Up to £1.4bn in court fines may never be recovered, watchdog warns

Up to £1.4 billion worth of court fines and compensation orders will never be recovered, court officials admitted yesterday.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “Because of limitations in the underlying systems, HM Courts Service has not been able to provide me with proper accounting records relating to the collection of fines, confiscation orders and penalties.”

In his report to the Commons, he went on: “I have not been able to reach an opinion on whether the HMCTS (HM Courts and Tribunals Service) shows a true and fair view of the revenues, expenditure and financial position disclosed in the financial statements.”

Mr Morse added that there had been some recent improvements to the collection of fines, confiscation orders and penalties, including new performance measures to monitor collection rates, timeliness and levels of arrears for fines and developments in enforcement and collection procedures.

But both the Ministry of Justice and the courts service told the watchdog that they may not be able to address the problems fully until the IT systems, called Libra, were significantly enhanced or replaced, he said.

An HMCTS spokesman said: “The Government takes the issue of fine enforcement very seriously and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service is working to ensure clamping down on fine dodgers is a continued priority nationwide.

“HMCTS has increased the rate of fine collection every year for the past three years and is on target to do so again this year.

“The courts will do everything within their powers to trace those who do not pay.

“Money can be taken from an offender’s earnings or from benefits if they are unemployed. Warrants can be issued instructing court employed agents to seize and sell goods belonging to the offender.

“Ultimately an offender can be imprisoned for non-payment of their fine.”

Up to £1.4bn in court fines may never be recovered, watchdog warns

See also: Let the punishment fit the crime ..

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2012 Olympics: 13,500 military personnel to provide security for Games

London will be protected by a consignment of 13,500 military personnel during the Olympic Games next year after a recalculation of security needs.

London 2012 Olympics: Locog confirms unlicensed security personnel with criminal convictions can work at Games

Stringent: Locog has insisted it will perform background checks on all security staff

Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, said the three services would be involved during the Games security operation, with about 7,500 of the armed forces working as security guards checking visitors to Olympic venues.

Another 5,000 military, including a 1,000-strong “quick reaction force” will assist the Met Police operation, which will have 12,000 officers deployed. An extra 1,000 military will provide logistic support.

The Royal Marines, who led the Libya attacks earlier this year, will be based on the Navy’s largest ship, HMS Ocean, just off Greenwich.

Additional measures include placing snipers in helicopters, putting rapier air-defence missiles on high alert and scrambling fighter jets close to the Olympic site, particularly during the opening and closing ceremonies. Air force jets will also be shifted to RAF Northolt to be closer to London.

The total number of people involved in the security operation has been increased to 41,700, forcing a rapid escalation in the total security budget to beyond £1 billion.

Originally the military was to have a low-key presence, providing just small naval support off the Weymouth area near the Olympic sailing venue and the total number of security personnel was around 15,000.

But a comprehensive security review, based on a ‘severe’ threat level, has prompted the Government to change its plans. The HMS Bulwark and Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay will now patrol off Weymouth as well as supplying specialist equipment to the Met Police operation in that area.

Specialist military units such as explosive disposal teams and sniffer dog units will also be engaged in the operation.

“Next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games are once-in-a-generation events for the UK,” Mr Hammond said. “We want them to be secure, so that all those competing and attending can enjoy the Games.

“The Royal Navy, Army, and Royal Air Force between them will provide up to 13,500 personnel.

“Up to 7,500 of them will support the smooth running of Olympic sites while the remainder will use their specialist capabilities and equipment to contribute to the delivery of Olympic security.”

The number of security staff required at Games venues has risen from an initial estimate of 10,000 to 23,700.

The military contribution of 7,500 staff will be for the 17 days of the Games and costs are expected to be recouped from the £553 million Olympics security budget.

Mr Hammond said: “These numbers will be in addition to the ceremonial role which the armed forces will play during the Olympics, which will showcase our armed forces to the world.

“This defence contribution is on a similar scale to that deployed at other recent Olympic Games and will contribute to ensuring a safe, secure and enjoyable 2012 Olympics.”

Mr Hammond stressed that operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere would not be affected by the deployment.

“My priority will remain the troops we have deployed on operations, including in Afghanistan, before, during and after the Olympics.”

