Anyone got access to The Times archive?

There’s a piece in there I did about Charles Clarke and compensation for miscarriages of justice. April 2006. If anyone does have access to that archive could they cut and paste it into the comments here? I want to be able to quote from it for tomorrow….

15 thoughts on “Anyone got access to The Times archive?”

  1. Beware Charlie the Safety Elephant

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    Tim Worstall
    Published at 12:00AM, April 21 2006
    Jailing innocents is wrong. But does the Home Secretary believe it?
    CHARLES CLARKE’S announcement that he is limiting the compensation available to those wrongfully imprisoned has been met with the hoots of derision it deserves. What is more important to work out is why the Home Secretary made such a lunatic decision in the first place.
    The proffered reason, to save £5 million a year, is simply beyond satire. The Government, in its infinite wisdom, annually disposes of about £500 billion of the nation’s production: denying those innocents unjustly banged up will save some 0.001 per cent of public expenditure. Just to provide some context, the £5 million saving is less than the £5.7 million spent in 2003 on subsidising the swill bins at the Houses of Parliament. No, it can’t be about the money.
    The mark of a liberal society is that more care and attention is paid to those innocents wrongly found guilty, than to the guilty who escape justice. Any criminal justice system designed and run by fallible human beings will make mistakes. The important thing is how we react when a miscarriage of justice occurs. Shamefully, under the Home Secretary’s proposals those who find their guilty verdict overturned at their first appeal will have no right to compensation. For others compensation will be capped at £500,000.
    But let’s remember this. It takes from 20 months to two years to get a first appeal against a conviction heard: long enough for those convicted to lose careers and jobs, marriages and houses. Yes, there always will be those who unjustly enjoy Her Majesty’s hospitality, and whatever compensation we offer in a monetary form will not be enough to fill the gap of years of liberty denied, lives wasted, opportunities lost and families sundered.
    But do we really expect those afflicted by the mistakes of the state apparatus simply to shrug and smile it off as just one of life’s unfortunate things? Can the Home Secretary not see that it is our solemn duty to those wrongfully convicted that we both apologise and make amends as best we can?
    Perhaps he can’t, for the very job of Home Secretary is something that appears to affect the mind. Possibly it’s the collective mindset of the Home Office itself: we Britons are simply a problem to be managed in the best interests of the bureaucracy, nothing else. You get the impression that Home Secretaries don’t regard our liberties as inalienable; rather they are obstacles to be flattened in the name of smooth management.
    It is not for nothing that out in Blogistan — the Republic of Blogs, where we are all much freer than in the real world — the Home Secretary is known as Charlie the Safety Elephant. There has been no issue of civil liberties where he has even dreamt about extending rights, rather than restricting them in the name of public safety.
    Remember what his reaction was when the judges in the Belmarsh case ruled that the unlimited confinement without trial of foreign terror suspects was illegal because the law should not distinguish between liberties for foreigners and natives? Yes, he applied to have the State’s powers extended to British citizens, so that any and everyone could be detained indefinitely without troubling the courts or juries.
    His predecessor, David Blunkett, was no better. On the subject of identity cards he once said: “No one should fear correct identification.” Those words always remind me of one the more distressing details of the Eichmann trial: how he told his executioner that the fate of those killed in the Holocaust was sealed by their answers to the 1939 census on religious background recorded on paper for a Hollerith machine, an early mechanical computer. Quite literally, their cards were marked.
    Restrictions on jury trial, abolition of the ban on double jeopardy, 28-days’ detention for interrogation of terror suspects, house arrest, even attacks on the presumption of innocence: the list goes on and on. It’s difficult to look at the record of recent Home Secretaries and not jump to the conclusion that the Home Office is suffering from sick building syndrome, or perhaps a sick bureaucracy disease?
    Out on the wilder shores of that Free Republic of the Blogs, a consensus has emerged. It is that the restrictions on compensation have nothing to do with budgets. Rather, the restriction is an attempt to head off future trouble.
    Given that more and more laws have been passed that hack away at our rights, and given that the courts rule, time and again, that these are illegal and in breach of the Human Rights Act, perhaps he expects a logjam of cases of wrongful imprisonment to come before the courts? A series of wrongly jailed innocents, people jugged by one or other restriction, will be freed by the first appeal court they reach that declares that the very law under which they were convicted was itself illegal?
    Yes, I realise, tinfoil hat time again, but why else no aid or apology for those freed on first appeal? We know it’s not the money. That’s a pittance in the scheme of things, so it must indeed be something else. You wouldn’t have to be a cynic to think it was about saving the Government from future political embarrassment.
    Whatever the motivations for this decision they do not change the fact that it is a disgrace. Just as mother always said: you make a mistake, you apologise, make what amends you can and promise not to do it again. When the State makes a mistake and steals someone’s liberty it is indeed our duty, to compensate those wronged. Whether the Home Secretary is ignorant of this moral fact, or simply wishes to ignore it for other reasons, it is appalling. Shame on you, Mr Clarke, shame on you.

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    I wondered if you were going to pick up this subject as its started to hit the news pages again. This week’s law in action covers a particular egregious case of Victor Nealon who served 17 years before his sentence was quashed but he isn’t entitled to compensation.

