I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised but I am. I really am.
Liberal Democrats have often seemed lacking in principle, not really knowing whether they are free-market Gladstonians like Jeremy Browne the thoughtful and intelligent MP for Taunton who is standing down at the next election; or smug, incompetent social democratic meddlers like Vince Cable who, sadly, isn’t.
As a result the archetypical LibDem has a backbone of wet cardboard and no discernible principles at all, like Simon Hughes the monumentally pointless Justice Minister.
The MP for Wells is called Tessa Munt. Unlike other LibDems she does have principles. She doesn’t like pylons, for example.
She is a bit more flexible on windfarms, which she approves of in principle, although preferably not in her constituency.
She bravely stood up for sweeter mincemeat when the Government proposed to cut the minimum sugar content required under the Jam and Similar Products (England) Regulations 2003 from 60% to 50%. Continue reading
In August last year Fathers For Justice campaigner Martin Matthews climbed onto the roof of Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s house and unveiled banners in a protest against the family justice system.
He had with him a screwdriver and some screws which he used to screw fixings for his banners into Mr Grayling’s bitumen.
The police were called and Mr Matthews was arrested.
There was, however, a problem. What crime, if any, had been committed? Continue reading
The appalling attack on Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices is, as almost everyone has noted, an attack on free speech and an attack on those of us who think that free speech is the most important of all our freedoms.
It is intended to intimidate people who take it for granted.
If we ever allow what we write or say to be affected by a mob, or by the threat of violence or murder we might as well stop writing and stop thinking. We will have been defeated.
It is quite absurd that even now, after ten of the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo have been murdered and others critically wounded, most newspapers, including it seems The Guardian, are still not publishing the cartoons that led to their murder. The only explanation would seem to be cowardice.
All websites, from the largest to the smallest should now publish Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
Bloggers usually get readers by being outraged. To suggest that something really doesn’t matter very much is the way to lose readers.
On the other hand to suggest that Western Civilisation is at stake can grab the attention.
So I ought really to be getting outraged over former Apprentice contestant and Sun columnist Katie Hopkins and either denouncing her, or the alleged threat to prosecute her, in the strongest possible terms. Continue reading
The question, as counsel love to say to witnesses wrestling with an unfair question, is a simple one:
If a nuclear time bomb is ticking away at an undisclosed central London location, is it morally permissible to torture somebody to discover its location so that it can be disarmed?
In real life the chances of any choice being as clear cut as the “ticking bomb” scenario are all but non-existent. The situation bears little more relationship to reality than a school debate about whether Stephen Hawking or Alan Bennett should be the first to be thrown out of the balloon.
Would we be sure that there really was a nuclear bomb?
Would we be sure that we had the right man?
Would we be sure that torture was the most effective way of extracting the information?
Nevertheless, if the dilemma is posed as starkly as a straight choice between water-boarding an individual, or a nuclear holocaust for millions, the answer to whether we should inflict torture is surely an unequivocal “yes”. In such an hypothetical situation it would be absurd to scruple over the infliction of pain on an individual if the certain consequence of doing so was death to millions.
Does it follow then, that the law should allow interrogators, such as those employed by the CIA, or even MI6, to use torture? Continue reading
Dan Hodges believes that the high standard of proof set for the conviction of criminals is allowing too many to go free.
Instead of acquitting defendants unless there is proof “beyond reasonable doubt” that they committed the crime, Mr Hodges wants to change the system so that people can be convicted if it is merely “probable” that they are guilty.
Now it may be, as criminal barrister Dan Bunting has – and I hesitate to use the word about someone like Dan B whom I greatly admire – somewhat sneeringly suggested, that Dan H has just made “a rather silly comment in order to be controversial.” Of course he has a column to write, and it can’t be easy having to think of something interesting to write day in, day out. Certainly if I had to do it I would very quickly run out of material and desperation might well lead me to say anything, however outrageous and absurd, in order to generate a lively batch of comments underneath my column.
But I am afraid Bunting’s airy dismissal of Hodges isn’t really good enough. If changing the standard of proof really is such an obviously silly thing to do, then we need to address his arguments.
