Bygones 47


Sometimes an ethical dilemma can arise between justice in an individual case, and the wider needs of society.  In general, pursuing individual justice should be the priority; the law should indeed be blind.  One of the greatest abuses of power in the UK in my lifetime was Tony Blair’s intervention to halt the prosecution of BAE executives for massive corruption, on the basis that revealing corruption among Saudi sheikhs, and damaging our great manufacturer of instruments of death, was against the “wider national interest”.

The long term consequences of such exceptionalism are a license for government abuse.  However, in the question of the guarantees given to wanted paramilitaries from Northern Ireland that they would not be prosecuted, I believe the correct thing was done, and the coming inquiry is not helpful – it is like sticking a knife into a wound to check how it is healing.

I grappled with these questions in a still more extreme form as UK representative at the Sierra Leone peace talks.  The only way to end long-running violent conflicts is to talk and reason with the parties, and seek to redress the underlying causes of conflict.  To seek to inflict further state violence, in the form of imprisonment, can undermine the process.  This requires very difficult moral compromise, and it is unavoidable that victims will feel they have not obtained individual justice.  I can even understand that in these circumstances it can be right for certain amnesties or actions to be unacknowledged or secret.

Peter Hain spoke great sense last week when he said that to keep the peace in Northern Ireland, we have to let go of the past, and stop pursuing not only IRA men, but also policemen, soldiers and official murderers like those who organized the killing of Pat Finucane.  This is hard indeed for the families and the maimed, I realize.  I am also particularly pleased that John Downey did not have to stand trial; experience shows that the chances of a fair trial for accused Irish nationalists in England are slim.


47 thoughts on “Bygones

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  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    I am shocked by John Downey not being tried for the Hyde Park bombing in July 1982 which killed four Guardsmen, and triggered the Shoot-to-Kill murders in Northern Ireland which made The Troubles so bad for the so-called Iron Lady that she was ultimately rejected by the Conservative Party, and felt obliged to quit.

    The police letter which allowed on-the-run Downey to escape prosecution was issued to prevent all this mayhem from being exposed, and was the greatest miscarriage of justice, and I say this as no supporter of Britain’s covert operators, especially Captain Simon Hayward who was involved in the bombing, and went on the rampage in Northern Ireland to settle scores with Downey’s apparent supporters.

  • glenn_uk

    It was worse that merely damaging wider national interests – the implication was that our good friends the Saudis would maliciously withhold information, and stop warning us about potential terrorist attacks.

  • Daniel

    I agree with Craig Murray and Peter Hain. Sometimes, political decisions are best undertaken through the prism of cost-benefit.

  • Ba'al Zevul (Even Mail Hacks Don't Read The Mail)

    Justice must be seen to be done, otherwise what confidence can we have in the rule of law?

    This case is like Schrodinger’s cat, isn’t it? As long as justice was not seen to be not being done, faith in the law was not affected. Then someone opened the box, to reveal a can of worms. Still, assurances were given, and should be kept. Up to the assurers to defend their actions.

  • fred

    “I am shocked by John Downey not being tried for the Hyde Park bombing in July 1982 which killed four Guardsmen, and triggered the Shoot-to-Kill murders in Northern Ireland which made The Troubles so bad for the so-called Iron Lady that she was ultimately rejected by the Conservative Party, and felt obliged to quit.”

    Fine, get him tried, get them all tried.

    But also get those responsible for the murders on Bloody Sunday tried because to try one without the other would not be justice.

  • Patrick Haseldine

    John Downey’s prosecution at the Old Bailey for the 1982 Hyde Park bombing collapsed last month not because – as the Official Narrative tells us – he was given a comfort letter.

    And it wasn’t just that his defence lawyer was Gareth Peirce (cf Judith Ward, Guildford Four, Birmingham Six, Jean Charles de Menezes, Moazzem Begg and Julian Assange).

    It was because the chief prosecution witness at the Downey trial would have been the discredited ‘expert witness’ Alan Feraday, whose fabricated evidence resulted in many wrongful convictions – including that of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing.

