The arrest of Conservative immigration spokesman Damian Green MP last week – seemingly for a crime no greater than embarrassing the Home Office – shocked Westminster and has slowly grown into a much bigger story than the government would like. Voices from the every part of the political spectrum have condemned the police's heavy-handedness and the gross violation of parliament it entailed. The newspapers and their columnists, from Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun to Jackie Ashley in The Guardian, have joined in too.
I'm glad to see people finally waking up to the vandalism the current government and their servants have wrought on the relationship between the state and the individual. If the Damian Green affair changes the way we view authority, and makes voters less willing to trust the police with whatever powers our authoritarian rulers want to give them, then at least some good will have come of it.
Damian Green's arrest is not the only police scandal causing outrage though. This story in The Mirror is every bit as appalling:
Lance Corporal Mark Aspinall – highly praised by his commanding officer for bravery against the Taliban in Afghanistan – was set upon by three uniformed officers on his home town High Street. The sickening attack – caught in forensic detail on CCTV – led a crown court judge to label it one of the worst examples of police aggression he had ever seen...
Basically, three policemen mistook Aspinall for someone who had been harassing paramedics in the area and, without provocation, rugby-tackled him and bundled him to the ground in the middle of the road. When he protested, the police started to bang his head against the ground, punch him and, in one excruciating display of brutality repeatedly scrape his face backwards and forwards against the tarmac. Yes, Aspinall was drunk, and, yes, he swore at the police when they set upon him. But that is no excuse for the police officers' hideous thuggery. Watching them on video, I was filled with disgust.
Policing is undoubtedly a difficult job and, despite the rotten public-sector system they work under, I'm sure that most police officers still discharge their duties honourably and to the best of their abilities. Cases like this really make you wonder though. Shame.