Sunday, February 03, 2008


Mind-Boggling Labour Government Corruption: Unlimited Power To Make Cover-Ups and Fix Trials

News has just broken of Labour Government plans to take control of the legal system. Has the Minister of Justice gone raving mad, or have Labour decided to go all the way and make themselves a junta? The new ‘Counter-Terrorism Bill’ includes new powers to get rid of the two biggest guarantees of our liberty: juries, and an independent judiciary. If this disgusting law is passed, the Government will be able to order that juries don’t sit on coroners’ inquests, and the Government can replace ‘unsuitable’ coroners with their own chosen puppets. Rule of Law? Chuck it in the bin.

It’s appallingly plain that that Labour’s arrogant, corrupt attitude that no law should apply to them has got, unbelievably, worse under Mr Brown than it was even under Mr Blair (when I wrote an article on their contempt for the Rule of Law that, for me, is probably the best article I’ve yet written on here). Two baronesses (both one-time Leaders of our party in the House of Lords) immediately spring to mind: Shirley Williams attacking biased legislation when “the Rule of Law becomes the Rulers’ Law” and Nancy Seear saying that
“If my party should abandon the independence of the judiciary, I would promptly abandon my party.”
I trust the Liberal Democrats will hammer this shocking piece of totalitarian corruption.

What’s the plan? Simple. If this is passed, the Home Secretary can do away with juries and replace coroners with their own nominees at will, not just in “terrorism” cases – though they’ve sneaked it into a ‘Counter-Terrorism Bill’ because they think people will be afraid to vote against that. But no, this new law has nothing to do with terrorism. Government ministers will be able to do this on grounds of “national security” or “public interest”… Which are such wide categories that they can do whatever they like, whenever they like.

Just think about that for a second.

If ever there’s something the Labour Government considers awkward or embarrassing, either to themselves, their dodgy business associates, their fellow corrupt, undemocratic regimes, or of course all three, if ever a death is involved the Government can now both cover it up and make sure that the ‘right’ result comes out of the inquest. That’s what happens when there are no juries and you get to pick your own crooked co-operative coroner.

The World This Weekend today reported that a long-running case in which the police shot a member of the public has hit the buffers because the coroner has ruled that no finding can be made, because the police and Government are withholding vital information. This is nothing to do with terrorism – it might be about drugs, it might not, the vital information has been censored, so who can tell – but does anyone think the Labour Government would let a jury and coroner embarrass them in this way if they could get rid of both of them with a flick of their fingers? Or stop a jury and independent coroner ruling on, say, the death of Jean Charles de Menezes? You can just hear the Home Secretary’s phone ringing with Ken Livingstone on the line calling for another cover-up to protect his crony Ian Blair, can’t you? Accountability? Transparency? Honesty? Bugger off.

If this gets through, how long can it be before the Labour Government proposes ‘a minor tidying-up extension to cover loopholes in the law’ by saying they should be able to get rid of juries and parachute in Labour-favouring judges to all criminal trials? Since the Bill of Rights in 1688, a judge can only be dismissed by an Address carried by a two-thirds majority in both Houses of Parliament, meaning no government is ever strong enough to do it by themselves, and even the Bill of Rights does not allow the government then to pick a tame replacement (thanks, as for so many things, to the late Conrad Russell and his An Intelligent Person’s Guide To Liberalism, from the chapter on the founding principle of Liberalism, ‘Controlling Executive Power’). But, because we have no written constitution, this Labour Government would only need a simple majority to dismiss that law, and after that a two-thirds majority would be replaced by… A Minister flicking a pen.

It would be impossible to trust the courts, if the Labour Government could choose every verdict, and cover it up. It would be impossible, impossible to stop the Labour Government doing whatever the hell they liked and break the law – as they have, again and again – literally with impunity, if the Labour Government could choose every verdict, and cover it up.

It would be impossible ever to rebuild public trust in the Rule of Law or the political system if this goes through and the Labour Government could choose, quite literally, to get away with murder.

Update: The BBC website now has a story summarising the report on The World At One, and James Graham has also now written about the issue.

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Getting rid of juries has been a long standing Labour aim. They've tried in explict ways on a couple of occasions but now seem to be going for more subtle "death by a thousand cuts" ways of doing it.

I've little doubt that the desire to do research into jury decision making is motivated by the hope of finding the killer evidence that jury's aren't suitable for some cases.
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