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The Law is a Bad Ass (and not in a good way)

Please read this blog about inept policing that could have ruined me. #policecorruption #medway #kentpolice #rochester #chatham

David Graham Scott

aka ‘Run out of Rochester’

DGS assault case in Rochester High St ‘Fack aff wif yer 69p!” Moments before I was attacked by Liza.

“If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass — a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience — by experience.”

Well, old Bumble had good reason to fear the law with all his shady shenanigans but what if the law really has run roughshod over you? Surely there’s no smoke without fire and if the cops throw you in the cells then you must have done something wrong, eh? Well not always, as I found out last year. Only now, that the whole debacle is finally over, can I tell the tale.

For those of you unfamiliar with my…

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Blog Posts · david graham scott · Documentary films · homeless · Police · Police corruption · Scottish documentary

The Law is a Bad Ass (and not in a good way)

 

aka ‘Run out of Rochester’

DGS assault case in Rochester High St
‘Fack aff wif yer 69p!” Moments before I was attacked by Liza.

“If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, squeezing his hat emphatically in both hands, “the law is a ass — a idiot. If that’s the eye of the law, the law is a bachelor; and the worst I wish the law is, that his eye may be opened by experience — by experience.”

Well, old Bumble had good reason to fear the law with all his shady shenanigans but what if the law really has run roughshod over you? Surely there’s no smoke without fire and if the cops throw you in the cells then you must have done something wrong, eh? Well not always, as I found out last year. Only now, that the whole debacle is finally over, can I tell the tale.

For those of you unfamiliar with my creative catalogue, I have made a body of work, either as documentary film or photography, much of which is based around social issues eg addiction, poverty and mental-health problems. In this role I often interact with homeless folk on the streets and ask if I can take a photo or do a quick interview for my video diaries. More often than not, I pay them for their time. It’s a respectful arrangement and has worked well for many years without much hassle. Well that was until October the 9th, 2016.

I was assaulted on Rochester High St (Kent) on that fateful Sunday evening by a female street beggar, Liza Marie Burns – a lady well known to the local constabulary. She’d been caught with an offensive weapon on the street a few months prior to this, was then jailed in April 2017 for assaulting two police officers and has a long history of shoplifting and drug/alcohol related offences. None of these facts would normally be of interest to me or prejudice me against the woman. Problem was though, none of these facts could be brought up in court as I was to soon find out.

This is what happened. I came out a shop and offered Liza some spare cash. I’d given her money before and had asked nothing in return. No photos and no interviews. On the evening in question she seemed perturbed and I asked if she was alright then offered her the loose change I had. She said: ‘Fuck off with your 69p”. I couldn’t believe her bizarre behaviour and said she was out of order.

She came across the street and started slapping, kicking and punching me in a darkened area and then ran off shouting she’d been attacked by me! A student girl walking past instantly agreed with her despite the fact I was defending myself and Liza had no visible marks on her….I had numerous bruises, cuts and abrasions (see photos). It was an obvious case of prejudice against a male who is often assumed to be the aggressor in such situations.

The police arrested me and held me for 20 hours in the cells at Gillingham. I was denied my medication (anti-depressants) and my vegan dietary requirements. They showed no interest in my cuts and bruises and approached me as if I was the violent offender. It was diabolical being locked in this hellish place, knowing that the guilty person had got away scot-free. As soon as I was released, I phoned the Kent Police to make the counter allegation that Liza Burns had attacked me (ie the truth). I was promised a visit by the police to take photos of the various wounds and they never turned up despite waiting in for three days. Eventually I had to take the photos myself with a witness present.

I had bail restrictions set on me that I had to avoid this homeless woman who was virtually a permanent resident of Rochester High St as she sat in various doorways begging. It’s almost an impossible task to avoid the High St if you live there since it’s the main drag. The fear of Liza making a false allegation against me, if I accidentally bumped into her, forced me out of the area and back to Scotland.

I turned up for the case in Jan 2017 and it was postponed till April 19th when it was put off again. I travelled hundreds of miles from the Scottish Highlands and it cost a lot of money – all for nothing and I began to seriously think it would be cheaper just to plead guilty despite the fact I was innocent. I was told that the police conveniently ‘lost’ their copy of the CCTV footage which doesn’t show the actual attack but does show her get up from the pavement and march across towards me in an aggressive manner. I luckily had my own copy of that. It also shows her having an argument with her boyfriend a minute before I appear (she admitted that to police too). That explained why she was in such a volatile mood when I encountered her.

