RE: Is this the new face of the Law?
(08 Jul 2012 12:11 PM)LindaGruchy Wrote:(08 Jul 2012 09:54 AM)jonfree Wrote:
Google British Constitution Group and see for yourself- however my main concern is with the way in which this man a free citizen of our nation was treated. Of course he had a case to answer , witholding Council Tax payments or simply refusing to pay the tax it would then be quite obvious that he should expect to face the force of the law against such action. However there is a much wider and more concerning issue to this particular case.
I won't bother even looking, Jon, because if it was so "secret" how come people know about it? Because he told them so? Is he biased? You betcha. Is his fanmily biased? You betcha. Has he got an axe to grind? You betcha. Have we heard the real story? Doubt it very much.
Are people gullible? Too right.
I'm a cynic and I don't believe hearsay. Anything he says or his political chums say is hearsay.
If people don't turn up at court when bailed to do so they can be arrested and taken straight there, and quite right too. If someone is due in court, they have to go, and if they wanted people to know about it, should have told people they were due in court.
The only time, as far as I know (I'm not a lawyer) a court is held in camera is when it's youth court or there are issues around safety of witnesses. It's actually very hard for a court to be held in camera.
Restrictions are put on reporting of proceedings, which, if broken, leave the breaker in contempt of court for which you can go straight to prison. eg if a youth is tried alongside an adult, his or her name must remain confidential.
I watched some trials of non-payment of council tax when researching for my novels, along with non-payment of TV Licence etc etc, to see how court works. The one I watched the defendant defended himself (always a reason for the mags to groan bevcause mostly such defendents are clueless). This gent wasn't just clueless but appeared to have other "issues". When he found he was lacking in some information/knowledge (I can't remember what, exactly) he asked for an adjournment, apoparently for the nth time. This was denied him because he had had ample opportunity to garner his defence, get a proper lawyer involved and so forth, and the trial proceeded along the lines of "Did you pay your Council Tax?" / "No, but..." / "Guilty. Bailed for 3 weeks for pre-sentence reports." There was nothing more to say, no political point to be made in court, the court is not interested in politics, just guilt and innocence.
I might also mention that I was the only outsider there. Most trials of that ilk are not of interest to the Press or the public, so nobody bothers watching. This could look as if it was a "secret" court to anyone who was unfamiliar with court, paranoid, or with a political axe to grind.
This gent, once found guiilty., accosted me in the lobby, asked who I was and prepared to open his briefcase to harangue me on the state of British Justice. I told him I was just an observer and walked off fast. He walked behind me from the court building for a good half-mile, to the extent that I was getting rather concerned, mainly because I suspected he might have mental health issues and was unpredictable, and because I had to be back at a certain place at a certain time and hadn't got the time to listen politely to someone's delusional ramblings. I didn't think he would be violent, but I didn't want to get involved when he was clearly guilty.
This gent was bailed because he had turned up at court as dictated by his bail conditions. Let's say, for instance, he had not done so on previous occasions. Any breach of bail is arrestable, and indeed, arrest is easier than it was 10 years ago. The police could have been asked to arrest him and deliver him straight to court. They would, most likely, have taken him in quite early so he would have languished in the cells attached to the court for a few hours before his hearing. I think, though I don't know for sure, that there is a duty solicitor attached to the court who will defend people who are not represented... but that can be declined if someone wants to defend themselves. (Often the duty solicitor will advise a guilty plea which the defendent doesn't like so declines such help.) This service might not be available for matters like non-payment of council tax etc - I don't know, I'm noyt a lawyer. But if someone knows they are due in court on a certain day, they have had ample opportunity to get their defence sorted out... why should the Public Purse pay the defence of someone who has deliberately not paid their dues? Let's say the gent was found guilty. When it came to pre-sentence reports the assumption is that someone will be bailed unless there are reasons to believe they will abscond or fail to turn up in court at the appointed time. If this gent had a history of breaching bail, then he could be remanded in custody (though this seems unlikely nowadays). If this gent had made a row, been rude to the Magistrates, said he wasn't going to pay the fines etc etc, he would have been in contempt of court and could be gaoled indefinitely. This is nothing new, and not a sinister development in our judicial system. If anything, our CJS is becoming weaker and more enfeebled as time goes by, but the public don't know this becasuse they assume it works. It doesn't. The criminal's rights are rated higher than the victim's rights. eg time in gaol on Remand counts as double, so a guilty criminal awaiting sentence in gaol for a week has a fortnight lopped off his sentence when sentence is passed. Many sentences are passed as concurrent, and are served at the same time, so the criminal who confesses to sevweral crimes only serves sentence for one. Magistrates have to follow sentencing guidelines which means that some criminalas laugh out of court because their sentence has been suspended. Fines are often watered down to 50p a week and even then not paid.
So sorry, Jon, I don't believe the whole story is being promulgated by this group, but suspect rather a garbled and not particularly accurate story is being foist on the public via the internet, in a situation where the truth can't be given to correct matters. There is nothing unusual in this; and with the advent of the internet such promulgation of misinformation is getting worse.
If someone witholds their council tax or part of their council tax they should recognise that they are liable to end up in prison. That is their choice, if they wish to make the political point. If they don't want to go to prison they should pay their dues and campaign in other, legitimate ways.
It's also not the first time someone has gone to prison for non-payment of council tax.
Thank you for your detailed reply and respect your view on this subject matter, however if you read my reply to Elaine G 05/07 it may give you a better idea of what my real concerns in respect to this case is.