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Question/Comment
28 February:  Well said Tuppy.    Will
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28 February:  We aren't the only ones worried about the state of the nation. The Israelis reckon Hamas and its ideology has infiltrated British politics, media and universities and exploits the British legal system.   Scipio
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27 February:  A speaker on Any Answers on Radio 4 made the excellent point that it is not the threat of torture that acts as an incentive to fanatics wanting to join terrorist groups. Rather, it is the fact that captured terrorists who are rescued from Guantanamo by this country, who are given sanctuary here on the basis of a tenuous connection with the country, who is provided with information by MI5, whose torture was actually carried out by US agents and who is then provided with legal aid and sympathetic judges, is then allowed to seek compensation from the nation that saved him. That is a brilliant recruitment incentive.    Tuppy
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27 February:  The victim in this sorry tale is our judicial system. Any judge who makes far reaching criticisms not based on the evidence, specially in a case involving matters of national security and the very important matter of intelligence sharing agreements, shows that his views have been influenced by extraneous matters, be they political or otherwise. How can we have faith in an impartial judiciary which is there to protect society from extremists? I agree that the case had gone beyond the issue of torture, as both sides condemned it and no one said that BM hadn't been tortured. The judges used the case to damage the intelligence agreement between UK and US. That was irresponsible and unforgiveable. I hope that the Falklands is not part of our payback.    Tess
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27 February:  I like the idea of selection of judges after a grilling on their political beliefs. Then everyone can see who the lefty sympathisers are.    Will
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27 February:   I hope folks don't mind me sticking my oar in to this debate. Briony seems to believe that the UK was complicit in actual torture, but the press reports of what was said don't go that far. They say that what was done to Binyam Mohamed was with the knowledge of British secret service agents. That is quite a different thing and makes the "complicity" argument much, much weaker in my view. Like has been said, being present at the scene of a crime is not a crime. Should our agents act the same way again if the same circumstances presented themselves and there was a chance that intelligence could save lives, then I would definitely say yes.  Scipio
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26 February:  Lord Neuberger referred to actual involvement by British agents in the mistreatment of Mr Mohammed. That is not just standing impassively while mistreatment is going on, as Aspals suggests, but a senior judge has stated that the agent, or possibly more than one, was actually involved in torture. Even though I have to agree with Anthony that Mr Mohammed's behaviour was very suspicious, it does not justify treating him in this inhuman way, in breach of our legal obligations.    Briony
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I repeat, Briony, I do not condone torture. Neither does the government nor MI5. Let us not forget, it was MI5 that released much information in this case to Mohamed and it was MI5 that sent evidence to the police about agent B. The police are investigating agent B in respect of allegations that he was guilty of wrongdoing (collusion in torture?). But I do think that the sole issue that the courts focused on of late, the control principle, is a very important one and one which they have swept aside (although they pretend they haven't) far too readily. There is a suggestion in one newspaper today, the Daily Mail, that the US attitude over the current dispute we are having with Argentina over the Falklands, is due to the Court of Appeal decision. They are failing to support our cause, while many states are rallying to Argentina. Far from being happy with the way the court crushed the control principle, they are very annoyed. And that is how decisions taken by those far removed from the realities of politics and the sometimes murky world of intelligence, can have the potential to do extreme damage. As far as the attack on MI5 was concerned, it is lamentable that the Master of the Rolls was initially prepared to go so far as to damn the service without apparently any evidence to support such an extreme condemnation. That much antipathy to the service causes concern. It is a trite observation, but judges should decide issues on the facts before them, not on supposition.   Aspals
26 February:  the prime minister this afternoon said that hes going to publish the guidance given to the secret service. whats the point of having a secret service if you tell the world what its secrest are. you hand the enemy victory on a plate.    pete
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26 February:   The latest judgment of the Court of Appeal, in which they have disclosed their earlier criticism of MI5, is deeply disappointing. Like others on this page, I just wonder where the judges are going to go with the pursuit of minority rights and the destruction of the control principle intelligence sharing arrangements that have been active for many years and which actually save lives.
