Ignorance Of The Law Is No Excuse

…or is it? Perhaps one of the most quoted tenets when matters legal come to the surface, yet does this apply universally or not?

I am moved to comment after both Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks have attempted to use this as some sort of defence in their current trial. I had assumed this to be the case and it was certainly something freely bandied about the court room during my 5 month trial back in 2005. There are a number of websites from the USA and the UK which refer to this belief, yet they all seem to have a particular axe to grind, without addressing the subject in a broader sense.  Several seem to draw attention to the, “one rule for them, one rule for us” approach, which can appear very attractive when one perceives oneself to have been wronged by the system and God save me if resort to such tactics. I will, however, draw attention to this in my forthcoming autobiography as there is no doubt that if one knows where the, “bodies are buried”, one does tend to get off.

I very much hope that the rather spurious claim that they didn’t realise it was against the law to tap ‘phones is totally disregarded by the jury, for even if they didn’t realise it was illegal, for sure they knew it was morally reprehensible.

On a wider note, having spent some considerable time amongst the so-called “criminal classes”, another term I find rather hard to swallow having shared cells and rooms with MPs and city financiers whilst at Her Majesty’s Pleasure-who most certainly belong to that group, it would be wise for politicians to police themselves a little more thoroughly, as they must lead the way in showing a good example to the country. If one behaves without morals and thinks only of power and greed, then one cannot be surprised when those at the bottom of the economic heap adopt the same approach. Sauce, goose, gander.


Sequel to Greed

I am currently working on two projects-one being Right to Live which I expect to publish in June and Greedier, the long-awaited sequel to Greed. During the past 9 years, I have undertaken extensive research to get the flavour of the UK prison system at first hand and certainly feel qualified to write about that aspect of the Bold family’s descent.

The book is over 50% complete and takes an unexpected turn in the second half, encompassing one of Essex’s remotest and  most inhospitable locations, bringing together old characters with one or two new ones. Watch this space.


“Nazi” Schools in Chile and Russia

This is all we need…

It would appear that the Pinochet school will teach according to the Third Reich and its promoter is actually happy to be associated with Nazism. It would appear that the influence of escaped Nazis in South America isn’t likely to die out soon.

Something along the lines of the Adolf Hitler schools and the Pfiff/Hitler Youth would appear to be emerging in Russia too. Will we ever escape the past?



To Extradite or Not

Further to the earlier post, I have spent much of the past two weeks researching the Meredith Kercher case. (I recommend you check out the link. There are lots of fast balls for the Knox/Sollecito camp). I do wonder whether one of them will crack soon and try to blame the other. Knox has plenty of form on this tactic.

We must, of course, all await the outcome of the Supreme Court in Italy’s final hearing. Or not, as the case may be. For whatever is endorsed in that hearing is likely to be paid scant regard in the USA. Will the Americans accede to any legitimate request from the Italian Court to have her back and returned to jail in Europe? That may even become an election issue. Who knows? They seem keen to extradite almost anyone to face the courts over there. What will happen when the shoe is on the other bloody foot?


When Is A Crime Not A Crime?

Perhaps when it is committed by representatives of a Government, rather than an individual. Witness the story of Lauri Love, a 28 year old man from Suffolk, told here on the BBC, versus today’s reports that GCHQ has been collecting Yahoo Messenger videos.

Naturally, one thinks of George Orwell. What prescience he showed back in 1948 when writing of “Big Brother”. If he wasn’t then, he sure is now.


My VAT Case-Operation Capri and Operation Devout

The matter itself is extremely complex and was Customs & Excise’s biggest ever case. Costing millions to bring to Court, it included murders, kidnappings, the involvement of some of Britain’s biggest ever companies and even reached into the very heart of Downing Street. Trial after trial, dozens of arrests, yet was it really worth it?

Over the coming months, I will be explaining the intricacies of the case and outlining the dramatis personae in some detail. In the meantime, here is something to whet your appetite from the Birmingham Mail.


“Come and See” Elem Klimov’s 1985 Film about the conflict between true evil and the forgotten.

This short trailer has proved too much for most audiences in the USA. Watch it with caution, but remember it and with luck, you might even watch the movie, which is available on Amazon and now on my Movies page. According to Klimov, the film was so shocking for audiences that ambulances were sometimes called in to take away particularly impressionable viewers, both in the Soviet Union and abroad. During one of the after-the-film discussions, an elderly German stood up and said: “I was a soldier of the Wehrmacht; moreover, an officer of the Wehrmacht. I traveled through all of Poland and Belarus, finally reaching Ukraine. I will testify: everything that is told in this film is the truth. And the most frightening and shameful thing for me is that this film will be seen by my children and grandchildren.” (Quote from Wikipedia)



Well worth a look during this month when I am going to finish the first novel in the Right to Live trilogy.


