“Right to be forgotten” and police body cam footage posted forever on YouTube

In Europe, the court has decided that people who don’t like search engines like Google turning up embarrassing details about them now have the right to get the offending pages removed from the index. A Spanish lawyer by the name of Mario Costeja Gonzálezping hated people typing his in his name and finding an article in his local rag alluding to his past financial difficulties, and when they refused to pull the historical record he took all and sundry to court until Google (in particular) was forced to stop indexing the page. If you want to read the page from La Vanguardi, click here. Whilst I have some sympathy for the guy, taking Google to the European Court over the matter is not the best way to keep out of the public eye.

This isn’t without controversy – it’s censorship by the back door, handed down by a bunch of un-elected judges and everyone in Europe now has to comply. However, our colonial cousins, with their First Amendment, have e completely different problem – too much free speech.

Someone is exploiting the system, and the fact that publicly generated records in the USA are public, by requesting all police body camera images in order to provide content for a new YouTube channel, as reported by Komo News. Basically they’re slurping all the footage shot by Poulsbo Police in Washington and posting the “best bits”. The privacy issues are mind-boggling! Forget getting drunk and posting an unfortunately selfie on your Facebook page – if you get a visit from the cops in Poulsbo, it could end up on YouTube forever.

What is Google (owner of Facebook) doing about THIS? Absolutely nothing (thus far);  it’s free speech, isn’t it?

Police vs. Andrew Mitchell

Apparently, according to Andrew Mitchell himself, he swore at a copper who refused to open the vehicle gate to Downing Street for him. Sections of the left-wing news media describe this as an “attack on the police” at a sensitive time. The notion is clearly nonsense; it’s was an attack on one particular police officer who was, apparently, asking for it. Whether swearing at him was the best response is debatable. Perhaps formal disciplinary proceedings would have been more appropriate, but the PC’s views on it aren’t known. I suspect that in the final analysis, being sworn at for being out-of-order is preferable to being hauled in front of a disciplinary panel. The former course is more direct and achieves the same effect with the minimum of fuss. Least said, soonest mended. Except not in this case.

By all accounts the PC and the politician have apologised and made up, and this should have been the end of it. The fact that the “row” continues suggests political motivation. Trade unions (such as the Police Federation) are calling for his resignation. Well they would, wouldn’t they. This is clearly a case of “rank and file” police officers protecting their interests by pushing the government about, shamelessly exploiting public sympathy after the shocking murders of PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes in Manchester to characterise a row about right-of-way as an attack on the police.

So what’s really at the heart of it? Well anyone who rides a bicycle on a regular basis will have encountered a jobsworth copper (or more often, a PCSO) telling them they can’t do this or that. Had Andrew Mitchell swept in to Downing Street in a ministerial Jag, of course they’d have opened the gate, but some sections of the police treat cyclists as second-class road users. They’re not all like that;  a lot of my local police are out on bicycles themselves and have a very good understanding of the issues. But others drive around in panda cars and have the belief that cyclists have less right to use the road than they do. Actually, cyclists use the road by right and motor cars are there under license.

The police (although notably, not the PC concerned) have claimed that Andrew Mitchell called him a pleb. He denies this, and from what I can understand of his character, I’m inclined to  believe him. If anything, it was the PC refusing to open the vehicle gate for a “mere” cyclist treating him with disrespect, and he retaliated by telling them to “…just open the f*ing gate!” or words to that effect. Normally, I’d stop and remonstrate politely with any anti-bicycle copper I encounter, pointing out the relevant parts of the Road Traffic Act, what counts as a right-of-way and what a court might regard as reasonable, but I’m not a government whip on a tight schedule.

The real issue here is the police, and wider society’s attitude to cyclists. The BBC journalists, trade unionists and Labour politicians quick to criticise Andrew Mitchell’s outburst at a copper with a bad attitude are doubtless used to driving around the place in cars. Andrew Mitchell isn’t the one who’s stuck up – he rides a bike. They are.

I dare say that the news media will force Andrew Mitchell out eventually unless the lid is blown on the murky back-room operation perpetuating this “row”. The people should be electing our politicians, not the police federation.

No Justice for Ian Tomlinson

The CPS isn’t going to prosecute anyone over the death of Mr Tomlinson at the G20 protests following an unprovoked attack by a police officer (Simon Harwood). They say that he was definitely assaulted, but they can’t prove the link between the assault and his subsequent death. “There is no reasonable chance of a conviction” because of this. Two pathologists though he was killed because the injuries lead to a heart attack, one thought it was a heart attack that might have been from natural causes.

Actual Bodily Harm was also ruled out because, apparently, there’s dispute as to whether the internal injuries caused by fall lead to his death, and the appropriate charge would then be manslaughter – and you can’t have both.

Common assault (from the baton attack), which caused a less serious injury, can’t be pursued because the six month time limit has expired.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (Kier Starmer QC), Steven O’Doherty and Tim Owen QC are responsible for this decision. Kier Starmer (named after Keir Hardie) is, of course, closely associated with the Labour party and the previous government (appointed in 2008) .

This is a disgrace. There’s nothing more to say.