Opinion: It’s in our DNA

Some days it’s great to be a Liberal Democrat. Tuesday, October 30 was just such a day – the day when one person alone was conspicuous by his absence from a state banquet hosted in the sumptuous surroundings of the Buckingham Palace ballroom. Yes, the only politician to take such a principled stand, eschewed the fillet of sole with salmon mousse, noisettes of venison with stuffed tomatoes and braised lettuce, and raspberry shortbread tartlet, all washed down with Puligny-Montrachet, Pichon Lalande, and Bollinger Grande Année 1996 – such was the determination of our very own Vincent Cable not to be seen consorting with a wholly unelected, unaccountable, and profligate royal head of state, (not to mention her curious companion, the Saudi dictator).

But not every day is quite so good as that. So in the first of two articles taking their cue from recent statements made by the leadership contenders, I would like to begin by considering the remarks of Nick Clegg concerning the shocking revelation that some 150,000 children might have found their way onto the national DNA database. “The disturbing and illiberal policy of adding a child’s most personal information to a massive government computer system, simply on the grounds of an accusation, must stop immediately,” says Nick. Well there’s no disagreeing with that I suppose. Storing a DNA profile “simply on the grounds of an accusation” is indeed barmy. No, I tend to think that Lord Justice Sedley had it exactly right when he suggested that the time has come to create a universal DNA database comprising the profiles of every man, woman, and child in Britain.

Answer me this: why is it that when contemplating the prospect of a national DNA database, we are more likely to find Liberal Democrats wringing their hands over “civil liberties,” than we are to hear them extolling the virtues of the most devastating forensic tool ever to be placed in the hands of the police? Only this week, Ronald Castree was finally sent down for the murder of Lesley Molseed, a conviction which sadly came far too late for Stefan Kiszko who died a broken man not long after emerging from sixteen years of wrongful imprisonment. But Castree was only required to supply a sample following his recent arrest on an unrelated charge, later dropped. Under the terms which Nick Clegg and others would like to see in force, whereby the DNA of innocents is never retained, Castree would literally have got away with murder.

Yet examples such as this appear to make little impression upon those who routinely concoct the lamest excuses imaginable for not rolling out this technology to its fullest extent. Typically we are told that DNA evidence is not 100% reliable, or that there is a risk of contamination at the crime scene, as if these were profound or novel insights. Well contamination is always a possibility with any kind of forensic evidence, something which the police are perfectly well aware of. And while the reliability of DNA profiling is already superb, the technology can only improve dramatically over time – because that’s what technology always does. The overall impression conveyed by these objections is that of a neo-Luddite refusal to keep pace with the march of scientific progress.

Extrapolating into the future, Richard Dawkins has estimated that by the year 2050, the cost of sequencing the full set of human DNA will be less than £100 per person. That’s an entire Human Genome Project (present cost around $3 billion) for each and every one of us. So why might we want to do that? The promise is that, one day, treatments and prescriptions will be uniquely tailored to the individual, and that the scope of preventative medicine will be expanded beyond our present imagination. Make no mistake, the technology is on its way and before too long will be hitting us like a train. Notwithstanding the combined exertions of all the tedious civil libertarians in the world, the result could be nothing less than a total transformation in global healthcare.

Liberal Democrats ought to be highlighting the genuine hazards and ethical dilemmas brought about by the genetic revolution, not appearing to act merely as an obstacle to human progress – progress which, in the fields of forensic and medical science, is coming our way whether we like it or not. Unless we engage constructively in the debate, we may simply find ourselves excluded altogether while others take all the key decisions. So please could we hear a little more enthusiasm for the amazing power of this extraordinary molecule? And please join me again shortly, when I shall be giving Chris Huhne a hard time over GM crops!

* Laurence Boyce is a Lib Dem member, and occasional contributor to Lib Dem Voice.

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118 Comments

  • Cheltenham Robin 21st Nov '07 - 7:30pm

    Blimey Laurence, I never thought I would find myself agreeing with you, but yes, the pros of having a national DNA database from birth and not one where random groups of people are on, is something that we should seriously look at as a party.

    My gut reaction when I first heard of this proposal was to take the civil liberties line, however, I think that I am now broadly a luke warm supporter of the idea.

  • The two halves of this article don’t seem to me to be particularly well connected. Obviously there are tremendous potential medical benefits to personal DNA sequencing (though my distant memories of reading ‘Brave New World’ suggest that, like with all technologies, there are going to be consequences that we cannot necessarily forsee and which will change society in ways that we don’t like). I don’t see how that connects though to Laurence’s proposal that the State should have a proprietorial right to its citizens’ DNA. I would have thought, Laurence, with your attitude towards the Royal Family, that the idea that you are anyone’s subject would be as anathema to you as it is to me: I am a citizen, not a subject; not the Queen’s subject, not the Government’s subject, and no one has a right to know everything about me.

  • Rochdale Cowboy 21st Nov '07 - 10:15pm

    Spot on. As liberals it has been the easy line to oppose a national database of DNA – we need to have a big debate about this serious issue. I have always been against having to carry an ID card but in favour of creating a national database for DNA. I represent the ward where Lesley Molseed lived and where Stefan and his mother lived – and without the DNA database – Castree would not be behind bars. How many lives would be saved / rapes not committed if we had a database? Surely we have a duty to protect the vulnerable and let individuals have the liberty to enjoy life without the threat of violent crime?

  • Cheltenham Robin 21st Nov '07 - 10:17pm

    2) Ahem. National database. Have the past 48 hours taught us nothing?

    Yes they have taught us that you can’t cost cut at government departments and leave junior staff to do responsible roles.

    It hasn’t taught us whether a national DNA database from birth would be an advantage or disadvantage in the fight against crime and as an aid to the medical profession.

  • Rochdale Cowboy 21st Nov '07 - 10:25pm

    Is Cheltenham Robin actually saying that a national DNA database would not help in the fight against crime?

  • Cheltenham Robin 21st Nov '07 - 10:43pm

    No I am saying that I think it would help in the fight against crime.

    My own view (not necessarily those of the party in general) is that the pros could outway the cons.

  • Angus J Huck 21st Nov '07 - 11:07pm

    Rochdale Cowboy writes: “How many lives would be saved / rapes not committed if we had a database?”

    Answer: NONE.

    When fingerprint technology became available to law enforcement agencies, criminals started wearing gloves.

    Now that DNA profiling is available, they not only wear gloves, they make sure they clean up the crime scene and dispose of the body.

    Has the crime clear-up rate improved since the development of DNA profiling? Anyone?

    There are four key issues here:

    (1) Now that it is possible to extract minute samples of DNA it is difficult to be sure how those samples got where they are. A wodge of semen in a rape victim’s vagina is one thing, microscopic specks in a car boot is quite another.

    (2) DNA profiling is as accurate as the honesty of the Police, many of whom are corrupt (Robert Mark compulsorily retired half of Scotland Yard, but still he only scratched the surface), and two-thirds of whom are Freemasons.

    In the case of James Hanratty, who was fitted up by a Freemasonic businessman with the aid of corrupt police officers, and hanged in Bedford Prison in 1962, some time after 1999 police officers placed a public hair from Hanratty’s underpants and semen from his trousers on Valerie Storie’s knickers to make it look as though Hanratty actually had been guilty. (There would not have been any trace of Storie’s assailant on those knickers, anyway, because Peter Louis Alphon, when he raped Storie, would have pulled them down to her ankles.)

    Now, if the Police are prepared to plant DNA in order to protect the reputations of colleagues now dead, and the blushes of a Freemason then in his nineties, how far would they be willing to go to “solve” a modern crime, or cover up crimes committed by the state, or the rich and powerful (like the killers of Dr David Kelly)?

    DNA should be treated like any other kind of scientific evidence – with care.

    (3) Our DNA is our property. I object most strongly to having to surrender it to the state. I am not the property of the state, nor is any part of me.

    (4) How far do we go? ID cards? A national DNA database? Satellite surveillance of motor vehicles? Micro-chipping of the population?

    The arguments Laurence uses are the very same arguments that Hitler, Stalin and Mao deployed to defend their brutal, invasive, totalitarian policies. It was all for the benefit of the people, no honest, upright person had anything to fear from it, those who insisted on human freedom were enemies of the people.

    Just you wait. When microchipping comes along, Laurence will be feeding us exactly the same bull manure. We can eliminate child abduction, extirpate such wicked things as trunacy and underage drinking, we can even stop teenage boys masturbating if we feel like it.

  • Hywel Morgan 21st Nov '07 - 11:15pm

    “rapes not committed if we had a database?”

    Not a lot of evidence of DNA profiling preventing rape or making it easier to get a conviction.

    I remember a student union debate in 1989 when it was argued that compulsory DNA profiling would end rape as a crime.

    DNA can’t do anything about proving consent.

  • Peter Bancroft 22nd Nov '07 - 4:08am

    So let me get this straight.

    Lawrence, you’re claiming that it’s liberal for the govt to collect a full genetic profile of every citizen of the UK by force if necessary because you believe that it could be a useful tool in preventing crime.

    So many things to say here, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Suffice to say your default position is that where something is not explicitly private, then it must be entirely at the discretion and use of the state. More traditionally outside of these heated leadership debates, people considering themselves “liberal” might consider such statist, totalitarian and anti-self ownership positions fundamentally repulsive.

  • Angus J Huck 22nd Nov '07 - 9:22am

    Laurence Boyce wrote: “I think it’s a bit of a category error to say that we can actually own our DNA.”

    If you think information is incapable of being property, then perhaps you should consult the judgment of the House of Lords in Boardman v Phipps.

    If your doctor starts selling your medical records to the News of the World, that’s OK. Medical records aren’t property, so there’s no breach of trust.

    And Laurence, what do you have to say to the people who saw Hanratty in Rhyl on the night Peter Louis Alphon shot Michael Gregsten, plus the shopkeeper who met him in Liverpool earlier in the day?

    If we have a national DNA database, the Police can fit up anyone they like. No need to line up 9 prison grasses (as they did in Michael Stone’s case) and let them get away with arson attacks (as they did Damian Daley). Just plant the DNA, and you can get a jury to convict anyone you like. Even you, Laurence. But perhaps your faith in the incorruptibility of the Police is such that little things like that don’t worry you.

  • Anthony Gibson 22nd Nov '07 - 10:12am

    ‘Under the terms which Nick Clegg and others would like to see in force, whereby the DNA of innocents is never retained, Castree would literally have got away with murder.’

    Is that right? I thought Castree’s DNA could still have been taken and matched against the database. Isn’t the policy simply that if the person is innocent then their records are not stored forever?

  • Angus J Huck 22nd Nov '07 - 10:51am

    Laurence Boyce wrote: “Basically if Castree had never been brought in on another case, he would never have given a sample and would never have been caught. Conversely, with a universal DNA database in place, he would have been caught right at the outset and an innocent man would never have spent sixteen years in prison. (I’m talking in the abstract here; the technology was not ready in time to save Stefan Kiszko. But it’s ready now.)”

    Possibly. But supposing Brian Castree had been a Freemason, a police-officer or a relative of a police-officer. Would the Police have prosecuted him, had any of those scenarios been true?

    What would there be to stop the Police in such circumstances planting the DNA of some petty criminal or anyone they considered expendible on the victim’s body?

    You would have incontrovertible “proof” that the innocent man is guilty, without the need for a single prison grass.

  • Angus J Huck 22nd Nov '07 - 11:32am

    The law?

    Indeed.

    Except I recall an interview with the late Lord Denning shortly after his retirement in which he was asked what he would do as a judge if presented with proof that an innocent person had been convicted and sent to prison.

    “Tear it up,” was Denning’s reply.

  • sorry to change tack, but going back to the start of the original article –

    “tea towel on his head”

    er, did I really read that comment from a Liberal ????

  • Angus J Huck 22nd Nov '07 - 1:07pm

    Laurence Boyce wrote: “The law is, in a sense, the only thing preventing us from committing all manner of felonies.”

    Wrong. The law by itself prevents nothing. Laws are only effective to the extent that they can be enforced. Currently, the Police, senior Freemasons, rich and powerful people generally, and the state itself, enjoy de facto immunity from criminal prosecution.

    Denning made that perfectly clear in relation to the Police.

    That isn’t libertarian paranoia, Laurence. Those are the recorded words of the former Master of the Rolls (and a Law Lord before that).

    The state cannot be trusted with a national DNA database, even if some people think they should have it in the first place.

    And Laurence. You have used the terms “rule of law” and “forensic evidence” incorrectly. Best to check these out before you sound off.

    By the way, James Anderton, the former Chief Constbale of Greater Manchester, was an enthusiastic advocate of a national fingerprint database.

