Sunday, July 26, 2009

We are interviewed on The Real Deal by Jim Fetzer

On 17 July, Declan and I were interviewed on “The Real Deal” with host NAC Honorary Associate Dr. Jim Fetzer. The interview is archived in the NAC website here. Dr. Fetzer, who is Distinguished McKnight University Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota, funds the NAC website. He was also instrumental in putting us in contact with Belinda McKenzie, who has been kind enough to provide us with a roof over our heads in a time of need.

Basically, we are off the street. Dr. Fetzer was very concerned about the City of London Police using physical force to move me out of our sleeping pitch (see previous blog of the 12 July “Police threaten us with physical force at the place we sleep, Salters”) and he made some emergency phone calls. Within an hour of us returning to the sleeping pitch on the night of 13 July, a flat in London was found for us. Declan explains all in the interview and talks a lot about NAC and what we do.

The first hour of the show features Muad’Dib, who produced “7/7 Ripple Effect” (presented below), a documentary that calls into question the official version of events of 7/7 London. The entire 2-hour show or just the second hour with Declan and me can be heard by clicking on the NAC link provided above.

Of course we have plenty of challenges ahead and already we are dealing with one: internet access. For the last four days, I haven’t been able to access the internet from a laptop that has been lent to me. Windows “doesn’t detect problems with this connection”, which may explain why I am the only one in the entire house that can’t access the internet. I tried using the Repair Wireless Network Connection - nothing. Oh well!

As the fourth anniversary of the London bombings passes, families of the dead victims and an increasing number of 7/7 survivors claim there are inconsistencies and basic mistakes in the official accounts that need explanation. The survivors are so intent on an independent inquiry that they are now taking legal action in the High Court to try to force Home Secretary Alan Johnson to authorise it. This is Muad'Dib’s ground-breaking documentary:

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Police threaten to physically remove us from where we sleep

It looks like things are going to get violent tonight at our sleeping pitch – a porch of the Salters’ Hall located on a derelict highwalk (see blog of 5 June “Salters back in the spotlight” for two Google map photos of the pitch). A short briefing: on Thursday night we found three notices stating that the Salters’ Company would report to “the authorities” anyone found sleeping in the porch (see here); and on Friday night we found two additional notices from the City of London Police (see previous blog here).

As I have written previously, we have been sleeping in this porch since January. For some months prior to this, we slept about twenty paces from the front entrance of the same building, down some twelve steps. Prior to that, we slept for almost two years in a porch at street level until a trellis gate was installed … on Declan’s birthday! In the previous blog, I also gave a short description of the occasions I have been assaulted while sleeping on a street level.

Anyway, at about 10.30pm we were woken up by the Beadle to the Salters’ Company, Michel Goeller - the Salters’ Company, one of the Twelve Great City Livery Companies, grew up in the early Middle Ages, and plays an important part in the system of local government in the City of London, reflecting its historical roots. (In Friday’s blog I actually publish a picture of the former Law Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, who is the Master of the Salters’ Company.) “I have to ask you to move,” he says. When I tell him he needs a court order to get us to move, I thought he was going to burst out laughing. Instead, he returns with two City of London police officers.

One of the officers gets my attention with his foot and I know immediately that we are onto another level. According to the two of them, they don’t need a court order to remove us from the porch, and neither do they need to arrest me if I refuse to move. Under the law, they say, police are entitled to remove us and our belongings with reasonable force. If we move back in tonight, they say, police will return and move us by force – and throughout the night if they have to. In their opinion, it is in our best interests to find another place, even if that means that I am at greater risk of being assaulted.

So it seems that when the June 2008 issue of The Pavement, a free magazine for London’s homeless, reported that the local council needed a court order to get a rough sleeper moved on from a multi-storey Hampshire car park, they forgot to mention the council could have saved taxpayers’ money by having police throw him and this belongings onto the street (see blog here). Another example, of course, is squatters: the Telegraph reported yesterday that squatters living in a house owned by Labour MPs Alan and Ann Keen, who are facing a formal sleaze probe over their expenses, have been ordered to leave by a judge.

