Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The McCanns: The Merchant of Venom

Judging by his response to a lady known as "bb2002" and his passion for barley legal girls, Piers Merchant is a man who lives in the past.

Recently "bb2002" wrote to several MEPs expressing concerns that the high level of media and government assistance given to Kate and Gerald McCann, two prime suspect is a criminal investigation carried out jointly by Portuguese and British law enforcement agencies, is harming relations between Britain and Portugal - one of its oldest allies.

Rather than allay her fears, Merchant responded with a Xenophobic attack on the Portuguese - something we have seen happen all too often in a desperate attempt to protect the image and reputations of two previously obscure, mediocre medicos.

The man whose zipper is open as much as mouth, had this to say about a founding member of NATO and a country who currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union -

"it is important to realise that Portugal has no real history of citizen's rights and liberties or democracy. From the 1920s to the mid 1970's Portugal was ruled by a fascist dictatorship, first under Salazar and then Caetano. Political opposition was repressed and the police and judicial system was used to achieve this. "

The operative word in his diatribe is "was". Things have changed in thirty-three years, even if in certain quarters, British attitudes to "foreigners" have not.

The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, has this to say about Portugal.


Section 1
Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:

Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports of the arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of life committed by the Government or its agents.

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution prohibits such practices; however, there were infrequent but credible reports that police and prison guards beat and otherwise abused detainees.

Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention.

Sitting in his office in a country where the whole world has seen an innocent man lying dead after being shot repeatedly at point-blank range by law enforcement officers who are still free to roam the streets, Merchant adds, "it is entirely right that British citizens should be protected against an unreliable foreign system."

What a pity that British citizens are not protected against an unreliable British system - a system where having a season ticket for a football club, somehow makes you a suspected terrorist. How many more times are British police going to kick down doors then have the rest of the world laughing at them as one by one they are released due to lack of any evidence? Does he know how often Australian media have used the phrase "British police have again been forced to release..."

Merchant also claims, "elements of the police are corrupt and indeed in this case the senior detective involved has been charged with corruption."

In other words action has been taken against an allegedly corrupt officer, rather than being hushed up or whitewashed as so often happens in Britain. At least they didn't call in Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, to look after their own.

Merchant's "argument" raises an interesting point. I have a huge dossier on police corruption in the UK. Is Merchant suggesting that all cases investigated by British police officers who have been charged and convicted of corruption and/or brutality, should be declared null and void and the prison gates opened to their "victims". Not a bad idea, that would solve over-crowding in the prison system at the stroke of a pen.

Now let's take a look at Merchant's attitude to the McCanns, or as the British Establishment sees them, Mr and Mrs Holier Than Thou (so Holy they change religions on a daily basis).

He starts with a warning. "First I should advise you, for your own good, to be very cautious about circulating potentially high libellous statements about Kate and Gerry McCann."

If Merchant had read the email properly, he would have realised that "bb2002" based her case largely on what has already been published in the media. Just because some information may not have been published in the British media, it does not make it less credible. The sender also highlighted public opinion and perceptions. Is having an opinion now a crime in the UK? Is that why when asked about Viscount Linley, a British journalist told a Sydney radio station, that he could not talk about it as his lawyers had advised him not to do so? This was long after Linley's name had been published in Australian media.

Merchant misses the point entirely when he states, "One of the first duties of the British government is to support its citizens abroad. It is therefore entirely correct that the government should do this in the case of Kate and Gerry McCann."

I agree, I think we all do. What he fails to address however, is the unprecedented support and assistance the McCanns have received right from the very beginning. It is not "us" who write about the Prime Minister having Gerald McCann's telephone number - it is the McCann team themselves.

Merchant demonstrates his lack of logic with the following -

"In this particular case the original police investigation was amateurish and flawed and to date nearly 10 different people have at one time or another been denounced as suspects."

Of course they have. Nine of those are the Tapas Nine and the other is Robert Murat. The police didn't just go around picking on any poor sod who came along.

"bb2002" took time to write a clearly explained, rational letter of concern. In return, she received a reply that failed to address any of the issues she raised. Instead, the failed journalist and failed politician, used it as a vehicle for his Basil Fawlty like attitude to "foreigners".

A British taxpayer once again short-changed because of two people who think it's oh so chic to leave three toddlers alone in what Merchant would tell them - was a lawless foreign country.