How a Police State Starts 414

On Saturday a small, socially distanced vigil of 18 people for Julian Assange at Piccadilly Circus was broken up by twice that number of police and one elderly man arrested and taken into custody. The little group of activists have been holding the vigil every week. I had just arrived to thank them and was astonished to see eight police vans and this utterly unnecessary police action. There could not be a clearer example of “Covid legislation” being used to crack down on unrelated, entirely peaceful political dissent.

I was myself questioned by a policeman who asked me where I lived, how long I had been in London and why, what I had been doing at the Assange trial and when I was going back to Edinburgh. (You can see me very briefly at 10mins 30 secs trying to reason with a policeman who was entirely needlessly engaging in macho harassment of a nice older lady).

Later in the evening I had dinner with Kristin Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief of Wikileaks. I returned to my hotel about 11pm, did my ablutions and went to bed. Just after midnight I was awoken by an insistent and extremely loud pounding at the door of my room. I got naked out of bed and groped my way to open the door a chink. A man dressed like the hotel staff (black trousers, white shirt) asked me when I was checking out. I replied in the morning, and pointed out the hotel knew I was leaving the next day. Why was he asking in the middle of the night? The man said “I was asked to find out”. I closed the door and went back to bed.

The next morning I complained in the strongest possible terms, the hotel refunded me one night’s accommodation. The duty manager who did this added “It was not our fault” but said they could not tell me any more about why this had happened.

The person at my door had a native English accent. I had been staying in the hotel over four weeks and I think I know all of the customer facing staff – not a single one of them has a native English accent. I had never seen that man before. This was a four star hotel from a major chain. I suspect “do not get sleeping guests out of bed after midnight to ask them what time they are checking out” is pretty high on their staff training list. I cannot help but in my mind put it together with my encounter with the police earlier that day, and their interest in when I was returning to Edinburgh, but there seems no obvious purpose other than harassment.

The hotel incident may just be in the strange but unexplained category. The busting of the Assange vigil earlier is of a piece with the extraordinary blanking of the hearing by corporate media and the suppression of its reporting on social media. These are dangerous times.

I am now safely back home in Edinburgh.


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414 thoughts on “How a Police State Starts

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    • Old+Red+Sandstone

      Not a ‘banana republic’ but, in phraseology I’ve borrowed from another, a ‘turnip monarchy’.

      Both shameful and frightening.

    • Lesley Herrera

      Sadly Craig it is what it is a Police state, has been since March. However down South started bout same time as Brexit. Unfortunately they are stripping us of our human rights and freedom of speech totalitarian. What you are doing is admirable.

  • Phil

    thank goodness we have 7 brave heros to arrest an elderly gentleman who committed the awful crime of peacefully talking and offering no resistance. We can all sleep peacefully that this highly aggressive, violent man is off the streets tonight.

    I hope these officers are awarded some kind of medal (is the VC in order?) for bravely stepping up to the mark and not giving a regard for their own safety when confronting someone smiling politely and calmly talking.

    • Tom Welsh

      The old saying has been brought up to date:

      “Sticks and stones may break my bones
      But words can irretrievably damage my self-esteem”.

  • Geoff S

    curfews, quarantines, cities locked down, neighbours told to snitch, fines for meeting your family members, police breaking down doors in case someone is having fun inside their own home. install government spy tools to enter businesses

    Yes. I think it might be safe to say the police state has ‘started’

    • Minority Of One

      Reminds me of early 1930s Nazi Germany, not that I was there. It is what comes next that we should be really weary of. History repeating itself.

      • Tom Welsh

        It is interesting to consider who, in the West today, takes the place of the Jews in 1930s Germany.

        Although we should remember that it was not just the Jews who became scapegoats. Romanies, gay people, Slavs and other “Untermenschen”, and – of course – “intellectuals”.

        I don’t know if it is true that Goering ever said, “When I hear the word ‘culture’ I reach for my revolver”. But it captures the Nazi ideology quite well. Clever people were all well and good when they confined their thinking activities to construction, designing weapons, etc. But political and social speculation were very much frowned on.

