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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Photo Minute: Tracing the stars and stripes








A dispute born of HSE unaccountability

                                                               PHILOMENA CANNING

PHILOMENA CANNING has been allowed to return to work. Three weeks ago, the last time this column visited the State’s attack on Ms Canning, that phrase was hardly imaginable

The Health Service Executive had tied itself in knots, giving the serious impression that it was trying to hang Ms Canning any which way it could. Form suggested it would muddle on, behind closed doors, until finally somebody would shell out a chunk of public money in lieu of accountability.

Then, last Wednesday, apparently out of the blue, the HSE’s solicitors, Arthur Cox, wrote to Ms Canning’s that she could return to work, as “the temporary suspension is no longer in the public interest”. The burning question is whether it was ever in the public interest, or whether there was an agenda against an independent-minded woman who refuses to tug the forelock to those who regard themselves as her betters.

Canning’s case is the latest example of how the State deals with dissonant voices that threaten the status quo, or that raise uncomfortable questions. Its import goes far beyond what appears to be the hounding of an innocent woman.

Quick recap. Philomena Canning is the leading home-birth midwife in the State, having practiced for more than 30 years. Her clients refer to her work in superlatives. One woman to whom I spoke alternated between outrage at the treatment of Ms Canning and wonderment at how the midwife had delivered her baby.

The admiration isn’t universal. Homebirths are frowned on by the medical establishment here, but in other jurisdictions they are a growing phenomenon. For cultural reasons — not to mention vested interests — home-births remains the choice of a small minority here.

Canning is a passionate advocate for home-births, and has never been backwards in representing women who feel ill-served by the State’s approach to the practice. As a result, she has never been well got in the mother-ship of the HSE.

She is also an advocate for a public health system, and so wanted to open birth centres in conjunction with the HSE. These centres would provide for birth in a home-like setting, and are highly popular in other countries. No thanks, came the reply.

So she set about it herself, acquiring premises and funding, intent on doing it privately under the HSE’s home-birth scheme. Then, last August, just as the project was reaching fruition, she got word that her indemnity insurance was being withdrawn, pending an inquiry.

The inquiry involved two births, delivered by Canning, in which there were routine, minor complications. In both cases, the mothers were effusive about the care they had received and have supported Canning since. Somebody in the HSE determined that the cases required investigation. Canning sought a High Court injunction to prevent her suspension, but she was unsuccessful. She appealed the ruling. That appeal was due to be heard yesterday. Then, last Wednesday, she got word that all bets were off.

What changed? In preparation for the appeal, Canning had commissioned independent reports on her case from maternity-care authorities in the UK. Two reports endorsed her position, one in a tone that barely concealed outrage at her treatment.

The HSE commissioned its own report, which, guess what, also came out in favour of Canning. How often does an ‘independent’ report prepared for court tell its client the polar opposite of what it was commissioned to find.

Quite obviously, the HSE saw the writing on the wall. There was no chance of winning in the appeal court. Instead, it was possible that one of the judges might issue a withering response to the agency’s case. That would raise further questions about the so-called inquiries into Canning.

All was not lost, however. On Tuesday, the day before the HSE caved in, Canning received a long-awaited response to her proposal of last August on the birth centres.

“My dream, for many years, was to open Ireland’s first such centres to the public, and I had two centres on the verge of opening, back in September, when I was unlawfully suspended,” Canning said yesterday in a statement.
“Stand-alone birth centres in the community, a model widely adopted in the UK, are not alone more economically advantageous over hospital births, they also provide the best outcomes in low-risk births.”
And the long-awaited response? “The answer, in short, was no. For reasons not specified, it was made clear the HSE does not acknowledge this under their (home birth) scheme,” she said.

So, at least the turbulent midwife has been put back in her box. She is allowed to resume practice, but she can forget any notions of developing home-births in line with the status they are accorded in ‘first world’ countries.

In its statement on Canning’s reinstatement, the HSE noted that its two inquiries, which precipitated the suspension, were continuing. (The Dail was told, late last year, that the second inquiry was set up to expedite the first, but, despite its raison d’etre, it was not possible to give a timeline for this second inquiry).
This is now little more than a box-ticking exercise, particularly in light of the three reports that were commissioned by Canning and the HSE. Her own legal action against the agency for suspending her, and the fallout thereof, is continuing.

Serious questions, vital to both public health and how power is exercised in a democracy, remain to be answered. A woman was put out of her job, her career jepordised, and 29 clients, who had retained her services for a major life event, were left high and dry. This was done because she allegedly presented some form of threat to public health. The evidence for such an allegation is highly suspect, to put it at its mildest.
Was the public interest the real imperative, or was some other agenda at work? As stated here previously, form would suggest that the ultimate outcome will be that the HSE will settle with Canning, including a premium to ensure confidentiality on the matter, and there it will be buried. Form also suggests that very serious pressure will be placed on Canning to accept such a settlement, if she intends to continue practicing in this country.

This is simply not acceptable in today’s world.

A woman whose contribution to this society far outweighs anything offered by mandarins in the HSE. She has had her life turned upside down.

Her personal travails are worthy of great consideration, but the implications of how she has been treated go far beyond that. The only course that could restore any confidence in the system is an inquiry into how and why the HSE initiated its inquiry into Canning. There are, unfortunately, two chances of that ever happening.

Midwife’s case is the latest example of how the State deals with dissonant voices

Michael Clifford

Friday, February 27, 2015

Video: Endless hot water without electricity!

Video: Free And Virtually Unlimited Fuel To Heat Your Home

Video: It's never over until it actually is !!

children need secular education, where all rights are respected


                                 Richard Dawkins

We should never forget that within living memory on this island, religious institutions held an unaccountable grip on public institutions
Speaking in Dublin this week, Prof Richard Dawkins weighed in on secular education, stating, “Children do need to be protected so that they can have a proper education and not be indoctrinated in whatever religion their parents happen to have been brought up in”. While religious conservatives may dismiss Dawkins as a firebrand, his sentiment is especially pertinent in Ireland.

Last year, an Oireachtas committee heard that religious and racial segregation was all too frequent due to the subdivision of schools between religious patrons. Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan’s characterisation of Rule 68 (in the department’s rules for National Schools) as ‘archaic’ is too kind; Rule 68 insists “. . . Religious Instruction is by far the most important [of all the parts of a school’s curriculum] . . . and a religious spirit should inform and vivify the whole work of the school”, a naked directive of religious dominance.

Ireland is perhaps unique in having a patently absurd system where despite most schools being entirely State-funded, religious patrons impose their own teachings and admission criteria, subverting education as a vehicle to evangelise and indoctrinate at taxpayers’ expense. This bizarre situation elicited concerns in July from the UN Human Rights Committee, which questioned how the State could be compliant with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights while allowing religious patrons a “near monopoly” on vital public services. Worse again, they noted the current Irish set-up allows these patrons to “openly discriminate in admissions policies between children on the basis of parents’ registered convictions”.

This is in no way solely a Catholic issue. In September Dr Ali Selim of the Islamic cultural centre criticised the Catholic dominance of schools, calling for “a revolution of inclusivity”. Yet Selim’s insistence schools operate different policies for Muslim students is equally problematic. He took issue with relationship and sexuality education, claiming it defines sex outside wedlock as normal despite this being prohibited in Islam. This highlights an extremely questionable understanding of the purpose of education – the RSE programme does not seek to tell people what to do in their sexual lives nor make judgments on the ethics of sex outside marriage, it exists to help young people obtain non-judgmental and vital information about issues relating to sexuality and relationships.

In addition, Selim bemoaned the fact that females might be obliged to remove their headscarf during PE, and sought strict gender segregation during PE, asserting “they should also not be visible to men while at play”.

These religiously mandated restrictions on education seems less a plea for inclusivity and more an insistence that Islam is extended the same odious stranglehold over education that Catholic schools have unfairly wielded for years. The language of inclusivity may seem progressive, but the mind-set it conceals is anything but.