We must not lose sight of the essential facts of the case: Mr Mohamed is an Ethiopian national resident in the UK. On 10th April 2002 he was arrested at Karachi Airport by the Pakistani authorities when he was attempting to fly to London. This was his second attempt to leave Pakistan using a fake British passport. The intelligence was that Mr Mohamed was planning to construct and detonate a dirty bomb and that he was a person whose activities would be of importance to the UK Security Services. He told our IS that he thought another major attack would happen - this was his assessment, but he did not know. He said he was trained in Afghanistan on weapons and explosives and thereafter, after the collapse of the Taliban, on remote devices, including landmines to be used against United States forces. The detailed facts can be read in the judgment of August 2008. On the basis of that information, it would have been criminally reckless to have not wanted to interrogate him to minimise harm to our citizens. The intelligence provided to us came from the Americans. They owned it and they were the ones to say whether it should be disclosed. The CoA said that they would be the judges of that, in the interests of justice and in the public interest. They decided that the control principle was not a principle of law. While that may be strictly true, it is a custom observed by intelligence agencies around the world. To brush such an important principle aside, as the court did, on that basis is deeply disappointing.
I am reminded of the phrase quis custodiet ipsos custodiens. The judges, for years regarded as the guardians of the people, are proving to be quite the opposite. So, can Parliament legislate to control them? I'm not so sure, as they can override parliament's intent, by striking down legislation which they determine is incompatible with the Human Rights Act. The effect is that they see themselves as above the will of Parliament. The only solution is perhaps to assume a measure of control over the appointment of judges, with a US style system for the senior appointments, to ensure that there is a balance between the liberals who regard the rights of those who would harm our society as a priority and the more conservative who would rather favour the protection of our society and its institutions - something judges used to care about.   Anthony
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26 February:  I hate to say it but what I was afraid of looks like has happened. The US is paying us back over the Falklands row for our courts' crass behaviour in crushing the control principle in respect of Binyam Mohammed. The judges may perhaps now see the foolishness of what they did, oir then again, perhaps theyre so pompous that they will not admit it. Who can blame the yanks for their approach. We let them down badly. The court of appeal decision places Falkalnders safety at risk but I don't suppose they'll care about it. After all, Falklanders are white and Christian.    Thinners
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25 February:  Glad to see the board active again. Just to comment on what Thinners says, these decisions show that these ever so clever chaps who sit as judges and guardians of our safety might know a lot about the theory of law but they haven't got a shred of common sense. They'll kill us all with their compassion for terrorists.    Will
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25 February:  I find Aspals' comment surprising for a web site such as this. Is he condoning torture? It is a crime against international law as well as domestic law, as is aiding and abetting etc torture. Feeding questions about which answers are needed on security grounds to persons of other nations doing the torturing is in effect torture by proxy. It is definitely complicity in my view.   Briony
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I am not condoning torture, Briony. What I am trying to do is inject a sense of reality into the often emotional debate about it. To ignore intelligence derived from torture, which might save lives, would be foolish at least and criminally negligent at most. It all gets very difficult when, in an act of solidarity against international terrorism, those in whose custody the suspect is ask another nation, who have an interest in the suspect, whether they have any matters they would like resolved. Now, such matters may be purely to eliminate an individual from their inquiry. On the other hand, there may be other intelligence of a pending attack implicating the suspect, when it would be useful to have answers to some questions. This is a very difficult area, as there could be some argument that feeding those questions is complicity in torture. Normally, tacitly standing by while a crime is committed is not the same as actively participating or encouraging what is happening. Presence at the scene of a crime is not itself a crime. However, the Criminal Justice Act 1988 does state that it is an offence for a public official to acquiesce in torture. But, there is a fine balance to be struck between acquiescence and mere presence especially in this most difficult of areas. The courts do not seem well disposed to the niceties of this difficult situation. Liberal judges bathed in a human rights culture who are allowed to exercise their discretion have tended to view such conduct by the UK in these situations as being culpable without more and have never really thought beyond the Human Rights Act. They no longer appear to be the guardians of our freedoms and, as we saw recently, are more than ready to demolish long-standing agreements between states on intelligence sharing (the control of intelligence), which has led to the prevention of a number of terrorist assaults against citizens of this country. This disregard potentially could do us enormous harm (see Thinners' point below).    Aspals
25 February:  According to the BBC even the Aussies are letting terrorists take them to the financial cleaners. Some judges are so far up themselves that there's no chance of any light at all getting through. Daft isn't a strong enough word to describe what's happening.    Thinners
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It does seem extremely naive to expect intelligence operatives to ignore a potential source of valuable intelligence which may save lives, purely on the basis that another nation may have obtained that information by torture. It defines complicity in torture very widely. The height of the allegation, according to the BBC, was that Australian officials were sometimes present at the "torture" sessions carried out by those holding him. While not apparently alleging actual acts of torture by the Ausstralians, what is interesting is that he chose to present his case to an Australian court and not to a Pakistani, Egyptian, Afghani or US court (agents of which did seemingly carry out the torture). I wonder why. The BBC calls him an Australian, although he was Egyptian born. He was picked up in Pakistan by the Americans and accused of training militants and of having prior knowledge of the 11 September 2001 attacks.   Aspals
14 February:  (sent February 13) does anyone think the pinko judges will think differently about the terrorist darlings they bow down to if they and their families were targeted like the irish judges were.    pete
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12 February:  I think the trend of the courts to support the cases of terrorist suspects is very worrying. I don't know whose side the judges are on. Their very vocal use of the Human rights legislation in this latest case of Binyam Mohamed was overkill when, as pointed out by Pegasus, the issue was not whether we support torture but whether it was right to breach the intel sharing agreement with the States. People have overlooked the fact that our government was quite happy to disclose the redacted paragraphs if the US who provided us with the info agreed. As I understand it they did not agree and the court of appeal decided to squash that long standing agreement for nothing more than making a big point of sanctimonious principle.
