Saturday, April 05, 2014
Another false rape claim from Britain
A trainee lawyer hoping to qualify as a barrister cried rape 11 times to get out of taking her Bar exams, a court has heard.
Rhiannon Brooker, 30, falsely accused her boyfriend of repeatedly raping and assaulting her, causing him to be arrested, charged and held in custody for 30 days, it was said.
But detectives could not find any evidence that Paul Fensome, 46, had carried out the crimes and arrested Brooker.
It then emerged that she had used the allegations as 'extenuating circumstances' in a failed attempt to dodge her exams, Bristol Crown Court heard.
She is now standing trial for 11 false claims of rape and nine of assault, two of which include imprisonment allegations.
David Bartlett, prosecuting, said: 'The prosecution says that one of the reasons for her false allegations was that she was living an active social life in Bristol and not doing the work required to pass the assessments, so she falsified the allegations in order to give substance to her extenuating circumstances forms.'
The court heard how 'confident and outspoken' Brooker took a Bachelor of Law degree at Birmingham City University before moving to Bristol in September 2010.
She attended the University of the West of England (UWE) in the city in order to take her BVC qualifications to become a barrister.
Brooker, who lived in Frampton Cotterell, South Gloucestershire, at the time of the alleged offences, claimed Mr Fensome, whom she met in Birmingham, objected violently to the move.
Mr Bartlett told the court that, shortly before her move to Bristol, Brooker appeared at the convenience store where she worked with injuries and complained to managers that her boyfriend had assaulted her.
She also told fellow university students that she had been assaulted and raped, but had not reported the matter to police, the court heard.
Jurors were told she finally went to police in May 2011 following a visit to the Royal United Hospital in Bath, but all the allegations were denied by railway signalman Mr Fensome.
Brooker consented to police examining her medical records from hospitals or clinics she had attended, and took photos of her injuries.
The court was told that the allegations involving false imprisonment and assault at her home were countered with 'cast iron alibis' by Mr Fensome.
On other occasions texts from his phone, telephone cell site analysis and his work shift patterns all either undermined or disproved further allegations, the court heard.
Mr Bartlett said: 'Whilst in respect of some allegations there was no independent evidence either to confirm what she had said or undermine it, on other occasions independent evidence either undermined or disproved her account.
'Eventually the Crown dropped the numerous charges against Paul Fensome because, taken as a whole, the evidence showed that there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.
'Expert opinion was obtained which suggested that those injuries of Brooker that were photographed were self-inflicted.'
She claimed Mr Fensome forced her to have sex a number of times, and on one occasion she told a friend she had lost a baby because her boyfriend had punched her in the ribs, the court heard.
While at university, it is alleged she told friends that facial injuries and bruising she had were as a result of her attempts to end her relationship, which she claimed Mr Fensome would not allow.
In March 2011, she was assessed by an independent domestic violence advisor, who tried to encourage her to involve police and log events.
The court heard Brooker only sat the first four of her 12 assessments for her BVC course and persuaded the Extenuating Circumstance Committee to let her sit all at a later date.
Although she failed the exams because she went beyond time limits for the retakes.
Later withdrawing her allegations, Brooker confirmed they were false and admitted that injuries seen by witnesses were self-inflicted, the court heard. In a prepared statement, she told police she made the allegations due to 'unresolved feelings of anger'.
After making the statement to police, Brooker was later found slumped against a tree by a river with a bottle of vodka and a strip of anti-depressants.
'The police and ambulance were called but she was abusive to both,' Mr Bartlett told the court.
Our asylum system must be sacrosanct; the Home Office had to send Yashika Bageerathi home
Yesterday, 19-year-old Yashika Bageerathi was deported from the UK to Mauritius. The decision by Home Officer ministers to continue with her removal came in the face of a storm of protest. A petition to have the decision overturned secured 175,000 signatures. A campaign to allow the gifted A-level student to say gripped the media. As she was driven to the airport, journalists were tweeting live reports from the road.
The campaigners were wrong, and the Home Office was right. It was not only necessary to remove Yashika Bageerathi from the UK, it was vital.
Yashika Bageerathi did not arrive in the UK on a student visa. Or a work visa. Nor did she enter the country illegally. She arrived in 2011 with her mother, sister and brother, and claimed asylum. They were, they said, fleeing from an abusive relative. The case was examined in detail by the Home Office, and rejected. In their judgment Yashika and her family did not have a well-founded fear of persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of an oppressed social group. And on that basis, after three years in the UK, she has been removed.
Her case was an emotive one. She was doing well at school. Her and her family were popular within their community.
