Friday, February 09, 2007

The Sun, the BBC and a 'Police State'

There are many reasons to attack the BBC, but The Sun this morning has got it wrong. It takes the BBC to task in its EDITORIAL for reporting the remark of a freed terrorist suspect that Britain is a "police state".
It sometimes seems the BBC would prefer terrorists to succeed than for an
innocent man to be briefly held without charge.In their politically correct
bubble, intelligence is always flawed and anti-terror action is inevitably
heavy-handed.So the release of two suspects held over the alleged plot to behead
a British Muslim soldier was a gift from heaven.For 24 hours, BBC bulletins
repeated the ludicrous claim by one of them that, for Muslims, Britain is a
police state.The truth is that these suspects were swept up in a legitimate raid
by police who had reasonable grounds for suspicion — and freed after
questioning.That is not the action of a police state. Far from being too harsh,
our police may have been too soft.

I didn't see the TV reports of this man, but I did hear an extended interview with him on Radio 5 Live conducted by Peter Allen on the Drive programme. Allen gave him a real grilling and certainly didn't pander to him. But let's not forget, the man had been held for seven days without charge before being freed. If you were innocent and had the same thing happen to you I suspect you'd be angry too. The man, Abu Bakr, was extremely eloquent and while his remarks were over the top and extreme, you can understand his state of mind. That is not to say the Police weren't right to hold him and question him. If they suspected him of a potential crime, what on earth were they to do? In this environment, there will always be people arrested on suspicion of a crime who turn out to be completely innocent. They have a right to be angry. But the people have a right to be protected. The age old argument between civil libertarians and authoritarians rages on. And it always will. It's only when the arguing stops that we will have lost our freedoms.

28 comments:

Ed said...

The arrest of the innocent men was disgraceful, but I didn't hear any cabinet ministers decrying the Police tactics as "theatre".

All citizens are equal, but Labour "aides" are more equal than others?

Anonymous said...

Habeas Corpus, anyone?

Otherwise it's "Round up the usual suspects."

Anonymous said...

Considering that the BBC refuse to use the word "terrorist" under almost any circumstances - apparently it is 'judgemental' and we need to call people with dynamite strapped to their chests "insurgents" and "militants" then sorry Iain, but yes: I often wonder which side they are on.

Okay, maybe the criticism was couched in a typically blunt tabloid style but the BBC lefty opinion-dressed-up-as-reporting frequently has a lack of balance which makes me cringe.

The telly-tax must go. The Sun, although you disagree with them today, is your option to buy or not. The BBC isn't.

Anonymous said...

I am always saddend when I think about the dialectic intellectual efforts made in the cold war - compared with the efforts made to resist the cancerous charm of the "political correct" meme today.

Anonymous said...

Ian, you say the Sun has got it wrong, but then you say 'his remarks were over the top and extreme... That is not to say the Police weren't right to hold him and question him. If they suspected him of a potential crime, what on earth were they to do? In this environment, there will always be people arrested on suspicion of a crime who turn out to be completely innocent... But the people have a right to be protected'. I can't see a huge difference between you and the Sun.

Anonymous said...

The comments yesterday on Question Time about the leaking and hyping of the arrests by sources in the Home Office are seriously worrying. This undermines Police efforts.

I hope you do an article on this Iain.

Anonymous said...

They arrested the man for coming up on the police radar ,they checked him out ,and chucked him back into the pond ,these days were all suspect ,but they released him for him to show everybody he was pi--ed off , before you call the police names, who told the jurno's the night before ,the police are the goodies here .

Anonymous said...

Good post Iain. Angry? I bet he is incandesant!

That said, if the Police have reasonable suspicion that is what they are supposed to do. Only one thing though. I was very dissapointed to hear the suspects were held for 48 hours before being questioned. Not good. Even if they wanted to get other ducks in a row they could have got some preliminary questions in just for the sake of form.

Anonymous said...

I think much of the reaction of the individial concerned was driven by finding out on his release that he had already been smeered in the press as some sort of psychopathic beheading monster.

The Home Office has much to answer for. So does the Sun. It can't lecture people given its own conduct in setting people up long before any charges had even been laid.

Unknown said...

Remember the adage, not all the Irish are terrorist's, but MOST terrorists are Irish..C.1972. C.2006/7 ditto for Muslims. Why do they want to be/live here? vast majority, when caught after attempted illegal entry, say" easy money". Ask any social security minion at any benefit office.

Anonymous said...

The Sun hypes the story without evidence when he's arrested.

And they slag him off when he's released.

Having your cake and eating it!

Sabretache said...

The problem is as old as policing.

The police - being human - will do what they know they can 'get away with' in puruit of their 'inquiries'. What they can get away with varies with the political climate in which they operate and, in extremis leads to the public execution of innocent terrorist 'suspects' - 'sorry, tragic mistake' nobody's fault.

In the present frenzied atmosphere of fear, diligently stoked up and played upon by - by just about everyone with anything to say on the matter - it is little wonder that the police err on the side they undoubtedly do.

As thousands of innocent people can testify, becoming the object of unjustified police suspicion and the actions it can provoke is a deeply unnerving and unpleasant experience.

My worry is that, increasingly the police are seen as being in the front line of the 'war on terror'. As such their subordination to the communities they have historically served is trumped by overriding nationwide State defined goals in a 'war' which, for the first time in history, is against an abstraction - with no armistice terms possible. The State will decide when it has been won. Until then - be afraid - be very afraid.

But careful how you cross the road since your chances of being killed or injured are several thousand times greater than running into a 'terrorist'

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"The man, Abu Bakr, was extremely eloquent": well he is doing a PhD in "political islam" at the local "university".

