Arrested. Prosecuted. Case abandoned. Now two police officers and a prosecutor face criminal investigation.

Last August I wrote about being arrested while at work.

To quickly re-cap: In May 2017 a police officer with some sort of agenda, against either me or the press in general, arrested me while I was working at the scene of a road accident. He initially gave me a “recorded police warning”, which I contested. The warning was then cancelled and I was reported to the Procurator Fiscal (the criminal prosecutor here in Scotland) for prosecution.

A95 RTC bike vs car 1 of 3

The scene of the accident. The police cordon was clearly marked with tape.

Now I can finally update you on what happened next.

Over six months later, at the beginning of December, two police officers knocked on our door early on a Saturday morning. They told me they had paperwork to serve on me, relating to a driving offence. I had no idea what that could have been about, and they asked if I’d been stopped by the police recently. I told them no. They said they had to serve the paperwork anyway.

It was nothing to do with a driving offence. I was being prosecuted for resisting arrest and breach of the peace.

Among the documents were police statements alleging that I’d entered a police cordon, attempted to push past the officers, and assaulted one of them by placing my hand on his body armour.

The National Union of Journalists was on the case immediately, and I’ll take this opportunity to remind any journalists reading that you simply must join your union. Even if you never need their help personally, just pay your monthly subscription to support them. Our profession is going through some very tough times, and as individual journalists, challenges like this can be insurmountable, even just from a financial perspective. If you were arrested tomorrow, could you afford a few thousand pounds to defend yourself? I was allowed to choose my own solicitor, who was recommended to me by other local journalists, and the NUJ paid his fee.

As I write this, I realise that it would probably be quite boring for me to relate everything that has happened since December. It was all a very big deal to me, but to you it would just be a list of meetings, emails, phone calls, and court appearances. There were five court dates. Most cases are dealt with in two.

The most interesting thing to happen in that six-month period was in January, when a retired police officer warned me that either the arresting sergeant, or one of his colleagues, was going to arrest me and charge me with something else. In his words, the police wanted to “make things difficult” for me. This warning actually came as a surprise, because I’d been noticing a huge improvement in the police’s attitude to the press around here, myself included. I took the warning on board though.

So, let’s jump forward to yesterday, 12 June 2018. There’s something rather important that I didn’t mention in my previous blog post, and I’m sure you’ll understand why.

We had a recording of the arrest.

The recording disproved pretty much everything the two police officers had written in their statements. It also caught the sergeant apparently boasting about how he’d planned the arrest in advance with someone in the Procurator Fiscal’s office, who had agreed to prosecute me. (“I fell out before and I was not in a position to arrest you before. I physically went back and confirmed with the PF that I was right. I am right. She’s happy for you to be arrested and presented at court.”)

A trial date had been set for 12 July. Yesterday was an “intermediate diet” where you basically go and sit in court for half a day, aren’t allowed to say anything, and then the Sheriff tells you to come back in a month to stand trial.

Ahead of yesterday’s hearing, my solicitor had played the recording to the Fiscal. We expected the Fiscal to tell the Sheriff that he was abandoning the prosecution. But the case wasn’t even called. After two hours, my solicitor came over to me and said that’s it, case dropped, you can go.

But of course that’s not the end of it. The Fiscal must now investigate and possibly prosecute the two police officers. I need to get the record of my arrest expunged, and to get compensation from the police. And goodness knows what will happen to the person in the Fiscal’s office who was apparently party to this ridiculous conspiracy.

All of this pales in comparison, though, to the overriding message that everyone must take away from this story: The courts MUST exercise great caution in accepting police testimony as evidence. It cannot be considered indisputable.

While I waited in court yesterday, another man was on trial for assaulting two police officers. He was convicted because the two officers said he’d done it. Now, if I’d been sat in that court room 13 months ago, I’d have trusted the two officers implicitly. I’d have believed 100% that the man was guilty. But I was naive. Now I know for a fact that police officers do conspire to arrest innocent people, they do give false testimony, and they are willing to commit perjury. Personally I’ll never again have any faith in a conviction secured solely on police testimony.

In closing, I also want to take a moment to discuss the stress and worry that a case like this can put you through.

