The Rambles of Neil Monnery

Another pointless voice in the vast ocean that is the interweb

Archive for February, 2011

David Cameron implies that ‘Innocent Until Proven Guilty’ is not enough in terror cases. Eeek.

with 7 comments

‘Innocent until proven Guilty’. It is an old adage and one that I stand by fiercely as do most liberals. It is a core element of who we are. If I was being posh I’d say, ‘Ei incumbit probatio, qui dicit, non qui negat; cum per rerum naturam factum negantis probatio nulla sit’ which as I’m sure you all know means, ‘he proof lies upon him who affirms, not upon him who denies; since, by the nature of things, he who denies a fact cannot produce any proof’. A very good point indeed.

I have served on two juries in my time on two very different cases. One case we all thought that the two defendants were clearly not guilty and we ruled as such. On the second we were split and there was a lot of debate but in the end as the foreman I made the decision that it was clear the case was not proven and therefore we must find the man not guilty as the case for the prosecution had not proved their case anywhere near beyond reasonable doubt. My fellow jurors agreed with the exception of one lady who then proceeded to take hours before admitting that just using solely the facts provided in court she couldn’t be sure he was guilty, so we found him not guilty. Whether he was or not is not the point and I have never lost sleep over it although I suspect others may have done in that room (let’s just say it was a very serious crime).

Why am I writing about this? Well today during Prime Minsters Questions a Tory backbench MP asked about being able to deport those that we suspect of being terrorists and the PM confirmed that is the plan. It made my blood boil. If the intelligence services suspect someone of doing such a thing then follow him, watch their every move and then step in to stop it if they are doing something that threatens national security. Then put them to trial and let a jury of twelve men and women decide whether or not they have committed a crime. Surely if someone is suspected of plotting terrorism then the reason they are suspected is if they have evidence to back it up. If they have enough evidence then arrest and try to convict. Surely that is the way forward?

If they arrest and a jury finds them not guilty then will this government still try to deport them? You can bet your bottom dollar on it. The presumption of innocence is a core value of mine and as far as I know in most people. If someone is found not guilty in a Court of Law then that is it – the end. There is no comebacks. No-one should be able to step in and say, ‘well I think the jury are a bunch of idiots and in fact we are going to throw them out of the country any way as we think we are right’. Surely a Court of Law should be the highest court in the land in criminal trials and if it isn’t then certain people and decisions are above the law – and that is a terrifying place to be.

I know people worry about terrorism, we all do to some degree. However throwing people out of the country with no proof of any wrong doing is all manners of wrong. I know it is easier for me to sit here and say that even though I have no real power compared to say the PM who has to tink of the safety of the country but still, everyone is equal and everyone should be held to the same standard. If a suspect was suspected of plotting a murder would they be thrown out of the country if there wasn’t enough evidence for a conviction but just they were suspected of doing a crime? If you handle suspected terrorists in that way then you are setting a very dangerous precedent. We have the judicial system for a reason. If government wants to by-pass that then who knows where it’ll stop.

The last Labour government were about the worst in terms of protecting our civil liberties compared to many western countries. This government are working towards fixing some of these issues but that question and answer from the PM haunted me. What levels of suspicion will be needed to deport someone or detain someone? If it is anything below the levels tat would secure a conviction in a Court of Law then it is wrong and extremely illiberal and immoral. If that is how the PM wants it then it won’t be that dis-similar to the Salem Witch Trials. All it needs is an accusation and some malicious gossip and the power of the mob will take action on its own. I know it’s a stretch but I’ve seen it before. A pediatrician being mistaken for a pedophile. Let’s just say the results weren’t pretty.

The Court of Law must rule on all cases of criminal acts for if they don’t then the road we are going down is a scary one for us all.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

February 9th, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with ,

Penny Mordaunt MP says that filming a porno in a hospital is just not on

without comments

Whilst reading various articles on The Independent website this afternoon I noticed a link with the words, ‘Porn film shot in London hospital’ and I had clicked on that link in lightning speed. The article itself is a rather short one but in brief Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt claims that in her previous position she had come to learn of a Hospital in Kensington & Chelsea having hired out one of it’s closed wards to a film company and they in turn shot an adult film there.

