Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Police Bail: 28 Days Later

Curbs have now been introduced on the police current practice of leaving potentially innocent people in legal limbo for months on end, in some cases years. In my recently published book Presumed Guilty, I described the present system surrounding the use of bail by the state as 'police officer justice'. I had to endure 9 months on pre-charge bail and then a further 13 months after I was charged, as the police scoured the country for 'evidence'. Meanwhile, I was convinced this earth was another planet's hell.

While on bail the suspect lives his or her life under a cloud of suspicion and a number of arbitrary restrictions are placed on that person - movement/removal of passport/computer/phone/diaries/personal correspondence/suspended from job (in my case this involved suspended from the home and community where I had spent 30 years)/in some cases (not my own) even separation from one's own children.

There is now a 28 day limit on pre-charge bail. In my book I called for the limit to be 2 months because, with the police force and its support teams currently so stretched, we don't want to make the task of investigation even longer, as officers waste valuable time sitting around in court houses every few weeks.

The Magna Carta states: 'justice delayed is justice denied' but nevertheless some of the appalling cases of this 'police officer justice' m.o. led to Cliff Richard being bailed for 672 days (precisely the number I was bailed for) and Paul Gambaccini for a year, yet neither was charged.

Anyone who has spent even a week on bail will tell you the effect it has on your life is exacting. The longer the process continues, the more one feels the strain. It is nothing short of mental cruelty.

I was discussing this on the Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2 on Monday and Jeremy asked what was the impetus for this new law being introduced. The answer is the printed press - not the television or radio but three newspapers: the Mail, the Telegraph and the Times. These journals are despised by the liberal establishment because the latter generally don't care a fig for individuals like me because I don't tick any of the minority boxes.

The left wing press concern themselves only with 'movements' and 'groups', while the right wing papers treat each case on the actual evidence. I would like to take this opportunity to thank, among others, Libby Purves and Daniel Finklestein, Richard Littlejohn, Jane Moore and Janet Street Porter - all those print press journalists who will not be cowed by political correctness but will express their views without fear or favour.

I wish the police would invite them to address their officers to explain why this is so important.

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