Thursday, September 08, 2011
Long overdue victory for right to defend your property in Britain
Florist, 72, will NOT face charges for stabbing to death gunman who raided shop
Anti-crime campaigners last night hailed ‘a victory for common sense’ after an elderly florist who stabbed an armed raider to death was told he will not face criminal charges.
Cecil Coley, 72, was playing dominoes with a friend in his family shop in Old Trafford, Manchester, when four masked men armed with knives and guns forced their way in and demanded the takings.
During the ensuing struggle a pistol was fired but the florist grabbed a knife from the shop counter and lashed out, causing one of the raiders, Gary Mullings, to reel back with a serious stab wound to his chest. The 30-year-old dropped his pistol, staggered out into the street and collapsed. He later died.
Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a long-time campaigner on the issue, said last night that the case vindicated David Cameron’s promise to clarify what measures the law permits a person to take in defending themselves and their property against intruders.
Otherwise, he said, those who act in self-defence face the threat of prosecution, leading to a ‘waste of time and intense discomfort for the householder and their family’.
A spokesman for local campaign group Families Against Crime said: ‘Confronted with a masked gang armed with guns and knives, anyone would react in the way Mr Coley did to defend himself and his friend. ‘It has been a long time coming but finally the justice system has caught up with living in the modern world. This is undoubtedly a victory for common sense.’
Nafir Afzal, chief crown prosecutor for the North West, said of the July raid: ‘It is difficult to envisage a more frightening set of circumstances than these. Four men, armed with guns and a knife, forced their way into the shop.
‘Mr Coley received a number of injuries, including a serious facial injury, and his friend was knocked unconscious. At some point in the incident one of the guns, a blank firing pistol, was fired. ‘All the evidence indicates that when Cecil Coley took hold of a knife that was on the shop counter and struck out with it, he was acting in a way that he felt instinctively necessary to protect himself, whilst fearing for his life.’
He said: ‘Householders, shopkeepers and anyone going about their lawful day-to-day activities can be reassured that the law will protect them if they use reasonable force to protect themselves, their families and their property.’
Mullings’ brothers Joseph, 24, and Kyle, 18, both of no fixed abode, along with Nathan Walters, 26, of Liverpool, have been charged with robbery of the shop and are due to appear in court next month.
The decision comes after householder Peter Flanagan, 59, was cleared of murder after being arrested over the fatal stabbing of a burglar who broke into his house in nearby Salford.
In June Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said a householder who knives a burglar will not have committed a criminal offence under plans to clarify the law on self-defence in England. He said people were entitled to use ‘whatever force necessary’ to protect themselves and their homes.
Political correctness endangers a village cricket club
A red tape nightmare has hit our village cricket club for six
The demands made on our little village cricket club in Litton, Somerset, reflect wider problems with the way Britain is run.
Compared with some of the weightier matters addressed in this column, the threatened closure of a tiny Somerset cricket club might seem trivial. But the team for which I play on Sundays is battling for survival because it has been caught by a bizarre bureaucratic doube-whammy which reflects much of what is going askew with the way our country is run – not least the extent to which our mighty government machine has lost contact with the everyday lives of those it is meant to serve.
On the one hand, our club has been told that, for the field and two semi-derelict sheds where we change and keep our mowers, we must pay “non-domestic rates” equivalent to more than £100 for every home game we play.
On the other, we are told by Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs that we cannot get any relief on this exorbitant demand because our constitution does not state explicitly that membership is open to anyone regardless of “sex, age, disability, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, religion or other beliefs”.
Litton Cricket Club’s constitution has always stated that we are open to anyone who wants to join. Our players range in age from 11 to 73 and have included a Nigerian and my son’s 12-year-old Indian nephew. Wives help with teas, children play on the boundary; the club is warmly supported by many villagers, not least at our fund-raising annual dinners and quiz nights. But because our constitution does not include a “non-discrimination” clause worded in exactly the way laid down, we must pay rates 10 times larger than any other village club in our area, and more than our members could be expected to pay.
