A lesson for the Secret Barrister – from Jane Austen
Posted on May 30, 2018
Words She Didn’t Like:
How do you know SB is not lying?
Or that he gives a very good explanation?
Are you a QC? Criminal Law Professor?!
Or are you just repeating his claims, which some, including lawyers agree with, and others, including lawyers, don’t.
Let’s split the difference and agree he was telling a lot of half truths, shall we?
Which his blatant prejudice and bias should have forewarned you of.
For example there isn’t a crime of being suspected of being about to breach the peace.
Reporting restrictions are limited by all kinds of considerations.
And punishment for breach/contempt of them by several more.
Though judges like to forget the fact.
And he didn’t breach the conditions of his suspended sentence?
And the fact that a judge said otherwise doesn’t alter the fact.
Did you see recent Jeremy Thorpe trial dramatization?
“….it is usual for the jurors to decide the fact, and to refer the law arising on it to the decision of the judges. But this division of the subject lies with their discretion only. And if the question relate to any point of public liberty, or if it be one of those in which the judges may be suspected of bias, the jury undertake to decide both law and fact.”
– Thomas Jefferson, “Notes on Virginia,” 1782
“…the great principle of Habeas Corpus and Trial by Jury…are the supreme protection invented by the British people for ordinary individuals against the state. The power of the executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him judgment by his peers for an indefinite period, is in the highest degree odious, and is the foundation of all totalitarian governments.”
– Winston Churchill 1943
“His Lordship may tell you that to his heart’s content. As a great Lord Chief Justice of England, a judge superior in rank to any in this Court, once said, “It is the duty of the Judge to tell you as a jury what to do, but you have the power to do exactly as you like.” And what you do, Members of the Jury, is a matter entirely between God and your own consciences….”
– Horace Rumpole 1998
But, of course, there was no jury for Mr Robinson!
As you had linked to the Secret Barrister’s publicly available blog (under which he has closed comments after I’m certain he’d published three, though only two are still there) I’d assumed you thought your readers might be interested, and so I posted my unpublished responses under the obviously mistaken assumption you and they would be interested in the kind of questions people were asking him.
Feel free to delete this comment too.
Oh, and asking defendants if they’ve “got their prison bags” (not “packed” – the big bags they were carrying) says nothing, though their answers might have revealed something after sentencing, which wasn’t the situation.
– DELETED by “I Like Words“
Words neither the “Sacred” Barrister nor “I Like Words” liked:
Mr B J Mann says:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
May 29, 2018 at 11:38 pm
1. Why was Tommy Robinson arrested?
“……West Yorkshire police, having been alerted to his activities, arrested Lennon at the scene.”
I’d heard that he was filming from a point agreed with the police: is that not true?!
2. What are reporting restrictions?
“The starting point of our criminal justice system is that justice must be seen to be done.”
What were the reasons for his secret trial (is it true it was secret even from his solicitor?!)?!
“However the law provides for exceptions to open justice, known generally as “reporting restrictions”. Reporting restrictions apply in a wide range of situations……”
I’d read he’d been dragged off to court because he’s breached terms of a suspended sentence, so that’s not the case?!
“…..One breed of restriction order is something called a “postponement order”, under section 4(2) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981. Postponement orders are not unusual, particularly where there are a series of linked trials – for example, where allegations of grooming rings involving 30 defendants are concerned, there will be several trials (it not being physically possible to accommodate 30 defendants in a single courtroom). To avoid jurors having their deliberations contaminated by what they might read or hear about the earlier linked trials, reporting of all of them is often postponed until the end.”
Is that why the police don’t go to extreme lengths to publicise details of the defendants in “Grooming” Gang trials to ensure all possible victims come forward to “corroborate” the existing evidence?!
Unlike in ordinary rape trials?!?!
But, wait, in ordinary rape trials how do the police “avoid jurors having their deliberations contaminated by what they might read or hear about the earlier linked…. reporting of all of them”?!
Does this mean that all people convicted of rape following police (and media?!) publicity should be freed and have their convictions overturned?!
“….On the specific facts of this case, does the public interest in protecting the administration of justice outweigh the strong public interest in open justice?”
But what about reporting on his own case? Surely that could be done with details of the rape trial being redacted?!
“This is what we had here. The judge had imposed a postponement order preventing the media from reporting on the ongoing trial until all linked trials had concluded.”
“Breaching a reporting restriction amounts to a contempt of court. Which is what Yaxley-Lennon admitted doing.”
