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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘Gary Mckinnon

My MP, Richard Drax, To Write To David Cameron On Drugs Policy

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The Honourable Member For Dorset South

Today I met with my MP, Richard Drax.  He was just as sickeningly handsome and charming as I expected him to be!   So I showed him no mercy and bombarded him with my opinions for a good half an hour.

I realised afterwards that my favourite maxim “less is more” would have been a better strategy.  Nevertheless,  he did offer to write to David Cameron on my behalf on drugs policy and seemed genuinely sympathetic to some of the points I made.

I have just sent him a lengthy email in confirmation which I reproduce below.  If anyone wishes to use this as a template for a letter or email to their own MP, please feel free to do so.

******

Dear Richard,

Thank you so much for your time today.  I very much enjoyed meeting you.  As I said, I came with opinions not problems.  I am grateful to you for listening to me.

I realise that I made the classic mistake of bombarding you with far too much information and not giving you time to absorb any.  I hope I may correct that error by summarising here what we talked about.

1. Gary McKinnon. Thank heavens that progress seems to have been made on this. The idea of an “extradition” treaty that provides for someone to be sent to the USA for trial on an alleged crime committed here is iniquitous.  It’s particularly unfair in McKinnon’s case as he suffers from Asperger’s syndrome.  You pointed out to me that similar dangers exist with the new European arrest warrant.

I would urge you to do everything possible to ensure that if Gary McKinnon is to be tried, it should take place in the UK.

2. Ian Tomlinson. In my view the failure to prosecute the policeman who assaulted him is an outrage and Keir Starmer’s reasons entirely inadequate.  Now that the credibility of the pathologist in the case has been destroyed by a GMC panel, Starmer should at least reconsider and hopefully reverse his decision.

References here:


http://pjroldblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/killer-cop-harwood-must-be-charged/

http://pjroldblog.wordpress.com/2010/07/24/keir-starmer-the-next-lord-widgery/

I would urge you to press for a re-consideration of the decision not to bring charges.  If no criminal charges are brought, at the very least the disciplinary hearing should be held in public as the rules allow.  The Tomlinson family are entitled to justice.

3. Drugs policy. You very kindly agreed to write to David Cameron on my behalf.  I am very concerned at the conduct of the Home Office at present and particularly James Brokenshire, the Minister for Crime Prevention who is causing great damage to both the coalition governemnt and the Tory party by promoting ideas and policies that contradict virtually all expert opinion, including the government’s own scientific advisers.  He also seems to be completely at odds with the calls for drug law reform which both David Cameron and Nick Clegg have made consistently over the last 10 years.

This is not a peripheral or secondary issue.  According to Baroness Meacher in the House of Lords on 15th June 2010, “There is no more obvious waste than the £19 billion annual cost of the UK’s war on drugs”.

There is a huge amount of reference material on this subject on my blog:

http://pjroldblog.wordpress.com/?s=drugs

I would also refer you to the Transform Drug Policy Foundation which has highly detailed and almost universally acclaimed proposals for drug regulation:

http://www.tdpf.org.uk

Virtually all experts agree that the “war on drugs” has failed. In exactly the same way as alcohol prohibition in the US led to a massive increase in crime and violence, so drug prohibition has created an illegal market said to be worth £350 billion per year. It has also financed civil war in Latin America for 25 years and is the principal source of finance for Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Our soldiers are dying every day because of the illegal trade in opiates.  Why don’t we just buy up the whole crop for the next 10 years?  It would be much cheaper in both cash and lives than the Afghan war.

Virtually all experts agree that regulation would be a better solution.  I have distilled the following five point plan from everything that I have read and learned over more than 30 years:

1. An end to oppression of drug users (at least 10 million UK citizens)
2. Removal from the criminal law of any offence for possession and/or social supply
3. Fact and evidence-based policy, information and regulation
4. Re-direction of law enforcement resources against real criminals
5. Treat problematic drug use as a health issue

Five years ago, while campaigning for the Tory party leadership, David Cameron called for “fresh thinking and a new approach” towards drugs policy and said that it would be “disappointing if radical options on the law on cannabis were not looked at”. Nick Clegg has promised to repeal “illiberal, intrusive and unnecessary” laws and to stop “making ordinary people criminals”. There can be no better example of this than the laws against personal use and cultivation of cannabis, particularly for medicinal reasons. The coalition government’s new Your Freedom website has been inundated with proposals to legalise cannabis and to end the futile war on drugs.   In July a poll carried out for the LibDems showed 70% of people in favour of legalising cannabis.

The Home Office and James Brokenshire are completely out of touch with expert and public opinion as well as the declared views of both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister.

