Mar 062014

Voice’s Old Susannah gets to grips with grippy politicians, law bending bankers, lawless American builders and law enforcement officers who are selective in selecting what laws they enforce, in the second half of a look at how the law works – or doesn’t work – and who laws do and don’t apply to. By Suzanne Kelly.


Alas! There was no time for any BrewDog as I was in London for a few days this past week. They too have a river, but as well as having industrial harbouring and factories on it, they seem to think people should enjoy the waterside.

There was magical acoustic music on the Battersea Barge from Dave Sharp (who opened for Big Country at the Lemon Tree at the end of last year) and the unequalled Kirk Brandon (who you can see in the Moorings on Sunday 9 March; N.B . the Moorings have a new Putin-inspired cocktail as well which I look forward to trying).

Back in the Granite web city, the unaptly named Carpe Diem Trust failed to do anything with the Bon Accord Baths, which are now possibly going back on the market. Perhaps we’ll get something useful like a shopping mall, parking and/or office space. I’m hoping for a nice big glass box of a building to make us look really really modern.

This week saw Martin Ford acquitted of using Shire council property for interviews with the BBC about dear Mr Trump without getting a permission slip in advance; naughty naughty.

At the time I asked Hall Monitor and Chief Executive Colin MacKenzie what the policy was for holding interviews on council property, where it was written, and where a record of requests to do interviews was held. You will be shocked to hear that there was no such policy, so in short they had no business asking Ford to comply with some unwritten rules. I do hope they write the rules up. I also asked MacKenzie whether giving someone the right to allow or deny interviews could lead to abuses of power; he disagreed, you will be surprised to hear. Or not.

It’s clear that some laws apply to some people and not others. You couldn’t make it up. Unless you are MacKenzie of course.

On a related note, don’t you miss Tony Blair’s rule-making regime? He made more rules to keep us safe than almost anyone else and I know you feel as free as you ever did before, just safer.

According to the Independent, Blair had a law-making frenzy. It seems he also had a very good frenzy in Mrs Wendy Deng Murdoch. Tally ho indeed.

Here’s two examples of the much needed legislation we got under Blair (and with Mrs Murdoch also under Blair and a dossier to sex up for war, I guess didn’t leave much time for considering a bill of rights, whatever that is):-

Polish Potatoes (Notification) (England) Order 2004
No person shall, in the course of business, import into England potatoes which he knows to be or has reasonable cause to suspect to be Polish potatoes. [keep an eye peeled for suspicious spuds, won’t you?]

Vehicles (Crime) Act 2001
Knowingly etc selling plates which are not vehicle registration plates. [I may be getting nicked on this; I sold a lovely set of Royal Doulton dinnerware the other week]

So sleep soundly tonight knowing the world is safe from democracy – sorry safe for democracy.

This is also the week that Labour considered banning Alex Salmond from attending any events in Aberdeen’s civic properties.

So sleep soundly tonight knowing the world is safe from democracy

This is apparently going back to the by-election some months ago when Alex showed up, apparently without permission, and did a bit of meet and greet at a local school. It may also be a bit of tit for tat at how COSLA is cutting our funding.

Then again there is an apparent £7 million quid Willie Young allegedly turned away. Confused you will be.

But everyone is impressed with the speed of this proposed ban. Some might say the Horse (or salmon) long since bolted back to Edinburgh, and the stable door (or school door in this case ) has been long closed. The world has moved on.

But is this possibly an attempt to stifle debate on the Independence Referendum? I for one can’t get enough of the scant Facebook posts, letters in the P&J, and tiny bits of fleeting news coverage the debate is getting. If only we had a few more years to hold our quiet, polite conversations.

Some people behind the scenes tell me Salmond wanted the Union Terrace Gardens to be a test of how a referendum would work. Well, we were split down the middle on that one, and friends and families found themselves in bitter arguments. Thankfully the lessons were learnt, and we’re all having a jolly civilised time talking sensibly about the pros and cons of Scotland’s independence.

Oh, and Old Susannah is staying well out of choosing sides. Then again, if there is a side that will stop making big business pay tax, stop feeding struggling families, get lazy scroungers out of hospitals and back to work, build over the remaining greenbelt, stop immigrants coming, then I’ll be backing them.

Just let me know what ACSEF wants to have happen, and I’ll go along with them.

Anyway, it’s past time for a continuation of last week’s legal definitions defining our legal system. If you suspect that the blindfold has fallen off of justice, and she wields her sword while someone has their finger on the scales, you might be onto something.

Data Protection Act 1998: (Modern English legislation) Legislation protecting your personal details.  In brief personal data is  to only be collected and stored if essential, and which are to only be used for the purposes such data was initially collected for.

Well, we’ve got to keep the wheels of government rolling, and oiling the machine costs money. Therefore forget about how the Data Protection Act makes this latest wheeze by Heath Secretary Jeremy Hunt (no sniggering about the cockney rhyming slang, thank you) totally illegal. Some would say it’s immoral as well, but this is the ConDems, and they’re far more moral than you or I, or so they keep telling us.

Your personal medical history and your loved ones’ details will all be sold to private companies, for important medical research of course. These will be kept confidential. Mostly. Well maybe a little.

There will be stringent safeguards in place should the police (or MI6, MI7, MI8, etc.) wish to access your records, too: they’ll have to ask permission of someone first.

I wouldn’t worry too much about your private details; they’ve probably long since been secretly accessed by that policeman you used to date, sold without your consent, or more likely left in a disused computer forgotten on a train.

As to the police misusing information, remember, these are legal professionals we’re talking about. And if on the odd occasion they want to find out how their ex partner is doing medically, I’m sure it will just be because of a genuine loving concern.