      • Gerald

        Actually much more East Germany (DDR) the spying, the security state, files on everyone, neighbours blackmailed into ‘denouncing’ undesirables. In fact the DDR would be incredibly jealous of GCHQ and its ability to record all electronic communications the whole population makes and store them for later use. When we understand how much of our communications are from one device or another, emails, texts, calls, voicemail, social media and devices like alexa, even your TV can see you and hear you. We’re well past the stage of Nazi Germany, although the obvious comparison for me with this ‘trial’ is of course with Freislers famous denigrating show trials. I am sure he would approve heartily.

  • Geoff Reynolds

    It’s not just you Craig, the old bill have been given an open cheque to breach any human rights we still have.

    On the second day that the pubs opened the manager of a Scarborough pub called the police because i did not sit down.

    I have a lifetime disability award and damage to my spine that makes sitting down painful due to ruptured discs pressing on my nervous system.

    Upon asking what i had done wrong, five bystanders filmed the incident on their handphones.

    One guy was handcuffed for telling the police i had done nothing whatsoever, wrong.

    They frogmarched me out of the pub, beat me to the ground and took me into custody while unconscious.

    In the morning i was told i could accept a caution………………….obviously i declined because i firmly believe that the right to stand has never been outlawed.

    This should explain, Craig………..


    p.s. to this day the police have not supplied the video footage i requested under the freedom of information act and the judiciary have cancelled my court appearance due to a covid backlog!

    • Kerch'ee Kerch'ee Coup

      In Canada there used to be laws/regulations against drinking in bars when not seated. Be interesting to find if exemptions were provided for under legislation in cases such as yours. This though seems a question of a lack of common sense on the part of the management and over-reaction and officiousness of the constabulary .

    • Jennifer Allan

      I hope you are now fully recovered from this ordeal Geoff. I understand your spinal condition is treatable and I hope this is addressed post Covid. I hope the owner of that Scarborough Pub feels thoroughly ashamed for calling the police. Your experience with the Crown Office and the police refusing to release video footage, showing how our ‘caring’ police manhandled a disabled man in obvious pain, seems to echo the refusal of the Crown Office in Scotland refusing to release the Salmond Judicial Review Court evidence essential to Craig’s Defence of the charges against him. These are the same papers currently being demanded by the Scottish Parliamentary Inquiry into the mishandling of the complaints against Salmond. How long can our First Minister keep withholding this evidence? We all know she has the power to demand the release of these Court papers.

      • Geoff Reynolds

        Thank you for your support. I appreciate it greatly…………..

        The following day i noticed a big lump on the back of my head and blood on my pillow when awaking.

        Blood was oozing out of my left ear and i could not hear properly because of a shrill noise i was experiencing.

        I sent photographs of the blood coming from my ear to police headquarters in North Yorkshire. A few days later i was rung by a female officer who requested my email address.

        Several emails came forth, each one passing me to a different case handler.

        I was instructed that my freedom of information request for all the information the police held on me and all film footage available of my arrest and incarceration had been denied until after i appeared in court.

        Under the terms of freedom of information requests the police had thirty days in which to supply the information requested. Two months have now elapsed with no contact.

        What i am hoping to receive is film footage of me being bundled into Scarborough Police Station while unconscious and dumped on the floor of a prison cell.

        When any prisoner is brought into custody it is the duty of the desk sergeant to ascertain if the prisoner is in a fit state to be put in a holding cell. This is a requirement under Pace codes of practice……………………………………………………….I was put into a cell while unconscious.

        • Tom Welsh

          “I was instructed that my freedom of information request for all the information the police held on me and all film footage available of my arrest and incarceration had been denied until after i appeared in court”.

          Which, presumably, will be never. And in the meantime I don’t suppose it is easy – if even possible – for you to get medical attention.

          I wonder whether police officers who get injured while beating up civilians can get medical treatment. I suspect the answer would be “yes”.

    • Howard Adamson

      From what the police initially said on the premises, the licencee of the pub is permitted to ask anybody to leave for any reason.

      If being handicapped is a valid reason then, presumably, you might be arrested for refusing to leave a pub because you are black, asian, bald, old, politically different, gay, lesbian, or a million other reasons. And then, if you resist that arrest by having the audacity to ask which law you’ve broken, you are treated like an animal.

