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Friday, 21 May 2010

Where to pin a medal on Cressida Dick?

The Queen's Police Medal (QPM) is awarded to police officers in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth for gallantry or distinguished service.

Apparently, it was created to be awarded to those who had shown: -

(a) Conspicuous gallantry in saving life and property, or in preventing crime or arresting criminals; the risks incurred to be estimated with due regard to the obligations and duties of the officer concerned.

(b) A specially distinguished record in administrative or detective service.

(c) Success in organizing Police Forces or Fire Brigades or Departments, or in maintaining their organization under special difficulties.

(d) Special services in dealing with serious or widespread outbreaks of crime or public disorder, or of fire.

(e) Valuable political and secret services.

(f) Special services to Royalty and Heads of States.

(g) Prolonged service; but only when distinguished by very exceptional ability and merit.

So when I read that CRESSIDA DICK, the officer in charge of proceedings on the fateful day which saw the shooting and killing of an innocent man, Jean Charles de Menezes, was to receive this prestigious medal, I naturally assumed that Ms. Dick had clearly committed a supreme act of heroism since that tragic event.

For there can surely be no other reason why a woman who presided over the most appalling series of misadventures, monumental cock-ups and downright police failings could ever redeem herself sufficiently to be deemed worthy of such a high award. Surely.

Because about the only unequivocal fact relating to the death of de Menezes on 22nd July 2005 is that there are very FEW, unequivocal facts!. Certainly, many of the official police lines, statements and assertions about the incident not only changed on MORE than one occasion, prior to the eventual hearings, investigations and enquiries, (the first of which was originally kept SECRET), but some of the facts as reported by key officers clearly contradicted those of some of their colleagues.

Indeed, one of the more remarkable assertions was noted in de Menezes POST MORTEM report, stating that Jean Charles had “vaulted over the ticket barriers” and that he “ran down the stairs of the tube station”. Dr Kenneth Shorrock later told the inquest that he had been given this information by police during a "walk-through" with officers at Stockwell Tube Station, the scene of the killing but, despite working in a profession where a supremely meticulous eye for detail is essential, he could not remember who had given him this information.

It then subsequently became apparent during the course of a ‘suppression of evidence’ investigation, that at least one officer had deleted, altered or modified their statements and contemporaneous notes relating to the incident.

Of course, given the fact that there were extensive CCTV cameras all over the station and on the train itself, it would surely be a simple matter to view that material and clarify all of the conflicting accounts. Alas, police reports were later to confirm that the relevant CCTV cameras both on the platform AND in the train carriage itself, (which would have shown a most ACCURATE portrayal of the events), had acquired “technical problems”, resulting in there being “no footage”.

And so, despite several Independent Police Complaint’s investigations, (the IPCC itself clashing with the Metropolitan Police amid claims of obstruction and non-co-operation); a Crown Prosecution Services review which saw the Met prosecuted and merely fined under ridiculous ‘Health and Safety at work’ legislation; together with other critical enquiries, investigations and reviews, NO-ONE has ever been deemed to be accountable or culpable for the one incontrovertible fact; that Jean Charles de Meneze's ended up lying in a subway train with eight bullets to his body, SEVEN of them to his head.

It is easy to cast aspersions and judgements when looking in from the outside. Ultimately, perhaps only those involved on that July day five years ago will ever know the full truth relating to the events that occurred. Only they will, individually, know the thoughts that raced through their heads, the actions that they personally effected. The decisions they elected to make.

But it is surely beyond, not just all rational logic and protocols, but also moral decency and respectability, to award the woman who has TWICE since been promoted, and is now the Highest Ranking female police officer in Scotland Yard, a MEDAL for “gallantry or distinguished service”.

I am tempted to suggest that the medal was awarded under section ‘e’ in the above original criteria: for ‘Valuable political and secret services.’

I am also tempted to suggest that, given the opportunity, the parents of Jean Charles de Menezes would know just where to pin it.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

From Court Jester to Kingmaker

About the only issue on which I can, thus far, agree with Nick Clegg relates to Electoral Reform. Alas, for entirely different reasons than his.

He may well want to babble on about referendums and proportional representation, but what I want to know is this:-
How can it be that a LOSING Labour Government clearly voted OUT by a democratic electoral process could, (and WOULD, had the Labour Cabinet been more accommodating to Clegg’s toadying), be voted back IN by a party who has been the laughing stock of British Politics for decades, and who finished with so few votes that they accrued nearly six time LESS seats than the party they eventually ended up sharing office with?

It’s the equivalent of Chelsea being usurped as the Premier League Champions on the basis of them not having quite accumulated enough points, and giving the Cup to Manchester United instead to be SHARED, equally, by bottom finishing Portsmouth.

Whatever intentions, aspirations or wild dreams Clegg entertained when he went into politics could NEVER, even remotely, have included walking the corridors of Whitehall with any position of power. I am perfectly sure that even today, he will still not quite believe that he is Deputy Prime Minister.

He may have momentarily had notions above his station when a bemused viewing audience decided he was the ‘winner’ in terms of his pre-Election TV showdowns with Cameron and Brown, but the truth and reality of his status was clearly etched on his pained face once he realised that he was to actually LOSE seats in the final reckoning.

So I find it somewhat astonishing, (as I am sure, did HE), that the current British Political voting system incorporates a means and procedure that enables the LEAST desirable, wanted and respected Political Party in the Country to effectively yield the GREATEST amount of power in those circumstances as we have just witnessed.

It is to Brown’s credit, and that of his Cabinet, that they clearly elected from the off not to indulge Clegg’s sycophancy and that of his Lib Dem colleagues, or we would be potentially looking at yet ANOTHER period of Labour, with a smattering of warring factions from Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

Not to mention a ridiculous and, ultimately, impotent Clegg, posturing and preening in a position that even his most extreme dreams didn’t incorporate.