The Crucifixion of Charlie Alliston
The news haulage industry ran a show trial to pave the way for oppressive laws on cycling and transport minister, Jesse Norman, has just made the official announcement.
Part one dealt with how the news haulage industry perverted the course of justice ahead of bicycle courier, Charlie Alliston’s unprecedented prosecution for manslaughter, and here in part two, I will look at the wider media war on cycling during the trial.
The Show Trial
The main features of a show trial are (1) a heavily publicised prosecution where (2) authorities already have decided guilt and (3) intent is influencing wider opinion rather than ensuring corrective justice.
The life of Kim Briggs was sadly lost, February 12th 2016. She died after stepping out onto Old Street in east London, giving eighteen-year-old, Charlie Alliston, cycling by just seconds to take avoiding action. Court evidence states he reduced speed, had right of way, shouted warnings, then swerved but tragically heads collided, leaving Briggs with fatal brain trauma from which she never recovered.
Perhaps inside living memory if not beyond, this is the first case where a fixed gear bicycle was involved in the death of a pedestrian. In comparison HGVs are 5% of London traffic but cause 20% of cycling fatalities, and kill any sort of vulnerable road user weekly. Even as I’m writing, there are muted reports of two drivers, one hurling a HGV and the other a car, having collided to crash onto the pavement severing the leg off someone securing a bicycle. Yet despite this but also because of this (which will become clear later), at the Old Bailey August 14th, Alliston faced the unprecedented charge of criminal manslaughter which carries a potential for life imprisonment. He was found not guilty, but guilty for a lesser offence of “wanton and furious cycling” and now faces 18 months in prison.
Worse for Alliston and following a two week nationwide deliberately orchestrated anti-cycling perjury campaign, an even more hysterical frenzy ran during trial. Some one-hundred-and-fifty articles — many salacious and deceptive — flooded through the likes of the Dail Mail, Evening Standard, Guardian, Metro, Times and Mirror. TV coverage was daily. BBC ran scare videos with alarming soundtracks implying Alliston was street racing at the time. On BBC radio, news-actor Tony Livesey by name and lie did he by nature, exaggerated the spin:
In trying to emulate something he’s seen in [Lucas Brunnel’s courier racing] movies [Charlie Alliston has] taken his front brakes off — I’m just saying if you start to go on the wrong side of the road, go the wrong way up a one way street, and take your brakes off you run the risk of harming other people.
Alliston hadn’t taken his brakes off, was on the correct side of the road, was on a two-way street, had right of way, and certainly was not street-racing. Collision speed was estimated at 12mph. Later, the interview containing the above quote was diced into an even more provocative and misleading video, with discussion of Alliston overlayed onto footage of people cycling into people, on pavements and ignoring traffic signals.
On ITV, Richard Madeley, an ITV news-actor and long-term employee of haulier Archie Norman, even feigned aneurysm on morning television over Alliston and children being able to cycle without insurance. Quite how shifting financial liabilities outside the person increases personal responsibility, or how insurance would have saved Briggs isn’t clear. It’s as if all the apparent media concern was disingenuous and some other agenda was at play. Indeed, behind the scenes lay the Press Association directing events and generating as much negative publicity as possible.
In contrast was the prosecution of Jessica Wells. At the same courthouse as Alliston during the same week, she pleaded guilty on August 21st to death by careless driving and was given a non-custodial sentence. She killed Ian Rose speeding at 44mph, undertaking vehicles and not looking at the road ahead. Using Google news search, Wells has received precisely two articles. A similar search for Alliston returns over thirteen-thousand. Exactly how many people now have minds imprinted with the case of Kim Briggs compared to Ian Rose is unknowable, but one can easily suspect that 13000-to-2 is a gross underestimate and the true figure is in the millions.
Authorities Had Already Decided Guilt
The case against Charlie Alliston was orchestrated by the Crown Prosecution Service, and police went above and beyond providing spurious evidence for the failed manslaughter charge. This is the same pair who refused to prosecute a killer driver, Gail Purcell after she ran down a lit-up Michael Mason despite him cycling directly in the centre of her field of view. Purcell’s explanation to police was literally the following:
“I just didn’t see him … didn’t know if it was a pedestrian or if something had come from the sky, a bag of potatoes.”
