Who Cares?

A Stark warning from Christopher Gill on the danger to our liberty from continental justice

What are the principles upon which traditional English common law is founded? Firstly, that until proved otherwise, every person is presumed innocent. The presumption of innocence is the very keystone of the British criminal justice system.

Secondly, except under the circumstances prescribed in the latter-day Prevention of Terrorism Act, nobody may have their liberty infringed without being charged in open court within 24 hours of arrest. Crucially, the ‘charge’ has to be backed by prima facie evidence. Even when the suspect is thought to have committed murder, detention without charge may only be extended, with the permission of magistrates, to a maximum of 96 hours.

This fundamental principle is enshrined in the law of Habeas Corpus which Archbishop Desmond Tutu once described as being “such an incredible part of freedom.”

Thirdly, the right to trial by jury, originating in Magna Carta, forms part of the very bedrock of the British criminal justice system. Its significance is that it ensures the defendant can insist that he or she is ‘tried’ by his or her peers – ’12 good men and true’ – drawn at random from amongst the general public and demonstrably independent of ‘the powers that be’ who might otherwise act in an authoritarian and arbitrary fashion.

Fourthly, until recently that was, it was always held that that once a defendant had been acquitted it was unlawful to charge that person again with the same offence. Double Jeopardy was something that British subjects have therefore never had to worry about. The view was taken that it was totally unacceptable that a potentially innocent person should forever live under the threat of being dragged through the courts again and again in the circumstances in which the prosecution had failed to establish guilt in the first place.

An unwritten principle of the British criminal justice system was that it was better that 10 guilty men went free than that one innocent person be hanged.

Fifthly, in order to avoid the possibility of defendants being condemned on the strength of their own testimony, the law embraces the right to silence.

Sixthly, the inadmissibility of hearsay avoids the possibility of defendants being found guilty on the basis of say-so-evidence from absent ‘witnesses’.

Seventhly, the withholding of previous convictions ensures that the hearing of cases brought to court is not prejudiced by the defendant’s previous record.

Eighthly, trials in absentia, in other words, trials in the absence of the defendant, have no place in the British criminal justice system.

Finally, we have reporting restrictions so that whilst matters are sub judice, press reporting is limited so as not to prejudice a fair trial.

As can be seen from the foregoing, the British system of criminal justice has bent over backwards to protect and defend the individual from state-inspired coercion. It has been the individual’s sure protection against false accusation, arbitrary arrest and wrongful imprisonment.

As we face a future in which the harmonisation of criminal justice systems within the European Union looms ever closer, it is instructive to note that there is no European equivalent of the law of Habeas Corpus in continental Europe, trial by jury is a little-known concept and they most certainly don’t start from a position of presumed innocence!

As for all the other defences against state coercion that we British enjoy, in the event of an acquittal, the continental systems allow the prosecution to appeal for the defendant to be tried again; a defendant’s refusal to answer questions is regarded as an admissions of guilt; reported or ‘hearsay’ evidence is frequently used to obtain convictions; a defendant’s record, including prosecutions pending, may be read out in the hearing; the defendant may be tried without being present in court or, as recently confirmed, without the defendant even being aware of the hearing and, not least, the press are free to name names and express opinions both before and during the course of a trial.

At time when we stand in extreme danger of having the European Court of Justice made superior to our own national institutions, those of us who were born free – for that is the very nature of our British inheritance – would do well to contemplate the condemnable words of Admiral Blake, the chief founder of England’s naval supremacy in the 17th century, that “I will have the whole world know that none but an Englishman shall chastise and Englishman.”

The English common law is what has made us a free people. The prospect of surrendering it in favour of criminal justice systems whose raison d’être is to ensure the supremacy of the state rather than the freedom of the individual is really too awful to contemplate, but be warned and very afraid. That is precisely the direction in which your government is taking us.

Christopher Gill is Hon. President of the Freedom Association.

