Menu Close

Open Letter to the Lord Chancellor and the Lord chief Justice concerning chief Magistrate Arbuthnot

Please read this open letter concerning chief Magistrate Arbuthnot and if you agree with the contents please sign or/and comment in the available comments section below. Alternatively you can send an e-mail to

16 July 2020

To: Lord Buckland
Lord Burnett of Maldon


We, the undersigned endorse and cosign the Misconduct Arbuthnot 15 07 2020 complaint filed by Ms Niki Konstantinidou with the UK Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) and registered under case number 33195/20. That complaint is made in respect of Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot. It is supported by strong evidence regarding the Chief Magistrate’s personal conduct outside the court, in connection with high-level political, military and intelligence players exposed by Mr Assange and WikiLeaks. [1]

We highlight the fact that Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot financially benefited from organisations exposed by WikiLeaks and that her husband and son were, at all relevant times, connected to military and intelligence individuals and entities working to take down the WikiLeaks organisation and its founder, Mr Assange. The investigative report entitled “Julian Assange’s judge and her husband’s links to the British military establishment exposed by WikiLeaks” [2] states the following:

“It can also be revealed that Lady Arbuthnot has received gifts and hospitality in relation to her husband, including from a military and cybersecurity company exposed by WikiLeaks. These activities indicate that the chief magistrate’s activities cannot be considered as entirely separate from her husband’s.”

“At a time when Lady Arbuthnot was in her former position as a district judge in Westminster, she personally benefited from funding together with her husband from two sources which were exposed by WikiLeaks in its document releases.”

“Although the payments were entered into the parliamentary register of interests, the parties in the court case were not informed about them. Although Assange’s trial has attracted significant criticism around the world, Lady Arbuthnot did not consider it necessary to mention these payments to the parties, public and media.”

“There is no suggestion that Lord Arbuthnot was asked to, or did, exert any pressure on Lady Arbuthnot, nor that she succumbed to any such pressure, but there is an appearance of bias which could have been avoided had this connection been revealed and had Lord Arbuthnot avoided meeting those individuals at that time.”

“Thus at the same time Lady Arbuthnot was presiding over Assange’s legal case, her husband was holding talks with senior officials in Turkey exposed by WikiLeaks, some of whom have an interest in punishing Assange and the WikiLeaks organisation.”

The same article ends as follows:

“Conflicts of interest: Lord Arbuthnot’s links to the British military establishment constitute professional and political connections between a member of the chief magistrate’s family and a number of organisations and individuals who are deeply opposed to the work of Assange and WikiLeaks and who have themselves been exposed by the organisation.

UK legal guidance states that “any conflict of interest in a litigious situation must be declared.” Judicial guidance to magistrates from the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice is clear:

“Members of the public must be confident that magistrates are impartial and independent. If you know that your impartiality or independence is compromised in a particular case you must withdraw at once… Nor should you hear any case which you already know something about or which touches upon an activity in which you are involved”.

Our understanding is that Lady Arbuthnot has failed to disclose any potential conflicts of interest in her role as judge or chief magistrate.

Lady Arbuthnot is known to have stepped aside from adjudicating two other cases due to potential conflicts of interest, but only after investigations by the media.”

The other Daily Maverick investigative report entitled “The son of Julian Assange’s judge is linked to an anti-data leak company created by the UK intelligence establishment” exposes Emma Arbuthnot’s conflicts of interest vis-a-vis her son. [3]

That report ends on this note:

“The CIA has made clear that it is “working to take down” the WikiLeaks organisation. It was recently revealed that the CIA was given audio and video of Julian Assange’s private meetings in the Ecuadorian embassy by a Spanish security company. These included privileged discussions with Assange’s lawyers who are now representing him in the extradition case overseen by Alexander Arbuthnot’s mother, Lady Arbuthnot.”

