“Those who take protectors other than God can be compared to the spider which builds itself a cobweb. But the frailest of all structures is the house of the spider, if but they knew it” – Surah Al-’Ankabut, 29:41 (Trans. Wahiduddin Khan)
The spiderweb simile found in Surah Al-‘Ankabut of The Qur’an occurs in reference to the recipients of God’s message before the time of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. The Surah recounts the stories of previous prophets who, despite having their faith tested by God, did not succumb to disbelief and were consequently rewarded. However, it also recounts instances of those who did succumb to disbelief; the ancient Arabian tribes of ‘Ad and Thamud, along with Korah, Pharaoh and Haman of the Old Testament, are mentioned in Ayahs 38 and 39 respectively as having rejected the messages of their prophets, instead constructing their own laws and principles to guide their…
I occasionally make reference to judgments where the Judge opens a can of whoop-ass on one party, usually the Local Authority. This one goes so far beyond a can, and even beyond a supermarket trolley filled with cans of whoop-ass that only the title I’ve selected will suffice to show just how much whoop-ass was being thrown about. And rightly so.
IF you are from Herefordshire CC, you may want to skip this particular post. Or at least get a very strong coffee before reading.
“However, considering the third stage, the Court found there were less intrusive measures: the government had “not demonstrated why there was an unacceptable degree of risk by continuing to allow places of worship which employed effective mitigation measures and had good ventilation to admit a limited number of people for communal worship” (at ). The fourth stage entailed “a weighing up of the severity of the measure’s effects on the one hand, against the benefits secured by the measure on the other” (at ). The Court said that “it is not clear … that the blanket closure of all places of worship can be said to have contributed to a material reduction in risk” (at ). Mitigating factors were possible instead, and online worship was not a substitute for public worship given, for example, communion, baptism and confession could not take place online (at ). Although the severity of Covid-19 deserved “considerable weight” (at ), the Regulations were not within the margin of appreciation (at ). The Regulations constituted a disproportionate interference with the Article 9 right, and so were beyond legislative competence.”
As the coronavirus pandemic stretches into its second year, the tension between freedom of religion and public health measures has become increasingly acute. In Scotland, the issue has come to the fore with the decision of the Outer House of the Court of Session in Philip. In that case, Lord Braid found that Scottish regulations that temporarily closed places of worship altogether (forcing worship to occur online) were both “unconstitutional” due to the independence of the church and incompatible with Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The Court did not issue a remedy, but following the decision, the Scottish Government announced that places of worship were allowed to open for communal worship and individual prayer, with a cap of 50 people. This brought forward, by two days, an already planned loosening of restrictions.
After someone suffers an untimely death at the hands of a Metropolitan Police officer, a vigil is held in London. Footage goes viral of a woman being physically attacked by Met officers at the vigil, but senior figures insist it was just good public order policing. Around the same time, it’s revealed that police lied about officers being injured at a separate protest. Public trust in policing is battered, but somehow, politicians still think it’s a good idea to give them more powers.
No, this isn’t 2021. It’s 2008-’09. The dead man is Ian Tomlinson, a bystander at the G20 protests who was hit with a baton and pushed to the ground. The woman is Nicola Fisher. And those ‘injuries’? ‘Six insect bites and a toothache,’ as the Guardian put it – sustained at the Kingsnorth Camp for Climate Action. It’s been strange for me to see that story doing the rounds in recent weeks – because I was one of the people who uncovered it.
The summer before, I’d joined the Heathrow Climate Camp – which saw a step change in police repression of protest, including kettling, mass searching, surveillance, and physical attacks. Nervous, I was advised that volunteering as a legal observer might give me a degree of protection: ‘They seem to respect the hi-vis jacket.’ Instead, the opposite happened, with legal observers expressly targeted for intimidation. This tactic has now been stepped up further, with several reports of legal observers being arrested last week.
On my first shift, I was physically intimidated by a burly police officer twice my size. On a lonely road, his face inches from mine, he threatened—without a trace of irony—to arrest me for causing him ‘harassment, alarm, and distress’. This was the last straw: my partner and I packed up our tent and left, feeling like fugitives escaping from a prison camp.
It’s testament to my privileged life that this remains my most traumatic experience of male violence. Even writing about it now, 13 years later, my heart is pounding. It’s this that fuels my rage about what happened at the Sarah Everard vigil.
Undoubtedly, there were women at that vigil who had previously been attacked by men, and who overcame their fears in order to attend – only to end up being retraumatised. The police may think they showed restraint, but the degree of violence itself isn’t the point: what is terrifying in that situation is the knowledge that the person attacking you is the person you are expected to go to for protection.
There is nowhere to run. They could do anything to you, and, in that moment, there is nothing you can do about it. What strikes you is the sense of impunity.
Swallowing the Story
In the summer of 2008, the same tactics were used at Kingsnorth. Around the same time, fresh out of university, I found myself working for my local MP, David Howarth. When we raised questions about police abuse of power, the Minister for Policing responded that 70 officers had been injured at the protest. The implication was that the climate campers were a violent mob, and attacking them with batons was a proportionate response.
