2012 articles

select for full story 'No good comes from prejudice', judge tells boat race protester jailed for six months
Victoria Ward 1:06PM BST 19 Oct 2012
Trenton Oldfield, 36, smirked in the dock as Judge Anne Molyneux described his actions as planned, deliberate, disproportionate and dangerous, noting that he had shown no regret

"You made your decision to sabotage the race based on the membership or perceived membership of its participants of a group to which you took exception," she said.

"That is prejudice."

She told Olfield that every individual and group of society was entitled to respect.

"It is a necessary part of a liberal and tolerant society that no one should be targeted because of a characteristic with which another takes issue," she added. "Prejudice in any form is wrong."

select for full story The judge, sitting at Isleworth Crown Court, west London, noted that Oldfield smiled as she spoke.

But as she sentenced him to six months behind bars, he looked stunned and slowly shook his head from side to side.

Oldfield was convicted of causing a public nuisance after throwing himself into the River Thames on April 7 this year, bringing a sudden halt to the annual Oxford and Cambridge boat race.

He told the court during his trial that the race was a symbol of elitism in government.

But Judge Molyneux said he had shown no regard for the thousands who had gathered on the banks of the Thames to watch the race, the many others watching at home on television or the sacrifices of the rowers whom had trained for many months.

She noted that the first thought of all those who came to his help was to protect his safety and that the event was a "free spectacle open to all

select for full story Police in Bradford have seized more than £3 million from the district’s criminals in 18 months.
Steve Wright 16 Oct 12
The figure was revealed at the end of Proceeds of Crime Act Week during which police in West Yorkshire recovered tens of thousands of pounds of criminal assets. Officers were in Centenary Square, Bradford, yesterday with a confiscated Audi car to improve public awareness of POCA.

Much of the money raised from villains’ ill-gotten gains is ploughed back into local policing and neighbourhood projects.

West Yorkshire Police yesterday revealed that the two Bradford police divisions have recovered a combined total of £1,831,876 in ill-gotten gains between April 2011 and April 2012, with a further £1.3 million confiscated since.

The latter figure included about £750,000 which Bradford drugs gang lieutenant Zulfiqar Shah was ordered to pay back by a judge last week.

Yesterday, two Bradford groups received large cheques from officers in Centenary Square.

Detective Sergeant Ash Toussaint, of the Bradford South POCA Team, said the cash will have a positive impact.

PHOTO: A PCSO puts a ‘Seized’ poster onto the Audi in Centenary Square

For the better part of a decade, the sport has been built on drugs
select for full story By Oliver Franklin | 11 October 12
The decline of Lance Armstrong - the rewriting of one of sport's greatest ever stories - comes as no surprise. Since before 2004, individuals ranging from now-exonerated journalists to those closely involved with the cyclists team had claimed evidence of Armstrong using performance-enhancing drugs. Whether because of a shameless cover-up or because we simply didn't want to believe it, they were ignored. Now, thanks to the US Doping Agency, there's no denying the truth.

Yesterday, a comprehensive, 1,000 page report was published on Armstrong's years at the pinnacle of cycling. The agency confirmed that over more than a decade, Armstrong was running "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen". Even former US Postal Service teammate and self-described best-friend in the sport George Hincapie confessed to USADA investigators that both he and Armstrong had been doping for years. Though he still denies the allegations, Armstrong has confirmed he won't be fighting the ruling. He has already been stripped of all seven Tour De France titles.

For cycling fans, the report must a make soul-crushing read. In a summary, the USADA observes that of 21 riders to finish in the top three at the Tour de France between 1999 and 2005, 20 have been tied to doping allegations. For the better part of a decade, the sport was built on drugs. No doubt, there should be another investigation into the current state of cycling, or else the new generation of riders to be tainted in the eyes of the public by this scandal.

