Norman Scarth

Norman-Scarth

Page last updated Monday 2nd September 2013 at 1125hrs

Between 1941 and 1945, hundreds of merchant vessels left Loch Ewe – as well as the Clyde and ports in Iceland – to deliver supplies, weapons and ammunition to the northern Soviet Union ports of Arkhangelsk (Archangel) and Murmansk. They were escorted by ships of the Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and U.S. Navy and, together, battled extreme weather and German bombardment from U-boats, Junkers 88 aircraft and battleships. It was crucial to the ultimate Allies’ Second World War success to keep a vital supply line with Russia open. Winston Churchill said the Arctic Convoy mission was “the most dangerous journey in the world“.

Eighty-five merchant vessels and sixteen Royal Navy warships were lost and over 3,000 men died during the convoys but one who survived the dense fog, 60 feet waves, icy cold seas, and enemy guns, was the young HMS Matchless sailor, Norman Scarth. He was just 18 years old when his destroyer (pictured above left) was part of the battle on Boxing Day 1943 that saw the sinking of Germany’s bravest and most feared warship, the Scharnhorst by fourteen vessels of the Royal Navy’s Home Fleet,
including the battleship, HMS Duke of York. There are a significant number of West Yorkshire Police officers and members of the judiciary in the North of England who wish it was Scarth who had perished in the freezing Arctic Ocean that night.

The first Norman Scarth brush with the law came in 1949 when he was fined the princely sum of five shillings ‘For Being At Such A Distance From His Horse & Cart As Not To Have Proper Control Of It’.  He had no further contact with the law until at the age of 70 he featured much more famously as Applicant in the case Scarth v. United Kingdom at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR 33745/96) which resolved that private hearings in small claims arbitration at county courts breached Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It was an extraordinary victory by a litigant in person (a modest farmer who had left school at the age of 13), against the might of the state, and forced changes in Civil Procedure Rules (commonly known as CPR) which were introduced in 1999 to avoid further breaches.

Since that time, Norman Scarth (pictured above centre) has waged a one man war against the police and Court system that has divided opinions sharply. In some quarters he is regarded as a justice campaigner extraordinaire, whilst the opposite view is best represented by Deputy High Court Judge Richard Mawrey QC who told a specially convened hearing of a High Court election petition, held in Bradford City Hall, that Scarth was a “crazed old man” who shouted “anything, however offensive,  insulting, threatening, racist, homophobic, sexist, or downright barmy”.

Mr Scarth vehemently denies that he would ever make such remarks. Judge Mawrey after hearing of his arrest on polling day by police acting ‘on orders from above’ said, You have presented your case admirably Mr Scarth, both verbally & in writingand then went on to describe Scarth as a man convinced he was the victim of a conspiracy, which was tested further upon conviction of wounding in 2001 and served four years in prison, followed by two  years in a psychiatric hospital. He said: “In Mr Scarth’s universe he is the noble fighter for justice and the rule of law who, despite appalling levels of official persecution, has refused to be silenced and continues the  struggle, bloody but unbowed. In the real world, inhabited by the rest of us, Mr Scarth is a disturbed, clearly paranoid and, occasionally, violent old man who is a persistent minor public irritant.” Mr Scarth had persisted with an election petition to the High Court in a bid to declare the results of a Manningham local council election void after polling just 66 votes, while the winning candidate, Councillor Mohammad Amin, gained  2,319. Norman Scarth branded the Judge “a liar” as he left the Court during his summing up. The front page of the following day’s Bradford Telegraph & Argus is pictured top right. Giving judgment against Scarth, Judge Mawrey ordered that the £2,500 already paid should be forfeit, and awarded a further £46,600 costs against Scarth, to be paid to Bradford Council (who had paid that amount to include the retaining of top lawyers from London).  The Council have recovered only £6,500, seized from Scarth’s bank account, this being every last penny of his meagre life savings. Winter Fuel Payment & Cold Weather Payments made to old folks to ensure they do not die of hypothermia were also siezed according to Mr Scarth.  Bradford Council demanded that Scarth pay the outstanding £40,000, and accepted his offer of £1 per week, which will take him some 800 years to repay.

In this narrative we will focus mainly on Norman Scarth’s contact with West Yorkshire Police and assimilate whether there is substance to his persecution claims by reference to officers common to his case, and others covered on the uPSD website, or in the types of incidents in which he has played a central part.  His various skirmishes with the Courts in Manchester and London that have led ultimately to his exile in Ireland are well documented on the internet and by reference to newspaper cuttings. We will only touch on them briefly in this piece. However, the established fact that Norman Scarth is a difficult, and litigious, individual should not encourage police to break the law in their dealings with him in order to simply and, beligerently, exert their will.

