The Age

Tuesday 5 October 1999

Pursued

The Age (Melbourne, Australia)

Britain's Attorney-General is asking the High Court to jail a businessman who has accused senior judges of corruption, perjury and mafia-like behaviour for "scandalising the court", an arcane form of contempt of court last used in Britain in 1931.

Geoffrey Scriven, from Lymm, Cheshire, has accused judges up to the highest levels of covering up alleged legal misconduct in his divorce case. He faces an indefinite prison sentence if found guilty at a hearing set for January.

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, an authority on free speech law, said: "Scandalising the court is an obnoxious law that offends against the principle that courts should not be judges in their own cause. At a time when it is being abused in Malaysia to jail courageous lawyers and journalists, the British Government should be abolishing it, not reviving it."

Copyright © David Syme & Co 1999.