Brian Edwards Media

One law for top sportsmen, another for an ordinary mum. The injustice of it makes my blood boil!

There are only two stories on the front page of this morning’s Herald. One, headed Secrecy over ex-All Black’s child assault, occupies the left hand side of the page. The other, headed Attacked girl’s mum faces court, occupies the right hand side.

To be strictly accurate, the right hand story consists  of nine  column inches of text and a 10 x 6 inch photograph of Melissa Anderson, the mother of the attacked girl, appearing in the Waitakere District Court to face a charge of assault. Ms Anderson had slapped one of two girls who had attacked her 13-year-old daughter Summer, leaving her with a black eye, a welt on the side of her face and cuts to her eyelid.

The left hand side story begins:

Name suppression for a former All Black who yesterday pleaded guilty to child assault flies in the face of Parliament’s aims, says a legal expert.

The former rugby star is the latest in a long line of top sportsmen who have appeared in criminal courts and been allowed to keep their identities secret.

The justification for the name suppression is given later in the story:

He was reportedly given name suppression because of his standing in sporting circles and in the community as well as to protect the identity of the complainant.

Another former high-profile All Black appeared in a Wellington court last week and he, too, was given name suppression.

In that case, the 45-year-old was charged with assaulting his partner… resisting police and possession of cannabis.

The Herald goes on to list eight cases since 2002 in which prominent sportsmen were granted name suppression. The cases involved a range of offences from spousal and child assault to rape, abduction and sexual violation. 

From the right hand story we learn that Melissa Anderson told the court that she had arrived within 10 minutes of the attack on Summer and that her motherly instinct had taken over when she saw her bleeding and distressed daughter. Her lawyer sought name and image suppression. He said Summer wanted to change schools and publicity could cause difficulty for her:

“She is a young teenage girl who has been the victim of bullying and is in a vulnerable position at it is.”

Pretty compelling, I’d have thought. Just as there’s a pretty compelling argument for suppressing the name and image of a mother who momentarily lost her cool when the girl who had just bashed her daughter laughed in her face.  

Community magistrate Dianne Hale did not find it compelling. She said she sympathised with the request but ruled it was in the interests of “open justice” to continue without suppression: “Courts are open and fair for people to attend.”

I suspect that the Herald deliberately put these two stories side by side, in order to highlight the utter inconsistency between the treatment of these famous sportsmen for serious offences and the treatment of an ordinary woman for a relatively minor and completely understandably offence.

So the famous child-beaters and spousal abusers and rapists and assorted other sports thugs have their names and pictures suppressed while the mother who slapped a kid who’d attacked her daughter and left her bruised and bleeding, is denied name and image suppression; and the mother’s name and a 10 X 6 photograph of her in the dock are published on the front page of New Zealand’s highest circulation newspaper.

The injustice of it makes my blood boil.

I can only hope that community magistrate Hale gave some thought to the wisdom and justice of her peremptory dismissal of Melissa and Summer’s plea for name and image suppression when she read the front page of this morning’s Herald, and that the irony of her reference to “open justice” and the courts being “fair” may have struck her.

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  1. The abuse of name suppression in this country goes beyond a joke. IMO it should only be ever applied to vulnerable victims. I see the Maori Party have raised this as an issue, and good on them for doing it:

    It’s a cold day in hell that I’ll agree with WhaleOil on anything, but today the devil has his skates on.

    It is truly sickening what sport stars, and All Blacks in particular, can get away with in NZ (and places “governed in free association”) ie: if I carried on like Zac Guilford I would be in Pokie right now.

  2. Totally agree with you Brian. The other interesting thing is, and like many people, I’m wondering which of all the ex All Blacks has done such heinous crimes. I know I shouldn’t be like this, but just one little bit of me is thinking, they are all guilty, because I just don’t know. This causes a vigilante reaction, where the not guilty ex All Blacks “out” the guilty to cleanse their own guilt by association. This isn’t ideal.

  3. Not just sportspeople. ‘Making people laugh’ is not only a way to get name suppression, but also to be let off scot free despite pleading guilty.

    And then there was the bleeding heart sports column in this week’s Listener regarding Zac Guildford. Give me a break.

    Why can’t we have some sort of judicial ombudsman, so that judges are accountable for their (sometimes) appalling lapses of judgement?

