Not Saussure

September 2, 2006

Mea Culpa

Filed under: civil liberties, Politics, UK — notsaussure @ 2:16 pm

Rachel in North London is wondering about the New York Times article, blocked to people trying to access it from the UK for legal reasons. I posted comment with a link to a site that’s reproduced it in full, which Rachel quite rightly removed because of the legal implications. It’s a bit of a grey area and I should certainly have asked Rachel before potentially landing her in it. Anyway, for anyone who’s interested, the offending link was here.

Alternatively, there are plenty of proxy servers that conceal where you’re based — Firefox users can install the httpProxy extension, which comes with several proxies already loaded and and allows you to switch between them and your regular ISP just by clicking a button in your browser.

As to Contempt of Court, I take the point, though in the event of the prosecutions collapsing because of an abuse of process argument (it isn’t safe to let it go to trial because there’s a real danger the jurors will have read so much about it that they’ll have already made up their minds), I suspect both Dr Reid and Gordon Brown may have to bear some of the blame.

I don’t much like government conspiracy theories, not least because they imply a degree of government competence one doesn’t actually see that often in the real world, but I rather wonder about how indiscreet were some of our old friends, ‘sources close to the investigation’, with the New York Times. You expect some leaks in a major police inquiry because of the number of people involved, but I’d have hoped our spooks would know to be a bit more close-mouthed when there’s a foreign reporter in earshot.

I can’t help wondering if some folks wouldn’t be rather pleased if the trial collapsed before it got before a jury, so the strength of the evidence against the accused never had to be tested in open court.

This would save embarrassment all round and enable a bit of face-saving, since blame for the lack of convictions could be shifted onto out-of-touch judges who just don’t get it and, more generally, both ‘A nineteenth-century criminal justice system trying to solve twenty-first-century crimes’ and ‘Justice weighted towards the criminal and in need of rebalancing towards the victim’.

I don’t suggest this was orchestrated, but successful politicians generally become successful because they’re good at turning their, and others’, mistakes to their advantage.

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