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Trevor Kavanagh learns a hard lesson about human rights and due process

with 29 comments

“The overwhelming odds are that these guys were put inside for good reason — whatever sob stories their human rights lawyers are peddling on their behalf.” – Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun, 2007

“It is important that we do not jump to conclusions. Nobody has been charged with any offence, still less tried or convicted“, Trevor Kavanagh, The Sun, 2012

Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper has long been hostile to the idea that people suspected of wrongdoing should be treated as innocent until proven guilty, that no-one should be locked up for extended periods without a fair trial and due process, and that even if someone is tried and convicted of a criminal offence, they are still entitled to basic human rights.

When, in 2005, 47 Labour MPs joined opposition ranks to throw out the Blair government’s attempt to award itself the right to detain for 3 months, without charge or trial, anyone it claimed was a “terrorist”, the Sun’s political editor Trevor Kavanagh branded them “traitor MPs” who had “betrayed the British people”.

When, in 2007, Gordon Brown’s government requested the release of five UK residents who had been held for years without charge or trial in Guantanamo Bay, the Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh declared that “The overwhelming odds are that these guys were put inside for good reason — whatever sob stories their human rights lawyers are peddling on their behalf.”

“It’s just about possible the five… are totally innocent… But not very likely”, he suggested.

Yet despite these “overwhelming odds”, four of the five men – Binyam Mohamed, Omar Deghayes, Jamil El Banna and Sameur Abdenour – were subsequently freed after the US government failed to produce any evidence that could convict them of a crime. The fifth, Shaker Aamer, has still not been charged or tried, ten years after he was first detained.

Mohamed, Deghayes and El Banna were subsequently awarded millions of pounds in compensation after a court heard evidence (or as the Sun might describe it, a “sob story”) detailing the UK government’s complicity in their “rendition” and subsequent torture.

This weekend, another five men were arrested on suspicion of a criminal offence. Unlike Binyam Mohamed, Omar Deghayes, Jamil El Banna, Sameur Abdenour and Shaker Aamer, these five men were given prompt access to a lawyer, questioned, and then freed on bail.  Unlike Binyam Mohamed, they were not bundled into a plane, flown to Morocco and tortured with a scalpel, forced into stress positions or subjected to deliberate and prolonged sleep deprivation. They were not – as would have been the case for anyone accused of terrorist offences under the 2005 Bill championed by Trevor Kavanagh and the Sun – held without charge for 90 days while the Police scraped around for evidence.

Has British Justice Gone Soft? Given Trevor Kavanagh’s previous comments on human rights and due process, we might have expected him to be outraged that these five criminal suspects have been treated so leniently. But here he is discussing the case in today’s Sun:

“It is important that we do not jump to conclusions. Nobody has been charged with any offence, still less tried or convicted.”

Here he is on Radio 5: “the evidence that’s been suggested to those who have been arrested so far, is pretty flimsy stuff… people are wondering what on earth is happening… I feel very sorry for them and I know it’s causing them and their families a great deal of anguish”.

What could possibly explain this change in tone? Perhaps the fact that *these* five criminal suspects were Sun journalists, suspected of making corrupt payments to police and other public officials.

The problem with attacking basic democratic principles like human rights and due process is that you never know when you – or someone you care about – might be in need of them. Trevor Kavanagh’s Damascine conversion to the cause is surely to be welcomed. His friends at the Sun do, of course, have a right to a fair trial and to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. It will be interesting to see if they will now extend that same courtesy to the rest of us.

See also: Thaksin Shinawatra: “They don’t care about the rule of law, facts or internationally recognised due process!”

Written by Richard Wilson

February 14, 2012 at 12:41 am

29 Responses

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  1. Fantastic article.

    Rob O'Brien

    February 14, 2012 at 7:37 am

  2. Excellent article. The hypocracy of the Fleet Street journalist strikes again.

    Stephen Wales

    February 14, 2012 at 8:02 am

  3. I hope people finally see the rag that is the s*n for what it really is, I hope it gets closed down

    Fred mountain

    February 14, 2012 at 8:40 am

    • There is no need to close down The Sun as there was no need to close the NOTW – but a change of direction and a new owner would be beneficial.


      February 14, 2012 at 8:53 am

  4. […] me, occasionally enjoy watching a person hoist with their own petard, you might very well enjoy the following blog post. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  5. This Kavanagh story sits nicely the report about Daily Mail threatening to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights because they’re upset about the treatment they’re getting from the Leveson inquiry….

    David J Mudkips

    February 14, 2012 at 9:16 am

  6. Please do let the Sun journos go down, Rupie,
    Although they search for criminals, it’s always someone else they see.
    I’d just allow a fragment of NewsCorp to wander free
    But reading your paper is like the Sun going down on me…


    February 14, 2012 at 9:27 am

  7. Richard Wilson, I salute you!


    February 14, 2012 at 9:31 am

  8. An entirely natural reaction from Trevor Kavanagh on the basis of self interest in that as a long standing member of the senior editorial team of the Sun, he must be vulnerable to a knock on the door from Mr Plod at some stage.

