The UK In The Dock 61

I am delighted by the news that the International Criminal Court is to investigate war crimes committed by British armed forces in Iraq. The ICC – which in principle I strongly support – needs to show that it is not simply a tool of neo-con policy. It has confined itself to date to action against the defeated or the authorities of very poor countries. If it is to regain the support of decent people, which the concept of the ICC certainly deserves, it has to show itself prepared to act against the wealthy and victorious when necessary.

The other good thing about the ICC is that it will not confine itself to considering the prosecution of junior personnel. The reaction of the UK and US authorities to their own crimes is to refuse internal prosecution where possible, or if absolutely forced to do so, to sacrifice a pawn like Lynndie England or Donald Payne – the kind of people the politicians and billionaires are happy to see die to promote their interests anyway. The ICC investigators will rather be looking for evidence of structural and policy complicity leading to the very top – and I certainly can vouch there is plenty to find. I do hope Hoon and Straw find their sleep patterns disturbed.

It is two days since I saw Phil Shiner interviewed by Gavin Esler on this, and it was really extraordinary to watch. Esler appeared to find it intellectually impossible to comprehend that senior UK officials and “even Ministers” could find themselves up before the judges at The Hague, alongside “the likes of Charles Taylor and Slobodan Milosevic”.

I almost feel sorry for Gavin Esler. His job gives him access to an enormous amount of information, but he is only capable of absorbing and processing it through a filter of establishment narrative. The fact that in invading Iraq, British ministers were responsible for more deaths than Milosevic, or even than Charles Taylor, is something which he is somewhere, deep down, aware of as an abstract truth, but he has self-censored from synthesizing it into his world view.

Gavin Esler. What a wanker.

I should also just note that the dossier has been given to the ICC by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. You may recall I gave a talk there two years ago.

Here is Gavin Esler happily at work, peddling without question a narrative that turned out to be entirely false and a very transparent piece of state-funded propaganda:

Here is Esler reacting when somebody says something actually true, but which the political establishment do not wish you to hear:

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61 thoughts on “The UK In The Dock

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  • JimmyGiro

    Esler represents the perversion that the BBC has gone through. It used to be the standard for unbiased news; but now it has become the news itself.

    The BBC has gone through the evolution from virtue to piety, as truth has become supplanted by ‘not being wrong’; the objective yields to the political. For in a culture of socialism and indiscriminate equality, it becomes easier to assume the virtue of truth by what you don’t say, as opposed to the risk of uncontrolled reality.

  • guano

    I am not too disturbed by non-Muslims climbing and clinging onto the slippery pole of power. It is a rare feat of human ingenuity to do it while smiling and waving one’s hands in care-free mode.

    I am deeply disturbed by political posturing by Muslims who thereby blur the message that Islam is a religion of honesty which human beings, like the residents of Northern Ireland crave.

    But the existence of political Islam. its lies and its duplicity, is 100% the product of the lies and duplicity of our Western culture. We have created the desperate outcome of terror.

    With a very modicum of integrity by western powers, now and historically, that would not be the case. The actual criminal acts wehich are denied in the ICC are the tip of the iceberg.

    The disaster that has beset the Muslim world in our own lifetimes and previously is the by far the greater damage of dark political manoevering, bribery and corruption and theft.

    That aspect will not be mentioned in the ICC. therefore the Western powers that be will feel that it can afford to concede a few war-crimes, in exchange for overall secrecy.

  • antony goddard

    Great news. Heath Government of early 70’s had to act on torture &
    treatment of Iraqi prisoners went well beyond those rules without
    due insight by government ministers.

  • Mary For Truth and Justice

    ‘I do hope Hoon and Straw find their sleep patterns disturbed.’

    And all the others in positions of power too (including Blair) whose decision to take this country to the blood bath was based on lies.

  • Mary For Truth and Justice

    Full of himself on his blog which seems to have fizzled out somewhat.

    ‘Reviewers have been full of praise for his fiction and story-telling abilities. The writer Bernard Cornwell said Esler’s novels are “made luminous with wisdom, sympathy and story telling.” The Guardian said that Esler’s fiction displays “undoubted sympathy for the human condition and a burning anger, a genuine lyricism, a quick sensitivity and a real understanding of other people.” The Financial Times said Esler’s stories of people in power and the compromises they are forced to make, shows that he “understands the political beast better than anyone.”‘ 😉

  • BrianFujisan

    Maybe if we are lucky the current bunch of war criminals – Cameron and co, Obammpot ect – will take notice

    and save the world from war with Russia.