Our battle to win rate relief began 10 years ago, when we were first faced with a demand for over £700. We discovered that this was only £400 less than a demand that was being objected to by one of the top city clubs in southern England, with 150 playing members and a large, fully-equipped clubhouse. Eventually we won relief, thanks to the intervention of local councillors.
Some years back, however, our council outsourced responsibility for its business rates to Capita, a private firm based in Bromley, Kent, which last year told us the policy had changed. In March we were told we would now have to pay the full tax unless HMRC classified us as a CASC, a Community Amateur Sports Club.
We filed an application to HMRC and paid £70 as a first instalment, but were then threatened with court action unless we paid the full sum. Thanks to the intervention of our local councillor, we were given a stay of execution until our CASC application had been processed. Last month we finally had a letter from Liverpool to say that our application had been refused. This was because our constitution did not in effect make it absolutely explicit that the club would not discriminate against any one-legged Inuit lesbian Druid pensioner who might wish to join,
We appealed, explaining that the club’s survival depended on it. Having rewritten our constitution exactly according to the formula suggested on HMRC’s website, we asked whether, if we made a new application, this would now be acceptable. Liverpool’s refusal of our appeal last week explained that it was not HMRC’s concern whether our club closed. It said nothing about our new constitution, but merely repeated its insistence that the old one had not stated. the prescribed wording that our club was open to anyone (it merely said “membership is open to anyone”).
There was a time when matters like this could have been quickly sorted out by a couple of councillors familiar with our village. Instead, this battle, involving enough paperwork to fill an inch-thick file, has taken so many months that, if only I were a lawyer and able to charge £500 an hour, I could retire on the proceeds.
We have now made our new CASC application, which we hope will tick every one of the many required boxes. Meanwhile the fate of our club hangs on the ruling of one official in Liverpool and another in Bromley, Kent, each more than 100 miles from the little Someset village where their decisions are awaited with considerable interest.
The real danger to our children
By Frank Furedi (Frank has spent some time in Australia but mostly lives in Britain these days. He is commenting on Australian events below. Despite being of Hungarian refugee origin, he was on the far Left in his youth but eventually did a big rethink)
SOMETIMES the most well-intentioned initiatives to protect children end up with unexpectedly disorienting consequences for everyone concerned.
The experience of the past three decades indicates that an understandable concern with the safety and wellbeing of children can swiftly mutate into a zealous crusade that often incites parents into a state of panic. That is why the announcement by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh that the Daniel Morcombe Child Safety Program will become part of the school curriculum for Prep to Year 9 students fills me with dread.
The Daniel Morcombe Foundation will receive official support for its campaign to promote awareness about child protection in schools. Bruce and Denise Morcombe, whose 13-year-old son was allegedly abducted and killed eight years ago, were appointed as child safety ambassadors by Bligh, who stated that she hoped the child safety curriculum would be adopted nationally. At first sight there appears to be little that is objectionable about the initiative. To his credit Morcombe has stated that his program does not aim to scare children but to give them "lifesaving skills". Apparently aware that a lot of previous stranger danger initiatives have led to a dramatic erosion of adult-child encounters, Morcombe indicated that "we're not saying everyone is bad; we're saying you need to trust some people".
Unfortunately in today's climate, where intergenerational relations are fraught with tension, the institutionalisation of this initiative in Queensland schools is likely to make a bad situation worse. Teaching children to trust "some people" conveys the idea that it makes sense to mistrust every other adult. Take the example of one of the first stranger danger campaigns launched in 1988 in Leeds by the British Home Office. The campaign created a profound sense of anxiety and as far as the children were concerned the message was that they should mistrust people they did not already know.
Other campaigns organised by the Home Office offered a list of "grown-ups you can trust" -- police officer, security guard, shop assistant, mum with a pram. But apparently everyone else signifies danger. It is likely that children in Queensland who will be instructed that it is OK to trust some people will draw the conclusion that other adults are potential threats to their wellbeing.
