Monday, July 09, 2012
Biased British police take Muslim woman's side -- regardless of evidence
She has heard them many times over the past few days, but speaking the words 'racially aggravated assault' still causes Cinnamon Heathcote-Drury's entire body to shake and tears to stream down her face. Her name may have been cleared, but it is obvious the scars of being accused of a vicious hate crime will be more difficult to erase.
Last Thursday, a jury at Isleworth Crown Court in West London took just 15 minutes to acquit her of shoving a pregnant Muslim woman to the floor and calling her husband a terrorist during a row in Tesco. Despite Miss Heathcote-Drury's relief at the verdict, her sense of bewilderment at what has happened remains her overwhelming emotion.
The investigation that led to the celebrated photographer - whose work hangs in the National Portrait Gallery - being tried was described in court as 'a shambles'.
To her, it often felt like being trapped in a dystopian world in which she could not make her version of events heard, no matter how hard she tried. Although, in fact, she says she was the victim of assault, her own accusations were dismissed while her accusers' claims were pursued by police.
'I kept waiting for my story to be investigated, and it never was. Of course it was an enormous relief to be acquitted so quickly, but I find it absolutely terrifying that the case against me could have gone as far as it did. 'The sense of powerlessness at what was happening was overwhelming.'
Even a relatively short time in her company reveals that if Miss Heathcote-Drury had committed the crimes it would have been remarkably out of character. Articulate and bohemian but resolutely middle-class, she grew up in Devon, the daughter of Trevor Heathcote-Drury, a hotelier and pilot, and his wife Roxanne, an artist.
After a stint running The Amber Trust, a charity which helps blind and partially sighted children to become involved in music, she became a photographer, making her name with a portrait of Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman.
It was on November 30 last year that she unwittingly became embroiled in the extraordinary fracas at a Tesco superstore in West London. She had been to see a friend and was on her way home to Kensington when she decided to pop into the store for some groceries at about 2pm.
She was waiting to pay at the checkout when she noticed a man with two small children also queuing. They were joined by a woman wearing a hijab and a long black tunic who began unloading an overflowing trolley, one item at a time.
She says: 'I glanced over and thought, “This poor woman's going to be there for hours.” Her husband was standing closest to me, so I said to him, “Will you help her?” 'He said, “I've got the children.” I said, “Well, I can help her” and he replied, “What's it to you?” I said, “This is what feminism's about - women helping women.”
He said, “Oh, get lost.” I looked at the woman and said, “We live in a society in Britain where rights are equal - if you need help you can ask for it.”'
Very little was revealed in court about the couple, Abdelkrim Danyaoui and Mounia Hamoumi, aside from his stated occupation of 'teacher' and the fact that Mrs Hamoumi had been pregnant at the time of the incident.
Miss Heathcote-Drury says her initial impression was that the woman was elegantly dressed and appeared to have a French accent, while she assumed the man was of Mediterranean origin. She accepts that her offer of help caused offence, but denies her comments about British society were intended as a slight against the couple's Islamic culture.
'I wasn't trying to be inflammatory, or condescending, or implying anything about their race or religion,' she says. 'I was trying to make sure the woman was OK because I don't think women generally do enough in small ways to help one another.
The couple became infuriated. 'The husband came up behind me and said in my ear, “You f*** off,” which I found very intimidating,' Miss Heathcote-Drury says. 'I wanted to get out of the shop as quickly as possible, but he approached me again.'
She called for a security guard and when one arrived, he began speaking to the man. Meanwhile, Miss Heathcote-Drury, who had paid for her shopping, was making her escape down the aisle when she claims she felt a sharp pain in her left shin and stumbled.
'The woman was standing with her hand on her hip and smirking. She wanted to humiliate me. Then she hit me on the left cheek.'
According to Miss Heathcote-Drury, a struggle ensued in which she was kicked in the right shin and her hat was wrenched from her head before the woman lost her balance and fell.
The security guard called the police while the couple continued to put their shopping through the till.
'I didn't want the police to be called, but because I'd told the guard I'd been hit and kicked, I was informed Tesco were obliged to call them,' she says. 'I asked the guard to let me speak to the police to say I didn't want to press charges - I just wanted to forget it as I hadn't been badly hurt.
In shock and trembling, Miss Heathcote-Drury was led to a back room to wait until two police officers arrived. They took her name, date of birth and address, and then left. When they returned after speaking to the couple, she was told she was being arrested for racially aggravated assault.
'I was absolutely astounded,' she says. 'It was just total disbelief. I had no idea what was going on, but I kept thinking, “When they watch the CCTV they'll see what happened.”
