25 4 mins 12 yrs

BOOKER’S column from yesterday is a must-read. The details:

In December 2007 the two McBrides appeared in Liverpool Crown Court, having pleaded guilty earlier in the year to misidentifying catches of fish for which they had no quota under EU rules. But instead of just asking for fines to be imposed on fishermen who break quota rules, the Marine Fisheries Agency (MFA) now has a new tactic. It calls in the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) to use the Proceeds of Crime Act, designed to recover money from international drugs traffickers, money launderers and other major criminals.

Soca – which last year replaced the Assets Recovery Agency, after it had spent £65 million to recover £23 million – assumes that if someone has benefited from the proceeds of crime for more than six months, he is living “a criminal lifestyle”. Everything he owns can then be deemed to have derived from criminal activity.

In the case of Charlie and Charles McBride, all their assets were thus valued at more than £1 million, including their boat and homes (valued at the height of the property boom). On this basis Judge Nigel Gilmour not only imposed on them fines of £385,000 – infinitely more than the value of the fish they had wrongly declared – but ruled that all their assets should be frozen as “proceeds of crime”, even though the home and boat had been bought before the offences were committed. He also told the men that, unless they paid the fines within six months, they would go to prison for up to three years.

At their wits’ end as to how to raise the money, the two McBrides negotiated a second mortgage on their homes. Charlie McBride presented Soca with £120,000, asking that it should be taken as a down-payment on the fine until he had somehow found the rest. The agency asked how he had come by the money and, when told that it came from remortgaging his house, told him that he would be charged with contempt of court because the house was a “frozen asset”.

Two weeks ago the two men were accordingly jailed for contempt, and having been allowed one telephone call to tell his wife Karen what had happened, Charlie is now serving out his sentence as a prison refuse collector.

So, you are fined and must pay the State lots of money. However, you cannot use either your own money or any assets to raise the money – because the State has frozen your assets.

This is justice Banana Republic-style. Forget the ‘crime’ of which they’ve been found guilty (it used to be called ‘fishing’ until foreigners started making our laws), it’s the absurdity of the fine and the State’s de facto restriction on ways to go about meeting it. Thus supposedly free people, protected by the law, lose their liberty.

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25 thoughts on “The State Is Not Your Friend

  1. …No but Google is.
    From the MFA website

    The Confiscation Orders were granted by judge His Honour Nigel Gilmour, who said the three and the Kilkeel-based fish selling firms, the McBride Fishing Company and the Kilkeel Fish Selling Company had made more than £15 million over six years from this criminal conduct.

    Judge Gilmour held that together they had illegally made £15,115,204, broken down as follows:

    * Charles Leslie McBride, 54 of Kilkeel: £647,334
    * Charles Hubert McBride: £489,689
    * Leslie Girvan: £1,003,686
    * McBride Fishing Company: £380,242
    * Kilkeel Fish Selling Company £12,594,253

    source: http://www.mfa.gov.uk/news/press/071211.htm

  2. If true this is ridiculous, however Booker has a record ranging from misleading half-truths to wholesale fabrication. Is there any credible source for this story?

  3. From the MFA’s website:

    <<The Marine and Fisheries Agency is an executive agency of Defra which is tasked with service delivery, inspection, and enforcement of the fishing industry and other marine users in England and Wales.

    The MFA has overall responsibility for the enforcement of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and its associated regulations within the 60,000 square miles of English and Welsh waters.>>

    I think I’ll wait and see what else comes out of this one. An enforcement arm of the EU and a compliant judge don’t fill me with confidence.

    Frank, which "fabrications" of Booker’s do you mean?

  4. Yes I am. I am suggesting that rather than portraying the McBrides as a couple of fishermen who once illegally landed too much cod, or whatever, and were ensnared in some malicious plot by the MFA, it is quite clear that this was a long-term, multi-million pound fraud that these people had perpetrated.
    If they are estimated to have made £15m from illegal fishing then to be asked to pay back £385k seems a pretty good deal.
    In what way is a 6-year, £15m fishing fraud any different from a 6-year £15m drug smuggling operation?

