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Willard Foxton Headshot

Why John Yates' Excuse: "Sorry Guv, we was Fighting Terrorists the Whole Time" Won't Wash for the Met

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Every morning, at around seven am, five officers of London's Metropolitan Police undertake what the Police consider to be a vital duty. Starting from the Cabinet war rooms, they fan out across Green Park, moving northwest, waking up and moving on the unfortunate homeless people who have chosen to bed down in one of London's prettiest parks.

As they hassle the destitute & unfortunate, I'm sure they tell themselves what they're doing is right. Decent. Worthwhile.

I'm sure the Police officers who monitor London's 5 year old, £200,000,000 network of 10,000 taxpayer funded CCTV cameras tell themselves they are protecting our fundamental way of life, by sitting in front of black & white screens, picking their noses, failing to prevent any crime.

Equally, I'm sure the "tough guys of the met", the Territorial Support group, the Met's "Counter-terrorist & Domestic Extremism" unit think they are the Thin Blue line between anarchy and civilisation (when they aren't beating newspaper vendors to death or shooting innocent Brazillians, of course).

Oh, and let's not forget the attempted cover up of said Stockwell shooting, led by "Sir" Ian Blair, which cost the taxpayer at least £500,000 in fines and legal fees. Or the £1,500,000 spent by the police on undercover infiltration of the Green Movement; or the £9,000,0000 spent by Police forces involved with the Olympics on the frankly insane idea of constructing a robotic zeppellin.

All of this happened in the period 2003 -2009; the period the Police, according to John Yates, hadn't the money to read 11,000 pages of incriminating documents. There were terrorists, you see. Big ones. Let's be clear about 11,000 pages. It's not short. It's ten copies of Lord of the Rings.

Still, the Guardian deciphered 200,000 pages of US government cables in 3 weeks. There are speed readers who can read the whole of Harry Potter in 47 minutes. They're not expensive. £500 a day seems to be the going rate for a speed reader; even one with security clearance.

There was plenty of money sloshing around - as there was the money to persecute the homeless on a daily basis, machine gun electricians on a whim, launch expensive cover ups - and let's not forget - build the kind of self-aware robotic spy-blimp worthy of a Bond villain, you'd have thought there was the money to pay five officers (or contractors) to read some documents which indicated that the Prime Minister (and as many as 10,000 other people) were having their privacy breached.

Apparently not. According to John Yates' evidence to the Home affairs select committee, resources were stretched dealing with the (imaginary) terrorist threat. So stretched you couldn't pull five cops off of walking Green park for a few hours to read all of the evidence, which simply sat in binbags until the Guardian forced an investigation.

When you look at all the worthless crap the Met were squandering money on in the period, it becomes apparent that the resources argument is an utter nonsense. It looks to any disinterested observer that Yates had the manpower to investigate; he simply chose not to, as it might be, as we say in the trade "hard work".

Much better to squander taxpayer's money on Zeppelins than on protecting people's privacy.

The only thing to come out of the farrago of the Met's senior Goons giving evidence to the select committee was this; if Al-Qaeda could not outwit Andy Hayman, then we can all sleep safer in our beds tonight.