This article first appeared in Freedom Today

A letter from Dr Anthony Coughlan to Edward Spalton

 Dear Edward,

Thank you very much for sending me those interesting documents on the  Christian Churches and particularly on the Church of England.  I have printed them out and they contain some illuminating stuff.  I remember Jens-Peter Bonde introducing me to an EU-critical Lutheran clergyman in Denmark some time in the early 1990s, who described how  the  EU Commission and the European Movement at the time were making a  particular effort  to co-opt the Christian Churches into supporting the EU  project.

They seemingly set this objective as a key  political  goal  following the  Danish and Irish Maastricht Treaty referendums  in the early 1990s, when  the Lutheran clergy in Denmark, for instance, tended to be  on the No  side.

Traditionally, it seems,  the Lutheran Churches of Scandinavia, which are  all State churches as you know,  tended to be EU-critical, as they stood  by the sovereignty of their respective Crowns/Monarchs, representing their  national State sovereignty.

As regards the Church  of England, you have heard the old wisecrack, I am  sure, that the Church of England is the Tory Party at prayer!   So I  expect that the evolution of opinion   in the C. of E.  over the years has  mirrored that within Conservative circles as a whole.

I do not know how successful  the  EU’s cooption exercise has proved with  regard to the  Lutheran Churches, but it has certainly been hugely  successful as regards the Roman Catholic Church, which is my own  background, especially in the 1990s/early 2000s… I expect that the  post-2008 financial crisis has brought new issues into play  –  the growth  of poverty, unemployment etc. –  which perhaps reduces the Europhilia of various  Church hierarchies, as they have to pay attention to such  developments and deplore them from a Christian perspective.

 The Catholic Church in Ireland, influential though it was,  did not involve itself officially in any way in the 1972 EEC Accession referendum  or in our 1987 Single European Act,  1992 Maastrihct Treaty  and 1998 Amsterdam Treaty  referendums.

However in the 2001 Nice Treaty referendum, the newly formed European  and International Affairs Committee  of the Irish Catholic Hierarchy caused  consternation among the many Catholic traditonalists on the No-side by  coming out with a statement shortly   before the referendum which implicitly pointed towards the desirability of Catholics voting Yes.

Frantic efforts by some of the Catholic No-side people persuaded two of  the Bishops to say  or imply that they supported the No side, but a lot of  damage was done. Similar interventions occurred in subsequent Irish referendums –  in the  aborted one on the proposed EU Constitution  in 2005, and the 2008 and  2009  Lisbon Treaty referendums.

Sometime in the 1990s the Committee of Catholic Hierarchies of the  European Community/Union was established – known by its French intitials  as COMICE.   It had a full-time office in Brussels, whose full-time  secretary was  for years  Monsignor Noel Traynor, who was promoted to the  Bishopric of  Down and Connor – i.e. Belfast – a few years ago. The  current  Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, is also a strong Europhile.

One can “google” COMICE on the internet and find various  further items of relevant information there.  Traditionally in the RC Church each Bishop was, as the old saying  put it,  Pope in his own diocese.   Each one did his own thing, so to speak. But in  recent decades Bishops speak on political issues through committees of  their respective  national Hierarchies.   So that when it comes to an EU  issue, they ask themselves: what does our European or International  Affairs Committee  or sub-committee think.   These sub-committees of half  a dozen or so people are usually strongly Europhile, having been wined and  dined for years in Brussels and gone  to symposiums on such matters as  “Christian ethics and the EU” etc.  in castles in Germany and so on.

These sub-committees  sometimes include lay people who are Eurofanatics.  For example the European Affairs sub-committee which advised the Irish  Catholic Hierarchy on its 2001 statement on the  Nice Treaty included  among its members a former Irish EU Commissioner (Richard Burke), plus a  woman  (by name Kahn-Carroll) who worked full-time in the EU Office in  Dublin.

A  relevant consideration for the Catholic Church may be that the German  Hierarchy, where citizens as you know pay an annual Church tax, is one of  the principal funders  the Vatican and through the Vatican of the RC Church as a whole.

