The British High Court is starting to become very critical of the concept of a ‘good law”. According to the British High Court, such a concept does not give citizens ‘carte blanche’ to sue the Government. This was stated by Lord Justice Singh and Mr Justice Swift in a lawsuit instituted by the activist lawyer Jolyon Maugham. The argument made by these two esteemed judges is that for a case to have standing or locus standi, the evidence presented in court needs to support it.
This may appear to be a win for the UK government against the many legal cases being filed by citizens against the state for what they consider an alleged injury or infringement of their rights because they have not been treated equally by the government on presumed gender differences and therefore demand justice.
The British High Court reached its decision in favour of the Government after the Government had been sued for alleged discrimination by a plaintiff who believed he had been denied promotion on the basis of gender. The First Court agreed with the petitioner but on appeal, the High Court thought differently.
When one reads carefully the media reports about this sentence, one finds that this issue has far more reaching consequences than one imagines. In my opinion, these laws have a resonance with the Equality Law that was recently enacted by our Government.
What the British High Court is stating here is that the concept of a ‘good law’ does not give citizens the right to claim that they feel offended by a government decision. This same argument can apply to those citizens who may face legal proceedings for statements made about gender issues.
When a section of the population feels affronted by a statement whether verbal or written, it does not necessarily follow that that statement is either offensive or unfair. The judges did not consider it unfair because it was allegedly stated by the plaintiff that promotion was not granted on the basis of gender.
Therefore, by the same token, individuals cannot be prosecuted in court or sued on the basis of a similar statement made in public. For the case to go to court, the plaintiff/s must demonstrate to the court sufficient connection to and harm from the statement made. More, those offended need to actively participate in the court case to provide proof to the court that an offense has taken place.
Clearly, the Equality Act does not give gender activists a carte blanche to sue the government for what they may consider an affront. With the same argument, the gender equality law does not give carte blanche to associations to file a criminal complaint against citizens for comments they may have made, and about which a claim is made that they are offensive.
What the British High Court is also saying is that judges and magistrates have no free hand to condemn anyone for comments that could have been made on social media or in public for which there might be an objection from LGBTIQ activists.
This is very important and bears great relevance to what is happening here in Malta. Judging from the way Magistrate Ian Farrugia has behaved during the sitting concerning Fr. David Muscat, this basic principle has already been breached. Ian Farrugia passed a remark to the accused, Fr Muscat during proceedings, before even having listened to what Fr. Muscat had to say in his defence.
The British High Court judges are very clear. The court does not have a “carte blanche” in these matters to condemn an accused because this is being requested by LGBTIQ activists or the police. Furthermore, and more importantly, the court does not even have carte blanche to express an opinion during a sitting. This is a fundamental aspect of all jurisprudences.
This sentence by the British High Court is loud and clear. Just as citizens have no free hand to sue the government and on the same principle, activists have no carte blanche to sue citizens for comments made. Furthermore, magistrates and judges have no free rein to consider somebody guilty a priori before hearing his or her case. Magistrates and Judges can never, never express their opinions during proceedings. They can only comment once a sentence has been handed down. Furthermore, equality laws do not give anyone a position of preference over anyone else be it LGBTIQs or straight individuals.
Judging from Lord Justice Singh and Mr, Justice Swift’s sentence, had they been presiding the case instituted by our police against Fr. David Muscat, they would have thrown out the case on the grounds that all the evidence provided by the police does not support the claim and the activists did not present themselves in court as parte civile or as witnesses.
Finally, these High Court judges are very clear. No individual or association can have standing or monopoly on all cases. Unfortunately, in Malta the way our law was drawn up was intended to give such associations and activists standing or locus standi in all cases!
It is time that our courts revise the dangerous trend introduced by our legislators in passing laws by which the police are empowered to bring a claim to court (or even prosecute a priest) simply because the media whipped up public interest. This is nothing more than a totalitarian Fascist mode of operating and far removed from any semblance of democracy.