In my view, regulation means tighter control on the most dangerous drugs such as heroin, cocaine and alcohol and lighter regulation on relatively harmless substances like cannabis and ecstasy.

There is also the very important question of medicinal cannabis.  The discovery of the endocannabinoid system in 1998 has led to an ever-escalating volume of evidence of the medicinal value of cannabis.  In June the MHRA approved Sativex as an MS medicine in the UK.  It is a whole plant extract yet presently, the Home Office refuses to consider a regulated system of the plant itself for medicinal purposes.  This is completely irrational and absurd.  The House Of Lords scientific committee recommended such a system should be introduced 12 years ago.  Medicinal cannabis is available and regulated throughout almost all of Europe, Israel and 14 states in the USA (with 12 more in the planning stage).  The UK stands almost alone in its obstinate refusal even to consider such a system.

Already this is leading to quite obscene injustices where patients have been prescribed Sativex by their doctor but their health authority has refused to fund it and patients are then facing criminal prosecution for cultivating their own plants.  There is a case of exactly this going on in the Dorchester Crown Court at present and the CPS insists it is in the public interest to prosecute!

Thank you once again for listening to me Richard. I hope these notes are useful in composing your letter to David Cameron and I look forward to hearing from you in due course.

Kind regards,

Peter Reynolds

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Gary McKinnon

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Leaders We Can Believe In

I am intensely moved by Barack Obama and David Cameron taking the time to discuss Gary McKinnon’s case yesterday.  See here for the story.  Also by his mother Janis’ gratitude and gracious behaviour in response.  As she so eloquently put it,  these two men represent a new beginning in our world.  I am full of admiration for them both.

What Gary is alleged to have done was wrong.  He now needs to be tried by a British court.  If he is found guilty then the punishment must suit the crime taking into account his mental capability.

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 21, 2010 at 11:27 am

Obama From Britain

with 15 comments

After Bush, to my knowledge, the worst US President ever, I was excited about the prospect of Hilary Clinton in the White House.  The election of Barack Obama was simply stunning.  For me, it rejuvenated the whole idea of America – the noble principles of the  Constitution, the idea that anyone can rise to the very top based on merit alone.  It updated that dream by transcending race, prejudice and history.

Ordinary And Extraordinary

As it happened, I  watched his inauguration with my parents.   I  wept at Obama’s words, at the huge symbolism of his achievement, at Jesse Jackson’s overwhelming moment.  My Mum & Dad said that it was like Kennedy was for their generation – the sense of new hope and optimism.  The same idea that makes me think of Churchill’s “broad sunlit uplands”.

So what’s going on now?  I ‘m sure I don’t understand a lot about American politics.  I can only see it from my perspective.  That means I get most of my news from the BBC.  I balance that with a daily trawl through the blogs and online newspapers on the issues that interest me.

In some ways I think the BBC is more British than Britain.  In fact, I trust the BBC more than I trust any politician.  Its standards and independence preserve our national integrity better than any political leader.

Going online gives me a broader view, often composed of ridiculous extremes as well as mainstream media.  There are so many highly literate, super clever bloggers who are completely deluded and beyond any reason.  Going online provides an overall summary of all different points of view and sources of information.

I think Obama is a fundamentally decent man.  There is a coterie of bloggers who believe he is a Chicago politician just the same as when Al Capone was in town.  I think he is bigger than that.

There is also a sisterhood (men and women) of Democrats, bitter supporters of Hilary, who are determined to undermine him.  Republicans say he is un-American and claim that he won the election through fraud.

I still have faith in the man.   In the horribly murky world of American politics I don’t think he would have risen to the top unless he was very special.  I detect authenticity.

The oil spill has been his greatest challenge. I feel that when he speaks for himself, from his heart, he speaks the truth.  When he is confused and manipulated by those around him he fails.  Many will say I am naive but how can anyone triumph without support?  We need leaders who can inspire, who can make us believe in them.

From the very beginning Obama has “extended the hand of friendship” towards Iran but it becomes clearer every day now that the current regime must be condemned without reservation.   He has stood up against Israel better than his predecessors and in the overall moral balance that was well overdue.  I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on the attempted kidnapping of Gary Mckinnon  It’s probably not high enough in his priorities to have had his proper consideration yet.

No one was more critical of Gordon Brown and his foolhardy, self-serving government than me but the way that some Americans criticise their leader horrifies me.  Some of the conspiracy theories and charges levelled against Obama are worse than those against Hitler or Mengele.  There are are so many complete nutters in America I really do wonder what they put in the water.

After re-consideration, from my British perspective, I still have faith in this extraordinary man.  I urge him to continue to have the courage of his convictions.  I wish he could put aside short term political considerations.  I think, almost whatever happens,  he will win a second term so he can afford to look at least six years in advance and ignore his critics.  I still believe in him.