2012 Olympics: 13,500 military personnel to provide security for Games

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Microsoft gives up on proprietary 2D barcode, accepts NFC

Microsoft really doesn’t seem to get it… time after time, it makes up its own “standards”, spends huge amounts of money creating proprietary products from them, then wonders why they don’t take off. Having been convicted a number of times of criminal monopoly abuse, and fined over 1 billion Euros by the European Court of First Instance, you’d think they might change their strategy… but no. The worrying thing is that it is still making so much money from having abused its monopoly with Windows and Office, so despite the fines, it seems that crime does indeed pay for Microsoft.

Microsoft is embracing wireless web bookmarking by allowing its Tag app to pick up URLs using NFC – as well reading industry-standard QR codes and Redmond’s own barcode standard, also called Tag.

Microsoft’s answer to the QR Code came out of beta in May 2010, and since then has resolutely failed to set the world on fire.

With the addition of NFC the original Microsoft Tag is described as something which will raise curiosity, while QR Codes provide functionality and NFC shows the way of the future.

The world probably isn’t big enough for multiple 2D bar codes, and Microsoft reckons “there is increasing frustration among consumers over not knowing which reader to use for which code”, though given the scarcity of Microsoft Tags (we’ve never seen one in the wild) the confusion isn’t that bad.

“Microsoft Tag delivers the freedom for brands to select the recognition format most appropriate for their customers, and grants customers a single app to launch those experiences,” a Redmond rep told NFC World.

So Microsoft has extended its platform to use QR Codes like everyone else, and added support for URLs embedded in NFC tags too. Redmond will still host a redirection server (so the encoded URL points to Microsoft, who forwards the request while accumulating usage statistics). Microsoft’s own Tag format is now relegated to something which can be used to “Raise Curiosity”, presumably from people thinking “what’s that thing which looks like a QR Code but isn’t?” QR Codes are recommended for general use, and NFC as the path to the future.

NFC has to be the future as the proximity-radio technology isn’t yet supported by the Windows Phone platform. Handset support for NFC is still limited to a handful of handsets running Android and Symbian (and the Samsung Tocco NFC, of course) but even Microsoft can see the writing on the wall, and it’s not a proprietary 2D barcode up there.

“The Register” story

Of course, one reason why so few vendors have taken up the application and used Tags is the way that Microsoft abuses the data… the technical process behind the system means that Microsoft captures all of the data about the device reading the Tag and where the Tag redirects it to… and then sells all of this data to anyone prepared to pay for it! They don’t make this fact a secret, but then they don’t exactly advertise it, either…

Attention, Microsoft!  People have generally given their views about being monitored and tracked by large corporations, and those views were’t overwhelmingly in favour of it! Wake up!

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Badger cull gets go-ahead with Olympic-sized police operation

The shooting of thousands of badgers will go ahead next year but not until after the Olympics to prevent police resources being overstretched by the £4  million security operation required for the cull.

Badger cull gets go-ahead with Olympic-sized police operation

It is estimated that keeping order during the four-year pilot scheme will cost around £4 million

 Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, set the Government on course for a showdown with animal rights protesters yesterday by approving culls in two trial areas in an attempt to control bovine TB.

The trials will take place in “late autumn” after police chiefs warned that forces would struggle to provide the manpower required to prevent clashes between protesters and farmers if culls took place in the run up to London 2012.

It is estimated that keeping order during the four-year pilot scheme will cost around £4 million.

The badger cull is expected to lead to a 16 per cent reduction in bovine TB, which was behind the slaughter of 25,000 cattle in England last year.

To be effective, 75 per cent of badgers in the two 150 square-kilometre trial areas will have to be shot, according to calculations. The last count 10 years ago estimated that there were 350,000 badgers in Britain.

Mrs Spelman said the Government was committed to tackling “TB from all angles, using all available tools”.

“I know there is great strength of feeling on this issue but I also know that we need to take action now before the TB situation deteriorates even further,” she said. “I am acutely aware that many people are opposed to the culling of badgers and I wish that there was a current satisfactory alternative.

“But we can’t escape the fact that the evidence supports the case for the controlled reduction of the badger population in the areas affected by bovine TB.” Farmers and landowners will be invited to bid to run the trials. They will then be responsible for training marksmen to kill the badgers. Mrs Spelman said the pilot scheme would be judged on its “effectiveness, humaneness and safety”.

