Thursday, February 24, 2011
British woman on welfare owing £3,500 rent can't be evicted: New European human rights ruling could lead to thousands of tenants refusing to pay
Evicting a woman from her council home for failing to pay rent would breach her human rights, judges ruled yesterday.
Town Hall chiefs wanted to evict Rebecca Powell, who receives thousands of pounds in benefits, after she ran up more than £3,500 in arrears on the accommodation she was given because she was homeless. But the Supreme Court said that – under the controversial European Convention on Human Rights – this would be a breach of the right to ‘respect for a person’s home’.
Council leaders and the Government had fought the case and fear it may now be harder to evict thousands of council tenants who fall into arrears. Legal experts said there was an increasing ‘trend’ for tenants – including ‘neighbours from hell’ – to use human rights law to thwart eviction.
Passing yesterday’s judgment, Lord Hope made it clear the ruling had its origins in Strasbourg. He said the ‘time had come to accept and apply the jurisprudence of the European court’.
The ruling brought fresh demands for reform of Labour’s Human Rights Act, which enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law, and of the unelected Strasbourg court.
It comes in the wake of cases saying that prisoners must be entitled to vote and that paedophiles can apply to be taken off the Sex Offender Register.
Last night Tory MP Philip Davies said: ‘It seems to me that the courts always find in favour of the human rights of people who are doing something wrong. We have got to change that balance, it is getting completely out of hand. ‘What about the human rights of the landlord to get their rent, what about the human rights of the taxpayer?’
Miss Powell, now 23, was given a home in Cranford, West London, by Hounslow Council in April 2007. By June the following year Miss Powell, who lives with her partner and four children, owed the council more than £3,500. She was entitled to around £15,000 a year in housing benefit which could have covered the payments, but had not applied for it properly.
Eviction proceedings began but were halted when Miss Powell appealed under the Human Rights Act. At one stage the council moved the family out in order to renovate the home at taxpayers’ expense, then moved them back in.
Yesterday, Lord Hope and Lord Phillips ruled that the council had not considered whether it was ‘proportionate’ to evict Miss Powell and ordered that the eviction be quashed.
Hounslow Council, anticipating defeat, has offered her ‘suitable alternative accommodation’ and she has never been without a home.
Judges will have to consider the ruling when looking at similar cases involving people who would otherwise be homeless.
Miss Powell has agreed to clear her arrears of £3,536.39 at £5 per week, or sooner if she can.
A police force once renowned for civility: British police now get 58,000 complaints in a year
The legacy of Leftist management that made quotas and box-ticking their over-riding goal
Police receive a formal complaint every 20 minutes for being rude, late, slow or neglecting their duty.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed there were a record 58,339 allegations made against officers and staff last year. Overall, this is the equivalent of one in every five police workers being the subject of a complaint in a single year. Some 11,576 – or 20 per cent of the total – were for ‘incivility, impoliteness and intolerance’.
A further 14,983 complaints were for ‘neglect or failure of duty’, which includes being late, slow or not keeping victims of crime informed what is happening with their case. It comes at a bad time for the police, who are campaigning against budget cuts.
The Police Federation said the public would be ‘worried if the police stopped providing the current range of services as a result of budget cuts’. But a survey revealed that support for the police falls among people who have met an officer.
The Ipsos MORI poll found that, of those people who have come into contact with an officer, 12 per cent say their local police are performing ‘poorly’. Of people who had no dealings with the police, only 7 per cent said the service was sub-standard.
Overall, only 59 per cent of the public said the police were doing a good or excellent job. The IPCC figures show complaints against the police have increased for seven years in a row.
The report shows 33,854 different files of complaint were submitted – more than double the number in 2003-04. They contained 58,399 allegations of misconduct, with some people making more than one allegation, the IPCC said.
In some cases, individual officers receive multiple complaints. Last year, it emerged one officer in the West Midlands had to wear a headcam on duty to check his conduct following the allegations.
The complaints follow recent admissions by police that four out of ten victims of crime do not get a visit from an officer.
Police have also been under fire for wrongly writing-off thousands of vicious assaults and thefts as ‘no crime’. This happens when officers dismiss a person’s report of a crime without even making cursory inquiries. In effect, they take a decision the victim is wrong or lying.
Deputy Chief Constable John Feavyour, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: ‘Police officers have thousands of interactions with members of the public each day and these are of vital importance in maintaining the trust and confidence of the public in the police service.’
European Free Speech Under Attack
Defending the right to say that Islam is primarily a totalitarian ideology aiming for world domination
By GEERT WILDERS
"The lights are going out all over Europe," British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey famously remarked on the eve of World War I. I am reminded of those words whenever I read about Europeans being dragged into court for so-called hate-speech crimes.
Recently, Danish journalist Lars Hedegaard, president of the International Free Press Society, had to stand trial in Copenhagen because he had criticized Islam. Mr. Hedegaard was acquitted, but only on the technicality that he had not known that his words, expressed in a private conversation, were being taped. Last week in Vienna, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, an Austrian human-rights activist, was fined €480 for calling the Islamic prophet Muhammad a pedophile because he had consummated his marriage to a nine-year old girl. Meanwhile, my own trial in Amsterdam is dragging on, consuming valuable time that I would rather spend in parliament representing my million-and-a-half voters.
How can all this be possible in supposedly liberal Europe? The Dutch penal code states that anyone who either "publicly, verbally or in writing or image, deliberately expresses himself in any way that incites hatred against a group or people" or "in any way that insults a group of people because of their race, their religion or belief, their hetero- or homosexual inclination or their physical, psychological or mental handicap, will be punished."