The first incident involving Scarth and West Yorkshire Police took place on Sunday 9th August 1999 in Chapel Allerton, Leeds where it appears, on their own written admission, that the police interceded in what appeared to be a minor civil dispute by sending six officers (including one in riot gear) to try and force entry into a property that Norman Scarth was occupying following the death after a long illness of a friend, Denis Roberts, an ex-Royal Marine Commando, who had been wounded on D-Day.  Denis was suffering from terminal cancer, but was living longer than doctors predicted. Both of them widowers, both of them WW2 veterans, Norman Scarth had gone to live with Denis because he needed a live-in carer.  An onerous task, but Scarth was happy to take it on for an old comrade in arms.. After the police had been lawfully refused entry (there was no warrant or no offence alleged to have been committed) they radioed for a battering ram and riot shields. Because a crowd of concerned neighbours had gathered, they did not use the battering ram but, instead, laid siege to the house for three hours before backing off. Acting Inspector McGee saying, “We have decided this is not a police matter”. A subsequent letter from Inspector Reynolds at Chapeltown, dated 12th October 1999, confirms that it was ‘a civil matter being resolved by the parties solicitors’. uPSD have seen a copy of this letter together with a copy of the letter from Leeds City Cllr Amanda Carter complaining to Chief Superintendent, Frank Farmer. Cllr Carter has known Norman Scarth since she was a child and spoke of him as a ‘kind, gentle, caring man’. He had bred racehorses for her father. Cllr Carter’s husband, Andrew Carter, is the current Leader of the Conservative Group on Leeds City Council. A complaint was then made by Councillor Lorna Cohen – a neighbour of Scarth’s – to the now discredited former West Yorkshire Police Authority, at the time chaired by yet another Leeds City Councillor Neil ‘Tiger’ Taggart. However, on this occasion the feline colossus did not bare his teeth. Promising to look into the matter, after a return from holiday, there is no evidence that he ever did.

Needless to say, Norman Scarth (by then aged 74) was in some distress during and after this ‘incident’ and dared leave the house only three times during the next 11 months, imprisoned by his fear. A second incident at the same Gledhow Park Grove property, in June 2000, did see a forced entry by Leeds County Court bailiffs, Alan Teale and Lynden Evans, and the same West Yorkshire Police. On this occasion the entry was authorised by a Court stamped Possession Order (Scarth claims the Order had been obtained by forgery and fraud. It was, therefore, alleged to be bogus). In the skirmishes that followed both Teale and Scarth suffered injuries that required hospital treatment. It was also to lead to a six year prison sentence for Scarth after he had allegedly attacked Teale with a chainsaw and tried to stab Evans with a knife. He was found guilty of wounding bailiff Alan Teale with intent to cause him grievous bodily harm in April 2001 at Sheffield Crown Court. Judge David Bentley said he believed that Scarth’s motive for the attack was to get himself prosecuted to provide a platform to air grievances about police and the judiciary. He said: “You have shown no remorse. In the police van you were heard chuckling and, when you were asked why, you said you were amused by the injury to Mr Teale.” The judge also said Scarth was rude and abusive to witnesses at his trial, calling the bailiffs “wimps” and added: “I believe there is a substantial risk of you committing violent offences in the future. Your behaviour during your trial demonstrates you are highly aggressive and have little or no control. I am satisfied that you are possessed, obsessive and labour under the delusion that you are a victim of judicial persecution.” He concluded: “I bear in mind your hitherto good character, and your service record, but this remains a very grave offence.” It seemed an extraordinary sentence and damning judgement on a 75 year old man with no previous record. He was released from prison four years later (aged alsmost 80 and weighing just over 50kgs) but immediately taken to Newton Lodge Mental Hospital in Wakefield and later to a similar institution in Bradford where he spent, between the two hospitals, a further two years.

In July 2011, Norman Scarth was to see the inside of a prison again when sentenced to six months jail, for contempt of court, as a result of recording a Bradford Crown Court hearing presided over by Judge Jonathan Rose He was using a device concealed in a pen and his summary sentence (without trial) was passed with the judge’s remark that he had “contempt for all lawyers and judges”.  Section 9 (1) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 makes it an offence to take into a court, or use, a tape recorder or other sound-recording instrument, without the court’s permission, and to publish any such recording of legal proceedings. In September 2011, the Appeal Court reduced the sentence to 12 weeks less one day and he was immediately released. Lord Justice Pitchford stated: “Having had the benefit of information about the background, which was not available to the judge and could not have been since Mr Scarth refused to take part, we are quite satisfied that the public interest is not served by the continued imprisonment of this 85-year-old man without in any way reflecting upon the correctness of the decision made by the judge at the time.” He added, “He (Scarth) is an unusual individual in that the nature of his personality disorder means that he is not one of those who is likely to see the error of his ways and, to use technical language, purge his contempt.”

