Don't mock the Monck

Lord Monckton in Washington, D.C.

Christopher Monckton - Image via Wikipedia

Apparently, Monckton is a member of the House of Lords, according to constitutional lawyer in England.

I don’t have a dog in this fight, I’m just in it for the popcorn sales. That said, here’s the plot summary.

A lot of the alarmist side of blogosphere (especially John Cook at SkS and Tim Lambert at Deltoid)  spent a lot of time trying to distract from the science presented during Lord Monckton’s summer tour in Australia. Of course, Monckton himself made some ugly distractions at the outset, with a poorly chosen comparison of Ross Garnaut.

That row aside, basically as the tour went on, they didn’t like the message, so they attacked the man.

Here’s how the peerage title tiff got started. Responding to some small outrage in the southern hemisphere, and some emails that came his way as a result, Dave Beamish, Clerk of the UK Parliaments, posted up a letter on the House of Lords’ official website telling Lord Monckton not to call himself a member of the House of Lords. Trouble is, Dave had gotten it wrong.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands of articles, commentaries and blog postings were aimed at Monckton, for having answered an Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio interviewer in August 2011 by saying he was a member of the House of Lords, “but without the right to sit or vote”.

This is sort of like being an “ex US senator”. They enjoy certain rights and privileges of the once held office, like getting to use the library and automobile parking in the senate, but they don’t get to vote of course. In England, these sorts of privileges get passed down hereditarily, such as in Monckton’s case. While “hereditary US Senator” probably wouldn’t fly in the USA, England and its Monarchy has its ways of tradition that don’t translate to such expectations in other countries.

Monckton, on returning from Australia from his tour this autumn, consulted Hugh O’Donoghue, a leading constitutional lawyer at Carmelite Chambers, overlooking the River Thames just a mile downstream from the Houses of Parliament. His question: “Am I or am I not a member of the House of Lords?”

O’Donoghue, who specializes in difficult human-rights cases and Peerage law, spent months carefully researching Monckton’s question. He says Lord Monckton “was and is correct at all points”. The conclusion of his 11-page opinion (see PDF at bottom of this article) , reviewing 1000 years of Peerage law, is clear on the issue:

“Lord Monckton’s statement that he is a member of the House of Lords, albeit without the right to sit or vote, is unobjectionable. His claim is not a false or misleading claim. It is legitimate, proportionate, and reasonable. Likewise, Lord Monckton was correct when he wrote to the US Congress that ‘Letters Patent granting Peerages, and consequently membership [of the House of Lords], are the personal gift of the Monarch. Only a specific law can annul a grant. The 1999 Act was a general law.’ He legitimately drew attention to a parliamentary answer by no less a personage than the Leader of the House, making it plain that the Act was a general law and not a particular law that might have had the effect of revoking Letters Patent. We now have the recent authority of the High Court, in the Mereworth case, for Lord Monckton’s assertion that the 1999 Act did not revoke or annul his Letters Patent. Unless and until such revocation takes place, Lord Monckton remains a member of the House of Lords, and he is fully entitled to say so.”

Lord Monckton has sent copies of the Opinion by registered mail to the Lord Speaker (Baroness d’Souza) and to the chairman of the Privileges Committee (Lord Brabazon of Tara). I have a copy too.

Monckton  said:

“I am awaiting with interest the response of the soi-disant ‘authorities’ at the House of Lords to Mr. O’Donoghue’s definitive statement of the law as he sees it. At the very least, it is surely clear that I am entitled, in what is supposed to be a free society, to speak freely about my point of view.

“Dave Beamish has made a prize ass of himself. This criminous clerk has brought the already-tarnished House of Lords and the ancient office of clericus Parliamentorum into further disrepute. His position is now untenable. He must resign at once, or be fired by the House. I was embarrassed by having had to deflect journalists’ questions about whether Dave has been in league with climate-extremist lobby groups. I was not and am not in a position to answer those questions.

“I hope that, for the sake of sparing further harm to elderly and vulnerable family members who have been getting hate-mail as a result of Dave’s unprecedented and extraordinary abuse of his office, the House ‘authorities’ – if that is the right word – will have the common courtesy and good sense to take down his offending and offensive letter from Parliament’s website and replace it with an apology.”

To people outside of England, who don’t deal in formal titles of hereditary peerage, this might look like an overblown egotistic row . But in England, such things are considered very important and are a tradition of position that affects families and reputations going back centuries.

