Lawyers For Israel Oppose Conscience 123

Two months ago I wrote an article entitled “Fascist judges” about the concerted move by judges in England to outlaw jury nullification.

Despite the long and established history of juries refusing to convict for laws they view as an abuse of power by the state, climate protestors have been jailed for contempt simply for trying to tell juries why they acted.

Four out of five defendants have now been found guilty of intent to cause criminal damage in the “Shenstone 5” trial over the blockade of an Elbit factory.  Judge Chambers had ruled similarly that the defendants could not put the motive for their actions to the jury.

You may recall that when protesting outside another Elbit factory a few days ago, I had a policeman read out an order accusing me and the small group with me of “criminal intent”.

Chambers told the jury they were legally allowed only to decide the facts, not moral right.

The prosecution had argued, extraordinarily, that the defence of “necessity” could only be made if the defendants could identify the specific part number of a component, which specific weapon it had been put into, and prove which specific Palestinian had been killed by that weapon.

That the plant indubitably made components of weapons which killed Palestinian civilians was not enough.

We now know that Judge Chambers was in receipt of communication from Lawyers for Israel before sentencing, seeking to reinforce the new doctrine that jurors are not allowed to give a verdict according to conscience.

This really is a new doctrine. Every law school teaches the famous cases where juries refused to convict on principle and against the direction of the judge.

It is to me quite extraordinary that outside parties are permitted to contact a judge before sentencing in order to motivate him against a defendant.

I suspect anyone other than “Lawyers for Israel” who did this would be in trouble.

Just three days ago Mike Lynch-White was sentenced to a cruel 27 months for damaging property at a non-violent protest at yet another Israeli weapons factory in England.

There is plainly a state policy of vicious repression in play.

Fairly recent examples of “Jury nullification” or “perverse verdict” include the demolishers of the Colston statue, and the 2001 protestors against Trident who admitted they intended to cause damage. All were acquitted despite being plainly guilty on the facts.

In 2021 a judge directed the jury to convict Extinction Rebellion protestors who damaged Shell HQ, specifically stating they had “no defence in law.” Yet the jury refused to convict.

The most famous example in my lifetime was my friend, and member of this blog’s below the line community, Clive Ponting. The jury would not jail him for telling the truth, that Thatcher sank the old Argentine battleship General Belgrano as it headed away from the Falklands.

The current concerted judicial effort to outlaw jury nullification is of huge concern. It is of no surprise to see the hand of Israel attempting to guide the judiciary, in the interests of defending its weapons industry.

Of massive concern too is the growing number of political prisoners in the UK. Julian Assange is rightly the most famous. But how many prisoners are there currently in British prisons whose “crime” is political?

Adding together environmental activists, anti-lockdown activists, peace activists and others, the list of the UK’s political prisoners is alarmingly long. Is any NGO maintaining a constant count? Is there perhaps a need to found such an NGO?

I do not trust Amnesty when it comes to the UK as the leadership is too Starmer adjacent.

The moves in England to outlaw jury nullification and those in Scotland to abolish juries in sexual assault cases, are part of a major impulse to state authoritarianism shown also in the new UK Public Order Act, the Orwellian-named UK Online Safety Bill, and Scotland’s equally Orwellian-named Hate Crime Act.

This onslaught against civil liberties is caused by the nervousness of the entire political and oligarch classes, who are scared of their own citizens as the wealth gap ever increases.

That political class unanimity is proven by the undisguised support of Keir Starmer and the so-called “Labour Party” for all of these repressive developments.

Shamefully the SNP MPs have been sending out stock replies on Assange that fully support the UK government line.

Convictions based on “intent” to do something you have not actually done, are generally dubious. The Shenstone defendants have been told by Judge Chambers they will get prison sentences. Expect these to be vicious.

Doubtless there will be victory celebrations at Lawyers for Israel.


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123 thoughts on “Lawyers For Israel Oppose Conscience

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  • Tim

    Craig your blog is the most frightening and depressing writing on the web. I don’t know how to stop the slide into authoritarianism and tyranny 🙁

  • Ewan2

    I was walking down the road the other day and I saw that someone had written AI = Apartheid Israel, which was then corrected to Artificial Israel.

    I thought it meant Artificial Intelligence but there you go. It’s surprising how meaning changes so very quickly these days.

