Thursday, 31 October 2013

Hull Magistrates Court .... N2D 2 v Hull Border Force 0

lt was an interesting day to say the least. lt started off with 2 cases on the same day ... one with Cath & Em and the other with Turbo(N2D Forum ID), Cath/Em's had already been postponed so that one was definitely going ahead ... Turbo's looked odds on for being postponed. As it was, the Clerk of the Courts said she'd try and fit it in. This gave the opportunity to observe the main case and give the Turbo an idea of how these Condemnation Proceedings were run ... or so we thought!

Firstly, the magistrates were late so the likelihood of the second case proceeding didn't look good. When the magistrates did turn up we all filed in. There was quite a few supporters who turned up and that was nice to see. What wasn't nice was the Head Magistrate ... Mrs Whittaker. l kid you not when l say she totally exemplified the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland!


She was rude, arrogant, nasty and treat the respondents Cath/Em, their McKenzie Friend Zaphod and those in the public gallery with visible contempt in my honest opinion. l have been in a lot of courts and l've never seen a magistrate behave like this. Prosecution and Border Force were of course treat completely different ... surprise, surprise. l don't think it needed a genius to predict where this was going. The case started, prosecution gave their opening statement and then called their first witness, Officer Moody. His evidence was pretty inoffensive but that was no surprise as we already knew that he had relied on Officer Lyne's judgement and evidence in the original seizure. No cross-examination was judged to be necessary. Then next up in the witness box was Officer Lyne.

l'll deal with Officer Lyne's evidence later but there was something more important going on ... the court is absolutely terrible acoustic wise. You find it hard to hear what is being said. Cath/Em were having this problem so Em spoke up ... and all hell let loose. This magistrate went ballistic and started on Em and spouted such stuff as 'Well, if you haven't heard anything you're wasting the courts time and l'll bring it to an end', The Clerk of the Court suggested to the magistrate that Cath/Em move forward to a closer bench. The magistrate refused so the Clerk of the Court ignored her and got Cath/Em to move forward. The proceedings went further downhill from there ... so much so that a recess was called.

Cath/Em/Zaphod complained to the Clerk of the Court about this magistrate as did members of the public from the gallery. This resulted in this Mrs Whittaker and her 2 companion magistrates being removed and another set of magistrates being called for .... and the case was to start again ... from scratch!

Also they'd found some other magistrates and a free courtroom for Turbo so we both trundled off to that courtroom leaving the mayhem behind us.

The case opened with the usual opening statement from prosecution followed by the calling to the stand of  Border Force officer Ms Robinson who initially had seized Turbo's goods. Prosecution's evidence, to all intents and purposes, consisted of reading out Ms Robinson's witness statement. Turbo then had the chance to cross-examine. For a first time he did an excellent job. He showed that all the reasons for seizure given by Ms Robinson at time of seizure were not valid ... and Ms Robinson agreed. The only thing she had to fall back on was according to her witness statement/notebook, that before seizing Turbo's goods, she had discussed it with her boss ... Border Force Higher Executive Officer Graham. To be honest, l felt Officer Robinson was like a rabbit caught in headlights. She was nervous and unsure of herself. l don't think anyone had prepared her for court at all. l'd asked Turbo to question her about her frontline experience but he didn't. l still feel that she was pretty new to the job ... especially as a frontline officer. She was not even the one who had initially stopped Turbo ... it was HEO Graham ... who had simply passed Turbo onto Ms Robinson to be interviewed. There were quite a few mistakes/false entries in her notebook ... one being it was her who had initially stopped Turbo. To her credit she admitted her mistakes but as l said earlier, relied on her discussing the seizure with HEO Graham.

Next witness was HEO Graham himself, as called for by Turbo. Prosecution had no real questions for him so it came to Turbo to cross examine. When he asked HEO Graham what he'd discussed with Officer Robinson regarding the seizure ... he flatly denied he was involved in the seizure in anyway whatsoever! He left Officer Robinson high and dry! There was an integrity with Officer Robinson but l saw none in HEO Graham. l honestly feel for Ms Robinson ... it's a shock to one's system to find that your own don't back you. Especially when, as l believe, it was HEO Graham who told her to seize the goods in the first place. l wonder if she knows because she wasn't in court to see it?

The magistrates then called for a recess so we went and prepared for Turbo going in the stand. When we returned the magistrates said they'd looked at all the submissions and had decided to throw the Border Force's case out! We'd won! So, flush with success we went to the other court to see how Cath/Em were doing.