      You should seek legal representation and demand your day in court.

      Best of luck to you Geoff.

      • Muscleguy

        My wife and I entered our usual pub (very quiet always) wearing our All Black tops. This was during the Rugby World Cup and just after Jonah Lomu (RIP) ran over Mike Catt of England (literally) on the way to score in the opening match. The landlord threatened to ban us. He clearly recognised as regulars of his under patronised premises.

        We found a new usual.

  • bj

    Imagine my surprise when I heard the gentleman Fidel Narvaez relate how three MET police (one of them a woman) had been filmed on securicam throwing coins at Julian Assange’s window at the Ecuadorian Embassy in the middle of the night.

    I wouldn’t be surprised it was one of those two fine servants of the public that visited you in the middle of the night.

    • Tom Welsh

      “…three MET police (one of them a woman) had been filmed on securicam throwing coins at Julian Assange’s window at the Ecuadorian Embassy in the middle of the night”.

      A good use of our taxes. (To harrass a man who committed the unforgivable sin of revealing the disgusting crimes of our governments – also paid for by our taxes).

  • Ruth

    Yes, the huge increase in Conservative MPs was engineered to bring in a police state. We as individuals have to be aware and ready to shout out,’F…off’ at any time our rights and those of others’ are compromised.

  • Alba

    Looks like arrest a pacifist pensioner day who decided that it was that old chestnut.. make some examples of the public to frighten the public it’s shameful. And why try to break his shoulder a man that frail?!? Defo had your collar felt . Its as bad as ever, thought police.

  • Edward Grant

    Whilst sympathizing with what must be a life of fear for you at present I just wonder how much tax payers money is being spent on ‘Harassment’. Daren’t even think about the spying on and monitoring of everyone who so much as mentions Wikileaks.

  • Martin B

    Further to the last sentence of your report, Craig, a hypothetical question. Your admirable reporting of the Assange extradition hearing makes it appear that, whatever the facts of the case, Juiian is likely to be handed over to the Americans. If the judge decides otherwise, and he is released, how safe will he be, eg from the risk of kidnap or extraordinary rendition? Is there a western country where he will sleep easy? Or will he have to follow Snowden to Russia?
    PS May you indeed be safe in your home!

  • Mist001

    I think Craig might be better moving out of the UK because it seems to me with everything that’s going on with him, that his card has been marked by the state and once that happens, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to have your card ‘unmarked’ and it won’t stop until they get their result with the forthcoming court case.

    From the comfort of my chair, I don’t think it’s looking too good for Craig, so he really needs to have a good think about what options are open to him before there aren’t any.

  • Fazal Majid

    Entirely predictable. In no other country of the world has a major party campaigned on the theme of “we have too many human rights, let’s revoke some!”, and worse, actually won (yes, I know FPTP is inherently undemocratic, but still).

    • giyane

      Fazal Majid

      The election result is fixed using algorithms. Any voter who has not used their vote recently becomes a Tory. The fascist garbage thrown into the Tory manifesto etc is there to remind us what we voted for I. E. send asylum seekers to Ascension island.

  • Fleur

    So glad to hear you are safely home Craig.
    But “safe at home” is a rapidly vanishing concept for many people now. The “Covid” seems to have opened the door to psychopathic laws and behaviours at all levels across the world – at work, at play, in the street and even in our beds. Only the terminally stupid haven’t noticed that all sorts of draconian retribution is available now to be used against those who speak out against the official narrative, and such people are mostly cowering in fear of a virus that appears to be much on a par with a bad flu. We live in an age of pervasive domestic terrorism – most of it coming from (or at least enabled) our own states.

  • J

    Suggests there are autonomous squads of police assigned to harass. I doubt they would have followed you to your hotel if they knew who you are, but then again, who knows? Absolutely mental video.

  • Richard Steven Hack

    England has been a police state since forever. In fact, since they invented policing. Look up what was done against English anarchists in the 19th century.

    In fact, *every* state is a police state, by definition. In the US, habeus corpus was suspended within ten years of the end of the Revolutionary War in Massachusetts during some riots – and that by one of the Founders.