  • AG

    JACOBIN reporting today, 28/5/23:

    Keir Starmer Is Keeping New Labour’s Authoritarianism Alive

    By Tom Blackburn

    The Blair-era Labour Party introduced a raft of policies hostile to civil liberties. The British government continues to push legislation to clamp down on protesters and protect police, and Keir Starmer is letting it happen.


    Both Blair and Gordon Brown appointed a string of home secretaries — including such luminaries as Jack Straw, David Blunkett, John Reid, and Jacqui Smith — who still stand among the most reactionary holders of that post in modern British history (no mean feat). Perhaps most symbolic of New Labour’s hostility to dissent, meanwhile, was the notorious occasion when the late Walter Wolfgang, a longtime Labour left and antiwar activist then aged eighty-two, was manhandled out of the 2005 Labour conference for heckling Straw, Blair’s foreign secretary at the time, and subsequently detained under anti-terrorism law.

    The Labour Party is firmly back in Blairite hands, and we need only look at Starmer’s intolerance of internal opposition during his leadership to see that their instincts have not changed. Even in the New Labour years, though, there was a dogged band of Labour MPs — mostly on the party’s left — who could be relied on to consistently oppose the government’s increasingly draconian legislation. But when the Scottish National Party tabled a motion to repeal the Public Order Act last week — albeit one that had no chance of passing — not one Labour member joined their erstwhile colleague Jeremy Corbyn in voting for it, a bleak and worrying sign of how cowed Starmer’s few internal critics in the parliamentary party now are.
    More than anything else, the defining characteristic of Starmer’s tenure as Labour leader so far has been an ingrained hostility to grassroots activism.
    This suggests, then, that the real reason Keir Starmer is happy to keep the Public Order Act on the statute book is that he thinks he might soon have some use for it.


    German Social Democrats expecting Labour victory have reached out to cooperate more militarily, as reported by German-Foreign-Policy blog:

    “Escaping “vassalization – SPD and Labour Party plan close German-British military cooperation after possible change of government in London, including sending an aircraft carrier battle group to the Pacific.”

    24/5/23 soon behind paywall

    Germant text (eventually made available in EN with free access ):


    Last week, the SPD-affiliated Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) presented a paper with corresponding proposals. According to the paper, not only should the armed forces and the arms manufacturers of both countries cooperate much more closely in the future, but the foreign and defense ministers from Berlin and London should also coordinate their efforts. In Berlin, foreign policy experts are advising such steps in order to escape the military and arms industry dependence on the U.S., which has increased significantly since the start of the Ukraine war. John Healey, shadow defense minister for the Labour Party, which has a good chance of winning next year’s election, announced a British-German military agreement in the first six months in office of an incoming Labour government. Nils Schmid, foreign policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, agrees with the proposals.
    Experts are beginning to raise the question of how to escape the increasing transatlantic dependence. In addition to the demand, put forward by France in particular, to vigorously promote its own armed forces and defense industry within the EU framework and to join forces even more closely on the European continent in the future, the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), for example, is urging closer cooperation with London again. “The loss of the most competent armed forces” has “geopolitically weakened” the EU more than it would like to admit, ECFR judges.

    p.s. as Frank Foley put it in 1937 referring to Communists: “Relationship between MI-6 and Gestapo is cordial”

  • nevermind

    That all sounds very ominous AG, we are seemingly going back to the 1930’s and carrying on where the NSDAP stopped after 1945.
    The third Reich in the making after a an 80 year pause.
    Soon we will will see a harmonization of repressive measures and the demonizing of Independent sovereign countries incl. those who are striving for it.
    There is no more opposition to the excesses against human rights in the world and those who died to stop violent nationalismn are spinning in their graves.

    • AG

      (of course there are some geopolitical parallels that I am hinting at;
      however I should add that next to all the misgivings of the current world order and the fate of the peoples in the Global South e.g., which is an issue on world civilization in itself, Third Reich is inextricably connected with the idea of extermination.
      25 mio. citizens of the USSR killed, roughly 10 mio. Europeans through planned German extermination and another 7 mio. Germans by war, civilians and Wehrmacht. War casualties of France, Italy, GB, the Balkans etc. not counted in.)

  • David

    Forgive my ignorance.. but…

    If I am on jury service are you saying that if the judge says I must find them guilty then I must find them guilty ? What happens if I don’t ? Would you get convicted of something ? Or can the jury still tell the judge to effectively “get lost” ? No matter what he / she says ?

    Would that then be a miss-trial and start again with a new jury ? That would be a terrifying prospect, judge just keeps going until they get what they want ?

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