  • John Goss

    I remember well the second clip and Esler’s aggressive attempt to silence you when you quite rightly told the truth mentioning the names of two people who were involved in perverting the course of justice in the MSM determination to blacken the name of Julian Assange. Since that day I have written to the prosecution legal representative of Sofia Wilen on more than one occasion without response. Massi Fritz has been seeking publicity but only when it is detrimental to Julian Assange. She will not come to London because there is no prosecution case and she would go back empty-handed. This really gets my goat, the political character assassination of a good man.

  • Ed

    Esler and friends would do well to revisit the resignation of Elizabeth Wilmshurst on the eve of the Iraq War.

    From Wilmshurst’s resignation letter:

    ” I therefore need to leave the Office: my views on the legitimacy of the action in Iraq would not make it possible for me to continue my role as a Deputy Legal Adviser or my work more generally.

    For example in the context of the International Criminal Court, negotiations on the crime of aggression begin again this year.”

    They can’t say they weren’t warned.

  • Tom

    “I almost feel sorry for Gavin Esler. His job gives him access to an enormous amount of information, but he is only capable of absorbing and processing it through a filter of establishment narrative.”

    But that’s true of every single mainstream media journalist I can think of. All incapable or unwilling of thinking out of the box. That’s probably why they are where they are.
    Absolutely agree about war crimes. There should be no hiding place for people in the British military who committed or ordered brutality.

  • John Goss

    This is what Arbed posted earlier today about a British couple who attempted suicide because Theresa May wants them in the US penal system.

    When this was posted on another blog I responded thus:

    Arbed, I could not agree more, and seeing it on the news this morning reminded me of how ever-ready, like a fully-charged battery or battering-ram, is Theresa May to send our residents like Talha Ahsan and Babar Ahmed to Supermax prisons in teh US where they are detained 23 (sometimes 24) hours a day until they confess to something they did not do in what is known as a plea-bargain. What plea-bargain really means is that the country with the worst record for torture and extra-judicial kilings, tortures prisoners into confession by depriving them of human contact and social interaction. Herman Wallace never committed a crime so he would not confess. He was kept in solitary confinement for 42 years. You do not get out unless you lie.

    God Bless America!”

  • Peacewisher

    If you didn’t see BBC Question Time tonight, get a look at it on I-player, or whatever the BBC uses now.

    The tory and labour representatives looked completely out of their depth, as fellow panel-members, and the vast majority of the audience were crying out for politicians… not just soldiers… to be brought to account. The fact that Chilcott hasn’t been allowed to conclude due to the withholding of evidence by (unnamed, skilfully) members of Blair’s cabinet brought derision from the well-heeled and previously well-behaved audience. When will it dawn on labour that they are finished unless they openly distance themselves from the causers of the Iraq war.

  • Peacewisher

    BTW, this was the final QT question (British Soldiers & the ICC). If you aren’t interested in education, tax fiddles or Scottish independence scroll through the rest of the recording.

  • OrwellianUK

    In the second video, you really should have stood up more for yourself. You didn’t interrupt either of them, but both did interrupt you and you should have pointed that out forcefully. The woman was a complete bitch. All fake concern about the anonymity of the alleged victims but giving no such rights to the accused who should be innocent until proven guilty.

  • mark golding

    Gavin Esler is not only a wanker, ultimately we all wank, he is literally a psychopath, a mind fixed in space and time, unequipped to evolve.

    The oratory hyperbole from Lord Ashdown speaking today on ‘Question Time’ has the same ‘wanker’ fixation. Erotic fantasies of a Great British experiment over three hundred years, stupefying the world in a great class of multiculturism, reciprocity and exchange.

    Bollocks! Nature views the Great British Union as a source of suffering, hegemony, pillage, secrecy, greed and deception.

    When I cross the border to an independent Scotland I have evolved…

    By Oppression’s woes and pains!
    By your Sons in servile chains!
    We will drain our dearest veins,
    But they shall be free!

  • lwtc247

    1000:1 someone significant will face punishment.
    No bets on just idiot soldier grunt getting it.

  • Peacewisher

    @Mark: Paddy was strange tonight… his rhetoric dancing between being a tory and a liberal, and I think his voice was different when he was in the uncomfortable position of trying to defend the coalition.

