5 August 2011

Fisher and May Bowles: different laws for different people

Injurious assaults by the police are exonerated: non-injurious ones by political protesters are punished.

Nicola Fisher

The first case is that of Nicola Fisher. On 2 April 2009 Nicola Fischer attended a vigil for the newspaper vendor and bystander, Ian Tomlinson, killed the day before by police during the G20 demonstrations. Apparently, Fisher was standing in a place where the police did not want her to be.

Fisher’s account, which is backed up by film of the incident, runs as follows:

"Suddenly quite a few police officers came and made a line in front of us and almost straight away the officer in front of me shouted 'get back' and pushed me before I even had a chance to move. When he did that I, as an instant reaction, pushed back, then straight away he gave me a back-hander across my left cheek."

Not content with that, police officer Delroy Smellie then calmly took out his baton and beat Fisher on the legs causing her to dance in pain and leaving her with extensive bruising.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) decided to prosecute Smellie for assault.

Nicola Fisher did not appear at the trial, and despite the evidence against Smellie, District Judge District Judge Daphne Wickham acquitted him of assault. She said there was no evidence that his use of the baton was not approved, correct or measured.

Jonathan May-Bowles

On 19 July 2011 Rupert Murdoch was giving evidence to the House of Commons Media Select committee. Murdoch’s company, News International, has been engaged in illegal phone tapping, paying money to police officers and has for a long time extended its influence over elected government. Its aim is to support business interests, the establishment and right wing ideas in addition to making money.

May-Bowles, sitting in the audience, threw a paper plate covered in shaving foam into Murdoch’s face.

Rupert Murdoch did not appear at the trial. The same district judge, Daphne Wickham, sentenced Jonathan May-Bowles to six weeks imprisonment (reduced on appeal to four) for assault.


Fisher suffered injury: her attacker was acquitted because he was a police officer. Murdoch suffered no injury: his attacker was jailed to deter protest.

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