Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘Home Affairs select committee

I Have Had The Most Terrible Post-Election Nightmare.

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Libdem leaders

Julian Huppert, Norman Baker, Lynne Featherstone

Our principal allies on the Liberal Democrat benches have all lost their seats.

Quickly now, the government will be formed.  No surprise that Theresa May has already been reappointed Home Secretary but who will the junior Home Office ministers be?

Brokenshire may leave for another department.  He’s probably due for a promotion.  It would be very good to see the back of him.  Who will the Crime Prevention Minister be?  Within that portfolio rests responsibility for drugs.

This is when the nightmare struck.  Key candidates for Home Office ministers will be backbenchers who have sat on the Home Affairs Select Committee.  I hardly dare write his name in case it puts ideas in Cameron’s mind – Michael Ellis.

Michael Ellis

Michael Ellis

Ellis is a hard line prohibitionist, anti-drugs, anti-liberty, anti-science, criminal barrister with a particular record of boorish behaviour during PMQs.  He’s a junior barrister working out of chambers in Northampton and he thinks that his experience with a few scumbag dealers qualifies him to know all about drugs policy.

The idea is a nightmare.  Cameron will see his increased number of seats as vindication of all past policies so he may well go further to the right.  I hope I’m wrong. Perhaps we will get some young MP with a brain in his head and an eye for the free market economy that is blossoming in Colorado and elsewhere.  Let’s hope so.

There’s also the new members of the Home Affairs Select Committee.  Who will they be?  We need to get to know them and present our case.

We must re-design, re-target, re-focus and refine our campaign for our new audience – Tory ministers are our most important targets.

Our messages must be developed for Tory eyes. More focus on the free market, profit opportunities, public expenditure savings.  And our tactics must work with Tories as well.  There is even less room now for the self-defeating tactics of protest, civil disobedience and flaunting alternative lifestyles in a way that distracts from our very powerful arguments.  Such tactics might cause a right-wing backlash now.

Instead of being self-obsessed, as so much of the cannabis campaign is, if we want to be effective we must see things through the eyes of our target audiences, look outward not in, recognise that preaching to the choir achieves little.  It is people who don’t agree with our cause that we must talk to and it is to their standards that we must dress and behave if we want to influence them.

Now, more than ever before, we need to be smart about the way we campaign for cannabis law reform.  We do have allies in the Tory party and the worldwide momentum continues to build.

A few adjustments on the tiller are necessary but we remain on course.  Let’s just be sure we adjust our sails and our technique for the new weather.

A Day In Cambridge On Drugs.

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Homerton College, Cambridge.

Homerton College, Cambridge.

George and Dean were where I expected them to be.  In the car park, ‘medicating’ in order to get them through a long afternoon.

The Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) Drugs Conference took place in the delightful surroundings of Homerton College, Cambridge.  I know there were several others there who were only able to make it because they committed criminal offences in order to maintain their health.  I attended with George Hutchings and Dean Price, leading members of the CLEAR Medicinal Cannabis Users Panel.

Almost everybody who is anybody in UK drugs policy was there and while there were no groundbreaking new revelations or ideas, it was an important occasion.  It marked the current position of the debate on drugs policy in Britain at the end of the first coalition government since 1945. As Keith Vaz, chair of the HASC, said, the conference will influence the drugs policy agenda in the next government.

I know I wasn’t the only person who lobbied in advance for medicinal cannabis to be included in the conference programme.  It wasn’t but what was of enormous significance was that it was probably the single issue mentioned most often, time and time again in fact, throughout the day. I trust that the committee will take this on board and ensure that in any future event, it is given proper attention.

Dr Julian Huppert MP; Lynne Featherstone MP, Minister;Keith Vaz MP, Dr Roberto Dondisch, Danny Kushlick

Dr Julian Huppert MP, Lynne Featherstone MP, Keith Vaz MP, Dr Roberto Dondisch, Baroness Molly Meacher, Danny Kushlick

It’s no good saying it’s a health issue because until the Home Office releases its stranglehold on the throats of the thousands who need medicinal cannabis, it’s the HASC that needs to hold the government to account. CLEAR estimates that around one million people already use cannabis for medicinal reasons in the UK.  This equates closely to the proportion of medicinal users in jurisdictions where there is some degree of legal access.

Julian Huppert mentioned medicinal cannabis in his review of the HASC’s work, confirming that the Liberal Democrats have adopted the policy advanced by CLEAR almost word for word.

Baroness Molly Meacher made an impassioned plea for medicinal cannabis access in her address, expressing her anger and outrage that people are denied the medicine they need.

Jonathan Liebling, of United Patients Alliance, and I also raised the issue independently in questions from the floor. I also dealt with Professor Neil McKeganey’s attempt to dismiss the issue.  He claimed that there are perfectly satisfactory procedures for licensing medicines.  I explained how cannabis cannot be regulated like single-molecule pharmaceutical products and gave a brief description of research on the ‘entourage effect’.

The Home Office minister, Lynne Featherstone, gave the keynote speech and I was delighted that she chose to mention her meeting ten days ago with a CLEAR medicinal users delegation.

David Nutt was as wise and authoritative as ever . Then Neil McKeganey launched into an entertaining rant about how the conference programme, the speakers and delegates were massively biased in favour of reform.  He claimed that this was not a proper reflection of the evidence or nationwide opinion.