The police were only interested in convicting me and were not being impartial. They were only interested in the elements that would supposedly prove my guilt and other areas were dismissed. Liza lied and said she was pregnant. Obviously said to ramp up the gravity of the offence and the coppers just lapped it all up. What happened to the baby then, PC Simms (the investigating officer)? It’s absurd that I had to waste my time and money on this ridiculous case which I was confident would lead to an acquittal or be thrown out of court. I had collected a stack of support letters from various professionals and colleagues who knew me well and knew that I wasn’t violent (and what exactly was my motive supposed to be in all this anyway? Randomly attack street beggars for no apparent reason?)

I was all ready to head to court again this month (July 2017) and make the 1500 mile round trip on the train from Wick to Rochester when my solicitor (Vymans, who I highly recommend) called to say the Crown Prosecution Service had ‘discontinued’ the case. They realised there wasn’t enough evidence to convict me. Wonder why? Could it be that I’m totally innocent and that Liza Marie Burns is the real violent offender? Might sound strange but a part of me was disappointed that I didn’t get my day in court. I was looking forward to crushing this absurd allegation.

Assaulting a homeless person is against everything I’ve stood for and believe in. There are many other details I could add but these are the basic points. Apart from the slur to my character and reputation, this fiasco could have potentially ruined my future. An assault charge is one thing but a violent assault on a vulnerable homeless woman could have cost me my job and livelihood.

You may think this strange but I actually hold no anger towards Liza who I see as a victim of her own issues. I do however point the finger at the disastrously inept Kent police force and the investigating officer, PC Simms, who was well up for seeing an innocent man go down.  The local MP for Rochester, Kelly Tolhurst, has also been utterly hopeless, saying I should speak to my Highland MP since I don’t live in her constituency now. Of course I don’t live in your constituency, lovie! Your draconian police forced me out!

 

Blog Posts

The Outcasts

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‘Walk on by’ David Graham Scott, 2017

I call myself a documentary filmmaker but in actual fact I have keenly observed the world around me as a stills photographer too. I don’t pretend to be particularly talented in that respect but I do have a keen eye for the offbeat and unusual. The people who pedestrians shy away from and just walk on by are often the subjects I’ve a particular interest in.

Take this recent trip I made to London in Easter 2017. With my ever present Sony Nex-6 camera to hand I’ll often come across a scene that has a certain gravitas to it. A man lies dead to the world around him in Trafalgar Square. I swear that poor fellow could have literally died and it would have taken some time before anyone stopped to check on him. I know there’s always the chance such a character could turn on you but from personal experience I’ve rarely had this happen (Rochester being a sad exception).

In this instance I did check on the man in the image above and he did respond. After retreating a few yards, I watched as countless people just walked past what seemed to be a lifeless corpse. A man taking a break from his street art daubings perhaps? Well after a perusal of the National Gallery’s artistic gems, with my dear friend Sir Alexander Falconer, this same denizen of the streets was in exactly the same position and hardly got a cursory glance….and yes, I did recheck to see he was still in the land of the living.

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‘Walk on by’ David Graham Scott, 2017

A few yards away I noted a most extraordinary juxtaposition. The bronze sculpture of James II, resplendent in his roman armour, points to a patch of lawn a few yards to his right. By chance a homeless man had decided to bed down on that hallowed piece of ground. I’ve often sought out similar compelling contrasts within my documentary films. They’re not always immediately noticeable in an initial viewing but with the photographs I took on that Easter weekend the images are obviously loaded with pathos and ironic social commentary.

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‘Is this a man I see before me?’ David Graham Scott, 2017.

London’s streets are paved with such pathos and a discerning eye cannot fail to notice those who have fallen on hard times. As the inner workings of the city move inexorably forward towards greater and greater money making ventures the grinding poverty and hopelessness are even more strikingly apparent.