The last but one Pope, John Paul( the Pole  Karol Wojytala),   was very anti-communist  and had some kind of vision of the EU replicating the  Europe of the Middle Ages, when  the Roman Catholic Church had such influence, which made him strongly Europhile.

The last Pope, Benedict, was a German, which may also be relevant.  The  Roman Catholic  Church, being a world-wide body with over a thousand  million members,  does  not have a uniform view on  any non-religious  matter of course. Even Catholic religious orders will have different  traditions.  My own impression  is that the Jesuits, for instance – an  order of which the present Pope is a member – is traditionally very  Europhile,whereas Opus Dei,  another  influential religious order, is said  to be EU-critical…  But within each order there will of course be  diverse  views held by their individual members.

The CIB  conference is clearly important and I hope that it goes well. It reminds us EU-critics here in the Republic of  Ireland  that we should pay  more attention to the  current state of play regarding the Catholic Church  and the EU.

I am not going to the TEAM meeting  either, but  it was nice to meet you again at the TEAM  meeting in Riga last September.

I trust that your political work  and that of your colleagues goes well in  the  months ahead.

All the best for now

As ever,

TONY

Anthony Coughlan

Britain Not To Recognise Our Anzacs

This is letter recently received by our Honorary Secretary and as he says “it is a thundering disgrace and is clearly part of a determination to weaken ties with the Commonwealth Realms.”

Dear Mr Spalton

Britain Not To Recognise Our Anzacs

The British government gave a press briefing recently in which they stated, in essence, that the UK First World War celebrations would give emphasis to coloured communities within Britain and not to what may be generally termed as ‘the white skinned’ volunteers from countries like Australia and New Zealand even though a significant proportion of our troops were of differing ethnicities.

The following media release has been sent to British media. Although not a constitutional matter, our ANZACS fought for king and country and their bravery should undoubtedly be recognised by the increasingly ‘politically correct’ administration in the United Kingdom.

Republicans will, of course, say that this is a reason why “we should be free of England”, but we have actually been independent of the British government since our Constitution was enacted in 1901. The fact that we chose to remain under the Crown and maintain strong links with Britain does not mean that the United Kingdom has any authority whatsoever over us.

Yours sincerely,

Philip Benwell

MEDIA RELEASE – THE ANZACS PLAYED MORE THAN THEIR PART TO SAVE BRITAIN

Australians have a right to be outraged at the insensitivity of the British government in announcing, in a briefing to journalists, that their proposals to commemorate the commencement of the First World War would omit mention of the sacrifice made by the Anzacs (Australia and New Zealand servicemen) but instead would focus on the role played by the ‘new Commonwealth’ countries as part of an internal ‘community cohesion’ process.

Politics should never play a part in recognising the bravery of those that are gone. Many nations within the British Empire and Commonwealth fought to save the homeland of Britain in both the First and Second World Wars. Their losses should all be mourned collectively.

In 1914, Australia and New Zealand were both independent nations with their own independent constitutions under the Crown. Our Anzacs lost some 80,000 men in a war they didn’t have to get involved in, but readily volunteered to fight for in foreign battlefields on the other side of the world in loyalty and in gratitude to the country that developed their lands into modern ‘law and order’ nations.

Doubtless there will be a lot of backtracking and political hyperbole by British officials and the sacrifice of our young men will in the end be recognised. But that there was any hesitation on the part of what appears to be an ungrateful Britain not to do this in the first place is not only reprehensible but shows the disgraceful contempt of these people for the history of their own country.

What will be next on the agenda by these ‘politically correct’- the whitewashing of Winston Churchill from British history books?

Philip Benwell
National Chair

British public fed ‘myths’ about immigration

Vivienne Reding

BRITISH ministers are stoking fears about European Union migrants, according to a top Brussels official who wants to see a “United States of Europe”.  

