The Way This Government Works

Right:

The government was locked in urgent talks with opposition parties last night to try to rush through emergency legislation on the use of anonymous witnesses in criminal cases, after the collapse of an Old Bailey murder trial and a warning from police that dozens of other prosecutions might now be in jeopardy.

Officials are trying to clear space in the parliamentary timetable so that laws can be pushed through in the 28 days remaining before the summer recess to rescue pending trials, including more than three terrorism cases, one of which is due to start in the autumn.

Police said yesterday there are 40 to 50 cases either going through the courts, or about to start, that could be affected by last week\’s Law Lords ruling. The ruling stated defendants have a right to know the identity of the witness giving evidence against them if the testimony is decisive.

So, the courts say that certain practices are a breach of one of the most fundamental rights, the right to a fair trial. Immediately they hear this the government rushes to change the law so that, while such certain practices are indeed a breach of that most fundamental right, the right to a fair trial, those certain practices will be legal.

And people wonder why we don\’t trust the little fuckers with our liberties?

13 thoughts on “The Way This Government Works”

  1. If you still lived in any large-ish town in England, would you be brave enough to stand up in Court and have your name and address read out when giving evidence against the Underclass?

  2. > pending trials, including more than three terrorism cases

    Yet another problem caused by the insistence on treating terrorism as a civilian crime. Military intelligence is, by its nature, anonymous. This hasn’t mattered before, because it’s been used to decide military action. Now the idiots have started using it as evidence in civilian courts. And now we have their solution to the problem inevitably caused by treating enemy combatants as citizens: change the law so that all citizens are treated as enemy combatants.

  3. “If you still lived in any large-ish town in England, would you be brave enough to stand up in Court and have your name and address read out when giving evidence against the Underclass?”

    If you lived in any large-ish town in England but were unpopular with your Underclass neighbours (persistent photography of buses, perhaps) and a long list of anonymous Underclass people said they saw you stalking children, would you be able to challenge them? How would you prove their mendaciousness if you had no idea who they were?

  4. “If you still lived in any large-ish town in England, would you be brave enough to stand up in Court and have your name and address read out when giving evidence against the Underclass?”

    Surely the problem has been caused by the laxness of the modern day ‘justice system’?

    I’m sure back in the Sixties, there were no problems finding people to testify against the likes of the Krays, because the penalties were severe and people knew the police would actually act

  5. Acts 25:16 (Paul) To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.

    Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides in relevant part: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right … to be confronted with the witnesses against him.”

    But hey, what’s 2000 years of history and the Anglosphere’s common law when Labour want to rush through a law?

  6. Partly… 🙂

    But it’s true that the problems of witness intimidation aren’t new.

    It’s just that since (I think…?) the Seventies, with the ‘supergrass’ trials, the police have relied on this tactic more and more, to the point where it’s not really surprising that defence solicitors say ‘Enough’s enough’.

    With better protection for the witnesses, and long sentences for the offendors, anonymity wouldn’t need to be such a factor.

  7. In their judgement the law lords mentioned the Kray prosecution. Apparently once witnesses were satisfied that the Krays were not going to be bailed pre-trial they were prepared (if not happy, I guess) to testify without benefit of anonymity.

  8. I had lunch with someone today who happens to be a magistrate, and asked his views on the subject.

    He said the problem of people being afraid to testify for fear of reprisals is something they have to deal with all the time, and many criminals get off for exactly that reason. The fact that a 10 year sentence actually often means 2 or less, doesn’t help.

  9. I used to work as a courts and crime reporter; in the cases of allegations of rape, incest and so on, reporting of such matters was and is covered by the most severe restrictions. As for witnesses, I have seen a number of trials collapse because a witness, who had been intimidated, has backed down or changed their evidence. Such people can, however, be done for perjury.

    With the possible exception of terrorism, where national security issues might arise, the rule should be that whoever gives testimony should give their names, if only to those in court, if they are adults.

  10. “The fact that a 10 year sentence actually often means 2 or less, doesn’t help.”

    For “often”, read “never”. 10 years means five with good behaviour (which plenty of people who’re badly behaved enough to get a 10-stretch don’t show). The emergency “oh fuck we’ve got too many prisoners” releases save a few months only – it’s 10 *month* sentences which are turned into next-to-nothing…

  11. Isn’t this the clearest admission that the state is failing in its duty to protect its citizens from crime ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *