A promise never forgotten – John Murray’s 37 year fight for justice

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance it’s as a result of seeing the post on the Facebook ‘Campaign for justice for WPC Yvonne Fletcher’ page and you’ve followed the link. If not, no matter. The fact you’ve landed here is enough for us to say thank-you.

On 17th April, 1984, Yvonne was helping to police a demonstration outside the Libyan People’s Bureau in central London. She was shot in the back by someone who opened a window in that building and then fired a machine gun at the crowd. The photograph above was taken very soon afterwards. Cradling Yvonne is PC John Murray.

John accompanied Yvonne to hospital in the ambulance. She was still conscious at this time and, rather than complain and focus on her own extraordinarily painful wounds, she did her best to give reassurance to those other casualties who were also being transported – many of whom had life-changing injuries.

In the ambulance, while talking to Yvonne, John made a promise to her; that he would not rest until whoever had shot her had been brought to justice.

At the hospital, John waited patiently while Yvonne was in surgery. He was the first to receive the news of her death.

Thirty-seven years on, with all criminal avenues of prosecution seemingly now exhausted, John is close to fulfilling his promise.

John needs your help.

Late in 2021, John will be pursuing a private civil action against a man alleged to have been part of the conspiracy to murder Yvonne Fletcher.

This is John’s final chance, the last throw of the dice in what has been a long and arduous campaign. John has taken immense personal risk, both physically and financially, to reach this point. He’s not suing the perpetrator for money, he’s suing for £1. It’s a symbolic amount but it means, if he wins, there is a finding against someone responsible for Yvonne’s death.

The news this week that the Police Federation (PFEW) will be supporting John’s action came as a tremendous lift. But, John’s need for help doesn’t end there. He could lose. If he does, the PFEW can’t cover any claim for costs made by his opponents. John’s lawyers set up a Crowd Justice campaign which, to date, has raised £36K. But, this amount (and any more added to it) will be deducted from any contribution the PFEW make to John’s legal costs.

John is not wealthy. He has a £60K costs protection limit order in place, but that’s still a huge risk for him to be taking.

You can help. We’re asking for something unusual. We’re asking you to contribute to the costs John has personally incurred travelling to Libya, interviewing witnesses and all the associated costs this has involved reaching this point. We don’t want you to contribute to the cost of the court case – that is being covered by the PFEW and CrowdJustice fund.

On the day Yvonne was killed, she was just 25-years old. So, we’re asking that on 17th April, 2021, you donate £25 to John. The Facebook Campaign page has nearly six-thousand followers. If everyone pitches in …

The details of the account are as follows

Bank; HSBC

Account name; Justice 4 Yvonne

Sort code; 40-24-13

A/c number; 51720422

On 17th April for payment, don’t forget. Make sure to tick the ‘business’ box when setting up the payment. This account is administered by the Campaign support team.

It’s also important to note, John didn’t ask for this request. He doesn’t know it’s going out. It will be a surprise, we hope a good one. And we hope, like us, you will use this opportunity to say thanks to him for the efforts he has put in to ensure justice for a fallen colleague. A promise never forgotten.

Let’s give John a surprise. Let’s show him we care too.

John Murray at the memorial to Yvonne Fletcher in St James’s Square, London.

I’m done too.

In the last twenty-four hours, over a quarter of a million people have read the ‘I’m done‘ post. One cop wrote to me anonymously. These are their words.

I’m done too.

I’m done with the self-appointed monitors of policing who feel it’s their place to photograph, video and (sometimes) selectively edit recordings of police doing their jobs. I’m done with people who misrepresent the truth for publicity, to self-promote and, sometimes, for mischief. I’m tired of people who value ‘likes’ on their chosen social media platform above helping a lone officer struggling to detain a violent person. I’m done with the cowards in society who would rather film a cop being beaten up than pitch in to help him or her. I’m done with people who ‘know their rights’ and who consider that (often mistaken) knowledge is sufficient justification to kick, punch and spit at police officers.

I’m done with people who tell us to do more stop-and-search in response to escalating knife crime but who then criticise us when the criminals who get caught as a result bleat about having their civil rights breached.

