The Lord President of Scotland’s judges, Lord Gill, has made a complete fool of himself by leading British judges in a walk-out from the Commonwealth Law Conference. The action is in protest against Julian Assange’s participation by video-link in a panel discussion on surveillance and the role of the security services.
The walk-out happened after Julian’s talk, not before it, which rather gives the impression that what Lord Gill and his fellow judges objected to was the content of Assange’s talk, rather than the fact of it. Assange stated among other points that nationalists were right to believe that MI5 were active against them in the referendum campaign.
The Assange talk proved extremely popular with lawyers and judges from all over the Commonwealth. In fact it had to be shifted to a larger room to accommodate them all. So it seems Lord Gill’s disinterest in the concept of freedom of speech is not widely shared in the Commonwealth.
What Gill and his Scottish and English colleagues could have done – and I presume actually did – was to boycott the Assange panel and simply attend other panels on at the same time. What they have now done is to boycott all the panels happening after the Assange talk is gone, at some of which some of the boycotters were due to be talking or chairing, as an attempt to mess up the conference as some childish kind of spiteful revenge.
The members of the English Supreme Court who took part in this action have demonstrated their extreme prejudice against Assange – who has exercised his right in law to claim political asylum and who has never been charged with anything.
Julian has today told me that he is concerned that their action is also prejudicial to the cases currently before the Swedish Supreme Court and the UN Committee on Arbitrary Detention. Quite why the English and Scottish judges were moved to this peculiar display of prejudice is not immediately clear; I suspect they were pushed. Lord Gill is an interesting example of the self-made lackey. If you always promote the interests of the Establishment, even a man of talent but humble origins can get to the top, provided he is an entirely unscrupulous character.
In an effort to make Lord Gill and the judges look less like asses, it is being assiduously put about that they did not know Julian was going to speak before his appearance, and he unexpectedly appeared at the session. That this is a blatant lie is easily proved. Julian’s appearance was at short notice – a week. His name was in the conference programme, and the event was announced in the Scottish Legal press the day before it happened. Everyone at the conference knew Assange was appearing, that is why the room had to be changed for a larger one.
That our judges are not just asses but lying asses ought to be the source of some concern. Where is Lallands Peat Worrier when you need him?