UN Condemns UK 87

Trenchant criticism of the UK by the United Nations over its human rights record would have been major news in the pre-Blair days. One of Blair’s “achievements”, which in the 1990s I should have thought impossible, was to win the acceptance by the public and the media of the practice of torture and other gross abuses by the state.

Ian Cobain continues his dogged work on the subject, and everyone should read his report. The lack of prominence accorded to it on the Guardian’s website is telling. I should acknowledge that for some reason Ian has conceived a serious dislike of me; he remains one of the few mainstream journalists worth reading. Pilger, Fisk, Oborne, Cockburn, Cobain, Milne – that’s about it for those I look forward to reading.

I am speaking today at a rally for Bradley Manning outside the US Embassy. I was reflecting, that when I leaked a few secret telegrams on UK complicity in torture, despite many threats the government did not prosecute me under the Official Secrets Act because they did not want the publicity. Today, under the Justice and Security Act, I would be tried in secret, would have still been in jail now, and anybody who reported the facts of the case would have suffered the same fate.

87 thoughts on “UN Condemns UK

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  • fedup

    It sounds like U.N.C.L.E. (as in ‘The Man from…’).

    Due to the highly classified nature of the data, I can neither confirm, nor deny the allusion. Further it is much more healthier for you, not to know this kind of stuff, because otherwise you will end up in a huge tub of Muller light* without any strawberry jam!

    * Yeah I know it is spelt differently, but have you seen the Copyright and trade mark next to the correct spelling? Also due to the contracts laws; the generic term used, leaves that all important back door (he said with confidence; Werrity is nowhere to be seen) open to use any el cheapo brand due to the cut backs all around, in every department, including the dumping in the tub of yoghurt (wet operations) department.

    PS boy I am getting good at this sort of stuff; I am frightening meself now!

    PPS No it is not a homophobic remark, it is a dig at Adam, and Liam who are not of that sort of persons!

  • fedup

    …. King and Queen were more concerned about the horse and the jockey

    The absurdity of it all made me laugh! How times have changed! These days the “abominable conduct of a brutal lunatic”, has given way to “Muslim Scum/Extremist/Al Kaidy” and their Exploding; under pants, shoes, cola bottles, …..

  • Dreoilin

    “Epsom Derby jockey ‘haunted’ by suffragette death myth?”

    Ah, the ineffable BBC. Again.

  • John Goss

    Even though I believe the UN is as toothless today as the old League of Nations was in the run up to the Second World War I am glad they have spoken out against the UK’s complicity in torture. Our record has been dreadful and I am surprised nobody yet has been naming names on this thread, Jack Straw, Tony Blair, Theresa May, David Cameron and many more are all culpable. The trouble is, international organisations are only as good as the member states who are prepared to ratify its laws. So Lord Lytton in his report could have condemned Japan over the Muckden Incident on behalf of the League of Nations but did not do so and anyway was as powerless to stop Japan’s imperialist aims in Manchuria as the UN is to stop Israel whittling away at Palestine’s land.

    As to torture, which is becoming ever more prevalent among NATO countries on foreign soil this has got to stop. I have just read “The General” by Ahmed Errachidi and it is a Guardian book I would highly recommend. Errachidi was known as The General in Guantanamo Bay because, he says, of his organisational skills and the fact that he could speak English. Formerly this Morroccan had been a chef in London, but because of geographical circumstances and sheer bad luck was caught up in the troubles of Afghanistan, imprisoned by Pakistan and despatched to Guantanamo. Some of the torture he was subjected to is described in the book but there is a sense that some suffered significantly worse than him. One of those still in custody is Shaker Aamer, known as The Professor. The courage of these men, who the UK government and MI6 have thrown to the wolves with a lot of speculation that they were involved in the torture is probably what is preventing Shaker’s release (he was ‘cleared for release’ six years ago. Had it not been for the doughty work of Clive Stafford Smith and his team Errachidi would still be there. So if you want to make a donation to a charity this year make it Reprieve.

    Thanks Craig for speaking out on behalf of Bradley Manning. Hope the weather stayed good. The last time I was outside the US embassy in London it absolutely threw it down.

  • Flaming June


    The early days
    When yogurt-loving Ludwig Müller first established his little Bavarian village dairy back in 1896, he could scarcely have imagined the staggering success it was to become. Today his grandson Theo runs a hugely successful business, making it possible for people across Europe to enjoy the great taste of Müller. When Theo Müller took control of the family business in 1970……………


    Actually –

    Mr Kamps http://companycheck.co.uk/director/916577710
    Mr Kers http://companycheck.co.uk/director/917053930
    and Mr Jones http://companycheck.co.uk/director/915650334

    and another one of their companies ‘Müller Wiseman Dairies processes and delivers over 30% of the fresh milk consumed in Britain, every day’. They acquired Robert Wiseman Dairies of Glasgow in 2012.

  • Dreoilin

    Well said, John Goss.
    I’m about to go off and make a donation to Reprieve.

  • Fred

    “Would those celebrating the hundredth anniversary of the Derby “perambulation” of Emily Wilding Davison (including the Mayoress who is dedicating her chain of office to her) considered aiding, abetting, promoting terrorism, and thus ought to be arrested and placed in HMP Belmarsh?”

    Today people only know the myth, most of history is myth, apart from in Scotland where all of it is myth. All people know about is the chaining to railings and hunger strikes.

    Facts are they used intimidation, violence, arson, explosives. They burnt churches, set fire to shops, set fire to pillar boxes which at the time was like taking down the internet. They planted explosives in the homes of politicians.

  • me in us

    Today, under the Justice and Security Act, I would be tried in secret, would have still been in jail now, and anybody who reported the facts of the case would have suffered the same fate.

    Craig, I wonder if you might like to read this:

    1771. FEBY. 12.

    At a Time, when the Barriers against Popery, erected by our Ancestors, are suffered to be destroyed, to the hazard even of the Protestant Religion: When the system of the civil Law which has for so many Ages and Centuries, been withstood by the People of England, is permitted to become fashionable: When so many Innovations are introduced, to the Injury of the our Constitution of civil Government: it is not surprizing that the great Securities of the People, should be invaded, and their fundamental Rights, drawn into Question. While the People of all the other great Kingdoms in Europe, have been insidiously deprived of their Liberties, it is not unnatural to expect that such as are interested to introduce Arbitrary Government

    Page 4

    should see with Envy, Detestation and Malice, the People of the British Empire, by their Sagacity and Valour defending theirs, to the present Times.

    There is nothing to distinguish the Government of Great Britain, from that [of] France, or of Spain, but the Part which the People are by the Constitution appointed to take, in the passing and Execution of Laws. Of the Legislature, the People constitute one essential Branch-And while they hold this Power, unlimited, and exercise it frequently, as they ought, no Law can be made and continue long in Force that is inconvenient, hurtful, or disagreable to the Mass of the society. No Wonder then, that attempts are made, to deprive the Freeholders of America and of the County of Middlesex, of this troublesome Power, so dangerous to Tyrants and so disagreable to all who have Vanity enough to call themselves the better Sort. — In the Administration of justice too, the People have an important Share. Juries are taken by Lot or by Suffrage from the Mass of the People, and no Man can be condemned of Life, or Limb, or Property or Reputation, without the Concurrence of the Voice of the People.

    Page 5

    As the Constitution requires, that, the popular Branch of the Legislature, should have an absolute Check so as to put a peremptory Negative upon every Act of the Government, it requires that the common People should have as compleat a Controul, as decisive a Negative, in every judgment of a Court of Judicature. No Wonder then that the same restless Ambition, of aspiring Minds, which is endeavouring to lessen or destroy the Power of the People in Legislation, should attempt to lessen or destroy it, in the Execution of Lawes. The Rights of Juries and of Elections, were never attacked singly in all the English History. The same Passions which have disliked one have detested the other, and both have always been exploded, mutilated or undermined together.

    The british Empire has been much allarmed, of late Years, with Doctrines concerning juries, their Powers and Duties, which have been said in Printed Papers and Pamphlets to have been delivered from the highest Trybunals of Justice. Whether these Accusations are just or not, it is certain that many Persons are misguided and deluded by them, to such a degree, that we often hear in Conversation Doctrines advanced for Law, which if true, would render juries a mere Ostentation and Pagentry and the Court absolute judges of Law and [fact.]