I’m done with criminals using the complaints system and legal process to intimidate hard working cops. Yes, that is what happens. Criminals use both to try and make it easier to continue with their activities, uninterrupted. And I’m done with the payouts made to criminals because our legal system has created a situation where firms of lawyers can tout for business, encourage civil actions and know their clients will get paid out because it’s actually cheaper for the police to do that than fight the case – regardless of the result.

I’m done with an organisation where the policy is to punish rather than forgive, to discipline rather than teach. I’m done with fearing if I make a mistake that I will be punished rather than have my employers accept I hadn’t been taught or trained as well as I should have been. And, while I’m on that subject, I’m angry too. I’m angry that Hendon, the flagship of police training, has been demolished and sold off to developers. That the swimming pool where officers were taught life-saving techniques is now gone. That the sports facilities, the gymnasiums, the canteens, even the police stations themselves are all gone. The police section houses are gone. Even New Scotland Yard was demolished and the site sold.

I’m done with being photographed and criticised – sometimes, even fined – for using a public cafe to eat when all the police canteens have gone. I’m done with having to travel across London to one of the few remaining custody suites where prisoners can be processed and where we have to wait in a huge queue to have a detained person booked in. I’m done with being asked by my supervisors not to arrest people because that means I will be off the ground, unavailable and the calls will soon build up.

I’m tired of trying to do the job to a standard the public has a right to expect but that forty-thousand more us used to be available to do. Think about that for a minute. Forty-thousand less police officers in the UK than there were ten years ago. And all because one Home Secretary considered the ‘role of the police is to fight crime, nothing more, nothing less.’ So, when I’m directing traffic, helping someone find their lost child, trying to find a missing person, supervising a demonstration or football crowd, or many of the other non-crime related roles that fall to the police, I’m reminded that one politician decided society needed less cops.

But, you know what? I’m not so tired I’m about to give up. Because I still believe in working for a better society. The reasons I became a police officer are still valid. I still want to help people. I still want to put bad people behind bars. Policing has to be accountable, I don’t know of a single colleague who doesn’t agree with that. But what I do ask is to be given the tools, the facilities, the support and the means to be able to do my job. Is that too much to ask?

Because being a cop is far more than simply fighting crime.

Thank you for taking the time to read these posts. Whether they will do any good remains to be seen. But, as we read above, police morale is dented but not beaten.

I was taught, way back in 1978, about the meaning of the word ‘police. It means, ‘generally, the arrangements made in all civilised countries to ensure the inhabitants keep the peace and obey the law. It also denotes for force of peace officers, or police, employed for this purpose.’ If I recall correctly, those were the opening words from the police instruction manual of the time. Members of our police services are members of the public one day, a cop the next. Our police services police with our consent, not by coercion, as we see too often around the world. That places us in a very fortunate situation but it is one that comes with responsibilities. If we want our police to function, their role must be supported, not weakened. Because if we weaken it by too much, we are on the road to anarchy. And then we may see a style of policing result that has happened abroad and which we must not countenance here.

And, while you’re here. Can I make a special request. I’m helping an old colleague pursue a murder case. It happened in 1984 and involved the shooting of a serving WPC. You may remember it. Her name was Yvonne Fletcher. This is a link to a crowdfunding page. If you’d like to help a veteran cop secure justice for a fallen friend, please consider donating a few quid. If he reaches his target, it’ll certainly go a long way toward reminding those on the thin blue line that they are supported. We do have their backs.

Thank you. For both your support and your time.


I’m done

A police officer wrote this on March 15, 2021 at 5:27 pm. I’ve reproduced it here because I found it humbling, worrying and really quite frightening.

‘I’m a cop of 20 years. I’m leaving. I’m done.

I’m done with the duplicitous liars and twisters of truth in Parliament, who have destroyed policing in order to further their own careers. I’m done with those charlatans and snake oil salesmen and women who spread their bile, whose acid eats away at society and it’s values and future. I’m done with the utter lack of consequences for their corruption.

I’m done with duplicitous liars and twisters of truth in the media and “journalism” with their spin, lies, misrepresentation and half truths. I’m done with their 24 hours news, their twitter echo chambers, their pile on tactics and agendas, in order to invent the next “big” story or extend the life of the old one. I’m done with their sickening pretence that they are on some crusade to make the world a better place.

I’m done …

I’m done with the socially corrosive special interest groups who want to be top of the victimhood ladder and are prepared to burn the world and anyone different to them, to ensure they are heard above anyone else. Their constant screaming for attention and ever more fantastical claims, that bear no scrutiny, but which they know they will never be challenged on, because, you know “cancel culture”.