Early in 2008, a number of leftist and Islamic organizations took me to court, claiming that by expressing my views on Islam I had deliberately "insulted" and "incited hatred" against Muslims. I argued then, as I will again in my forthcoming book, that Islam is primarily a totalitarian ideology aiming for world domination.
Last October, my former colleague in the Dutch parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, wrote in these pages of the way in which Islamic organizations abuse our freedoms in order to limit them. "There are," she wrote, "the efforts of countries in the Organization of the Islamic Conference to silence the European debate about Islam," citing their strategy "to pressure international organizations and the European Union to adopt resolutions to punish anyone who engages in 'hate speech' against religion. The bill used to prosecute Mr. Wilders is the national version of what OIC diplomats peddle at the U.N. and EU."
Indeed, in 2008 the EU approved its so-called "Council Framework Decision on combating Racism and Xenophobia," and the EU's 27 nations have since had to incorporate it into their national legislation. The decision orders that "racist or xenophobic behavior must constitute an offence in all Member States and be punishable by effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties." It defines "racism and xenophobia" so broadly that every statement that an individual might perceive as insulting to a group to which he belongs becomes punishable by law.
The perverse result is that in Europe it is now all but impossible to have a debate about the nature of Islam, or about the effects of immigration of Islam's adherents. Take my own case, for example. My point is that Islam is not so much a religion as it is a totalitarian political ideology disguised as a religion. To avoid misunderstandings, I always emphasize that I am talking about Islam, not about Muslims. I make a clear distinction between the people and the ideology, between Muslims and Islam, recognizing that there are many moderate Muslims. But the political ideology of Islam is not moderate and has global ambitions; the Koran orders Muslims to establish the realm of Allah in this world, if necessary by force.
Stating my views on Islam has brought me to court on charges of "group insult" and incitement to racial hatred. I am being tried for voicing opinions that I—and my constituents—consider to be the truth. I am being tried for challenging the views that the ruling establishment wants to impose on us as the truth.
When I stand before my judges I do so in defense of free speech and human liberty. Freedom is the source of human creativity and development. People and nations wither away without the freedom to question what is presented to them as the truth. There is reason for concern if the erosion of our freedom of speech is the price we must pay to accommodate Islam. There is reason for concern if those who deny that Islam is a problem do not grant us the right to debate the issue. I want to be able to make my case without needing to fear criminal prosecution. It is already bad enough that I have been living under permanent police protection for more than six years because jihadists want to murder me.
My trial is a political trial. It is tragic that after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989, political trials in Europe were not cast onto the ash heap of history. Former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky has previously referred to the European Union as the "EUSSR." One of his arguments is that in the EU, as in the former USSR, there is no freedom of speech.
I should be acquitted. My trial in Amsterdam is not about me, but about freedom of speech in Europe. As Dwight D. Eisenhower, Europe's liberator from Nazism, once warned, freedom "must be daily earned and refreshed—else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die." Today in Europe, freedom is being neither earned nor refreshed.
Distorted history of U.S. naval aviation
Egregious slant towards blacks, women
A foundation set up to celebrate Navy aviation’s 100th birthday has disavowed an official history on its website, after former combat pilots complained of inaccuracies and political correctness.
As the first celebration commenced last month at a naval air base in California, a number of enraged former pilots began bombarding the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation Foundation with complaints. The Navy views the commemoration with high regard, with celebrations planned at Navy and Marine Corps air stations from California to Florida.
The foundation‘s official history slide show featured four “firsts” for women, such as the first female operations officer in 1992. It also accentuated humanitarian missions. But it devoted only two slides to World War II and barely mentioned Vietnam, during which the Navy orchestrated a decade of multiple aircraft carrier operations.
“There is ‘history’ and then there is ‘revisionist history’ written to support a political agenda,” said Roy Stafford, a former Marine attack aircraft pilot. “This timeline offered up the first female naval aviator and first female navy astronaut and first black Blue Angel pilot as major milestones and high-water marks for naval aviation to the exclusion of the real history makers. That just didn’t sit well with my simple Marine Corps mind.”
Mr. Stafford is among a group of retirees who wrote e-mails of protest that ended up in the foundation‘s lap.
Screen capture of the website for the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation Foundation (Courtesy of navalaviation100.org)
“The true facts are that women’s contribution to naval aviation has been minimal to nonexistent for 80 of the first 100 years,” said Mr. Stafford. “The simple truth is they were not there, not World War I, not World War II, not Korea nor Vietnam. Men who pushed the limits of mankind to levels never before reached, to relegate them to footnote status while elevating the social agenda is a disservice to all who went before them.”
The retired aviators’ irate criticisms directed at the 100th anniversary foundation were tinged with surprise, since it is run by men like themselves.
One of them, retired Marine Maj. Gen. Bob Butcher, told The Washington Times that after reading the e-mailed complaints, he agreed with them and the timeline was taken off the website. A reporter found the timeline still posted at a foundation address: NavalAviation100.org/the-history-of-naval-aviation.
Gen. Butcher, who is the 100th foundation‘s co-chairman, said the contested history was written by public affairs specialists. “It should not have actually been on the website,” he said. “But it did frankly get up on the website. And, of course, people objected to it because it was certainly not an accurate depiction of the significant events of naval aviation.”
Gen. Butcher, who is also chairman of the Flying Leatherneck Historical Foundation and Aviation Museum, said a new history is being written by the U.S. Navy’s National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.