Now forgive me if I’m wrong here but where is the problem with this? The ward was closed and had been shut down. The local NHS trust got a significant fee for the hiring of their premises that will have helped to pay in a very small way for patient care. If the hospital had thrown all the patients out of an open ward to allow a film crew in there then yes that would be an issue but this was a completely closed and shut down ward.

Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, the MP said, “To add insult to injury, the movie was a pornographic one. Although I cannot claim to have seen the final picture – as I understand, these things are no longer claimable on parliamentary expenses – it was a big-budget affair and generated substantial income for the hospital.”. ‘Insult to injury?’ Excuse me? What does in matter if the film was a porno or the latest Harry Potter movie? It makes zero difference to the situation. Zero.

All I’ve learnt from reading this story is that the local NHS trust either had or acted upon a good idea that would enable them to stretch their budget and that in public Penny Mordaunt is a prude.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

February 8th, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Posted in Politics

Tagged with ,

This Top Gear Mexican Furore. What on Earth?

with 15 comments

I have been a long-time Top Gear viewer and I know there is casual xenophobic remarks. You deal with them as they offend everyone and also offend each other. It is part of the nature of the show and of real life. If people don’t think they offend others then they are nave in the extreme. We all have opinions whether they be about chavs, teenage mums, Essex boys/girls, whatever. We all have them and whilst they are our opinions as a blanket rule we don’t use them to pigeon-hole a person if we meet them.

I know teenage mums and some of them are terrific. I know chavs and some of them aren’t anywhere near as bad as what the media says. I live in Essex and some of the people purposefully live up to their stereotype and they like it, some of them detest it. Casual stereotypes are just a part of life and people who don’t see that I often feel are chronic deluded.

I missed Top Gear last week as it clashed with the American Football but I recorded it and caught up with it later. Was there any complaints that the Australian Top Gear presenters were forced to arrive in a prison van? Were there any complaints where they made them drive upside down in one of the challenges? I don’t recall reading about any. Is that because casual xenophobic remarks about Aussies are ok?

The remarks made by the Top Gear team are as follows (courtesy of The Guardian):

Hammond: …Cars reflect national characteristics, don’t they, so German cars are very well-built and ruthlessly efficient, Italian cars are a bit flamboyant and quick, a Mexican car’s just going to be lazy, feckless, flatulent, overweight… (laughter) leaning against a fence asleep, looking at a cactus, with a blanket with a hole in the middle as a coat.

May: It is interesting, isn’t it, because they can’t do food, the Mexicans, can they? Because it’s all like sick with cheese on it, I mean… (laughter)

Hammond: Refried sick!

May: Yeah, refried sick.

Hammond: I’m sorry, but just imagine waking up and remembering you’re Mexican: ‘awww, no’. (laughter)

Clarkson: No, it’d be brilliant… because you could just go straight back to sleep again.

What here is personally offensive in any Mexicans? I like Mexican food but it does look like sick. All Hammond said it his opening remarks was portraying a national stereotype. Whether it was funny or not only the individual can decide but was it genuinely offensive? I think you’d need pretty strong blinkers on to say that it was.

I have also read that a Mexican student wants to sue the show and the BBC for up to £1million because he was personally offended. The 30 year-old has said, “I have never had a bad experience in the UK due to my nationality. I do not understand how such ignorant people hold such high-profile jobs.” I ask myself, ‘Was it really such a bad experience?’ and ‘You are a 30 year-old man – grow up you little so n so.’ Do I sue The Simpsons when they constantly go on about the British having bad teeth and being involved in soccer violence all the time? I don’t believe I do.

The Mexican government are getting involved as they are considering suing the BBC for potential loss of tourism. What bull. This is the best type of advertising the country could get being constantly in the media. With lots of people who believe they are above Top Gear and childish humour saying great things about Mexico and Mexicans just to prove a point that they are better than that.

People need to stop taking things too seriously. If it wasn’t for the media telling us we were appalled then we wouldn’t be. Is this what media is these days not exactly reporting the news but creating news to get us all talking? It is starting to feel that way.

