I wear two hats when I write this blog of mine. First and foremost, I manage a small charity in a small Scottish town called Dumfries. Ours is a front door that opens onto the darker corners of the crumbling world that is Britain 2015. We hand out 5000 emergency food parcels a year in a town that is home to 50,000 souls. Then, as you can see from all of the book covers above, I am also a thriller writer. If you enjoy the blog, you might just enjoy the books. The link below takes you to the whole library in the Kindle store. They can be had for a couple of quid each.

Monday, December 30, 2013


Prejudice is a thing that comes in all shapes and sizes. I guess after the abuse my lads experienced a couple of Sundays ago thanks to the colour of their skin, I have been rather hyper alert to it. It’s a bit like when you have a near miss when driving. For the next thirty minutes or so you find yourself beset with a kind of ultra-caution. Check the blind spot, check the blind spot and check the blind spot again. Then after a while you get back to merely checking the blind spot once.

The last fortnight has been a bit like that. Obviously it has been a case of scanning the mirror for blue lights rather than compulsive attention to the blind spot. I haven’t been pulled again. Instead I have received a helpful letter from our local Chief Superintendant of Police. She was disappointed that I chose the route of this blog to air my grievances and concerns instead of going to her personally. I can understand this and I fully sympathise. And by not picking up the phone an arranging an appointment with Kate Thompson, I guess I have shown a prejudice of my own. I have met her before on a couple of occasions and I was favourably impressed. The ‘word on the street’ about her is pretty good too. The word is that she is a good cop. So what prejudice guided me to choose the blog road instead of a call to the Chief Superintendant?


I did everything by the book in the days and weeks after Hillsborough. I followed official channels. I trusted the system. I had faith.

Well, I guess everyone knows what happened next. 23 three years of cover up happened next. It stripped away my faith in the system. It was instrumental in me choosing to adopt the Wikileaks approach this time around. It made me prejudiced.

To be prejudiced is to pre-judge. To make your mind up about someone in advance. To guess in advance how they will behave and react. My post-Hillsborough prejudice told me that the police would use any official complaints procedure to bury away the facts abut what happened to the lads for weeks and months until they would gather dust in some lost filing cabinet.

Maybe instead of following the instinct of my prejudice, I should have had faith in Kate Thompson and not tarred her with same brush as the officers of the South Yorkshire Police of the 1980’s.

But I didn’t.

I allowed my prejudice to gain the upper hand and for that I owe an apology and I am more than happy to offer it up in this chosen public domain.

Sadly my lack of trust in the police doing the right thing runs deeper than Hillsborough. Having been with Carol for almost a quarter of a century, I have absorbed the experience of far too many incidences when her family was treated with appalling prejudice thanks to the colour of their skin. All too often, the police played a shoddy role in such incidents. All too often the police were responsible for the incidents in those shameful days before the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. Carol and her family were good people treated very badly. It leaves a bad taste. It leaves distrust. It leaves prejudice.

This goes to show that prejudice works on different levels. Sometimes we develop a prejudice as a result of something that has actually been done to us. I was at Hillsborough. I was lucky to survive it. I saw how the South Yorkshire Police behaved that day. I reported it. And my words along with the words of thousands of others were buried. Instead, a pack of lies were told and the blame was laid at our door.

The result. Prejudice.

I wasn’t there when the police behaved so appallingly to Carol’s family in the 70’s and 80’s. Instead I have heard about it. And it has added to my prejudice. It’s a second hand prejudice, but a prejudice all the same.

The other day I finally managed to lay my hands on a hard copy of the document that was circulated to the 22 members of the Dumfries ‘Pubwatch’ scheme asking them to vote on a banning order for my two sons. I have taken a photo and posted it below.

Yeah, yeah. More Wikileaks!

It is the very essence of bureaucratic prejudice. Ghastly and mundane. It represents an attack on two individuals; an attack carried out in secret. The way it casually besmirches their reputations is repugnant. I very much doubt if the club steward who wrote the words is any great lover of Shakespeare, but maybe I do him a disservice. Maybe I am being prejudiced. He would do well to consider these words from Iago in Othello
Who steals my purse steals trash. 'Tis something, nothing:
'Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands.
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.

History is littered with endless millions of similarly drab and dry documents. The railroads that carried millions to Dachau and Buchenwald and Auschwitz ran on similarly blasé and dreary pieces of bleak officialdom. The clerks who filled out the paperwork in triplicate had long since ceased to see living, breathing human beings. They had cashed in their humanity for a pension scheme. Their prejudice had become completely ingrained. I doubt if they saw each individual document as a death warrant for a real person with dreams and ambitions. Instead they saw a mere number. A face from a cartoon. A Christ Killer. A Kike. A Yid. A bad person. A person who deserved everything they were about to get.

Poll ID:277 is that kind of document.

What does a person reading this poisonous little document learn of my son?

