December 2004

To finish the year, I thought I would prepare a selection of triangulation points, from the tops of various mountains, visited throughout the year.

Snowdonia, Pennines, Peak District and generally about …..

I have signed up to a ‘trig spotting’ service, TrigpointingUK – Trigpoint Logging System Actually, with those with GPS, it is much more useful. But I’m still interested since I have visited so many a photographed them anyway. They are often in such beautiful places …

More piccys on my FotoBlog at:

and here is my gallery of trigs on TrigpointingUK:

Blog for short. News and information about resources, aid, donations and volunteer efforts.

Help is only available, by what us humans can do.

There is no god!

Starting out in the village of Curbar and walking up past the snow line, to “The Edges”.

I walked up and down there for most of the morning then, struck off across the snow fields to the line of rocks at White Edge and the trig point there at 365m. [Bench Mark Ref. S2132].

Then, headed south, past Lord Wellington’s monument and back to Curbar just before dark.

Several miles of trudging through the snow. Bright blue skys all day. Splendid!!

[ and very photographical ].

OS Ref: SK255765

map at:,376500&st=4&ar=N&mapp=newmap.srf&searchp=newsearch.srf&dn=538

More piccys on my FotoBlog at:

“Christmas is forced upon a reluctant and disgusted nation by the shopkeepers and the press; on its own merits it would wither and shrivel in the fiery breath of universal hatred…. ”

George Bernard Shaw

* * * * * *

The threat of Christmas hung in the air, visible already in the fretful look of passersby as they readied themselves for the meaningless but necessary rites of false jovialities and ill-considered gifts.

Peter Dickinson, Play Dead, a mystery novel

* * * * * *

“Until one feels the spirit of Christmas, there is no Christmas. All else is outward display; so much tinsel and decorations. For it isn’t the holly, it isn’t the snow. It isn’t the tree not the firelight’s glow.

It’s the warmth that comes to the hearts of men when the Christmas spirit returns again.”


Bah Humbug

On consumerism:

More piccys on my Fotoblog at:

Hathersage Moor: Higger Tor. Derbyshire Peak District

Beautiful day. Unbroken sunshine until sunset. Very cold, with a little snow to be seen up on Kinder Scout.

Many more pictures, on my FotoBlog at:

OS ref: SK260820,381500&st=4&mapp=newmap.srf&searchp=newsearch.srf&dn=531

For an excuse to get out and have some fun in London: Monday 20th December 18:09pm , “Pillow Fight Club”

Traverse over to

for full instructions.

#1 The first rule of Pillow Fight Club – Tell Everyone so pass this on now –

Piccys from the ‘Do at:

and, more about Mobile-Clubbing at:

Before you read the following. I think this paragraph should catch your attention

The FOI Act is only part of the new openness package. Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs), which implement an EU directive, come into force at the same time. These provide a more powerful right to information about pollution, conservation, the natural environment, land use, road building, genetically modified organisms, air and water-borne diseases, food contamination and many other issues. The regulations include the utilities and private contractors acting on behalf of a public authority.



The Freedom of Information Act comes into force next month. At last we’ll be able to find out what the officials have been hiding, says Maurice Frankel

Tuesday December 14, 2004

The Guardian,,1373016,00.html

On January 1, the long-awaited Freedom of Information Act finally comes into force. The act gives the public important new rights to the information held by public authorities. Worried about possible changes to your local school or hospital? The act should allow you to see the evidence for them. Want to know whether the police are doing enough about burglaries? Use the legislation to probe their response times and clear-up rates. Unhappy about a regulatory body that never seems to do anything when people complain? Ask for its internal guidance on handling complaints and see if its staff are doing what they’re supposed to do.

The FOI Act is only part of the new openness package. Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs), which implement an EU directive, come into force at the same time. These provide a more powerful right to information about pollution, conservation, the natural environment, land use, road building, genetically modified organisms, air and water-borne diseases, food contamination and many other issues. The regulations include the utilities and private contractors acting on behalf of a public authority.

