Paul Ray's adventure as a fugitive from British law continues. Paul, aka Lionheart (aka Lyin' heart in my book), who faced and dodged arrest by the Bedfordshire police for having possibly committed an offence of stirring up racial (or religious?) hatred by means of written material, has sought refuge in the US where he's hoping to obtain political asylum.
It's clear that whether or not Paul would actually have been charged with anything following the interview (that may now never take place) would have depended to considerable extent on Paul's own account of his actions. It needs to be noted that actual convictions for offences of stirring up racial/religious hatred in this country are extremely rare. There have only been about 40 convictions in the 20 years the laws pertaining to these offences have been in place. The low conviction rate is due in part to the caveats regarding freedom of speech, in part to the fact that 'stirring up hatred' isn't something that's easy to prove in a court of law.
Paul recently published a number of recorded telephone conversations he's had with DC Ian Holden (presumably the Arresting Officer) and DS Steve Fraser (the latter's supervisor), both from Bedfordshire police, in which Paul seeks clarification of what would happen to him (upon surrendering to the police), as well as engaging in a number of increasingly unrealistic pleas for mercy. You can find Paul's recordings here.
Well, I've gone through the process of listening to Lionheart's ramblings painstakingly and several things become clear: Paul's a crashing bore who repeats himself ad nauseam with little understanding of legalese or his own situation. On a related blog post he claims:
Listen to telephone conversation 1 on this post, and you will hear the glee in the officers [sic] voice that they have a charge against me and an arrest for me: Police phone conversation
Anyone listening to these conversations can only hear one thing on the part of the officers: weariness (and not glee) at Paul's repetitive incomprehension of his own situation and the sheer unrealism of some of his semi-demands. Paul, despite a rather heroic self-image, ain't no hero at all...
Elsewhere he posits:
Given the circumstances there is no way I am going to walk down to the police station and hand myself in to the police so that they can arrest me and possibly imprison me over my blog - Political persecution!
Paul's attempt to try and blame his (back then still potential) misfortune on a perceived political witch hunt is of course risible to the nth degree but fits in well with his self-aggrandising nature, his utterly Manichean worldview and reductionist rationale. But clearly he's meaning to go on as he started by adopting the invective of political persecution.
His endless and utterly cowardly pleading with the Bedfordshire police officers breaks down along the following lines:
- Paul didn't understand that in somewhat euphemistic police jargon 'interview' actually meant 'arrest and interview under caution'. By 'under caution' is meant here very simply that Paul will be read his rights (for US readers: read Miranda rights). This is standard procedure and it's there also for the protection of the arrestee. Any old fool though would understand that 'interview' and 'arrest' were always going to mean the same thing.
- Demands for unconditional bail. Again, any idiot can understand that prior to the actual interview the police cannot only not give such guarantees but that the interview itself and subsequent consultation between the police and the Crown Prosecution Service would have determined whether bail was applicable and what kind of bail would apply.
- A proposal to hold the interview over the phone, too ridiculous an idea to actually entertain: it's impossible to caution someone without their physical presence at the police station.
- A rather last-ditch attempt at pre-emptive bartering: Paul claims (rightly or wrongly - I cannot be the judge of that) to have helped Bedfordshire police with their enquiries regarding known drug dealers in his area. Whatever the case may be, we can't let the good Samaritan who commits a crime off just because of previous good deeds, in the same way we don't let a criminal off just because he's also done good in the past. Ironically, in the unlikely event that Paul would actually have been charged with an offence and tried and convicted in a just court of law, Paul's previous alleged cooperation with the police would undoubtedly have served him well at the sentencing level. Again, Paul is either incapable or unwilling to understand or consider that.
- Claims that he cannot surrender to the "prison system" (in Paul's parlance) because it's full of the same people he allegedly helped put behind bars. For this, Paul's life would be in jeopardy, or so he claims. Again, this is extremely self-serving and highly simplistic interpretation and takes no account of how the prison service actually works. And all apart from the minor little detail that a custodial sentence in Paul's case really is the very worst case scenario.
Lastly, regarding Paul's bail, since he's now shown himself rather spectacularly to be a flight risk, no judge or magistrate in their right mind will now take a chance with Lionheart, if he ever decided to show up in a British police station.
Some readers will by now believe I bear Paul ill will but that's not true. I don't for one minute believe that Paul's chances of getting a conviction, let alone a prison sentence, are high or should be high. But through his own quite delusional actions Paul has made things a damn sight worse for himself: he's actually pointed the finger of suspicion firmly at his own person. The clever thing to do would have been to show up for the interview and build a robust defence in the case of being charged.
As the real Lionheart, who spoke little English and spent most of his time in France, might have said: Quel imbecile...