In the words of Prof. Nils Melzer (UN Special Rapporteur on Torture in his letter dated 29 October 2019 and attached hereto):

“It must be emphasized that it is the responsibility of the British State, and not of Mr. Assange or his defense counsel, to ensure that legal proceedings will be conducted in good faith, by independent and impartial judicial magistrates, and in full compliance with domestic and international law. The State’s duty to ensure due process protects an inherent public interest of systemic importance. Therefore, its effective enforcement cannot be left to the defendant’s discretion, or delegated to defense counsel, but must be proactively and consistently guaranteed by the State.”

Following certain FOI requests to the Ministry of Justice, we have only recently been informed of the “District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts) Terms Of Appointment And Conditions Of Service (2009)”, purportedly applying to Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot.

Those Terms Of Appointment and Conditions of Service state, inter alia, the following:

“17. A District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts) may be removed from office by the Lord Chancellor, with the concurrence of the Lord Chief Justice, on the grounds of incapacity or misbehaviour (s.22(5) Courts Act 2003). Such decisions are taken in accordance with the procedures contained in the Judicial Discipline (Prescribed Procedures) Regulations 2006.


Personal Conduct

55. The Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice believe that the public must be entitled to expect all judges to maintain at all times proper standards of courtesy and consideration. (…) A substantiated complaint of conduct of this kind, whether or not previous complaints have also been made, is in the Lord Chancellor’s and Lord Chief Justice’s view, capable of being regarded as misbehaviour.
62. General Principles. Judges must ensure that while holding judicial office they conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the authority and standing of a judge. They must not, in any capacity, engage in any activity which might undermine, or be reasonably thought to undermine, their judicial independence or impartiality. If in any case any question of bias arises, judges should follow the guidance in the decided cases, including the Court of Appeal judgment in Locabail (UK) Ltd v Bayfield Properties Ltd and Another (2000) Q.B. 451. Judges may not undertake any other remunerated employment, nor receive or retain any fee or emolument in any circumstances save for royalties earned as an author. They may not undertake any task or engage in any activity which in any way limits their ability to discharge their judicial duties to the full. They should so conduct their private affairs as to minimise the possibility of conflict or embarrassment. (…)
68. Political or other activities. A judge must expect to forgo any kind of political activity and also any other activity which could make undue demands on his/her time. He/she should be on his/her guard against circumstances arising in which his/her involvement in any outside activity might be seen to cast doubt on his/her judicial impartiality or conflict with his/her judicial office.
76. Misuse of office, etc. A judge should avoid any action which involves, or may be seen as involving, the exploitation or misuse of his/her judicial position or title for private purposes, e.g. in connection with local planning issues.

79. (…) Any complaint which relates wholly or partly to the personal conduct of a judicial office holder will be dealt with by the Office for Judicial Complaints in accordance with the Judicial Discipline (Prescribed Procedures) Regulations 2006. (…)”

As stated above, according to evidence in the public domain, it is clear that Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot flagrantly misused her judicial status (as judge and supervisory chief magistrate in the Assange case) outside of court for personal gain or advantage; i.e., to protect and further her own personal interests, and those of her husband and son. Such misconduct falls within the remit of the JCIO because it is clearly within the ambit of “The Judicial Conduct (Judicial and other office holders) Rules 2014-Supplementary Guidance” published on the JCIO website. Rule 6 of the Guidance to the Rules states that the JCIO may only consider a complaint that contains an allegation of misconduct relating to the judge’s personal behaviour for example, a misuse of judicial status outside of court.

The failure by the competent UK authorities to seriously handle this outrageous judicial misconduct has already contributed to what the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer describes as “a murderous system” [4]. The Special Rapporteur states the following:

“We are talking about human rights and not about the rights of heroes or angels. Assange is a person, and he has the right to defend himself and to be treated in a humane manner. Regardless of what he is accused of, Assange has the right to a fair trial. But he has been deliberately denied that right – in Sweden, the U.S., Britain and Ecuador. Instead, he was left to rot for nearly seven years in limbo in a room. Then, he was suddenly dragged out and convicted within hours and without any preparation for a bail violation that consisted of him having received diplomatic asylum from another UN member state on the basis of political persecution, just as international law intends and just as countless Chinese, Russian and other dissidents have done in Western embassies. It is obvious that what we are dealing with here is political persecution. In Britain, bail violations seldom lead to prison sentences – they are generally subject only to fines. Assange, by contrast, was sentenced in summary proceedings to 50 weeks in a maximum-security prison – clearly a disproportionate penalty that had only a single purpose: Holding Assange long enough for the U.S. to prepare their espionage case against him.
What does it mean when UN member states refuse to provide information to their own Special Rapporteur on Torture?
That it is a prearranged affair. A show trial is to be used to make an example of Julian Assange. The point is to intimidate other journalists. Intimidation, by the way, is one of the primary purposes for the use of torture around the world. The message to all of us is: This is what will happen to you if you emulate the Wikileaks model.”

