10feb00 To Lord Irvine.
I am now horrified that The Independent, 4feb00, p10, reports that in 1997 the poor 63 year old man Mr Scriven has indeed been harassed, using the ancient law "scandalising the courts". This charge has been dropped. Now the new Attorney General, Lord Williams of Mostyn, has decided to prosecute Mr. Scriven "for breaching his promise not to scandalise the court".
"Geoffrey Scriven, President of the Litigants in Person Society …. Mr Scriven said yesterday (3feb00) that he would not retract his allegations even if it meant facing an indefinite prison sentence. 'Someone has to stand up for what is right, even if it means going to prison.'" - Independent 4feb00.
I was invited to a combined, secret day-long meeting of the Litigants in Person Society and the Vexatious Litigants Society. Some of them decided I was a spy, and others decided I was a Jew, or a Freemason, or both. Their problem is to try to find some reason why English judges behave in such a destructive way, as I have seen to my cost in many courts, most of them secret. In view of the disgraceful state of our courts, and the anti-social attitude shown by our judges in our secret family courts, as Bentham and Denning predicted, you should not be surprised if victims of the courts try to find some reason why one Englishman should so often attack another Englishman so destructively and vindictively, as one can see any day in our secret County Courts. You must try to distinguish between the horrific experience of these victims and their attempt to make some sense of the judges' behaviour. You know that the reason is reasonably simple, discussed by Dickens in Bleak House.
Since Dickens, the division between Judges and Barristers has gone, see for instance Mrs. Blair, even at the highest judicial level. As a result, the situation is far worse than that studied by Dickens, and venality now has no limits. You are not the only lawyer who loves the good things in life. I know that you are concerned about rip-off law, so you do have some grasp of the problem.
When Dickens wrote Bleak House, the average time for a case to get through Chancery was eight years. Chancery was shut down shortly afterwards. It now takes seven years.
When the legal industry targetted my friends the Adsheads, aiming to steal their large, valuable Derbyshire hotel, I remember Eva Adshead saying to me, after nearly a decade in court, that the legal industry was "just another business". (See The Hook and the Sting, on my website www.electromagnetism.demon.co.uk/.) I find this exactly echoes Dickens' view. He had long experience as a reporter in Chancery.
The legal industry today is very similar to that Dickens described;
"The one principle of English law is, to make business for itself. There is no other principle distinctly, certainly, and consistently maintained through all its narrow turnings. Viewed by this light it becomes a coherent scheme, and not the monstrous maze that laity are apt to think it. Let them but once clearly perceive that its grand principle is to make business for itself as their expense, and surely they will cease to grumble. - p503
"Lawyers have twisted it into such a state of bedevilment that the original merits of the case have long disappeared from the face of the earth. It's about a Will, and trusts under a Will - or it was, once. It's about nothing but Costs, now. We are always appearing, and disappearing, and swearing, and interrogating, and filing, and cross-filing, and arguing, and sealing, and motioning, and referring, and reporting, and revolving about the Lord Chancellor and all his satellites, and equitably waltzing ourselves off to dusty death, about Costs. That's the great question. All the rest, by some extraordinary means, has melted away." - p87.
In the family court, the interests of your children, and the disposition of your home and salary, just melt away. - Ivor Catt, Editor, Ill Eagle
All this is very silly. Obviously, Lord Irvine and his colleagues, who obviously have little knowledge about the scandalous state of our County Courts, and the behaviour of judges in our secret family courts, must arrange meetings with Pelling and his colleagues to get to the bottom of what we, like Blair, all believe is a catastrophic situation in our scandalous courts.
Twice, Tony Blair said on television, "The criminal justice system is on the point of collapse." It is ridiculous for senior judges to rattle the sabre, as you are doing, in an attempt to suppress discussion of very serious problems. A competent Lord Chancellor would arrange fact-finding meetings, and value the information and analysis of such as Pelling with a view to trying to save our courts.
Is it also true that Irvine,.today's Canute, is trying to suppress websites that discuss corruption in our courts? In a recent letter to Lord Ackner, I pointed out that efforts to keep up appearances, and to pretend that our courts are functioning competently, which pretence is going on nationwide, will inevitably slide into straightforward corruption.
Ivor Catt 10feb00
Ivor Catt, 121 Westfields,
St. Albans AL3 4JR, England.
+44 1727 864257
The Prime Minister
Censoring concerns about the courts
There are two scurrilous reports circulating on the Internet.
A man came across malpractice by judges. When he began to publicise his concerns, your mentor Lord Irvine sought to use an ancient law against "scandalising the courts" to have him jailed. I am concerned, because I have frequently been scandalised by the behaviour of the courts, see my book The Hook and the Sting, on my website. (You twice said on TV that the criminal justice system was on the point of collapse.)
However, my major concern is;
A man was framed by the police, and in the end was given £20,000 in compensation by the police. In the process, he came across five incompetent or corrupt judges. He discussed the judges on his website, but used a small www webserver, or provider, rather than Demon or Yahoo. The Lord Chancellor put pressure on the server, with the result that the website was suppressed.
I am in the process of organising mirror websites in foreign countries which do not have close trading relationships with the U.K. For instance, I am asking my friend Malcolm Sanders, in Fiji, to mirror my website. However, in view of the your total commitment to freedom of speech, and that of the Lord Chancellor, I feel sure that the reports (1) and (2) must be false.
I shall be very grateful if you reassure me that it is the policy of the government to totally refrain from suppressing websites which do not fully support government policy. This would save me a lot of trouble.
The www is not yet big business. However, it would be a great shame to drive the business abroad, and also to restrict viability in Britain to www webservers which were larger than Lord Irvine.
cc The Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine