Had everything gone according to plan, Lissie Harper would be getting ready to celebrate her third Christmas as a married woman, husband Andrew at her side.
They might even have started a family by now, who knows? However, life didn’t work out the way they hoped.
Her dreams were shattered when PC Andrew Harper, the man she had been in love with since she was a schoolgirl, was killed responding to a burglary in August 2019, just a month after they married.
Further horror was to follow when Lissie had to sit in court, watching when her husband’s trio of killers giggled as they were given lighter sentences for manslaughter, rather than murder.
Since the trial she has, with the backing of the Police Federation, campaigned for tougher sentences for those found guilty of killing police officers and other first responders.
And her demands, that the killing of 999 workers in the line of duty should be punished with a mandatory life sentence, has succeeded. Harper’s Law will apply to any killer of an on-duty police officer, fireman, paramedic or prison officer — and anyone who kills medics providing NHS care.
The change is expected to make it on to the statute book early next year via an amendment to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
In the Daily Mail earlier this week, Dominic Raab wrote that ‘we all owe a debt of gratitude to our dedicated emergency workers. I want them to know we’ve got their backs’.
Indeed we do. But not everyone sees it like that. Some liberals wring their wet hands in dismay at this change. A two-tier justice system, you say? No thanks. Look at the utter state the police is in, they argue.
JAN MOIR: Lissie Harper’s dreams were shattered when PC Andrew Harper, the man she had been in love with since she was a schoolgirl, was killed responding to a burglary in August 2019, just a month after they married (pictured together at wedding)
On TV this week, one Left-wing comedian pointed out that not all cops were good cops anyway. Look at Wayne Couzens.
Look at the Met officers who shared photos of two murdered sisters, referred to them as ‘dead birds’ and were this week found guilty of gross misconduct and await sentencing.
I always feel duty bound to point out that I come from a police family and know, like so many of us do, that these bad cops are the terrible exception rather than the rule.
Their blue crimes are despicable, while serious questions remain about the Met being fit for purpose.
How could a rapist and murderer such as Couzens hide in plain sight in their ranks for so long? As a firearms officer, he would have undergone regular psychological profiling, yet no red flags were ever raised.
However the police, in particular, need our support more than ever right now. The pandemic has been hard on NHS workers, but it has taken a toll on the police, too.
From the first Covid case until now, they have been in the front line dealing with the rough stuff; charged not just with maintaining law and order for an increasingly belligerent and fed up public, but also attempting to interpret and impose chaotic changes of scrappy Government policy and new laws made on the hoof.
The result of this has been a major increase in attacks on police. There were nearly 40,000 assaults on officers— including deliberate coughing and spitting — in the year following the start of the Covid outbreak in March 2020.
That’s a 20 per cent rise on the previous year. According to official figures there were more than 100 assaults on police in England and Wales every day.
If we want a safer society it stands to reason that we have to make those who protect us safer. Emergency workers put themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis. The very least we can do is offer them a shield of extra protection that the deterrent of stiffer sentencing might bring.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with PC Andrew Harper’s widow Lissie inside No10 Downing Street
I long for a future where anyone involved in the killing of a British police officer would be terrified of the judicial punishment they might receive, instead of laughing about it in court.
Already there have been complaints that it is wrong to say that the lives of police and emergency workers are worth more than the lives of the general public — but that is not what Harper’s Law is about.
Someone has to walk into the burning building, confront the killer, deal with the violence and the mentally unstable, accept that they are a target simply for being in uniform.
Responders are often called upon to put the safety of the public before their own and I feel that the size of that sacrifice should be acknowledged and protected — because a public sector salary and pension doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Because of the terrible behaviour of three lawless young men, newlyweds Andrew and Lissie Harper didn’t even make it to their honeymoon.
Now the lasting irony is that while the men who killed her husband will be out of jail in a few years, she is the one who has been left with the life sentence. And that is not right.
She has done her bit to make things better — now it’s up to the rest of us.
Parliament shouldn’t be a creche, Stella
Do you work in a place where lots of tiny people run around having screaming ab-dab tantrums and crying because they want their mummy, they want their naps and now their num-nums are late?
Yes, me too. But at least we don’t have to put up with children in the Daily Mail office.
Stella Creasy MP is annoyed she can’t take her ‘well-behaved, three-month-old sleeping baby when I speak in chamber’.
Oh come off it, Stella. What three-month-old is well behaved? Even Theresa ‘Wheat Fields’ May had her bawling, wet nappy moments.
Labour MP Stella Creasy speaking with her newborn baby strapped to her in the chamber of the House of Commons
Be serious for a moment. Parliament is a place of work, not a crèche. Most parents cannot take their babies to the workplace and Westminster is no exception. ‘Mothers in the mother of all parliaments are not to be seen or heard it seems,’ she harrumphed on Twitter, where she has also noted that mask awareness is not all it could be in Westminster.
