#Hackgate continues with coverage of possible computer hacking in the papers this morning. Yesterday Christopher Jefferies, the man ‘monstered’ in some tabloids as the suspect in the Yates murder, has won substantial damages from eight newspapers and The Lord Chief Justice has handed down a very critical judgment holding The Mirror and The Sun in contempt of court
Earlier on Friday, Jefferies accepted substantial libel damages from eight newspapers – including the Daily Mirror and the Sun – over stories relating to his arrest.
In the contempt ruling handed down at the high court on Friday, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Owen described the Daily Mirror articles as “extreme” and “substantial risks to the course of justice”.
The judges said the Sun’s coverage of Jefferies created a “very serious risk” that any future court defence would be damaged.
“These articles [in the Sun] would have certainly justified an abuse of process argument, and although their effect is not as grave as that of two series of articles contained in the Mirror, the vilification of Mr Jefferies created a very serious risk that the preparation of his defence would be damaged,” the judges said. “At the time when this edition of the Sun was published it created substantial risks to the course of justice. It therefore constituted a contempt under the strict liability rule.”
Attorney-General Dominic Grieve led the prosecution himself, unusually, and appears, rightly, to be taking a very hard line on the issue of contempt of court in relation to press and media reporting.
And then, this morning, the political blogger Guido Fawkes has started a petition to bring back the death penalty in the United Kingdom. Apart from the irony of a blogger using the name Guido Fawkes as a nom de plume to suggest such a petition, many have observed that this will do his blog stats no end of good, given the desire of many to bring back the death penalty. I suspect that PM Camcorderdirect, relaxing in his Tuscan lair, having spent some time de-toxifying the Tory party, will be groaning as various (and sundry) Tory MPs have come out in favour. The Sun has taken up the story. Is Guido re-toxifying the Tory party for his own ends to bait them, to trap Tory and other MPs into declaring their position for subsequent vilification in media and social media?
I am against the death penalty on three grounds: (a) It is a barbaric penalty, suitable only for countries living under medieval concepts of justice (b) judges and juries are not infallible and (c) it goes against the foundations of modern humanitarian and moral precepts of justice. Quite apart from the fact that Britain would have difficulties remaining a member of the European Union if we bring back the death penalty (Members are required to sign up to the European Convention. Protocol 6 – restriction of death penalty. Requires parties to restrict the application of the death penalty to times of war or “imminent threat of war” – Edit: and Protocol 13 – Complete abolition of death penalty in Council of Europe states) one just needs to remember the reason why the death penalty was abolished in Britain in 1965 – the case of Timothy Evans being but one important reason.
They say that 70% of the population in Britain would welcome a return of the death penalty – the argument of the ‘executioneers’ is that Parliament must impose the will of the majority. To that, I have to repeat a statement I have used before – “5 million flies eat shit, but it does not follow that shit is good for us to eat” .
I suspect (I have no empirical evidence) that few High Court judges would seek return of the death penalty and, I suspect, that few barristers, defence barristers in particular, would welcome the return.
To use a ‘populist’ argument – as a fair few twitter users did this morning… “You don’t trust MPs on taxation, expenses, governance…so why do you want to hand power to them to hang people?” Res Ipsa Loquitur?
Well… there we are. We shall see what happens with this latest ‘wheeze’ on the part of the right wing to bring our ‘green and pleasant land’ into their vision of control. If the death penalty does come back… I suspect that Norway with their mature, humane and inspiring way of handling serious issues would be a good place to live in?
I did like this sensible tweet from a labour MP… he has a point!
And this is the level of debate that those who want to hang people rely on? Absurd…. (Me, elitist? I think not!)
I look forward to more ‘gems of reason’ from ‘Gaunty’…. I may have a long wait?
A human rights nazi? Now that is a concept that may give Mr Gaunt something to chew on?
My fellow blogger, friend and podcaster – David Allen Green – takes up the theme, sensibly, in a very well reasoned blog post…… I quote his ending…“The devil may well have the best tunes; but the liberals will usually turn out to have the better arguments.” Well worth reading.
UPDATE Sunday 31 July 2011
Unfortunately… with public opinion… law gets in the way. Guido suggested that Article 2 permitted executions. As @ObiterJ pointed out in the comments…. Protocol 13 ECHR makes a rather important legal point which public opinion should consider
Yes.. this is right…
PLEASE READ THIS… excellent… beautifully written with some wonderful imagery…
Hanging’s Too Good For ‘Em