    Page 6

    It cannot therefore be an unseasonable Speculation to examine into the real Powers and Duties of Juries, both in Civil and Criminal Cases, and to discover the important Boundary between the Power of the Court and that of the jury, both in Points of Law and of Fact.

    Every intelligent Man will confess that Cases frequently occur, in which it would be very difficult for a jury to determine the Question of Law. Long Chains of intricate Conveyances; obscure, perplext and embarrassed Clauses in Writings: Researches into remote Antiquity, for Statutes, Records, Histories, judicial Decisions, which are frequently found in foreign Languages, as Latin and French, which may be all necessary to be considered, would confound a common Jury and a decision by them would be no better than a Decision by Lott.

    Page 7

    And indeed Juries are so sensible of [this] and of the great Advantages the judges have [to] determine such Questions, that, as the Law has given them the Liberty of finding the facts specially and praying the Advice of the Court in the Matter of Law, they very seldom neglect to do it when recommended to them, or when in any doubt of the Law. But it will by no Means follow from thence, that they are under any legal, or moral or divine Obligation to find a Special Verdict where they themselves are in no doubt of the Law.

    The Oath of a Juror in England, is to determine Causes “according to your Evidence”- In this Province “according to Law and the Evidence given you.” It will be readily agreed that the Words of the Oath at Home, imply all that is expressed by the Words of the Oath here. And whenever a general Verdict is found, it assuredly determines both the Fact and the Law.

    It was never yet disputed, or doubted, that a general Verdict, given *under the Direction of the Court* (underlined in original) in Point of Law, was a legal Determination of the Issue. Therefore the jury have a Power of deciding an Issue upon a general Verdict. And if they have, is it not an Absurdity to suppose that the Law would oblige them to find a Verdict according to the Direction of the Court, against their own Opinion, Judgment and Conscience.

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    [It] has already been admitted to be most advisable for the jury to find a Special Verdict where they are in doubt of the Law. But, this is not often the Case-1000 Cases occur in which the Jury would have no doubt of the Law, to one, in which they would be at a Loss. The general Rules of Law and common Regulations of Society, under which ordinary Transactions arrange themselves, are well enough known to ordinary Jurors. The great Principles of the Constitution, are intimately known, they are sensibly felt by every Briton-it is scarcely extravagant to say, they are drawn in and imbibed with the Nurses Milk and first Air.

    Now should the Melancholly Case arise, that the judges should give their Opinions to the jury, against one of these fundamental Principles, is a juror obliged to give his Verdict generally according to this Direction, or even to find the fact specially and submit the Law to the Court. Every Man of any feeling or Conscience will answer, no. It is not only his right but his Duty in that Case to find the Verdict according to his own best Understanding, Judgment and Conscience, tho in Direct opposition to the Direction of the Court.

    Page 9

    A religious Case might be put of a Direction against a divine Law.

    The English Law obliges no Man to decide a Cause upon Oath against his own judgment, nor does it oblige any Man to take any Opinion upon Trust, or to pin his faith on the sleve of any mere Man.

    From the diary of John Adams: http://www.masshist.org/digitaladams/aea/cfm/doc.cfm?id=D16

    You took the side in the “Is the American Dream Dead?” debate that yes, it is. But I think our dream was your dream first.

    This American is deeply grateful that you are speaking for Bradley Manning outside the US Embassy today.

  • Indigo

    “One of Blair’s “achievements”, which in the 1990s I should have thought impossible, was to win the acceptance by the public and the media of the practice of torture and other gross abuses by the state”.

    I sometimes think that the reason that Brother David was beaten to the leadership by Ed was because too great a number of voting members felt uncomfortable with David’s links – and denials in court under oath thereof – to torture and rendition. Much as it pains me to admit, David is the brother with – on the face of it – more voter appeal.

    Whether the votes against were for personal/ethical reasons or because those members felt that the electorate would turn against Labour if David led the party is anybody’s guess.

    But there therefore is some evidence that some involved in politics didn’t completely accept – or thought that the public might not.

  • nevermind

    Thanks for making me smile Dreolin and Suhayl.

    BTW. I tried your remedy once after an unfortunate interlude, it works well, the problem was with keeping the sock on for days on end….