    Doubting Thomas

    February 14, 2012 at 9:56 am

  9. My favourite bit of Kavanagh’s comments on the first story is where he says ” The US system of justice is far, far better than most”, conveniently ignoring the fact that the whole problem with Guantanamo detainees is that they never entered the justice system!


    February 14, 2012 at 10:35 am

    • Mark, that is exactly what Kavanagh and his colleagues wanted for the people of the UK. They wanted a brown envelope political and judicial system with NO courts of law for the People. With Local Governments setting Bailiffs on the People without any due process in courts of law.

      Trial by Jury is democracy and Trial by Judge is tyranny.

      The Murdochs and Kavanagh never gave the victims of Summary Justice, like myself, a voice, because they promoted Summary Justice for their own ends.

      The following is what Summary Justice did to me. By the way, I was on PAYE on an Emergency Tax Code, where HMRC owed me thousands of £s in tax rebates. And they still do to this day: –

      If the Murdocks’ and Kavanagh covered-up my case for HMRC and the State; therefore, how many more cases have they covered-up? – And how much did they receive for this?

      Mark, why do People buy SPIN & LIES that is doing them serious damage??? – Beats me!

      Patrick Cullinane

      February 14, 2012 at 1:45 pm

  10. Marvellous piece Richard. I only hope Trevor Kavanagh and his pals get to read it and realise the game is up.


    February 14, 2012 at 10:36 am

  11. […] […]

    The Sun lashing out - Page 5

    February 14, 2012 at 11:10 am

  12. Excellent article. Sadly it will only be a temporary ‘conversion’ and he will revert to his previous stance when it applies to those not employed by the News International Group. I found it hilarious that yesterday on 5Live he also said that there was ‘a feeling of being under seige’ at the Sun office, I guess now they know what it’s like for the various Celebrities and others that they’ve stalked, harrassed and phone-hacked over the years.

    Tone (@MightyHorse82)

    February 14, 2012 at 11:28 am

  13. Chickens coming home to roost.

    A lesson to all, do not be selective about who should be allowed full access to the law, lest one day you be in need of its services.

    It shouldn’t be necessary to close a newspaper democracy needs print media, what is essential is that the laws should be enforced.


    February 14, 2012 at 1:11 pm

  14. I’d agree with the title of this post if I actually thought they were capable of learning.

    Tom Gidden (@tomgidden)

    February 14, 2012 at 1:13 pm

  15. First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

    Edward Blackburn

    February 14, 2012 at 1:21 pm

  16. what is pathetic, is the whole “we said this” and “he said that” tone of articles like this…the English law says you are innocent until proven guilty and no one has ever given me the name of a criminal in my town before. lets just wait and see what happens before we start throwing stones. anyone who has broken the law deserves the treatment the arrested people are getting anyone else deserves a huge murdoch pay off as they surely wont want to work for N Int ever again???


    February 14, 2012 at 7:34 pm

  17. Thanks for all your kind comments! I don’t think I want to see the Sun closed down, but I do kind of hope that the shock of all this leaves at least some of them with a bit more sympathy towards people who’ve been accused of stuff but not actually convicted of anything…

    Richard Wilson

    February 14, 2012 at 10:01 pm

  18. Reblogged this on WPTrend.


    February 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm

  19. Cleverly done.
    I don’t envy anyone getting the dawn knock though, Sun journo or not.


    February 15, 2012 at 12:30 am

  20. When the law maker says,

    “Speaking of News Group Newspapers, a division of News International, Justice Vos said that “they are to be treated as deliberate destroyers of evidence.”

    What’s the law upholder to do?


    February 15, 2012 at 10:30 am

  21. He seems to be advocating one law for one and another law for others……doesn’t that make him the same as the so called Muslim terrorists he would happily see locked up without trail. The only thing that keeps the media free is the belief that the law is correct and that everybody upholds the law. Once you look to bend the laws to suit what you wish them to be then the freedom you so liked can be and will be eroded. Mr Kavanagh should be carefull in what he wishes for

    Stephen Wales

    February 15, 2012 at 10:58 am

  22. In days of yore the butler softly walked into his Lordship’s presence and intoned “Three reporters and a gentleman from the Times to see your Lordship”. I can’t imagine draughting a law or laws which will make reporters into gentlemen (including, it would appear, the reporter working for the Times) but perhaps journalists, like doctors, lawyers, architects, should earn a licence to practice which could be withdrawn if they exceed their bounds. I won’t say all lawyers, doctors or architects are gentlemen but the threat of being struck off makes them behave reasonably well and helps the public to trust them just that little bit more

    jan frank

    February 16, 2012 at 8:31 am

  23. […] Trevor Kavanagh learns a hard lesson about human rights and due process by Richard Wilson […]

  24. […] and author Richard Wilson published a brilliant rebuttal, involving ‘pots’, ‘kettles’ and the colour […]

  25. […] dislike The Sun immensely. I believe it has been instrumental in supporting crimes against human rights, war mongering and promoting a dumbed-down nation. I also believe Murdoch uses his newspapers to […]

  26. First of all I would like to say wonderful blog!
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    October 20, 2014 at 9:25 am

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