So why take a baby into such a dangerous environment? God save us all from the crazed entitlement of new mothers.
Why can’t Stella just take her fully paid up maternity leave then employ a nanny or have day-care, like every other working mum?
It’s all over for the high street
Tumbleweed is blowing down London’s Oxford Street. Debenhams closed its doors forever in May, Selfridges is up for sale, House of Fraser is shutting its flagship premises in January.
John Lewis has reduced its retail space by 50 per cent and Westminster Council has just approved plans for Marks & Spencer to reduce its shop floor space by a third. Say it’s not so. Is this the end for the famous shopping street?
Where will the menfolk of London panic buy scarves for their wives on Christmas Eve?
Here and elsewhere it is hard to see how department stores can survive when shopping is so curated, targeted; a precision-honed pastime. Browsing on the internet is time efficient, but I feel nostalgic for the days of wandering around department stores, checking the softness of every jumper, the hang of a pleat, the strength of a juicer, the texture of a lipstick.
It is oddly soothing and brings a peace of mind that Amazon can never match. But it is over and it isn’t coming back.
Is Madge looking for her marbles?
If we all agree not to be shocked by Madonna’s shock tactics, surely that will give her a shock she won’t forget?
The 63-year-old’s latest lunatic bid for infamy has been to pose topless. Cultural commentators have yet to decide if this is worse than last month’s confected outrage, where she recreated Marilyn Monroe’s deathbed scene.
What next? I’m hoping she might recreate the Veruca Salt death scene from Willy Wonka, where squirrels chuck her into the nut chute, which is surely where she belongs.
Madonna poses on a bed with her nipple covered by a heart emoji in her latest Instagram post
Of more interest to Madonna watchers are the peculiar shots of her wearing nothing but a pair of fishnet tights with her head under the bed and a cup of granny tea on the bedside table.
What is she trying to say? And what the hell is she looking for under there? Anneka Rice thinks it is her phone charger, but I am not sure. Here are some other suggestions. Madonna is looking for…
A. Her pants.
B. Her latest terrified young lover.
C. The dignity she lost back in 2015.
D. The tattered remnants of a film career.
E. Her marbles.
F. A pension scheme.
G. Her fall detection alarm.
H. Her credibility.
I. Pop sock or hair scrunchie.
A thousand congrats to Yola, a British singer who has been nominated for two Grammy awards — Best American Roots song (for Diamond Studded Shoes) and Best Americana album (Stand For Myself).
Not bad going for a girl from Bristol! Despite her rootsy nominations, Yolanda Quartey is a 38-year-old sensation from our West Country, not America’s. The daughter of Windrush parents, she survived a difficult upbringing and was once homeless on the streets of London.
Now she is a Nashville star with a beautiful, unforgettable voice and an arsenal of heart- stopping songs.
She could even give dear old Adele a run for her money when it comes to emotional lung power; I just love her.
Nadine’s wrong about the Brits
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is against the pop music Brit Awards scrapping gendered categories next year. She told a Parliamentary Committee on Monday that it was ‘quite a sad decision’.
But why Nadine, why? What is the problem? After all, the Grammy Awards, the American equivalent of our humble Brits, have been gender free for over ten years.
Pop star Sam Smith, who identifies as non-binary and was excluded from the Brits categories this year, was among those lobbying for the change. And Sam is right — why should anyone be excluded? Gender has nothing to do with a great song or a terrific performance.
Nadine is anti-woke but is she half-awake, that’s what I want to know? This feels like a knee-jerk reaction, rather than anything properly considered. She feels that if gender categories are scrapped, women won’t be fairly represented in the 2022 Brits, but that is crazy because Adele is going to win everything anyway.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries (pictured) is against the pop music Brit Awards scrapping gendered categories next year
Nad’s reasoning for keeping best male and best female categories is that ‘if you wanted to look at who used to win awards for novels and many things in the past, then men always dominated’.
Of course Nadine is a novelist herself and many cruel people have pointed out that there was a reason why she didn’t win the Booker Prize and it had nothing to do with gender. Here is a damp sample from the bedpan povera literary style she has made her own in bestsellers such as The Angels Of Lovely Lane.
‘Emily smelt something that made her mouth water. Turning round she saw an earthenware pot on the kitchen table covered by a tea towel, and instantly tears, which were never far from the surface, sprang to her eyes.’
I smelt something, too, as Nadine might write. Eau de Hokum. Anyway, it is time to celebrate the achievements of artists for the music that they create and the work that they do, irrespective of gender.