Jacob Rees-Mogg has called for a debate on the use of fixed penalty notices (FPN’s) arguing that they go against British tradition. The Brexit Opportunities Minister said that FPN’s assume a person is guilty until they prove their innocence.
According to The Telegraph:
Mr Rees-Mogg, a staunch ally of Boris Johnson who dismissed the row around lockdown-busting Downing Street parties as “fluff”, said the fines risked unintended consequences.
A fixed penalty notice (FPN) is an alternative to prosecution at a magistrate’s court and is often applied for parking and speeding behaviour offences, as well as being used for antisocial behaviour and breaches of Covid rules during the pandemic.
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, and Mr Johnson both received £50 FPN from the Metropolitan Police for breaches of coronavirus restrictions last month.
There is no legal requirement to interview a suspect before a decision is made to issue an FPN, but police are still obliged to give a suspect the opportunity to answer allegations against them.
Mr Rees-Mogg, the minister for Brexit opportunities, told the Sun: “If we go back to the 1980s, when fixed penalty notices were debated at the time, there was an argument made in the House of Commons that they reverse the traditional British burden of proof argument.
“That you are guilty until proven innocent because you have to go to court to get it set aside.
“I think you always need to look at how things have worked when they’ve been going for some decades to see whether the intended consequences are what was expected.”
Speaking to the Sun newspaper, Mr Rees-Mogg added FPNs “assume you’re guilty until you prove your innocence” and described this as “problematic if you’re the constitutional balance”.
Accepting the system was widely deemed “proportionate” for low-level offences, he asked: “Is it possible [that] society will want to reopen that? Yes, it is.”
The options available to anyone who receives an FPN are to either pay it in full – as both Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak did – or challenge it at a magistrate’s court.
But an unsuccessful challenge can result in a criminal record and the obligation to pay any unlimited fine issued by a court.
A total of 124,626 FPNs were given out during the pandemic for offences including hosting an illegal gathering and refusing to wear a face mask, data showed in March.
More than 40 per cent fines are still thought not to have been paid, with Mr Johnson’s fine leading to calls for a wider amnesty.
FPN’s are a massive scam. Councils use them to defraud the public out of hundreds of millions of pounds a year. They pay private firms to go about fining people for all manner of misdemeanours. It’s racketeering.
However, I’d rather Rees-Mogg focused his attention on the unprecedented assault on civil liberties during the scamdemic.
He should be working to introduce legislation that would make it illegal for any government, ever, to lock down society and order people to remain in their homes.