Freemen of the dangerous nonsense

Updated x 2 | Today, guardian.co.uk’s Comment is Free (CIF) was “taken over” by the Occupy London movement. This has led to two particularly worrying articles being published. Both purport to offer legal advice which, if followed, could lead you straight to prison.

For that reason, Guardian CIF goes straight to the legal naughty step, where it can share a tent with the Occupy London movement. I understand that the Guardian’s online legal editors had nothing to do with the commissioning of the articles, and I also realise that “comment is free“. But there has to be a limit, and there is a huge difference between a controversial but plausible point of view and quackery. As C. P. Scott’s phrase continues “… comment is free but facts are sacred“.

The two articles are Yes, defaulting on debts is an option and We are the change: welfare, education and law at the Occupy camp. The first offers an alluring way to escape the debt collectors by, it would seem, asking the company’s representatives some silly questions to confuse them, and then claiming that all money is illusory anyway (except, of course, the creditor’s money which you have spent). I will not attempt to deconstruct the arguments here but will refer you to this excellent post by blogger Legal Bizzle.

The second article, co-authored by “commonly known as dom“, propagates the dangerous myths of the Freeman of the Land Movement, described here and elegantly deconstructed here by legal blogger Carl Gardner. In short, the Freemen believe that if you change your name and deny the jurisdiction of the courts, you will be able to escape (you guessed it) debt collectors, council tax and even criminal charges. See also this detailed article on the movement’s ideas, which are a mixture of the wacky and the bizarre. As “commonly known as dom” puts it, “if you don’t consent to be that “person”, you step outside the system“.

No you don’t. This movement is not just silly, it is also dangerous, and seemingly gaining popularity through numerous internet sites. I can provide two recent examples where it definitely did not help, and probably did harm to, people in the justice system.

The first is the case of Elizabeth Watson and Victoria Haigh, the former of which was sentenced to 9 months in prison (later suspended) for publishing details online about sex abuse allegations made by Ms Haigh against her child’s father. Haigh’s case was taken up by John Hemming MP, and was one of the “super-injunctions” he revealed using Parliamentary privilege. She was ultimately found by the most senior family judge to be a fabricator who had coached her daughter to lie about being abused by her ex-partner.

Both Haigh and Watson considered themselves Freemen of the Land, who attempted to step outside of the system. It seems likely that at least in Watson’s case, her belief that she had “stepped outside of the system” led to her brazenly to flout contempt laws for as long as she did.

My second example arose when I did jury service last month (a generally positive experience – see my comment on it here). One of the trials involved a defendant who was accused of stealing sports cars. When we entered the court, the judge told us that the defendant had released his legal team and was denying the court’s jurisdiction. He refused to cross-examine witnesses – rather, he used the opportunity to ask the judge whether his jurisdiction arose from maritime law – and his closing statement involved the reading of a latin phrase and stating that he was the “official representative of the legal fiction known as...”

We found the Defendant guilty on 7 of 8 counts, and I will not say anything about our reasoning. I do suspect that the car stealing Defendant’s bizarre and misguided defence influenced the judge’s sentencing, and I also imagine that if he had retained his representation he may have pleaded guilty in any event. Either way, he probably went to prison for longer as a result of his attempt to trying to “step outside of the system“.

Occupy London’s takeover of CIF was a cute idea which seems to have gone badly wrong. The only two possible upsides are that, first, through the comments, the views set out in the articles can be given the public shaming which they deserve. Secondly, and somewhat sadly, the fact that this is the best the intellectual members of the Occupy LSX movement can muster exposes the strong possibility that it is being run, in part, by people who should not be allowed anywhere near this country’s economy.

I say sadly because I, along with many others, have sympathy for some of the criticisms of government and the economy which the movement has advanced. It should be noted that Occupy is an decentralised movement with no public leaders, and it is therefore possible that everyone who wanted to be in CIF was given the chance. However, it is notable that “occupylsx3” who been responding to many of the comments on the debt article seemingly on behalf of the camp, has responded to mine in this way:

Occupy London does not speak with one voice – within the movement there is much plurality and diversity… getoutofdebtfree.org has helped many people deal with crippling and overwhelming debts… This stuff actually works. It is not ‘dangerous’ for those in debt, but perhaps ‘dangerous’ for those who created the spurious debt in the first place.

