‘Our Democracy and the Rule of Law: Who is Threatening Them, and Why?’, 24 November 2020

Oxford for Europe virtual meeting with Jessica Simor QC and Peter Jukes

Jointly hosted by Oxford for Europe and Grassroots For Europe

To watch the Video click here:

This meeting is about major current threats to our democracy.

Under the UK’s current Vote Leave regime, it seems that that violating and disrespecting the rule of law and the democratic scrutiny of legislation are now core parts of our rulers’ brand identity.

Dominic Cummings’ well-advertised hatred of impartial civil servants and principled politicians also extends to judges and lawyers, or at least to all those who, particularly in the name of human rights, are seen to place obstacles in the path of the People’s Will.

Recently we have seen:
– Attempts to deny parliament a vote on Article 50,
– The illegal prorogation of parliament,
– The ‘Henry VIII’ powers allowing ministers to make law by decree,
– The announced intention to curb judicial review of executive decisions,
– The overt proposal to permit ministers to violate binding treaty obligations and
– The reckless corruption and nepotism of pandemic-related procurement.
Are these all part of a concerted strategy, and if so who has devised it, where has it come from and where is it intended to take us?

We put this and other questions to our two distinguished panellists, the barrister and rights campaigner Jessica Simor QC, and the dramatist, journalist and newspaper publisher Peter Jukes

Jessica Simor

Recognised as one of the country’s leading public lawyers, with particular expertise in EU and human rights law, Jessica acts for a wide range of clients, from large companies, regulators, Government departments/the United Kingdom, other States, NGOs, to private individuals. She has particular expertise in EU data protection/e-commerce, tax law (particularly in the administrative court), regulatory, environmental and competition law.

She regularly appears in international and domestic courts, with 15 cases in the Supreme Court, numerous cases in Luxembourg and Strasbourg. She is currently acting for Friends of the Earth in its challenge to the UK Government’s decision to lend $1.15bn to Total in respect of a LNG platform in Mozambique.  She represented Bloomsbury College in relation to the OfS’s refusal to grant it registration under the new higher education regime.  Other cases include the Brexit litigation:  Miller 1 (parliamentary approval for Article 50); Good Law Project (challenge to Electoral Commission closing its investigation into Vote Leave); and Wilson (challenge to the PM’s decision to ignore the illegality of Vote Leave and Leave. EU, as well as potential Russian interference in the referendum).  She acted for Open Rights Group and Privacy International in the DRIPA litigation in Luxembourg (Davis and Watson).

Prior to taking Silk in 2013 she was a member of the Attorney General’s A Panel of Counsel. She is editor of ‘Human Rights Practice’, a qualified mediator, was in 2016 UK nominee for Judge at the European Court of Human Rights, is Vice Chair or Bar European Group and the Bar Council EU Law Committee and a member of the Council of ‘Justice’.

Jessica was a candidate for Change UK in the 2019 European parliamentary elections.

She is an alumna of St Catherine’s College, Oxford.

Home page: https://www.matrixlaw.co.uk/member/jessica-simor/

On twitter: https://twitter.com/JMPSimor

Peter Jukes

Peter is a highly respected author, journalist, screenwriter, blogger and activist. He has numerous radio and TV credits, including In Deep and Waking the dead.

His book A Shout in the Street (1990) is a series of essays and montages about modernity and city life, centred on London, Paris, Saint Petersburg and New York City, which was commended by John Berger a “dream of a book”. Jukes also co-authored, along with Anna Whyatt, Stephen O’Brien and the sociologist Manuel Castells, the monograph Creative Capital: 21st Century Regions.

During the 1980s and 90s Jukes was involved in the investigations around the cash for questions scandal.

During the News International phone hacking scandal trial of Rebekah Brooks, Andy Coulson and others, Peter Jukes used the crowdfunding tool Indiegogo to raise donations to allow him to livetweet the trial from start to finish. He was awarded Reporter of the Year on social media by the Press Gazette for this work.

He is co-founder and executive editor of the Byline Times to which he is a prolific contributor, particularly on the theme of unmasking illegal behaviour in high places. He has been described as ‘The Mo Farah of Citizen Journalism’

He spoke previously at an Oxford For Europe meeting in March 2019.

In his own words: “I’ve always had a passion for story-telling, and ability to get people to talk, but in recent years I feel journalism changes the world more than fiction – and I love the engagement with sources, other journalists, and readers on social media”

Website: http://www.peterjukes.com

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/peterjukes

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