02/12/2012 Sunday Politics West


02/12/2012

Andrew Neil and David Garmston present the latest political news, interviews and debate, with justice secretary Chris Grayling.


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Sunday Politics In The West... She was raped by a convicted murderer

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out on parole. Now he could be released again. Why does a life

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2132 seconds

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On Sunday Politics in the West this week, we talked to a week victim

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that says the Government is putting the rights of criminals above that

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of victims. Helen Stockford was held at knifepoint in her home by a

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man that had been convicted of murder. She wants him to get a life

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sentence but her appeal has been turned down by the Government. We

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talked in her later. First, our guests this morning. Charlotte

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Leslie, Conservative MP for Bristol and for Labour, Roger Berry, a

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former MP and local councillor. The new mayor of Bristol went to meet

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the bigwigs in London. But he was not shown the red carpet. Far from

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meeting the Prime Minister, he was left with ministers that few people

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had ever heard of. The Government had signalled that the mayor would

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have had the same status as a Cabinet Minister. Is this a sign of

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things to come, Charlotte? It has been quite a busy week. I think

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George had settled in and it was maybe a busy week with Lord

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Leveson's report going on. But I am delighted we have got a Mayer and I

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am delighted it is George and I hope we can put politics aside and

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get behind him. You are a veteran of local politics. Do you think

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George Ferguson has got the status of a Secretary of State or is that

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a fantasy? I think that is a fantasy but time will tell. We do

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not know what George can deliver and what powers he will have and

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what his budget will be. We have got substantial cuts that might be

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coming forward. It is early to judge. But everybody of good will,

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however they voted in the election or if they did not vote, they want

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the best for Bristol. We have to pull together in order to put

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Bristol on the map. We can talk about the Labour Party attitude

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later. It is 70 years since the foundations were laid for the

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welfare system. It is undergoing its biggest ever change. Next year,

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a large array of benefits will be in rolled into an all accompanying

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benefit, the Universal credit. Also replaced, the Disability Living

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Allowance. These changes are causing alarm among many disabled

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people. They protested in Bristol and across the land but it did not

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stop the Government welfare reforms passing into legislation. There is

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great worry about what is ahead. have received care from social

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services. I am permanently anxious that might care will be slashed.

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Why are they making it harder to claim the money? It is main -- mean

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and stealing from disabled people. They will find out what it means in

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months. The changes start next April when the Disability Living

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Allowance is replaced by a personal independence payment. From October,

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are more changes. Child tax benefit, housing benefit, support allowance,

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income support and working tax credit will all be replaced by the

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Universal Credit, which will be phased in in four years. The prison

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benefits system costs �200 billion. The aim of the new scheme is to

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encourage more people into jobs. That will ultimately it is hoped

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bring down the welfare Bill. This man has got epilepsy and Asperger's

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syndrome. A self-employed broadcaster and a web designer, he

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gets some benefits. He said most like him want to work but

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politicians instead highlight the few. It makes me really angry about

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what the Government says and the words they have used, such as

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scroungers. They are saying everybody must work. They are not

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considering people that cannot work because of disability. That

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frustrates me. He knows his disability is not as obvious as

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many. But benefits are supposed to overcome problems, like not being

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able to drive. I must use public transport to travel around the UK.

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I am having a bit of a subsidy allowing me to get to work. He does

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not know what help he will get under the new system. Very few do.

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But there is a concern that many that need help will be left behind

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Roger, you have campaigned for disability rights for many years.

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Are disabled people write to be worried they could lose benefits?

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The disability allowance is one benefit mentioned. The Government

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after the election plans to cut that by 20 %. We will have

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substantial cuts. We have got cuts for people on employment support

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allowance and incapacity benefit. And the number of people entitled

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to that has been cut back. We have got a suggestion that disabled

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people are bearing the brunt of the welfare benefit cuts. The numbers

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claiming are now future. It has gone up by 30% in the past few

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years. -- are now massive. Do not forget, in 1974, many women were

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not entitled to claim that benefit. 3.2 million people are claiming

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benefit. Not on incapacity benefit. We have got other disability

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benefits. The entitlement has been improved over the years. Under the

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Conservatives and under the Labour government, it has increased. In

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civilised society, people for example that are unable to work and

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require additional support for the costs of going to work, the

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benefits system has been improved. Charlotte, whatever the causes of

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this recession that we have been going through, the vulnerable did

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not cause it. Why is the Government appearing to target them? First, I

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can see that some people with disabilities are worried and afraid

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and my heart goes out to them. But the Government is protecting

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spending of 12.6 bn on disability. The problem is that it has not been

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targeted properly and vulnerable people that need a benefit have not

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been getting it. Some people that did not quite need that support

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have. Much has been overpaid and 190 million has been underpaid and

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many people should be getting that benefit. They did realise these are

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needed sorting out in 1997 but they backtracked and in 2011, Liam Burns

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said the same thing. Some people have said that families could lose

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�58 per week. We must focus on the people that need it most.