This country benefits a lot from intel which the US shares with us. The court decision shows that the long standing agreement can no longer be relied on. That means lower grade intelligence being provided to us because, quite frankly, the US has lost confidence in us to protect its information. Liberal academics and judges need to come down from Olympus and join us in the real world and stop endangering the rest of us just to prove a point.    Thinners
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12 February:   Well, Pegasus' comments seem to have been spot on, as today's Telegraph article by the head of MI5 prove. I do agree that the key was the protection of intelligence sharing, but I suppose the court took the view that the information was already in the public domain and therefore no harm was done by their releasing it. Some papers seem to have got sidetracked by the allegations of torture - something that our country (nor our intelligence services) does not condone - rather than this central issue. I also agree that the intelligence services deserve our support in their efforts to protect us all from the fanatics that want to kill us and who use our misguided human rights culture and institutions to further their cause.   Anthony
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The Lawyer carries an item about Dinah Rose QC apologising to the court for handing the letter from Jonathan Sumption QC to the press. Judge LCJ questioned her conduct, to which she asserted: "There's a time when advocates need to take a stand." He apparently described her reply as astonishing.    Aspals
11 February:   I don't accept the upbeat gloss which Anthony places on yesterday's court of appeal judgement. The case was all about ownership of intelligence and the common practice observed by all states that share intelligence, that it is not disclosed without the permission of the state that provides it ie the owner. It doesn't matter whether other courts may have disclosed parts of it. The point is that the US did not agree to its disclosure in British courts. The court of appeal rather sanctimoniously betrayed that trust using what I am sorry to say was pious human rights arguments supporting the rights of a suspected terrorist, placing the suspect's rights above those of the ordinary citizen. No matter how it was dressed up, their judgment can only serve to make all of us less safe. Foreign intelligence services will think twice about the quality of intelligence they share with us. The judges have no idea of the harm they have done to us all. Whoever thought that the Human Rights Act would bring us to this terrible and frightening state of affairs?   Pegasus
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Sorry I did not post this comment sooner. There is an item in today's Telegraph which supports your view.   Aspals
10 February:   I agree Tess' point about the main weakness of international law - the larger countries do what they please and to hell with the rest. In relation to the ICJ, the opinion is an "advisory" one, which is supposed to clarify the legal position. Will it make any de facto difference? I doubt it.
