Thursday, 23 May 2013

From hell to high water...

I'm sitting in St Katherines Dock and the heavens have literally opened.  It's hammering down with rain and I'm exhausted.

I've just left my solicitors Jones, Hodge & Allen, having just been told my case against the Met Police for wrongly taking my car in January of this year, is no longer financially viable.  I chose to go down the No Win / No Fee route as opposed to Legal Aid and therefore unless there's almost an iron clad guarantee of a win, then solicitors just won't pursue these type of cases.

Even though my solicitor knows I struggle to get around because of my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, find these things incredibly stressful and prefer to do everything by email, she'd orchestrated a meeting at her office to simply inform me that she would no longer be pursuing my case.

Apparently she felt that I wanted information and explanation.

I didn't.

That would be like asking someone if the corpse was definitely dead and then getting a lengthy explanation of what resulted in the persons death, the height from which he fell, the angle which he landed, the damage which was done etc. rather than the simple answer of "YES, HE'S DEAD"!

We weren't breaking-up after a 6 year relationship - she was ceasing to pursue my case, so an email would have been fine.

The facts, as explained elsewhere, remain the same, the DVLA did wrongly apportion a conviction to my licence, acknowledge their mistake and remove it, but before doing so, the Police confiscated my car believing that I had no car insurance (no licence, no valid insurance) as defined by their Police National Computer (PNC).

The impact of the removal of the car on my life was huge - it was after all my home.

But this is where things go awry. The monetary assessment of a case of this type is primarily made up of loss of items (in most people's eyes the least important thing, they can always be replaced) not on the impact the event has on your life (the loss of hope resulting in your suicide for example).

It turns out, as with so much in our life these day, we've consumerised everything, right down to our emotional distress.

I have got most of my stuff back and the car was on finance, so my solicitor asserts, the maximum she could claim for emotional distress based on the removal of my Human Rights and as defined by case law is a £1,000.00 (4 hours of solicitor time).

So it makes no economic sense to pursue the case.

But my question would be, where's justice gone in the legal system?  How come we put the highest monetary value on the thing that is least important to us and the lowest value on the thing that is most important to us i.e. Life?

But on a larger scale than just myself, what is worst still, the DVLA can continue to be allowed to just apportion convictions to anyone they like (it's a great way to avoid speeding tickets in the future by the way - when you send the "who was driving element" of your speeding ticket back, just give an actual name and dob from somebody on Wikipedia and apportion that person with a false address - the court system will then all happen automatically and some poor sod will end up with your offence on their licence - no investigations will have taken place, nobody will have checked if you were telling the truth and the victim will be none the wiser because all correspondence will be sent to the made up address you created until the conviction appears on their licence).

And the Police remain protected from their own mistakes, they are allowed to lie in their statements even if that contradicts the evidence they took in the statement you provided to them.

And the court system is allowed to run on an automatic process with no human involvement whatsoever.

It should be pointed out, I've never claimed to be whiter than white.  But the real irony is whenever as a child I went to do things that weren't always on the right side of the law, I'd get away with them because I'd planned too.

The things I've got caught with weren't offences but genuine mistakes.

Take my Drink Driving offence - I hadn't had a drink in 24 hours when I was stopped. I wasn't even driving dangerously.  I was driving past the place of work of a girl I'd recently separated from and zipped past a few cars in order to get past it as quickly as possible, I hadn't broken the speed limit but, as the police officer who pulled me over put it, I passed other road users in an aggressive manner (which by the way was not illegal).

I was driving in London in the 90's of course I was drivingly assertively. That's what everybody did. But he stopped me on that basis nonetheless and asked if I minded taking a breathalizer, I said I didn't, but to my horror and surprise, I failed it.

It turns out that because of the break-up I'd been drinking huge amounts of alcohol to deal with it, had barely eaten and this had all accumulated over the preceding week. So even though at the time of the stop I hadn't touched a drop of alcohol for over a day, my body hadn't got rid of the accumulated damage.

The medical officer at the Police Station who took my blood actually apologised to me, as the amount of alcohol was so slightly above the legal level, he said if he wasn't on site, another hour would have probably passed and that ,would have more than likely, been enough time to put me under the limit.

But I wasn't under, I was over.

And, sods law, it was just when the legal system had brought in the mandatory ban for any drink driving offence (which seems to have long since disappeared), so mitigating circumstances were not being allowed.

More ironically still was, I'd been previously breathalized and passed on a green light having consumed an entire bottle of champagne.

So all of this seemed ludicrous to me and just added to all the problems I was already having at the time with the break-up. I Lost my licence, lost my car, lost my job etc.

I mention this, because this too was a reason my solicitor felt she couldn't win my case.  Whilst someone accused of raping someone is allowed to protect their previous convictions going through the criminal court process (including other previous rapes and child molestation), trying to make a civil claim against the Met Police means they can bring in anything to protect themselves, including your offences that may have taken place nearly 20 years earlier, which they would use to demonstrate you were a person of poor character.

Equally my solicitor claimed that the impact of say being arrested for the first time was the most emotionally damaging. I couldn't contest more. If you get arrested in your teens, it's almost a rights of passage thing, something you do in your youth, a story to tell your kids, but if your arrested as an adult, the situation is far more distressing and emotionally damaging. And far more likely to be an incorrect arrest.

So your history counts against you, your circumstances count against you, your solicitor counts against you.

Britain wake up please - before it's all way too late.

Your sleepwalking into having your freedoms taken away from you and there's hardly a word of dissent.

It's time to speak up and I'll do my best to scream this stuff from the roof-tops.

In a country where people can be paid millions for being an idiot using Accident Claim Legal services it seems astounding that proven errors of both Police and other Public Bodies can go unchallenged - I pity us all.

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