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The Police and the Lessons of Lane Discipline

Hands up anyone still luxuriating in the Plebgate affair... Hmmm, so it's only me then? Well, never mind, it gives me ample time to laugh my head off and attempt to entice you over to the comical side. Guffawing is a pastime here and I particularly prefer any comical situation laced with irony.

Hands up anyone still luxuriating in the Plebgate affair...

Hmmm, so it's only me then?

Well, never mind, it gives me ample time to laugh my head off and attempt to entice you over to the comical side. Guffawing is a pastime here and I particularly prefer any comical situation laced with irony.

Let's face it; nothing is more ironic than a Tory minister being tortured by a bunch of determined and unscrupulous policemen. It is poetic justice, political paradox and overall sarcasm rolled into one brilliantly delicious story.

Regurgitating the full details of the dark tale would be unkind, especially for those of you who only care for the juicy bits. So, here is my best attempt.

One beautiful evening, a high-ranking Cabinet member was exiting Downing Street, only to be told by the resident police to go out via the pedestrian gate, rather than the main gate (as demanded by the powerful one). A few angry words were exchanged and it turns out the privileged one was noted in the police log, as having referred to the officers as 'plebs'!

In a matter of hours, a full-fledged verbal war had been ignited. Accusations and Denials flew across the London political landscape, reverberating all the way to the heart of government. As is normal amongst allies, a potential solution of sorts was swiftly reached. Why fight each other, when they could be join forces and fight common enemies like Labour aficionados and other society undesirables?

Both parties would meet and iron out their issues. It seemed a fair ending to a rather unpleasant case. Or was it?

Peace meeting held and a ratcheted war was the only product, as the Truth and Falsehood became rival gladiators. The police said the minister contributed nothing new, but the canny silver fox stated otherwise, with recorded proof.

I have to confess (just like you are now), to be very shocked by this turnout of events.

Firstly, that a Conservative Member of Parliament would distrust the police so much, to go as far as to secretly record them, was just sacrilege. This is an act solely reserved for discontented ethnic minorities who are always complaining of 'unfounded' police abuse. It is beneath a Tory to align with this recalcitrant demographic, surely.

Secondly, to find out the police lied about an account of events, had such a paralysing effect on me and completely left me unsure of humanity henceforth. What? The police lie?

Nearly a year later, I must say my narrow-minded headshaking has ceased and I have begun to regain use of my cerebral functions. I have now dedicated myself to following the case to the brutal end.

If the evidence of the concerned police officers was anything to go by, this story is going to be one hell of a roller-coaster. As one of the officers, Det Sgt Stuart Hinton, of Warwickshire Police, told the Home Affairs Committee, he apologised for an "inadvertent error" in evidence to them about the affair, but would not apologise for the inaccuracies in his evidence, as it was to quote him, "an honest mistake".

At this point, I must tell you a few things.

Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, my late father had sat myself and my older brothers down and given us some wise advice about the police. My brothers had started to drive and I was a permanent passenger tagging along for adventure. Encountering the police was de rigueur, so we listened intently. We knew there was no reason to distrust what he was saying. After all, who best to know about the police than a lawyer, right?

Aside from that, the atmosphere in Lagos at the time was somewhat tense. A policeman had just killed one of Nigeria's promising athletes, Dele Udoh. His crime? Apparently he had the audacity to question the officer.

I will never forget my father's words.

"This goes for the police anywhere in the world. When they stop you, make sure you put both hands behind you, unless asked otherwise, and punctuate every answer with 'Sir or Madam' as appropriate. Do not argue at any point and you can be almost guaranteed you will walk with your liberty and well-being intact."

That was 34 years ago and I have never forgotten a word or deviated from these rules. Although, there was that one particular run-in, that tested me to the limits. Actually, I wish I had a recorder at the time.

I don't know about you, but to me, the police have always been like the neighbourhood criminal behemoth. Yes, they will ensure no one even thinks of breaking into any house on your street, but there is always that niggling feeling that there will be hell to pay if you cross them. I guess this is often the case with anyone or any entity that possesses inordinate power over other people's liberties.

And with extraordinary power, inevitably comes extraordinary abuse as Andrew Mitchell MP, is now finding out and as I am sure many, many others have found out when they come face to face with the juggernaut that is law enforcement.

There is a good reason why even the most fearless crime lords have a special place in the hearts palpitating furiously where the police are concerned. Just like the mob, there are organised, disciplined, forceful, unforgiving, brutal, continuously endangered, driven by secrecy and to top it all; they have the power of the state behind them.

From the extreme police abuses in the Hillsborough affair, to the daily miscarriages of justice, to the often forgotten catalyst of those horrible London riots and to the odd inconvenience visited upon a member of government, a simple lesson stands out for me.

Let the police stay in their lane and you, stay in yours.

The story continues....

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