On a separate note, the Court of Appeal today ruled on the Binyam Mohammed case and ordered disclosure of the redacted material. Although I haven't seen the judgment yet, I am encouraged by the report of David Milliband to Parliament that the Court would have upheld the "control principle" (that no country should disclose intelligence from another without its agreement) had the substance of the paragraphs not already been put into the public domain by a U.S. court judgment in a separate case in December. So, the potential threat to intelligence sharing, which was something most on this Board were worried about in the context of what the High Court said, is removed. Hopefully, our Security Services can breath a sigh of relief and can continue to fight the enemies of the state.  Anthony
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The decision is now listed on our Cases page and can be linked to directly from here. The FCO and US Int Service was holed below the waterline by the US court's decision.   Aspals
7 February:  liebour could save another 12 billion quid by axing the olympics. now running for cover.   pete
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3 February:  But what's even scarier is that there are people believing the lies. Take a look at the opinion polls. Liabor are cathing the conservatives.   Rob
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3 February:  Very amusing but scary posting by Anthony. This government just focuses on cash and cut-backs while it punches well above its weight by participating in just about every military venture going. No wonder there isn't enough money to go round. It breaks every promise to its soldiers, not just over kit. Remember the promise of 27 months between op tours? When will the lies stop?   Will
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There is an item in today's Times of a report which says "UK military creaking under strain of Iraq and Afghanistan".    Aspals
3 February:   As the witnesses stack up against him and Tony Blair, Gordon Brown continues his Baldrick defence of denying everything. Who does he think he's fooling? Certainly not the vast majority of people. The latest excocet was fired by Sir Kevin Tebbit, the former MoD permanent secretary, who gave the plainest of evidence damning the PM as someone who sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan without the equipment they needed after "guillotining" the budget. While he is denying this, his government is planning a further maniacal slashing of the defence capability of the nation by threatening to further reduce the armed forces and strike up a defence alliance with France (what of NATO, then). Now, before you collapse on the floor in heaps of giggles at the sheer madness of Labour foreign policy, we should not forget that all this is set against the background of the third war within 9 years that this government has sent its troops to fight in its name (Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan). Wither the so-called peace dividend that the Thatcher government said we would enjoy. 3 wars in 9 years (4 in 14 years if you count the Bosnia campaign) is hardly what one might call peaceful coexistence.
Our navy has proved its value on many occasions and never more so than in the last World War and, more recently, in the Falklands. Similarly, the Royal Air Force stood firm against the overwhelming odds of the invading armada of Luftwaffe aircraft on September 15th 1940, when our nation was at its most vulnerable. Our soldiers had and still have the difficult and dirty job of close quarter combat, suffering the sniper, the road side bomb and the suicide bombers. Living on their nerves and enduring levels of stress that are off the dial. Now there is the possibility of another war, this time with Iran. So, do we expand our forces to keep pace with the ever growing dangers of the modern world? No. At this most dangerous of times, the wise counsel of government (the bunch that brought the country to economic ruin in the first place and which is now scrambling around to save every last penny it can, no matter where it comes from or how vital it is) has decided to cut its armed forces, possibly reducing the Services from 3 to 2. But, lest you think that this is all a bad dream, I have to disappoint you. It is more: a terrible "Nightmare on Downing Street" - of blockbuster proportions worthy of several Hollywood Oscars. You couldn't write a script to equal the tale of what this lot have done to us. [To access the Green Paper, follow this link]   Anthony
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1 February:  International lawyers may well argue over the rights and wrongs of military forces invading other countries, but what difference does it make to big and powerful nations. It's their might is right argument that wins all the time. The UN is pretty weak in controlling the rich and powerful nations, probably because they sit on the Security Council that makes the decisions. If there is the likelihood of a veto, there is no resolution. In relation to Iraq, as much as I hate war, Britain and America were not the only countries to think it was right to go in. So I agree it would be hard to prosecute Blair. I have to say that I do find it a bit amusing how all his ministers are now like rats deserting the sinking ship and forgetting about their ducking of ministerial responsibilities at the time when these decisions were being taken, which the cabinet was privy to. As for Blair himself, he could have defended himself a lot better before Chilcot if he stuck to the legal justifications, such as they were. If he did so, he would have gone some way to limit the damage done by his lawyers. JAck Straw had a go at doing this but without the finesse Tony Blair could have brought to the matter.    Tess
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1 February:  Does it mean then that the lawyers spilling the beans to Chilcot are breaking their professional code?   Thinners