We knew that this was nonsense, so we put in a Freedom of Information request for the incident logs. They proved that not a single officer had been injured by a protester. Instead, bizarre entries like ‘stung on finger by possible wasp’ ensured that the story went viral, and the Minister was forced to apologise for misleading Parliament.
A strikingly similar playbook was used in Bristol last month, where police claimed to have suffered a punctured lung and broken bones. They later admitted these claims were baseless, but by then the damage was done: swathes of media reports had successfully implanted the idea that the protesters were violent, and anyone defending them was subjected to social media pile-ons.
Of course, this is precisely the point. Smearing protesters as violent is a consistent and deliberate strategy employed by the police to justify their own aggressive tactics and suppress criticism.
It very nearly worked for them in 2008. Before the Kingsnorth story was finally published by the Guardian, I spent weeks trying to get it past our media gatekeepers. They repeatedly insisted they ‘couldn’t see the story’, but the real source of their reservations was clear: they had swallowed the police line that we were defending a bunch of violent thugs.
They could see the story alright – they just didn’t want to be caught on the wrong side of it. At one point, a prominent MP protested that he’d heard police had seized knives from protesters. We patiently explained that yes, they probably did have knives, being as how they were running kitchens catering for several hundred people. He wasn’t sold.
A few months later, they tried the same trick again: when a man died at the G20 protests, the Met issued a statement saying that they had been attacked with ‘a number of missiles’ as they tried to revive him. The papers duly printed lurid headlines like ‘police pelted with bricks as they help dying man’.
If Paul Lewis at the Guardian hadn’t kept digging—uncovering video footage that showed it was a police officer who had attacked Tomlinson, and protesters who had tried to help him, not the other way around—the truth might never have come out.
We’ve seen this dynamic play out again and again. In the run-up to the G20, Met Commander Bob Broadhurst had talked up the prospect of violence, so the media and the public were primed to believe his version of events.
He did the same before the student protests of 2010, imploring parents to ‘talk to their children and make sure they’re aware of the potential dangers’, since there was ‘only so much police officers can do’ to protect them from violent yobs hijacking demonstrations: yobs, presumably, like the officer who hit Alfie Meadows over the head with a baton, and left him bleeding into his brain.
The following year, over 100 UK Uncut protesters were lured out of Fortnum and Mason on false pretences and arrested for aggravated trespass. Labour tabled an urgent question in Parliament – not about the police’s blatant abuse of power, but about ‘disturbances’ on the streets of London.
Yvette Cooper gave the police her full-throated support in bringing ‘the full force of the law’ down on the ‘few hundred mindless idiots and thugs’ who had supposedly attacked people and property. In fact, less than a dozen people had been charged with violent offences. And all the Fortnum and Mason prosecutions were subsequently dropped.
This cyclical pattern creates a climate of impunity where the police are in a no-lose situation. If protests pass off peacefully, they are praised for handling them well. If they don’t, the violence is blamed on the people they are beating up. The very fact of protestors’ repression is treated as proof they were engaged in violence: the police ‘must have had a reason’.
Even more flagrant was what happened a few streets and a few hours away from Ian Tomlinson’s death. The violence meted out was much worse, but because nobody actually died, it never became a national scandal.
Climate Camp occupied Bishopsgate that day, announcing at the outset that the occupation would last 24 hours. Having been down earlier in the day, when the atmosphere seemed calm, I’d gone home to Cambridge. Around 10pm, I started getting panicked phone calls from friends who were kettled there, pleading for our help. The police were advancing on them with dogs, batons and riot shields. People were being punched, dragged, and thrown for no reason.
Feeling helpless, I rang my boss, who eventually managed to speak to Bob Broadhurst’s deputy, Ian Thomas. He asked Thomas what the hell he thought he was doing, making clear that he thought the action was unlawful. The response was effectively: see you in court.
Bishopsgate was cleared in a final, extremely violent advance just after midnight. I later spoke to a woman who believes she had a miscarriage because of the attack.
The previous day, we had brokered talks between the Met and the Climate Camp legal team. The Met leaned heavily on the claim that Climate Camp was putting them in a difficult position by not having named organisers who could liaise with the police about their plans. They just didn’t know what to expect, so they had to assume the worst.
This claim was swallowed whole by MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee. Their report recommended that ‘protest groups put ideological concerns to one side and instead do everything they can to aid communications’ with the police. Only several years later did it emerge that ‘communications’ were just fine: the police knew exactly what Climate Campers were going to do, because they had a mole in the movement—undercover cop Mark Kennedy—the whole time.
The New Bill
But this episode has a deeper relevance to what’s playing out right now. The legislation the police relied on to justify attacking Climate Campers was Section 14 of the Public Order Act – specifically, the part that allows them to curtail protests that may cause ‘serious disruption to the life of the community’.
As my boss pointed out, protest is also part of ‘the life of the community’, and the ‘disruption’ caused by beating up peaceful protesters clearly outweighs that caused by blocking a road in central London in the middle of the night.
