Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Legal Stalking

The law firm "Public Interest Lawyers" is to close and more than a thousand complaints which it has filed against British soldiers and marines will be reviewed and probably thrown out. See link to Daily Mail article. For more than a decade PIL instigated witch hunts against servicemen (and it was mainly men) on the basis of what are now known to be flimsy or completely bogus cases of human rights violations. Far from PIL being the victim of an establishment plot, the Blair, Brown and Cameron governments were completely happy to hang ordinary soldiers out to dry and they helpfully established two new investigative bodies to process all the complaints which PIL generated. It was only when judges described evidence from some of PIL's Iraqi clients as "lies" (very strong language for judges) -and the Brexit issue coincidentally swept a lot of human dross out of positions of high office in the United Kingdom government, that PIL was finally held to account. 

Whilst the Daily Mail is to be congratulated for having campaigned against the witch hunts, and for years the response of the liberal establishment to the Mail's campaign was to fatuously heap praise and honours (honourary doctorates and "solicitor of the year") on PIL's senior partner, Phil Shiner, the suggestion by some Mail columnists that Mr Shiner now be prosecuted for treason is probably inappropriate. The false cases represent a serious crime, primarily against individual soldiers and marines and the principle of Justice rather than against the State and the most appropriate charge would, therefore, be one of "conduct tending to pervert the course of justice." If Mr Shiner is to face a court himself, then it is only right that he should do so for what he did to individuals with rights of their own. Which was to persecute them using the law as a weapon, often for years, and almost always with the acquiesence of the successive governments that were willing to send those same individuals into harm's way. (Initially they were sent into harm's way with inadequate equipment, too, because the Blair government forbade the army to make detailed preparations for war because Mr Blair didn't want it to look as if war with Iraq was a forgone conclusion.)

A treason charge would only be appropriate if there was evidence that Mr Shiner acted deliberately to harm Britain as a nation by setting the courts against her soldiers, and even then it would probably need to have been on behalf of a foreign power rather than as a sort of personal hobby horse. So far, there is no evidence of this, though investigations into Mr Shiner have only just begun. 

However, it is true that if an officer of the Russian FSB or SVR had concocted a plan that saw more than a thousand criminal cases being sought against frontline British service personnel, making it seem as if the British Army was somewhat worse than the SS -and had that officer managed to get the British taxpayer to completely fund his destablisation campaign, then that hypothetical officer would receive warm praise and prompt promotion.

Update: 5th of October 2016.
The government of Theresa May has indicated that it will close loopholes in the Human Rights Act which have left soldiers open to malicious prosecution on the flimsiest of grounds. Most European countries had implemented the same basic Human Rights Act without exposing their soldiers to malicious legal action, so it has to be concluded that the governments of Antony Charles Lynton Blair and David Cameron intended that British soldiers would be so exposed.

Both Blair and Cameron denuded the British armed forces of vital resources whilst finding a constant stream of controversial and unwinnable wars for them to fight, and the net result was quite debilitating. It is only possible to conclude that a weakening and discrediting of Britain's armed forces was their objective. "Why" is an open question, but it might have something to do with a europhile agenda too radical to be admitted to in public. The early signs are that Mrs May will have no truck with that sort of thing, but it will take a while for the new government to accept that defence has been deliberately underfunded by a significant extent since about 1992. The turnaround has to start somewhere, though, and hopefully this is it.

Update: 3rd of February 2017.
Phil Shiner has been convicted of several professional misconduct charges. There are now calls for him to be prosecuted for breaches of the criminal law that could see him jailed, but this would require a lot more legal work.