Thursday, 5 July 2012

Former BNP candidate acquitted of harassing Tameside councillor!

When it comes to bitterly feuding rival parties, the hatred and hostility that exists between ex-BNP candidate Roy West and John Taylor (pictured), the Labour deputy leader of Tameside Council, could hardly be surpassed. The 'feudin hillbillys', the Hatfield's and the McCoys, from West Virginia, have got nothing on these two.

The slanging match between these two bitter political rivals, which usually sees them trading insults with one another on a regular basis, took a different turn recently, when West - who stood against Taylor in the May Tameside local elections as an independent candidate, - was summoned to appear before a District Judge at Oldham magistrates' court charged with "pursuing a course of harassment' against councillor Taylor, for a period of more than 18 months" which involved 'sending emails, letters and leaving comments on John Taylor's blog.'

West, of Glenmore Grove, Dukinfield, denied the charge and was due to stand trial a week last Tuesday. But on the day of the trial, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) -who were clearly desperate to avoid a trial - and Mr. West's defence solicitor, came to an agreement that the Crown would offer no evidence against him, provided he accepted a 'restraining order'. Acquitting Mr. West and dismissing the charges against him, District Judge James Prowse, then issued a two-year restraining order which prevents West from going within 50 metres of councillor Taylor's home on Jubilee Avenue, Dukinfield. The order also prohibits West from contacting councillor Taylor in any way - other than when taking part in election campaigns or at council meetings. The Judge told the respective parties:

"My thanks go to everyone for avoiding a messy trial. This is a sensible end to a long and unhappy story. I hope that's an end to it and I hope that any further exchanges can be kept within the democratic process."

This case involving Mr. West, is not the first time that councillor Taylor has gone running to the police complaining that he's been harassed by a member of the public. In 2008, Taylor complained to the police that he'd been harassed by Liam Billington, a 19-year-old Tory blogger, who ran a blog called 'Tameside Eye'. The allegation of harassment, related to three doctored images which appeared on his website. Billington was subsequently arrested and held in custody for 7 hours at Ashton police station, where he was photographed, fingerprinted and a sample of his DNA was taken. His two personal computers were also removed from his home and seized as evidence. During questioning by his police interrogators, Billington was asked about other blogs and who ran them and was told not to to let on, that he'd been asked about this. Charged with one count of 'harassment' and two counts of 'racially aggravated harassment', he was eventually released on police bail. After considering the evidence against him, the Manchester Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute him.

Councillor Taylor's complaints of being harassed go back many years. On a number occasions, he has written in the local press about receiving hate mail, and of being stalked, and of having dog excrement thrown into his garden. Only last month, Mr. West received a solicitor's letter written on behalf of councillor Taylor, and two other councillor's, warning him about his 'behaviour and conduct'. One of the things they complained about was a t-shirt that West had been wearing in public, which named certain councillor's and the amount of allowances that they had claimed. Though this information can be accessed on the council's own website, the letter stated that the councillor's "feel intimidated and harassed by your conduct."

While one can understand why these councillor's would feel vexed by Mr. West's political activities, such as wearing a t-shirt in public with their expenses claims emblazoned across it, does this sort of thing really constitute harassment? One might also ask if this law of harassment, is being used as a means by which politicians can silence their critics and political opponents.

When the 1997 'Protection from Harassment Act' was being debated, campaigners warned that a bill whose ostensible purpose was to protect women from stalkers, was so loosely drafted that it could be used by the police however they wished. This law was used against protesters outside the U.S. intelligence base at Menwith Hill who the police said were harassing American servicemen, because they held up a placard which read "George W. Bush? Oh dear!" Even more ridiculous, was the case of a protestor in Hull, who was charged with harassment on the grounds that he'd been staring at a building. The Act was also used against villagers in Oxfordshire who were protesting against a plan by RWEn power to turn a lake into a fly ash dump. They were told by the police that if they continued, they would be prosecuted for harassing the security guards on the site.

Clearly this is a law that is wide open to serious abuse by those who exercise power and control and a law, which poses a serious threat to civil liberties.


Liam Billington said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Crazy Mad, Mad, Mad, World Of John Charles Taylor Deputy Leader Of Tameside Council said...

Dukinfield Labour Party Tameside Council Corruption Thuggery
Judge Osbourne Tameside County Court 6th of July 12 Quote:
"I think Councillor Taylor should grow a thicker skin."

Anonymous said...

Sorry judge Osborne said that John Taylor "needs" to grow a thicker skin, not "should" grow a thicker skin.