Anyway, I am hoping tonight the application of “reasonable force” will not include me getting tasered. This is shocking:

British Police Taser and Beat Man

Nottingham police use excessive force on a man, he had his legs kicked from under him and was tasered three times, handcuffed then punched three times in the face by one officer.

Just in case, this afternoon Declan emailed City of London Police Commissioner Michael Bowron (copied to Lord Lloyd of Berwick):

Subject: My complaint against the City of London Police

Dear Commissioner Bowron,

I refer to your email of 18 June signed by Darren Pulman, Staff Officer to the Commissioner, acknowledging receipt of my email of complaint to you of 17 June regarding stop at Salters' Hall: CAD 10903 of 16/06/09. My subsequent email of complaint to you of 18 June, having been further issued on the morning of 18 June with false records (386s) in relation to said stop, was acknowledged on 26 June as received by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

As you are aware, my wife and I are of no fixed abode and have been sleeping rough in the City of London since 3 November 2006, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) having terminated my joint claim JSA on 27 September 2006 because I did not sign on for Jobseeker's Allowance two days before I was actually due to do so on 29 September. (We slept in a porch in the City of London until a trellis gate was installed on 4 September 2008; as from 12 September, we have been sleeping at Salters’ Hall, 4 Fore Street, London EC2Y 5DE.)

I wish to confirm that at 11.00pm last night PC 300CP and PC 360CP from Bishopsgate police station insisted in the company of the Beadle to the Salters’ Company, Mr. Michel Goeller, that my wife and I move out of our sleeping pitch – a porch of the Salters’ Hall located on (a derelict) St. Alphage Highwalk. When my wife requested the court order to which she is entitled, PC 300CP informed her that he was not in need of any such order and that she had to vacate the porch immediately. My wife refused as a result of having nowhere else to sleep, the upshot being that PC 360CP issued us with two 386s for the stop, PC 300CP informing my wife in the presence of Mr. Goeller that if she returned to the porch tonight City of London police would use “reasonable force” to move her and her belongings away – and throughout the night if she does not desist from returning.

I beg to again point out that my wife and I do not wish to be sleeping in the street. We have been denied benefits by the DWP because I did not sign up early enough – even though we were both doing so in a timely fashion. And I have exhausted the appeals process: my case has been dismissed by the High Court (Judicial Review), Court of Appeal and European Court of Human Rights, despite that I was denied the internal appeal process by procedural impropriety on the part of the DWP. We have informed the homeless organisation Broadway that all we require is a reinstatement of my joint claim JSA and the payment of a deposit on a flat, a small fraction of what we are entitled to in accumulated arrears. That we are dealing with such an obvious "mistake" (however deliberate), I cannot imagine what is motivating the officials to deny us benefits to which we are entitled.

I am copying this email to former Law Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, the Master of the Salters’ Company c/o the Clerk to the Salters’ Company at clerk@salters.co.uk.

Please would you acknowledge receipt.

Yours sincerely
Declan Heavey

cc Lord Lloyd of Berwick, Master of the Salters’ Company

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Police ‘No sleeping’ sign in the place we sleep, Salters

As I said in yesterday’s blog “Salters’ Company threatens us with ‘the authorities’”, the night before last we arrived to our sleeping pitch – a porch of the Salters’ Hall located on a derelict highwalk (see blog of 5 June “Salters back in the spotlight” for two Google map photos of the pitch) – to find three notices on official headed paper stating that the Salters' Company would report to “the authorities” anyone found sleeping in the porch. Last night there were two additional notices, this time on official notepaper from the City of London Police, stating as follows:

PRIVATE PROPERTY

Please do not sleep in this area or leave your personal belongings.

In the previous blog I mentioned that The Salters’ Company, one of the Twelve Great City Livery Companies, describes itself as a company very largely devoted to charity; it also plays an important part in the system of local government in the City of London, reflecting its historical roots. I also explain that under the Human Rights Act 1998 people have the right to sleep in the streets and that Salters need a court order to move us on. (I also publish a picture of Lord Lloyd of Berwick, the Master of the Salters’ Company, and a former law lord.)

