This Press Release summarises the decision of the Australian Government Not To Support the case for pardons
The Rule of Law and ‘Breaker’’ Morant Compromised !!
The decision of the Australian Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, not to proceed with either an appeal to the British Government or a public enquiry into the “Morant Affair” was regretful and a failure to appreciate the principles of law, procedure and due process. Jim Unkles’campaign since 2009 to overturn the convictions and sentences in order to obtain posthumous pardons for the descendants of Morant, Handock and Witton will continue.
Roxon overturned a finding by her predecessor, Robert McClelland, who went on the public record in August 2011 as saying, “…I have been persuaded in large part by the work you and Mr Denton have undertaken, that this case does raise procedural fairness concerns… I want to be sure that the British Government is aware that questions exist as to whether the men received fair treatment, in accordance with the standards accepted at that time.”
“It beggars belief that two Attorneys General, can interpret the same Departmental brief in such an entirely contrary manner. The very obvious legal flaws that were apparent to Mr McClelland must have been apparent to Ms Roxon, yet she, the Chief Law Officer, has chosen not to deal with them, I wonder why”
In his written submission to the Attorney-General Mr Unkles, backed by respected Melbourne lawyer, David Denton SC, maintained that the passing of time and the fact that Morant, Handcock and Witton are deceased does not diminish the errors and these injustices must be addressed to demonstrate respect to the rule of law. Mr Unkles contended that the issue is not whether Morant and Hadcock shot Boer prisoners, which they admitted to, but whether they were properly represented and Military Law properly and evenly applied. Although Morant, Handcock and Witton admitted shooting Boer prisoners they were not the only ones, yet they were the only ones punished. Furthermore, were following orders – orders which, according to British military legal documents, did exist. Superior orders were a legitimate defence in 1902 according to the British Manual Military Law.
“All the inherent problems of the Attorney General also being a politician are evident in this letter. In an age where political policy seems to be driven by polling, it appears the Attorney General was more concerned with consensus and what people might think, rather than matters of legal principles.” Frankly, it has a Julian Assange ‘stench about it’, politics over legal principles and justice!
“It has been clear for 110 years that there are very divergent opinions on this case and a public enquiry would have allowed all parties to have their say and a retired judge to rule on its legal merits.”
‘’The losers in this decision are the descendants of three veterans and all those who believe in the rule of law’.
“’Nicola Roxon was very concerned about the morality of advocating on behalf of the three Australians, yet made no mention of the morality of the British authorities who denied Morant, Handcock and Witton the legal rights they were entitled to, including a right to appeal death sentences – according to laws and procedures enshrined in the British Manual of Military Law 1902.”
Morant and Handcock were the first and last Australians to be executed during wartime and a century later it remains one of Australia’s most enduring military controversies. Opinion polls have consistently shown that around 80% of Australians feel the men were denied fair trials and were made scapegoats for the illegal and corrupt policies of the British military prosecuting a brutal war in South Africa.
However, Mr Unkles has insisted that this is not the end of the road in the campaign to get justice for the three Australians. He now intends to take judicial appeal action in the British courts to challenge the convictions and sentences of 1902
“I have exhausted all the possibilities and avenues of appeal with regard to the British and Australian governments and the Queen. Consequently, I will be lodging an appeal in the British High Court in London.”
“I look forward to finally having this case reviewed purely on its legal merits without political interference and agendas to appease interests. This controversy was created in a court of law and its only fitting that it should be resolved there.”