Date: March 14, 2014 10:48PM
I asked a UK contact of mine to describe the proceedings that took place in the Magistrate's Court hearing today, as it all was brought to bear at the expense of the Mormon Fraud by a tenacious Tom Phillips and his able attorney. Below is a blow-by-blow account, sent to me from across the pond (and posted with permission).
Here were my questions:
"How do you think the hearing went, in terms of specific arguments from the Church's rep and from Tom's attorney? Were you actually in the courtroom? Why has the judge delayed further action until the 20th? Any prognostication you'd be willing to offer and, if so, based on what reasons?"
Here are the provided answers:
"I was in the public gallery. Although separated from the Court proper by glass screens, one can hear most, if not all, that is said. Most of the defence arguments were centred around the legality of Tom's case--basically, it was an attempt to treat it as an attack on religious freedom. Anderson, the [Mormon Church] lawyer who was quoted by most newspapers when the summons was first issued was present, I believe, although I'm not certain about this.
"One word constantly on the defence lawyers lips was 'vexatious,' and he referred to Tom as a 'disgrunted ex-Mormon,' something directly out of the Deseret News. He was obviously trying to show that Tom was motivated by revenge and that a trial based on such a motive was not to be permitted in an English court.
"Basically, his argument--one that lasted for nearly three hours--was that this was an attack on religious freedom, he gave several precedents for the case being dismissed. The lawyer's' defence against the seven charges was almost non-existent, consisting mainly of the assertion that LDS doctrine etc was merely 'belief' and therefore could not be used in a case against the Church.
"Several times it seemed that he was quoting directly from a Church manual. I could hardly believe they would present such a weak defence. They were, in fact, saying that the charges in this case had to be based on facts but religious belief was not based on facts; therefore the case should be dismissed, as it was dependent on things that could not be proven one way or another.
"Tom's attorney made short shrift of all this. He quoted several cases where religious freedom had been used as an excuse for lawbreaking. He used as an example the Rastafarian who claims that smoking cannabis is allowed by his religion and it would infringe on his human rights if he was tried for that--but, as the attorney then showed, freedom of religious belief could never be used as a reason to break the law of the land.
"He then gave a number of instances where religious freedom has to take second place to the law. Regarding the actual charges, the defence argument was totally put out to grass. Taking each charge in turn, Tom's lawyer proceeded to show that belief didn't enter into the argument, he showed that every charge could be proven as fact.
"I've talked to someone who has some knowledge of this type of case but not necessarily religious and he considers this delay to be quite normal, I can't say with any certainty why the Judge delayed his decision, that's something that he alone knows but I can hazard a few educated guesses.
"First, the time factor. The prosecution said they could hurry with their presentation but the Judge said no. He [the Judge] wanted them to have every opportunity to present the case. As it was around 4:30 p.m. when the lawyer finished, it gave the Judge no real time to consider any of the evidence.
"Second, a number of points were raised concerning technical and legal issues, I believe that he needed sufficient time to consider all those points and had to be seen to be fair and unbiased, I doubt very much from what I heard that there would be any problems with the actual fraud side of the case.
"Third--and this is a possibility that occurred to Chris Ralph [one of the two specifically-designated victims named in the summons]--the Judge may wish to approach the Crown prosecution servicer with a view to them taking over the case.
"So, what do I think the outcome might be? That's a tough one . . . . Probably 'cautiously optimistic' would be about right. Why do I think that? well, perhaps it's simply faith in English justice but more likely it's because (and I have to admit to a certain bias), the defence never really defended anything; they attacked Tom; they made the claim that this is an attack on religious freedom, all the while knowing that it isn't and, truthfully, they made, in my opinion, no real argument for the case to be dismissed. If that is the best they can offer, then, as far as I can see, it's simply not good enough."
Edited 9 time(s). Last edit at 03/15/2014 12:08AM by steve benson.