But this isn’t the way we do it

John Worboys will be asked if he objects to wearing an electronic tag when he is eventually released from prison.

Worboys, 60, dubbed the ‘black cab rapist’, was due to be freed at the end of last month after being granted parole.

The Telegraph has learnt that the original conditions for Worboys’ release allowed him to live in London and without an electronic tag.

A Parole Board judged him no longer a risk to the public at a hearing in December despite complaints that he drugged and sexually assaulted more than 100 women while working as a London taxi driver.

Victims have now protested to the Parole Board about the terms of his release. They are demanding he is tagged and is banned from London where most of his victims live.

It’s the Queen’s justice, not mob justice, or good reason.

Given the democracy bit it’s absolutely fine to shout about how the law should be changed. But not to insist that a specific individual be subject to punishment not sentenced to by a court, nor that a specific individual must be punished without the law.

What a lovely anti-corruption drive this is

Several high-profile politicians who were close to Grace Mugabe, the former first lady, and opponents of Emmerson Mnangagwa, the new president, have already been detained, prompting concerns that graft investigations might be used as a political tool.

“The big worry is that there is really no comprehensive anti-corruption drive but rather … some kind of witch-hunt by a victorious faction within the Zanu-PF … This is nothing to do with ending corruption, but a lot to do with vengeance,” said Dewa Mavhinga, Human Rights Watch’s southern Africa director.

And vengeance against those who have plundered a country is bad because?

Why only current rape cases?

All current rape and serious sexual assault cases in England and Wales are to be reviewed “as a matter of urgency” to ensure evidence has been disclosed.

Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders warned the review could see “a number of cases” dropped.

It comes after the collapse of several rape trials because evidence had not been shared with defence lawyers.

BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman said there had been a failure to share digital evidence in each of the cases.

On that basic principle of 10 guilty go free rather than one innocent get jugged, shouldn’t we be devoting some resources to those serving sentences?

Rather missing the point about the idea of civil society itself

These bastions of masculine entertainment can pose a danger to open democracy. It is the gentlemen’s clubs of London where politicians, bankers and hedge-fund managers meet to do deals and form secret alliances. Because membership lists are not disclosed to the public it is impossible to tell when a minister proposes a policy that favours the interests of members of his club. Neither is the public privy to the terms of the sacred oaths they may have sworn. And in a court of law shouldn’t the ordinary litigant know whether a judge is a member of the same club as the opposing party? There are a myriad of potential conflicts of interest rooted in the secret membership of gentlemen’s clubs.

In the City and among our professions, where senior offices are dominated by privately educated bankers, hedge fund managers, lawyers and accountants, such clandestine meetings and associations create perceptions of injustice.

So what can be done? In Britain it is legal to form a private members’ club whose membership is based on restrictive characteristics. There are women-only and ethnic-minority clubs which do not admit men or those of a different ethnicity. The government’s own guidance on the Equality Act says that while it is unlawful for a private club to discriminate against, harass or victimise an existing or potential member it is lawful to restrict membership to people who share a particular characteristic. This is not true for political parties, which cannot block membership on the basis of race or sex.

What is required is the compulsory publication of a register of members so that the public can be confident that the business of government and justice is not being done in the secret smoke-filled dining rooms of gentlemen’s clubs. A more transparent approach might also open up some of these gentlemen’s clubs to more adult attitudes towards women.

Sigh.

Which club blackballed Robert Verkaik then?

Let us assume that everything he says is correct, entirely right. Now let us go on to think a little more. One of the great distinctions of English (a little more English than British, but only just perhaps) was that anyone could set up a club to do anything they liked without having to ask anyone. We recall the exceptions to this (Tolpuddle Martyrs perhaps, I think that was something to do with secret oaths in law?) and all too rarely remember the joys of it. The Friendly Societies, Boy Scouts, brass bands, Morris dancers, layaway plans for the bus and beer trip to the seaside and so on. All those things which do actually make up civil society. This is not company law where privileges extend to hte form of organisation, this is just the existence of an organisation itself. The English/British attitude was one of benign neglect over who may do what.

In contrast to, say, France, where I believe it is true that no Frenchman could set up a club or organisation of more than 25 members without permission from Paris – a rule which stuck until well into the 1950s. Not sure whether the details there are apocryphal but the basic point is true.

Or, as we might put it in the vernacular. Fuck off matey. For we’re English and therefore free, one of the defining points of which is that we consenting adults get to do what we want to do, with who we want to do it and when, without asking permission from some knobhead like you. Nor even informing you – it’s our life, not yours to manage for us, geddit?

Possibly some sour grapes from George Soros?

Facebook and Google have become “obstacles to innovation” and are a “menace” to society whose “days are numbered”, said billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Thursday.

“Mining and oil companies exploit the physical environment; social media companies exploit the social environment,” said the Hungarian-American businessman, according to a transcript of his speech.

“This is particularly nefarious because social media companies influence how people think and behave without them even being aware of it. This has far-reaching adverse consequences on the functioning of democracy, particularly on the integrity of elections.”

