I’m honestly not sure how significant this is, or how worried we should be. GCHQ has been using the information gathered on British citizens. It’s all over today’s Guardian , but the PRISM Power Point slides, as shown to the US National Security Agency, were first revealed to the public by The Washington Post (below):
Through a top-secret program authorized by federal judges working under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the U.S. intelligence community can gain access to the servers of nine Internet companies for a wide range of digital data. Documents describing the previously undisclosed program, obtained by The Washington Post, show the breadth of U.S. electronic surveillance capabilities in the wake of a widely publicized controversy over warrantless wiretapping of U.S. domestic telephone communications in 2005. These slides, annotated by The Washington Post, represent a selection from the overall document, and certain portions are redacted. Read related article.
Introducing the program
A slide briefing analysts at the National Security Agency about the program touts its effectiveness and features the logos of the companies involved.
The program is called PRISM, after the prisms used to split light, which is used to carry information on fiber-optic cables.
This note indicates that the program is the number one source of raw intelligence used for NSA analytic reports.
The seal of Special Source Operations, the NSA term for alliances with trusted U.S. companies.
Monitoring a target’s communication
This diagram shows how the bulk of the world’s electronic communications move through companies based in the United States.
Providers and data
The PRISM program collects a wide range of data from the nine companies, although the details vary by provider.
This slide shows when each company joined the program, with Microsoft being the first, on Sept. 11, 2007, and Apple the most recent, in October 2012.
By David Hirsh
Reblogged from Engage
“When someone is honestly 55% right, that’s very good and there’s no use wrangling. And if someone is 60% right, it’s wonderful, it’s great luck, and let him thank God. But what’s to be said about 75% right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100% right? Whoever say he’s 100% right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal.”
(A old Jew of Galicia, from: The Captive Mind, by Czeslaw Milosz)
A co-ordinated campaign by Ronnie Fraser, his lawyers and his witnesses to try to intimidate critics of Israel with an invented accusation of antisemitism would indeed be vile and disgraceful. This is what the Tribunal thought was happening, and this explains the unusually intemperate and emotional language employed in its dismissal of Fraser’s case.
Above: David Hirsh
The Tribunal found against Fraser on everything: on technicalities, on legal argument, and on every significant issue of substance and of fact. The Tribunal found everything the UCU said in its defence to be persuasive and it found nothing said by Fraser or any of his witnesses to be of any value. The culture, the practices and the norms inside the union were found to be not antisemitic, either in intent or in effect. Indeed, everything that Fraser and his witnesses experienced as antisemitic, the Tribunal judged to have been entirely appropriate. In particular what was appropriate was the way that union staff, rules, structures and bodies operated. Fraser said that there was a culture in which antisemitism was tolerated but the Tribunal did not accept that even one out of the very many stories that it was told was an indicator of antisemitism.
Instead the Tribunal found that “at heart” the case represented “an impermissible attempt to achieve a political end by litigious means… ” (para 178). What political end? The only possible political end is an attempt to defeat or silence campaigns against Israel. This would certainly be impermissible in an Employment Tribunal, which is rightly concerned with issues such as antisemitism, outlined in the Equalities Act.
Of course the fight against antisemitism is also political. But this cannot be the kind of politics to which the Tribunal objected. If it was, then it would find every allegation of racism, sexism or homophobia to be impermissible, because political. Opposition to antisemitic politics has always been central to campaigns against antisemitism.
The Tribunal makes clear that it meant that Fraser was trying to mobilize a bad-faith allegation of antisemitism in order to silence good-faith critics of Israel when it goes on in the next paragraph: “We are also troubled by the implications of the claim. Underlying it we sense a worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression….” The Tribunal says that Fraser was trying to fool it into outlawing and branding criticism of Israel as antisemitic. Of course, every racist claims that anti-racists disregard their right to free speech. True, sometimes the Tribunal appears to veer towards the view that those who complain of antisemitism are simply over-sensitive and lacking in objective judgment. But the central findings, that this is politics dressed up as litigation, and that this is an attempt to disallow free criticism, are allegations of bad faith.
Anybody who has been following the story within the union will be aware that the response of the Tribunal is precisely the same as the response with which opponents of antisemitism and of the boycott campaign were faced within the union. The Tribunal backs the union’s way of thinking about antisemitism 100%. The experience of going to the Tribunal, it turns out, is more of the same experience about which Fraser appealed to the Tribunal in the first place.