  4. Our judiciary is corrupt in certain senses of the word.

  5. Perhaps Whale Oil could be persuaded to breach the suppression order if we club together to pay the fine.

  6. Agree, I see that in the USA it is called a “gag law” and is not used often and is not popular
    Other than cases of a sexual nature (to protect the victims) there should no use of this law

    It is worth noting that when suppession is requested in the lower Courts it is given because of the Pandora’s box principal and it is then up to the Crown to appeal

  7. I believe the underlying principle in the courts is one of openness. Justice must be seen to be done. The principle does however seem only to apply the low socio-economic groups, not to anyone who can afford a half way decent lawyer or if the person is high profile, usually an ex All Black or media personality.
    It’s just plain wrong and is a blight on the integrity and fairness of our justice system. It is the most blatant example of one law for the rich and famous and another for the rest.

  8. I agree with all of you. As a mother whose child has been assaulted at school I utterly sympathise with this mother and will be writing to the judge with my protest.

    I guess I’m just lucky the little toad who bashed my son got away before I arrived…………

  9. I share your suspicion that the Herald deliberately put these two stories together in a Holy juxtaposition to highlight the inconsistency. If true, good on them for doing so.

  10. What Diana Hale said might be the “right” way for justice to be done but not the other Judge’s ruling. Maybe it is an indication of why so many poor people get clobbered by the law while the rich and famous seem to escape. Perception.

  11. 11

    Made my blood boil too. The Herald made a point of highlighting the blatant inconsistency, by running the two cases together. There can be nothing more infuriating than having to address a donkey as, Your Honour.

  12. Perhaps we should all become All Blacks…

  13. I think we need to concentrate on improving the quality of the judiciary. Get rid of the poorest performers.

    By the way is there not some kind of peer Review for these people?

  14. 14

    Brian, emotionally, it make my blood boil too. But step back a moment. The assaulted schoolgirl was named, and her photograph published in the Herald the previous day. Therefore a suppression order would have been utterly pointless. Incidentally, Mum (good on her) cheerfully admitted the assault

    Secondly, Media Law Journal reports the ex-All Black was granted an interim suppression order only. Not a full and final suppression order. And what we don’t know is what weight the judge put on identifying his victim.

    And I don’t like the Herald’s use of “reportedly”. Either it’s fact or it isn’t. I’d say it’s the Herald’s job to report definitively on the judge’s reasons.

    For a more rational analysis, I’d suggest the invariably-excellent Mr Price

    BE: Yes, I’m aware of that. However, name and image suppression would have prevented further publicity, including the large photograph of the mother published (twice now) in the Herald. Then there was the comedian granted name suppression because “he makes people laugh”. What is laughable is the inconsistency of these judgements which favour famous people, including sports heroes. Your boiling blood is telling you that there is something very wrong here. One can only hope that the mother is discharged without conviction. She was sorely provoked.

  15. Until the NZRFU can clean up their players’ behaviour this is yet another reason to keep the All Blacks out of schools and kindergartens. Heroes? Role models? Not so much.

  16. “One can only hope that the mother is discharged without conviction. She was sorely provoked.”

    Brian, you should be aware that the law on provocation has been repealed. Provocation is no longer a defence.

    Bear in mind that someone might be wrongly accused but have their name published. The accuser’s name might be suppressed. That’s unfair.

    BE: I know that. See my reply to ianmac.

  17. Some commenters have mentioned the case of the comedian who pleaded guilty earlier this year. The fact is that in that case, name suppression was given because (among other reasons) the complainant was his daughter and her name was required to be suppressed. The comedian was discharged without conviction. The judge said that conviction would be out of proportion to the gravity of the offence. I understand the Crown didn’t seek a custodial sentence even if the comedian had been convicted. The case is now under judicial review.

    BE: Correct, but it was the judge’s reasoning that invited scorn, that the man had made people laugh.

  18. One can only hope that the mother is discharged without conviction. She was sorely provoked.
    Provocation was removed suddenly and urgently by NACT so the mother cannot plead provocation.
    I tried to argue the case for provocation for example where children were treated badly. But it was argued that it is never OK.

    BE: I wasn’t suggesting a formal defence of provocation which, as you rightly say, has been removed from the statute books. I was merely observing that a judge might (ought to) take into account all the circumstances when deciding on a course of action.

  19. I agree that once a guilty verdict has been delivered, most suppression orders should be lifted.

    However to play devil’s advocate for a little bit:

    The media and the public have a fascination with trial by media. This is one of the biggest threats to our justice system. See for example the teacher in the UK (who just won a settlement against a number of newspapers) who was effectively convicted by the media, despite having nothing to do with the case.

