You can always tell when our community partner the Hun is losing a battle – he has a hissy fit! After last week’s historic Brexit vote we’ve had an IRA bomb and attacks on the moving Bomber Command Memorial and the Churchill/Roosevelt statue, both in London. I wouldn’t bet against GO2, Germany’s operation in London, having handed out the white paint! Theresa May’s government suffered the heaviest defeat for a ministry in Parliamentary history when Parliament rejected her deal by the humiliating margin of 230 votes.
There are defeats and there are defeats. This one was a doozy. A few Brexiteer MPs might be fooled into voting for the deal when it comes back next week, but I doubt that the result will be very different. It’s still the same deal. Not a word of the draft UK-EU agreement has been altered. Mrs May is trying to present it as something different, but it’s just politician talk. It’s like Pizza Hut calling a ham and pineapple pizza a Hawaiian and saying it’s a new kind of pizza.
The deal is dead, thank goodness. The choice isn’t between the deal and no Brexit – it’s between the deal and leaving the EU without a deal. No deal is the default position by law, as Remainers are slowly grasping.
Brexit: The Uncivil War
Shortly before the vote, the pro-Remain Channel 4 broadcast a docudrama about the 2016 referendum, which as we all know was won by the Good Guys, Brexit: The Uncivil War (airdate January 7th). With Benedict Cumberbatch and Rory Kinnear playing the lead roles, this skilful piece of propaganda recylced many of the myths about the EU, including the one about Winston Churchill supporting it.
The great man supported the idea of a united Europe, but not with us in it. In his own language “we are linked, but not comprised”. Sir Winston saw Britain’s future as being the leader of the British Commonwealth and America’s closest ally. He knew that when given a choice between continental entanglement and the open sea we freedom-loving Brits would always choose the open sea.
The program also pushed the idea that the EU was born post-war, in order to bring peace to Europe. As I explain in Spyhunter, building on the researches of historians like Peter Padfield and Rodney Atkinson, the concept of the EU was drawn up between 1939 and 1941 by a group of officials reporting to Reichsminister Funk. It was all about German domination of Europe without having to continue occupying it. Since occupying armies are expensive something very like the current EU would have emerged even if Jerry had won the war.
The Leave campaign was portrayed as a bunch of scaremongers and liars, which is a bit rich coming from a bunch of Remainers. Accusations have been flung against Leave campaigners, but they are politically motivated and have yet to be proved. As we saw in my case, in practice political prosecutions in this country are controled from the Cabinet Office.
The portrayals of those nice men Nigel Farage and Arron Banks verged on the libellous, indeed I’m surprised the program-makers haven’t been sued. Boris Johnson was portrayed as an idiot, which is very far from being true.
As I explained to a Church of England bishop only this week the battle to get us out of the EU is only a part of the eternal, ongoing struggle between Good and Evil, with the EU on the side of Evil of course! There are encouraging signs that the Bad Guys are starting to panic, like they did when the Red Army crossed the Oder back in ’45.
The Bomber Command Memorial
The desecration of this fine memorial is particularly troubling. I speak as an Honorary Life Member of Bomber Command Association, indeed they were gracious enough to invite me to attend the opening. (I gave up my seat, not because I didn’t want to go, but because there were a limited number of seats and I thought they should go to veterans and their families.)
If my theory that GO2 were behind the attack is right then the Met won’t do anything. If the civil authorities are unwilling to act the case should be handed over to the Provost Marshal of the RAF, who I think is Group Captain Horne.
This would probably require a short Act of Parliament, but so be it. Attacks on war memorials have become increasingly frequent in recent years and it’s high time that they were stopped. Penetration of the police and the Cabinet Office by GO2 means that the police and the CPS are powerless to act. Jerry still resents our role in beating him in the world wars of the 20th century. Even when offenders are caught the sentences tend to be light – the civil courts, frankly, don’t get it. Very few judges these days have served in uniform.
I see no reason at all why Parliament should not provide for courts martial of those who desecrate war memorials. Offenders would do their time in military prisons, where I am sure that they would be well looked after. For the avoidance of doubt I am not suggesting death by firing squad, although I wouldn’t lose any sleep if those who desecrated the Bomber Command Memorial were shot, provided of course that they were shot nicely. Put another way, execution by firing squad of these clowns would be morally justified, if not in accordance with the very latest recommendations of the Sentencing Guidelines Council. As a courtesy I shall forward a copy of this column to the Controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund, who look after the memorial.
El Gizouli v. Home Secretary  EWHC 60 (Admin)
Maha El Gizouli is a captured terrorist, or if you prefer, alleged terrorist, although his lawyers are not strenuously denying that he is in fact a terrorist. Tourists are pretty thin on the ground in Syria these days. He’s said to be one of the ‘Beatles’, the notorious ISIL death squad, none of whom was named John, Paul, George or Ringo.
