The WikiLeaks founder has the right barrister

Ben Chu

Geoffrey Robertson QC 001 150x150 The WikiLeaks founder has the right barrister I wrote a profile of Geoffrey Robertson QC, the barrister who will be acting for Julian Assange as he fights extradition to Sweden, in Saturday’s Independent. Annoyingly, but alas not unusually, the real significance of Robertson’s involvement in the case only struck me after I’d filed.

There is a pattern to Robertson’s career. He doesn’t necessarily win all the cases he is involved in, and yet he tends to prevail. That sounds contradictory, but let me explain what I mean.

Robertson’s first case was the Oz trial in 1971, in which the magazine was accused of  ”corrupting public morals”. The Oz editors were actually convicted under the Obscene Publications Act. But they were acquitted on appeal. And such was the outcry over the original trial result that police more or less gave up trying to bring such cases against subversive magazines. The verdict did not go Robertson’s way, but it ultimately turned into an important victory against state censorship.

In 1995, Robertson was involved in the prosecution of the former Malawian dictator Hastings Banda, who was accused of  ordering the murder of opposition politicians. Banda was acquitted. But the case helped to establish the principle that repressive national leaders should not be immune from prosecution. Seven years later, in 2002, the International Criminal Court, which Robertson had long pressed for, was established.

The key to Robertson’s success is not just his skill in the courtroom, but his knack of getting involved in cases that will generate publicity and support for his liberal political agenda.

The Matrix Churchill trial is another example of the oblique way Robertson reaches his goals . This was ostensibly a simple defence of businessmen who were accused of illegally selling weapons to Saddam Hussein. But the case ultimately led to the Scott Report, which exposed double dealing and hypocrisy by Conservative ministers and showed how state secrecy conflicts with justice.

I think this is relevant to the Assange case. Robertson might not be able to prevent the WikiLeaks founder being deported, yet it makes a lot of sense for Assange to have him involved. Causes that Robertson supports (and Assange feels that he is being persecuted for championing open government) tend to prevail in the end.

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  • Ciaran Rehill

    Let us hope he shines light upon the allegations of Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilen.

  • DennisHorne

    Shine the light: will this be a classic two-slit experience resulting in an interference pattern?

  • Juan Jalabanero

    Thanks, Ben, for both articles. Great, but you stopped short and did not tell us what exactly these “Causes that Robertson supports” are.

    Causes that Robertson supports (and Assange feels that he is being persecuted for championing open government) tend to prevail in the end.

    Freedom from persecution by the super powerul, the right to be assumed innocent until proven guilty and therefore treated equally as other accused for the same alleged crime (e.g. in terms of confinement, access to a computer, bail, etc), etc. or just to provide defence for a vague sex offence?

    Why is he the right lawyer? because of his own beliefs about freedom of speech, his interest and skills in cases involving international matters or …?

  • Grier Govorko

    That’s it?
    He did some stuff that was…o.k in the end. And um…he usually prevails. Well thanks for the in-depth analysis of Geoffrey Robertson QC. It was fantastic.

  • Grier Govorko

    Ok – I apologize. I just read the profile you’d written previously. Please accept my most humble of apologies.

  • C Frechette

    this Founder of Wikileaks isn`t responsible for the aligations being brought against him, I wonder what these women are being paid by Obama for saying these things

  • C Frechette

    I am hopefull that this lawyer will be able to releas the founder of Wikileaks from all charges due to the fact that he is not responsible for the aligations being brought against him, I have noticed that these charges where done after the Wikileaks Cables began to be published. This is an open case of conspiracy which U.S.A is already knowen for. It is also an infringment upon our rights for freedom of speech and freedom of rights. I do believe that we are to know what is going on in each of our countries. I am right now so sorry for Iran for it is knowen that they are not the one`s who hit the twin towers but Arabia did, their has already been countless amount of inoccent lives lost already for something that Arabia did, and United States knew this. Their are many other countries being conspired against by United States. I hope all countries that are being conspired against will defend the founder of Wikileaks and not allow him to go to United States. That is for our sakes.

  • chwol

    It’s got to be good news -Robertson, a historic creature

  • xuiah lex

    kenya is ripe enough to feature in all the magazines.i wont mind snoops or rather “paparazzi”as its locally known.but news can be good if proven real,so let them watch out

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