Trying to cater education to all religions has some superficial appeal but in reality leads to segregation and discrimination. It is detrimental to students, potentially denying them crucial information on topics such as sex, contraception or science solely because they offend the religious sensibilities of the patron. Finally, acquiescing to religious segregation of taxpayer-funded schools is not only ethically dubious, it is hugely wasteful and inefficient.
The solution is to simply make all State-funded schools entirely non-denominational. A truly secular educational experience where everyone’s beliefs are respected but none mandated for would benefit children, ending needless discrimination and squandering of precious resources. This needn’t mean jettisoning religion; if parents wish their child to receive religious instruction, then this can be provided outside of classroom hours. Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. The only right that matters is the right of children to an education and there is quite simply no reason potentially odious axioms of faith should influence the admissions or syllabus of any public school.

We should never forget that within living memory on this island, religious institutions held an unaccountable grip on public institutions. An undue, uncritical deference to religious authority has left us with the spectre of Magdalene laundries, facilitated the widespread abuse of children and even infected our Constitution. The possible removal of Rule 68 should be welcomed, but this alone isn’t enough – our entire State education system needs to be consistent for all students, guaranteeing everyone a decent impartial education free from the whims and dubious influence of religious patrons.


David Robert Grimes (a science writer and a physicist at Oxford University) 

Mc Williams rocks up to banking inquiry


Rock ‘n’ roll arrived at the Oireachtas banking inquiry yesterday. It came in the form of David Mc Williams: He Who Foretold The Crash.


McWilliams was there to tell the inquiring politicians where it all went wrong. He is known as a pop economist, but the term doesn’t do him justice. This guy is pure rock ‘n’ roll.
Various myths have grown up around Macker, a bit like those that feed the legendary pursuits of Led Zeppelin on their wild tours of the 1970s. Once upon a time, he was mistakenly credited with inventing the phrase “Celtic Tiger”.
Since the crash in 2008, he has transmogrified into The Man Who Saw It All Coming.
To be fair to him, he did predict the bursting of the housing bubble. He first predicted it in 1996, and continued to do so for the following 12 years until it did burst.
There were others — not many, but a few — who did likewise, but what distinguished McWilliams was his excellence in communicating, which saw him provided with a range of media platforms.
As such, he was the most prominent dissident voice during a time of smug consensus, and he has traded expertly on that status since the walls came tumbling down.
It’s just as well he’s an amiable chap who oozes charm, or it might have been easy to take a dislike to him yesterday. He began as he meant to go on:
“It is my opinion that the Irish banking system and the rest of the economy was set up to fail. I saw this earlier than anybody else.” That’s anybody else in the whole wide world, and hope to die.
That theme of being an oracle inside a sage inside the smartest boy in the class was maintained throughout his two-and a-half hours of evidence. He keep telling us that he had told us so.
“I did this in hundreds of thousands of words, dozens of articles twice a week, I made documentaries; on my own TV show on TV3; and constantly warning people at every juncture — not if but when — the housing [bubble would burst].”
He told us that his TV series The Pope’s Children was watched by 36% of the viewing public, and the eponymous book published in 2005 was the best-selling non-fiction tome, not of the year, but the decade.
The fella knows his onions and he’s not behind the door in coming forward with the lowdown.
He also told that he believed the bank guarantee was “the only decision that could have been made at the time which would have stopped a bank run”, but, crucially, he added that the key was that it needed to be temporary.
Some of the politicians tried to catch him out on the guarantee. Conventional wisdom has it these days that the guarantee was a disastrous decision, but, to be fair to Macker, he stuck with the more plausible line that there was no alternative at the time, the real damage having been done in the preceding years. With, of course the above caveat, lest he be mistaken for somebody who could have made a mistake.
He opened up about his contacts with the late Brian Lenihan over a period of weeks during that fateful autumn of ’08.
“He rocked up to my kitchen,” McWilliams said.
They met twice and spoke a dozen times on the phone during those weeks. He felt Lenihan used him as “a sounding board”, a voice on the outside to counter all those on the inside.
When the guarantee was going down, Macker was off in China at some global function for very smart people. John Gormley phoned him from Ireland, to ask what was going on in Ireland. How crazy was that? At least it meant that government ministers were finally realising that Dave did know it all.
Rounding up what was a thoroughly engaging session, chairman Ciaran Lynch put the killer question to the witness: “Did you ever get anything wrong?
At first, Dave thought it was a trick question but then he said that no, he didn’t get anything wrong in relation to the bubble and crash. It is indeed hard to be humble, when you’ve predicted it every which way.
Knowing it all isn’t a crime, particularly if you have the personality to carry it off. And that McWilliams has.
Afterwards he rose to depart, sans encore, trailing a celebratory frisson in his wake. All that was missing was for a voice to cackle over the public announcement system, declaring: “David McWilliams has left the building”. 

First Group of bankers forced to attend inquiry revealed

The 13, who must attend meetings in late April, are:
Richie Boucher, chief executive of Bank of Ireland
Michael Buckley, former chief executive of AIB
Richard Burrows, former governor of Bank of Ireland
Laurence Crowley, former Governor of Bank of Ireland
Frank Daly, Nama chairman
Donal Forde, former managing director of AIB
Robert Gallagher, foreign chief executive of corporate markets at Ulster Bank
Dermot Gleeson, former chairman of AIB
Brian Goggin, former chief executive of Bank of Ireland
Cormac McCarthy, former chief executive of Ulster Bank
Brendan McDonagh, chief executive of Nama
Eugene Sheehy, former chief executive of AIB
Michael Torpey, corporate and treasury chief executive at Bank of Ireland

Michael Clifford



Anger after Kenny says he's worth €3,500 a week


Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been accused of arrogance for insisting he is "very much" worth the €3,564 a week he gets from taxpayers.
Mr Kenny’s remarks provoked anger among lone parent groups and carers for disabled people, after he said there was no need to cut his €185,350 salary as “we’ve cut everything to the bone”.

                                                                                 Enda Kenny

A group representing lone parents said the remarks would anger people who were struggling financially. “They would react with a lot of anger and disappointment as the small amount they receive, either through social welfare, or work, has been cut,” said Stuart Duffin of the organisation One Family.

“There is a feeling politicians don’t seem to have any idea about what it is like to try and live on a very low income.”

Laois-Offaly Families for Autism chairman Gerry Loughlin branded the remarks “arrogant”, adding: “We are supposed to be an impoverished country, but the losers are the weak and vulnerable in society.”

Mr Kenny made his remarks as he launched the eight-person Low Pay Commission. Asked by the Irish Examiner if he thought he was worth €3,500 a week, Mr Kenny said: “Very much so. Salaries are down 40% in the case of the taoisigh. We’ve cut everything to the bone. And your question is typical.”

On coming to office in March 2011, the Government cut the Taoiseach’s pay from €214,187 to €200,000, and it was cut again in 2013 to €185,350 in line with the Haddington Road Agreement — a cut of 15%.

The salary scale of the Taoiseach peaked in 2007 at €310,000, but was reduced after a public outcry.

Despite cuts, Mr Kenny still earns more than the president of France, who gets €170,000 a year — a similar level earned by British prime minister David Cameron until the Greek election crisis sent the euro plunging against sterling.

Lone parent groups said the remarks are especially untimely as the Government is to abolish the lone parent payment for children over the age of seven from July, a move they say could deprive families of €80 a week.

Mr Kenny’s Government restored the minimum wage cut imposed by the previous Fianna Fáil-Green administration.

However, Mr Kenny would not commit to a specific increase in the €8.65 rate of the minimum wage, saying that it would change “incrementally” over time.

A spokesperson for Mr Kenny said later: “The Taoiseach is not driven by his salary, he is driven by a determination to lead a Government to secure the recovery.”

