As many of you will already know, I was excluded from the public gallery of the Alex Salmond trial yesterday. Inside the High Court, in the queue to enter the courtroom, I was suddenly taken aside by the police and told I was barred. The prosecution had made an application to the judge for an order for my removal which the judge had agreed, over a “possible contempt of court.”
I asked the police – who were very pleasant – if they could tell me where the possible contempt lay, but they had no information. Later I phoned the court and was eventually phoned back by the clerk of the court, who was also very pleasant, but he could not tell me where the possible contempt lay either. He could however tell me I was excluded for the duration of the case, not just for the day.
I have to say that I find this process very unsatisfactory. To be excluded from a public trial on the basis of something I have “possibly” done, when nobody will even specify what it is I have “possibly” done, seems to me a very strange proceeding. I can only assume that it is something I have written on this blog as there has been no incident or disturbance of any kind inside the courtroom. But if the judge is genuinely concerned that something I have written is so wrong as to necessitate my exclusion, you would expect there would be a real desire for the court to ask me to amend or remove that wrong thing. But as nobody will even tell me what that wrong thing might “possibly” be, it seems only reasonable to conclude that they are not genuinely concerned, in a legal sense, about something I have written.
I will state openly that if the court asked me to remove or change anything I have written, I would certainly do that. But they have not asked me. They have just chucked me out without explanation. I do not find that satisfactory. It also seems to me very strange indeed, and quite contrary to natural justice, that the prosecution and the judge were formally discussing in secret a motion for my exclusion, while I was standing right outside their door. I was not given a hearing, allowed to be present, or even told it was happening. They knew I was there because the police then came straight to me. That seems to me contrary to all principles of natural justice. I am not a terrorist who needed to be secretly surveilled and dealt with in camera while excluded.
I do not doubt the judge may have the legal powers to do this. But the law is then wrong. Not to mention that this behaviour is extremely discourteous – she should at least have called me in and told me why. That would have taken a minute. And I then could also have removed any material she wished.
All of which – and the threat of prosecution for contempt which carries a maximum sentence of two years in jail – is very unpleasant. But what is far worse is the terrible feeling of helplessness that has resulted. I have scarcely slept at all this night, and it really was a dark night of the soul. Having seen the crushing power of the state operate against both Julian Assange and Alex Salmond in the last month has been dreadful. It is of course, at a philosophical level, the state’s use and abuse of its monopoly of violence, including the violent enforcement of deprivation of liberty. I am excluded from the court by the state’s monopoly of violence, as I would discover very soon if I attempted to re-enter. I find the violence of the state, and its enforcement by officialdom, a more brutal and horrible thing than personal violence, which I abhor. It has kept me awake, in a sea of desolation, to think that how Julian and Alex feel tonight must be a million times worse than I am feeling, which is bad enough.
But it is also the helplessness. In both the Assange and Salmond cases, I felt strongly that by bringing the full and detailed facts of the court proceedings into the light, I was at least doing something for truth and honesty. The detailed accounts I could write in each instance presented a picture that was entirely different to the selective and horribly skewed view of the proceedings being fed to the populace by the state and corporate media. Even if my accounts reached only a few thousand people, a world where a few thousand people know the truth is better than a world of absolute darkness, by a factor of infinity.
Being deprived of that ability at least to hold a little candle in the darkness, at least to bear quiet witness to the truth, has just left me also in darkness. That is where I have been all night, unsleeping, fevered and restless. And today I shall not be in court.
With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.
This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.
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