Nonetheless, I am actually prepared to break any court order that would put me back on street level: within two weeks of sleeping in the street somebody sat on the right hand side of my face (see here); I was grabbed by the ankles while I was asleep and dragged out of the two-step porch and down the pavement two or three metres, then a few hours later I was kicked in the back (see here); a guy repeatedly kicked me in the chest and shoulders as his mates stood by (see here); and I was urinated on (see here). I would actually feel safer in a cell!

In Thursday’s blog “Still no resolution!”, I wrote that there wouldn’t be any need for a cell if the homeless organisation Broadway got a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) acknowledging an error in respect to the payment of our benefits and committing to the payment of a deposit on a flat, a small fraction of what we are entitled to in accumulated arrears - we came to England in 2003 and for two years attempted to get NAC up and running; we went on benefits in July 2005; the DWP terminated our benefits on 27 September 2006 because Declan did not “sign on” two days before he was due to do so on 29 September. Broadway, of course, never seem happy about the task, I assume because we never succeeded in getting this from the High Court (see here), Court of Appeal (see here) or the European Court of Human Rights (see here).

What would motivate the DWP to deny us benefits to which we are entitled? Well, there can be no explanation other than to run us back to Ireland, where an organisation like NAC wouldn’t stand a chance of seeing the light of day. In fact, Ireland is currently shuffling through a law creating penalties for blasphemy, an offence that has never properly existed in the Irish state. The proposed law states that a person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding €100,000. Irish writer Michael Nugent comments in the Index on Censorship that the law “treats religious beliefs as more valuable than secular beliefs and scientific thinking”.

I uploaded this video featuring Nugent, titled “Blasphemy Is Not A Crime Part 1” (parts 2 to 9 can be accesses here), to a Guardian article “Who asked for Ireland's blasphemy law?”, which I posted to the NAC website yesterday .


Friday, July 10, 2009

Salters’ Company threatens us with ‘the authorities’

As I said in the previous blog “Still no resolution!”, on Tuesday and Wednesday night we arrived to our sleeping pitch – a porch of the Salters’ Hall located on a derelict highwalk (see blog of 5 June “Salters back in the spotlight” for two Google map photos of the pitch) – to find petrol or diesel spilt about the porch floor. Last night it was even better: three notices on official company headed paper - one sellotaped to a large wooden free standing stand - stating as follows:

TO ALL THOSE WHO MAY BE CONCERNED

Please be aware that the Salters’ Company has NOT authorized anyone to use or sleep in the doorways or stairwells of the Salters’ Hall and anyone found to be disregarding this notice will be reported to the authorities.

The Salters’ Company, one of the Twelve Great City Livery Companies, has its origins in the City of London of the fourteenth century, and describes itself as a company very largely devoted to charity; it also plays an important part in the system of local government in the City of London, reflecting its historical roots. In fact, communications started out cordial between us: the company not only fund raises for science education (Declan’s petition to the United Nations on research cloning of embryos and stem cells has been signed by 591 scientists and academics, including 24 Nobel laureates, and despite many months of serious spamming), but runs a project for the homeless.

Anyway, as I was writing the notice on paper, I joked to Declan that I half-expected to be woken up in the middle of the night by somebody on a horse wearing a big curly wig with ‘the authorities’ behind him to make sure we would be taken away in chains! I think Salters’ Company needs to catch up with realities of the 21st century. In the June 2008 issue of The Pavement, a free magazine for London’s homeless, there is a story under the title “Rough sleeper evicted from car park”. It points out that the local council needed a court order to get a rough sleeper moved on from a multi-storey Hampshire car park.

We have been sleeping in this porch since January. (For some months prior to this, we slept about twenty paces from the front entrance of the same building, down some twelve steps. Prior to that, we slept for almost two years in a porch at street level until a trellis gate was installed … on Declan’s birthday!) An article in the April 2007 issue of the Police Review magazine, titled “Rough Sleepers”, points out that “people have the right to sleep in the streets if they want to”, and that in this respect police “need to comply with the Human Rights Act 1998”. Of course, we don’t want to be sleeping in the streets but have no choice, having been put to the street by the Department for Work and Pension (see previous blog).