I disagree. “This stuff” is dangerous and it does people harm. The common link between the get out of debt and freemen articles is that both promote the idea that if you believe hard enough that the financial or legal system does not exist, or is a gigantic fraud, then your problems will disappear along with the system. Notably, Jon Witterick, who wrote the debt article, is also a freeman.

These ideas are most attractive to desperate, vulnerable people who are going through terrible times in their lives. They are also classic conspiracy theories which should be consigned to the same category as the “9/11 was an inside job” T-Shirt which one of the debt advice website’s representatives is wearing in this YouTube video. The articles’ publication on CIF gives the ideas a veneer of respectability they do not deserve.

I very much doubt that the articles represent the views of the many of the thoughtful people who currently occupy the forecourt of St Paul’s Cathedral. But if those people are interested in justice and fairness, they should denounce such irresponsible advice. And CIF should not have given a platform to conspiracy theories.

Update, 16 November 2011 – Legal blogger Carl Gardner has elegantly deconstructed the freemen of the land concept on CIF. He says, correctly:

law is the friend of political progress, not its enemy. Making companies and rich individuals pay their share will depend on exactly those legal and enforcement mechanisms that freemen seek to undermine, and on the rule of law that they mock. Freemanism stands implicitly against social progress, for a libertarian world is one where everyone’s a law unto himself and where the state has no right and no role. We need to be aware of this nonsense so as to resist it.

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Update, 17 November 2011 – There is an excellent article on the (surprisingly recent) history and ideas of the Freemen on RationalWiki. It begins:
Freeman on the land or freeman is a form of pseudolegal woo existing in various English-speaking countries. Freemen believe that they can opt out of being governed and that legislative acts only apply with consent, as they are a form of contract. They believe they are only bound by their own bizarre version of common law. They will often assert that the law doesn’t apply as they do not consent and do not agree to contract with the state, even going so far as to believe they have a lawful right to refuse being arrested if they do not consent. Essentially, they’re hilarious and somewhat less threatening sovereign citizens.
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66 thoughts on “Freemen of the dangerous nonsense

  1. Adam, one minute you’re comment is below mine on the Guardian (‘Dom’) article and then next you are in my in box! Having read this article and your comments in the Guardian I feel more relaxed about my opinions on this subject. You are the voice of sanity…and I am beginning to believe that I might be too. The upside of this is that we have some idea about where they’re coming from and they might realise that they have to get their act together.

  2. I had the pleasure of meeting the Norman Scarfe circus at the RCJ in the summer. One came up to me and in a heavy southern Irish accent, asked me what I was doing there. In a quiet nothern Irish accent, which I think was convincing, I replied that I was a member of the public – minding my own business.

    Hey, I was just there to see a habeas ap in action. What I got was a women channelling both Brian Haw and Amy Winehouse shouting “rubbish” at Wyn Williams J and the rest of the peanut gallery on the edge of pandemonium. That’s not including the McKenzie friend who put forward the arguments you note above.

    The fella who got off on the wrong foot with me approached me to apologise after the case. He told me they thought I was “MI5″. I told him I found his arguments facsinating. I asked him about their non-acceptance of judicial authority.

    He told me this is based upon his interpertation of the Magna Carta. They are supposed to be judged by a jury of their peers – and not a member of the Crown.

    “Common law” in their world, is what “the People” say it is.

    I understood these guys because this is the same logic used by American “tea partiers” – i.e. “activist judges” who are part of the Crown, have no basis under the Constitution to sit in judgment of the People. You will recall tea partiers believe Marbury v Madison is bad law made up by an activist judge – and that case maked the beginning of judicial and Executive tyranny.

    Don’t you get it? they have a duty as “freemen” to challenge tyrannical government.