Of course, the police didn’t care. In fact, despite their constant talk of violence, it was clear throughout that they didn’t really care if protests were peaceful or not. They only cared if they were ‘lawful’, which they defined as ‘in accordance with tidy tramlines agreed in advance by the police’.
The messy reality of spontaneous social movements would be—has always been—met with violent repression. Clearing Bishopsgate was a show of power: the protest would end when the police decided, and on their terms.
It’s precisely these principles that Priti Patel is now seeking to enshrine in law. Empowering police to stop protests that might annoy anyone, a ‘no-protest zone’ around Parliament, draconian punishments for straying from police-imposed conditions: this essentially codifies what the police wish the law already said.
Unfortunately, since MPs are among the people most often ‘annoyed’ by protests, they are too often complicit in efforts to stifle it. As the Home Affairs Select Committee conducted its G20 inquiry, Tamil protesters were occupying Parliament Square. The transcripts make clear that MPs were at least as preoccupied with the tiresomeness of this as the fact that a man had just died.
Incredibly, when senior officers appeared as witnesses, they took the opportunity to accuse them of being ‘too soft’ and to urge them ‘not [to] overreact to any criticism’. One even queried whether they needed more powers.
And yet multiple reviews and inquiries after the events of 2009 confirmed that the police had abused their existing powers and misinterpreted the law. Even HMIC made clear that in applying Section 14, the police must ‘recognise peaceful protest as a legitimate activity – as the everyday business of a democratic society’, rather than fixating on whether it was ‘lawful’.
But no heads rolled. Bob Broadhurst—who was ultimately responsible for the ‘policy, doctrine, and training’ that produced these outrages—stayed in charge of public order for many years, and is now touting his services to the Indian police and private clients. No laws were changed. Deckchairs were rearranged, but the balance of power did not fundamentally shift.
This left the door open for what we are now seeing. Patel’s response to policing that oversteps legal powers is simply to ratchet up the powers. They no longer need to worry about how much ‘disruption’ justifies violently dispersing a protest: now, the threshold will effectively be zero.
They no longer need to worry about proving aggravated trespass: now, all trespass will be criminal anyway. She is giving them the impunity they have always wanted.
This should worry us all. As this history shows, a right to protest that stops when the Met says so is no right at all.
About the Author
Christine Berry is a freelance researcher and writer. She is a fellow at the Next System Project, a trustee at Rethinking Economics, a commissioning editor at RENEWAL journal and co-author of People Get Ready.
In Tolkien’s Middle Earth, the affairs of men are dominated by a cabal of wizards who understand the esoteric art of using language to manipulate reality in a way that advantages powerful rulers — Oh wait sorry that’s regular earth I was thinking of. That’s what happens here.
Some conspiracy-type people say the world is messed up because we’re ruled by illuminati or reptilians, but I’m way more out there than that: I say our entire society is made of imaginary thought stories with little relation to objective reality, and some clever manipulators have figured out how to exploit this.
The real underlying currency of our world is not gold, nor bureaucratic fiat, nor even military might. The real underlying currency of our world is narrative, and the ability to control it. Everything always comes down to this one real currency. If you look at what all these think tanks, NGOs, media outlets and grant making networks that billionaires pour their money into actually do, it ultimately boils down to controlling the dominant stories that people tell about what’s going on in their world.
Real change won’t come until people rise up. People won’t rise up as long as they’re successfully propagandized. People will remain successfully propagandized until they evolve minds which can’t be manipulated. Our world will change when our relationship with narrative changes.
Most of humanity’s problems boil down to an unhealthy relationship with narrative. Individually our suffering ensues from believed mental narratives about self, other and world, and collectively our destructive behaviors are driven by the propaganda narratives of the powerful.
Most people’s lives are dominated by mental story, so whoever can control those stories controls the people. The good news is that all we need to do to reclaim our world from the controllers is to reclaim our stories. The barrier between us and freedom is as thin as a fairy tale.
The world is messed up because powerful people think in terms of narrative control, and ordinary people don’t. Change that and you change the world.
The three most overlooked and under-appreciated aspects of the human condition are (1) consciousness itself, (2) the way compulsive thought patterns shape our experience and our lives, and (3) the effects of mass media propaganda. In that order.
The primary reason people are so vulnerable to propaganda is that hardly anyone clearly sees just how much human consciousness is dominated by mental narrative. There’s a night and day difference between reality and the stories minds tell about reality. Manipulators exploit this.
Most people assume that the mental stories in their heads are an accurate reflection of what’s happening outside their skull, and that simply isn’t the case. Manipulators know they can just feed people stories—narratives—about what’s happening and they’ll accept those narratives as reality.
Manipulators know they can trade a bunch of convincing words in exchange for all sorts of real valuables: money, sex, deals, loyalty, votes, political power. Humanity’s deluded relationship with narrative means you can get real, concrete treasures in exchange for pure illusion.