Curiously, the May 2008 issue of The Pavement says that shopkeepers in the big tourist area of the Strand (Westminster area) are abandoning City of London Police “No sleeping” signs on their shop fronts, claiming that they are no longer effective and that they prefer to call the police if they have any problems or incidents. Perhaps it is worth noting here that our sleeping pitch is located on a derelict highwalk, we bed down around 10.00pm, get up about 6.00am, and don’t drink or smoke.

Anyway, I am all up for another arrest tonight; exhibits for the solicitor appointed to me all a go. A court order didn’t mean squat to the City of London Police last September when four officers arrested me because I refused to move on as a result of having nowhere else to sleep (see blog of 11 September “I am arrested for ‘breach of the peace’”; I was later released because I “wasn’t breaching the peace anymore”). I doubt that they are any more fazed by the Human Rights Act 1998 than they were then. Could be an interesting night!

This photograph shows Rachel Cooke being presented with an award by Lord Lloyd of Berwick, the Master of the Salters' Company. The ceremony was held at the Salters' Hall on Thursday, 7 December 2000.

Salters' Prizegiving Ceremony. This photograph shows Rachel Cooke being presented with an award by Lord Lloyd of Berwick, the Master of the Salters' Company. The ceremony was held at the Salters' Hall on Thursday, 7 December 2000.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Still no resolution!

For the last two nights we have been arriving to the porch we sleep in at night – located on a derelict highwalk at Salters' Hall (see blog of 5 June “Salters back in the spotlight” for two Google map photos of the sleeping pitch) – to find petrol or diesel spilt about the porch floor; last night there were puddles of the stuff. I don’t know what Salters would make of it on their CCTV: one moment somebody is vandalizing their porch, the next I am busy there cleaning it!

So for the last two nights we were expecting a visit from the police (see, for example, blog of 17 June “More police intimidation at the place we sleep, Salters”), some workers from the homeless organisation Broadway (see, for example, blog of 11 June “Harassment at the place we sleep, Salters”), or both (see blog of 29 May “Last night something surreal happened”). We were not wrong. At 6.30am this morning, as we were packing up to leave the porch, who is cheerily asking us how we are but two Broadway workers; one of them the same bloke Declan has already been to the police about for harassment and intimidation (he retains a With Compliments slip dated 29 April from Bishopsgate police station wherein PC Thomas, 409CP, registers his name against front office clerk Claire Stevenson’s description of the guy’s behaviour as “intrusive” and “inappropriate”).

Frankly, I was not in the mood at all. We have now received three unsolicited emails from Broadway. In the latest, dated 2 July, they actually insult us: they are reading my blogs, they say, and we are more or less two lunatics on a conspiracy theory; apparently it was not disconcerting for them in the least to read that we have been denied benefits for not signing up early enough – even though it appears that we were doing so in a timely fashion! (We came to England in 2003 and for two years attempted to get NAC up and running; we went on benefits in July 2005; the Department for Work and Pensions terminated our benefits on 27 September 2006 because Declan did not “sign on” two days before he was due to do so on 29 September.)

Anyway, I am all ready for them. “Broadway has exhibited no understanding of our situation,” I say, “therefore it would be too dangerous to put ourselves in your hands.” Declan adds that the matter has never been addressed in a way that might lead to its resolution in our favour, however they can drop us a letter anytime from the DWP that acknowledges error and commits to the payment of a deposit on a flat (a small fraction of what we are owed in accumulated arrears). They didn’t seem too happy to hear it, I assume because we never succeeded in getting this from the High Court (see here), Court of Appeal (see here) or the European Court of Human Rights (see here).