    In 1993, Feraday was banned by Lord Chief Justice Taylor from appearing as an ‘expert witness’ in any future trial. That ban didn’t stop him from fitting up Megrahi in the 2000 Lockerbie trial. But I’d like to think that my recent publicising of Feraday’s ban has led directly to the collapse of the John Downey prosecution.

    (https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Alan_Feraday#John_Anthony_Downey)

  • Abe Rene

    I agree with you (Craig) about Peter Hain, but I’m glad I’m not a politician making decisions or proposals like this!

  • Roderick Russell

    Re Graig’s comment “Sometimes an ethical dilemma can arise between justice in an individual case, and the wider needs of society.”

    The wider needs of society are always served best by adherence to the rule of law. Otherwise one has to ask who it is that decides these “wider needs” of society in each individual case. Without strict adherence to rule of law, one transfers power to establishment elites and away from the people. Rule of law and due process are essential prerequisite for democracy. Once one gives up on it, by allowing terrorists or security agencies to operate outside a legal framework, then one is giving up on democracy. In my view there is no difference between terrorists and “official murderers” as Graig puts it – all should face justice.

  • N_

    Off-T for this post, but very On-T for this blog: fresh from the BBC: Shell, Barclays and Lloyds warn Scotland over independence.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a Scottish flavour to the next big UK-level financial upheaval – or, more precisely, to the UK end of the next big international financial upheaval.

    In the meantime, it’s remarkable that hardly anyone is asking what might happen if the Ukraine defaults. Differences over competing ‘bailout’ plans were what preceded the shootings and putsch.

    That a possible Ukrainian default is out of the news makes me think that that’s exactly what might happen, in the very near future. To spell it out: banks would have to write down their assets; some could become insolvent. Lehman’s times 10 or 100. Yeah! 🙂

    People in Scotland are very well-advised to ask whether the Scottish government will guarantee their bank account holdings to the same extent as the UK government. The Scottish government should be asked to make this guarantee independently of what the rUK or EU or US or anyone else may or may not do.

  • John Goss

    Someone

    Now Miliband is abolishing union support for the Labour Party Blair has offered to put in some of his own money. So instead of being financed by political levies, the unions have no sway. Instead it is kind-hearted philanthropists with lots of money. Guess who gets to determine policy. 🙂

  • doug scorgie

    Ba’al Zevul (Even Mail Hacks Don’t Read The Mail)
    6 Mar, 2014 – 2:31 pm

    “This case is like Schrodinger’s cat, isn’t it?”

    “…Then someone opened the box, to reveal a can of worms.”

    Wonderful!

  • Ed

    Isn’t the best recent example of this sort of thing South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

    For all its flaws, I don’t really see that there was a good alternative to the TRC. The value of it, I think, is that it enabled the country to put bygones in context. They weren’t to be forgotten or brushed under the carpet, but the nation needed to come to terms with them, and this was a way to begin to do so.

    For anyone interested, Antjie Krog covered the TRC from start to finish and has written several outstanding books about it. Country of My Skull is the most famous.

  • Pete

    You’re quite right Craig. There should be a blanket amnesty for all crimes relating to the “Troubles”, including IRA, UDA, UVF, and British forces. If the paras who actually pulled their triggers on Bloody Sunday were assured of immunity from prosecution, we just might one day discover whether this was a spontaneous loss of control on their part, or whether they were “only obeying orders”, and if so how far back up the chain of command did those orders originate?

    The concept of “Justice” is overrated, likewise that modern pseudo-therapeutic term “getting closure”. Very few people got “justice” at the end of WW2, when the only war criminals put on trial were a few of the worst low-level thugs like Demanjuk, and a few politicians (there’s always plenty more where they came from!)

  • Habbabkuk (La vita è bella!

    “Very few people got “justice” at the end of WW2, when the only war criminals put on trial were a few of the worst low-level thugs like Demanjuk,”
    __________________–

    Shome mishtake, shurely? Ever heard of the Nuremberg trials?

  • fred

    “Ever heard of the Nuremberg trials?”

    I thought we were talking about justice.

    America realised they hadn’t done anything illegal so they invented some laws and charged them with them.

    That’s illegal in America.