We got in court just as Cath/Em were destroying Officer Lyne's 'evidence'. He'd made the girls roll cigarettes and then took them away to weigh them at the time of the seizure. From the weight of just 3 cigarettes he'd deduced somehow or other that Cath/Em's consumption rate was wrong and their tobacco wouldn't last as long as they said it would. Sounds very scientific doesn't it? ... except of course it's nothing of the sort. Had he taken into account the weight of the filter and papers? What sort of weighing machine had he used? Was it capable of weighing 0,001gms? Did it have a hood/ glass case (at these weights the airflow in the room can effect the scales). Was the weighing machine calibrated and if so where is the certificate? Did he realise that using just 3 cigarettes to divide into 10kg is absolutely ridiculous? What precautions did he take when weighing? Where was the evidence of these cigarettes ... oh, yes ... he'd given them back to Cath/Em who'd then smoked them! The list goes on and on for this. Lab techs would roll about the floor laughing ... as our own family scientist did when we told her. Really people, if Hull Border Force ever try this on you ... just laugh and ask them if they are really serious?

Next ...  Officer Lyne did not believe that Cath/Em's bank card did not work in Belgium because they had lived in Spain for approx 7 years and therefore would know about using UK bank cards abroad. Mind, he didn't question them about this at the time of the interview ... if he had done he would've been told that Cath/Em used Spanish banks and bank cards!

Officer Lyne along with Officer Moody had made a case that income v expenditure resulted in their eyes that Cath/Em could not afford to purchase this amount of tobacco (10kg each). Both officers steadfastly refused to accept them as a couple despite being continually told so. Cath/Em are a couple and legally so ... and they proved this in court.

Officer Lyne had stated that Turner HRT is not commercially available in the UK and said this was confirmed by Gary Brown (HMRC Fiscal Crime Liason Officer) so Cath/Em could not have purchased Turner in the UK (they said they usually bought Turner in UK). Except it was shown that it is commercially available in the UK and get this ... it's sold in UK Prison shops!

l'll finish with this even though there are other points. Unbelievably, Officer Lyne produced printouts of our very own N2D Forum he said because Em had called him a 'prick' on it and Em was giving smugglers advice! We couldn't have asked for better for the defense. The printout contained our own description of what we do and of course the magistrates read this. Em admitted she called him a name ... as she put it 'He'd been nasty to her so she was to him'. l swear l saw the magistrates smile.Officer Lyne also said that we were a bootleggers site ... twice!

You got to laugh, he calls us when all we do is tell people their rights and how to protect themselves from interviews by Border Force that are often nothing about getting to the truth ... but getting seizures. Perhaps Officer Lyne should look closer to home. How about Alistair Graham Fields? ... or how Hull Border Force told the Data Protection Unit that the notebooks in this seizure that Cath/Em requested by SAR were damaged and virtually unreadable ... except they turned up in court in perfect condition. Or when Hull Border Force got Humberside Police to target the N2D bus  We could go on but lets get back to the case.

Em then gave a great closing summing up.

Magistrates then called for a recess and so we all filed out and went for a smoke. We returned after a short while and went into the court and awaited the judgement. The magistrates came back and their judgement was that ...  Cath/Em had won!

A Grand Day Out!

Oh, just for the record ... UK Border Force (prev UKBA), HMRC and TSOL are all over our blog/forum and have been doing so for at least a year or so. We're more than happy for them to do so.


21 comments:

  1. I am going to court next year some time. These bastards did exactly the same thing to me. They have insinuated that I am a criminal. But I have the evidence from their own notebooks that they lied and railroaded me into taking my goods.

    They also prevented me from going to hospital with my six year old son who is recovering from cancer, by stealing my car (which they have now returned). I intend to crucify these bastards in a public arena and show them up for what they really are. Well done to the winners I hope to join you soon. Good job N2D. My day is coming.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Do you suppose the esteemed officer is well acquainted with Chapter 3?

    http://www.ukas.com/library/Technical-Information/Pubs-Technical-Articles/Pubs-List/LAB14.pdf

    Thanks for the chuckle

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  3. Lyne related to Mr Sked? pmsl

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  4. If only the Home Office and Border Guards were more dilligent in
    preventing the entry of gangsters,drug pushers,terrorists,sex slavers,child abductors,mad Mullahs,pimps,pickpocckets,tax fiddlers,currency smugglers,illegal immigrants,prostitutes,not to mention the million or more of the "radar"
    As I have mentioned before I have had skirmishes with guards on many borders, Syria/Lebanon, Syria/Iraq,Syria Jordan,Communist East Germnay/West Germany, SovietHungary,Austria,Communist Poland/East Germany and Ulster/Irish Republic all with a duration of less than 30 minutes.
    At the Hull "Checkpoint Charlie" I was interrogated for 3 hours 48 minutes concernig 4 packs of Rolling Tobacco
    Maybe it was the WELSH birthplace in my passport which caused concern.
    PS
    No I am not Welsh I was born there to avoid the German bombing of Liverpool. Did the Germans really LOSE THE WAR?
    Who are the enemies now?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Despite legally not allowed to do so, Hull Border Force are asking everyone at Passport Control whether they bought tobacco and if so, how much? There is no mention of anything else :)

      Delete
    2. SH,
      You make it sound like a ''walk in the park''. I am sure it was anything but and you all had to put in a lot of work, so congrats again on 2 well earned victories.

      eezy.