    I think it’s remarkable they are willing to quote chapter and verse of international law, but they refuse to accept any domestic legislation – unless, of course, it supports their view.

    If you transplanted these people to the States, they’d be arguing that Barack Obama is not a “natural born citizen” and hence a “usurper”.

    Theoretically, this makes them potentially dangerous – but there is no reasoning with them. They are conspiracy theorists par excellence.

    Just walk away. Nothing to see here. Move along.

  3. Did you notice the absence of a ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card on Banksy’s ‘Monopoly’ board installation at the St. Pauls gig too?

  4. Is Baroness Uddin the first UK Peer to successfully use this ‘Freeman of the Land’ defence? She has avoided having to repay the £125,000 expenses she stole from British taxpayers. Despite owning three homes outright, she has stated she cannot afford to repay, but is still claiming the £300 a day fee she receives for mere attendance at the House of Lords – is this some FOTL ruse to make criminal debt work for you ?????

  5. CiF commenter, BoredomIsPower, notes:
    “getoutofdebtfree.org has an option to donate to the site using a credit card.
    This is beyond priceless!”

    :-)

  6. I’m quite shocked that this quackery has been given oxygen by the Guardian of all places. As you say, it’s not just wrong – it’s dangerously misleading. People taken in by this freeman nonsense are going to end up in prison. Or should I say that more of them will end up in prison.

    For the first time ever I’ve emailed a newspaper to complain about something. And here we have it. I;ve finally turned into one of those green ink types.

    Yours furiously, etc.

  7. Agree with your occupy statements.

    Not sure if you are qualified to remark on 9/11 though, history may tell a different story yet

  8. Yes the Freemen are talking complete nonsense, it is dangerous. If they knew what they were talking about they would refer to the Ceste Que Vie Act, The Bankruptcy Act and the Law of Property Act, each of which is particularly instructive as to how a) in legal terms you are dead and considered a chattel of the state b) how we run in perpetual bankruptcy and as a result can neither own or pay for anything and c) How since 1925 a completely fictitious legal structure has been imposed to rob the working public.

    A little reading is required to understand these facts, however they are in statute and are in effect.

    It is indeed true that debts may be cancelled using liquidations, however none of this common law stuff is sensible, we are in admiralty and this is what we must understand and deal with…

  9. Leon:

    That third article isn’t as bad; creation of money is a fairly dodgy practice in a world where inputs are becoming more scarce and technical innovations (to get more output for your input) are suffering from diminishing returns because of the low-hanging-fruit problem. New money provides an incentive to produce more/better stuff – but stuff has the disadvantage of being real and thus confined by the laws of physics, regardless of incentives. Money is under no such constraint.

    That said, just because the diagnosis is (nearly) correct, doesn’t mean their proposed cure is sound.

  10. Hey, they removed the word gullible from the Concise Oxford Dictionary… People who fall for this may learn in the end…the hard way …or they may not!
    Con-men have no specific political domain… there are good people and arseholes in every walk of life!

  11. “if you believe hard enough that the financial or legal system does not exist, or is a gigantic fraud, then your problems will disappear along with the system.” +1 – that is 100% true :) We are all one, EVERYTHING IS AN ILLUSION. Wake up people :) we are love and nothing but love.

  12. @Adrian Charters – you presumably refer to the Cestui Que Vie Act 1666, which, insofar as it remains in force, provides that someone can be declared dead if there’s no trace of them for 7 years (eg Lord Lucan). How do you get from that to “legally we are al dead”?
    I don’t know which of the 14 current statutes which are called “Law of Property Act” or include that phrase in the title you refer to. Could you clarify? And please specify which provision of any of the Acts you refer to declares that we are a chattel of the state? If we are chattels are we not slaves? In which case the Abolition of Slavery Act 1833 would contradict that.
    I do not understand why you say that these statutes are applicable in any event if, as you bizarrely contend, “we are in admiralty”. You may be a ship; I am not.

    • If we were in admiralty presumably we could enforce personal debts by means of an admiralty order in rem by nailing a court order to the… mast? Forehead? Or something.