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‘Despair’ David Graham Scott, 2017

A man sits in a doorway for over half an hour….never changing position…life on hold. I perused the scene as we sat in a nearby cafe. Sir Alex wants to give the chap a donation. A pound or two may provide a temporary fix but a photograph has so much more potential to initiate real change through compassion and understanding. You could make a valid claim that it’s intrusive like all my other documentary work but what’s the alternative? Turn a blind eye and walk on by? I’m part of a tradition that goes back many hundreds of years in fact. Take a look at the early Flemish and German paintings of Bruegel and Cranach and you’ll see real peasant faces peering out at you and not the idealised images of beauty associated with the Italian Renaissance.  Those painters were social commentators of their time.

As the dusk sets in we come across a couple of fellows waiting to score by a strip bar. Truth be told, it’s not actually a venue for naked dancers anymore. They just left the STRIP TEASE signs on it as a novelty attraction. Another ‘upmarket’ and shallow little club with a pretend facade harking back to Soho’s days as the sleaze quarter of central London. The only striptease inside consists of the naked lies being sold and fleecing your pockets bare with overpriced cocktails. At least these two guys seemed the real deal. The image of the two crack users in an archetypal ‘shabby’ doorway was almost too perfect and I wondered if they were some bizarre publicity gimmick by this fraudulent establishment. Sir Alex passed them a few coins as did I. Good enough payment for a few photographs and they seemed more than happy to do the I’m-clapped-out-and-don’t-give-a-damn routine. Maybe the Louis Vuitton bag was a tad out of place though.

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‘Waiting for the man’ David Graham Scott, 2017

So I was saying my goodbyes to Sir Alex near the subway when a final character emerged. Gold dust for my camera and obviously seeking attention. His street placard was pointing down to the ground so I assumed he’d done his day’s work. I knew right away this was a chap who’d be more than happy to tell his woes. We engaged him in conversation and I asked if he wouldn’t mind posing for a photograph.

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‘Dariusz Isanski: The most famous person in the world’ David Graham Scott, 2017

His placard has a link to a Youtube video which he calls “Dariusz Isanski The most famous person in the world”. It’s currently got 346 views. This article will probably push it up a bit through the link below:

YouTube Video: Dariusz Isanski The most famous person in the world

Dariusz is clearly mentally ill. He has delusions that he’s being attacked by mysterious agencies sending beams into a device that’s been implanted in the back of his skull. He says that his best friend is David Guetta, the internationally famous DJ, and he’s in regular contact with him regarding the cyber attacks and Bilderberg plots that are destroying his life. Why would there be a huge international conspiracy against one lonely Polish guy in London? Who knows?

Sir Alex and I listened to him intently but it wasn’t easy with his strong Polish accent and habit of flitting from one subject to the next in the space of a few seconds. Having said that I always respect the eccentric and offbeat characters who grace our streets. They truly bring some colour to our surroundings and unlike the ‘average Joe’ will usually engage you in lively conversation.

Dariusz no doubt found some solace in his daily sojourns through central London with his crudely made placard. An enigmatic outsider no doubt but all he wanted was for someone to listen to his troubles. He had his cross to bear like many of the other outcasts we came across this day.

Was Jesus Himself not an outcast? A very apt way to spend an Easter holiday weekend then I guess.

Amen.

David Graham Scott, April 2017

Blog Posts · Documentary films · Scottish documentary

Getting out of my box again

Well I just started writing again on here after a 5 year hiatus and I’m really sorry I took so long. I found a pile of old mail I hadn’t replied to and I’m now doing my best to get back to everyone. Makes me feel really bad when I get messages from folk who are needing advice and I wasn’t around to give it. Let’s just say that the last few years have been quite trying for me but on the plus side I made two feature documentaries in that time, won a major film festival prize and my latest film, The End of the Game, has had some excellent critical reviews in the media.

Since you’re here I’ll let you have a look at the trailer for The End of the Game

Sticking to my indomitable style, it has some controversial and gritty moments but always tinged with humour and a keen sense of irony. I think the trailer gives a good sense of what the film is like and you can check the IMDb page for more info.