Amendments to the Data Protection Act also come into force in January, improving your rights to see personal data held about you by public authorities, though not the private sector. You can already see computerised personal data and your own medical, social work, housing and children’s school records. But other records are available only if held in a structured form that allows specific information to be located easily. That restriction is now removed, allowing you to see “unstructured” information too.

Some 100,000 public authorities are subject to the new FOI regime, which covers government departments, local authorities, NHS bodies (including individual GPs, pharmacists, dentists and opticians), schools, colleges and universities, the police, the armed forces, museums, quangos, regulators, advisory bodies, publicly owned companies, the devolved assemblies and parliament itself – but not the security and intelligence services or the courts. Scotland has its own FOI Act (which covers the Scottish executive and Scottish public bodies – the UK act covers everything else) and EIRs, which also kick in on January 1.

Using the laws couldn’t be simpler. Send a letter, email or fax to the authority describing the information you want. If you want photocopies, or prefer to have information emailed or to inspect it in person, say so. The authority must complywhere practicable. Send your request to the FOI officer, whose contact details should be on the authority’s website, or directly to the official who handles the matter, if you know who that is. You don’t even have to mention the FOI Act or EIRs, though it’s safer to do so. The authority has to treat any written request for information under the right legislation, whether or not you ask it to. If you’re after environmental information, even a telephone request will count, though putting it writing is still a good idea.

You can ask for any recorded information held by the authority, regardless of when it was recorded. Old government files, which until now have been secret for 30 years, will have to be disclosed, subject to the act’s exemptions.

Make your request as specific as possible. Work out as clearly as you can what it is you want or think might exist. Don’t be afraid to phone the authority and ask what kind of material it holds. Both the act and the EIRs require authorities to provide reasonable advice and assistance to people who make requests.

The authority must reply to your request “promptly” and in any case within 20 working days. Under the UK act, this can be extended for a “reasonable” period where decisions are taken under the act’s public interest test. Extensions are allowed for requests received by schools during the holidays, for closed files held by the National Archives, or for information held overseas or that has to be obtained from military personnel on active service. These don’t apply to the EIRs, where the only permitted extension is for complex, large requests when up to 40 working days is allowed.

As long as your FOI request isn’t too sweeping, you won’t have to pay anything, apart from photocopying, printing and postage costs. However, if the cost of finding and extracting the information you want exceeds a set limit, the authority doesn’t have to provide it at all.

For government departments, this limit is £600, equivalent to three and a half days’ work at a set rate of £25 an hour. For other bodies it is £450, or two and a half days’ work. A £600 limit also applies in Scotland, though the first £100 of all charges, including photocopying, are waived and you pay only £1.50 an hour for staff time. Crucially, the time spent deciding whether to release information can’t be included in any of these calculations. There are no cost limits under the EIRs. So if the information you want is environmental, be sure to point this out.

You won’t be able to split a large request into several smaller ones to avoid the limit. The costs of related requests to a single authority within 60 working days of each other can be aggregated under the UK act (though not in Scotland). This is still a generous deal compared with some countries. Ireland’s FOI legislation allows a fee of up to £500 for information that would be free under the UK act.

The FOI act contains plenty of exemptions. Information is exempt if its disclosure would be likely to prejudice (or in Scotland “prejudice substantially”) interests such as defence, international relations, law enforcement, commercial interests, the economy, the frankness of internal discussions or the “effective conduct of public affairs”. However, most exempt information will have to be released if the public interest in disclosure is greater than the public interest in confidentiality. The benefits of disclosure, in protecting public safety, exposing wrongdoing, preventing the public from being misled, accounting for public spending or ensuring informed debate may swing decisions in favour of openness.

Some exemptions have no “prejudice” test and disclosure depends solely on the public interest test. These include exemptions for legal advice, information obtained during investigations by the police or prosecuting authorities and information relating to the formulation of government policy. This doesn’t mean you won’t get such information: the public interest test will still apply. Expect no access at all to court records, information about the security services or information whose disclosure is prohibited by other laws. Personal information about others won’t be released if disclosure would breach the Data Protection Act. Information whose disclosure would be a breach of confidence is exempt, but this involves a public interest test. The EIR exemptions are different and fewer – and all subject to the public interest test. One notable feature is that emissions data cannot be withheld on commercial confidentiality grounds.