Under the supervision of Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot, despite having a chronic lung condition and contrary to medical advice given the dangers posed by Covid19, Mr Assange continues to be denied bail and remains in Belmarsh prison where he is in his cell over 23 hours a day and not receiving the medical care he needs.

Scathing criticisms have been expressed by civil society (including a group called Doctors4Assange [5] and several journalists’ unions) as well as international organisations such as the Council of Europe (Mr Assange is listed on the Council of Europe’s Protection of Journalism / Safety of Journalists site). The context around the crimes perpetrated against Mr Assange is well laid out by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement issued on 20 February 2020 and entitled “Julian Assange should not be extradited due to potential impact on press freedom and concerns about ill-treatment” His statement discusses the context of Mr Assange’s political persecution, as follows:

“Julian Assange’s potential extradition has human rights implications that reach far beyond his individual case. The indictment raises important questions about the protection of those that publish classified information in the public interest, including those that expose human rights violations. (…) Consequently, allowing Julian Assange’s extradition on this basis would have a chilling effect on media freedom, and could ultimately hamper the press in performing its task as purveyor of information and public watchdog in democratic societies.”

It is disconcerting that despite overwhelming evidence in the public domain, the appropriate UK authorities found no reason to investigate Ms Arbuthnot’s conduct, when said conduct seems to be contrary not only to the rights of the defendant, but also against the aforementioned “inherent public interest”. It is extraordinary that they continue to be unperturbed by Ms Arbuthnot’s systematic disregard for the law. Among other things, her conduct seems to violate Mr Assange’s right to a fair trial, which is enshrined in article 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (UK) and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Furthermore, it is interesting, that those authorities overseeing judicial conduct seem untroubled by the fact that Ms Arbuthnot has apparently made a habit of “stepping aside” only after she is exposed by the media. This time, although she felt pressured to “step aside” from the bench of the Assange case, she “stepped aside”…not very far. As Chief Magistrate, she is still the supervising legal figure of the case “responsible for… supporting and guiding district judge colleagues.”

In our view, there is clear prima facie evidence that Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot breached the “Terms Of Appointment and Conditions of Service” applying to her, as well as the relevant laws on judicial conduct.

As stated above, a substantiated complaint of conduct of this kind, whether or not previous complaints have also been made, is capable of being regarded as misbehaviour by the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice. The Lord Chancellor may, with the concurrence of the Lord Chief Justice, remove a District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts) from office on the ground of misbehaviour.

Given this longstanding unacceptable situation, we are signing this Open Letter, because the stultifying bureaucracy and gross negligence (to say the least) with which Mr Assange’s life is being handled has crossed all red lines. We are sounding the loudest alarm bells down History’s corridors. The wrongful actions and omissions of those responsible are on the record. Commodum Ex Injuria Sua Nemo Habere Debet (a wrongdoer should not be enabled by law to take any advantage from his actions).

We seek an immediate investigation of this matter as a matter of urgency and the removal of Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot from office on the ground of misbehaviour.


[1]. See the “Daily Maverick”, with the latest article “REVEALED: Chief magistrate in Assange case received financial benefits from secretive partner organisations of UK Foreign Office” published on 21 February 2020 (
[2]. (
[4]. See
[5]. See, Doctors4Assange in The Lancet: and at
Expert testimony on the risks of Covid-19 in prisons and detention facilities. NB: A more specific document was provided in relation to Belmarsh; that document is not yet in the public domain.