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Issue 8 - July 1998

POLICE IN THE DOCK

"THIS has discredited the police, the medical profession and the law. A lot of people must have got an awful lot on their conscience. This was a deadly serious miscarriage of justice." That was the comment of a former leading Sussex policeman to the shocking case of Paddy Nicholls, a Worthing man who spent 23 years in jail for a crime that didn't even happen. On June 12 the 69 year old was finally released by a Court of Appeal ruling which quashed his 1975 conviction for the "murder" of family friend Gladys Heath in Clifton Road.
Former Detective Superintendent Laurie Finley has told how a pathologist mysteriously changed his mind after deciding that the old lady died of natural causes before Mr Nicholls found the body. Mr Finley, who has always maintained Mr Nicholls was innocent, has disturbingly revealed that he took early retirement from the police in 1976 when he was told "people were out to get him". Paddy Nicholls' release made national TV and radio news and was the main front page story in The Guardian on June 13. Funnily enough, though, it wasn't important enough to make the front pages of our local newspapers, being relegated to pages 8 and 19 of the Worthing Herald and Worthing Guardian!
But the Pork-Bolter is not afraid to state that the story of Paddy Nicholls and his ruined life is of utmost importance to the people of Worthing and raises very worrying questions about Sussex Police and the judicial system in Sussex. Journalist Paul Foot has linked the case to that of Colin Wallace, a British intelligence whistleblower also wrongly jailed for murder in West Sussex at around the same time. Mr Foot and Mr Finley have both called for a full public inquiry into this travesty of justice. We are joining them and will support the campaign. Add your voice to the call for a proper inquiry, without which more innocent people will rot away in jail. Remember, next time it could be YOU!

CHEMICAL RIGHTS AND WRONGS

Interesting news for any East Worthing residents who might happen to live near a large chemical factory. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the failure of a government to release details of pollution risks could amount to a denial of human rights. The case in question was in Italy, where residents claimed they had been denied information regarding public emergency plans designed to protect them in the event of a major accident at a nearby chemical production plant. The court ruled that, by withholding information, the Italian government had failed to secure the applicants' rights to 'respect for their private and family life'. It should have disclosed to the public essential information to allow people to assess the risks posed by the chemical plant. This case now suggests that EU member states may have a duty to ensure environmental information, particularly in respect of hazards and pollution risks, is widely distributed to members of the public.

TALLY HO, BOTTO!

PETER BOTTOMLEY, popular and charismatic MP for West Worthing, has been keeping us all in the dark. Yes, the embarrassingly modest Conservative politician has stayed mum about some of his greatest achievements, new evidence suggests. Townsfolk may recall that Botto, as he is lovingly known, has in the past played down the amount of time he devotes to Parliament. For instance, when critics suggested he should have been present at Westminster to actually vote for the Road Traffic Reduction Bill, he explained this had not been possible. Botto had been too busy dealing with constituency matters here in Worthing to be in the Commons on a Friday afternoon, he had explained.
But we know that he does find time for really important work in the Commons. This is demonstrated superbly by the tale of Early Day Motion No 1285 in the current session of the House of Commons. Proposed by six Labour MPs, it consisted of a rather detailed and well-documented criticism of the new Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, the pro-hunting pressure group. Papers passed on to us show that two slashing amendments were tabled to this motion, aiming to reduce the whole lengthy motion to: "That this House welcomes the new Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance." Full stop. Nothing more. And who was behind both of these amendments? Yes, you've guessed it - Peter Bottomley (Con, Worthing West).

SOUTHERN WATER UNDER PRESSURE

HAVE you experienced problems with low water pressure at your home? If so, you're not the only one. All sorts of problems can result, particularly with types of water heaters that rely on pressure of water to activate them. And the fire brigade have also complained that water from their hydrants is not up to the job. The reason why the pressure can be low is that it stops Southern Water losing so much of the supply via leaks in the system. And cynics might argue that the reason why the firm hasn't got round to repairing all the leaks is something to do with the fact that as a private company, its duty is firstly to provide profits for its shareholders and only secondly to provide water to its customers.
It would be rather amusing if customers with reduced water pressure decided to reduce their water bill by the same proportion before sending their cheques off to Southern Water.

WHOSE TOWN IS IT ANYWAY?

HOW comforting to read in the Herald of yet another "hi-tech" security scheme in the town. "Shopwatch" involves a network of 40 walkie-talkie radios and is described as "an organisation designed to protect the town's traders and visitors". So what about us, the people who actually live here? The answer came from the scheme's "undercover" manager, known only by the imaginative code-name of "Ian", who said: "The scheme acts as a deterrent, we do not want people who would cause trouble in the town at all." This could mean you (and probably does mean us!). The town centre is now regarded as a private money-making zone where you're only welcome if you come to hand over your cash. Anyone else can expect to be treated as a criminal, spied on and monitored by daleks on poles and a secretive business-funded private Gestapo. What a porkin' disgrace!