Anonymous said...

Umbongo wrote,

"The man, Abu Bakr, was extremely eloquent": well he is doing a PhD in "political islam" at the local "university".

I also read that in the Daily Mail yesterday. It beggars belief that we are offering and funding that, no matter how eloquent he is. We have enough useless subjects being promoted at our universities nowadays (media studies to name but one!)without pandering directly to Islam. Only in Britain could this happen.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that we are not living in a police state, it does not take much to see that we are heading inexorably into one.

Indefinite house arrest without trial or conviction if you happen to be a bit 'off-white' - 28 days detention without trial or conviction for everyone else (and they will do all they can to get 90 days).

More CCTV cameras per head of population than ANY OTHER COUNTRY. (Including such bastions of freedom as China, North Korea etc).

Soon to be implemented biometric ID cards to be carried at all times.

Soon ALL of our car journeys to be logged and archived.

Congestion charge cameras running 24 hours a day and being logged and archived.

They would like to remove the right to trial by jury.

The Abolition of parliament act will soon mean ministers can just make up laws as they see fit with NO oversight from Parliament.

It used to be that you actually had to COMMIT a crime to be locked up. Now you can be for just thinking about something.

This country no longer has a JUSTICE system, this 'government' has screwed most of it's fundamental principals completely.

peteblogging said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"That is not to say the Police weren't right to hold him and question him."

Wrong! You missed out "IF THEY HAD REASONABLE EVIDENCE UPON WHICH TO MAKE SUCH A JUDGEMENT".

Otherwise, they could hold anyone they liked forever just because of the half-baked thoughts or prejudices of one or two less-than-bright officers as happened when they shot that innocent Brazilian boy on the tube.

"If they suspected him of a potential crime, what on earth were they to do?"

There's 'suspicion' and there's 'REASONABLE suspicion'. Often several miles apart.

Anonymous said...

"Having your cake and eating it!"

It's the Murdoch way!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:48 has pretty much stated everything I wanted to say but to back that up:

Everything this government is doing sets up the infrastructure for a police state and a dictatorship. We are well down the totalitarian road. The lurid stories about beheadings were, I think, most likely put about by the Home Office to distract our attention away from Blair's perfidy and Yates's investigation. It perfectly demonstrates our criminal government's contempt for the intelligence of the public.

Anonymous said...

Benedict Whites writes: "I was very dissapointed to hear the suspects were held for 48 hours before being questioned. Not good."

This is a police tactic to destabilise the arrestees.

The guy was arrested on suspicion of being an islamic nut job. The police determined there were no grounds for holding him, and released him. What's not to like?

kris said...

Yes Iain, I am sure our man is an innocent boy scout and targeted solely on the basis that he is a muslim...

Get real!

David Lindsay said...

Imagine if only twelve per cent of people arrested for burglary were ever charged with anything, and eight per cent of those were acquitted. And imagine if, of the remaining two per cent of arrests leading to a conviction, most of those convictions were for nothing to do with burglary: once the Police go rummaging through people’s lives, they can find all sorts of things. Would we consider this anything like acceptable?

But substitute “terrorism” for “burglary”, and you have exactly what has happened to the over one thousand British Muslims arrested as suspected terrorists. It is one thing for the Police to make mistakes from time to time, but quite another for them to be mistaken in well over ninety-nine per cent of cases. Yet this is why we are to give up the very freedoms supposedly under threat from the terrorists, such as our freedom from torture, or from indefinite detention without charge.

For this “threat” is the excuse being used for identity cards, for the Civil Contingencies Act, and for ninety-day detention without charge (not trial, charge) on the mere say-so of a Police Constable. We have not heard the last of any of these things, among others. After the entirely unexpected London bombings, there were even armed troops deployed on the streets of London, for the first time since the eighteenth century. What were they supposed to do? But get used to them, and not just in London.

Furthermore, the media always used to talk about the Police “interviewing” or “investigating” people in free countries. “Interrogation” went on in much less happy lands, such as our good friend Pakistan. But now we also have “interrogation” here. Whatever could it mean?

David Lindsay said...

EIGHTY per cent! Sorry!

Peter from Putney said...

Iain, you said -

"Allen gave him a real grilling and certainly didn't pander to him."

Oh come on! Mr Allen is an excellent presenter, with a dry wit coupled with a searching style when required.I too heard this interview and in no way could it be described as a "grilling". If anything, he showed some (understandable) sympathy towards the released detainee.

Anonymous said...

You're missing the point Iain

It's not a question of the bloke being annoyed. It's a matter of the bbc reporting the 'Britain is a police state for Muslims' remark in tones that imply the remark is true.

Anonymous said...

The fact that half a dozen of his friends have been charged suggests that he isn't exactly a saint. The authorities have a massivley difficult job to do and they are wary that for every arrest there is the risk of political fallout if they get it wrong. he wasn't arrested lightly.

Dangerouslysubversivedad said...

80% of Muslims are 'acquitted'? Nonsense. For this CPS to charge a Muslim with ANYTHING you can be damn sure they have concrete, rock-solid evidence and this is reflected in conviction rates for cases which actually go to Court.

I'll look for your faux outrage when its a little old man and lady arrested for asking that Christian literature be given equal prominence with pro-homosexual literature. Oh, wait, that already happened didnt it? Hmmm, zero outrage. Funny that.

And you Tories complaining about Habeas Corpus and long-term detention etc really do take the hypocrisy biscuit. All these things such as the impending inception of Corpus Juris in the UK come to us courtesy of the EU your Party loves so very very much.

Every time I and the rest of the silent majority read the hypocritical utterances of you Blu-Labourites your chances of getting elected again recede ever further into the distance.