Mob justice is no justice

The killing of Gordon Morrice is an extreme example of a wider attitude in society: paedophiles are fair game for mob justice. Not all paedophiles will experience violence leading to brain damage and death – as Morrice suffered – but without doubt they are treated as the modern-day lepers of society. Like the lepers of old, they are typically banished from the community, ostracised, and treated with fearful suspicion. And as with the lepers, many people would prefer that they wore bells announcing their arrival, and shouted ahead of themselves, “Unclean, unclean!”

In one sense this is understandable. Paedophile crimes are particularly repugnant, not just because we recoil from the thought, but because of their seriousness. Not only are paedophile acts an abuse of power, but they are also a violation of the body, our most intimate space; and, still worse, they are perpetrated against children, who are least able to defend themselves, and who may not have developed the resources to cope with such an ordeal. Let’s be clear: paedophile crimes do not deserve excuses.

But that said, we also need to examine another ugly fact: there are people in our society who think that suspected paedophiles deserve mob justice. Somehow the figure of the ‘peedo’ has become the acceptable whipping boy of the masses. 

This is short-sighted, for two reasons. For one, it means that people with paedophile tendencies are driven underground, into secrecy and shame – making their condition hard to address, and encouraging a secretive life. While it has become almost fashionable to admit to struggling with a sex-addiction, no equivalent social space exists for working through such deviant feelings. Paedophiles who act on their desires and commit crimes may be only the tip of an iceberg; conservative estimates suggest that around three percent of the population have paedophile desires. Where do the submerged majority go for help?

Secondly, mob-justice says more about the mob than it does about justice. In previous eras we drowned witches, expelled Jews, imprisoned homosexuals. Our generation’s particular nervousness towards the paedophile may be more a product of a media-saturated culture than any real increased risk of abuse. In ancient Greece, the education of upper-class boys was based upon allowing a homoerotic relationship to flourish between the boy and his teacher; the love and loyalty produced was what inspired the boy to learn. So it was, that the transmission of culture depended upon this ‘pederastic’ relationship – which from our point of view, looks very much like paedophilia. In the perspective of history, it emerges that we are as culturally-conditioned as they were. 

No one is arguing for a return to those days, except perhaps for some Danish extremists. And which parent would not feel a little jumpy knowing that a suspected paedophile lived next door? Nevertheless, today’s mob attitudes towards paedophiles need to be seen as part of the problem, and certainly not as a solution to it. Justice must hang on the evidence heard in court, not on the hunches of a paranoid neighbourhood. 

This is particularly important in the case of Gordon Morrice – he was simply a man with four children of his own, who asked to join in with a child’s game: police found no evidence of paedophilia. 

Court hears phone abuse evidence in murder case

A millionaire made infuriated threats in an enraged phone call to his brother, Toby, hours before Toby was killed, the high court heard.

Later that day, Toby Siddique, 38, was murdered in his flat on Forres Drive in Glenrothes on October 25 2010. His brother, Mo Siddiq, 34, was charged with murder and conspiracy to murder last year. The accused, Mo Siddique, was arrested under suspicion of hiring assassins. Two Bulgarian men, Tencho Andonov, 28, and Nikolov, 27, were accused of carrying out the murder.

The third brother Aleem Siddique, 40, gave evidence this week. Yesterday he told the high court that his brother had made a phone call to him after a dispute about a BMW. Mo said, “I’ll hit him.”

Advocate depute John Scullion, prosecuting, then read out his statement from October 2010 recounting the same phone call. “He’s not my brother blah, blah, blah, I’ll kill him.”

Much discussion followed on the similarity of the words “hit” and “kill” in Punjabi. At one point the judge stepped in, telling Siddique that he was right to object to the prosecution’s ‘confusing’ questions.

He said, “It’s a bit of a coincidence that the police have noted down the translation of the similar word in Punjabi that is the word for kill?”

Mr Scullion said, “I’m asking you about how the words came to be on that page. Is it your evidence on oath that the police who noted this statement simply made up these words?”

Aleem said, “I’m not saying the police officer lied but I did not say those words. Whatever happened on the 26th, the mistake is the police officer’s, the mistake is not mine.”

Derek Ogg QC, defence for, then asked “Do you feel in a difficult position coming to court with one brother murdered and one accused?”

In tears, Mr Siddique replied, “I just want justice, that’s all that matters”.

He agreed with Mr Ogg that “you would not tell lies for Mo but wont tell lies against him either”.

The examination went on to reveal that it seemed the accused had been sleeping on the night of the murder, when the witness woke him up. He said he had to repeat the news a couple of times to Mo who “didn’t register”.

The court heard that Mo was “in shock” and crying when both brothers visited their widowed sister-in-law’s house immediately to pay their respects.

