Nigella Lawson case: How come celebs aren't stopped and searched?

 

Share
Related Topics

Yesterday morning we were told that Nigella Lawson is not to be investigated for cocaine use. During the trial of her two former aides she had admitted taking the drug, but the police have said she will not be investigated "at this stage". Well there's a thing.

I have no wish for Lawson to be prosecuted, although I vaguely sympathise with the Grillo sisters' barrister who suggested Lawson be regarded in the same way as someone from a council estate. But I'm struck by how few prosecutions of celebrities for possession of cocaine there are. Whom do we prosecute, and why?

Cocaine is a class A drug, and so it is identified formally by our lawmakers as one of the most dangerous. There is no formal "cocaine warning" similar to a cannabis warning. Every year people are cautioned or prosecuted for possession of cocaine. They can be imprisoned.

However, there seems to be some form of class immunity. It's not just celebrities who are immune. What of the middle-class professionals? How many of them use cocaine? How many of them have been prosecuted, with the ensuing harm to pocket, liberty and reputation? They are not going to be stopped by the police in the street. Neither do they behave in any other way that brings them to the attention of the police. So the police never know about their cocaine use.

Prosecution for possession offences can arise from stop and search. The charity Release and the London School of Economics earlier this year published a report which "shows that drug policing is dominating stop and search, that much of this activity is focused on low-level drug possession offences, and that black and Asian people are being disproportionately targeted". But how often have you seen a press report of a celebrity, who is widely rumoured or even admits to using cocaine or addiction, being stopped and searched or otherwise investigated? Well-functioning professionals never cross the police radar. But everything changes if you are someone the police stop and search.

Drug possession also emerges when other criminal offences are being investigated. Is the real evil of cocaine that it causes other problems? Why do we prosecute the addict for drug possession as well as burglary? If it's because cocaine use is inherently a bad thing, we should investigate and prosecute the celebrities and the functioning professionals, as well as the young black men routinely stopped in London boroughs, and the drug-addled burglars. Alternatively, we should only delve into drug use if it's causing some other problem. Otherwise it's one law for those who can afford their habit and behave themselves, and another for those who can't.

If the cocaine use implied by possession is always a bad thing, why do we accept images of glamorous celebrities whose cocaine use is widely discussed but where no criminal enforcement ensues? Maybe we just can't admit what seems to be the truth: that some people with enough money appear to be able to take cocaine on a regular or occasional basis and at the same time pay their taxes, succeed in their professional life and bring up their children. If this is not the case, why are investigations and prosecutions not carried out consistently?

Christina Russell is a former criminal barrister.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
David Cameron visiting a primary school last year  

The only choice in schools is between the one you want and the ones you don’t

Jane Merrick
Zoë Ball says having her two children was the best thing ever to happen to her  

Start a family – you’ll never have to go out again

John Mullin
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn