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Tony Martin: Political Prisoner

A great many articles have been written on Samizdata.net about the monstrous Tony Martin case (just do a search for “Tony Martin” and you will see what I mean). I have always thought that he was convicted more for challenging the state’s monopoly on force by defending his property rather than for actually killing a man.

Well even the faint fiction of the Tony Martin case being a simple matter of criminal justice (which has come to mean justice for criminals) has been abandoned. The fact he was not going to be released early is old news… the demented fact this was because he was deemed a danger to burglars is also old news.

What is new was revealed in a Telegraph article yesterday (emphasis added):

Ms Stewart [a probation officer] has previously written a report on Martin which was submitted to the Parole Board before its ruling in January. In it she said that Martin’s support base in the country had made him more likely to reoffend.

“This is a case which has attracted immense and ongoing media attention and public interest,” she wrote. “I believe this has had an impact on Mr Martin’s own perceptions of his behaviour and his right to inflict punishment on those whom he perceives to be a threat to his own security.

In short, because he has widespread support from other people who believe he has been shafted by the system, lots of support, in fact political support, he is not going to be released. Ergo, he is a political prisoner. How else can one interpret it given the reason for his continued detention is due to the support of other people?

And let us not forget the other reason: he refuses to repent his ‘crime’ of perceiving two men breaking into his isolated country home as a threat to his security. Martin does not just have the temerity to demand he has the right to defend his own property, he refuses to apologise for doing so.

At the end of many articles I have written on Samizdata.net I have used the words “The state is not your friend”. Probation Officer Ms. Annette Stewart is the perfect embodiment of why I make that sort of remark. She is just acting in accordance with the institutional imperatives within which she works. The system is not just broken, it is insane.

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26 comments to Tony Martin: Political Prisoner

  • george

    “…more likely to reoffend”?

    Does the government believe home invasions are so common that Mr. Martin will likely confront intruders again in the future? What are the odds? Talk about a damning admission. Are the criminals running amok in Great Britain?

  • Slarty Baryfast

    Talk about a damning admission. Are the criminals running amok in Great Britain?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I wonder whether the probabation officer, Ms Stewart, is determined to crush any idea in Martin’s mind that he did the right thing? The penal justice system in this country is in a deep state of denial on this question. To even admit that he had some justice on his side would be too much for these folk to bear.

  • Edmund Burke

    Ms. Annette Stewart ….. is just acting in accordance with the institutional imperatives within which she works.

    You make it sound as though Ms. Stewart has no freedom to write a report in any other fashion. I am sure that Ms. Stewart wrote this way because as a probation officer she will be a paid up Guardianista and believes this shite.
    In her mind Tony Martin is deranged / ill and needs to be locked up until 2 and 2 makes 5.

  • amy

    Well, if Mr. Martin ever makes it out, he’s welcome down here in Texas. We can always use another gun toting, criminal-shooting kinda guy.

  • I’m beginning to think that one of the ways one can judge the degree to which a society has progressed towards a government-controlled police state is to look at the reaction of the police to encroachment on “their turf.” In a free society where the police are truly viewed as the servants and protectors of the citizens, the cops respect the rights of the citizens and see them as partners in the battle against crime. In a place like New York or San Francisco where the government is pressing towards complete control of the citizens, the cops bitterly resent any interference with their monopoly on the use of force and treat all citizens as simply potential criminals. In any citizen-criminal battle, cops in such places are always careful to make sure the citizen doesn’t “get away with it” and even in cases of the most righteous shooting, one can expect charges to be pressed as a warning to other uppity peasants. (Always self-righteously defended, usually along the lines of “we can’t have vigilantes running around on the streets,” as if someone shooting a burglar who broke into their house is the same as some guy hunting down crack pushers as a part time job.)
    The final corrupt state of such a society can been seen in England, where all pretense has been dropped and citizens who act in a “police-like” manner towards criminals are seen as a much greater threat to the government than the criminals and are thus treated with greater severity than the criminals themselves.
    The next step is the gulag, although I expect it will make its appearance in a difference guise, perhaps as “sensitivity training facilities” or “community service centers” or some such.

