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Posts Tagged ‘Nick Sherbert’

I had an interesting discussion with the Observer‘s complaints guy the other day (see blogs passim). (As an aside, what a way to earn a living: dealing with people whingeing about stuff all day long, while knowing that your newspaper, and your job, probably won’t see out 2013.) He, in turn, had spoken to Nick Sherbert: Sherbert maintains (apparently) that he was told by ‘someone in the Home Office’ that Gadget was not an Inspector. Obviously, this person was mistaken – we’re, of course, not suggesting Herbert is a liar. The very idea.

However, he made the statement and it has the aforementioned implications for us. We’re now wondering whether or not to take matters further. Our lawyers advise us that we would not have to prove that Gadget was an inspector (or above). It would be for Herbert to prove the opposite, which he could not.

However, when you pull the pin on a grenade like this, the shrapnel can hit people other than the intended target. Could Gadget be damaged, collaterally-speaking? I’m not sure. We’re sleeping on it for a bit.

Meanwhile: what would happen if you jumped in a swimming pool full of booze?

Finally, no apologies for mentioning yet more very positive reviews of The Little Girl in the Radiator. Eight have been placed on Amazon since Christmas Eve alone, all five stars (barring one four star).

To take a couple at at random,’Yimsakin’ says, ‘This is the best book that I have ever read… I could not put this book down once I started reading it.’

Nicola Eggleton writes, ‘Very well-written book, I work in the care industry and it was fascinating to read the experiences Martin had with his mum and his struggle in understanding and coming to terms with this terrible illness.’

We still haven’t achieved the cut-through that this title deserves; it’s selling well on Amazon, and as an eBook, but I think Waterstone’s should be doing more with it. Possibly a superrmarket, too. People don’t just like it, they love it. One chap has bought nine copies.

In related news, Bobby Womack has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Here’s one of my favourite Womack 70s tracks:

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The story so far. We publish a book by a serving police inspector (or higher), calling the author a ‘senior police officer’, and offering readers the inside track on modern British policing from the point of view of a more senior officer than a PC or a sergeant (‘the most senior police officer to date breaks ranks to tell the shocking truth about the collapse of the country’s criminal justice system’).

Nick Herbert MP writes a piece in the Observer in which he says Gadget is ‘self-promoted’ and adds that ‘he is not an inspector’.

Therefore, Gadget must be either a PC or a sergeant, with whom we are colluding in a bogus ‘promotion’ to give his or her views, and our book, more weight.

Ergo, it seems to us, that Nick Herbert and the Observer are accusing us, by implication, of being fraudulent liars.

A few days ago, I contacted Herbert and the editor of the Observer electronically asking them to correct this error.

I’ve had no reply from either of them, and the piece is still up on the Guardian/Observer website.

As it happens, we’ve had a couple of barristers as house guests over the last few days. Their views on the matter were very interesting, and one of them has offered to act pro bono for us if necessary.

All we really want is for Herbert and the Observer to acknowledge their error. If we don’t hear from them soon, we will send more formal letters.

The whole issue of policing is more interesting now than ever. According to the latest figures, crime is down by 10 per cent despite the cuts. I am very fortunate to live in an area where there is almost no crime at all, but this does seem unlikely to be correct. If it is true, what is the mechanism?

Herbert and his chums would have us believe that crime is falling, and that New Year’s Eve will be another example of our exciting new continental-style cafe culture in action.

Perhaps they’re right. But here’s Gadget’s take (perhaps based more on experience):

On New Years Eve, Types 1. and 3. will outnumber Type 2. but it won’t seem that way to us. We will be dealing with Type 2. long after the street celebrations end. Type 2. will take their global hatred activities home with them, via fatal road accidents, domestic beatings and vicious fights within families etc. They will go to A&E and assault staff. They will assault staff in custody at police stations.

We know  that Ruralshire Ambulance Service will be swamped, so we have been issued with more first aid kit this year, including defibrillators to start your heart in an emergency. I think that is what they are for, we had the training cancelled at the last-minute. The machines ‘talk’ to you when you use them, recently, a colleague was given instructions in Polish when he opened the thing up. True story. Cheap, you see.

