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Political & civils rights advocate, animal lover & state co-ordinator for the Australian Federation Party

Standing up for your rights is becoming a dangerous ideology

Several months ago, I was in the middle of exposing the RSPCA and their actions in relation to Moorook shelter. What I was meant to be doing, was mediating between the two, but what ended up happening in fact was I ended up holding the RSPCA and the local council to account.

In this day and age, it appears the bigger corporations, believe they are above the law, and when someone pulls them up on their actions, they become the enemy, and that was me.

Legal threats are one thing and easy to get passed when you are doing the right thing, well most of the time, but it seems in this case, the RSPCA are not used to scrutiny of any form, so they called in a few SAPOL mates to sort me out, well so it appeared to me.

On the way home from Moorook one day, for the third time, I was warned to back off, and those that know me, can guess what my reply was, so later that night the police dropped into my home, and for no legal reason at all, confiscated my firearms, my wife's as well, without giving any reason, although the early threats were an explanation of their own.

I immediately took them to task, with the help of one of the states more honest upper house politicians; this included parliamentary demands, a police complaints application and a letter of demand to the commissioner of police.

The result was unexpected, with SAPOL arriving again unannounced wanting my DNA, telling me they had the right to take a sample by force, and as I had customers on site, it seemed best to allow them to take a sample.

Again this was a lie, because when they left I read the forensic procedures act, and they had no right to a sample, you see, to take a sample, I had to have committed a crime, or as a bare minimum, they had to be considering charging me with a crime of a serious nature, and neither were the case.

The same officers made it clear, they could make something up, and even though it may not stand up in court, they would then get there way, this I have recorded.

The police complaints authority then sent an officer to meet with me, yes that is how it works, SAPOL investigate their own. Again I taped the whole ordeal, they confirmed the original complaint was from the RSPCA, but was without merit, so my assumption was the return of my fire arms.

My taping of such conversations is to ensure any comments made about my dealing are true in their words, for issues of public interests and to protect my best interests at law. INFO

Officers again attended my home to return only my wife's firearm, and to get it back she was forced to sign a waiver ensuring we could not hold the government or SAPOL to account, this has happened to me before, police around election time, use the technique, take my goods to send a message, and if I want them back, I have to sign away my rights, well this time I made it clear I would not sign away my rights ever again.

They also advised me the DNA sample had been destroyed because they had indeed breached the law, but was it, that we will never know.

So where to from here, the police still want my DNA, and still say they may charge me with not storing my firearms correctly, well that is not true, and if indeed they had issue, they could have by now charged me, as it has been months since the initial botched raid.

The very fact my fire arms have been checked in 2010 and 2012, and passed scrutiny, confirms that, and the officers themselves, have confirmed that fact, again I have this recorded, thank god I learned from other election campaigns to carry a hidden video recorder, to protect my best interests.

The big problem here is that to take DNA based on a suspect procedure, under the act, they need the approval of a high ranking officer, a report must be written, and it must explain why the DNA is needed and how it would help the case (and I may have representation during the application process) and fire arms storage issues, even if they existed are not good enough reason, so I have continued to refuse giving a sample.

I will add a link (HERE) to the protections we have as a community, in relation to our rights, but with the help of a more experienced legal mind, it has now become apparent that a large percentage of DNA taken in recent years, has been done against those protections, so a call to have an enquiry over this important matter would be an educated move. One I intend to demand.

On Sunday morning (18/8/13) at around 7.30, SAPOL officers attended my house while the wife and I were asleep, I awoke to the dogs barking, looking outside there were several officer on my property, so I threw on some clothes, and my video watch and went out to see what was going on, they said they had a warrant for my arrest to take DNA, which I asked to see.

They said they didn't have it on them, so I asked them to leave my property, and sighted the law in this respect, seems pulling them up on the law simply made them angry, so they pushed through my back fence and attacked me, they handcuffed me in a manner I was in pain, threatened my wife, nearly hitting her with their vehicle when she was asking me who to phone. (Recorded on video)

The drive to the station with my arms cuffed so firmly behind my back, without seating restraints, was a massive breach of my civil liberties, and a dangerous one at that, and I am still bruised and battered a week later as a result.

On arrival to the station, I again asked to see the warrant, and to make a phone call, both were denied, interestingly at no stage did they actually ask for or try to get my DNA.

I was told they had been told to keep me over night, and no Bail was to be granted, I was intimidated, and endured fingerprinting, then tossed into a freezing cell, not long later my solicitor arrived after being contacted by my wife and demanded to see me and the charges.

The warrant was not valid, and was stamped after my arrest, so a few calls later and I was released with an apology.

SAPOL still have my firearms, yet I still have a valid firearms licence and good go out today and buy a replacement to my target pistol, my requests to have them returned are ignored, and my video watch continued running in the station, so why I was arrested is shall we say, not so much a secret now.

As a federal candidate I have fought for the rights of my state and indeed my nation now for over a decade, so to bow to intimidation in relation to my own rights, was never going to be an option, because they day I do that, is the day I am no long worthy to protect the rights of my electorate.

I have no other option but to sue SAPOL for the false arrest, illegal detention and for the theft of my firearms. The sad part here is I knew the law, and still endured all of this, I can’t even start to imagine how many people who are less aware of their rights, are having them taken away and indeed abused.

Every one of us must make a formal complaint every time something like this happens to us, because the Police are employed by us to uphold the law, they are not as they appear to believe above it.

If you are wondering if this has all been a little politically based, well consider this, I have a huge file of police complaints, yet I have no criminal history or convictions, and the complaints are all dated around election dates, in which I have been a very loud candidate.

Imagine investing years of your life to build a profile of honesty, by leading by example, then to endure the headlines "Political candidate arrested and jailed" just when you were polling well, think about it.

The costs alone of the many court actions, and the damages I have endured as a result of police actions runs into the thousands, and never once have I been compensated, even when I have won in the courts, this all means?

Our system of Justice is broken, accountability is nowhere to be seen, and our police services need a total overhaul, an interesting point on the DNA side of this story is the words of SAPOL themselves, in 2010 SAPOL used DNA that was meant to have been destroyed to convict a man.

Going further, SAPOL’s own spokesperson made it clear this would never happen again, and that all officers were now trained in the law and procedures, yet they continue to break the law, so the question is, if they are well trained on the law, are the breaches deliberate?

This will be another topic I will pursue in detail.

The RSPCA's initial complaint should also be subject to scrutiny, but on that note, watch this space, because the issues with in that particular organisation go well beyond general false complaints and dodgy practices.

Many questions are raised by my experience; can officers enter our private property with out a valid warrant, can they initiate an arrest with out showing a warrant, can they produce a warrant to do something that is not lawful, do we have a right to make a phone call, once taken in to custody do they have a mandate of due care, how are our civil and human rights protected if not by the police, are the police above the law, or employed to uphold it?

If Police bugger up, should they be held to account, if police confiscate a persons possessions with out cause, should the innocent owner be forced to waive their rights to have the items returned?

These are a few of the many questions every one of us should be asking, and I for one will be demanding answers.

Mark Aldridge