Monday, June 23, 2014

Secret Justice, Perverted Justice

(From "A Man For All Seasons")

I've just finished reading John le Carré's latest, "A Delicate Truth," which is about a "black ops" business that goes wrong and results in the death of innocents. But that's not why I read it.

Much of what is classified as non-fiction in history and politics should be subtitled "lies we'd like you to believe", and much thriller fiction is often "truth we can't state baldly." Now I look for nuggets of the latter.

The one that gleams out of this book is how the State is altering the very machinery of justice to insulate itself from accountability. Rather than type out the relevant passage, I found it on the website of Mark Meynell, senior associate minister at All Souls Langham Place, London. A retired diplomat turned would-be whistleblower is advised by the FCO:

"... any inquiry would have to take place behind closed doors. Should it find against you – and should you elect to bring a suit – which would naturally be your good right – then the resultant hearing would be conducted by a handpicked and very carefully briefed group of approved lawyers, some of whom would obviously do their best to speak for you and others not so for you. And you - the claimant, as he or she is rather whimsically called – would I’m afraid be banished from the court while the government presented its case to the judge without the inconvenience of a direct challenge by you or your representatives. And under the rules currently being discussed, the very fact that a hearing is being conducted might itself be kept secret. As of course, in that case, would the judgment.

"… Oh and the whistle-blowing per se would absolutely not be a defence, whistle-blowing being – and may it forever be so in my personal view – by definition a risk business."

Omitted from the above is the part where the civil servant tells him that the trial itself would be in secret until sentence was passed - and that the jury "would have to be very heavily vetted by the security services prior to selection."

We're back to the packed juries of Henry VIII, it would seem. I think my father, who fought in WWII and served in HM Armed Forces for many years afterwards would, if alive today, wonder what had happened to his country.


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