    He was also asked by David Dimbleby about a referendum in Ukraine, and said he would fully support it if it had been properly conducted (not a neocon then…). Because of Paddy’s hands on approach in Yugoslavia, his opinion seems to carry a bit of weight in “The West”. If the right people are listening to opinions like Ashdown’s, this throws up the opportunity for a rerun? Surely better than civil war…

  • Tony M

    @Tom (15 May, 2014 – 10:51 pm)

    You say “But that’s true of every single mainstream media journalist I can think of …” a sort of A-Ha! moment as if that makes it all right, stop picking on Esler. I say no, blood has been scented, he’s vulnerable, keep up the pressure up on Esler, else there is no cost for his conduct, and less likelihood of the ICC ever catching up with him. For the diabolical jackals of the mainstream media to see one of their own and then another and then another incarcerated without limit, for what are the supreme crimes, would be rather sobering I should think. The diseased-minds at the controlling centre of this concerted emotional engineering of populations are unknowns, but those nominally in charge, the heads of governments and heads of state, must fall and keep falling until all that are left are the flailing arms and legs of functionaries and flunkies such as Esler. Beside that everyone knows that decisions to go to war, or simply to kill millions on any pretext, aren’t made by Gavin Esler, but by John Humphries.

    The same quote from Craig Murray: “… access to an enormous amount of information, but he is only capable of absorbing and processing it through a filter of establishment narrative.” could almost apply to Murray himself, his hilarious and I still hope tongue-in-cheek posts here (on his own blog too, how dare he) on the west’s war machine’s latest follies, in Ukraine, might well have been the work of a slavish junior or intern, anxious to please his masters ‘upstairs’, he seemed to have slipped back into an ultra-establishment, greasy pole shinning obsequiosness, anxious to rejoin the bandwagon suspended in thin air over the edge of a cliff. I think he wants to be Chancellor of the Exchequer, again.

    If we’ve to add, and we should – along with the members both houses of parliament – the entire management, ownership, and ‘talent’ of the mainstream media to the prison population, then in the light of the gravity of their crimes, out of respect for the honestly innocently incarcerated, who might be corrupted by their influence, can I suggest they are shipped to the island of Gruinard and left to fend for themselves, instead. For the amusement of the public, they ought be allowed to broadcast their privations, wails and horrific choking demise as they cop a lungful of nasties no better or worse than that they’ve enthusiastically facilitated and called for, prescribed and inflicted on others.

    There’s a new enemy and new terror, it’s not reds-under-the-beds, not those devilish commies, Muslims, barbarians, Scythians, Mongol hordes, or anyone else so picturesque but it’s that idiot box in the corner of the room. The good news is that televisions are vulnerable -to hammers, to angle-grinders, to fire and so much more, competent experts could disable a television set in five seconds, but even for the amateur success is almost inevitable, as a last resort the ‘set’ could be dropped from a middling height upon a hard surface. TVs are also sad lonely creatures, as if aware of their duplicity and mere neglect alone can often cause malfunction or even obsolescence. With a simple telephone call to your local recycling centre or council facility, your television could probably be left outside in the street and subsequently be taken by the efficient TV-Catcher vans patrolling the streets, and disposed of with hardly any trouble at all.

    I predict the ICC will produce not much more than a silent fart.

  • Jives

    Esler is a wanker…

    Very true…spotted spook-young and used to propagandise the unspeakable-the shallow fuck went along for the paycheck and a wee violinist apparently.

    Esler is on the wrong side of history,coming.

    Like many of them.

    Blair,Brown,Straw,Reid,Blunkett,Manningham-Buller,Evans,Tenant,Scooter,Clarke,Prescott,Yoo,Dershowitz,Cheney,Bush,Perle,Wolfowitz,Rove,Rumsfleld,Condy et al.


    I didn’t really like my torture-particularly as an innocent.

  • Brendan

    Good clips. I hadn’t seen the independence one in full. Lordy that’s bad. There is a vague nod to impartiality, but it’s still laughable.

    As to the Assange one, I think everybody has made up their mind, one way or another. I’m sure I’ve commented before. However, Joan Smith’s airy ‘there is a problem on the left’ schtick is really rather dull, and I’d mark it down were I her tutor. Attention to details, please. I read this kind of stuff so often I wonder if they get a memo: ‘the left are to be treated with a broad brush’. Someone should ask her, ‘what do you actually mean by ‘the left?’ I bet that would stump her, and Nick Cohen.