Ogg then focussed on inheritance motives. “Did Toby’s wife say things to you about her suspicions that each brother had a will that would inherit the other brother if they died? She told me Mo would get everything.

“You asked Mo if he stood to gain. At Toby’s house you had been constantly told gossip by… I need you to say the words.”

Aleem Siddique said, “His wife and mother.”

The trial continues.

Second sexual attack takes place in the Meadows

A second sexual assault has taken place on the Meadows,
only a week after a similar attack was reported.

The second attack took place on Tuesday November 22nd between 6:50 and 7pm, alongside the Meadows tennis courts. The 21 year-old victim was running alongside the courts when she was forced to the ground by a male assailant, who then sexually assaulted her.

However, she was able to fight him off, and the suspect was seen to disappear towards Buccleuch Street. He was described in a Lothian and Borders police statement as being 5ft 10ins tall, around 30 and dark-skinned, possibly Indian in appearance. He was wearing a grey hooded top and appeared to be clean-shaven.

This second attack comes almost exactly a week after a 19 year-old woman was attacked by two men near Melville Drive. Police are not treating the assaults as being linked, but have considered  it as a possibility.

A police press officer  said that no new information had been released, and  “inquiries are still ongoing” for both incidents.

A statement from Lothian and Borders police said  there”will be a continued police presence in the Meadows to provide reassurance to the public.”

A candlelit vigil has been organised by Reclaim The Night Edinburgh, and will begin in Bristo Square at 7pm. Following this, there will be a 2.2 mile march around the streets of Edinburgh. The march is due to pass through Grassmarket, Cowgate and then back up the Royal Mile, before returning to Bristo Square.

Representatives from several charities will make speeches following the march, though the identities of these speakers has not yet been confirmed.

Suzi Compton, who has been responsible for organising the event, explained that the march had been planned prior to the Meadow’s assaults and that they were not the direct reason behind tonight’s event. However, she added that these attacks  had “given [the event] greater relevance.”

Cricket in a right old ‘fix’

Salman Butt. Photo: courtesy AFP

Disgraced former Pakistan Captain Salman Butt and promising 19-year-old sensation, Mohammad Amir, lost their appeals yesterday when the Lord Chief Justice dismissed their claims of disproportionate sentencing in the Lord’s spot fixing case.

On November 3, Pakistan’s Butt, Amir and Mohammad Asif were convicted of spot fixing and sentenced to prison. Butt was given a 30 month sentence and Amir was charged to spend six months at a youth correctional facility. The bookie, Mazhar Majeed, was handed a sentence of 2 years and 8 months.

Asif, who is facing a one-year sentence, is also scheduled to appear. Balham Chambers, a London-based lawyer will be representing him. Unlike his fellow disgraced teammates though, Asif is appealing against the conviction itself.

The Incident

During the course of the fourth and final test match between England and Pakistan, at Lord’s from 26-29 August, it was proved that Butt influenced Asif and Amir to bowl no-balls to signal to Majeed that ‘everything was going according to plan’

Had he not been caught, Butt’s pocket would have been ₤150,000 heavier.

Deadly Impact

Any illegal activity in sport is disastrous, let alone players accepting money to underperform. They represent their country when on the field.  Is ₤150,000 enough justification to betray one’s motherland?

At a time when the International Cricket Council (ICC) is looking to widen the reach of cricket around the globe, the poison of match fixing is the last thing they want. As seen by the misdemeanor of the Pakistani trio, something as small as a no-ball has caused widespread havoc: young talents ruined; old cases dug up; fingers pointed; administrations in uproar. Would someone new want to pursue a sport in such malady?

And what of the loyalists?

The thrill of watching a ‘good game’ is now diluted with persecuting doubts. ‘Wait, this is too spectacular. Could it have been fixed? they wonder.  ‘Can I ever watch a game without being paranoid?’

But it is the players who are true to the game who bear the worst impact of match fixing.

They adhere to rigorous training, tackle overwhelming pressure and display inspiring human toughness to bring glory to their country. But instead of the recognition they deserve, their efforts are rubbished in one simple phrase: ‘Oh, it’s obviously been fixed!’

Change in attitude

Cricket is already suffering from a lack of fan involvement. People are starting to prefer the comfort of their homes to the excitement of the stadiums. Add in the needless Umpire Decision Referral System (UDRS) controversy and the ICC has more than enough on its plate already without having the bane of match fixing threatening to destroy the credibility of the sport.

Punishments and procedures can only go so far in curbing cricket’s worst illness, as seen from previous cases (Salim Malik’s life ban being removed, Marlon Samuels’ light sentence). The incentive is on the players themselves to resist temptation and it isn’t that hard. All one needs to do is remember the pride of wearing the national crest to spit in its face.