In addition to skewing democracy, social media companies “deceive their users by manipulating their attention and directing it towards their own commercial purposes” and “deliberately engineer addiction to the services they provide”. The latter, he said, “can be very harmful, particularly for adolescents”.

“The power to shape people’s attention is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies. It takes a real effort to assert and defend what John Stuart Mill called ‘the freedom of mind’. There is a possibility that once lost, people who grow up in the digital age will have difficulty in regaining it. This may have far-reaching political consequences.”

George Soros has funded – magnificently in my view – a great deal more than his share of media outlets and open society reporting.

People seem to enjoy getting their news and open society stuff from commercially minded companies instead.

Oh Well.

So much for democracy

Scotland’s new social security system will include an unprecedented degree of independent scrutiny – with the express intention of future-proofing the powers against the kinds of austerity measures that have devastated vulnerable groups in the rest of the UK.

Scotland’s social security minister, Jeane Freeman, announced on Sunday that there will be a Scottish Commission on Social Security, an independent body that will scrutinise any proposed changes to the new system – and give its view of their compliance with human rights protocols – before Holyrood can vote on them.

So if the people vote in a party with different ideas they’ll still not be able to change the system then?

This is probably correct about some things – that US Bill of Rights seems reasonable enough. But social security payments?

So now we introduce Pavel Morozov into British life

Children are being used to spot speeding motorists and go on night-time patrols.

The ‘Mini Police’ project for those aged nine to 11 was started by Durham Constabulary and is now being taken up across the country. It gives uniforms to pupils in ‘economically deprived areas’ and invites them to special events.

The idea, according to official documents, is that ‘vulnerable children’ will be given a ‘positive experience of policing’ and ‘get involved in the local community’.

But they can also ‘support subtle educational interventions to tackle Serious Organised Crime’ and ‘gun and gang crime’.

Units of the Mini Police often go out on ‘community speed watch’ duty, monitoring passing motorists on busy roads.

Well, yes

The notable collapse of a series of rape trials could endanger future convictions of genuine rapists because of reduced public trust in the justice system, the former head of the judiciary has warned.

Lord Judge, who was lord chief justice in England and Wales from 2008 to 2013, said juries may start doubting the quality of evidence presented to them in court after several high-profile rape cases collapsed owing to blunders by police and the CPS.

So, stop fucking up the trials then.

And do note that this is the point of juries. Exactly and precisely to note when the average bod in the street thinks that the legal system is wrong, unbalanced, taken over by the fanatics. That fanaticism being that all penetrative sex without written consent is rape, that those who believe in transubstantiation instead of consubstantiation (or the reverse) should be burnt at the stake or people should be hung for stealing goods to the value of 5 shillings and a penny.

Juries going “Nah, fuck off mate” isn’t an error, it’s the point.

Sorta a statue of limitations type thingie

Former prostitutes are set to sue the Government over criminal records checks which stop them volunteering with Brownie groups.

A group of women will argue that policies which leave convictions for soliciting on their records are discriminatory and intrude into their private lives.

The women, most of whom are anonymous, say their convictions become known many years after they stopped working as prostitutes and have prevented them from taking up volunteering and job opportunities.

One anonymous claimant said: “It doesn’t matter what it is – trying to help out at my kids’ school or the local brownies’ coffee morning, trying to be a governor or a councillor, applying to education or training or employment – even volunteering in so many fields – with children, with the elderly, in care, with vulnerable people, with youth work, with social work – all need a DBS and then you get treated like some sort of pariah or sex offender.

It’s not limitations, that’s about how long after something you can potentially be prosecuted for it. Rather, spent convictions. But the idea/both ideas seem useful in an actual and real society. “Long time ago, it’s over, done.”

All too many people just don’t think that way though, which is why we’ve not got it in these records checks.

Not really up to you to decide matey

One US Federal Bureau of Investigation official who has become so frustrated with Apple’s iPhone security, he has described its products as the work of an “evil genius”.

The technology giant, which has sold billions of products, has made it increasingly difficult to break into iPhones, claiming it keeps customers safer from hackers. But government officials say these measures are getting in the way of justice by blocking potential evidence from suspected criminals.

“At what point is it just trying to one-up things and at what point is it to thwart law enforcement?” said FBI forensic expert Stephen Flatley during the International Conference on Cyber Security in Manhattan this week.

Describing Apple as “jerks”, Mr Flatley revealed that Apple recently made its iPhones even harder to access. It has recently added a trick that makes password cracking software much slower, making it more difficult for law enforcement to break into phones, he said.

Partly because if the people want secure phones then the people should have secure phones. And partly because (Har, Har, sarcasm alert!) not every law enforcement organisation in the world is as unpolitical and protective of civil rights as the FBI.

So, how does this work?

Five men and a woman have been charged with being members of banned far-right group National Action following a string of arrests last week.

West Midlands Police said Nathan Pryke, 26, Adam Thomas, 21, Claudia Patatas, 28, Darren Fletcher, 28, Daniel Bogunovic, 26, and 24-year-old Joel Wilmore will all appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court tomorrow.