But here’s the problem; she had claimed asylum. And under the laws of the UK and conventions of the United Nations she had no basis for that claim.
Asylum is a sacred principle. More importantly, it is a sacred practice. Or it should be. If you reach this country, and you are under genuine threat of murder, torture or oppression, you will be granted sanctuary. Forget all the well-rehearsed arguments about the pressure on public services, and the threat to social cohesion, and how Nigel Farage feels when he’s commuting. If you arrive here, and you are fearful for you life, then you are safe, and you can stay. No ifs, not buts. This is Britain, and we will not turn our back.
But for that principle to be maintained, it must be sacrosanct. And over the last few years it has not been sacrosanct.
As the debate around immigration has raged, the phrase “asylum seeker” has become corrupted. It has almost become a form of abuse. Synonymous with the term “bogus”.
There is a simple reason for this, one which transcends the toxicity of our current moral panic over migration. Most people who claim asylum in the UK do not have a well-founded fear of persecution. Roughly three out of every four claims are examined, and then rejected.
Occasionally mistakes are made. The assessments are considered in a political environment in which there is pressure to limit the number of people entering the UK.
But that does not account for – nor come close to accounting for – the discrepancy between the number of asylum applications and the number of positive decisions. The fact is the asylum system is used by a small but significant number of people as a back-door route to economic migration.
And that is understandable. If I was experiencing the grotesque poverty half the world faces I’d be looking for a back door to a better life as well.
But we cannot build an effective migration system via a series of secretive back doors. I believe our interests are served by having a relatively liberal immigration system. But we do still need a system. And that system has to be built on rules, and those rules have to be enforced.
Because if they’re not, we know what happens. The public consensus necessary to support that system collapses.
When it comes to economic migration, that’s frustrating. It may even be shaming. But at the end of the day, the consequences are economic. We’ll be a poorer country. The debt will increase, GDP will fall and unemployment will actually rise. I won’t be able to employ my Polish cleaner.
But if we lose the consensus over asylum then people are going to die. They’re going to die in horrible, disgusting ways. And that is why the sacred principle of asylum must be protected at all costs.
“Yashika has proved herself a model student,” said the petition. Yes. But she did not have a legitimate basis or asylum. She was “a valuable member of the community”. Undoubtedly. But she did not have a legitimate basis for asylum.
“She is to be torn apart from her family and deported to Mauritius without even having the chance to compete her A-levels.” Which is tragic. But she did not have a legitimate basis for asylum.
We either have a system of granting people sanctuary that is inviolate, or we do not. And if we don’t – if we allow exceptions and loopholes – then gradually the foundations upon which the principle of asylum rests will be chipped away. And over the last few years the anti-immigration lobby haven’t been chipping away at it. They’ve been attacking it with a pneumatic drill.
Asylum has to be a sacred principle and a sacred practice. And that’s why Yashika Bageerathi had to be sent home.
Real Women Vote Democrat, or Do They?
"The conservative minds of the Heritage Foundation have found a way for Republicans to shrink the gender gap: They need to persuade more women to get their MRS degrees [get married]." So wrote the Washington Post's Dana Milbank about a panel that featured Mollie Hemingway, Karin Agness and yours truly.
It was so nice of Milbank to attend -- a shame that his mind was so clenched shut that he could hear only what his prejudices led him to expect, rather than what we actually said. Hate to interrupt a good sneer, but the panel wasn't about the gender gap; it was about feminism.
Milbank focused narrowly on the political implications of our talk and couldn't resist descending to the most tired leftist cliche, namely that "the consensus was that we ought to go back in history." The left cannot shake is starry-eyed confidence that history has a vector -- that forward is always toward the sunny uplands of equality, prosperity and happiness -- and backward is always a descent. Tell that to Germans in 1933 or Cambodians in 1975. Ask a newly captured slave onboard a ship in the middle passage if he wanted to "go back in history."
Speaking for myself and not my fellow panelists, I do believe that feminism took a number of wrong turns since the 1970s -- rejecting marriage, embracing the sexual revolution, cheerleading for abortion without any restrictions, vehemently denying that young children pay a price when they are placed in institutional care, recycling bogus statistics like the 77-cents myth, spurning the accomplishments of conservative heroines like Margaret Thatcher and Condoleezza Rice, demonizing men as oppressors. It's a long list.
But most of my talk at the Heritage Foundation wasn't especially partisan or even political. I was quoting the social science that scholars across the political spectrum agree upon -- namely, that a focus on women's progress and glass ceilings and "leaning" this way and that misses the most important news: Men are falling behind. A larger percentage of women than men finish high school. Women now earn 57 percent of bachelor's degrees, 63 percent of master's degrees, and 53 percent of doctorates. Men are earning less and dropping out of the labor force at alarming rates. Women are earning more and taking a larger percentage of managerial and supervisory posts.