Wanting a little extra on the side doesn’t give anyone the right to cheat.

Edinburgh High Court: Scot’s Corroboration Laws Contested

by Kate Thomson

Changes in Scots Law were proposed this morning by Lord Carloway in a review of the country’s criminal justice system.

He said the proposals “re-cast” the legal system for the 21st century.

Scot’s law has long been criticised for being dogmatic in treatment of suspects’ rights. As it stands, suspects do not have the right to a lawyer immediately when they are arrested and police can question them without a lawyer present.

The Calloway Proposals would change this. For defence lawyers, this is a long awaited prospect.

A defence solicitor at the High Court said: “People in custody are in an uncomfortable and frightening situation and should be give access to legal advice.”

Yet some proposals were more controversial. Lord Carloway advised dropping the current law which requires two corroboratory pieces of evidence as proof in a trial. This would potentially make cases easier to prove.

A defence advocate at Edinburgh High court, who wished to remain unnamed, said: “It is an outrage that this is being introduced at a time when advances in forensic science should make it easier for corroboration to be provided.” He also warned that the proposals would allow people with grudges and vendettas to bring charges against people. “It would allow people to be convicted on one piece of evidence which is a charter for accusations to be made through the courts through malice and ill will,” he said.

There is also a worry that control is being taken away from the Scottish government’s long-standing legal independence. “I think it’s an attack on one of the foundations of Scots criminal law,” said the advocate.

He added that discussion was too fixated on the proposals themselves and ignored the importance of the defendant’s human rights.

The fiscals office for prosecution also commented on the proposals. “It will be deeply interesting for developments in the future.  It’s difficult to say until we’ve had a good look at it,” said a spokesperson.

The review also advocates speeding up the trial process, requiring suspects to be brought before the courts within 36 hours. At the moment, suspects arrested on Friday evening can be held over the weekend for more than 48 hours.

Woman sexually assaulted in Meadows

by Kirsten Hayley Waller

Police are still making inquiries after a woman was sexually assaulted
in the Meadows on Tuesday morning.

The attack took place at roughly 3:30am, somewhere between Melville Drive and Warrender Park Crescent. The woman, aged 19, was attacked by two men, believed to be in their early 20s.

After attacking the victim, the men are believed to have run away towards Bruntsfield.

The suspects are described as being of average build, white, and wearing dark coloured hoodies.

Lothian and Borders police issued a statement yesterday, stating that they were “still working to establish exactly where it happened”.

“Anyone who was in the area of the Meadows or Bruntsfield in the early hours of [Tuesday] morning, who saw or heard anything suspicious, should contact the police immediately.”

“Similarly, anyone who saw two men matching the descriptions of the suspects in either the Meadows or Bruntsfield Links areas should get in touch.”

Napier News contacted the police and were told that there was no new information, but inquiries are ongoing.

There was confirmation that officers would continue to patrol the Meadows this evening. They will be dressed in high-visibility jackets while investigations continue. They hope that these actions will reassure the public.

Breaking News: man charged with Gray murder

Merchiston Crescent Credit: Adam Smyth

By Celeste Carrigan

Pawel Rodak  a 20-year-old man has been charged with the murder of Roger Gray, retired lecturer. He has appeared in private at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

The charges made were culpable and reckless conduct, and endangering the lives of people in the building and surrounding area.

No declaration or plea was made on his behalf and the case continues for further enquiry. Rodak was remanded in custody.

Man in court following death in Merchiston, Edinburgh

by Celeste Carrigan

Victim Roger Gray

A 20-year-old man is due in court later today at Edinburgh’s Sheriff  Court. He was arrested on Wednesday in connection with the murder of Roger Gray.

The murder of Gray, a 64 year-old retired lecturer, is the third homosexual related murder in a month. His body was found in his home in the city’s up market area of Merchiston. Police broke in last Saturday morning after a suspected gas leak. A postmortem examination found that he had suffered multiple stab wounds from what is believed to  have been a “sustained attack”.

Gray’s death follows those of John Carter, 44, in Leith and a man in Pilton, who cannot be named for legal reasons. Detectives said there is nothing indicating a link between the three men but will be keeping an open mind.

For more information on this story tune into Edinburgh Napier News TV Bulletin at 3PM

Hopes fade for World’s End murder families

by Katy Docherty and David Walsh

Victims Helen Scott and Christine Eadie.

The families of the World’s End murder victims are set to have their hopes dashed when the Double Jeopardy Bill goes before Holyrood. The current law prevents a person from standing trial for the same crime twice but will be scrapped in a session of the Scottish Parliament tomorrow.

The Double Jeopardy Bill will now allow a retrial if evidence arises of the acquitted person admitting guilt or new DNA evidence comes to light to strengthen the case against the accused. The conditions of the Bill have been restricted to murder, rape, culpable homicide and serious sexual offences cases.