Shaun Connolly

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Photo Minute: A Bird's Eye View










Nick Leeson: Lack of appetite to take bankers to court

Rogue trader’ says there are no real consequences for bankers from authorities in Ireland and Britain
                                                                         Liam Neeson

Rogue trader Nick Leeson has claimed authorities in Ireland and Britain do not have the appetite to prosecute bankers.
Twenty years since his spectacularly fraudulent punts broke Barings, one of the UK’s oldest merchant banks, the former derivatives broker hit out at apathy he sees among criminal justice chiefs and politicians.
“The problem is there needs to be an appetite to prosecute these people,” he said. “There seems to be a severe lack of appetite when you look at the UK and Ireland and you have to ask yourself why?
“Financial markets are a huge part of a country’s GDP, they provide a lot of donations to the ruling parties in both those countries and there just seems to be a lack of appetite to prosecute and punish accordingly.”
Leeson’s staggering fraud from the Singapore trading floor still resonates two decades later, albeit the £862m losses he racked up are dwarfed by the multibillion bailouts of UK and Irish banks and fines of $166bn dished out to banks for corrupt or illegal practices in recent years.
But the plasterer’s son from Watford remains a symbol of rogue banking.
Leeson appeared incredulous at the lack of white-collar convictions for corrupt banking and more so at the apparently pervasive attitudes in financial circles.
“There’s been some startling things that have happened over the last number of years and when you sort of add them together it kind of looks as if they [the banks] exist above the law,” he said.
“166 billion US dollars in fines in six years is astronomical sort of money. If you can weather that sort of fine, number one, and it doesn’t impact your bottom line and there’s no reputational damage — what stops you carrying on and working forward to the next disaster that’s around the corner because there’s no real consequence to your actions.”
Leeson, who this week turns 48, has been jailed, divorced, beaten colon cancer, run Galway United Football Club, and carved a lucrative career on the after dinner circuit and as a debt management consultant in the years since Barings collapsed on February 26 1995.
The venerable investment house counted Queen Elizabeth on its client list and is mentioned in history books as the institution that financed the sale of the state of Louisiana from France.
Ultimately it was sold for £1 and Leeson’s reckless trades were depicted in a Hollywood film starring Ewan McGregor.
Now re-married, Leeson’s turnaround is evidenced by the comfortable, suburban life he has built with his second wife Leona in Galway.
Even that took an unusual twist last week when he used the Barings’ anniversary as an opportunity to explain to his 10-year-old son Mackensey why his father will be in the news again.
Monday marked the 20th anniversary since he fled the “police state” of Singapore, as he puts it, with his first wife Lisa and hid in a Malaysian hotel. A fax had been sent to his London bosses claiming he was sick and wanted to resign.
Three days later he was preparing to hand himself in and Barings was bust.
Leeson went on to serve four and a half years in a Singapore prison for fraud and illegal trading, going through divorce while behind bars before being released early to battle colon cancer.
Leeson’s life has enjoyed a remarkable turnaround, but he does not see a similar trajectory in the world of banking.
“It’s all about money. But wherever it is, in society, we have rules and laws and they’re enforced.

“The problem with the world of banking for me at the moment is there isn’t adequate deterrent and meaningful punishment and if you have a lack of the two there’ll be bedlam, people will do what they want.”

Ed Carty

Be careful: Jim Cusack May Be A Member Of The IRA

Wanted: 
Jim Cusack-armed with a pencil and considered dangerous. Approach with caution. 

Jim Cusack, a scribe who is employed by the Irish Independent, hired only to offload lies and dirt upon Sinn Fein and Gerry Adams, is on a winner for now, for what he writes does not even need to be true which is the only version of truth he needs; though he may be a double agent and actually be a member of the IRA. That thought aside, take this statement last week by Garda Commissioner, Noirin O'Sullivan, in response to a query from Sinn Fein: “An Garda Siochana hold no information or intelligence to support the assertion of Jim Cusack that the Provisional IRA still maintains its military structure or confines any criminal activities to fuel laundering, cigarette smuggling or counterfeiting". 

Now that seems pretty clear to me and they, above all shades of blue, would be happy to think otherwise and act upon it with a historical zeal. Her statement can only be true because historical prejudice alone would have encouraged her to say otherwise given a chance; in other words she had no choice but to stand with this particular truth for it was bigger than the Gardai could ever prove otherwise.  But Jim Cusack, driven by the underlying tenets of what the Irish Independent considers ‘ethical journalism’ writes in their paper, and here is an insight into gutter journalism no matter what the optics: ‘Provo criminals haven’t gone away’ and published on the 22/2/2015. Lets look a little closer of what is between the lines of this fairy tale:

Cusack’s usual throwback for proof is never a named Garda only 'Gardai sources,' which can be pretty much mean anybody, dead or alive. This is the pedigree of journalism used by the National Enquirer, The Daily Mirror/Sun and more. Suspects are never given a name, God forbid should they be sued for their lies, but so far that thin line still holds in the main, though Gerry Adams has won in the courts against them before, and I dare say will again. 

The Gardai sources are heavily cited in this article with the absence of any proof, concrete or otherwise. Then there is the ‘local sources’ as well to back up the Gardai ones.  Then Jim tells us that the Crossmaglen Police station (I suspect he is dripping in frustrated saliva here) is a fortress type only seen in Bagdad or Kabul, with a 30-foot high concrete blast wall and designed to prevent ‘proxy’ or suicide bombers. Being almost 120 years old doesn't help either.

Apart from the fact that there has been mooted talk in high circles for some time now that this Police station was going to be removed piece by piece and lovingly re-assembled and restored in the Belfast museum as a relic and historical reminder of the troubles, Jim was fixed elsewhere; nobody bothered to tell him either that there was never any suicide bombers, proxy or poxy otherwise, recorded from both sides of the divide since records began. 

Despite all this, Jim, in a last gasp coy effort, and despite Commissioner O’ Sullivan’s strong denials, said his paper asked her if she was ‘personally’ satisfied that the IRA no longer exists or was involved in fuel laundering and cigarette smuggling.  The last line of the article coyly suggests without actually ‘suggesting’ by ending with this: ‘There was no response at the time of going to print.’

I heard though from ‘Gardai and local sources’ that she had joined Gerry Adams and their two dogs on a trampoline, both naked I might add, (though perish the thought) singing aloud that rather optimistic song: “We're on the one road, maybe the wrong road, but we're on the road to God knows where.” Those same 'informed sources' tell me that ‘Edna’ Kenny knows exactly where that road is.


Barry Clifford

Photo Minute: Keep thinking spring-New York, New York








Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The cork barman John Horgan's song lyrics for The Bright Blue Rose




                                                     Bright Blue Rose


I skimmed across black water, without once submerging
Onto the banks of an urban morning
That hungers the first light, much much more
Than mountains ever do.

And she like a ghost beside me, goes down with the ease of a dolphin
And emerges unlearned, unshamed, unharmed
For she is the perfect creature, natural in every feature
And I am the geek with the alchemists' stone.

Chorus

For all of you who must discover,
For all who seek to understand,
For having left the path of others
You find a very special hand.

And it is a holy thing, and it is a precious time
And it is the only way
Forget-me-nots among the snow, it's always been and so it goes
To ponder his death and his life eternally.

Chorus

For all of you who must discover
For all who seek to understand,
For having left the path of others
You find a very special hand.

And it is a holy thing
And it is the only way
Forget-me-nots among the snow, it's always been and so it goes
To ponder his death and his life eternally.

One bright blue rose outlives all those
Two thousand years and still it goes

To ponder his death and his life eternally.

The Magna Carter (1215)- The beginning of a fledging democracy

The Magna Carta 1215, carrying the famous line: 'To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or injustice.'



LORD NEUBERGER, PRESIDENT OF THE SUPREME COURT.
‘Where justice is concerned, the principles of Magna Carta are a reference to which we should always return to ensure that we are proceeding in the right direction.’

DANNY DANZIGER & JOHN GILLINGHAM
‘As a symbol of the struggle against tyranny it will always retain its value’

ERWIN GRISWOLD, DEAN OF HARVARD LAW SCHOOL
‘Magna Carta is not primarily significant for what it was, but rather for what it was made to be’

SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL
‘Here is a law which is above the King and which even he must not break. This reaffirmation of a supreme law and its expression in a general charter is the great work of Magna Carta; and this alone justifies the respect in which men have held it’
Prime Minister of Britain 1940 – 1945, 1951 – 1955.

WILLIAM STUBBS.
‘The Great Charter is the first great public act of the nation, after it has realised its own identity’
‘Thee whole constitutional history of England is little more than a commentary on the Magna Carta’
Bishop of Oxford between 1866 and 1884, in his volume on constitutional history

THOMAS TANY, 1650.
‘Magna Carta is the being of our being’
Influential preacher and self-professed prophet. 

WILLIAM PITT, “THE ELDER”.
‘[Magna Carta is] the Bible of the English Constitution’
Former British Prime Minister, 1766 – 1768. 

LORD BINGHAM OF CORNHILL.
‘The sealing of Magna Carta was an event that changed the constitutional landscape in this country and, over time, the world’
As well as being a former Master of the Rolls, Lord Bingham was also Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, and Senior Law Lord of Appeal. onally.     

FIONA WOOLF C.B.E.
’2015 is the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta, the single most important legal document in history.  The foundation for global constitutions, commerce and communities.  The anchor for the Rule of Law.’
In September 2014 she marked the Global Law Summit’s one year to go anniversary at Mansion House.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT.
‘The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history.  It is human history. It permeated the ancient life of early peoples. It blazed anew in the Middle Ages. It was written in Magna Charta’
This American President’s Third Inauguration Address in 1941 defended democracy and freedom, as Europe and many other parts of world were at war. In this speech, the President referenced the Magna Carta as a precursor to democracy.    

LORD DENNING, MASTER OF THE ROLLS.
‘The greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot’


LORD NEUBERGER, PRESIDENT OF THE SUPREME COURT.
‘Where justice is concerned, the principles of Magna Carta are a reference to which we should always return to ensure that we are proceeding in the right direction.’

DANNY DANZIGER & JOHN GILLINGHAM
‘As a symbol of the struggle against tyranny it will always retain its value’

ERWIN GRISWOLD, DEAN OF HARVARD LAW SCHOOL
‘Magna Carta is not primarily significant for what it was, but rather for what it was made to be’

SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL
‘Here is a law which is above the King and which even he must not break. This reaffirmation of a supreme law and its expression in a general charter is the great work of Magna Carta; and this alone justifies the respect in which men have held it’
Prime Minister of Britain 1940 – 1945, 1951 – 1955.

WILLIAM STUBBS.
‘The Great Charter is the first great public act of the nation, after it has realised its own identity’
‘Thee whole constitutional history of England is little more than a commentary on the Magna Carta’
Bishop of Oxford between 1866 and 1884, in his volume on constitutional history

THOMAS TANY, 1650.
‘Magna Carta is the being of our being’
Influential preacher and self-professed prophet. 

WILLIAM PITT, “THE ELDER”.
‘[Magna Carta is] the Bible of the English Constitution’
Former British Prime Minister, 1766 – 1768. 

LORD BINGHAM OF CORNHILL.
‘The sealing of Magna Carta was an event that changed the constitutional landscape in this country and, over time, the world’
As well as being a former Master of the Rolls, Lord Bingham was also Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, and Senior Law Lord of Appeal. onally.     



FIONA WOOLF C.B.E.
’2015 is the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta, the single most important legal document in history.  The foundation for global constitutions, commerce and communities.  The anchor for the Rule of Law.’
In September 2014 she marked the Global Law Summit’s one year to go anniversary at Mansion House.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT.
‘The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history.  It is human history. It permeated the ancient life of early peoples. It blazed anew in the Middle Ages. It was written in Magna Charta’
This American President’s Third Inauguration Address in 1941 defended democracy and freedom, as Europe and many other parts of world were at war. In this speech, the President referenced the Magna Carta as a precursor to democracy.    

LORD DENNING, MASTER OF THE ROLLS.
‘The greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot’




English translation of the 1215 Latin edition of Magna Carta

JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, Greeting.

KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry archbishop of Dublin, William bishop of London, Peter bishop of Winchester, Jocelin bishop of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh bishop of Lincoln, Walter bishop of Worcester, William bishop of Coventry, Benedict bishop of Rochester, Master Pandulf subdeacon and member of the papal household, Brother Aymeric master of the knighthood of the Temple in England, William Marshal earl of Pembroke, William earl of Salisbury, William earl of Warren, William earl of Arundel, Alan of Galloway constable of Scotland, Warin fitz Gerald, Peter fitz Herbert, Hubert de Burgh seneschal of Poitou, Hugh de Neville, Matthew fitz Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip Daubeny, Robert de Roppeley, John Marshal, John fitz Hugh, and other loyal subjects:

  • (1) FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it - and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity.
TO ALL FREE MEN OF OUR KINGDOM we have also granted, for us and our heirs for ever, all the liberties written out below, to have and to keep for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs:

(2) If any earl, baron, or other person that holds lands directly of the Crown, for military service, shall die, and at his death his heir shall be of full age and owe a 'relief', the heir shall have his inheritance on payment of the ancient scale of 'relief'. That is to say, the heir or heirs of an earl shall pay £100 for the entire earl's barony, the heir or heirs of a knight 100s. at most for the entire knight's 'fee', and any man that owes less shall pay less, in accordance with the ancient usage of ‘fees'.

(3) But if the heir of such a person is under age and a ward, when he comes of age he shall have his inheritance without 'relief' or fine.

(4) The guardian of the land of an heir who is under age shall take from it only reasonable revenues, customary dues, and feudal services. He shall do this without destruction or damage to men or property. If we have given the guardianship of the land to a sheriff, or to any person answerable to us for the revenues, and he commits destruction or damage, we will exact compensation from him, and the land shall be entrusted to two worthy and prudent men of the same 'fee', who shall be answerable to us for the revenues, or to the person to whom we have assigned them. If we have given or sold to anyone the guardianship of such land, and he causes destruction or damage, he shall lose the guardianship of it, and it shall be handed over to two worthy and prudent men of the same 'fee', who shall be similarly answerable to us.

(5) For so long as a guardian has guardianship of such land, he shall maintain the houses, parks, fish preserves, ponds, mills, and everything else pertaining to it, from the revenues of the land itself. When the heir comes of age, he shall restore the whole land to him, stocked with plough teams and such implements of husbandry as the season demands and the revenues from the land can reasonably bear.

(6) Heirs may be given in marriage, but not to someone of lower social standing. Before a marriage takes place, it shall be made known to the heir's next-of-kin.

(7) At her husband's death, a widow may have her marriage portion and inheritance at once and without trouble. She shall pay nothing for her dower, marriage portion, or any inheritance that she and her husband held jointly on the day of his death. She may remain in her husband's house for forty days after his death, and within this period her dower shall be assigned to her.

(8) No widow shall be compelled to marry, so long as she wishes to remain without a husband. But she must give security that she will not marry without royal consent, if she holds her lands of the Crown, or without the consent of whatever other lord she may hold them of.

(9) Neither we nor our officials will seize any land or rent in payment of a debt, so long as the debtor has movable goods sufficient to discharge the debt. A debtor's sureties shall not be distrained upon so long as the debtor himself can discharge his debt. If, for lack of means, the debtor is unable to discharge his debt, his sureties shall be answerable for it. If they so desire, they may have the debtor's lands and rents until they have received satisfaction for the debt that they paid for him, unless the debtor can show that he has settled his obligations to them.

  • (10) If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom he holds his lands. If such a debt falls into the hands of the Crown, it will take nothing except the principal sum specified in the bond.
  • (11) If a man dies owing money to Jews, his wife may have her dower and pay nothing towards the debt from it. If he leaves children that are under age, their needs may also be provided for on a scale appropriate to the size of his holding of lands. The debt is to be paid out of the residue, reserving the service due to his feudal lords. Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly.
  • (12) No 'scutage' or 'aid' may be levied in our kingdom without its general consent, unless it is for the ransom of our person, to make our eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry our eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable 'aid' may be levied. 'Aids' from the city of London are to be treated similarly.
  • (13) The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water. We also will and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall enjoy all their liberties and free customs.
  • (14) To obtain the general consent of the realm for the assessment of an 'aid' - except in the three cases specified above - or a 'scutage', we will cause the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons to be summoned individually by letter. To those who hold lands directly of us we will cause a general summons to be issued, through the sheriffs and other officials, to come together on a fixed day (of which at least forty days notice shall be given) and at a fixed place. In all letters of summons, the cause of the summons will be stated. When a summons has been issued, the business appointed for the day shall go forward in accordance with the resolution of those present, even if not all those who were summoned have appeared.
  • (15) In future we will allow no one to levy an 'aid' from his free men, except to ransom his person, to make his eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry his eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable 'aid' may be levied.
(16) No man shall be forced to perform more service for a knight's 'fee', or other free holding of land, than is due from it.
(17) Ordinary lawsuits shall not follow the royal court around, but shall be held in a fixed place.