But the worse part isn't that Armstrong built a career on drugs - it wasn't even the lies. When the first allegations came out ten years ago, he could have come clean. Back then, the thought of a former testicular cancer sufferer turning to testosterone-enhancing drugs to keep up with a similarly dope-enhanced competition would have been difficult to stomach, but could at least have been understandable. He could have tried to rebuild his reputation, as David Millar has. Instead, he meticulously built an image that became a legend predicated on a deception. The legend of Lance Armstrong was really a myth.

The true tragedy of Lance Armstrong's story isn't about him. It's about the people who have looked at him as inspiration.

select for full story Lance Armstrong case creates an unlikely hero
Simon Austin 12 October 2012
BBC Sport You have probably never heard of Scott Mercier, a little-known former professional cyclist.

Yet his name came up time and time again during the United States Anti-Doping Agency's (Usada) investigation into Lance Armstrong and the US Postal team.

So Travis Tygart, Usada's crusading chief executive, knew he needed to track Mercier down and talk to him.

"I got this call, out of the blue, and thought it must be a joke," remembers Mercier, now a financial adviser living in Grand Junction, Colorado.

"Travis said 'I want to thank you. And I want to find out why you were able to do what no-one else could'."

Because Mercier, 44, was the US Postal rider who resisted the pressure to dope.

To do so, he had to turn down the offer of a new contract with the team and quit the sport he loved.

He can still clearly remember the day he made up his mind, in May 1997, at the age of 28, after a conversation with the team's doctor, Pedro Celaya.

"Pedro called each member of the team into his hotel room, one by one. When my turn came, he handed me a bag containing a bottle of green pills and several vials of clear liquid.

"I was also given a 17-day training schedule and each day had either a dot or a star. A dot represented a pill and a star was an injection.

"He said 'they're steroids, you go strong like bull'. Then he said 'put it in your pocket, if you get stopped at customs say it's B vitamins'.

"That was when I decided I didn't want to be a pro cyclist any more. I got home and decided 'no thank you'.

"I love cycling, it's a beautiful sport, but it would have been very challenging for me to look someone in the eye and say I was clean when I knew I wasn't.

"People talk about the health aspects, but to be totally honest I wasn't so concerned about that.

"For me, it was the lying and the hypocrisy."

Several other former US Postal riders detailed Celaya's involvement in doping during the Usada investigation and he was charged with "possession, trafficking and the administration of doping materials and methods".

Geoff Thomas on Lance Armstrong's 'big lie'select for full story
18 Oct 12
England footballer Geoff Thomas, who was inspired by cancer survivor Lance Armstrong as he fought his own battle against the illness, says the recent doping allegations concerning the American are shocking and sad.

Thomas says Armstrong, who won the Tour de France seven times, was as highly regarded as other sporting greats like boxer Muhammad Ali and golfer Jack Nicklaus but now describes the former cyclist's achievements as a "big lie."

Armstrong had led the tributes when former midfielder Thomas, who won nine caps for his country, received the Helen Rollason Award for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony in 2005

On Wednesday, Piers Morgan used his "Only in America" segment to tell the tale of Lance Armstrong, a man once regarded as the premier cyclist in the world, arguably the greatest ever at his specific sporting craft. And then, the wheels fell off.
"A seven-time Tour de France-winning, cancer-surviving icon renowned for his unbelievable talent, determination, resilience and courage," said Morgan, describing Armstrong. "There was just one problem. The real reason it was all so unbelievable is that he cheated."

With Nike determining they could no longer "Just Do It" with the 41-year-old Texan, this week saw him lose his longtime and most-fruitful sponsor, as the creators of the famed Swoosh said:

select for full story
"Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him."

In the eyes of the "Piers Morgan Tonight" host, the parting of ways was more than justified:

"Armstrong was a disgraceful fraud of epic proportions," he insisted.

As details of Armstrong's behavior continue to emerge, the picture presented is hardly the image he had so tirelessly worked to create:

"A man who juiced himself with illegal drugs, then bullied his teammates to do the same to ensure they could help him win big events," is what Morgan thinks of the man who won every Tour de France from 1999 through 2005.

