Friday, November 23, 2012
Secret courts plan in chaos: Lords reject closed hearings by crushing majority
It must confound the Leftists but the House of Lords has long been the major bulwark against Fascist government in Britain
Plans for secret courts were left in tatters last night by the House of Lords. Peers voted by crushing majorities for fundamental changes to the Justice and Security Bill, which would allow civil cases involving national security to be conducted in secret.
By margins of over 100 votes, peers voted to remove ministers’ exclusive right to apply for secret hearings and to give judges ultimate discretion in deciding whether or not they should be held behind closed doors.
As the legislation was introduced in the Lords, the Government’s plans came under devastating attack from several of Britain’s most senior retired judges and politicians.
The defeats suggest ministers will have to return to the drawing board and accept a series of amendments – or risk seeing the entire piece of legislation thrown out.
Critics say the Government’s proposals will seriously threaten Britain’s reputation for open and fair justice.
The Daily Mail has led criticism of the plans to allow so-called ‘closed material procedures’ (CMPs), in which cases are conducted entirely in private, in any civil hearing.
Defendants or claimants will not be allowed to be present, or know or challenge the case against them, and must be represented by a security-cleared special advocate, rather than their own lawyer.
Currently, such procedures are used in tiny numbers of immigration and deportation hearings, but the Government wants to extend them across the civil courts in cases deemed to involve national security.
The legislation has been drafted in close co-operation with the security services, which have claimed other countries may stop sharing intelligence with Britain if it risks being disclosed in open court.
But crossbencher Lord Pannick, a leading lawyer, described the measures as a ‘radical departure from the principles of common law’. Leading a series of amendments to the plans, he said: ‘This is a departure from the principle of transparent justice. We should be very careful in that a CMP is inherently damaging to the integrity of the judicial process.
‘Judicial decisions are respected precisely because all the evidence is heard in open court subject to acceptance and judges give a reasoned judgment which explains their decision.’
Former MI5 chief Baroness Manningham-Buller said secret court hearings should be introduced so British spies can defend themselves against allegations of torture. She said: ‘It is deeply distressing to me and to my former colleagues to be accused of inequities in cases of torture and maltreatment. We have not been able to defend ourselves.’
She claimed that presenting classified information in open court would put the lives of secret agents at risk.
But Tory peer Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts said the new legislation failed the ‘smell test’. He warned that closed hearings could begin as a ‘rare event but will over time morph into the default position’.
Lord Macdonald, QC, the former director of public prosecutions, accused the Government of reneging on a pledge to allow judges to have the final say on whether there should be a secret court hearing. ‘These amendments would give judges appropriate discretion to balance the interests of national security with justice,’ he said.
Historian Lord Morgan, a Labour peer, opposed the expansion of secret courts because it would mean a ‘tilting of the balance away from the free individual towards the interest of the state’.
Labour justice spokesman Lord Beecham backed a string of proposed changes to the legislation, saying the Government’s proposals constituted a ‘radical departure from the cornerstone of our legal system – the right of a party to know and to challenge his opponent’s case’. He said: ‘These amendments place the judge firmly in control of the process with the means to balance the interests of justice and security, protecting from disclosure what is essential not to be made public.’
Advocate General for Scotland Lord Wallace of Tankerness, replying for the Government, said that at present people assumed the Government settled controversial cases because there had been ‘some wrongdoing’ whereas in fact it was often that relevant material could not be put before the court.
He said there were currently 20 civil damages cases where material ‘relating to national security would be central’.
Donald Campbell, of the human rights group Reprieve, said: ‘These amendments are a small step in the right direction, but the reality is that secret courts in any form are deeply dangerous. 'The only way to protect our centuries-old tradition of open and equal justice is for Parliament to reject plans for secret courts altogether.’
More anti-Israel lies from the BBC
A BBC war reporter made a shocking blunder by tweeting a photograph of an injured child from Syria but indicating she was from Gaza.