    Free your mind.

  • 6033624

    This story would have sounded more fitting to Soviet Russia. I truly fear we are headed down the road of an authoritarian regime.

  • Stuart

    The hypocrisy of using Covid legislation to suppress political dissent is exposed by the way in which policemen were standing within 18 inches of demonstrators (far closer than the demonstrators were to each other) while telling them to disperse. Apparently social distancing between police and the public is not required!

    “I (Craig) was myself questioned by a policeman who asked me where I lived, how long I had been in London and why, what I had been doing at the Assange trial and when I was going back to Edinburgh.”

    What business is that of the police? It’s the sort of questioning you’d expect from the Gestapo or the NKVD. Apparently Orwell got it wrong, he should have entitled his novel 2024 not 1984.

    BTW it’s the widespread availability of video equipment and camera phones that ensures that police are finally being held to account for their crimes (eg the Rodney King beating and police shootings in recent years) where previously the cops would alibi each other and contrary witness evidence be disregarded. However technology is a two-edged sword: the proliferation of surveillance cameras and the emergence of face recognition technology together with phone tracking is the secret policeman’s wet dream.

    • Tom Welsh


      Apparently in our wonderful enlightened, civilised, democratic, law-abiding countries “I was just following orders” IS a legitimate defence.

      Otherwise we might be seeing a lot of hangings.

  • David Otness

    Well then. It’s been readily apparent on so many levels, now with this, here’s another one. Straight-out Gestapo psychological tactics for you, Mr Murray. The shadow-banning, the outright throttling, the direct censorship on YouTube and Farscistbook. Yes, me too. And so many others seeking to truth-tell.
    In the states they have their federal regional ‘fusion’ centers set up to take in all the information from the various 3-Letter agencies’ informers, agent-provocateurs, and the cops of course, reports, it’s now gotten so much harder to doubt the veracity of the rumored-for-so-long concentration camps for dissidents.
    Ever since the 2012 NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) was instituted (so very rapidly) following Sept 11, 2001 it seems it’s to Hell in a handbasket. On the Express. Everything we used to have as a human rights-based society has been turned topsy-turvy, awry, nothing is quite right anymore. U.S. citizens can now be grabbed off the streets, their homes, (their hotel rooms.)
    The Owners have all of the bases covered it would appear. We tend to forget about how the big banks are such huge players in this dark kabuki too with their ongoing facilitation of laundering any and all illegitimate funds it would appear. And of course the discrete offshoring of money for society’s paragons.
    Our economies are a phantom projection predicated on the printing of trillions even as Russia, China, Iran and now even Venezuela have been stocking up on gold bullion. Oh, and about that Bank of England outright strong-arming of Venezuela’s gold a few years back?
    Just note how al Qaeda became allies in Syria, the OPCW was corrupted, the unrelenting bashing of Russia via the Skripals (which you Craig, so very well demolished by the facts presented,) and now Navalny following the long trail from the original polonium poisoning which was the opening anti-Putin salvo in a case that has been shown to have links to polonium smuggling and a certain Belgravia-based Russian expatriate swell.
    Interesting too that RTE’s Documentary just did a not-so-subtle two part reprise of that incident which was straight out of Cold War 1.0 with all of its ‘concerned’ references to ‘protecting’ a former KGB agent now living in London because he had spoken to the film crew on tape. Really, seriously, it is so evident the game they are playing in ever-ginning up the heat for further enmity towards Russia. Not to leave out China. And Pompeo n his latest worldwide peace tour. Jesus, look at the shambles in his wake!
    I could go on. And on. As could so many, but what for? We know the score. We know they know we know too.

    • squirrel

      A friend was at the Trafalgar Square protest on the 19th and reports that the protest was 100% peaceful until the police charged the protestors.

    • Shatnersrug

      Sounds like Britain all the time to me, a campaign of harassment is what the security services and police get up to when they want to make a whistleblowers life hell.

  • peter dunn

    This is global – national governments are now little more than the local nodes of a global fascist /corporatist entity. This is proven by the uniform way in which governments around the world have reacted: by adopting the same unscientific, illogical measures, to the Coronavirus.

