13 June 2007

Daniel James prepares to make his plea

I met Daniel for the first time on 4 June but many things have happened since then. In the past 9 days there have been several developments, and I have during this time tried my utmost to help Daniel in any way I could. The plea hearing on 15 June 2007 is the time when Daniel has a chance to be heard, and the occasion at which he can make his demand to be tried before a Court Martial.

In the following letter I told Daniel that this hearing on 15 June will be ‘the most important day of your life’. This day is about to arrive, and it will be interesting to see if the following letter persuades him on his best course of action, or whether he has been successfully dissuaded away from this direction by those who are trying to damage his prospects. We will see the result in 2 days time.

Letter from: Michael John Smith
5 June 2007

To: Mr Daniel James XA6933
HMP Wandsworth
PO Box 757
Heathfield Road
London SW18 3HS

Dear Daniel,

I was really pleased to meet with you yesterday, and I enjoyed talking with you about the points you raised. I will do all I can to help you fight the charges that you are facing.

I spoke on the phone this afternoon with Mr Richard Jefferies, and from some of the comments he made, I thought I should write to tell you of my opinions. For example: (i) he said that he was not persuaded that a Court Martial was the best route for you to take; (ii) he stated that the 15th June was not an important day, and; (iii) he implied that he was considering making a separate application for a dismissal hearing at a later date. Of course, you do not have to do anything that I say, but I think you should carefully consider the following points in connection with the above.

I have discussed Mr Jefferies ideas with the friend I mentioned to you, John Symonds, and we both believe that next week’s hearing will be extremely important to you. You must understand that the 15th June is probably the most important day of your life, and not to be treated lightly (as some may advise you).

We have no doubt that YOU MUST ATTEND the Court on the 15th June (as is your right). You should REFUSE to plead either “guilty” or “not guilty” (as is your right). You must instead INSIST on making a Peremptory Plea (as is your right). See below for details about what these words mean.

I suggest that you immediately phone/write to Richard asking him to instruct a barrister to make this Peremptory Plea on your behalf on the 15th June. If you do not make that plea on that date you will be set on the road to a Crown Court trial (which is almost impossible to escape from). Any later applications for the ‘case to be dismissed’ are unlikely to succeed.

Your application will be quite simple, i.e.:
This is:

(1) the wrong court,
(2) the wrong judge,
(3) the wrong prosecution,
(4) the wrong charge,
(5) the wrong criminal justice system

This is the wrong criminal justice system because your case should not be heard by a civilian criminal court, but by a military Court Martial (as is your right as a soldier).

I am quite sure that your best and only chance is to make this Peremptory Plea to win a fair Court Martial (instead of a crooked trial).

Failing the above (and if Richard does not arrange for a barrister to make this Peremptory Plea on your behalf) you must then stand up and make the statement I sent you in my last letter, in a loud and clear voice (like an army order), because desperate situations require desperate measures.

This is why you need to be personally present at the Court, and not speaking through a video link. This will demonstrate to the press and the public that you are making a powerful stand for a Court Martial. The video link effectively stops you making this Peremptory Plea.

I advise you to apply for an interview with the prison Governor, in order to notify him of your application to attend court personally. This request will then go on the record (for any later Appeals).

Don’t be conned Daniel, this hearing on the 15th June is your best opportunity to officially apply to have this case dismissed from this Court, and to make clear that you have chosen a Court Martial. We can then see if Richard has carried out your instructions. However, I still believe that Imran Khan is the best solicitor for you.


I have copied the following explanations from the Wikipedia encyclopaedia for you. The stage at which you are about to start is called Arraignment, and you will see that this is the first stage on the road to a criminal (civilian) trial.

You will also see that a Peremptory Plea has to be made at this stage, and so this is the time at which you must make this plea. The further down the road you go the harder it will be to change from a Crown Court trial, and your fate will be decided.

Arraignment is a common law term for the formal reading of a criminal complaint, in the presence of the defendant, to inform him of the charges against him. In response to arraignment, the accused is expected to enter a plea. Acceptable pleas vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but they generally include “guilty”, “not guilty”, and the peremptory pleas (or pleas in bar), which set out reasons why a trial cannot proceed.

In the UK arraignment is the first of eleven stages in a criminal trial, and involves the clerk of the court reading out the indictment. The defendant is asked whether they plead guilty or not guilty to each individual charge.

Guilty and Not Guilty pleas
If the defendant pleads guilty an evidentiary hearing usually follows. The court is not required to accept a guilty plea. During that hearing the judge will assess the offence, mitigating factors, and the defendant's character; and then pass sentence. If the defendant pleads not guilty, a date will be set for a preliminary hearing or trial.

What if the defendant enters no plea?
In the past, a defendant who refused to plead (or “stood mute”) would be subject to peine forte et dure (Law French for “strong and hard punishment”). But today in all common law jurisdictions, defendants who refuse to enter a plea will have a plea of not guilty entered for them on their behalf.

Peremptory Plea
In the common law, the peremptory pleas (pleas in bar), are pleas that set out special reasons for which a trial cannot go ahead.


Don’t forget, when you are asked to make a plea, you must refuse to make that plea (either “guilty” or “not guilty”), and you must say you wish to make a Peremptory Plea instead.

Well Daniel, I wish you the best of luck with the above. I hope I have made myself clear, but if I have not please contact me as soon as possible. I am concerned that we have so little time before the 15th June Court hearing. I shall try to visit you again to discuss the issues above, but it would help if you could phone me to confirm that you have understood these points, and I will send you some money to pay for it.

Yours sincerely,
Mike Smith

PS (1) JS also sends you his best wishes, and says you will be all right if you follow this advice.

PS (2) I don’t remember you having been given a committal hearing, if not how did you get to this court without one? It can only be with a secret authority issued by the Attorney General or Director of Public Prosecutions or someone high up in the government. Something stinks here somewhere. The rumour (Lord Patel blog) that you are a victim of political intrigue, could well be true? Don’t worry, we will get to the bottom of it, and we will keep going until we do.