The West and South West are worst affected by the disease, with one in four cattle farms unable to move their livestock because of fear of infection.

The disease is expected to cost the taxpayer £1 billion over the next 10 years.

An extra £250,000 is to be made available each year for vaccinating badgers against TB, but the animals need to be trapped and caged before a vaccine can be administered by injection. An oral vaccine was “still years away”, said Mrs Spelman. She added. “This terrible disease is getting worse and we have got to deal with the devastating impact it has on farmers and rural communities.

“Evidence tells us that unless we tackle the disease in badgers, we will never eradicate it in cattle.” Mary Creagh, Labour’s environment spokesman, claimed the method of licensed badger culls was “unproven and untested”. “The cull will not be cost-effective or humane and it will not work,” she added.

The Humane Society International is submitting a formal complaint against the policy to the 1979 Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. The society said ministers had failed to examine alternatives to the cull, which it claimed lacked “legitimate purpose” and posed a significant threat to badger populations.

Joe Duckworth, the chief executive of the League Against Cruel Sports, added: “The Government has failed to act appropriately on this issue and in doing so has ignored the science, public opinion and past mistakes. This is a cowardly decision taken to appease the few who shout the loudest but sadly it will do very little to address the real problem.”

Badger cull gets go-ahead with Olympic-sized police operation

See also: Police: We won’t be able to cope with badger cull protests

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Let’s be careful out there..

Spotted this on the net – just nailed my doors shut… Razz

Tallbloke towers raided: many computers taken

Posted: December 14, 2011 by tallbloke

An Englishman’s home is his castle they say. Not when six detectives from the Metropolitan Police, the Norfolk Constabulary and the Computer Crime division arrive on your doorstep with a warrant to search it though.

I waved the first three in and bid them head through to the sitting room, where there was less of an chill near the woodburner. Then they kept coming, being introduced by the lead detective from Norfolk as they trooped in. I thought I’d been chosen to host the secret policemen’s ball or something. :)

I managed to log out of my email on the big lappy as they sat down, to the annoyance of the Computer expert. he soon regained his composure though and asked his first question.

How many computers do you have in the house?

Oh, I’m not sure… around twenty.

I breezily replied. :) :)

Some glances were exchanged.

“So where are they” he asked.

“Most of them are up in the attic bedroom. We’re in the middle of decorating it. You’ll have to mind the wet paint…”

After surveying my ancient stack of Sun Sparcstations and PII 400 pc’s, they ended up settling for two laptops and an adsl broadband router. I’m blogging this post via my mobile.

I go the feeling something was on the go last night when WordPress forwarded a notice from the U.S. Department of Justice. I’ll post it tomorrow once I get access to the net from a bigger keyboard sorted out.

Also blogged at –

Watts Up With That?

The first blogger to break the Climategate2 story has had a visit from the police and has had his computers seized. Tallbloke’s Talkshop first reported on CG2 due to the timing of the release being overnight in the USA. Today he was raided by six UK police (Norfolk Constabulary and Metropolitan police) and several of his computers were seized as evidence.

UPDATE: I’ve been in contact with Roger (Tallbloke) and he tells me that he is not a suspect, and that they’ll clone his hard drives and return the computers to him. – Anthony

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May To Review Stop And Search

May To Review Stop And Search
Home Secretary, Theresa May has announced a national review of how police use stop and search powers in response to the findings of the Guardian/LSE report on the August riots.

Speaking at the Reading the Riots conference on Wednesday, the home secretary announced she had asked the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to review the use of stop and search by forces across the country.

The Reading the Riots research found that anger at the police was a major fuel for the London riots, with 86 per cent of rioters citing policing as an important or very important factor in causing the disturbances.

“Used inappropriately, stop and search can pose a huge challenge to public trust and confidence in policing. Given the findings of Reading the Riots, an assessment of good and bad practice is very timely.”

Mrs May said police were right to stop and search those caught in the riots as often as they did, but said use of the controversial tactic should be proportionate.

“Should we worry that the rioters were eight times more likely than the average Londoner to be stopped and searched, when the research found young rioters were 22 times more likely than their peers to have been convicted of a crime?” she asked.

“I strongly believe that stop and search should be used proportionately, without prejudice, and with the support of local communities … and I have asked the Association of Chief Police Officers to look at best practice on stop and search.”

