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picture first appeared on Bonkers
in May last year to illustrate a follow up to
an earlier report of the police attending a noisy party in a house believed to be rented by Bexley Councillors.
The picture was among a dozen or more taken from a public Facebook page. I guessed who the figure on the left might be but wasn’t certain and at no time was a name mentioned either at the time or earlier.
As it was possible that the freely available picture was of a minor I sought the advice of my daughter who has a university degree in journalism and has worked for a major news organisation for more than 20 years.
She said there was no problem in republishing a Facebook picture juvenile or not and (later) if the blog and picture was anywhere near to being harassment she would have a queue of policemen at her office door every day.
Nevertheless I decided to blur it out of all recognition.
However what my daughter had failed to take into account is that the (unrecognisable to most people) photograph was the daughter of Councillors Don and Sharon Massey and that Bexley Police are very firmly in the pocket of Bexley Council. (Bexley police told me a long time ago that is not true but I don't believe them.)
A few days later the cops were at my door threatening arrest if I did not accompany them to the police station. Maybe it was an idle threat because I never did get an opportunity to say anything in my defence.
The police's justification was then and still is that it is Met policy to investigate every allegation of harassment no matter how trivial, malicious or imaginary. It probably explains why so many crimes go unsolved.
After giving me the run around as to why they did or did not jump at Councillor Don Massey’s command I was eventually told by Bexley police that the accusation of harassing his daughter by republishing her own Facebook photograph just once was unjustified. I had done nothing wrong.
It took the police almost seven months to come to that conclusion and how could they do otherwise? The legal definition of harassment includes the words repeated, put in fear of violence and causing alarm. If the photo is alarming why did the subject of it publish the original clear version herself?
Let me repeat the facts. My ‘offence’ was to publish a blurred version of what the Masseys had themselves made publicly available. Only her family and close friends at the noisy party stood any real chance of recognising the blurred face. Councillor Massey’s daughter was not named or even identified as his daughter and the picture had been published only once.
It seemed to me that there could only be two possible reasons for the police banging on my door late in the evening. They are totally incompetent and have no understanding of the law or Don Massey was afforded special treatment.
My journalist daughter had told me that what I had blogged did not come within a million miles of being harassment so how could it be that Bexley police felt they could not dismiss the allegation out of hand? (Their excuse is that it is policy and there is no requirement to engage a brain cell.)
On Christmas Eve 2016 I made a formal complaint the central part of which was to ask the police to demonstrate that I had come close to committing a criminal act.
The complaint was allocated to the officer who had manufactured vague reasons for his officers’ actions six months earlier. My protestations that that would guarantee a rejection of my complaint were thrown out and instead I was promised an initial response within seven to ten days.
Last week it came in the form of a letter more than five pages long.
During the intervening nine months I was asked if I wanted to make a complaint about the Inspector who had given me the run around. I said “No”, the only issue was whether the police had been incompetent or had done the Massey jump.
A couple of months later they asked if I wanted to make a complaint about the female officer (I am sorely tempted to name these people and ask if anyone else out there has had trouble with them) who aggressively threatened arrest. I said “No”, the only issue was whether the police had been incompetent or had done the Massey jump.
So was my question answered? Did I get an indication of how I came within an inch of being a criminal for republishing Victoria Massey’s photograph just once in a form only she and her mum was going to recognise?
Of course I didn’t, all that I got was a set of excuses and an assurance that I was not threatened with arrest if I did not immediately accompany PC Kirsty Stephens (whoops!) to the police station.
Making a pun of the Prime Minister's statement that the Conservatives were in danger of becoming the Nasty Party and the phrase party animals and coming up with the headline ‘Nasty Party animals’ was evidently not nice either. Well I would agree it wasn't among the best pun of all time.
Nowhere did the letter get anywhere near answering my question. The closest was when it claimed “that a juvenile had her personal details disclosed” (I’d like to know where) and she found it “distressing”. No suggestion that I repeatedly harassed her, just the one photo which she herself had published and no personal details whatsoever.
The police were on a total loser on this one and are unable to answer my question except by repeating the word ‘policy’.
However hidden away in the letter at the end of Page 5 is an important admission. It says that I would have to be either “racist or very extreme” to be guilty of harassment, so they have pretty much admitted being in the wrong. But no apology for me being kept on tenterhooks for seven months and my complaint is “NOT UPHELD” - in capital letters.
Why can’t they just say they had in retrospect overstepped the mark and thereby ensured the end of the matter? I’ll tell you why.
The Metropolitan Police is institutionally corrupt and if you want justification for that statement just Google two words. ‘Daniel Morgan’.
Daniel Morgan was a private investigator who discovered too much evidence of Met corruption and took it to the Murdoch press. Between them the two organisations arranged that Daniel had his skull split asunder with an axe.
30 years later the Met is still trying to cover it up with almost every Commissioner in that time implicated.
Daniel’s brother is my journalist daughter’s long term partner.
The Metropolitan Police is Institutionally Corrupt. It needs to be said as often as possible.
Note: If any Bexley police officer has evidence that the foregoing is not an accurate summary of events, please let me know.