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Saturday, May 12, 2007 

Irresponsible and reckless, said the spider to the fly.

As much as some of us have cheered when the government has been rightly given a bloody nose by judicial decisions over the last few years, it's hard not to view the decision of the judge in the Al-Jazeera leaked memo trial as anything other than a disgrace to his profession.

Not that he was by far the only one worthy of the highest criticism. "Sir" Nigel Sheinwald, Blair's foreign policy adviser, which means he has to share responsibility over the Iraq disaster,
gave evidence suggesting that "lives would be put at risk" if the memo were to be openly published. The judge himself fell openly into believing this contemptible opinion, itself reputed during the trial, saying in sentencing David Keogh and Leo O'Connor:

You decided that you did not like what you saw. Without consulting anyone, you decided on your own that it was in the best interest of the UK that this letter should be disclosed. Your reckless and irresponsible action in disclosing this letter when you had no right to could have cost the lives of British citizens.

Reckless and irresponsible are of course adjectives which were used by Clare Short in the run-up to the Iraq war to describe Blair's arrogant, deluded refusal to budge from supporting regime change. David Keogh on the other hand attempted to get a memo into the public domain which he personally described as showing "President Bush as a madman". Now, we don't need a memo to know that Bush is a madman, but we're lead to believe that the contents of the memo were along the lines of Bush advocating bombing the headquarters of al-Jazeera because of their coverage, ironically enough, of war crimes in Fallujah. Bush was calling for a war crime in response to journalists daring to report on war crimes.

In fact, Sheinwald went even further into the depths of rhetorical depravity during his evidence. He said that discussions between world leaders must stay secret no matter what they're discussing. This means that even if you were a civil servant and during your work came across a memo which involved the leader of the free world talking about, say, committing genocide, even in those circumstances you would just have to forget about it and wait for the bombs to start dropping and the missiles to commence launching.

The judge didn't stop at handing down prison sentences to two men who like Tony Blair, were doing what they thought was right though, oh no. Just to add to the general level of ridiculous bureaucracy involved in the whole case, he then gagged the media from err, reporting what Keogh had said in open court regarding what the minutes of the memo, and then also ordered that other allegations regarding the memo couldn't be reported in the same report as that involving the case, although they could on other pages of a newspaper, as long as that then itself wasn't mentioned in the original report. Understand? No, the only person who does is Mr Justice Aikens.

There were of course those other
leaks recently discussed that put lives at risk, but we can rest assured that no members of the police force or Whitehall appartachiks will be imprisoned for their roles in dispatching lurid details of the "beheading plot" to the tabloids. This always seems to be the way: when uncomfortable informations emerges, the first response is to shoot the messenger. Hence why when the BBC exposed the racism in the ranks of Greater Manchester police that they arrested the journalist responsible. When the brave woman from the IPCC leaked the reality of the death of Jean Charles de Menezes to ITV News, she had her door broken down in the early hours of the morning. Then again, who could forget the leak of the Hutton report to the Scum, which strangely was never successfully traced to anywhere.

Keogh and O'Connor and the media fighting the gagging orders all plan to appeal. One can only hope that they come across a judge without a seeming chip on his shoulder.

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