Saturday, October 28, 2006

Innocent Until Smeared Guilty

Here's a genuine conversation I had yesterday evening.

Me: Remember the Forest Gate raid?

Not me: No, which one was that again?

Me: You know, the one where they shot that guy and it turned out that he wasn't a terrorist?

Not me: Ah yes. But he was charged with something else, wasn't he?

Me: No, he was not.
The Crown Prosecution Service has advised police not to bring child pornography charges against a man shot during a terror raid in Forest Gate.
Yes, I know. I'm a barrel of laughs to be around on a Friday evening. Oh, a Friday evening, the government's favourite time to release news they'd rather we didn't hear. How interesting.

The CPS is an independent organisation, of course. I'm sure it's just a coincidence that they decided to release this (potentially very embarrassing) information late on a Friday afternoon. Google News suggests that the first appearance of this news on the interwebs was the BBC report at 6.20pm. Yes, definitely a coincidence.

Anyway, what chance there'll be a proper investigation into the smear leak which caused the media to fatuously proclaim that this man was involved in child pornography?

By the way, this raid cost £2.2 million.

Also by the way, I wondered if there were any other stories brewing around the same time as the raid which the government would rather we didn't pay too much attention to. That same morning, 2nd June, the BBC released this report on a new video which appeared to confirm that U.S. soldiers had deliberately killed a number of Iraqi women and children. The video strongly supported the claim, made by the Iraqi authorities, that that the official U.S. military version of events contained a number of glaring inaccuracies.

The BBC would undoubtedly have given the government some advance warning of the fact that they were going to air with this story (as I understand it, this is S.O.P. for stories like these). And our government would undoubtedly have understood that substantial coverage of this new evidence in the British media would have been a problem for them and for the U.S. administration. By mid-afternoon, the Forest Gate raid was dominating the news to the exclusion of almost everything else. Handy.

That might be a genuine coincidence but I would put very little past the unscrupulous B'Stards who currently run this country. To be clear, I'm not suggesting that they made the whole thing up. I'm suggesting that the police had dubious intelligence from one source which suggested that these chaps might have had some involvement in terrorism. Rather than investigating this in a sensible manner, it is quite possible that political pressure on the police, pressure for a particular course of action within a particular time-scale, then turned that into the farcical, and almost fatal, raid which tool place that morning. Would you rule out the possibility that this government is capable of such things?

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NotSaussure said...

Hmm. The problem with this kind of thing is that it's in the nature of coincidences to be coincidental.

I agree that when a report's released last thing on a Friday afternoon before a bank holiday, that's normally a sign that someone wants to bury it, since you can control when a report's released and it doesn't much matter if comes out on the Tuesday following the bank holiday.

However, consider this scenario. Someone at the CPS finishes reviewing Mr Kahar's file on a Thursday afternoon. Nothing odd about that -- it's just that's the way it's worked out with CPS chap's and his colleagues' workload. They decide no action is to be taken.

What are they supposed to do? They can't really announce their prosecution decisions to the press before the people concerned have been notified. Mr Kahar's presumably anxious to know as soon as possible whether he's being prosecuted or not. Do they hold off telling him until Monday and let him and his family spend the weekend worrying unnecessarily, in case it looks bad for them if they don't hold off?

Or do they tell him on Friday and not issue a statement until Monday, which'll have everyone saying they only released the news because the news papers Mr Kahar and his supporters had, understandably, told he wasn't being prosecuted had been phoning up the CPS to ask about it?

I'm not denying the possibility that news management has taken place here, but I'd certainly want more evidence than the simple fact of when the news was announced.

Justin said...

Come on, Garry! Noncehood is the new Communism. Rebekah Wade our Joe McCarthy.

There's no smoke without fire, and there's no innocence with 'not enough evidence'.

D-Notice said...

It's as if the allegations were used as a way to discredit them for not being terrorists...

CuriousHamster said...

NS, it's a fair point (particularly relevant in light of my post on The Sharpener the other day). I guess I'm not convinced this was a coincidence because I was more than half expecting it to happen the way it did.

It is worth noting that the original release of these two men also happened on a Friday evening. Again, that's not proof of anything but it seems likely to me that this whole thing has been extensively media managed.