want to play for England, but only do it for the wage/transfer advantage that it brings, so Dave only became PM to give himself a leg-up on the corporate-PR ladder that generates connections that influence the levers of power. DC isn’t the first to look at Prime Ministership this way of course (the first was Tony Blair) but I think this is the horrible expose that the British Public are currently being shielded from (and not any evidence of e.g. cocaine use) – the absolute proof that DC is an entirely corporate entity, and feels (and has felt) no responsibility to Joe Public whatsoever.

      This fits in with my previous comments that it is the Tories, with their money-is-more-important-than-humans ideology, that are the ultimate traitors, with perversely the likes of Arthur Scargill being the patriots.

      • Agree up to your last paragraph-it is venal politicians who are the traitors. They are in all parties-and the idea of Scargill as a patriot is laughable.

      • “This fits in with my previous comments that it is the Tories, with their money-is-more-important-than-humans ideology, that are the ultimate traitors, with perversely the likes of Arthur Scargill being the patriots.”

        This is nonsense. Arthur Scargill was a Hard Left commie who wanted to usurp our economy and replace the government. Be assured, he had zero interest in you or anybody else, only in unelected power he so craved.

        I grant you, it depends on how you wish UK society to be. If you wish it to be successful with (hopefully) rising wealth and prosperity and as much personal freedom/responsibility as practicle in a complex society, then no-way are the Tories the “ultimate traitors”.
        OTOH if you wish it to be a giant welfare state run by unelected ‘little Hitlers’ which is willing to fund an easy life for parasites and scroungers then of course you will see the Tories as you do. But that only confirms my earlier comment to you that your stance is socialist. In a simplistic way I prefer to see ourselves as ‘UK plc’ whilst recognising that the business sector must have seriously effective limitations on what/how it does to ensure consumers are not abused.

  5. And you managed that excellent piece without a single mention of the politicised CPS, responsible for some appalling prosecution/non-prosecution decisions.

    Apart from that, I agree with much of what Mike Gibbins & Carys have written.

    • This is from an article I wrote in May 2011, so don’t worry, there IS someone on the CPS’ case:

      Those who govern us –
      The first of an occasional series of articles about those who tell us what to do
      No. 1. Keir Starmer – Director of Public Prosecutions
      Here are a few articles gleaned over the last two years which may (or may not) be of passing interest.

      Most News Media Friday 10-Dec-2010
      David Cameron’s director of communications will not be prosecuted over claims he knew of hacking while editor of News of the World. Andy Coulson will not face phone hacking charges, director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer has announced.

      The Crown Prosecution Service announced the decision after spending the last four weeks studying material from a renewed Scotland Yard investigation into the claims.

      A number of journalists have come forward to say the practice was widespread and known about by Coulson, a claim he denies.

      The CPS would only prosecute if it believed there was a 50% or more chance of getting a conviction.

      Scotland Yard today released the advice it received from the CPS, saying that on the basis of the material presented by police, this threshold had not been met.

      Kier Starmer, Director of the CPS said: “I do not consider that there is now any evidence that would reach the threshold for prosecution set out in the code for crown prosecutors. In my opinion there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction”.

      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      Guardian Wednesday 17 November 2010

      An MI5 officer singled out for allegedly abusing and conniving in the torture of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident secretly interrogated and flown to Guantanamo Bay will not be prosecuted, it was announced today.

      Concern within MI5 over the unprecedented police investigation into “possible criminal wrongdoing”, which has lasted more than a year, was reflected in a statement made by the head of the agency, Jonathan Evans.

      “I am delighted that after a thorough police investigation, the Crown Prosecution Service has concluded that Witness B has no case to answer in respect of his interviewing of Mr Binyam Mohammed,” he said. Evans continued: “Witness B is a dedicated public servant who has worked with skill and courage over many years to keep the people of this country safe from terrorism and I regret that he has had to endure this long and difficult process.”

      The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, said his office had advised the Metropolitan police there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the officer, known as Witness B, for any criminal offence arising from an interview with Mohamed in Pakistan on 17 May 2002.

      Starmer said Scotland Yard was continuing a wider investigation into “other potential criminal conduct” arising from allegations made by Mohamed.

      ================================================

      Most News Media 23 Jul 2010

      On 22 July 2010 Keir Starmer as head of the CPS announced the controversial decision not to prosecute the police officer Simon Harwood in relation to the death of Ian Tomlinson resulting in accusations by Tomlinson’s family of a police cover up.