Viviane Reding, the vice-president of the European Commission, has said it is “simply not true” that there is an “invasion of foreigners” stealing jobs and draining welfare and health resources in the UK. During a webchat on European citizenship, Reding said that most of the things that the British public are told about Europe are “myths” and “have nothing to do with reality”. She claimed that political leaders in the UK were adopting populist tactics simply to win votes. “I’m mostly frustrated about the political leaders,” she said. “What is leadership if you just try with political movements and political speeches to gain votes? You are destroying the future of your people, actually.”Reding, who is the longest serving Brussels commissioner, insisted that EU immigrants to Britain contribute far more to the country’s coffers than they take out, claiming Britain’s GDP has risen by three to four per cent because of the input of working Europeans coming to the country. “It’s just a myth to speak about an invasion, this invasion is just not taking place,” she added. 

In the Daily Telegraph, Bruno Waterfield says the idea that a United States of Europe could have any popular appeal illustrates “the distant remoteness of the world that is planet EU”. Reding’s vision, which is shared by many in the European institutions, would transform the EU into a “superstate” relegating national governments and parliaments to a minor political role equivalent to that played by local councils in Britain, he says. If voters are offered a choice of “more Europe”, they will vote against it in droves, he adds. Reding has emerged as Nigel Farage’s best friend, as “the more she speaks out, the more votes Ukip will be able to bank”. •

First appeared in the Telegraph

 

ECJ rules against the UK in landmark short-selling case

Cour de Justice

The ECJ this morning rejected all the UK’s claims against the EU’s short selling regulation. The result was surprising given that the Court’s Advocate General Niilo Jääskinen issued an opinion supporting the UK’s position last September – court rulings often, but not always, follow these opinions. The nub of the UK’s complaint was that the new regulation transferred too much discretionary power to ESMA (the European Securities and Markets Authority) to ban short-selling over the heads of national regulators. And that the legal base for doing so in the EU treaties was unsatisfactory. The case could therefore set an important precedent.

The UK’s complaint as described by the court:

The United Kingdom contends, inter alia, that ESMA has been given a very large measure of discretion of a political nature which is at odds with EU principles relating to the delegation of powers. The United Kingdom also submits that Article 114 TFEU is not the correct legal basis for the adoption of the rules laid down in Article 28 of the regulation.

Here is what Jääskinen had to say about the complaint in September:

“The outcome is not harmonisation but the replacement of national decision-making with EU level decision-making. This goes beyond the limits of Article 114.”
While he didn’t side with the UK on all issues, he did recommend changing the legal base of the regulation to Article 352, which would have given the UK a veto.

However, the ECJ took a very different line arguing that the regulation is in line with the treaties since ESMA already has a role to play in this area and because the powers are limited to times when financial market stability is in question – of course when this is, remains to be defined by ESMA itself. The court also suggests that, contrary to the Advocate General’s view, the new rules do provide for harmonisation.

As we noted before, this ruling has the potential to be very important for the UK and could set the tone/precedent for future rulings. The court’s decision to reject the UK’s claim could have some important implications:
• Firstly, it potentially sets a precedent for the transfer of powers to an EU agency under the single market article (114). This is decided under qualified majority vote (QMV) meaning the UK does not have a veto. Not only that, but the scope of the powers remains vague and widespread, allowing ESMA quite a significant amount of leeway in deciding where to act in what the UK Government would argue are political decisions.
• More generally, there will be a concern that it could allow the use of Article 114 to be stretched – a question which is raised in some of the UK’s other on-going court challenges against EU financial regulation.
• This will raise concerns in the UK over two issues – financial services regulation and the split between euro and non-euro countries. The first is obvious given that the UK may feel its ability to legally protect itself against burdensome regulation is now diminished. The second stems from the potential abuse of the single market article to further the needs of the eurozone – the short-selling ban was largely conceived following the eurozone/financial crisis to combat ‘speculators’.
• One saving grace may be that the ruling is quite specific in terms of financial market oversight, a role which the agency in question (ESMA) already has a part in. However, only time and future legal challenges will tell far-reching the implications of this ruling will be.
What happens now?