Fraser said that the key mode of intimidation in the UCU was a constant allegation of bad faith – the allegation that Jews who say they feel antisemitism are actually lying for Israel. The Tribunal replied that the Jews who say they feel antisemitism are actually lying for Israel – they are dressing up a political end as a problem of racist exclusion. In other words, the Tribunal answers that the accusation of bad faith made against Jews who say that they experienced antisemitism is appropriate. The Tribunal employed The Livingstone Formulation.
Fraser argued that there were a large number of incidents which should be understood as exemplifying a culture whereby antisemitism was accepted as normal within the union. Fraser called 34 witnesses to tell the Tribunal about the antisemitism which they had seen. I want to start my own response to the judgment by outlining a number of the incidents which the Tribunal were told about in detail:
In 2006 Ronnie Fraser stood as a delegate to NATFHE conference (a predecessor to UCU). It was said at the regional meeting that Fraser could not be a delegate because he was a Zionist and therefore a racist. NATFHE held an investigation and found that this statement had not been antisemitic.
Israel has been relentlessly condemned at every UCU Congress, often by motions to boycott Israel. There were no motions to boycott any other states.
The Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism reported that the boycott debates were likely to cause difficulties for Jewish academics and students, to exclude Jews from academic life and to have a detrimental effect on Jewish Studies. UCU responded that these allegations were made to stop people from criticizing Israel. 76 members of the UCU published a critique of the union’s response, but the union took no notice. John Mann MP told the Tribunal that UCU had been unique among those criticized by the inquiry in its refusal to listen.
Sean Wallis, a local UCU official, said that anti-boycott lawyers were financed by “bank balances from Lehman Brothers that can’t be tracked down”. Ronnie Fraser asked him whether he had indeed made this antisemitic claim. Wallis admitted having said it. But it was Fraser who, for the crime of asking, was found to have violated union rules concerning “rude or offensive communications”.
Gert Weisskirchen, responsible for combating antisemitism for the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) asked the union leadership for a meeting to discuss antisemitism relating to the boycott. The union did not meet with him. When 39 union members protested publicly, the union ignored them.
The union invited South African Trade Unionist Bongani Masuku to speak at a pro-boycott conference in London. Masuku was known to be under investigation by the South African Human Rights Commission for antisemitic hate speech. Here is an example of what he had said: “Bongani says hi to you all as we struggle to liberate Palestine from the racists, fascists and Zionists who belong to the era of their friend Hitler! We must not apologise, every Zionist must be made to drink the bitter medicine they are feeding our brothers and sisters in Palestine”. Masuku also said that vigilante action would be taken against Jewish families suspected of having members serving in the Israeli military, and that Jews who continued to stand up for Israel should “not just be encouraged but forced to leave South Africa” The union ought to have known Masuku’s record. Ronnie Fraser told the union about Masuku’s record. Masuku was found guilty in South Africa of hate speech before speaking as a guest of UCU. And months later, UCU Congress explicitly rejected a motion to dissociate itself from Masuku’s “repugnant views”.
The Activists’ List is an email list hosted by the union.
Ronnie Fraser argued on the list that there was no absolute blockade of Gaza. In response, another union member said that he was like the Nazis at Theresenstadt. The union found that there was nothing inappropriate about this comment. Read the rest of this entry »
Above: EDF’s attempt to look lovable…
Our daughter Claire was one of 21 activists who spent a week up a chimney at West Burton power station to protest against the use of gas-fired power stations.
It was a peaceful protest to draw attention to the environmental consequences of burning fossil fuels for power. No one was hurt but now EDF Energy are suing our daughter and her fellow activists for £5 million.
We believe this is totally unfair and unprecedented. That’s why we have started a petition to call on EDF to drop the suit against our daughter and her friends, the West Burton activists. Click here to sign our petition.
Our daughter and her friends protested peacefully. They knew they would be arrested but were brave enough to accept this possibility. Peaceful protest has never before been followed by an injunction for costs like this. If EDF are successful in this suit it will set a dangerous precedent for the right to peaceful protest in this country.
We are proud of what Claire and her friends are trying to do. It’s heartbreaking to think that they are being punished for putting themselves at risk for the good of humanity. If EDF pursue this suit they will put my daughter and her friends in debt — possibly for the rest of their lives. For EDF it is a mere drop in the ocean, but for them it is a lifetime’s income.
