Keeping the Brexit legal advice secret is in no one’s best interests

Published by The Guardian on 4th December 2018, at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/dec/04/brexit-legal-advice-secret-best-interests-democracy.  There is no political “convention” more misguided and less examined than the supposed rule that legal advice to ministers must remain confidential. This is the basis for the government’s refusal to publish the attorney general’s advice on Brexit, instead releasing a summary. The refusal relied on the […]

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 This decision will discourage exposure of oppressive workplace cultures

Published by The Telegraph on 23rd October 2018, at https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/10/23/non-disclosure-agreements-favour-commerce-public-interest/.  There is a simple reason why the “Me Too” movement began with press exposure of “non-disclosure agreements” (NDAs) in America and not in Britain, although they had long been used by lawyers in both countries to hide sexual and other misconduct by people in corporate authority. It is […]

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 Only an international court can bring Khashoggi’s killers to justice

Published by The Guardian on 23rd October 2018, at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/23/international-court-jamal-khashoggi-killers-un.  The slaying of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was a barbaric act, ordered and carried out by barbarians. It cried out for justice – which means, inevitably, a trial. Yet all the British government is demanding is an “investigation” – by the same Saudi state that spent […]

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 Put cameras in British courtrooms, and make justice truly transparent

Published by The Guardian on 24th August 2018, at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/24/cameras-british-courtroom-television-trials-grenfell-legal-aid-tommy-robinson.  Every court in the land is open to every subject of the King” declared the Earl of Halsbury in the famous case that enshrined the open justice principle in British law. Another law lord endorsed Jeremy Bentham’s conclusion that “Publicity is the very soul of […]

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 At last, a law that could have stopped Blair and Bush invading Iraq

Published by The Guardian on 16th July 2018, at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/16/law-blair-bush-iraq-hague-crime-of-aggression.  Tuesday is a red-letter day for international law: from then on, political and military leaders who order the invasion of foreign countries will be guilty of the crime of aggression, and may be punishable at the international criminal court in The Hague. Had this been […]

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 Here’s another Jeremy Thorpe scandal – its chilling legacy in law

Published by The Guardian on 2nd June 2018, at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/02/thorpe-scandal-legacy-law-new-statesman-jury-service-secrecy.  As the BBC TV dramatisation of the Thorpe scandal reaches its denouement this Sunday, millions will ask: why was Jeremy Thorpe acquitted of conspiring to kill Norman Scott? Because the judge was biased in his favour; because of the skill of his barrister, George Carman; or because […]

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 The Case for Lula

Published by Foreign Affairs on 19th April 2017, at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/brazil/2017-04-19/case-lula Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known simply as “Lula,” remains one of Brazil’s most popular politicians. An uneducated lathe operator turned union leader, Lula helped found Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT) in 1980 before winning the presidency in both 2002 and 2008 with large majorities. Under […]

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 Donald Trump’s air attack on Syria may have been unlawful – but nobody seems to have noticed

Published in The Independent on 12th April 2017, at  http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/donald-trump-attack-syria-unlawful-un-charter-assad-chemical-weapons-isis-a7680511.html Vladimir Putin and Jeremy Corbyn are amongst the few to show concern that the US Tomahawk attack on a Syrian airbase was “unlawful”. They are right, to the extent that the attack was a breach of the UN Charter, Article 2(4) of which prohibits the […]

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 Let’s do a Brexit deal with the Parthenon marbles

Published in The Guardian on 4th April 2017, at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/04/brexit-deal-parthenon-marbles  Not yet a week since the triggering of Article 50 but already hope of cordial negotiations seem over optimistic. At the weekend, amid early jostling over the post Brexit fate of Gibraltar, Lord Howard, the Tory grandee, implied that one way to resolve that situation could […]

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 Only parliament can trigger Brexit. But can it then reverse the process?

Published in The Guardian on 25th January 2017, at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/25/parliament-brexit-supreme-court-article-50-europe  The Supreme Court decision was predictable, but momentous nonetheless – a reaffirmation of the result of the Civil War, namely that parliamentary sovereignty trumps executive power, whether the executive is the King or Mrs May and her Cabinet. Article 50, the departure lounge for leaving Europe, […]

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