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Police have to answer tough questions now

Unedited version of column in Scottish Sun on Sunday for 30th June 2013

Police have to answer tough questions now

As Scottish organiser of the Anti-Nazi League in October 1993 I marched with over 60,000 on the BNP HQ in Welling, South East London.

Within 5 years of opening the ‘Nazi Bunker’, a 2 square mile radius had seen racist attacks rise by 210% and 4 racist murders, so we demanded its closure.

Yet the march was attacked by 6,000 riot police, spending £1,000,000 to protect the BNP. Over a several hours, thousands were batoned and horse charged with nowhere to go. Buses which took 1500 to London came back to Glasgow half empty as hundreds were injured, lost or arrested.

Although I had my teeth smashed out by a Glasgow police officer in a racist attack several months earlier, this was to be first of my many experiences of  criminalisation of peaceful protests.

Leading the march just in front of me was an 82 year survivor of 5 concentration camps, Leon Greenman, along with my boss the late Julie Waterson head of the Anti-Nazi League.

Julie was a fearless fighter against fascism who inspired everyone who met her.   On the day she was the Chief Steward of the march. For her troubles her white jacket was drenched in blood as she was hit across the head with a truncheon as the police attack started for no reason, turning a peaceful march into a riot.

Amongst the protestors was a young Dwayne Brooks, good friend of Stephen Lawrence, traumatised from his murder 6 months earlier as they both tried to outrun a gang of racist thugs armed with knives.

It now turns out that the Metropolitan Police’s Special Demonstration Squad had infiltrated an anti-racist campaign and were ‘allegedly’ deployed to spy on both the Lawrence family as well as Dwayne in an attempt to smear them.

CCTV of the Welling march was trawled for days to search for Dwayne as the campaign to destroy him began.  Dragged through the courts, charges were eventually thrown out by an angry judge.

For the Lawrence family who publicly campaigned for the truth, this was the ‘worst kind of fame’, brought into the spotlight not because of their acts but ‘the failure of others who were under a public duty to act.’

The Met claim today that a racist police force which protected the killers and treated Stephen and Duwayne as ‘Black drug dealers’ was the past,-

but it’s not so long ago that homeless Ian Tomlinson at G8 killed by a baton, was described as  ‘drunken and aggressive’, or Jean Charles de Menzes ‘executed’ as a suicide bomber in a London tube ‘ jumped over the ticket barriers’ and was an ‘illegal immigrant full of drugs’-

All lies fed to the Media by police sources no different to the lies spun by them at Hillsborough, Bloody Sunday or Orgreave.

We should know by now that if the police investigate themselves they will close ranks and cover up.

This time the Met should not be allowed to use their ‘get out of jail card’ by relying on inquiries that will take several years, so  rogue officers conveniently disappear with healthy pensions.

Our own new Police Scotland would do well to embrace accountability and transparency, as they watch the Met dragged once more through the dirt.

You may say who cares? but as the scandal of the SDS unfolds, I ask how you would feel if police officers were ordered to sleep with members of your family to spy on you, read your mail or went through your ‘knicker’ drawer to gather information to try and smear you?

A police force that cannot be trusted cannot police through consent, it is time to settle the question -Who guards the guardians?

Equal Pay Victory

Big congratulations to the 251 classroom assistants and nursery nurses who took their legal battle against Dumfries and Galloway all the way to the Supreme Court.

 

For 7 years they had fought for the right to equal pay equivalent to their male counterparts. Some 40 years after the Equal Pay Act was passed, it’s a disgrace that women are still fighting for that right.

 

The Supreme Court Judges unanimously supported the appeal, referring it back to the Employment Tribunal.

 

The ruling is a huge boost for the thousands of other cases still working their way through the courts.

 

The Council should do the honourable thing and throw in the towel, but if they want carry on fighting, I hope these women beat them every step of the way.

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