Saturday, July 28, 2012

An open letter to the Lord Chief Justice of England & Wales, Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Griffith Williams

Dear Honourable Justices,

Thank you. I attended the appeal at the Royal Courts of Justice on the 27th of June and also the handing down of the judgement yesterday, no more than a month later. It was my fourth day in court for the case that ended as Chambers v the Director of Public Prosecutions. My first was the conclusion of the unsuccessful appeal before HHJ Davies at the Doncaster Crown Court. I'm afraid I was moved to write quite a different response to that day, which can be found here (An open letter to judge Jacqueline Davies).

The proceedings that you conducted could hardly have been more different. You three Justices appeared receptive and respectful at all times. You did not, for example, require the appellant to sit in the dock behind bullet-proof glass. On the contrary, you made a point of asking to see the appellant as a matter of personal interest. You gave the impressions, which I do not doubt, that you would do your utmost to understand precisely what it was that you were being asked to deal with. The judgement handed down yesterday proves this. It is perhaps not the perfect judgement that many of us had held out hope for, but it is a very careful and extremely useful one. In my opinion the perfect judgement would have declared that a "tweet" discovered in the manner of this one is not a message for the purposes of the Act. It would also declare the offence to be one of specific intent. However, your judgement is far better than it seemed for a great deal of time that we had any right to expect.

It is a credit to you, Lord Chief Justice, that in taking this appeal for yourself you recognised the significance of this case and its bearing on the credibility of English law. And it is to your credit as well that a prosecution which should never have been brought in the first instance has now been concluded in a manner that leaves the "tweeting" British public quite free from undue interference with the right to free expression that is demanded in a democratic society. After 30 painful months, justice has finally been served. Those of us who care a great deal about the issues and the people represented in this case are extremely grateful.

Once again, I thank you. I will never be able to thank you enough.

Warmest regards,
Matt Flaherty

1 comment:

  1. This case is further evidence that we have the mixed blessing of some magnificent senior judges and a lot of bloody awful junior ones.