Friday, February 07, 2014

A very British injustice

Last year, a group of British police officers accused the Conservative party's chief whip Andrew Mitchell of claling them "plebs" in an argument over a bicycle, causing his resignation. Today, one of them was jailed for a year for it:

A police officer who lied about witnessing the Plebgate row was sentenced to 12 months in jail today.

Keith Wallis, 53, of West Drayton, west London, sent an email to Conservative deputy chief whip John Randall, who was his MP, wrongly claiming that he had seen what happened as Andrew Mitchell left Downing Street on September 19, 2012.

Wallis had not been present during the altercation, but his email to Mr Randall alleged Mr Mitchell had called the officers “plebs” and undermined the Prime Minister’s support for Mr Mitchell, contributing to his eventual resignation.

To make it clear: lying and giving (informal) false evidence is not something any police officer should do. But this wasn't in court, or as part of any prosecution. Its certainly sackable, but a year in jail? It's overkill, an act of political vengeance against someone who had annoyed the powerful, pour encourager les autres.

This isn't "justice" - its Wallis' petty spite magnified a thousandfold through the courts. Allowing the legal system to be used like this brings the entire system into disrepute. But isn't it so very, very British?