Why is this OK: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-39580591
“…..In all the 29 defendants face a total of more than 170 charges…..”
“…….They appeared in groups before district Judge Michael Fanning during a lengthy court sitting and are next due to appear at Leeds Crown Court on 11 May…..”
Plus a full listing of names, ages and all charges of the 29 defendants!?!?
3. But I heard Tommy Robinson was arrested for a breach of the peace. What is a breach of the peace? How is a breach of the peace caused by someone simply filming?
“…..The courts have confirmed that it covers situations where, for example, there are ***reasonable*** grounds to ***fear*** that a demonstrator or protestor is ***likely*** to ***incite*** violence, even violence against themselves. This *appears* to be applicable to the present case. Robinson *provocatively* filming defendants, selected *deliberately* by ethnicity, and streaming on Facebook for the *edification* of his *cult*, is the *kind* of thing which *could*, it *might* be *argued*, lead to a breach of the peace.”
Is that the level of legal argument in court these days?!
5. So back up a step – what exactly is contempt of court?
“…..The law(s) of contempt are designed to safeguard the fairness of legal proceedings and to maintain the authority and dignity of the court.”
No further comment required!
6. What happened at Canterbury Crown Court?
“On 8 May 2017, during the course of a rape trial at Canterbury Crown Court involving four [***Asian***] defendants, Yaxley-Lennon attended court and attempted to film the defendants for an online broadcast entitled “Tommy Robinson in Canterbury exposing ***Muslim*** child rapists”
So you’re saying they weren’t British, they were Asian?
And they weren’t Muslim, they were Zoroastrian, or Buddhist, or Jewish or that other religion, you know, the Middle Eastern one, that was found in the other half of Iran, the other half of Afghanistan, across North Africa (until something strange happened), it’ll come to me!
Yes?! Is that your point?!?!
7. So what you’re saying is that Tommy Robinson was given a suspended sentence simply for trying to report on a case? Free speech is truly dead.
“….This is not theoretical – serious criminal trials have nearly collapsed because of the actions of people like Yaxley-Lennon….”
You mean like Cliff Richard’s?!
“We have a quaint tradition in England and Wales that trial by media should be avoided, and that trial on evidence heard in court is the fairest way to determine a person’s guilt.”
So why do the police advertise and publicise (non “Asian”) rape defendants?
Can you do that with people accused with burglary or GBH?!
Ever been punched by this man or seen him loitering around your house around the time you were burgled (even if you haven’t – yet – reported it)?!
“….it is about ensuring that a jury are not in any way inhibited from carrying out their important function. It is about being innocent until proven guilty.”
I take it all the false accusers, including in the police and CPS, in all the recent failed rape cases are being prosecuted for contempt of court as we speak?!
“It is not about people prejudging a situation and going round to that court and publishing material, whether in print or online, referring to defendants as “Muslim paedophile rapists…..”
Why is it OK for you to prejudge the entire Asian continent as “Asian” accused rapists when they are MUSLIM gangs?
Especially as the “race” of Asians have a longer history of legal protection than the “religion” of Islam?!
8. How is all that relevant to what took place on 25 May 2018?
“…..In short, Mr Yaxley-Lennon, turn up at another court, refer to people as “Muslim paedophiles, Muslim rapists”…..”
But did he?!
9. What did he go and do?
“As we know now, he went and committed a contempt of court by reporting on court proceedings. He did so in a way that expressed his “views” on the guilt or otherwise of the defendants”
Again, did he?!
10. He was tried in secret on the day he was arrested, with no lawyers and the media were banned from reporting what had happened. This is Kafka on steroids, surely?
“…….offered a contemnor (for that is the official term) the chance to seek legal advice, can deal with the offender straight away….. Yaxley-Lennon was legally represented by a barrister and would have received full legal advice.”
Is it true his own lawyer in London had been told he was being released and he had to rely on one provided by the court?!
“He also wasn’t tried in secret; his contempt hearing was heard in public, with members of the press present. However, the judge imposed temporary reporting restrictions….”
So secret to the country at large!
How many members of the general public, never mind his family, employers, supporters, associates, (own legal team) etc, were in a position to see for themselves the impartiality and lack of prejudice in this non-secret trial?!
“…media circus… orchestrated attempt at martyrdom… deranged followers… far-right” [where do you put Mussolini? Hitler?!]
“…judge agreed that, in light of what had happened over the Bank Holiday weekend, restrictions should be lifted to allow publication of the facts…”
So not the sharpest tool on the bench then!