'I now know they had spoken to the couple before me and believed their story without even hearing mine. They marched me through the store and took me to Chelsea police station. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. They spent hours fingerprinting me, taking my details and my DNA, in a stark room. I kept asking if I could see a nurse, because my cheek was very sore, but I was told the nurse was busy.
'I asked again and again when I could make my statement, but the officer kept saying, “You can't make a statement, you're under arrest.”
'They asked me if I wanted to call anyone and I thought, “Who can I call?” I'm single and couldn't afford a lawyer because a lot of my work is voluntary and unpaid. My liberty had been removed and I had no voice. No one was listening.'
A duty solicitor arrived and explained that the couple had claimed Miss Heathcote-Drury had used the words 'suicide bomber' and 'terrorist', called the man a 'bad feminist' and said they were probably on jobseekers' allowance. She was then interviewed.
Finally, at 11.35pm, when she was informed the CPS had decided to release her pending further investigation, she was allowed to see a nurse. She then gave her statement before arriving home at 5.30am.
On December 17, three days before she was due to return to the police station, she says she received a call from one of the investigating officers asking her to make a statement about her assault claims. 'I told him I'd made one already and he said he hadn't seen it,' she says.
She had also discovered, on returning to Tesco, that police had not yet spoken to the security guard, despite him offering to give a statement.
Three days later, her worst fears were realised when she was charged. 'I was in shock,' she says. 'I was told the CPS had made the decision to charge me on December 16, without even knowing about my counter-allegation. I felt the police had no interest in my side at all. 'They hadn't talked to any witnesses apart from the couple and a cashier who hadn't seen crucial parts of the incident. 'I felt like they just wanted me as a convenient statistic to help them meet a target.'
Through a contact, she was able to enlist the services of a solicitor from Tuckers, England's leading criminal defence practice.
They advised her to ask for her case to be heard at a crown court rather than a magistrates' court, where she would have more opportunities to give her side of events.
Her trial took place over four days last week. Being questioned was an ordeal, but Miss Heathcote-Drury says she was glad the trial had arrived after months of waiting.
On the first day, her accusers gave their evidence against her. The security guard also told the court that he had heard Miss Heathcote-Drury say she did not want to press charges. However, he admitted he had not seen the tussle or how Mrs Hamoumi came to fall.
Another witness, the cashier, also gave evidence saying that he had not seen the crucial incident but had heard the man telling Miss Heathcote-Drury to 'f*** off'.
In the end, CCTV did not show the incident, but the fact the acquittal was delivered so quickly was testament to the strength of her defence.
Her lawyer Miss Sarnjit Lal says: 'We were astonished with the way the case was handled, the fact Miss Heathcote-Drury was charged and that it went to crown court. It has been a terrible ordeal for her and a total waste of public resources.'
Miss Heathcote-Drury says: 'I find it very sad we live in a culture which seems to believe if we try to help someone, we're asking for trouble.'
Comment by Peter Hitchens:
The CPS will put anyone on trial... except crooks
The main purpose of the Crown Prosecution Service is to save money by pretending that crime and disorder are not as bad as they really are.
That is why it is almost impossible to get it to prosecute anyone, unless you have clear, high-definition film of the crime actually being committed.
Burglary? Why bother? Here’s a crime number, if you can still get insurance in your postcode. Car theft? Happens all the time. Probably your fault. Assault? How about a caution? Drugs? Well, Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Business Secretary, reckons that it isn’t news any more that he smoked dope. So why would we trouble ourselves over that?
In which case, why on earth did the CPS think it was worth spending heaps of our money on prosecuting Cinnamon Heathcote-Drury after a bizarre and faintly comical scuffle in Tesco, in which nobody was hurt?
Could it be because her accuser was a Muslim who alleged she was a ‘racist’?
But now that a jury has thrown out this ludicrous case after 15 minutes of deliberation (God bless them), will anyone in the CPS be disciplined?
Soft justice: British prisoners win right to keep tea-making facilities in their cells in case they fancy a brew during the night
A prisoner has won the right to a keep a thermos flask of hot tea overnight after the new Prisons and Probation Ombudsman said it was good for his health and that he deserved 'decent treatment'.
Nigel Newcomen CBE, who was appointed the new Prisons and Probation Ombudsman by Justice Secretary Ken Clarke in September 2011, took up the unnamed prisoner's case after hearing he had been denied access to hot drinks in his cell.
Mr Newman agreed that banning access to hot drinks was in breach of the rules on how prisoners should be held.
The National Offender Management Service has now accepted the recommendation and agreed that prisoners should be provided with tea-making facilities at night if they ask for them.