Most of the things which consume your attention are pure narrative constructs: religion, philosophy, culture, politics, the economy, even what you take to be your very self. But few ever take the time to sift these narratives apart from reality, so we’re hackable by manipulators.
The difference between what’s happening and what the babbling mind says is happening could not possibly be more different. Until our species evolves a new relationship with mental narrative which allows a real relationship with the real world, we’ll keep moving toward extinction.
For as long as there has been language and power there have been narratives circulating to advantage the powerful. Much of our so-called “culture” is just ancient power-serving protopropaganda deliberately interwoven into our ancestors’ worldviews.
If people truly understood the extent to which mental narrative dominates their experience of life, propaganda, advertising and all other forms of psychological manipulation would be regarded by our society similarly to physical assault or property theft.
Propaganda is the root of all our problems; people consent to inequality and injustice because they’re manipulated into doing so. And propaganda is only effective because we’ve got an idiotic societal taboo against acknowledging that we can be fooled. That our minds are hackable.
Manipulation only works when you don’t know it’s happening. Those who think they’re too clever to be manipulated (which would be the majority of people) are the most vulnerable to manipulation. If we just made manipulation more shameful than being manipulated, this could change.
You cannot form an accurate worldview without accounting for the fact that powerful people have invested a great deal in manipulating that worldview, and that to some extent they have probably succeeded. Because being manipulated is considered shameful, most don’t look at this.
I have been manipulated and fooled. So have you. It happens to all of us. There’s no shame in it. The shame belongs solely to those doing the manipulating and deceiving. Fraud is a crime for a reason, and the one they charge for that crime is not the victim, it’s the perpetrator.
Conmen will always try to convince you that it’s your fault you were conned. If they can do that, they get away with the con. This is true of all manipulators, and it’s why you should never blame the gullible. Being gullible isn’t a crime, being a conman is.
Nobody who is being successfully manipulated is free, and our world is dominated by mass-scale manipulation. It doesn’t matter how many “rights” you have on paper, if you’ve been manipulated into supporting or consenting to the agendas of power you might as well be in a cage.
As long as the powerful are propagandizing the people, the people aren’t truly operating with free will. Anyone who’s escaped a relationship with a manipulative abuser understands that you’re not really operating with much free agency while you’re being psychologically dominated.
Manipulation is a necessary component in long-term abusive relationships, because people don’t tend to stay in abusive situations unless they’re manipulated into it. This is true whether you’re talking about significant others or globe-spanning power structures.
People have been manipulating each other since the invention of language and manipulating each other at mass scale since the invention of government. All that’s changed is the mass scale has gotten much larger and the manipulation much more sophisticated.
The world would be so much better if everyone just watched people’s actions and ignored their stories about their actions. It would radically change politics, it would prevent abusive relationships, it would stifle manipulators, and it would transform human civilization.
If you ever feel unimportant, remember that rich and powerful people are constantly pouring effort and wealth into trying to manipulate the thoughts in your head.
Hi I’m Sleazy McPundit with WMD News. To explain why more internet censorship is needed to fight disinformation, here’s a panel of millionaires who are paid to lie to you.
The mainstream worldview isn’t mainstream because it is more fact-based, logical, or makes better arguments than other potential worldviews, it’s mainstream because vast fortunes are poured into keeping it mainstream.
Mainstream news is just advertising. You watch advertisements for maintaining the plutocratic status quo, then you watch advertisements between those advertisements for useless crap to make plutocrats even richer. It’s all just different layers of marketing. When I was getting my journalism degree they used to talk about journos selling their souls and going into marketing, going into PR. It’s like, bitch, you’re already doing that.
Without extensive marketing it would never occur to you that Mountain Dew is something you should put inside your body or that endless war is something you should accept as normal.
War is the worst thing in the world. By far. If the rank-andfile public could see past the veil of propaganda and distortion and objectively see war for the horrific thing that it is, ending it would immediately become everyone’s foremost priority. Hence all the war propaganda.
It’s such a trip how opposition to mass-scale murder and oppression is the single most self-evidently correct position anyone could possibly take, yet so few take that position in a clear and unequivocal way. The reason is of course generations of propaganda brainwashing.
Nobody comes out of the womb demanding to go to war. Left unmolested it would never occur to a normal human brain that strangers on the other side of the planet need to have explosives dropped on them by overpriced aircraft. The problem isn’t people democratically voting for warmongers and consenting to military mass murder of their own free will, the problem is propaganda.
People only ever think you’re wrong to reject mainstream politics and media because they have no idea how fucked things really are.
It only takes a rudimentary understanding of human psychology to manipulate someone. Edward Bernays was recruited by the US government to study the science of modern propaganda in 1917. This science has been in research and development for over a century. Don’t underestimate its power.
Propaganda is so advanced that rank-and-file members of the public will openly cheerlead their government’s imprisonment of Assange so that their government can continue to lie to them.
The dawn of political insight is when you realize propaganda isn’t just something that is done by other countries and other political parties.
To be a real journalist you must ask inconvenient questions, shine light in inconvenient directions, refuse to parrot establishment narratives, and be indifferent to the approval of the powerful. To be a rich and famous journalist, you must do the exact opposite of these things.