      CPR Part 61- Admiralty Jurisdiction & Proceedings – isn’t even in vol 1 of the White Book any more I’ve just noticed. Obviously it’s all part of the conspiracy to bury such a key part of the court rules in vol 2.

      I’ve been right through my six volumes of Wolstenholme & Cherry’s Conveyancing Statutes, the definitive guide to the 1925 legislation by its drafters and I can’t find any reference to the point. Presumably they buried it in a schedule to the Settled Land Act somewhere.

      You missed the Bankruptcy Act so just to add on that one, there is presently no act called the Bankruptcy Act in force in England and Wales*. The Insolvency Act 1986, which now replaced the Bankruptcy Acts, does of course provide the one actually effective way of having your debts become no longer binding upon you personally pursuant to ss 264, 278, and 281.

      *Does anyone want to take on explaining that only four clauses of the Magna Carta in its 1297 form continue to have the force of law? Ironically one of those (c9) preserves the liberties of the City of London.

  13. The problem with the Occupy movement is that it’s not-only non-hierarchical but also unstructured. There’s a very useful work called the Tyranny of Structurelessness written by (ironically in this case) Jo Freeman which looks at the problems of nominally burying the repressive aspects of official authority while allowing unofficial authority to rise in its place.

    What happened with CiF is a case in point – nutty views get disproportional play because the people spouting them are loud and forceful in promoting them, even if they are a vanishingly tiny minority. What’s particularly irritating, from the pov of someone who advocates it, is that this is often taken as emblematic of a problem within non-hierarchical organising as a whole.

    • Thanks Rob – that’s a really interesting point, and something I had suspected but didn’t have the right language to express the difference between non-hierarchical and unstructured.

    • Interesting. I’ve long thought unstructured attempts at “real democracy” tend to allow disproportionate power to unrepresentative busybodies who shout loudest – creating a sort of activist-ocracy or shoutocracy. I think the whole idea that there’s some “real democracy”, that’s an improvement of the liberal democracy we have, is a dangerous one.

      • The term “real democracy” is likely gained from the General Assembly, which despite some important differences, is inspired by the Greek model of democracy that took place in the Agoras, or the Forums: public spaces where the whole point was to talk about the issues of the day and reach consensus.
        I’m not certain if it would be an improvement on representative democracy (which the UK has), but should not be lightly dismissed.
        With that said, I agree with your concerns Carl.

  14. Well, as a Freeman on the Land, and a top twenty UK Political Blogger, I choose who governs me by consent. Sharia? No thanks. Acts of Parliament? No thanks.

    Oh, and we do appreciate your system will imprison us just as we appreciate that if we break Sharia law, we stand the risk of being of being punished by those who promote Sharia.

    In the end, if I am not free to govern myself, then what am I?

      • Not going to answer the question? Fair enough.

        I don’t disagree that a lot of quackery has entered the FMOL movement but that is all it is. A movement questioning the right of Parliament to inflict their wishes on those who refuse to be governed by them. Which alas, once again brings me back to the question: Who governs me if I withdraw my consent to be governed? At some point, I’ll need an answer.

    • “I choose who governs me by consent.”
      That’s so obvious it’s tautological. The thing is, very little political theory actually states that personal consent is necessary for legitimate government. Indeed, stopping people doing whatever they want is often given as a justification for government (i.e. violent criminals).
      “In the end, if I am not free to govern myself, then what am I?”
      A member of a society who acknowledges the need to limit personal freedom for everyone’s benefit?

  15. I am new to this site (today in fact) and I clearly know very much less than the commentators (and article writers) herein, however, as a 63 year old former teacher who has obeyed every legal statute and law with which I have been confronted I am now beginning to ask questions about the society in which I live (yes I know – should have done it long ago!) – if anyone can convincingly answer my first 3 here I would be more than grateful – I would then stop asking more ‘ignorant’ questions because I would then know that someone actually knows! First: the first ‘plank’ of the communist manifesto declares that citizens shall not own property and though I don’t possess a car I am told that the registration document states that the ‘owner’ is the ‘registered keeper’ and so is clearly NOT the owner of the vehicle, regardless of whether it has been fully paid for or not – so does this FACT reveal that we are living in a communist state? Second: it has been said that control of the money-supply gives control of the nation (I actually DO think this is true) and if so then why does government not have complete control of the money-supply and therefore NOT pay interest to private bankers? Wouldn’t that substantially assist all economies? And finally, I have read that there are many ‘free energy-return’ systems in existence and have been for at least 60 years, yet we never hear of them in main-stream media and I never taught them in my classes at any school because it was never in the curriculum. Such systems would free the world’s populations from both the vast expense of paying for energy from the huge energy corporations and eliminate pollution at a stroke. We can, apparently, put a man on the moon and plan to visit Mars but we are still using fossil fuels! Please – if anyone reads this at least consider giving an old guy a genuinely sensible answer. Thank you all.

    • Sorry to disappoint you, but your questions can’t be seriously answered because they’re fundamentally based on untruths and misunderstandings. But I’ll do the best I can:

      1) No, we’re not living in a communist state. The phrase ‘registered keeper’ is not significant – the person registered to own a car is its legal owner. Simple as that.
      2) The government, via the Bank of England, effectively *does* have complete control of the money supply: they set interest rates and put new money into the economy via quantitative easing. The government could choose not to pay interest on its debts if it wanted to, but that would be a bad idea as it would cause a collapse of confidence in the UK economy and we’d have a hard time getting people to invest here in future. See what’s happening in Greece for an example.
      3) So-called ‘free energy’ is simply a myth, and physically impossible under the laws of themodynamics. Even if it was possible, no person who could create such a system would (or could) keep it to themselves, given how valuable it would be. For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_energy_suppression.

      I hope that helps you understand where you’ve been going wrong.

      • @ Alasdair: “The phrase ‘registered keeper’ is not significant – the person registered to own a car is its legal owner. Simple as that.” – So why does the registration document state on it “the registered keeper is not necessarily the legal owner”? Is that not significant also?

        Your point 2 does not explain why the government has to charge itself interest …. or why all governments are paying interest to a third party lender. Quantitative easing and borrowing money are not the same thing.

        If your point 3 is correct, how did Tesla manage to successfully harness free electricity from the ionosphere until the project was squashed by its primary funder JP Morgan?

        Get your facts right or stop spreading disinformation in such a condescending manner, as if you know it all.

    • 1) The registered keeper is just the person the government contacts in regards to the car. Anyone can own the car. I can own my son’s car (i.e. pay for it and let him use it, etc.), but he would be responsible for it – the “registered keeper.”

      2) Can’t be bothered to answer – not my field.

      3) “free electricity from the ionosphere” – did you not think there might be loads of energy in the ionosphere that is being conducted down. Is lightning free energy?

  16. Under maritime law and the Incitement to Disaffection Act 1934 I refuse to recognise Old Holborn’s status as a top twenty UK political blogger.

  17. “Who governs me if I withdraw my consent to be governed?”

    The flaw here is that you think you’re “giving consent” in the first place. Fundamentally, even if there are loopholes in the law as it stands, the best outcome you can hope for is that major players in the government won’t notice because if they do, they will simply rephrase the law to close the loophole.

    I mean do you honestly think the entire edifice of the state will collapse when enough people send letters out saying “this doesn’t apply to me?” When governments say they operate with the consent of the people they don’t mean “unless they complain a bit” they mean “unless the people en masse make it impossible to govern.”

  18. Dear Old H

    Unlike the tea partiers, who can point to a written constitution and Madison’s notes, you can only pick and choose Acts and conventions of the “unwritten” UK Constitution in support of your views.

    Therefore, our acceding that you are indeed a man with blood running through your veins (the bfreeman’s mantra) does not mean you are exempt from the jurisdiction – or that everybody but the freemen misunderstand the law as it has evolved.

