I stand by my view that most journalists in the MSM are rightly despised as expense fiddling, PR-cock-sucking worms. However, I take my hat off to Tristan Kirk of the London Evening Standard, a paper that has in the past employed some amazing journalists though modesty prevents me from naming them. His expose on the crazy lockdown laws and penalties for breaking them is stunning. The only question is why is he running it on Twitter rather than in the paper? But as it is on Twitter, I bring it to you in full: Kirk writes:
Lockdown breach prosecutions are largely done behind closed doors in London. Most people don’t know they’re happening. The public aren’t told about them. I’ve looked into the case of three men & a woman caught having beers together in the park on April 18 to shed a bit of light.
Man A was given a £150 fine and told to pay £100 costs and a £34 victim surcharge. The magistrate on October 1 dealt with 22 cases in the space of two hours. That’s an average of five-and-a-half minutes per case.
The other three ended up before a different magistrate on Nov 3 & their bank balances took much more substantial hits. Man B & the woman were fined £660, ordered to pay £100 costs & a £66 surcharge each. Man C was landed with an £810 fine, the £100 costs and an £81 surcharge.
Man A came before a more charitable magistrate, it seems. I can’t work out why was Man C punished so harshly. I’ve got all the paperwork the magistrate had, there’s nothing to explain it. In fact Man B has a list of previous convictions which doesn’t seem to have harmed his cause
These cases are largely dealt with in one sitting, the briefest of trials, guilty verdicts, and straight to sentence. Only in cases where the magistrate has spotted a problem or needs more information is the cases punted off for another hearing.
To try to explain the high-level penalties, I looked at a case which ended with a £1100 fine. Seemed steep but made sense once I’d seen the court papers. A £150 fine for an Apr 16 lockdown breach & was prosecuted again for his 3rd late-night foray in 3 days on May 1.
In comparison, there was nothing at all to suggest Man C was a repeat offender. My conclusion is either courts are making decisions based on secret extra information, or lockdown breakers are getting wildly different treatment depending on when their case is in court.
Man C’s magistrate took pity on another offender who went to the trouble of entering a guilty plea and sending a “sorry for the inconvenience” note, saying he regretted not paying the initial fixed penalty notice. He escaped with an £80 fine.
In all reality, no one will revisit these prosecutions to see if they were done correctly. Many probably were, but the lack of consistency is troubling.
This is all using legislation which was rushed through, no Parliamentary scrutiny, & it’s been repeatedly misused in the past
Finishing where I started, the public has little idea these prosecutions are happening. Only a handful of journalists get the detailed court registers, HMCTS’s new web portal of court lists doesn’t include them, and they aren’t advertised at the courthouse.
This process is neither fair or just and it is patently not transparent. It is happening because legislation was rushed through with MP’s declining to hold the executive to account and scrutinise what was bad law. Those are the same MPs who will get a pay rise of 3% this year when so many of us are facing pay cuts or job losses. And it seems that no MPs are looking at these bad laws now to try to get them reversed and the deadwood press and the broadcasters do not bother to expose these cases as they still parrot the GroupThink line on how we should deal with that “killer plague” with a 99.7% survival rate.
Mr Kirk’s investigative journalism should be applauded as this is a scandal. Sadly, such work is, in my vocation, all too rare these days as it is so much easier just to take a PR feed like all the rest of them. That is why the political class & business elites get away with lying to us with almost complete impunity: the 4th Estate is no longer a check on anything. Well done Mr Kirk, you are a prince surrounded by fools.