Criminal defence lawyer John Scott is skeptical of the plans: ‘There isn’t really any evidence which is absolutely conclusive of guilt. It’s not as if DNA evidence will tell you who did it. DNA evidence is far more likely to tell you who didn’t do it and beyond that, it can tell you who might have done it.

‘But you still need something else beyond DNA evidence in order to be able to convict.’

[Read more…]

Stopping the Traffickers

by Tony Garner

Scotland may be set for its first child trafficking prosecutions after the release of a report claiming the extent of the problem is much worse than previously feared.

Clare Tudor of the Scottish Refugee Council told Napier News that police had taken two individuals into custody.

Tudor told Napier News that children were being trafficked into Scotland for a variety of reasons, including sex trading, benefit fraud and forced labour.

Listen Here as she describes the traumatic effects on the children concerned:

Second mugging in the Grange

by Michael Mckeand

The Grange, Edinburgh where two incidents of mugging have occured over the past week.


Mansionhouse Road in the heart of the Grange, one of Edinburgh’s more middle class areas, was the scene of another mugging this week. It follows a similar incident in which a man of a similar description attacked a pensioner on Findhorn Place a few streets away.

Check out the full story on our Edinburgh Napier News TV News Bulletin at 3pm.


Cardinal O’Brien visits convicted child killer in hospital

Cardinal Keith O'Brien visited Riggi at Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Source: BBC

By Georgi B

Cardinal Kieth O’Brien, the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland visited a woman in hospital who confessed to murdering her three children, it is believed. [Read more…]

Vandalization at the City Chambers

credit: Edinburgh Evening News

by Blythe Harkins


The ‘Stone of Remembrance,’ a war memorial outside of the City Chambers on the Royal Mile was vandalized recently.  Either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, white paint was thrown on the nearby walls and in front of the memorial.  A team of specialists had to be called in t0 remove the paint, with the Council believing that a specialized paint was used for the defacing.   It is unknown how much the removal of the paint cost the city.  Today a team of marble polishers are going to be returning to the memorial to restore it to its original state.  Defacing public property is bad enough but when it comes to a sacred memorial, a new question arises entirely.  Hopefully Edinburgh will find the culprit and actions will be taken.  For the full story, check out the news bulletin on Edinburgh Napier News TV.


Police rapped over 999 tardiness

By Tony Garner and Shane Barry

A short video report on criticism of Lothian and Borders police for failing to respond quickly enough to a 999 call-out.

“Eureka! Wee’ve got it!” Street urinals are the answer

Outdoor City Urinals. Picture courtesy of "This Amsterdam" website

By Claudie Qumsieh

In London at weekends dark figures connected to the sewers rise out of the pavements: urinals. Edinburgh has unveiled plans for similar, if not as cinematic, urinals to address the problem of drunkards using the streets as make-shift toilets.

The proposal was outlined in a report into how the night-time economy of Edinburgh affects local residents’ quality of life. Public urination most affects the Grassmarket and Cowgate  areas according to Edinburgh City Council. “Urinating in the street accounts for a third of all fixed penalty notices for antisocial behaviour and a large amount of residents’ complaints.” a spokeswoman for the Council said.

The report was a response to give balance to a previous report on the benefits Edinburgh’s night-life brings to the economy. City leader Jenny Dawe said: “Obviously there are some people, particularly in the Grassmarket for example, where they see a different side to it, so this is addressing the impact that it has on residents and their quality of life. It shows that quite a lot is already being done to try to minimize the impact and that will continue being the case, because clearly we don’t want to have disgruntled residents just because something’s helping Edinburgh’s economy.”

According to suppliers Loo-hire UK “From delivery, to waste management, to collection – Loo-Hire U.K. take care of everything. This saves the local authority time and money in street cleaning services. The Four Bay Male Urinal portable toilet provides a public convenience and creates a more pleasant environment for everyone”.  Each unit holds 450 litres and is 200cm tall. They need no mains connection or set-up, and Loo-Hire U.K remove the waste.

Similar initiatives elsewhere in the UK have proved to be a success. Since Bath & North Somerset Council installed 2 portable toilets at a taxi rank in October 2009, the device has collected on average 30 litres of urine a night and 14000 people have used them. Bath Councillor Vic Pritchard said: “It is noticeable that fewer people are using street corners and shop doorways to urinate, meaning the police can deal with other anti-social behaviour incidents and council street cleaners can concentrate on grime hot-spots elsewhere”

Police street patrols will also be increased in Edinburgh to reduce public disorder between 2.30 and 3.30am.