I’m done with the public, their violence, their lying, their abuse, their spitting, their constant screaming for instant gratification and destruction of anything and everyone around them if they don’t get their own way, like a bunch of petulant adolescents. I’m done with their demand for every right real or imagined and their utter lack of personal or social responsibility to each other.

I’m done with the senior officers who will jump on any bandwagon, throw any officer under a bus for doing their job, do anything at all to get that next rank and more power. I’m done with them pretending to be cops, when they are just politicians in uniform. At least real politicians don’t seek to hide their stench and are there for all the world to see, in all their obnoxious, odious glory.

I’m done with the far left and far right, two sides of the same violent, socially corrosive and destructive coin, trampling over anyone and everyone, destroying anything in their paths, if it doesn’t conform to the “right” narrative or world view. I’m done with their red and black flags, their balaclavas, their violence, bullying and intimidation. I’m done with them calling themselves Nazis or Antifa and pretending they are any different to the opposition. I’m done with their anti locution and persecution of anyone that isn’t on their side. I’m done with their cheerleaders in the media, who adopt their cause but absolve themselves of any responsibility for the harm they cause.

I’m done with the Soviet era scale bureaucracy that stops me doing my job, the projects that strangely never fail, the nepotism in the promotion boards and the boys and girls clubs in policing that look after each other, no matter how incompetent and screw everyone else who isn’t in their gang. I’m done with their self promoting cliques and associations, they hide behind when they are professionally incompetent, but always useful for a photo opportunity to make the force look good with whatever group is having their week or is fashionable that day.

I’m done with the (few) corrupt cops who drag all our names through the mud and the false narrative that the vast majority of front line cops are tainted.

I’m done seeing my brothers and sisters on the front line battered, criticised, unsupported and demoralised. I’m done with their fortitude, inherent goodness and sense of service, that makes them run forward, knowing the armchair critics will crucify them after. I’m done with their false hope that things will improve, that society will value them. I’m done with them being lied to by our leaders and then lying to themselves, that, maybe, just maybe, this time those leaders can be trusted, I’m done with seeing those youngster suffer and age far too fast as a decent life passes them by as they waste their lives on this.

I’m done with grandstanding cops, dancing for YouTube, wearing rainbows as self promotion, kneeling for a twitter photo, lecturing the public about things that shouldn’t concern us, forgetting we are the law police, not the public morals police, Im done with them doing anything other rather than actual policing. I’m done with the false narrative that suggests this is the norm and that all cops are more interested in being woke social workers than doing their job. A false narrative we have facilitated by allowing this self indulgent, shameless self promotion of a few individuals, to proliferate.

I’m done with cops being told they are somehow lesser without a degree and that instincts are bias and bad. That experience and street knowledge is discriminatory. I’m done with the lies that the College of Policing is on our side. That the courts value and support us. That the IOPC isn’t an insidiously untrustworthy organisation out to get us. That the HMIC understands policing.

I’m done with the anxiety, the anger, the constant state of heightened arousal in case of danger, even when I should be feeling safe in my own home. I’m done with the corrosive damage to my physical and mental health, sacrificed for a country and public, serving both in green and blue, for a country that couldn’t give a toss.

I’m done with the deaths, the suffering, the violence, the dishonesty, the predatory behaviour and all the other public faeces that you ask us to clean up.

I’m done with the the indescribable levels of frustration, rage, hate and despair that all the above has filled my life with, when all I wanted to do was look after the good people and lock up the bad. I’m done with the cynicism and distrust that it’s left me and the times I’ve put my family last, to ensure I was there for someone else’s. I’m done with the pain it causes them to see what this job does to us.

I’m a cop of 20 years service and I’m done with it. Sort your own mess up. Or don’t, and let it all collapse around you.

I’m done, and really don’t care anymore.’

This frightens me, and it should frighten you.

I hope it’s not to late to remind the few, when ill of them they speak,

That they are all that stands between the monsters and the weak.

Continued …

And, while you’re here, let me share some news. I’m appearing at https://gwylcrimecymrufestival.co.uk/2021-guests/ in April. I’m on the bill doing a chat with Lee and Andrew Child. Yes, that Lee Child, the Reacher guy. It’s a free digital event run by Wales first crime literary festival. Why don’t you join us?

