How the Establishment Works Part 2 43

This article will feature senior judges I have blogged about before, and explain how I expect the Assange case will be finally stitched up for extradition.

You may recall that my article analysing the dismissal of Assange’s High Court Appeal by Judge Lewis and Judge Swift – the former government lawyer who had said the intelligence services were his favourite clients – concentrated heavily on an analysis of the fact that Swift had also dismissed appeals against the government’s policy of deporting asylum claimants to Rwanda.

I am quite proud of that whole article, but the central point on Rwanda was this:

Swift and Lewis argue further, at paras 81 to 84, that in UK domestic law, the Home Secretary’s certification of Rwanda as a safe country is “irrebuttable” – ie there is no legal avenue to question its truth, and nor does it require parliamentary approval. The “safety” of Rwanda is a fact in law simply because Braverman certifies that it is.

Having stated that under Tory immigration legislation the Home Secretary can certify anywhere she feels like as safe, irrespective of objective truth (provide certain procedural steps are taken) Swift and Lewis then go on to the non-sequitur on which their judgment depends, that because a country has been certified “safe” for the purposes of UK domestic law, that makes it actually eligible for receipt of UK deportees in terms of the UN Refugee Convention.

Well, I am happy to say that the Swift/Lewis judgment on Rwanda has been overturned on appeal, precisely on the question of the need for the court to decide whether in the real world – as opposed to in an official document or in Suella Braverman’s head – Rwanda is actually a safe place for asylum seekers to be sent.

On the grounds that Rwanda is not safe, by a two to one decision Lord Underhill and Master of the Rolls Sir Geoffrey Vos ruled that the deportation policy is not lawful, against dissent from Lord Chief Justice Burnett.

Sir Geoffrez Vos, Master of the Rolls, said this:

90. The SSHD [Home Secretary] submitted to us, in effect, that, in the light
of the detailed guarantees and assurances in the MEDP and the longstanding relationship with Rwanda and its financial and other incentives to perform on its obligations, what happened in the past was of limited, if any, real significance. This was a key submission, because the
UNHCR’s evidence was all directed to what had happened in the past and what was
happening at the current time. The SSHD said that a predictive evaluation was needed,
and that in such an exercise, it was not significant that things had been less than ideal
in the past.

91. I do not accept that the past and the present can either be ignored or side-lined as the
SSHD suggests. Of course, a predictive evaluation is required, and of course great
weight will be given to the guarantees and assurances of the Rwandan Government.
But the likelihood of promises being performed must, anyway in part, be judged by
reference to what has happened in the past and the capacity and capability of the entity
making the promises to keep them. The SSHD acknowledges, in effect, that the
Rwandan asylum system has some way to go…

Vos also criticised Swift and Lewis’ failure to give sufficient weight to the views of the United Nation High Commission for Refugees, stating that their opinion was, while not determinative, “important” and not given sufficient weight.

199. It is not possible definitively to resolve the difference between the two tables, but I believe we should proceed on the basis of UNHCR’s figures, both because they are
carefully explained and defended in both LB 2 and LB 3 and because we should take a
“substantive grounds/real risk” approach. In my view the surprisingly high rejection
rate of claimants from known conflict zones, where UNHCR recommends against
returns, does indeed suggest a poor quality of decision-making.

Lord Underhill, like Vos, ruled that it was for the court to make a determination of the real world reality of the Tory claim that Rwanda is a safe country for asylum seekers. Underhill did not go so far as to state the truth, that everybody who is not a complete lunatic knows that Rwanda is a nsaty dictatorship and not a safe country, but did reach the same effective conclusion:

272. In short, the relocation of asylum-seekers to Rwanda under the MEDP would involve their claims being determined under a system which, on the evidence, has up to now
had serious deficiencies, and at the date of the hearing in the Divisional Court those
deficiencies had not been corrected and were not likely to be in the short term.

That left the Tory Lord Chief Justice Burnett. He agreed that it was for the court to determine whether in the real world Rwanda really was a safe country, and indeed argued that was what Swift and Lewis had said, when plainly it was not.

Burnett then went on to say that Rwanda was in fact a safe country because Mr Simon Mustard of the FCDO had said so – as if a foreign office official like Mustard (a particularly unimaginative ex Lothian and Borders police officer) were able to put forward an independent expert opinion that contradicted the wishes of ministers.

Burnett’s acceptance of Mustard’s view as authoritative is even more incongruous in that Burnett devoted several paragraphs to making out that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was not independent but parti pris.

