Why did a cafe owner receive a visit from a counter terrorism unit?

Mrs Angry is the publisher of Broken Barnet. In this guest post she describes how a local shopkeeper and parking campaigner received a visit from the counter terrorism squad.

Helen Michael is a cafe owner in North Finchley. As the spokeswoman for local businesses in the area Helen had taken a prominent part in campaigns to fight a new parking scheme, including designing, printing and distributing a poster blaming local Conservative politician Brian Coleman for a number of shops alleged to have closed as a result of the parking changes.

Helen Michael

After a complaint from a political agent, local police visited Helen and pointed out that she had broken the law by failing to publish her details on the poster.

She immediately took steps to amend this oversight, and the police assured her there would be no further action.

But many weeks later towards the end of June Helen was surprised to receive a second visit from two more police officers. These policemen informed her that they were from a special investigations unit at Scotland Yard that dealt with all sorts of things, including counter terrorism.

They wanted to talk to her about the poster, even though she had been told the matter was at an end by local police.

She was obliged to attend a two hour recorded interview at a local station, under caution, asked a bewildering series of questions such as:

  • “Was it just the traders of Barnet involved in the production of this poster?”
  • “How much did it cost to produce the poster?”
  • “Was the cost funded by the local traders?”
  • “Was the poster for and on behalf of the traders, did we discuss it, with whom, what about the pictures? Was it a culmination of ideas or my own?”
  • “If the poster was not an election publication what was the principal reason to produce the poster?”
  • “Was there any political input or intention in production of the poster?”

A brief investigation proved that the two detectives were from SO15, a counter terrorism unit. Continue reading

The 21% of torchbearer places that were allocated outside of public campaigns: 8,000 Holes Part 4

Get the free ebook for the full story: 8,000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way - Leanpub.com/8000holes

In the fourth part of a serialisation of Help Me Investigate’s first ebook – 8,000 Holes: How the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay Lost its Way we look at what happened to the thousands of torchbearer places that were allocated outside of public campaigns. You can download the book for free – or choose to pay a donation, with all proceeds going to the Brittle Bone Society – at Leanpub.com/8000holes

Part 4: The 21%

Between December 2011 and June 2012 the numbers of torchbearer places being awarded by bodies other than the Presenting Partners and LOCOG increased by a third. The International Olympic Committee‘s share of places saw the biggest change, going up by half – from 71 according to a December press release to 117 six months later, while commercial partners other than the three presenting partners – dozens of companies including Dow Chemical, G4S, Atos and BT – saw their share go up from 678 places to 913. Continue reading