In short, Lord Monckton is not amused, less so at the boys down under than at the Clerk  of Parliaments, Dave Beamish, in London. He adds in his letter:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Summary of Mr. O’Donoghue’s learned Opinion reads as follows:

“I am asked to consider whether The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley was correct when, in a recent radio interview in Australia, he answered the question ‘Are you a member of the House of Lords?’ by saying, ‘Yes, but without the right to sit or vote.’  My conclusion is that Lord Monckton’s answer was and is correct at all points. We have the authority of two Law Lords in the Privileges Committee that the meaning of the words ‘membership of the House’ in the Act is confined to the right to sit and vote. The implication is that in all other respects excluded Hereditary Peers remain members of the House. Also, the Letters Patent that created Peerages such as that of Monckton of Brenchley have not been revoked, and we have the recent authority both of the Leader of the House and of the High Court for that. Though the House of Lords Act 1999 purported to remove ‘membership of the House of Lords’ from excluded Hereditary Peers including Lord Monckton’s late father, its constitutionality is questionable. Peerages entail membership of the House. Lord Monckton is correct to state that he does not at present have the right to sit or vote, though if the 1999 Act is unconstitutional the excluded Hereditary Peers are unlawfully excluded. Therefore, Lord Monckton remains a Member not only of the Peerage but also of the House of Lords, save only that he cannot for now sit or vote there, and he was and is fully entitled to say so.”

The ancient common-law offense of wilful misfeasance in a public office gives the citizen the right of redress against a defalcating public official who might otherwise persist in his crime with impunity. In the present case, the rap-sheet might read as follows:

“You, Dave Beamish, Clerk of the Parliaments, of the House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW, are charged with wilful misfeasance in a public office, contrary to common law, in that, on a date unknown in July or August 2011, in London, you did knowingly and without lawful excuse cause to be posted on the House of Lords’ official website a letter to The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley falsely stating that the said Viscount Monckton of Brenchley is not entitled to say that he is a member of the House of Lords, and that upon repeated request to desist you wilfully and harmfully persisted in the said misfeasance.”

Section 21 of the Data Protection Act 1998 creates the offense of unlawfully processing unregistered data. Here, the rap-sheet might read:

“You, Dave Beamish, Clerk of the Parliaments, of the House of Lords, London, SW1A 0PW, are charged with unlawfully processing unregistered data, contrary to Section 21, Data Protection Act 1998, in that, on a date unknown in July or August 2011, in London, you did knowingly, harmfully and without lawful excuse cause sensitive personal information about The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley to be published on the House of Lords’ official website.”

Article 8-1 of the European Human Rights Convention, enacted by the Human Rights Act 1998 in the UK, gives everyone “the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence” and states plainly that (except on grounds manifestly inapplicable here) “there shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right”.

Under Freedom of Information law the disclosure of the Clerk’s letter to Monckton is a misfeasance at least fourfold. The Act prohibits disclosure of the Clerk’s letter in that the disclosure is a breach of an enactment (the Human Rights Act); and a breach of a Community obligation (the EU has adopted the human rights convention); and the Act exempts disclosures of sensitive personal information (the Clerk could have given his opinion about excluded Hereditary Peers without mentioning Monckton by name); and exempts disclosures of confidential information (it was calculated to cause harm). Breaches of the Human Rights Act and of the FOIA do not give rise to offenses, but are actionable in damages, as is libel. A complaint has gone to the UK’s Information Commissioner. Furthermore, as Hugh O’Donoghue’s Opinion says:  “Lord Monckton may legitimately raise not only the matter but also the manner of the conduct of officials of the House with the Privileges Committee.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lord Monckton is quite skilled in oratory skewering. Thus, I had to look up “defalcating”. It has roots in the bankruptcy code. I think he’s implying Mr. Beamish was/is morally bankrupt.

In short, don’t mock the Monck for his title.  Here’s the PDF of the legal opinion:

O’Donoghue-lords-opinion (PDF 335k)

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Dr A Burns

Don’t mock him … or debate him. You will lose. He must be one of the world’s best debators.

Dave N

I did a double-take on that word: defalcating. Mind you, it seems to bear a close relationship to what is going on here.

Lew Skannen

Good old Monckton!! I hope he pursues this one because the abuse directed at both him and his family members was utterly unnecessary.

Steve Crook

To be fair to Mr Beamish, it would appear that he’s only continuing a tiff that started with his predecessor Sir Michael Pownall. Beamish says that Pownall had written to Monckton in 2010 (twice) asking him to cease and desist. Perhaps Beamish & Pownall should have checked their facts. Personally, I’d have hoped that Beamish might have made *very* certain of his facts before publishing that letter…

mrmethane

At least as legitimate as the claim to “Nobel-ity” by the huge retinue of puffery-prone clerks and spotlight-seekers whose names might have been mentioned in some IPCC document or other.

pat

but will the MSM acknowledge this finding? doubtful. the damage was done in australia at the time of his visit, and short-term success is sufficient for “The CAGW Cause”.