EDF might think it can silence 21 activists but it has to listen to consumers. If enough consumers show they are outraged by EDF’s actions, the impact to the company’s brand will be worth more than £5 million and the suit will be dropped.
Russ and Barbara Fauset
NB: ‘Will EDF become the Barbra Streisand of climate protest?’ – George Monbiot in the Guardian
Reblogged from ‘A Latent Existence’:
Appellant Cait Reilly: forced to work unpaid at Poundland
The Court of Appeal has ruled today that the Department of Work and Pensions back-to-work schemes are illegal because the regulations that Iain Duncan Smith created to allow the schemes overstepped the law. (An act of Parliament allows for regulations to be created to specify the detail of the law, these regulations went further than Parliament had allowed for.) The court did not find that the schemes violated article 4 of the Human Rights Act, nor did it find that the concept of making people undertake work experience to increase employment prospects would be a problem were it in an act of parliament. Since these work schemes have been proven to actually reduce employment prospects, however, it is possible that the schemes may yet be found to violate human rights.
“The Court found that the Secretary of State, Iain Duncan Smith, has acted beyond the powers given to him by Parliament by failing to provide, any detail about the various “Back to Work” schemes in the Regulations. The Government had bypassed Parliament by introducing the Back to Work schemes administratively under an “umbrella” scheme known as the Employment, Skills and Enterprise Scheme, claiming the need for “flexibility’. The Court of Appeal held that this was contrary to what Parliament had required.”
Paragraph 63 of the judgment criticises the information given to the benefit claimants. I have covered this in previous blog posts (Mandatory unpaid work – the evidence) where I explained that letters sent out state clearly that the work experience is not optional and will result in sanctions while DWP ministers have simultaneously appeared on TV to claim that the work is voluntary and that they have not forced anyone.
Public Interest Lawyers also tell us that:
“The effect of the judgment is that all those people who have been sanctioned by having their jobseeker’s allowance withdrawn for non-compliance with the Back to Work Schemes affected will be entitled to reclaim their benefits. And until new regulations are enacted with proper Parliamentary approval nobody can be compelled to participate on the schemes.”
The two people who brought this case were made to take part in Sector based work Academies and in the Community Action Programme. I do no know whether this judgement affects Work Experience arranged either by the Job Centre or as part of The Work Programme however it does not affect Mandatory Work Activity, which remains legal. It should be noted that some people who refused to co-operate with “voluntary” work experience were referred to Mandatory Work Activity as a result which allowed for sanctions, but this was not covered either.
In a written statement today Minster for Employment Mark Hoban MP said:
“Whilst the judgment supports the principle and policy of our employment schemes, and acknowledges the care and resources we have dedicated to implementing them, the Court of Appeal has ruled that the Jobseeker’s Allowance (Employment, Skills and Enterprise) Regulations 2011 (“the ESE Regulations”) do not describe the employment schemes to which they apply, as is required by the primary legislation. The Court of Appeal has therefore held the ESE Regulations to be ultra vires and quashed them.”
The government has been refused leave to appeal by the Court of Appeal but despite this they have announced that they will appeal to the supreme court to have the judgement overturned. Job Seekers who have been sanctioned by the DWP will not be able to appeal to the DWP for the repayment of their benefits until this has finished. Worryingly the minister also stated that the DWP are “considering a range of options to ensure we do not have to repay these sanctions.” This suggests to me that there will be a hastily enacted act of Parliament to move the scheme from regulations into law, but even then I cannot see how it could be retroactive.
The Judges: Full judgement of the Court Of Appeal [PDF]
The government has blocked the publication of 27 letters from Charles Windsor to Labour ministers over a seven month period between September 2004 and April 2005. In doing this, the Attorney-General Dominic Grieve has overturned the decision of three tribunal judges who last month ruled in favour of a freedom of information request from the Guardian. The judges had ruled that the public had a right to know how Charles had sought to change government policy.
In an extraordianry admission, Grieve argued that releasing the letters “would potentially have undermined [Charles's] position of political neutrality.” The letters, says Grieve, contain the “most deeply held personal views and beliefs” of the heir to the throne and are part of his “preparation for becoming king.”
So much for the myth of a passive, apolitical constitutional monarchy.