  • Gil

    I’m not sure I understand this:

    criminal justice (which has come to mean justice for criminals)

    What’s wrong with that?

    Does “justice” mean something in England that’s different from “ensuring that people get what they deserve?”

  • G Cooper

    One notes that Ms. Stewart is an entirely unelected official acting in a judicial capacity.

    No doubt a member of the Guardian-reading classes, just to whom *is* she answerable?

    Not the British public, whose opinions she clealy despises, that’s for sure.

  • Cobden Bright

    The main thing I like about Tony Martin is that he actually had the guts to shoot a burglar dead, and then refuse to apologise for doing so. In today’s Britain, that is no small feat. Unlike our Prime Minister, Mr Martin really was “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”.

  • Gil: Alas no. Justice for criminals usually means protecting them from ‘unjust attack’ whilst they are robbing their state-disarmed victims.

  • David Mercer

    While he would most likely prefer to stay in Norfolk upon his eventual release, Mr. Martin can be assured that most of the Western United States would welcome him with open arms, and indeed greet him as a hero.

    And while we gave up the use of Pounds Sterling some centuries ago, we still stubornly cling to Inches, Feet, Miles, Pounds, Ounces and Gallons.

    With any decent exposure at all in the US, perhaps online and in other non-traditional media, I’m sure that an immigration sponsor could be had in short order, with perhaps even a donated farm, pickup, a few guns and a grubstake.

    There are some parts of this green ball of rock that respect the right of man to self-defense. It saddens me that England is not one of them any longer.

  • Joe

    One of the things that amazes me is Ms Stewart’s logic that continuing to keep a man (a victim of violent burglary) in prison for the belief that he committed no crime will stop him and his supporters reoffending…

    Surely detaining Tony Martin longer than necessary only increases the degree of anger Mr Martin and his supporters will feel towards burglars, making it even more likely that more burglars will be killed so that there are no survivors left to sue or provide evidence against the victims.

    Ms Stewart’s logic is either extremely illogical or she is really a secret Tony Martin supporter and is doing this to provide more ammunition to change the stupid legal proceedures that have caused this travesty.

  • RonG

    Has no one in UK seen the movie A Clockwork Orange?

  • ChrisPer

    As I understand it, the dead man was shot in the back, possibly as he fled. This trivial point is one of the reasons Mr Martin’s self-defence case failed.

    The other is that he did not take care for capture and/or medical treatment of the wounded by calling police or ambulance. Instead he wandered off for a good nights sleep somewhere else. Given hindsight in court, this did not look at all good.

    Very few of his supporters mention these points.

  • george

    Sorry to bring this up again, but Tony Martin did not shoot burglars, he shot home invaders. The distinction is important. A burglar breaks into an empty house to steal valuables. A home invader breaks into a house that he knows is occupied, not for monetary gain, but to terrorize and persecute those inside. He is a sociopath, and his crime is truly heinous. We must educate the public as to the true nature of these people. They are evil, brutal thugs who deserve no mercy or compassion.

  • Julian Morrison

    ChrisPer: The natural right to self defence also includes the right to defend one’s property. He had a right to shoot the burglar / home-invader, whether before, during, or after the crime, and in the front or the back. Marquis of Queeensberry rules not required.

  • Guy Herbert

    Mick Hume as ever is good on this.