Gaza correspondent Jon Donnison added 'Heartbreaking' to the front of a message he retweeted from a Palestinian 'journalist and social activist' named Hazem Balousha.
Balousha had posted a picture of a young girl lying on a hospital bed with bloodied clothes, along with the words 'Pain in #Gaza'.
Donnison's tweet went out to his 7,971 followers on the social networking site and he was soon hit with a barrage of outraged responses highlighting the mistake.
The website bbcwatch.org highlighted the error and wrote: 'Up to now, it may have been possible to put down Jon Donnison’s frequently problematic reporting to a lack of knowledge and understanding of the region.
'However, his decision to promote deliberate misinformation – either knowingly or as a result of a complete failure to check facts – indicates that he is not merely naive. 'Donnison has rendered himself no longer fit for the purpose of accurate and impartial reporting from the Middle East in accordance with the BBC’s legal obligations.'
Donnison apologised for the gaffe, tweeting: 'A photo I retweeted from another journo showing children injured was not in Gaza as I said but apparently from Syria. Apologies.'
A BBC News spokesperson said: 'Jon Donnison retweeted the photograph in good faith. He issued a correction and apologised as soon as he learned that the picture was not from Gaza.'
This is the latest in a string of embarrassing incidents for the BBC, in which the most high-profile has been the Lord McAlpine Newsnight scandal.
Another of the frequent false rape claims from Britain
At least the Brits jail the liars. But it doesn't seem to have much effect. British embarrassment regularly trumps the truth
A 'scorned' nanny was jailed for two years for claiming her wealthy boss had raped her after he shunned her following a one-night stand.
Divorcee Tina Greenland, 49, shared a night of passion with insurance broker Nicholas Mouna, 55, after he employed her to care for his disabled daughter.
The mother of three texted him the next day saying she 'had a lovely night' and that she hoped he did not think she was 'some kind of tart', Canterbury Crown Court heard.
When Mr Mouna gave a 'half-hearted' response making it clear he did not want a relationship, she accused him of 'using' her. She then phoned Kent Police and claimed she had been raped after her drink had been spiked.
Mr Mouna was arrested and suspended from his job, which he later lost - despite never being charged for the crime.
When detectives examined messages exchanged between the pair, they discovered Greenland's rape claims were fabricated.
Jailing her for two years, Judge Nigel Van Der Bijl - quoting from poet William Congreve - said 'hell hath no fury like a woman scorned'. He said: 'You have been found guilty on the clearest of evidence of making false allegations. 'But this is serious because people who make false allegations make it harder for real victims to be believed.'
Greenland, of Folkstone, Kent, screamed, 'Oh no, my God no', as the sentence was passed.
She maintained her innocence throughout her trial, but her account of what happened on the night in December last year was rejected by the jury.
The child carer, who had been employed by Mr Mouna through an agency, was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.
Jurors were told how Greenland pursued Mr Mouna - who has three children with his ex-wife - and sent him text messages asking him to go for a drink.
John Traversi, prosecuting, said: 'In 2011, Greenland began caring for the girl and after a while she began asking Mr Mouna if he would like to go to a country club for a drink and she began sending him texts. 'These texts intrigued him and flattered him and they agreed to go out in December.'
In December, the divorcee arrived at his home carrying a bottle of vodka after being 'dropped off' by her daughter and the pair shared a kiss.
Mr Traversi said: 'They had some drinks and they sat on the sofa and put her arms around him and kissed again and had some more drinks.'
He added that during the evening Greenland felt dizzy and she became 'hot and sweaty'. Greenland went upstairs and was sick, but returned later to watch TV until 'he felt tired'.
The prosecutor added: 'Both of them went upstairs and Greenland said: "Which room?". He said: "The big one... if you want." 'The two then got into bed where they had sexual intercourse and engaged in other sexual activity during the course of the night.'