    Anderton described gays as “swirling around in a cesspit of their own creation”, and said juvenile offenders should be “flogged until they cry for mercy”. He also claimed to be able to speak to God.

  • Angus J Huck 22nd Nov '07 - 3:16pm

    Laurence Boyce wrote: “Well if that were the case (and I think I speak for many in detecting no small amount of exaggeration in that assertion), then we would need to deal with the problem on its own terms.”

    In 1973 a Brighton antique dealer was found dead in the River Arun. It just so happened that this gentleman had been involved in a dispute about money with Mr Nicholas Francis Marcel Van Hoogstraten (an amazing coincidence if ever there was one).

    So what happened? Well, a local government officer by the name of Colin Wallace was arrested, charged with murder and convicted. Some years later, his conviction was quashed by the Court of Appeal.

    Now, it so happens that not one of the many hundreds of complaints made to Sussex Police about Nicholas Van Hoogstraten and his henchmen (since his realease from prison in 1972) has ever resulted in a prosecution.

    And none of this should surprise us, if we consider the case of Mr Charles Ridge, the former Chief Constable of Brighton, who was acquitted of charges relating to alleged involvement in armed robberies, but was nonethelss subject to withering critcism by the trial judge.

    So, Laurence, in the light of what I have just told you, would you entrust you DNA to Sussex Police?

    “So can the state be trusted to hold our tax details then? Or what about child benefit information? Should we scrap child benefit after the recent fiasco? Followed by income tax? Or perhaps just scrap government altogether?”

    Laurence, you make the same mistake as the neo-Hegelian philosopher, Dr Roger Scruton, who deployed a very similar argument to defend the death penalty.

    He said it doesn’t matter if a few people are hanged by mistake, because it is so overwhelmingly important that the guilty are put to death. We don’t close down hospitals because a few people die as a result of medical negligence, he said rhetorically.

    Right. Spot the difference. Medicine is necessary. Hanging people isn’t. Medicine saves lives. Hanging, gassing and electrocuting people doesn’t.

    And the same goes for your argument, Laurence. No, we can’t trust the state with our tax records, but taxation is necessary if we are to have public services. A national DNA database, by contrast, is unlikely to have any equivalent impact.

    Enoch Powell opposed to death penalty because it is an “avoidable brutality”. A national DNA database would be an avoidable boost to the invasive power of the state.

  • Unexpected Tiger 22nd Nov '07 - 11:53pm

    Well I’m not a lawyer, but my understanding of things is you should never convict anyone on any single piece of evidence, however convincing it is in theory. There are just too many possible sources of human error. So if you wanted to convict someone on DNA, you would need some other reason to think they had committed the crime. So why not just put all suspects on a database for the duration of an investigation, and then destroy it afterwards?

    There’s also the pure numbers problem; with 60 million people on a database, even if there’s only 1 in 20 million chance of an error that’s still a one in three chance of catching an innocent man. Technology will make DNA screening cheaper, but will it make it more reliable? After all, my computer is a lot faster than any computers around 20 years ago, but it’s probably just as likely to crash.

    Aren’t the Freemasons just a glorified middle aged drinking society nowadays?

  • Angus J Huck 23rd Nov '07 - 12:25am

    If my memory serves me right (and it does in this case), none of the victims of Dennis Andrew Nilsen and Fred West was discovered until their respective killing sprees had been halted. A national DNA database would have succeeded in catching neither killer, because both concealed the bodies of their victims so effectively that it was several years before any was found.

    DNA technology has only succeeded in catching criminals who were unaware of the technology when they committed their crimes. Modern murderers and rapists are more likely to destroy their victims’ bodies, by burial in some recondite location, by fire, acid, or by whatever means. And rapists and paedophiles may well take to killing their victims rather than allow their DNA to be detected. So there is actually a serious danger that a national DNA database will put us at GREATER risk (women in particular).

    The notion that Laurence is trying to peddle here, that DNA profiling is a magic panacea that will free the human race from violent crime, is a complete chimaera.

    Criminals, as they have throughout history, will adapt to meet new challenges.

    No DNA was found on the remains of Amanda Dowler, probably because the soft parts had been eaten by foxes. Yes, I know the Polish couple who found her. They even invited me to go mushroom picking in the woods once. I said at the time she was in a wood in Hampshire, and listed several likely candidates, but not the one where she was actually found. Still, I did say the killer had driven down the M3 and had used Fleet Services (the body was found close to the latter). So Hercules Poirot didn’t have to be that bright after all.

    The government says identity cards are about protecting us from terrorism, crime and benefit fraud. They are nothing of the sort. They are the first step on the slippery road to a police state.

    The government says road pricing is about reducing fuel consumption and protecting the environment. Baloney. It is all about satellite surveillance of motor vehicles. Bureaucrats and spooks watching us every time we go out in our cars.

    When, ultimately, microchipping comes, we will be told that we need it to prevent child abduction, to stop young people exercising their fundamental human right to drink alcohol, and to ensure that under 18s are forced to submit to “education”, etc. It will all be about preventing crime and bullying unpopular minorities, just like ID cards.

    By that stage, of course, we will be little short of robots and will have lost our capacity to think.

    Someone did predict all this nearly 20 years ago, and if he hadn’t been sidetracked by lizards, more of us might realise he was right.

  • Angus J Huck 23rd Nov '07 - 9:38am

    Laurence Boyce wrote: “I don’t know how others feel, but I prefer the ejaculation stories.”

    Actually, they did invite me to go mushroom picking in the woods. And Amanda Dowler’s body actually was eaten by foxes. So wrong again, Laurence.

    What Laurence assumes is that the Police, and the powerful elites they support, actually want to eliminate crime.

    Might they not consider that crime (which affects mostly poor people) performs a useful social control function? It makes people more willing to accept curtailments of their liberties, such as ID cards and a national DNA database.

    Why else, I ask you, has Rupert Murdoch spent the last 30 years filling his newspapers with sensationalist reporting? On crime in general, but with a particular emphasis on crimes against children?

    A third of property crime is committed by recreational drug users. Legalise drugs, and all such crime would evaporate overnight.

    So why doesn’t the state do just that? Legalise all recreational drugs? Might it not be useful to elites to maintain a marginalised underclass that everyone fears?

    Now, David Icke sees all this, while Laurence sits in Cambridge talking like a press officer for the Police Federation. Who is the brainless moron, Laurence?

  • Angus J Huck 23rd Nov '07 - 3:13pm

    Laurence Boyce wrote: “Look, it’s going to happen whether we like it or not. If we just nay say, then we won’t even get our genuine concerns addressed.”

