An overnight email from a regular reader who just happens to be a solicitor
said "What? Haven’t the police got anything better to do on a Friday evening?
It’s appalling behaviour” and a few more choice words. What was so important
that they had to come so late? Any later and they might have found me in bed; I
tend to be an early riser and with advancing years often pay the penalty in the evening.
However if you browse the web for similar situations you will see that the police commonly abuse their powers and issue harassment warnings which they call PINs (Police Information Notices) without any prior investigation. They just do it like zombies on auto-pilot.
But let’s keep this in proportion, I have not been issued with any such warning, I was only invited to Bexleyheath Police station - under the threat of arrest if I don’t go - on the say so of a schoolgirl whose name did not appear on this website until she accused me of harassing her. I had to research her name to establish positively who she is.
Possibly she is also behind the complaint to the lady in Sidcup (†) who asked the police for advice on late night party noises. That lady is still waiting for the police to send her a copy of the complaint the best part of two months after asking.
All the case history and advice to be found on the web says to refute the allegations as quickly as possible. Back in 2011 I did that but it’s not so simple this time because I do not know what the specific allegation is. However the threatened 2011 interview at the police station never did materialise. Having the support of a good MP may have had something to do with that.
So I decided to take the advice and get my rebuttal in quick. The male police officer wanted to come inside because he reckoned I wouldn’t want all my neighbours to know what was going on. Presumably he has no idea of what bloggers usually do. So here is the email I sent to Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe, Borough Commander, Bexley Police, at 13:56 this afternoon.
Dear Chief Superintendent Boothe,
Late last Friday evening two of your officers knocked on my door and said they wanted to come in to discuss “your blog”.
I refused entry. In the past I have been assaulted in my home by a police officer and another said he would arrest me for Breach of the Peace inside my own house when I asked him to leave.
When I asked what the Friday night visitors wanted to discuss about my blog they said that Victoria Massey had made a complaint of harassment. I do not know Miss Massey, have never met her and would not recognise her if I passed her in the street. Perhaps more importantly her name did not, as of Friday 20th May, appear anywhere on my website.
I asked for a specific complaint and neither officer could provide one but insisted I must attend Bexleyheath police station for interview. The male officer said that failure to do so would result in my arrest. Perhaps you would be good enough to let me know what charge he might have had in mind?
The female officer said I should bring a solicitor.
Since 2009 I have written 3,134 blogs and many have been reports of Council meetings. As such there are 461 occurrences of “Councillor Massey” including the obvious variants.
Without a specific complaint how am I or a solicitor expected to prepare ourselves for questioning?
Please let me have as a matter of urgency a copy of the written complaint or signed statement that Miss Victoria Massey is alleged to have made. Without that I will only be able to reply “No comment” to every question put to me.
If you refuse my request I shall make a formal Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act.
Please also let me know the names of the two officers who knocked on my door so that if I discover any gross incompetence or misconduct on their part I can make a formal complaint against them.
In 2011 one of your predecessors authorised a Harassment Warning (PIN) against me without any prior investigation whatsoever. He was made to rescind it by the IPCC. I accept that you have not issued a PIN but suspect there has been no prior investigation this time either. My blog is entirely factual and there is nothing in it that I would wish to withdraw so I fail to see what purpose an interview would serve.
The two police officers told me that it is standard practise following a complaint of harassment to accept it – the male officer implied blindly and as an automatic process – and in the first instance request attendance at the police station. Can you please confirm this is the case because I may wish to avail myself of the same facility?
I would hope that you are aware of a recent case involving the Croydon Advertiser which was in some ways similar to the above, the main difference being that there was actually contact between the two parties involved. The Metropolitan Police eventually apologised and withdrew the PIN, paying out a large sum of money in the process. They also agreed to seek a review of procedures.
On several previous occasions Bexley Council has sought to attack me and your predecessors have succumbed to political pressure put upon them. Perhaps you already know that your three immediate predecessors are currently being investigated for Misconduct in a Public Office by your force’s Directorate of Professional Standards. I remain hopeful that you are above such things but if I discover any evidence at all that there is a political angle to the current accusation then history is likely to repeat itself.
I received a polite acknowledgment seeking more information at 14:17. So far so good.
†. The Sidcup lady has subsequently reported that it was Councillor Don Massey who alleged harassment at Sidcup Police Station (Marlowe House) on a Sunday morning. That office is not open to the public on a Sunday, you or I would have to go to Bexleyheath. But Councillor Massey must believe he is a special person and the police in Bexley still think their primary role is to protect Bexley Council. The favoured treatment is the first positive sign of the political element which one might assume is behind this case.