David Cameron is a muppet
riot girl
 Another day, another scandalous superinjunction.  John Famous has got an injunction preventing disclosure of details of an affair he's been having.  The court, granting it, agreed inter alia that the little Famous children should be protected from the effects they would suffer if their father's bedhopping were publicised.

The media luvvies are unhappy: baw ur free press.  The Mail is particularly pissed off, so much so that they felt compelled to print pictures of the Jamie Bulger killers again, which always cheers them up.  The Guardian, which should know better, has indulged in a little bout of pearl-clutching, gasping that this creates a "two tier system" for those with children.

David Cameron has got in on the act, too, saying that 

"What's happening here is that the judges are using the European convention on human rights to deliver a sort of privacy law without parliament saying so."

Well.  Up to a point, Lord Copper.  

The element about children is misleading - the story was judged not to be in the public interest in any event.  To publicise gossip which is not in the public interest AND which will cause misery to children seems particularly malicious.  

Cameron just needs a bit of a slap around the head with "a sort of privacy law" - namely Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998.  This states that "Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence."

It was introduced, of course, by Parliament.

Death by dangerous cycling
riot girl
 The Commons are today to hear a proposal to extend penalties for cyclists who kill pedestrians.  BBC news report here.  It refers back to the sad case of a 17 year old girl who was run down on the pavement on the road by Jason Howard, riding his bike, who said "Move 'cos I'm not stopping" before riding into her.  She died of head injuries six days later.  He was convicted of dangerous cycling and fined £2,200.

According to the DfT, in 2009, 2,222 people were killed on the roads.  500 of them were pedestrians, 104 were cyclists, 472 motorcyclists and 1,059 car occupants.  

By contrast, about 0.5 people per year are killed by cyclists.  (One per two years or so.)  A pedestrian is much, much more likely to be killed by a motorist mounting the pavement.  Which is why this part of the article made me lolsob:

The Conservative MP said: "Imagine if a motorist had mounted the pavement and killed a schoolgirl as she chatted to her friends.

"The motorist would have felt the full force of the law and there would have been a national outcry if such a person had walked away with a fine."

The full force of the law, eh?

Just like John Ashbrook felt the full force of the law after he hit Adrianna Skryzypiec and dragged her for 140m, killing her.  No further action taken.

Just like Joao Lopes, who felt the full force of the law after he crushed Eilidh Cairns to death.  Fined £200.

Just like Robert Harris, who felt the full force of the law after he skidded into the Rhyl cycling club on three bald tyres, killing four of them.  Fined £180.

Just like Keith Wilson, full force of the law again for careless driving in which a cyclist was killed.  £150 fine.

Just like Michael Thorn, who crushed Emma Foa with his lorry.  £300 fine.

Yeah.  Like the MP says, just imagine if that had been a motorist.  He wouldn't have been fined nearly so much as £2,200.

Edit:  Thanks to Honest John of YACF who pointed out that the victim was actually on the road, not the pavement.  It doesn't excuse the cyclist, who could and should have slowed down, but it does make the MP's comments factually inaccurate.

Soup run? Grink run.
riot girl
The consultation is open until 25 March on Westminster's soupbrained plans.  Do email areeves1@westminster.gov.uk with your own response if you wish to do so.

Dear Sir or Madam

I understand there is an ongoing consultation with regard to the proposed byelaw ostensibly on rough sleeping and soup runs.

My first objection is compassionate. Westminster cannot seriously believe that people sleep rough because soup might be available. It's pretty common knowledge that what keeps people street-homeless is not soup, but drug dependancy, alcohol dependancy, social or behavioural problems, mental health difficulties, breakdowns in relationships, and any number of difficult social issues more expensive to solve than a soup run.

My second is legal. This is an appalling bit of drafting. Introduce this and you have inadvertently banned sunbathing in the parks in summer; fainting in public; falling asleep on the bus; being epileptic; buying a round of drinks and handing them to friends in Soho Square; a parent giving biscuits to his or her children / children's friends; the Vegan Society's habit of giving out vegan food (other than near to retail premises selling the same); the Hare Krishna; the Diet Coke Girls; the distribution of bottled water at tube stations in summer; promotional lollipops and sharing a bag of crisps.

Did you really mean to ban those? Really?

Now let's turn to what you did mean to ban - distributing soup to the homeless - and note the two giant loopholes: there is no way to ban the distribution of money which can then be used to purchase soup for a token sum, although I suppose if you're nostalgic for the old "nasty party" soubriquet you could then have them for trading without a licence, and there is no stipulation that the charge must be financial.

In short: what a silly idea.