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31 January:   There is a very interesting article in today's Times by Professor Shaw QC, of Leicester University, about why the legal debates about Iraq will never end. In my view, it is because of the very ambiguities adverted to by Professor Shaw that no credible case can be made against Mr Blair that he is guilty of a war crime/crime of aggression. For as long as there is a plausible argument that use of force was justified under UNSCR 1441, which held that Iraq was in material breach of the ceasefire terms of Resolution 687, it seems he had a justification for his decision even if others adopted a different interpretation of international law provisions. I also agree that the Attorney should be kept firmly within the information loop if he is to give meaningful advice to government on important issues such as the legal justification for war. Where I am less comfortable is with the idea sometimes advanced that there is a right to violate sovereignty for humanitarian purposes without a UN Security Council Resolution in support. As Professor Shaw points out, the vast majority of international lawyers are of the view that the Kosovo campaign was a breach of international law, although he says that some have changed their position since. I am still uncomfortable with the lawful basis for this, save in the context of an overwhelming humanitarian crisis which threatens to destabilise a region or presents a threat to world peace. But, in my view, any unilateral action taken in those very exceptional circumstances must be immediately reported to the SC who can either grant the necessary authorisation and help, or not, as the case may be. If the latter, then all military action must stop forthwith and the initial violation of sovereignty may then be regarded as unlawful. A tricky area, but the circumstances of the Kosovo intervention did not meet those narrow criteria.  Anthony
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30 January:  so prosecutors chickened out of prosecuting the deserter who refused to go to Afghanistan and spoke out at antiwar rallies. do they understand what desertion means. you cant get better evidence than someone saying he's not going back and speaking out in public against the war, which is seen on tv by everyone.   pete
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Apologies for temporarily removing this comment, Pete, but I wanted to check the position under the Contempt of Court Act 1981 to make sure that we were not influencing the proceedings by publishing it. Having considered sections 1 to 5 I think the limited scope of your comment is fine. Unfortunately, we cannot publish Pegasus' comment, just yet, as it goes well beyond a general comment, but would invite Pegasus to re-submit it once the case has been determined. Sorry!   Aspals
27 January:   I think, Briony, to follow what you say would mean that any nation could take unto itself the "right" to invade another country after dreaming up some excuse based on overwhelming humanitarian need. After all, they did it for Kosovo, didn't they?
Turning to the Chilcot Inquiry, is anyone else surprised that senior lawyers advising the government are actually revealing the advice they gave to their client, the government? I though that to do that was a breach of professional confidence which could have the most serious consequences. Is anyone aware of a "client waiver" to allow them to do this?   Anthony
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19 January:  To reply to Anthony. I don't think I was being unfair in my remark. Where there is great injustice being done to an ethnic minority, purely based on their ethnicity, it is quite in order in my opinion for them to rise up and defend themselves and for a friendly neighbour to help them out.    Briony
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18 January:   The judges have finally completely lost the plot. Anyone see the BBC news item on control order suspects being allowed to sue? It's at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8465418.stm   Scipio
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Thanks. Now posted on the News Page. There is also an article in the Daily Telegraph condemning the courts' interpretation of our human rights obligations as a judicial scandal.    Aspals
18 January:   Thanks for the quick reply. Not sure what I'll do yet. The last thing I want is to screw things up for everyone else.   jake
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18 January:   I'm after some advice please. I'm a serving jnco and was posted to Germany a short time ago. My family are with me. A friend of mine was recently talking about LOA entitlement and the charges we have to pay, deductions etc and mentioned the deduciton for council tax was illegal. Is that right? Any info appreciated.   jake
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You have posed quite an interesting question, Jake. Oddly enough, I was discussing the same issue with my son-in-law only the other day! My reply has some good news and some bad news. First, the good news. Your friend is correct that there is no legal basis for deducting pay in respect of council tax. Council Tax is a property based tax, set by Councils and charged on domestic dwellings. The tax relates only to properties in the UK. According to DirectGov, Council Tax helps pay for local services like policing and rubbish collection. Council Tax applies to all domestic properties, including houses, bungalows, flats, maisonettes, mobile homes and houseboats, whether owned or rented. The net revenue raised is also used to help pay for Council spending on services such as Education, Social Services, Highways and the cost of Passenger Transport, Fire and Civil Defence. Even putting aside the jurisdictional point, bearing in mind that in Germany all of these services are provided by the German Stadt authorities, it is extremely difficult to see any lawful basis for the army deducting monies from members of the force for services which they themselves do not provide nor for which they pay the Stadt. Hence, it is actually illegal, in my view and is just a means of clawing back money from the serviceman.