Mrs May rejected rioters’ assertions that the unrest was linked to alienation from the police or the government, dismissing concerns raised in the research report as “excuses”.

“What the LSE/Guardian report tells me more than anything is that the rioters still have not accepted responsibility for their actions,” she said. “They are still blaming others – the police, the government, society. They are still making excuses, but I don’t accept those excuses.”

Mrs May blamed the looting and unrest on the desire for “instant gratification”.

“The riots weren’t about protests, unemployment, cuts,” she said. “The riots were not about the future, about tomorrow. They were about today. They were about now. They were about instant gratification.”

However, her criticisms were rejected by Ed Miliband. Addressing the conference, the Labour leader paid tribute to the research and said that when people did not like research findings they often “attacked the researchers”.

“Some people, and I gather the home secretary did this this morning, give the easy answer: it is criminality pure and simple and it only needs a criminal justice system response … I have never been convinced the answers are as simple as that … that [it] is one simplistic answer is one we should reject.”

Instead Miliband called for a “more comprehensive and more complex response” to the riots based around “greater opportunities and values”.

“I reject the arguments of those who say opportunity doesn’t matter … and I reject as well the arguments of those who say values don’t matter.”

Mr Miliband said poverty, poor education and a lack of hope and opportunity for many of those who rioted had been a major factor in the disturbances.

He also pledged to make youth service provision – which has been severely hit by government cuts – statutory. “Services that [councils] aren’t legally obliged to do can be cut,” said Mr Miliband. “I think there’s a strong case for making youth services statutory. Youth services are a place where local institutions get nurtured.”

The home secretary said aspects of the study’s methodology concerned her, saying the research was disproportionately weighted towards London, focused too heavily on rioters and underplayed the role of criminality.

Mrs May added that she felt London’s gangs had played a significant role in August’s riots, despite evidence from the Guardian/LSE study and official sources that the role of gangs in the disturbances was minimal.

“I believe the fact that one in five rioters in London were gang members is significant,” she said.

“If we are honest with ourselves, we need to accept that not enough has been done over the years to deal with this problem that we all knew existed and that we knew was not being addressed. This government is committed to dealing with it.”

A spokesperson for the Riots Communities and Victims Panel said: “We are very pleased that the home secretary has asked the Association of Chief Police Officers to review best practice on stop and search, which was a recommendation in our interim report.

“We spoke to communities about stop and search on our visits to 17 areas affected by the August riots, and three areas that were not.

“We discovered that if stop and search is not conducted correctly and with courtesy there is a risk that widespread support for it in communities will be eroded.

“This was not an issue simply raised by rioters. Individuals, young and old and from all backgrounds, told us it must be addressed to improve relationships between the public and the police.”

Tim Newburn, the head of social policy for the LSE and lead academic on Reading the Riots, welcomed Mrs May’s announcement of an Acpo review into stop and search. “The review of stop and search announced by the home secretary is hugely significant. Used inappropriately, stop and search can pose a huge challenge to public trust and confidence in policing. Given the findings of Reading the Riots, an assessment of good and bad practice is very timely.”

Mr Newburn also praised Mr Miliband’s proposal for youth services. “The Guardian/LSE research has highlighted the dangers of failing to engage with our most marginalised young people,” he said. “Putting youth services on a statutory footing would be a good first step in bringing many young people back into the mainstream.”

The conference was held to discuss the findings of the first phase of a joint Guardian/LSE project investigating the causes and consequences of the England riots.

Researchers interviewed 270 people who took part in the unrest in London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham, Manchester and Salford. In total the study collected more than 1.3m words of first-person accounts, giving an insight into what drove people to participate in England’s most serious bout of civil unrest in a generation.

Rioters revealed that a complex mix of grievances brought them on to the streets but analysts appointed by the LSE identified distrust and antipathy towards the police as a key driving force.

Alongside Mr Miliband and Mrs May, the conference was due to hear from many of the project’s researchers and panel debates featuring Louise Casey, the director general of the government’s troubled families unit, the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, and Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of the Kids Company charity.

May To Review Stop And Search


Theresa May heckled for claiming UK riots driven by ‘instant gratification’

The Home Secretary faces the wrath of her audience over her suggestion that the riots that swept Britain in August were motivated solely by greed and opportunism.

