Exchanging ‘meaningful friendly fire’
Letter of the Week: Elyas Patel, Savile Town
The case of Patel v The Press - the right to reply, closing speech for the prosecution!
The privilege of owning one’s own paper is a free pass to write what you like, how you like and as often as you like.
That is Danny Lockwood’s prerogative as owner of The Press and leaves a mere correspondent like yours truly at a significant disadvantage when exchanging ‘tit for tat’ but friendly (and I hope meaningful) fire with him!
When I penned last week’s piece “Is Danny just playing devil’s advocate?” this inequality of arms was not lost on me, and I fully expected Danny to come back at me all guns blazing, and true to form he didn’t disappoint.
The vernacular “if you can’t take it don’t give it” is apt for both of us who are undoubtedly big enough and ugly enough to be able to take it!
Just a few short responses though, if I may.
(NB: Within the restricted confines of a reply, I cannot possibly hope to answer each and every point Danny makes and my silence on any such point should not be confused with acquiescence!)
1: “… even if he does specialise in defending some of society’s vilest characters...” The first 20 years of my legal practise involved PROSECUTING some of society’s vilest characters too!
2: “… I assume I am welcome to come meet your wife (without a veil) and for my son to potentially marry your daughter should they both wish ...”
My wife doesn’t wear a veil! She works for that well-known ‘ultra conservative and illiberal Muslim’ (not!) organisation, the Royal Voluntary Service, and let alone meeting Danny, when the rigours of old age finally catch up with him and mind or body or both are no longer willing, my dearest will be the first in the queue volunteering to help out at the ‘Locky’ Mansion!
As for daughters and marriage. Alas, the Almighty in his infinite wisdom didn’t see fit to bless me with any daughters so the hypothetical discussion simply doesn’t arise.
3: “... Elyas Patel who paradoxically makes his fortune specialising in representing Muslim criminals...”
Fortune! Are you having a laugh? Yeah, right, doing publicly-funded Legal Aid work! Don’t get me going on Legal Aid rates please! As for representing ‘Muslim criminals,’ the Bar code of conduct means I too am not allowed, and therefore don’t cherry pick my cases. To borrow Danny’s phrase “It’s about the crime, not the colour or the creed!”
Here’s a few statistics of my own straight back at Locky. This August alone, of the 21 separate cases/defendants I have appeared for, no fewer than 11, the majority therefore, were White British (their faith or non-faith unknown!).
4: The aforesaid practise statistics helpfully lead me to my final point. No creed or colour has a monopoly over crime, or for that matter negative and/or bad news stories.
Owning a newspaper is a huge privilege. It carries with it huge responsibility too.
An opportunity not only to report the news (good or bad) and to stoke intelligent and responsible discussion amongst the readership in relation to the topics of the day, but also an opportunity to be a force for good and change throughout all the communities it purports to serve.
True, our geographical area is not without its problems but there is a lot of good happening day-in and day-out within all sections of our diverse populations too.
If I may respectfully say so, underneath the puns and banter of my correspondence, there is a serious point I have sought to make.
The Press and its owner (if I may respectfully say so) will never be regarded as a source of good and change by all the communities it purports to serve, unless and until Danny Lockwood is able to free himself from his own self-imposed editorial shackles and stops treating every bad news story coming out of the Muslim section of our community as an opportunity to settle what seem to me to be deep-seated and entrenched resentments and scores.
If the mountain won’t come to Locky, then Locky must go to the mountain!
5: With that, I end. It was never my intention to cause Danny (or for that matter Hector from Hecky) any personal hurt and I hope I can continue to draw on Locky’s generous fund of forgiveness.
6: As for the kind and repeated public offer of a column in The Press, when the day dawns for me to finally hang up my wig and gown (old age waits for no man!) then who knows, but for now alas, time constraints do not sadly permit.
Enough writ and job done! I shall now retire back to the many demands of my day job.
... now Hector hits back
From: Heckmondwike Hector
Heckmondwike Hector feels compelled to reply to Elyas Patel.
If you know about our history, Mr Patel, you might happen to have realised that during its course, reason triumphed over religion.
Subsequently the iron rule of the church declined and the clergy were no longer in command.
Liberty evolved in a new enlightened age along with the freedom that allows secularists and the Muslim community to live in relative peace and safety.
But there are two sides to the coin, Mr Patel. It has allowed us to confront political and religious issues with humour, satire and even ridicule; be it “lovingly posted through Heckmondwike Hector’s bigoted letterbox” or other means. The key word here is democracy.
Ever heard of the film The Life Of Brian, Mr Patel? Ever heard about the late comedian Dave Allen, who mercilessly mocked the Catholic Church, much to the fury of its followers?
And what about the BBC who continually lampoon the Christian religion with great delight? No victimisation mentioned. Islam however, now that’s a different bucket!
There is no Life Of Brian here, or for that matter any other depictions of Islam’s extremes and eccentricities.
Through fear of retribution there is, in most cases, a palpable deafening silence from critics or comedians when it comes to the Muslim religion.
The reason is obvious. Anyone challenging or apposing this doctrine do so at their own peril (ask Charlie Hebdo or Salman Rushdie, just two examples).
When it comes to the cultural practices which are so at odds with our culture, such as the wearing of the niqab, you are afforded a liberty that might easily be denied to others.
To make my point, can you imagine a local white person starting an American-style religious commune in which the women members were forced to dress in long white robes and a balaclava with two eye slits.
They would be hounded off the face of the earth by goody-goody politicians and lambasted by every single strand of the media.
