Wednesday 24 April 2024

The Nuremberg Defence


Some lawyers are saying that any civil servants who assist the government in breaching international law (in this case, by ignoring injunctions from the European Court of Human Rights) will be personally liable for their actions. The PM has responded by saying that “civil servants will be expected to follow ministerial guidance” – even if that guidance is known to be unlawful. Presumably, he thinks that the civil servants, should they subsequently find themselves up before a judge somewhere or other, will use the defence that they were ‘only following orders’. The civil servants involved would be well advised to do a little research on what has become known as the ‘Nuremberg Defence’ before relying on it. History is not on the side of those who try it.

Notwithstanding Sunak’s talk of flights within 8 – 10 weeks, and even if they’re telling the truth (which, based on experience, seems unlikely) about having lined up an airport, some charter planes, sufficient trained security guards and a load of courts and judges, the chances of any actually taking off before an autumn election, let alone deterring anyone, still look pretty slim. Supposing that they do manage it, while Sunak seems to believe that film of planes taking off will excite his diminishing target group of voters it’s reasonable to wonder whether film of handcuffed refugees being forcibly carried onto aeroplanes will appeal to quite so many. No matter how hard they try (and they will) to prevent such footage becoming public, it’s doubtful that their efforts will be successful for long, or that the public reaction will be quite as positive as he hopes. Telling us that those involved are ‘only following orders’ isn’t likely to help.

1 comment:

Spirit of BME said...

It will be a cold day in Hell if we see civil servants in the dock.
The Nurenberg Defence failed in the first part of the court hearing ,as they could not find any law under the National Socialist State that they had broken.
So, they had to regroup and get other laws that they could stick on them. This in turn caused a problem in that the defendants stated that in the case of `aggressive waging of war` the Allies had done exactly the same (usually the USSR) but this was ignored.
Eventually, the Alles gave up and realised that they needed all the civil servants they could get to rebuild the country.