Mr Blackwell is my kind of bloke. We are as near as damn it the same age, he is delightfully eccentric, a businessman, and a Royal Navy veteran. There is a lovely atmosphere in Blackie's, its a nice place to be.
Like many business folk in Liskeard, he is very concerned about parking costs and restrictions that drive potential clients away from the town centre. Liskeard is not an obvious tourist destination, but seasonal and passing trade are very important in that neck of the woods.
Andy Blackwell is not a person you would describe as 'timid'.
In August of this year, he was in the process of cutting my barnet when he broke off to go outside the shop with his megaphone and announce "Danger, parking wardens in the area. Revenue collection in progress. Danger!"
Cornwall is one of those counties that generates massive profits from parking. Moscow has Gazprom, Cornwall has parking wardens.
Andy Blackwell says what most people think.
And so he had to be silenced.
The local council found three parking wardens to come forward and state that they felt 'intimidated' by his behaviour. I am ashamed to say that one of these specimens identified himself as an "ex-RAF officer" who was so traumatised by the experience that he had to go and sit down and have a cup of tea to get over it.
And here we get to the meat of the story.....
The police, who not only feel that they are above the law, but now know that they are indeed above the law, hate it when anybody questions authority. And so they took Mr Blackwood in, turned the screws, and forced him to accept a police caution for quite a serious allegation. They were no doubt pleased to do the bidding of the local authority. I worked in politics long enough to know an orchestrated operation when I see one.
A good man has now been silenced. He now has a police record that will stay with him for life, and he has been subjected to unpleasant press coverage in what is a small and close-knit community.
The British police were politicised during the miner's strike of the 1980s, and the damage has never been undone. Just ask Andrew Mitchell MP.
I do not want to appear flippant, but a police force that does the bidding of its political masters, and whose officers are above the law, is bad for our democracy. In fact, it is more than that; it is a major threat to our democracy. Just ask Andy Blackwell. This decent armed forces veteran, a family man and a taxpayer, has lost his right to speak out in the way that he sees fit about a situation that threatens his livelihood, and that of many other small businessmen and women.
I am never shy in voicing my opinions about London's serial killers and purveyors of fine perjury, the Metropolitan Police. I would argue that rather than promoting the likes of Cressida Dick, who oversaw the murder of an innocent man, and who does not seem to be on record as condemning the subsequent police cover up, we should be sacking these people. The political decapitation of the Met is the only way to return it to its originally intended purpose.
Apparently the problem is spreading. Democracy is in peril: perhaps we should give a lot of thought to what our police forces have become, and how we should deal with the problem.
1 Pondbridge Hill
Cornwall PL14 3AB