A police spokesman said all six accused, who come from Cambridge, Oxfordshire, Wolverhampton, Leicester and Stockport, had been charged with being a member of a proscribed organisation contrary to section 11 of the Terrorism Act.

So, banned in December 2016. At which point does membership become a crime?

At the moment of banning? Bit harsh, as it’s only just become illegal. At the end of a subscription? When the membership card runs out?

Note this isn’t about this particular banning, it’s purely about the mechanics of when something legal turns into something illegal.

You what?

Women targeted by Worboys are devastated by the imminent release of the black-cab driver, who “denied his heinous crimes and then forced [victims] to endure the torment of a criminal trial”, said Richard Scorer of Slater and Gordon.

Asking to be tried is in itself an offence these days?

This is why double jeopardy

Police and prosecutors have indicated they are prepared to bring fresh charges against John Worboys, the ‘black cab rapist’, amid a growing furore over why dozens of crimes were never brought to trial in the first place.

Police issued an appeal for information that could lead to a fresh investigation into Worboys, one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders.

Meanwhile, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said three rape and sex assault cases dating back to Worboys’ conviction but not presented at trial could now be used against him.

Yes, I know, different crimes are different crimes. But the idea is that the State gets one shot at having a go at you. They prove it, you do the time, they don’t you’re off.

And, notably, they don’t get to come back again and again once one set of time has been done.

Sorry about this, but imagine those stories of 100 rapes are true. He shouldn’t be prosecuted, not now, for any of them. He’s fair game if there’s a murder etc, but not for rape.

I don’t have the law on my side here, nor perhaps even fairness. But that they can’t do serial prosecutions is a protection to us all.

So, err, how does this usually happen?

The Parole Board should immediately publish its reasons for allowing the release of rapist John Worboys from prison, the head of an influential parliamentary committee has said.

Yvette Cooper, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said she was “really shocked” by the move to release the former London cab driver and called for scrutiny of the Parole Board’s reasoning before the prolific sex attacker is let out of jail.

Worboys, a former stripper and adult film star, was jailed indefinitely in 2009, with a minimum term of eight years, for drugging and sexually assaulting women passengers.

It is feared he may have more than 100 victims and the Parole Board’s decision sparked an outcry from charities and support groups when it was made public on Thursday.

The courts sentence, the Parole Board decides upon parole. Is it usual that there’s political interference in either decision?

And will they go back over settled cases?

Scotland Yard has announced a ­review of all current rape and sex abuse investigations after a second trial collapsed in less than a week amid claims that police withheld crucial evidence.

Isaac Itiary, 25, had been charged with the rape of a child, but the case was thrown out on Tuesday after concerns were raised over the failure of detectives to disclose vital material to prosecutors and the defence.

Just days ago, 22-year-old Liam Allan had his case thrown out when it emerged police had failed to disclose thousands of text messages that would have proved his innocence.

It has since emerged that it was the same Scotland Yard detective who had worked on both cases. Detective Constable Mark Azariah, 37, who works on the Met’s specialist rape and sex abuse unit, is still on full active duty.

But the collapse of two cases in similar circumstances in a matter of days has prompted senior officers to launch a review of every live rape case currently being investigated by the force.

Anyone serving time unfairly we think?

Sigh

He warned of the risks of “serious miscarriages of justice” after hearing that, to save costs, material was not always handed to defence lawyers.

It’s one of the first damn duties of the State, that Queen’s Justice thing. And they can’t even get that right.

When a new prosecution barrister took over the case the day before the start of the trial, he ordered police to hand over any telephone records. It was revealed that they had a computer disk containing copies of 40,000 messages.

They showed that she continued to pester Mr Allan for “casual sex”, told friends how much she enjoyed it with him and discussed her fantasies of being raped and having violent sex.

Jerry Hayes, the prosecuting barrister, told the court yesterday that he would offer no evidence. “I would like to apologise to Liam Allan. There was a terrible failure in disclosure which was inexcusable,” he said.

Who is going to get fired for this?

An interesting retirement hobby

A 70-year-old woman living in a Vermont retirement home passed her time experimenting with homemade ricin, even testing it on fellow residents, the Justice Department said Friday.

No one had apparently been killed by Betty Miller’s activities at the bucolic Wake Robin retirement home in Shelburne, Vermont, which advertises a population of “vibrant, engaged people and a community in which you can be yourself.”

But Miller was arrested by FBI agents Thursday amid fears she had stockpiled a weapon of mass destruction.

The FBI was alerted to a dangerous substance at the home earlier this week, and discovered a bottle labelled “ricin” in her residence. Tests confirmed it contained the deadly substance.

“Miller stated that she had an interest in plant-based poisons and had conducted internet research on how to make them,” the FBI said in a statement.

“She stated that she manufactured ricin in the kitchen of her Wake Robin residence and, to test its potency, placed the ricin in the food or beverages of other residents.”

An FBI WMD team returned for a search of her apartment and found more ricin, and components from plants, including apple, yew, cherry, castor and foxglove, which all can be used to produce poisonous substances.

Why not learn how to poison people?

Extra points could be awarded for claiming to be Wiccan and thus covered by First Amendment protections…..hey, it works for some Indians and their drugs.