Secret trials… “Trust the judges” says justice secretary Grayling

05/06/2014

For the first time in modern history, a criminal trial involving 2 “terror suspects” is to be heard behind closed doors. You ever heard the much-quoted aphorism: “Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done”? Justice minister Chris Grayling is telling us that we must trust our judges to do the right thing. Which is surely one of the most stupid comments of the week. We can barely trust some judges to behave properly when the media spotlight is on them; why should we trust the self-interested idiots when no one’s looking over their shoulders?

The Guardian reports:

Until now it has not even been possible to report the existence of the forthcoming trial against the two men, known only as AB and CD. But three appeal court judges lifted a gagging order allowing reporting of a hearing challenging the plans.

The trial would be the first criminal case to be held behind closed doors for hundreds of years. It involves two defendants who are charged with terrorism but whose names are being withheld from the public. Unless the appeal succeeds, journalists will be banned from being present in court to report the proceedings on 16 June or the outcome of the trial.

The men will be tried by a jury but no report of the case will be made public and no members of the media or public will be given access to the court.

So, if the (still officially unnamed) defendants hadn’t appealed against these reporting restrictions, we the public would never have heard about it. As things are, the accused (whatever it is they’re accused of) are known to us only by the code-names “AB” and “CD”. We don’t know what they’re accused of; and journalists are barred from even reporting whether they are found guilty or not guilty!

If this travesty of justice is allowed to go ahead, it will be repeated again and again. After all, no major political party wants to be seen as “soft on terrorism”.

Worse than the “secret court” idea is the gagging component. Let’s say I’m a defendant in a secret court: people who know I’m innocent (for instance people who saw me in a pub in Glasgow when the crime took place in London will not come forward with this evidence because they won’t even know I’m being tried for it). The men will be tried by a jury but no report of the case will be made public and no members of the media or public will be given access to the court.

The court was told that the crown has sought and obtained legal orders on the grounds of national security, arguing that if the trial were held in public the prosecution might not proceed with the case. This reminds me of the terrorist suspects who are living under onerous “control orders” because if they were tried in court some terrible Godzilla monster will flatten Tokyo or something.

And what’s going to happen if the accused are found not guilty? Will the (obviously protected) prosecution witnesses be outed as liars and perverters of justice? Of course not.

Justice? What justice?

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Victim of miscarriage of justice told: Tough shit baby

25/01/2013

Jill-Dando-010
Jill Dando. She was not killed by Barry George, but the courts don’t give a toss

Barry George, the man wrongly convicted for the murder of TV presenter Jill Dando, has been told he isn’t entitled to a penny of compensation even though he served eight years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. George is one of four people whose faulty convictions and subsequent claims for compensation were reviewed by the London high court.

This is because of a Supreme Court ruling in 2011 concerning compensation payments to victims of miscarriage of justice. The Supreme Court ruling states:

“[A miscarriage of justice occurs] when a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that the evidence against a defendant has been so undermined that no conviction could possibly be based upon it…

“A claimant for compensation will not need to prove he was innocent of the crime but he will have to show that, on the basis of facts as they are now known, he should not have been convicted or that conviction could not possibly be based on those facts.”

Not all miscarriages of justice, it follows, will lead to compensation. “Procedural deficiencies that led to irregularities in the trial or errors in the investigation of offences will not suffice to establish entitlement to compensation,” the supreme court judges explained.

This means that it makes no difference whether you have committed the crime or not. You’ll get compensation only if compelling new evidence comes to light. A flawed police investigation, or faulty behaviour by court officers at the time of the trial, mean nothing. So Barry George, who wrongly served eight years, gets nothing by way of compensation. Neither will Ismail Ali, who was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm upon his wife at Luton Crown Court in 2007; Kevin Dennis, whose conviction of the murder of Babatunde Oba was declared unsound and whose retrial was abandoned when the trial judge agreed with submissions there was no case answer and directed the jury to acquit Dennis of murder; and Justin Tunbridge whose convictions for two counts of indecent assault in 1995 were eventually quashed by the Court of Appeal in April 2008. Another eleven miscarriage of justice cases are due to come before the High Court soon, but these rulings make it unlikely that any compensation will be paid to these innocent people.