Left-wing feminists would go into convulsions about women’s rights (how strange that we hear nothing at all from them about the niqab) The cry of ‘Balaclavaphobia’ would be no defence. Equality and diversity dispensed within this case.
Ask yourself Mr Patel why some people fear your culture and religion. Is it because Islam appears to demand unconditional respect and recognition – virtual reverence without having to adopt the cultural norms of the wider indigenous population?
It should always be our right to object or have critical debate, but this is being eroded by claims of Is-Lamma-Fobia. (‘phobia’ being misplaced and incorrect).
This is a word that simultaneously empowers Muslims by bestowing them with victim status along with a cast-iron defence. Moreover, it stigmatises anyone who dares to speak out in opposition. Orwellian or what?
Finally, when it comes to bigotry, a charge you appear to level against me Mr Patel, I quote Matthew 7:5: First take the log out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
If you want to eradicate bigotry, start by questioning Muslim attitudes (both at home and globally) towards lesbian, gay and transgender people. Many of whom exist in your own community but are denied expression.
I doubt in my lifetime and beyond that we will ever see any changes in Savile Town, Thornhill or anywhere else for that matter.
Locky needs to be syndicated
From: David Sugden, Mirfield
Being new to the area, I was idly flicking through the local freesheet expecting riveting news about somebody’s missed bin collection in Dewsbury or wherever, when I happened upon a marvellously trenchant article by one D Lockwood.
I passed it on to a friend who lives out of the area, who now expects me to save it for him every week. Can’t you get it syndicated and save me a job?
Hypocritical & undemocratic
From: John Appleyard, Liversedge
The main argument against the European Union was its lack of democracy.
Nothing exemplifies this more than the privatisation of the Royal Mail, a service that was a vital part of our national infrastructure for 500 years.
There was no public or democratic call for Royal Mail to be sold off, it happened because a European directive required the postal sector to be fully open to competition.
The British people who technically owned the service had no say in this. It was deregulated, allowing private competitors to bid for the profitable parts of the service.
The Post Office pension scheme was taken over by the Government in order to make the company attractive to private companies and casual agency staff gradually replaced full time workers.
All this done without a vote. Those who want a second referendum on the basis that 17 million-plus votes for leaving the EU are not sufficient for our withdrawal are both hypocritical and undemocratic.
Corbyn’s almost unelectable
From: Stephen Crossley, Hanging Heaton
Dear Mr Appleyard,
It’s time that you and your misguided associates realise that by continuing to support probably one of the worst leaders the Labour Party has ever had, not only are you ruining any chance labour had of winning the next election, by your views and comments you are gradually dragging the Labour Party back into unelectable mode.
I don’t know how long you have been associated with the party but if you lift your head from the sand, you will see people that would have never dreamed of voting for other parties are now doing so in droves.
Despite you bleating over how the press treat him, our Jezza has made a rod for his own back.
Despite how much you try to shift the blame it was members of the Labour Party, MPs and groups connected to Labour that started the ball rolling on anti-semitism.
They say a leopard does not change its spots and the camera never lies.
Till Jez explains more convincingly how he stood next to the graves of Black September fighters, responsible for the deaths of innocent people taking part in the Olympics, he will be linked to anti-Jewish beliefs.
It’s time people realised that the people of Palestine cannot keep attacking Israel and appeal to the world when Israel fights back.
When a political leader who years ago as an MP had meetings with the official political branch of a terrorist organisation and may have tended to show support, rather than condemn the violence they perpetrated, it does not make him a terrorist, but it may label him a sympathiser.
It certainly makes him unfit to rule our country.
Don’t defend the indefensible
From: David Honeybell, Heckmondwike
I usually agree 100 per cent with the letters from John Appleyard, but his communication in forum on Friday August 17 was just ridiculous.
To compare his mother’s generation of women wearing a headscarf, to Muslim women dressed head to foot in black, including covering their face with a niqab, with only their eyes showing, can’t in any way, shape or form be thought of in the same light.
Wearing a headscarf was not only the fashion at that time, (even her Majesty the Queen wore one), but it was also to keep warm on cold winter days.
He answers his own comment about the Little Sisters of the Poor, by writing they were covered head to foot, except for their faces.
I once had the opportunity to ask Baroness Warsi if she thought it was right for Muslim women to wear the veil in the UK in 2015.
She finished her long answer by saying it was a matter of choice, just like someone having green hair or wearing red trousers.
Come on John, don’t defend the indefensible.
Show some respect please
From: Lesley Bell, Mirfield
I am a member of the groundstaff at Mirfield Cricket Club.
I would like to point out to all the dog owners who regularly exercise their pets on the ground that there is a sign at the entrance stating that dogs should be kept on leads at all times.
The team puts a lot of effort into trying to keep the square in good and safe condition for the players, and loose dogs running on the square do a lot of damage.
Also, it should be pure common sense to clean up after your pet, it is a sports field, and we often have to clean up dog mess along with all our other tasks.
Please have some respect. It is called the Memorial Grounds in honour of the fallen in the First World War, it is not a dog playground and toilet.
Well done to our Robert
From Jim McVeigh, Batley
Congratulations to our local Super League referee Robert Hicks on his appointment as official to the RL Challenge Cup final at Wembley stadium last Saturday.
It was a great achievement and a very proud occasion, not only for him but our local area.
Robert is often seen at Batley Bulldogs and only a week ago he was on the ‘ducking stool’ at the Bulldogs’ pink charity weekend.