An earlier interaction with West Yorkshire Police had been on 25th June 2011 when, following a letter sent to Chief Supertintendent Alison Rose the previous day, Norman Scarth received a visit from D/Insp John Priestley & D/Sgt Lofthouse. Using the old ‘Henry Root’ trick of enclosing a cash gift with a letter to a previously reticent public official, Scarth had sent a £50 note along with his missive to C/Supt Rose, who had been ignoring his complaints and correspondence for months. Priestley and Lofthouse gained entry to the block of flats and presented themselves at the old warrior’s door. They were greeted in time-honoured guard fashion: “Halt, Who Goes There? Friend or Foe?”  “Friend” came the reply.  Looking through the door spyhole, Scarth did not recognise them, so opened the door with the security chain on.  DI Priestley said, “I’ve come to return some money from C/Supt Rose.  Can we come in for a moment?”  It was explained to them that if they had anything to say to Scarth to put it in writing and the door was then shut.  The police officers persisted that they only wanted to return the money, so the door was opened again, with the chain on.  Eventually, they departed after putting a cheque for £50 under the door.  However, they also left something else: It was an Allegation of Harassment Warning (Sometimes referred to as a Police Improvement Notice (PIN)).  It stated in the space reserved for details of alleged conduct: “Written communication sent to Chief Superintendent Rose of the West Yorkshire Police on 24th June 2011 making unnecessary reference to her family and causing undue personal harassment”. Now, to put this into context Scarth’s letter (seen by uPSD) is a three line affair that essentially states that he is going to take out criminal and civil actions against Rose, a very senior officer with 31 years service and also married to a police officer, requests her home address for service of proceeedings and encloses the aforementioned money as a gift to her daughter. Unless we are missing something, either Rose was in the wrong role (since retired) or she was abusing her position as a police chief superintendent. Something for which she has ‘previous’. A year earlier Mrs Rose had made national headlines when it was discovered she had charged West Yorkshire Police £1,500 to decorate her office with three paintings she had, effectively, bought from herself. Read full press coverage by clicking here. The incident also begs the question of proportionality and why a well-known CID inspector, and his bagman, are delivering PIN’s which is the usual remit of the local beat bobby or PCSO. It also troubles the legal mind insofar as harassment can only occur, in the eyes of the law, if there is a ‘course of conduct’ likely to cause ‘distress and alarm’ to the victim. This is evidenced, normally, by not less than two incidents. There is no reference to anything other than the letter dated 24th June on the PIN. Given the speed with which the two senior detectives acted, that is hardly surprising. Also, rather different to what a member of the public can expect after dialling 101 where they might be lucky to see a police officer 4 or 5 days later.

Subterfuge also played a part in a further interaction with the same Force three months later when, on 29th September 2011, in Norman Scarth’s own words, “I was making a protest in a public place, asking Judge Jonathan Rose to resign. Someone thought fit to call the police: At first they were aggressive towards me, but then realised I was doing nothing unlawful. One of them said, ‘I will stay to protect you.’” A postscript to that incident was Judge Rose making a complaint and on 26th October 2011 a posse of police officers arrived at his sheltered accommodation in Bradford. They were assisted in entering the secure lobby of the 42 flat secured block by the housing warden, Jackie Pullan. She also allowed the police entry to the vacant flat next door to that occupied by Norman Scarth. To gain entry to his flat a plain-clothed policewoman knocked on his flat door and said “My grandma is moving in next door, but is having problems with the refrigerator switching. Can you help please?”  Wearing pyjamas at the time, the gallant Scarth said “Of course I will, just wait till I get dressed”, put on his trousers, shirt & flip-flops & went the few yards to the next door, leaving his own door open. As he reached the next door flat, 4 or 5 male police officers pounced, snapped handcuffs on him and told him he was under arrest. In considerable shock, he asked them to let him switch off his computer and cooker – and lock his door.  The police refused, dragging him to Bradford’s Trafalgar House police station. He was kept there for 14 hours, subjected to questioning by what 86 year old Scarth has described as “an exceptionally nasty policewoman”. He was eventually bailed and released at midnight to make his own way home, his skimpy attire quite inadequate for the cold weather. Whilst detained at the police station, having prevented him from closing his flat door, they had entered Scarth’s home (without either a Section 18 or 32 warrant), unlawfully seized his computer, mobile phone, loud hailer & other unspecified items.  That siezed property remains the focus of an ongoing dispute between Norman Scarth and West Yorkshire Police as the latter steadfastly refuse to return the items to Scarth at his nominated address in Ireland. The siezing of a loud hailer, as an evidence exhibit, will no doubt tax some of the legal brains that visit the uPSD website.

Following three adjourned committal hearings at Leeds Magistrates Court before District Judge Roy Anderson, Scarth was sent at the third attempt to Manchester City Magistrates Court for trial on offences related to distributing leaflets about Judge Rose. He was, at a second hearing there, ultimately fined £150 and ordered to pay £500 costs. Before the first, adjourned, trial Scarth sought refuge in the Republic of Ireland to avoid the effects of a warrant for his arrest, issued by District Judge Jonathan Taaffe. The Order states that there is to be no bail granted if Norman Scarth is arrested. A further Directive bans him from making any public reference to Judge Rose. The complaint that Norman Scarth made to West Yorkshire Police concerning the circumstances and legality of his arrest – and subsequent detention at Bradford police station -was contempuously dismissed in December 2012 by none other than the infamous ‘sex in the sauna’ policewoman, DCI Liz Belton. More on her nationally-known exploits can be read by clicking  here.

Even with the main protaganists both under duress at present; the aging Scarth still self-exiled in the Republic of Ireland and West Yorkshire Police coming under ferocious attack over serious corruption allegations from many quarters, we are sure that this is a story with several twists of the ‘tale’ left in it, yet.