Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Heretical Two Request Political Asylum

Requests for Political Asylum

Sheppard, Simon Guy and Whittle, Stephen

Summary

The Applicants arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on 14 July 2007 and made their asylum request to the first official they encountered. The basis of their asylum claim is a three-year campaign of legal harassment by the governing British Labour Party, culminating in an unprecedented prosecution and subsequent conviction for internet web pages hosted in Torrance, California. Were the applicants to be returned to Britain they would face substantial prison terms.

The applicants were prosecuted in Britain on the basis that a website they contributed to, or maintained, was "available in England and Wales." A Plea to the Jurisdiction challenging the extension of jurisdiction of a British court to internet material hosted in the U.S.A was made in September 2007, but was rejected by the same judge that later presided over the trial.

Up to this point the Applicants had been confident that all their activities were completely lawful.

Under this novel application of the law, American citizens, or indeed citizens of any nation, are rendered subject to arrest and prosecution by the British authorities for any "racially inflammatory material" deemed "threatening, abusive or insulting" placed on the world wide web.

No equivalent legislation exists in American law. Indeed, the Applicants are aware of a letter from Californian authorities stating that the material hosted on the Heretical website enjoys the highest protection of the US Constitution.

No evidence was presented at the Applicant's trial, during June and July 2008, that any "racial hatred" had resulted from the internet material. The Applicant's defense, essentially was that the material was irony, satire and parody of political correctness, intended in good humour and for the stimulation of debate. However, the applicable law, the Public Order Act 1986, removed the requirement to prove intent on the part of defendants and prosecutions have recently been brought in the absence of a complainant.

The maximum penalty under this law was increased (in a supplement to the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2000) from two years to seven years.

No evidence was presented at the Applicants' trial that anyone had accessed the relevant internet pages other the single police officer who had downloaded the website for the purpose of the prosecution.

Numerous defence attempts were blocked during the course of an extremely zealous prosecution. An earlier Appeal Court ruling was invoked stating that "The truth is no defense." Attempts to demonstrate that comparable material to that being prosecuted was readily available in British stores was also blocked.

Applicant Sheppard has endured three police raids, each of which is believed to have been unlawful and all of which considerably exceeded their proper scope. These took place on 30 March 2005, 12 April, 2006 (at which time Applicant Whittle was also raided) and 4 July 2007. Large quantities of books, papers, computer equipment, financial records and personal items were removed on each occasion, none of which has ever been returned. It was admitted by the authorities that the third police raid was unlawful.

The website at
www.heretical.com consists of 750 pages and over 2 million words, being a collection of articles and excerpts covering a wide range of topics. Twelve web pages were the subject of criminal charges. The main purpose of the website is to act as a vehicle for Sheppard’s scientific ideas.

Applicant Sheppard qualifies as an individual with exceptional abilities in the sciences or the arts, i.e. would ordinarily be a potential candidate for the Third Preference visa category. He holds an honors degree (B.Sc) in Mathematics from the University of Sussex and has published two medical scientific papers as sole author, the later qualifying him (in the older, more stringent system of academic accreditation) for two Doctorates. Subsequently he developed an original system of behavioural procedural analysis called Procedural Analysis which is considered to be a significant advance in human understanding. More recently he has been self-employed as a web developer, supplier of computer products and publisher.

Applicant Whittle holds a First Class honors degree (B.A.) in language and Linguistic Science from the university of York and has written over twenty books on a variety of topics.

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