I like Neil, even though we are on opposite sides of the debate. In fact, at events like this I prefer to engage with the opposition rather than back-slapping and self-affirming chats with those on the side of reform. I also had good informal discusions with David Raynes of the National Drug Prevention Alliance and Sarah Graham, the magnet-wielding addiction therapist.

Tom Lloyd’s speech was inspiring.  He also made a powerful case for medicinal cannabis and as ex-chief constable of Cambridge, it was extraordinary to see him lambast the new drug driving law as “…outrageous…unjust…will criminalise people who are in no way impaired…”

The final speech was given by Mike Trace, chair of the International Drug Policy Consortium, who is deeply involved in preparing for the UN General Assembly Special Session in 2016 on drugs policy.

So, a fascinating and worthwhile day.  All we need to do now is get through the General Election.  In about two months we will know where we are and unless we have the disaster of a Tory or Labour majority government, then drug policy reform should be high on the agenda.

High Court Claim Against Sarah McCulloch Concluded.

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Consent Order p1

Consent Order p2

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 13, 2014 at 7:00 pm

Justice Prevails. De Hoedt And McCulloch Defeated In The High Court.

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RCJ

Greg De Hoedt

Greg De Hoedt

At 10.30am this morning there was a case management conference before Master Eastman concerning my claim against Greg De Hoedt. I was awarded judgement against him in February and the next stage is for a High Court Judge to assess the damages and costs he must pay me.

It is only now, after more than a year trying to avoid my claim, that De Hoedt has faced up to it and appointed solicitors.  They represented him today.  He was not present. His solicitors applied to have the judgement set aside.  Master Eastman refused.  They then applied for the proceedings to be stayed pending my appeal against the striking out of my claim against Chris Bovey. Again, Master Eastman refused.  It is now up to me to propose the next steps and how exactly a Judge can assess the damages I am due.

Sarah McCulloch

Sarah McCulloch

At 11.00am there was a hearing before Master Eastman concerning my claim against Sarah McCulloch. She had obtained judgement against me by deception.  She had made false statements to the Court and pursued an application without giving me notice, so I that had no idea that it was taking place.  Today was my application to have her judgement set aside. I was successful and Master Eastman ordered that my claim should be reinstated.

Master Eastman also considered McCulloch’s claims that I was harassing her by writing to her about the case.  She had made a further false statement to the Court that I had been given an ‘Harassment Warning’ by the police. In fact a police officer from Harlow in Essex had telephoned me a few months ago to say that McCulloch had made a complaint.  We ended up laughing together at how ridiculous her allegation was when I was writing to her about a High Court case at the address she had filed with the Court.

I explained to Master Eastman that ever since I had discovered that McCulloch is diagnosed with two mental health conditions I had made generous offers to try and settle with her.  He was gentle with her but very firm and told her however hard she found it, she had to communicate with me about the case.

Afterwards, McCulloch and I had a five minute discussion outside the Court and I made a further offer to settle.  She explained that she had now edited one of her articles to remove the false allegation that I had lied about submitting a report to the Home Affairs Select Committee in 1983.

My offer to McCulloch is very generous, far more so than it would be were it not for her health problems. It was sad that as I walked away she shrieked “You’re a bigot!”  Nevertheless, I remain hopeful that she will see sense and we can both put this unhappy episode behind us.

Written by Peter Reynolds

April 11, 2014 at 6:22 pm

A New Brand Of Politician

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I am easily moved.   It is connected with my Welshness.  The 15 brave souls singing before they charge for Wales at Rugby Union and I am in bits.

It is rare though for just a few words in print (OK, on a screen!) to move me so much.

Russell Brand

I am right at the end of the 731 pages of written evidence to the HASC drugs inquiry and I come to Russell Brand.

Not someone I have held in high regard until I saw his contribution to the Versus YouTube debate.  Even there he was hyperbolic and almost abusive but the intellect and truth shone out of him.

In his submission to the inquiry, he quotes an article that he had published in The Guardian on 24th July 2011, and this passage made me cry.

It’s also one of those rare examples where the use of foul language is absolutely perfect.

“I arrived late and as I made my way to the audience through the plastic smiles and plastic cups I heard the rolling, wondrous resonance of a female vocal. Entering the space I saw Amy on stage with Weller and his band; and then the awe. The awe that envelops when witnessing a genius. From her oddly dainty presence that voice, a voice that seemed not to come from her but from somewhere beyond even Billie and Ella, from the font of all greatness. A voice that was filled with such power and pain that it was at once entirely human yet laced with the divine. My ears, my mouth, my heart and mind all instantly opened. Winehouse. Winehouse? Winehouse! That twerp, all eyeliner and lager dithering up Chalk Farm Road under a backcombed barnet, the lips that I’d only seen clenching a fishwife fag and dribbling curses now a portal for this holy sound.

So now I knew. She wasn’t just some hapless wannabe, yet another pissed-up nit who was never gonna make it, nor was she even a ten-a-penny-chanteuse enjoying her fifteen minutes.

She was a fucking genius.”

Amy

Written by Peter Reynolds

April 7, 2012 at 7:54 pm