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Assessments must take place sensitively. It's the other issue

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raised as well is helping disabled people. That is essential. We have

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got all sorts of mental health implications. There are many people

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in work, disabled people, that rely upon allowance to get to work.

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Disability Living Allowance is not an out-of-work benefit. You cannot

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say, we will cut that and it will be an incentive to work. It will do

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the opposite. It's many -- many people in the Paralympics said

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without that support, they would not have been able to... But we do

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need to target it better. This is the undeserving poor argument.

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you accept... The announcement in 2010 was to put �2 billion of

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disability benefit. That is what has happened since then. We must

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leave if there. A Bristol mother that was raped by a convicted

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murderer has had her appeal to keep him in prison for life rejected.

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Kenneth Shirley was -- he was convicted but released on parole

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after just 16 years. He went on to rape two more women including Helen

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Stockford. She said the Government is putting the right bits of

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offenders be on victims. -- writes. He broke into Helen Stockford's

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home. He held her prisoner for three and a half hours and raped

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her. It was absolutely horrendous. The only thing that kept me going,

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I just kept thinking, Oh my God I have got to get into that a grand

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and pick my children up. She said she lives in fear. She finds it

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difficult leaving the House and constantly checks the doors and

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windows are locked. I feel I have lost everything and the emotional

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impact has been awful. I cannot come to terms with what he has done.

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It was in these flats in Cardiff when he was a teenager that he

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murdered a 67-year-old woman. He was released by the Parole Board

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after 16 years. He went on to break Helen and another woman in violent

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attacks. -- rape. He has been given 23 like sentences but the minimum

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term is 16 years and he could again be released on parole. The judge

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said he will probably spend the rest of his life behind bars. Helen

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thinks life should mean life and she has been supported by her MP.

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Be judged as look at the circumstances and has come to a

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conclusion that many people would find astonishing. We are talking

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about a murderer let out on parole and he has been given a second

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chance and he has not taken advantage and I think a full life

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sentence is the proper response. She has been campaigning for

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changes. I have been to everyone. Nobody out there has not been

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contacted. I am running out of people. I would like David Cameron

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to acknowledge me now and Chris Grayling. Her latest appeal was to

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the Attorney General. It was rejected. He said that he did not

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feel it was unduly lenient. There will be one day when I am going to

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be notified by my liaison officer to say that he is coming up warm

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parole. It is your time to write a -- on parole. It is your time to

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write a statement but I did not think I should have to do that. I

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want to put this behind me. Outside Bristol Crown Court three years ago,

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Helen Stockford waved a right to anonymity to campaign for changes

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to the justice system. We took our concerns to Downing Street and the

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Ministry for justice. They declined the request for an interview but

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the request for an interview but they said that the decision to

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In Bristol this week, the white ribbon was used in campaigning to

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reduce violence Against Women. Charities are concerned government

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cuts will leave are the victims without help. They said this story

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is in danger of being repeated the politicians do not listen. We are

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seeing cuts all over the country. This woman has been terribly let

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down. She should have been listened to. If he deserves that many

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sentences it stands to reason that he should be given a whole life

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tariff. He needs to sit down with the victim and start listening, the

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Prime Minister, to help make changes. She helps other victims

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now to come to terms with their ordeals. She is head in one day she

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will get the changes she has been campaigning for. If -- she is

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I am joined by a representative from the Bristol Law Society. And

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by Helen Stockford. How much has that changed your life? Absolutely

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everything. I cannot begin to say how it has changed. I think every

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day, it is like a terrible experience. He has been told that

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he has got 23 life sentences? altogether. He has been told he has

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to served 16 years. And then he is up on parole. I but it is not

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likely he will be allowed out? it is possible. You want somebody

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to say you have committed 25 -- you have got 25 life sentences and that

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must be like? I want a whole life term for peace of mind. Do you

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think the Government has taken you seriously? Not really. You start

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with the police and you go to probation, role and the Ministry of

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Justice, the Attorney General. I did not think they are listening.