Step 1: Be the billionaire class.
Step 2: Buy up all news media.
Step 3: Structure outlets to elevate voices who defend the status quo.
Step 4: Smear non-plutocratic media who don’t protect the status quo as crazy conspiracy theorists and Russian propaganda.
Step 5: Dominate the narrative about what’s going on in the world.
If you’re liking what you’re reading, you can buy Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix by clicking here or here, or you can buy a cheap PDF by clicking here.
Dr. Ryan Cole is the CEO and Medical Director of Cole Diagnostics, one of the largest independent labs in the State of Idaho. Dr. Cole has conducted over 100,000 Covid-19 lab tests and treated over 350,000 patients over his medical career.
Average COVID-19 age of death 78.6 years. Average annual US age of death historically 78.6 years.
Face mask wearing outdoors is absolute insanity. No study shows any super-spreader event outdoors. The best mask of all is your immune system.
There is no such thing as cold and flu season. There is only low vitamin D season.
Inflammatory (cytokine) storm cannot be controlled without adequate vitamin D levels.
Massive numbers of Americans have low vitamin D levels.
96% of ICU patients are vitamin D deficient
You cannot synthesize vitamin D from sunlight during fall and winter at 35-degrees north.
You living in northern climates you are immune suppressed if you do not supplement with vitamin D during fall and winter.
Scandinavian countries (Finland, Norway, Sweden) test their citizens twice a year for vitamin D and fortify 35 foods with vitamin D.
Our population is left vulnerable to any seasonal viral infection without a public health program to promote vitamin D adequacy.
There is not social disparity of care but the fact darker skin pigmentation inhibits sunshine vitamin D synthesis in the skin.
Fauci says he personally takes 8000-9000 units of vitamin D per day but why has this has not become a public health message?
The top three public health messages should be: 1- vitamin D; 2- vitamin D; 3- vitamin D.
By law, the federal government cannot approve a vaccine if there is a proven treatment. That would be Ivermectin.
The government is in bed with a vaccine company; both the federal government and Moderna co-hold patents on their RNA vaccine. The “fox is guarding the henhouse.”
The drug Remdesivir only works during the first 2-3 days of the infection. It does not increase survival. It is like “peeing on a forest fire.”
Four billion doses of Ivermectin have safely taken Ivermectin. Death rate decreased 70-90% in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
Of the half million COVID-19 deaths in North America, there would be 375,000 less deaths if Ivermectin were used! Public health officials have blood on their hands. 100% of Ivermectin-treated patients don’t get ill. Works for all genetic variants.
The vaccines are an experiment on society.
The vaccine is unproven and long-term safety data is not even being
You can get Ivermectin from doctors online. Myfreedoctor.com.
Establishment figures – all of them white – smear MP after she challenges racism report’s positive treatment of slavery and colonialism, while racists pile onto her for speaking out
Labour MP Claudia Webbe has been the target of attacks by media and Tory MPs for challenging the conclusions of the government’s widely-criticised report that claimed people of colour are not disadvantaged in the UK – and that, astonishingly, said there should be a ‘new story’ about Britain’s colonial and slave-trading past that highlights the ‘cultural transformation’ of those enslaved and colonised.
Webbe tweeted a map showing the carve-up of Africa by colonial powers and observed that it is ‘hidden’ from many people in this country:
This triggered a pile-on by Establishment figures and media.
But it seems the facts stack up on Webbe’s side. While the subject of the carve-up is touched on in the curriculum, this is only as an optional module and frequently ignored – and only covers a brief period in the history of slavery and colonialism when it is taught, as Sue Caro pointed out in response to one vile comment:
Webbe, for her part, has taken the high road and ignored the racist smears, tweeting instead to point out on aspect of the horrific legacy of colonialism in Africa:
And she pointed out that a petition to make the proper teaching of black history in UK schools compulsory has been signed by almost 300,000 people:
A spokesperson for the Labour Black Socialists group told Skwawkbox:
Here we go again. Ben Bradley, a Tory MP, and others minimising racism after Claudia Webbe had tweeted that the UK’s colonialism is not taught in UK schools. The racist abuse Claudia is receiving is abhorrent and shows exactly why this should be included in the curriculum so we can learn and understand how colonialism still impacts ethnic minorities to this day.
The question that must be asked: What are the possible future scenarios for the ICC probe in Palestine?
On March 22, the Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, declared that “the time has come to stop Israel’s blatant impunity”. His remarks were included in a letter sent to the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and other top officials at the international body.
There is modest – albeit cautious – optimism among Palestinians that Israeli officials could potentially be held accountable for war crimes and other human rights violations in Palestine. The reason behind this optimism is a recent decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to pursue its investigation of alleged war crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Gambian war crimes lawyer Fatou Bensouda takes the oath during a swearing-in ceremony as the International Criminal Court’s new chief prosecutor in The Hague, on June 15, 2012. [Photo: Bas Czerwinski, ANP/AFP via Getty Images
Mansour’s letter was written with this context in mind. Other Palestinian officials, such as Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, are also pushing in this direction. He, too, wants to see an end to Israel’s lack of accountability.