    The simple fact is that for most criminal cases before the courts, we know very little about the facts, most know even less about the law, and yet we (and the media) are perfectly happy to pass public judgment against the accused (or in fact the law). For example in the Clayton Weatherstone (sp) trial the media took on a vendetta against the law of provocation. It was repealed, despite the defence having failed (proving the law worked) and with its repeal we did great damage to defences like battered woman’s syndrome. We do not always see the full consequences of any individual case or decision.

    Take a public figure who is accused of assault. Their details are not suppressed, however it turns out that the complaint was false, the investigation negligent and the accused not guilty. There is a very good chance that this public figure will have been well and truly dragged through the mud with very little recourse. One need only look as far as the ‘celebrity involved in massive altercation on Quay’ street from a few months back in the Herald. I believe it turned out to be a domestic argument the culmination of which involved the celebrity sitting on the front of his wife’s car. NOT A STORY, and not what the Herald initially suggested it was. It is certainly true that the very same thing can happen to normal people, however it is almost guaranteed to happen to celebrities.

    Certainly one gets a sense of injustice seeing sports people convicted of crimes and yet remaining anonymous. However, it is for the Courts (who have the facts) to determine whether there are risks that the punishment will outweigh the crime (whether through complete destruction of reputation, or whether through conviction) and not us.

    I am reasonably sure that the increase in suppression orders is closely related to the increase in a celebrity obsessed news media. Further, there are numerous non celebrities who have their names suppressed, we simply do not hear about them.

    I like to think we have a criminal system which protects people (the adage about 100 guilty men walk free before one innocent man is falsely convicted). The consequences of a fair justice system are mistakes, and at times small injustices. We chose to judge the system by whatever hullabaloo the Herald or other outlet chooses to make about an event. The short point is that we do not know all the facts, we do not know all possible consequences, and when we act without that knowledge we can do far more damage then we expected. Perhaps our first stop is not to blame the courts, but rather the integrity of some of our media’s reporting.

    I realise that as a lawyer I am biased towards the system. However, when I see the Herald publish photos of children who’ve been beaten, or details about a child who was sexually assaulted including details about what school they were assaulted at and what school they are going to. That is when my blood boils.

  20. @ Gary Moller

    “I think we need to concentrate on improving the quality of the judiciary. Get rid of the poorest performers.
    By the way is there not some kind of peer Review for these people?”

    Fat chance. The upper echelons of the judiciary — I include the Parole Board — are masters of their own parallel universe, far removed from the rest of us. Answerable and accountable to no one.
    They have devolved into a cloistered fraternity approaching Masonic-like, to afford deferential regard upon each other.

    We talk of the need for the Separation of the judiciary from the legislature, but not from the court of mainstream public opinion and expectation. Too many of these judges see themselves as being blessed with a ‘precious’ gift of Judicial Omniscience. Never one to acknowledge the public’s perplexity over any of their — seemingly — inexplicable rulings; they will not deign to enter the forum of public debate, such is the level of self-regard. Any responses — if at all — are effected by way of proxy, further down the judicial food chain.

    From the lofty heights from which our “esteemed judges” dispense their “wisdom” — many have become subsumed, in extremis, by their sense of Infallibility. A transcendent judicial conceit suffused with aloofness and a cultivated superciliousness to go with it. In short: they are beyond reproach, showing disdainful indifference to public anxiety over the handing down of their unfathomable rulings and sentences.

  21. From Merv. Couldn’t have put it better though a little pompous.
    From the lofty heights from which our “esteemed Merv” dispense his “wisdom” — many have become subsumed, in extremis, by his sense of Infallibility. A transcendent judicial conceit suffused with aloofness and a cultivated superciliousness to go with it. In short: he is beyond reproach, showing disdainful indifference to public anxiety over the handing down of their unfathomable rulings and opinions.

  22. I would agree that the first reason given for the name suppression, “He was reportedly given name suppression because of his standing in sporting circles and in the community” is complete bollocks, especially when compared to the example of Melissa Anderson.

    However, there is some merit to the argument, “…as well as to protect the identity of the complainant”.

    Because the ex-All Black concerned is inevitable so high profile, he won’t be the only one immediately associated with the incident, when strangers meet this couple (if they stay together!) in years to come, compared to the relative anonymity of Mrs Anderson beyond her own immediate circle. For example, people still remember a famous All Black who was charged 40 years ago for shop lifting a packet of band aids.

    Don’t care in the slightest for this ABs reputation, but if there is a potential negative effect for the partner, then I’m prepared to entertain name suppression.