    Still, being on television must be hard, so perhaps we should cut her some slack. She made a generalisation, easily done. I’m less impressed with her assertion that it is “mainly men on the left queueing up to cast aspersions” on the women in question. There is an ill-disguised condescension to this comment, which doesn’t bode well for her grasp of the detail. One does wonder if such condescension is deliberate. It can be a very effective technique, to ‘win’ a debate, I think …

    As to Gavin Esler, I live in Oz, and my television doesn’t work. I simply don’t watch the news, and stopped paying much attention to the bbc long before I came to Australia. It is what is is. Not all bad, and certainly better than Rupertvision. But a source of impartial news and comment, nah. Peter Wright of Spycatcher fame once admitted that the bbc had an office where prospective employee’s were ‘vetted’, by securitat types. The vetting is probably more informal nowadays, one assumes, but still effective. Life on Mars was good though!

  • guano

    Mark Golding

    I’m not a banana skin evolutionist, meaning that the detritus of nature can self-evolve into a delicious, pre-packed item of food as wonderful as a banana. I’m sure that God evolves whatever He likes.
    La yuheetuna bis shayin min ‘ilmihi illa bi ma shaa’/ He does not reveal anything of His knowledge except what he wishes (us to know)

    We Muslims hope that by obedience and practise He will evolve us and our understanding. Not much chance of that happening to anyone who like Esler is in service to the powers that be in the UK/world.

    I am nearly 60 and I have a very extreme allergy to any form of lying. Yet in spite of my years I still find it difficult to trust my own perception and diagnose a lie occurring and calm down.

    Similarly, I also observe in myself that political manipulation, i.e., a package of bullshit from a serious bullshit merchant like Paddy Ashdown, with looking down the nose body language, studied rejection of the presence of all other people around him, and the repetition of British class memes, has the effect in my psychology, no doubt from weakness in my own personality or upbringing, of stimulating a flush of sexual frustration.

    These are very primitive techniques of bullying people, but the bullies are aware that we the British public in general are extremely susceptible to being bullied. My children and their generation are far more resilient. They ignore the whole emotional blackmail of politics and it doesn’t affect them in the same way as us fossils who were accustomed to respect authority unquestioningly.

    Does that mean that I agree with Craig about the issues in the two clips above? No, I think we are stronger, and safer, belonging to a Union with Scotland and also with Europe. I equate Scottish Independence with the Tory nutters who want to leave the EU.

    Gavin Esler refused to allow Craig’s point about false accusations against whistleblowers. I assume from my own understanding of my own psychology that those who engage in exposing lies like Assange and his Swedish female companions deal with their sexual impulses by getting on with the job and inserting and being inserted willy-nilly. My verdict: guilty as charged. Is that how the bullies get people to believe their fasle accusations, by inventing believable lies?

    What I want to be evolved into is a human being that sees the manipulation or lies coming and can whollop them over the boundary line Ian Botham style. Craig was doing well in the clip while Gavin Esler was clucking like a headless chicken stop stop stop stop.

    Passports for sexual favours? Well it takes one to know one, so that must have been a little harmless projection from the Straw man.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    I guess many of us on this blog have at some point had a moment of awakening when we stopped drinking the Kool-Aid. Until, then we believed the things that Gavin Essler still does: that Britain is a force for good in the world and America is the City on the Hill. I know I used to believe it unquestioningly. This is why I love Medialens so much, those guys really nail it for me, every time. Receiving one of their alerts is like being the kid in the Emperor’s New Robes and finding out you’re not alone.

    By the way, did anyone else see that Telegraph blogger on Question Time describe the Union with Scotland as ‘the greatest experiment in multiculturalism the world has ever seen’?


  • Mary For Truth and Justice

    Concern over Chilcot report delay

    Must try harder Mr Jenkin and stop acting like the party stooge that you are.


    Loaded. Well and truly caught out in 2009 by the Torygraph. The MPs that were named and shamed must really hate the Barclay Brothers.

    MPs’ expenses: Bernard Jenkin claims £50,000 in rent on farmhouse owned by sister-in-law
    Bernard Jenkin, a Conservative MP, has claimed £50,000 on his expenses to rent his sister-in-law’s farmhouse, just over the road from a country home part-owned by his wife.

