Thursday, August 14, 2008

Drugs chief dumps on prohibition

A former British senior civil servant, who once ran the anti-drugs unit in the Cabinet Office, has described the present government policy of being tough on drugs as pointless. Julian Critchley says he now believes the best way to reduce the harm caused by drugs is to legalise them.

He clearly spells out that the main obstacle to this is politicians' fear of the tabloid press.

Here's a link to Critchley's BBC audio interview, and here's a link to a fuller BBC report.

What has this to do with Kings Cross? Well, on 21 August, two local residents groups are hosting a community summit to tackle the 'late-night booze fests' and 'alcohol-fuelled violence' that some of them constantly rail about. 

I guarantee that the the 'action plan' will do nothing to tackle one of the root causes of excessive alcohol consumption in this area: the harsh persecution of pot smokers via sniffer dogs (there were TWO dogs trawling the railway station barriers the other day). 

If you publicly search and humiliate up to 100 people per week in a precinct, most of whom are pot smokers, most won't come back and those who do will mainly be drinking, drinking, drinking. Years of this strategy must have greatly moved the demographics of our visitors towards alcohol abuse.

Still, some impressive speakers are listed at the 'summit' including Dr Alex Wodak and former KX Superintendent Mark Murdoch. And the meeting seeks "positive, practical, actionable and reasonable controls" as the outcome, which is encouraging.

The meeting is at St John's Church, Darlinghurst, 7.30pm, Thursday 21 August. 

[Pictured is an unusual view of St John's and the Top of the Town apartments shot from the newly restored turret of the Kings Cross Hotel.] 


The Editor said...

The prohibition debate seems far more advanced in the UK. Here's an intelligent, evidence-based assessment of the ineffectiveness of 'tough on drugs' policies.

And here's a BBC blog with a great roundup of the arguments, including a couple of real fascists who want all drug users executed -- like, death is less harmful than drug use? Smart. Julian Critchley chimes in at comment #73.

Terry Wright said...

How can we have a serious debate in this country with political extremists like Ann Bressington, Colin Barnett, Dizzy Donna Faragher, Morris Iemma, Michael Atkinson, Chris Pyne, Bronwyn Bishop, Peter Debnam, Nicola Roxon, Chris Ellison etc.

Barry Ward said...

I have just discovered the Kings Cross Times blog and refer to your articles on Juanita Nielsen.
Some of your readers may know my name or even recall meeting me when Tony Reeves and I conducted our investigation into the killing back in the 1970s. The following is one of many articles I have written on the subject over the years. It will enlighten those who may not have been around at the time. The battle continues……

July will bring the 33rd anniversary of the murder of Kings Cross newspaper publisher Juanita Nielsen. It will also mark another year in the silent conspiracy of corruption that surrounds what may have been the crime of the century in NSW.

When Tony Reeves and I began our journalistic investigation back in 1975 we described it as the story of a lifetime, then The Story That Won't Go Away. For three decades we've been rebuffed in our attempts to force a commission of inquiry, to expose the truth behind this sordid tale of police and political corruption, of betrayal and heinous brutality.

But the story hasn't gone away, and neither have I -- although I was forced to leave Australia because of my activities.

The story surfaced again recently with the publication of a book whose author claimed to have found a witness with new evidence. I wrote a critique showing that his book was merely an extension of the official version of events, the cover-up, and e-mailed it to all of the Sydney media. Even though I am well know to most of them and the fact that my critique contained some astonishing facts only one editor bothered to reply and that to tell me that he preferred the police story!

This shouldn't really have surprised me. Our erstwhile colleagues in the Sydney media have long been not merely ambivalent but antagonistic in their approach to this story and to Tony and I. Orchestrated by the PR Dept of the NSW Police, they have accepted the official version of events without the slightest attempt at corroboration. Even though they all reviewed the book they wouldn't consider my critique of it, just as they ignored a major story that touched upon the case back in 1975.

Let me explain. In the course of our investigation Tony and I traced Eddie Trigg, the last person said to have seen Juanita alive. Within minutes we had been beaten up, abducted and handed over the Darlinghurst Police who threw us into jail for the night. "A good yarn," we agreed, when the goose bumps had abated. There was more good copy to come.

We pleaded not guilty to the spurious charge of being found drunk in Darlinghurst and, thanks to two pro bono barristers, fought the case as it lasted eight days over as many months. The charge was eventually dismissed but not before the case, which also involved two QC's on "watching briefs" for unidentified clients, had set two legal precedents. Another good yarn, we agreed. The transcript ran to 175,000 words.

But not one of those words was reported by the Sydney media. Like our allegations surrounding the killing of Juanita, the story was ignored. It might never have happened.

No one wants to know the truth about the Nielsen conspiracy. My rationale is that the political implications are too far-reaching, too dangerous. That, though, doesn't explain the shameful attitude of Sydney's journalists. They are a disgrace to the calling that Tony and I love.

If you'd care to read my critique of the Rees book and get an insight into what Tony and I achieved you can do so courtesy of the only branch of the Sydney media not afraid to run it. It was published without question by Fiona Prior on the Henry Thornton current affairs website. Read it by clicking on to the hyperlink below: No, there was no response to it, legally or officially…….

I have written a novel which bears more than a passing resemblance to the Nielsen conspiracy but, like their media colleagues, Sydney’s publishers have proved ambivalent. So I have self-published it Those who wish may download it at

My warmest regards to those Victoria Street residents and other caring folk who may remember me.

Barry Ward