What are the Conservative Party talking points on Julian Assange?

We have been writing rigorously to our MPs lobbying in support of Julian Assange. Just like standard e-mails are being sent to them, so do MPs send standard letters as replies to us, often via their assistants. What are the Conservative Party talking points possibly issued by party whips for Conservative Members of Parliament to follow?

The replies of three Conservative Members of Parliament Julia Lopez (Hornchurch and Upminster), Grant Shapps ( Welwyn Hatfield), Stuart Anderson (Wolverhampton South West) and Maria Miller (Basingstoke)  to their Constituents give us a clue:

  • The government was encouraged to see the situation in the Ecuadorean embassy finally come to an end. Ecuador’s actions recognise that the UK’s criminal justice system is one in which rights are protected and in which, contrary to what Mr Assange and his supporters may claim, he and his legitimate interests will be protected.
  • In May 2019, as a result of Mr Assange’s failure to surrender in relation to his extradition proceedings, he was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison.
  • The then Home Secretary signed an extradition warrant, following a request by the US Department of Justice. In making this decision, the then Home Secretary had limitations on what could be considered, in line with the Crime and Courts Act 2013; judgments on human rights or health issues can only be made in court.
  • Due to the Coronavirus outbreak the extradition hearing for this case has now been delayed.
  • Julian Assange is currently held on remand and under these circumstances, it is for the courts to determine whether an individual should be granted bail or remain in custody.
  • Journalists play a vital role in our society and must be free at all times to do their jobs without fear. The Minister for Media and Data made this clear recently when he signed the public statement issued by the National Union of Journalists, calling for the freedom of the press to be respected and protected. As he said, “Journalism is a bedrock of democracy and those who are keeping our communities informed and holding the powerful to account must not be intimidated or threatened as they carry out their work. We stand with journalists and will do all we can to support them in doing their jobs without fear or favour.”
  • Julian Assange health in prison – Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service is responsible for ensuring those detained in prison have access to the NHS. As with all NHS patients it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the personal health of an individual prisoner. However, we are confident that Julian Assange’s Prison Governor continues to work closely with the NHS to support the health and wellbeing of Mr Assange and other prisoners alike.

So how can we overcome the standard replies containing government talking points and instead engage in a real dialogue with our elected Member of Parliament in this issue? I would like to know what you think, please post your ideas below.

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5 Responses to What are the Conservative Party talking points on Julian Assange?

  1. Allen Jasson says:

    Thank you Emmy. I have already taken an angry knee-jerk response by replying to Grant Shapps’ underling berating his pathetic, party-scripted reply.
    “Dear Mr ,
    I have just discovered something that I find extremely insulting.
    I was already rather annoyed that Mr Shapps had chosen to brush me off by having an underling draft an insipid response to my email.
    It’s a serious matter. I had taken the trouble to write with the intention of informing my representative in parliament about matters of great importance to Britain both within and without, now and in the future regarding our freedom of the press, the quality of our democratic system and our justice system, not to mention the rights and dignity of Julian Assange, who has put his own life on the line to protect those things.
    However, I have since discovered the following:
    Reply to Constituent on behalf of Julia Lopez MP of Upminster and Hornchurch
    Firstly, may I apologise for the time it has taken to respond to you. We have been receiving a significant volume of correspondence at this time and we have had to prioritise those most urgent cases related primarily to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. I also note your request for Julia to sign EDM 719. I should advise that Julia is unable to sign EDMs as a government minister as this would likely break the ministerial code.
    The government was encouraged to see the situation in the Ecuadorean embassy finally come to an end. Ecuador’s actions recognise that the UK’s criminal justice system is one in which rights are protected and in which, contrary to what Mr Assange and his supporters may claim, he and his legitimate interests will be protected.
    Not only has Julia Lopez taken the same approach as Grant Shapps to what is a critically important matter but also the opening paragraph contains a bare-faced lie. (See Wikipedia: “Shortly after the 2005 general election, 412 of the 646 MPs signed EDM 178 calling for a Climate Change Bill;[4] only three other early day motions had ever been signed by more than 400 MPs.[5]”.
    More to the point, it contains EXACTLY the same paragraph transcribed word-for-word that you included in your response to me, which I have highlighted in red.
    Mr Shapps is supposed to be representing ME and the rest of the people in this constituency in which I live. His role is NOT to placate me and fob me off when I express my concerns over important matters in order that I do not impede the progress of plans set out for the government by a foreign power.
    In my view we are potentially talking here about treason.
    As with the Iraq War we had a PM who shamelessly lied to take this country into an American war for the benefit of Israel. Today we have a PM who is willing to turn a blind eye to the worst possible corruption of our justice system in order to satisfy the vindictive, psychotic appetite for vengeance of that same foreign power and its thoroughly corrupt administration against a man who has courageously exposed that corruption.
    Here we have an MP in Grant Shapps who is willing to play the fool and sing from the hymn book provided with shameless disregard for the concerns of the constituents he is supposed to represent in parliament.
    I am thoroughly disgusted.
    Sincerely,
    Allen L.Jasson”
    However, I’m thinking hard about what can be done in a more considered way.
    Angry as it was, my reply nevertheless addressed the issues and took the underling (and Shapps) to task directly both on their pathetic, cowardly singing from the party-hymn-book and the failed logic of the response in that it is not appropriate to trust all to the legal system when the legal system has been compromised. This is demonstrably the case in both cause (Conflicts of interest) and effect (the numerous grounds on which the application for extradition should have been summarily dismissed but has not).
    I think it’s simply a matter of pushing them relentlessly into their corner and keeping them there.
    But we need numbers. We need to wake more people up.