  • Richard

    Paramilitaries?

    That’s a nice, kind, euphemistic kind of word.

    Whatever their supposed or alleged political aims and ambitions were, if it isn’t worth murdering people for now, it wasn’t worth murdering people for then.

    Violence, murder, maiming, mayhem, beatings, intimidation, expulsion, lasting distrust and unhappiness and increased tribalisation over the rather more positive direction things were heading in under O’Neil in the mid ’60s and for what?

  • Bert

    John Downey was arrested on 19 May 2013 at Gatwick airport on his way to a family holiday in Greece. Court reports of February 25, 2014 stated that Downey had previously ‘traveled from Ireland to both England and Northern Ireland, where he took part in workshops involving members of the British security forces in November 2012 and March 2013.

    So who did carry out the July 1982 Hyde Park bombing? & will anyone ever be convicted?

    A pattern has emerged with other ‘IRA attrocities’. Miscarriages of justice occurred & innocent persons were imprisoned for years:

    Judith Ward spent 18 years in jail (acquitted 4/6/92) for the September 1973 Euston Railway station and the February 1974 Army bus & Defence college bombs, where 12 people were killed.

    The /b>’Birmingham 6′ spent 17 years in jail (acquitted 27/3/91) for the November 1974 Birmingham bombs, where 21 people were killed.

    The ‘Guildford 4’ spent 15 years in jail (acquitted 19/10/89) for the October 1974 Guildford bombs, where 5 people were killed.

    The ‘Maguire 7’ spent between 4 & 14 years in jail (acquitted 26/6/91) for the November 1974 Woolwich bombs, where 2 people were killed.
    & Woolwich bombs – 7 killed in total).

    Following the quashing of all these convictions, note that no one else has been charged/convicted of these crimes!

  • Jay

    Uzbek in the Uk

    their greedy bankers. We (westerners) of course be better off (morally) not to exploit these (non westerners) but who would agree to pay £20 for a t-shirt made in the UK as opposed to the one for £3 made in Bangla.

    Of course we would pay more.
    It’s education and propoganda that form our well being and make behave and think the way we do. As well as other base emotions.

    It could be done by a change in the way we feel through clever manipulation.
    We are changeable.

  • Herbie

    “America realised they hadn’t done anything illegal so they invented some laws and charged them with them.”

    Churchill just wanted them shot.

    That’s the difference between your oh so progressive liberal Americans and the fuddy duddy old english.

    How we were fooled, eh.

  • Patrick Haseldine

    Bert asks “who did carry out the July 1982 Hyde Park bombing? & will anyone ever be convicted?”

    In fact there has been a conviction: “In 1987, Danny McNamee was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the Hyde Park bombing despite pleading innocent to the crime. McNamee’s conviction on evidence provided by discredited ‘expert witness’ Alan Feraday was not overturned until 1998 by a judge who deemed it ‘unsafe’ because of withheld fingerprint evidence that implicated other bomb-makers.”

    Earlier, on 28 September 1993, Alan Feraday’s career prospects suddenly appeared to be in tatters when, in overturning John Berry’s conviction, England’s most senior judge, the Lord Chief Justice Lord Taylor of Gosforth, commented that although Feraday’s views were “no doubt honestly held”, his evidence had been expressed in terms that were “dogmatic in the extreme” and his conclusions were “uncompromising and incriminating”. LCJ Taylor went even further saying that in future Feraday should not be allowed to present himself as an expert in the field of electronics.

    In 1995, Alan Feraday saw the writing on the wall and, aged 58, took early retirement after 25 years’ service at the Forensic Explosives Laboratory when RARDE was subsumed into the less regal-sounding Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA).

    How come then the main prosecution ‘expert’ witness at the trial in June 2000 of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi – who was convicted in January 2001 of the Lockerbie bombing – was none other than Alan Feraday?

    The obvious answer is that Scots Law Professor Robert Black arranged for the trial to be held in the Netherlands under Scottish Judges, where Feraday’s ban imposed by the now-deceased English Law Lord could safely be ignored.