Best regards


No promotional lollipops for Westminster
riot girl
 Westminster Council, presumably short of things to do, have resuscitated their old plans to outlaw soup runs on the basis that it “encourages homelessness.” Quite apart from the manifest absurdity of this suggestion (of the many factors causing street-homelessness; the availability of the odd cup of soup doesn’t make the top ten) there is a political will to ban soup runs because they attract crowds of homeless people, many of whom might be prone to begging, drunkenness, drug abuse or simply cluttering the place up. Westminster values tourism more than the homeless, and to help (as opposed to hide) the homeless costs money.

And money is something they’re clearly very short of, because they couldn’t afford to pay someone to draft their proposed byelaw. They had to rely on the work experience kid who’d just begun a GCSE in law, with the assistance of the bloke who’d come in to unblock the bogs.

Or at least, that’s what I assume happened, from the quality of the draft.

Here’s the fail:

s.3(1) No person shall lie down or sleep in or on any public place.

Whoops, we’ve just abolished summer sunbathing in Hyde Park. Also, make sure you don’t fall asleep on the night bus.

s.4(1) No person shall distribute any free refreshment in or on any public place.

s.4(2) No person shall knowingly permit any person to distribute any free refreshment in or on any public place.

What constitutes free? According to s.1 of the draft byelaw, “refreshments are free if they are distributed without charge to the persons to whom they are distributed.”

But there is nothing to stop anybody from distributing 1p pieces while the soup run charges 1p per soup. The soup run could also “charge” a handshake. There’s no stipulation that the consideration must be financial.

Of course the other issue with this is the definition of “distribute” – s.1 helpfully clarifies: ““distribute free refreshments” means give them out or offer to make them available to, [sic] members of the public.”

If I buy a round of drinks at the Edge Bar and distribute them in Soho Square to my friends, am I breaking the byelaw? Technically, yes.

How about a parent who has a child plus that child’s friends and their parents out for a birthday treat, and hands round biscuits when they get crotchety? Impermissible. Level 2 fines all round.

Shops who give out samples of food or drink to passers-by? There is some exception made for them under s.5(c) which confirms an exception where “the distribution is of samples of refreshments and is carried out for marketing purposes on land adjacent to retail premises in which the same refreshments are available for sale.”

But it would penalise the Vegan Society who turn up in Covent Garden with delicious tasty vegantastic food to tempt people over to the green side, because they’re not always next to a retail premises.

It would stop the bottled water companies handing out free bottled water to tube passengers during a heatwave. Likewise the “Diet Coke girls” who hand out promotion mini-cans of cola. The carshare company who are currently handing out blue lollipops with their leaflets. Potentially, we’re talking about stopping the tea-and-biscuits in the vestibule after church, if you’re a Westminster churchgoer.

What a giant load of cobblers this is. Its broad brush approach criminalises people going about their legitimate business whilst leaving a nice big loophole for those it was aimed at. A plan thought up by those who lack compassion, drafted by those who lack comprehension, and no doubt to be implemented by agencies who lack cohesion.

Sex offended
riot girl

So, the ruling on the sex offenders register is finally being implemented.  Given the media response, you'd have thought the Supreme Court judges had personally released every sex offender in Britain straight into a children's playground.  I can see that the case was an unappealing one: two registered sex offenders, one who was eleven years old himself when he raped a boy of six, and one a man who had abused his daughter, went to court over the lack of access to any form of review.  

If someone is given more than a 30-month sentence (i.e. committed a very serious crime; this would not apply to the oft-cited hypothetical case of a 17-year-old boy having consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl) they are placed on the Sex Offenders Register, where quite frankly they belong.  There is then no mechanism to apply to come off it, and it is this which the Supreme Court agreed was a breach of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.  Not, you will note, being on the register, but having no way to ask to be taken off.  The court was perfectly aware that applications may rarely be successful.

David Cameron said he thought this was "appalling."  Theresa May said two interesting things:

"It places the rights of sex offenders above the right of the public to be protected from the risk of reoffending"

Eh?  No it doesn't.  It places their right to ask for a review above the right of the public to be protected from the risk of them asking.

"This Government is determined to do everything we can to protect the public from predatory sexual offenders, and so we will make the minimum possible changes to the law in order to comply with this ruling."

This government, on arriving into power, suggested granting anonymity to rape defendants as distinct from any other defendants, perpetuating the myth that women lie about rape and potentially doing quite a lot to protect predatory sexual offenders from the risk of such persecutory behaviour as prosecution.  Thankfully, they shelved it.

This government presides over a system in which between 75 - 95% of rapes are never reported to the police (HMCPS & HMIC, 2007), and of those that are, a quarter are 'no-crimed' by the police, usually those which involve rape by an acquaintance.  

This government should know that conviction rates hover around the 5 - 6% mark, largely because research indicates that between a quarter and a third of jurors think a woman was sometimes to blame if she was raped if she had been drinking, flirting or was dressed in sexy clothing, or if she had many partners (the myth of implied consent.)