    Also, sunny – The NZRU has gone well beyond the limit of what any good employer could be expected to do in regards to player education and support. There has to be some place for individual responsibility.

    Sure, you may want All Blacks kept out of schools and kindies – personally I have my doubts about the value for both parties in those sort of PR exercises (although visiting the sick kids in hospital is apparently of real encouragement value to them). However, I get the impression it is the schools and hospitals who want them to speak. As long as they are amenable, it is their call…

  23. I’ll briefly outline a case that made ‘my blood boil’ a few years back (not involving name-suppression – just the wider issue of double-standards in the justice system).

    THE VICTIM: Young working-class Samoan barman from my neck of the woods (Porirua). Worked in a bar on Courtenay Place in central Wellington.

    THE ACCUSED: Young female University student from affluent boarding school background. Drinking in the Courtenay Place Bar when the incident happened.

    The accused had a violent argument with her boyfriend (who was sitting at the bar). She walked towards the exit with her two friends, becoming increasingly angry. As she got to the door, she picked up a large pint glass from a nearby table, turned and threw it with full force (and obviously a great deal of venom) across the bar at her boyfriend.

    It missed the boyfriend but hit the nearby barman full-square in the face, smashing his right eye open, causing a deep wound across the right side of his face and permanent loss of hearing in his right ear. Blood everywhere. He subsequently had severe problems with memory and migranes and was off work for more than a year. A significant injury inflicted by someone out of control.

    Unfortunately for the barman, the female judge hailed from the same sort of background as the defendent and obviously empathised with the latter, perhaps seeing a reflection of her younger self. The defendent either got off without conviction or without penalty (it was more than 10 years ago and I’m relying on memory here), with the judge treating her almost as if she were the victim. Much rhetoric about her good background, otherwise exemplary lifestyle and brilliant future prospects.

    Do I even need to state the bleeding obvious here ? Just imagine if the roles were reversed !!!

    Angered me so much that I still remember the gist of it 12 years later. Involved elements of ethnicity and gender, but class was clearly the key facet.

  24. Fair enough markus.

    You have the background though, to appreciate the disproportionate long-term effects if an All Black is publicly assoiciated with a transgression.

    The example of Keith Murdoch (who was never charged, let alone convicted), which the NZ Herald usually manages to rehash on its front page in some form or other every 5 years or so springs to mind…

  25. Merv Darling
    So good to see you have returned from the back paddock with Ianmac …prey tell what were the two of you doing together and how is Daisy the cow…still alive?

    I think perchance you and indeed many of the Brian’s Blotters may all be a little hard on the Judiciary, who whilst they may be the best tipping customers of dominatrix throughout the country, do have an unenviable job. Let’s face it, they have to sit there day after day, listening to a host of stories from some of the less successful members if not dregs of society. And I don’t just mean the local Juve robbing a liquor outlet for a packet of B& H, for there are just as many Blue Rinsed, Blue Chipped, Blue voting Private School Bum Boys from a variety of finance houses, ready to screw people of an uncertain age like me, not to mention the deluded and some what greedy rural folk, who succumbed to the old Hobbit from South Canterbury. God please say you didn’t invest down there with Allan Merv… for a quick two percent extra?

    The thing about the public Merv (et al) is they are essentially feral, easily stirred up not terribly bright and if it wasn’t for Facebook, secret porn on their laptops and Coro Street on the telly, they would be out there forming vigilantly groups at the drop of a hat and trying to hang people. Just be thankful that there are now fewer lampposts around in their neighbourhoods because the services have been undergrounded.

    I think one needs to think of the Judiciary as a little reptilian, slow to react, conservative, and hopefully considered in that reaction….and then only after the port decanter is very nearly empty. They are our safety valve. Let’s face it the public are outraged at something nearly every day. They’re like Michael Laws on speed, encouraged as they are by the fear mongering of the political egoists seeking election, and journalists…(I am sorry I keep forgetting they died out some years ago…and I was in that moment wistfully thinking of a past unlikely to return….what we now have are people who have only been menstruating for four years or so and would have no idea who the allies were…without Google)

    Judges in their role of interpreting and exercising judgements within the many laws that we give them, are in fact arbiters of the average…the mean. They reduce the hills and valleys of outage into a plateau where by we can co-exist most of the time. It is also totally silly to say that they are not accountable, for have you not heard of appeals…yeh even unto the Privy Council? No judge wants to appear a complete numpty in front of his peers and colleagues by getting it wrong. But even they are fallible, human. I think if one were to seek the best qualifications for a judge, up there near the top would be a sense of humanity, a basic philosophical sense of ethics (Oh…quite takes me back to when I acted in old Bertold’s Caucasian Chalk Circle…now there is humanity)

