WE CARRIED a readers’ letter a couple of weeks back from a lady disenchanted by our front page story with the admittedly ‘punny’ headline of Frankies Goes to Bollywood … and violent mayhem breaks out.
Anne Pugh thought we should have devoted pretty much the entire newspaper to the community-friendly Jo Cox/More in Common events of that weekend.
It was a fair point – and one thing we don’t do at The Press is censor criticism – even if it rather missed the point. We’ve given lots of coverage to More in Common, and will continue to do so – but although it is very deserving of publicity in a local paper, it’s not quite front page ‘news’ any more.
A major arterial road being brought to a standstill by violent mayhem, under the noses of police officers who don’t lift a finger to intervene, ticks that box rather better – at least in the editor David Bentley’s view. And as his boss, I concurred.
The Frankies/Bollywood headline pun, referencing a 1980s synthpop group, was all my fault I must confess and at this point I’ll plead the old journalistic nutmeg of “don’t let the story get in the way of a good headline”.
Mrs Pugh went on to say that as a reasonably recent incomer to Batley, she found it the friendliest place she’d lived in the past 50 years.
I’m really pleased for her – although imagine what she’d have thought if she’d lived in ‘Barfield’ 30 or 40 years ago – proper, old fashioned communities then, a bustling high street and shopping precinct.
You could ‘spend a penny’ without having to traipse to Tesco’s – heck even the cop shop was open. Ee bah gum, them were t’days.
I suppose it would be rather unfair of me to ask where Mrs Pugh had been living prior to moving here – Basra, or Mosul perhaps? Helmand Province?
And I assume she doesn’t live on Staincliffe Hall Road, or was in that neighbourhood earlier this week when violent mayhem again descended with baseball bats and blood all round. Not much community love and peace going on there, Mrs Pugh.
The thing those blokes have ‘More in Common’ than the rest of us is a propensity for selling heroin, crack and cannabis, and habitually going armed.
Believe it or not, these towns were not always like that and anyone who thinks that’s acceptable behaviour, or that people should have to put up with it, has a rather different worldview than me.
On this occasion the police have made a couple of arrests – credit where it’s due – and we’ll see where the judicial system leads.
So I’m happy Mrs Pugh is a big fan of Batley, because it still has some wonderful, characterful people and places. But please don’t expect us to ignore the very real, very sizeable problems that it has. And just in case she’s also a newcomer of sorts to this paper, for us it’s not about colour or creed – it’s about the criminality.
STILL with criminality of sorts, and I never did hear back from the Attorney General once Judge Alastair McCallum stormed out of Leeds Crown Court leaving me on the witness stand pondering my fate.
That was 2005 and given that the Rt Hon Lord Goldsmith retired in 2007 I’m probably in the clear – especially as McCallum called time in 2012.
His wig and knickers were in a twist because not only had the trial of Lee Massey’s attempted murderer Mohsen Sadiq been suspended over our coverage, but I’d refused to kowtow, curtsey and grovel to the pompous old fool.
Judges invariably suffer from the God complex – and in that courtroom, they pretty much are. But please don’t believe they are ‘impartial’ or absent of human traits like temper, vanity and especially these days left wing, socially soft-headed bigotry.
I told McCallum I thought he’d got the Contempt of Court Act wrong, which isn’t what he expected, so he stomped out saying the Attorney General would hear about it. Hey ho.
McCallum’s tantrum cost the exchequer a good few grand and Sadiq got 12 years jail. I sincerely hope he’s since been despatched back to Iraq and suffered a fittingly grisly fate.
Contempt of Court was back in the news on Wednesday with the appeal of Tommy Robinson against his 13 month Contempt of Court prison sentence – which was not for prejudicing a trial, but for the much more serious matter of offending a judge’s vanity.
Contempt is not an everyday offence and actually judges aren’t God; it seemed clear from Wednesday’s evidence that two judges rode roughshod over both process and perhaps even law.
Robinson had not deliberately flouted the court’s authority – these days a freelance journalist who has had some media law training, he tried to do things to the letter of the law regarding a sex abuse trial.
But a grievously narked judge, one Geoffrey Marson QC, put the boot into Robinson with very unprofessional relish, giving him 13 months for essentially making a mistake; one, the bloke was swift to apologise for. A mistake, no real harm done.
Do you know how many houses you’d have to burgle, old ladies’ purses to rob, cars to steal and shops to thieve from, or drunken car crashes to cause, before you see the inside of a cell?
Read our story on page five about a violent, thieving, drink-driving scrote who will be home from prison not long after the kids are back at school. Where’s the proportionality here folks?
Contempt of Court in all but the most grievous cases – like a juror trying to fix a trial – is considered a ‘civil’, not ‘criminal’ case.
So is Robinson in an open prison? No, he’s locked up for 23-and-a-half hours day in solitary. Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe and child murderer Rosemary West live in luxury by comparison.
His legal team had visits cancelled. On a two-hour appointment it took warders 1hr 15 minutes to fetch him.
Judge Marson could and should have stopped Robinson and referred the case to the Attorney General.
But he had a hissy fit because his soaring ego was offended, and he brought British judiciary into shameful disrepute.
Even our senior judge, the Lord Chief Justice, sounded shocked at some of the appeal details. Yet he adjourned matters, saying he hoped the panel could reach a decision by month end. No rush, then chaps.
Was Robinson released on bail pending their decision? Don’t be silly. No, he’s still locked up, treated worse than any sex grooming, trafficking, paedophile in the British prison system. That’s the country you live in folks.
So be afraid. Be very afraid. Because killing and raping is nothing compared to speaking out of turn.
WE HAVE a proud reputation at The Press of giving sports journalism students paid work experience that often turns into jobs. It does them no end of good on so many levels.
So a word to the wise for would-be media students – give Huddersfield University’s journalism department a very wide berth. It used to be pretty good, but something’s gone wrong.
I contacted them some weeks ago saying we had another paid opportunity for an undergraduate. Our recent recruits have left with first class honours degrees.
You’d think they’d bite a publisher’s hand off – but I haven’t even had the courtesy of a reply.
Speaking merely as a humble graduate of the University of Hard Knocks (3rd class hons and countless broken noses), Mrs L and I found ourselves at the University of Leeds this week for the graduation in History and Philosophy of no.1 child (that’s no.1 by age, not popularity!)
Yes, History and Philosophy, because as you must know, there’s a world shortage of historians and philosophers. Jobs pages are stuffed with adverts.
I haven’t been much impressed by the Leeds faculty either, on a number of levels, although the boy is obviously proud as punch and rightly so. I reckon the universities are stealing money, I really do, although that’s probably more about me.
You’d be impressed how I managed to sit still and keep shtum while the Vice Chancellor droned on about gay, lesbian and transgender rights (and what has that to do with the price of bread?) before handing out the certificates. He urged his lambs to go out and make the world a more equal place.
For crying out loud... but that’s what so many of these places have become, I fear. Places to imagine a new, virtuous reality where proper life and hardship really shouldn’t be allowed.
Anyway, the day and graduation all went well enough, lovely photos. All I need now is someone to advise me on how to get the big lazy sod out of bed before noon. It’s called ‘time to join the real world, son – and get a job’. Pronto.