And this government has taken no steps at all to change any of that, although they could very easily reintroduce the rape shield brought in by the Youth Criminal Justice & Evidence Act 1999 - which was almost immediately torn apart by the courts to the extent that is now meaningless.  

They could mandate understanding of consent as part of PHSE or sex education on the national curriculum.  There are all sorts of things they could do.

However, this government is composed mainly of people of a similar age, class and background to the barristers interviewed for this article for the Journal of Law and Society, which includes such gems as describing victims as "scrubbers" and maintaining that rape (of an ex-partner) "is really not a terrible offence."  And those barristers were experienced rape prosecutors.  

And that is why, when I hear that this government is "determined" to do everything they can to protect the public from sex offenders, I wonder what "indifference" might look like.

Processed meat product on LJ
riot girl
 I've just deleted half a dozen spam comments, all on historic posts.  Anybody else getting this?  So far it's mainly been designer handbags and Russian pr0n.   

Grink to the Mail
riot girl
On 31 Jan 2011 you published an article by Lorraine Fisher entitled "Chocolate bars for breakfast..." about snacking.  In it, she wrote that a dietician, Sian Porter, suggested women "use the same tricks as people with eating disorders."

I have contacted Sian Porter and she assures me that she did not say this and would never advocate aping an eating disorder.

Even for the Mail, this is irresponsible journalism.  You may as well advise crack cocaine as a weight loss programme.

I look forward to your comments.

You too can let the Mail know what you think of them inventing dangerous claims and attributing them to a dietician.  The feedback form is here.

riot girl
In totally unexpected and shocking news, the Mail invented their story (blog post below.)  Here's the response I just had from Sian Porter, who is no doubt being inundated with angry emails:

Thank you very much for your e-mail.

Please be assured that I was misquoted and shall take it up with the journalist concerned and the paper. Please do write to them as well.

I would in no way condone or offer advice to ape eating disorders.

Yours sincerely

Sian Porter

Sian Porter MSc(Econ) BSc(HONS) RD MBDA

Consultant Dietitian

I will take it up with the Mail.  I don't expect half such a good response from them, but it's good to hear that was not official advice.

A Fail and a Grink
riot girl
The Daily Fail has just advised women to try an eating disorder as a weight loss plan.


The background is on Kate Smurthwaite's blog.  The Mail article is the usual Two Minute Fat Hate where women are advised not to eat things they like just in case they put on a whole pound which will make them porky and that means lazy and undisciplined and sexually unattractive and they will die lonely in puddles of lard etc. etc. etc.  So far so boring, but this time it includes advice allegedly given by one Sian Porter of the British Dietetic Association that

"It may seem strange, but use the same tricks as people with eating disorders"

She suggests telling friends you've already eaten, or that you're about to go out to eat. 

These are "tricks" I've seen used by people I care about - fortunately not recently, but all the same.  These are not "tricks" for a quick-fix weight loss programme - which surely to goddess any proper dietician wouldn't be promoting anyway? 

"Tricks" that include pushing food round your plate until everyone else is finished and hoping they don't notice; cutting out all carbohydrates; being so busy that you never eat lunch; over-exercising; and yes, pretending you've already eaten is quite high on the list.  Lying, in fact.  This isn't a "trick" like Paul Daniels might use - ta daaa! and the biscuit is uneaten! - this is deliberate manipulation of people around you in order to exercise a level of uber-control over food that arises from a serious mental illness.

Eating disorders kill people.  If Sian Porter actually said that, she might as well have advised heroin abuse.  That makes you thin too. 

It may seem strange, but use the same tricks as people with drug dependencies!  Before going for dinner with friends, simply shoot up or have a couple of lines and you won't fancy the chocolate dessert!

So, here we go:

Dear Ms. Porter

I was alarmed to read in the Daily Mail that you have advised women to adopt the "tricks" of an eating disorder to lose weight. 

You are quoted as saying "It may seem strange, but use the same tricks as people with eating disorders " - and ascribed the authority of the British Dietetic Association.  Did you actually give that advice?  It seems unhealthy at best and positively dangerous at worst.  As a dietician I am sure you know that there is more to being healthy than simply being thin, and that emulating someone with anorexia is not a pathway to shining good health.  I would be very concerned that someone would take this advice literally and harm themselves.

I very much hope that you have been misquoted and I look forward to the correction appearing in the Mail.

Best regards

Brenda Namigadde case: injunction
riot girl
Thank you to everyone who signed the petition - I went up to watch it being delivered to the Home Office this morning after the vigil for David Kato. 

Despite news on the BBC website earlier that the application for an injunction was refused, we now have confirmation that it has been granted.  This means she won't be removed tonight & her application should be reconsidered.

I have real hope now that she will be granted asylum.

Well done, All Out

Now do the right thing, UKBA, you bunch of crawling maggots.


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