If you are refused information, the authority should tell you under which exemption and why it thinks disclosure is not in the public interest. The first step in challenging a decision is to complain to the authority itself, which should review it at a more senior level. It’s not your job to prove that the information should be disclosed. Say why you think the decision is wrong, if you can, but a simple request for it to be reconsidered will be enough.

After that you can complain to the information commissioner. His decisions are legally binding and authorities that ignore them could face action for contempt of court. Under the UK act, though not Scotland’s, there is a right of appeal against the commissioner’s decisions, to an information tribunal. All decisions can be challenged in court on a point of law.

Unfortunately that’s not the end of the story. The legislation’s most contentious feature is a ministerial veto, allowing cabinet ministers to override the commissioner if he orders a government department to release information on public interest grounds. Scottish ministers have a slightly more limited power of veto over Scotland’s commissioner. The veto’s use can’t be kept secret and could be judicially reviewed. But no one is putting any bets on the likelihood of ministers resisting its use where politically damaging information is at stake.

Don’t let that put you off asking and don’t give up after an initial refusal. Public authorities are likely to be forced into much greater openness by the act. No one yet knows where the line will be drawn – it’s up to you to find out.

· Maurice Frankel is director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information. For further information see,,1373016,00.html

and, other good sources on the BBC site at:

BBC NEWS Magazine Your right to know Your chance to know

BBC NEWS Magazine Your right to know

Nottingham Evening Post story

12:00 – 14 December 2004

Four people arrested during a dawn police raid to remove protesters from woodland earmarked for development have appeared in court.

Around 100 police officers, specialist tree climbers and housing company staff staged the action earlier this month to remove protesters from treehouses on woodland at the junction of Sherwood Rise and Debdale Lane, Mansfield Woodhouse.

Four people appeared at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court yesterday, each charged with obstructing a court officer in the execution of his duty.

The cases of David Thomas, 32, and Gareth Williams, 25, of Debdale Gate, Mansfield Woodhouse; Daniel Wilson, 26, of Denor Drive, Mansfield Woodhouse, and Robert Buchanan, 26, of Stanton Lees, Matlock, were adjourned until next month. They were all given conditional bail.

* * * * * *

Earlier on my FotoBlog and Indymedia at:

Have only just heard about this. Obviously, London Transport sell off the old stock, but what a bargin.

I had to laugh just now though. The BBC site says:

“Old buses £2k each. But who’s buying them and where on earth will they park them?”

When I was a lad, we were in the ‘Peace Convoy’. What an opportunity for the present day traveller. What do you reckon?

The great bus sale

By Tom Housden

BBC News

The Routemaster: A 1950s design classic

As much an icon of London as Big Ben or Buckingham Palace, the curvaceous old Routemaster double-decker is due to be retired next year. But there’s no shortage of admirers waiting in the wings to snap up a slice of transport history.

After many years of faithful service, London’s remaining 200 Routemaster buses are approaching the end of the line.

A familiar sight on the capital’s streets for more than 50 years, the buses are gradually being replaced.

The Routemaster Association:

Categorised as “historic buses”, anyone over 21 with a normal Category B licence can get behind the wheel as long as there are no more than eight passengers on board.

Just heard ‘The Message’ on Radio 4 Friday afternoon.

For those interested in investigations, it is quite informative. [First part of the prog]

latest program online at: [for next 7 days]

Program details:

Freedom of Information

Next month the Freedom of Information Act becomes effective but will it change anything?

Can our public authorities expect to besieged by eager journalists and will shocking revelations result? Or have the political mandarins made sure anything of significance will remain under covers?

For decades distinguished investigative journalists have argued the case for a more open society where information in the public sector be made accessible to the public. Now at last legislation is to become effective.