      Tomlinson, 47, died near the Bank of England on 1 April 2009 after being struck with a baton and pushed to the ground by a member of the Met police’s territorial support group. The director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, announced in July that PC Simon Harwood, the officer who was filmed assaulting Tomlinson, would not face prosecution. Tomlinson’s family, who have accused authorities of trying to cover up possible police involvement in the death, have said the inquest is their last hope for accountability.

      Mr Starmer said this also ruled out one kind of assault charge because it could not now be proved that the strike or push harmed Mr Tomlinson.

      He added that the officer could not even be charged with common assault, which does not require proof of injury, because there is a six-month time limit on bringing such a case, while this inquiry has already dragged on for 15 months.

      ================================================
      I
      ndependent Friday 9 April 2010

      Omari Roberts, 23, was due to stand trial for the murder of 17-year-old Tyler Juett on April 19.

      The teenager was allegedly stabbed by Roberts after he caught him ransacking his mother’s home in the Basford area of Nottingham in March last year. His solicitor said “This is a young man with no history of violence whatsoever, coming back to his mother’s house for lunch and finding two people who rushed at him.”

      It came out in court during an earlier hearing that the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer had been involved in the decision to prosecute Roberts.

      Starmer was involved in the “erroneous” decision to prosecute Roberts, a trainee builder who killed the teenage burglar in a struggle at Roberts’s mother’s home. The prosecution case relied solely on the evidence of a second teenage burglar (who had many previous convictions for violent offences), and the case was eventually dropped on 19 April 2010, with Roberts being formally found not guilty.

      Mr. Roberts said “I never understood why they would not believe me and why they constantly took the word of a 14-year-old criminal over mine”.

      Roberts’s mother said “This was not a public place, this was my home and the CPS dealt with the situation as if it was a public environment. This was in the privacy of my own home, it was a violation of my own family.”

      She suggests that if she had not been so vocal in her protests over the decision to prosecute or the 2010 general election was not in progress, the prosecution might not have been dropped.

      ================================================

      Independent Friday 12 March 2010

      A row erupted tonight between prosecutors and the House of Lords authorities following a decision not to bring charges against the Labour peer Baroness Uddin over her expenses.

      The peer faces allegations she claimed tens of thousands of pounds in overnight allowances for staying in London on Lords business, after designating a flat in Maidstone, Kent, as her main home, even though she rarely visited it.

      The Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer said the wording of the guidelines issued by the House authorities had presented prosecutors with a “very real difficulty” in bringing a case.

      Announcing the decision not to bring charges, Mr Starmer said there was no definition in either legislation or the House of Lords expenses scheme itself of a peer’s “only or main residence”. ================================================

      Guardian Tuesday 26 January 2010

      Britain’s most senior prosecutor today defended his decision to prosecute a mother who was cleared of trying to murder her seriously ill daughter.

      Yesterday, after Gilderdale was found not guilty of attempting to murder daughter Lynn, the trial judge at Lewis crown court, Mr Justice Bean, took the rare step of criticising the Crown Prosecution Service for pursuing the case.

      Bean became the second criminal judge to question the necessity of the prosecution. Keir Starmer QC, the director of public prosecutions, issued a statement in which he said putting the case of Kay Gilderdale before a jury had been in the public interest.

      ================================================

      Guardian Monday 28 December 2009

      Tory plans to strengthen the rights of householders who tackle burglars on their property were rejected out of hand yesterday by the director of public prosecutions who said the law was working well.

      Keir Starmer spoke out after the Conservatives called for a change in the law after the jailing of Munir Hussain who used a cricket bat to beat a knife-wielding man who threatened and tied up his family in their home.

      Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, announced earlier this month that the law, which allows householders to use “reasonable force” against intruders, does not go far enough.

      Grayling believes that only householders who use “grossly disproportionate” force should be prosecuted.

      Starmer yesterday dismissed Grayling’s suggestion as he strongly defended the decision to prosecute Hussain who had meted out “summary justice”.

      ================================================

      Guardian Thursday 16 April 2009

      Questions have been asked as to why the Crown Prosecution Services decided not to charge the Tory frontbencher and the civil servant Christopher Galley over a series of leaks from the Home Office

      The evidence I have considered includes all the relevant documents seized by the police following searches of the homes of Mr Galley and Mr Green, and of Mr Green’s constituency and parliamentary offices, as well as other material including previous judgments and advice from counsel.