Thus far, the Israeli response has been most predictable. On March 20, Israeli authorities decided to revoke Al-Maliki’s special travel permit in order to prevent him from pursuing Palestinian diplomacy that aims at ensuring the continuation of the ICC investigation. Al-Maliki had, in fact, just returned from a trip to The Hague, where the ICC is headquartered.
Furthermore, Israel is openly attempting to intimidate the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah to discontinue its cooperation with the ICC, as can be easily gleaned from the official Israeli discourse. “The Palestinian leadership has to understand there are consequences for their actions,” an Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post on March 21.
On April 30, 2020, Bensouda consulted with the Court’s Pre-trial Chamber regarding whether the ICC had jurisdiction over the matter.
Despite years of legal haggling and intense pressure on the ICC’s outgoing Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to scrap the investigation altogether, the legal proceedings have carried on, unhindered. The pressure was displayed in various forms: direct defamation by Israel, as in accusing the ICC of anti-Semitism; unprecedented American sanctions on ICC officials and constant meddling and intervention, on Israel’s behalf, by member States that are part of the ICC, and who are described asamici curiae.
They did not succeed. On April 30, 2020, Bensouda consulted with the Court’s Pre-trial Chamber regarding whether the ICC had jurisdiction over the matter. Ten months later, the Chamber answered in the affirmative. Subsequently, the Prosecutor decided to formally open the investigation.
On March 9, a spokesman for the Court revealed that, in accordance to Article 18 in the Rome Statute, notification letters were sent by the Prosecutor’s office to ‘all parties concerned’, including the Israeli Government and the Palestinian leadership, notifying them of the war crimes probe and allowing them only one month to seek deferral of the investigation.
Expectedly, Israel remains defiant. However, unlike its obstinacy in response to previous international attempts at investigating war crimes allegations in Palestine, the Israeli response, this time, appears confused and uncertain. On the one hand, Israeli media revealed last July that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has prepared a long list of likely Israeli suspects, whose conduct can potentially be investigated by the ICC. Still, the official Israeli response can only be described as dismissive of the matter as being superfluous, insisting that Israel will not, in any way, cooperate with ICC investigators.
Though the Israeli government continues to maintain its official position that the ICC has no jurisdiction over Israel and occupied Palestine, top Israeli officials and diplomats are moving quickly to block what now seems to be an imminent probe. For example, Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, was on an official visit to Germany where he, on March 18, met with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, thanking him on behalf of Israel for opposing the ICC’s investigation of Israeli officials.
After lashing out at the Palestinian leadership for attempting to “legalize” the conflict, through an international investigation, Rivlin renewed Israel’s “trust that our European friends will stand by us in the important fight on the misuse of the International Criminal Court against our soldiers and civilians.”
Unlike previous attempts at investigating Israeli war crimes, for example the Jenin massacre in the West Bank in 2002, and the various investigations of several Israeli wars on Gaza starting in 2008-09, the forthcoming ICC investigation is different. For one, the ICC investigation targets individuals, not states, and can issue arrest warrants, making it legally incumbent on all other ICC members to enforce the Court’s decisions.
Now that all attempts at dissuading the Court from pursuing the matter have failed, the question must be asked: What are the possible future scenarios?
Scenario 1: Expanding the Scope of Investigation
In the case that the investigation carries on as planned, the Prosecutor’s next step would be to identify suspects and alleged perpetrators of war crimes. Dr. Triestino Mariniello, member of the legal team that represents the Gaza victims, told me that once these suspects have been determined, “the Prosecutor will ask the Pre-trial chamber to issue either arrest warrants or subpoena, at least in relation to the crimes already included in the investigation so far.”
These alleged war crimes already include Israel’s illegal Jewish settlements, the Israeli war on Gaza in 2014 and Israel’s targeting of unarmed civilian protesters during Gaza’s Great March of Return, starting in 2018.
Even more ideally, the Court could potentially widen the scope of the investigation, which is a major demand for the representatives of the Palestinian victims.
“We expect more crimes to be included: especially, apartheid as a crime against humanity and crimes against Palestinian prisoners by Israeli authorities, especially torture,” according to Dr. Mariniello.
In essence, this means that, even after the investigation is officially underway, the Palestine legal team can continue its advocacy to expand the scope of the investigation and to cover as much legal ground as possible.
Scenario 2: Narrow Scope of Investigation
However, judging from previous historic experiences, ideal scenarios in cases where Israel was investigated for war crimes rarely transpired. A less than ideal scenario would be for the scope of the investigation to remain narrow.
In a recent interview with former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Occupied Palestinian Territories, Professor Richard Falk, he told me that even if the narrow scope remains in effect – thus reducing the chances of all victims seeing justice – the investigation is still a “breakthrough”.
The reason why the investigation may not be broadened has less to do with justice and much to do with politics. “The scope of the investigation is something that is ill-defined, so it is a matter of political discretion,” Professor Falk said.