Lord Monckton is quite skilled in oratory skewering. Thus, I had to look up “defalcating”. It has roots in the bankruptcy code. I think he’s implying Mr. Beamish was/is morally bankrupt.

While Lord Monckton can be a pompous [noun of your choice, several fit], I will never challenge him on his use of language.
On this side of the puddle we have US 1st Circuit Judge Selya (Puerto Rico and the northeast US) with a substantial vocabulary. He wrote the opinion in one of my wife’s first cases, and at first she thought he was mocking her. I looked at some of his other opinions and concluded he always wrote like that. I feel sorry for the Puerto Rico parties! No need to keep a link, I just search for Werme and a word like palsgrave, tamisage, or apodictic. (BTW, it is apodictic that climate changes.) Hmm, Firefox’s spell check likes none of them.
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=search&case=/data2/circs/1st/951982.html

Armagh Observatory

While it is true that hereditary peerages granted by the Sovereign anything up to a millenium or so ago continue to be passed down from generation to generation, very few have been created since WW2.
The 1999 Act removed the right of most of these hereditary peers to vote on legislation.
Perrages created these days are referered to as Life Peerages and die with the recipient. ie they do not pass to the next generation.

davidmhoffer

Don’t mock the monck lest he make a monkey of thee.

Wayne Delbeke

As a person with relatives having a peerage in England and the Netherlands and knowing how they value them: “I love it!”

Absolutely splendiforous!

Ken Hall

I do so hope that all the alarmists who have wrongfully scorned and libelled the good Viscount will publicly apologise.

Ron

Good. Lord. The point is that Monckton – Lord or not, and it seems that ludicrous tiff is now ‘settled’ – has a better grasp of the actual science than the actual scientists themselves.

This is the Mereworth verdict. Funny how it has been used until now (as in David Beamish’s letter) to prove Monckton was not a member of the House of Lords, and now it can be used to prove he is.
The important bits in the verdict concern the meaning of the House of Lords Act 1999, as interpreted by Mr Justice Lewinson:

a hereditary peer’s right to a writ of summons was removed by section 1 of the House of Lords Act 1999, which provided that “no one shall be a member of the House of Lords by virtue of a hereditary peerage”

In the event that was wrong, section 1 of the 1999 Act intended to remove the right to receive a writ of summons which alone would entitle a hereditary peer to sit and vote and hence be a member of the House of Lords. The reference to “a member of the House of Lords” was simply a reference to the right to sit and vote in that House, it did not mean entitlement to the dignity of a peerage.

Note how Beamish’s quote of Lewinson is a tad different:

“In my judgment, the reference [in the House of Lords Act 1999] to ‘a member of the House of Lords’ is simply a reference to the right to sit and vote in that House … In a nutshell, membership of the House of Lords means the right to sit and vote in that House. It does not mean entitlement to the dignity of a peerage.

I can see trouble approaching Beamish…

J. Felton

Congrats to Lord Monckton for an excellent and fact-backed smackdown of those trying to tar his name and damage his credibility.
If they are so upset at Monckton that they’ve denigrated to accusing him of lying about ancestry and titles, then it’s a sure sign the Lord Monckton is doing something right!

Armagh Observatory

My only brush with the Peerage was a pleasant night’s drinking session with a noble lord in a back street bar in Belfast about 20 years ago.

That word is del*ciously close and I’m quite sure Monckton relishes that point. He’s taught me a few words too, mendacious being one I too now relish.
I like several things about Monckton – first, I’ve seen him very courteous and helpful to those who treat him with courtesy; second, he can apologize, as he did over the issue alluded to; third, he is a brilliant mathematician, fully able to use IPCC maths against itself to tie it up in knots; fourth, he is passionate and brilliantly clear about the levels of corruption we see in the sorry caricature of Science that Climate Science has become.
All qualities that belong to a title that has been truly earned.

John R

What our friends in the US may be unaware of is that the “House of Lords” is no longer a house of peers and bishops. To stop it being used by the nobility interfering in legislation, parties have for years stacked it with their own creatures. Thus some of the oddities that can and do sit and vote in the Lords. I dont think an unelected hereditary lord should be allowed to vote on legislation and undoubtedly Lord Monckton has no wish for it either, but the Lords needs to be reformed on more democratic lines. Australia’s senate for example?