      Keir Starmer of the Crown Prosecution Service said “I considered an alleged offence of misconduct in public office against Mr Galley and an alleged offence against Mr Green of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the alleged offence against Mr Galley, and of conspiring with Mr Galley for him to commit misconduct in public office.

      I have concluded that there is evidence upon which a jury might find that there was damage to the proper functioning of the Home Office. Such damage should not be underestimated.

      I have therefore decided there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction against Mr Galley or Mr Green.

      This should not be taken to mean that in future cases, a prosecution on other facts would not be brought”, Mr Starmer concluded.

      ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      If you liked this article, you’ll be pleased to learn that there will be more to come. If you didn’t like the article, don’t worry, there will still be more to come.

      • Thanks for that long piece. It’s good to occasionally remind ourselves that the CPS is nowhere near “independent” as successive governments and the Establishment plus MSM continually claim. It is an arm of the Establishment with an unwritten role of trashing criminal offences committed by agencies of the State whenever possible.

        The JC de Menezes affair was a massive watershed and I believe there was ample evidence to charge the police officer with murder.
        But as usual, the CPS stepped in and took an extraordinary amount of time to investigate and then quietly announce just before a Bank Holiday that no prosecution would take place as the officer would you the so-called “honest belief” defence. That may have been so, but the CPS should not have attempted to second-guess how a jury would deal with that. Given the circumstances and the evidence that police lied through their teeth about them, I am sure a jury would have thrown out his defence and found him guilty. The Judge could then have passed a minimal sentance on grounds that he was probably following orders from the likes of Cressida Dick. I also believe that Sir Ian Blair should have been charged with culpable negligence for signing off the ‘kratos’ policy which was so obviously flawed and could easily result in innocent persons being shot and killed by over-zealous police shooters as we saw in this case.

  6. There’s more collusion in the timing here than meets the eye.
    Brooks is arrested….Stephenson resigns….boy dave is in sub sahara Africa for two days investigating vital and important matters in Sudan and Somali Pirates who can’t feed themselves (notice he’s always abroad when it suits him) during the Select Committee questioning, during which Brooks can’t say much because she was arrested sunday.
    Stephenson’s resignation takes the heat off Brooks. She is being protected by the Murdochs and the Met…..because she’s the piggy in the middle, and has all the answers to all the questions.

  7. “David Cameron showed the same odd melange of sloppy naivety in hiring Coulson and befriending Brooks.”
    Doing your bit to mislead the public John. You cannot call Dave naive. They did what they did because they thought they would not be questioned. Arrogant and corrupt? yes. Naive? no.

  8. “For the purposes of this appeal, however, it suffices to say that I, for my
    part, regard the 1996 regulations now in force as so uncompromisingly
    draconian in effect that they must indeed be held ultra vires.”
    Simon Brown LJ,

    The 1996 law said you couldnt retroactivly claim to be a refugee, you must claim you are a refugee at the first opportunity.
    There a untold numbers of other examples of judges saying, I dont like that law, so I’m going to make up my own.

    They arent the worst, but holding them up as paragons of virtue is simply not sensible.

    • Not many years ago I was at a gathering where a medium level judge was asked why so many judges were coming to, what appeared to be us plebs, to be very curious judgements in the area of human rights et al. I was rather taken aback by his answer, which was to the effect that judges saw no point in making judgements that would inevitably be overturned by the European Court of Justice. It saved time and money for all concerned to second guess what it would decide.

  9. Now isn’t this wonderful.
    Stephenson quits and his temporary replacement is announced.
    And the Hidden Empire’s chosen candidate is???
    Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick.
    Where have we heard that name before? You’ve probably got a vague recollection of that name, and so you should!

    A/C Dick was the officer-in-charge when Jean-Charles de Menezes was terminated on the tube train in London in July 2005. Despite the unbelievable incompetence of the team she was in charge of, neither she nor anyone else was brought to account for this execution. In fact, just the opposite……Dick was promoted to Deputy Assistant Commissioner the following year, and promoted again to Assistant Commissioner in 2009. Now she will be running the show. I hope the Brazilian Olympic team avoid carrying rucksacks and stay clear of London Underground.

    Just as a by-the-way, A/C Dick is a member of the organisation “Common Purpose”. Why not type that phrase into Google and see what you get?
    Have fun………………

    • Thanks for that Kenny…I hadn’t made the connection.
      Robert Peston is also in Common Purpose. As is Sarah Brown. Tells you all you need to know, really.

  10. Pingback: HACKGATE SKETCH: Busy doing nothing, having a lovely time | The Slog

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