Thursday, 28 June 2012

Exclusive: new poster prosecution threat to Finchley parking campaigner

Yes: believe it or not, Mrs Angry has heard that Helen Michael, the courageous Finchley trader and leading activist in the fight against the disastrous Barnet parking scheme, has again been threatened with action over the poster she published regarding the instigator of this scheme, our tedious former Assembly member and Cabinet member, Councillor Brian Coleman.

Helen, who runs Cafe Buzz in North Finchley, produced the poster, and distributed it in the area to other shops and businesses, who displayed it in protest at the new parking rules and charges that Coleman insisted on imposing on the residents of this borough, and refused to retract, despite the devastating consequences for traders and residents alike.

Ms Michael was visited by the police soon after the poster appeared, and was asked to amend them so that they were compliant with the requirement to give details of the publisher. She did so immediately, and the police told her there would be no further action.

Why then, we must ask, was she visited again this week by the police who informed her that they want her to attend an interview in regard to the poster. An allegation has been made, but they refuse to tell her the identity of the complainant. She has been told that they intend to proceed 'with your co operation, if possible'. The implication, one must suppose, is that if she does not 'co operate' she may be arrested.

After taking legal advice, she has responded by sending a statement to them, and requesting them to send it to the DPP. This would appear not to have been done.

This new and anonymous complaint about the poster, after the police had already informed Helen that there would no further action, is very interesting, isn't it? One wonders who on earth would make such a complaint? And why?

Clearly pressure has been exerted on the police for them to take up the issue again, after being satisfied previously that there was no problem with the poster. Indeed, the fact that they informed Ms Michael as much itself was reason to continue with the distribution and it might be argued that they are therefore responsible for this situation. One expects the police to be rather better informed than a resident on the legalities of such matters.

Mrs Angry has been told this morning by a local police representative that there have been no prosecutions for flyposting in Barnet in recent years, and that it is anyway the role of the council to prosecute. In which case, why is valuable police time being engaged in the pursuance of an allegation in relation to this poster, an allegation whose origin they refuse to disclose, when this borough is fraught with a record number of burglaries and robberies and no doubt other even more serious criminal activities?

Is the complaint about fly posting, in which case is the council, whose responsibility it is, going to prosecute the Mayor of London for the Boris posters splattered all over local bus stops and shop windows by highly organised teams the night before the election? Or is it about alleged inaccuracies in the poster - in which case, when will the council be prosecuting the local Tory party over the leaflet distributed in Brunswick Park making claims about the parking issue, in a period of purdah?

Does the complaint come not from the council but from the subject of the poster? If so, what offence is Ms Michael alleged to have committed? And why is it being investigated now, rather than when the poster was on display throughout the borough? Would that not anyway be a private, civil matter, rather than a matter for the police?

Now that Councillor Coleman has been so roundly trounced in the GLA election, lost his post as Chair of the Fire authority and has faced the further humiliation of losing his position of power in Barnet, the snivelling, cowardly Tories who dared not speak out against his policies previously, are now falling over themselves to declare that they always really opposed these dreadful proposals. Luckily they were not obliged to do anything about it, as the Barnet bloggers, activists, and enfuriated residents did it for them.

Wouldn't it be nice to see these Tories now rushing to the defence of Helen Michael, who has done more than anyone to fight the catastrophic parking scheme, while they all sat on their hands and did nothing?

Only in Broken Barnet would a woman who showed such courage and determination in standing up for what was right, and opposing a man who was so clearly wrong, now be subjected to petty bullying over what - a f*cking poster.

Mrs Angry hopes that everyone who opposes the parking madness will support Helen, and continue to resist the thuggish tactics of this administration's obsession with silencing all dissension or quashing any resistence to its dangerously lunatic policies.


Anonymous said...

Has any further complaints been made about the Conservative Party leaflets on free-parking in the Brunswick by-election - breaking rules in 'purdah' - no.The matter was dealt with. Someone is clearly still in a bad mood with the posters...and they should get over it.

Mrs Angry said...

Indeed, anon: it would seem that someone is in a very, very bad mood at the moment. Oh dear. Is this the way to go about making things better? Mrs Angry would say not.

Not only were there misleading and rule breaking statements in the Brunswick Park by election leaflets, on the night before the election, an organised fly poster team arrived in the borough, as was also reported in other parts of London, sticking Boris posters on bus stops and shop windows. Mrs Angry believes that there is photographic evidence of this action. Let's these parties pursued in the same way as Helen Michael.

Mr Reasonable said...

This is nothing short of a disgrace. This week I received a newsletter from my Safer Neighbourhood Team setting out just how many burglaries and robberies have taken place in my ward in Barnet. With policing resources stretched almost to breaking point I am astounded that the police are wasting valuable resources on such a none issue. Perhaps the person pursuing this complaint should be charged with wasting police time.

Mrs Angry said...

I absolutely agree, Mr Reasonable. I cannot possibly imagine the motivation behind such a complaint, unless it is to remind people how angry they feel about the whole parking issue, and how glad they are to have dumped Coleman. Targeting Helen Michael in this way is pathetic and so stupid: just when the Barnet Tories thought they could dissasociate themselves from so many unpopular policies, they find the whole issue dragged up again.

John Baldy said...

This looks like bullying.

Helen has done nothing wrong. Indeed, I am only aware of her having done right things. I've seen the poster - it is 'to the point' but quite inoffensive. What law is she supposed to have broken for Big Brother to come calling like this? Again.

I hope people will respond by going to the excellent Cafe Buzz at Tally Ho, and buying Helen's delicious food and drink.

Mrs Angry said...

No, she has done nothing wrong, and she has had the guts to stand up for what is right, which is hard, and must be applauded. Many people criticise council policy and do nothing: she took the problem on and confronted the council, and they were eventually forced to admit that the parking scheme was a huge mistake. I believe that leader Cornelius actually said, ah, that he was 'sorry' ... now is the time, then, Councillor Cornelius to show just how sorry you are, and speak out against this petty victimisation of a brave and resourceful resident.

baarnett said...

The police have wide discretionary powers to tell members of the public that they will not investigate a matter, and I wonder why they have not done that in this case.

This reminds me of the well-documented croneyism of the police of many years ago, which does not, of course, have any connection with this case.

Mrs Angry said...

ha: mmm,to be fair, not much chance of such croneyism in this case, I would suspect, baarnett ...

Mr Mustard said...

I am sure that we bloggers can raise a fighting fund if needs be Mrs A and Mr Mustard is never afraid to stick his hand in his pocket.

Mrs Angry said...

I thought you were just pleased to see me, Mr Mustard.

But yes, we can, and we will, if necessary.

Anonymous said...

So this Blogg is above the law and judgung something that hasn't happened yet. We live in a world where free speach is no longer fully free. A report was made to the police its to be investigated you would expect the same.

Mrs Angry said...

erm, well Anonymous: no, this Blogg is not above the law. The point is that the police have already investigated the poster and already told Helen Michael that there would be no further action.

baarnett said...

Not only that, Anonymous.

The police have to operate under the constaint of "proportionality". Otherwise, there is something that virtually everone could be locked up for, if one were able to dig deeply enough, and go back in statute history far enough.

It is perfectly right and proper for the public to question if police action meets that test.

It equally acceptable for the public to question whether the individuals and/or corporate bodies that spring to mind in this case are being given an unacceptable level of police resources, compared what the general public would receive.

Rock on, Mrs A.

Pat Pending said...

Perhaps we could all get some of these posters and put our own details on them, then display them prominently.
Let us see if we can all get a visit from the Police, as they seem to have so much time on their hands.