WPC Yvonne Fletcher #justice4Yvonne – An open letter to the Police Federation @PFEW_HQ

Police Officer Yvonne Fletcher friend of Matt Johnson

On 17th April 1984, a young police constable called Yvonne Fletcher paraded for work on a day that would normally have been her day off. She had been due to spend the day with her working partner, a fellow officer called John Murray. Yvonne and John were both working, both as part of a small contingent of officers whose role was to supervise a demonstration outside the Libyan People’s Bureau in St James’s Square.

The large number of demonstrators present that day were very vocal in expressing their objections to a regime in Libya led by Colonel Gaddafi. To keep the crowd away from the Bureau, they were held behind a series of steel barriers. Between them and the Bureau –  a building occupied by pro-Gaddafi supporters – stood one PC, John Murray. The spot was noisy and uncomfortable. Although he wasn’t the object of the demonstrator’s anger, John was directly in front of it. Seeing her working partner had been in this position for some time, Yvonne approached John and offered to take his place. She would stand in front of the demonstrators for a while. John was grateful and accepted the kind offer.

None of the police officers present were aware that pro-Gaddafi supporters had infiltrated the demonstration to try and encourage key targets toward the front of the crowd into a position where they were directly in front of the Bureau. Those pro-Gaddafi supporters, having achieved their objective, retired to a safer place. The reason – they knew what was about to happen. A first floor window in the Bureau was opened, a machine gun was pointed at the crowd and the man holding the weapon opened fire.

We all know what happened next. Watch it here.

John Murray cradles his mortally wounded colleague, Yvonne Fletcher
Severely injured WPC Yvonne Fletcher being helped by colleagues

Yvonne Fletcher’s murder deeply affected the Met Police from the rank-and-file PCs through to the highest ranks. It was, and it remains, the only time a British police officer has been murdered live on television. It remains the most photographed and recorded death of a policewoman in the annals of British history.

The effect of Yvonne’s murder is still felt in the police today. Her death prompted the formation of the Police Memorial Trust by Sir Michael Winner after Michael wrote to the Charity Commission and received the response ‘Are you telling me you want to erect memorials to mere policemen?’ This attitude displayed in this reply amazed Michael, but he felt it was not untypical. It fuelled his determination for form a charity and the Police Memorial Trust was born.

Margaret Thatcher and Michael Winner unveil the memorial to Yvonne Fletcher

Yvonne’s was the first memorial the trust laid. A cherry tree – still thriving today – was also planted in her memory. In February 1985, during the unveiling ceremony, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said this. “Today, the Square has resumed its peaceful way. But memories of those terrible events are still vivid in our minds. We have come here to remember Yvonne Fletcher, privately in our own thoughts, and publicly by this ceremony. Her death was a grievous loss; to her family, to the Metropolitan Police, and to all of us.

This simple memorial, erected by the Police Memorial Trust, will be a reminder to Londoners and to visitors alike of the debt that we owe to Yvonne Fletcher and all her colleagues in the Police. Without them the law could not be upheld. Without them, indeed, there would be no law, and no liberty.

We have become used to seeing our police men and women respond magnificently to any challenge. But we must never take their professionalism for granted. Too often especially recently, we hear that our police have been killed or wounded on duty. This has got to stop, and every single citizen has a duty to help make it stop. Our police uphold the law without regard to their own feelings and their own safety, never knowing what the day may bring. The greater the risk, the greater their courage. The greater their courage, the greater our loss. 

Today as I unveil this memorial to Yvonne Fletcher, let us also pay tribute to the other brave men and women police officers who have been killed or injured, calling to mind as we do so the words of Abraham Lincoln: “Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.”

Every year, for 36 years, a memorial service has been held at the spot where Yvonne was shot. Every day sees police officers and members of the public stop to view her memorial and to stand in silence for a few moments. New police officers are taken to the scene by their supervisors, so they may understand what Yvonne’s death meant to the police service, and to remind them we may all one day be required to make the ultimate sacrifice. Young officers understand, through Yvonne’s death, what might be asked of them.

Television and radio documentaries have been made about what happened that day. Huge numbers of feature-length articles have appeared in the press. Last year, the Victoria Derbyshire programme made a short documentary about the campaign to bring the main suspect to court and only last week, a Facebook group created by John to gauge support for his campaign attracted over 5K applications in just a few days.