    As you are living in the jurisdiction, you are subject to the jurisdiction. Simples.

    If you want to be subject to a natural law rights without the burden of commensurate “responsibilities”, you would probably be better off looking to a ranch in Texas.

  19. “Secondly, and somewhat sadly, the fact that this is the best the intellectual members of the Occupy LSX movement can muster exposes the strong possibility that it is being run, in part, by people who should not be allowed anywhere near this country’s economy.”

    Perhaps the articles have been (successful?) attempts at spreading perfidious harm to the ‘occupy’ movement – all very Cass Sunsteiny, if you ask me.

  20. Old H

    Oh yes you do! Parliament is supreme. You have the mob to get rid of them and elect new parliamentarians if the current ones make law (or indeed gift sovereignty) contrary to your natural rights.

    If you want to “take your country back”, you will have to get everyone in the UK to stop voting Labour/Cons/Lib Dem and join you in freemanery – and I think you’ll have a mountain to climb.

    • Except as you know, Parliament is not supreme. It can be trumped by the Crown, then the EU and then a plethora of International bodies who if so inclined can place us under sanctions or indeed bombs if they acquire enough votes.

      I am not a Nationalist, so I have no country to “take back”, other than my own life of course. The one thing a person may truly lay claim of ownership, surely?

      • If you own your body can you sell ownership of it to someone else? A classic libertarian dilemma I know but much of this debate has involved schoolboy political philosophy.

  21. PS

    I’m struggling to think of one moment in British history where British subjects enjoyed the freedoms OH describes – surely that was the point of the American revolution. Indeed, my understanding is that the US, by way of the US Constitution, was the first Republic to entrench a “hard” separation and enumeration of powers. With the amendments, I’m also pretty sure we were the first to entrench the natural law rights contained in the US Bill of Rights.

    The UK is not a republic. As far as I’m concerned, my adopted nation is an elective dictatorship. You may not like how that’s panned out, and may consider the UK’s attempt to entrench “third wave” ECHR rights by way of the Human Rights Act a bit lame – but I don’t see how any of this enables you to opt out of the system.

    I was not suggesting “my country, like it or leave it”. I was however saying that if you live in a place where parliament is supreme – and there is no real separation between the Executive and the Legislative branch – you’re not left with much hope challenging the “unjust” laws in the UK Supreme Court.

    You and the freemen will either have to gather enough momentum to start a revolution of your own or be subject to the current law as made by Parliament.

  22. This freemen idea has been gaining ground for some time. Some time ago, some of them seriously interrupted a Magistrates’ Court hearing in Wales.

    Let us assume that the individual (X) could “opt out” of being governed – a form of voluntary outlawry. Once X “opts out” – presumably by some formal process(?) – could I then shoot X and would the State would be entitled to say that X opted out and was therefore not entitled to any protection? Would I escape punishment and (maybe) even be rewarded for shooting X.

    Clearly, the idea is riisble. There are those who, throughout history, have opted to disobey some law or another. People who do so must be fully prepared to take the consequences,

    • “Clearly” means precisely that.

      I noted that some so-called “freemen” argue that they can somehow “opt out” of being governed. If that were permissible (which it is not) could others who remain within the system treat the voluntary outlaws in the way in which outlaws were treated in ancient times? Again, clearly not. Thus, the whole idea of “opting out” could – (I do not say would) – lead to anarchy.

      You may be personally prepared to take the consequences of your actions but I doubt that many are. There are too many gullible people lapping up this “freeman” nonsense.

      By the way, you should not assume that people who argue against “freemanry” are necessarily disagreeing politically with many of the points being made. We do suffer a huge democratic deficit in both the UK and the EU.

    • Quite correct, Freemen are willing to forgo the ‘protection’ the state gives them in return for being left alone by the state. They don’t want anything the state offers unless they have already paid for it.

  23. It’s always dangerous to question the STATIST quo! Why would a Barrister who makes significant amounts of money support the freemen or libertarians, afterall, they don’t support the violent co-ercive state that provides you with the laws for making a living! The guardian (State-is-our-mummy) and people in the law/state involvement of any kind have a vested interest in opposing any kind of movement that would lessen the influence of the state.