So I really felt it was time to move away from the addiction based films. They were obviously getting me pigeonholed as a junkie filmmaker or whatever label those squares come up with. Yes, I use the word ‘square’ in the old hippy fashion as it’s just as relevant if not more so today. In this world where cops sport trendy tattoos and mohicans work in banks it’s hard to tell what dwells within at a first glance. It didn’t matter that Detox or Die was the catalyst for many struggling addicts to change their lives for the better, it actually led to a level of blackballing within the TV industry that’s quite shocking.

In 2005 I was blatantly ripped off by the same BBC team I made Detox or Die with (I have smoking gun evidence should they wish to contest the point). So much for the principles of social inclusion that get bandied about by those same people. It was a devastating experience and occurred around the same time as a production company I’d worked with reneged on a promise to give me regular employment. The buzz words they love to use can just buzz off as far as I’m concerned. They’re just dust in the breeze that soon disappears into the dark skies of broken promises and utter disappointment.

Documentary making is often at it’s best when tackling the dark side of the human experience. The narrative drive may take one into bleak landscapes but when a glint of sunshine appears near the end it’s always an uplifting feeling. It’s an aspect of reality that we capture and carefully mould into a cohesive and compelling narrative. Exactly how the father of documentary, John Grierson, described it. I’ve certain formulaic standards that hark back to a hotchpotch of influences from mondo documentaries to classic American movies from the golden era of the early 1970’s. Take another director with exactly the same subject and I guarantee the film has it’s own unique flavour.

The End of the Game is a film I’m particularly proud of. A culmination of years of waiting about to gather the funds and the right moment to move the action forward. Thanks to financial support from Hopscotch Films via Creative Scotland I was able to travel to Africa and film one of the most extraordinary eccentrics I’ve ever come across. That chap was pure documentary gold dust and despite our differences I came to quite admire the old fellow.

Guy Wallace big game hunter 1

Here’s my synopsis of the film:

The End of the Game

A bizarre journey to Africa with a vegan filmmaker and a big game hunter.

Committed vegan, David Graham Scott, follows old colonial relic Guy Wallace as he prepares to go on his last big game hunt and fulfil his ambition to bag the fearsome cape buffalo. It’s Guy’s last chance to relive his glory days in the African bush and finally lay down his guns. The oddball relationship of Scott and Wallace is the central drive of the film as the director explores the ethics of big game hunting and even questions his own animal rights stance when lured in by the thrill of the hunt. The End of the Game has at its core a great character in a great location going on an epic journey to an equally marvellous setting.

Guy Wallace lives in a ramshackle caravan on a barren moor in the northern highlands of Scotland. He sits surrounded by memories of the past: a past that includes going patrols with the King’s African Rifles, periods as a mercenary in the turbulent post-colonial phase and as a tracker for big game hunters in Kenya and Tanzania. Filmmaker David Graham Scott lives near the old eccentric in the Caithness moors. He’s built a solid relationship with the man he often refers to as ‘Sir’ Guy and that is fully explored within both the badlands of Caithness and the South African bush. He’s cut from the same mould as Molly Dineen‘s central character in Home from the Hill: a man out of time and out of place. The End of the Game is a POV director led narrative questioning the ethics of game hunting and built around the oddball coupling of a vegan and hunter.

The End of the Game premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival in Feb 2017. Screening also at XpoNorth Festival in Inverness, June 2017.

David Graham Scott

11th April 2017

Blog Posts

My First Proper Blog Post

Hello to anyone who blundered in here!

I make documentaries. Not an awful lot of them as I only really want to make ones about subjects that matter to me. It’s not easy to get funding for these films so it might take a good couple of years or more to finish a project, especially if it’s not destined to be broadcast.

At the moment I’m trying to get funding for a follow-up documentary to my BBC film from 2004 called Detox or Die. I had so much great feedback related to that film that I felt the time was right to further investigate the strange psychedelic detox substance I used to get off methadone/heroin. Known as ibogaine, and in its raw form as iboga, the drug puts the user into a 36 hour gut-wrenching trip that often purges and cleanses soul, body and mind of the cravings and most of the terrible withdrawals associated with addiction.

I hope to finish this proposed feature documentary by the end of this year (2012). The working title is Iboga Nights and I’ll be seeking funding to complete the film from crowd-funding sources and various charitable bodies.

I’ll keep you posted on any updates as they happen.

That’s all for now and I’ll post again soon.

DGS x