The phrase "It's Not About the Bike" became Armstrong's personal credo, and ultimately, the title for one of his books.

The host found it to be ironically accurate:

"He was right – it was about the amount of doped blood he juiced into himself."

With the same conviction and determination that he used to climb the Tour's mountain stages, Armstrong steadfastly denied all allegations of his drug use, insisting it was the work of those jealous of his success, and looking to destroy his "extraordinarily lucrative global brand."

He attacked the press as they attempted to out him, and with a bank account large enough to back him, he sicked high-priced attorneys on his detractors.

Eventually, though, one of the most relentless workers in sports history eventually became too tired to keep fighting:

"Now, thanks to a damning report from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, containing the withering evidence of more than two dozen witnesses prepared to testify against him, the truth about Lance Armstrong is finally out: He masterminded the greatest drug scandal in sports history."

The king of the yellow jersey has also stepped down from his throne atop Livestrong, the organization he created help fight cancer, a disease he himself successfully battled.

But even as the evidence pours in, and his supporters jump ship, Armstrong refuses to come down from his pedestal, refuses to dismount his bike:

"Still he stubbornly refused to admit his guilt, or say sorry," reported the host. "There's just one person left in the world who still thinks Lance Armstrong is innocent. And that's Lance Armstrong."

"Only in America," declared Morgan, could a man refuse to see the finish line, deny culpability, and appear so unwilling to accept that he'll never be able to ride off into the Texas sunset:

Ban Lance Armstrong from triathlon - Jonny Brownleeselect for full story
16 Oct 12
British triathlete Jonny Brownlee says former cyclist Lance Armstrong "shouldn't be able to compete in triathlons" after his controversial doping scandal.

The seven-time Tour de France winner has been accused of being "a serial drugs cheat" by the US Anti-Doping Agency, but still takes part in triathlons.

Brownlee, who won a bronze medal at London 2012, admits Armstrong was "a hero to me" when he was growing up, and says he was "very sad" when the news emerged.

The Guardian Newspaper 19 September 2012
The shocking murders in Greater Manchester come at a difficult time for police forces in the north of England. Work is never easy and often dangerous for the officers on the beat, as the deaths of Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes tragically remind us; but rarely can there have been such a coincidence of problems and challenges at leadership level.

The report of the Hillsborough Independent Panel renews long-standing difficulties for South Yorkshire police in spite of the 23 years which have passed. It has also led the West Yorkshire police authority to refer the county's chief constable Sir Norman Bettison to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Sir Norman denies any wrong-doing and welcomed the step, saying that it was: " time this moved into a more formal and legal inquiry, where it can be considered, analysed and fully assessed. "

North Yorkshire police has a temporary chief constable after its police authority decided not to extend the five year term of Graham Maxwell who admitted gross misconduct over a relative's application to join the force, and retired in May. His deputy Adam Briggs was disciplined after a related charge of misconduct was upheld against him, and has since retired.

Cleveland's chief constable Sean Price will not have his term of office renewed next year and is currently suspended with his deputy Derek Bonnard over similar allegations of misconduct relating to the employment of the daughter of the chair of the police authority Dave McLuckie. Both men, who were actually arrested by their own officers last year and have been the subject of an IPPC investigation, strongly deny misconduct and say they will clear their names.

Last week, the temporary chief constable of Cumbria, Stuart Hyde, was suspended by the county's police authority following allegations of serious misconduct which have also been referred to the IPPC.

All the forces have reassured the public that policing continues as normal and to a high standard, but the issues raised are going to present a formidable challenge to the new police and crime commissioners for whom we vote on 15 November, in all 41 policing areas in England and Wales outside London where Boris Johnson is PCC as elected Mayor (and has flexed his muscles). The situation also has obvious relevance to the Government's hopes of introducing outsiders to the police service at senior levels, which has provoked much resistance within forces.