Photo is Simon Mustard, the ex-cop FCO official whose views Burnett says are more reliable on Rwanda than those of the United Nations

Burnett sees no dangers in sending people to Rwanda, concluding:

525. The central question in these appeals is whether there are substantial grounds for believing that removal of these appellants and any individual to Rwanda pursuant to
the agreement with the Government of Rwanda will give rise to a real risk of treatment
contrary to article 3 ECHR either (a) as a result of deficiencies in the asylum system
with a consequent real risk of refoulement or (b) in Rwanda itself. My conclusion
accords with that of the Divisional Court. The evidence taken as a whole does not
support such a real risk in either case

Now the particularly well informed amongst you will have noticed that Burnett also ruled in favour of the United States’ earlier appeal in the Assange Case, on the same grounds, that US government assurances on treatmment were entirely to be trusted, irrespective of real world experience in other cases.

Burnett was best friends at Oxford University with Alan Duncan, the Tory Foreign Office minister who handled the arrest of Assange and coordination with the United States over the extradition request. Duncan called Assange a “horrible little worm” in parliament and Duncan’s best Tory friend Burnett quashed the initial ruling for him that had barred extradition on health and prison condition grounds. See my article on the subject.

You see the link? Burnett and Swift both ruled at different times in favour of Assange’s extradition and both similarly ruled that deportation of asylum seekers to Rwanda was legal.

Assange’s final appeal against Swift and Lewis to the High Court – limited by Swift to 25 pages and a 30 minute hearing – will take place, probably soon.

I am willing to venture this prediction. Neither Vos nor Underhill, who rejected the legality of Rwanda deportations, will be on Assange’s new two judge panel. Burnett will be, probably alongside Lewis, Swift’s partner in crime on Rwanda, or Holroyde, Burnett’s earlier partner in crime on Assange.

Because that is how the Establishment quietly gets its dirty work done.


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43 thoughts on “How the Establishment Works Part 2

  • glenn_nl

    Pretty disgusting stuff. Not content with choosing their voters, politicians get to choose the judges who review their decisions. Unbelievable that anyone even pretending towards democracy would abuse the legal system this way.

    • Tom Welsh

      They are not pretending to practice democracy as far as discerning and inquiring minds are concerned. They are perfectly happy if the vast majority of citizens passively accept their decisions.

      The proposition that the UK is governed democratically is so laughable that no one could possibly try to defend it against informed and intelligent criticism.

      Russia scores higher in terms of practical democracy; and of course a far greater percentage of Chinese citizens (80% from memory) say that their country is run democratically than UK or US citizens in respect of their own nations.

  • Ingwe

    As a UK lawyer, now retired (thank goodness) I pointed out, on this veritable blog, just how the judicial system is manipulated to bring about the decisions that the powers that be require by the selection of the judge or judges hearing cases at first instance and on appeal.

    So no, I don’t disagree with your prediction as to which judges will hear Mr Assange’s final appeal.

    • thatoldgeezer

      Is it possible to appeal against the selection of any particular judge for an appeal process? If one could demonstrate/prove that judge’s bias and just plain legal incompetence in ignoring new evidence (CIA witness Thordarsson admitted lying) since the original trial.

      Or how about suing the CPS for their deliberate malfeasance in public office?

      Naïveté is bliss, sorry to say.

        • thatoldgeezer

          Actually I’m not so sure. Its possible to sue the police so why not other bodies? I shouldn’t have said the CPS but the judiciary itself.

          Now…where’s that application form for legal aid… ( ! )

    • IMcK

      I see the judicial system as unaccountable, particularly the judges who are tin gods. I suggest a good example of this and back in the news at present is the Post Office scandal. The wrong convictions were clearly without sufficient evidence – the ‘evidence’ appears to be little (if anything) more than the figures on this screen suggest guilt. The figures being reliant, as a minimum, upon a complex software system and inclusive of the means of inputting record of monies received from customers.

      Sufficient evidence for proof of guilt should have required, as a minimum, PO duplicates of hardcopy customer receipts tallying with both the recorded record of receipts within the software system and with the calculated totals (days taking etc). Time stamping of customer receipts and duplicates, as printed out by the system would allow the PO staff (the accused) to verify the validity of the duplicates at the time of the transaction – if the system was producing spurious duplicates (whether correctly or wrongly time-stamped) would soon become obvious.

      Notwithstanding that proof of guilt should have required, as a minimum, such substantiation (or equivalent), the very fact of the accusations being against multiple personnel should have caused question of whether the system (Horizon) was flawed.

      Yet despite the judicial system convicting and sentencing including incarceration in some cases, clearly without sufficient proof, there is no blowback on any of them – the real villains.