I like the way he slips in the link between Beamish and climate extremists by denying all knowledge of such a link. Quiet but deadly.

artwest

“But in England, such things are considered very important…”
I really wouldn’t go overboard in ascribing awe of the aristocracy to everyone in England (as you put it). Apart from people who can’t stand the whole rigmarole, a lot of people view the aristocracy as being quaint in a crumbling stately home way but would rather they weren’t still partly running the show.
I appreciate that Monckton has a lot to contribute individually but his (over) trading on his peerage does him more harm than good in the UK when it comes to being taken seriously. We generally prefer the aristos who aren’t pushy about it and especially hope for a little more humility from the hereditary types who have unearned privilege.

Steve Oregon

Lord Monckton vs Senator Gore
Integrity vs other stuff

wayne

England will handle itself but Tim Lambert of Deltoid blog and John Cook of SkepticalScience.com (opposite in meaning for added deception of the public), you men and your brethren owe a huge apology to Christopher Monckton, if you even are men. Time to crawl out of your respective AGW catacombs and issue them now. Many are waiting….
(and most Australians now know Lord Monckton was right about the fascism, for now they have it)

Latitude

Dave Beamish, Clerk of the UK Parliaments
================================
A government official, and his followers, not even as smart as a bag of hammers…..
….no surprise here

In response to an act of defalcation, might we expect a bit of defenestration?

kim2ooo

Hey! Can I use this here?
Bloody brilliant!!!
Jolly good job on the blighters!
[ I dono exactly what that means – I read Harry Potter 🙂 ]

bubbagyro

Steve Crook says:
November 20, 2011 at 4:15 pm
“To be fair to Mr Beamish, it would appear that he’s only continuing a tiff that started with his predecessor Sir Michael Pownall.”
So, you have outlined a conspiracy now, have you? Can FOIA pick up the emails between these two louts, to get to the bottom of the libelous and sordid affair? Not only the act, but conspiracy to commit the acts?

Frankly I don’t give a damn. I have had the honor of being born in a country that escaped British rule over 200 years ago , and even though I have British ancestry as recently as my father, we don’t go in for that sort of thing.
However, Lord or Mr Monckton is most often right in his points on global warming and that certainly should be noted.

Speaking of unelected potentates:

Dr. Dave

Tucci78,
You can toss that nonsense right out the window. Besides…you should stop by LG and weigh in on Ozboy’s article about Atlas Shrugged (I’m sure you read it).

RayG

Lord Moncton has slain the Jabberwock of Lords. Who is beamish now?

RockyRoad

Caterwauling 0pp0nents of Monckton have only his ancestry to complain about. Shows how low they’ve sunk and how precious little they have in their defense. (Notice I spelled “0pp0nents” with two zeros, which is completely fitting in this situation albeit a tad redundant.)

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

“Don’t mock the Monck
If someone goes fishing for a reaction from Lord Monckton, is that a Monckfish?

“Criminous” is excellent as well.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitutions_of_Clarendon
“The Constitutions’ primary goal was to deal with the controversial issue of “criminous clerks,” or clergy who had committed a serious crime but escaped justice …”
Slightly loose usage, as it seemed to apply to clerics. Regardless, I bet it had them scrabbling for their dictionaries.

Luke Warm

Don’t be misled by the title. He’s not a snob. In Australia, Lord Monckton is a friend to ordinary workers and the less well-off for his opposition, conducted at his own expense, against crazy carbon taxes and emissions trading schemes.

Mike Jowsey

@artwest: November 20, 2011 at 4:54 pm
Monckton is perfectly within his rights to use his title – this article is all about the malfeasance of a public servant in besmirching Monckton and denying that right (publicly). That you have some baggage concerning the use of a title is your problem, but is nothing to do with the point of this article.

KenB

You know when “they” have no answer or science the retreat is into personal attack smear and diversion. I’m glad that Lord Monckton has taken them on and I hope forces a retraction.
But remember they have a vicious track record of threats and encouragement to inflict grievous bodily harm, on those who do not toe the line of CAGW, 10/10 style wishful thinking, as they reach for the red button to rid themselves of inconvenient people.
In this funny world, don’t be surprised if Beamish is knighted for his efforts in support of British Parliamentary procedures or given a medal as a sop to being bested. They might even elevate him to sit in the House of Lords along with the other politically appointed hacks and self servers rewarded by government.
Anyway, well done Lord Monckton, Pike/Petard inserted, elevate/hoist, now see them twist and turn (squirm)!!

davidmhoffer

kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:
November 20, 2011 at 6:13 pm
“Don’t mock the Monck”
If someone goes fishing for a reaction from Lord Monckton, is that a Monckfish?>>>
No…that would be a Fishermonck. And they would fish with Monckbait.
The analogy breaks down when one considers that getting a “bight” is rather painfull as Fishermonck Beamish has learned.