    ‘On 27 October 2009 it was initially recommended that Bernard Jenkin pay back £63,250 by expenses auditor Sir Thomas Legg. This is the highest amount known to have been recommended after an audit of MPs’ claims on second homes expenses.[4][5] This amount was reduced to £36,250 following an appeal.[6]’

  • Mary For Truth and Justice

    Question Time last night.


    Duration: 1 hour

    David Dimbleby presents Question Time from Coventry. On the panel are Conservative employment minister Esther McVey, Labour’s shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint MP, former Liberal Democrats leader Lord Ashdown, SNP external affairs minister in the Scottish government Humza Yousaf MSP and Daily Telegraph blogger Tim Stanley.

    One would assume that a very important matter like the subject of this thread should have been discussed but it wasn’t of course.

  • TonyT12

    If you are bothered about Chilcot being suppressed to suit the Westminster classes this petition is a start:

    As far as truth and balance in news presentation are concerned the BBC gave in finally to Westminster with the Gilligan business in the run-up to the war in Iraq. All major issues are politicised and spun to suit Westminster’s agenda. If the BBC does not comply, they’ll lose the licence fee which will hurt the fatcats’ salaries and pension-funds. Perfect weapon for Westminster to deploy.

    BBC Question Time last night was like a Sixth Form end-of-term farce. A bunch of weasel-word smarmy Tories talking to us as though were six years old, and a token sane person they could slag off and tell to go back to Scotland which they believe should keep quiet. I remember how Radio Moscow used to sound in USSR times and the spin was very transparent but at least you could perceive some version of truth through the broken stained glass window. With the BBC now it is nothing but crafted distortion and spin, so it is only worth watching for entertainment if you are a student of media manipulation.

    Nigel Farage goes on about British politics being driven from the EU in Brussels, but I would love to know how he feels about all our defence and foreign policy being driven by Washington and our beloved BBC being driven by No.10 spinners.

  • guano

    By the time of the last election all that was left of the Tories was sixth-formers. Everyone else had gone off to do other things.
    The only reason they came to power was the treachery of Paddy Ashdown and Nick Clegg.

    Pay-back time will be like a cheap crime thriller. prepare for Livni’s heir, Ed Misreal.

  • Mary For Truth and Justice

    I didn’t see QT thankfully.

    The BBC should be dismantled and all the stooges sent to the Job Centres. But what work are they qualified to do? Duncan Smith can sort it out I am sure and find some Workfare for them.

    I heard yesterday that the private companies that the DWP employ to find employment for the long term unemployed operate in a completely unregulated ‘black box’. No questions are asked about their practices or claims made.

    ‘The Work Programme model is ‘black box’, meaning that providers are free to provide any sort of service or set of interventions rather than being required to deliver specific elements as under previous programmes. Providers have published outlines of minimum service offers, but these vary in content and detail and consequently it can sometimes be difficult for an individual to know what sort of service they can expect.’

    Fascism in action.

  • Arbed

    Sleepless nights for Hoon and Straw would be a very welcome development, but can I idly dream that Tony Blair gets a one-way ticket to the ICC also?

    Re the second clip: It makes me angry, looking back, at how you were treated by Esler and Smith on that Newsnight programme. As you say, blatantly ramming the UK establishment line down people’s throats with lie upon lie about the facts of the case. There were newspaper reports online around the same time showing a close-up of a clipboard carried by one of the police outside the Ecuadorian embassy detailing the involvement of covert counterterrorism units SS10 and SO20 in the Vienna Convention-busting embassy you so effectively publicised, and “risk of death” contemplated by the authorities in their efforts to nab Assange. Here it is:

    Photo of police clipboard spotted after Assange requested asylum in the Ecuador embassy:

    Also shown at the bottom of this article, outlining the theft of Wikileaks’ computers containing details of war crimes in Afghanistan while Assange was leaving Sweden a month after this ‘investigation’ of sex allegations was first raised:

    But the wheels are well and truly coming off the disinfo campaign that Esler and Joan Smith were part of – Eva Joly, no less, held a press conference in Sweden recently detailing how far from due process this ‘investigation’ has become. Sweden v. v. embarrassed – they refused to even talk to her about the Assange case:

    Eva Joly press conference on JULIAN ASSANGE:

    Transcript: and

    And…. just yesterday:

    US government momentarily releases sealed information on grand jury against #WikiLeaks then quickly deletes it


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