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article imageOp-Ed: Constance Briscoe — The downfall of a black Conservative

By Alexander Baron     Mar 8, 2013 in Crime
London - Former Government Minister Chris Huhne has thrown away his career over a triviality. Now, he and his ex-wife face gaol, but there is another casualty here.
Australian judge Marcus Einfeld threw away his honour and served hard time over a trivial driving offence. In the UK, Constance Briscoe has thrown away her seat on the bench over somebody else's speeding. Last month, Chris Huhne pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to perverting the course of justice in relation to a ten year old driving offence. His ex-wife Vicky Pryce was convicted at the same court, albeit after two trials. Both have been bailed to be sentenced at a later date, and both have been told they will serve hard time.
This whole sordid business would not have come to light had his ex-wife not opened her big mouth. If Huhne had fessed up at once, he would probably have saved his political career after a fashion, almost certainly he would not be facing gaol as he is now, neither would his wife. This is clearly a case of Hell hath no is also one of misguided friendship, because Vicky Pryce has not simply dragged down her ex-husband (in Kamikaze fashion as at least one tabloid put it), she has ruined the career of a close friend, albeit one who should have known better.
By all accounts, Constance Briscoe is a remarkable individual, she is or was arguably Britain's most high profile black woman barrister, a recorder since 1996, a rare bird indeed, although there are rumoured to be a few in Nigeria.
By all accounts too she had a poor start in life, one of no less than eleven children. She made national headlines in 2008 when she won a libel case. Against her own mother! Miss Briscoe had written a book called Ugly, which documents her suffering at her mother's hands as an abused child. Ugly was one of the names her mother called her. Her mother, who was seventy-four years old at the time of the trial, brought a defamation action, and the jury found that Miss Briscoe's book was "substantially true".
What sort of woman calls her daughter ugly? This appears not to have been comparable with the Johnny Cash classic A Boy Named Sue, but whether or not her suffering at the hands of her mother helped spur her on to success, she worked like a dog, put herself through university, and achieved not only an MA but a doctorate. Called to the Bar in 1986, she has not looked back since. Or had not, until October 6 last year when for the first time in her 55 years she found herself on the business end of our wonderful boys in blue. What did she do that was so wrong?
Constance Briscoe lied to the police, not a big lie, she didn't participate in a murder or even cover up one, rather she assisted her friend Vicky Pryce with her campaign against Chris Huhne, and lied about it. She has not so far been charged with a criminal offence, and on the face of it, she does not appear to have committed one, because although ill-advised for someone who has done nothing wrong, it is not a criminal offence to lie to the police per se. She could have simply refused to answer any of their questions, or even claimed legal privilege, but when asked if she had assisted Miss Pryce, she said she hadn't.
Although she is not cut from the same cloth as her friend Pryce, it is difficult to feel sorry for her. Like many successful people, especially those who were not born into privilege, Constance Briscoe believes that because she did it, anyone else can, all they need is dedication and hard work. So somewhat surprisingly, unlike many black politicians, she doesn't whine about racism but blames those at the bottom for their own plight. Here she is going head to head with Diane Abbott. Briscoe misses the point, but for once, Miss Abbott is spot on, at about six and a half minutes she points out that the underclass are where they are because the jobs are not there, jobs for unskilled workers. With the introduction of automation, and especially with the invention of the silicon chip, these have been destroyed. They will continue to be destroyed, and we should embrace this job destruction. What this entails though is other ways to distribute income than wages and salaries.
Even if the worst comes to the worst, Miss Briscoe is unlikely to find herself living on one of the sink estates alluded to here. She may not even face a drop in income if when she appears before the Bar Counsel - as must - she receives nothing more serious than a rap over the knuckles.
It is always possible of course that one of the imbeciles employed by the Clown Prosecution Service will bring some creative charge against her, but even if that doesn't happen, her career on the bench is over, because judges are not mere mortals; their high privilege demands they be whiter than white, even if they are black. Her career at the Bar may not be over, but having been considered an untrustworthy witness in a criminal case, Miss Briscoe can forget about presiding over anymore trials.
It is difficult to believe that so many of the high and mighty could be brought down by something as trivial as a speeding offence. It is also difficult to conceive the amount of money and time, especially valuable police time, that has been expended on it. Time that could have been spent on solving a murder, or even foiling the next Al-Qaeda attack in London.
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
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