Taking Liberties

  • Production year: 2007
  • Country: UK
  • Cert (UK): 12A
  • Runtime: 105 mins
  • Directors: Chris Atkins
  • 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

    Walter Wolfgang

    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

    John Tulloch

    Jennifer & Des – Retired Headmistresses

    Mouloud Sihali

    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

    Riz Ahmed

    Jane Laporte – Fairford Coach Campaigner

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