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Filmmakers Blog
In our Taking Liberties blog, not only will we keep you uptodate on the progress of the film, we'll also post news about the ongoing civil liberties movements we're related to.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Some Silly Laws...

Even though New Labour has created over 3000 new criminal offences, some of which are lovingly mauled in our film, someone has just pointed out to me some of the stranger laws that have remained on the statute book from yesteryear:

-It is illegal for a cab in the City of London to carry rabid dogs or corpses.
-It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.
-It is an act of treason to place a postage stamp bearing the British monarch upside down.
-Under the UK’s Tax Avoidance Schemes Regulations 2006, it is illegal not to tell the taxman anything you don’t want him to know, though you don’t have to tell him anything you don’t mind him knowing.
-Royal Navy ships that enter the Port of London must provide a barrel of rum to the Constable of the Tower of London.
-A pregnant woman can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants – even, if she so requests, in a policeman’s helmet.
-In Lancashire, no person is permitted after being asked to stop by a constable on the seashore to incite a dog to bark.
-In England, all men over the age of 14 must carry out two hours of longbow practice a day.
-In London, Freemen are allowed to take a flock of sheep across London Bridge without being charged a toll; they are also allowed to drive geese down Cheapside.
-A man who feels compelled to urinate in public can do so only if he aims for his rear wheel and keeps his right hand on his vehicle.
-In Chester, Welshmen are banned from entering the city before sunrise and from staying after sunset.
-In the city of York, it is legal to murder a Scotsman within the ancient city walls, but only if he is carrying a bow and arrow.
-In London, it is illegal to flag down a taxi if you have the plague.

And finally my favourite...

-The head of any dead whale found on the British coast is legally the property of the King; the tail, on the other hand, belongs to the Queen - in case she needs the bones for her corset.

Suddenly being arrested for setting off a nuclear weapon doesn't seem half as silly.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Branson's Eye in The Sky

Anyone attending the Virgin organised V Festival this year, might want to keep an eye out for a brand new addition to the line up.

This is not a new saccharine boy band or whining drug addled trustafarian, but a super new flying robot that will be silently hovering over the crowds, quietly filming you without your consent. Alarmed at the thought of lots of people standing in a field listening to pop music, police have spent another small fortune on the latest gadgetry and are now piloting the drones (no puns please) at the touring rock festival every week.

Like something out of Knight Rider when they had really run out of ideas, these toys are controlled by a man on the ground, who has a big mask on enabling him to see whatever the drone sees. The stated aim of this toy is to prevent crime, in this instance drug dealing. Aside from the fact that everyone knows if you try and buy weed at a Festival you will almost certainly end up purchasing bay leaves, it does seem slightly preposterous to assert that this expensive flying camera can actually stop this happening. The drone is several hundred metres in the air, the copper with the magic helmet could be a mile away and the drug deal takes only seconds to conclude. Nonetheless, the Police have gleefully declared the trial a success and proudly pointed out the sixty two arrests at Weston Park last weekend. However when they were pressed further, the police admitted that the Drones did not lead to any of these arrests. But they are really good fun to play with, so they've just ordered a dozen more...

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Postcard from Texas

The most common question I've been asked since Taking Liberties was released, (apart from ones about the bloody Nazi analogy) is "how is David Bermingham getting on?". Well this week the Texan court - in it's infinite wisdom - has postponsed the trial for the 3rd time, and the date has now been set for January 2008. The painful irony of this is that when they had their rubber stamp extradition hearing in the UK (way back in October 2004) the magistrate actually said that they should be extradited to the US, as to prosecute them in the UK "would cause unnecessary delay". The reality is that they could have had the trial about 50 times over in the time it's taken them to even sniff a courtroom in the US. Thanks to the hideosly unfair extradition treaty, they will have basically had an 18 month prison sentance and a million dollar fine (if you add up all the bail and legal costs) before they've even got to trial. If they had gone out and bashed a pensioner over the head to buy crack, they would have been treated much fairer.