As you’ll know if you read my previous blog post, I was intending to join the police myself last year. But you can’t do that if you have a pending prosecution, so that was delayed by a year. Hopefully I’ll now be able to do that at the end of this year.

The biggest concern for me throughout this whole case has been that I wouldn’t be able to drive if I was convicted. That doesn’t make sense, does it? But you see, most insurance firms won’t give you either car or home insurance if you have a criminal record. They won’t even insure members of your family. There are a few specialist insurance companies that will insure you, but they charge a fortune. I’ve read one account of a man whose car insurance policy went up from a few hundred pounds to £4,000 per year after he was convicted of a non-motoring offence.

Not being able to drive would obviously end my career in journalism. But what worried me most was that I wouldn’t be able to drive my daughter to nursery on the other side of town. Would we have to take her out of her current fantastic nursery and move her to a nearer one that isn’t as good? This was what weighed most on my mind. Were these two lying police officers actually going to have a negative impact on my daughter’s life? The thought of it made me so angry and depressed.

Months of sleepless nights. This stupid case being on my mind all the time. I couldn’t apply for work in America. I’m getting married this year, but we couldn’t make any definite plans because what I was accused of carried a possible prison sentence, and we had to plan for the worst.

And if it wasn’t for that recording, I’d almost certainly have been convicted.

How many innocent people are being dragged through the court system without the safety net of a recording that proves their innocence?

I’ll sign-off now, with another quick reminder of how important it is for journalists to support our union.

Back in February, in an email to the NUJ’s legal officer who has been supporting me throughout, I discussed the impact of the case on my life. This is how I concluded the email:

My daughter was 5 months old when I was arrested — she’s 15 months old now, so for more than half of her life her dad has been this anxious, stressed wreck of a person. My only hope through all of this has been that I knew the Union was there to help me, so at least I might have a chance.

Journalists: Support your union. Support our profession. Protect yourself.

 

Advertisements

14 thoughts on “Arrested. Prosecuted. Case abandoned. Now two police officers and a prosecutor face criminal investigation.

  1. So do you have actual evidence that the recording is what made them drop the case, or is that just an assumption? It all seems very vague and uncertain.

  2. > “The Fiscal must now investigate and possibly prosecute the two police officers”. Have you considered the possibility that it was the PF himself that colluded with the Police Sargeant? In which case this will just get sidetracked fast. and the officers will be back on duty the next day.

  3. Are you seriously still considering becoming a police officer? If you do, your colleagues will blackball you from the outset. Sadly, I do not think you could help change the culture from the inside. Instead, you will get nothing but animosity from the rest of the police and especially from the police hierarchy.

  4. You’d still join the police after this? wow. You’ll discover that what you have experienced here is normal for police, and they’ll do it to each other as well as to the public. To quote one of their own high ranking officers it’s “mostly bad apples now”. Best thing to do with police is to stay away from them wherever possible and make sure you’re on video, live streamed to a safe jurisdiction, any time you get anywhere near them. If they ask you a question reaffirm your right to remain silent, if you see a crime look the other way so you don’t have any information for them, if you hear a crime whistle or sing to yourself so you can’t hear it any more, simply don’t engage them at any level!

    When you see that the constable who tried to fit you up is rewarded rather than punished for his actions, maybe you’ll think about getting a real job instead of signing up to be a thug for the state. If you want to be a thug, join a 1% biker gang, they have far more morals and integrity than the police and do more for society as well.

  5. Unfortunately your blog is ruined by your following paragraph…

    “Now I know for a fact that police officers do conspire to arrest innocent people, they do give false testimony, and they are willing to commit perjury.”

    The only “fact” that you know is that 2 of Scotland’s 17000+ officers are guilty of all you state.

    That is 0.0117% yet you clearly attempt to cast a doubt over the integrity of every one of our officers. The vast majority of Police Officers in this country deserve better than your anger motivated writing.

    May I suggest a re-write to more accurately reflect your experience with two specific bad apple officers who, if guilty of all you state, will hopefully soon no longer be part of the 17000+.

    • It only takes two officers – and the fact that others knew of their malfeasance and didn’t do anything other than warning CityTog.

      “Good cops” who cover for bad cops are not good cops – and corruption is far more than just taking bribes – one of the most common forms in policing is known as “noble cause corruption” and is particularly pernicious because the cops involved believe they’re doing things for the right reasons.

