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Britain's Real Political Prisoner By: Val MacQueen
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, May 15, 2003


On January 28 this year, FrontPage Magazine ran an article I wrote about Briton Tony Martin, who lived in a remote farmhouse in a sparsely populated county of England and who had been the victim, over months, of a clan of lawless Gypsies. The police seldom responded to his calls for help. One night 17 year-old Fred Barras (who was later found to have 27 convictions for breaking and entering) and his uncle Brendan Fearon broke into Martin’s house yet again, in the dead of night. In a blind panic, Martin, who lived alone, crept out of his bedroom to the top of the stairs and fired three shots from his pump action shotgun blindly into the dark. He killed Fred Barras and wounded Brendan Fearon in the leg. If ever there was a case for self-defense, this was it. Martin’s phone calls to the police over the previous months are a matter of record. However, he was tried for murder, found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. Because the British public rose up in outrage, the charge was later reduced to manslaughter and Martin’s sentence reduced to five years imprisonment.

Regardless of the will of the electorate, the British government has determined that, de facto, British people have no right to defend their property or their lives. In a massive and stupid overreaction, handguns were banned by the then Conservative government after a madman ran amok with a gun in a school in Scotland. This panic law, made in the heat of the moment, should have been revoked long ago, and probably would have been had the Conservatives won the following election. In a disaster for Britain, Labour won it and the self-righteous, hectoring control freak Tony Blair strode into the sunshine, teeth adazzle.

Since coming into power, Labour has taken a wrecking ball to the British constitution and has lopped civil liberties off the law books with crude abandon. They have incorporated European "human rights" laws wholesale, at a gulp, into British law. (Granted most European countries, having had democracy imposed on them for the first time by the Americans and the British after WWII, were not well versed in civil rights and may have needed all those new EU laws, but Britain’s laws and freedoms run broad and deep, flourishing over 1,000 years.) It was announced a couple of months ago that the right to trial by jury will be abandoned in many cases.

Essentially the House of Lords, which is the second, revising, chamber and is junior to the House of Commons, has been dismantled and nothing put in its place. It has been announced that "first time" burglars would no longer merit a prison sentence; the notorious "first one’s free" rule. It was stated, by way of explanation, that the Lord Chief Justice thought that most British people wouldn’t want someone who burgled their home sent to prison. Besides, putting all the burgeoning burgling population behind bars was causing overcrowding in the prisons and infringed their "human rights".

Later on, the Metropolitan Police of London announced it wouldn’t bother tracking down burglars any more, unless the burglar was still on the premises or had thoughtfully left his fingerprints and jotted down his address on the notepad next to the telephone. The Labour government talks of appointing a national "access regulator" for universities to ensure that a certain, government established, percentage of people who either aren’t very bright or have never been motivated to pass any qualifying exams get into their university of choice. In the wake of the murder of a black teenager, the Labour government appointed someone called MacPherson to investigate why the murder hadn’t been solved, a quixotic move at best as there are hundreds of unsolved murders in today’s Britain. MacPherson duly issued the MacPherson Report, in which he claimed that the Metropolitan Police were "institutionally racist," thus damning the entire force, unjustly as it happens – they know who murdered the boy, but they lack the proof to convict – and destroying its credibility in the eyes of perhaps a million or so law-abiding (and crime-fearing) black and Asian Londoners.

When asked to define "racism" MacPherson said that it was essentially what anyone thought it was. If a listener thought a remark was racially motivated, whether it had been the speaker’s intention or not, it was racist. The hearer’s interpretation would make it so. The thought police had tiptoed out on little cat feet.

In other words, the population has been disarmed and cowed from speaking aloud thoughts of which the government disapproves. The natural order of things has been deliberately turned upside down with the purpose of destabilizing the traditional self-confidence of the British people. Predictably, now only the police, the armed forces and the criminals have guns. Murder and drive by shootings are no longer uncommon. Since the MacPherson report and the ban on handguns, the police have become distanced from the community and, in fact, grow ever more contemptuous of calls for help from members of the public. An air of menace has entered public life for the first time in Britain’s history.

At his first parole hearing, 59-year-old Tony Martin, by all accounts a model prisoner, despite the injustice done to him, was refused his freedom because the judge ruled that he posed a danger to burglars. If someone else broke into his remote farmhouse, opined the judge, there was no guarantee that Tony Martin wouldn’t shoot and kill that individual as well.

The iron-fisted, fascist perversion of natural justice prompted an outcry from the public and his lawyers were granted leave to appeal the Parole Board’s decision.