    This is the last battle – thousands of doctors and medical professionals, along with lawyers are beginning to challenge the official coronavirus narrative. This is the battle we must win – the populations of all countries need to reject the impositions that their governments are making on them.

    And our governments must be made to understand that they are looking at standing trial for aiding and abetting the actions of a foreign power: the globalist elites, to the physical and economic detriment of their own citizens.

    • Tom Welsh

      ” This is proven by the uniform way in which governments around the world have reacted: by adopting the same unscientific, illogical measures, to the Coronavirus”.

      A very good point. Bitter though it is, we must accept this harsh fact and its implications. (Even Russia and China!)

  • John Monro

    My God, Craig, either you are in the early stages of a clinically significant delusional breakdown and you need treatment urgently, or you’re describing what parallels much of what must have happened in Germany in the early days of the Third Reich, or in East Germany after the war, or – well, in any country’s impending authoritarian rule. No, it is not just a “strange” incident, that sort of thing just never happens. You are a marked man, you will be being observed wherever you go, facial recognition technology will track you, and your house may well be bugged. You are being harassed for your too effective support of Julian Assange, and harassed in regard to the Salmond trial and so-called contempt of court. You need to take a smart phone with you every where you go and record conversations and take pictures – you were probably too dopey but you should have asked this man to identify himself.

    • Tom Welsh

      In a civilised country, Mr Murray, Mr Assange, and their like would be valued as national assets. They would be looked to for leadership in moral and political issues.

      In the country where we live, however, the opposite is the case. The best of humanity is seen by government as nothing but an insidious threat.

  • Shatnersrug

    God, poor Craig. It’s not a coincidence. The midnight harassment sound all to familiar tactic I’ve read many time in Lobster magazine.

  • squirrel

    Alas the whole point of covid was to produce a police state globally and this is no surprise. I would have little doubt it is a man made virus.

  • squirrel

    I know this is not how we were brought up, but I’d recommend giving nothing away to the police that you do not have to. Answer their questions with questions of your own. “Am I being detained?” is a staple. If the answer is no, you just say have a nice day and that’s it. If they ask you to do something, “Is that a request or an order?”. There is much more to this and it takes practice but we are not in a time where we can be good obedient citizens anymore and expect justice to come of it.

    • Justin

      Craig was under no obligation to give details of his identity, home address or hotel location. (It goes to show what you get for co-operating!) Freedom News has a good article called “Do you have to give the cops your Name and Address?“:

      CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 13/4/20: Under emergency powers, there is no general obligation for you to give name, address or personal details to police officers that stop you in the street (unless you are driving a vehicle, in which case see below). You are also not legally obliged to explain what you are doing or why you are out of the house. You are only obliged to give them your name and address if you are ‘reasonably’ suspected of being infected (e.g. you are showing symptoms or have tested positive for the virus).

      You do not have to give your name and address unless under a specific legal obligation (Rice v Connolly 1966). Refusal to give your name and address cannot amount to obstructing the police in the course of their duty under s89(2) of the Police Act 1996 but giving a false name and address can.”

      There are situations in which it’s an offence to refuse to give your name and address, and all have a maximum penalty of a fine.

      The relevant laws are Police Reform Act 2002 section 50 (antisocial behaviour); Road Traffic Act 1988 s163-168 (motoring offences) and s169 (disobeying a traffic cop); Game Act 1831 s31-31A (poaching); Public Meeting Act 1908 s3 (disrupting a public meeting); Representation of the People Act 1983 s97 (disrupting an electoral meeting); Pedlars Act 1871 s17 (street trading); and Police Reform Act 2002 for PCSOs (suspicion of specific offences).

      There are other bye-laws that can penalise you for refusing to give your details, but these may be incompatible with articles 10 & 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

      It’s not clear what the gentleman in the video was actually accused of. What was the legal basis for his arrest?

  • giyane

    Craig, Scottish Minister for Justice wants you back, to continue his campaign of defamation and Tory paid press slander against you.

    That’s the wonderful thing about being a politician under a gender flexible administration. You can be a Trans Tory / SNP progressive cross. And nobody ‘s ever going to check.

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