We may never know what the “views and beliefs” expressed by Charles in those letters are, but we do know that he holds some profoundly reactionay and downright cranky views on a range of topics from architecture to homeopathy.
The decision to veto the publication of these letters is an affront to democracy; the prospect of an opinionated, political monarch seeking to exert an influence over government policy is an even greater affront.
The would-be Marxist left in Brtitain has, in recent years, tended to down-play the call for the abolition of the Monarchy. At one time that demand, like our insistence upon secularism, was one of the crucial issues that distinguished us from various varieties of reformists and soft-lefties. Now is the time to once again proudly raise the republican banner in Britain.
As for Charles Windsor: he has a perfect right to express his personal opinions if he renounces the throne and becomes a private citizen.
NB: the pressure group Republic has launched a “Royal Secrets Campaign.”
“Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently” – Rosa Luxemburg
An unpleasant-sounding character called Barry Thew wore the t-shirt shown below, in the Manchester area, on the day that two women police officers were murdered there. He has now been given a four month jail sentence for the crime of giving “insult” under Section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act.
Mehdi Hasan, political director of The Huffington Post UK, called for a crackdown on the culture of Islamophobia and argued freedom of speech was not an “absolute right” during a debate on Thursday.
Speaking opposite Times columnist David Aaronovitch at a HuffPost/Polis debate, on the right to offend, Mr Hasan argued free speech was being “fetishized” and claimed many free-speech campaigners in the west were guilty of “brazen hypocrisy.”
“We have a civic duty not to offend others,” he told the a packed audience at the London School of Economics.
“How can you construct a civilised, cohesive society if we go round encouraging everyone to insult each other willy nilly?
“Yes we do have a right to offend but it’s not the same as having a duty to be offensive. You have a responsibility not to go out of your way to piss people off.
“I have the right to fart in a lift, but I don’t do it because it is offensive.
“Some people want the right to be offensive but then get cross when people are offended.”
[NB: Peter Tatchell on the Barry Thew case and "the right to be offensive" here]
Rod Liddle is one of those people, like Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Littlejohn, about whom I rarely comment, here or anywhere else. Partly because these people are such utter cocks that comment is generally otiose. Also because getting lefties and liberals annoyed is exacly what these people aim for (he only does it to annoy / because he knows it teases) and I don’t want to play into their hands.
(Rod Liddle is associate editor of The Spectator. He writes a weekly column in the magazine, as well as contributing to The Sunday Times and The Sun).
Nevertheless, I feel obliged to draw your attention to a piece in this week’s Specator where Mr Liddle appears not just to excuse the sexual exploitation of pupils by teachers, but to confess (or boast) that had he become a teacher…well, read an excerpt for yourself:
“I never found out [what sort of teacher I'd be] because the one thing stopping me from being a teacher was that I could not remotely conceive of not trying to shag the kids. It seemed to me to be virtually impossible not to, and I was convinced that I’d be right in there, on day one. We’re talking secondry school level here, by the way – and even then I don’t think I’d have dabbled much below year ten, as it is now called. I just thought we ought to clear that up early on. At my old comprehensive school a few teachers were known to be schtupping the pupils: one of them, a female teacher who was extremely foxy in a Pot Noodle scuzzy kind of way — she copped off with some fifth-form lad, and another teacher (a man with a guitar and a faux rebellious attitude) gained the affections of an extremely attractive fourth-form girl. As pupils, we didn’t remotely mind about this and both teachers were very popular. But I knew, when I was considering my career options, that this sort of behaviour was definitely frowned upon by the authorities and that I would not last the week in my new job. Frowned upon, although not much more, I ought to say — certainly not the deranged howling that is kicked up these days, the fury and the righteous anger.”
NB: The Sexual Offences Act, 2003 makes it a criminal offence for a teacher to have any form of sexual contact with any pupil at their school who is below the age of 18, even if the pupil is above the legal age of consent. Such “abuse of a position of trust” also applies to carers and trainers of young people under the age of 18 in any other institution.
Free speech is a fine principle and I’m all in favour of it … but it must be exercised responsibly. It’s not a license to gratuitously offend people. In particular, it should not be used to insult people’s sincerely-held beliefs.
How many times have you heard someone on the radio, TV, or quoted in the press, saying something like that? I’m pretty sure there’s been at least one Guardian editorial along those lines as well.
The more sophisticated of those using that sort of argument will usually also bring up the analogy with shouting “fire!” in a crowded theatre.
