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article imageOp-Ed: Guilty until proven innocent — the face of modern Britain

By Alexander Baron     Oct 14, 2011 in Politics
Birmingham - You don't have to be convicted of a crime in Britain to be robbed “legitimately” by the government or one of its agencies, as unwary travellers have found out to their cost.
Hidden away in a minority interest newspaper this week is a story that should give everyone cause for concern. The Afronews reports that 51 year old Malcolm Brown attempted to board a plane at Birmingham Airport in July of last year with £42,980 on his person. The money was detained (read stolen) under the Proceeds Of Crime Act 2002, and on September 20 this year, a judge ordered the forfeiture of all but £2,000 of it. What crime had Mr Brown committed? The “crime” of being unable or unwilling to explain to the satisfaction of the servants of the tyranny that is now the British state precisely how he had obtained this money and for what he intended to use it.
Although £42K+ sounds a lot, it is not for a businessman, certainly not for many Asian businessmen who run small shops, maybe two of three of them, and have a healthy trust in good hard cash as well as an aversion to banks.
According to Malcolm Bragg, Assistant Director of the UK Border Agency: “Stopping the flow of money that has not been acquired legitimately is an important part of the work the UK Border Agency carries out to protect our border. Anyone leaving or entering the UK with more than £1,000 in cash must provide evidence of the source, and intended use, of the money.”
Since when? Since the Proceeds Of Crime Act 2002, apparently. Like that other unwelcome import, AIDS, civil asset forfeiture originated in the United States, and is another plank of state repression and tyranny dressed up as a necessary weapon in the arsenal of the fight against crime, in this case to protect us from terrorists and those wicked drug dealers.
To see this tyranny in its proper context, turn back the clock 78 years to Germany, 1933, and try to imagine the following one-sided conversation at a checkpoint.
“Vere are your papers, Jew?...Open your case...Vat are you doing with so much money?...Where did you get this?...I zink you are a terrorist or maybe a drug dealer...If you have nothing to hide, you vill not mind explaining vere it came from.”
Before anyone reacts with righteous indignation and the counterclaim that Britain is not Nazi Germany, we should point out that it certainly is not. When was anyone in Nazi Germany ever charged with the crime of placing a golliwog in her window? And when was anyone in Nazi Germany ever kidnapped from a foreign country, subjected to extraordinary rendition, tortured, and imprisoned for nine years without trial as per Camp Delta?
Having said that, even the most repressive of legislation can have its uses. Yesterday's Daily Telegraph reported the case of former hedge fund manager Celia Farnon who is suing a firm of solicitors for "botching" a potential claim for sex discrimination. This charming lady claims that in 2006 she was expecting a bonus of - get this - £800,000 but received only £36,615 "because she was a woman".
Did anyone ever hear of such a shocking case of sexism? There are three reasonable ways of resolving this dilemma.
One would be for the young lady to win her claim, to be awarded nominal compensation, and for both parties to be ordered to pay their own costs.
Another would be for the the British Government to rectify this inexcusable act of sexual discrimination by ensuring that all Miss Farnon's former male colleagues received exactly the same payment as her - £36,615 - confiscating any excess, and using this to reduce the deficit Prime Minister David Cameron is forever carping on about.
The third way to solve this problem though is by far the best, all such bonuses should be confiscated under the Proceeds Of Crime Act 2002 and repaid to those from whom it was ripped off in the first place, the people who were duped into "investing" in hedge funds, ie gave their money to the likes of Celia Farnon so that she and they can gamble without risk but with every certainty of reward.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Malcolm Brown, UK Border Agency, civil asset forfeiture, Proceeds Of Crime Act 2002, celia farnon
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