Declan has put together a few exhibits for a solicitor in the event I am arrested one of these nights – last September I was arrested by four police officers because I refused to move on as a result of having nowhere else to sleep (see blog of 11 September “I am arrested for ‘breach of the peace’”; I was later released because I “wasn't breaching the peace anymore”). One of these exhibits relates to the termination of our pitches last November by The Big Issue, a magazine sold on city streets by homeless people (see blog of 11 November 2008 “Letter of complaint to the chair of The Big Issue Foundation”). Declan gave the two workers a copy of the Big Issue exhibit and told them they are more than welcome to go get our Big Issue pitches back; part of the exhibit is an article the Big Issue published the week before last, titled “National Comfort”, that informed readers about “the Big Issue Foundation’s ongoing work to see vendors re-housed in permanent, quality accommodation”.

Off they went with Big Issue exhibit in hand. Still no resolution! Anyway, this recent video by PZ Myers, titled “The war between science and religion”, has been uploaded to the latest article by Prof. Fetzer, “Making a Monkey out of Pat Buchanan”, which I posted to the NAC website yesterday .


PZ Myers: The war between science and religion - Part 1/12. For Parts 1-12, visit YouTube Center for Inquiry Ontario’s Channel.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Police close Declan's assault case

Unbelievable! Today Declan heard back from Detective Sergeant Andrew Gattase of Limehouse police station, who was dealing with the assault on him in our local Internet cafe on Saturday night. DS Gattase refers to some incident that never occurred (“the contact made on the stairwell with your shoulder”; at total variance with what Declan actually reported, see previous blog), which he says he has deemed to be an accident and that he has closed the report. In this email to Declan, DS Gattase actually verifies that Declan was the victim of a full blown assault (he says: “In order to be an assault it must be intentional or reckless application of force more than what is normal or reasonable”):

Subject: Crime Ref. 4215223/09

In reply, to your questions raised.

Unfortunately the incident focused upon, I must reiterate and sympathise with your frustrations however based on the evidence documented within the CRIS report, and the contact made on the stairwell with your shoulder, I have had to evaluate and assess whether there would be sufficient evidence to show what occurred amounted to an assault and not a mere accident.

I must stress this is based on the evidential test.

Having read the report made and looked into the scenario, I have evaluated there would be insufficient evidence to show this was an assault. In order to be an assault it must be intentional or reckless application of force more than what is normal or reasonable. I understand your frustrations but I do not feel there is sufficient evidence to show the incident did in fact amount to an assault.

This does not mean I am believing once party over the other, but have based my decision solely on the evidence and the scenario outlined.

As for the words apparently used this was not part of the same incident as that happened some time in the past. Again this was not reported to anybody at the time.

I suggest if this is happening, possibly you think about notifying the owners of the internet cvafe or using an alternative premises.

Being in the company of the suspect is not an offence, it is what goes on and if criminal offences are committed then you have the right to report them to police.

In relation to your report filed it will remain on file in the event of escalation and can be re-visited to assist future offences but at this stage I respectfully submit there is insufficient evidence to proceed and I have closed the report.

Yours Sincerely
DS Andrew GATTASE

DS Gattase suggests that perhaps we should use an “alternative premises”. As I stated in the previous blog, the internet cafĂ© in question is the only place around in which I can install a program so I can upload pages to the NAC website – I should be able to log in to my SiteGround account with my username and password but I am blocked from doing so (see blog of 9 May “SiteGround confirms our website has been hacked”). This is the email from Declan yesterday that the detective sergeant replied to:

Subject: Crime Ref. 4215223/09

Dear DS Gattase,

I have yet to be summoned by you to give a statement in this case, and I have no way of knowing if this is because the case has been struck out by you for some reason. However, I once again find myself in the company of the suspect at Telecall Internet cafe - for the second time today and the third time since being assaulted by him on the premises on Saturday, 27 June. I do appreciate that I have asked you this question on the two previous occasions I have found myself in the company of the suspect in this Internet cafe, but, without having received a reply and not having had my statement taken, could you please advise if I can phone 999 immediately to have him arrested on the premises?

Yours sincerely,
Declan Heavey

I am still in disbelief.