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Thursday, 7 April 2011
"John Hemming MP - Making A Stand For Joe Public"
John Hemming MP
here it is the official press release................................................. John Hemming MP, has referred four cases of hyper injunctions involving three judges to The Speaker for him to allow a debate to refer the cases to the Standards ...and Privileges Committee.
"Following the widespread messages of support from across the country for action on these issues I have written to The Speaker calling for 'precedence' to be given for a reference to the Standards and Privileges Committee".
The debate, which could not occur until parliament restarts after Easter, is the first step in a process which could result in three judges being imprisoned in St Stephen's Tower (Big Ben's tower) for banning people from talking to Members of Parliament.
"The Four cases", said Mr Hemming, "are the two from Yardley involving Andrew France and a 26 year old constituent who is imprisoned in a care home. These are cases where His Honour Judge Martin Cardinal is involved. Then there is the hyper injunction from 2006 which involved the cover up of the possibility of poisonous drinking water on passenger ships. This involves Her Honour Justice Steele. The fourth involves His Honour Judge Warnock who banned Jerry Lonsdale from talking to me in 2009."
Contempt of Parliament proceedings have not been very common in recent years. The last case was in 2010 when Withers LLP were found in Contempt of Parliament because of threats they had made against John Hemming MP about a constituency issue relating to the Swan Shopping Centre in Yardley.
Historically, however, many people have been jailed by the House of Commons which was traditionally a high court. The records of the House of Commons make it clear that people have an "inalienable right" to talk to Members of Parliament in order to petition the King.
Article 5 of the Bill of Rights 1688 states: "That it is the right of the subjects to petition the king, and all commitments and prosecutions for such petitioning are illegal". One route towards petitioning the king is through parliament and starts by people approaching a Member of Parliament.
In 1624 the House of Commons acted to protect the Master of the Felt-makers who was arrested to stop him approaching parliament. In 1696 Thomas Kemp and other Hackney Carriage drivers were arrested because of them being involved in proceedings in parliament. The person responsible for the arrest (Richard Gee) was imprisoned by parliament. In 1699 John Kelly was imprisoned for providing information to MPs about malpractice by the Commissioners of Victualling. The House of Commons acted to protect him.
"I do not expect the House of Commons to imprison the judges", said Mr Hemming, "but it is important that the House acts to protect citizens today. It is interesting to note that the "subjects" of the 17th century were more protected by the House of Commons than citizens have been today. Parliament needs to make a stand to say that it refuses to be deafened or blinded."
There are a number of steps by which the House of Commons looks at cases of contempt of parliament. Firstly there is a motion to refer the matter to the Standards and Privileges Committee. Then the Committee does an investigation and reports to the House of Commons. At that point the House of Commons may pass a resolution which could imprison someone until the end of the parliamentary session.
The last time this happened the law firm concerned Withers LLP apologised before the Committee looked at the issue. The Committee, therefore, accepted the apology and no further action occurred.