Please join me in requesting a larger court room for the next Westminster Magistrates Court Hearing scheduled for January 2020! Write to To:
Southlondonmc@justice.gov.uk with Cc to Courts and Tribunals Media Access Working Group firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
I append my latest e-mail to them:
Myself and other grassroots Human Rights activists were once again unable to attend last Case Management hearing in the Julian Assange US extradition Case on 19th December 2019 due to lack of available space in the public gallery.
Furthermore, during the last court hearing the Court’s Clerks prevented people who queued inline for hours outside the court building and the Court room from giving up their seats to allow two medical observers to attend the hearing. Dr Marco Chiesa MD FRCPsych Consultant Psychiatrist and Visiting Professor, UCL Dr David Morgan DClinPsych MSc Fellow of British Psychoanalytic Society Psychoanalyst Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Consultant Psychotherapist had taken time off from busy schedules to take up two seats at the public gallery to observe Julian Assange and report on his condition.
Here are the two doctors speaking to Ruptly outside the court about the reason they wished to attend and that they were not allowed to attend:
Sevim Dağdelen, member of the Bundestag for the Left Party, who was on site as a process observer described how:
“The courtroom had only 13 seats. Many who wanted to be process observers had to stay outside. The representative of the German embassy and I were almost turned away, but in the end we got standing room. It seemed to me that the court would pick out the people who wanted it with them. I know this method from Turkey: The most important negotiations are carried out in small courtrooms, although there are also halls for 100 spectators. In a case of this scope, access for international process observers must be guaranteed. For the extradition process in February, 25 MPs from twelve countries have agreed to be on-site as process observers. However, it is unclear whether the court will allow this at all.”
All this demonstrates that arrangements at the court are not fit for purpose to handle the public interest in this high profile case with potentially devastating consequences for press freedom and freedom of expression if Mr Assange is extradited to the USA. Ms Rosie Sylvester (Team Leader, International Jurisdiction Office|HMCTS|Westminster Magistrates Court) explained to me on the 18th of December that only Court 3 has the capacity of video link with Belmarsh prison. This situation is simply not good enough with regards to Court access for the public and the press whose numbers are also also extremely restricted due to space limitations and who end up taking up space from the public gallery.
It is unacceptable to have a situation where people are turned away from Court wanting to exercise their Constitutional right in accessing a public hearing. Furthermore, it de facto excludes a wide range of Professional people who wish to attend court as specialist observers but may not be converse with such limited conditions of court access and are unaware that they have to come queue at 6 am in the morning outside the court building to get a change to pass through security at 9 am when the court building opens and then go scrum to queue again for another hour outside the designated court room 3 with its 13 seats and 2 standing places for a chance of attending competing with dozens of others.
I have been ringing the court and writing to you about the limitation of court access since the very beginning of Julian Assange’s case unfolding at Westminster Magistrates Court, in all these months I have see practically no improvement in the situation and I am at a loss in understanding how the court has been unable to find an effective solution to the problem. Am I to think that this situation remains unresolved deliberately?
Yesterday I called the court to confirm the court hearing dates for January. I was advised that the only Court hearing, an Administrative one, was scheduled for the 14th and that no Case Management Hearing has been scheduled so far and no room has been booked. During last court hearing the 23rd of January was presented as the next Case Management Hearing.
Could you perhaps confirm whether a different larger venue has been set for the next Case Management hearing?
Mrs Emilia Butlin