I have just written to two of my local authorities, and my four nearest police forces, saying the law is ‘fully’ effective as from 1st January 2005. What are their procedures. Me thinks it will cause some fuss [I hope 🙂 ‘cos no-one is ready for all this….] and after the years of enactment in various stages, they should be.

and basic advice from the information commissioner at:

These are the latest links to Statewatches info about it all:

Identity Card Bill published – full-text (pdf):

Explanatory Notes (link):–.htm

ID Cards: Regulatory Impact:

Assessment (pdf) No2id website: FAQ on ID cards (link):

As you may see from an earlier entry on my fotoblog, I’ve already contributed to the scheme !

Volunteer: Home Office Identity Card Scheme

I had signed up to be a volunteer [guineapig ?] for the scheme. The biometrics enrolment trial which UK Passport Service are undertaking, the recruitment of volunteers is being managed by MORI (Market & Opinion Research International). Any request to take part in the trial should be directed to: Melanie Briere on telephone number 020 7347 3023, e-mail, or via

Quite a painless exercise. They took all fingerprints, a face picture [with a four position facial ‘map’] and an iris read. This was done from about 15″ away, a little surprising that, since I thought it was right up close, like looking into a microscope. Then I signed an electronic pad. That was the databasing side. Filled out a questionnaire, while card was prepared.

Then there is the verification phase. They took my card, stuck it into the reader. I was asked to sit at similar machine that scanned my face. It took a few seconds. then the computer, whirred and rattled, then everything stopped, a few worried looks! then it started again, the screen showed my name and details. So it worked. Well, at least with a sample of 3859 folks to compare on the database. That’s as far as they’ve got now.

Not sure what a terrorist is going to make of all this. If is catches a few, that’s good of course. But with my experience of plod, I can see how awkward it is going to be for some folks ……

My pet fear still remains a policeman / soldier / neighbourhood wardens perhaps, being able to approach you in the street, and without any further evidence or suspicion, say to you “Papers”. and there we are, right back in the 1930’s Germany etc ……

ho hum.

Identity Cards

Home Office

50 Queen Anne’s Gate



ID helpline: 0207 3473023


Anti-war protestors are today celebrating a Court of Appeal ruling which

held that the police acted unlawfully in detaining them for 2½ hours without


The Court of Appeal ruled today that police violated the Human Rights Act

when they illegally detained 120 protestors en route to a demonstration at

RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire. Giving judgment, Lord Chief Justice Lord

Woolf stated that, ‘the passengers were virtually prisoners on the coaches

for the length of the journey…[W]e are not persuaded that there were no less

intrusive possible alternative courses of action here.’

At the Appeal hearing in October, Gloucestershire police argued that they

were in fact protecting the protestors’ right to life by detaining them and

forcing their return to London. In his witness statement, Chief

Superintendent Kevin Lambert, the officer in charge of policing the protest,

stated that, ‘had a member of the public penetrated the defences and been

killed or injured by one of the armed personnel guarding the B52

aircraft…the public reaction and political consequences would have been

extremely damaging to the coalition partners’. Helen Wickham, a coach

passenger, said: “I think it is deeply worrying that Gloucestershire police,

confronted with the possibility of US troops shooting unarmed protestors,

chose to defend the US use of lethal force and pursue a political agenda.”

This ruling, which reaffirms a High Court ruling in February, will impact on

the policing of future demonstrations and will have implications for the May

Day 2001/Oxford Circus cases against the Metropolitan Police early next


The ruling was welcomed as a confirmation of the limits of a draconian power

which Parliament has never debated or sanctioned. However the protestors

feel that the judgment should have gone further and ruled that the police

also denied them two other human rights: freedom of assembly and freedom of

expression. Jane Laporte, the named claimant, said: “the right to protest is

something we celebrate when we see it exercised abroad, but this fundamental

democratic freedom has been relegated to a privilege that can be taken away

on the whim of a police officer.”

Last March, the protestors and their coaches were searched for nearly two

hours and forced back to London under a heavy police escort “to prevent a

breach of the peace.” The police argued that this was justified because the

protestors were, in their view, “well-armed”.