In other words, “the Court takes a position that needs to be cautious about delimiting its jurisdiction and, therefore, it tries to narrow the scope of what it is prepared to investigate.”
Professor Falk does not agree with that view but, according to the seasoned international law expert, “it does represent the fact that the ICC, like the UN itself, is subject to immense geopolitical pressure.”
Still, “it’s a breakthrough even to consider the investigation, let alone the indictment and the prosecution of either Israelis or Americans that was put on the agenda of the ICC, which led to a pushback by these governments.”
Scenario 3: Deferrals and Delays
While the two above scenarios are suitable for Palestinians, they are a non-starter as far as the Israeli government is concerned. While Israel remains largely silent about its counter-strategies, one of the options at its disposal is to face the fact and to cooperate with the Court, not for the sake of achieving major justice but to simply delay the process indefinitely.
Writing in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, international law expert Nick Kaufman advises Israel to cooperate, only for the sake of obtaining a “deferral” from the Court and to use the ensuing delay for political maneuvering.
“It would be unfortunate for Israel to miss the opportunity of deferral which could provide the ideal excuse for reinitiating peace talks with the Palestinians,” he wrote, warning that “if Israel squanders such an opportunity it should come as no surprise if, at a later date, the Court will hint that the government has no one but itself to blame for the export of the judicial process to The Hague.”
There are other scenarios and more are likely to arise as a result of backdoor dealings and intense discussions involving Israel and its benefactors, whether in Washington or among the amici curiae at the Court itself.
At the same time, while Palestinians remain cautious about the future of the investigation, hope is slowly rising that, this time around, things may be different and that Israeli war criminals will eventually be held accountable for their crimes. Time will tell.
“The red flag of alienation is the child’s defensive splitting behaviours. When a child outright rejects and that is accompanied by hyper alignment, particularly with disdain from the child about the rejected parent, alienation of the child’s own self from the self is likely. Evidence of the child’s inauthenticity can be heard in their language patterns and rigid behavioural displays. The child who is in this situation is potentially being seriously harmed because they are often beyond parental control, having been given the decision making power by the aligned parent and the other parent has been pushed to the absolute margins of the child’s life. It is being beyond parental control which takes the level of harm to the Welfare Threshold in the UK and fortunately, with more professionals in social work and the psychological therapies, becoming aware of the risk of harm to a child in this position, better outcomes for children are being seen.”
The task to demonstrate that a child who is rejecting a parent outright is displaying symptoms of hyper-alignment with the parent they are clinging to, continues. This parent is often referred to by campaigners as the protective parent, when in reality they are anything but protective. The problem for many professionals and, for the outside world in general, is that until the reality of the psychological and emotional abuse which underpins alienation is properly articulated and recognised, this abuse, which looks like love, will continue.
What do we mean by abuse which looks like love? What we mean is that to the outside world, the child is strongly aligned to one parent and outright rejecting the other. This behavioural display is, in itself, the first red flag that tell us that something is wrong because children who do not have a relationship with a parent, children who are afraid of…
This is the first in a series of four short posts reflecting on the Government’s response to the Independent Review of Administrative Law (IRAL). Although the Government set notably broad terms of reference for the Review (on which I commented here), the IRAL report itself is generally measured and eschews many of the far-reaching reform possibilities that the terms of reference appeared to contemplate. The Government’s response, in contrast, contemplates changes that go beyond those recommended by the Review — from which it might be inferred that the Review did not go as far as the Government had hoped. One of the areas in which the Government now appears to wish to go further than the Review, and which is the concern of this post, relates to the effect of remedies in judicial review cases and associated matters concerning the concept of nullity. (Subsequent posts will address ouster clauses, the notion of judicial overreach and the wider constitutional implications of the Government’s response.)
The Review itself recommended the introduction of suspended quashing orders, thereby enabling courts to take the sort of step that the Supreme Court did not consider to be properly open to it in Ahmed (No 2)  UKSC 5. In that case, the Court took the view that because unlawful administrative acts (including unlawful secondary legislation) are invalid ‘and of no effect in law’ (in other words, void ab initio), it would not be right to suspend a quashing order: the Court, said the majority, ‘should not lend itself to a procedure that is designed to obfuscate the effect of its judgment’. While there is a certain rigid logic to this position, it has always been difficult to reconcile it with the fact that remedies in judicial review proceedings are discretionary: given that courts can, and sometimes do, withhold relief permanently, it is difficult to understand why it is necessarily improper for courts to do so temporarily.
The Review, however, appeared to share the Supreme Court’s stance that if unlawful acts are regarded as void, suspending quashing orders is problematic. This led the Review to tie itself in conceptual knots by seeking to unpick the notion of nullity itself. It attempted to do so by contending that Christopher Forsyth’s view — according to which ‘a decision-maker who decides unlawfully, does an act which he has no power in law to do’, thereby rendering the act void — is flawed because, according to the Review, it ‘overlooks the elementary distinction between a power and a duty’. The Review then goes on, in a mystifying passage, to attempt to justify this position in the following terms:
Suppose a public body is vested with a power, and a duty as to how it exercises that power. If the public body exercises the power in breach of that duty, it acts unlawfully – but it does not follow that its exercise of that power was necessarily null and void. In fact, the power is exercised unlawfully because it was validly exercised – if it were not exercised at all, then there would be no basis for saying that it had been exercised unlawfully.