The bad news is that the Army argues that this charge is payable so that there is a parity between soldiers in the UK and those in Germany. It is a completely flawed argument and has no sound basis in law, as far as I am concerned. But the real crunch is that Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) is calculated to include the higher cost of living abroad, with travel costs back home being one of the items factored in. It is a complex calculation, from what I heard, and the army has been known in the past to reply that, any removal of the charge for council tax would have a necessary knock-on effect to the amount of LOA payable. Those who in the past considered challenging the payment were dissuaded from doing so on this basis and that they would upset the apple cart for everyone else. Hence the charge remains to this day, even though still clearly illegal. I always viewed the army's threat as an attempt at intimidation because, if correct, their argument shows that the basis for calculating LOA is inherently flawed and artificial. The question is: do you want to be the one to make the challenge? I chose not to. So their intimidation worked on me!   Aspals
16 January:   If I may say so, I think that Briony is being a little unfair in her reply. My concern is that the precedent of Kosovo is a dangerous one, as it lays open the way for other states to argue that breaching the sovereignty of another state is legitimate, if it is to prevent a humanitarian disaster. Who is to determine when the situation is so dire as to justify such action? The UN should be the forum for that. It should not be left to individual states to decide.
In his advice letter of 7 March 2003 to the Prime Minister, over the legality of the invasion of Iraq, the then Attorney General wrote "4. The use of force to avert overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe has been emerging as a further, and exceptional, basis for the use of force. It was relied on by the UK in the Kosovo crisis and is the underlying justification for the No-Fly Zones. The doctrine remains controversial, however...." (my emphasis). I agree with that last remark. As I have been saying, the UN Charter should remain the sole basis of justification for any violation of sovereignty, rather than the whim of a group of nations who have a political agenda of their own to pursue.   Anthony
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13 January:  since when has this goverment played fair by anyone. the gurkhas are great loyal soldiers. i served with them in the falklands and know what theyre made of. i was glad they were on our side. like others i think they should be treated fairly.   pete
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I have posted to the cases page the High Court ruling in the application for Judicial Review. There is also a direct link.    Aspals
12 January:  The High Court decision re the Gurkhas is real bad news. This country owes them a debt of honour and we should pay it. Let them have our money rather than the scumbags who abuse our soldiers, get let off by a judge who's afraid to hold them in contempt for refusing to stand in court, and who were defended on legal aid and who all live off of benefits. What have they done for this country. More to the point why are they here and the Gurkhas not?   Thinners
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12 January:  Those implications Anthony referred to presumably being that if the majority population mistreats the minority, the minority has a right to exercise self determination to protect their culture, heritage and national identity.   Briony
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10 January:  Can anyone tell me how long you've got to decide to appeal a co's award. Thanks    Solly
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Sorry for the delay in posting your message. The relevant reference is section 141 of the Armed Forces Act 2006, which specifies a period of 14 days beginning with the date on which the punishment was awarded , or such longer period as the court may allow. In other words, you have 14 days, but if you are outside that initial 14 day period, you have to ask the court to give you permission to appeal and, if they agree, they can extend it to a longer period, but you will of course have to have a good reason why it was that you were not able to lodge your appeal within the 14 day time scale.    Aspals
7 January:   We will have our differences over the justification for invasion and the purported creation of the state of of Kosovo. I suppose we will have to wait for the ICJ decision. I agree that anticipatory self defence is always available. But I do not see this as inconsistent with the Charter. Article 51 allows "the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security." But that does not mean that a nation must ignore obvious belligerent actions indicating an imminent attack by an enemy. The right of anticipatory self defence was relied upon in the Caroline incident in 1837 and is clearly available where there is an overwhelming urgency to act to prevent an attack. For example, where there is insufficient time to obtain a UNSCR prior to attack. But the act of self defence must not last longer than absolutely necessary if it is to be lawful within article 51. I could not find a reference to the Caroline case in the Manual of Armed Conflict, and I stand to be corrected if I have got the principle wrong. Of course, it is difficult to see how NATO could justify an attack upon Serbia when Serbia had not posed a military threat to NATO nations.
Insofar as humanitarian intervention is concerned, one might argue that it is a limb of the exercise of self defence in respect of others. But, again, even if that were a legitimate reason to act militarily (and I concede that it might be, in the limited circumstances that follow) there would have to be an overwhelming need to do so and any military action would have to be very limited, addressed to that specific need and lasting only until the UN authorises it formally - or does not authorise it. I would also say, in answer to Scipio and Briony, that whatever the rights and wrongs of NATO's invasion, it is a quantum leap to go from mounting a sustained bombing campaign then entering a country by force, to actually creating a new state from within that sovereign territory without UN authorisation but with the blessing of some NATO nations involved in the very military action which led to that conclusion - hardly impartial and a slap in the face to the will of the community of nations.
