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Lessons from Leicester Trial (New Year's Shootings)

The lessons from the trial in Leicester are that the rules of evidence do need variation to deal with very difficult situation. In situations in which witnesses need protection against violent people we need to protect their identities.

It is not possible for the police to continually give people new identities and there are so many shooting incidents that there has to be the facility for identities to be kept secret.

This clearly should apply in situations where there is clearly an element of conspiracy. However, it is these mechanisms that would enable progress against gangster crime whether it be linked to drugs, terrorism or indeed relate to matters such as the IRA's involvement in Robert McCartney's killing in Northern Ireland.

This killing was particularly brutal and is symptomatic of an environment in which the rule of law has been superseded by a heirarchical clan/tribal based structure.

The challenge, of course, is when politics gets infected by clan style loyalties. This has been identified as one of the key issues in Africa and relates to Political Anthropology. It also tends to lead toward corruption as decisionmaking gets based upon personal loyalties rather than systems of rules.

The danger of the postal vote system is that it encourages the development of political heirarchies dependent on intimidation and theft rather than acheiving popular support. To that extent it actually corrupts people as they are tempted to go in that direction.

This issue of the imperfection of human nature is something that the New Labour Party seem to be unaware of. Checks and balances devised over centuries to protect the rule of law have been undermined with little thought or true scrutiny.

The hazard of this is the development of forms of society in which people in positions of power are seen as untouchable and not subject to the rule of law. The people in Northern Ireland are not substantially different to people elsewhere. That is why the rules used for elections in Northern Ireland should be used elsewhere. There is no sense trying to increase turnout if we end up having a society where political power rests with gangster patrons and their clients - which is where all of this is going.

Still I have been spending time reviewing the transcripts of the Aston Election Court (which I will publish in full when I have the time). The opening statements for this occur on Tuesday. The Commissioner is expecting to produce a judgement within the fortnight after Easter (ie Early April).

It is worth someone going through the transcripts and picking out the highlights (there are about 800 pages of transcripts).

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R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

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KING’S BENCH DIVISION

R v SUSSEX JUSTICES ex p McCARTHY [1924] 1 KB 256

November 9 1923

Editor’s comments in bold.

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