Knox appeal adjourned

by Katy Docherty

Amanda Knox is starting an appeal against her conviction of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. Knox’s lawyers argue that there are various gaps in the prosecution’s argument and are seeking a full review of the original DNA evidence.

Knox was convicted of murder and sexual assault in 2007. Source: Getty Images

Last year an Italian court found Knox guilty for the murder and sexual assault of her flatmate and sentenced to 26 years in prison. Knox’s lawyers claim that the DNA gathered for the original trial was questionable and that the murder weapon remains missing. Their main argument is that there was no motive for Knox to kill her friend. 

Her legal team stated: “The motive, the fundamental aspect of the factual existence of the serious criminal acts, is largely absent in the assessment of evidence and more erroneously absent in the written ruling.”

Her lawyers also blame an “obscene media campaign”  for skewing the opinion of the jury and the general public before the trial had begun. Knox was famously dubbed by the media as “Foxy Knoxy”.

The prosecution accused Knox of killing Kercher in a drug-fueled sex game that went wrong. Knox’s former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and Rudy Guede, an immigrant from the Ivory Coast had allegedly held Kercher down whilst Knox slit her throat. Knox’s prosecutors told the court that she had tried to a fake a break in so that the murder would look like a random sexual assault.

Arriving at the hearing, her stepfather Chris Mellas told reporters: “She’s hopeful for a good appeal, I think she feels and certainly the lawyers feel that we have a very strong case for her being innocent, which, you know, is the case.”

Today’s  administrative hearing lasted only a few minutes and took place in the Perugia courtroom were the first trial took place. 

The court has been adjourned until 11th December.

Edinburgh unveils antisocial behaviour strategy

Antisocial behaviour can cause a range of social problems

By Oonagh Brown

Edinburgh City Council has joined forces with the Lothian & Borders Police to tackle antisocial behaviour.

Together they have launched The Antisocial Behaviour Strategy 2010-2013, aiming decrease the capital’s rates of vandalism and potential crime.

The strategy plans to tackle the “root causes” of problems before they begin to affect the community. This includes dealing with aspects of antisocial behaviour such as noise and vandalism.

The new strategy builds on some of the council’s recent successes. Police figures show that there was a 14% drop in vandalism in 2009-2010, and a 27% decrease in anti social behaviour complaints.

A 2009 annual neighbourhood survey also found that 75% of the public were satisfied with how the council dealt with antisocial behaviour.

Community safety leader Councillor Paul Edie said: “We want to be smarter in how we tackle antisocial behavior by addressing the causes and not just the symptoms.”

Counciller Edie also added that it was important for the public to take an active role in their community. He said: “It’s important the public don’t ignore issues affecting their community like nuisance neighbors, litter, fly-tipping, noise and graffiti, all of which can really impact on the quality of their lives and weaken communities.”

The new strategy has also placed particular importance on how young people can be encouraged to engage with the police and report violent or antisocial behaviour.

Superintendent John Hawkins wants the police to work with young people in the community to deter antisocial behaviour.

He said: “We don’t want to demonise young people because they themselves are likely to be victims of crime but they also contribute to a large number of antisocial instances. Therefore we would like to work with young people and allow them to report instances of antisocial behaviour anonymously.”

The Citadel Youth Centre’s project manager Willy Barr claimed that encouraging young people to work with the police would be a long process.

He said: “Young people need to be engaged with this issue and given an understanding of what antisocial behaviour really is.

“The best way to encourage young people not to participate in antisocial behaviour is to provide them with a service like the Citadel Centre where they have an emotionally and physically safe space.”

Barr also felt that antisocial behaviour could be further decreased if police were more available to the public. He said: “Our youth centre often holds programmes between the police and young people who attend the centre, but police officers often have to drop out because of their workload and internal pressures.”

The Lothian & Borders Police aim to counter this problem through The Safer Neighborhood Teams. This initiative has seen police officers becoming more accountable to the community and local organizations. Superintendent Hawkins said the programme would help the police address issues which were of a high priority to the community.

He added that emergency services and local authorities were now working together to protect the community.

He said: “From a preventative perspective, the partnership between emergency services, local authorities and housing associations allows for monthly coordinating meetings where the services which attend can come up with plans and activities which will address the problems of antisocial behavior.”

National news in brief

Expenses MPs to be tried

Three ex-Labour MPs involved in the expenses scandal, including Jim Devine of Livingston, have lost their final legal challenge to facing criminal trials. They had claimed they should not be tried as they were protected by Parliamentary privilege. Nigel Pleming QC, who represented Jim Devine, said had told the Supreme Court it was not “an attempt to take them above or outside the law”.

Cameron demands prosecution for violent students

David Cameron has called for the violent student protesters who attacked Conservative headquarters on Monday to be prosecuted with “the full force of the law”, while NUS Scotland President Liam Burns warned that the issues behind the protest must not be forgotten.

