One rule for them, and another for us
Judge gavel, photo Brian Turner (Creative Commons) (Click to enlarge)
Chris Fernandez, Derby
A Tory election agent Diana Dianescu, has been found guilty of 16 offenses of deliberately misleading voters. She was sentenced to six months custody, suspended for a period of 18 months, and told to undertake 200 hours of community service. She had to pay £2,000 court costs. If you compare and contrast it to the way I was treated, it makes me sick and angry.
Dianescu posed as a representative of the Green Party, Labour Party, or as a council official, when knocking on doors in Hackney, east London in the 2018 local elections. She had acted as election agent for 29 Tory candidates. The judge, in a long speech condemning her behaviour, told Dianescu she had narrowly escaped a prison sentence as she did not represent "a future risk to the public."
Now contrast that to the way I was treated, when I was accused of 'misleading voters' into signing nomination papers in the 2016 council elections in Derby. My case covered eight candidates, it was my first ever offence, and I had no criminal record.
I was sixty when I was sentenced in February 2018. I had health problems with high blood pressure, and had been an out-patient at the memory clinic in the run up to the trial. I was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment, and found guilty to 12 out of 14 counts of misleading voters into signing the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate's nomination forms.
At the time, Clive Heemskerk, the TUSC national officer covered the trial and said: "In reality a 15 month prison sentence is totally disproportionate, even if the offences were proven beyond doubt. But what is most disturbing about this case is that there was, in fact, plenty of doubt" (See 'Statement on the sentencing of the Derby TUSC agent' at tusc.org.uk).
In the run-up to the trial I had to pay nearly £5,000 in legal aid fees. I was sent to Nottingham prison and spent 12 weeks there, I did another five weeks in the open prison, and then I was released, but I was on a tag. To top it all, when I came out of prison, within a month I was presented with another legal bill, for nearly £8,500. TUSC launched an appeal and helped to raise half of that, we also received donations from friends. I was ordered to pay about £270 a month. We really struggled to pay, like we did with the legal aid, but we did.
So it was political sentencing. Like a friend of mine said, "it is one rule for them, and another for us."
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In The Socialist 28 October 2020:
What we think
Tories' school meals outrage
Don't let Tories starve our kids
Tory 'Starve a Kid to Save a Quid' scheme
Boots launches £120, 12-minute Covid test
Under the microscope
Backing Hugo Pierre for Unison general secretary
Royal Mail: No more behind closed doors talks
Fight Leeds Labour council's massive cuts
Workplace news in brief
NHS England's £1bn winter shortfall: we need union action, not platitudes!
BAME Covid deaths due to capitalist inequality, confirms government
Mayor and government compete to attack London transport: fight for no cuts!
Grenfell watch: landlord's £800,000 saving
Food and a capitalist Brexit: No trust in Tory Deals!
Nigeria protests shake regime
"We need a leadership that comes from the movement"
Bolivia elections: Crushing defeat for the right as MAS secures landslide victory
US presidential election
Online youth rally says: We won't pay with our futures
Birmingham: 'Refund our fees' protests
Solidarity with the movement in Nigeria
Evicted students can fight back and win
Waltham Forest Save Our Square:
Why I joined the Socialist Party - "I'm 15, and already I've lived through two global recessions and a pandemic"
Bristol jobs protest: We want 100% pay
One rule for them, and another for us
Books that inspired me: Germinal
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