Archive for the ‘Law & Justice’ Category

stonegate, railway station, east sussex

The railway station at Stonegate in East Sussex on the London to Hastings line serves a rural village of about 1,500 people. Trains to central London take about 1 hour and 10 minutes.

There were headlines in the papers in April this year about a ‘hedge-fund manager’ in the City of London who had paid Southeastern trains £43,000 to escape prosecution for fare-dodging. For five years, the culprit, who was not named at the time, regularly travelled from Stonegate in East Sussex up to London, and used an Oystercard to exit from Cannon Street station.

The rural station at Stonegate has no ticket barriers, so the man didn’t have to ‘touch in’ with his Oyster card. He got off at London Bridge and got on a different train to take him over the river to Cannon Street. Once there he touched out through the ticket barriers. By doing this, he was only charged the £7.20 penalty fare that is levied when a passengers exits from a station without having touched in somewhere else.

oystercard, buses, tube, london transport, greater london

The Oystercard was introduced in June 2003 and 7 million Oystercards are now in regular use. More than 80% of all tube journeys and more than 90% of all bus journeys in the Greater London area are made using Oyster.

The chap was eventually caught in November last year by a revenue protection officer standing next to the barriers at London Bridge, who noticed that he had been charged the penalty fare, and stopped him. It was thought that on this occasion the rogue may have changed his usual journey to go to a meeting south of the river. Southeastern soon discovered that he had last bought an annual season ticket, from Stonegate, in 2008, so it was possible that he had been evading the fare for the 1 hour 10 minute journey ever since then. The current cost of a season ticket from Stonegate to central London is £4,548. So the bounder managed to avoid ticket inspectors on the train for a long time. Could this be because commuter trains are not inspected regularly as they are invariably packed or because an assumption is made that almost all commuters on the line have season tickets? However Southeastern said that the ‘honest answer is that we don’t know how he avoided detection by our staff – he was obviously very clever about how he did it’.

cannon street, railway terminus, london

Cannon Street station is a central London railway terminus alongside the River Thames. It opened in 1866 and serves destinations in south east London, East Sussex, and Kent.

Although he didn’t admit to the fraud, the villain offered to settle the matter out of court, and within five days he had paid back £42,550 in dodged fares (based on a standard class single ticket which costs £21.50), plus £450 in legal costs. Southeastern said all passengers have the option to avoid prosecution and settle out of court. Critics have obviously questioned why the fare-dodging felon was allowed to escape being prosecuted and remain anonymous.

The tabloid newspapers sent reporters down to Stonegate to try and winkle out the name of the blackguard from the villagers. In August however, the Evening Standard published the name of the fare-dodger, and in true tabloid style, put their roving reporter on the train to Stonegate to obtain the thoughts of politicians, celebrities and fellow passengers as to what they thought of the scoundrel. The full details had come out because the British Transport Police decided to launch its own investigation, and the City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, got involved too. The Standard claimed that it was a fellow passenger, disgruntled by the out of court settlement, who tipped the police off. The fare-dodger was said to have left his job the week before.

But do we know the full story? Barry Doe, the public transport fares expert, pointed out in his column in Rail magazine that although Southeastern understandably demanded repayment of the cost of the full daily fares from the artful dodger, the cost of five annual season tickets would have amounted to about £22,000 or roughly £110 a week. But his Oyster charge, based on two incomplete journeys a day, would have been £70 a week, which is only £40 less than the effective weekly cost of a season ticket! So to save this amount, the chap has ended up paying a total of £58,000, that is the Oystercard charges plus the fare-dodging settlement.

But things don’t add up. How can someone incur an Oyster penalty charge twice a day for five years without being spotted? Surely repeated penalty fares can be picked up by the operators of Oyster? And why didn’t the fraudster buy an annual Zone 1-2 Travelcard for about £1,200 to avoid the Oyster penalty charge. Barry Doe also questions how there could be no ticket checks for five years. Perhaps Southeastern doesn’t want us to know how the chap did it? Perhaps as a hedge-fund manager, he got a kick from taking risks. If it wasn’t that, he wasn’t very good at arithmetic.

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spencer perceval, prime minister, assassination, house of commons

The assassination of the Prime Minister Spencer Perceval in the lobby of the House of Commons on 11 May 1812

Just over two hundred years ago, on 11 May 1812, John Bellingham, a Liverpool businessman shot dead the Rt Hon Spencer Perceval, the Prime Minister at the time, as he entered the House of Commons. Spencer Perceval is the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated.

At 5.15 on the evening of Monday 11 May 1812, it being a fine evening, Spencer Perceval walked from 10 Downing Street to the Houses of Parliament to attend a debate in the House of Commons. The debate was to rescind the ‘orders in council’ that prevented nations trading with France. These were the chief plank in Perceval’s policy for the defeat of Napoleon.

