Alison's musings

Friday, March 17, 2006


For an intelligent man, The Commissioner of the Metropolis, Ian Blair is making a real hash of his job but seems to have survived, yet again. But for how long? He has joined the ever bourgeoning ranks of troublesome officials that the other Tony has been pressed to support- ‘Yet again, we heard:-‘No 10 has complete confidence in ’XXX ‘ !! The previous week it was Tessa Jowell and No 10 support list has become a sick joke that further demeans the office of Prime Minister and the integrity of Government. It’s lost the same credibility as that other famous phrase- ‘I’m a straight sort of guy’! Despite ministerial coolness for their cerebral PC Commissioner as revealed so starkly by the ‘Today’ programme, plus the AG’s fury at being bugged, Ian is off the hook. Well, for the time being! Why? An intriguing question. Not for me. I know how convoluted communications and interception affairs legislation is! I won a bugging case against another chief constable in Strasbourg in 1997 that demanded a change in the law – called RIPA in 1998. So, one chief constable taps my phones and is criticised by the Court of Human Rights. He survived too and now enjoys a huge NHS salary as chair of a Health Trust, having been knighted despite the disgrace of tapping the phones of a member of his staff- me; as the Assistant Chief Constable in Merseyside. The bugging was designed to help him defend himself against my sexual discrimination action I started in 1990 with the help of the EOC and Home Office admitted knowledge and connivance when my lawyers got to work. So, why is it OK for one chief officer to tape, why not another I wonder? Why has Lord Goldsmith’s ‘anger and disappointment’ at becoming a victim of yet another police ‘bugging’ by the UK’s top cop suddenly evaporated and the apology accepted? Perhaps he recalled presiding over a House of Lords debate on 13th November 2003 on concerns on communications issues. Their lordships criticised Home Office for taking over two years to produce legislation that would clarify who can do what in the tapping/bugging field. Concern was raised in the same debate that citizens had minimal protection from over zealous bugging and communications abuse! It seems that the AG was hoist by his own petard and he had no protection from the upstart Ian Blair simply because UK communications legislation is still ‘rubbery’ and weasel worded? Had he recalled the previous Commissioner’s warning to take witnesses whenever dealing with David Blunkett? An amazing assertion by the former Commissioner and valuable insight into relationships and issues of integrity between senior people paid to protect us. Taping the IPPC was sneaky and altogether more sinister and cannot be justified so easily. However this unravels, this debacle shows that the Government and the Commissioner are no longer friends. This will surely prove disastrous for policing arrangements in the Metropolis if not across the wider sphere of law enforcement. This Government has been drinking in the ‘last chance’ saloon over its badly flawed integrity and judgement, it could hardly berate the other Blair for following his master’s lead. One nil to the Top Cop as HM Gov. could only sit on their hands and trundle out, yet again that immortal phrase- ‘No 10 as complete confidence’—But for how long? Ian Blair is doubtless doomed and will go the same way as all those others that have had No 10’s complete confidence? He must take comfort from the fact that the other phone tapping chief is still in high public office and doubtless, some well paid cosy Quango will be found for Ian Blair too! Alison Halford. Ex. AM Labour member for Delyn.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Alison At Home
Summer 2004 Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Ghost of Chief Constable's Past

Christmas has come and gone and garlands and decorations stored for next year’s festivities. It’s all part of the Christmas package. So too are ghost stories. Like me you may have seen some classics on the goggle-box over the lead up to Christmas.
Well ghosts come back to haunt us all. And that was true for me towards the end of 2005. You may have seen this link Liverpool Museum or this BBC N Wales

Maybe you have even seen the ghost in the ‘flesh’. My old uniform as Britain’s then most senior policewoman brought back many memories …many bad and one salutary ghost story to outdo most others. I wore that uniform with pride but was forced to take my case over phone tapping and discrimination to the Court of Human Rights.

Merseyside Chief Constable, Jim Sharples, (plain Jim then) was spared the pain and embarrassment of cross-examination in the Witness Box, nor did he have to defend his actions or face damning evidence of file tampering or re-writing minutes of official police documents, done to support his defence. As the case panned out, Home Office pressed a settlement thus sparing possible humiliation and exposure of his weak defence and his inability to justify his outrageous accusations and unscrupulous behaviour during the protracted delay it took to hear the case. Knighted by a Tory Home Secretary, he went on to draw his full pension (a princely sum it should be noted). Jim left Merseyside in 1998 and an accommodating Home Office refused to withdraw his knighthood although he had been severely criticised by the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights in 1997.

The judges acknowledged that in attempting to undermine my discrimination case, Jim had acted unethically. My Human Rights had been infringed and the Government was forced to change in British law, but less willing to change attitudes?

Sir Jim even went on to augment his generous police pension with a cushy £25,000 pa retirement job as chair of Countess of Chester Foundation; cashing in on his status as an ex-chief constable and possibly, a dodgy knighthood despite his appalling human rights and equality record! ‘The labourer is worthy of his hire, did I hear? Well, seemingly dissatisfied with the going rate, there’s plotting afoot to raise his dosh to £40,000 per year. Nice work if you can get it but the NHS pot must stretch to Jim’s remuneration. And is this is the best way of spending finite resources? Nasty rumours abound that cuts are planned for nurses teaching at the Countess of Chester, despite a worrying shortage of qualified nurses.

Although Jim avoided the rigours of an Equality Tribunal, perhaps he’s prepared to tell us how the proposed salary increases is to be funded, and whether he has any plans to do the job without the ‘piggy in trough’ increase? After all, he’s already cost the tax-payer millions as the public paid for his force’s legal defence! Some small contribution for wrecking a decent career and causing a law change in phone tapping might not come amiss??

Because of sleaze in public office, Lord Nolan suggested standards for public servants! INTEGRITY and fair play were just two. Perhaps Sir James will enlighten us as to whether or not he is totally quailed under the Nolan Principles to hold down yet another expensively paid public appointment. I fear that Sir James will do what he did when the witness box and oaths beckoned, get others to answer for him.