Forecasts of the level of interest in the elections have been dire, with suggestions that as few as 18.5 percent of us will turn out to vote. A little homework into the issues described above could – and should – change that. There can seldom have been more powerful arguments for the northern public to exercise its democratic powers on a matter which is the subject of so much vigorous and important debate

Town of 13,000 left with no police officers on Monday nights as force is stretched by budget slashing

By Martin Robinson PUBLISHED: 12:28, 19 September 2012 | UPDATED: 14:41, 19 September 2012
A UK town home to around 13,000 people has absolutely no police officers protecting it at times during the week, a whistleblower has said.

Budget cutbacks mean Uttoxeter in Staffordshire sometimes has no-one to uphold the law and incredibly the force in charge says its strategy 'makes sense'.

A whistle-blower has revealed two officers from the town are diverted to Stoke-on-Trent on Monday nights to help police their student night

This leaves either one or none at all left in Uttoxeter and the anonymous serving policeman claims it is ‘highly unlikely’ the town would be policed after midnight.

In a devastating critique of a system he has served for more than 25 years, the whistleblower said the ‘thin blue line’ is now so stretched that officers from Burton-Upon-Trent - some 13 miles away - are being forced to cover.

Between zero and three officers hold the fort in Uttoxeter, where the station’s strength was previously as high as four or five constables and a sergeant, he said

Officer tearfully reveals how his eyewitness account was doctored to cover up 'lack of leadership'

By Christine Challand and Nick Craven PUBLISHED:00:37, 16 September 2012| UPDATED: 14:05, 16 September 2012

A former police officer on duty at Hillsborough broke down in tears last night as he told how senior officers called at his home to pressurise him into changing his statement only days after the tragedy.

He refused, but the account which criticised his superiors was tampered with anyway – a fact he only discovered last week.

Speaking for the first time, PC John Hood – who had described sergeants and inspectors ‘aimlessly milling about’, and an absence of leadership – recalled a visit from detectives querying his account.

Along with other officers, he only discovered his statement – presented to the Taylor Inquiry in 1990 and the subsequent inquest – was illegally changed without permission when the Hillsborough Independent Panel issued its report on the cover-up last week.

Mr Hood was one of only a few policemen prepared to break ranks after a letter was sent to officers by South Yorkshire Police last week telling them to refer all media inquiries back to the force

Two PCSOs abused the hospitality of their own supermarket
PCSOs were alleged to have stolen groceries including dishwasher tablets, toilet cleaner, nuts, chocolate, bottled water and face wash from the branch of Tesco in Upton Park.   select for full story Daily Mail 14 Sept, 2012

Ibrahim Amick, the deputy manager at the branch of Tesco, said the management at Tesco had an arrangement with the PCSOs to use their staff canteen facilities, according to a statement read out by the prosecution.

Both officers insisted they regularly took items from the shop floor before going to the canteen and then paying when they left, the court heard.

They said they didn’t think it was wrong and claimed they were unaware their actions were a breach of Tesco store policy, which applies to both staff and visitors.

Judge Simon Wilkinson said he did not consider a prison sentence was appropriate and instead ordered the officer to complete 200 hours’ unpaid work.

He told Alborough: ‘I accept that this was not strictly an offence committed by you in your capacity as a police community support officer.

‘If it had been, I would have been sending you to prison. This offence, however, was committed by you while you were in uniform.

‘You abused the hospitality of the supermarket which allowed you to use their staff canteen. The staff there trusted you.’

Alborough, who was cleared of a second count of theft, said to have taken place the following day, was also ordered to pay £600 prosecution costs.

Sean Poulier, for Alborough, said: ‘The consequences of this conviction for him are profound.

‘His desires of being a police officer are gone and that is some punishment.’

Alborough, who was suspended on full pay of £1,600 a month pending the conclusion of the trial, declined to comment outside the court.

