-- R.G. Menzies
LIBERTARIAN/CONSERVATIVE DIGEST AND COMMENTARY FROM AN ACADEMIC PSYCHOLOGIST in Brisbane, Australia. My academic publications are widely read
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Big free speech case in Britain
Sir Philip Green above.
He is said to have become a billionaire much faster than anyone else in British history. He is Jewish. He seems a most unpleasant man to me. He has certainly abused a lot of people. But for all I know he may be kind to his dog. Nonetheless I am totally on his side in this matter.
From the confirmation furore over Judge Kavanaugh we now know that half of American politics no longer believes in the presumption of innocence -- but to find the British parliament in a somewhat similar state is a shock. Britain is the mother of most of our traditional legal safeguards.
Yet Phil seems to have evoked that meltdown in at least the more Leftist quarters of the parliament. His being a big businessman undoubtedly prejudices the hate-filled British Left against him.
Like many prominent men he has been the object of untested allegations and those allegations are being treated by some as if they were convictions. I have enough residual faith in the British system to believe that no action will be taken against him until the allegations are fully tested in a properly constituted court of law but that faith has been rather shaken
Nonetheless, the accusations ARE apparently before the courts so that should finalize the matter one way or the other
And I heartily defend Phil in his attempts to have the accusations against him silenced before they are tested. The very proceedings described below show the wisdom of that. When allegations are treated as fact, an exoneration in a court of law may do little to restore a man's reputation and peace of mind. False allegations against Christian singer Cliff Richard left him severely shaken even after £210,000 in compensatory damages was paid to him by the BBC and £400,000 from the South Yorkshire Police
But there is undoubtedly some tension between free speech and non-disclosure. False allegations are however a type of libel or defamation and those offences have never been deemed to deserve free speech protection. When the allegations have been shown to be true is the time to mention them publicly -- with full free speech protections
Sir Philip Green has been named in Parliament as the businessman at the centre of Britain’s #MeToo scandal.
The Topshop owner was identified by Lord Hain, the former Leader of the House of Commons, after two days of speculation over the name of the man behind the injunction.
The former Labour cabinet minister said that he had been contacted by someone “intimately involved in the case” and felt a “duty” to reveal the name using parliamentary privilege.
Following Lord Hain’s comments there were calls for the billionaire to be stripped of his Knighthood and for a crackdown on the use of non-disclosure agreements by “serial offenders”.
Vince Cable, the former Business Secretary and Leader of the Lib Dems, said: “I find it very difficult to see how he could credibly hold on to an honour in these circumstances.
“I think Parliament’s proving its worth. The use of Parliament in this way is healthy and it shows democracy at work.”
Frank Field, the MP for Birkenhead who previously led condemnation of Sir Philip over the treatment of BHS pensioners, said: "The charge sheet against the knighthood is growing. Parliament and the country have made their views clear on this matter. Ultimately it's a decision for the honours forfeiture committee."
He added that he is planning to raise with ministers the need for a mechanism for abuse victims' voices to be heard in Parliament.
Mr Field said: "I have been talking this evening with somebody who witnessed grotesque bullying at work. They would like for what they witnessed to be shared, through the House of Commons, with the nation. I am seeking to raise urgently with the Government the importance of having a mechanism in Parliament through which the voices of victims of abuse can be heard. This would develop the role of the House of Commons in a way which stands up for people who have little money, against those who have much."
Number 10 said that it could not comment on cases which were ongoing.
Sir Philip Green last night refused to comment on “anything that has happened in court or was said in Parliament today” but denied any “unlawful sexual or racist behaviour”.
The Telegraph has spent the past eight months investigating allegations of bullying, intimidation and sexual harassment made against the businessman, and the lengths he has gone to to cover up the claims. However, on Tuesday this newspaper was prevented from revealing details of the non-disclosure deals by Sir Terence Etherton, the Master of the Rolls, the second most senior judge in England and Wales.
The intervention makes it illegal, outside Parliament or in reports of Parliamentary proceedings, to reveal the businessman’s identity or to identify the companies, as well as what he is accused of doing or how much he paid his alleged victims.