    Libertarians warned many years ago about this financial ‘crisis’ which has been caused by the state giving banks limited liabilities in exchange of funding political campaigns… It has nothing to do with capitalism and the free market and everything to do with the state control/crony capitalism.

    The british government owns more of it’s economy than china does! We live in a socialist state. Period.

      • It’s another get-out-of-criticism-free card to play, as you can say that anyone criticising Freeman ideas has a stake in the system (they are, after all, a member of society who have accepted Parliament’s rule) so cannot be trusted to see its true nature.

        • I say a genuine ‘thank you’ to the person who answered my 3 questions yesterday, putting me right on ‘where I was going wrong’. However, I have just one more question VERY close to my heart as I wrote to the PM about it (no reply yet): Reference the subject of ‘consent’ and (in my case) what I believe to be the truly shocking killings of thousands of innocent men, women and children by our government’s actions in Libya – I surely did NOT give my consent to such heinous actions however our government expressed it’s purpose. Does the fact that I am ‘under’ all government ‘laws’ and have signed all issued voting cards mean that I am complicit in such monstrous actions? If so then we ALL have blood on our hands and I for one WILL withdraw my consent to certain policies if I am, in future, to be ‘criminalised’ beyond my conscious objections.

  24. The UK is just as much a freeman as the worst offenders identified in these articles.

    Like the Occupy freemen believe they can step outside the domestic legal system, the UK believe they can step outside the ECHR legal system and break the law in respect of prisoners’ votes.

  25. “the word register, is derived from latin regis, which means crown”

    Two small problems with this. (1) ‘Regis’ is the genitive of ‘rex’, which means ‘king'; thus rather than ‘crown’, ‘regis’ means ‘of the king’. (2) ‘Register’ actually derives from the Latin verb ‘regerere’, meaning ‘to transcribe’ (or very literally ‘to bear again’). You evidently haven’t a clue what you’re on about – you’re actually just repeating things some random bloke told you and you liked the sound of, aren’t you?

    And ‘free energy’ is the exclusive preserve of lunatics. Sorry.

  26. My grateful thanks to Dean and Geoff – both of your answers display what, for me at this time, measures itself in clarity and common-sense and with the values of people who sincerely choose to understand how our world is ‘moving’ the way it is; haphazardly at best and with sinister purpose at worst. I know very little of any detail about how we are governed – I have spent a lifetime simply ‘getting by’ as best I can and often against all financial odds! However I do know one thing – in spite of monumental technological developments and the (apparently) enormous wealth abounding in certain quarters not one government anywhere has succeeded in vanquishing poverty, famine, disease and, most stupidly of all, war and the killing of innocents. That one fact alone should be enough to render them all unworthy of our consent. Thank you again to all who have so kindly agreed to answer me.

  27. I wrote about this “crazy constitutionalism” a few months ago on the UK Constitutional Law Blog http://ukconstitutionallaw.org/2011/07/22/andrew-le-sueur-crazy-constitutionalism/; it’s good that the dangers of this movement are being exposed again. In Jersey (where I come from), a former politician Stuart Syvret is serving a short jail sentence for failing to carry out community service for data protection offences. John Hemming MP is a long-time supporter of Syvret and has a EDM critical of Jersey’s legal system, which so far has attracted little support (http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2010-12/2370), so I was interested to see Hemming referred to in Adam’s article. Syvret uses “Freeman on the Land” techniques in court: see http://www.channelonline.tv/channelonline_jerseynews/displayarticle.asp?id=496812.

  28. I can appreciate the principle to some degree. Old Holborn’s question is a difficult one; the relationship between the state and individual is of no doubt a great interest to many readers of this blog. Of course the concept of ‘by consent’ is easy to understand when viewed at a society/community level – the obvious example being the Poll Tax introduction. I find it impossible though to understand, as a concept, how it can be applied at an individual level.

