PC Alex MacFarlane racist arrest trial: day two

Tweets by Guardian journalist Peter Walker from the second day of the Southwark Crown Court trial of PC Alex MacFarlane for the racially aggravated threat or provocation of violence. Walker’s full report from the trial is here.

In other racism related news, today is the 153rd anniversary of abolitionist John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, and also the 19th anniversary of the Unity march on the BNP bookshop in Welling.

PC Alex MacFarlane trial, day two: 16 October 2012

  • Back at Southwark crown court for trial of PC Alex MacFarlane, who denies racially aggravated public order offence
  • Court heard yesterday that MacFarlane told Mauro Demitrio, 21: “The problem with you is that you’ll always be a nigger.”
  • Court currently being read details of MacFarlane’s interview with IPCC investigators in January, five months after alleged offence
  • In first interview MacFarlane said he could not remember “the details of what was said”, though he argued with Demetrio
  • MacFarlane now giving evidence
  • MacFarlane says he has never previously been accused of racism, whether in work or elsewhere
  • MacFarlane said he had worked 66 hours in previous few days on riot duty. It was “very stressful”, he said.
  • MacFarlane says Demetrio was abusive when arrested, calling police, “white cunts”
  • MacFarlane “confident” Demetrio used word “nigger” first in relation to himself, he tells court
  • MacFarlane says he was used to abuse & it did not annoy him: “Sadly, it comes with the job.”
  • MacFarlane looks down in witness stand as “you’ll always be a nigger” recording is played in court.
  • MacFarlane says he said “nigger” phrase to make Demetrio “reconsider his lifestyle” and not blame others for problems
  • MacFarlane: “I wanted him to be proud of who he was and stop his life of crime.”
  • MacFarlane: “I wanted him to understand that the police didn’t deal with him as a black man.”
  • Asked if, in retrospect, he regretted use of word, MacFarlane says: “I should never have used it.”
  • But he denies it was meant to be racist or to upset Demetrio
  • Said he was exhausted, not thinking straight, and wrongly repeated word first used by Demetrio
  • Under prosecution cross examination, MacFarlane again concedes he should not have used word
  • MacFarlane: “It is a word I would choose not to use, whether I’m a police officer or not.”
  • Asked by Duncan Atkinson, prosecuting, if word was meant to “put him in his place”, MacFarlane says “no”
  • MacFarlane says by the time he and Demetrio arrived at police station he had forgotten he had used the word
  • Odd pause as dry throated MacFarlane asks for a Strepsil. “I’ve got a Fisherman’s Friend,” says defence counsel
  • Even when complaint from Demetrio arrived next day, MacFarlane says he could not remember using language mentioned
  • Atkinson asks why MacFarlane’s claim Demetrio used “nigger” first did not appear in first 3 IPCC interviews
  • Did he “think it up to justify yourself” after hearing tape in 4th interview, Atkinson asks? No, he says
  • Atkinson quizzing MacFarlane on how he formed impression Demetrio was drug dealer. Based on colour? No, he relies
  • Atkinson: “Were you making assumptions about this man effectively from when you first met him?” Reply – no.
  • Atkinson refers to other officer calling Demetrio a “scumbag” and “cunt”. Asks if this is appropriate. MacFarlane: no
  • Atkinson asks if MacFarlane’s comments were “continuation of this process of demeaning Mr Demetrio”. He says not.
  • PC Alex MacFarlane trial back from lunch. Duncan Atkinson, prosecuting, continuing cross examination
  • Just before lunch we heard from 2 character witnesses who have both known MacFarlane for long time & insist he is not racist
  • DC Andrew Bete, who is black, said he had been close friend of MacFarlane for 18 years. Asked if he had been racist…
  • … Bete said: “If he had he would not be one of my best friends.”
  • Court again hears “nigger” recording, and MacFarlane agrees he then says “That’s your problem” several times…
  • Atkinson asks: “In what way, Mr MacFarlane, was his skin colour a problem?”
  • MacFarlane replies: “There was no problem with his skin colour from my point of view.”
  • MacFarlane again argues he felt problem was Demetrio’s lack of pride in being black. Tuts audible from D’s family in gallery
  • Atkinson asks if “that’s your problem” comment meant Demetrio “in some way had a problem because he was black”
  • MacFarlane says not. Disagrees also that comment was to “put him in his place”
    •  more fire ‏@voiceoffrisson
      RT @peterwalker99 Odd pause as dry throated MacFarlane asks for a Strepsil. “I’ve got a Fisherman’s Friend,” says defence counsel <gripping
  • @voiceoffrisson You had to be there
    •  more fire ‏@voiceoffrisson
      @peterwalker99 truly, I felt like I was – address?
  • Court haring written statements from other officers in the van. One, PC Andrew Adams, said he heard no racist language from police
  • Adams says police sang “Wheels on the Bus” to drown out Demetrio’s swearing. D then laughed along, he says
  • Adams says Demetrio was abusive in racist and sexually explicit way, threatening to rape niece of officer
  • Another PC, Dan Godfrey, says he also heard abuse from Demetrio but none from any police, and saw no assault
  • 3rd PC, David Jacques, also mentions racist & sexually aggressive abuse from Demetrio. Did not hear racism from any police
  • Defence case ends with reading of one more glowing character reference. There are 10 more similar, jury told
  • Just had closing argument from Duncan Atkinson, prosecuting. MacFarlane, he said, “let the British public down that day”
  • Atkinson: is “interesting to wonder” where Demetrio’s complaint would have got without his recording, given denials by police
  • MacFarlane comments should not be seen alone but in “a chain of demeaning conduct” by police in van, Atkinson says
  • Richard Atchley, defending, concludes by warning jury to be wary if “edited highlights” of events
  • Atchley singles out the news media as example of how events are routinely distorted. Few furrowed brows in press box
  • My @guardian story on 2nd day of PC Alex MacFarlane trial so far http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/oct/16/police-officer-man-self-esteem …
    •  ian bishop ‏@bish1964
      @peterwalker99 @guardian Peter was an explanation given by ipcc as to why it took them until interview 4 to disclose the use of N word?
  • @bish1964 Not in court
  • Atchley tells jury MacFarlane’s comment “be proud” prove his good intentions. Mutters from Demetrio’s family in public gallery
  • Atchley: “They are the words of a man trying to get a young black man to reassess his life.”
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4 responses to “PC Alex MacFarlane racist arrest trial: day two