However, in the original High Court ruling in February, Lord Justice May

commented that, “for practical purposes none of the articles seized were to

be regarded as offensive. Two pairs of scissors would not make much

impression on the perimeter fencing of the air base.”

John Halford, the solicitor at Bindman and Partners representing the group,

said today that, “the police action in detaining these protestors was and

remains a grotesque abuse of power. What was at stake here today was

nothing less than the right to protest in the UK. That this right can be

taken away when no crime had been committed and on the flimsiest of pretexts

lays the foundation of a police state.”

Jesse Schust, one of the coach passengers, said: “It is particularly ironic

that the police violated our human rights by detaining us, when we sought to

demonstrate against an illegal war that has devastated Iraq and left over

100,000 dead.”

The detained coach passengers are prepared to take their case to the House

of Lords and the European Court of Human Rights.

For more information on Fairford Coach Action, phone Jane Laporte on 07817

483 167 or Jesse Schust on 07814 587 361 or e-mail

(A formatted version of this press release is available at the website)


Notes for Journalists

1. Fairford Coach Action is the name of the group of more than 80 passengers

who have collectively decided to pursue a Judicial Review case against the

police’s actions on 22nd March 2003. Full background information is

available on the website. Visit the site for links to the full judgement,

related web articles, statements of support, and testimonial statements from

coach passengers.

2. Interviews with passengers from the coaches can be arranged (please

enquire – see contact details above). Dramatic, high-quality, digital video

footage and photographs are also available. To use this footage on TV or in

film, contact Catherine Bonnici of Journeyman Films

( Tel: 020 8941 9994 Fax: 020 8941 9899).

3. Professional photos of the coach detention are available. Guy Smallman

was one of several accredited journalists who were on the coaches. He has a

selection of pictures from the day. Contact Guy Smallman 07956 429 059 with

enquiries. (These photos are in a suitable format to be wired directly to

the picture desk).

4. The solicitor representing the case, John Halford, can be contacted at

Bindman & Partners on 020 7833 4433.

5. The Fairford coach case is listed in Amnesty International’s report:

Europe and Central Asia: Summary of Amnesty International’s Concerns in the

Region, January – June 2004, and was mentioned in Liberty’s dossier on the

policing at RAF Fairford. Liberty made a submission to the Court of Appeal

supporting the passengers’ appeal. Other supporters include Ken

Livingstone, David Drew, MP (Stroud), Lynne Jones, MP, Caroline Lucas, MEP,

Jean Lambert, MEP, and Mark Thomas (see website for quotes).

6. On 22nd March 2003, three days after the start of the US/UK war on Iraq,

a demonstration organised by the Gloucestershire Weapons Inspectors (GWI),

attracted over 3,000 protestors to the airbase. Groups travelled to

Fairford from 37 locations across the UK. American B-52 planes flew from

RAF Fairford airbase to bomb Baghdad (see

) and Fairford was the site of excessive policing during the war on Iraq.

(Within 52 days (from 6 March 2003), police conducted over 2000 anti-terror

searches in the vicinity.) GWI, Berkshire CIA and Liberty issued a dossier

showing how stop and search powers of the Terrorism Act 2000 were misused by

police. For the report “Casualty of War – 8 weeks of counter-terrorism in

rural England” see and The Government estimated the added

cost of policing RAF Fairford was £6.9 million. The airbase continues to be

upgraded for use by US Stealth (B2) Bombers, greatly expanding the US

capacity to “invisibly” deploy tactical nuclear weapons anywhere in the

world within hours. Further info at and


7. The main defendant in the case is The Chief Constable of Gloucestershire

Constabulary; the two interested parties are the Commissioner for the

Metropolitan Police and the Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police.

8. The Human Rights Act 1998 came into force in October 2000. It requires

the police and other public authorities to avoid breaching key European

Convention Human Rights Articles save where legislation makes this

impossible. Amongst the key rights are Article 5 (deprivation of liberty

must be justified in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law and on

one of the five grounds listed in paragraph (1) of the Article), Article 10

(freedom of speech and expression) and Article 11 (freedom of assembly).

