Category Archives: Justice

Assange: Not in jail

Yesterday, Channel 4 News ran an anniversary programme, of sorts:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – hiding for two years in the Ecuadorian embassy – is in “a prison cell with internet access” and “yearns to walk in the fresh air,” says a close friend.

Today, Slavoj Žižek, writing in the Guardian, seems to think that Julian Assange is hiding out in the Ecuador embassy because of something to do with Wikileaks and whistleblowing.

In August 2010, Julian Assange had sex with two women in Sweden. He was, so they both report, aggressive and unpleasant, and very unwilling to use a condom. When they talked to each other and realised he had had unprotected sex against their will with both of them, they went to the police to discover if they could force Assange to take an HIV test – and the police, listening to their account, realised that Assange had by their testimony committed sexual assault and rape.

Until Julian Assange stepped into the Ecuadorean Embassy, nearly two years after the legal due process began in Sweden, he had every element of the justice system due him. He was even on house arrest rather than in prison, in the confidence that he could be trusted with the large amount of money his friends would lose if he skipped bail.
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Filed under Human Rights, Justice, Uncategorized, Women

The deaths at Tuam: a voiceless testimony

Tuam Babies unmarked graveThere is an unmarked mass grave in Galway which has become briefly famous by the work of historian Catherine Corless, who spent years tracing the death records of each child whose remains may have been buried there. (You can hear her being interviewed about her work on the mass grave here.)

Timothy Stanley, a Telegraph blogger who converted to Catholicism from the Anglican church, argues that the mass grave is “a human tragedy, not a Catholic one”. At more length, Caroline Farrow, a spokesperson for Catholic Voice, explains that first of all, this wasn’t really so bad, and anyway, everyone except the Catholic Church is probably lying. (I note for the record: the sheer quantity of misinformation and distortion provided by both Stanley and Farrow is quite astonishing.)
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Filed under Children, Human Rights, Poverty, Women

Cyril Smith and Rochdale

Cyril SmithIn 1962, when Cambridge House in Rochdale was opened to give young men a clean safe place to stay, Cyril Smith was 34, already an important man in the local community, and he seems to have regarded it as his private pleasure centre. The hostel ran from 1962 to 1965, Cyril Smith had keys and could come and go at any time, and was responsible for bringing in several boys to live there who’d been in difficult home situations, often then to work for the local authority, so that Smith would have control both over their jobs and over their home. Continue reading

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Filed under Bread, Children, Corruption, Justice, Police

Does David Coburn know about copyright?

On 25th May, David Coburn, now UKIP’s London-based MEP for Scotland, tweeted this:

David Coburn Copyright
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Filed under American, Unanswerable Questions

46 years of safe legal abortion

Celebrating 46 years of the Aborion ActOn 27th April 1968, 46 years ago, the Abortion Act became law, and women in the UK – except in Northern Ireland – were entitled to get safe, legal abortions. That’s half a lifetime ago. There can be few doctors or nurses still practicing who have first-hand memories of the bad old prolife days.

Every year for the past few years, on the Saturday closest to that date, SPUC stand in a line down Lothian Road, on the Sheraton Hotel side, and express their sorrow and regret for 46 years of health and wellbeing for women.
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Filed under Healthcare, Human Rights, LGBT Equality, Religion, Scottish Constitution, Scottish Politics, Women

Are corporations people?

Corporations Are Not PeopleThe legal definition of a corporation in the UK is:

a body of persons authorised by law to act as one person, and having rights and liabilities distinct from the individuals who are forming the corporation.

A corporation can own property, do business, pays taxes – well, sometimes – be sued, sue individuals and other corporations, and though it can’t be born or die, a corporation usually has a definite beginning and can come to a definite end. A corporation doesn’t have a passport: it may be registered in just one country, but it can exist in many.

But no matter how many legal rights and powers a corporation may acquire, there are things it cannot do: it cannot vote in most democratic electionsthough the richer the corporation is, the more it is likely to get its way regardless of democracy; it cannot have sex or experience orgasm or know love or laughter or tears; and it has neither soul nor conscience – from a religious viewpoint, a corporation is not a person at all.

Or so I always thought.

