Dr Suzannah Beech v United Kingdom and United Kingdom v Dr Suzannah Beech
The European Court of Justice shall hear these cases [b]concurrently[/b], as the outcome of one effectively decides the outcome of the other. All relevant parties are hereby summoned to the Court. Either party may present its opening argument first. Whichever party opens first shall close last.
Thank you for hearing these cases concurrently, Chief Justice.
I've come today to defend the United Kingdom against ridiculous accusation that we are being unconstitutional. This is related to the BBC Question Time debate held last week in which all the candidates were invited to attend. The Question Time presenter and audience heard from three of the debate persons. However, with Mr. Douglas and Ms. Oppenheim, they were already complaining that they had to attend a debate and did not like the idea and wanted to be moved forward, so the debate was handled in a different order. It was not the BBC who, therefore, did not respond to any of the candidates. It tried to provide accommodation. It was, of course, stunned to see that Dr. Beech had filed this petition, most importantly because the debate was not unconstitutional. Here is what the constitution mandates as far as debates:
Section 3, Article 3:
II. The nomination period shall last seven days, to be followed by a seven day period in which debates shall be held, to be followed in turn by seven days of voting.
It does not mandate that there only be one debate. It does not mandate that the debate has to include all the participants. It does not define the format in which a debate can be held. It does not say that the broadcaster make provisions for every single person. So there could have been 7 single person debates, in which they operated on the availability of one candidate, there could have been 20 debates, or two. It does not limit to a single debate.
In fact, there was a four day period in which nothing happened and that Dr. Beech could have emailed, called, sent mail via carrier pigeon over to the BBC and been accommodated. But she didn't. In fact, we've only had one message from Dr. Beech regarding the debate and then she has said nothing after that. It was also mandated that after a seven day period, the voting would have to start, so it was clear to all parties involved that the debate would end after seven days. So in the four days of no activity, Dr. Beech could have acted on her behalf. Instead, the BBC heard silence. The same was true for the candidates from the Weiss Isles, Almaniania, and Harold I. Or, since there is no limit on one debate, there can be several opened for Europe to listen to instead of just the one. This single debate format was the product of laziness and non-participation in the system, and the BBC is being blamed that despite its best intentions. Having not heard from over half of the participants (four out of seven) to get on the stage after the statements by Ms. Couillard, four days before the election began, the BBC could not come up with an adequate time for any of the remaining participants to continue.
Finally, the BBC was also unaware that the debate would suddenly stop, according to its own reaction that the voting was opened, stating that it was not intended to just end. So if the BBC also seemed to be caught unaware, where is the wrong doing? Where is the foul play in that?
Mr. Chief Justice, we ask that you use common sense in your judgement and see that the BBC is not responsible for inactivity and lack of communication, and that the debate was actually set to be far and above the standards set by the Constitution. We regret that Dr. Beech did not bother to contact the BBC before voting was announced, but that does not mean that the BBC intended any wrongdoing. It means Dr. Beech was not aware of electoral procedures and did not act fast enough.
Jack Straw, MP [b]Attorney General of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland[/b]
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I too thank the Chief Justice for hearing these two cases concurrently, though I fear that a hearing in which both parties are simultaneously both plaintiff and respondent may lead to several and various as yet unforseen complications.
In order to try to ease the burden upon the Justices, I shall clearly mark my arguments as to whether they relate to my role as plaintiff or respondent, but please forgive me if this means that I have to repeat an argument that is pertinent to both cases.
[u]As Respondent[/u] I must state that on a purely practical basis the petition of the United Kingdom is totally without merit. I note that since its lodgement with the Court, it has been amended by the plaintiff in a material aspect. Its original content alleged that I had made no contact with the BBC. On this basis it was suggested that as I had not contacted the BBC, I could not expect to participate in the debate. It now seems to be accepted that I did (through my political agent) contact the representative of the United Kingdom requesting details of the questions which I could expect to be asked, in order that I could prepare my answers. The representative replied, acknowledging my request and suggesting that he would duly be in touch. There was not further contact. I would ask the Justices to find that having put myself forward for nomination for election to the Commission and having contacted the organiser of a debate in the manner in which I did, that it is not my responsibility as a candidate to pester the debate organiser to be given a platform.
