Letters - June 27, 2019
I am writing in the hope that some readers may be able to shed light on an event from my family history that possibly happened in Blackpool.
My late father Anthony John Matthews, who was born in 1936, worked at the Savoy Hotel in Blackpool, and met the love of his life, Gwenda, in the resort between 1966-1968.
Unfortunately we don’t have her surname. We know about her from the tattoo he had on his left arm. This was a scroll with the name Gwenda inside. (The story is that I’m named after her).
Apparently Gwenda died after being hit by a tram in Blackpool. Somebody has come forward and mentioned that there was a tram crash on Lowther Road in Bispham, in which a woman walking her dog over the tracks was killed.
I don’t know if this is connected in any way.
If anyone has any information about this, please could you contact me.
Neighbour’s actions were right
A further example of how low politics has sunk in the country has emerged with the most recent headlines surrounding an alleged incident involving Boris Johnson at the flat belonging to his partner, Carrie Symonds.
Tom Penn, a neighbour of Ms Symonds, allegedly heard a female shouting the words “get off me” and “get out of my flat.” He called the police after he had first knocked on the neighbour’s door and failed to get a response.
The police attended and found no evidence of offences having been committed. That brought the investigation to an end. Mr Johnson has however faced calls to explain himself.
Jacob Rees-Mogg MP (pictured) has rushed to the defence of Mr Johnson.
Mr Rees-Mogg has rounded on Mr Penn, branding him a “snooping neighbour” and alleges that Mr Penn recorded the incident for political advantage. It appears that Mr Rees-Mogg bases his theory only on the fact Mr Penn voted to remain in the 2016 referendum. I also note that Conservative MPs Nadine Dorries and Priti Patel have referred to Mr Penn’s conduct as “eavesdropping”.
As someone who worked for over 30 years as a Crown Prosecution Service lawyer, I am appalled that MPs consider it acceptable to make such an attack on someone who has acted to protect another citizen.
By recording what was being said, Mr Penn was potentially securing a vital piece of evidence that would be irrefutable if the incident had resulted in a more detailed police investigation. Mr Penn should not be criticised for looking out for the safety of someone else.
It is a fact that offences of domestic abuse account for a large number of cases that go through our criminal courts.
Many of those cases only come to light because a neighbour or passer-by sees or hears something that causes the police to be called, as Mr Penn did.
Often victims of domestic abuse are reluctant to give evidence. Research shows that most incidents go unreported. The intervention of third parties is often crucial in preventing serious harm, securing the right intervention, and helping bring offenders to justice.
When Mr Rees-Mogg and his colleagues refer to Mr Penn as a “curtain twitcher”, they send out a damaging message to the public. Their words will act as a deterrent to many who wonder if they would be doing the right thing getting involved when they fear someone is in danger.
With regard Mr Penn’s decision to disclose the recording to the press, why shouldn’t the public know about it? It might even be of interest to that relatively small number of people who will be deciding our next Prime Minister.
I would prefer to have more people in our society like Tom Penn than those MPs whose comments suggest people should mind their own business and not get involved. It is no exaggeration to say that those who act as Mr Penn do sometimes saves lives.
Mr Rees-Mogg and those who have joined in this attack on Mr Penn should be ashamed of themselves.