This is what it boils down to: it doesn’t matter if you actually committed the crimes you were sent to jail for. In Barry George’s case, he served eight years for a crime he did not commit. His wrongful conviction made him a hate figure to the public who loved Jill Dando. And now he’s been denied compensation, which will make people think “there’s no smoke without fire – he must have done it, otherwise he’d have got compensation.” This could happen to any of us. And this is British justice? Gaddafi’s Libya would probably have been fairer.

Make no mistake: George, Ali, Dennis and Tunbridge did not commit the crimes for which they were imprisoned. They’ve had years stolen from their lives, they have been labelled murderers,or sex offenders, labels which tend to stick. And what compensation do they get? None. British justice is a sadistic farce.

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Wikileaks.org is back up! Not a *huge* victory for freedom and common sense – but a victory nevertheless

15/12/2010

On 3 December, we reported that you could no longer reach the Wikileaks site by using the wikileaks.org URL. Well, that is no longer the case: aim your browser at “http://wikileaks.org” and you get rerouted to http://mirror.wikileaks.info/ – one of the many, many mirrors that sprouted after the USA’s clumsy efforts to limit free speech. Not a major victory by any means. But a victory nevertheless.

In other (Wikileaks/Assange-related) news: Julian Assange is still in prison even though he was granted bail yesterday. The Swedish prosecutors have appealed against the bail ruling, claiming that he would pose a major flight risk. I’m not sure how the Swedes think he’ll flee: Assange’s face must be one of the best known in border security circles, plus they have his passport… but as things stand, he must remain in HMP Wandsworth for at leat another couple of days while this judicial circus runs its course.

This case is highlighting the problems with the new European arrest warrant system. Usually, it is only possible to extradite someone if the crime he’s accused of is also a crime in the country he’s “hiding” in. As far as I can tell, Assange’s alleged crimes are not illegal in Britain (what the Swedes call “rape” and “sexual molestation” are very different to the UK’s definitions – I believe one of the charges relates to Assange refusing to use a condom; the complainant admits that the sex was consensual, so how in hell can this be called a crime? He didn’t force her to have unprotected sex).

Anyway, a blog like this one is not really a good place to discuss the intricacies of Swedish law. But what I will say is this: Sweden has got very accommodating rendition agreements with the USA. If Assange is extradited to Sweden, it won’t be long before he ends up in America. And if you look at what politicians are saying about Assange it’s pretty clear he won’t receive a free trial and he’ll end up on a slab.

But do these people really believe that Assange is Wikileaks? The leaks will continue, regardless of his fate. All that will happen is that Assange’s colleagues will improve their security and anonymity. Killing (or imprisoning) Assange will not kill Wikileaks. And all politicians need to beware: if they treat Assange like a piece of shit, the leaks will become more and more damaging to the so-called “liberal” European “democracies” who are currently baying for his blood. So watch out, fools: the day of reckoning is nearly upon us… and you.

UPDATE: I just noticed this, a page that lists the very many sites that are mirroring Wikileaks in an attempt to stop the authorities ever again closing them down. Well, when I say “stop”, I actually mean “make it very difficult”. The USA has already demonstrated the length of its reach. But when Wikileaks is mirrored in a huge number of countries, some of whom dislike America intensely, the job of censorship becomes much more difficult.

There’s also info on the page about how you too can mirror Wikileaks on your web server. I say go for it! I think it’s about time that the USA learned what “democracy” actually means: rule by the people for the people; not rule by a bunch of rich geezers on behalf of their billionaire buddies. Or is my dictionary out of date?

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“Weapons haul” found by police in Worcester, UK… but it’s all a load of crap, as usual.

08/09/2010

Wednesday, 8 September 2010.

According to the papers in the UK, especially those prone to hysteria whenever even a weak connection to “terrorists” can be inferred by dumb-ass readers, a shit-load of munitions were seized by police in a quiet respectable suburb of Worcester in the West Midlands.  Take a look at this photo from the newspaper “The Sun” (the Sun is a sensationalist UK paper whose sister paper The News of the World is under investigation for gaining unauthorized access to voicemail belonging to high-ranking politicians and business figures:

Sun photo showing police carrying weaponary from the Worcester house

Look at the pics, and the other pics available out there in the intertubes: see how clean, and new this ordnance is. To me, this makes me wonder: the army boys told the cops that the munitions were replica and harmless; and the cops decided to act like real super-cops.  The cops didn’t put the munitions in evidence bags or in any way try to avoid being photographed.  They wanted to be photographed; they probably told the photographers to turn up.  Now they’re a bunch of hard, dedicated coppers who carry military weapons with complete disregard for their own safety.  But what about the public’s safety?  Don’t worry, the bombs are only toys.  But shh don’t tell anyone.

