Monday, 24 May 2010

Celebrations and Cautions

The voice of reason at last. On Thursday 29 April, in Luton Crown Court, Claire Finch was found not guilty of a criminal charge of keeping a brothel. The jury, in line with public opinion, refused to criminalise Ms Finch for working together with friends from her own home for safety. Ms Finch, her friends and colleagues, her legal team and the English Collective of Prostitutes which co-ordinated the case, celebrated this victory for rights and safety. I celebrated too, what a result and Cari Mitchell and her colleagues at the ECP must be feeling ecstatic. Cari herself said ;

“This landmark decision strengthens other women facing similar prosecutions. Like Ms Finch, many women now facing prosecution are mothers supporting families. At a time of economic crisis and brutal cuts in welfare and resources, women, whether they work on the street or in premises, should not be criminalised for trying to survive.
We note the deafening silence from so-called feminists who enhanced their careers by pushing through repressive legislation against sex workers, and have nothing to say about prostitute women’s safety and rights.”

Very well said. Yes indeed, the rad fems have been exceptionally quiet since this decision was announced. Funny that.

Can you imagine for a moment what it must have been like, Ms Finch is an ordinary, middle aged woman who had stepped out of the bath when before she could reach the door reserved for her clients, several police officers kicked it in. Outside, 20 others had surrounded the house with four cars, three vans and a team of sniffer dogs. I mean, WHAT ?? Add to that the stress of waiting for the court case to come up on a charge which potentially had a sentence of 7 years attached to it, it must have been hell for her.

During the course of the case it emerged that all of her neighbours knew she offered "massage with a happy ending" but it didn't bother them as it didn't impinge on their lives and they liked Ms Finch. Three of her neighbours, including an 87-year-old woman testified on her behalf in court, while another sent a letter of support. They told the jury that Finch was a decent member of the community who cared for an ill and incontinent neighbour and would look after their children in an emergency.

I am just so glad that common sense prevailed and it was reported in The Times that when the verdict was read out even the judge was smiling.

As a complete aside, I was sitting here thinking about how I've never been in trouble with the police. Actually, that's not strictly speaking true. I actually have a caution on file with the Irish Gardai dating back some 10 years now. Unfortunately, along with being a "Celtic maiden" comes a "Celtic temper".

I was strolling down a busy shopping street with a friend one fine afternoon having enjoyed lunch when I noticed a group of three lads in front of me. One of those brave boys crept up behind a pigeon and booted it into the air, to a flurry of squawks and feathers. I was raging ( and well, quid pro quo and all that) I went up behind him and gave him a firm boot to his behind which sent him flying.

Unfortunately for me, two off duty Gardai were just coming out of McDonalds at the time. ( Doughnut cliche, anyone ? ) The boys took off and I was given a firm telling off but I swear I caught a twinkle in their eyes. They took my name and address and cautioned me for "common assault". How rude. Don't they have just "assault" ?

On that happy note I'm off to share my salad sandwich with my feathered friends in the glorious sun in my back garden.

LL xx

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