      It’s been said that in the 1970s London’s flying squad was so mistrusted that they couldn’t secure a conviction for armed robbery if they caught the criminals red-handed thanks to juries not believing a word of their testimony. Supposedly the UK police have improved, but clearly there still needs to be some housekeeping done.

      • “It only takes two officers” to what?

        To give credibility to a blog which implies every police officer is corrupt?

        I don’t disagree that there are wider issues with corruption but it’s a small percentage.

        The blog still incorrectly/mischievously implies ALL officers are corrupt as a result of the writer’s experience of a few officers – at one incident – in one part of the country.

        Interestingly if he does manage to join the force later this year- and all the very best in doing so – then his own blog will imply that he himself is corrupt the minute he becomes an officer by virtue of the actions of others.

        Please consider re-wording that paragraph… it takes away from the message you are trying to convey.

      • @Disappointed Reader,

        “I don’t disagree that there are wider issues with corruption but it’s a small percentage.”

        This assertion is based on what, exactly? And what is that “small” percentage, exactly?

    • What are the chances that if you randomly select two police that they are the type to knowingly arrest innocent people? It is unlikely that this guy has been extraordinarily unlucky. Much more likely that these two police are fairly typical, if not the norm

    • He doesn’t at all imply that all police officers are corrupt. He says that, while he once trusted all police officers implicitly, the truth is that ANY police officer could lie and conspire against an innocent person. Not all, but any. And the point is you can’t know who is a “bad apple” until they’ve falsely arrested you.

      As you seem to be a vehement supporter of the law, you should support the notion that innocent people must be protected, and trust and respect must be earned and not commanded.

      • Wow. Careful getting off that high horse. “Vehement supporter of the law” – not at all… I just detest sweeping generalisations. I suspect you have no issues with the recent Lush campaign? As with this blog it’s a perfectly legitimate complaint but also as with this blog has unfortunately made such sweeping generalisations as to imply all Scottish Police Officers are corrupt.

        I support the blog and I condem all bad apples in the force. The blog itself is only missing a few additional words that would help it more accurately report his experience.

        As it stands the paragraph “Now I know for a fact that police officers do conspire to arrest innocent people, they do give false testimony, and they are willing to commit perjury” clearly DOES imply all officers and the addition of the word “some” would make the piece more reflective of his experience.

      • @Disappointed Reader,

        It is quite clear from reading the article that, where the subject term is “police officers” and the predicate term is “people who will tell lies and perjure themselves” the author of the article has not made an A proposition (All S are P) at all. That is to say, that subject term is not distributed. (In layman’s terms, there is no “all” where you insist there was an “all”.) Therefore, you are attacking a straw man.

        However, the author’s actual words do support the entirely negative assertion that, where the subject term is police officers and the predicate term is people who always tell the truth and will never perjure themselves, the corresponding A proposition (All S are P) is false.

        Hope you find that helpful.

        Nick.

  6. I know exactly what you are saying and can 100% corroborate what you are saying. If you will indulge me I will relate a similar story.
    In 1980 I attended a football match at Celtic Park. It was a cup game against Aberdeen and the crows was larger than normal. At half time I decided to go to the toilets but they were busy. It was normal practise then to go behind the stadium wall and pee against the wall. I’m not saying that is acceptable, but it was normal and it was tolerated. Anyway a loud cheer went up and I said to the person next to me “The huns must be losing”. At that point a policeman grabbed my arm and told me I was nicked. I said nothing at the time but as we were walking down the terraces I asked him what I was being charged with, to which he responded Bop. I said absolutely nothing as he was then joined by a colleague and took me to the cells.
    Move on a few months later and I attended court intending to plead not guilty. In court my solicitor-who was a total waste of space–showed me the police statement. I was accused of urinating in a public passageway (not the case) and shouting and swearing at the two police officers despite the fact there was only one present. The statement said my eyes were glazed and my breath smelt strongly of alcohol. I had been working until 2pm that day and had not touched a drop of alcohol.
    The sherif obviously chose to believe the two policemen over me. I now know that police lie and perjure themselves in court. I have absolutely no respect from them and have told my children to be wary of them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s