This enigmatic attempt to challenge the notion of nullity is at least confined to the relatively modest purpose of seeking to pave the way for the introduction of suspended quashing orders. In contrast, the Government, in its response, goes much further. Among the options on which it is now consulting are the following:
Giving judges discretion to make remedies, including quashing orders, prospective-only
Introducing a presumption that quashing orders will be prospective-only in respect of secondary legislation
Requiring quashing orders to be prospective-only in respect of secondary legislation ‘unless there is an exceptional public interest requiring a different approach’
Introducing a presumption that quashing orders should be suspended
Requiring quashing orders to be suspended ‘unless there is an exceptional public interest requiring a different approach’
These proposals are accompanied by a full-frontal assault upon the concept of nullity, such that only a lack of jurisdiction in the narrow, pre-Anisminic sense would render an administrative act or decision void. A ‘presumption against the use of nullity’ is also suggested. And these proposals, it is contemplated, may be supported by legislation that would ‘further clarify the distinction between the Government acting without any power, and the wrongful use of a power that Parliament has granted it’, with only the former operating to make administrative acts and decisions null and void.
A flavour of the Government’s reasoning and underlying agenda will be apparent from the following excerpt from its response, in which it sets out the case, as it sees it, in favour of prospective-only remedies — which would, in effect, breath legal life into unlawful administrative acts and decisions (including secondary legislation) up to the point at which the (prospective-only) quashing order was issued:
In effect, this would mean that a decision or secondary legislative provision could not be used in the future (as it would be quashed), but its past use would be deemed valid. This would provide certainty in relation to government action; if a policy has cost a considerable amount of taxpayers’ money, for instance, it would mitigate the impact of immediately having to set up a compensatory scheme. In turn, this would mitigate effects on government budgeting, which would enable the Government to continue to spend on improving the lives of its citizens. Instead, a prospective-only remedy could use conciliatory political mechanisms to the fullest extent, to set up a compensation scheme that is appropriate and robust, rather than created in a reactive manner.
The Government goes on to say that ‘[i]t is recognised that this could lead to an immediate unjust outcome for many of those who have already been affected by an improperly made policy’, but offers the blithe assurance that such injustices ‘would be remedied in the long-term’ — presumably by means of the ‘conciliatory political mechanisms’ and ‘compensation scheme[s]’ to which the Government would be under absolutely no legal duty whatever to have recourse.
As if these proposals, which risk eviscerating judicial review, were not objectionable enough, the Government then proceeds to argue that all of this is to be done in the service of the rule of law:
The Government considers that legal certainty, and hence the Rule of Law, may be best served by only prospectively invalidating such provisions. Because of their scrutiny, Parliament-focused solutions are more appropriate where statutory instruments are impugned. Ordering a prospective-only quashing of Statutory Instruments would focus remedial legislation on resolving issues related to the faulty provision, limiting the extent to which additional issues have to be rectified due to wide and retrospective quashing.
This conveniently overlooks the fact that another critical component of the rule of law is the requirement of government under law — and that that fundamental principle would be placed in serious jeopardy by preventing or improperly limiting retrospective invalidation of unlawful administrative acts. Doing so would, in effect, enable the Government to legislate at will, confident in the knowledge that anything done under the colour of such secondary legislation — however blatantly unlawful it might be — would be functionally lawful up to the point of the issuing of relief thanks to the courts’ inability retrospectively to invalidate it.
None of this is to deny that the demands of the rule of law can sometimes pull in opposing directions in this area, and that the requirements of legal certainty and legality may be in tension with one another. Nor is it to deny that there may be circumstances in which the former may outweigh the latter. But these are not novel issues; rather, they are ones that can readily be resolved by the courts through their existing capacity to exercise remedial discretion where appropriate. In contrast, the Government’s astonishing proposals amount to nothing other than an attempt to launch an assault on judicial review under the cover of promoting the rule of law. Even in a post-truth age, such constitutional gaslighting cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.Posted in Administrative Law, Constitutional Law Tagged 2021, constitutional law, Faulks review of judicial review, judicial review, reform
Published by Hart in 2020 and edited by Mark Elliott and Kirsty Hughes, Common Law Constitutional Rights examines the extent to which the common law can and does protect constitutional rights, taking recent UK Supreme Court jurisprudence on this matter as a point of departure.
Aimed at students taking a range of public law modules, Public Law combines comprehensive coverage of the subject with depth of analysis. Written in an accessible style, it is the UK’s best-selling textbook in the field. The fourth edition of the book, written by Mark Elliott and Robert Thomas, was published by Oxford University Press in 2020.