Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006
Exodus Collective
Photo: Nick Cobbing.

The Lutonites And The Plotters Of Babylon

The latest state of play in the Exodus Collective’s long and eventful march towards justice..

Squall 11, Autumn 1995, pp. 34-35.

Michael Howard has said ‘No’. Not surprising really when you consider what is at stake. A full scale public inquiry into both strategic police tactics and the involvement of politicians at local and national level. All voted for by Bedfordshire County Council and due to be chaired by Britain’s top civil rights QC, Michael Mansfield.

The persuasive evidence, some of which has been reviewed in previous SQUALLs, is due to provide an irrefutable exposure of the manipulative mechanisms of social control that pass for democracy in this country. More than that, they will undoubtedly expose a maliciousness of official intent due make any citizen shudder. The choice will become apparent for every individual - to stick one’s head in the sand or to stand up and say ‘this shall not prevail’.

No wonder Michael Howard says No.

In the last issue of SQUALL, we published a letter sent by Dennis Cleggett, Chief Executive of Bedfordshire County Council, to Michael Howard (See Exodus - Keeping Up The Momentum). The correspondence followed an almost unanimous decision by the Council’s policy and resources committee to support, and press for, a public inquiry into the unlawful activity of police and others against the Exodus Collective.

The decision of the committee was that nothing less than a full scale public enquiry would suffice to address the level and extent of operations directed against the Collective. Councillors on the committee argued that the seriousness of the charges demanded the use of a rarely used clause in the Police Act 1964, which makes provision for a local authority- supervised public enquiry when the implications of the evidence are serious. Councillors also argued that smaller complaints associated with local police conduct towards the Collective had produced unsatisfactory replies and investigations under the usual procedures conducted by the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).

Thus they argued the Police Complaints Authority were not the appropriate investigating body for allegations that were so serious and wide ranging.

The problem with Bedfordshire County Council’s decision was that they do not have the money to fund such a public inquiry. The figure for a full public investigation, to be chaired by a prominent QC, is estimated at between £100,000 - £150,000.

Thus the Council committee decided that the Home Office should be asked to fund the enquiry.

As can be read in the last issue of SQUALL, there was some consternation about the letter sent by Dennis Cleggett which, contrary to the Council’s original request, asked the Home Office to conduct the inquiry rather than merely to provide the money to fund it. Neither Exodus or the Council policy and resources committee, wants the Home Office to conduct the inquiry itself. In many ways the potential exposures that would result from the inquiry were as likely to implicate certain people at the Home Office as they were certain members of Bedfordshire Police force. For this reason, it was considered that asking the Home Office to conduct the inquiry was little better than asking the Police Complaints Authority.

Nevertheless, a reply was awaited from the Home Secretary, Michael Howard, although few people expected him to be enthusiastic about funding an investigation that could have such major political ramifications, detrimental to his own way of operating.

“It’s a poison chalice, anyone who doesn’t drink knows what’s been going on.”

Indeed, when a reply was received to the Chief Executive’s letter, it was a person of little political consequence attached to the F2 division of the Home Office that drafted it.

In order to give followers of this saga the full story, SQUALL reprints the Home Office’s reply below:

“Dear Mr Cleggett,

Thank you for your letter of 10 May to the Home Secretary bringing his attention to a resolution passed by the County Council calling for an inquiry into the activities of the Bedfordshire Police against members of the Exodus Collective and others. I am sorry for the delay in replying.

Successive Home Secretaries have taken the view that inquiries under section 32 of the Police Act 1964 should be reserved for the most extreme circumstances, for example where the whole efficiency of a force is called into question, or where there has been serious public disorder. These amount to circumstances where other ways of enquiring into the behaviour of the police would be inadequate.

I appreciate the County Councillors’ concern that allegations of police malpractice should be investigated, and that the motion proposing an inquiry was only passed after lengthy consideration of these matters, but I am afraid that the events surrounding the Exodus Collective do not fulfil the criteria I have outlined.

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) laid down procedures for handling complaints against the police which are now well established. In particular, we now have the Police Complaints Authority to provide independent oversight of the investigation and consideration of allegations against police officers. The Act gives the Authority important powers to assist it in discharging its statutory functions, including the right to direct that disciplinary charges are brought against any officers suspected of misconduct. I understand that the Police Complaints Authority has dealt with one allegation against an officer arising from these allegations which was voluntarily referred to them by the Bedfordshire Police.

We are, therefore, satisfied that the arrangements laid down in PACE provide a suitable avenue for allegations of police misconduct to be thoroughly investigated and independently considered.”

One very interesting selection of words comes at the beginning of the letter.

In Dennis Cleggett’s original correspondence it says that the Council voted for “an inquiry into the operations by police and others [italics] against the Exodus Collective and others.”

In the Home Office reply, it says “operations by police against the Exodus Collective and others.”

Spot the difference.

It is an indication of why neither Exodus nor Bedfordshire County Councillors want an inquiry of such magnitude to be conducted either by the “police” (PCA) or by the “others” (Home Office edicts and local MPs).

Remember that before being transferred out of the area and then retiring to Scotland, Chief Inspector Mick Brown of Luton Police said on record: “Some MPs were advocating drastic measures.”

As it stands now, Exodus have sent letters to all the major political parties on the council, asking what they are going to do in response to the Home Office’s negative reply. They also wrote to Shadow Home Secretary, Jack Straw, outlining their case, enclosing press-cuttings and saying they hoped he would show more interest than Michael Howard.

Jack Straw wrote back to say he was “very sympathetic” but could not do anything to help. In an obvious admission that he had not read any of the enclosed material about the case, Straw suggested to Exodus that they contact their local MP “who will be able to help you in this matter”. Exodus’ local MPs are of course John “Banish all gypsys into the wilderness” Carlisle (Con MP Luton North) and Sir Graham Bright (Con MP Luton South), vice chairman of the Conservative Party. Both MPs have been involved in manoeuvres against the Exodus Collective and will undoubtedly be a part of the public inquiry into “Bedfordshire Police and others”. Exodus have written back to Jack Straw, suggesting that he reads the letter this time.

“It’s a poison chalice,” says Glenn Jenkins, an Exodus spokesperson. “Anyone who doesn’t drink knows what’s been going on.”

And of course anyone who is informed of the implications of such social poison and yet fails to warn people of its existence, is indeed implicated in the attempted murder of justice.

Meanwhile, Home Office funding or not, moves are afoot to start up a ‘justice fund’ in order to collect the cash. Indeed, if the Home Office are under impression that, without their money the inquiry won’t happen, they are about to get the first unpleasant surprise of many.

Watch this space.

Exodus Collective on Channel 4

Spectacle Productions, the people who brought you ‘The Battle of Trafalgar' and 'Truth, Lies and Rostock’, have made a new film about the Exodus Collective to be shown on Channel Four on the 11th of November at 11pm.

To see Squall's full coverage of Exodus click here