Purcell didn’t see Mason cycling directly in front on a well lit road, didn’t see herself hit Mason, nor see him smashed across the bonnet and up over the driver’s side windshield. The police accepted this admission of guilt as legitimate defence deciding Purcell had no case to answer. The Mason family was then forced to crowd-fund a private prosecution because the CPS had already decided Purcell was not guilty.
In contrast the Briggs have been indulged with every judicial and extra-judicial mechanism to secure a swift prosecution. The Press Association have been micro-managing public relations in their favour. The Daily Mail’s influence even included pressuring the judge for perjury charges claiming Alliston gave an incorrect account of his employment history. Field Fisher, an expensive law firm, has started on a private prosecution and is working pro bono. Harry Windsor literally provided victim support.
Influencing Wider Opinion Rather than Ensuring Justice
Intent couldn’t be more obvious because this has been overtly stated. The outrageous demands fronted by Kim Brigg’s widower mirror those lobbied for by news pundits in the lead up to the trial. Both want cycling to be treated on par with motoring, and integrated into the Road Traffic Act. Matt Briggs has been cool and calculated, indicative of considerable media training. He’s always on point and repeating rehearsed slogans but ones easily easily refuted. His main claim is that the law is out dated and insufficient to deal with fatal cycling collisions, yet they secured a prison sentence longer than given to most killer drivers, and the same section of “antiquated” law deals with all forms of bodily harm. Briggs also revealed his crusade to change the law was encouraged by “those in authority” prior to him going public. Although he focuses on introducing a “death by careless or dangerous cycling” law, his broadest statements imply a far greater scope.
Today transport minister, Jesse Norman, made the announcement that cycling will become increasingly illegal:
“The first phase will analyse the case for creating a new offence equivalent to causing death or serious injury by careless or dangerous driving to help protect both cyclists and pedestrians. This phase will be informed by independent legal advice and the conclusions are expected to be reported in the New Year.
The second phase will be a wider consultation on road safety issues relating to cycling. It will involve a range of road safety and cycling organisations, as well as the general public and will consider different ways in which safety can be further improved between cyclists, pedestrians and motorists. It will consider the rules of the road, public awareness, key safety risks and the guidance and signage for all road users.”
One. Two. Three.
And as if by magic, Trinity Mirror pre-empted the announcement a few hours earlier with a curious reader’s letter in their fake local news brand, the Bristol Post:
Bristol Post reader says ‘cyclists are not above the law’ as he demands proficiency test and MOTs
I am sure that writing this letter will no doubt elevate my non status to that of a ‘folk devil’ to the two-wheeled brigade, but in making my point I am prepared to incur their wrath.
To avoid any misunderstandings I would like to make it plain that not all of the cycling fraternity are habitual law breakers but that a number most certainly are.
To weed out the wheat from the chaff, would a cycling licensing scheme and compulsory proficiency test not be a sensible move?
Also would a cycle MOT test not weed out the idiots such as Charlie Alliston, the idiot who mowed down Kim Briggs on a bike with no front brakes? He showed no remorse.
Would it be so unpalatable to the cycling brigade if the law was updated to bring cyclists into parity with other road users?
The archaic law from 1961 […he meant 1891…] under which Mr Alliston was prosecuted does not fit the modern environment. Why should cyclists not be subjected to the road traffic laws in line with other road users? Finally insurance should be compulsory for cyclists as it is for other road users. Cyclists are road users and are not a special case.
I feel that these proposals are moderate and sensible, but of course the cycling brigade think that they have a special place in society and should be protected from the law, whatever the consequences of their actions.
I suspect “Keith from Cotham” was more likely Mr Simon Hill from the Press Association, and I’m not joking. It’s clear that the death of Kim Briggs has been exploited to provide the emotional blackmail and pretext for a calculation of oppressive anti-cycling laws the road haulage industry has long been wanting.
In part 3, I will explain exactly what they are demanding, why they desperately need them, and how it has nothing to do with concern for victims of road violence. As cycling hasn’t changed for over 100 years, there’s only one new phenomenon that requires whole scale rewrite of the Road Traffic Act, and funnily enough they arrive in earnest from next year. They can’t admit their technology is inherently dangerous, overhyped, and over-promised, so pretend to be needing these “cycling safety” laws for the greater good.
Part 3 actually turned out to be a wider look at how news print hauliers have attacked other forms of transport, part 4 will look at the Road Traffic Act. For those following along the links are below.
- A Daily Mail & Trinity Mirror Anti-Cycling Hate Campaign
- The Crucifixion of Charlie Alliston
- First they came for the cyclists…