    • DunGroanin

      The crassest stitch up of it all is the Crown Prosecution Office being an adjunct of the US State Department and Intelligence community.

      The Crown Prosecutors who are thick as thieves with the US deep state, and the records of their meetings have been shredded! Starmer was central to it as a prime placement of the Blairite/Campbell machinations, to cover their conspiracy to launch the War on Terror.
      He was then placed in the safe seat of Camden with the CLP controlled by The Guardian’s Mockingbird grandee Polly Toynbee … to then slip into government to fully integrate the UK into the US fascist corporatocracy. Dismantling the last vestiges of the postwar social contract.

      The fact is that the CPS management are regularly travelling to the US and being socially wined, dined and goodness knows what else and at the US Embassy in Vauxhall as they dot the i’s and cross the t’s of the final destruction of Julian Assange.

      He is as famous a political prisoner as Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi were last century. Both obviously victims of the same Imperial actors – us, the UK, with our unelected head of state, and the cruel Crown and its henchfolk, who are born to rule or suborned early in their careers to deliver the sociopathic Rule for their own ‘kind’.

      It would be better if these middle and lower lawyers at the CPS actually realised they are working for the Bad Guys. They are the evil storm troopers of The Dark Side! THEY are the evil Nazi types whilst they keep their heads down for their salaries and ‘careers’. They lie to themselves every single day in sticking to the belief in the guilt of innocents because of corrupt senior lawyers and politicians whose real fealty is to the US illegal deep state.

      They are traitors to their own families and us peoples of the UK.

      Why don’t they revolt and stand up for justice? Are they such cowards and thieves that they just don’t care?

  • Republicofscotland

    Assange’s most likely extradition to the US has seen the UK drop to a level that most people would find disgusting, it open up doors to anyone who whistleblows, or stands up for the truth to be known, to be held illegally and prosecuted in a bias fashion by willing members of the judiciary, who will play along and use their positions to serve whatever agenda is the order of the day.

    “The WGAD — the supreme international body scrutinising this issue — has repeatedly demanded that the UK government end Assange’s “arbitrary detention”. Although the UN states that WGAD determinations are legally binding, its calls have been consistently rejected by the UK government.”

    • Stevie Boy

      Maybe, there’s a remote chance that Assange’s only real chance at justice will be found in the US, he certainly won’t find any justice in the corrupt UK !

      • Hans Adler

        Very unlikely. They have their methods for getting rid of inconvenient prisoners, as in the case of Jeffrey Epstein. The only thing that’s really amazing is that the UK isn’t taking this step. They seem to be relying on driving Assange into actual suicide or death from isolation and depression without taking the last step. Perhaps they were too optimistic that their original plan would work, and now it’s too late to change course because they lost the plausible deniability for a suicide. And ultimately it’s not their problem, so they will just hand him over for extralegal killing by the Americans. Then each side can convincingly blame the other.
        When Assange is extradited, watch out for him being taken to a humane prison where he is not completely isolated. That will be the preparation for his ‘suicide’.

    • Bayard

      “Although the UN states that WGAD determinations are legally binding, its calls have been consistently rejected by the UK government.”

      Thus showing up the concept of “international law” for the sham that it is.

      • Tom Welsh

        If such “determinations” were really “legally binding”, armed police would have shown up long ago, arrested the offenders, and taken them away to prison pending trial.

        Where governments are concerned, such expressions as “legally binding” should have appended to them “… if you feel like it”.

  • willie

    A reflection of the utter lack of democracy and legal impartiality in the UK.

    Its the law of the jungle. And that is why I suspect so many Americans have guns and why the right to bear arms is in their constitution. An unarmed society is sadly an abused society. Assange is the example of that.

    • Bramble

      Another deflection. The more guns rattle around the the USA, the more law abiding citizens cling to the sham of law and order offered by the status quo. Hence the (calculated) failure to curb the growth in gun ownership.

      • Bayard

        The reason for the Americans’ right to bear arms is given in the Constitution and it is exactly as willie says, so not at all a deflection.

        • JBird4049

          As an American, and to be honest a strong supporter of the second amendment, I understand, and support greater controls of the right to bear arms, but I often see videos of executions by police as well as the increasing militarization and corruption across the country, and I think, you first. It is sad, but it is the more extreme, often racist, militias and police that support the government in whatever repressive acts it wants to do. My country is losing its collective mind.

          However, one of real reasons for why the country is losing its mind and that the number of guns is rapidly increasing is because the anger, fear, and divisiveness is politically useful for both Democrats and the Republicans. There is also money for manufacturing and selling them, which means the lobbyists for the gun makers give plenty of bribes or “donations” to keep things nicely screwed.