      Delete
  5. "Despite legally not allowed to do so, Hull Border Force are asking everyone at Passport Control whether they bought tobacco and if so, how much? There is no mention of anything else :)"

    Is there a FOI or other document regarding the above?
    It would be a great addition to my folder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's in our downloads section. lt states "Officers must NOT stop someone in the hope of obtaining grounds through questioning to support a subsequent search"

      Under Excise and Civil Interviews

      The Law

      Delete
  6. Dear Smoking Hot

    The Data Protection Unit may be interested to learn that they have been lied to by Hull Border Force regarding the condition of the notebooks.

    I am sure one government department ought to be extremely displeased at being lied to by another government department. It would be a pity to learn that it happens all the time and they do nothing about it.

    It might be worth bringing this particular example to the attention of the Home Secretary, as well as a general complaint against the questionable activities of our Border Force. She is ultimately responsible for their actions.

    DP

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  7. That's blatant homophobia from these 2 ossifers cos these girls have the same rights as a married couple. They should bring a case against Lyne and Moody.

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  8. Congratulations to all concerned. Is it just me that finds it offensive that these so called "civil servants" are anything but and that instead of going for the difficult targets they just see the foot passengers as a easy way to get close to their targets?
    Yes we all know that there are certain elements that do break the law but using some "intelligence" any reputable organisation would be able to weed these people out. God help us if the anti-EU brigade get their way as then we won't even be able to do our legitimate shopping on the continent.
    Keep up the good work SH & Zaphod, you are both Stars!

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  9. Wot? no comment ossifer Lyne? Ur obviously reading this so why doncha comment?

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  10. We were miming frantically that we couldn't hear, hands cupped round ears, craning forwards. Emma eventually put her hand up -
    Mag - "You can’t interrupt what’s going on, you have to wait your turn."
    Emma - "We can’t hear."
    Clerk - "Perhaps if they move forward…Is that alright with you, your Worships? I’ll put the blinds down as well."
    Mag - "You can’t hear now? After all this time?"
    Emma - "I’ve been struggling all morning Ma’am to hear."
    Mag - "So you’re saying you haven’t heard anything that’s gone on since you’ve been in here, and you’ve wasted everybody’s time?"
    Emma - "Er…."
    Mag - "I’M talking, it's one person at a time. You have to learn that it’s like having the talking stick, and it is NOT your turn."
    Emma - "I’ve had to concentrate very much Ma’am, on what the gentleman was say-"
    Mag - "So you should, you’re in Court and we’re all concentrating very much. Don’t talk to me in a patronizing way or I shall go out and not finish the case."

    It was clear that we weren't gonna win with this Mag, so we got rid, and started with another one!

    (I didn't know you could do that!)

    Apparently, it was logged as "Conflict of interest". This is when, for example, a Magistrate or litigant realizes that they are known to each other.

    This definitely needs an official complaint. We owe it to the Clerk, who stuck her neck out for us. And we owe it to anyone else unlucky enough to get this Mag.

    A good result in the end!

    And yes, Officer Lyne IS reading this. But he has nothing to say.
    Not even, "Sorry, I was wrong. The Court said so."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You missed where the Mag screamed 'Off with her head!' :)

      Delete
  11. VERY well done! N2D, you're performing a VERY valuable function for people who would otherwise simply feel trapped between the jaws of a "police state." In normal circumstances people would feel they had no one to turn to for advice and had no chance of winning against "the men with the guns" in cases like this.

    I don't really know the intricacies of British tobacco import law, and had always worried that you *might* indeed be open to charges of some kind here, so it's VERY good to know that you've been careful about staying legal throughout your efforts!

    I hope your site and your work and your ideas get publicized far and wide! The levels of taxation you operate under are outright criminal -- there is no other word to describe it. Here in the States I can buy a kilogram of tobacco (theoretically pipe tobacco, but it's quite rollable if one wants to roll it) for under 14 GPB! As you can see, the UK government is, in effect, robbing its citizens.

    Keep on fightin'!
    - MJM

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  12. You'd think someone from Hull Customs would comment or contact you to say sorry. Oh l forgot, that requires integrity. Pi$$es me off that even if there are ones there with integrity that they allow the others to carry on breaking the rules. Oh for an anon whistleblower but don't hold your breath. Public servants???, hah, all they look after is themselves!

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  13. Congratulations to the ladies, I know just how difficult it is and I was dealing with a Scottish Sheriff who is a qualified lawyer, Dealing with these magistrates must be a challenge.
    I know it won;t happen but maybe it would be better to elect a Crown Court hearing in the first instance it it was possible.
    Quasi-Justice is no justice

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"In the eyes of the Tribunal the review letter contained several preconceptions, prejudgments and non-sequiturs"

"the absurdity of this reason is demonstrated by simply stating it"

"We therefore find that Mr Sked misdirected himself as to the Policy in carrying out the review and his decision is therefore one that no reasonable review officer could have arrived at."

... commonly known here at N2D as 'Skeds' ... that is to say these are Judges comments regarding UKBA Review Officer Ian Sked's reasons for rejecting peoples appeals against seizures.

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