June 11, 2010

Parliamentary Privelege? Not In My Court.

Remember those MPs that wanted to use parliamentary privelege and the Bill of Rights 1689 as a defence against their thievery?

A judge sent them homeward to think again. Here's what he had to say:

"Judge Mr Justice Saunders said he could see no "logical, practical or moral justification" for the argument put by the three former Labour party members of parliament (MPs) and a Conservative member of the upper House of Lords."

Which is a pity. I wanted to see the BoR 1689 invoked as proof that it was still valid.  Just for the record, I couldn't care less if all four of them hang from the nearest gibbet for their sticky-fingered ways. As you may have figured out by now, I have a growing interest in ancient law. It would seem that it is still valid, but the judge threw it out as a defence.

Judgey went on to say:

"The judge said he accepted that the processing of the expenses was part of the workings of parliament, but that there was no reason to extend parliamentary privilege to expense claims.

"There has to be a line drawn and it has to be drawn somewhere," he told Southwark Crown Court in central London, the Press Association reported.

"I can see no logical, practical or moral justification for a claim for expenses being covered by privilege; and I can see no legal justification for it either.

"In my judgement, the conduct alleged against these defendants is not covered by parliamentary privilege and is triable in the Crown Court," he said.

"The principle that all men are equal before the law is an important one and should be observed unless there is good reason why it should not apply."

You can read the rest here.

Disappointingly, our pal in the antipodes, one Angry Exile, is proved to be right. He said many months ago that this would be the outcome. Bugger! Hopefully he won't spot this post and come to gloat. No-one likes a gloater, AE, so bear that in mind.

Still, the main prize, their prosecution, is still very much in sight. If judgey keeps his wig on, and dispenses the law fairly, according to his oath, then the Four Thiefkateers will be rubbing willies with Big Vern in Cell Block H before too long.

Which may just focus the minds of the new intake of troughers.

Go on lads, take one for the team!



Angry Exile said...

"Hopefully he won't spot this post..."

Bob Hope and no hope, mate :-)

"...and come to gloat. No-one likes a gloater, AE, so bear that in mind."

Lips sealed.

Seriously, no gloating, but remember the other part of what I said at the time. The BoR is valid still, and both that and special status were recognised by a Divisional Court in 2002 ruling on a Metric Martyr case. The problem is not that the BoR is no longer applicable but that in hindsight its wording was unforgivably sloppy and has allowed later legislation to neuter it in places.

For example, the line about "arms suitable for defence and as allowed by law" means that changing the law to allow no arms at all was always going to be a possibility. The bit about fines and forfeitures is more interesting, though I've heard speculation that the reason for calling them Fixed Penalties is to avoid calling them a fine and running foul of the BoR. I'd even heard a rumour that someone appealing a motoring not-a-fine-but-a-Fixed-Penalty was going to introduce a thesaurus in evidence though I've no idea if it ever actually happened. Anyhow, as I understand it the BoR still applies but is circumvented by the law having changed so that not all offences need to be tried, e.g. decriminalise a parking offence and it can be dealt with summarily by the local council.

I'm not a lawyer so I'm not 100% certain I have that right, and if I do I'm not 100% certain it's legally watertight either. I'd have thought it could be argued in court, but I suspect the problem is that so far nobody has. A lot of law seems based on precedent so I suppose the law as written is up for debate until someone goes to court on it. It was up for debate whether lying about your expenses is covered by the Parliamentary privilege clause in the BoR, and now we know that the answer is "like fuck it is". Hopefully someone will have another crack at the BoR defence over a fine, though so far the weaselly bastards have found excuses not to go with what most people would probably think of as the spirit of the no fines and forfeits bit.

Angry Exile said...

Oh, I nearly forgot to say that it was the result I was hoping for apart from that I was also hoping they'd fall down the stairs and land on their balls. But the bastards can appeal and probably will if it keeps them away from Big Vern's trouser-less prison rodeo sessions a little while longer.

Angry Exile said...

Yep, they're appealing. Well, such is their right and all that, but they're still troughing bastards and I still hope they fall down the stairs and land on their balls.

And then get introduced to Big Vern

Trooper Thompson said...

If you're interested in the Law when it was worth defending, you must read Sir William Blackstone's 'Commentaries on the laws of England', (there's a good quote quite high up on my blog regarding our right to bear arms) which you can do for free at the Online Library of Liberty, if you don't want to buy it.

The problem in arguing over such things is that the judges don't care, and don't believe in the Rule of Law, so our Law has degenerated, poisoned by imported doctrines.

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

I seem to recall that these feckers are on Legal Aid? - how does that work? They've got some nice redundancy money they voted themselves haven't they?

I think that should be pointed out every time the case is mentioned and just to rub it in - if they are using a legal team provided by their party (as the Zanu lot were) that should be pointed out too.

I somehow doubt that an (extra)ordinary Joe accused of similar misdeeds would have travelled this far down the legal path and would now be smoking dope and clipping roses in an open prison somewhere. You only get to stay with Vern if you don't pay your TV license.

James Higham said...

rubbing willies with Big Vern


Captain Ranty said...

I do recall you writing that AE.

You are quite right about the FPN as well. They couldn't call it a fine because no man (or woman) can be fined without due process, as the Merkins are fond of saying. It is unlawful.

An FPN is an "offer". Offers can be refused. I would guess that less than 5,000 people in the UK know that. Le chat is now out of le sachet. (My French is crap, but I am sure you catch my drift).

It is unlikely that these boys will be spending any serious time anywhere near Big Vern, but one can hope.....


Captain Ranty said...


Yes, I have read bits and pieces but not the whole. I will buy it and see what the man had to say.

Justice will not be dispensed here. We are all old enough, and savvy enough, to know that they all piss in the same pot.


Captain Ranty said...


Quite right. These bastards just don't know how to let go of the public tit, do they?

They are on Legal Aid, and they do have money, and I have no idea how they swung that one.

Maybe when asked, they all said they were "unemployed".


Captain Ranty said...

Sadly, James, Big Vern won't be travelling up the Hershey Highway with these thieving bastards.

As Gordon says, they will get a nice, soft open prison. Designed with them in mind.

"Equality in the eyes of the law" my arse.

Some animals, as Eric Blair explained, are more equal than others.


DerekP said...

“Justice Minister Jack Straw told the BBC: “It is simply a matter of chance that [the means test] is yet to be introduced in Southwark, where the former MPs are being tried.”

Yeah, right! Coincidence.