9. At common law a constable may arrest a person without warrant whom he or

she reasonably believes will commit a breach of the peace in the immediate

future, even though at the time of the arrest such person has not committed

any breach. This power is subject to a number of strict restrictions,

however: the belief must relate to an act or threatened act harming any

person or, in his presence, his property, or which puts a person in fear of

such harm; the belief must relate to the likely actions of the particular

individual or individuals against whom the power is used; and when the

particular individual is acting lawfully at the time the power is used, the

threat of his committing a breach of the peace must be sufficiently real and

imminent to justify the use of such a draconian power.

From the Press Team at the Fairford Coach Action

While photographing the eviction of the Sherwood environmental protest camp yesterday, I met a ‘plain-clothed’ police officer with much attitude.

So, no news there then!

He was on my case for most of the afternoon, with some most curious remarks, intimidating by standing 3 inches from me, and wouldn’t engage in conversion when I asked him, who he was, what he wanted, and why he was being ‘as he was!’.

He continued to snipe the odd remark, and I really couldn’t gather what was going on. Somewhere in the middle of all this, he started mentioning websites, then a little latter, it transpired that he was referring to my website.

I persisted a little further, thinking that the content of my website might be upsetting the officer, and further attempted to find out what’s what. After all, with descriptions of alternative lifestyles, travellers, hippies, protest, legal advice, surveillance, my photography, there was plenty I thought that might upset a policeman. Then he said he didn’t like some of my links. This is still a bit cryptic and like pulling teeth. But we got there in the end.

He specifically means the porn merchants that continue to infest my message and guestbook boards. Especially those that appear, with links to porn offering pictures of very young people. I was gobsmacked for a moment, since he obviously had formed the opinion that I was in favour of this sort of activity, and that by allowing the links to such stuff to remain, I was in cahoots with these guys.



He realises this now [I hope]. What I think had happened is that he saw an obnoxious message, visiting a while latter, he finds another obnoxious message. Deduction, I have left it there and therefore agree with content. Hence his attitude. What he didn’t realise is that I might well have removed the offending message half-a-dozen times, sometimes in the same day.

Nobody visits my sites, for info on where to find the best porn. I find myself being distressed that someone could think that of me. Further, it is distressing to be so targeted by these folks. I do my best, but the volume of the shit to remove can be a bit overwhelming.

I am sorry for any offence to my regular, or any other readers, and I also apologised to the officer in that while investigating me, had found such material.

I am of course, not sorry for the rest of the content of my site.

I am just doing my best. I hope this is now clear to all.

This all happened yesterday, but have just finished B&W dev and much scanning

Well, over a year now, that folks have been living on the site, but 50 bailiffs and a hundred or so police, [including the road-block around the district, evicted the three people living there today.

Through the course of the afternoon, I watched them saw down a 300 year old beech tree to make way for some more ‘progress’.

Three people were arrested as bailiffs moved onto the site in Debdale Lane, Mansfield Woodhouse, Nottinghamshire.

The group had been camped in the threatened trees for 15 months.

Around 50 bailiffs, along with 70 police officers who were there to ensure safety, moved in at first light on Monday morning.

Three protesters were arrested by the bailiffs for on suspicion of obstructing a court officer.

A fourth is understood to have left voluntarily.

The bailiffs say safety is their main priority while the remaining protester is located.

More photos on my blog at:

editors note:

For those wondering what HCEO, written on the backs of some of the overalls means, they are “High Court Enforcement Officers”. From the 1 April 2004 the role of the High Court Sheriff has been abolished. A new role of High Court Enforcement Officer (HCEO) will take the place of the Sheriff.

My Indymedia entry


Battle of Sherwood commences as Under-sheriff risks protestors lives


BBC stories at:

Three arrested over tree protest

and a little latter ….

Tree protester gives himself up

The site mobile is / was: 07891 986 208

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