Child cancer death rates fall 60%

Cancer kills 60% less children than in the late 1960s, according to research from Cancer Research UK. Nearly eight out of every ten children now survive past the five-year mark with cancer, compared to less than three out of ten in 1966-70.

Harry Potter premieres in London

The red carpet premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One took place at London’s Leicester Square last night. The film adapts the first half of the final Harry Potter book, with the final part to be released in the summer of 2011.

Facebook sobriety test released

BNP Paribas Masters

Andy Murray has reaching the quarters in Paris

The Queen can heave a sigh of relief this week as, after the creation of the British Monarchy Facebook account, The Social Media Sobriety Test was launched to help users avoid posting drunk messages. The tool allows people to block themselves from using sites like Facebook if they fail a series of coordination tests.

Murray reaches French quarter-finals

Andy Murray progressed to the quarter finals of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris last night. Murray struggled through the early stages of the match, and was given a warning for throwing a ball in anger at one point, before defeating Marin Cilic 7-6 (8/6), 3-6, 6-3.

“Damn Right” we waterboarded suspects, says Bush

By Claudie Qumsieh

Former US President George W. Bush has admitted authorising the illegal practice of waterboarding during the interrogation of terror suspects. Bush claims the technique “helped break up plots” on both US and British soil, including Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf in London. Bush made the admission in his memoirs “Decision Points” which is released today.

Waterboarding is a controversial interrogation technique which simulates drowning. Amnesty International have said waterboarding is “absolutely prohibited under international law”.  Amnesty’s UK Director Kate Allen said Bush’s comments were “self-serving and misguided” and pointed out that information gathered through those illegal means is “notoriously unreliable and inadmissible”. Downing Street today reiterated that waterboarding is illegal torture. President Obama banned the practice soon after his inauguration. Bush denies it is torture saying it is just one “advanced interrogation technique”

In an interview with The Times, which is serializing his memoir, Bush was asked if the technique was used with the man behind the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Bush said: “Damn right […] We capture the guy, the chief operating officer of al-Qaida, who kills 3,000 people. We felt he had the information about another attack”

Human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson QC said that Bush could face prosecution for his admissions, saying he “has confessed to ordering waterboarding, which in the view of almost all experts clearly passes the severe pain threshold in the definition of torture in international law.”

Bush is unapologetic “I knew an interrogation programme this sensitive and controversial would one day become public. When it did, we would open ourselves up to criticism that America had compromised our moral values. I would have preferred that we get the information another way. But the choice between security and values was real” Seemingly impervious to criticism, Bush told The Times “It doesn’t matter how people perceive me in England. It just doesn’t matter any more. And frankly, at times, it didn’t matter then”

Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact (St. Petersburg Times) researched claims that the U.S executed Japanese Prisoners of War for waterboarding and found that “After World War II, an international coalition convened to prosecute Japanese soldiers charged with torture. At the top of the list of techniques was water-based interrogation, known variously then as ‘water cure,’ ‘water torture’ and ‘waterboarding,’ according to the charging documents. It simulates drowning […] A number of the Japanese soldiers convicted by American judges were hanged, while others received lengthy prison sentences or time in labor camps.”

Bush relinquished responsibility in an interview with NBC’s Today programme saying “The lawyer said it was legal. He said it did not fall within the anti-torture act. I’m not a lawyer. But you gotta trust the judgment of people around you, and I do.”

Man disfigured in alleged racist assault



by Trystan Davies

An attack in Leith Walk resulted in a man being scarred for life.   The assault took place this week at the City Limits bar in the city centre. 

The 37-year-old  man was drinking in the pub with friends  when they were confronted by a group of  men who started to racially abuse them.  One of the gang grabbed a pint glass and smashed it on the head of the victim.  Badly cut, the victim was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary before going to St Johns Hospital for plastic surgery. 

The alleged racist assault is one of a number of such attacks that have happened in the capital over the last few months.  In October a young man had his jaw broken on Waverley Bridge, the car of an Asian family was vandalised and a mother of four has been the target of a hate mail campaign. 

