Friday, February 02, 2007


Judge halts trial of the chip shop owners who seized tearaway in a citizen's arrest. The politically correct British police love to prosecute anybody but the real offender

A chip-shop owner thought he was doing his public duty when he carried out a citizen’s arrest on a 12-year-old delinquent who spat at his customers and smashed a window. But overzealous police officers turned the tables on Nicholas Tyers, 46, and his son Lee, 20, treating them as criminals and taking their fingerprints after the boy complained. Mr Tyers and his Royal Marine son were charged with kidnap for holding the boy for up to six minutes and told the maximum sentence was life in prison. During the six months that followed, Mr Tyers was forced to sell his shop and lost his faith in justice.

His nightmare ended yesterday when a judge halted the trial, which has cost taxpayers £60,000, and derided the police and the Crown Prosecution Service for bringing the case. Judge John Dowse told the men at Hull Crown Court: “I began this case asking whether it was in the public interest, whether it should have been pressed, and the result is it has not been in the public interest. I raise the question of whether or not there are far more serious cases to bring.”

The judge told the court the men had reasonable grounds to make a citizen’s arrest and there were doubts over the reliability of the boy’s evidence.

Mr Tyers, the former owner of Queensgate Fisheries, in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, said later that the case had led him to give up the business that he had run for ten years. “I have faced six months of hell waiting to prove my innocence,” he said. “The case should never have been brought. I am now looking for a full-time job. This lad spat at a customer. We had a look around for him, that night, but he ran away. I didn’t see him again until the next day.” He said that after his window was smashed his wife saw the boy and, with his son, they went looking for him. They found him with two other boys.

“We went back to the house, rather than the police station, to call the police from there. Nine times out of ten, Bridlington police station is unmanned and you have to speak to someone on the telephone.” said Mr Tyers. “When we got to the shop a police car was passing so I flagged him down and told him we had got the lad.”

The court that heard the boy regularly played truant from school. The judge said that evidence had been heard of how the boy made obscene gestures after spitting and that there was talk of his brothers fire-bombing the shop. Mr Tyers’ son, who is part of a Royal Marines unit deployed to Afghanistan, had been held back until the trial ended.

After the case, Nigel Cowgill, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Humberside, said: “This was a difficult case which the CPS considered very carefully in accordance with the code for Crown prosecutors.” A spokesman for Humberside Police said: “The arresting officer was faced with a situation in which a distressed boy alleged he had been forced into a car. It was right for that officer to act and for a police investigation to commence.” [Pathetic comment. The issue is whether the "investigation" should have CONTINUED!]


So Britain is weak on rape? Think again

Rape is not something that any of us likes to think about. It is a vile crime. But this week’s headlines have been hard to ignore. They tell us that only 1 in 20 rape victims will see their attacker convicted. That 30 years ago it was 1 in 3. That the number of reported rapes has soared, from 5,136 in 1995 to 14,002 in 2005. That we are living in a world in which huge numbers of evil men get away with violating women because the police are useless and juries think that women are “asking for it” by wearing short skirts. But it is not so simple. I first started looking at this issue because something jarred with me. The figures were shocking, and getting worse despite a decade of effort by police and prosecutors. And the Government was using them to justify a steady dismantling of defendants’ freedoms.

The first thing I found was that the “conviction rate” of one in twenty, the rate cited by every authority on the issue, is not the conviction rate at all. It is the number of convictions secured out of the total allegations made, not the number of convictions secured out of the cases tried. I can think of no other crime where conviction is so routinely confused with attrition. The attrition rate in rape cases is very high: only about 12 per cent of allegations reach court. The true conviction rate in rape cases is closer to 50 per cent than 5 per cent. That does not suggest that juries are weak: quite the opposite.

The next thing I found was that more people are being found guilty of rape: up from 655 in 2002 to 728 in 2005. Conviction rates are falling only because allegations have jumped by 40 per cent in that period.

What explains this staggering increase in allegations? Women seem more willing to report, now that many police forces have become more sensitive. Much good work has been done, with purpose-built sexual assault referral centres, the option of prerecording testimony and the end of cross-examination by the defendant. But there are two other factors. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 changed the definiton of rape to include oral sex, something that the Criminal Bar Association says has greatly boosted allegations. And the culture of binge drinking has blurred boundaries. More than four out of five rape allegations are made against friends or acquaintances; more than half of those are fuelled by alcohol and/or drugs.

