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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

You have GOT to be joking!

It takes a lot to amaze me, but Blunkett has done just that.

WHAT do you give someone who’s been proved innocent after spending the best part of their life behind bars, wrongfully convicted of a crime they didn’t commit?

An apology, maybe? Counselling? Champagne? Compensation? Well, if you’re David Blunkett, the Labour Home Secretary, the choice is simple: you give them a big, fat bill for the cost of board and lodgings for the time they spent freeloading at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in British prisons.

On Tuesday, Blunkett will fight in the Royal Courts of Justice in London for the right to charge victims of miscarriages of justice more than £3000 for every year they spent in jail while wrongly convicted. The logic is that the innocent man shouldn’t have been in prison eating free porridge and sleeping for nothing under regulation grey blankets.

This is insane. The state locks someone up unjustly and then demands payment for room and board? This is the true face of the people who have power over us. It is actually evil.

If this astonishing development does not cause the mother of all political storms both in Westminster and society at large, then Britain as a society has clearly become so inured to authoritarianism and arrogance by its rulers that we must be past the point of no return. Blunkett must go. Now!

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20 comments to You have GOT to be joking!

  • Dan McWiggins

    You’ve got to be kidding! This can’t be true! If it is, it’s time to take up your guns and head for Westminster! Oh…..that’s right, you don’t HAVE guns in Britain anymore, do you? I guess you better get used to paying for unjust incarceration, then…and lots of other unpleasant things. Pity. Britain WAS a great nation once…but that was a long time ago.

  • T. J. Madison

    There is no political or military solution to this kind of nonsense. Directly confronting the God-like State is futile AND suicidal, especially at this stage of the game.

    But it might yet be possible to escape. If we can become invisible, blind to the All Seeing Eye of the State, we may yet secure our freedom.

    We must find some way to defeat the panopticon.

  • David Blunkett

    What do you expect? Here you are languishing away in prison, eating, sleeping and drinking away taxpayers money when you should have been toiling for the state and paying your taxes like the rest of the citizens, who have not been careless enough to be wrongfully convicted of a crime.

    Let me put this in terms that even a libertarian can understand. Imagine if everyone in Britain was wrongly accused of commiting a crime and imprisoned. Who would pay to maintain this enhanced lifestyle? That’s right, we would have to charge the prisoners a small sum of money for their room and board. By simply reversing the economies of scale I arrived at the 3000 pound figure.

    You would have to be daft not to grasp this simple concept. So much for the fabled wisdom of the common British citizen.

  • Monica

    Apalled? Yes.
    Surprised? Not as much as I would have been a year or so ago.

    I’m an Australian who has been in London for a year. In that time I have run the gamut of emotions in response to the magnitude and sheer audacity of the state here.

    As an aside – roughly 250 000 Britons leave the country every year. It is estimated that 2.3 million will leave the country in the next ten years. Those that are leaving (as far as I could tell from the research) are the wealthier and more annoyed citizens as well as 50-somethings that want to spend their retirement pounds in paradise – not purgatory.

    Recent surveys have also shown that entrepreneurs see England as a backward and restrictive country to do business in – not the most desirable location for economic contribution then. More restrictive laws will do nothing to help this along.

    I really do wonder what Britain’s future will hold, I have to say that the prospects from my POV don’t look bright.

  • Mark Ellott

    Monica, you can add me to that list.

  • This is TOTALLY ridiculous. It´s by FAR one of the worst non-senses i ever heard. I could understand changing up a guilty criminal, but not an innocent man.

  • David Gillies

    When Blair was elected in 1997 I swore that I would leave the UK by hook or by crook. Yesterday I celebrated five years of expat status in the beautiful tropical paradise of Costa Rica. With every day that passes, blogs like this one, Samizdata and The Daily Ablution make that decision look more and more sensible. I’m starting to feel like an East German defector, fearful for the family I left behind. I know that sounds histrionic, but it’s impossible to read stories like this one and not be afraid. Blunkett is evil.

  • M. Boston

    It will get worse. In China, they bill the relatives of executed inmates the cost of the bullets used. Blunkett’s policy is the moral equivalent.

    What’s next? Forcing inmates to read scripted “confessions” as to how they let down the State’s policy goals, as they also do in China?

    Bad enough Hong Kong was turned over to Beijing instead of being made independent, like Singapore, but does the government need to import mainland communist methods also?

    Regards and sympathy from the U.S.A,

    M.

  • Tim Worstall

    Err, charging prisoners ? Even those innocent but convicted ? Don’t you know we already do this ?
    However, there is one wrinkle that I note you haven’t picked up.
    There is no actual ” charge “. It is a reduction in the calculated compensation. Still bad, but not quite what you make it out to be.

    Tim

  • Alan Lea

    It must be something in the water. I am expecting a bill from a UK solicitor for the time he spent not looking for funds in my mother’s estate that Lloyds Bank forgot to tell him about.

  • What was the outcome of the High Court case on Tuesdaay ? Or has the decision been deferred ?