          As with Julian Assange, in the United States, issues such as guns are usually decided behind the scenes decisions where the use of, and the desire for more, money and power, and not law, ethics, and certainly not justice decides things.

    • Tom Welsh

      I really am sorry to keep repeating the Melian Dialogue. I know it’s rather gauche, but what can you do? It’s the ineluctable truth, and we would do well to heed it.

      “[R]ight, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”.

      The Western establishments are in the painful process of learning that Russia and China are at least their equals in power, and cannot be forced to act against their will.

      Therefore the Western establishments have no alternative (while they work away assiduously to develop pathogens that selectively kill Russians and Chinese) but to pretend to negotiate.

      Unfortunately for them, they have completely forgotten how that is done. Respect for the other, good faith, trust, and obedience to law and morality – all these are things they have spurned for so long that they can no longer even imitate them convincingly.

      • Lovely

        Alternatively the ‘Western Establishments’ turn on their own people instead as they lose power in the world. They always did this but at least worked quite hard to maintain the pretence of being relatively fair and democratic. Now people are generally so distracted and cowed they don’t even need to really bother to do that.

        • Tom Welsh

          As Max Weber explained in “Politics as a Vocation”, “a state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory”.

          Putting that together with the Melian Dialogue, we can conclude that a state does whatever it wants within its own territory, and its citizens can only grin and bear it. Short of violence they have NO rights save what the state willingly allows them. And they cannot use violence successfully because the state has a monopoly on violence within its territory.

          You might object that states, including the UK, often do concede rights and privileges to their citizens and other residents. True – but they are in no way obliged to do so. They see it as in their interests to maintain a masquerade of “democracy” and “the rule of law”. But when it comes to the crunch, all that is forgotten and the state does whatever it wishes. Remember 2020?

          • glenn_nl

            TW: “Remember 2020?”

            Yes, I remember it well.

            That was the year a global pandemic came barrelling our way, and the UK government did bugger all about it. They were far more interested in “Big Ben Bongs for Brexit”, with Borris’ bluster & bullshit the only show in town.

          • Clark

            Glenn_nl, lest your comment seem to validate Tom Welsh’s conspiracy theory, I feel I must point out that the UK government did a lot in response to the pandemic. The problem was that the things they did were wrong (and usually corrupt), and they didn’t do the things that were needed, so they soon had to resort to crisis management, which they bungled just as badly.

            But the rather major actions that they did take are precisely what Tom Welsh is alluding and objecting to; it’s just that his focus is too narrow, so he thinks they must have hoaxed the whole pandemic for the purpose of imposing lockdowns and/or vaccination. Actually, the world is a little more complicated than that.

          • Lovely

            I like Tom’s interesting comment but the guy saying uk government did nothing in 2020 is a perfect example of the insanely powerful doublethink culture change that was forced on us in 2020. All at terrible expense to life. Probably one of the biggest events in modern history and yet to be accounted for properly.

  • Crispa

    Very thoughtful article. The gist reminds me of another discussion I tuned into recently which compared legal truth with scientific truth and the methodological differences in arriving at one version over the other. If a lawyer convinces a jury that the earth is flat that becomes a legal truth, though both science and common observation would suggest that it was blatantly false. In neither Julian Assange’s case nor the cases of the asylum seekers do the judges, whoever they are and however selected, even attempt to get to grips with the basic morality of what they are addressing. If they did perhaps they would not be judges.

    • Robert Dyson

      I don’t think a lawyer could convince a jury that the earth is flat. That is the reason for attempts to get rid of the jury system. I am sure that had Assange had a trial by jury he would be a free man now.

      • Tom Welsh

        “I don’t think a lawyer could convince a jury that the earth is flat”.

        He could, with the “right” jury. Perhaps you should read more newspapers and listen to more broadcast “news” and current affairs.

        As Oscar Wilde observed, “There is much to be said in favour of modern journalism. By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, it keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community”.

  • Andrew Nichols

    Is there anyone in the UK apart from a few individuals who understands the irretrievable destruction of the exalted reputation of british justice that is the real result of the Assnge case. The stitchups are what one only thought the old East Germans could manage with a straight face.

  • AG

    last phrase says

    “Because that is how the Establishment quietly gets its dirty work done.”

    Well without collusion from some other parties – (yeah, the news) – it weren´t that quiet.

    After all its being discussed here. It could be as well discussed everywhere else.
    In fact it would be hell of a story. (two corrupt laywers from the upper class who make decent people sufferr?)

    And it could be sold easily to readers and audiences.
    But for that you´d need a true working class press.
    Or genuine TV news.