    Read all about it here: https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Alan_Feraday#Danny_McNamee

  • Herbie

    Richard

    “Violence, murder, maiming, mayhem, beatings, intimidation, expulsion, lasting distrust and unhappiness and increased tribalisation over the rather more positive direction things were heading in under O’Neil in the mid ’60s and for what?”

    You’ll remember of course that Captain Tel was ousted by the Loyalists. Bit too nice, posh and reachy outty.

    Who was running the Loyalists?

    They’re still linked to worldwide fascism today.

  • mark golding

    Bandar-Bush took £1 billion plus from arms company BAE in kickbacks. In support of his mate Blair, Iraq war turn-coat, Lord Goldsmith directed the SFO to drop it’s investigation on grounds of national security.

    Recently arms dealer Prince Charles donned traditional robes and joined Saudi princes in a sword dance in Riyadh.

    Clearly though we are evolving out of 200 years of darkness; our slavery past has come back to haunt us. Agent Cameron on his recent trip to a strong, independent and United China saw his promotion team touting business for the education sector, elaborately decorated Welsh crockery, Burberry clothing, Jaguar cars, chicken feet and pig trotter’s.

    The worm is turning from the blood soaked profits of slavery and the agonizing screams of children burned alive for British dominion.

  • Richard

    Herbie,

    I’m sure O’Neil was “a bit too nice, posh and reachy-outy” for some. But still the same question, I’m afraid – murder, mayhem and violence and for what?

    Anyway, off this topic, but there is an article by Paul Craig Roberts on The Information Clearing House this morning entitled “The Looting of Ukraine Has Begun” or similar. Does anybody have (serious) information on the veracity or otherwise of his comments?

  • Ba'al Zevul (Let's Nuke Russia! (Everett Mix))

    “If the paras who actually pulled their triggers on Bloody Sunday were assured of immunity from prosecution, we just might one day discover whether this was a spontaneous loss of control on their part, or whether they were “only obeying orders”, and if so how far back up the chain of command did those orders originate?”

    The embarrassing nature of the answers to those questions already assures their immunity from prosecution. And waiving the Official Secrets Act would not, I think, form any part of any amnesty. All members of the Forces sign this.

  • Bert

    Patrick Haseldine : “In fact there has been a conviction” – Yes, but another previous, unsafe one!

    The question remains, who did kill these 35 people?

    Doesn’t bear thinking about……..

    I thought that Scots Law Professor Robert Black was on the correct side of the Lockerbie truth search. Feraday (like a lot of the other Fort Halstead ‘specialists’) shouldn’t have been trusted whatsoever… History tells us that.

    As Gareth Pierce said:
    It is not difficult to achieve a conviction of the innocent. Over many decades several common factors have been identified, and the majority of them are present, centre stage, in this (Lockerbie) case: achieving the co-operation of witnesses by means of a combination of inducements and fear of the alternative; the provision of factual information by scientists where there is no proper basis for it; reliance on ‘identification’ evidence which is no such thing. Add to that the political will to achieve a prosecution, and the rest is easy. Fabrication demands outright dishonesty, but it isn’t always necessary, or necessary in every aspect of an investigation: the momentum of suspicion, and a blinkered determination to focus on a particular thesis and ignore evidence pointing to the contrary, is a certain route to achieving the desired end.

  • Ba'al Zevul (Let's Nuke Russia! (Everett Mix))

    Feraday, although allowing himself to be addressed as ‘Dr’, didn’t even have a first degree, but only a 1962 HNC in applied physics and electronics. At that date, it would hardly have touched on semiconductors – the circuit board certainly didn’t use valves! Granted, he would presumably have kept up with current developments and educated himself on-the-job, but it is surprising that no more specialised and formally qualified ‘expert’ was apparently available to the prosecutors. Who could have drawn on any number of defence tech and Forces scientists if they chose.

  • Black jelly

    Charity begins at home. Can we now forgive CM for siding with the Ghouta/Trodos gassers, Maidan snipers, Victoria FUN, Yats(ki) and such, purveyors of pre-planned falsehood?! King David Hotel.GoT,Lavon, Kennedy,USS Liberty, 911, Kelly etc are all in the “suppress truth” for 75 year archives and may not be mentioned.

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