It was the latest twist in a legal fight which began in July, which saw the appeal court rule that the confidentiality of contracts was more important than freedom of speech.
It overturned a previous High Court ruling which found that publication of the allegations would be overwhelmingly in the public interest and would significantly contribute to debate in a democratic society.
As well as re-igniting the #MeToo debate, the gagging of The Telegraph has renewed controversy about the use of injunctions to limit British press freedom.
Lord Hain, the former Northern Ireland Secretary [and a former radical protester] , yesterday told a hushed House of Lords: “My Lords, having been contacted by someone intimately involved in the case of a powerful businessman using non-disclosure agreements and substantial payments to conceal the truth about serious and repeated sexual harassment, racist abuse and bullying, which is compulsively continuing, I feel it’s my duty under parliamentary privilege to name Philip Green as the individual in question given that the media have been subject to an injunction preventing publication of the full details of this story which is clearly in the public interest.”
After his statement Jess Phillips, the Labour MP who sits of the Women and Equalities Committee, said: “I think that today we have proven that wealth and power and arrogance will not always provide you with cover. Whilst people can be silenced with money, as is often the case, I am pleased that actually that has its limits and that we respect the spirit of the law when people like this are revealed.”
Maria Miller, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, added: “I think that given the huge influence that Philip Green has in the business world and the thousands of people that work for him it is surprising that the Court of Appeal decided that it wasn’t in the public interest to make this more public.
“I think that we now have to answer another question when it comes to NDAs which is how we stop them being used to cover up serial offenders. That has to be a point that is answered by the Government proposals.”
James Cleverly MP, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, said Lord Hain's action had shown "people must now realise that injunctions and super-injunctions are nothing more than a good way to part with large sums of money and a bad way to keep things secret".
The business world also reacted to the claims. Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI Director-General, said: “Sexual harassment and racial abuse is illegal and has absolutely no place in modern Britain. Accusations this serious must be thoroughly and quickly investigated.”
There has been days of speculation about the identity of the individual, with several prominent businessmen including Lord Sugar and Duncan Bannatyne taking to social media to state that it was not them.
In light of the scandal, the Judicial Office was forced to issued a rare statement emphasising that this was a “TEMPORARY injunction preventing publication only until there can be a trial.”
There has been growing condemnation over the use of NDAs in this way from both campaigners and senior legal figures, including three former Home Secretaries, a former Director of Public Prosecutions and a former solicitor general.
Amber Rudd, former Home Secretary, said: “My concern is that these are being used to intimidate people who would otherwise speak up about illegal activity, by that I mean sexual harassment. We need to stop it.”
Lord Falconer, former Justice Secretary, added: “Sexual harassment and bullying should not be covered by NDAs at all. It should not be possible for an employer to use an NDA to suppress any allegation which might be in the public interest. It's a terrible iniquity, it is a very, very clear abuse of power.
The Prime Minister has vowed to bring forward a consultation on reform of the use of NDAs.
Sir Philip bills himself as a rags-to-riches businessman and is renowned for his expletive-ridden outbursts.
A guest at the now notorious President’s Club Dinner, he has previously questioned the MeToo movement, reportedly asking: “Where’s this all going to end? There’s no stag parties, no hen parties, no more girls parading in the ring at the boxing – so they’re all banned?”
Sir Philip said in a statement last night: "I am not commenting on anything that has happened in court or was said in Parliament today. "To the extent that it is suggested that I have been guilty of unlawful sexual or racist behaviour, I categorically and wholly deny these allegations.
"Arcadia and I take accusations and grievances from employees very seriously and in the event that one is raised, it is thoroughly investigated. "Arcadia employs more than 20,000 people and in common with many large businesses sometimes receives formal complaints from employees. "In some cases these are settled with the agreement of all parties and their legal advisers. These settlements are confidential so I cannot comment further on them."
By JR on Sunday, October 28, 2018
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I would have and could have made a comment fitting to the subject, but I am in the process of accomodating change I can believe in. The change is going from hungry to well-fed. I am preparing a simple and light dish consisting of smoked haddock, potatoes and tender carrots in white sauce. By golly, it is a great sunday to be alive.ReplyDelete