25 October 2008

Daniel James Official Secrets Act trial

Like some other people who have been associated with Daniel James and his case, I felt very uneasy about the way that the trial has been going the past couple of weeks. Not only do I believe it is an unfair trial, as I had predicted, but Daniel is being subjected to public ridicule for just behaving the way that seems natural to him.

So much of the reports coming out of this trial have nothing whatsoever to do with the charges Daniel is facing - instead the public are being invited to see his behaviour as odd or even sinister. I am sure that those who know Daniel as a friend or relative will be horrified to see him treated in such an unnecessary and even cruel manner.

I felt I needed to state my concerns about a particular issue that I have not heard mentioned so far during the trial. It could be important, or then again perhaps I am wrong and it has nothing to do with Daniel’s case. I feel I must say these things, and history will be the judge of whether there is anything in the points I have made.

This is the e-mail I have sent out today:

To: Colin Nicholls QC
From: Michael John Smith

Dear Mr Nicholls,

As you will be aware, Daniel James suffered two strokes in July 2005, and as a result was awarded the sum of £60,000 by the military insurers PAX Insurance. This £60,000 was a considerable claim, and I am sure that PAX would have required medical proof that Daniel had suffered from a serious condition.

I do not know if the strokes were caused by some unknown previous medical condition, or whether Daniel had sustained any lasting effects as a consequence of suffering these strokes. What I do believe, however, is that the existence of this medical record must be pertinent to Daniel’s Defence case.

The questions that require an answer are:

(1) Was Daniel assessed as fit to continue serving in the Territorial Army following his strokes in July 2005?

(2) Were the Army aware of Daniel’s history of stroke when they considered him for the role of interpreter in Afghanistan at March 2006, and was he declared fit to serve despite this medical history?

(3) Has Daniel been assessed to see if any of the incidents of “bizarre” behaviour, which he has been accused of exhibiting, are connected in any way with his strokes?

Due to Daniel James’s rare linguistic skills, he has been subjected to the pressure of performing as an interpreter in the war zone of Afghanistan. Clearly the Army has a duty of care to safeguard the health of Daniel and other soldiers, but they could also have taken advantage of a less than fit man and put him into a stressful situation.

In February 2008, Daniel’s previous solicitor was working with Daniel’s then Counsel to organise an assessment of Daniel by a psychiatrist. It had been considered necessary to investigate whether there were medical conditions associated with the charges which Daniel faced. This assessment was not done because Daniel changed his legal representatives at about that time.

I am not aware that any medical assessment has been conducted in the period since Daniel changed his legal representatives, but Daniel should have been assessed to check whether he was in full control of his actions, and whether his judgement can be considered “normal”.

As Daniel James has been subjected to a certain amount of ridicule in the media, due to his behaviour, it should be ruled out that no relevant aspects of his personality can be attributed a medical condition. It would be tragic if a man suffering from a medical condition is convicted and faces a long prison sentence. I do not believe it is the role of the British Justice system to punish the sick.

Yours sincerely,
Michael John Smith

P.S. For your information, I take a personal interest in all Official Secrets Act cases, having been convicted under that Act myself, due to procedural irregularities and false evidence at my trial.

Copied to:
Baroness Scotland
Dr Desmond Turner MP
Sir Ken Macdonald QC
Mark Dennis QC
Michel Massih QC
Giovanni di Stefano
David Sleight
Richard Jefferies
Tom Newton Dunn

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