‘On 16 December 2013, a steward within a member premises allegedly observed Courtney Frankland within a toilet cubicle snorting some sort of white powder. Frankland was with Dyonne Green at this time. Police were contacted and both were searched by police. No drugs were found.

Both persons have been put forward for a ban by the member premises.’

This wasn’t the first draft. In the first draft there was no use of the word ‘allegedly’. That of course was added by Constable Adam Potts who was doing his bit to make sure that the Pubwatch member, ‘Chancers’, didn’t accidentally land themselves in any hot legal water.

So let’s pick apart the prejudice

One person – the steward - made a statement and not so much as a shred of evidence was found to back up that statement. The police could hardly have tried any harder to find some sort of evidence that the steward was telling the truth. But they failed. There was no evidence to find.

At this point did it occur to them that out of a hundred people in Chancers at the time only two were mixed race? Did it occur that this might have had something to do with the steward making up such a fairy tale?


Instead his words were allowed to become gospel. His words were briefly scanned by Constable Adam Potts who duly helped out with the addition of the word ‘allegedly’. Did it cross Adam’s mind that the evidence suggested that the steward had got something wrong? Obviously not. He instinctively took the steward’s side and put his name to the steward’s words. Why? Only Adam Potts can answer that one. I can only speculate that Adam has a low opinion of young lads who are out on the town on a weekend night. A prejudice. A prejudice that persuaded him to blindly take the word of the steward at face value despite his colleagues finding not so much as a shred of evidence to back the allegation up.

So Poll ID:277 became a living and breathing thing out there in the ether. Members of the 22 pubs and clubs involved in the scheme were asked to cast their votes.

By the time I received the document, 6 had cast their votes.

Three had voted for Courtney to be banned from every one of their premises for three years. One voted for 2 years. One for a year. One for 6 months.

Did any of them take a moment to consider the implications of what they were doing? Seemingly not. On the basis of a single completely unsubstantiated allegation, they casually decided to exclude my son from socialising with his friends for three years. Wind the clock back to when you were 21. Social life is a big thing at that age. Imagine if you had been banned from most of the places in your home town at that age. For three years. For nothing. It’s a big, big deal. Every time you get a call from friends asking if you fancy going out, you have to say no. Can’t come I’m afraid. I’m banned. Until 2017.

For nothing.

Did Adam Potts stop and think about that?

Did the ones who cast their vote think about that?

Did they think about the huge impact they were about to have on a young man’s life? Or did they just click a button and forget all about it? Did they allow their ingrained prejudice to guide their fingers?

Last week the Queen signed a royal pardon for Alan Turing some 63 years after his death. So what has that got to do with anything?

Well, here’s a question for you. Name me the person most responsible for Britain prevailing over Hitler?

Easy. Winston Churchill.

So name me the person after Churchill most responsible for Britain prevailing over Hitler?

In my book that person was surely Alan Turing. He was the mathematical genius who headed up the team in Hut 8 of Bletchley Park who cracked the German’s Enigma code. At this point in the war Hitler’s U Boats were on the verge of shutting down the Atlantic supply lines and starving us into surrender. Cracking the Enigma code told us where the U Boats were hiding. Once we knew that, we started to sink them. At last the convoys started to make it through and the tide of the war turned. Without the genius of Turing, we might well have lost in 1942.

After the war he more or less invented the computer. Not a bad CV.

So why the Royal Pardon?

Well Alan Turing was gay and that wasn’t allowed in those days. There was huge and ingrained prejudice against homosexuals. It was illegal of course. And anyone who was found to be gay was assumed to be a subversive. A security risk. A closet communist. A traitor in the making. After all, two of the Cambridge Spies had been gay.

So all of Turing’s efforts suddenly counted for nought. The security services hounded him mercilessly. He was kept under constant surveillance and harassed constantly. Eventually he was arrested and charged with gross indecency. There was no evidence that he slept around and was about to hop into bed with a flaxen haired KGB toy boy from Vladivostok. Instead he was in a long term relationship. Every one of his acquaintances spoke of his fierce patriotism and his loathing of Nazism and Bolshevism alike. Did that count for anything? Did it prevail over prejudice? Did it hell.

They offered him a hell of a choice: prison or chemical castration. He chose chemical castration. But they still hounded him. They banned him from his work and followed him everywhere he went.

After two years of this he could take no more and he committed suicide. He was one of the greatest Britons of the 20th century, but blind prejudice drove him to his death. And now 63 years later we are pardoning him for a crime that doesn’t even exist any more.

Imagine how many nasty, evil documents like Poll ID:277 must have filled cabinet after cabinet as the security services drove Alan Turing to his grave. Did any of those bureaucrats take a step back and think about the man and all he had done? Obviously not. The prejudice prevailed

It almost always does. 



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  2. I think the new internet tv channel 'The People's Voice' would be keen to hear your story Mark.