    Like nuclear weapons. Every rogue state is going to get them whether we like it or not.

    Except unlike nuclear physicists, geneticists are notoriously unscientific in their penchant for making wild and exaggerated claims.

    For instance, the notion that behavioural (as opposed to physical) characteristics can be transmitted by DNA. Basically, they think Joe Public is too stupid to spot the very real conceptual difficulties involved.

    Then we have the scientist who claimed he had uncovered a “gay gene”, and the one who says blondes will die out in 200 years. And don’t forget the story that got into even serious newspapers that Israel is developing a biological weapon that only kills Gentiles.

    So, if Dawkins, or anyone else, tells me he has found a “murderer’s gene”, I will challenge him to show me the mechanism which enables this gene to make someone a murderer.

    But careful here. A bit of politics creeps in. Many of Dawkins’s most ardent supporters are Marxists who insist that human intelligence is exclusively a product of environment. Genes have nothing to do with it, they insist.

    The average IQ in Surrey is higher than the average IQ in Wigan, but leftists tell us this is because Surrey is full of nice leafy suburbs, Wigan isn’t.

    Now, Laurence. Take a deep breath and compose yourself. Here’s your opportunity to invite a lynch mob to your house.

    Do you believe that some races are more intelligent than others?

  • Angus J Huck 24th Nov '07 - 12:24am

    Laurence, in his usual diplomatic fashion, calls David Icke a “brainless moron” because his claims imply that elites act with a common purpose (I hope I am representing your view correctly, Laurence).

    Now, David has undoubtedly said some balmy things. But has he ever come up within a scenario quite as loopy as the following?

    A burglar, who spends most of his spare time playing pinball machines in the warmth and bustle of Soho, decides to go to the dogs in Slough one night. Now, what does he do once the race is over? Take the train back to London? Er, no. He wanders off, on foot, in the direction of Maidenhead. About five miles into the gloom and cold of an early 60s night, he turns down a little country lane that leads nowhere in particular, and runs alongside the muddy construction works of the new M4. And yes, this unsuccessful petty tea leaf, he takes a gun! Yes, a handgun is exactly the thing you take with you when you visit a country lane on foot at 9 o’clock at night! Then he chances upon a parked car. And by a truly amazing coincidence, one of the two occupants of this car just happens to have a wife who is coveted by one of his fences, who just happens to be a senior Freemason!

    And all the time he is doing this, he is sitting in a hotel bedroom 200 miles away in Rhyl!

    I tell this fairy tale for the simple reason that Laurence, the arch rationalist and excoriator of tall stories, believes it with a passion.

    And yes. According to the Police, a pubic hair and traces of semen belonging to Hanratty were found on Valerie Storie’s knickers. Well, of course they were. The Police put them there!

    Let he who is without blemish call David Icke a brainless moron.

  • Angus J Huck 24th Nov '07 - 11:44am

    No 48:

    A few days before he was arrested, Hanratty had sex with a woman called Gladys Deacon in his car on Brockley Hill (many of his burglaries were carried out in Stanmore, just down the road). Hanratty practiced coitus interruptus and ejaculated over his trousers. He then placed those trousers, unlaundered, in a suitcase, which he handed over to the Police on his arrest.

    All the Police had to do, post 1996, was remove traces of the semen from Hanratty’s trousers and place them on Valerie Storie’s knickers.

    All the exhibits from the case had been sitting in a box together for 30 years, so there could have been cross-contamination in any event.

    My source is “Hanratty: The Final Verdict”, by Bob Woffinden, at page 135:

    “They drove back to London. After having a drink and a sandwich in Piccadilly, he took Gladys to what was, for him, always the main attraction, a funfair; he took her to Battersea. They left about midnight. He drove her back to North London, and parked just off Brockley Hill in Stanmore. They had sex in the car, though it must have been a more than usually messy business. Hanratty ended up with semen stains down his trousers. It was after one in the morning when he dropped her home.”

    I should apologise for the error I made when I first raised this on LDV. I said that this incident had taken place in Kenton (where Hanratty’s family lived). In fact, it was on Brockley Hill, site of the Roman mutatio recorded as Sulloniacae on the Antonine Itinerary.

    Now a couple of questions for Laurence:

    (1) Do you believe in the bullet that turns at 180 degrees? (The type fired by Lee Harvey Oswald?)

    (2) Do you belive that avaiation fuel is capable of defying gravity? Jesus couldn’t do this, you tell us. So what about the kerosene that is alleged to have sat, knee-deep, inside the world Trade Centre for one and a half hours?

  • Angus J Huck 24th Nov '07 - 11:21pm

    Laurence Boyce wrote: “Nuclear weapons are often cited as an example of the evils of scientific progress, but I don’t see it that way at all. Science merely reflects reality. Without nuclear energy, there would be no stars, no Sun, and no life on Earth. So it seems silly wishing that nuclear energy did not exist, or that we hadn’t discovered it. I’m glad we discovered how to make nuclear weapons, but I fervently hope that they will never be let off again.”

    I didn’t say nuclear weapons are an example of the evils of scientific progress, as you well know. Set up a straw man and knock him down. We are all familiar with that technique.

    YOU are arguing that the technology for mass surveillance exists, so it is inevitable that it will be used, whether we like it or not; ergo, it is futile to try to prevent it being used.

    I countered that the same argument can be deployed to defend nuclear proliferation. And (apparently) you have no answer to that; other than to paint me as some kind of green Luddite, which is ridiculous.

    Human beings have the capacity to control technology. It isn’t easy (considering how many powerful people out there want to misuse it), but it can be done.

    “He says, making a wild and exaggerated claim.”

    I hear the sound of pots and kettles whistling.

    You must admit, Laurence, it’s a bit rich for someone who misuses the terms “forensic evidence” and “rule of law” to pontificate about criminal evidence and criminal justice.

    “Well of course behaviour is genetic;”

    Another slight of hand.

    I didn’t say behaviour is not genetic (an imprecise and misleading agglomeration of words I would never dream of using), I said that the notion that behavioural characteristics are transmitted by DNA may be incoherent; two totally different things.

    Of course behavioural characteristics are passed from parent to child. The issue is how that happens. More than one mechanism is possible.

    “surely this is no longer controversial”

    If you go through the subscription list of the “New Statesman” you will find plenty of people for whom it is highly controversial.