The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) new procedures have been put in place in 2010 after the McPherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence in London.  Chief Constable Ian Latimer, Chair of the ACPOS Equality and Diversity Business Area said:

 “Hate crime divides our communities and has a devastating effect on victims, their family members and the wider community. The Scottish Police Service recognises the impact this type of crime has on our communities and is committed to tackling it and supporting those who have been a victim”

According to the Scottish Government Racist Incidents Recorded by the Police in Scotland, 2004-05 to 2008-09, the number of crimes in the capital  increased from 599 in 2004-05 to 1,179 in 2006-07 although the number did drop last year.  In 2008 the then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith predicted that violent crime and far-right extremism would increase in the UK, based on the 1991-1992 recession. Current statistics do not reflect any significant change due to the credit crunch


Woman given last chance by judge

By Morag Hobbs & Claire McCann

The high court, Edinburgh

A woman from Edinburgh escaped a prison sentence as judge says little purpose would be served by sending her to prison. The woman, who cannot be named due to legal reasons, faced charged surrounding her drug use and in order to maintain freedom must return to the court to produce medical certificates among other items to prove sobriety on 08 December 2010. She was given the benefit of the doubt as she has not re-offended since April 2009, and has been searching for employment ever since. She has also not used heroin or methadone for a number of weeks. The judge added “I have lost track of the times I have said this is the last chance”, and said that with reluctance there would not be a prison sentence at this date.

£20,000 fine following John Lewis asbestos breach

by Josephine Heinemeier

John Lewis store Edinburgh (courtesy of

Retailers John Lewis have been fined £20,000 after failure to follow appropriate safety procedures concerning asbestos checks, resulting in the possible exposure of the poison to 15 construction workers.

While undergoing refurbishment, John Lewis’s Edinburgh store has been found in breach of correct asbestos checks.

In accordance with demolition and refurbishment procedure, a “Type Three” asbestos check should have been carried out, which is noted as meaning “getting into every nook and cranny to ensure there is no risk of asbestos exposure.”

However, only a “Type 2” check was executed, which is used mainly for reviewing houses and was not appropriate for the building that it was applied to.

15 construction workers were possibly exposed to the poison – which can result in diseases such as cancer, lung scarring and serious respiratory issues – however effects of exposure can take up to 40 years to become apparent.

Contractors Morris and Spottiswood, who were hired to carry out the renovation, were also fined £20,000 as it was ruled that both John Lewis and the contractors were responsible for the examination of asbestos levels and risk of exposure and as neither had checked that proper procedure had been followed, they were both at fault.

“The potential risk of what could have happened is very great, and both companies did not make the suitable safety checks, nor did they ensure that the other had.” stated Procurator Fiscal Maureen McGovern when asked about the case.

Both companies, however, have voiced their apologies and admitted that they were at fault; Lawyer Robert Fife, representing John Lewis, said “My client is in no way denying the mistakes… They did carry out a type two check on the area before beginning so it is not as though they neglected to do any sort of safety check – they just got it wrong.”

Craig Turnbull, for Morris and Spottiswood, said “The type two survey showed no asbestos and everyone really believed that… It was not a deliberate mistake, no one suspected anything.”

Sheriff Elizabeth Jarvie said that both companies would have been fined £30,000 had they not admitted their mistake at such an early stage. “Both companies took effective and immediate action after the error occurred and neither could be blamed for being cavalier, and since the incident I am satisfied that new systems have been put in place to make sure this never happens again.”

Archbishop calls for peace in Mexico’s drugs war

by Katy Docherty

A Mexican Archbishop today called for a cease to country’s bloody battle against drug cartels. His plea comes at the funeral of the latest 18 victims to be caught up in gang violence.

Mexican families mourn their dead in Morelia Cathedral. Source: El Universal

The bodies of the 18 were discovered in a mass grave outside the holiday resort of Acapulco. The funeral took place today in the city of Morelia.

The Archbishop of Morelia told mourners that  he hoped these deaths “may act as a seed to produce a different Mexico – a brotherly, fair and just one.”

The motive for the deaths is not clear. The victims were a group of mechanics who alledgedly saved up to go on holiday together. They disappeared on 30th September, shortly after leaving their home town of Morelia.

The Mayor of Morelia called upon citizens to rally together in the face of tragedy, adding “crime will not break our spirits”.

Police discovered the mass grave after two unidentified men declared in an online video they had been ordered to kill and bury the tourists. The bodies of the two men were found alongside the murdered holiday-makers. [Read more…]

Over ground crossing sparks concern for students safety

By Lauren Codling

Concerns have been sparked after a local man was attacked near the Napier Sighthill Campus in a nearby over ground crossing, on the morning of Thursday the 4th November.

The man has been identified as Mark Shaw, 30. Shaw was walking to work when he was attacked by two individuals who went on to steal his wallet and phone, before striking him with a hammer and leaving him for dead. The incident has sparked major concern within the Sighthill area and there has been a serious debate concerning the structure of over ground crossings. The public is now wondering whether or not they should continue to be built when many of them have such dangerous reputations.

However, an outcry to shut down the over ground crossing has been ignored as the council announce that a new crossing will be built close to the Sighthill Campus of Edinburgh Napier University. This new structure would mean that students would be passing through it everyday en route to compulsory classes.