  • Well now we’ve got proof that politicans and civil servants, no matter where in the world they live, are in-fact, morons. Of course, considering where this politician resides, he might think moron to be the Welsh word that means, carrot, but no matter which translation of the word he best understands we’ve no doubt that he is a vegetable. -Billy The Blogging Poet

  • You do realize, of course, that it was the people– British subjects– who were rounded-up on the streets of England, thrown in jail for the crime of being poor, then shipped off to the “new world” as slaves (the PC word at the time was Indentured Servants) with a bill due to the Crown, who eventually became the first colony to overthrow the British Government? Maybe it’s Blunket’s way of secretly hatching a plot to overthrow the Crown yet again. Then again, I doubt a moron such as him could think up such a plot.

    After I’m elected to the Office of President of the United States in November, I’ll come over there and straighten out England for you blokes.

    Come on England! Vote Yellow Dog for President in 2004 and help me save England and America!

  • Corson Areshenkoff

    This is sick, we force an innocent person into the modern day equivelent of a gulag and then charge them for it?
    Why do I get the feeling a lot of innocent people are going to go to jail, this is a sick ploy to provide additional funding to the government.

  • Corson, it’s worse then that- the aim isn’t really to help the government with their books. Even if they charge 100 people a year at £3,000 that only brings in £300,000 a year, which is barely a blip on the UK Treasury radar.

    No, it’s about setting out to make people already massively victimised by the state more miserable.

    That is what is so truly horrid about it; it’s simply the state setting out to make things worse for people they have already wronged.

    That is why it is evil.

  • kevinr

    I agree that it’s an outrage but someone recently told me that it’s not a new thing but has been the case for years. Can anyone confirm or refute this?

  • Andrew Milner

    I emigrated from UK to Japan in December 2003, because of the many wrong directions being taken by the Blair government. Since December things have got worse and I have had time to research just how much worse. With ID cards pending, I’m considering a change of nationality. Five years ago these views would have seemed paranoid; now they are simply prudent. One of the worse aspects is that the average resident Brit. neither knows or cares that Police State UK has almost arrived. Essentially it’s a police state without the police to enforce it. So the brightest, best, most aware and deviant Brits. are in the process of scattering to the four winds.
    Sometime you wonder if it’s not all a cunning plan to pressure the middle-age, middle-class segment of society to emigrate. Although they would take their ill-gotten gains with them, the state would not have to support them in old age, and obviously they would never vote Labour. So look out for moves to disenfranchise ex-pats.
    Anyone fancy operating a language school in downtown Vientiane.
    “Ship me somewheres east of Suez, where the best is like the worst
    Where there aren’t no Ten Commandments, an’ a man can raise a thirst…”
    Mandalay, Rudyard Kipling, poet laureate
    UK: Hate it and leave it.

  • Defeatist talk, chaps and chapesses. We hav a secret veapon! It’s called a general election. Should the appalling Blair decide that elections aren’t really necessary in progressive modern Britain, then of course we should be in a whole new ball-park. I trust we are prepared. Should, however, we be generously granted the opportunity of kicking the government into dust, bear in mind that, due to our voting system, Father Bleah’s large majority derives from 41% of the votes cast (just checked on an election site). From memory I recall that 22% of those eligible to vote voted Labour. It is possible to get rid. For the moment, therefore, let us trust in what shreds of democracy remain to us and plan a concerted campaign to get a free country back. That at least is what I am about to do. See http://www.sarat.demon.co.uk/Mailshot.html. The document that is about to be there (don’t check the link for another couple of hours!) is a draft. Not for much longer. I just need to tidy up my site and get myself a PO Box No.
    Love and kisses from one of the relatively few girlies in the game.

  • Andrew Milner

    What a difference a year and a half makes. Was back in UK briefly for the election on 5 May 2005. Blair and NuLabour re-elected. A total scam when you realise what a small percentage of the electorate actually voted Labour. How much of the hint do you need? You can really feel changes for the worse after only a relative short time. But keep in mind the threat to your way of life is not synonymous with the threat to England. The mass of the people simply do not care about infringement of civil liberties. They wouldn’t know a moral issue from a hole in the ground. The people you fight for, march for, demonstrate for, blog for, simply do not see beyond football and TV soaps. Well I’ve taken the hint too. Brits residents deserve all they get. When and if they finally realise their liberties have gone, it will be too late. Labour would have to ban football to get the population manning the barricades.
    Visited Laos and Myanmar (Burma in BBC speak) in 2004. This is the irony; in escaping UK you can easily fetch up where the human rights situation is far worse. However, at least you can walk the streets in safety, day and night. More than can be said for the UK. But one tip: When deciding the country to favour with your residence and ill-gotten gains, consider your potential reception. The English gentleman still plays well in most of Asia. Just hope reality doesn’t catch up with image. Plan to check out Laos again later in the year, as I think it has potential. Thanks to GWB, a nice neutral Buddhist country bordering China could be a good place to get your head down. And unlike Tunisia, the French left their recipes when they pulled out.