(18) Inquests of novel disseisin, mort d'ancestor, and darrein presentment shall be taken only in their proper county court. We ourselves, or in our absence abroad our chief justice, will send two justices to each county four times a year, and these justices, with four knights of the county elected by the county itself, shall hold the assizes in the county court, on the day and in the place where the court meets.

(19) If any assizes cannot be taken on the day of the county court, as many knights and freeholders shall afterwards remain behind, of those who have attended the court, as will suffice for the administration of justice, having regard to the volume of business to be done.

(20) For a trivial offence, a free man shall be fined only in proportion to the degree of his offence, and for a serious offence correspondingly, but not so heavily as to deprive him of his livelihood. In the same way, a merchant shall be spared his merchandise, and a villein the implements of his husbandry, if they fall upon the mercy of a royal court. None of these fines shall be imposed except by the assessment on oath of reputable men of the neighbourhood.

(21) Earls and barons shall be fined only by their equals, and in proportion to the gravity of their offence.
(22) A fine imposed upon the lay property of a clerk in holy orders shall be assessed upon the same principles, without reference to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.

(23) No town or person shall be forced to build bridges over rivers except those with an ancient obligation to do so.
(24) No sheriff, constable, coroners, or other royal officials are to hold lawsuits that should be held by the royal justices.

* (25) Every county, hundred, wapentake, and tithing shall remain at its ancient rent, without increase, except the royal demesne manors.
(26) If at the death of a man who holds a lay 'fee' of the Crown, a sheriff or royal official produces royal letters patent of summons for a debt due to the Crown, it shall be lawful for them to seize and list movable goods found in the lay 'fee' of the dead man to the value of the debt, as assessed by worthy men. Nothing shall be removed until the whole debt is paid, when the residue shall be given over to the executors to carry out the dead man’s will. If no debt is due to the Crown, all the movable goods shall be regarded as the property of the dead man, except the reasonable shares of his wife and children.

* (27) If a free man dies intestate, his movable goods are to be distributed by his next-of-kin and friends, under the supervision of the Church. The rights of his debtors are to be preserved.
(28) No constable or other royal official shall take corn or other movable goods from any man without immediate payment, unless the seller voluntarily offers postponement of this.

(29) No constable may compel a knight to pay money for castle-guard if the knight is willing to undertake the guard in person, or with reasonable excuse to supply some other fit man to do it. A knight taken or sent on military service shall be excused from castle-guard for the period of this service.
(30) No sheriff, royal official, or other person shall take horses or carts for transport from any free man, without his consent.

(31) Neither we nor any royal official will take wood for our castle, or for any other purpose, without the consent of the owner.
(32) We will not keep the lands of people convicted of felony in our hand for longer than a year and a day, after which they shall be returned to the lords of the 'fees' concerned.
(33) All fish-weirs shall be removed from the Thames, the Medway, and throughout the whole of England, except on the sea coast.

(34) The writ called precipe shall not in future be issued to anyone in respect of any holding of land, if a free man could thereby be deprived of the right of trial in his own lord's court.
(35) There shall be standard measures of wine, ale, and corn (the London quarter), throughout the kingdom. There shall also be a standard width of dyed cloth, russet, and haberject, namely two ells within the selvedges. Weights are to be standardised similarly.

(36) In future nothing shall be paid or accepted for the issue of a writ of inquisition of life or limbs. It shall be given gratis, and not refused.
(37) If a man holds land of the Crown by 'fee-farm', 'socage', or 'burgage', and also holds land of someone else for knight's service, we will not have guardianship of his heir, nor of the land that belongs to the other person's 'fee', by virtue of the 'fee-farm', 'socage', or 'burgage', unless the 'fee-farm' owes knight's service. We will not have the guardianship of a man's heir, or of land that he holds of someone else, by reason of any small property that he may hold of the Crown for a service of knives, arrows, or the like.

(38) In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.
  • (39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.

+ (40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.
(41) All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, and may stay or travel within it, by land or water, for purposes of trade, free from all illegal exactions, in accordance with ancient and lawful customs. This, however, does not apply in time of war to merchants from a country that is at war with us. Any such merchants found in our country at the outbreak of war shall be detained without injury to their persons or property, until we or our chief justice have discovered how our own merchants are being treated in the country at war with us. If our own merchants are safe they shall be safe too.

  • (42) In future it shall be lawful for any man to leave and return to our kingdom unharmed and without fear, by land or water, preserving his allegiance to us, except in time of war, for some short period, for the common benefit of the realm. People that have been imprisoned or outlawed in accordance with the law of the land, people from a country that is at war with us, and merchants - who shall be dealt with as stated above - are excepted from this provision.
(43) If a man holds lands of any 'escheat' such as the 'honour' of Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, Lancaster, or of other 'escheats' in our hand that are baronies, at his death his heir shall give us only the 'relief' and service that he would have made to the baron, had the barony been in the baron's hand. We will hold the 'escheat' in the same manner as the baron held it.
(44) People who live outside the forest need not in future appear before the royal justices of the forest in answer to general summonses, unless they are actually involved in proceedings or are sureties for someone who has been seized for a forest offence.

* (45) We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or other officials, only men that know the law of the realm and are minded to keep it well.
(46) All barons who have founded abbeys, and have charters of English kings or ancient tenure as evidence of this, may have guardianship of them when there is no abbot, as is their due.
(47) All forests that have been created in our reign shall at once be disafforested. River-banks that have been enclosed in our reign shall be treated similarly.

*(48) All evil customs relating to forests and warrens, foresters, warreners, sheriffs and their servants, or river-banks and their wardens, are at once to be investigated in every county by twelve sworn knights of the county, and within forty days of their enquiry the evil customs are to be abolished completely and irrevocably. But we, or our chief justice if we are not in England, are first to be informed.

* (49) We will at once return all hostages and charters delivered up to us by Englishmen as security for peace or for loyal service.
  • (50) We will remove completely from their offices the kinsmen of Gerard de Athée, and in future they shall hold no offices in England. The people in question are Engelard de Cigogné, Peter, Guy, and Andrew de Chanceaux, Guy de Cigogné, Geoffrey de Martigny and his brothers, Philip Marc and his brothers, with Geoffrey his nephew, and all their followers.
  • (51) As soon as peace is restored, we will remove from the kingdom all the foreign knights, bowmen, their attendants, and the mercenaries that have come to it, to its harm, with horses and arms.
  • (52) To any man whom we have deprived or dispossessed of lands, castles, liberties, or rights, without the lawful judgment of his equals, we will at once restore these. In cases of dispute the matter shall be resolved by the judgment of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace (§61). In cases, however, where a man was deprived or dispossessed of something without the lawful judgment of his equals by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once render justice in full.
* (53) We shall have similar respite in rendering justice in connexion with forests that are to be disafforested, or to remain forests, when these were first afforested by our father Henry or our brother Richard; with the guardianship of lands in another person's 'fee', when we have hitherto had this by virtue of a 'fee' held of us for knight's service by a third party; and with abbeys founded in another person's 'fee', in which the lord of the 'fee' claims to own a right. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice to complaints about these matters.
(54) No one shall be arrested or imprisoned on the appeal of a woman for the death of any person except her husband.

  • (55) All fines that have been given to us unjustly and against the law of the land, and all fines that we have exacted unjustly, shall be entirely remitted or the matter decided by a majority judgment of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace (§61) together with Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, if he can be present, and such others as he wishes to bring with him. If the archbishop cannot be present, proceedings shall continue without him, provided that if any of the twenty-five barons has been involved in a similar suit himself, his judgment shall be set aside, and someone else chosen and sworn in his place, as a substitute for the single occasion, by the rest of the twenty-five.
(56) If we have deprived or dispossessed any Welshmen of land, liberties, or anything else in England or in Wales, without the lawful judgment of their equals, these are at once to be returned to them. A dispute on this point shall be determined in the Marches by the judgment of equals. English law shall apply to holdings of land in England, Welsh law to those in Wales, and the law of the Marches to those in the Marches. The Welsh shall treat us and ours in the same way.

