Friday, 20 June 2008

How do you Humble a Super Model?

How can Naomi Campbell do 200 hours of community service in the UK?

For anyone who hasn’t heard, this alongside fine of around £2,000, was the sentence meted out to the super model for attacking police who were doing their job when called in to evict her from an aircraft. She had apparently been excessively abusive to the cabin crew and pilot when she was told that some of her luggage had been lost in the fiasco after the opening of Terminal 5 at Heathrow.

It wasn’t the first time she had been given a community service sentence. According to the BBC news programme this evening, she’s also had to do it in New York where she was expected to clean toilets. The programme carried a still of her turning up for her final cleaning session wearing the most inappropriate clothes – a full length evening dress, full make up and earrings dropping to her shoulders. It didn’t exactly portray the attitude of a penitent wrongdoer making up for the error of her ways.

In my humble opinion, the current sentence is crazy. Of all the people who lost luggage or were inconvenienced during the Terminal 5 shambles, she was probably the one who could most afford it. A fine of £2,000 probably won’t even dent her pocket. It was less than half the cost of her first class air fare. Two hundred is a lot of hours, but no doubt the authorities will arrange to fit it round her schedule. And the media circus that will surround the community service is likely to displace any benefit to the community.

Assaulting the police is an offence that can carry a jail sentence. A spell inside might have made her think twice about such behaviour in the future. On second thoughts, that would have the tax-payer forking out again. Trouble is, I don’t think the law would allow a big enough fine to hurt the likes of Miss Campbell. But putting a large amount of money into a public pot would go some way to making things right.

Should the law allow magistrates and judges to select a level of fines appropriate to the perpetrators as well as to the crimes they commit? Do let me know what you think.

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