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Colin Randall wrote here on France, things Anglo-French and more......but has moved

October 23, 2006

Sex, crime and the French

This site has now moved to Salut!

A bleak tale of our times, told during a holiday reunion party south of Paris at the weekend, fuelled some more thoughts on the glaring inconsistencies that crop up in criminal justice.

Some of you may recall my mention in passing, while discussing crime and punishment elsewhere, the horror I felt when a French court jailed Margaret MacDonald for four years for running a superior call-girl service.

She broke the law. But there wasn't the least hint of coercion or exploitation in anything she did. No sex slaves, no unwilling, downtrodden girls beaten into submission by evil pimps.

You did not have to approve of prostitution to think that MacDonald had been given a vicious sentence, for as close as you get to a victimless crime, and that it made a mockery of France's supposedly grown-up and tolerant approach to sex.

The investigation that led to her trial was protracted and complex, and must have cost the French authorities a small fortune.

Will the same energy and resources be devoted to finding and prosecuting the gang that burgled Pascal and Laurence, one of the couples I met after paying good money to be tossed about in a catamaran in the French West Indies a few months ago?

This was no ordinary burglary. The gang carried it out with ruthlessness and near-military precision, taking advantage of opened windows during the hot summer to gas my friends as they slept before stripping their home of all valuables.

Police suspect, from tracking the use of mobile phones stolen in the raid, that the gang is based in Seine St Denis, the tough Neuf-trois suburb north of Paris, but originates in Romania.

How many times more vile than Margaret MacDonald does their crime make them? But what are the true prospects of them being caught, and how long would they then spend in jail?

At a guess, I'd say they would feel a little unfortunate to be hunted down at all, and really unlucky to pick up jail terms much stiffer than hers.

Of course, anomalies occur in every country's approach to crime, and civilised nations are hardly exempt.

Canada has hardly covered itself in glory in its treatment of Nathalie Gettliffe.

Blair's Britain was rightly condemned for delivering the NatWest Three and an alleged computer hacker to American justice, where they face - if convicted - ludicrously disproportionate sentences way beyond anything a court in the UK would impose.

Indonesia hands out a car-bombing sentence to an Australian girl stupid enough to arrive on holiday with some cannabis on her, and lets off someone involved in the Bali terrorist attacks with rapped knuckles.

I am occasionally accused of being too liberal on penal issues. Yet I hope with all the fervour of a hang 'em and flog 'em Colonel Blimp that my friends live to see their aggressors brought to justice and that the penalties handed out do not merely raise a few smirks in the dock. Forgive me, though, if I am not holding my breath.

This site has now moved to Salut!

53 Comments:

At October 23, 2006 4:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was burgled a few years ago. It woz gypsies wot dunnit gov, honnist!

It was, actually. They were camped not 50m away and could watch at their leisure our comings and goings. We were in a ground floor flat with laughable security.

The perpetrators just had to lift up our crappy sliding windows and let themselves in. Three months later, having been reimbursed by the insurance, but not having bought anything, they came back to nick the new stuff.

Thwarted, having nicked the CD player, but not the CDs originally, to encourage us to buy a new one, they nicked the CD collection.

We used the money as part of a down-payment on a flat.

Were the cops interested? Negative, Captain.

 
At October 23, 2006 4:31 PM, Anonymous Smiley said...

Sympathies for your friends, but I can't find much sympathy for the Nat West Three. As for computer hackers, I hope our cousins across the water lock him up and throw away the key.

 
At October 23, 2006 4:47 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

In France the Margaret MacDonald case of expending public funds on seemingly trivial issues is not the complete view.The taxpayers of France will have years of costly health expenses related to public health/prostitution issues that can last a lifetime.Off to the dungeons then.

 
At October 23, 2006 5:59 PM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

Not saying the hacker or the NatWest Three should go unpunished if guilty (with an emphasis on If). As a matter of simple principle, however, Britain should not deliver its citizens to the judicial system of another country unless satisfied that they will not be treated more unfavourably than if tried in the UK.

 
At October 23, 2006 6:53 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

If we want the sordid overt prostitution of Soho we'll let the Macdonalds off the hook. She knew what she was up for with the Madame Claude precedent.

 
At October 23, 2006 7:31 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Let's hope Nathalie Gettliffe doesn't betray your blind faith in her. There is assuredly none so blind as he who will not see. Or sees only what he wishes to see. There are two very distinct sides to this story and only one of them is being told here.

 
At October 23, 2006 7:47 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Bill, strangely the French don't get as excited about it as Colin does. A senator (I think he was) went to see how she was being treated and reported back that it was pretty good.

 
At October 23, 2006 9:56 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

It's true, Richard, that Canada would be unlikely to have Nathalie Gettliffe pent up in the sort of Guantanamo-like incarceration that Colin seems to visualize. I'd welcome some insight into exactly which axe he's grinding and why.