Also, contrary to the misleading platitudes that emenated from New Labour at the time of their extradition, they are unlikely to get anything close a fair trial in Texas, thanks to the skullduggery of their ex employer. This is not suprising to anyone with a modicum of common sense, as the crime of which they are accused allegedly took place in Britain, the perpetrators are British and the victim is British, so of course it makes perfect sense to base the trial in the middle of an American Desert. The real problem is that in order to defend themselves the Natwest Three desperately need to call witnesses to prove their innocence, and these witnesses are where? (I'll give you three guesses but you'll only need one) Britain!

So the Nat West Three have sent a request to NatWest bank with a list of 36 people theat they need to give evidence in their trial via video link. Lawyers acting for Royal Bank of Scotland (which owns NatWest) wrote back stating that none of the 36 witnesses are willing to testify. This turned out to be a big porkie pie, as several of the individuals who were susequently approached directly, said that they had never even heard of the law firm, or said anything to them about testifying one way or the other.

So it looks as if if RBS is going out of it's way to make sure that the men are hung out to dry (what a caring sharing employer!), the US Justice system is doing it's best to grind them down with ridiculous delays, and the British Government is keeping it's blnid eye firmly turned.

But in spite of all this, David is in excellent spirits. Thanks to the wonders of Skype video he gets to see his wife and children every day, and he has got the best suntan he's had in years. Hopefully fortune will smile on them one day soon, and we can get them back to Britain where they rightfully belong.

Monday, 13 August 2007

Those Darn T shirts again.

While most self respecting liberty buffs have their attention firmly focused on the climate camp at Heathrow, I spotted a utterly ridiculous story about a man being threatened with a fine for a slogan on a t-shirt. Dave Pratt was warned that he would get an £80 fine from Peterborough Council if he continued to wear the offending garment. The T Shirt read:

"Don't piss me off. I'm running out of places to hide the bodies!"

But the powers that be at Peterborough have decreed that this might put someones nose out of joint, so Mr Pratt has been told in no uncertain terms that if he persists at wearing comedy tops he will feel the long arm of the law.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Workin on a chain gang...

The much trumpeted New Labour scheme of tagging prisoners and releasing them early is now in serious trouble. And guess what, at the heart of the problem is a big shiny computer that they were sold by the massive IT Firm EDS (see blogs passim), that has now gone more than 400% over budget and still doesn't work. The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is - according to the Probation officers Union "close to collapse".

The news that a government IT system has gone vastly over budget, been hugley delayed, and failed to work in the slightest should not be news to anyone, and would be slightly less sensational than the news of a pensioner in Rome banging on about contraception. What is utterly staggering about this particular IT arse up, is that EDS is fining the government for pulling the plug! EDS (they of multiple similar IT foul ups, particularly at the MOD), will be paid a £50 million "penalty" as the government is going to have to back out. This is rather like asking someone to build you a house that quadruples in cost, takes 10 years to finish, and collapses on you as soon as you move in. And then when you try to move they send you a cancellation fee. Good job EDS isn't an integral part of the National Identity Register... Oh shit, they are.

Don't sweat it at the airport...

The boffins in the basement at The Pentagon have been working overtime, and have now come up with a truly dazzling gizmo that is going to save the world from terror, but also cost the earth. This is something called Project Hostile Intent (I'm not making this up) that is a device that scours crowds and examines minute facial involuntary expressions, which it then analyses to assess whether or not you are about to blow yourself up. The plan is that these things get installed at airports, where they will tirelessly examine the minute changes in your facial expression as you are about to about to board a plane, to work out if you are a potential threat. It would be interesting to see this tested at Heathrow right now, and see what it makes of several thousand people crying, screaming and yelling "FOR THE LAST TIME, WHERE IS MY F*CKING LUGGAGE?!!" Presumably a hundred thousand people all twitching uncontrollably through severe nervous exhaustion at the prospect of a 10 hour wait for the security checks, will send a message back to Washington to wipe Heathrow off the face of the map...

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Brown Government to ask for British Residents to be returned from Guantanamo Bay

Well even a miserable cynic ilke myself, who's also recovering from a particularly heavy weekend, has to applaud this action. This means that hopefully Omar Deghayes will be coming home soon, after 5 years of illegal imprisonment without charge and torture at the hands of the US military. Omar is one of the 5 British Residents that had, until now, been abandoned by the Blair Government. As with the decision to reverse the protest ban around parliament, we don't know how much Taking Liberties has had to do with it, but it does warm the heart to see that sometimes if bang on about smoething long enough it can make a difference. While this a step in the right direction it's critically important that:
1) The Foriegn Office actually keep up the pressure on the US so that this actually happens, rather than the announcement being a bit of PR that gets quietly forgotten.
2) That we don't forget about the 700 other people who have been held illegally in the camp from other countries around the world.

