Wednesday 26 January 2011

Baker - not fit to hold office

An Aberdeenshire pensioner alleged she was sexually assaulted and named her alleged attacker.  The police and the Procurator Fiscal did their jobs and the suspect was being brought to trial.  Following the Cadder ruling, however, the Crown Office concluded that there was now insufficient evidence to proceed and has closed the case.  The Cadder ruling is better explained by a solicitor type but it necessitated a fundamental change in police procedures and it changed the rules on what evidence is allowable in a case.  It also led to a piece of legislation going through Parliament as emergnecy legislation.

None of this, I take it, matters a damn to Barbara Riddel who was attacked except that it means that the man she identified as her attacker cannot be brought to justice.  I have sympathy for her, she has suffered in a way that I cannot begin to understand - an invasion of her person.  Her case came, though, at a juncture where the police procedure in the case was cut across by the ruling.  The Cadder ruling was, very simplistically, based on the European Convention on Human rights and said that a suspect's human rights were infringed if he (or she) was interviewed by police without a solicitor being present - or at least a prosecution could not rest upon evidence thus gained.

The to and fro of the rights and wrongs of the Cadder case and all cases like those of the assault against Ms Riddel might be batted back and forth for a long time but it was the comments of Labour's Shadow Justice person Richard Baker MSP in the story.  He said:

"This started with not having a bent banana and all that stupid kind of thing, but now they have got onto the laws of Britain they shouldn't be allowed to change them whatsoever."

For any politician to compare the distress and human emotion involved in a case of sexual assault to trade rules is shocking to begin with.  Conflating human rights with trade rules is also fairly bad, but the scale of the incompetence in his one UKIP-like statement is quite shocking. 

To begin with, he should understand that section 29 of the Scotland Act means that any legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament has to be compliant with the Convention Rights - the Scotland Act was drafted by a Minister of his own party.

Convention Rights in the Scotland Act has the same meaning as in the Human Rights Act 1998 - brought in by a Government of his own party to enshrine the ECHR in UK law (quite rightly, in my opinion).

The ECHR was not a child of the European Union, it came from the Council of Europe - a different organisation.

The EU never banned bent bananas.

The worst of it all is his lack of concern for the woman involved combined with his lack of understanding of the way that the law is changing and his ignorant, knee-jerk, xenophobic narrow vision.  He's simply not fit to hold office.


Anonymous said...

And the judges in the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland thought that the previous rules on detention in Scotland were OK.

It was only because the Scotland Act 1998, introduced by a Labour Government, provided an effective right of appeal to the Privy Council that this decision was able to be overturned.

Lallands Peat Worrier said...


Bang on. Just be grateful that the Swine Pursuivant didn't see fit to echo Pastor Niemöller...

"First they came for the Peyronie's diseased bananas, and I did not speak out..."

Anonymous said...

Hard to imagine anyone being thicker than Baker, isn't it?

Doug Daniel said...

The Labour front bench is full of people who are simply unfit for holding the offices which they shadow, but Richard Baker somehow manages to stand out as being the most unsuitable of them all - an impressive achievement considering the other candidates include Iain Gray, Jackie Baillie and Andy Kerr. Considering his track record of getting his facts badly wrong in parliament - whether through incompetence or due to more sinister reasons - this comes as just the icing on a rather foul-tasting cake.

The fact that this man is only an MSP due to his position in Labour's North-East list is a very good argument for voters being able to decide which candidates are voted from the list, rather than the parties being able to decide. What a waste of a seat in Holyrood.

Clarinda said...

There are many calling for the SNP to "get stuck into Labour" with so many gaping holes they have dug for themselves - election so close or not. I fear, however, that the extreme depth to which the SNP would need to stoop to make effective contact is beyond human contortion. The unremitting Labour nose dive led by some of the most witless articles I've ever seen in politics is an affront to the very concept of government.

After the election in May I hope to hear "Yes, we have no Dickie Bakers, we have no Dickie Bakers today"...