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Academic Backs Readers’ Royal Commission Call

Academic Backs Readers' Royal Commission Call
The lack of clarity over what is happening in the law enforcement landscape should alone be reason enough to set up a Royal Commission, according to a leading academic.

Dr Tim Brain – who is involved in the Labour-sanctioned independent review of policing with former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Lord Stevens – believed the current Government path of piecemeal reform carried real dangers

And the former Gloucestershire chief was unsurprised that 87 per cent of PoliceOracle.com readers shared his view the police oracle poll and wanted a Royal Commission.

Dr Brain added: “The fact is that people are very concerned about the future of policing and the absence of any central narrative of a policing vision.

“We know that the current government does not want over centralisation, but policing has always been a balance between the national and local elements.

“Under the former government the model was over-centralised – but with the current administration you have to ask question about exactly what is happening.”

Dr Brain questioned where functions left by the loss of the NPIA would be re-homed. “You must ask where the connection between local and national is now,” he added.

The academic accepted that any Royal Commission would take time to report – but he asserted that findings would be well considered and meaningful.

He added: “The problem with them is that you have an independent panel that takes its time over the issue, and as such politicians find it very hard to say no to them.

“The independent review we are carrying out will step into the breach and in the absence of a Royal Commission this is going to be a significant move.”

Academic Backs Readers’ Royal Commission Call

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The police may be foolish to take freebies, but that does not make them corrupt

At the height of the phone hacking furore, the Prime Minister – under enormous personal pressure over his relationship with ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson – established a bewildering number of inquiries.

Chief amongst them was the Leveson investigation into Press standards (currently wrestling with the question of whether the Guardian’s grave allegation that NotW reporters deleted messages on the mobile phone of Milly Dowler is utterly false).

But there were also a flurry of inquiries into the police, who were being accused of corruption.

Assistant Commissioner John Yates resigned over the phone hacking scandal but has since been clearedAssistant Commissioner John Yates resigned over the phone hacking scandal but has since been cleared

John Yates and Paul Stephenson – two senior Met police officers who were hounded out of their jobs – have since been cleared of wrongdoing by the IPCC.

Now a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary into the police service in general has been published.

It does not all make comfortable reading.

One unidentified chief constable went to see Take That perform on stage no fewer than six times – something that can hardly be relevant to the job.

Others accepted trips to Royal Ascot, international rugby at Twickenham and to watch England play football at Wembley.

The review, titled Without Fear Or Favour, even found ‘numerous examples’ of senior officers accepting hospitality from suppliers and companies vying for contracts.

It concluded that in some cases accepting concert or sports tickets could be viewed as inappropriate even if officers declared it.

In truth, it should not need saying that the behaviour of the police was unwise, and is likely to create a damaging impression.

It really should occur to senior officers that, when corporations lavish highly-desirable freebies upon them, they may wish for something in return.

Former Essex chief constable Roger Baker, who led the review, said police leaders need an ‘urgent wake-up call’.

He warned: ‘You’ve got to be very clear on the reason why you want to accept tickets to the FA Cup Final, or something like that, and there are major perception issues.

‘Let’s take pop concerts. The staff working in the police service were very clear that they found that was not acceptable. ‘Public servants thought that was very, very iffy.

‘And so unless there’s a really good reason which I can’t think of, then the answer to that should be, ‘no, don’t’.’

But the crucial fact is that HMIC found no evidence that we have a corrupt police service.

In HMIC’s own words, ‘concerns that inappropriate relationships represented endemic failings in police integrity are not borne out by the evidence available’.

That we do not have corrupt police forces in this country should be an enormous relief to all of us.

But you have to wonder if David Cameron – desperate to appear to be seen to be ‘doing something’ about phone hacking – ever really thought we did.

Read James Slack’s Rightminds blog here

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Call for child custody rules change

Too many children are held in police stations while waiting to appear in court after being charged, inspectors have said.

Two-thirds of children and young people who were charged, denied bail and kept in police cells went on to be granted bail at their first court hearing, a joint inspection found.

The review called for a greater focus on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people, adding that the amount of time they are held in police stations should be minimised.

It comes after the Howard League for Penal Reform called for police to be banned from holding children under 14 overnight in cells.