“….As for the suggestion (by UKIP among others [why bring them up?!]) that nobody has ever before been found in contempt of court and a postponement order made preventing the media from immediately reporting it, a handy example can be found on 22 May 2017, where one Stephen Yaxley-Lennon was found to be in contempt at Canterbury, and a postponement order was made restricting publication until the end of the substantive trial…”
As for your response, so you’ve given two examples of only Yaxley-Lennon being the subject/victim of that.
And none of any other person.
Clearly the guy isn’t the nicest of people, and clearly he’s been involved in some pretty scummy activities (eg football hooliganism) and some pretty high class ones (“mortgage fraud” – bet there are no policemen, barristers or judges that have inflated their earnings to get a bigger mortgage, or perhaps they don’t need to, not least because they aren’t likely to be driven out of their homes and need to stump up for something safer and more secure?!).
But equally clearly there have been a lot of politically motivated prosecutions and sentences!
I thought I’d heard good things about the Secret Barrister Blog, but I must be thinking of some other.
“…former leader of the English Defence League, convicted fraudster, sometime-football hooligan…. Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – to use his real name [so that his home and family can be attacked again, and even residents of former homes, again?!]… hordes… storming [you mean like storm-troopers? storm-front, is it?!]… knuckle-dragging cheerleaders… his racists-in-arms… Nazi-themed march… his cult… preaching to his online followers… diatribe… ye of little brain.. tub thumping… people like Yaxley-Lennon… media circus… orchestrated attempt at martyrdom… deranged followers… far-right” [where do you put Mussolini? Hitler?!] “UKIP” [why bring them up?!]
The writer of this prejudiced hit piece seems to epitomise everything wrong with our “justice” system “liberal” establishment!
Mr B J Mann says:
Your comment is awaiting moderation.
May 30, 2018 at 12:07 am
In light of the (frankly ingenious) conspiracy theories that are now doing the rounds after the rather mundane truth above was revealed, some bonus Q&As are required:
11. I heard that Tommy Robinson was denied his own lawyer, and had to have a duty lawyer who was in fact a PROSECUTION lawyer and who didn’t properly defend him.
“This is quite something. But, sadly [your prejudices are showing again], Yaxley-Lennon was defended by an experienced member of the independent criminal Bar. He may have been offered the duty solicitor at the police station if his chosen solicitor was not available,”
As mentioned earlier, the “conspiracy theory” I’d heard was that his own solicitor had been told by the police he was being released and so their services weren’t required.
“but in the Crown Court hearing he was advised and represented by a specialist criminal barrister with over 16 years of experience of cases including murder, people-trafficking, serious violence and serious sexual offences.”
So never even one single contempt case?
And did he have even 16 minutes? even 16 seconds?! experience of this one?!?!
“As an independent barrister, he prosecutes as well as defends (most of us do), but his website profile in fact emphasises his experience as a defence advocate. In other words, Yaxley-Lennon had a top-notch defence barrister fighting his corner.”
But we still have more questions than answers, your bonus Q&As notwithstanding!
Never published by the “Sacred” Barrister (along with all bar three other BTL comments – one of which disappeared while I was typing!)
And deleted by “I [Dis]Like [Too Many] Words“
As was this related post on another of her blogs:
A Political Powder-Keg?
Posted on May 30, 2018
More Words She Didn’t Like:
No doubt this isn’t applicable to this blog either:
Postponement of fair and accurate reports
• Under s.4(2) of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 the court *may* postpone publication of a fair, accurate and contemporaneous report of its proceedings where that is *necessary* to avoid a *substantial* risk of prejudice to the administration of justice in those or other proceedings
• The power is strictly limited to fair, accurate reports and contemporaneous reports of the proceedings
• The court must be satisfied that a *substantial* risk of prejudice would arise from such reports
• If the concern is potential prejudice to a future trial, in making that judgment, the court *will* bear in mind the tendency for news reports to fade from public consciousness *and* the conscientiousness with which it can normally be expected that the jury in the subsequent case will follow the trial judge’s directions to reach their decision exclusively on the basis of evidence given in that case
• Before making a s.4(2) order, the court *must* be satisfied that the order would eliminate the risk of prejudice and that there is *no* less restrictive measure that could be employed
• If satisfied of these matters, the court *must* exercise its discretion balancing the risk of prejudice to the administration of justice against the strong public interest in the full reporting of criminal trials
*abc* = My emphasis