29 Oct 2016

MGM: Is Bob Neill MP, Chair, Justice Committee, (A) Unaware Of The Legal Position, (B) Unaware And Unwilling To Find Out, Or (C) Aware, But Refuses To Admit It?

By Mike Buchanan, J4MB: Since the launch of Campaign for Merit in Business in early 2012, and the launch of J4MB in early 2013, our repeated attempts to engage with politicians, including government ministers, and government departments, have proven fruitless. When we’ve been permitted to formally engage, such as giving oral evidence to a House of Commons inquiry on ‘Women in the Workplace’ in 2012 – video (56:49) here – our factual evidence has been ignored, or rejected without explanation. This simply reinforces our conviction that we must make as large an impact as possible at general elections, and just before Xmas I’ll be starting three and a half years of campaigning in Theresa May’s constituency, Maidenhead.
We keep devoting time and effort to attempting engagement anyway, if only because we’re building up an ever-growing database of evidence of governments’ disinterest in men’s human rights. A supreme example happened today.
Last Monday – four days ago – I mailed a letter to Bob Neill MP (C, Bromley & Chislehurst), who’s the Chair of the Justice Committee. He’s also a barrister – who could be in a better position to engage with the point about MGM being illegal? His short dismissive response is here. The key extract:

You claim the practice is unlawful, but I am neither a judge nor a legal adviser and cannot comment on correct interpretation of the law.
This is remarkable. The ‘correct interpretation of the law’ would be obvious to a first-year law student – MGM is illegal under the Ofences Against the Person Act 1861 and (many would say) earlier Common Law. So, is Bob Neill MP, Chair, Justice Committee:
(a) unaware of the legal position, or
(b) unaware and unwilling to find out, or
(c) aware, but refuses to admit it?
I cannot think of other alternatives, please send a comment if you can. All the alternatives show him in a poor light, but particularly (b) and (c).
In my letter I wrote of our protests in Luton, Golders Green, and elsewhere, and:

We are prepared to risk violence and even death in pursuit of an end to MGM in the UK.
Any right-minded reader would surely interpret the statement as meaning that protestors, not those who oppose us, will be at risk of violence and even death. Yet Bob Neill disingenuously replied to the point with the following, uses it as part of his reason for declining a meeting:

I note with great concern your willingness ‘to risk violence and even death in pursuit of an end to MGM in the UK’. I hope this is merely an accident of language, but such expressions could be interpreted as threatening: I urge you to take greater care in how you convey your position.

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