Yvonne’s death inspired a generation of young women to join the police service. Many of these women are now retired having completed full-length careers and some have gone on to lead our police services at the very highest levels. One of them is the highest ranking police officer in the UK.

No murder is ever routine, no murder is special. Every victim matters. This murder was different, though. It took place in the public eye and the victim was someone protecting us. To our discredit, it remains unsolved.

I’m not proposing to go into the rights and wrongs of the numerous criminal investigations that have taken place, the conspiracy theories, the alleged actions or inactions of the security services, of politicians and of ministers. I simply want to ask you, the members of the PFEW, to re-consider your decision not to fund John Murray’s civil claim against one of the alleged conspirators in the murder of Yvonne Fletcher.

John was a serving police constable. He, like all of us, paid a regular subscription to the Police Federation. He paid that subscription, as we all did, because it provided us with support in times of difficulty. It provided us with help, with expertise, and it provided us with finance should we ever need to take court action against someone as a result of our work. John’s court action is made against one of the alleged conspirators for personal injury. It is for the Post Trauma (PTSD) he suffered as a result of Yvonne’s murder. With all criminal avenues exhausted, this is perhaps the final opportunity to secure a legal finding against someone responsible for her death. It isn’t an easy option. John has to demonstrate – on the balance of possibilities – that he suffered PTSD, that the PTSD was caused by the murder of Yvonne and that the respondent is responsible for that murder. He is claiming just £1 in compensation. This isn’t a measure of how much Yvonne’s life was worth, it is a symbolic payment to John. He doesn’t want to make money from this. What he seeks is a legal finding against one of Yvonne’s killers. What he wants is justice.

I’ve seen various figures banded about with regards to how much John needs from the PFEW. I don’t know what figures the PFEW were presented with but what I do know is John has already spend a huge amount of money getting this far. He has journeyed to Libya – risking his life in the process – to interview people the official enquiries couldn’t reach. He has been dogged and determined. He has been warned off and intimidated, he has had his telephone and mail intercepted. He has seen witnesses warned off and has been the subject of smear campaigns. He has never given up.

The Police Federation (PFEW) is paid for by police officers who, on a daily basis, take the same risks as Yvonne Fletcher did.  Retired and serving officers the length and breadth of the country would wish to see John supported. The PFEW can afford to do so. I beg them to. People who murder need to understand that, no matter the time and no matter the cost, we will never give up in our pursuit for justice.

On 27th April 1984, Sir Michael Winner wrote in the Daily Mail at the invitation of the editor, Sir David English. Michael’s letter ended with these poignant – and prescient – words.

I can see a day in the future when human memory, being what it is, has discarded the events that now seem so important, and the shadows from the trees above sway slowly to and fro on the pavement of St James’s Square, the sunlight catching a small memorial. Maybe two people passing by will stop and one will say to the other – ‘Yvonne Fletcher? Who was she?’ To which there will be a simple and noble answer. She was a member of the British Police Force.”

Many who read this post will have either been members of the Police Federation or have a connection to it. Many others will share the desire to see justice, to see a legal finding against at least one of those responsible for her murder. When the going got tough, let us be able to say we met the challenge with a steely resolve. Let us be able to say we never, ever gave up.

Let us not be amongst those who forgot.

On behalf of The Campaign for Justice for WPC Yvonne Fletcher

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London Bridge terrorist – shoot or arrest?


Imagine you’re a cop with a gun.


You are hailed by frightened members of the public who tell you a man nearby has stabbed several people. You locate and confront him, you see what looks like a bomb vest on him. You have a split second to decide – shoot or don’t shoot – and if you get it wrong you possibly won’t know, because it will be too late.

facebook background

Imagine the bravery to face that dilemma, and to make that decision.

I’ve read a lot of support in the press and on social media for the actions of the officers who shot the London Bridge suspect and, of course, for the incredible bravery of the unarmed civilians who tackled the terrorist – because that’s what he was.

I’ve also seen a lot of emotive comments like ‘police murder’ and ‘state sanctioned murder’, and ‘why wasn’t he simply arrested as he was clearly unable to resist’.