Here are 4 reasons why Hodges is wrong. Continue reading
The online news organisation Exaro made the shortlist to win the UK Press Gazette’s award for “Campaign of the year.” It lost out yesterday to George Arbuthnott of The Times for his stories about modern slavery in Britain.
The award is given to “the series of articles or broadcasts which has done the most to make a difference for the better in society and serve the public interest.” The nomination related to Exaro’s series of articles about paedophilia in high places which gave rise to the over-arching inquiry into child sexual abuse.
One can see why the judges might well have concluded that Exaro has made a difference in that it has driven the issue of “VIPaedophiles” and sex offenders to the top of the news agenda. Whether it is one that has served the public interest is perhaps less clear. Continue reading
I’m afraid Ed Miliband’s reaction to Emily Thornberry’s tweeted picture of Dan Ware’s flag bedecked Strood house suggests that he is a phoney.
According to Ed he feels “respect” whenever he sees a white van. Intrinsically there is nothing to respect about a white van. Such vans are of course used by hard-working painters, decorators and builders (like Mr Ware); but they are also favoured by less savoury people such as cigarette smugglers, cannabis couriers and child snatchers. To feel “respect” when he sees a van, whatever its colour, is just silly. In fact, however, nobody believes for a moment that he feels any such thing. Mr Miliband may be considered weird, but not that weird. He is a phoney.
Mr Ware’s House
According to Ed he has “never been angrier” than when he saw Emily Thornberry’s now famous tweet. If this were really true his labile emotions over such a trifling issue would render him mentally unsuited, and probably mentally incapable, of running the country. But in fact nobody believes that it is true. It is a phoney rage. Continue reading
Exaro News has been drip feeding allegations and rumours of a paedophile sex ring in high places for many months.
Today – in collaboration with the Sunday People – it has alleged that it was not only a sex but a murder ring. A Tory MP strangled a 12 year old brown haired boy in a central London town house in 1980. Apparently,18 months to two years later two other men murdered a second boy in front of another Tory MP, “a cabinet minister.” Both MPs, are “still alive.” Its source is a man in his 40s to whom they have given the pseudonym “Nick”. Exaro even mentions rumours of a third child murdered by being run over in the street, though I don’t think Nick claims to have actually seen more than one murder.
The scene was set yesterday when the BBC decided to join Exaro News in broadcasting an interview with a man in his 40s known as “Nick” who alleges that he was repeatedly raped by Conservative MPs and other “VIPs” in the 1970s and 80s. Nick, it is said, is grateful to Exaro News and to his counsellor for “allowing” him to tell his story in public, and wants to encourage others to go, as he has now gone, to the police to corroborate his account. According to the BBC he has been “in counselling on and off since he was in his twenties” and has only now “found the strength to come forward.” There was no mention in the BBC interview of any murder and Exaro have never previously revealed that Nick witnessed a murder. Continue reading
Jon Robins, who many readers will know of as the editor of the excellent www.justicegap.com, has written a first class book, The First Miscarriage of Justice, which pulls off three tricks. First he tells a riveting and rather sad story of an ordinary man whose life was shattered by an outrageous miscarriage of justice. Secondly, he takes us back in time to a Life on Mars world of Cortinas, Mini Coopers, bent coppers and biased judges. Thirdly, he reminds us that whilst the Cortinas may have vanished the modern judiciary is by no means as clever or as fair as it sometimes likes to imagine itself. Four times Tony Stock’s case has been to the Court of Appeal. Four times, disgracefully, it has been rejected.
The facts that gave rise to his conviction for robbery are simple enough. At about 6.45 p.m. on a wet Saturday evening in January 1970 two employees of Tesco were taking the day’s takings to the bank. They were suddenly attacked from behind by robbers wielding iron bars. They dropped the cash, which was picked up by the robbers who made off in a Ford Cortina. The car which had been stolen, was later found abandoned in another part of Leeds, while a holdall containing money-bags from the robbery was found close to the A58 Wetherby to York road, about 12 miles away. Continue reading