Posts Tagged ‘the Secret Barrister’

Tories Trying to Undermine Justice by Appealing against Colston Statue Decision

January 11, 2022

I’ve already written a long piece about the acquittal of the four people responsible for the attack on the statue of Edward Colston. They were accused of criminal damage, but successfully defended themselves on the grounds that the attack was justified as the statue constituted a hate crime. The 12 good men and women true agreed, or the majority did, and so they were found not guilty. The right has been outraged, fearing that this defence leaves other controversial monuments at risk of destruction by the woke. I don’t believe that this is necessarily the case, and think that the threat to Britain’s heritage is probably exaggerated. As for the case of the Colston statue itself, there were campaigns to have it taken down going back thirty years or so. The people of Bristol voted for it to stay when they were polled, but now that it’s been torn down I think probably most people in the city are sick and tired of hearing about it.

But not, it seems, the Conservatives. Suella Braverman, our wretched attorney-general has apparently appealed against the decision. Mike and Zelo Street have both put up excellent articles stating what this appeal actually means. It’s another attack on British justice. Braverman and the Tories have no evidence and don’t allege that there was a mistrial, and so there is no real justification for an appeal. It’s just the Tories trying to revoke a decision they don’t like. This is an attack on the independence of the judiciary, which is one of the fundamental constitutional checks against government power. And the Tories aren’t just doing it with the verdict for the Colston Four. They’re also trying to pass legislation that would allow them to set aside judicial decisions against the government and its policies. It’s another step towards the right-wing dictatorship Johnson and co seemingly want for this country. It’s not too far from the way judges in the 17th century would send juries back to reconsider their verdict, and even imprison them, if they gave one they disagreed with. That power was undermined and discredited in a historic trial in Bristol in the late 17th century when William Penn, a Quaker and the founder of Pennsylvania and a group of his co-religionists were put on trial for seditious preaching. The jury repeatedly refused to convict them, and so the beak kept sending them back until he had them imprisoned until they came in line with his views. Which they didn’t. As a result, Brits not only have the freedom to be tried by their peers, but their peers have the freedom to deliver verdicts which accord with their consciences, not the authorities. Braverman’s appeal isn’t going to restore this unjust practice exactly, but it is doing something similar.

But it may also be a case of ‘be careful what you wish for. You might just get it’. Zelo Street’s article gives the learned opinion of lawyer Adam Wagner, who tweeted “there is a basic issue which will be becoming clear to ministers – a jury verdict sets no precedent, so the law is as it was, but a Court of Appeal decision would set an important precedent, which may not be the one the govt want”.

The Sage of Crewe also gives the opinion of those other internet legal gents, the Secret Barrister and and Jolyon Maugham. The Barrister said: “Not a single high profile criminal case can now pass without the Attorney General – a person with no experience of criminal law – exploiting it for political gain. It is difficult to think of an AG who has more enthusiastically abused their office”.

And the foxhunting lawyer gave his opinion on how much Braverman’s and the Tories’ determination to attack the verdict showed they really cared about British tradition and liberty: “By attacking the jury verdict in the Colston case Braverman tells a simple truth about how much Government really cares … about ‘British traditions’ … Theirs is a government without principles, without substance, of empty nationalistic signalling”.

But you wouldn’t know that by the way the right keeps banging on about our ancient constitutional liberties and the philosophers and lawyers who contributed to and guarded them. Like Sargon of Gasbag and the other Lotus Eaters raving about John Locke against the threat of the woke. Locke is one of the country’s great constitutional theorists. His Two Treatises of Government attacked autocratic theories of absolute monarchical power and instead provided powerful justification for the people exercising their sovereignty through elected representatives. He wasn’t a democrat. Indeed, the constitution he worked out for Virginia is based very much on the contemporary British social hierarchy and the power of the landlords. But it was a vital step towards modern, liberal theories of democratic government.

The Tories’ attack on the verdict represent another attack on these vital traditions and liberties in favour of restoring the power of a ruling class threatened by any indication of dissenting popular opinion.

https://zelo-street.blogspot.com/2022/01/suella-braverman-is-idiot.html