The allegation against me is that in my petition I have slandered and libelled the United Kingdom. Firstly, to prove libel or slander against me, the United Kingdom must show that what I have said is untrue. The United Kingdom has accused me of slander and libel by suggesting that I have accused them of trying to "fix the election". I made no such allegation. In my petition, I simply made statements of fact. The Constitution requires that any debates take place within 7 days of nominations closing. The United Kingdom arranged for there to be a debate, designed the format of the debate and then called three of the seven candidates to present their arguments and answer questions before voting began. These are all matters of fact. My petition did not seek to apportion any blame, simply the issuing of an injunction to halt the electoral process and force the United Kingdom to conclude the debate. The United Kingdom may conclude that the implications of the likely outcome of my petition might be to highlight the shortcomings of its organisation of the electoral debate, but I have done nothing further than point out that only three candidates were able to participate in the debate organised by the United Kingdom. That is neither slanderous nor libellous - it is simply a statement of truth. I have made no suggestion that the United Kingdom had nefarious objectives in failing to invite me to participate in the debate, simply that they did not.
Additionally, Judicial Proceedings grant an absolute defence against proceedings for both libel and slander. The reason for this is to prevent the respondent from simply making a counter accusation of defamation and so seeking to distract the Court from the matter in question. If the Court hears a case and finds on behalf of the appellant, then the allegation cannot have been defamatory. If the Court finds on behalf of the respondent, then costs can be awarded against the appellant. The use of an allegation of defamation by the United Kingdom in this manner is a clear abuse of process.
Finally, the Constitution of the European Union defines the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice as relating to Constitutional matters. Mr Straw has alleged that I have defamed the United Kingdom. Even if I have defamed the United Kingdom, which I deny, this is not a Consitutional matter and so is not a matter which should be brough before this Court. This Court has no jurisdiction of questions of libel and slander and it speaks of the arrogance of the United Kingdom that having been run the electoral debate in an incompetent manner, they seek to use Court to quell any possible criticism.
So in my defence of the accusation of libel and slander [list][o]I said nothing that was not true; [/o][o]anything that I did say are subject to an absolute defence against the charge by virtue of being raised in a petition to the Court; [/o][o]the petition against me is an abuse of process designed to deflect any potential criticism against the United Kingdom; and [/o][o]this Court is not competent to hear the allegation as it does not relate to any act of mine that is not constitutional. [/o][/list][u]As Appellant[/u] The Constitution requires that after the close of nominations there shall be a seven day period before voting begins and that debates shall take place during this seven day period. In this election on Sunday 16th August, the BBC of the United Kingdom announced that it would be holding an election debate, which would consist of each of the seven candidates offering an opening and closing statement and answering questions from the audience. The Chairman proceeded to invite candidates to the podium to make their statements and answer questions. On Tuesday 18th August, my Campaign Manager sent a message to organiser of the debate. This messge is quoted below:
[i]"Hi - I'm not sure when you are wanting to do the QT with my candidate, but if you let me know what questions you want me to answer, I'll get you some answers so that it can pass moderately quickly, thanks - Bob"[/i]
The response from the representative of the United Kingdom received on the same day stated:
[i]"Okay, thank you for letting me know - Stephen"[/i]
It is clear from this exchange that my Campaign Manager was unaware of the likely timetable for the debate and was seeking clarification of the timing and content of the proceedings. The response from the United Kingdom was simply one of acknowledgement. It offered no information about the likely content or timing. The message from my Campaign Manager was clear about my involvement in the debate. The response from the United Kingdom offered no indication that in order to participate in the debate I needed to remind the presenter of my presence. On the basis of this reply I was simply awaiting the presenter to invite me to the podium to provide my statements and answer questions. The invitation never came and voting commenced before I was offered the opportunity to speak.
