Sunday, December 02, 2007

Police failure at Oxford U

No police interest in free speech. Quite to the contrary. They were there to "facilitate protest" -- i.e. to prevent it. About what we expect of Britain's politicized police. Law and order comes a distant second to political correctness

Police in Oxford were today embroiled in a row after being accused of "outrageous" failures in containing anti-fascist protests against a debate at the university last night. Evan Harris, a speaker at the event, said that officers were to blame for failing to stop protesters infiltrating into the debating hall and preventing the Oxford Union debate taking place. The demonstrators were protesting against the inclusion of Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right British National Party, and the historian David Irving, a convicted Holocaust-denier, on the list of speakers.

Despite a heavy police presence, around 30 protesters managed to storm the union and staged a sit down protest at the debating table. Police estimate up to 1,000 people joined the protest but, despite the invasion, no arrests were made.

Amid the fallout from the protests, Mr Harris, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, criticised police for allowing protesters to get in and said a cordon should have been in place around the premises. "The failure of the police is outrageous," he added. In response the force claimed that the Oxford Union had taken charge of its own on-the-door security and that the union was at fault for allowing protesters to get in. "It was not our responsibility to prevent protestors from entering the Union. That was the responsibility of the event organisers," a Thames Valley Police spokeswoman said. "As we have said from the beginning, our primary responsibility was to facilitate lawful protest. "The protestors who entered the debating chamber were not committing a criminal offence, but civil trespass and therefore we did not have powers to arrest them."

In a statement, Chief Inspector Dennis Evernden said most protesters had been peaceful. "A small minority seemed intent on causing problems but police intervention prevented any criminal acts or disorder," he said. Mr Evernden refused to go into detail about officers deployed on the protest today, saying it contravened the force's security procedures.

The debate eventually went ahead more than a hour late with the speakers split into two groups for safety. Mr Irving, who was jailed for three years in Austria for denying the Holocaust, spoke alongside broadcaster and author Anne Atkins and Liberal Democrat Mr Harris in the debating hall while Mr Griffin was among debaters speaking in the main Union building.

Nearly half of the students who had tickets for the event failed to get in after the crowd outside the union blocked the gates. Those who did make it in faced jeers of "shame on you". Union security officers said the protesters got into the building by jumping over the wall while others created a diversion by gathering and crushing at the front gate.

The Oxford Union had argued that the pair should be allowed to take part in the name of free speech. Luke Tryl, the union's President, said: "I think David Irving came out of that looking pathetic. I said in my introduction that I found his view repugnant and abhorrent because I wanted that on record."


Jail for English insult

We read:

"Michael Forsythe, 54, from Powys, was convicted of racially aggravated harassment after calling a Welsh woman English. He swore at and insulted Gavin and Lorna Steele at the tattoo parlour they own, after hitting their parked vehicle.

He was sentenced to ten weeks in jail, suspended for 12 months, with a supervision requirement at Welshpool Magistrates' Court. He must pay 200 pounds costs.


Fuller details here

Sssh, all ye faithful! British cop stops school carol singers because 'they are too loud'

No doubt it was intolerance of anything Christian behind this

First the shopping centre security guard stepped in. Then it was the turn of a police officer. But it wasn't drunken youths or shoplifters who required their attention. It was a group of enthusiastic carol singers from a local primary school. The children, aged between six and 11, were told they were singing too loudly.

Parents and many of the shoppers who had enjoyed the carols were astonished by the intervention. "They were a small group singing to raise money and they were singing beautifully," their headmaster Ian Jones yesterday. "After a bit a security guard came over and said we had only meant to be singing for one hour and could we please stop. "I just said 'No', because I knew we were allowed to sing between 11am and 3pm. He said he had complaints from tenants that we were too loud. "I just asked how he proposed to stop children singing. In the end he said we would have to stop or he would call the police."

The 29 pupils from Ysgol San Sior school, aged between six and 11, had permission to sing at the Victoria Centre in Llandudno, North Wales, last Saturday to raise funds for the school. "I couldn't believe what they were saying," added Mr Jones. "Some of the parents were incredulous. A member of the public came over and said she thought the singing was fantastic."

Then a Police Community Support Officer arrived and shortly afterwards Mr Jones decided he and his pupils should pack up. Organiser Debbie Ankers, whose nine-year-old daughter was singing, said: "To begin with, I thought it was a joke - it was just ridiculous. "They were asking us to leave but we couldn't just leave when we had children there with parents coming later to pick them up."

Sue Nash, manager of the Victoria Centre, admitted last night that security staff should not have intervened. "It was quite loud apparently, and we have had problems with acoustics in the centre whenever we have had live music here," she said. "It was a misunderstanding but it has all been sorted now. Mistakes do happen." The pupils will be allowed to return to perform their carols at the centre this weekend - and will not be required to sing quietly.


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