    The had someone from one of those women’s advocacy groups, Mama I think, arguing that because the sentences might get quashed on a technicality and they still might be guilty the shouldn’t get compensation and this will upset the victims. Nasty pieces of work, the lot of ’em, somebody has to be seen to pay and we don’t care who as long as the victim can feel better.

    If they don’t like the idea that some not very nice people might get compensation don’t jail them incorrectly in the first place.

    Barry George still hasn’t received any compensation either.

  3. So Much for Subtlety

    The had someone from one of those women’s advocacy groups, Mama I think, arguing that because the sentences might get quashed on a technicality and they still might be guilty the shouldn’t get compensation and this will upset the victims.

    Someone else’s DNA on the victim’s clothes isn’t much of a technicality

  4. If compensation exists for unjust incarceration, it seems reasonable that a modest deduction is taken for living costs. Without the former though, don’t see how the latter is justified. Can’t say I’ve read Tim’s piece on charges for room and board.

  5. It’s not the Home Office. It’s the courts: common sodding law. Compensation for a tort puts you, as best it can, in the position you would have been in if the tort had not happened. So, when calculating compo, add up what would have been earned (so, yes, a banker will get more than a dustman) minus the unavoidable costs of living that you didn’t have to pay.

    There is no “charge” for room and board. It’s simply one stage in calculating what the compo should be. What would have been your income minus the costs you didn’t have to pay?

  6. > What would have been your income minus the costs you didn’t have to pay?

    That arguably makes sense for single people who were renting. However, it is also applied to those whose families lose their homes while the breadwinner can’t pay the mortgage, at which point “but they didn’t have to pay rent” ceases to be reasonable and turns into a vindictive kick in the teeth.

    > It’s not the Home Office. It’s the courts: common sodding law.

    It was the courts who ruled that the practice was wrong. It was the Home Office who appealed that decision and got it overturned.

    > It takes from 20 months to two years to get a first appeal against a conviction heard: long enough for those convicted to lose careers and jobs, marriages and houses.

    But, according to you, the house is a cost and losing the house is therefore a saving, so why is this a problem? Surely the victim should be grateful for the delay.

    And, frankly, I find your trusting faith in the goodness and humanity of the government on this issue somewhat out of kilter with your usual beliefs. Here’s what actually happened to Paddy Hill:

    It wasn’t until two years ago that Hill was finally awarded £960,000 in compensation. However, during the years since his release, while waiting for the pay-out, the government had given him advances of around £300,000. When his compensation came through, the £300,000 was taken back along with interest on the interim payments charged at 23% – that cost him a further £70,000.

    They give victims interim payments that are less than the total compensation, take a decade to calculate the compensation, then charge interest on the interim payment? And they’re not entitled to benefits because they didn’t pay national insurance while they were banged up — another “saving”. For fuck’s sake, they’re punishing the victim in any way they can, and everyone knows it but you.

  7. bloke (not) in spain

    Yeah. Maybe we’d look differently at compensation claims if we didn’t repeatedly see enormous sums being handed out to State employees in compensation for losing jobs they’ve made a complete hash of.
    Question: Didn’t the Hoon & others get “resettlement” money for losing their MP jobs through being righteously banged up?

  8. Question: Didn’t the Hoon & others get “resettlement” money for losing their MP jobs through being righteously banged up?

    Well remembered, although I don’t think they were banged up.

    Stephen Byers, Geoff Hoon, Patricia Hewitt and Margaret Moran got “resettlement grants” because that’s what MPs get when they stop being MPs even if they’ve quit because of being caught on tape boasting about influencing government decisions in return for thousands of pounds.

    Byers and Hoon: £64,766 each
    Hewitt and Moran: £54,403 each

    I doubt Parliament invoiced them for their subsidised food and housing.

  9. bloke (not) in spain

    Regretably, ex MP & Orgiva neighbour Margaret Moran did not do bird. She was adjudged not in a fit mental state. An opinion shared by many in Alberto’s bar.

  10. It was David Chaytor, Elliot Morley and Jim Devine who were imprisoned for their expenses claims – after unsuccessfully appealing all the way to the Supreme Court on the grounds that criminal charges shouldn’t have been brought because Parliamentary privileged applied to MPs expenses. I don’t think they were entitled to their resettlement grants.

  11. Bloke in North Dorset

    So Much for Subtlety
    February 24, 2015 at 10:41 am

    The had someone from one of those women’s advocacy groups, Mama I think, arguing that because the sentences might get quashed on a technicality and they still might be guilty the shouldn’t get compensation and this will upset the victims.

    Someone else’s DNA on the victim’s clothes isn’t much of a technicality

    I didn’t I say I agreed, I was listening while on my run and I was swearing like a signalman, well best I could given the shortage of breath. Fortunately there’s not many on these country lanes to offend.

  12. The convicted MPs’ resettlement grants are nothing out of the ordinary. Prisoners who were guilty of their crimes get training, counselling, housing, and so on when they’re released to help them adjust to society. It’s only victims of miscarriages of justice who get none of that, because they’re not entitled to it. Getting fitted up is just a particularly extreme form of benefits cheating.

    Paddy Hill was also given less compensation than the rest of the Birmingham Six on the grounds that he’d been in prison before so wouldn’t be so bothered by the experience.

    Is Barry George the only man in history to receive an official verdict of “Not innocent enough”?

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