  5. If they are estimated to have made £15m …

    – which no-one estimates. Booker’s piece mentions only the McBride brothers. Maybe you’d like to look at those numbers again.

  6. Allan,

    "Frank, which "fabrications" of Booker’s do you mean?"

    There are rather a lot to choose from, but for example Booker has long been a laughing stock for declaring white asbestos to be chemically identical to talcum powder.

  7. Pete,

    Of course the link contradicts Booker:

    The judge also fined them a total of £10,625 – fines which he said reflected their ability to pay given that they faced the Confiscation Orders.

    Those are the fines, see? £10K.

    The orders to pay are the confiscation orders. That’s where what they made illegally over six years gets taken off them.

    However you read Booker’s piece assuming it to be somehow aligned with reality and came away with the impression that the confiscation orders were fines, because Booker keeps saying so. Silly you. You’ll know better next time.

  8. Ok – let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the McBrides did not know Leslie Girvan, and had no connection with the Kilkeel fish selling company, that still leaves Messrs McBride with £1.3m in illegal profits from this scam. They are being asked to pay £385k – which even by my O level maths leaves them about £1m to the good.
    Nice work if you can get it.

    Can I just make sure I have this straight? I must be getting hold of the wrong end of the stick here, because in the last two posts, Mr Moore, you seem to be suggesting that the police are a bunch of thugs who use excess violence against lawful protesters and no longer represent the wishes of the people (who I assume you think want rioters to be allowed to carry out their riots unimpeded?) and crooks who rip off £1.3m in illegal fishing are somehow champions of liberty, naive innocents caught up in the system – rather than a couple of guys on the make? Is that what you are trying to say? I presume not.

  9. Frank O’Dwyer –

    Yes, ‘fines’ and ‘confiscation orders’. I can see the difference.

    Jaz –

    I don’t give a monkey’s if they really are guys on the make (or ‘fisherman’ as they used to be known before foreigners made out laws).

    Look again (please, look again before you send my blood pressure off the scale) at my words in the post – "forget the crime of which they’ve been found guilty’. The point is the way that justice supposedly operates in this country now.

    Start paying attention.

  10. Booker must have tweaked the noses of the great asbestos removal industry which has its influence (money) with MPs and bgovernment, not that any of them would pocket any money?

    http://www.thefreesociety.org/Articles/Features/the-great-asbestos-deception-does-this-sound-familiar

    A short search does indeed reveal that white asbestos (chrysotile) does indeed have near-identical chemistry to talcum powder:

    <<Phyllosilicates (from Greek φύλλον phyllon, leaf), or sheet silicates, form parallel sheets of silicate tetrahedra with Si2O5 or a 2:5 ratio.

    KaolinSerpentine group

    Chrysotile – Mg3Si2O5(OH)4

    Talc – Mg3Si4O10(OH)2 >>

    It is actually astonishing that chemists allow chrysotile and crocidolite (blue asbestos) to be labelled under the term ‘asbestos’ simply because they are fibrous materials because the differences are clear-cut.

    Any other Booker ‘fabrications’, Frank?

  11. They ran a scam and made 15m. Booker’s whining because they were made to pay 1m back?

  12. Start paying attention.

    Calm down – no need to get testy and impolite.
    I am ignoring the crime – and concentrating on the way the courts have dealt with this, and fail to see in what way these people can possibly claim that they have been hard done by. They gained over £1.3m illegally. The courts are demanding £350k back.
    If your hypertension allows it, explain to me in what way this is an injustice?
    They are crooks, living of illegal proceeds. The courts say you may not profit from the proceeds of crime, although they are still £im to the good.
    I know that at heart you are an anarchist and against the rule of law. Are saying that courts have no rights to demand repayment of illegally obtained profits?

  13. Testy and impolite? Me? Not a chance.

    But do pay attention.

    They gained over £1.3m illegally.