In Wicked Game, I wrote about just this kind of scenario because the reality is, in real life and in real time, the cop has a fraction of a second to decide if what he or she sees in front of them is life-threatening to themselves or to anyone nearby. Certainty only comes when the bomb is triggered or the suspect opens fire and, in that moment of hesitation, you and many others could be killed.


That is the real world. This is not a playstation game. You don’t get a new life if you err. If you react too slowly, you may be dead before you’ve even had time to decide. React too quickly and make a mistake and it could be you facing a murder trial.


The kind of people who – from the comfort of their armchair and on their smart phone or computer – think they know best and could do better, might like to go back to one of their computerised simulations of reality and see how many times their character makes the right decision, and how many times they are obliterated.

You have one life, use it carefully.


Another cop in need of your help

On 17th April 1984, Yvonne Fletcher was shot outside the Libyan Peoples Bureau in London.

Next week, on the Victoria Derbyshire TV show (starts Monday 10am BBC2) you can see a short film about this day and see a live interview with John Murray, her fiancée at the time.

matt johnson yvonne fletcher libyan people bureau

Severely injured WPC Yvonne Fletcher being helped by colleagues

That’s John in the photograph, crouched over the mortally wounded Yvonne.

yvonne memorial

The second picture is the memorial, in London. Yvonne was also a friend of mine, I did the ambulance escort taking her to hospital.

The purpose of this post is to ask for help. For reasons of national security, her killers were never prosecuted. To try and secure justice for Yvonne, John is taking one of the suspects to civil court very soon.

The police federation are not funding John. He is doing this himself. His is not an attempt to make money – he is suing for just £1 – it’s a final attempt to secure a court finding.

John has obtained a protective costs order limiting his liability (should he lose) to £60K. A crowd funding page has raised nearly £20K. That still leaves John over £40K short, should he fail.

I’m asking you, as you did for Andrew Harper, to consider making a small donation for this cause as well. Yvonne’s murder, I am told, remains the only unsolved murder of a UK police officer.

Here is the link https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/wpc-fletcher/


Dogs are companions not meat

I heard the rumours, scarcely believing it could be true.

Today, thanks to an article on the BBC, I learned it is. And it’s happening now.

People are eating dog meat, here in the UK. And yes, it is legal! Sale and purchase of dog meat is banned. Consumption is not. Provided a dog is killed humanely – complying with animal cruelty laws – there is nothing to stop people eating an animal we think of as a pet.

Unbelievable, isn’t it? 2018, in the UK, you can kill your dog and eat it, and the law cannot touch you.


I’m not going to post any more pictures here. When I began looking for images to support this article I found them so horrifying, so disgusting and upsetting that I will not share them.

My views are not impartial, I’ll admit. Dogs have been my pet and working companions for most of my life. I still remember those that have passed with fondness, think about their characters, recall the goodness they brought into my life. My two present friends sit here with me now as I write this. Their walk is delayed, so pressed did I feel to complete this article.

I accept, there are countries around the world – mostly in Asia – where dog meat is a staple part of the diet. It’s also seen as cuisine, traditional and part of ritual. Organisations such as The World Dog Alliance and Humane Society International run campaigns to have it banned, but with limited success.

And, in the meantime, it has spread. Now, here in the UK, we cannot assume that dog sold as a pet, re-homed to a new family or taken in by a kind new owner is destined to be safe. Some of them are intended for consumption – not many I accept, but enough to justify a ban.

Scottish MP, Dr Lisa Cameron, is heading a move to have the consumption of dog meat banned here in the UK. I urge you to support her. Tweet this article, copy in your own MP, point out they have the power to do this and … let’s get this awful practise banned.

Dogs are our companions, not our next meal.



I remember too. John just puts it better.


It was the grandest of adventures – my life in blue. 

I remember the moment I first knew that I wanted to be a Copper. The PC walking down the other side of Hammersmith Broadway won’t have seen the tentative schoolboy standing at the bus stop. But I saw him. And, from that moment on, I never seriously considered doing anything else.

I remember being driven through the gates at Hendon for the first time, all nerves and expectation. Sergeant Parkes was at the wheel of the minibus, with half a dozen of us sitting in the back, wide-eyed and wondering.

I remember the marching and polishing and running and revising.

I remember my first day on patrol and my first vehicle stop. I remember being terrified. I remember catching my reflection in tall shop windows and that unmistakeable sense of pride at who I was becoming.