Police conspiracy of silence is still alive and kicking by David Mellor PUBLISHED:00:37, 16 September 2012
‘There’s no situation so terrible a policeman can’t make it worse,’ declared the Irish playwright Brendan Behan. An accurate enough description of Hillsborough, most of us have thought for more than 20 years since Lord Justice Taylor, in his interim report, castigated police for their inept crowd control.

Now we know it was worse than that, far worse. An entire police force conspired to cover up their appalling acts and omissions, and blackened the characters of the dead, and indeed all Liverpool fans who attended this match.

This was not corruption and illegality by a few officers on a frolic of their own, away from the scrutiny of senior management.

The entire leadership of the South Yorkshire Police seemingly set out to pervert the course of justice on a massive scale.

Shocking enough, but the really mind-numbing thing is that for more than two decades they got away with it. It’s a sure sign of the tribalism of the police that during the entire period since 1989, even though 116 statements by police officers were tampered with to convey a false impression of what transpired and 164 were examined with a view to doing so, not a single whistleblower ever broke ranks.

Over 24,000 police jobs have now gone !
as a result of spending cuts since the general election, including almost 6,800 front line officers, according to a House of Commons analysis of Home Office figures.
11 Sept, 2012 The Guardian
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) had previously predicted that 5,800 front line jobs would go over the entire 5 year parliament. We mapped these by force and detailed them in July.

Front line officer numbers across England and Wales have fallen by 5.68% since 2010, while cuts across all staff departments as a whole have been almost twice as deep - at 10%.

Definitions of front line and visible officers

According to an HMIC report, the front line comprises:

• Officers and PCSOs in visible roles, for example, those responding to calls from the public and patrolling neighbourhoods

• Officers and staff in specialist roles such as criminal investigation, forensics and surveillance

• A proportion in "middle office" roles

Hillsborough families' lawyer calls for permanent 'commission of truth'
Michael Mansfield speaks out as victims' families return to Anfield to plan their next steps in search for justice
Paul Gallagher in Liverpool and Mark Townsend, Sunday 16 September 2012
A new "commission of truth" that can hold state institutions to account is required to prevent further cover-ups like Hillsborough, according to a high-profile barrister who is assisting families of the victims of the tragedy.

Michael Mansfield QC said the success of the Hillsborough Independent Panel in uncovering the truth behind the death of 96 football fans and the ensuing cover-up has provided a template for a permanent body. He added that although the panel's findings were the latest proof that the state could not be trusted to investigate itself, its conclusions also showed how a historical pattern of "institutional denial followed by institutional deceit" could finally be challenged.

"If the authorities from now on knew that there was an independent body, a standing body not always with the same people – they need to be changed regularly so they don't become corrupted – but a body with the facility to move in and demand all the documents and do a proper inquiry would benefit us all," said Mansfield.

The Hillsborough panel, headed by the bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, gained access to 450,000 documents that had not been disclosed, despite 23 years of strenuous efforts by families and their lawyers.

"An independent commission of truth that has nothing to do with the authorities, the establishment or the police [meant that] there was no whitewash or fudged report; instead, a hard-hitting solid and evidenced report. Is this not some precedent for the future?" said Mansfield.

He hopes that the director of public prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, will examine charges of manslaughter by gross negligence and attempts to pervert the course of justice.

"Effectively they were concocting a public story. I think the DPP has to look at everybody's role in this because it was a massive smear that they hoped would stick.

"There was a flawed investigation that was driven by deceit, an attempt to pervert the course of justice."

Mansfield also believes that prosecutors at some stage should be in a position to examine the role of Kelvin MacKenzie, the then editor of the Sun, who ran a story vilifying the fans under the headline "The truth", as well as former Tory MP Sir Irvine Patnick, outed as a source for peddling the police's fabricated version of events.

"It may not be possible to show they were part of a conspiracy but on the other hand the DPP has to look at how this rapidly spread. People who were part of the wider smear campaign should be looked at in relation to perverting the course of justice."

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  2012 articles