Writing in prison's magazine Inside Time this week, Mr Newcomen said he was 'proud' to take on the role as ombudsman, which was set up in 1994 to provide an 'independent adjudicator of prisoner complaints'.
Explaining his reasoning for taking on prisoner A's case Mr Newcomen said: 'He complained that he was not able to make a hot drink when he was locked up overnight (for 12 to 15 hours depending on the day of the week).
'In my view, both health and decent treatment required that prisoners should be able to make a hot drink when they are locked up for that long.
'I was pleased that the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) accepted the recommendation - and the cost implications - that the prison should provide prisoners with vacuum flasks or in-cell kettles for this purpose.'
In another case detailed by Mr Newcomen in the Inside Time article he explained how he had tried to help a family visit a prisoner who was a long way from home.
Mr Newcomen said he battled to get increased petrol money for the prisoner's family so they could visit him, but that this was turned down by the prison service.
He said: 'There was a different outcome in the case of Mr B who complained that the Prison Service would not support a move to a prison closer to his family.
'He said that it was very difficult for his wife and young children to visit him as they lived 250 miles away.
'Mr B was a category A prisoner who was serving a life sentence for serious offences. He had, therefore, been allocated to a high security prison that specialised in certain offending behaviour programmes.
'The financial help for Mr B's family, through the assisted prison visits scheme, did not cover the cost of petrol for the trip. 'The mileage rate had stayed the same since 2005 but petrol prices have risen by 60%.
'The assisted visits scheme is not intended to cover all costs, but the value of the mileage allowance had fallen sharply, making it more difficult for families to visit.
'I, therefore, recommended that the mileage rate be increased. Unusually, this recommendation was not accepted - because it would cost too much. 'This may be a sign of the times.'
Speaking to The Telegraph about the proposals one prison source said: 'It's all very well to be a friend to the prisoner, but surely it's hardly a human right to have a cup of tea at night. Prisoners aren't meant to be in hotel rooms with room service. They are there to be punished.'
New American Trend: Gyms Banning Slim Clients To Foster Comfort For Overweight Patrons
A new fitness trend appears to be sweeping the nation – one that expressly excludes those on the more slender side of the scale.
Multiple reports have surfaced recently about gyms that cater exclusively to zaftig clients looking to lose weight in a place free of potential judgment from other, smaller patrons.
Though some all-inclusive gyms have attempted in the past to create a safe haven for anyone interested in exercising – for example, Planet Fitness, a national chain of gyms with a “judgment-free” motto and mentality – some creators of obese-only gyms feel it’s not enough.
Fitness facilities throughout the United States and Canada are adopting the obese-only idea in the hopes of removing intimidation from the exercise equation.
One such business is Downsize Fitness, with locations in Las Vegas, Chicago and Dallas. They are self-described as a gym “developed specifically with chronically overweight and obese individuals in mind.”
Chris Gowens, co-founder of Downsize Fitness, told CBS Sacramento that he formerly served as the personal trainer of the gym’s other founder, and the two talked extensively about his former client’s apprehension to go to a public gym.
“Most people can’t afford a personal trainer … and never feel comfortable going to the gym,” he said. “The idea [for Downsize Fitness] was borne out of that. We thought it would be a good idea to open a gym tailored to overweight people, to create an environment that’s more welcoming and less intimidating.”
Other gyms with the same idea include Body Exchange in Vancouver, Square One in Omaha, Neb., and Buddha Body Yoga in New York City.
Shawn Arent, an associate professor for the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Studies at Rutgers University, told CBS Sacramento that any program with the potential to motivate obese people to pursue a healthier lifestyle is a program worthy of a chance.
“Anything that gets people moving is a good idea at this point, considering what we’re dealing with in terms of an obesity epidemic,” he said, adding that those put off by the notion of judgmental work-out companions are not alone. “The barrier people are talking about here is social physique anxiety, or nervousness about what others observe and perceive about a person in a certain environment.”
He additionally noted that the business model of an obese-specific gym evokes thoughts of the women-only model employed by the Curves franchise.
Not everyone is on board, however.
Lisa Tealer, a board member for the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance in Foster City, Calif., said that she has “strong concerns” over a gym that separates overweight and obese people from people of average weights and statures.
“I [worry] about a gym that is basing its business model, services and membership on size discrimination, in this case to average size women,” Tealer, a former health club owner herself, told CBS Sacramento. “The health cub I owned was a weight neutral, body positive, health club, where women were not judged based on shape or size of their bodies. We had staff that reflected size diversity and equipment that could be adjusted to accommodate a variety of body sizes.”
