Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.
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Wednesday 31 July 2013

All animals are equal.

IF we are not equal before the law, there is no law.

If when accused of crime we are not all investigated the same, the police must be partisan and therefore not a police force at all.

If when sent to trial we are not judged the same, if a sensible defence is dismissed or obvious alibis ignored by a system determined to convict no matter what, the justice system is broken, corrupt, and self-pleasuring.

If our questions are not answered, if solutions are not sought, if the obvious is overlooked even though it might benefit the many purely because it might cost a few, then every rule in society is more of a guideline - and if that's the case, we might as well take to the streets with a knife between our teeth.

So if major companies in an industry employing 30,000 people nationwide are accused of and investigated for listening to people's voicemails almost a decade ago after the police failed to investigate first time around, then all the 102 companies in different industries recently accused of hacking emails, listening to live phone calls and finding out tax details need to be investigated too.

Not have their names withheld by public servants on the grounds it might affect their commercial concerns. No-one withheld the name of the News of the World or was bothered about the loss of 268 jobs and the most successful part of a business making £86million profit a year.

Their employees also need to be investigated by a designated task force of police officers for several years. They also need to be raided at dawn, watch cops search through their teenaged daughters' knicker drawers, seize the wife's iPad and look under the mattresses of people bedbound with cancer.

They do not merit, as journalists did not merit, anyone worrying about their human rights, pointing out they were innocent until proven guilty or inconveniently noting the paucity of clear evidence did not quite merit the jackbooted fishing trip.

Then again, I'm a journalist. Not only am I bound to think this, I'm also used to being a second-class citizen without the rights or protected reputation of, say, a convicted murderer.

But it's not just hacking and hacks where the law does not treat us all the same.

If you have terminal cancer and in its final stages the pain is so bad you need increasing doses of morphine administered by a doctor or nurse, the drug will cease to have the same effect as time passes and they will give you increasing amounts of it until, one day, you peacefully overdose.

Many thousands of cancer patients have that as a secondary cause on their death certificate, it is entirely fine as far as police and the medical community are concerned, and it is assisted dying in all but name. Yet when people who are terminally ill ask a court to pre-approve the idea of assisted dying they're denied the nod and a wink others are given.

If the government says we need to protect and enable whistleblowers in the NHS, it has no right to prosecute and ruin the careers of those it finds in the police service. But it does.

If the forces of law track down within hours the teenager who tweeted abuse to diver Tom Daley during the Olympics, batter down his door at 2.45am and haul him off to the cells, it should not take them four days to ask Twitter to help find the group of men tweeting threats of rape.

It should not be that the system jumps for someone famous, and ignore the abuse of those who aren't.

Of course the world's not purely equal. Of course some people are treated differently to others, because they can afford better service, because humans act better to pretty people, or because perhaps they deserve it.

But where inequality is understandable - when someone is sick, broken or close to death - our system prefers to break them further rather than give them a break.

In less than two months when the bedroom tax discretionary payments run out and disabled people are evicted from their homes because they cannot pay it, we will have achieved something not seen in Britain since the Middle Ages - the intentional hounding of our poorest souls.

So be happy, if you can. Remember the Olympics fondly, coo over a Royal baby and bask in memories of the Jubilee. Let the national cup of happiness overflow, as all the statistics tell us it is.

Be joyful, because our nation abides by the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which arose from the horrors of two world wars and states: "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law."

And never forget: Some are more equal than others.

It would help if she could see what she was doing.