In a somewhat quixotic, but doubtless well planned move, the Parole Board retained a "human rights" barrister (trial lawyer) to fight their case, meaning that in a Kafka-esque turn of events, the "human rights" warrior was pleading to keep Mr Martin behind bars. Mr Pushpinder Saini argued passionately for the rights of future thieves and burglars, saying it was wrong to suggest that such people had forfeited their rights as members of the public, adding that burglars are entitled to protection from violent homeowners The Parole Board argued that Mr Martin, who keeps his head down and gets on well with burglars in the prison, could come into conflict with these fellow inmates later because he was still intent on protecting his property.

With all the subtlety of a Maoist re-education camp, the Parole Board has also expressed dismay and disappointment that Martin refuses to accept that he committed a crime and refuses to express contrition.

Equally bizarrely, the Parole Board insists that the high level of public support he has enjoyed re-enforces his belief that he has nothing to be contrite about and makes it more likely that he will re-offend. Thus the public groundswell of outrage over this case becomes a negative.

Co-incidentally, Mr Martin’s solicitors (under British law, lawyers who instruct the trial lawyer) also retained the services of an Indian barrister, Bitu Bhalla, from another prominent London law firm. The case was heard before 56 year-old Mr Justice Maurice Kay, whose concern for possible burglars who may breech Mr Martin’s remote property at some time in the future, despite it being now well known in the burgling community that Mr Martin doesn’t have a thing worth stealing, was no less committed than that of the Parole Board. Mr Bhalla argued that the Parole Board had no right bring a discussion about the rights of imaginary future burglars into a hearing that was about Mr Martin’s current incarceration saying the board shouldn't have submitted "arguments on the strategy for burglars generally".

"The burglar, if he decides to attack a householder, ought to be aware that if reasonable force is used against him, he will not get any protection," he said. He added that there was as much chance of Mr Martin winning the lottery as there was that he would re-offend. Mr Justice Kay, however, seemed inclined to listen with favor to Mr Saini’s concerns for the "human rights" of future burglars.

Now we come to the case of the missing psychiatric report. During the hearing earlier in this week, lawyers for Martin claimed there a secret psychological report compiled by the government indicated that their client was suitable for early release. An assessment had been done of Mr Martin’s state of mind when he had first been incarcerated, and apparently it said that, at the time of the shooting, Mr Martin had suffered from "an abnormal state of mind." This, I am assuming, meant he was in a blind panic and had a diminished sense of responsibility. The report, however, was not presented at the original parole hearing. Mr Saini said there was "nothing sinister" in the disappearance and then reappearance of the report. Martin’s lawyers found out about it later, but the Parole Board refused to set aside its decision and presented it at the Court of Appeal, before Mr Justice Kay, who said that although there was an initial error of law when his application was first considered, that had been corrected and there were no grounds for allowing a challenge

The lesson here, for the British public is, of course, that a British citizen has no right to use force to defend his property or his life. This is the message that it was intended to get across. You will receive no mercy from the justice system if you have the impertinence to try to save your own life. I suspect that in this case, justice was not blind, but was peeking through her fingers. In fact, it has been so blatant that she took the blindfold off. I mean, what the hell. My personal deduction is that the case had been decided before it was ever heard and that the Court of Appeal hearing was a fig leaf, to make the Parole Board’s original decision "safe."

In effect, the Parole Board and the High Court have, in effect, set aside one of the cardinal principles of the English common law, famously formulated four centuries ago by Sir Edward Coke: "For a man's house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man's home is his safest refuge]." According to Mr Justice Kay, for Martin to repeat this adage was to "hold heterodox views about the right to take the law into his own hands." In other words, the British are on notice: Your home is not your refuge.

In a further inexplicable move, British authorities say that when Mr Martin is eventually released – they have bravely faced up to the fact that they can’t hold him forever – he will have to be moved to Australia, at a cost to the British taxpayer of £500,000 ($750,000) because his life will be in peril. The family members of the young man Martin killed have been issuing death threats against him. Leaving aside whether Australia, not having been a British penal colony for the last two hundred years or so, would be moved to admit a "convicted murderer" as a resident, one wonders why the police have not rounded up these threat-issuers and banged them away behind bars. The last time I checked, issuing death threats was a crime. As a side issue, Mr Martin has no desire to be relocated to Australia and says he won’t go.

It’s all odd. This has been a lesson in control. The jackboot is on the neck of the British citizenry. The numbers engaged in law enforcement are not nearly sufficient and they have had their will to act leached out of them. Yet if the citizen stands up and try to protect himself, he will be persecuted.

Tony Martin is a political prisoner being used to further a political agenda. Yet, given all the publicity the case has received all over the world, where is Amnesty International? Where is Human Rights Watch? Where are the "human rights" activists?




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