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Sunday 15 February 2015

Murdoch Threatens Judiciary

Today, masquerading as an editorial of suitable gravitas, has come a thinly veiled threat from Creepy Uncle Rupe that the country’s judiciary has incurred his displeasure and that he and his obedient attack doggies intend to come after it as a result. And what is most surprising about this intervention is that it has been made not in the Sunday edition of the Sun, but the supposedly upmarket and more independent Sunday Times.
That's what I think of youse bladdy judges, ya bladdy Pommie drongoes!

Sir Nigel Hamilton Sweeney QC is one of the risen stars of the English judiciary” begins the piece loftily, continuing “As The Hon Mr Justice Sweeney he has presided over some of the most high profile trials of recent times, sending among others Rolf Harris, Chris Huhne and the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby to prison”. All of this the Murdoch empire clearly applauds. But then the tone changes.

Nonetheless on Friday he stirred rather than settled a contentious matter that should be of great concern to any potential head of the judiciary. It is the question of transparency in the administration of justice”. And what, pray, is at issue here? “The case involved the Sun, a title in our newspaper group, but our concern would be the same whoever was affected”. Cue heads striking desks at the Guardian.
So what had Sweeney done to upset the ST? “Sir Nigel fiercely rebuked a senior defence barrister who had asked why he had ‘in secret’ taken the retrial of four Sun journalists away from Judge Richard Marks … Mr Marks suggested that something had been going on ‘behind the scenes’ … Sir Richard had replaced Mr Marks with Judge Charles Wide, who had presided over the only recent trial to result in a conviction for conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office, the crime that the Sun men are also accused of”.

Quite apart from the reason for changing judges being anything but secret - Marks has a busy trial list coming up - Sweeney was clearly not impressed with counsel for the Sun hacks imputing some kind of ulterior motive, stressing he was merely “changing one fair judge for another fair judge” (this phrase did not make it into the ST editorial).

Then come the threats: “[The] Crown Prosecution Service is ripe for demystification. So too is the judiciary … judicial transparency is the missing ingredient in the revolution that has swept along the bench since the Human Rights Act of 1998, which drew judges into making decisions of political significance that brought them into the heart of national debate”. So they’re going after the judges, and that’s their excuse.

And, just in case those judges didn’t get it first time, the editorial concludes “the judicial process remains far too obscure. Judges are public servants. It is time to shine a bright light onto them”. The Murdoch press has been kicking the CPS for some weeks now. The ST mentions it to show the judiciary what it can expect, then serves notice that this is the next Murdoch target, the excuse being “transparency”.

Once again, Tom Watson is shown to have been on the money with that “Mafia” charge.

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