Supreme Court Has Jurisdiction To Hear SC Appeals, SC Rules | News
A lawyer who revealed the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Heathrow airport expansion the day before its delivery has lost an appeal against a finding he was in contempt of court.
Tim Crosland, unregistered lawyer and director of the Plan B Earth climate group, was fine Â£ 5,000 and ordered to pay costs of Â£ 15,000 by three Supreme Court justices in May for breaking the embargo on the draft judgment.
He appealed the contempt verdict in October, arguing that the Supreme Court wrongly ignored his intentions and did not act impartially.
However, a panel of five judges unanimously fired his call today. The court also ruled, by a majority of 4 to 1, that there is a right of appeal “from orders or decisions of the Supreme Court made in the exercise of its unmistakable contempt jurisdiction”.
All four justices rejected arguments on behalf of the attorney general that Crosland did not have the right to appeal from the Supreme Court to the Supreme Court.
They stated that the exclusion of any right of appeal under section 13 of the Administration of Justice Act 1960 should be expressed expressly in view of the “potentially draconian consequences” of a verdict of contempt. They added: “We do not consider it a conceptual impossibility that there can be an appeal from one organ of the Supreme Court to another.”
Lady Arden disagreed, arguing that Article 13 “does not allow a panel of judges of this court to hear an ‘appeal’ from the decision of another panel of judges”.
However, all five judges agreed that Crosland’s appeal should be dismissed on the merits. Briggs said Crosland “was at all times aware” that the draft judgment had been provided to him on terms of confidence. “Yet Mr. Crosland chose to flout the court order and knew full well that in doing so he could be found in contempt of court,” Briggs added.
The court rejected Crosland’s arguments that the finding of contempt as well as the fine and the order for costs constituted an unlawful interference with his rights to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the ECHR. “The interference here, as it has been, has not prevented Mr Crosland from publicly expressing his disagreement with the Heathrow judgment at any time after its delivery,” Briggs said. “The embargo simply delayed voicing its criticism of the Heathrow appeal decision, and it only did so for a short time,” he added.
The court also rejected Crosland’s arguments that the original panel was not unbiased and that the costs order was unreasonable.
In one declaration after the ruling, Crosland said he planned to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.