I remember…

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That man – and why you should ignore him.

I’d like to thank Shahida Arabi, the author of some incredible work on Narcissism for much of the content to this article. I’ve adapted it, edited and cut parts to suit the particular circumstances relevant to this situation.

Having seen some of the arguments and frustration that people have experienced, I wondered if some context might help.

I’ve cut off all contact with this particular narcissist, and this is why. You may recognise some behaviours you have experienced yourself with this particular individual.

In popular culture, the term “narcissistic” is thrown about quite loosely, usually referring to vanity and self-absorption. While narcissism does exist on a spectrum, narcissism as a full-fledged personality disorder is quite different.

People who meet the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder or those who have traits of Antisocial Personality Disorder  can operate in extremely manipulative ways due to their deceitfulness, lack of empathy and their tendency to be interpersonally exploitative.

You may have seen the following covert manipulation tactics when you first had contact with this person.

  1. The Idealization-Devaluation-Discard Phase

Narcissists and those with antisocial traits tend to subject new relationships through three phases. The idealization phase consists of ‘putting you on a pedestal’, making you the centre of their world, being in contact with you frequently, and showering you with flattery and praise. You are convinced that the narcissist can’t operate without you. Think: constant texting, flattery and wanting to be in regular and frequent contact. Familiar?

This is a technique known as “lovebombing” and it is how most victims get sucked in: They might be tired of the “games” other people play with each other in communication and are flattered by the constant attention they get from this person – the narcissist. You may be fooled into thinking that this means a narcissist is truly interested in you, when in fact, he is actually interested in making you dependent on his constant praise and attention.

The devaluation phase is subsequent to this idealization phase, and this is when you’re left wondering why you were so abruptly thrust off the pedestal. The narcissist will suddenly start to blow hot and cold, criticizing you, covertly and overtly putting you down, comparing you to others, emotionally withdrawing from you and giving you the silent treatment when you’ve failed to meet their “standards.” You are mislead into thinking that if you just learn not to be so “needy,” “clingy,” or “jealous,”  the narcissist will reward you with the  friendly behaviour he demonstrated in the beginning. The narcissist may use these and other similar words to gaslight victims when they react normally to being provoked. It’s a way to maintain control over your legitimate emotional reactions to their stonewalling, emotional withdrawal and inconsistency.

Narcissists love conflict. They thrive on it. They create it, perpetuate it and repeat it. It seems to others to be a very odd way to behave, and it is. But not to them.

Unfortunately, it is during the devaluation phase that a narcissist’s true self shows itself. The true colours are only now beginning to show, so it will be a struggle as you attempt to reconcile the image that the narcissist presented to you with his new behaviours.

  1. Gaslighting.

A technique narcissists use to convince you that your perception of their unpleasant behaviour is inaccurate.

During the devaluation and discard phases, the narcissist will often remark upon your “issues,” and displace blame of his/her abuse as your fault. Frequent use of phrases such as “You provoked me,” “You’re too sensitive,” “I never said that,” or “You’re taking things too seriously” after the narcissists’ abusive outbursts are common and are used to gaslight you into thinking that their behaviour is your fault or that it never even took place.

Narcissists are masters of making you doubt yourself and the abuse. This is how they fool people, take them in, make them feel part of their ‘group’.

  1. Smear campaigns.

Narcissists keep harems because they love to have their egos stroked and they need constant validation from the outside world to feed their need for excessive admiration and confirm their grandiose sense of self-importance. They are clever chameleons who are also people-pleasers, morphing into whatever personality suits them in situations with different types of people. It is no surprise, then, that the narcissist begins a smear campaign against you not too long after the discard phase, in order to paint you as the unstable one, and that this is usually successful within the narcissist’s support network which also tends to consist of other narcissists, people-pleasers, empaths, as well as people who are easily charmed.

This smear campaign accomplishes three things: 1) it depicts you as the problem or as an unstable person and deflects your accusations of bad behaviour, 2) it provokes you, thus ‘proving’ your instability to others when trying to argue his depiction of you, and 3) serves as a hoovering technique in which the narcissist seeks to pull you back into the trauma of the argument (remember that they love conflict) as you struggle to reconcile the stories or accusations made about you.

The only way to not get pulled into this tactic is by going full No Contact with both the narcissist and his harem.