Ruralshire General Hospital have asked if we can post police officers in A&E to protect the private security staff on New Years Eve. So, a public body uses public money to pay a private ‘wealth creator’ to provide security in a public space, they then ask another public body to protect the private body using more public money. How ironic.

If course, if you’re Dave Cameron, Nick Herbert or Ed Miliband, you really have to work hard to be mugged or burgled. Maybe for a fortunate minority – I include myself in that number – things are better. Coincidentally, Tim Worstall links to this very good piece by ‘The Streetwise Professor’, Craig Pirrong, Professor of Finance at the University of Houston.

Happy New Year!

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In yesterday’s Observer, Nick Herbert, the former police minister, wrote at some length about what he said was the public’s loss of faith in the police. He said this had been caused by the fact that some detectives in Kent are being investigated for a scam involving TICs, and because of Hillsborough and ‘Plebgate’.

Leave aside the question of what on earth an MP of all people thinks he is doing lecturing people about a loss of faith; and the fact that the TIC scam is as old as the hills, and is partly in response to the government’s own insane target culture; and that Hillsborough happened in 1989 (90% of the cops in the country on that day having long since retired).

Andrew Mitchell resigned of his own volition after swearing at the police, and good riddance to the foul-mouthed yob. Arguably, the real scandal is that Mitchell was not arrested; if I were a youth who had been nicked for swearing at the police outside The Jolly Friar Chippy last night, I might be wondering why it is that pompous Tory MPs get a pass and I don’t.

But my main gripe is with this paragraph:

Anyone who doubts what was behind Mitchell’s downfall need only read the blog of Inspector Gadget. A serving police officer, the self-promoted Gadget (he is not an inspector) says: “The relationship between Conservatives and police officers is not just toxic, it is over.” Feelings about the reform of pay and conditions were so strong “there was bound to be trouble. Plebgate is trouble”.

So, just to recap: I say Inspector Gadget is a serving police inspector, or at least has been (s/he may or may not have been promoted).

Nick Herbert says s/he is not.

Does that mean Nick Herbert is saying that I am a liar?

Given that I publish non-fiction books, it is quite important to me that people believe what I say (outwith the usual disclaimers about names and details being changed to protect the guilty).

Can I sue Nick Herbert for libel? It’s an interesting question, with shades of Tony McNumpty.

Incidentally, I have met Herbert once: I found him to be on the slimy side of charming. It was (from memory) some time in early 2007, when PC David Copperfield was invited to give a talk to Policy Exchange, the Conservative think-tank.

I went along to hold his coat, the Daily Telegraph‘s Philip Johnston acted as MC, and the then opposition MP and shadow police minister Herbert was among the invited guests.

The audience was small but rapt: none of them had ever seen or heard a ground-level PC talking, openly and articulately, about the problems British policing faced (and faces). This was because no serving PC had ever done so. (This was a few months after Wasting Police Time had been published, and Copperfield had not yet outed himself; it took a lot of guts for him to attend, as he would certainly have lost his job if identified.)

Copperfield’s key messages were that, yes, the police sometimes are terrible – being human – but here’s why: too much police time was being taken up in pointless paperwork (he recounted how it could easily take six hours to deal with two teenagers for the theft of a pushbike; no-one was saying theft of a pushbike was not important, but six hours was a bit much); that serious recidivist criminals were not being jailed for the protection of their (usually poor, elderly and otherwise vulnerable) victims; that the target culture introduced by the Blair government was changing police priorities for the worse; that discretion was a thing of the past; and that policing much of modern Britain was a bit like dealing with drunk toddlers.

Herbert sat there and listened, gave an interview to some TV people who had attended, and then left.

Wind forward five years, and the paperwork has got worse, the targets are still there, people are still drunk and entitled, and the government can’t wait to let violent criminals out of jail. But then, thanks to the Plebs at the Gates, Dave and Sam have zero chance of being burgled for the kids’ Christmas presents.

Of course, if you want to read more by Inspector Gadget, you can always buy the book.

On that note, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our reader!

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