The report, Who’s Looking Out For The Children?, found that in a sample of 49 cases where children were charged with an offence and denied bail, a total of 46 were kept in police cells, rather than being transferred to local authority accommodation. Almost two-thirds (64%) of these were then granted bail at their first court hearing.

It also found that the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (Pace) 1984 created an anomaly in which 17-year-olds are treated as adults in a police station, but as juveniles in court.

The inspectors added that while enthusiastic and keen appropriate adults were provided for young people who had been arrested, they frequently knew little about the child, hindering their efforts to provide support.

The flow of information between the adults and youth offending teams was ineffective and police custody records were inadequate, often being completed incorrectly and without enough detail, the report said. The adults were also passive in interviews and unlikely to challenge the police.

Dru Sharpling, an inspector for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), said: “What we found in our joint inspection was that the arrest and custody process does not always consider the needs of the children and young people. Agencies should work together to minimise the amount of time children and young people are held in police custody.”

The inspection was carried out by HMIC, HM Inspectorate of Probation, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, the Care Quality Commission, Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales.

Call for child custody rules change

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I hope the police will reflect on whether this was the appropriate action to take.

Teenage girl whose lies left one man in prison and another savagely beaten up gets off with issued with an £80 fixed penalty notice.

A teenage girl whose false rape allegation led to an innocent man being beaten up and another man sent to jail was   let off by police with just  given an £80 fixed penalty notice. 

Jess Cooper was handed the penalty – usually given for minor traffic infringements, anti-social behaviour or environmental offences – for wasting police time.

However, her ‘wicked’ lie led to Andrew Lester being punched and kicked to the floor. He lost eight teeth and his hearing was permanently damaged.

Yesterday a judge who jailed Cooper’s boyfriend over the attack said the police’s decision not to prosecute her ‘beggared belief’. 

Judge Michael Challinor said Cooper, 17, bore a ‘huge responsibility’ for the attack after telling the lie to boyfriend Philip Hollyman as they sat drinking in a pub. 

Sentencing 22-year-old Hollyman to three years in jail after he admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent, the judge said Lester ‘may suffer from the effects [of the attack] for the rest of his life’.

‘He [Hollyman] is facing years in prison and she was given a fixed penalty ticket. It almost beggars belief. 

‘Crying rape is an extremely serious thing to do. I hope the police will reflect on whether this was the appropriate action to take. It just isn’t right.’ 

According to Crown Prosecution Service guidance, women who cry rape, so risking the arrest of an innocent man, should normally be charged with perverting the course of justice, which carries a maximum sentence of life.

Failing that, they can be cautioned or charged with wasting police time, which carries a maximum penalty of six months’ imprisonment and a £2,500 fine.

Howard Searle, prosecuting, said Mr Lester, 40, had had a one-night-stand with Cooper, although it is unclear if this was before she started seeing Hollyman.

The court heard Cooper and Hollyman were at the Bricklayers Arms in Walsall, West Midlands, in August, when she told him that Mr Lester, who was also in the pub, had raped her. 

Hollyman, a construction worker who, like Mr Lester, had been drinking heavily, followed him out of the pub and attacked him.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard Mr Lester’s cheekbone and nose were broken.

Mr Searle said Cooper made a complaint about the rape to police, but ‘quickly came to her senses and told them it was not true’. 

Patrick Currie, defending Hollyman, said: ‘If it had not been for the false allegation he would not be before the court. Hollyman had no cause to doubt what he had been told.’ 

Outside court, Mr Currie said he was ‘very surprised’ at the action taken by police against Cooper. 

The judge said he was able to reduce Hollyman’s sentence because the ‘provocation is very significant’. He added that Hollyman, from Walsall, was ‘in many ways’ a victim.

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said West Midlands Police had already given Cooper the fixed penalty before it was consulted over the case against Hollyman. 

Cooper, from Walsall, was not in court. Last night, a family friend of Hollyman said: ‘Philip knows he did wrong and is prepared to pay the price. Jess announced to the  whole pub that she had been raped, in front of Philip’s friends and some of his family.’

I hope the police will reflect on whether this was the appropriate action to take.

I do have to add in here that whilst I cannot disagree that firmer action by the police should have been the course taken it is debatable had they done so whether the court would have imposed a severe penalty given the track record of weak sentencing across the board.

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