FREEMASONIC FUDGE

PLENTY of food for thought in the latest replies to our correspondence about Freemasons in public life. Sadly, some of it smells as if it's off. Firstly though, we received this reply from Mark Lamb, Head of Personnel and Training at Sussex Police HQ in Lewes: "You wrote on March 9 asking for a list of freemasons within Sussex Police. We intend shortly to establish a register within the Force, and invite both police and support staff who are members of any organisation demanding a bond of loyalty, including freemasons, to declare the fact for the record. There will be a mechanism for members of the public to inspect the register. We will not be issuing lists of freemasons. I do not regard that as being in the spirit of openness and honesty, but rather as an intrusive fishing trip. As for myself, I am not and never have been a freemason."
We also received another letter from Michael Ball, Chief Executive of Worthing Borough Council, after we wrote to him suggesting his first response was just a tinsy-winsy bit on the vague side. This is, in full, what he wrote to the Pork-Bolter: "I am concerned that you expect to continue to have a responsible correspondence with me whilst retaining curious anonymity and using specious arguments to maintain your secrecy. I do not propose to reply to any further correspondence from you. To complete our correspondence on the issue of Freemasonry, I would inform you that the Council's "Code of Conduct" for staff requires that they "should declare to an appropriate manager membership of any organisation not open to the public without formal membership and commitment of allegiance and which has secrecy about rules or membership or conduct." No such declarations have been made. Regarding Councillors, the National Code of Local Government Conduct which guides all Councillors states, at paragraph 9, ..."Private and personal interests include ... those arising through membership of, or association with, clubs, societies and other organisations such as the Freemasons...". Paragraph 10 goes on to state that "if you have a private or personal non-pecuniary interest in a matter arising at a local authority, you should always disclose it, unless it is insignificant..." No such declarations have been made on the basis of any such interest arising from a Member being a Freemason."
Pigs are famous for their intelligence, but maybe we are being a bit dim here. We just don't know what this means! Does it imply that there are no freemasons on the council at all? Does it mean that there are, but they are illegally keeping quiet about it? Or don't they really have to declare their membership? It seems almost unbelievable that a man of Mr Ball's ability should be able to write not one but TWO letters addressing the same subject and still not make anything clearer that it was when we began. And now he's not going to answer any more of our letters! How convenient! And what a coincidence that that is exactly what top councillor Sheila Player did in the letters pages of the West Sussex Gazette when we put her on the spot over the way the council has been hiding the truth about council house privatisation. Is this always going to be Worthing Borough Council's reaction to any difficult questions? Come out with a load of incomprehensible bullshit and then announce that the debate is over and they're not playing anymore?
Are you going to let them get away with it? If not, write to Michael Ball at the Town Hall, Chapel Road, Worthing, BN11 1HA and ask him to explain to you personally what the score is regarding Freemasons on his council. And let us know what he says ...

VOTE WITH YOUR FLIPPERS!

Sealife News Fact 1: East Worthing and Shoreham's Tory MP Tim Loughton has backed an Early Day Motion slamming Japan and Norway for flouting the international moratorium on whaling and he supports a permanent ban.
Sealife News Fact 2: A Pork-Bolter correspondent recently spotted a pod of six dolphins in the sea off Worthing, to the east of the pier. Conclusion: Dolphins love Tim Loughton, because he is kind to whales and other animals and therefore are happy to swim in his constituency. But when they get to the pier they realise they're approaching Peter "Tally Ho!" Bottomley's West Worthing anti-environmentalist patch and refuse to go any further.

PORKY PIE'S TIP OF THE MONTH

How to be a Model Citizen:
  1. Watch the news on TV
  2. Read the papers
  3. Believe everything
  4. Question nothing
  5. Keep working
  6. Die.

PORK SCRATCHINGS

RECLAIM THE DOWNS! On Sunday July 5 a Mass Trespass is being organised on the South Downs by the local group of The Land Is Ours (01273 685913). Meet 12 noon at Brighton Rail Station for a mystery bus ride into the countryside (£3 or £2 concessions). Says this excellent organisation: "Our Downs are being ploughed up by farmers and built upon by developers. Once we could wander at will, now we see barbed wire at every turn. Now it is time to rediscover our Downland - come and join us in reclaiming our countryside! Farmers claim that they are 'the guardians of the countryside'. However, the reality is that farming is itself the main cause of ecological devastation in this country. The intensification of agriculture over the last fifty years has eliminated natural habitats of all kinds. For too long landowners and agri-business have conspired to keep us off this land of ours. It is time to take it back from their destructive hands!"
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WORTHING Friends of the Earth is staging its second ECO-FESTIVAL at Homefield Park on Monday August 31, from 12 noon. This promises to be a really cracking event. All sorts of activities and displays are already planned, but there is still a lengthy wish-list of everything from performers and workshop leaders to tents, banners and decorations. Sympathetic groups and individuals are invited to come and take part and do their own thing.
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EVIDENCE that the Worthing CCTV surveillance system is not working can be seen at the junction of Warwick Street and South Street. The camera installed there has apparently failed to notice an atrocious spelling mistake on the cast-iron signpost nearby. This directs pedestrians to the council's own Pavillion Theatre. We ask: what the 'ell are they up to?
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NEXT time you see a report of Chernobyl victims being given a holiday in Worthing, think of this: just on the other side of the Channel, from Cap de Gris to Belgium, the northern French coast boasts 180 nuclear power stations either built or planned.
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THE PIG OF THE BUNCH If you want to make sure of getting a copy of issue 9, simply send us a stamped, addressed envelope. To get the next six issues send a donation of at least £2. Please think about making it a bit more, if you really, really, really want to help us. Back issues 1-8 still available. Cheques/postal orders made payable to The Pork-Bolter. email subscriptions also available. Drop us a line: porkbolter@eco-action.org or PO Box 4144, Worthing, West Sussex, BN14 7NZ. website: http://www.eco-action.org/porkbolter. Or why not communicate telepathically?
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OFFICIAL WARNING The Ministry for Truth wishes to emphasise that the political opinions of dolphins should not, under any circumstances, be taken seriously. Both TV and radio reception is extremely poor under the sea and these creatures have therefore not had access to the official information and interpretation necessary for them to play a responsible part in our democratic system. It has also come to the attention of the Ministry that pigs in the Worthing area are expressing unorthodox opinions and these should likewise be ignored. If members of the public insist on following the political inclinations of members of the animal kingdom, the Ministry suggests it would be most suitable for them to behave like sheep.

and finally ... DON'T LET THEM GET AWAY WITH IT ANY LONGER!