    I know nothing of the All Blacks…their peccadilloes, their problems with drink… although I once had an affair with a charming man from Trinidad…impeccable manners…. But remember in the cases already detailed, perhaps there were extenuating circumstances not revealed in the media reporting. After all the media will always want comic book captions, heroes and villains, dirt on anyone…Chicken Little Reporting…it sells….Lets face it they are not quite as highbrow as they would have us believe….even John Campbell is known around here in Grey Lynn as “Mr Potty Mouth”. Lets face it if you had to toss up between sleeping with a journo or a used car salesman who would you chose?

    Maybe a holiday in the Caribbean this summer?

  26. @ Sunny – “Until the NZRFU can clean up their players behaviour”. In this case Sunny, the ex -All Black with name suppression is 45 years old and probably hasn’t played for the All Blacks for a generation. The NZRU has absolutely no influence over this individual. We should direct our disgust at the judiciary for the inconsistencies in judgement. Like the judge recently who allowed the teenage stalker to live within a few kilometres of his victim who then went on to kill her. As long as we as a society continue to accept these inconsistencies nothing will change.

  27. And speaking of race and class, the Pihema Cameron case also comes to mind. If it was America, the molotovs would be flying.

  28. Name suppression should only be granted at the specific request of the victim.
    Suppression is almost always to the advantage of the offender of social standing, and conveys the notion that a victim has reason to be ashamed.

    Another aspect of this country’s over use of suppression orders is the media’s consequent description of the accused.
    Not only does ex-All Black of a given age assure identification by anybody at all close to the case, but it very unfairly clouds the reputation of the 20 or so other citizens who fit the description.
    This was also the case when the sexual offender was described as a comedian, with television associations.
    Sometimes these descriptions other descriptions of those granted suppression have been downright misleading. I recall Graham Capill, for example was consistently described as a prominent Christchurch businessman, when in fact he was a church leader, political spokesperson and at the time acting as a crown prosecutor.

    BE: Is that the law or is that your view? Are you saying that a judge should not be able to grant name suppression if the victim disagrees? Name suppression is always given before a verdict. So an innocent person could be denied name suppression in a case where the ‘victim’ was lying or the evidence did not support a conviction. And, in this particular case of the mother accused of slapping a girl who had attacked her daughter and left her with a black eyes and bleeding cuts, who do you define as ‘the victim”? However, I agree with the rest of what you say.

  29. There is a school of thought, which I think has some merit in purely philosophical terms, that ALL defendants should have [the option of] name suppression unless and until convicted. The argument advanced by Sam above is germane: imagine you were accused of assault but hadn’t done it. Sure, an acquittal “clears your name” but as that very phrase suggests, your name has been besmirched. People nod and wink and say there’s no smoke without fire and he must have had a good lawyer who got him off on some technicality.
    I know it is heresy for a journalist to say this – and I do see the idea as fraught with difficulties – but the argument about open justice is not, on its own, conclusive and can be facile. Name suppression does not mean closed courts. Justice is still dispensed in public.
    For the record, I entirely deplore the suppression of names on the grounds of celebrity alone and the fact that you are more likely to get it if you went to Dio than if you went to Hillary College goes without saying. But I do think that the baying of the media for the right to publish can be self-serving at times

  30. I heard you speaking on NatRad about this topic. Another topic was the apathy of young voters. Someone mentioned that civics should be taught in schools and Michelle Boag let loose with a nasty comment about how teachers couldn’t be trusted to teach it propery because of their union. I was surprised you let that one go without commenting.

    Anyway, here is an example in Texas about what happens to the curriculum when the politicians get to decide what should be taught.
    Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change

  31. And we shouldn’t forget Martin Devlin, the “46-year-old broadcaster” who got charged with disorderly behaviour. Before he accepted diversion and lifting of name suppression, other “46-year-olds” including John Campbell, Simon Dallow, and Mike McRoberts, had to put up with the rumour mill tarring them with Devlin’s brush.

  32. Amen to your joint and several outrage,but what will change ? we all know it is only a matter of time before the next judicial clown fawns over yet another sporting rogue and grants permanent name suppression. mere mortals such as ms. anderson do not rate in comparison to sporting “heroes” and,so help me, “role models”.

