Socialist Worker

Tell the station to scramble all cars

Issue No. 1863

THE POLICE spent £50,000 on a video surveillance operation investigating eggs thrown at a car. It surely had nothing to do with the fact that the owner of the car was a former police inspector.

When Eugene Collins reported his car had been vandalised, Gwent police in South Wales launched a surveillance operation against the chief suspect, Collins's 15 year old neighbour Tom Diggle. The setting up of a spy camera opposite the two homes was codenamed Operation Scramble.

The Police Complaints Authority upheld a complaint last week from Tom's parents, John and Kath. Gwent police have agreed to pay £50,000. 'The fact that our family home was put under covert surveillance is quite unbelievable and a complete waste of resources for the sake of an egg,' said John Diggle, a doctor.

'I was a complete supporter of the police, but that has totally changed now and I wouldn't trust them at all.' 'The police would never set up a surveillance camera about such a trivial matter if it was a complaint from an ordinary member of the public,' said Kath Diggle.

'What Tom did was a prank, but absolutely unacceptable. We punished him ourselves. For the police to conduct this vendetta was vindictive and unfair.' The police had already spent months threatening to charge Tom over an entirely unrelated event. When he was eventually charged with assaulting a youth, magistrates cleared him, saying he had acted in self defence.

But the constant police attention took a toll on the family, and forced Kath Diggle to leave her job.


In the Frame - No. 21 - Tom DeLay

THE LEADER of the US House majority last week told Israeli politicians that he was an 'Israeli at heart'. This key member of George Bush's Republican Party is a leader of the Christian Zionist movement. He says that 'Israel is the solution' to the Palestinians' problems.


Keep up your standards

THE EVENING Standard newspaper has admitted it manipulated a full page picture showing the 'liberation of Baghdad'. 'As it was taken from TV footage, some extra people were added to the image in order to fill the space left by the removal of logos,' the Evening Standard said, after pressure from readers. In our opinion this did not alter the clarity of truth of the picture's message.'


The loneliness of Jack Straw

FOREIGN secretary Jack Straw joined the celebrations of former Labour leader Michael Foot's 90th birthday recently. He said his favourite memory of Foot was when he had challenged Tory MPs to raise their hands if they supported Thatcher's economic policy. Only one hand was raised.

Following this tribute Foot asked the assembled party activists, MPs and cabinet ministers to raise their hands if they supported the present government's foreign policy. Only Jack Straw raised his hand.


The workers who like to say...

ABBEY National workers' trust for their bosses has declined dramatically over the last 12 months. A recent survey of 14,000 workers found that only 38 percent agreed that 'managers in the company do a good job'.

In 2002 70 percent of workers said, 'I believe this company is a good employer.' This was down to 53 percent this year. Might be something to do with the 1,000 job losses and management cost cutting.


Deaths on their hands

A HOUSING association shocked an elderly woman to death by wrongly threatening her with eviction. Rose Bowen, 81, was told that her sheltered accommodation would be repossessed if she didn't pay rent arrears of £1,600.

But she owed nothing. The local council should have paid the rent. She was found dead at her flat in Offerton, Manchester, a month later. Rose Bowen suffered from angina and asthma. Collingwood Housing Association had apologised for the mistake but failed to send a written confirmation of this.

'She was still crying and worrying' about this, according to her son. Before she died Rose Bowen had said, 'I wonder how many people die from shock after receiving a letter like that?'


SIROUS KHAJEH, an asylum seeker from Iran, hanged himself after being wrongly told he was being deported. He had fled to Britain after being tortured in Iran. The Home Office told Huddersfield council that his application for asylum had been rejected when it had been approved.

Sirous was found dead four days after the council told him he would have to leave his flat.


Many forced to just leave it

MORE THAN half of workers in Britain are unable to take up their full holiday entitlement because their workload is too heavy. A survey of 5,000 workers for the Reed recruitment website found that 60 percent of workers said they couldn't take all their annual leave.

Those who did manage to get a break said they had to work harder and do extra hours before they left for their holidays. One in five workers said they suffered from stress as a result. Workers put in an extra nine hours work to enable them to take a break.


Here's another right Horlicks

ONE OF Tony Blair's former advisers is considering standing as a Tory MP at the next general election. Nicola Horlick, one of the City's most high powered women, was dubbed 'Superwoman' by the press.

'I think she sees the Conservative Party as a sort of failing business which she could help to turn around,' says a friend. Horlick was one of the advisers who suggested that the Bank of England should become independent when New Labour took power. She also wanted to help Labour run the health service.


Figure it out 71

The number of deaths in the construction industry in 2002-3. This is one third of all workplace deaths. The government is still stalling on a corporate manslaughter law.


Who says?

'I have enjoyed our time together and look forward to seeing you again soon. It is my prayer that god will continue to bless you and your service to the United Kingdom.'
John Ashcroft US attorney general responsible for holding over 1,000 people without trial in a letter to home secretary David Blunkett

'They want to prevent more Arabs from moving to Israel. They also hope that more Arab citizens will follow their spouses to the Palestinian territories. It's about getting rid of the Arabs.'
Orna Kohn Palestinian lawyer on the Israeli government's new law that bars Palestinians who marry Israelis from living in Israel

'Mr president, with no opponent, how can you spend $170 million or more on your primary campaign?'
QUESTIONER to George Bush on his fundraising campaign to be the Republican presidential candidate next year

'Just watch.'
George Bush replies

'Saudi Arabia would have been fine. Pakistan would have been fine. We did Iraq because we could. My motto here to my liberal friends is that some things are true even if George Bush believes them.'
Thomas Friedman US journalist close to the State Department


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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 9 Aug 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1863
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