A quick post about Lord Sewel and the law

This might be cocaine. Or it could be salt
This might be cocaine. Or it could be salt

There seems to be a lot of anger and outrage online over Lord Sewel. He allegedly snorted cocaine with hookers and made some disparaging comments about our Prime Minister of pork, while wearing ladies clothing. We know this because of an undercover newspaper sting.

The newspaper in question, The Sun, is appalled that the police didn’t prosecute him. The Met’s reason was their was lack of evidence.

Roy Greenslade of The Guardian, quite unusually, agrees with The Sun. It’s Greenslade’s piece, which you can read RIGHT HERE, that inspired me to quickly post this.

We can all sit in judgement over Lord Sewel, as many of us have been doing since the allegations were published. He cheated on his wife, with prostitutes, while allegedly taking coke. The shock, the horror.

Here’s the thing, under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act, you need to be in possession of said substance, for the police to charge you. There needs to be physical evidence, that can be tested in a lab,  for the police to be able to charge someone. The evidence needs to hold up in a court of law.  A photo of alleged drug use is not conclusive proof.

While the photos may depict Lord Sewel snorting something that is thought to be cocaine, the police have no way of confirming the composition of the substance from a photo. The police did search his property, but I am sure that if anything was there,  it was and cleared and cleaned very thoroughly before that search happened.

Someone could have sold Sewel powdered sugar. How could you tell the difference from a photo? You can’t. Without physical evidence, there would be no way to charge him.

It was the same with Nigella Lawson. She may have admitted to drug use, which is a perfectly legal thing to do, as long as you don’t have any drugs on your person. She didn’t.

Drugs are not illegal. What is illegal is the act of possession. You can’t make things illegal, only actions. Possession of a drug is the illegal act and you have to be in possession of drugs to be charged and prosecuted.

If the police could make arrests for being pictured taking drugs, then a lot of people posting to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram would be in a helluva lot of trouble. Do you think the police have the time to investigate every drug related photo posted to social media? And would that be enough proof to prosecute? Of course not!

Don’t get me wrong, if you post a photo of yourself online, taking drugs, you could still inspire a property search, so I wouldn’t recommend doing it. Though I’ve seen enough of of these sorts of photos online to know that any warning won’t matter. Lots of you out there in internetland, do it, every day.

All drugs should be decriminalised. What Lord Sewel or anyone else ingests, is a private concern and should be a health matter, rather than a criminal one.

Prosecuting drug use is a waste of time, money and resources, for the police, the courts and the media. The drugs laws do more harm than drugs ever could and you are more likely to have a worse outcome if you get in trouble with the law.

We can all feel morally superior to Lord Sewel, but it’s not a matter for law enforcement. The police have done the right thing by dropping this case. On the basis of the evidence and the law, it was the correct and only decision they could make.

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