Cooped Up on the Independent Advisory Group

We were shocked to read a tweet by @Lady_ClaireUK on Twitter today.

“A supposedly-neutral member of the Independent Advisory Group for , Brian Coope, is also a member of a astroturf group, lobbying for Cuadrilla. This group & its members have been reported for harassment & incitement to violence”

It seems that Brian Coope is a member of “Member of the Independant (sic) Advisory Group (IAG) ” for Lancashire Police.


Mr Coope has just had a letter published in the local press, in which he claims to be one of 500 people who have formed the group called Reclaim the Road.

 

Could this be the same Reclaim The Road whose vile output we highlighted yesterday?

It surely could.

So here we have a member of an advisory group to the police whose role is described thus –

The purpose of the IAG is not one of scrutiny; rather it provides a safeguard against disadvantaging any section of our communities through a lack of understanding, ignorance or mistaken belief. A ‘critical friend’ is one who is of significant importance to the Constabulary, and it does not imply that they should necessarily be judgemental or censorious.

– apparently thinking that it is appropriate not only to claim allegiance to a fracking industry front group, but also to speak on behalf of such a group which condones hate speech against the disabled and other more generalised obscenity as we described in yesterday’s article.

Given the scandalous content of the Reclaim The Road  Facebook Page perhaps the Police should be asking themselves a few questions about who they allow onto their Independent Advisory Groups. It doesn’t really inspire confidence does it?

Afterword

Jim O’Neil became very upset when somebody posted a link to this post on the Blackpool Social and Political Issues Facebook page on Thursday, and there was a considerable amount of discussion. It’s a closed group. I held off from commenting until this morning when I posted this. I hope it clarifies any questions people may have.

As the author of the blog post concerned I have followed this thread with some interest.

I have to say that I am amazed that Jim has managed to argue for so long without clarifying that he is in fact a member of the Reclaim the Road group in question, and is a prominent pro-fracker who co-admins the Kirby Misperton Hydraulic Fracturing debate group.

Jim has posted on many occasions on the page referred to. I note that he has so far not risen to the challenge of providing the name of a single member of Reclaim the Road who is anti-fracking, yet most of the people supporting the public page are well known pro-fracking activists. We can’t know who makes up the membership of the associated closed group for obvious reasons.

Over two weeks ago somebody expressed disappointment to Jim that he was a member of a group whose content was so vile. Jim’s response was that he had “reported some comments on this page to admin because they are out of order”. The anonymous page admin, however, took no action, unless (and I suppose I have to admit this possibility) he or she deleted some material which was even more revolting than that which remained and is reproduced here http://www.refracktion.com/ind…/with-friends-like-these-2/. Jim perhaps you can clarify for us – did any posts get removed as a result of your contacting your group’s admin?

Two of the more egregious examples of the disgusting content on that page are that a wheelchair-bound ex Navy anti-fracking campaigner is referred to as “R2f*ckingD2” (without the asterisk), and threats are made about another anti-fracker to “screenshot all his family info …lol. Fat c*nt” (again without the asterisk). Interestingly that second post HAS been removed since it was highlighted in my article.

Moving on to my more recent article about Mr Coope. I don’t know him, but I am aware he does charity work and can only applaud that. However, he proclaims that he has “come together” with “over 500” others (494 actually) to form this group, which condones hate speech and repeated obscenities on its Facebook page. It is the fact that he is so proud of his association with this foul mouthed, thoroughly nasty group and trumpets it in his letter to the local press, which I believe makes his position on the advisory group questionable, more than any suggestion of a conflict of interest. If he is advising our local Police Force then his judgement here should at least be brought into question.

As has been pointed out here an advisory group should perhaps contain people with different life experience and opinions. However, I would expect membership of a group which permits hate speech and overt threats to preclude an individual from being involved with a *police* advisory group. I do, of course, realise that that is a matter of subjective opinion, and that a theoretical case could perhaps be made for including, say, Tommy Robinson on such a group in the interests of having input from all bodies of opinion.

I stand by my assessment that Reclaim the Road is a fracking industry front group. It is a closed membership group with a public page which appears to be supported solely by well-known pro-fracking activists, and has been advertised on pro-fracking groups like the infamous Backing Fracking. It also recently failed in its attempt to get the local press to publish an article smearing local anti-fracking activists by association with a murder suspect. (https://www.facebook.com/…/a.221361…/221361981815576/…) This had nothing to do with roads and everything to do with pro-fracking activism. Even Johnstone Press wouldn’t touch that press release yet the group claims it is being unfairly censored. My own view is that Johnstone Press can see exactly what is going on here and don’t wish to be used as a tool by the pro-fracking PR machine. If Reclaim The Road believe this is an unfair assessment maybe they should change their closed group to an open one so we can all see for ourselves? I won’t be holding my breath.

My intention in writing the article linked to was not, as Jim claims, to “name and shame people for having an opinion which differs from them”. Mr Coope can hold whatever opinions he wishes. His published opinion that opponents of fracking are “law-breaking rent-a-mobs” is quite offensive to me as I oppose fracking and have never been paid to do so nor have I ever broken the law. He is, however, entitled to hold that opinion. In my view, however, expressing such prejudiced opinions in public doesn’t sit well with being on an independent police advisory group. That is of course again just my opinion.

More troubling to me, and the reason I wrote the article, is the fact that Mr Coope is linked, by his own admission, with a group that permits and condones hate speech, threats and repeated obscenity on its outward facing social media platform.

Jim, even you admitted that the content was “out of order” so I fail to see why you take such furious exception to this issue being highlighted.

It seems to me to be perfectly legitimate to raise the question “Given the scandalous content of the Reclaim The Road Facebook Page perhaps the Police should be asking themselves a few questions about who they allow onto their Independent Advisory Groups”. You may believe that the police should answer those questions differently than I do, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to suggest that the questions should be asked.

It may be of course that Mr Coope simply isn’t aware of the horrible content condoned by the group he claims to have helped form. It seems unlikely, but if that is the case then maybe he needs to have a think about who he is publicly associating himself with. After all, a man is known by the company he keeps.

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