  2. Liam says:

    Thank you for contacting me about Julian Assange,

    I understand due to the Coronavirus outbreak the extradition hearing for this case has now been delayed. I can assure you that I will closely follow any new developments as they occur. Julian Assange is currently held on remand and under these circumstances, it is for the courts to determine whether an individual should be granted bail or remain in custody.

    Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service is responsible for ensuring those detained in prison have access to the NHS. As with all NHS patients it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the personal health of an individual prisoner. However, I am confident that Julian Assange’s Prison Governor continues to work closely with the NHS to support the health and wellbeing of Mr Assange and other prisoners alike.

    With best wishes,

    Rt Hon Maria Miller
    MP for Basingstoke

    • Liam says:

      And again from October 2019
      Thank you for contacting me about Julian Assange.

      I was encouraged to see the situation in the Ecuadorean embassy finally come to an end. Ecuador’s actions recognise that the UK’s criminal justice system is one in which rights are protected and in which, contrary to what Mr Assange and his supporters may claim, he and his legitimate interests will be protected.

      As you will know, in May, as a result of Mr Assange’s failure to surrender in relation to his extradition proceedings, he was sentenced to 50 weeks in prison.

      You may also be aware that the Home Secretary recently signed an extradition warrant, following a request by the US Department of Justice. In making this decision, the Home Secretary had limitations on what could be considered, in line with the Crime and Courts Act 2013; judgments on human rights or health issues can only be made in court.

      The judgment from the administrative hearing at the Westminster magistrates’ court has ruled that Mr Assange will face a five-day US extradition hearing, beginning on the 25 February 2020.

      Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

      With best wishes,

      Rt Hon Maria Miller
      MP for Basingstoke

    • greekemmy says:

      Thank you very much Liam I will add your MP’s name in the above blog post!

  3. Liam says:

    And May 2019
    Thank you for contacting me about Julian Assange.

    I was encouraged to see the situation in the Ecuadorean embassy finally come to an end. Ecuador’s actions recognise that the UK’s criminal justice system is one in which rights are protected and in which, contrary to what Mr Assange and his supporters may claim, he and his legitimate interests will be protected.

    As you will know, as a result of Mr Assange’s failure to surrender in relation to his extradition proceedings, he has now been sentenced to 50 weeks in prison.

    The next stage in the extradition process is for the United States to provide the full extradition request. I would like to make it clear that all requests for extradition are subject to statutory safeguards and judicial oversight. Once the US request is received by the court, there will be an extradition hearing after which the District Judge will determine whether any of the statutory bars to extradition apply. Then, if the Judge finds that extradition is not barred, the case is sent to the Home Secretary to decide whether to order extradition. There are only a limited number of issues the Home Secretary may consider. Leave to appeal to the High Court can be sought against both the decision of the District Judge and the decision of the Home Secretary.

    Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.

    With best wishes,

    Rt Hon Maria Miller
    MP for Basingstoke

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