Due to recent events that have occurred within the area, specifically within other over ground crossings where there has been a recent increase regarding violent crimes, there has been obvious anxiety from students that perhaps this would not be the best idea. Jenni Small, a 20 year old student, walks through Sighthill everyday as she makes her way to university.  She explains that she does “tend to avoid the over ground crossing. My friend was harassed by some boys when she walked there alone so it does worry me sometimes. I definitely wouldn’t walk there alone. If a crossing is made next to the Campus, I’d make sure I was with friends when I walked through.”

Sighthill has gained a reputation as crime has become more frequent around the area – there have been several incidents this year, including an assault carried out on a young girl when she was making her way through the passing, at the end of August. A police spokesman today said “the random crimes that have occurred this week within Sighthill has definitely caused some concern throughout the community.”

As the recent events continue to cause distress, students have been told to be cautious in the area as they make their way to the newly opened campus.


Lights out for Edinburgh Union Canal

By Anika Aylward Blake

A view of the canal at dusk; the light of lights along the waterway has concerned some members of the public.

After a young woman was sexually assaulted on the Union Canal, Edinburgh, earlier this year, the lack of visibility on the canal is becoming an issue with the public.

The Union Canal, previously known as the Edinburgh and Glasgow Union Canal, has recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of its reopening as a useable waterway. Over its 92 year life, the canal has been accessible to pedestrians.

“Since this pretty 32-mile waterway was brought back to life, it has become a tremendous community asset.  It is now a great place to spend time walking, cycling, running or simply enjoying the heritage and wildlife,” said Waterway Manager Phil Martin, from British Waterways Scotland.

A recent investment of £240,000 from the City of Edinburgh Council saw the towpath redeveloped at the Union Canal, Edinburgh, which will open it to the local community. There are, however, no lights along the canal to guide walkers during the evening.

Between January 2005 and December 2009, there were 11 recorded crimes committed on the Union Canal, Edinburgh. These crimes can be categorized by groups: violent crimes (including Serious Assault, Robbery and Assault, Robbery and Assault with Intent to Rob): 46%; sexual crimes (including Rape, Indecent Assault and Public Indecency): 27%; and ‘miscellaneous’ offences (which includes Minor Assault): 27%.

Earlier this year, a young woman was seriously sexually assaulted while walking along the canal. This led to the Lothian and Borders Police establish a police patrol of six officers to follow an 8-mile route on bicycles, discouraging crime and anti-social behaviour. They are scheduled to be on the canal during busy periods; namely, the summer months during the day. This leaves the darker hours with no lights to guide the way.

With the majority of these crimes occurring after dark, some citizens have become concerned. Marian Taldie, retired, had never noticed any police presence on the canal. She believed that the lack of lights on the canal could be a large safety risk. “It allows more opportunity for criminals.” She did, however, state that she felt that the canal was “for the most part” safe.

In a press release from the Lothian and Borders Police in regards to the Canal Cycles Patrol Initiative, it is stated that: “The aim is to prevent crime and increase confidence among the many members of the public who now use the footpath, either for recreational purposes, or to get to and from work.”

In a recent statement, Chief Inspector Kevin Greig said: “The Union Canal has experienced a resurgence in recent years in terms of the number of pedestrians using the route, and we recognise the importance of ensuring that the public can feel safe and secure there.”

The initiative will see police officers travel on bicycles from Fountainbridge, where the canal ends, to the city boundary, in a bid to discourage antisocial behaviour and crime. Alongside this scheme, the Lothian and Borders Police intend to send mounted cycle patrols in other areas in Edinburgh, which may not be easily accessible by vehicle. This will focus on the west of the city, in recreational grounds, woodland areas and many different tracks and walkways.

This has not encouraged all canal-walkers, however. With the lack of visibility at night, some fear that that police presence will not be enough.  Jamie Burnett, 22, said: “I’ve only seen a police officer once on a bike. He just passed by; he was gone in a minute. I haven’t seen anymore.” He continued: “It’s dangerous, and not just for the walkers but for biking as well. If someone fell in the dark, no one would see.”

Edinburgh City Council spokeswoman, Laura Varney said: “Police patrol the canal one day and then a community safety officer does the next.” She went on to say that there are night patrols in addition to the ones occurring during the day. It is the commuting cyclists that pose a safety risk, she stated, and that the police control the education of cyclists on the canal, teaching them things such as the code of conduct (including a 7 mile/hour speed limit). She continued: “There are no plans to improve lighting at the moment.”

However, the Edinburgh City Council are encouraged by the Canal Cycles Patrol Initiative. Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, who holds the role of Transport Convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, has said: “Schemes like this make these outdoor spaces safer for the whole community by reducing antisocial behaviour and criminal activity.” He went on to state that he is delighted this initiative has been created, and welcomes anything that improves cycle paths or canal walkways.

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