Given that the ECJ rejected all aspects of the UK’s claim, it is dismissed entirely. There is little more the UK can do from a legal aspect, unless it decides to challenge other parts of the regulation but that seems unlikely. The UK can continue to work behind the scenes to limit the practical power of ESMA and define strict criteria for when it can act on this issue. Of course, if any decision to limit short-selling by ESMA does happen, it could always challenge that specific move. Nevertheless, this is clearly a political blow to the UK.

First appeared in Open Europe

The Euro – Doomed to Fail in the Beginning

Before deciding whether the UK should join the Euro the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, drew up 5 economic tests which the UK must pass for the UK to join. However the 5 tests were superfluous. They ignored the one defining test that was of far greater significance than all of the rest put together and that one thing that doomed the Euro to failure from the start.

That was the growth of Unit Labour Costs throughout the Eurozone. Without that being the same, high levels of unemployment were bound to come about in some EU countries and that is what we are seeing in Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain already.

Let me explain what I mean by Unit Labour Costs. Simply put it is the labour cost of producing one item of something. Let’s say in a very simple economy you employ me to produce glass tumblers. You pay me £10 per hour and I produce 10 tumblers an hour. The unit labour cost is £1 per tumbler. In another country, let’s say they produce salt cellars. There they pay their workers €10 per hour and they produce 10 salt cellars per hour. The unit labour cost of one salt cellar is €1. So in this simple example, the terms of trade are equal and £1 will equal €1.

If my wages were increased to £11 per hour and but my output remained at 10 tumblers per hour. The unit labour cost is now £1.10 each. If our neighbours increased their wages to €11 per hour and increased their output to 11 salt cellars, their unit labour cost remains €1.00 per unit. The terms of trade are now against us. More £s leave our banks than the €s that are coming in because we now sell less of our products.

Under the laws of supply and demand the exchange rate of our currency would fall. In this simple example it would fall by 10%, bringing the terms of trade back into balance and trade carries on as it did before. This is how countries, like us, for decades have been able to increase the wages to our workers faster than their output has increased. The £ fell in value from around $4 to the £1 in the 1950s to about $1.50 now.

Unit labour cost is a factor of wages paid and productivity, but productivity itself among other things is dependent on the amount of capital invested in each worker and climate. Capital because if you have been given a new machine and I am producing solely by hand you will produce a lot more than I would. Climate because it is much easier to work in the fairly temperate northern Europe than it is in the
hot South, where it is often too hot to work in the afternoon.

For a single currency area to work, unit labour costs have to increase at the same rate in each country all of the time, but that is impossible.
Assuming that the European Commission can do nothing to change the climate, though it does seem to be trying very hard to, I’ll concentrate on capital. The amount of capital invested per worker would have to be the same in every country and increase at the same rate so there would have to be an ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE transfer of capital from the industrialised northern countries to the more impoverished southern and eastern ones. It had never occurred to me until now that the European Commission would deal with this in an altogether different way – move large numbers of people from the East to the West.

So what will be the effect of unit labour prices rising faster in some countries than others? Quite simply it will be loss of exports and jobs in the poorer performing ones, which is what we have seen in recent years. Unemployment rises, the government’s tax receipts fall because there are fewer people in work, welfare spending goes up because there are more unemployed and all of a sudden the government has to borrow large sums of money to keep going and in its turn faces bankruptcy.

The solution to the problem for an independent state, as Argentina did a few years ago, is to default on your debts, reduce interest rates and devalue your currency. These three things are done together and the economy goes through a dramatic recovery. Unfortunately these solutions are not available to the countries in the Eurozone.

Instead the European Commission has imposed austerity measures on the southern European states, putting up taxes and reducing government spending which actually makes the situation worse by creating more unemployment. Incredibly, to try to bring unit labour costs down, they are actually reducing the wages paid to workers. Even if by some miracle this reduction in wages brought them back to parity with Northern Europe it would be a fleeting solution only as in the very next day, unit labour costs would change by different amounts in different countries and we’d be back on the same path to disaster again.

If Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain had kept their own currencies they would been able to devalue them over the years allowing them to remain solvent. Instead the EU’s great vanity project, the Euro, has been imposed on them and maintained at extraordinary costs to their people.