    “(We have to be a bit careful when talking about genes “for” something, as it’s not quite as simple as that, but I’ll let that pass for now.)”

    If the notion that behavioural characteristics can be transmitted by DNA isn’t incoherent, then it is unlikely you would find yourself forced to supply a ducking and diving answer.

    What is really dangerous, of course, is that someone like Dawkins might claim to have identified a “violence” gene, and that as a consequence all those who have it are subjected to indefinite detention. You will not doubt say this would be a thoroughly good thing or at least shrug your shoulders and categorise it as an inevitable consequence of a technology we cannot uninvent.

    “In fact most violence fundamentally boils down to fighting over girls,”

    Right, so there are no violent homosexuals. Dennis Andrew Nilsen, all is forgiven.

    Throughout all but the last 100 years of human history (stretching back 70,000 years), boys have not had to fight over girls. Unions between males and females were arranged (and still are in many parts of the world). A fact which those academic charlatans calling themselves “evolutionary psychologists” conveniently ignore.

    “More! More!”

    I know you’re being facetious, Laurence, but the ingenuous among us might take this as a sign that you are willing to question your blind faith in the fundamental benevolence and benign nature of powerful elites.

    Laurence, you have asserted (with ever increasing vehemence and confidence) that a national DNA database is both inevitable and capable of solving most if not all violent crime. But you have adduced no evidence to support these propositions other than the assertions of loud-mouthed politicians and police chiefs.

    How many lawyers support a national DNA database? How many academic criminologists do? Very few, I suspect, but maybe you can put me right on that.

    Plenty of lawyers with criminal justice knowledge view this site. It would be nice if some of them would add their comments.

  • 53. A superb analysis. I would just like to point out to Laurence that for liberals the end cannot necessarily justify the means.

  • @54 Tony Hill to that I’d add that compulsion is no panacea for failure.
    To diminish the potential for failure and the consequences of that failure through either ignorance, neglect or a complacent belief against the possibility is to set yourself up for it.

  • Agus J Huck 27th Nov '07 - 9:58pm

    Laurence Boyce wrote:

    “Well, behavioural characteristics are transmitted by DNA. There’s no doubt about it.”

    A classic example of argument by assertion. The headmaster says so. Therefore it is right.

    Let’s just hope no-one notices it’s incoherent. That would spoil the fun.

    “70,000 years is not long in evolutionary terms”

    But you can turn a wolf into a dog in four generations.

    Very useful, though, to be able to rely on species that no longer exist.

    “I have to say that if liberalism entails jailing the innocent and allowing the guilty to go free, then I don’t want to be a liberal.”

    But you’re quite happy for the state to hang Hanratty, even though he was innocent.

    “Oh thank God for that”

    But you don’t believe in God!

    Leonid Breshnev once referred to the Almighty, in a speech at Alma-Ata. Shortly afterwards, his health deteriorated.

  • Angus J Huck 27th Nov '07 - 11:10pm

    Joe Otten wrote:

    “Angus,

    “Your dog/wolf example rather supports the point you are opposing.

    Domestic animals and cattle are more docile than their wild counterparts. They have been bred for this. If behavioural characteristics weren’t transmitted genetically, this breeding wouldn’t work.”

    Not necessarily.

    Livestock animals are bred primarily for meat and wool production, for docility only secondarily.

    There are plenty of examples of species changing behaviour patterns without there being any possibility of natural (or any other kind of) selection having taken place.

    Those who walked in the countryside 30 years ago will recall that sheep invariably ran to the other side of the field at the sight of a human. Now, they stand and stare, or even walk towards the human.

    Similarly, herons standing along the banks of the Thames are unmoved by humans just a few feet away. In rural areas, a heron will generally depart before the human even gets the chance to see it. This has been so for less than a quarter of a century.

  • Angus J Huck 28th Nov '07 - 10:50am

    Joe Otten @ 65:

    But how is an instinct transmitted? Show me the MECHANISM.

    LB has made two assertions which call for analysis.

    (1) He maintains that public opinion is unconcerned about attacks on civil liberties.

    On what evidence does LB base this view?

    It is of course true that until last week opinion polls were consistent in showing that a majority of people in the UK supported the imposition of compulsory ID cards.

    Why was this so?

    The answer is quite simple: FEAR. If you can engender a climate of fear in the populace then it is possible to to get people to accept almost any curtailment of their liberties. The media (and especially those outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch) have spent the last 30 years pumping out a daily diet of sensationalist reporting about crime and social breakdown in general, and crimes against children in particular. So it is hardly surprising people think we live in a lawless society where muggers, rapists, paedophiles and terrorists lurk behind every viburnum bush.

    You can fool most of the people all of the time, as Abraham Lincoln once observed. Murdoch and his ilk do just that.

    (2) Laurence insists that a national DNA database will eliminate most if not all violent crime.

    Wrong.

    It will be of use only against assailtants who are (1) unknown to their victims, (2) leave a substantial (not a microscopic) tace of themselves, (3) do not dispose of the victim’s body and effects, and (4) do not have an existing criminal record (their DNA is already on file).

    So, who would still have got away?

    Ian Brady and Fred West, because they disposed of their victims’ bodies and had existing criminal records; Dennis Andrew Nilsen, because he disposed of his victims’ bodies; Dr Harold Shipman and Dr John Bodkin Adams, because they left no trace of themsleves.

    And who is left?

    Well, Robert Black, who dumped his victims’ bodies by the roadside. But would he have done this had there been a national DNA database?

    All in all, then, it looks as if a national DNA database is likely to prove a rather useless crime fighting tool.

    Except that it would enable the Police to fit up anyone of their choosing – from Hanratty down to Colin Stagg, Michael Stone and Barry George.

  • Angus J Huck 28th Nov '07 - 11:30am

    The extent to which people are prepared to tolerate curtailments to their liberties depends not just on the effectiveness of the propaganda pumped out by media outlets serving elite interests.

    Thre is also the question of history and culture.

    It is far harder to restrict the liberties of say, the Basques, who have a history of living in isolated farms (at least since the Dark Ages), and of having semi-autonomous government, than say, the Russians, who have lived in nucleated villages since the Neolithic, and were subject to the feudal system up until the late 19th century.

    A Russian factory worker living in a high-rise in the suburbs of Omsk might accept microchipping with a degree of fatalism. Do it to a farmer in the Baztan Valley and you will have to get past his hunting rifle first.

