THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain

Posts categorized "Justice" Feed

The campaign against people's justice continues...

Is the internet destroying juries? | UK news | The Guardian.

This is a frothy enough piece for the po-faced Guardian. But it's another foul-smelling drip in an insidious campaign to erode confidence in jury trial. It has all the Guardian's most odious characteristics; purported concern for the little guy, wrapped up in snobbish condescension. Jurors, it seems, are ordinary flawed people who can't be trusted to understand a case, follow simple instructions or even care about doing justice. So who can be trusted? The journalist is sophisticated enough not to say it openly (knowing the roars of contemptuous laughter that would ensue) but the article implies that only a paid functionary of the state will do.

Such people, in the alternative universe inhabited by the Guardian and its readers, are above corruption, free of all personal agendas, unbiased, all-wise and all-knowing. They can be trusted to do justice.The people cannot. Yeah, right.

The internet is not "destroying" anything. It's just a quicker way to access and exchange information. Had the Guardian already existed when the printing press was discovered, one imagines members of the Scribes' Guild protesting the jeopardy to their ancient craft and quilling their fears that information would spread too quickly to be properly explained to the most vulnerable members of society.


The real spirit of the Guardian peeps through in this passage;

"...the ever-more unrestrained behaviour of jurors, compared with their more obedient counterparts of yesteryear, continues to cause concern..."

Obedience. That's what the Guardianistas truly hanker for, like the most stereotypical Colonel Blimp of old. At the masthead of this foul authoritarian rag, should be a banner that reads "Do what you're told; we know better."

A juror without the internet could stop at the public library on his way home and do the same research. It would be harder work, yes. But he could do it. It would be in breach of the rules and against the judge's explicit directions. Juries are no more compromised by the internet making it easier to break the rules than they were when jurors exchanged their bikes for cars and so could get to the library quicker. Why are print journalists such Luddites? It couldn't be perceived self-interest, could it? Surely not from the selfless, right-on journalists of the Guardian at least. Or is it just that anything that makes citizens more difficult to control is a threat to their political agenda? Rather like jury trial, in fact. Or public inquests.

Far more telling than the predictable guff that makes up most of the article is the section headed "...a young juror writes..." The criticisms of the facilities and atmosphere in England's courts ring true. Yes, they are "in the dark ages" and provide "government-issue pie, chips and beans" in a (God help us) "canteen". That is because they are run by the state, young juror! The lesson you should take from your experience is not that justice itself (an ancient concept, it's true) is old-fashioned and primitive, but that those would be the best adjectives for everything in Britain (except police surveillance equipment and weaponry) if the Guardian ever gets its way.

Rule of law, or rule of men?

MPs' expenses: Scotland Yard chief says more MPs could face investigation - Telegraph.

To me, this story is a litmus test. Do we have the rule of law in Britain in the sense of Thomas Fuller's splendid words "Be you never so high, the law is above you," or not? The files are going to the Crown Prosecution Service, the creation of which I am on record as saying might have been the worst "reform" of my lifetime. The CPS is headed by a political appointee. As the Telegraph reports:

Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, is expected to decide whether to prosecute the politicians as early as January, before a general election

Consider those words carefully. I mean no disrespect to my learned friend, but here are the facts. A political appointee is to choose whether members of the ruling Party that appointed him are to be prosecuted, just before a general election. Much hangs on his decision; not least public confidence in the rule of law. Not least (to me), whether I can continue to hope for the return of justice (as very much opposed to "social justice") to my country.

Trafigura releases report

Minton report: Carter-Ruck give up bid to keep Trafigura study secret | World news | The Guardian.

So Trafigura has given up its counter-productive attempts to suppress the Minton report. We can all read it if we wish. It's a dry technical account of what happened, setting out the possible health consequences to those who came in contact with the waste.

These were clearly matters of public interest and the Guardian was right to report them. In the wake of the cyber-furore, I am sure that companies and their lawyers will reflect on what happened and take different decisions in future. Lawyers are well aware of the non-legal consequences of legal actions and do take them into account when giving advice, though that advice is not always taken.

The practical consequences of an injunction are different now that opinion in favour of free speech can be rapidly mobilised by Twitter and blogs. It was interesting and gratifying that the editor of the Guardian credited the blogosphere in the linked article. Bloggers need to be aware however, even in their moment of triumph, that injunctions need to be taken seriously. Campaigning to have them lifted is fine, but breaching them can have serious consequences. The blogosphere is so entertaining partly because many bloggers are "not worth suing" and so don't worry about laws like defamation. Even that is unwise. Breaching an injunction is even more unwise. You could end up in jail for contempt of court.

Yesterday, I expressed my disappointment that so many bloggers misdirected their ire at working lawyers doing (as far as we all know) an honest job of work. In that context, please note that Trafigura's chief financial officer, told the Telegraph:

We decided that our best course of action at the time was to get the injunction, because we didn't want more inaccurate reporting on things which are very clearly wrong effectively. It is a heavy-handed approach, absolutely. With hindsight, could it have been done differently? Possibly.

The relevant words here are "We decided". Though this gentleman's protestation that the injunction "...was never intended to gag parliament or attack free speech..." is positively Mandelsonian, he has the decency to take responsibility on behalf of the company for its decision. QED.

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers

Carter-Ruck in new move to stop debate in parliament | UK news | The Guardian.

I understand all the concern about injunctions preventing the reporting of Parliament, but why are the lawyers at Carter-Ruck the villains (and partner Adam Tudor in particular?) There have been flash mobs outside their offices and they have been vilified across the British blogosphere.