It’s not as if police go raking through supposedly confidential, legally protected files for their own ends, is it. If you want some comfort on the point, here you go with an article about a mere 200 police being done – in one area – for illegally accessing private information. Considering this was in 2011, I’m certain once we found out hundreds of police were perusing our private records, it would have been stopped then and there.

But if you think Big Brother is watching; if you feel like you’re being observed when you’re skyping or sending saucy shots on Yahoo!, you may be right.  And I’m sure you’ll agree what a comforting thought it is that the authorities care so deeply for our welfare.

Optic Nerve: 1. (English Modern Medical – noun) the pathway for images to the brain; 2. (English Modern Spying – noun) the pathway for images to the government

The left wingers at the Guardian seem a bit put out that the government is routinely collecting pictures from your Yahoo! account because you could be a terrorist.

if you have nothing to hide, then you have no real reason to object to being spied on

Edward Snowden, who’s clearly endangered many civil servants (who could be done for spying), was for some reason upset to know how deeply the government cares for you and keeps close watch. A few people, some 1.8 million Yahoo! users, had the government store a wee bit of data from their personal communications.

Just remember, if you have nothing to hide, then you have no real reason to object to being spied on. Old Susannah for one obviously lives the life of a cloistered nun who does nothing more exotic than collecting postage stamps, and therefore is happy to be monitored.

As Oscar Wilde would have said: ‘the only thing worse than being spied on is not being spied on’.

Unfortunately, millions of these images contain nudity. Did you know that some people send their lovers intimate photos? Well, you do now – and so does the government. So be safe in the knowledge that if you ever lose your computer files, some man in a trench coat in a government cubicle will possibly be pouring over them. 

Scottish Planning Law: (Scottish legal) Legislation which controls how construction work is carried out.

Before I run out of space, I’d just like to take a moment on behalf of the Menie Estate residents, to thank the men and mice – sorry women – of Aberdeenshire’s planning department for so bravely standing up to Donald Trump, and ensuring that his many works on the world’s greatest golf course stuck to the original plan and followed the law.

Susan Munro and her family look paler every time I see them. Could this have anything to be with a giant mound of earth covered with dead and dying trees Trump had built blocking their view of the sea and the vista to the south? I doubt it.

Any day now, the planning department will think about the ‘bund’ of earth, and do something about it. Probably the sort of thing an ostrich is wrongly supposed to do – stick its head in the sand.  And what better place for ostriches and planning officials to bury their heads than in the world’s largest sandunes (says Mr Trump) on the Menie Estate.

For the record, here’s what the Shire’s website has to say as it proudly proclaims planning law:-

“In the case of dwelling houses, if the height of any fence or other ‘means of enclosure’ (including a gate or wall) exceeds 2 metres in height, or 1 metre where it fronts a road ; is within a Conservation area or the curtilage of a Listed Building, then planning permission is required. For flatted properties, permission is required if the fence exceeds 1 metre in height within 20 metres of a road. For a property specific answer, please contact us.”

I’m sure the above paragraph from the shire’s website doesn’t apply to what Donald Trump wants.  If I had world enough and time, I’d mention the possibly illegal sign at the entrance, the parking lot’s beautiful, subtle lighting system, and the charming aluminium-clad shed where a historic steading once stood – all of which seem to have come into existence without our planners batting an eyelid. But I haven’t time, so I’ll move on.

I was also going to thank the medical mandarins at ATOS for upholding the principles of the Hippocratic Oath “I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.”

I was also going to tell you how the University of Florida is using a technique favoured by Mr Trump and is suing some unwashed rabble hippies who object to the University tearing primates to pieces for science; the law is there to protect the powerful of course, and if it comes in conflict with the rights to protest and of free speech, then there you go.

I was also going to tell you how the banks we the taxpayer bailed out have sidestepped plans to have their annual, deserved bonuses capped, but alas!  No time for that, either.

Alas! That’s all the time I’ve got. Next week – more of the same (if they’ve not come for me yet)

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  3 Responses to “Old Susannah No 145 ½ – Law Enfarcement part 2”

  1. Your article contains an error, the gardens referendum was not split down the middle, the yes vote in favour of the City gardens project got a clear majority, if the yes vote get a similar majority in this years referendum I’ll be over the moon.

    • I completely exaggerated this result, and I am heartily sorry. Those in favour of the granite monstrosity numbered 52.4% in the final vote. Those who wanted to keep their common good land, the only green space in the city centre without tombs in it, numbered 47.6%. As you can see this is nothing like being split down the middle. Mea maxima culpa. (What of the postal votes which allegedly arrived too late? What of the votes sent to residential care homes which never seemed to get to the residents? More in a piece of mine called ’10 reasons the referendum is invalid). Cheerio!

  2. I just read your article, it contains not one valid reason why the vote shouldn’t have stood.

    Sour grapes springs to mind.

    You appear to doubt the people of Aberdeens ability to think for themselves, as in the independence referendum the no side used plenty of scare stories, bankrupt the City, flooding issues, years of disruption, these appear valid to you but the positives get discredited.

    It would be nice if sometimes you opened your mind to the possibility you might be wrong. I don’t think there would be one scenario where you would have accepted the referendum result. The dummy was always getting thrown if the no side lost.

    Thankfully we only need to grin and bare another 3 years of this incompetent council then we can get this project back on track, as per the will of the people.

    Nice day today, wonder how many people are down there, I don’t know but would hazard a guess I wouldn’t need the fingers of my second hand in the count. It’s a cold unwelcoming place, the sooner it gets raised the better.

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