  33. One law for top sportsmen, another for an ordinary mum. The injustice of it makes my blood boil!

    Me too, Brian.

  34. Andrew Paul Wood, Nov 30th at 17:19 : “…if I carried on like Zac Guilford I would be in Pokie right now.”

    Xas, November 30th at 18:31 : “…And then there was the bleeding heart sports column in this week’s Listener regarding Zac Guildford. Give me a break.”

    As I said in letter the Herald didn’t publish:
    Rugby player / alcohol abuse / yawn.

  35. Kimbo, Dec 1st at 16:00 : “… people still remember a famous All Black who was charged 40 years ago for shop lifting a packet of band aids.’

    I don’t – we’re not all obsessed with the All Blacks.

    I do remember the one* who could trim his hedge by lifting his motor mower vertically – but that’s because he was eccentric and interesting, not because he was an All Black.

    * Jazz Muller

  36. An audit of Discharge without Conviction could possibly be interesting reading in the context of this blog.Its the next step the judiciary saves sometimes for special people( I note that not all Discharges without Conviction are undeserved)

  37. Bruce Thorpe Dec 2nd : “…it very unfairly clouds the reputation of the 20 or so other citizens who fit the description. This was also the case when the sexual offender was described as a comedian, with television associations.”

    Especially when they all have in common the fact that they’re NOT FUNNY.

  38. @ Wake Up
    “I don’t – we’re not all obsessed with the All Blacks.”

    It was Don Clark. He said it was absent-mindedness; just like the “Not-So-Very-Reverend” Bob Lowe feigned, when he got caught with his wandering idle hands down the shopping aisle.

    Bob could be forgiven, because he’s an avowed christian. And we all what “avowed christians” are like, don’t we.

  39. @ Merv

    You are pretty tough. I’d like to think I’m an avowed Christian, but my Calvinist doctrines of Original Sin, and the Total Depravity of human nature don’t extend quite so inexorably to explain specific transgressions of the law as you have.

    I rather wish you hadn’t rehashed Clark’s name, Merv. The example, rather than the personality was the point I was making. Still, if I’d mentioned it as a hypothetical, rather as a specific, I may not have prompted the response. And you highlight the point that in a small village like NZ, a transgression by a prominent individual has a lasting and possibly disproportionate impact on their reputation compared to the relative anonymity of most of us.

    I actually once genuinely drove away from a service station without paying. Honest! Is actually easy to do if you have something on your mind, your passengers are going inside to make their own purchase, and you are used to the good old days when you could hand the cash to an attendant (last seen on a NZ forecourt c2003). Or at least that is what I would have pleaded in court – other than I am neither Irish nor Catholic, so I deserve the beneficence of good old-fashioned British justice!

    Got a letter from them a few days later (they got my reg # from the video) kindly sympathising that it was easy to overlook payment, and inviting me to reimburse them rather than referring the matter to the police in 7 days. I paid, and added an extra $10 on to cover their admin costs.

  40. @ Kimbo

    “You are pretty tough”.
    I don’t think, I am. I’m not sceptical of ‘All’ christians per se. I’m just sceptical of those who make a point of, loudly, proclaiming it. The more they say just how “christian” they are (such is their wont), the less christian — and charitable — they prove themselves to be.
    I mention the Not-So Very Reverend Bob lowe, because he had a regular Herald column to lecture us; his stern teachings based on the narrow strictures of The Ten Commandments. Bob was good for nine of them, but found to be wanting on the Eighth. (Well, not when it came to replenishing his pipe tobacco, anyway).

    “I rather wish you hadn’t rehashed Clark’s name, Merv”.
    ‘scuse me? You’re the one that made a point of mentioning Elastoplast, as if it was supposed to be a subliminal prompt.

  41. …wasn’t aware Canon Bob Lowe was in the “stern teachings” category. He was Anglican clergyman operating out of Christchurch Catherdral! Always thought they were more of the “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens” variety of spiritual rigour. A bit like Loius XVI’s objection to one suggested ecclesiastical candidate: No, no, no! The Bishop of Paris must at least believe in God!”


    Stephen Bachop is no longer seeking name suppression

  43. So – what are we doing about it? It seems to me that there is so much injustice in this country that we are beating our heads against the brick wall of indifference. Whatever happened to the get up and go that brought all of our forebears to this country? Has it got up and went? We need to express our anger with those who are turning this country more and more into an echo of the class system in the UK that our ancestors rejected.