Zimmerman and Nightingale
Heartiest congratulations to Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their first-born, HRH Prince George of Cambridge. In God’s good time he will be out future king.
Some of the comments miss the point on royal financing. The Queen subsidizes the taxpayer, not the other way round. That is because the Treasury seizes some 85% of the royal revenues each year. It’s a scandal which must stop. ALL of the income from the Crown Estate should in future go to the Queen. That would provide sufficient to pay for a restored Queen’s Flight and the running costs of a new Royal Yacht.
Regnal names are a personal matter for each sovereign, but for kings the first name is not normally chosen. Thus Prince Albert (Bertie) became King George VI and His brother, Edward VIII (Who married the German spy Wallis Simpson, without of course knowing that she was working for the Abwehr) was known as David. I anticipate that HRH Prince Charles will reign as King George VII and HRH Prince William as King Arthur 1. Queen Victoria was responsible for reintroducing ‘Arthur’ as a royal name.
It is of course a romantic name, with its overtones of Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table. His son will probably reign as King Alexander 1. This too is a romantic name, a throwback not just to three kings of Scotland but also to Alexander the Great. It is also a nod to the Tsars of Russia and the noble House of Romanov. Regnal names are taken from the Conquest, thus our saint-king Edward the Confessor, a great man, is not known as Edward 1.
The two cases in the title – George Zimmerman in Florida and Sgt Danny Nightingale in England – provide startling contrasts, between a functioning legal system and a failing one. Regardless of the hysterical and politically motivated criticism leveled at Circuit Court Judge Debra Nelson and the Florida jury, the fact remains that there was insufficient evidence to convict George Zimmerman. Indeed he should never have been prosecuted. As I argued last week Sanford Police Department got it right when then they decided to take no action.
Such evidence as there is, including the medical evidence, tends to suggest that Trayvon Martin attacked George Zimmerman, not the other way around. When, on balance, he decided to assault a Neighborhood Watch captain in a state where the rule of law prevails and you may stand your ground, he knew the risk he was taking. It’s sad, but it was his call.
There are some good points in the posts. There is some evidence that Martin was dealing in drugs and attacked Zimmerman from behind. Yes, it is a bad idea not to have a backup, but George Zimmerman, as I understand it, wasn’t being paid as a Neighborhood Watch captain. I wasn’t aware that he taken up the case of a black youth attacked by the family member of a local police officer but it doesn’t surprise me. As I pointed out last week there is no evidence that he is a racist.
Judge Nelson was fair, with respect, and the jury got it right. It does not seem that the learned judge tried to influence the jury with her views, unlike in England. The great weakness of our trial system is that the judge ‘sums up’ the case for the jury, i.e. tends to impose his or her own view of a case. The Court of Appeal is supposed to stop that abuse from happening, but is non-interventionist with respect.
The Nightingale Case
As I have pointed out the court at the retrial was constrained not to send Danny Nightingale to jail. HH Judge Blackett however slammed this brave SAS soldier, in comments with respect which have brought the new ECHR-compliant military justice system into further disrepute. He even claimed that SAS soldiers were put at risk by having to give evidence! That simply isn’t true, with respect. The identity of the SAS boys was protected. In any event the decision to force them to give evidence was that of the Service Prosecuting Authority, a joke body with respect, which in practice reports to the Cabinet Office.
The conviction seems to me to be a nonsense, with respect. There is clear evidence that Sgt Nightingale suffers from memory loss. How in those circumstances it could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that he knew the gun was in his bedroom is unclear. There is also the question of why a soldier with such a fine record was prosecuted over such a trivial matter.
The current, farcical system of military ‘justice’ was forced on the UK by the European Court of Human Rights, replacing the highly respected and effective system of courts martial which had served us well for centuries. The idea was to undermine military discipline, damage morale, increase costs and expose military personnel to the risk of bad faith and oppressive prosecutions. In the Global War on Terror the SPA has tended with respect to give aid and comfort to the terrorist enemy by mounting unjustified accusations of human rights abuses.
The hated SPA should be abolished forthwith as part of the process of UK disengagement from Europe. We can go back to the old procedures, which were tried and trusted, and were never held in such public contempt as the SPA and the new-fangled military courts. The Cabinet Office should never have been allowed anywhere near military justice, indeed should never have been allowed to take over effective control of the Crown Prosecution Service. Obviously I shall be attacking the CPS in future columns, with relish!
His Honour Judge Blackett, sadly, with respect, looks set to become one of the most hated figures in British legal history since Judge Jeffreys, although I have no wish to be unkind to that late judge’s memory. Whilst he was a medium to high tariff tribunal with respect (he still holds the record for the most death sentences passed in a day – over one hundred) Judge Jeffreys was a fine lawyer, as well as the best clearer of a docket that there has ever been. He was a genius at case management, who tended to make full use of the court’s case management powers.
I hope there will be an appeal and this conviction will be overturned. If it isn’t then Sgt Nightingale must be granted a Royal Pardon and have his costs paid, together with handsome compensation from public funds.
Michael Shrimpton was a barrister from his call to the Bar in London in 1983 until being disbarred in 2019 over a fraudulently obtained conviction. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counter-terrorism. He is a former Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies at the American Military University.
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