    • AG

      might correspond, Caitlin Johnstone about “secrecy”:

      “What we don’t know does hurt us: Julian Assange in 2010 made a profound point about the “bankruptcy” of any political theory in our current situation.”

      she also has embedded the documentary about Assange “The War on Journalism”, 90 min.

      “For this reason I often argue that our most urgent priority as a civilization is rolling back all the secrecy and obfuscation, because until that happens we’ll never get change, and we’ll never know what should be changed.

      I have my ideological preferences of course, but I’m just one person taking a best guess at what needs to happen in a world where so many of the lights are switched off. Not until our society can actually see the world as it really is, will we have the ability to begin, as Assange says, “setting course for a different direction.”

      p.s. Germany´s biggest alternative site “Nachdenkseiten” (500.000 readers allegedly) has a transcript of a lecture given at ATTAC with some good background about German news media and the reasons for its failure:
      “Media: Fourth Estate or Opinion Makers?”

  • Ruth

    In VAT carousel and excise fraud cases certain high court judges were selected to hear appeals. I remember a particular case in which the vice-president was removed towards the end of the appeal for one of the ‘special judges’ to deliver the perverse judgment. There is evidence that Customs and the intelligences service were involved in the frauds.

  • Brian c

    Is it a trick of the mind or have I also seen Mr Mustard sitting on the front benches in the Commons? Also atop opinion columns in national newspapers? It is a face that continually surfaces amidst the British Establishment and perhaps encapsulates it.

    • AG

      Frankly, “Mustard” sounds like a fake name from a B-movie.
      -Say hello to Mr. Mustard and Mr. Sauce.
      -And who are you?
      -I am, dear Gentlemen, Mr. Cheese-Burger-Wallace. Nice to meet you.

  • Clark

    The UK legal system’s treatment of Julian Assange has been disgusting, biased in the extreme, demonstrating that it has no independence from… From what? It would be conventional to write “from the UK government”, but the UK, US and various other western governments, legal systems and intelligence agencies have all been equally compliant with a seemingly disembodied demand to silence the truth, as has the western corporate media.

    And Assange is far from the only target. Ordinary people, protestors, are now barred from stating their motives before a jury, on threat of Contempt of Court – so, damned if you do and damned if you don’t, like a witch trial. Companies also effectively buy civil injunctions at the High Court, which are heard without jury and against which no defence of necessity or public interest is permitted. Companies can further claim for their exorbitant “legal costs”, which can easily amount to more than a defendant’s net worth.

    And under modern trade treaties, governments themselves can be sued in court by companies, held in secrecy from the public, for any government decision that might reduce said companies’ profits.

    Assange is the canary, the people are the miners, management says it’s fully committed to handling any potential problems so just keep working.

  • Thom Moore

    He is not, after all, a journalist, despite his claiming to be, because he isn’t accountable to anyone. No filters, no standards. Assange, with the support of Russian intelligence, played a critical role in the 2016 presidential election. He is a potential missing link in the chain of understanding the extent to which foreign intervention affected the American electoral process.

    • Tom Welsh

      “He is not, after all, a journalist, despite his claiming to be, because he isn’t accountable to anyone”.

      A questionable judgment IMHO. Your suggestion that a journalist must be accountable to someone – other than his readers – sounds to me like the thin end of a censorship wedge. If anyone – an editor, proprietor, advertiser, or government employee – can prevent what a journalist writes from being published in full and unaltered, surely that journalist is being censored. (If the journalist pays someone to edit his work, check facts, etc., or even acquiesces in such assistance, that’s different).

      My dictionary, it is true, defines a journalist as “a person who writes for newspapers or magazines or prepares news to be broadcast on radio or television”. But I think that is because it is futile to write unless there is some way for one’s work to be published widely. Nowadays that can happen without the involvement of newspapers, magazines, radio or TV – or the people who control them. Much, I feel, to the regret of people in high places who like to have a tap that they can turn off whenever they like.

      Would you deny all online bloggers the title of “journalist”? That would rule out Mr Murray, for one – and if he is not a journalist, what would you call him?

      I can see why the powers that be would very much like a journalist to be defined as someone who works for some establishment-controlled organisation, and whose writing can therefore be conveniently censored or edited at will. But I don’t think it would be very wise for us in this forum to accept that definition.

  • Peter Mo

    I hope the Assange team looks at the USA Bergdahl conviction case being voided due to the conflict of interest of the judge.

  • DP

    No-one has asked to see a copy of the bench memorandum. Why not?

    There was one written for the Iraq war judicial review, where the author (who was not a judge) posted an article about their role in the decision.