Don’t argue with them. They cannot be wrong, they will never be persuaded. And remember – the love conflict, they enjoy it, thrive on it. It is their life-blood.

  1. Triangulation.

Healthy relationships thrive on security; unhealthy ones are filled with provocation, uncertainty and infidelity. Narcissists like to manufacture triangles and bring in the opinions of others to validate their point of view. They do this to an excessive extent in order to play puppeteer to your emotions. This triangulation can take place over social media, in person, or even through the narcissist’s own verbal accounts of the other woman or man. Unlike ‘normal’ people, the narcissist will belittle your feelings and continue inappropriate flirtations and behaviours without a second thought.

  1. The false self and the true self.

The narcissist hides behind the shield of a “false self,” a construct of qualities and traits that he or she usually presents to the outside world. Due to this shield, you are unlikely to comprehend the full extent of a narcissist’s inhumanity and lack of empathy until you are in the discard phase. This can make it difficult to pinpoint who the narcissistic abuser truly is – the sweet, charming and seemingly remorseful person that appears shortly after the poor behaviour is exposed, or the abusive individual who ridicules, invalidates and belittles you? People connected to narcissists can suffer a great deal of cognitive dissonance trying to reconcile the illusion the narcissist first presented to them with the tormenting behaviours he subjects them to later. During the discard phase, the narcissist reveals the true self – the genuinely abusive and abrasive personality beneath the shallow veneer rears its ugly head and you get a glimpse of the cruelty that was lurking within all along. You bear witness to his cold, callous indifference as you are discarded. You might think this is only a momentary lapse into inhumanity, but actually, it is as close you will ever get to seeing the narcissist’s true self.

The manipulative, conniving charm that existed in the beginning is no more – instead, it is replaced by the genuine contempt that the narcissist felt for you all along. See, narcissists don’t truly feel empathy for others – so during the discard phase, they feel absolutely nothing for you except the excitement of having exhausted another source of supply. You were just another source of supply, so do not fool yourself into thinking that the connection that existed in the beginning was in any way real. It was an illusion, much like the identity of the narcissist was fake and created, to attract, and to fill their needs.

If you’re interested in learning more about narcissistic behaviour and how to deal with it, maybe check out Shahida’s work.

Meeting @Harryonthebrink Bingham

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7th October 2017 8pm at Crickhowell Literary Festival I get to meet and interview Harry Bingham.

At the time of writing, I’ve had quite limited contact with Harry but I’ve already concluded he is quite a character. I also confess that, until now, I hadn’t read any of his DC Fiona Griffiths crime novels.

But I have heard of Harry.  Harry Bingham 1

Many of you will have seen this incredible picture on social media and wondered who it was. Well, now you know.

Harry Bingham is a character himself, and as sure as eggs are eggs, when he turned his mind to crime-fiction, he was going to come up with a protagonist the likes of whom people will have never seen before.

And so was born Fiona Griffiths.

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We first meet Detective Constable Griffiths in ‘Talking to the Dead’, a novel set in Cardiff. Griffiths is a relatively inexperienced CID officer who, due to a link with a fraud she is looking into, finds herself helping out on a team investigating two very unpleasant murders, of a mother and her daughter.

I’m familiar with Cardiff and the surrounding city so, for me, it made a nice change to see areas and streets I know feature and to learn something about the region as the story unfolded.

We also learn a lot about Fiona Griffiths; her family links to the criminal underworld, her unusual yet focussed personality, her ability to think outside the box, her struggle with inter-personal relationships and, perhaps most interestingly, her struggle with overcoming a childhood mental illness.

Griffiths is a maverick, the kind of detective that senior officers love and loathe in equal measure. She does things that most police officers would consider crazy and which we would never risk doing ourselves. She does the things we would like to do, but which fear of the law and the police disciplinary system prevents almost all of us from doing. And she gets results.

Harry asked me before I read the book if, as an ex-detective, I might cast an eye over his police procedure. I was more than happy to and I will tell him when I see him that yes, there are one or two rather unusual police related decisions and methods that I haven’t personally seen before. But I will also tell him this, and that is my impression that it matters not one jot. This book delivers and it thrills, just as a crime-thriller should. I’ve abandoned rather too many books recently and was so pleased to find one that kept me reading and kept me hooked.

I’m looking forward to October 7th, I hope you’ll join us.

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