In the early 1990s I was stopped for speeding by an unmarked police car near Westfield between Linlithgow and Bathgate. I was driving south down a long curve, which became a short dual carriageway. The police car was parked on the opposite side of the road and did a “U” turn to follow me.
Never mind that in doing so the Police caused other drivers to brake hard and swerve, and never mind that a lorry pulled out right in front of me from a side road. They stopped me with their blue lights flashing away, hidden in the grill of the car they were in.
I was asked to take a seat in their car, which I of course did. They said I’d been doing 83 miles an hour, which sounded a bit high to me but I wasn’t in a position to argue. They also asked me to provide a breath test, which I felt was ridiculous given I didn’t drink at all but again I was in no position to argue.
A few days later a brown envelope came through the door and I opened it to find I’d been booked for doing 93 miles an hour. I phoned my lawyer and told him what had happened. He said It would be unwise to fight it in court. He said the magistrate or any sort of judge always relies on the Police telling the truth. The whole justice system relies on the Police telling the truth.
A few months later a work colleague was stopped on the same bit of road for speeding. When his envelope came through the door he was being done for 107 miles an hour not the 97 that the police had said at the time, which was bad enough but sounded high to him. In fact the car he was driving was not actually capable of doing 97 miles per hour and would only have reached 107 if it had been pushed off a very high cliff indeed.
He got an expert witness who was to speak on his behalf but before the case came to court he got a letter which stated “due to administration errors” the case against him would not be pursued. If he had been done for 107 he would have lost his licence. The two cops who regularly stopped speeding drivers were obviously inflating the speed. Why?
Since then I’ve always had a very deep unease about the police. I was brought up to respect them and to believe that they were there to protect and help people. It had become obvious that they were there for other reasons, which had little to do with truth.
The police at Hillsborough systematically altered their statements as required by senior officers. I’m sure a number of them didn’t want to do it but they did because if they hadn’t they might have suffered for it. Is this not the way that criminals carry on?
The fact that this happened also suggests that it happens when needs must. The problem with all of this is that if the police do it once and are caught their status as trustworthy and truthful goes out the window. It’s the old bad apple issue.
If this is is the case, which it surely is, then our justice system is not to be relied upon. Our justice system is undermined, it is not fit for purpose it no longer holds any real authority.
How can the police ever claim they live up to their oath of allegiance to carry out their duties? This is a huge question. It is fitting that those who altered their statements should be prosecuted and treated in the same way the police treat the public. They could start off by arresting them at an ungodly hour. Whisk them off alone with only the clothes they stand in and put them in a cell for at least three days without telling relatives where they are or allow the relatives to speak to them.
The Hillsborough tragedy was indeed made worse by the police cover up. No amount of apologising by politicians, police officers, the press or ambulance people will go anywhere near helping at all.
The BBC have some apologising to do also. On the news last night they took another opportunity to have a go at the Sun newspaper. Whilst representatives from the Sun also apologised for running the stories, which were inaccurate, they were inaccurate because the information had come from the police. The Guardian are also following the BBC lead.
It is also time for the leaking of information to the press from the police to be stopped. It is also time that the BBC and the Guardian are taken to task for using their position to try to do down their competitors.
What will change though?