Well, I say that as soon as you come across someone placing provisos of that kind on their “support” for free speech, you know that you’re dealing with someone who doesn’t really support free speech at all.
Let’s be clear: the principle of free speech is indivisible, all-or-nothing. In particular, it must apply to those you disagree with (supporting free speech for people you agree with doesn’t amount to much does it?) and – in particular – it must include the right to give offence.
We may argue that there’s “a time and place” for certain potentially contentious statements, and that tactically/diplomatically, sometimes it’s better to keep schtum: but that’s nothing to do with the principle of free speech.
We may also conclude that the expression of certain views (for instance, racism) is incompatible with membership of a labour movement organisation – or, indeed, someone’s presence in your own home. Again, that’s besides the point: you’re saying “you can’t express those views here,” not “you can’t express them at all (and will face legal consequences if you do).”
Shouting “fire” in a theatre is, of course, a health and safety issue with nothing fundamentally to do with freedom of speech at all. Just as stopping fascists from holding meetings is pre-emptive action for the protection of the labour movement and minorities, not because we find their views “offensive” (an unfortunately widely-held misconception on sections of the left).
I do accept that the distinction between giving offence and incitement to violence (which is, rightly, illegal) is not always clear-cut. But in the vast majority of situations, common sense tells us which side of the line a particular offensive article or statement falls on.
I remember, when the hysteria about the Satanic Verses first blew up, following Khomenie’s murderous fatwa, a colleague argued that we should defend Rushdie because it was a good piece of literature. I disagreed: we should defend both Rushdie and his right to publish, even if our view was that the book was rubbish. That was, as I recall, one of the few arguments I won against that particular colleague.
Which brings us, inevitably, to the Innocence of Muslims. And as they say, “hard cases make bad law.”
I could spend a long time discussing this, but thankfully Nick Cohen in yesterday’s Observer has said just about everything I wanted to, especially this:
“Innocence of Muslims is one of the hardest cases for liberals I’ve come across. But even this tawdry piece of work raises problems for the proponents of censorship. The first is a problem with language. Mount a critique of Islamist religious fanaticism, and it is only a matter of time before you find that defenders of religious reaction have hijacked liberal language. You are an “orientalist”, they say, an “Islamophobe”, “neo-colonialist” or “neocon”. (The prefix “neo-” has become a synonym for “evil”. The reader need only see a “neo-” to know that no good will follow.)
“The joke of it is that defenders of censorship represent “orientalism” at its most patronising. They see the world’s Muslims as an undifferentiated and infantile mass. The smallest provocation – a cartoon in a Jutland newspaper, a trailer for a nasty but obscure film – is enough to turn them into a raging mass of bearded men who bellow curses as they fire their Kalashnikovs. They take no account of those in Libya, Egypt and Iran who want nothing to do with clerical violence. As seriously, they do not understand that ‘offences against Islam‘ are manufactured by extremists, who must keep their supporters in a state of violent rage or see their power wane.”
The issue of religious censorship and the demand from bigots for special protection and privilege, will not go away and will not be appeased by concessions: it must be constantly fought and no quarter can be given. Perhaps even more pernicious, is the creeping self-censorship and sheer cowardice of ‘liberal’ media people like Channel 4. That’s why, even at this perhaps ‘inopportune’ moment, these brave people and their campaign (below) must be supported by all socialists, democrats and, indeed, principled liberals:
Urgent Action: Islam – The Untold Story must not be cancelled
The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain would like to make public its support for Tom Holland’s Channel 4 documentary ‘Islam: The Untold Story’. We are indignant to learn that due to threats made on Holland, Channel 4 has cancelled a repeat screening of the historical inquiry into the origins of Islam similar to the kind of inquiry that has been applied to other religions and histories in Britain for many years.
The threats and concerted attempt to stigmatise the documentary and its producers by attacking its credibility and even legitimacy as a field of inquiry is nothing less than an attempt to impose a blasphemy taboo by stealth and coercion against programming that scrutinises Islam.
Caving in to the coercive pressure of Islamists will have catastrophic effects on free inquiry and expression where it pertains to Islam. It would not only further silence academic, historical and theological scrutiny of Islam but would also have the chilling effect of exerting added pressure on Muslims and ex-Muslims who wish to dissent from and question Islam.
