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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