In regards to other options, Gowens noted that patrons who tried to work out at home said they often found themselves in close proximity with family, friends, significant others or roommates who were sympathetic to their health goals, but ultimately not supportive due to their reluctance to alter their own habits.
And when those clients tried to go to conventional gyms, they did not fare much better.
“Some [of our clients] said that when they went to the gym, they would get to the parking lot and sit there. It was as close as they could go,” Gowens recalled. “They felt out-of-place.”
He added, “It really motivates everyone [at our gym] to see … someone else having the same experience.”
Tealer agreed that there are potential merits to such a business model, but ultimately feels that it creates a discriminatory environment aimed in the other direction.
“While I commend the attempt to create a judgment-free environment, where fat women feel comfortable, it should not be at the expense of average size women,” she said.
Arent additionally pointed out the “reverse discrimination” element of obese-only gyms.
“There’s a different societal issue there,” he said. “But if it gives [obese people] an exercise program that works for them, I see nothing wrong with that part.”
Arent also noted that the quality of the program is just as important as the environment, if not more so.
“It’ll be interesting to see where it goes. If someone is that overweight, are they people that enjoy working out in the first place?” he said. “It depends on the qualifications of the staff. It’s not just the environment, but also the quality of the programs offered.”
Prayer rooms for Muslims are indicative of the coming changes to the Australian way of life
Stories in past months about the plans to place prayer rooms for Muslims inside Australia’s football venues provide yet another sign of the changes that are happening in our country. It has been reported that prayer rooms are to be compulsory at all AFL grounds.
These prayer rooms are being touted as “non-denominational”, but considering that it has been Muslims campaigning for them, to facilitate the Islamic practice of praying five times a day whilst facing in the direction of Mecca, there is little doubt that their primary purpose is for the use of Muslims.
Various changes are happening in our society. Change, in general, is inevitable, but that does not mean that all change is good. The rise of communism and fascism were changes, but they were not changes for good. Likewise, demographic genocide via massive Third World immigration, intrinsically linked to political multiculturalism and creeping Islamification, is not good either.
There are now separate facilities in some educational institutions for Muslims, there are swimming pools that have closed at certain times for Muslim women, there are foods with the Muslim “Halal tax” appearing in our supermarkets, there are butchers who have been on the receiving end of aggressive behaviour because displaying pork in their store windows has been regarded as offensive to Muslims, retailers who have been attacked because selling alcohol has been regarded as offensive to Muslims, the blind who have been refused taxi service because having a guide dog in the car has been regarded as offensive to Muslims, and the list goes on. Let’s not even mention the Muslims who celebrated the terrorist attacks upon the West (oops, we just did mention it) or the Muslims who have attacked free speech by dragging pastors into court (with the government’s connivance) for “vilifying Islam”.
Sure, it’s all been a misunderstanding, or there is a certain reason for it, or because it’s a special case. Or maybe it’s only because of a certain percentage of fundamentalist Muslims that these things happen; but these fundamentalist Muslims certainly seem to get around a fair bit, don’t they?
The presence of so many fundamentalist Muslims in Australia is a concern. Not because “they are all terrorists” (how often do you hear that very phrase coming from the multiculturalists, who like to treat ordinary Australians with contempt, as if the average Australian would think all Muslims are terrorists), but because they favour a culture that is not conducive to the well-being of the Australian way of life, and because many of them want to impose their beliefs upon us; at this stage, it is just in so many little ways, bit by bit.
Many Muslims, including fundamentalist Muslims, have fled Islamic countries, in part because of potential dangers from the extremist Muslims there; but fleeing from danger does not change the beliefs of fundamentalist Muslims, it merely changes their location. Once here, free from the stonings, beheadings, and killings, many seek a fundamentalist lifestyle; a lifestyle free from the Taliban-style extremists and the deaths they cause, but a fundamentalist lifestyle nonetheless. Many of the non-extremist Muslims want some changes in their favour too, and that assists the fundamentalists in their cause.
If our society is undergoing so many changes now, with the Muslim component of the population supposed to be less than 2%, what changes will be dealt out to us if and when the Muslim population reaches 10% or higher? How many of them will be fundamentalists, demanding that we change our way of life to suit them?
The calls of caution about the coming changes are like a bell tolling in the night, ringing out a warning – a warning of changes that are coming, of changes that won’t be good for the future of our people. The deathly sound of this bell tolling can be heard right across the landscape of our entire country. Fellow Australians, do not ask for whom the bell tolls – it tolls for thee.
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. 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.