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And the European Court might consider if these sentences are

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lawful anyway. If they did that and said that you cannot give a whole

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life sentence to people, would that be binding in Britain? In theory,

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yes. It is the grand chamber in Strasbourg that will have to make

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this decision. They rejected the argument that it was unlawful in

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Westminster but it was only rejected by four down to three and

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it is going to be grand chamber. This is an example where frankly

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Strasbourg and Europe should not be gerrymandering with the British

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legal system. Do you accept it is perhaps degrading to not have any

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hope of ever being released? Well, when you look at this man and his

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past history, I think it is fair to say that he needs a whole life

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after. But if we look at some offenders, -- life sentence. But if

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we look at others, it is difficult to look around the issues because

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of so many different categories of rape. I think with my story and my

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experience, I think this is where the justice system is passing me by.

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18 not think it is strong enough to make changes. -- they do not think.

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Helen has tried to see the Prime Minister and he is busy, or his day

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but you would like five minutes. That is all I ask all. Why is she

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being fobbed off? I think the whole system, the judiciary, agencies and

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the Government is being hamstrung by a system which in many ways, for

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good reasons, it cannot fully control. It is hamstrung by a

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system that all the focus as far as I can tell, is on the attacker, the

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perpetrator and not on the victim. There are people that can say that

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they have ticked their boxes and dump it jobs but she has not

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actually had support -- Dharma their jobs but she has not actually

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had support. -- accomplished their jobs. Should David Cameron meet

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Helen? A I know that she needs more to be done. We got a meeting with

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the Justice Minister and Attorney General. They are being hamstrung

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by the system. The letter from the Attorney General said that they

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cannot meet the appeal because it and the system, I did not think we

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will get anywhere with it. That I think is out of touch and wrong.

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You go to court and you hear the judge say that he will get a life

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sentence which he does not mean because it will not be and you must

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serve a minimum of 20 years. What does that mean? The difficulty is

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that unless the judge has said that he will have a whole light sentence

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that does not mean a light sentence, what it means is that, he gives a

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determinate sentence and that means after heart of the determinate

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sentence, suppose 20 years, the person would be only eligible to

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apply for parole. It then goes before the board, normally presided

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at on by a judge and a psychiatrist... Is it clear that

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when the judge said that you must serve 20 years, he does not mean

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that? He is hamstrung unfortunately by the system. He does mean it. But

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it means the person concerned is eligible for parole. It does not

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mean they will get it but that he is eligible to what might. Are we

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being calmed? -- eligible to what life. -- are we being hoodwinked?

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Many people think a life sentence does mean life. I do think that if

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a judge says you must do 10 years that people think it will be 10 but

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you are saying it is alive. When he -- saying it is five. When you say

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it is 20 years, he can apply after 10. What I would like to say is

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that it is the Parole Board themselves, I think the system is

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wrong. This is an example for you. Prior to my attack, he came up on

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parole in 2007 and basically he got somebody to go on to that bought

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and that policeman told to the Brit lies which helped his release. --

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to that Parole Board and old lies which helped his release. -- told

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lies. He basically them was told that the matter cannot be taken up

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further because the Parole Board is not under oath. Definite changes

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are needed. We must stop there. Thank you for coming in. It is time

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for the 62nd round up. -- 60 seconds or stop --. The leader on

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the council in Bristol was forced to resign. The party is completely

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divided on whether to work with the new city Mayer. Councillors from

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all parties had agreed to join the Cabinet but Labour Party members

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were overruled by head office. Two West councils have promised to

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spend �50,000 each to help flooding victims. Money will go to people

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that have at homes flooded in rain. We are going to houses that have

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become flooded or almost but it. We are getting back information. That

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will dig into the system and that will help us decide where to put

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defences in future. Lord Justice Leveson talk about the injustice of

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people affected by the press. Christopher Jefferies, the

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schoolteacher from Bristol said that his name had been tarnished

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We can pick up on one of these stories and that is the Labour

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Party decision not to work with the Cabinet in Bristol with the

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Independent Meyer George Ferguson after her as saying that they would.

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What is going on? -- First saying. We need to work in the best

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interests of Bristol as councils always do. If I had been asked to

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serve in his Cabinet I would want to know the direction in which he

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is going and we do not yet at any policies or inkling of the

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budgetary position. You are asking him to take it a lot not knowing

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the facts. A wish politicians would -- by which politicians would grow

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up. We should stand up and say that I will work with George Ferguson. I

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was part of a delegation to get some changes on the public

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transport system. I could have let MPs out but I did not because you

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