KevinK

Anthony wrote;
“Apparently, Monckton is a member of the House of Lords, according to ’a’ (sic) constitutional lawyer in England.”
Not being a constitutional lawyer (nor particularly desiring to be one) I will accept the judgment of the quoted lawyer.
So if the good Lord Monckton wishes to be addressed properly he should be afforded this simple courtesy.
Once the “climate scientists” who have derided Lord Monckton have demonstrated that they are in fact “scientists” I might just consider their foolish decrees that they can predict the weather coming upon us in a century or so with a bit of weight. Until then, they appear to be little more than a huge heaping mass of living, breathing HUBRIS.
This comes from a family member that had forefathers here in the the USA back during that little kerfuffle known as the Revolutionary War. Seems to me we kind of discarded that whole PEERAGE THING on this side of the pond. Instead we went with the;
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
version of things.
It seems to have worked pretty well for more than 250 years….
Cheers, Kevin.

[SNIP: First, read the WUWT site policy here. Second, your comments are off-topic, but if you provide verifying links they will be allowed. Third, anti-American sentiments on an American-based blog are dumb and distracting. Stick to the thread.
-REP]

I think maybe right about now it’s Squeemish Beamish

Here’s my free advice to anyone who aspires to go the distance with His Lordship in the intellectual arena: Get your facts straight. Otherwise Christopher will eat your lunch, to use a quaint colonial expression. That’s doubly true when his good name is an issue. And don’t you dare make fun of his charming Irish accent!

Jack Greer

Now this is pure comedy. My mockery of Monckton has zero to do with his peerage claim. A lawyer, whom he pays, says he’s a member of the House of Lords? The question is: What took Monckton so long to find an advocate willing to take his money? First, I couldn’t care less if he’s “officially” a member, or not, although it’s quite clear that none of the voting members want anything to do with Christopher. And, no, his situation isn’t like being an ex-Senator – he never had the right to vote. Just read his comments on this matter. They are so predictable and of the same style and tenor used in his GW arguments … pure, and widely recognized as, unadulterated BS. What’s important is that he’s been exposed for what he is. A title doesn’t fix that.

I personally find the whole title thing rather off-putting, but if it’s important to Monckton, then congrats on having the “Lord” thang verified and his opponents taken down a notch. I’ve learned a lot from him.

Richard

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.”
Now and then there’s a fool such as I

G. Karst

I am proud of Lord Monckton. Not because an alleged defect has been purged, but for the aplomb and humility that he has demonstrated through-out. How many here would have been able to maintain their cool, while under such venomous, ad hominem abuse.
He is a great ambassador for skeptics and we are fortunate to have him. The Viscount has singlehandedly caused many people to re-examine the actual science behind CO2 CAGW. His science may not be perfect, but he is light years beyond A.Gore.
I wish I could strip Mann’s Medal and give it to Monckton. GK

Ian H

I have to say that all one can really conclude from this legal opinion is that the issue is debatable. The various laws governing peerage would seem to be inconsistent and conflicting. You could say it is a “right royal mess”.
In any case what is not debatable in my opinion is that whether or not Monckton is a member of the House of Lords is completely irrelevant to the validity of the views he espouses on issues such a climate change.

R. Shearer

Poor Jack Greer, all he can do is mock, call one names and in the face of evidence contrary to his beliefs claim BS.

Hector Pascal

In my moderately republican yoof, I had a discussion about the Lords with my mum. She pointed out that the system wasn’t perfect, but it had evolved to do a reasonable job protecting the nation against the power of Kings for 800 years or so. She invoked what we now know as the Law of Unintended Consequences.
Mum was right.
In the Peer’s favour, there is something to be said for those who can hold unpopular opinions (rightly or wrongly) without fear of electoral backlash, or worse, punishment by political apparatchiks.

Alan Clark of Dirty Oil-berta

I wonder; if Lord M will stop “pretending” to be a member of the House of Lords will Jimmy Hansen stop pretending to be a climate scientist?

Lord Monckton in my mind is a solid character, he’s a friendly guy with a sharp intellectual mind and loves to roll his sleeves-up to get stuck-into the debated argument at hand, the mans good qualities don’t change because of speculative opinions on his heritage, this should never had even be an issue.
Monckton has made a good impression with me and it has nothing to do with his peerage/heritage, and good for him 🙂