Outside of the lobby to the House of Commons Perceval handed his coat to the officer positioned outside the doors, but as he entered the lobby a man who had been sat near the fireplace, stepped forward, and without saying a word drew a pistol and shot Perceval in the chest. Perceval fell to the floor, after uttering something that was variously heard as ‘murder’ or ‘oh my God’. They were his last words. By the time he had been carried into the nearby office of the Speaker’s secretary and propped up on a table, he was senseless, although there was still a faint pulse. When a surgeon, William Lynn, arrived from Great George Street a few minutes later, the pulse had stopped, and Perceval was declared dead. The surgeon noted a wound three inches deep on the left side of the chest over the fourth rib where a large pistol ball had entered.

Perceval’s body was taken back to 10 Downing Street, and on the following morning an inquest was held at the Cat and Bagpipes public house on the corner of Downing Street, and a verdict of wilful murder was returned.

spencer perceval, prime minister, george francis joseph

Spencer Perceval
British Prime Minister
4 October 1809–11 May 1812
Born 1 November 1762
Painting by George Francis Joseph, 1812
© National Portrait Gallery, London

Spencer Perceval, the younger son of an Irish earl, was 49 at the time of his death and had been Prime Minister under George III (and the Prince Regent during the ‘madness’ of George III) since 4 October 1809. He was a follower of William Pitt (the previous Prime Minister but one), but described himself as a ‘friend of Mr Pitt’ rather than a Tory. Perceval was opposed to Catholic emancipation and reform of Parliament; he supported the war against Napoleon and the abolition of the slave trade. He was opposed to hunting, gambling and adultery, did not drink as much as most Members of Parliament, gave generously to charity, and enjoyed spending time with his wife Jane and their twelve children.

Perceval’s assassin did not attempt to escape from the House of Commons but calmly returned to his seat beside the fireplace. Sir Banastre Tarleton and Isaac Gascoyne, the two MPs for Liverpool, identified the man as John Bellingham, a merchant from Liverpool. The details of his story soon began to emerge. Bellingham had been imprisoned for debt in the port of Archangel in Russia in 1804 and had been held in various prisons for the next 5 years. The debt had been alleged by the owner of a Russian ship that had sunk in the White Sea, who believed that Bellingham had told Lloyd’s, the shipping insurers, that the loss of the ship was actually sabotage. During his time in prison, Bellingham had pleaded unsuccessfully with the British ambassador in St Petersburg and with British authorities for help with his case. On his release in 1809, he returned to England full of resentment. Bellingham believed the government was morally bound to compensate him for his loss of business. He petitioned the Foreign Secretary, the Treasury, the Privy Council, the Prime Minister, even the Prince Regent, all to no avail, the main reason being that Britain had broken off diplomatic relations with Russia in November 1808. Once again Bellingham felt that he was being ignored. Finally, he decided that the only way for him to get a hearing in court was to shoot the Prime Minister.

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james whistler, artist

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
1834-1903
Averse to sentimentality and moral allusion in painting, he was a leading proponent of the belief ‘art for art’s sake’

An American in London: Whistler and the Thames is a new exhibition of Whistler’s etching and paintings at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in south London. ‘An American in London’ is overdoing it a bit since James McNeill Whistler left Massachusetts and America to study in Paris in 1855 at the age of 21, and came to London four years later, where he remained on and off for the rest of his life. That said, the exhibition admirably displays his genius for capturing the atmosphere and bustle of life in late 19th century London.

Whistler arrived in London as a Bohemian artist full of the lessons of Courbet’s realism, and Baudelaire’s instructions that the artist of the day should depict the life of the time. His aim was to do with London docks and life on the Thames what the impressionists in Paris were to do with the life and leisure of the middle classes of Paris and the Seine. This is seen to full effect in the exhibition with several rooms of his etchings and sketches of ships and wharfs on the river, and glimpses of squalid London life. But he also captured the moods of the river at different times of the day. And this was the case with his paintings of life on the water: the river, the bridges, the people, which are shown in the final rooms.

james whistler, artist, westminster bridge, river thames, london

James Whistler, The Last of Old Westminster, 1862
The new bridge is built over the old in a forest of piles and timbers

For 16 years Whistler lived in Lindsey Row in Chelsea from where he sketched and etched the Thames so often that it became a part of him. In seeking to capture atmosphere, he titled many of his paintings ‘arrangements’, ‘harmonies’, and ‘nocturnes’. Whilst his art was characterized by a subtle delicacy, his public persona was combative. He was a man who liked to live his life in the public eye and was very concerned about his personal appearance and the critical reception of his paintings. And that was where his troubles began. (more…)

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ScottishMilitarySurvey

Extract of Map from the Scottish Military Survey 1747-1755

What’s the difference? Other than an ‘i’.

Ordinance is a law, or rule and regulations, made by a government or municipal authority eg. ‘The draft ordinance is currently under debate’.

Ordnance refers to military supplies, especially weapons and bombs, or to large guns on wheels eg. ‘Do not touch any military ordnance that may be found lying around this area’. The most familiar use is in Ordnance Survey, the national mapping agency for Great Britain, which publishes large and small-scale maps, and which was formed in 1791. The name reflects the original military purpose of the archetype organisation which was the mapping of Scotland in the aftermath of the last Jacobite Rebellion, and the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

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