Wednesday, 9 June 2010

SOCA: Tax Evasion, Fraud and Mortgage Anomalies Cited in Dawn Raid

Tax evasion, fraud and mortgage anomalies cited in dawn raid.

Forgive me the Tabloid Headline and any disappointment that the story is not about the McCanns, but in the words of yer man, I can resist anything but temptation.

But it is about the McCanns at the end of the day, as is every other story that can be used as a comparison to highlight the politically motivated use of police powers to persecute the innocent or to protect the guilty.

Have at it.

Is SOCA a front for MI5?


IT’S a familiar story. They arrive at dawn to kick in your door while the media provides the kind of political cover that avoids public disquiet. Facts are distorted, lies told and then the circus moves on, for everyone but those who have been targeted. Their lives and livelihoods are disrupted, their reputations smeared and prospects darkened. As one raiding officer from the Serious Organised Crime Agency candidly told Seán Hughes last month: “It’s payback time.”
Seán Hughes is a highly-respected republican from south Armagh and as a member of Sinn Féin has been at the fore in calling for people to support the Peace Process. Significantly, Seán has also been an active advocate for the transformation of policing and transfer of powers.

Two weeks ago, his home was raided by officers from the London-based Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). SOCA had obtained a High Court order to freeze Seán’s bank accounts, the accounts of six family members and four others. As a result, Seán Hughes, a sheep and cattle farmer, and other members of his extended family now face financial ruin. Not because anyone has been found guilty of any crime, let alone serious organised crime, but simply because SOCA has decided to cut off all financial access, whether personal or business. SOCA is unlike other kinds of enforcement agencies in at least two significant ways. Firstly, it relies on hearsay rather than evidence; and, for those it targets, the presumption of innocence is removed.

Without access to funding, Seán cannot buy feed for his livestock. His brothers, both local contractors, now have no means to pay the wages of those they employ. Even the family’s 76-year-old mother has had her life savings frozen. “I’ve a wife and four children and I don’t know how we’re going to survive,” said Seán.

SOCA claimed their actions against Seán Hughes were based upon suspected tax evasion, benefit fraud and inaccurate information used to secure a mortgage. And yet, curiously, none of the agencies directly involved – Social Security, Inland Revenue or any mortgage company – has taken any action or raised any concern about alleged irregularities. Furthermore, the PSNI has more than adequate powers and personnel to investigate any such allegations in the normal way.

Clearly questions need be asked as to why an organisation established under the auspices of tackling global criminal conspiracies, organised drug, sex and people trafficking appears so intent upon destroying the reputation and livelihood of a south Armagh farmer who has been accused of relatively minor offences.

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) was established in April 2006 following legislation enacted in the British parliament the previous year. SOCA emerged out of a number of draconian measures enacted in the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005. The act also included restrictions on the right to protest as well as changes to rules governing powers of arrest and use of search warrants.

SOCA is funded by the British Home Office but is described as independent. Its founding head was former MI5 chief Stephen Lander, recently replaced by a top Ministry of Defence civil servant, Ian Andrews. SOCA has been described as an “intelligence agency” which has a role of “reducing harm”, not specifically the arrest and conviction of offenders.

According to their own website, SOCA officers are empowered to perform a number of surveillance roles traditionally associated with British Military Intelligence. In other words, SOCA is primarily a covert organisation, probably running agents and involved in dirty tricks and black propaganda. more An Phoblacht

Photo taken from one of the ubiquitous US bad cop blogs that understandably litter the web.

Here's one bit nearer to home that I haven't had chance until now, to have a look at.
Opens with the SOCA tag:

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