Even before the truth came out, I was suspicious.  The nature of the weapons I saw pics of and read about was far too modern to be anything but replicas belonging to replica collectors, war re-enactors and the like; if they were real, they were something to be very concerned about.  A terrorist organization amassing a cache like that would indicate that something’s going to happen – and there are more caches like this.  The fact that all the news editors must have been pretty sure by deadline time that the munitions were fake and almost certainly legally held didn’t stop them from making it seem a terror incident.

And now the truth has come out: take a look at the Worcester News website and you’ll find this puff piece, making sure that no criminal charges have been brought against him. Graham Lane is a 65-year old collector of deactivated and replica firearms, and he’s a gun club chief.

Apart from the crazed response to this story by the sleazy “terrorism sells” tabloids, there’s another point that baffles me. According to the Worcester News of Tuesday, after listing the sensationalist list of “munitions retrieved” – “more than 30 guns , including rifles and shotguns, and a gun cabinet were removed from the house” – an Inspector John Mackay said:

“During our search we discovered some munitions. We asked the Army to come in and keep them safe for us. The only reason the Army has been called is because they have the experts to handle the munitions. I’m not qualified to say what the munitions are.”

So this presumably highly-trained army bomb disposal specialists were unable to tell the difference between real explosives and pretend stuff? Sneck, no wonder the casualty rate of innocent Afghanis being brutalized, tortured and even killed.

And we’re no safer here. Go out in the street and play with toy guns: how long before an armed response unit turns up and wastes some teenager with a water pistol. Doesn’t this make you feel safe at night?

Graham Lane, gun club chief, falsely arrested yesterday for having a garage full of toys


“Suffer little children to come unto him” – Michael Jackson is the new Messiah

30/06/2009

It never ceases to amaze me how death can make even the most reviled monsters into wonderful heroes. In life, “Wacko Jacko” was branded a freak, a kiddie-fiddler, a madman… but now he’s dead, everyone loves the guy. For years, his CDs have sat gathering dust on record store shelves; a day after his death, they’re all sold out. It would surprise me less if Saddam Hussein’s birthday was proclaimed a national holiday in the USA. Crazy.

Of course, the public has always been pretty irrational when it comes to Jackson. Look at how his fans were convinced he wasn’t guilty of abusing young boys, simply because they liked his music. That kind of logic would have acquitted Gary Glitter of the child sex charges that got him sent to prison. I remember seeing the crowds of Jackson fans outside the courtroom when he was on trial, often in tears at the thought that their idol might be found guilty of a crime that he “obviously” hadn’t committed. Crazy.

Remember that kid Jordy Chandler, who alleged that he and Jackson had engaged in acts of kissing, masturbation and oral sex? Remember how he gave a detailed description of what he said Jackson’s penis looked like? A description that doctors who examined Jackson’s genitals reported bore a strong similarity to the real thing? Remember how Jackson paid $22 million for Jordy’s allegations to go away? Remember how his sister La Toya claimed he was a pedophile (an accusation she later withdrew – but for a woman to say such a thing about her brother in the first place is remarkable to say the least). Of course, none of the above means Jackson actually did anything wrong. But it’s interesting to remember these details about his life when we consider the guy’s recent elevation to sainthood.

Then there’s the drug abuse stuff. It’s said that he was addicted to Valium, Ativan, opiate painkillers and xanax. And the cosmetic surgery – people who’ve undergone much less work are diagnosed as suffering from surgical addiction. Is this the kind of person who should be considered a suitable role model for children? Apparently so. Crazy.

None of the above is meant as an attack on the memory of Michael Jackson. I don’t particularly think that his memory is something to be revered. But I’m not trying to put the guy down. I’m just saying that it’s damned weird how the whole world now thinks the sun shone out of his diseased-not-bleached butt.

Incidentally, I was looking for some pictures to illustrate this blog post and decided to check out Google Images. So I did an image search for “Michael Jackson”… Look what Google turned up! It’s like I was saying. Crazy!

Pictures of Michael Jackson... he obviously had more radical cosmetic surgery than I thought!

Pictures of Michael Jackson... he obviously had more radical cosmetic surgery than I thought!


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