Browning and Goldhagen. Worlds Apart?

This was the real blog entry I wanted to get down today, but felt it appropriate to let you in on why I got around to this train of thought. Food poisoning plays awful tricks with the mind, which, on top of my self-pity and low moans of pain, seemed to take away any desire to do anything which would be deemed regular behaviour for a Sunday. I wrote about the Lithuanian government’s attempts to sanitise its countrymen’s involvement in the mass killings which took place right across that territory in 1941 and I thought back to my Open University Degree papers of 2007 and the set text, Christopher Browning’s 1992 book “Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland”. In it, for those of you who haven’t had the chance to read, this eminent US historian documents the activities of the Battalion behind the lines of advancing German troops in Eastern Poland in and after July 1941. In it, he attempts to offer an explanation of what happened and why. This, in itself, I have found to be one of the most difficult tasks ever to face a historian. For there is no simple, single solution to the question. There were hundreds of thousands of so-called ordinary Germans actively involved in the Holocaust machine, from the secretaries who processed the paperwork, to the local officials who directed forces to round up local Jews, to the rail authorities who transported them to their places of execution and the rest, which I do not intend to document here.

Yet no sooner was the ink dry on Browning’s book, than Daniel Jonah Goldhagen wrote “Hitler’s Willing Executioners”, a very pointed, fascinating view of the whole of Germany at that time. I found both books riveting, though Goldhagen’s rather turgid, repetitive style detracted from what he was trying to say. It was, in a sense, an attempt to refute Browning’s assertion that ordinary Germans were not all bad. There was a lot of anger in the book, understandably, but that anger was directed far too much at Browning and not at the Germans themselves, millions of whom escaped the gallows and most certainly any form of justice after the war. The complicity of the US government is in no doubt in this, (see my previous entry about Operation Paperclip), and perhaps it was that which angered Goldhagen so much.

Why don’t historians ever agree? There is often their own, sometimes small minded prejudice which can get in the way, or more often a rigid political standpoint from which they will not be deviated. Surely they couldn’t both be right? After all, are they not both attempting to fit the facts around their own views, instead of trying to get to the truth, or is that something which is far closer to my own experiences of the past decade, (you know who you are!) The truth hurts. A lot. Sometimes, it fits our own Weltanschauung, sometimes it doesn’t, but we should all be big enough to see the other man’s point of view. Historians often make the most scurrilous criticisms of each other, doubting historical accuracy being one of the favourites, yet there is so much evidence available to support them both. What we must never do is to silence the discussion, nor allow the sanitisation and covering up of what was very clearly the most despicable regime of all time.


If The Cap Fits…

…or maybe it needs a little manipulation, why bother with the other man’s point of view?

Sitting, or rather lying on the sofa today, feeling rather sorry for myself following an intense bout of food poisoning and drifting in and out of sleep, my mind wandered to events of the past week, both personal and topical. I am not often moved to analyse, or perish the thought, criticise fellow historians of the Holocaust, (please see my next blog entry) but something got the train of thought going and that something was the now infamous Brand/Paxman interview so widely shared on YouTube. It popped into my inbox last Wednesday evening and having nothing else to do at that time, I pressed the link.

Have you seen it? Something like the anger which was directed at Messrs Brand and Ross after the Andrew Sachs ‘phonecall by many who had not even listened to the tape seemed to be echoing around the dinner tables of middle England and as I have never really felt comfortable with the curtain twitchers and whisperers, I felt it my duty to give it the once over. And very interesting it was. Brand is not a revolutionary…wait, he is a revolutionary! Paxman hectored and twisted in his seat with the usual bombastic style escaping him at times. Brand appeared to have swallowed a dictionary, the contents of which were occasionally vomited in the direction of the camera, no doubt delighting his publishers and tour promoters alike. Russell Brand is a wealthy man. Good for him, I say. Not for me the traditional British hatred of the successful. Oh, no. Yet there is something of the old left about him. Smug, self-opinionated, with all the answers yet with none of them at all. Lenin would have loved him for a while, Stalin too, until he tired of the boorish behaviour and then he would have been painted out of the picture, shunted off to a gulag and into the hard Siberian earth.

Paxman’s prejudice and dislike of anyone he feels unable or unqualified to talk about politics shone through like a selfie-induced mirror flash, bright, yet fleeting. Why he thinks that only politicians have the right to talk sensibly about politics beats me. After all, several of them were proved to be cheats and liars and many more of them should have joined us at HMP Ford or perhaps Holloway? Anyone can and should comment on politics if it is genuine, but please don’t do it just to make more money out of the easily influenced and stupid. Come off it, Russell. You’re a bright lad. Now f*** off and make some money.