 
At October 23, 2006 10:11 PM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

Bill's hopes of winding me up by distorting my views are doomed. The two sides to the story I have described have rather little to do with Nathalie Gettliffe vs Scott Grant - which I am sure is covered with absolute even-handedness by the Canadian press - and almost everything to do with jailed pregnant woman (now mother and baby) vs scandalous refusal to make the bail arrangements that would have satisfied both humanitarian principles and the need to ensure she stands trial.

10:10 PM

 
At October 23, 2006 10:20 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

I fear the consequences of bail might have turned out even more scandalous, though. As in Britain (and, I'm sure, France) some Canadian newspapers are more even-handed than others. Distort your views? Wind you up? Heaven forfend. I merely seek enlightenment. I am, as always, a searcher after truth, a latter-day Diogenes.

 
At October 23, 2006 10:26 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Distortion is right!I always say;carry a big stick but seek to understand.

 
At October 23, 2006 11:40 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Diogenes carried a lantern rather than a big stick. Not that it did him much good.

 
At October 24, 2006 12:09 AM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Keep your lantern on.Did you ever read a piece from Another Place titled "living online" with AG & JH as the culprits.I came upon it accidently last week.

 
At October 24, 2006 12:36 AM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Ah, my old nemesis JH. Let the dead bury the dead. You'd never have been happy with him. Interesting guy, though, in his own way.

 
At October 24, 2006 12:41 AM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Yes to buried.But I knew what JH was all about with the first letter to Richard.A little too eager I thought.You were fun.

 
At October 24, 2006 7:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And who are you then AG you with big wooden spoon for what ? Maybe to stir things up when things are to quite I think. You say you see dustbins which means the blog is yours. Perhaps you are Madame Randall even the great man himself I say to myself.

 
At October 24, 2006 11:37 AM, Blogger PhilB said...

Justice is ever a thorny problem to wrestle with. Which punishments for which crimes? And what constitutes a crime in the first place? Prostitution doesn't need to be laden with violence, abuse, exploitation and drug use, but it often is. Burglars can't be punished unless they are caught, and unless the evidence is there to ensure a conviction. Where are our priorities? Are they on barring smoking from all public places and taking driving licences away from those who have driven 5 or 10 km per hour over the posted limit several times over the space of a few years? And what about the 80-year-old woman who strangled her disabled daughter after caring for her for 42 years?

Who shall cast the first stone?

 
At October 24, 2006 12:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

prostitution = tax evasion

Serious crime already, not counting the drugs, threats and roughing up.

 
At October 24, 2006 1:20 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Justice is a discipline that is influenced by and draws it's principles from observing other social foundations.It is an instrument that applies the law that has been established in a given society.Without the social foundations it becomes only a philosophy.To discuss and chatter.
We need the cornerstones of society to educate ourselves to become civilized.
One of the most influential lessons in life is to learn to read and write.Thence ideas can form and society is born.
Phil's question of where to begin (cast the first stone)has an answer.
Writing.
Upholding the principle of freedom of speech.
It comes with an attachment though.
Listening.
The hardest lesson of all.

 
At October 24, 2006 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I spy with my little eye, someone called ?

AG ?

CR ?

 
At October 24, 2006 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that was norty, CR. Furst you hint that my spelling is not all it shud be. Then you delete your comment altogether. And all this is happening wile that BT/JH/Diogenes is in the Land of Nod.

 
At October 24, 2006 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And now your comment is back again. Who's playing little games with that dustbin then. Mr or Mme ?

 
At October 24, 2006 1:53 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

So now we have to start a guessing game to figure out who anonymous is. Any suggestions? Anne I believe you may have a good idea.

 
At October 24, 2006 2:16 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Speculation on identities could be fun Richard but as you know,in the end we will never really know.
In looking around some links recently that are popping up,one stands out.An intensive writer who speaks to his/her self and has an amazing ability to change characters.In the name of fun? It scares me and I wouldn't want to attract his/her attention too much.
Probably just posting this is a risk.
Good little post on Nantes.

 
At October 24, 2006 2:22 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Anonymous? My money's on the Sage of Antibes.

 
At October 24, 2006 2:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was just passing by. Wont bother you again. Split personalties worry me too.

 
At October 24, 2006 3:07 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Aesop's fables can come in handy while we are out and about.

The lion and the rabbit.

The lion reclining at the entrance of it's Mediterranean cave greets the rabbit that is hopping by.Come pay me a visit says the lion. You have no fear of me as you can see the many visitors I have by observing all the footprints at my cave.
Yes,replys the rabbit.
I do notice all the footprints.And they all lead into your cave but none exit.

 
At October 24, 2006 3:23 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Here is a geek post.
On the main page of Colin Randall's blog (green background) his post is followed by .....comments.This is then indicated by a number.To a reader it tells of that many comments there are to read .(of course).Then if the reader clicks he/she finds there are in fact more posts than the before click count.
The point is.
If a reader visited the blog and noticed 22 comments then revisited an hour later and saw 22 again there would be no need to proceed to comments.The reader misses out what has accurately been posted.

 
At October 25, 2006 12:57 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Hi Anne, none of the geeks seem to have a reply. My experience is that the computer world is always loaded with bugs, very frustrating. There is more focus on gizmos than practical solutions. But no doubt that reflects consumer behaviour.

Colin seems to have gone to sleep on us. Maybe he is trodding the pavements looking for enough to live on, though I doubt it.

Perhaps he is depressed over the state of divided, defeated Britain and does not want to show his face to the triumphant francophiles. More likely. I was surprised on the Telegraph opinion blog over the evidently strong anti Scottish and anti Welsh feeling. When will these 2 countries take an example from Ireland and get a divorce? They would fit nicely into Europe.

 
At October 25, 2006 1:26 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Hello Richard.CR has quite an impressive counter number.Read that the Telegraph may be striking so he is probably interested in the developments there.
As I see it,the future for Europe with it's overpopulation is to emmigrate to Russia.Already expat's in the Crimea.
Would you go?

 
At October 25, 2006 2:29 PM, Blogger Colin Randall said...

Well I suppose I did have the absurdly optimistic thought that if eight million people tuned in to Prime Suspect, a few of them might also find their way to a blog posting about their reason for watching it. I may have to lift my vow of (temporary) silence on the presidential race sooner than planned......

 
At October 25, 2006 2:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comments are identified by time of posting, but not date. This is confusing when trying to follow the commentary. If Colin is aiming for a 'long tail' of commentary ('persistence' sells ads) then this should be fixed. - MH

 
At October 25, 2006 2:42 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Someone should do a study on the optimum time between postings. Obviously, this one's not worn out its welcome and perhaps some people aren't comfortable maintaining a presence on two at a time.
A 76-per-cent vote for strike action at the Tele -- good response but a shame they've let so much time elapse before taking action, thus presumably allowing the paper to get a lot of the changes into motion and harder to retract. Still, it has to be a step in the right direction. What's the form, though? Do you picket? And if so, where? On the rue de Rivoli?

 
At October 25, 2006 3:08 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Pickiting at Canary Wharf would be an experience like diving to view the Titanic.The enormity of the place is enough to confuse anyone,even the skilled members of the Telegraph who can think and write in all manner of atmospheres.

I'm suprised Prime Suspect had only eight million viewers.This was television at it's best.Worth my time anyway.

 
At October 25, 2006 3:24 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Is not the Telegraph strike about money rather than the disgraceful restructuring? I am always ashamed of the way human beings let their fellow souls go to the gaz ovens while reclaiming the vacated blankets. No doubt I would be no better given the circumstances.

 
At October 25, 2006 3:45 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

LONDON (Reuters) - Editorial staff at The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph have voted to go on strike following redundancies and the relocation to a new office, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said on Tuesday.

The union said the staff were angry over the changes which also include different shift patterns and felt their concerns were not being considered by managers.

 
At October 25, 2006 4:08 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

If the editorial staff entrench,then it's only a matter of time before the shareholders appear.Keep your eye on the LSE.

 
At October 25, 2006 4:56 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Anne I am watching the stock markets, the blogs are boring. What with Colin snoozing, begging, chatting up pimps who knows? And the Brits losing their stuffing over Iraq.The Telegraph belongs to Hollinger International? Is that quoted anywhere?

 
At October 25, 2006 5:07 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Don't buy Hollinger shares on the strength of the Tele, Richard. They sold the paper in 2004 to the Telegraph Group Ltd. But newspapers in general are a pretty dodgy investment these days.

 
At October 25, 2006 7:45 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Unbore yourself then(and away from the stocks).Over to "the Queen".By all means it must be kept in propriety as pots on sovereign topics are erupting and more will follow.
So. On this blog it's au revoir and God save the Queen.
Amen.

 
At October 28, 2006 2:55 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

For those curious to observe the behaviour of the Brits I invite you to visit the blogs of two erstwhile visitors to Colin’s blog. Colin Berry, alias alphabet soup, and Sarah Hague, colleague in escapades of Louise. I asked CB a reasonable question, what is he doing in France in his declining years taking advantage of the excellent French public services. We all know that these services would not be available if we were stingy taxpayers like the English and notably CB during his adult working life. Am I not entitled, having paid French taxes throughout most of my working life, to an explanation as to the moral grounds on which the continuance of his presence in France is acceptable? Well our verbose relic has not allowed my posts, which I accept, the question is embarrassing, but strangely he then posts an abusive post against me which bares no relation to the question I raised. As for Sarah she posts abusive comments against me while blocking any right of reply. For those who have not had close up intimate experience of English customs, this is what they call a level playing field.