I know there is a delicate balance between xenophobia and racism, the difference to me is would you treat someone any differently if they came from another social group/race/sex etc… I do not believe the Top Gear presenters would, hence this whole furore is overblown for me. Maybe that’s just me as I’m not swayed by what the media are telling me to think, I like forming my own opinions and not just joining the crowd.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

February 6th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Posted in Others

Tagged with

Mohammad Amir banned. Call me selfish but I want to see him back – and soon.

with 8 comments

So the ICC have banned three Pakistani cricketers for two different offences following the News of the World allegations of last year. Captain Salman Butt has been banned for ten years (five of them suspended) for failing to disclose information about a meeting and an agreement with a dodgy bookie. The two fast bowlers who bowled the no balls, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir (he was Aamer when he broke into the game – why has the spelling of his name changed?) have got seven (two suspended) and five respectively. So all three will at least be out of the game for five years but the likelihood of them ever returning seems low.

The only one who seems to have any realistic shot of taking the field again is Amir. The young left hander was like a breath of fresh air. A truly gifted swing bowler reminded many of Wasim Akram at his pomp. I first saw Amir during the Australian summer twelve months or so ago when he was the shining light in a pretty laborious Pakistani pace attack. He was making waves all over the cricketing world and every cricket fan thought a true great was being unearthed.

Then step forward to the English summer and the Pakistani tour. Again he impressed and showed he wasn’t a one-time wonder. The world was his oyster. He was set to become the poster boy of Pakistani cricket for the next decade or more. If there is one country where a great cricketer can truly have it all then it in Pakistan.

However a no ball later that seemingly was bowled deliberately in return for a few quid has ruined all that. Now these players will face a criminal trial in the UK and that trial will need to prove guilt whereas the ICC Panel didn’t. So I won’t be typing anything about any of them being guilty just yet but I know my heart sank when I read it was this kid involved last summer. I suspect others felt the same.

Now whether he felt pressured into doing it but senior players (if indeed he did do it) or that he was told it was the norm. The long and short of it is cricket is poorer that he won’t be around. Asif and Butt were fine players but neither was a great or had the potential to be one, Amir did. I feel like we are missing out on watching him play because of what happened and the world of cricket is poorer for it.

It makes me sad.

Criminal proceedings get underway in the spring and I know I’ll be watching them intently. If they are found not guilty it will be very interesting to see what happens next but I think the fear is that is less likely than the three of them spending time at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

I might be selfish but I want to see Amir again. He’ll only be 22 by the time his ban is up but I fear his name has been tarnished too much. We shall wait and see but true greatness being taken down before it has time to shine is a sad situation for us all.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

February 5th, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Posted in Other Sport

Tagged with ,

The Battle of the Supermarket Mums

without comments

For a long time my Supermarket advert dream women has been undisputed. The Sainsbury’s mum has held this crown. However now she has a rival.

A couple of weeks ago I saw the husband of a couple want to stop doing the family shop and the wife responded.

So now I have a decision to make (actually no I don’t but lets pretend shall we?).

The first woman has long been in top spot. Very much the stereotypical MILF. Now the actress who plays the mum is in her late 40s, which is shall we say a few years older than me. However I’ve never been one to care about age. Age is just a number. I have long had a shall we say thing for the older blonde. It’s a great look. She has a wonderful smile and when she smiles her face lights up. Her name is Tracy Brabin – an actress who has starred in Corination Street amongst other things.

On to the newcomer to the charts, she doesn’t look as old as the Sainsbury’s mum and her skin is less wrinkly. She also has a nice smile (this is my biggest weakness). I like her hair and her demeanour (certainly when on the beach and just after the lions) but whilst obviously if she gave me a call I’d probably buy her a chinese, she is no Sainsbury’s women. The actresses name is unknown to me.

Sainsbury’s woman wins out. Obviously Kerry Katona looks much better these days than she did during her face of Iceland days but she’d still not win out.

This might have been my most pointless blog ever but still, it’s my blog.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

Written by neilmonnery

February 1st, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Posted in General

Tagged with