The Constitution states that there SHALL be a debate or debates. The United Kingdom argues that it held a debate in which three candidates participated and it was not its responsibility to guarantee the possibility of attendance of all candidates. To be honest, this is a moot point, as the BBC were aware of my presence at the studio and my willingness to participate. But nevertheless, it must be a matter of natural justice that all candidates are equally able to participate in debates. Natural justice would suggest that the debates should not be organised by the candidates themselves, but by independent parties. It would also suggest that the independent parties should not be able to exclude a candidate or candidates since this would preclude a free and fair election.
Having run an election debate and then failed to include all the candidates, the only fair option is to postpone the voting until all the candidates have been offered equal opportunity to present their cases.
The intention of my presenting my petition was simply to ensure fairness in the elections. There was no allegation of impropriety on behalf of the United Kingdom, simply one of incompetence on the part of the television producers.
Dr Suzannah Beech Secretary of State for Constitutional and Judicial Affairs
I have no questions for the Mr Straw
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In light of my fellow Justices' absence from the Chamber, I have no choice but to unilaterally grant Dr Beech's request for an injunction on the ongoing elections. Voting is now suspended and the election process halted for the duration of this case.
In order to retain some resemblance of a smooth process during this debacle, the Court will attempt to come to a decision as quickly as is humanly possible. This would depend on my fellow Justices of course.
[b]Justice Elvin Kennet[/b]
I should like to thank the Justices for their consideration in this matter,
Dr Suzannah Beech
Does either Dr. Beech or the United Kingdom wish to present additional evidence that wasn't in their opening statements? I want to ensure that the Court has enough information to rule authoritatively on these cases. If you wish, you may close, and the Court will then recess to form a verdict.
[i]Anthony Scalin[/i] [b]Chief Justice[/b]
The United Kingdom has nothing further to add to this case
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I have no further evidence to add, so I will issue my closing statements.
In my view the case against me for slander is entirely without merit. I have not made any allegations against the United Kingdom to suggest that they were trying to fix the election as the petition against me alleges. As far as I can tell, beyond making the allegation in the petition, the United Kingdom has produced no evidence to substantiate the allegation against me. So on the most basic level, I urge the Justices to find that there is simply no case to answer. If the Justices do not feel able to state that there is no case to answer, I would urge you to consider the points which I raised in my opening statement , that this is entirely the wrong Court to consider an allegation of slander or libel and that in any regard I have an absolute defence against such an allegation being made against me as the alleged slander was made in Judicial proceedings and therefore cannot be subject to a petition such as that served against me.
With regard to my petition to the Court, the election to the Commission has already been suspended which was the main objective in my bringing this case. I would ask that having suspended the election the Justices should declare the votes already cast to be null and void and give an instruction of mandamus against the outgoing Commission to either arrange for the conclusion of the debate which has been begun, or to recommence the debate in a format in which all candidates can participate with an equality of opportunity to be heard.
I thank you for your consideration in the matter.
Dr Suzannah Beech
Justices, I realise that I have presented my concluding arguments in these cases, but may I respectfully request that the Justices conclude the cases please?
Mr Straw has had ample time to present his closing arguments, but the Government of the United Kingdom seems more intent upon concentrating on its military missions around the airspace and waters of the Teutonic States. The United Kingdom has used the postponement of the Commission and ECoJ Elections as a supporting reason for its use of military rather than judicial intervention. But at the same time as complaining about the lack of electoral process, it is dilatory in providing statements so that this case, the conclusion of which will allow for the electoral processes to be undertaken.
On another issue, the Justices need to be aware that I am being prosecuted in a personal capacity by the Government of the United Kingdom. As you can imagine, my personal prosecution has caused me and my family extreme distress and anxiety, not least because in my view the prosecution was so clearly unfounded and a matter of retribution by the Government of the United Kingdom. Wilfully extending the period of distress and anxiety by failing to conclude this case for no reasonable purpose could be construed as a breach of my constitutional right not to be subject to degrading or inhumane treatment.
