ROUGH JUSTICE: Andrew Mitchell did behind
the scenes work
IF MOST Black Britons been in the place of Andrew Mitchell, the MP who lost his libel case against a policeman and The Sun newspaper after being accused of using the toxic word 'pleb' that cost him his job, they would have just kissed their teeth and hollered: "a plague on both your houses. They made worms meat of us!"
They would have got on with their lives as if Mercutio's death speech in Romeo and Juliet was all that needed to be uttered on the matter from our perspective. After all, it had nothing to do with us.
Oh, but it did.
It had everything to do with us, especially that judge's closing remarks on his ruling, suggesting that PC Toby Rowland had neither the 'wit' nor the inclination to stitch Mr Mitchell up.
Now, do you get where I am going?
For a judge to say that in a case where one policeman has been jailed and others have been sacked over the wit and inclination they used in lying about what they had seen and heard in the case defies all common sense. This judge is so out of touch with reality that he believes that a policeman, as dim-witted as he may be would not have the imagination, the desire and the wherewithal to fit anyone up. Now, many of us who were born in the shade, would beg to differ.
At the age of 13, I witnessed a van load of police frame my schoolboy hero Cliff McD from right outside our school. All we were doing was chirpsing the girlies from the next school across the road - boys will be boys and boy school pupils can often be seen outside girls’ schools. Cliff couldn't have been more than 14 or 15-years-old and had the biggest Afro for miles. I don't know if that was the reason that the coppers decided to ambush him from their Black Mariah, but that was exactly what happened. And if you don’t believe me ask the dinner lady who they shoved in the face for trying to intervene, or ask any of the other hundred or so boys who were also busy chirpsing at the time. As Andrew Mitchell himself said, and as we reported on these very pages, “If the police are prepared to stitch up a cabinet minister, imagine what they would do to a black boy from Brixton".
That was how I got to be good friends with Andrew Mitchell. I told him through this column that “you are not a black boy from Brixton, otherwise your career would be over now".
To give him his dues he read the paper and got in touch with me and conceded that I had a point. Little did I know that when his distraught wife first returned to her surgery after the plebgate row had blown up, it was all the African nurses that worked with her that were first to comfort her and tell her that they believed her husband and that they knew what the family was going through because they had been through similar circumstances with their sons at the hands of the police.
Since then Andrew Mitchell has put his efforts into trying to improve things for black boys from Brixton and elsewhere, not just in cases of rough justice but in several other areas too. Believe me, behind the scenes, he has done more for us than several of his black parliamentary colleagues have in the last two years.
But that is not the point. That is not why the judge's comments in his libel case should matter to us.
More importantly, what the judge said now gives carte blanche to every police officer to use any old excuse to harass us, malign us and even stitch us up, because a judge has already said that he would take their word over a cabinet minister's words any day, so you can imagine whose word that judge is going to take when it is a police officer and a black boy from Brixton.