The decline of marriage hurts men as well as women and children, but its effects are not evenly distributed. Among the college-educated, divorce has declined and unwed childbearing is rare. By contrast, among high school dropouts, most women will have their first child before getting married and rare is the unmarried couple who remains together for life.
The collapse of marriage among the uneducated and partially educated has unquestionably been a social and economic disaster. The data are overwhelming that children raised by married parents are happier, healthier, do better in school, and are more likely to attend and finish college than their peers from single-parent homes. This is true without regard to race or ethnicity. In fact, being raised by a single mother is a better predictor of poverty than race or ancestry.
Those concerned about income inequality, poverty and social health, I argued (and I was joined in this by my fellow panelists), must be concerned about rebuilding the marriage norm. I cited the successful effort to reduce teen pregnancy (it's dropped 50 percent in recent years). A similar campaign to stress the importance of stable families could yield huge benefits for the most vulnerable populations in our society.
Only in the question-and-answer session did the issue that so absorbed Milbank arise: How this affects elections. Responding to a question, we noted the glaringly unsurprising fact that the gender gap between Democrats and Republicans is actually a marriage gap. Single women vote disproportionately for Democrats and married women vote by a comfortable margin for Republicans.
The decline of marriage inclines more women to vote Democrat. They are, quite understandably, looking for security (a la "The Life of Julia"). It's obviously not a good campaign strategy for Republican office-seekers to lecture women about marching to the altar before having children.
But, believe it or not, it's useful to think about and discuss important social trends without always appending a D or an R to them. Serious people can seek out the illuminating research by Isabel Sawhill, Charles Murray, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Elaine Kamarck, W. Bradford Wilcox and other scholars.
Fans of shallow snark will enjoy Milbank's work.
How a ban on hate speech helped the Nazis
WHAT could an eccentric Swedish pastor, a drunk British student and Brigitte Bardot possibly have in common?
All have been imprisoned or threatened with imprisonment for saying offensive things about minority groups.
The Swedish pastor, Ake Green, was sentenced to a month in jail in 2004 for criticising homosexuality from the pulpit of his Pentecostal church.
He described homosexuality as “abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumour in the body of society”.
A local judge decreed that these words constituted a hate crime under Swedish law, which forbids making statements that “threaten or express disrespect for an ethnic group or similar group”.
The British student, Liam Stacey, was sentenced to 56 days in prison at Swansea Magistrates’ Court in 2012 after he tweeted racist comments about black soccer player Fabrice Muamba.
Stacey, inebriated at the time of his unhinged tweeting, was found guilty under Britain’s extraordinarily broad Public Order Act, which makes it an offence to “display any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting”.
As for Bardot, the French movie starlet turned animal rights activist, she hasn’t been jailed for the things she has said, but she has been fined and warned that jail is a possibility in the future.
In her role as animal lover, Bardot has become a vociferous critic of the Islamic ritualised slaughter of animals, describing it as a barbaric practice that is “destroying our country”.
For saying stuff like that, she has been convicted and fined five times under France’s 1881 Law on Freedom of the Press, which makes it a crime to “incite racial discrimination, hatred or violence”, and has had to fork out €30,000.
Those are just three of the thousands of punishments for hate speech doled out in Europe in recent years.
In Canada, too, people have found themselves on the receiving end of censure for saying hateful or disrespectful things about certain groups.
So as Australians hotly debate section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, under which journalist Andrew Bolt was punished in 2011 for criticising “fair-skinned people” who claim to be Aboriginal, it’s worth pulling back and looking at the international context.
Globally speaking, there’s little novel about Bolt’s case. His political criticisms of Aboriginal heritage could just as easily have landed him in legal hot water in Europe and other parts of the world.
The Bolt case is no Aussie one-off — it’s better understood as part of a global war against so-called hate speech, where states are clamping down on what they consider to be offensive words, and in the process are criminalising certain moral, political and religious world views and trampling on freedom of speech.
Section 18C makes it unlawful for individuals to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” someone because of race or ethnicity.
Attorney-General George Brandis is trying to reform it, suggesting that, in the interests of freedom of speech, the words “offend”, “insult” and “humiliate” should be taken out, but “intimidate” should be left in and joined by the word “vilify”.
Similar laws against hateful or insulting expression exist across Europe and, as in Australia, they’ve been used not only to punish the blindly prejudiced but also those who possess outre views.
So in Denmark it is against the law to “mock or scorn … any lawfully existing religious community”.