CEMB spokesperson Maryam Namazie says:
“Here’s my question to Channel 4: what about the threats on our lives for being apostates, ex-Muslims, atheists, freethinkers, secularists, 21st century human beings?
“What part of our thoughts, lives, and bodies do you recommend we cancel to appease the Islamists?
“If only there was such an ‘easy’ ‘solution’ for those who are languishing under Islam’s rules.
“You may accept censorship and cowardly silence in the face of Islamist threats and intimidation but we cannot afford to do so. And we never will.”
We look forward to your support.
1. If you’d like to donate to our work, please send a cheque made payable to CEMB to BM Box 1919, London WC1N 3XX, UK or give via Worldpay or Paypal.
2. If you’d like to join a new coffee morning for ex-Muslim women, please email the CEMB at email@example.com.
5. Addresses for Channel 4 and Ofcom:
Lord Burns, Channel 4 Chairperson Channel 4 Television Corporation 124 Horseferry Road London SW1P 2TX
Avi Grewal, Programme Coordinator, Arts & Religion firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Raphael, Emma Cooper, Lina Prestwood, Anna Miralis, Commissioning Editors, Documentaries KHall@channel4.co.uk
Ed Richards, Chief Executive of Ofcom Riverside House 2a Southwark Bridge Road London SE1 9HA email@example.com
6. For further information contact:
[The remarks occur 21:40 into the video]
Of course, Galloway is not a rape-apologist…any more than he’s an antisemite
Galloway: “I mean not everybody needs to be asked prior to each insertion. Some people believe that when you go to bed with somebody, take off your clothes, and have sex with them and then fall asleep, you’re already in the sex game with them.
“It might be really bad manners not to have tapped her on the shoulder and said, “do you mind if I do it again?”.
“It might be really sordid and bad sexual etiquette, but whatever else it is, it is not rape or you bankrupt the term rape of all meaning.
“I don’t believe either of those women, I don’t believe either of these stories.”
Galloway later defended his remarks on Twitter, claiming that what constitutes a sexual offence in Sweden would not be considered such a crime in the UK:
Former Monty Python star Terry Jones has also taken to Twitter to defend Assange:
A spokesman for Rape Crisis said: “It is clear from George Galloway’s comments that his legal understanding of rape is factually incorrect.
“Having had consensual sex with someone once does not mean a woman has forever forfeited her right to withdraw or refuse her consent to further sex with that person.
“Sex without consent is rape. Mr. Galloway’s description of sexual violence as ‘really bad manners’, as well as his apparent ignorance of the law, is offensive and deeply concerning.”
Extracted from Huffington Post
Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way:
1/ People are innocent until proven guilty, and that applies to Andy Coulson as much as to anyone else.
2/ I believe Tommy Sheridan perjured himself in court in December 2010; in my opinion anyone who doubts that must be blinded by irrational loyalty to Sheridan and/or willful disregard of the evidence.
Having said all that, it’s good to see Cameron’s former director of communications being held to account for (allegedly) lying on oath about his knowledge of phone hacking at the News of the World while he was the editor.
What I fail to understand, and I invite readers with a more sophisticated grasp of the law (specifically Scottish law) than mine to explain, is how these allegations against Coulson, even if proven, show that Sheridan’s conviction is unsafe (something that his supporters and Tom Watson MP are claiming).
The allegation against Coulson is that when he was called as a defence witness, by Sheridan, to give evidence at the 2010 trial, he lied about his knowledge of the hacking operation carried out against Sheridan by Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator hired by the News of the World.
Sheridan was convicted by a majority verdict at the High Court over his evidence, in which he’d denied lying to former comrades in the Scottish Socialist Party about his private life when he sued the News of the World in 2006 for libel.
Even if charges are brought against Coulson (they haven’t been yet) and a court finds him guilty, how does that call into question, in any way, the perjury conviction against Sheridan? How would it be relevant to the specific grounds on which Sheridan was found to be guilty? This has yet to be explained. Or rather, the only explanation so far offered by Sheridan supporters, simply doesn’t make sense: they say that a conviction for perjury requires not only someone to have lied on oath but for the lie to have materially affected the outcome of the trial. If that is so (and at least some people with knowledge of Scottish law disgaree), then it seems highly unlikely that Coulson will be convicted.
The other fairly obvious point that Sheridan’s supporters seem to have ignored is this: is it not possible that Sheridan and Coulson both committed perjury?