Nigel Evans made interesting reading at the weekend following his acquittal of all charges. The MP (Apparently this stands for Member of Parliament and not to be confused with Maybe Prosecuted) for Ribble Valley has spoken out about losing every penny and the witch-hunt of “high profile” people. Well, Mr Evans, as a “low profile” woman here is my view. I shall not be highlighting the point that as Deputy Speaker, you were fully aware of the changes to the system whereby one cannot claim costs back. You know the one, October 1st 2012, one of LASPO changes. Nope, I will not highlight this point. Anyway onwards…
Mr Evans has lost every penny he had. £130,000. That is a lot of pennies. Calls for changes to the system whereby those found not guilty of charges brought should be entitled to a refund of the costs paid to defend allegations. You know the one – Mr Evans as deputy speaker you surely heard it. Your party brought the bloody thing in. Mr Evans did not come under the threshold of £37K- in order to qualify for legal aid. That test means as a laywoman “You can afford to pay for your own legal representation” (I am a lay woman. I do woman-speak)
Whether or not the case should have been prosecuted I do not claim to know a jot about. I am aware the CPS look at if, the case is in the public interest and, they believe they have a strong possibility of a conviction. I have no truck mucking around with that one.
I can however, look at Mr Evans’ and his “losing every penny” he has in order to defend the allegations laid before him in a court of law. He has been found Not Guilty and to my mind, justice has been done. That is the whole basis of law. Charges were brought, as a member of our society, Mr Evans had to answer the charges laid before him. He did. A jury of his peers found him Not Guilty. That is justice.
I have a pragmatic view here and I have shared this on Twitter. I was interviewed under caution knowing full well the allegation was untrue. The person making the allegation knew it was untrue. I knew in my heart of hearts it was untrue, I “no commented” I have had a few responses to my comment in this area and as we Brits do all that “stiff upper lip” stuff, many use the “If I have nothing to hide and I tell the truth, all will be well” That’s great if you’re dealing with loved ones but when it comes to being interviewed under caution and yes, it is on tape, I see a whole different side to this. Because, I have seen the transcription from tape to paper and it is that paper that goes to the CPS. The transcripts of my recorded interview made me look like a 19-year old thug who could not care less. Hence why I reserved my right as a British Citizen to “no comment” It is very difficult to transcribe “no comment” to “I am not sure where I was on the day in question” or “I was in bed asleep, alone” The charges I was guilty of, happily co-operated and we know what went on there. (I did lose everything – I was not sitting on a beautifully upholstered sofa with the finest bone china holding my tea talking to a Daily Mail reporter about how I had lost everything) I also raised an eyebrow at the reporter’s comment “It all started on 4th May last year when Mr Evans was in bed with his friend” If that’s not satire waiting to happen, I don’t know what is…
Public opinion is divided on the Nigel Evans case. Not guilty does not equate innocence, say some. Actually it does if we take the “innocent until proven guilty” mantra that is now loosely forgotten with our press. In the eyes of the law and let us look at the statement again. “Innocent until Proven Guilty Until the day of conviction, every person who walks into a court room (those who have pleaded guilty aside) is innocent. So, to pay £130,000 to defend that innocence is a hefty price. Mr Evans – I do agree with you. That is a large chunk of cash to have to spend. I am with you on that one. (Not that I have seen £130K and nor am I likely to)
Now Mr Evans is calling for a u-turn on the no costs refund thingy… As he believes this is damaging for high-profile people.
Hello…. small peasant here. What about those low profile people? You know, the majority who have no choice but to use legal aid? My close friend could afford to opt out of legally aided representation and pay privately when a member of her family was falsely accused (trial withdrawn) of many counts of sexual offences. Her husband and her have managed to hold on to their home but well, they have spent some time looking at which direct debits to cancel as they are a few thou adrift. That is one side – had my false allegation and the pressure at the time from my legal aid representation to plead guilty (true) I would now be able to talk about my own prison experience instead of writing about others.
You did not lose everything Mr Evans – you have returned to your job, you have your home and you have support from your party and your constituents. I do not doubt your trauma in being dragged through the Criminal Justice System. It is not a pleasant place to be.
Your battle as an MP and one that is on my geographical radar as in ten minutes over Pendle Hill, should be for those on the ground. Those who are now deprived of legal aid – women who are subjected to domestic abuse and are sent away until there is “evidence” That is almost like saying “go away and get beaten up or raped some more, then come back and we will see if you qualify” Women who are at risk of losing their children in Family Law. Your battle should not be for the “high profile” people. Your battle should be for those who are in dire need of a voice in Parliament who actually does care.
Credibility is what you have lost and that can be regained with the right approach. We might at times be harsh, we the British public, but there are times we do know that some things are worth forgiving. You have an opportunity to make a difference to the public and the injustices within the justice system due to your experiences. I would not blow it if I were you.