  • I’ve moderated the last couple of comments in this thread as things were getting rather heated and personal. Please cool it a little; thanks 🙂

  • Angus J Huck 28th Nov '07 - 3:28pm

    Joe Otten wrote:

    “Angus, the mechanisms of inheritance can be found in any biology textbook.”

    Not in any known to me.

    Your answer is obfuscatory, of course, because you have surreptitiously shifted your ground from behavioural characteristics to any characteristic.

    You have to explain how DNA can transmit BEHAVIOUR, as opposed to physical characteristics.

    I am not prepared to listen to taurine ordure. I want to know exactly what happens, stage by stage, action by action.

    I suspect the notion is incoherent (in much the same way as trace theories of memory are incoherent), which means you’ll get stuck very quickly.

    And that is why people like Laurence bluff as far as they can go then change the subject once they reach the corner.

    What is it in one’s brain that makes one a murderer, and how does DNA put it there?

    Behavioural characteristics (especially those that cross groups as I have described) are more likely to be transmitted by morphic resonance, as Dr Rupert Sheldrake has demonstrated in his various publications.

    I guess that is the conclusion you are trying so desperately to avoid having to accept.

    http://www.sheldrake.org/homepage.html

  • Angus J Huck 28th Nov '07 - 4:35pm

    Laurence Boyce wrote:

    “The brain has a highly complex internal structure.”

    So complex you don’t even try to explain how it works.

    Not good enough.

    Say that in an exam and you fail.

  • Angus J Huck 7th Dec '07 - 7:49pm

    Laurence Boyce wrote:

    “Not for the benefit of the the nation. The benefit will be to our individual personal liberties about which so many of us bang on about all the time. Just ask Stefan Kiszko. Well, we can’t in fact because he is dead.”

    Laurence, your blind faith in the infallibility of the Police is beginning to make you look ridiculous.

    (1)

    If DNA profiling had existed in 1975, Brian Castree would have buried Lesley Moleseed’s body on the Moors, just as Ian Brady did a decade earlier.

    In the same way that rats become immune to rat poison, criminals change and refine their methods in order to take account of technological improvements available to the law enforcement agencies. When fingerprint matching was introduced, burglars started wearing gloves.

    (2)

    The Police who investigated the murder of Lesley Moleseed knew perfectly well that Stefan Kiszko was innocent. If DNA profiling had existed, they would simply have planted Kiszko’s DNA on Moleseed’s body, and would not have had to rely on a dodgy “confession”.

    If Laurence believes the Police can be trusted with a national DNA database, then he needs to have his brain taken out of his skull and examined with a magnifying glass.

    Why did Sir Robert Mark find it necessary to compulsorily retire more than a score of senior officers at Scotland Yard when he became Metropolitan Police Commissioner in 1970 (Mark was no liberal, but he was an honest copper)? Why did Operation Countryman (a 1977 investigation of corruption in the Met Police) collapse due to the total non-cooperation of virutally everyone interviewed?

    The Police have a history of fitting people up. They fitted up Stefan Kiszko, they fitted up Colin Wallace (to protect their cash-cow, Nicholas Van Hoogstraten), they fitted up the Guildford Four, they fitted up the Birmingham Six. Plus very many others.

    Laurence, are you going to volunteer to be the next one?

    Laurence Boyce further wrote:

    “Too right. If Liberal Democrats are seen to attack any front line public service as a whole then we don’t deserve power.”

    Ok. So you would have said the same thing to a German who attacked the Gestapo, or a Russian who criticised the KGB?

    Laurence rambles on:

    “The brain is not a lump of grey matter. It has a highly complex internal structure and is split into a variety of different “modules” adapted to perform very specific tasks. A good example is language. Clearly the environment will determine which language you speak: French, German, Japanese. But at a more abstract level, the ability to form and comprehend sentences with a grammatical structure is completely hardwired, which is why we will never ever be able to hold a conversation with a chimpanzee.”

    Laurence, earlier on in this thread you said that evolutionary changes take millions of years. Human language (in its modern form) has only existed for £70,000 years.

    David Icke claims that the people he calls the “Illuminati” are bent on establishing a global fascist state based on mass surveillance and mind control. An exaggeration perhaps, and with elements of fantasy, but all good legends have a foundation in truth. Clearly Laurence is hoping against hope that Icke is right.

  • Rochdale Cowboy 7th Dec '07 - 8:15pm

    Angus – do you accept that without a DNA database the killer of Lesley Molseed would not now be behind bars – I do not believe that the police set up Stefan – it was incompetence aided and abetted by incompetent defence – led by Waddington – yes later to become Home Sec. Stefan spent years – as a child killer behind bars – because DNA testing was not up to the standards of today – and there was no database which would have led to the real killer

  • Angus J Huck 7th Dec '07 - 8:18pm

    LB wrote:

    “Do you know, it’s funny you should say that. Only the other day I was chatting away to a nice policewoman in a small room at the Cambridge police station. And there I was thinking to myself: this is just like the Gestapo.”

    Would you have such a rosy view of the Police if you were Barry George or Michael Stone?

  • Angus J Huck 7th Dec '07 - 8:38pm

    Rochdale Cowboy wrote:

    “Angus – do you accept that without a DNA database the killer of Lesley Molseed would not now be behind bars – I do not believe that the police set up Stefan – it was incompetence aided and abetted by incompetent defence – led by Waddington – yes later to become Home Sec. Stefan spent years – as a child killer behind bars – because DNA testing was not up to the standards of today – and there was no database which would have led to the real killer”

    I’ll take your question in 2 parts:-

    (1)

    Yes, Brian Castree would have been caught, as indeed he was, without a National DNA database. A DNA sample was taken from Castree as a matter or routine, because he was arrested on a different matter. Many serial killers already have their DNA on file because they have existing criminal records, as did Ian Brady and Fred West. I am not opposed to retaining DNA profiles or fingerprints of convicted criminals or taking samples from those arrested.

    It was not DNA profiling that cleared Stefan Kiszko, as I understand it. It was the fact that Kiszko’s semen was fertile (unlike the semen found on the body), which the Crown knew but withheld from the Defence team.

    (2)

    The evidence against Stefan Kiszko was a fabricated “confession” that was concocted by the Police and signed by Kiszko under duress. This was the usual means of fitting people up prior to the enactment of PACE in 1984 (the legislation that required the Police to tape interviews with suspects).

    Like criminals out of uniform, criminals in uniform continue to refine their methods of skulduggery to meet the changing constraints placed upon them.