Theresa May Must Act On Gary McKinnon And Ian Tomlinson

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It's Decision Time

After defence there can be no higher priority for any government than justice.  The new government’s honeymoon period is over.  The cases of Gary McKinnon and Ian Tomlinson need urgent attention from our new Home Secretary.

A Victim Not A Villain

Gary McKinnon’s case raises profound issues.  He is in danger of “extradition” to the US but any idea that this is some legitimate process is nonsense.  He is actually in danger of illegal rendition or kidnapping which the previous Labour government seemed ready to sanction.  Any alleged crime was committed on British soil so there isn’t even any question of “extradition”.  If he is to be tried he must be tried where the alleged crime was committed.

I understand that Theresa May has already asked for an adjournment of the proceedings.  This is a good start but we need to be certain that she stands up for fundamental principles.  There are many complexities in the McKinnon case but it is crystal clear that he must be tried in Britain.  See here for more information.

There seems though to be no progress at all on the murder of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests.  This is a scandal and injustice of the very highest order and those responsible for prevaricating and filibustering over bringing charges are criminals themselves.

Murder

Ian Tomlinson’s family waits helpless while the dilatory DPP, Keir Starmer, and the CPS quibble and procrastinate over facts that the whole country has seen revealed on its TV screens.  Obviously they intend to delay long enough so that the case be consigned to history like the murder of Blair Peach by a police officer in 1979.  It was only last month that the Metropolitan Police came clean on this, 30 years too late.

There is some nonsense excuse being peddled that there is a problem with obtaining expert medical evidence.  This is a dreadful miscarriage of justice.  These are issues for a jury to decide.  Keir Starmer  should be dismissed for gross misconduct and should consider himself lucky if he doesn’t go to jail for perverting the course of justice.

Thug

We have already seen the inexcuseable acquittal of  Sergeant Delroy Smellie, the thug who assaulted Nicola Fisher at the G20 protests (see here).   This must be one of the lowest points ever in the history of British justice.  There can be no other description of this verdict and District Judge Daphne Wickham who made the decision than corrupt.  She deserves to be tarred and feathered for what she has done.

What can be higher in priority on Theresa May’s todo list than these matters of great principle and injustice?  She should put everything else aside.  There can be no more excuses.

UK Ministers Surrender Mckinnon To US Kidnap

with 5 comments

It’s said that when Gordon Brown offered Alan Johnson the Home Office he rejected it as a poisoned chalice.  He’s probably right.  It seems to be destroying his reputation just as it has so many others.

Abandoned

Nevertheless, the shameful and deeply treacherous conduct of this disgraced government towards Gary McKinnon cannot be excused.  There is no greater duty on any government than to protect its citizens, particularly those who are vulnerable.  There can be no basis in any system of justice for allowing a foreign power to abduct an accused person away from the scene of their alleged crime.  This is not extradition.  It is illegal rendition, as extraordinary as any.  It is kidnapping.

Alan Johnson, Gordon Brown and the rest are kowtowing to big bully USA.  British justice is in tatters as they offer up another sacrifice to America.  Believe me, they’d do the same to any of us: you, me, your grandmother, your starving babies and our injured soldiers if it suited them.  If they wanted to take Gary Mckinnon to Guantanamo Bay I don’t believe our government would have the courage to stop them.

Spineless Cowards

I call for the entire cabinet to be indicted on charges of dereliction of duty.  Will not even one of these excuses for men or women have the courage and decency to resign over this issue?

These people who call themselves our leaders are a disgrace to each and every one of us.  They are cowardly and spineless charlatans who are dragging our great country through the mire of ignominy and shame.  Gary Mckinnon is a victim of their cowardice.  Nothing can excuse what they have already put him through, let alone what is to come.

Barack & Hillary – You’re Out Of Line!

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America’s interference  in the Scottish Justice Minister’s decision on the fate of the so-called Lockerbie Bomber, is uncalled for, inappropriate, tactless, rude, arrogant and just plain wrong.

Whatever your views on the value of mercy towards a man who has only a matter of days or weeks to live and who is very probably innocent of the crime he was convicted of, it is no business of the United States to be interfering like this.

We already kowtow to the Americans far too much.  Our blind obedience into Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our willingness to bow to their demands for the extradition of Gary Mckinnon, a harmless, mentally abnormal individual who is being bullied and persecuted by a country for who the title “the Great Satan” seems increasingly justified.

You, who are responsible for so much state-sanctioned terrorism and bullying, have no business meddling like this in the affairs of Scotland or the UK.