Why is the headline to the linked article not "Trafigura in new move to stop debate in Parliament?" Lawyers do nothing without instructions. Those instructions come from their clients and whatever actions they take are on their clients' behalf and in their name. If Mr Tudor has been asked to block publication, then that is what he must try to do - whether he personally approves or not. You may say he is liable to criticism for failing to advise his clients that their actions would be counter-productive (as they certainly have been - who had heard of Trafigura before?). However, you don't even know whether the actions were on his advice or against it. He can't tell you without his client's permission, which is hardly likely to be forthcoming.

Perhaps Adam Tudor is the ass or the villain you think he is. A first class degree from Oxford doesn't speak to his morality or his common-sense. You should at least accept that he is the agent of his clients in these matters. If you want to be angry, be angry with them. Except maybe you shouldn't. At least not just yet.

If there is anything to make Adam Tudor smile in the media today, perhaps it's this quote from Prodicus, in the course of roundly criticising him and his partners and calling them asses;

These are the world's smartest legal brains with vast collective experience.

If the partners of Carter-Ruck have a collective sense of humour, they will use that quote on their website, to the irritation of the world's smartest legal brains. After all, they didn't go into defamation work to be loved. As I am sure they are reminding themselves today.

An independent legal profession, free to serve the interests of (popular or unpopular) clients, is a pre-requisite of a free society. You may not like how much some lawyers earn for doing this important work, but if you want the big bucks what's stopping you? There's almost always a shortage of legal talent. Get the qualification, put in 20 years of hard work, and maybe you can nose through the flash mobs in your Porsche too.

Because that's really why the lawyers are the villains here, isn't it? The English Vice: Envy. I can understand "rich bastard" rhetoric from the envious left, but the rest of the blogosphere should really know better.

[I am a partner in a City law firm. I am not, and have never been, a partner or employee of Carter-Ruck]

Innocent until proven guilty? Not in Hampshire.

Dead surfer had been held over child porn |

Apart from coping with the sudden death of their husband and father, "...wife Diana and daughter Sofia..." must now also live with the shame of his alleged crime. Have Hampshire Police never heard of "innocent until proven guilty?"

There is no suggestion that this death was connected with the charges. Quite the contrary. The dead man can never now clear his name (and, let's face it, it's remarkably easy to plant something incriminating on a hard drive). Yet his grieving wife and daughter must live with the stigma of a crime of which he is, as a matter of English law and tradition, innocent.

The British police are no longer the friends of ordinary citizens. They are (with such honourable exceptions as this one) the lickspittles of government and a disgrace to a free nation.

My sympathies are with Diana and Sofia in their grief, especially as to that part of it caused by Hampshire's heartless Plods. Whatever the truth of the charges against their husband and father, they are suffering innocents. That the "police spokesman" took his moment in the limelight rather than spare their feelings is proof enough that, socially and morally, Britain is broken. God rot him.

The House of Lords 1 is innocent!

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Lady Scotland risks migrant fine.

Lady Scotland is innocent. I believe she didn't know her servant from Tonga had no right to work in the UK. However, it's hard to feel sorry for a member of a government that created the situation reported by the BBC;

Those who knowingly give take on illegal workers face a two-year prison sentence and unlimited fine, while those who do it unknowingly face a £10,000 fine.

Lady Scotland is as innocent as many other people who will be convicted for this offence. Let's hope it makes her reflect on Labour's apparent lust for convicting the innocent to prove that it is "tough" on crime.

The Crown Prosecution Service usually manages to ensure "the great and the good" are not prosecuted. Perhaps Lady Scotland has offended someone and been denounced? That, after all, is how it works in the sort of regime she is working to build.  For now, all we can do is enjoy a rare moment of accidental justice.

I am feeling pretty foolish right now

BBC NEWS | UK | Time limits on innocent DNA data.

Miss P the Younger says that, while Mrs P is a genuine cynic, I am merely a constantly-disappointed idealist. She may have a point. After more than a decade of Labour, I actually thought on Sunday that the government (albeit reluctantly and spinning it furiously as its own decision) was going to comply with a court order and destroy the DNA records of innocents. I really must try harder to understand that they are so far from decency that nothing, however despicable, can safely be ruled out.

Political policing

 BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Cameron demands police retraction.


Pace many decent policemen trying to do their jobs in difficult circumstances, it is now apparent that - for their politicised leadership (and particularly that of the Met) - the police service is now the paramilitary wing of the Labour Party.

The BBC and other left-wing media are gleefully reporting Quick's disgraceful remarks about Conservative "corruption", while mentioning far more quietly that he has since withdrawn them. The mere fact that he thinks Britain's left-wing media are Conservative confirms the political bias that was already screamingly apparent from his handling of Greengate.

His career as a policeman should now be over. If he has any honour, it will end by his own resignation.

UPDATE: He has now apologised unreservedly. Good for him. That already puts him on a higher plane of existence than his political masters. Of course, I have sympathy with his anger at journalists jeopardising his family's safety and - as a hothead myself - can quite understand how his intemperate outburst happened. The fact remains that, in leaping to such conclusions on no evidence, he let his political bias show and unwittingly explained why his boys (as the Met's own internal enquiry found) went over the top in their dealings with Damian Green and his family. Has he also inadvertently revealed how rapidly and on how little evidence the Metropolitan Police anti-terrorist officers form suspicions? I hope not.