  • (57) In cases where a Welshman was deprived or dispossessed of anything, without the lawful judgment of his equals, by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. But on our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice according to the laws of Wales and the said regions.
* (58) We will at once return the son of Llywelyn, all Welsh hostages, and the charters delivered to us as security for the peace.
  • (59) With regard to the return of the sisters and hostages of Alexander, king of Scotland, his liberties and his rights, we will treat him in the same way as our other barons of England, unless it appears from the charters that we hold from his father William, formerly king of Scotland, that he should be treated otherwise. This matter shall be resolved by the judgment of his equals in our court.
(60) All these customs and liberties that we have granted shall be observed in our kingdom in so far as concerns our own relations with our subjects. Let all men of our kingdom, whether clergy or laymen, observe them similarly in their relations with their own men.

* (61) SINCE WE HAVE GRANTED ALL THESE THINGS for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to allay the discord that has arisen between us and our barons, and since we desire that they shall be enjoyed in their entirety, with lasting strength, for ever, we give and grant to the barons the following security:
The barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to keep, and cause to be observed with all their might, the peace and liberties granted and confirmed to them by this charter.
If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us - or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice - to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we, or in our absence abroad the chief justice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us.

Any man who so desires may take an oath to obey the commands of the twenty-five barons for the achievement of these ends, and to join with them in assailing us to the utmost of his power. We give public and free permission to take this oath to any man who so desires, and at no time will we prohibit any man from taking it. Indeed, we will compel any of our subjects who are unwilling to take it to swear it at our command.
If one of the twenty-five barons dies or leaves the country, or is prevented in any other way from discharging his duties, the rest of them shall choose another baron in his place, at their discretion, who shall be duly sworn in as they were.

In the event of disagreement among the twenty-five barons on any matter referred to them for decision, the verdict of the majority present shall have the same validity as a unanimous verdict of the whole twenty-five, whether these were all present or some of those summoned were unwilling or unable to appear.

The twenty-five barons shall swear to obey all the above articles faithfully, and shall cause them to be obeyed by others to the best of their power.
We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished. Should such a thing be procured, it shall be null and void and we will at no time make use of it, either ourselves or through a third party.

* (62) We have remitted and pardoned fully to all men any ill-will, hurt, or grudges that have arisen between us and our subjects, whether clergy or laymen, since the beginning of the dispute. We have in addition remitted fully, and for our own part have also pardoned, to all clergy and laymen any offences committed as a result of the said dispute between Easter in the sixteenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215) and the restoration of peace.
In addition we have caused letters patent to be made for the barons, bearing witness to this security and to the concessions set out above, over the seals of Stephen archbishop of Canterbury, Henry archbishop of Dublin, the other bishops named above, and Master Pandulf.

* (63) IT IS ACCORDINGLY OUR WISH AND COMMAND that the English Church shall be free, and that men in our kingdom shall have and keep all these liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably in their fullness and entirety for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and all places for ever.
Both we and the barons have sworn that all this shall be observed in good faith and without deceit. Witness the above mentioned people and many others.
Given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215: the new regnal year

LORD NEUBERGER, PRESIDENT OF THE SUPREME COURT.
‘Where justice is concerned, the principles of Magna Carta are a reference to which we should always return to ensure that we are proceeding in the right direction.’

DANNY DANZIGER & JOHN GILLINGHAM
‘As a symbol of the struggle against tyranny it will always retain its value’

ERWIN GRISWOLD, DEAN OF HARVARD LAW SCHOOL
‘Magna Carta is not primarily significant for what it was, but rather for what it was made to be’

SIR WINSTON CHURCHILL
‘Here is a law which is above the King and which even he must not break. This reaffirmation of a supreme law and its expression in a general charter is the great work of Magna Carta; and this alone justifies the respect in which men have held it’
Prime Minister of Britain 1940 – 1945, 1951 – 1955.

WILLIAM STUBBS.
‘The Great Charter is the first great public act of the nation, after it has realised its own identity’
‘Thee whole constitutional history of England is little more than a commentary on the Magna Carta’
Bishop of Oxford between 1866 and 1884, in his volume on constitutional history

THOMAS TANY, 1650.
‘Magna Carta is the being of our being’
Influential preacher and self-professed prophet. 

WILLIAM PITT, “THE ELDER”.
‘[Magna Carta is] the Bible of the English Constitution’
Former British Prime Minister, 1766 – 1768. 

LORD BINGHAM OF CORNHILL.
‘The sealing of Magna Carta was an event that changed the constitutional landscape in this country and, over time, the world’
As well as being a former Master of the Rolls, Lord Bingham was also Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, and Senior Law Lord of Appeal. onally.     



FIONA WOOLF C.B.E.
’2015 is the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta, the single most important legal document in history.  The foundation for global constitutions, commerce and communities.  The anchor for the Rule of Law.’
In September 2014 she marked the Global Law Summit’s one year to go anniversary at Mansion House.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT.
‘The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history.  It is human history. It permeated the ancient life of early peoples. It blazed anew in the Middle Ages. It was written in Magna Charta’
This American President’s Third Inauguration Address in 1941 defended democracy and freedom, as Europe and many other parts of world were at war. In this speech, the President referenced the Magna Carta as a precursor to democracy.    

LORD DENNING, MASTER OF THE ROLLS.
‘The greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot’




                        English translation of the 1215 Latin edition of Magna Carta

JOHN, by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Count of Anjou, to his archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, barons, justices, foresters, sheriffs, stewards, servants, and to all his officials and loyal subjects, Greeting.

KNOW THAT BEFORE GOD, for the health of our soul and those of our ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God, the exaltation of the holy Church, and the better ordering of our kingdom, at the advice of our reverend fathers Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and cardinal of the holy Roman Church, Henry archbishop of Dublin, William bishop of London, Peter bishop of Winchester, Jocelin bishop of Bath and Glastonbury, Hugh bishop of Lincoln, Walter bishop of Worcester, William bishop of Coventry, Benedict bishop of Rochester, Master Pandulf subdeacon and member of the papal household, Brother Aymeric master of the knighthood of the Temple in England, William Marshal earl of Pembroke, William earl of Salisbury, William earl of Warren, William earl of Arundel, Alan of Galloway constable of Scotland, Warin fitz Gerald, Peter fitz Herbert, Hubert de Burgh seneschal of Poitou, Hugh de Neville, Matthew fitz Herbert, Thomas Basset, Alan Basset, Philip Daubeny, Robert de Roppeley, John Marshal, John fitz Hugh, and other loyal subjects:

  • (1) FIRST, THAT WE HAVE GRANTED TO GOD, and by this present charter have confirmed for us and our heirs in perpetuity, that the English Church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished, and its liberties unimpaired. That we wish this so to be observed, appears from the fact that of our own free will, before the outbreak of the present dispute between us and our barons, we granted and confirmed by charter the freedom of the Church's elections - a right reckoned to be of the greatest necessity and importance to it - and caused this to be confirmed by Pope Innocent III. This freedom we shall observe ourselves, and desire to be observed in good faith by our heirs in perpetuity.
TO ALL FREE MEN OF OUR KINGDOM we have also granted, for us and our heirs for ever, all the liberties written out below, to have and to keep for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs:

(2) If any earl, baron, or other person that holds lands directly of the Crown, for military service, shall die, and at his death his heir shall be of full age and owe a 'relief', the heir shall have his inheritance on payment of the ancient scale of 'relief'. That is to say, the heir or heirs of an earl shall pay £100 for the entire earl's barony, the heir or heirs of a knight 100s. at most for the entire knight's 'fee', and any man that owes less shall pay less, in accordance with the ancient usage of ‘fees'.

(3) But if the heir of such a person is under age and a ward, when he comes of age he shall have his inheritance without 'relief' or fine.