  • Angus J Huck 7th Dec '07 - 8:43pm

    Sorry, I meant to say “Kiszko’s semen was INfertile”.

  • Rochdale Cowboy 7th Dec '07 - 9:02pm

    Angus – I do agree with what you just said – but the point still remains – if there had been a DNA database Stefan would not have gone to prison and the real killer would have done earlier – surely that would now be the case now we have the technology.
    You say that you are against a national database – but agree with convicted criminals DNA being kept – what about when they have served their time? should their DNA be kept or not? If you follow through with your liberal principles their DNA should be destroyed – should we stop them from voting as well?

  • Angus J Huck 7th Dec '07 - 10:12pm

    Rochdale Cowboy:

    I think it unwise to look at a 1975 murder through 2007 spectacles.

    If a national DNA database had existed in 1975, it is probable that Castree would have destroyed Lesley Moleseed’s body. Kiszko’s conviction would be unlikely today, not because of DNA profiling, but because formal interviews have to be taped (something that didn’t happen in 1975). If a national DNA database had existed in 1975, the Police could have planted Kiszko’s DNA on Lesely Moleseed’s body had they so wished.

    I am not opposed to the retention of DNA profiles of convicted criminals (their fingerprints are already retained). But a national DNA database would be going way too far, with doubtful benefits, and difficulties which are not immediately apparent to those unfamilair with past Police practice.

  • Angus J Huck 7th Dec '07 - 10:44pm

    LB at 88:

    No, Laurence. You’ve got it wrong again. The Police waited for over a year after Jill Dando’s murder before they even bothered to question Barry George, even though he lived just round the corner and had a history of stalking women. Why? Because they knew perfectly well that the assassination was carried out by the Serbian Secret Police. The government felt it was unwise to blame Serbia for the killing because they didn’t want to upset the anti-Milosevic opposition, much of which was even more extreme than Milosevic. So the Police wasted public money for over a year, then, in desperation, arrested Barry George.

    The killing was carried out by a professional assassin with specialist military training, not a local eccentric with learning difficulties. The firearm was a gun disguised as a mobile phone that fired a single shot, a weapon the Serbian Secret Police was known to use (one of their agents was caught in Austria with such a device).

    Some people deserve to live in a fascist dictatorship, Laurence. You are one of them.

  • Angus J Huck 7th Dec '07 - 11:56pm

    LB wrote:

    “Barry George is set for a retrial because it has been considered unsafe to prosecute somebody on the basis of a single particle of gunshot residue.”

    Wrong, Laurence. The particle of gunshot residue was only one plank of the prosecution case. The other parts will be put to a second jury at the retrial. The point about the particle of gunshot residue is that it was the only “evidence” the Crown produced that had any force in the way it was presented. The fact that Barry George was seen in his own street four hours before the murder means nothing. And his attempt to find an alibi the day after the murder was in all probability motivated by the fact that he was a suspect in the Rachel Nickell murder a few years previously.

    Incidentally, John Stalker, one of the best detectives we have ever had, accepts that Jill Dando was murdered by the Serbian Secret Police.

    So, once again, Laurence, you prove yourself remarkably sloppy with facts. Indeed, in your efforts to be facetious, you fall flat on your face.

    Oh, and Laurence. You have still to explain how Hanratty managed to shoot Michael Gregsten while he was in a hotel in Rhyl. Quite a sticking point, I think.

  • Angus J Huck 9th Dec '07 - 6:34pm

    “This is such a ridiculously weak argument that I am amazed you persist with it. Of course Castree would just have “destroyed the body.” Jesus, have you ever actually tried destroying a body? It’s not that easy you know. Oops, forget I said that!”

    Are you really that ignorant, Laurence, or is this just another of your poses?

    Do you remeber a guy called Ian Brady, and his ladyfriend, Myra Hindley? What did they do with the bodies of the children they killed? Any guesses, Laurence? I even mentioned it in one of the posts you affect to mock.

    “Leaving to one side your pathological paranoia of the police, how exactly would they have been able to generate a DNA sample from the database? That is a highly complex and costly undertaking in principle, far more onerous than going from sample to fingerprint.”

    Oh, right. So the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six were guilty? And every single Met police officer co-operated fully with Operation Countryman (which was never needed in the first place)? Your ignorance of recent history astounds me.

    You get a sample of someone’s DNA from the person himself or from his immediate surroundings. In Hanratty’s case, they obtained it from a pair of trousers sitting in a box in Lambeth. Anyway, I thought you said we leave our DNA everywhere we go? Oh, I see, we don’t.

    “Now there’s a tragic irony if ever there was one. Because I feel that I live in a perfectly free society; whereas you, clearly, are already living under a fascist dictatorship in your own imagination.”

    You admit I’m right about Barry George, so presumably it can’t all be my imagination.

    “I guess he must have used a gun with a really long barrel.”

    It was a .38 Enfield revolver. I know nothing about firearms, so cannot say how long the barrel was, but it must have been short enough for Peter Louis Alphon to get it into Michael Gregsten’s car.

    As the facts emerge, it gets harder and harder to maintain that Hanratty was guilty. Unless he had the ability to bilocate.

  • Angus J Huck 9th Dec '07 - 7:41pm

    “You’ve just shot yourself in the foot there. Because you have been arguing that a DNA database will enable the police to set people up, but now you are saying that they don’t need the database at all. Make your mind up.”

    Fraid not. A national DNA database allows the Police to determine the DNA profile of whomever it is they wish to fit up. Having done that, they can then acquire the traces. The logic is quite simple, if you think about it.

    “No, I don’t.”

    Well, actually you did. But now you have resiled from it.

    “I think it’s conceivable that the police might have felt under a certain amount of pressure to solve such a high profile case. But it is the job of the court to dispassionately weigh up the evidence and reach a judgement. It looks like in this case they may have made a mistake. Or they may not. We’ll see.”

    If you believe the above, you’ll believe absolutely anything, including the stuff Dawkins, Blackmore and Zwinge spout out.

    Well, you appear to believe that Ian Stevenson hypnotised children and that it is possible to mimic the NDE by stimulating parts of the brain, so obviously you ARE capable of believing more or less anything.

    “Does morphic resonance allow for that?”

    When you first started quoting the likes of Dawkins, Blackmore and Zwinge I thought you knew perfectly well that materialism is hokum. But it rapidly became clear that you are genuinely ignorant of the facts. I guess morphic resonance is one of thise things about which you shoot off your mouth without having a clear idea what it is.