  1. I agree that a slip of the tongue can give wrong impressions. But a slip of the tongue would get us no mercy from the police. It doesn’t matter what his well paid black PC friend thinks, this officer’s conduct should be exemplary at all times. I have worked as a lorry driver and teacher.

    The police would tolerate no mistakes if I made them on the road- because I was tired. Nor would I have been able to call a black child a nigger, just because I was stressed.

    The police should read the Old Testament more often, especially ‘The Book of Judges. ‘Judge not lest ye be judged. The police are judging us all the time and we can’t get a job without their approval, via a CRB check.

    They have massive responsibility and there is no external police body to punish them when they abuse the public, induge in malpractice or dishonesty. This PC used an abusive term. It is on tape.

  2. Pingback: PC Alex MacFarlane racist arrest trial: day three – summing up | Bristle's Blog from the BunKRS

  3. Pingback: PC Alex MacFarlane racist arrest trial: day four – jury fails to reach a verdict | Bristle's Blog from the BunKRS

  4. I should add that I dislike and mistrust the police intensely as an organisation and the way they are led. The best people rarely get to the top in any organisation. But it would help to obviate tricky cases like this one, if there was a department of internal affairs, not linked to the police career structure.

    As much as I dislike the police, I am a strong believer in justice. Thus, if I was on the jury, I would be loathe to judge PC MacFarlane guilty. But I think his defence line of trying to inspire the offender, absolutely ludicrous.

    I don’t really care what happens to this copper after what the syetem has done to me. I guess I’d let him off with a warning and only sack him if I thought he was inherentlya bully, like so many cops- but then what sort of people hire and fire in the British police? The command structure used the tragic death of two female officers in Manchester to paint the police as heroes in waiting.

    They might be happy to sacrifice this little copper to make it look as if they care. The system, like the rest of this country, is rotten to the core. It is a highly sophisticated police state, but many cops, like soldiers, just need and do a job. It is the politicians and ACPO who have no interest in getting the system right. Pity the system was not so quick into action over the death of Ian Tomlinson. But the what had the cops been told to do that sad G20 day. That will stay a secret.

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