(4) The guardian of the land of an heir who is under age shall take from it only reasonable revenues, customary dues, and feudal services. He shall do this without destruction or damage to men or property. If we have given the guardianship of the land to a sheriff, or to any person answerable to us for the revenues, and he commits destruction or damage, we will exact compensation from him, and the land shall be entrusted to two worthy and prudent men of the same 'fee', who shall be answerable to us for the revenues, or to the person to whom we have assigned them. If we have given or sold to anyone the guardianship of such land, and he causes destruction or damage, he shall lose the guardianship of it, and it shall be handed over to two worthy and prudent men of the same 'fee', who shall be similarly answerable to us.

(5) For so long as a guardian has guardianship of such land, he shall maintain the houses, parks, fish preserves, ponds, mills, and everything else pertaining to it, from the revenues of the land itself. When the heir comes of age, he shall restore the whole land to him, stocked with plough teams and such implements of husbandry as the season demands and the revenues from the land can reasonably bear.

(6) Heirs may be given in marriage, but not to someone of lower social standing. Before a marriage takes place, it shall be made known to the heir's next-of-kin.

(7) At her husband's death, a widow may have her marriage portion and inheritance at once and without trouble. She shall pay nothing for her dower, marriage portion, or any inheritance that she and her husband held jointly on the day of his death. She may remain in her husband's house for forty days after his death, and within this period her dower shall be assigned to her.

(8) No widow shall be compelled to marry, so long as she wishes to remain without a husband. But she must give security that she will not marry without royal consent, if she holds her lands of the Crown, or without the consent of whatever other lord she may hold them of.

(9) Neither we nor our officials will seize any land or rent in payment of a debt, so long as the debtor has movable goods sufficient to discharge the debt. A debtor's sureties shall not be distrained upon so long as the debtor himself can discharge his debt. If, for lack of means, the debtor is unable to discharge his debt, his sureties shall be answerable for it. If they so desire, they may have the debtor's lands and rents until they have received satisfaction for the debt that they paid for him, unless the debtor can show that he has settled his obligations to them.

  • (10) If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age, irrespective of whom he holds his lands. If such a debt falls into the hands of the Crown, it will take nothing except the principal sum specified in the bond.
  • (11) If a man dies owing money to Jews, his wife may have her dower and pay nothing towards the debt from it. If he leaves children that are under age, their needs may also be provided for on a scale appropriate to the size of his holding of lands. The debt is to be paid out of the residue, reserving the service due to his feudal lords. Debts owed to persons other than Jews are to be dealt with similarly.
  • (12) No 'scutage' or 'aid' may be levied in our kingdom without its general consent, unless it is for the ransom of our person, to make our eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry our eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable 'aid' may be levied. 'Aids' from the city of London are to be treated similarly.
  • (13) The city of London shall enjoy all its ancient liberties and free customs, both by land and by water. We also will and grant that all other cities, boroughs, towns, and ports shall enjoy all their liberties and free customs.
  • (14) To obtain the general consent of the realm for the assessment of an 'aid' - except in the three cases specified above - or a 'scutage', we will cause the archbishops, bishops, abbots, earls, and greater barons to be summoned individually by letter. To those who hold lands directly of us we will cause a general summons to be issued, through the sheriffs and other officials, to come together on a fixed day (of which at least forty days notice shall be given) and at a fixed place. In all letters of summons, the cause of the summons will be stated. When a summons has been issued, the business appointed for the day shall go forward in accordance with the resolution of those present, even if not all those who were summoned have appeared.
  • (15) In future we will allow no one to levy an 'aid' from his free men, except to ransom his person, to make his eldest son a knight, and (once) to marry his eldest daughter. For these purposes only a reasonable 'aid' may be levied.
(16) No man shall be forced to perform more service for a knight's 'fee', or other free holding of land, than is due from it.
(17) Ordinary lawsuits shall not follow the royal court around, but shall be held in a fixed place.

(18) Inquests of novel disseisin, mort d'ancestor, and darrein presentment shall be taken only in their proper county court. We ourselves, or in our absence abroad our chief justice, will send two justices to each county four times a year, and these justices, with four knights of the county elected by the county itself, shall hold the assizes in the county court, on the day and in the place where the court meets.

(19) If any assizes cannot be taken on the day of the county court, as many knights and freeholders shall afterwards remain behind, of those who have attended the court, as will suffice for the administration of justice, having regard to the volume of business to be done.

(20) For a trivial offence, a free man shall be fined only in proportion to the degree of his offence, and for a serious offence correspondingly, but not so heavily as to deprive him of his livelihood. In the same way, a merchant shall be spared his merchandise, and a villein the implements of his husbandry, if they fall upon the mercy of a royal court. None of these fines shall be imposed except by the assessment on oath of reputable men of the neighbourhood.

(21) Earls and barons shall be fined only by their equals, and in proportion to the gravity of their offence.
(22) A fine imposed upon the lay property of a clerk in holy orders shall be assessed upon the same principles, without reference to the value of his ecclesiastical benefice.

(23) No town or person shall be forced to build bridges over rivers except those with an ancient obligation to do so.
(24) No sheriff, constable, coroners, or other royal officials are to hold lawsuits that should be held by the royal justices.

* (25) Every county, hundred, wapentake, and tithing shall remain at its ancient rent, without increase, except the royal demesne manors.
(26) If at the death of a man who holds a lay 'fee' of the Crown, a sheriff or royal official produces royal letters patent of summons for a debt due to the Crown, it shall be lawful for them to seize and list movable goods found in the lay 'fee' of the dead man to the value of the debt, as assessed by worthy men. Nothing shall be removed until the whole debt is paid, when the residue shall be given over to the executors to carry out the dead man’s will. If no debt is due to the Crown, all the movable goods shall be regarded as the property of the dead man, except the reasonable shares of his wife and children.

* (27) If a free man dies intestate, his movable goods are to be distributed by his next-of-kin and friends, under the supervision of the Church. The rights of his debtors are to be preserved.
(28) No constable or other royal official shall take corn or other movable goods from any man without immediate payment, unless the seller voluntarily offers postponement of this.

(29) No constable may compel a knight to pay money for castle-guard if the knight is willing to undertake the guard in person, or with reasonable excuse to supply some other fit man to do it. A knight taken or sent on military service shall be excused from castle-guard for the period of this service.
(30) No sheriff, royal official, or other person shall take horses or carts for transport from any free man, without his consent.

(31) Neither we nor any royal official will take wood for our castle, or for any other purpose, without the consent of the owner.
(32) We will not keep the lands of people convicted of felony in our hand for longer than a year and a day, after which they shall be returned to the lords of the 'fees' concerned.
(33) All fish-weirs shall be removed from the Thames, the Medway, and throughout the whole of England, except on the sea coast.

(34) The writ called precipe shall not in future be issued to anyone in respect of any holding of land, if a free man could thereby be deprived of the right of trial in his own lord's court.
(35) There shall be standard measures of wine, ale, and corn (the London quarter), throughout the kingdom. There shall also be a standard width of dyed cloth, russet, and haberject, namely two ells within the selvedges. Weights are to be standardised similarly.

(36) In future nothing shall be paid or accepted for the issue of a writ of inquisition of life or limbs. It shall be given gratis, and not refused.
(37) If a man holds land of the Crown by 'fee-farm', 'socage', or 'burgage', and also holds land of someone else for knight's service, we will not have guardianship of his heir, nor of the land that belongs to the other person's 'fee', by virtue of the 'fee-farm', 'socage', or 'burgage', unless the 'fee-farm' owes knight's service. We will not have the guardianship of a man's heir, or of land that he holds of someone else, by reason of any small property that he may hold of the Crown for a service of knives, arrows, or the like.

(38) In future no official shall place a man on trial upon his own unsupported statement, without producing credible witnesses to the truth of it.
  • (39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.

+ (40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.
(41) All merchants may enter or leave England unharmed and without fear, and may stay or travel within it, by land or water, for purposes of trade, free from all illegal exactions, in accordance with ancient and lawful customs. This, however, does not apply in time of war to merchants from a country that is at war with us. Any such merchants found in our country at the outbreak of war shall be detained without injury to their persons or property, until we or our chief justice have discovered how our own merchants are being treated in the country at war with us. If our own merchants are safe they shall be safe too.