    I’ve sussed you, Laurence. You don’t give a monkey’s about any of the issues discussed on this forum. You wind up civil libertarians, Christians, Moslems, whomever, for sport.

    (If you want to be taken seriously, avoid split infinitives.)

  • Angus J Huck 9th Dec '07 - 8:28pm

    “I’m sorry but I’m just too stupid to understand this. I decide that I want to set someone up. Nick Clegg, say. So I look up Nick Clegg in the database, and get his profile. It’s 4839726417653645. So then I go along to a leadership hustings and, sitting in the front row, catch his spit as he is speaking passionately about civil liberties. I then plant this sample at a crime scene. The sample is in due course collected, and finds its way to the testing laboratory where it is matched to Nick Clegg. Obviously. Because it’s his spit. So what was there to be gained from knowing that he was 4839726417653645 in the first place?”

    If Nick Clegg spits at you, then you can be reasonably certain that the spit you collect contains Nick Clegg’s DNA. Sure.

    But what if you are a police officer thinking of fitting up some local ne’er do weil for a murder that you are unable to solve? You have his DNA profile, but you need to put traces of it on the murdered girl’s knickers. What do you do? No, you don’t go and confront him. You collect a used condom from his dustbin, or from his toilet waste (MOSSAD reconstituted letters that Uri Geller had torn up and flushed down his lavatory in Tel Aviv). The advantage a national DNA database gives the corrupt police officer is that it allows him to identify his victim’s DNA with certainty (after all, someone else could have had sex in his house the previous night).

    No, I think I was a bit OTT in my previous post. You do clearly have deep personal issues with religion based on your childhood experiences. But I cannot understand for the life of me why you have such a down on civil liberties.

  • Angus J Huck 9th Dec '07 - 9:18pm

    “But DNA testing is not done at the police station. It’s done at the forensic lab.”

    Yes, but it you have a national DNA database, the Police will be able to key the name into their computers and up pops the profile.

    And they will be able to tell them who owns the profile on the sample they take once they get it back from the lab. If they have taken the wrong DNA, they can chuck away the sample and try again.

    Technology is only as good as the people who use it.

    A national DNA database would probably be safe in the hands of Robert Mark, John Stalker and Brian Paddick, but definitely not the officers investigated by Operation Countryman or those compulsorily retired by Robert Mark.

    As I and many others have reiterated in this thread, a national DNA database would be of only marginal benefit in fighting crime while the potential for abuse is huge.

    I would also point out that you are wrong to believe that collusion between Police and expert witnesses never occurs.

  • Angus J Huck 9th Dec '07 - 10:43pm

    “My basic point is that any serious abuse of the system would require collusion.”

    Not necessarily. You provide the sample and get the match, and keep trying till you get the one you want. Or more likely, submit multiple samples from the same location.

    “But if you have collusion, then you hardly need to bother with real evidence at all. You can just make it all up.”

    Yes, the Police sometimes do make it all up. But there is a difference between a DNA match, which the expert witness says is 1 billion to 1 or whatever, and a prison grass lying through his teeth. The jury is more likely to believe the former than the latter.

    And consider the possibility that criminals might plant the DNA of innocent people at crime scenes knowing they will be matched via the national DNA database.

  • Angus J Huck 10th Dec '07 - 8:09pm

    LB wrote:

    “Certainly the arguments will need to be of a higher calibre than, “we can’t have a database because the police are totally corrupt.””

    A classic case of setting up a straw man. No-one in this thread has said any such thing.

    “But a number of figures in the police and judiciary are now coming out in favour of a universal DNA database,”

    When has anyone in authority wanted less, not more, power?

    “and I don’t happen to believe that they are all part of some Masonic plot.”

    Staw man No 2. Getting to be a habit, Laurence.

    “I’m afraid that is totally incorrect.”

    Two straw men, now an argument by assertion. I should keep a tally.

    Any attempt to apply evolutionary theory to historical linguistics is doomed to failure. Human language has moved from being fully ergative and agglutinative to being (almost) fully analytic in the space of 40,000 years. That is in the case of English. A few languages, such as Basque, North and East Caucasian, Burushaski, Yeniseian and Kartvelian are still fully ergative. Chinese, unlike English, moved from being fully ergative to being fully analytic in the space of some 5,000 years. Yet during this 40,000 year period, human physiology has barely changed.

    So how could the natural selection of random mutations achieve the alterations in hardwiring of the brain required to produce such radical changes in language in this narrow timescale? Especially when, as you say, evolutionary changes take millions of years?

    Are the brains of Basques hardwired differently from those of the Chinese? Basques have little difficulty learning and speaking Spanish and French, languages which are largely analytic. I guess they need some circuits fitted into their skulls to do this.

  • Angus J Huck 10th Dec '07 - 10:35pm

    “Well, to be honest it does seem to be your main argument.”

    Actually it isn’t my main argument (or any of my arguments) as you well know. I have said that many police are corrupt, not all police. That is surely an uncontroversial statement of fact.

    “Power to do what exactly? Set people up?”

    Oh right. People in authority don’t want more power. They would rather give it all up and go and live in Patagonia.

    “That’s right. You’ve never even mentioned the freemasons.”

    I said two thirds of police officers are Freemasons. That is a statement of fact. Freemasonic membership creates a potential conflict of interest, as I am sure you are aware.

    “Language predates history which relies upon the written, not the spoken word. I have no idea when exactly language emerged but, as with everything evolutionary, it will have been imperceptibly gradual.”

    Clearly, you know absolutely nothing about historical linguistics.

    How about answering my questions, rather than repeating your sweeping assertions?

    For instance, how did Chinese move from being fully ergative and agglutinative to being fully analytic in 5,000 years without natural selection altering the brains of the Chinese people?

    5,000 years is “imperceptibly gradual”, ofcourse.

  • Angus J Huck 11th Dec '07 - 7:30pm

    Laurence Boyce wrote:-

    “I would say that is controversial, and indeed defamatory.”

    What a berk!

    Have a look at Brown v D C Thomson & Co 1912 SC 359.

    Always an idea to know what you are talking about when you choose to shoot your mouth off.

  • Angus J Huck 11th Dec '07 - 8:37pm

    “So first you say that “many police are corrupt,” and then you cite one case from 1912 to back it up. Hmm.”

    You obviously haven’t read the case, because it has nothing to do with policemen.

    Incidentally, Sir Robert Mark said many police are corrupt, and he was the Metropolitan Police Commissioner. One might have thought he was in a good position to know.

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