The court heard the following morning they woke up at 11am and had breakfast together before leaving.
Mr Traversi said: 'On the way home she asked if they would be seeing each other again... and he gave a half-hearted response.'
Later in the day, Greenland texted him saying: 'Hi Nick, just to say had a lovely night. Sorry about the sick and I do hope that you do not think that I am some kind of tart for sleeping with you. 'I would like to see you again and really do hope you do me. But if you don’t want to I won’t mind. Of course, it would be nice...'
Mr Mouna replied that he 'quite liked my single life', adding, 'I am quite happy to meet up with you and do it again with you'.
She replied: 'No, thanks for all that. I have just been used. Thanks a lot.'
Hours later, Greenland took an overdose of tablets and vodka and was rushed to hospital.
She had texted Mr Traversi saying: 'Well I hope you sort your life out because at the moment I feel like ending mine. I have got vodka and pills I just hope I don’t wake up.'
Paul Hogben, defending, said Greenland 'couldn’t cope with rejection.'
Mr Hogben said after the verdict that the text that Greenland received 'would have hurt anyone' and was read as 'I don’t want to see you anymore'.
He said: 'She reacted in the wrong way and she did make some effort to try to stop the ball from rolling but the consequences were that Mr Mouna was investigated for rape.
'She is not a bad person, but by the jury’s verdict she did a bad thing. She made a terrible mistake in circumstances when she couldn’t cope with rejection.'
Church seems 'wilfully blind' on women bishops says Cantuar
It is Cantuar who is wilfully blind to the teachings of the Bible
The Church of England has "a lot of explaining to do" to the church and to wider society after its rejection of legislation that would have allowed women to become bishops, the outgoing archbishop of Canterbury has said.
In a strongly worded speech to the General Synod on Wednesday, Rowan Williams warned that the failure of the vote in the house of laity on Tuesday had made the church's governing body appear "wilfully blind" to the priorities of secular society.
"We have – to put it very bluntly – a lot of explaining to do," he said. "Whatever the motivations for voting ... the fact remains that a great deal of this discussion is not intelligible to our wider society. Worse than that, it seems as if we are wilfully blind to some of the trends and priorities of that wider society."
Archbishop Williams, who will be succeeded as head of the church by Justin Welby, the bishop of Durham, next year, said the church had "undoubtedly" lost credibility due to the move. That was why the issue of female bishops could not simply be "parked" but had to be worked on further with urgency.
"We have as a result of yesterday undoubtedly lost a measure of credibility in our society," he said.
"After all the effort that's gone into this process over the last few years, after the intense frustration that has been experienced in recent years ... it would be tempting to conclude that it's too difficult, that perhaps the issue should be parked for a while. I do not believe that is possible because of ... the sense of credibility in the wider society.
"Every day that we fail to resolve this to our satisfaction ... is a day when our credibility in the public eye is likely to diminish."
The church, he added, had to take that seriously, "however uncomfortable that message may be". "We can't afford to hang about. We can't ... indefinitely go on living simply theologically with the anomaly of women priests who cannot be considered bishops," he said.
The church is reeling from Tuesday's vote, in which legislation that had been worked on for 12 years in synod was rejected by six votes in the house of laity. In the houses of bishops and clergy, the measure that could have seen the first woman consecrated to the episcopate in 2014 was passed with comfortable majorities.
Archbishop Williams said the nature of the vote meant that the church needed to explain why it insisted on such high margins – two-thirds approval – for important measures to pass.
Warning of the risks, he noted, "[Synod process] is not simply to be seen as a holding to hostage by certain groups."
Condemning the "unrealism" of those who had voted the legislation down out of the hope they could find a better solution, Archbishop Williams said: "The idea that there is a readily available formula just around the corner is in my view an illusion. There is no short cut here; there is no simple God-given, dare I say, solution to a problem which brings people's deepest convictions into conflict in the way in which they have come into conflict in the synod and previously."
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.