    No. This was the value put on their homes and boats, a value derived at the height of the asset price bubble. They bought these before the supposed crimes.

    The courts are demanding £350k back.

    No. The court is demanding about £350,000 that was not stolen from anyone, hence the court cannot demand it ‘back’. No-one was defrauded here. Look again at the crime:

    In December 2007 the two McBrides appeared in Liverpool Crown Court, having pleaded guilty earlier in the year to misidentifying catches of fish for which they had no quota under EU rules.

    If anyone ought to be ruined financially and locked up, it’s those traitors who sold us to foreign politicians and their foreign laws.

    I know that at heart you are an anarchist and against the rule of law.

    Really Jaz, I do hope you were more attentive when you were handling arms.

    To oppose laws that are foreign and illegitimate, or the arbitrary politicial rules made to regulate our lives in minute detail, is not to oppose the rule of law.

    In fact given the lack of recognition shown here often for private ownership of property, it would be more apt to question your respect for the rule of law.

  14. Pete,

    "Yes, ‘fines’ and ‘confiscation orders’. I can see the difference."

    Good man. Now correct your post and find a better source next time.

  15. Allan,

    "does indeed have near-identical chemistry to talcum powder"

    So not identical then.

    "Chrysotile – Mg3Si2O5(OH)4

    Talc – Mg3Si4O10(OH)2 >>"

    Carbon Monoxide (CO) – highly toxic

    Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – not

    But presumably ‘chemically identical’ to Booker and ‘near identical’ to poor Allan.

  16. No. This was the value put on their homes and boats, a value derived at the height of the asset price bubble. They bought these before the supposed crimes.

    Ahhhhh – now I see the problem. You are using Christopher Booker’s column as your news source, rather than the report from the court. If you read the source I quoted you will see that the £1.3m was the amount that the court estimated had been illegally made under this scam – nothing to do with the value of their assets. Heaven alone knows where Booker got that from. Certainly not the court report.
    In addition to the confiscation order – confiscating the money they made illegally – they have also been fined. The judge also fined them a total of £10,625 – fines which he said reflected their ability to pay given that they faced the Confiscation Orders.
    See – simple really.

    The court is demanding about £350,000 that was not stolen from anyone, hence the court cannot demand it ‘back’.

    So if I smuggle in a couple of hundred kg of, say, Crystal Meth, or Special K or any other drug and sell it, I should be allowed to keep the profit because after all I haven’t stolen it from anyone, so the courts shouldn’t demand it back? Is that what you are saying? Can we just be clear on this one point?

  17. Err not quite, Frank. there are enormous differences between CO2 and CO as we know whereas the structures and reactivity of talc and chrysotile are directly comparable. But Booker’s point stands because blue asbestos (crocidolite) and chrysotile are very different and I can’t see why they are both called asbestos. Then there is the influence brought to bear by the asbestos removal industry in Parliament where our wonderful representatives deliberate what is best for us in this matter – and themselves.

  18. Allan,

    " the structures and reactivity of talc and chrysotile are directly comparable"

    So even you agree they are not identical.

    " But Booker’s point stands because blue asbestos (crocidolite) and chrysotile are very different and I can’t see why they are both called asbestos"

    Your inability to see is proof of little but your own limitations. Certainly your inability to see will never make talcum powder and white asbestos chemically identical.

  19. You don’t have to look very hard to find legions of examples of the nonsense that Booker writes. The man studied history and yet seems to think he is better qualified to write about climate change and other scientific studies than those people who study science what are they called? Oh yes, scientists.
    He also believes, I am told, in intelligent design. Nuff said.

    Mr Moore – any thoughts on my 5.00pm?

  20. Pete

    Sorry Pete but I don’t really understand where you are going with this.

    Explain how this isn’t a couple who have profited from a scam, getting way with most of the profits.

    If your arguement is that what they did shouldn’t be illegal in the first place, you that is surely a different argument which you didn’t really make.

    You really are being the ATW enigma ;o)

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