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HUMANITIES SCIENCE POLITICS
Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598X
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 26 | FROM BRITISH COURTS | 27
Five mens' freedom was at stake. Another man had died a painful death, another's lung was
punctured, yet another was injured. A family at one with one another for a hundred-plus years
lay shattered. Purportedly much of the video evidence was shadow which might have been
that of one, or of several men at different times. It was dark. Huge efforts had been made to
decide in agreed evidence prior to trial who each of the figures on the video must be given
known events uncontested by all parties. Yet Press saw non of this evidence. I am not saying
the police were wrong, not that the prosecution - of distinction and integrity - did not do his job
honourably. And I most assuredly take off my hat to the five silks and their juniors who pains-
takingly dismantled the prosecution's case of joint endeavour murder by five brothers.
What I am saying is that to me it is astonishing that the Court let me and - intermittently -
other members of the Press sit there and did not instinctively say - make this evidence visible
to Press in Court. Put a screen where the Press can see what is happening. That way the re-
porter's in Court would be able to put an end to many a false rumour. That way, too, the public
can exercise freedom of speech if what we as Press report causes them concern. HG ||
"So what is this doctrine of Crown act of state?"
Judgement given on 17th, January, 2017. P3  UKSC 1
The UK Supreme Court's first judgement of 2017 explored the doctrine of a Crown-act-of-state.
The Appellants - the British Government - had deployed the rarely invoked and rarely successful
defence concept in actions brought against the Ministry of Defence and Foreign and Common-
wealth office under Iraqi and Afghan law of tort. The Respondents are people suing in the context
of the Respondents having been detained by the British during recent conflicts in Iraq and
Afghanistan. In the cases covered by this judgement the justices upheld the Appellants.
Though reaching back to the 13th century, and quoting from 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st Century
case law, from academic references, and calling on Blackstone and Halsbury's Laws of Eng-
land, the Justices do not precisely define the doctrine. Nor do they tie down related concepts
such as justiciability (one way of thinking of justiciability is whether certain factors place an act
outside the scope of British courts) and the impact of the doctrine of Crown-act-of-state and of
justiciability on liability in tort law. They cited UK Statutes defining an evolving legal landscape.
The justices did, however, say what attributes should or could be present if something were a
Crown-act-of-state. The non-comprehensive, non-definitive list includes: the act would be Sov-
ereign, governmental in nature, approved before or subsequently ratified by the Crown, com-
mitted outside the UK, part of the conduct of foreign policy of State, necessary in pursuing that
policy, extending to military action (probably). Military actions would be lawful in international
law, even though military action lawful in international law is not necessarily one authorised in
international law. In various combinations the justices deployed different arguments in support
of their unanimous finding for the Appellants. Two related judgements were also handed down
[UKSC 2 and 3] on 17th January, 2017: they address a defence of state immunity and foreign
act of state [UKSC 3] and relationship to Article 5 of the Human Rights Act 1998 [UKSC 2].
Legal decision making is ongoing. HG ||
Issue 1 (Jan-Mar), 2017............................................Science, People & Politics ISSN 1751-598X print and online
Published Friday 24th February, 2017,
nominally.Completed 9th April, 2017.
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