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Re: Ann Clwyd comes to town



Dear Moonirah

I am grateful for the infromation re. Ann Clwyd that you have provided on
this list.

I have to disagree with you on one point, though.  You said that Ann Clwyd
should not be speaking about International Criminal Court matters until
she is cleared of wrongdoing herself.  It is a proud judicial tradition in
this country founded upon our experience and natural justice that people
are innocent until proven guilty, not the other way round.  Unless and
until she is convicted of wrongdoing, she must be treated as innocent.

Ann has been elected to Parliament to represent some 85,000 or so
citizens.  She has been a leading light in the campaign for an
international criminal court on which I have worked with her for a long
time.  It would be a travesty of justice if the campaign's work, and her
representative functions on all criminal law subjects, were to be stripped
away merely because of unproved allegations.

You make a good point that at present Ann has not been able to find the
money to sue (although there is a fund to help Labour MPs sue, and the
leading libel law firm in London is moving towards offering a "no win no
fee" scheme).  I don't think that this is a point against Ann.  I think it
is very unfair that the draconian libel laws in this country are open to
the likes of Robert Maxwell, Jonathan Aitken and other rich people, but
that people on an MP's salary don't qualify for legal aid and yet cannot
possibly afford the 400,000 or so it might cost if the issue went to
trial.

I don't think that an article in Punch magazine, of all places, is a
sufficient ground to impugn an MP's good character or say that she should
stop talking about a particular subject.

This is why I have replied to people who have asked me to put questions to
Ann on this subject that that will not be done.  It is fine to ask
questions about sanctions on Iraq.  It is not fine to make libellous
allegations in the knowledge that the person cannot afford to
sue.  Publish and be damned is a valiant principle for a free press and
poltical campaigners.  Publish and let someone else be damned is not.  Ann
cannot possibly talk properly about matters under investigation, if indeed
they are, and it is inappropriate to demand that fiunds be sequestrated
without evidence of wrongdoing.

So there is no need for people to ask questions about this matter.  If
anyone has evidence of misconduct then it should be passed on to the DTI,
the Police and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards who will
investigate fairly.  Then we will have a definitve answer to the
allegations made.

In the meantime, both Ann Clwyd and the Coalition for an International
Criminal Court have a job to do.

Best wishes
Alan

*******************
ALAN BATES
Christ's College
St. Andrew's Street
Cambridge
CB2 3BU
Tel: 01223 767607
*******************


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