Do that, and you can be jailed for four months.
In Finland, anyone who “distributes among the public” words that “threaten, slander or insult on account of race” can be jailed for up to two years.
In Germany it’s against the law to “insult, maliciously malign or defame” people on the basis of race or religion.
France criminalises “any offensive expression, contemptuous term or invective” against racial or religious groups.
In Belgium, anyone who “insults a religious object”, including by “words (or) gestures”, can be jailed for up to six months.
Never shake a fist at a statue of the Virgin Mary if you visit Belgium.
Across the pond, in Canada, the Human Rights Act forbids the public expression of “hateful or contemptuous” thoughts about ethnic minorities and faith groups.
All these laws have been used to punish not just the mad racist who screams the N-word on street corners but also political speech and expressions of religious conviction.
So, in Britain, three Muslims were recently convicted of a hate crime for distributing a leaflet in which the word gay was laid out as an acronym that said “God Abhors You”.
In 2010, a Danish historian was found guilty of “insulting” a religious group after he said in an interview that there was a peculiarly high incidence of crime in Muslim areas.
In 2011, an Austrian writer was found guilty of “agitating against a group” and fined €480 for giving a critical speech on Islam that included the line, “Mohammed had a thing for little girls”.
In 2010, a Finnish politician was found guilty of “incitement against an ethnic group” after he said increased immigration to Finland would increase crime.
We may well disagree with the views expressed in these cases. But they’re nonetheless just views; expressions of strong religious ideas about sexuality or political opposition to immigration. Increasingly in the West, what would once have been seen as legitimate speech in the rowdy fray of public debate is being rebranded “hatred” and punished with fines or jail time.
However much PC packaging is attached to these laws, there’s no dodging the fact they are used to deeply censorious ends, punishing moral outlooks that the mainstream finds offensive.
Where did these laws punishing mockery and offence come from? Tracing the history of hate speech legislation is fascinating, for it tells us a profound and depressing story about the modern West’s bit-by-bit abandonment of free speech.
Modern hate speech legislation was born from World War II. There was a feeling that hatred needed to be curbed to prevent another outburst of fascist hysteria. But it wasn’t Western governments calling for laws against hate speech — it was the authoritarian Soviet Union.
In 1948, world leaders gathered to construct a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Soviet representatives argued that the section on free speech should be qualified by strictures against hate speech. They proposed an amendment making it a crime to advocate “national, racial or religious hostility”. “(We cannot) allow advocacy of hatred or religious contempt,” they said.
Such efforts to water down freedom of speech in the name of combating hate were opposed by Western delegates. From the US, Eleanor Roosevelt said a hate speech qualification would be “extremely dangerous” since “any criticism of public or religious authorities might all too easily be described as incitement to hatred” (how prescient she was). In later discussions, British representative Lady Gaitskell said a hate speech amendment would “infringe the fundamental right of freedom of speech”.
The Soviets lost on the hate speech front in 1948. But they kept pushing. They were finally successful in 1965 with the creation of the UN’s International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Despite the continued opposition of Western delegates and their allies — one of whom said that “to penalise ideas, whatever their nature, is to pave the way for tyranny” — the new 1965 convention did contain a section calling for the criminalisation of “ideas based on racial superiority or hatred”.
It was the spread of this convention into domestic law, everywhere from Austria to Australia, that led to the creation of crimes of hate speech around the world in the late 1960s and early 70s.
So the story of hate speech laws is a story of the West’s slow but sure ditching of freedom of speech. Where once Western leaders opposed the criminalisation of words — “whatever their nature” — more recently they’ve come to see certain speech as dangerous after all, and something that must be punished.
We’re witnessing the victory of the Soviet view of speech as bad and censorship as good, with various members of the modern West’s chattering classes unwittingly aping yesteryear’s communist tyrants as they call for the banning of “advocacy of hatred”, and a corresponding demise of the older enlightened belief that ideas and words should never be curtailed.
Some will say, “So what if we’re finishing off the Soviet Union’s dirty work? At least we’re preventing hatred.” But here’s the thing: history shows that, actually, hate speech laws don’t even help to combat hate.
The Weimar Republic of the 30s had laws against “insulting religious communities”. They were used to prosecute hundreds of Nazi agitators, including Joseph Goebbels. Did it stop them? No. It helped them.
The Nazis turned their prosecutions for hate speech to their advantage, presenting themselves as political victims and whipping up public support among aggrieved sections of German society, their future social base. Far from halting Nazism, hate speech legislation assisted it.
It is surely time every hate speech law was repealed. They are a menace to free thought and speech, and the worst tool imaginable for fighting real hatred.
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.