As we've said all along it may well be that there are some dangerous people in there, so in which case let's deal with them as we've dealt with dangerous people for centuries: put them on trial, and if found guilty put them in jail for a very long time. Terrorism - however barbaric and violent - does not justify suspending the rule of law, as it is the rule of law which seperates us from the Terrorists.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Police Censure Independent Police Complaints Comission

Hang on I thought it was supposed to be the other way around? But no, in the Kafkaesque world of the upper echelons of the most politicised police force this side of Zimbabwe, Senior Members of the Metropolitan Police Force have effectively sued the IPCC as it looked like it might criticise them over the death of Jean Charles De Menezes.

In a Report issued tomorrow, the IPCC has massively backtracked from it's original stance, and has cleared all the senior officers who work directly under Sir Ian Blair. This was nothing to do with them being free of blame, more the fact that they had taken the IPCC to court (all paid for by the Police Federation by the way) as presumably it was doing it's job far too well. If only Crippen had tried that on, he would have escaped hanging - not because he was innocent but taht a guilty verdict might hurt his feelings.

However the good news is that Andy Hayman - the most senior counter terrorist officer in the country - is to get a mild slap on the wrist, as he was "deliberately misleading" over his handling of the affair, namely:
-Lying to the press over the fact that Menezes had a bulky coat with wires hanging out, refused to stop for police and jumped the barrier at stockwell tube.
-Allowing his cretinous boss - Sir Ian Blair - walk in front of the worlds press and announce to the world that Menezes was a terrorist when half the met know he wasn't.
-Allowing crucial evidence (CCTV tapes and police records) to be either tampered with or lost.
However Hayman will not lose his job, or even face disciplinary action, just a stern word before bedtime. Not that Hayman is going to give a flying toss as he was awarded a CBE in Tony Blair's farewell honours round, for his services to whipping up the climate of fear and for smearing dead people in the press - another great new Labour tradition.

Liberty Box Office Stats
Believe it or not we are still getting bums on seats, and by a stroke of fluke more than anythng else, we were the highest grossing British film last weekend (unless you count Harry Potter which is about as British as a sausage filled with Californian pork.)

Also we discovered that our distribtor was actually given a whole £4000 by the film council to help with the release of the film. The full list of all the awards is below, and the staggering thing is that we are the only British film on the list (that isn't a 30 year old classic being re-released)

Film Council P&A awards 2007
$307,980 (£151,606) to Icon for Olivier Dahan's La Vie En Rose
$225,056 (£110,774) to Revolver Entertainment for Guillaume Canet's Tell No One
$203,146 (£100,000) to Pathe for Laurent Tirard's Moliere
$10,158 (£5,000) to The Works UK Distribution for Paris Je T'aime
$10,158 (£5,000) to Peccadillo for Tony Gatlif's Transylvania
$10,158 (£5,000) to Park Circus for Laurence Oliver's Hamlet
$10,158 (£5,000) to Park Circus for Laurence Olivier's Richard III
$10,158 (£5,000) to Tartan for Ingmar Bergman's Seventh Seal
$9,141 (£4,500) to Park Circus for Alexander Korda's The Thief Of Baghdad
$9,438 (£4,646) to Dogwoof Pictures for Tomasz Konecki and Andrzej Saramonowicz for Testosterone
$8,126 (£4,000) to Revolver Entertainment for Chris Atkins' Taking Liberties
$7,110 (£3,500) to the BFI for digital distribution of three John Cassavetes classics
Also, the P&A fund gave $158,458 (£78,000) to Optimum and $73,133 (£36,000) to Park Circus for their seven-week retrospective Summer Of British Film. Optimum is handling Billy Liar, The Wicker Man and The Dam Busters, while Park Circus is releasing Goldfinger, Brief Encounter, Henry V and Withnail and I.
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