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The Council of State

The Council of State has met and has decided not to refer the Criminal Justice Bill 2007 to the Supreme Court for an adjudication on its constitutionality (or otherwise).

Had the Council the good fortune to get the advice of Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) they might have heard something like the following:

Consider the form of justice which has ruled over us: it is a true witness to the imbecility of Man, so full it is of contradiction and error. Wherever we find favouritism or undue severity in our justice – and we can find so much that I doubt whether the Mean between them is to be found as frequently – they constitute diseased organs and corrupt members of the very body and essence of Justice. Some peasants have just rushed in to tell me that they have, at this very moment, left behind in a wood of mine a man with dozens of stab-wounds; he was still breathing and begged them of their mercy for some water and for help to lift him up. They say that they ran away fearing that they might be caught by an officer of the law and (as does happen to those who are found near a man who has been killed) required to explain this incident; that would have ruined them, since they had neither the skill nor the money to prove their innocence. What ought I to have said to them? It is certain that such an act of humanity would have put them in difficulties.

(Taken from On experience The Essays: A selection; Michel de Montaigne (trans. M. A. Screech) (Penguin Classics)