  • Abe Rene

    I hope the British government implements the report’s recommendations. I note that it begins with a series of commendations regarding what has been accomplished, but of course that is not enough.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    The most stunning thing about the UN report from the Guardian’s report on it is that the UN Committee pointed out that torture has been made legal under UK law by an “escape clause” in the 1988 Criminal Justice Act and another in the 1994 Intelligence Service Act which make it legal to torture people if you have “due authority” from government ministers, which has been granted repeatedly. They actually fucking legalised torture. Unbelievable.

  • bert

    Re UK complicity in torture, here’s a link to Patrick Mercer (aye, him that’s in the news this week….) speaking in the HoC on 8 July 2004, about the ‘Operation Crevice’/’fertiliser plot’, where arrests were made late March 2004:
    Patrick Mercer (Newark, Conservative) Hansard Source
    About six weeks ago, 1,500 lb of fertiliser was found in west London. I gather from open sources that it would have been most likely to be turned into home-made explosive and used in a number of car bombs, probably around west London, or possibly in north London. The discovery of that potential explosive represents a very considerable success for the security agencies that picked up those of our enemies who were involved. On the back of the discovery there came a series of arrests, mainly of Pakistanis, some domiciled in this country and others from abroad.
    About two weeks ago, I had the enormous privilege of being briefed by the high commissioner and his staff in Islamabad. They hinted that the operation was much more complex than anything that the open sources in this country had been able to tell us. They told me, or rather hinted, that there had been a very successful operation by British agencies in combination with local agencies in Pakistan. They also said that a much worse event, the details of which I was not told, had been planned, which, if it had gone ahead, would have devastated large parts of this country.

    The ‘very successful operation by British agencies in combination with local agencies in Pakistan was the torturing of/extraction of evidence from Salahuddin Amin.
    The ‘Operation Crevice’/’fertiliser plot’ trial commenced in January 2006 (& was the longest trial in English legal history, I think), but not before an exception‘ to the the principle of open justice [paragraph 7] was given in an order dated 28 November 2005 made by Sir Michael Astill (which was subject to an unsuccessful appeal in December 2005, appeal notes here on the www[.]bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Crim/2006/4.html).
    40 years sentences were given to 5 of the ‘conspirators‘, based on the [UK complicit] torture extraction ‘evidence’ from Salahuddin Amin & the ‘evidence’ from US ‘supergrass’ Mohammed Junaid Babar.

    Babar is outa jail now [www[.]guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/09/mohammed-junaid-babar-prison-violence

    Something very awry here

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Heh. ‘Escape clauses” blame the lawyers.

    What did Shakespeare say…”First, let’s kill all the……….”

  • me in us

    Three religious pacifists, two men about 60 years old and an 82-year-old nun, cut a fence last year and entered the Y-12 nuclear production facility in Tennessee as a Plowshares peace action to stop bombmaking. They painted slogans, lit candles, read from their Bibles and waited to be arrested. At their trial, jurors were not allowed to hear testimony on their behalf by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark on the obligations of each of us, under the Nuremberg Code and Nonproliferation Treaty, not to participate in war crimes:


    In which an 83-year-old nun is convicted of terrorism, her weapon is white roses, and the jury is not allowed to hear a former Attorney General testify in her defense: It’s nukes in America

    …a week before we had the trial here last week, we had a hearing to determine whether or not former Attorney General Ramsey Clark could testify at the trial, and the judge listened to him and eventually said, “I’m not going to allow the jury to hear that kind of testimony.” So Ramsey Clark said that the work that’s done at Y-12 violates U.S. agreements under the Nonproliferation Treaty and he called it unlawful, and then the prosecutor said, “Are you saying the people who build these bombs are war criminals?” And Ramsey Clark said, “I’ll say they’re engaged in a criminal activity.” And, I mean, that’s sort of the reality of it. And then Ramsey Clark said, “Everybody who has a part in this is responsible.” There was a discussion about whether to allow the defendants to argue the Nuremberg Code which says, after World War II, after the Jews were obliterated in the Nazi concentration camps, the Nuremberg trials established that every citizen has a responsibility to the law even if the government tells you otherwise. And so these people said, “Well, we went in under our Nuremberg obligation. We see our government is preparing to destroy the planet and innocent civilians would be killed if a nuclear weapon is used, and that violates the laws of war, so it’s a war crime and we want to stop the preparation for a war crime.” But the judge would not allow that testimony to happen, and eventually our prosecutor said everybody has the responsibility, and the judge said, “Well, except the judge doesn’t have responsibility, even though the prosecution can decide whether or not to bring charges, but once they do, I just have to apply the law.” And he tried to duck his responsibility. And of course the lawyer for the defendants asked Ramsey Clark, who had been at the Nuremberg trials, “Were any judges, any German judges put on trial at Nuremberg?” And Ramsey Clark said, “Yes, they were.” “And were any prosecutors put on trial?” “Yes, they were.”

