I post here copy of the letter I have just sent to Mr Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, UK regarding their Spokesperson’s public comment about Julian Assange. It is self explanatory. I used the electronic submission system here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/contact.aspx and I am posting a papercopy to his address in Great George street today.
I am also posting a copy of my complaint with a cover letter to my local MP.
From: Mrs Emmy ****
Mr Nick Clegg
Leader of the Liberal Democrats
8-10 Great George Street
Dear Mr Clegg 10th June 2012
On the 9th of June 2012, I attended the “Anti ACTA and Digital Economy Act March – and the new menace CISPA (LONDON)” outside Europe House, 32 Smith Square, SW1P 2EU.
I have a complaint to make about the conduct of a Liberal Democrat representative- Ms Bridget Fox- and a comment she made during this public demonstration.
More than 100 people attended the event both members of the public, campaigners, journalists, politicians and activists. Ms Bridget Fox had given an eloquent speech on the topic and I approached her afterwards with a flyer that I was distributing in support of Julian Assange, the editor in chief of WikiLeaks. As Ms Fox took the flyer she stated: “I will read it but I have no time for sex offenders”.
I was shocked at this statement. The facts of the case are that Sweden has issued a European Arrest Warrant and an Interpol Red Notice in order to further investigate four allegations of sexual offences. No charges have been filed against Julian Assange. Her statement was both inaccurate and prejudicial.
At the end of the speeches I approached Ms Fox again and she acknowledged she had made a flippant remark. I pointed out the inaccuracies of the statement, offering again my leaflet where there are sources for more information on his case. At this point Ms Fox said that what she had said was her opinion, that she was entitled to her own opinion and that we should agree to disagree. Then I explained that in her position of authority as Lib Dem representative, her remarks can influence people, I said “How about if I were a journalist and reported your words”. I was obviously concerned about the impact that her remarks would make on creating prejudice on the case. But her reply was “Thank you for your interest in my concern but this is my opinion and you can quote me on that”. She stated “you can quote me on that” several times.
This is an alarming indication of a blatant disregard of judicial due process and it is exactly statements like this made by public persons in positions of authority that can prejudice legal cases as well as smear the reputation of people involved.
Upon my return home I looked up Ms Fox’s name on the internet. I understand that she “has been trusted by the party as a spokesperson on national TV and radio and in national newspapers… As well as representing the Liberal Democrats in meetings across London,” (http://www.bridgetfox.org.uk/)
Ms Fox is an official spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats and an experienced politician; it is alarming that she should feel it appropriate to make litigious statements such as this in a public setting which she has been invited to because of her political capacity.
Importantly, Ms Fox was not attending the event as a lay person, she was clearly there representing the Liberal Democrats and she should acknowledge that any statement she made in this public forum would assume a position of authority beyond that of personal opinion. Labelling someone who has not been charged with any offense a ‘sex offender’ has clear slanderous implications and is highly inappropriate for Ms Fox to feel she should be entitled to make such a reference at a public event.
Furthermore, this experience highlights to me a blatant hypocrisy practiced by some politicians who with a microphone on their hands addressing a crowd and with the cameras fixed upon them declare themselves champions of the rights of the individual but 2 minutes later off air but still within the hearing of many of their audience are ready to tramp upon the rights of an individual, such as Mr Assange’s right to a fair trial.
I would therefore like to ask you if you would be so kind as to address my concerns regarding Ms Fox’s statement about Julian Assange:
1. I strongly feel that Ms Fox was wrong in making this statement in a public forum where she was attending on behalf of your party. I request that she publicly acknowledges this mistake and publicly retracts her comment in terms of its factual inaccuracy and slanderous implications.
2. I would like you to clarify the Liberal Democrats position in relation to Julian Assange and the related controversy surrounding UK extradition legislation by issuing an official statement.
3. Finally I request that you offer re-assurances that the Liberal Democrat Party will stand firm in protecting any person’s (including Mr Assange’s) fundamental human right to a fair trial and that this right will not be hampered by prejudicial statements made by people representing your party.
I attach the flyer “Statement of Support for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks” produced by “Friends of WikiLeaks” that I passed on to Mrs Fox for your information. I thank you for your time.
* personal details have been blanked out for privacy reasons but the complaint has been done eponymously.