Two years ago a judge threw out the case of a woman who admitted that she had been too drunk to remember whether she had consented to sex or not. She then claimed that her consent would have been meaningless anyway, because she was so inebriated. This case created waves of outrage among victim groups. But instead of treating it as a watershed, one that demonstrated the law could go no further, the Government ran scared. It had already redefined consent, to mean agreement rather than the absence of a refusal. Now it wants to ensure that no agreement can be taken as consent if it is given under the influence of alcohol. In our zeal to protect women, are we going to legislate so that a drunken man is accountable for his deeds, but a drunken woman is not? Why do we encourage women to see themselves as victims? This week I met a mother whose teenage daughter and friend had gone out on the razzle. The friend went to bed with a man and the next day was full of regret. She called: would her friend go with her to the police? The mother was horrified. “They were drinking to lower their sexual inhibitions,” she said. “The girls have to take responsibility too, for abdicating their responsibility to stay sober.” The girl was genuinely distressed. But the mother had a point.

I do not wish to trivialise acquaintance rape. There is no doubt that it can be just as traumatic as stranger rape, the cold-blooded and cold-sober attack that many people imagine, but which accounts for relatively few cases. But there is a good reason why acquaintance rapes are much harder to prosecute. With no witnesses and no circumstantial evidence, only one person’s word against another, the law must navigate tricky territory. Juries are the best people to do so — and they do convict, contrary to what we keep being told. The Government’s new definition of consent would skew the law out of their hands; and that would be quite wrong.

It is important to ask why so few of these cases come to court. Yesterday’s report by the Inspectorate of Constabulary and the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate makes clear that there are still huge variations in the way that different police forces deal with rape. And some women are still having to endure outrageously long delays and incompetent legal and medical advice. The report shows that more can be done with forensic doctors and specialist prosecutors. But it also states that no new policies are needed.

I wonder whether the unquestionable horror of rape has simply clouded people’s minds. In rape cases a dramatic growth in allegations, of which very few lead to convictions, is taken as proof that justice system has failed. In cases of alleged teacher assault, it is taken as proof of the opposite. There has been an enormous growth in allegations made against teachers, and fewer than 1 in 200 lead to a conviction. Yet the consensus is that most of those allegations are groundless.

I am the last person to claim that all men are blameless victims of predatory women. I have no doubt that some are still getting away with horrendous crimes. I merely ask that we go back to the data before rushing to dismantle defendants’ rights further. And that we stop portraying juries as weak when they seem to be precisely the opposite.


Britain: Homosexual tourist hotels fear equality law

They want right to refuse heterosexuals. Rules change will hit the 'pink' market

Hoteliers chasing the pink tourist pound have joined criticism of a law outlawing discrimination against homosexuals. The hotels, which cater for the thriving “exclusively gay” tourism market, say that they should be exempt from the Sexual Orientation Regulations as they will be forced to accept heterosexual guests.

Some say that a ban on “gay only” advertising could put them out of business. There were also concerns that some heterosexual couples might be unhappy if they unwittingly booked into a gay hotel.

John Bellamy, who runs Hamilton Hall, in Bournemouth, described the new laws as “discrimination against gays”. He said: “We are a unique venue and we only admit gay and bisexual men. Under this law, we would go out of business. This so-called anti-discrimination law is actually discriminatory as it discriminates against gays.”

Another hotelier, Mark Hurst, co-owner of the exclusively gay Guyz hotel, in Blackpool, said that his gay clientele would feel uncomfortable mixing with straight customers. The hotel had been catering for the gay market for the past 20 years, but only went “exclusive” last year because of customer demand. He said: “It’s not all good news at all. I don’t welcome it one little bit. We intend to stay ‘men only’ exclusively for as long as we can.

“When we had a mixed environment, with gay, bi and heterosexual customers, people didn’t behave as they naturally would.

“Here in the hotel now we have gays who cuddle up when they’re watching a film but that never happened before. If this law is introduced it will deprive gays of a place where they can be themselves.”

Mr Hurst added that if the law was passed, he would apply for an exemption. He said: “At the end of the day, this is our home and as a landlord we have the right to refuse entry to anyone without giving a reason.”

According to figures from Visit Britain and Out Now Consulting, the gay market is now worth £3.5 billion a year and represents a significant slice of the tourist industry.

In 2005, about 146,000 gay and lesbian visitors came to Britain from the United States alone, and internationally it is a top ten tourist destination for gays. A survey by Visit Britain states: “The brand-loyal gay and lesbian market is a key niche. Traditionally gays and lesbians are well-educated, have an above-average income and a high propensity to travel off-season as well as during the peak holiday months.”

The concerns have been dismissed by the gay rights group Stonewall, which says that equality is more important than the right to be exclusive. A spokeswoman said: “What gay people gain through having an equality law is much more than whether we can just run gay hotels.”


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