But apparently, in the US at least, the Catholic Church has ruled that corporations have souls and consciences, and therefore rights of freedom of religion that ought not to be violated.

The American legal definition of a corporation is similar to the UK’s definition. A corporation in the US is an independent legal person, created, organised, and – should that time come – dissolved according to the laws of the state in which it is registered. Each state requires articles of incorporation that document the corporation’s creation and the corporation’s management of internal affairs. Nowhere in the legal definition of a corporation does it explain where in this process the corporation becomes ensouled.
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Filed under American, Human Rights, Women

Nigel Evans: accused

Nigel EvansNigel Evans is a conservative and a Conservative.

He’s been a Conservative politician since 1985, when he was elected a councillor for West Glamorgan (the former administrative county in Wales that is now Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot). In 1992, he won Ribble Valley in Lancashire for the Conservative Party, and held it for them until last year when he lost the Tory Whip and became an independent. He held it through the 1997, 2001, 2005, and 2010 general elections.

From June 2001 to November 2003, Evans was Shadow Secretary of State for Wales: he was appointed a Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party from November 2004 to December 2005: from June 2010 to 10th September 2013, he was First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means – that is, the second deputy Speaker of the House.

He is also, as I find from his Wikipedia page, a disbeliever in man-made climate change and was a fan of The Great Global Warming Swindle.

Nigel Evans is on trial for rape, indecent assault twice, and six counts of sexual assault, and it is further alleged by the prosecution that the following named, senior Conservatives knew of his record of sexual assaults at least since 2003. Evans denies all charges.
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Filed under Elections, Justice, Politics

Reeva Steenkamp’s death is not a bet

Just over a year ago – on 14th February 2013 – Oscar Pistorius fired shots through his bathroom door, which struck and killed Reeva Steenkamp.

Outside South Africa, most news stories focus on Oscar Pistorius: Reeva Steenkamp is generally referenced as “his girlfriend”.

Steenkamp was not famous outside of South Africa: the world’s media will be descending on the North Gauteng courthouse because of Pistorius’s fame. Continue reading

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Filed under Justice

Mail attacks Labour

Adrian Hilton, Archbishop CranmerDoes Adrian Hilton – former Conservative party candidate, who blogs for the Daily Mail – really believe that Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt are paedophiles or support child abuse?

On his personal blog, using his preferred pseudonym “Archbishop Cranmer”, Adrian Hilton writes:

But when three current Labour politicians – former officers of National Council for Civil Liberties – are confronted with documented links to something that really was called the Paedophile Information Exchange, and when it is set down in black and white that this group really did agitate for all of the aforementioned ‘progressive’ policies, you have to wonder why Ed Miliband has not at least instigated an internal inquiry and done a few background checks on Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and (former MP) Patricia Hewitt. Instead, he declared that he doesn’t “set any store by these allegations”, and that Harriet Harman in particular is a person of “huge decency and integrity”.

The evidence (if it be) has been set out in the Daily Mail, even alleging that “the Labour government of the time may have helped finance the organisation”.

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Filed under Children, In The Media, Justice

Safe sex and Julian Assange

They fell asleep and she woke up by his penetrating her. She immediately asked if he was wearing anything. He answered: “You.” She said: “You better not have HIV.” He said: “Of course not.” 12th July 2011

The longer Julian Assange delays his return to Sweden to be questioned by the police, charged with rape and sexual assault, and for the Swedish justice system to decide what to do with him, the less likely it is that he will ever be tried at all. It is already three and a half years since two women went to the police to discover if they could force Julian Assange to have an HIV test and, in the process of describing what had happened, gave evidence that Assange had attempted sexual assault on one woman and raped the other woman.

Since 19th June 2012, Assange has lived in a room in Knightsbridge, a guest of the embassy of Ecuador, his request for asylum accepted by the President of a nation who has little concern for free speech. Assange has, in effect, sent himself to jail without trial under much more unpleasant conditions than he would have been subject to in Sweden: where he would have been unlikely – even if found guilty – to have been sentenced to more than three years. If he intends to imprison himself in Knightsbridge until the statute of limitations expires in Sweden, he will stay there til August 2020.
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Filed under Healthcare, Justice, Women