El Gizouli’s case is that he should be tried in the UK and given a soft sentence for the murders he is said to have committed in Syria. The Administration beg to differ and say that he should be tried in the US, or at Gitmo, and sentenced to death should he be found guilty.
The case came on for hearing in October and judgment was handed down last week by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, and Mr Justice Garnham, who as it happens was one of the three Court of Appeal judges who refused me permission to appeal against conviction in January 2016. With great respect, this time he got it right! (In fairness His Lordship appeared somewhat troubled by the decision in 2016.)
The Divisional Court’s decision is important in a number of respects. The background was a softening by the new Home Secretary of the British government’s opposition to capital punishment. The British angle comes in not only because El Gizouli is a dual national with a British passport, but because the Crown Prosecution Service handed over several hundred witness statements, which the DoJ need to present their case.
The incoming Trump Administration refused the British government’s frankly impertinent demand that the American government agree not to enforce American law on American soil. American law is of course rather stronger in this area than ours. Past Home Secretaries would have refused to hand the statements over for use in a capital prosecution, but Sajid Javid, to his credit, didn’t. The case was a challenge by way of judicial review to his decision.
On behalf of El Gizouli, Edward Fitzgerald QC argued, somewhat ambitiously with respect, that capital punishment is against international law per se, or in the alternative that lethal injection as a mode of execution is. The ingenuity of counsel knew no bounds!
The court had little hesitation in rejecting these submissions. It very pointedly declined to adopt that nice man Lord Dyson’s reasoning in another case that capital punishment is immoral. (I like Lord Dyson, with respect, but the man has liberal tendencies!) The court also rejected a somewhat convoluted submission on data protection.
With respect this is a sound decision. The court’s reasoning is unlikely to be disturbed on appeal. There is no reason at all why the statements should not have been handed over to the DoJ and no reason at all, if he is found guilty, why El Gizouli should not be executed, nicely, of course. If he doesn’t want to be juiced he could always ask for a military trial at Gitmo, where he might end up in front of a firing squad.
I’m sure that the Marine Corps would oblige, lay on an imam and offer him a blindfold. I don’t think that the Uniform Code of Military Justice actually mandates a last cigarette, indeed there’s probably a smoking ban at Gitmo, but I see no reason why he should not be offered a final smoke. (The Surgeon-General’s sound advice on the health risks of smoking could probably be waived in this case.)
His mother, who was the formal applicant in the judicial review proceedings, is said to be desirous that her son should not be executed. With every respect to her, I daresay that Dr Crippen’s mother took the same view, as indeed did his wife. (It’s a long story – I know Dr Crippen’s supposed to have murdered the wife, but she had fled to the States when she realised that her hubby had knocked off one of the German Secret Service’s rent boys.)
I am pleased to say that I was given a very fair hearing, with respect, in the High Court in Bristol last Monday. Judgment has been reserved. You will forgive me if I do not comment further, as the case is ongoing. My next column is planned for Saturday, February 2nd. After a very busy period for me professionally and otherwise, I hope to be able to resume regular weekly columns from then on.
Here at VT we try to answer the big questions. You can find the answersto easy questions in the New York Times and other comics.
Is the new version of Magnum PI as good as the original? Apart from the Ferraris, the Hughes 500 and great Hawaiian scenery, the answer is no, but how could it stack up to the original? Tom Selleck is a hard act to follow, not to mention Roger Mosley as TC and John Hillerman as Higgins.
Does this mean that the new Magnum should not have been made? No, IMHO, and all y’all know how humble I am. Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece the Mona Lisa is arguably the greatest painting of all time, if not the largest. (When I saw it, as a teenager, I was a little bit disappointed at its size – for some reason I was expecting something bigger!) That does not mean that other painters should have given up and gone home, or concentrated on internal decorating.
The best is the enemy of the good. The original Magnum was one of the finest TV series ever made. Rebooting it for the 21st century was by no means a bad idea, even if the reboot was never going to be as good as the original. It’s still pretty good. Modern technology also means that the production values are higher.
The reboot also introduces a new audience to Magnum, who might then go back and look at the original. It’s fun, and that’s the whole point of good TV – it entertains. Like the original, it also makes some good moral and ethical points, like respecting those who serve, in a way which appeals to young people and the young at heart.
Michael Shrimpton was a barrister from his call to the Bar in London in 1983 until being disbarred in 2019 over a fraudulently obtained conviction. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counter-terrorism. He is a former Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies at the American Military University.