What children are likely to learn from such instructions are not so much precious life skills but the habit of suspicion towards the adult world. In circumstances where so many adults are perceived as potential predators, children are actually disempowered from developing the kind of intuition that helps them to distinguish between friend and foe or how to anticipate trouble. The division of a world into people who can and cannot be trusted provides little guidance for the negotiation of the ambiguities of routine personal encounters.
The questions that Australian policymakers and educators should be asking themselves is do we need to introduce even more suspicion towards intergenerational interaction in schools? Parents already carefully scrutinise the behaviour of adults who talk to their children. Time and again, mothers and fathers will tell you that "the world has changed" and "you just don't know who is out there". Australia already possesses a flourishing child protection industry and anxieties about the prevalence of pedophilia are widespread. So if there is a problem, it is not that Australians are not suspicious enough but that when it comes to adult-child relations they are often prone to suspecting the worst.
That's why it is difficult to understand Bruce Morcombe's statement when he stated that "Daniel's abduction is a defining moment in terms of Queensland parents collectively recognising that child safety is important".
Queensland parents may have many failings but a failure to recognise the importance of child safety is not one of them. And the last thing Australian children need is yet another safety campaign that will have the unintended consequence of discouraging them from engaging with an uncertain world.
The most regrettable outcome of child protection policies that target strangers is the diminishing of intergenerational encounters. It is no exaggeration to state that a growing number of adults feel awkward and confused when they are in close physical proximity to children that they do not know. Nor is this sense of unease confined to intergenerational interaction between strangers. Many teachers and nursery staff confide that they often feel self-conscious in their relationships with children in their care. They understand that frequently an unintended remark or a physical gesture can be easily misinterpreted by others and that they will be judged guilty until they can prove their innocence.
In the present climate adults often feel uneasy about acting on their healthy intuition and feel forced to weigh up whether, and how, to interact with a child they have encountered. Such calculated behaviour alters the quality of that interaction. It no longer represents an act that is founded on doing what a man or woman feels is right -- it is an act that is influenced by calculations about how it will be interpreted by others and by anxieties that it should not be misconstrued.
Worse still is the fact that many adults have decided the best policy to adopt is to keep their distance from other people's children. Such a course of action is motivated by the conviction that they should avoid putting themselves in situations where their actions can be misinterpreted. Arguably, the disengagement of many adults from the world of children represents a far greater danger than the threat posed by a -- thankfully -- tiny group of predators. The best guarantee of children's safety is the exercise of adult responsibility towards the younger generation. It is when adults take it on themselves to keep an eye on children -- and not just simply their own -- that youngsters can learn to feel genuinely safe.
Instead of fostering suspicion towards grown-ups, society should encourage and cultivate a sense of trust in the good intentions of the older generations. Instead of disrupting inter-generational trust, schools should be cultivating it.
Geert Wilders to visit Australia?
A DUTCH MP accused of racial vilification for his hostile views on Islam has been invited to visit Australia by Liberal senator Cory Bernardi.
Geert Wilders, who narrowly avoided conviction in his own country for likening the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf, hopes to visit here this year or next.
In an interview with the ABC's Foreign Correspondent which aired last night, the right-wing MP depicted Liberal Senator Bernardi as a kindred spirit.
"I met one of your senators, Senator Cory Bernardi, not so long ago. He invited me to help him at least when I would visit Australia, and I will certainly do that," he told the ABC.
Privately, other Liberals were fuming about the incident claiming it was another embarrassment from Senator Bernardi.
Senator Bernardi told The Advertiser he had met with around a dozen people while on a parliamentary study tour in April and had extended all a courtesy invitation, along the lines of "if you're in Australia, look me up".
But in a separate statement, he did concede that he had also offered to help with introductions and logistics.
"He (Mr Wilders) did indicate that he was considering coming to Australia and I extended an invitation to assist him with his schedule," Senator Bernardi said in a statement.
Senator Bernardi has courted controversy himself on previous occasions for campaigning against the Islamic head-dress the Burqa, and against Sharia Law and Sharia banking.
The Liberal frontbencher said he supported the right of free speech but had no involvement in planning an Australian visit for Mr Wilders.
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.