King John, modelling his Magna Carta hair
I’m not the man to give you learned commentary on the Court of Appeal’s judgment in the Occupy LSX eviction case. I don’t think there’s much call for the in house view on public law issues.
I am, however, absolutely the man to poke fun at Paul Randle-Jollliffe. Here are paragraphs 29-31 of the Occupy LSX judgment:
29. With the exception of Ms Samede, the defendants making the present applications are seeking to set aside all the orders made by Lindblom J, on the basis that they contend that the Judge ought not to have found for the City at all, but should have dismissed the claim and allowed the Camp to continue in place. It is convenient to deal first with one or two rather esoteric arguments raised by Mr Randle-Jolliffe.
30. First, he challenged the judgment on the ground that it did not apply to him, as a ‘Magna Carta heir’. But that is a concept unknown to the law. He also says that his ‘Magna Carta rights’ would be breached by execution of the orders. But only chapters 1, 9 and 29 of Magna Carta (1297 version) survive. Chapter 29, with its requirement that the state proceeds according to the law, and its prohibition on the selling or delaying of justice, is seen by many as the historical foundation for the rule of law in England, but it has no bearing on the arguments in this case. Somewhat ironically, the other two chapters concern the rights of the Church and the City ofLondon, and cannot help the defendants. Mr Randle-Jolliffe also invokes ‘constitutional and superior law issues’ which, he alleges, prevail over statutory, common law, and human rights law. Again that is simply wrong – at least in a court of law.
31. Another ground he raised was the contention that the City had no locus standi to bring the proceedings ‘as the current Mayoral position has been previously usurped by the Guilds and Aldermen in Contravention of the City ofLondon’s 1215 Royal Charter’. We do not understand that point, not least because both the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen and Guilds (through the Commonalty and Citizens) are included in the claimants.
I’m rather fond of the dry manner in which the judiciary respond to “esoteric arguments”. What those of a more excitable temperament might call “batshit crazy”, Lord Justice Burnton calls “a concept unknown to the law”.
One wonders what “a Magna Carta heir” might be, if such a concept existed. The estimable Scrapper Duncan (who is a member of the Occupy LSX legal team) suggests that Randle-Jolliffe attempted to introduce his family tree into proceedings, which raises the possibility that he means that he is of baronial descent (never mind that the greater proportion of the population can say the same after the 20-odd generations that have passed since the Magna Carta).
On the other hand, this suggestion from Adam Wagner makes just as much sense:
An insistence on the currency of thirteenth century charters is, of course, a trope of the Freeman on the Land woo theory. Whether or not Mr Randle-Jolliffe would describe himself as such I do not know, but a brief consultation with Doctor Google shows that he is a serial maker of bizarre Freedom of Information requests and “a practising Lay Law/Legal Advocate in Family Law and other areas of law”.
Many of those FOI requests allege bias and fraud in the administration of family law, which is an area where we have seen Freemen and their fellow-travellers before. Thankfully, however, the voters of the Isle of Wight contained their alarm at the prospect of “state kidnapping” and did not return Mr Randle-Jolliffe when he stood for Parliament there in 2010.
I should make it clear that the title of this post is intended as a joke, and that I do not believe that Paul Randle-Jolliffe is representative of the Occupy movement or even of any significant strand of opinion within it. ScrapperDuncan’s analysis of the judgment and of Mr Randle-Jolliffe’s role in the appeal is a useful corrective to that view.
But it is a shame that this peddler of arrant woo is able to attach his name to the Occupy cause in a public setting, especially as he is not the only such person to have done so. There is a real risk that this reinforces a view that the movement is animated by irrational political and social views, and can be safely marginalised and disregarded.
On the other hand, it may be of some benefit that the sheer wrongness of woo theory is highlighted by the courts from time to time, to the extent that it deters some who might otherwise be attracted by its claims of efficacy in legal disputes.
It is doubtful, however, that being called “simply wrong” will deter Mr Randle-Jolliffe from his beliefs. For the true believers, the refusal of the courts to recognise their own illegitimacy merely demonstrates that self-same illegitimacy.
But then I’m a corporate shill, so I would say that, wouldn’t I?