Lastly, to deal with Briony's point about Russia and China having the veto, their (Russia and China) concerns illustrate precisely why it is that decisions like NATO's, which breach the Charter and then, in an act of legitimisation of their wrongdoing, go on to recognise the state they have just help create, are knee-jerk, imperial and unauthorised steps which in fact jeopardise world peace and are the antithesis of what the UN is about. They go way beyond any possible justification of self defence. That is why I suggest they are unlawful. I do recognise, however, that politics being politics, and the eagerness for politicians to smooth over cracks, the political process may yet end up legitimising what was done. That does, not, in my mind, alter the legal position under the the Charter.
Please don't misunderstand me - I am a supporter of NATO, but I think that this time they got it badly wrong and there are serious lessons to be learned from this. The implications for other states with large ethnic minorities are obvious.  Anthony
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7 January:  US foreign policy is not without its problems (President Obama for one) but without them the world would be a worse place   Tuppy
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7 January:  Perhaps the reason why there was no UNSCR authorising NATO intervention in Kosovo was that there was not believed to be sufficient evidence of genocide to persuade nations that it was a breach of the Charter that affected world peace.   Jonboy
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6 January:  To comment on what Tuppy said. Some people might argue that US foreign policy presents more of a menace to the outside world than the UK.   Briony
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6 January:  Liberal judges are the scourge of our society at the moment Tuppy. Their eagerness to protect suspected terrorists from getting a fair trial has turned them virtually into enemies of the state. Who can have confidence in a legal system run by people like that?    Will
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5 January:  Happy new year. Aspals missed the article in the Telegraph on 30 Dec titled Americans blame Britain for rise of Islamic extremism, calling Britain a "menace to the outside world". The trouble all lies with Labour. They created the nightmare liberal society we live in and the human rights culture and the judges have completely lost the plot.    Tuppy
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5 January:  The US legal system licensed killing of Iraqis by Blackwater employees. If there were irregularities in the evidence, then perhaps they wont object to an Iraqi plea for extradition so that they can try these men in Iraqi courts. In reply to Anthony's points about Kosovo, as he apparently conedes, the reaosn there was no UN mandate was because Serbia's friend Russia would not support a resolution and the Chinese wouldn't support it because of their internal problems with Muslim Uighurs. Put the legal argument to one side and look at the moral dilemma. NATO was quite right to go into Kosovo.    Briony
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5 January:  Anthony's arguments over the legal status of Kosovo are quite attractive to the legal purists, but Genocide was believed to be happening in Kosovo, so there was a lawful right for NATO to intervene to prevent it, isn't that true? Leaders couldn't stand by and It does not depend on war? I think the UN Genocide Convention allowed this? The other point I'd make is that war does re-draw boundaries and history is litered with examples of shifting boundaries as a result of war. One only has to look to German/Poland/Russia to see this. Then as said the international community created Israel. In the end the will of international states is all that matters in the end.   Andreas
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5 January:  The UN Charter does not prevent anticipatory self defence where nations feel that if they don't do something about a situation it will escalate. In 1967 the Israelis used this principle to attack and destroy Egyptian aircraft at the start of the 6 day war. In all probability the war would have lasted longer if they hadn't done that. NATO is a regional organisation and after the Rome conference in 1997 extended its sphere of influence to the mediterranean regions. Most importantly it was said that geographic proximity or distance was not a proper basis for calculating the NATO's security interest in the region. So any perceived instability in Kosovo which might have drawn in to the fighting countries like Albania was a threat to peace.    Scipio
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5 January:  I've a question and will really appreciate some help. I was stupidly caught taking my car back from the Naafi bar on camp to my house on camp. Can I get done for drunk driving and will I lose my licence? Thanks for any help.   Tac Man
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A military base is generally closed to the public and therefore does not constitute a road or public place for the purposes of the Road Traffic Acts. So you will not be prosecuted for any offence that will jeopardise your civilian driving licence. However, you will be caught by the provisions of station standing orders which normally include a prohibition, couched in similar language to the RTAs, outlawing drink driving within camp. The difference lies in the sanction available. There is a likelihood that, in addition to any financial penalty your CO might impose, you will have your military driving permit withdrawn. That could affect your employability and trade pay. I should also add that much will depend upon the amount by which you were over the limit. The CO might decide, in a serious case, to send you for trial by Court-Martial. If in doubt, you should consult a solicitor. By separate note, I have sent you some details of solicitors in your area that have a military law practice.    Aspals
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