Issue 178 of SOCIALIST REVIEW Published September 1994 Copyright © Socialist Review

STACK
ON THE BACK

Rank corruption

'What started as a whispering campaign against the Birmingham Six became a loud grumble against the Guildford Four and a deafening roar against Winston Silcott'

Cheating is, they say, the prerogative of foreigners. It is used by lesser races to gain unfair advantage over plucky, sporting Brits, whose byword is fair play.

Everybody knows that England would have won the World Cup in 1986 if it hadn't been for that cheating Maradona and his famous 'hand of God'.

Even in cricket you find Pakistanis doing unimaginable things to cricket balls so that those balls then do unimaginable things to English wickets.

Believe that load of old tosh and you'll believe anything. Yet that is the message we are constantly given. When the unfortunate Maradona was sent home for drug abuse in the recent World Cup, English soccer commentators didn't even try to hide their glee.

You would think Maradona was the only player in the history of the game of football to commit hand ball.

If memory serves me rightly, Joe Jordan--a Scot--once put Wales out of the World Cup by use of his hand, but you never hear people going on about 'the hand of useless big sod'.

Now, after all the racist rubbish about cheating Pakistanis we have the spectacle of the English cricket captain being caught on screen doing strange things to the ball with 'earthy substances'.

After the initial shock and outrage came the line of, 'Well, Mike's an honest lad and if he says he didn't cheat then by gum he didn't.'

Funny how the word of Waqar or Wasim was never good enough for the same fellows. When push comes to shove however, cheating or otherwise in sport is not very important.

Cheating innocent people out of their freedom, and cheating so others who are guilty avoid justice are much more serious. Here Britain stands second to none in the international league table.

Ever since the release of the Guildford Four, British justice has taken a humiliating thumping. Since then we have seen a string of what are politely called 'unsafe convictions' quashed.

The Birmingham Six, Judith Ward, two of the Tottenham Three and the Cardiff Three have all walked free--as have people involved in a whole string of cases which had been investigated by the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad.

In each of these cases convictions were obtained by a combination of violence, coercion, forgery and the withholding of evidence. In each the police had clearly acted illegally in their rush to prosecute the innocent.

After each case there were volumes of words written about how to avoid it happening again, about police corruption and the failings of the judicial system.

Yet here's a strange thing. Not one single policeman has been convicted of anything in connection with these frame ups.

Nobody has been done for the violence, nobody found guilty of the tampering, not even a bloody perjury conviction has been handed out to any of them.

The whole West Midlands Serious Crime Squad was disbanded for its rank corruption, yet not a single member of this bunch was convicted of anything.

The fact that the police get off scot free is bad enough. But, just to make matters worse, they infer that they were right all along and that those who spent years in prison were guilty after all.

What started as a whispering campaign against the Birmingham Six became a loud mumble against the Guildford Four and a deafening roar against Winston Silcott.

People who the police have fitted up once now have their reputations fitted up all over again. The tabloids are only to happy to go along with this filth.

So poor Winston Silcott continues to sit in a prison cell unable to defend himself, while once again the police and press paint him as a monster.

Following the hullabaloo over Guildford, we were promised sweeping changes to the judicial system to ensure there would be no more Guildfords. What did we get? Why, the Criminal Justice Bill.

Yesterday's tragedy becomes tomorrow's farce. The police have been naughty and abused their powers, so let's give them more powers and whole new categories of people they can call criminal. It's rather like sentencing Jack the Ripper to life in a bordello.

Whoever claimed a policeman's lot is not an 'appy one obviously hadn't got a clue what they were talking about.

What a future to look forward to. They continue to police us, the Tories give them even more power, and--just to rub salt in the wounds--abuses of power are even less likely to be exposed in the future for fear of libel actions.

Yes, the Police Federation has come up with a great wheeze. If anyone with a complaint against a police officer goes to the press and the press print the story, even though the officer may not even have been named, in steps the Police Federation and its lawyers waving writs around.

Papers become terrified of the likely costs and so shrink away from the issue all together.

All of which leads me to one conclusion: give me the hand of Maradona before the long arm of the law any day.
Pat Stack


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