  • (42) In future it shall be lawful for any man to leave and return to our kingdom unharmed and without fear, by land or water, preserving his allegiance to us, except in time of war, for some short period, for the common benefit of the realm. People that have been imprisoned or outlawed in accordance with the law of the land, people from a country that is at war with us, and merchants - who shall be dealt with as stated above - are excepted from this provision.
(43) If a man holds lands of any 'escheat' such as the 'honour' of Wallingford, Nottingham, Boulogne, Lancaster, or of other 'escheats' in our hand that are baronies, at his death his heir shall give us only the 'relief' and service that he would have made to the baron, had the barony been in the baron's hand. We will hold the 'escheat' in the same manner as the baron held it.
(44) People who live outside the forest need not in future appear before the royal justices of the forest in answer to general summonses, unless they are actually involved in proceedings or are sureties for someone who has been seized for a forest offence.

* (45) We will appoint as justices, constables, sheriffs, or other officials, only men that know the law of the realm and are minded to keep it well.
(46) All barons who have founded abbeys, and have charters of English kings or ancient tenure as evidence of this, may have guardianship of them when there is no abbot, as is their due.
(47) All forests that have been created in our reign shall at once be disafforested. River-banks that have been enclosed in our reign shall be treated similarly.

*(48) All evil customs relating to forests and warrens, foresters, warreners, sheriffs and their servants, or river-banks and their wardens, are at once to be investigated in every county by twelve sworn knights of the county, and within forty days of their enquiry the evil customs are to be abolished completely and irrevocably. But we, or our chief justice if we are not in England, are first to be informed.

* (49) We will at once return all hostages and charters delivered up to us by Englishmen as security for peace or for loyal service.
  • (50) We will remove completely from their offices the kinsmen of Gerard de Athée, and in future they shall hold no offices in England. The people in question are Engelard de Cigogné, Peter, Guy, and Andrew de Chanceaux, Guy de Cigogné, Geoffrey de Martigny and his brothers, Philip Marc and his brothers, with Geoffrey his nephew, and all their followers.
  • (51) As soon as peace is restored, we will remove from the kingdom all the foreign knights, bowmen, their attendants, and the mercenaries that have come to it, to its harm, with horses and arms.
  • (52) To any man whom we have deprived or dispossessed of lands, castles, liberties, or rights, without the lawful judgment of his equals, we will at once restore these. In cases of dispute the matter shall be resolved by the judgment of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace (§61). In cases, however, where a man was deprived or dispossessed of something without the lawful judgment of his equals by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once render justice in full.
* (53) We shall have similar respite in rendering justice in connexion with forests that are to be disafforested, or to remain forests, when these were first afforested by our father Henry or our brother Richard; with the guardianship of lands in another person's 'fee', when we have hitherto had this by virtue of a 'fee' held of us for knight's service by a third party; and with abbeys founded in another person's 'fee', in which the lord of the 'fee' claims to own a right. On our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice to complaints about these matters.
(54) No one shall be arrested or imprisoned on the appeal of a woman for the death of any person except her husband.

  • (55) All fines that have been given to us unjustly and against the law of the land, and all fines that we have exacted unjustly, shall be entirely remitted or the matter decided by a majority judgment of the twenty-five barons referred to below in the clause for securing the peace (§61) together with Stephen, archbishop of Canterbury, if he can be present, and such others as he wishes to bring with him. If the archbishop cannot be present, proceedings shall continue without him, provided that if any of the twenty-five barons has been involved in a similar suit himself, his judgment shall be set aside, and someone else chosen and sworn in his place, as a substitute for the single occasion, by the rest of the twenty-five.
(56) If we have deprived or dispossessed any Welshmen of land, liberties, or anything else in England or in Wales, without the lawful judgment of their equals, these are at once to be returned to them. A dispute on this point shall be determined in the Marches by the judgment of equals. English law shall apply to holdings of land in England, Welsh law to those in Wales, and the law of the Marches to those in the Marches. The Welsh shall treat us and ours in the same way.

  • (57) In cases where a Welshman was deprived or dispossessed of anything, without the lawful judgment of his equals, by our father King Henry or our brother King Richard, and it remains in our hands or is held by others under our warranty, we shall have respite for the period commonly allowed to Crusaders, unless a lawsuit had been begun, or an enquiry had been made at our order, before we took the Cross as a Crusader. But on our return from the Crusade, or if we abandon it, we will at once do full justice according to the laws of Wales and the said regions.
* (58) We will at once return the son of Llywelyn, all Welsh hostages, and the charters delivered to us as security for the peace.
  • (59) With regard to the return of the sisters and hostages of Alexander, king of Scotland, his liberties and his rights, we will treat him in the same way as our other barons of England, unless it appears from the charters that we hold from his father William, formerly king of Scotland, that he should be treated otherwise. This matter shall be resolved by the judgment of his equals in our court.
(60) All these customs and liberties that we have granted shall be observed in our kingdom in so far as concerns our own relations with our subjects. Let all men of our kingdom, whether clergy or laymen, observe them similarly in their relations with their own men.

* (61) SINCE WE HAVE GRANTED ALL THESE THINGS for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to allay the discord that has arisen between us and our barons, and since we desire that they shall be enjoyed in their entirety, with lasting strength, for ever, we give and grant to the barons the following security:
The barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to keep, and cause to be observed with all their might, the peace and liberties granted and confirmed to them by this charter.
If we, our chief justice, our officials, or any of our servants offend in any respect against any man, or transgress any of the articles of the peace or of this security, and the offence is made known to four of the said twenty-five barons, they shall come to us - or in our absence from the kingdom to the chief justice - to declare it and claim immediate redress. If we, or in our absence abroad the chief justice, make no redress within forty days, reckoning from the day on which the offence was declared to us or to him, the four barons shall refer the matter to the rest of the twenty-five barons, who may distrain upon and assail us in every way possible, with the support of the whole community of the land, by seizing our castles, lands, possessions, or anything else saving only our own person and those of the queen and our children, until they have secured such redress as they have determined upon. Having secured the redress, they may then resume their normal obedience to us.

Any man who so desires may take an oath to obey the commands of the twenty-five barons for the achievement of these ends, and to join with them in assailing us to the utmost of his power. We give public and free permission to take this oath to any man who so desires, and at no time will we prohibit any man from taking it. Indeed, we will compel any of our subjects who are unwilling to take it to swear it at our command.
If one of the twenty-five barons dies or leaves the country, or is prevented in any other way from discharging his duties, the rest of them shall choose another baron in his place, at their discretion, who shall be duly sworn in as they were.

In the event of disagreement among the twenty-five barons on any matter referred to them for decision, the verdict of the majority present shall have the same validity as a unanimous verdict of the whole twenty-five, whether these were all present or some of those summoned were unwilling or unable to appear.

The twenty-five barons shall swear to obey all the above articles faithfully, and shall cause them to be obeyed by others to the best of their power.
We will not seek to procure from anyone, either by our own efforts or those of a third party, anything by which any part of these concessions or liberties might be revoked or diminished. Should such a thing be procured, it shall be null and void and we will at no time make use of it, either ourselves or through a third party.

* (62) We have remitted and pardoned fully to all men any ill-will, hurt, or grudges that have arisen between us and our subjects, whether clergy or laymen, since the beginning of the dispute. We have in addition remitted fully, and for our own part have also pardoned, to all clergy and laymen any offences committed as a result of the said dispute between Easter in the sixteenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215) and the restoration of peace.
In addition we have caused letters patent to be made for the barons, bearing witness to this security and to the concessions set out above, over the seals of Stephen archbishop of Canterbury, Henry archbishop of Dublin, the other bishops named above, and Master Pandulf.

* (63) IT IS ACCORDINGLY OUR WISH AND COMMAND that the English Church shall be free, and that men in our kingdom shall have and keep all these liberties, rights, and concessions, well and peaceably in their fullness and entirety for them and their heirs, of us and our heirs, in all things and all places for ever.
Both we and the barons have sworn that all this shall be observed in good faith and without deceit. Witness the above mentioned people and many others.
Given by our hand in the meadow that is called Runnymede, between Windsor and Staines, on the fifteenth day of June in the seventeenth year of our reign (i.e. 1215: the new regnal year