    The three were convicted under a terrorism statute and await sentencing in September and face up to 30 years in prison.

  • Cryptonym

    @Indigo (8:14pm)

    I think the people (quite rightly) will no longer support or vote for any of those indistinguishable disreputable parties lead by those whose only experience of the world is PPE at Oxbridge, then policy wonk/SpAd -these sickly creatures incubated in the unwholesome Westminster bubble, parachuted into a safe seat then advanced up the party hierarchy by having the right connections with whatever US and Zionist neo-con think-tanks could line enough pockets and gratify his inexplicable, distasteful sense of unmerited entitlement.

    Of his woeful and disgraceful performance in court: I don’t see think could have been a factor in his lack of voter appeal –the media done an indecently treacherous job of making sure the electorate had no idea that Milliband refused to provide evidence to the courts, citing the ludicrous ‘special relationship’ fantasy and that according to him, the US would cut Britain off from intelligence sharing (presumably also that derived from torture we weren’t carrying out ourselves), confirming that this country is a pathetic US client state dependent to such an extent that we would be blind, deaf, vulnerable and defenceless, a shameful admission but nonetheless true and whether it was bluff or not, being threatened in such terms should have ended any relationship ‘special’ or not.

    Perjury, contempt of court and a little light treason on the side though are the least of his worries. David Milliband was Blair’s backroom fixer and yes man, before his cack-handed turn as Foreign Secretary, at any time he had a clear choice to walk away, walk out, denouncing Blair and his rest of his mad, bad and dangerous clique, as could many others, if not for his and their complicity. He is every bit as guilty of the supreme crimes made international law at Nuremberg and isn’t off the hook yet, and never will be.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    I’m startin’ early tonight on the late night show. There is still a great need for diversion and comity. I remember underground FM in L.A. was B. Mitchell Reid or BMR as he called hisself. Saved me a lot of stress in 1968.


    Spirit—Nature’s Way.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    Cryptonym wrote “I think the people (quite rightly) will no longer support or vote for any of those indistinguishable disreputable parties lead by those whose only experience of the world is PPE at Oxbridge”

    I wish you were right. Sadly i don’t think you will be in Westminster elections any time soon. While the share of the vote of the main parties has been falling steadily its also been falling very slowly and a large proportion of the population still just choose a party and support it like a football team irrespective of its policies – and most people still seem as easily fooled by some new Blair clone like Clegg as ever.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Duncan; What you got, dude? Reach down and dig. You must have a comedian’s routine or some music that has hit close to home?

    do it, man.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    NICE!, Brian…a Coldplay deftly played. Thanks for the intro.

  • Brianfujisan

    Has anyone else put this one up…


    “To introduce myself to you, I am a fellow musician, my name is Roger Waters, I used to be in a band called Pink Floyd, and, believe it or not, I still work.

    I had reason last December to write a letter to Stevie Wonder to encourage him to withdraw from an engagement in LA. It was a Gala to raise funds for the Israeli Defense Force. I wasn’t the only one to write, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the great advocate of peace and reconciliation, was among many, many others who wrote as well. To Stevie’s great credit he withdrew……

    I hope this movement Grows And Grows

  • Dreoilin

    Someone, you beat me to it. I didn’t want to drag the thread off topic, but it looks like that could be a major story in the coming days. Presumably the identities won’t remain secret …

    “‘Stunned’ PM holds crisis talks over fears tryst will ‘blow political agenda out of the water'”

    What serious issues will it be used to blow off the front pages?

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