On the eve of a 70th Anniversary service on 20th August 2011 at Loch Ewe in Wester Ross, paying tribute to the World War II Arctic Convoys and the now veteran heroic crews who sailed on them, an English Judge has performed an astonishing feat of crass loss of judgment.
These convoys were among the most dangerous wartime operations, with heavy loss of life among both the Merchant and Royal Navies. Their success at this heavy price, however, kept the Russian people able to survive, to defend themselves and to stay in the war – a serious contribution to the continuing freedom of the UK.
Judge Jonathan Rose of Bradford in Yorkshire has just jailed Arctic Convoy Veteran, 86 year-old Norman Scarth.
Mr Scarth has been imprisoned or attempting to record a court hearing on an audio device – because he is hard of hearing and hearing loops were not provided by the Court. Another judge had previously allowed him to do this.
It is hard to believe but Judge Rose had Mr Scarth immediately arrested by police, taken away in handcuffs and imprisoned in Leeds Prison for serious offenders – which has the highest suicide rate in the UK.
We understand that Mr Scarth is denied his prescription medication for serious muscle cramping; and is being kept in tortuous conditions in solitary confinement.
He has actually been sentenced to six months imprisonment and denied court access for one year.
No-one in government is responding to his formal complaints.
The madness as well as the inhumanity of this action would touch anyone – but Argyll has a special interest in the Arctic Convoys. The naval escort ships and their crews were trained for this duty in Tobermory on Mull – by Vice Admiral Sir Gilbert Stephenson, known as The Terror of Tobermory, the title of Richard Baker’s book about him.
Please sign the petition here to have this heroic gentleman released. The foreword to the petition will also give you details of exactly what happened to Mr Scarth, on Judge Rose’s instructions. It does not make reassuring reading.
You may also follow the case on TWITTER @freenorman website and on the campaign website here.