Incidentally I am fully unbored. Gorgeous French meal last night. Langoustine, venison,cheese, pear thing all accompanied with a 2000 cru bourgeois haut medoc. Only 100 euro for myself and my loyal companion through life's trials (caused mainly by you know who)and right on my door step. So now its off to my beautiful Bretagne for a weeks rest and relaxation. Not to forget fish chez Doris on the sea front and crêpes next to the rollers at point de raz.

 
At October 28, 2006 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To receive a post from R/O these days is the verbal equivalent of finding a steaming deposit on one's doormat. I kid thee not. Initially I left them up, so that visitors to my new blog could see for themselves what happens when rights become divorced from responsibilities. I then posted to Sarah Hague's site, while they were still up, saying they would not remain so indefinitely. I finally deleted them this morning, pointing out that I now have friends and family visiting my site. However, his comments are still on file, and if anyone reading this wishes to judge for themselves whether R/O has been treated unfairly, then they have only to email me, and I will send a copy of the thread in question.

Colin Berry
sciencebod01@aol.com

 
At October 28, 2006 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To receive a post from R/O these days is the verbal equivalent of finding a steaming deposit on one's doormat. I kid thee not. Initially I left them up, so that visitors to my new blog could see for themselves what happens when rights become divorced from responsibilities. I then posted to Sarah Hague's site, while they were still up, saying they would not remain so indefinitely. I finally deleted them this morning, pointing out that I now have friends and family visiting my site. However, his comments are still on file, and if anyone reading this wishes to judge for themselves whether R/O has been treated unfairly, then they have only to email me, and I will send a copy of the thread in question.

Colin Berry
sciencebod01@aol.com

 
At October 28, 2006 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To receive a post from R/O these days is the verbal equivalent of finding a steaming deposit on one's doormat. I kid thee not. Initially I left them up, so that visitors to my new blog could see for themselves what happens when rights become divorced from responsibilities. I then posted to Sarah Hague's site, while they were still up, saying they would not remain so indefinitely. I finally deleted them this morning, pointing out that I now have friends and family visiting my site. However, his comments are still on file, and if anyone reading this wishes to judge for themselves whether R/O has been treated unfairly, then they have only to email me, and I will send a copy of the thread in question.

Colin Berry
sciencebod01@aol.com

 
At October 28, 2006 4:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS Apologies for the triplicate posting. It was not intended as an attention-getting device, but the result of switching to Blogger Beta this morning. There are differences that take a while to get used to.

 
At October 28, 2006 5:15 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At October 28, 2006 6:06 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

Richard,look what you've done and what has happened.You "invited" the attention of CB and he's come over with his Hippo!
Hippo sized mess.
It'll break the door jambs,run around into the kitchen and heaven knows where else.
You know how CB is at handling matters.We have to call the zoo or better yet take it to the Telegraph where it will have a job pushing news bundles around.

Next time you post be a little more careful.

 
At October 28, 2006 6:07 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

It was a fair question, though, Colin Berry, and one deserving of an answer. But how typical of you to react in the way you did; as straightforward, upstanding and courageous as always.

 
At October 28, 2006 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Bill. I know we've had our differences, but your support is much appreciated.

 
At October 28, 2006 7:32 PM, Blogger anne gilbert said...

This is poaching.
All the stalking,ensnarement,traps and blow pipe with poison darts.

And just because someone left the blue pencil for awhile!

Off with hippos and handler!

 
At October 28, 2006 7:59 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At November 05, 2006 6:37 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

So our Antibes scribbler has decided that all there is to a state are dentist and doctors bills. A fair summary of the beliefs of a Thatcherite. No Mr Hippopotamus there are the streets you walk in, the health and safety professionals who fight legionnaires disease, the flowered cities, the healthy food, the generally safe streets, the public transport, the unpolluted countryside etc etc. You spent your life refusing to finance these services why should you now benefit from them. Off with you, to a UK privatised zoo.

 
At November 12, 2006 9:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conflict of interest: I am Colin Berry's daughter and proud of it

Given that my father has spent the last twenty five or so years sitting through my interminable school plays and out of tune concerts, I thought it was about time I took an interest in his hobbies (or at least feigned interest). I had heard a lot about this blogging thing but never read any of it.
I typed his name into Google, and unfortunately instead of finding his own blog straight away got directed to Colin Randall's blog. It is not the author's pieces but the visitors' comments that concern me. I am horrified by what I have just read. What vile, unjustified nonsense from several people who I assume are old enough to know better. Disagreeing with someone's point of view is one thing; descending to this level of abuse is quite another. A little fresh air and brisk exercise will do you all good (that includes you, dad). As a child I was told off for spending too much time on the computer. The circle of life is a funny old thing.

 

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