    What I (GH) find interesting in all this is the perversity built into the parole system because its creators are operating on a sentimental model of the penal process in which crime is an illness and the system is the cure. In this conception offenders are seen as driven despite themselves to commit crimes; all prisoners are accurately convicted; all will cooperate with the ends of the system once imprisoned rather than pursue their own ends and maintain their own social models; some of them at least will sincerely desire to reform (be cured); and all will be transparent about their intentions. Those prisoners who conform to this model by exhibiting the expected honesty but don’t agree that they are wrongdoers (because actually wrongly convicted, or otherwise) or show the right forms of contrition, or who don’t interpret their behaviour in the “correct” way, won’t get parole. Those who know the system, and just don’t care, will say what they need to say to get out–and are likely to be more successful the more their responses are framed in approved psychobabble.

  • Dale Amon

    Front, back, what’s the difference? They were criminals who had been terrorizing him for some time. They were on his property for no good purpose, against his wishes.

    His only mistake was to only shoot the balls off of Fearon. A second bullet was in order. This would have eliminated the troublesome suits and the contract that is out on Mr. Martin’s life. The good Mizz is absolutely correct. Mr. Martin is a “risk at re-offending”, because if he doesn’t he is a dead man. When he gets out it will be down to whether he gets them before they get him.

    Also, when he does get out, I think there should be a huge welcome outside the gates.

  • Allen Glosson

    Watching this whole saga unfold is like something straight out of “A Clockwork Orange.” I’m just wondering when the movie will end.

  • T. Hartin

    “Surely detaining Tony Martin longer than necessary only increases the degree of anger Mr Martin and his supporters will feel towards burglars, making it even more likely that more burglars will be killed so that there are no survivors left to sue or provide evidence against the victims.”

    I’ll take my silver linings where I can find them.

    Yes, Martin committed the cardinal sin of self-defense – he left one of his attackers alive. Shame about that. Probably had something to do with the magazine capacity on his shotgun. This is one reason why I keep a high-capacity handgun, well, on hand – pausing to reload before administering the coup-de-grace looks bad in court.

    As for shooting one of the thugs in the back – in bad lighting, particularly if the target is backlit, it is very difficult to tell which direction a man is facing. Would you bet your life that you could tell, under bad lighting in a high-stress situation, that someone was facing away from you rather than toward you?

  • Ah – this is rather disturbing. If Martin is a political prisoner, because of public support he has received, it appears that a letter I had published has contributed to keeping him locked up. Oops…

    (PS – the rest of you aren’t helping….)

  • Dave O'Neill

    Julian,

    He had a right to shoot the burglar / home-invader, whether before, during, or after the crime, and in the front or the back. Marquis of Queeensberry rules not required.

    Actually this is not the case. He does not have such a right under British law and certainly hasn’t since the 1967 Criminal Justice Bill where the terms for self-defence are established.

    You have the right to use “reasonable” force in the “circumstances” to protect yourself.

    His previous record did not help his case either.

  • Dave O’Neill: Just because something is illegal does not mean you don’t have the right to do it. The Law is not a synonym for Rights.

  • Dave O'Neill

    Perry,

    Just because something is illegal does not mean you don’t have the right to do it.

    Trying to follow this convoluted argument, and reading the thread, I can only assume you mean that you do have the “right” to shoot people.

    Which, I know, is not what you mean.

    What you must therefore mean, is you *believe* you have the right to “shoot” people in self defence.

    Again, the law is quite clear. You *do* have that right, if you can, after the fact show that that action was reasonable in the circumstances.

    This has nothing to do with your rights and everything about protecting them.

    The Law is not a synonym for Rights.

    As I have made no claim that it is, I am not sure what your point is.

  • Dave O'Neill

    Damn, posted too early.

    This has nothing to do with your rights and everything about protecting them.

    I meant to say; this has nothing to do with an infringement of your rights, but has everything to do with ensuring they are protected.

    This point of law works both ways. If somebody attacks you and claims that it was their right because they perceived you to be a threat, I am sure you would want some means to determine the outcome equitably.

    In the case of Martin, he had protected his property. He had upheld his rights.

  • htom

    Perhaps her thinking is that he is likely to re-offend by committing other non-crimes.