Chris Atkins’ film is not without its merits. It efficiently catalogues the frightening nature and scope of the many authoritarian laws passed by the Blair Government and shows a varied selection of the behaviour of those legally entitled to enforce them, behaviour which
ranged from the obnoxiously officious – “Go away or I will nick you for XY or Z” was a common police response – to severe embarrassment at having to enforce such sinister Acts.
Film of the octogenarian Labour supporter from the Labour Party Conference was particularly telling both because of the speed with which the stewards acted and the amount of force they used to expel both the initial protester and a man who attempted to intervene, as was the
aftermath when the police in their cheery way attempted to use Terrorism legislation against the octogenarian.
Sadly, the police can now arrest people at will because the concept of an arrestable offence is now effectively a dead letter and the police have so many new and old laws at their disposal that they can always find a law to threaten you with – one person trying to deliver a court injunction to a copper was told he would be arrested for littering if he did not take the injunction away.
Being arrested is no longer a straightforward matter. The police now have the right to fingerprint you, photograph you and take your DNA which they can store for ever on a database even if you are not charged with an offence let alone convicted of one. This is no small matter because as soon as you are on the database you are at a serious disadvantage compared with someone who is not.
The mere fact of being on the police database will make you a suspicious person in the eyes of officialdom. Your DNA could be planted at a crime scene by a private individual. Imagine a burglar collecting items such as a cigarette stub left by someone else and leaving them during a burglary to mislead the police. You will also be at risk of false matches. In addition, the police are investigating on the basis of close matches. Suppose a close relative commits a crime and his or her DNA is not on the police database but yours is. The police are likely to approach you even if the match is not exact.
The problem with Atkins is that he is rigid with political correctness. The consequence of this is that the film fails to address any authoritarian act directed at those who fall outside the groups protected by political correctness. Two examples of this neglect are the failures to mention the Countryside march and the prosecution of the BNP leader Nick Griffin for allegedly inciting racial hatred.
The Countryside march merited his attention both because it was the largest public protest in Britain in modern times and probably the largest ever in Britain and because of the gratuitously violent behaviour of the police when they attacked marchers in Parliament Square in a most cavalier manner despite the fact that the demonstration was remarkably well behaved generally.
Atkins did not ignore the Countryside march because he thinks that the Government’s ignoring of massive public protests or police violence are unimportant. This is shown by his use of the Government’s response to the march against the Iraq invasion and the grotesquely heavy handed police response to Brian Haws’ permanent demonstration in Parliament Square when vast numbers of Her Majesty’s finest arrived in the night to
curtail his activities.
The failure to address the issues surrounding the prosecution of Griffin had more complexity attached to it. The prime issue was the prosecution of someone who heads a political party which plays by the democratic rules. If it could happen to one party it could happen to any.
Moreover, the prosecutions had political involvement – the attorney-general, a member of the Government, had to sanction the prosecutions. Yet Atkins not only failed to address this vitally important issue through the Griffin case, he did not raise it either as a general difficulty nor address through other prosecutions such as those of Muslims prosecuted for inciting racial hatred .the question of laws which restrict free expression
What we had throughout the film was a parade of greens, anti-nuclear activists, peace-protesters, and civil rights supporters (who invariably supported politically correct clients such as Muslims under control orders). Nothing wrong with their inclusion: everything wrong with the one-sidedness of the evidence presented.
Those appearing in the film
Rachel North – Writer & 7/7 Survivor
Tony Benn – Former Labour MP & Cabinet Minister
Toby Rhodes – Splash Clothing
Henry Porter – Novelist & Observer Columnist
Maya Evans – Justice Not Vengeance Co-ordinator
Milan Rai – Justice Not Vengeance Co-ordinator
Mark Thomas – Comedian & Activist
Sylvia & Helen – Peace Campaigners
Malcolm Carroll – Baptist Minister
Ellen & Rose Rickford – Students
Frances – Ellen & Rose’s Mum
Brendan – Ellen & Rose’s Dad
Richard – Peace Campaigner
John & Linda Catt
Stephanie Harrison – Barrister
Chris – Peace Campaigner
Timothy Lawson-Cruttenden – Solicitor for EDO MBM
Lydia D’Agostino – Solicitor
Chief Superintendent Barry Norman – Founder of Forward Intelligence Team (F.I.T.)
Shami Chakrabarti – Director of Liberty (Human Rights Organisation)
Boris Johnson – Conservative MP
Kenneth Clarke – Conservative MP
Phil Booth – NO2ID National Co-ordinator
Ross Anderson – Cambridge University
Clare Short – Former Labour Cabinet Minister
Michael Mansfield QC
Jennifer & Des – Retired Headmistresses
David Bermingham – Natwest 3
Clive Stafford Smith – Lawyer for Guantanamo Detainees
Moazzam Begg – Former Guantanamo Detainee
Kate Allen – Director, Amnesty Internartional
Philippe Sands QC – Author of “Lawless World”
Dr. David Nicholl – Human Rights Campaigner
Amani Deghayes – Omar’s Sister
Zohra Zewawi – Omar’s Mother
Baroness Sarah Ludford – Liberal Democrat MEP
Stephen Grey – Author of “Ghost Plane”
Michael Scheuer – Former Chief of CIA Bin Laden Unit
Jane Laporte – Fairford Coach Campaigner