Dr Suzannah Beech
May the record show that in terms of our closing statement, we did not feel the need to provide one, and said as such as our closing statement. Dr. Beech is continuing her lies yet again. She can check the record yet again to see that I clearly stated that "The United Kingdom has nothing further to add to this case". Just like she had ample time to question the BBC about the debate, I did have ample time to make a closing statement
Second, the decision by the Government of the United Kingdom has absolutely nothing to do with this case. In fact it is a symptom of an inactive Court and lack of Commission, and we would be happy to prosecute the Teutonic State if there was a functioning judicial body. As there is not and thousands of people are in danger from a rogue, unsafe regime, we had no choice but to do something or else there would be more bloodshed, more torture and more human rights abuses.
Third, I cannot believe that Dr. Beech just suggested that the United Kingdom is causing her anxiety. Perhaps it is the anxiety that she is contorting the truth that is really eating away at her. We have not caused her any anxiety, we did not pursue her away from this case, and to suggest that we are purposefully causing her harm is yet another untruth being told by Dr. Beech.
As such, the United Kingdom will not participate in this farce any further.
[b]Jack Straw, MP [/b]Attorney General of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Justices - I feel I must respond to the Mr Straw's final comment. At no point did I suggest that it was the Government of the United Kingdom that was causing me increasing stress and anxiety, but the dragging out of this case, with no activity having taken place since I made my closing statement a fortnight ago. Mr Straw is far too swift again to make accusations against me of dishonesty and the telling of untruths.
Now that it is apparent that Mr Straw has no intention of making any closing statement, I humbly request that the Justices reach a verdict.
Dr Suzannah Beech
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The Opinion of the Court, by Chief Justice Kennet
On the first case of United Kingdom vs. Dr. Suzannah Beech, where charges of slander and libel were made against the defendant, the Court finds Dr Beech NOT GUILTY.
While this court does have jurisdiction over matters of slander and libel, the evidence presented against Dr Beech is not sufficient to convince the court that an offence has been committed. The United Kingdom alleges that the petition against them in this very Court was slanderous and libelous, an argument this court rejects. The supposed slander was made as part of an official legal petition, for which evidence was presented fairly and in accordance with accepted legal procedures. Accepting this argument would not only set a dangerous precedent, but it would indeed disregard fundamental principles of justice. Should this argument be accepted, defendants across the European Union would be accusing their accusers of slander, derailing the entire judicial procedure. Setting wheels in motion to bring a defendant to a court of law is not slanderous, and therefore no crime has been committed.
NOT GUILTY (2): Chief Justice KENNET, Justice ISZTVRARATI.
RECUSED (1) Justice DORR.
On the second case of Dr Suzannah Beech vs. United Kingdom, the court finds the United Kingdom GUILTY.
As the first case has decided in favour of Dr Beech, it logically follows that the second would do so as well. It is the opinion of this court that the BBC did not follow the correct Constitutional procedures and conventions when it held the “Question Time” debate during the aborted Commission elections of August this year. The Constitution clearly states the need for a debate to be held, the relevant portion being Article III, Section III, Clause II. While the clause is vague on what constitutes a debate, it is the opinion of this court that a debate consists of all, or as many as possible, candidates debating one another. In other words, an opportunity for each candidate participating to appear together at the same time and to cross-examine one an other must be present, otherwise there is no debate. We find that the BBC did not provide this opportunity, instead opting for a series of interviews between one candidate and one interviewer. Indeed, not all candidates were able to take advantage of even this, with the Dr Beech being one of these, despite her willingness to do so. However, we also accept the United Kingdom's argument that the Constitution does not mandate only one debate to be held. The relevant clause uses the plural form of “debate”, meaning that any and all broadcaster in the European Union had the opportunity to host a debate. It was not the sole responsibility of the United Kingdom to do this. In light of this fact, while the court finds the United Kingdom GUILTY of breaching the Constitution with regards to the debate it held, it recommends that there be no sentencing beyond this verdict, and that the case should be closed with no reparations from either party.
With regards to the elections themselves, this Court orders the currently on-hold elections and the votes cast in them from August to be declared null and void, and a complete re-run to take take place. The same is also true for the elections to this very court, as they began so long ago and so much has changed since that they are irrelevant to today's European Court of Justice. I therefore implore the relevant authorities to begin the two election procedures afresh. All candidates from the previous contests are welcome to stand again, alongside others.
Chief Justice Elvin Kennet