Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Labour MP Jim Devine complains his "public and private reputation was trashed on the internet", just as well prison has thick walls!
Jim Devine, a former Labour MP currently serving time in prison for fraud has complained about the difficulties of getting a fair trial in the internet age.
The internet is a window on the world, it can be a force for good or evil, as usual it is buyer beware.
On Friday, the 7th January I wrote a post about the Jo Yeates murder, I put forward the theory that she could have been murdered by someone she knew at flat she lived in by someone close by.
Turns my analysis that the Police needed to concentrate on the flat and surrounding area was correct.
Her neighbour Vincent Tabak killed her.
The key was what was missing at the crime scene where her body was dumped.
Vincent Tabak moved the body to draw attention away from the flat but in his haste he was careless.
13 days after I wrote my post, Vincent Tabak was arrested.
I use a personal example to show that the internet can be a force for good.
Jim Devine has questioned whether jurors listened to the judge's warning not to research the case online.
Whether they did or did not doesn’t alter the fact that evidence against Jim Devine was compelling.
And in a trial, the jury decide truth or guilt based on what is presented in Court.
Jim Devine got a fair hearing and the jury returned a fair verdict.
Devine has complained that his "public and private reputation was trashed on the internet."
The idea that someone has two reputations, one private and the other public is nonsense.
One person, one reputation!
He also says several MPs are concerned "about the ability of an individual to receive a fair trial in the internet age".
Is he putting forward removing trial by jury?
It is the most important safeguard a person has in a trial against a malevolent state.
Or does he think that jurors should live in isolation during a trial?
A breach of the right to a family life under human rights which would not fly legally!
Or should there be professional jurors?
Devine has stuck a letter into the prisoners' newspaper Converse, after the first juror to be prosecuted for contempt of court for using the internet was jailed for eight months in June.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, and two other senior judges used the case of Joanne Fraill, 40, who admitted chatting with an acquitted defendant on Facebook, to warn jurors generally not to undermine the country's "precious jury system" by discussing or researching their cases online.
Devine, 58, wrote:
"Along with my parliamentary colleagues my public and private reputation was trashed on the internet. At the start of my trial the judge told the jury not to trawl the internet looking for stories about myself - does anyone believe that every juror followed that instruction? I know several senior MPs that are very concerned about the ability of an individual to receive a fair trial in the internet age."
I think that Devine’s unhappiness is more to do with his reputation than any great concern for a fair trial in the internet age.
Anyone pretty much can sit on a jury which is a mistake, if you are unlucky, you can get 15 idiots with no analytical skills to understand the evidence.
Some jurors just don’t want to be there.
Devine also says he knew "at least 10 prisoners" who thought "tabloid reporting" had jeopardised their chances of a fair trial.
With the News International storm on reporters hacking phones, changes to how reporters act will be coming in.
In this country, you can have pre-trial by media and found guilty by the press, Chris Jefferies in the Jo Yeates case was ‘convicted’ of having a bad haircut, looking like a weirdo and living close to the victim.
On the juror Joanne Fraill, she was stupid, so stupid that she had no business serving on a jury.
She used Facebook to exchange messages with Jamie Sewart, 34, a defendant already acquitted in a complex multimillion-pound drug trial last year.
She contacted Sewart, a mother of two from Bolton, Greater Manchester, after Sewart was cleared of conspiracy to supply drugs to express sympathy and wish her well.
During their exchanges, Sewart asked about an outstanding charge.
What Fraill did was wrong by contacting her in the first place, but to hold the internet responsible is wrong, Frail could have used a phone, a letter or a face to face visit.
Fraill was the problem not technology.
Fraill, from Blackley, Manchester, was jailed for eight months and is expected to serve four months before becoming eligible for early release.
And she deserved to be put in prison for her actions.
The internet like any technology is a double edge sword, but how much poorer would we be without it?
Our news is manipulated and staged managed, the internet allows those who are not seen as the ‘official’ voices of opposition to speak and be heard by a wider audience.
Shami Chakrabarti is director of Liberty, seen as an ‘official’ voice of opposition but there are times when injustices happen and Ms Chakrabarti doesn’t speak out.
Again, the ‘official’ voices of opposition are there interface with the establishment but to some extent they are the establishment.
They are on ‘the circuit’, an artificial ceiling which screens out ordinary people;, Chakabarti is seen as acceptable opposition.
The internet is a place where the masses get to post on injustices that would otherwise have been silenced and ignored.
And if people like Jim Devine feel precious because he was trashed on the internet then he should remember, he wasn’t sent to prison because people trashed him, he was sent to prison for expenses fraud.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University