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Jonathan Sumption, Planet-sized Brain? Hmm

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Many years ago I was involved in a truly massive litigation.  Both sides were desperate to get Sumption on the case, such was the awe in which he was held.  I heard it from enough lawyers that I’m inclined to believe it.  Now, of course, he’s retired (from the Supreme Court) and is making a name for himself on the libertarian side of the debate over Covid lockdown etc.  Several of our BTL readers have warmly advocated reading his works; and we should all be glad of brainpower and general firepower on the side of anti statism and wokery – Heaven knows, there may be enough need of it in the years to come.


I have just read one of his DTel pieces; and if that brain really is as big as claimed, well, it’s being deployed for partisan sophistry here – hardly unknown in the legal profession, of course, but not at all becoming.  

Here’s one of the offending passages.

There were only ever two rational choices [back in Feb-March 2020].  One was a total lockdown until all vulnerable groups had been vaccinated, which would have been politically impossible if the Government had been upfront about it.  The other was a voluntary system under which people were allowed to take responsibility for their own risks assessments.

That statement of the range of possibilities open to the government at that time is wholly lacking in merit as a piece of analysis – a classic trial-lawyer’s contrived framing of the kind “if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit“.  It can be contested on almost every phrase (particularly since “only ever” is so strong) and is self-evidently a grotesque over-simplification on a massive issue.  To fall for it is to be a putty-in-his-hands member of the gullible OJ Simpson jury.  Maybe that’s your average DTel reader.  

But for a man as rich as Croesus with the fine reputation he built, he should be above that kind of stuff at this point in his ‘career’.



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