    Now the freeman says it is a matter of law, but the legal analysis by them doesn’t stand up to any sort of scrutiny. To call anyone that debates that point that as an agent of the state merely discredits them further.

    But for arguments sake, if it did, how could a freeman operate in a community to which the laws of, he eschews?

  29. As per your suggestion, Adam, I now make my hitherto Tweeted commenting on this article expand to actually commenting here! (I am @LibertyMark.)

    The idea of “Freemen” is, as you correctly assert, a falsehood in its current sense. I have had experiences of the conspiracy movement, albeit slight, and I am so glad that I withdrew from contact from those who were speaking to me of them.

    Yes, the modern “Freemen of the Land” is phony and relates well to the conspiracy theorists in that they see the governments and ruling authorities as enemies of the people. My Christian faith compels me to see authority as a God-ordained system, yet one that can and has been abused. Yet that authority can be abused does not make it an intrinsically evil thing.

    Therefore as I said in my tweet, I agree (or, perhaps, “consent”) to your superior legal knowledge.

    I would, however, like to make two points:

    1. The tone of this article obviously shows your passion, and perhaps in light of the original articles (which I must admit I have not read) it is justified. Yet I felt the passion behind the article was a touch too belligerent for a legal rationale on such a subject – perhaps as I had become used to the measured and calm methods with which you usually express yourself.

    2. It was a very brief phrase, and I presume refers to the article of defaulting on debt. But this phrase, “then claiming that all money is illusory anyway”, suggests your view is the opposite.
    Yet I would like to put forward the case that such a view has some economic basis. Money, of and in itself, is worthless. It has exactly zero value (especially true in the case of electronic money, though banknotes and cheques come close to zero).
    Originally, money was a valuable commodity, having a value anchored by its relationship to gold. I don’t know if it’s still written on banknotes, but they certainly used to say “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of…” This payment would be in gold.
    As far as I am aware, no money is now linked to gold – I know Nixon removed the link in the US. Therefore, money has no value except in how it relates to purchasing power.
    This is a big reason why we now get extreme financial instability and “bubbles”.
    So although it was only a small phrase in your article, I did want to point out that misleading impression given, as it is an area where the Occupy movement is, I believe, on to something.
    Of course, the General Jubilee advocates, of which I am one – where all debts are written off – does include great challenges and hurdles as modern economics is so based on the premise of borrowing.

    But I know your article focussed more on the Freeman idea, and yes in that respect it is important to dismiss the view. Yet the idea of a “freeman” is not new. It goes back at least to Roman times and is mentioned in the Bible. Yet the ancient concept of a freeman does not correlate to the modern theory, and originally it did not free a man from the constraints, both legal and dutiful, of the country or city of which he was a citizen.

  30. What a strange thread!!!!
    Surely when her majesty QE2 signed her oath of office (contract) during her coronation in 1953? She stated to uphold ALL of Gods laws!!!! God CLEARLY states “Man is NOT allowed to make his own laws”…can anyone shed further light on this? Because if this is true then ALL statutes/acts are indeed unlawful!!

    • @tabak

      “God CLEARLY states “Man is NOT allowed to make his own laws”…can anyone shed further light on this? Because if this is true then ALL statutes/acts are indeed unlawful!!”

      I cannot remember reading that anywhere in the Bible. What the Bible does teach is that if there is a conflict between God’s laws and man’s laws, then God’s laws must be given preference.

  31. Hi Adam & Carl! I challenge the pair of you to go on a field trip to one of the Occupy camps. The (freezing) fresh air will do you both good. I visited one of the Occupy camps yesterday. I talked to lots of people, but only met one or 2 who had even heard of the Freemen theory. I did meet one woman who firmly told me that it isn’t a conspiracy theory. I also met a couple of sociology students who had been sent there by the university to observe. They hadn’t read any of the Occupy CIFs and had never heard of the Freemen theory. I told them that we needed a survey to be carried out on the proportion of men to women who believe in the Freemen theory in the Occupy camps. We will have to wait and see if they carry it out. A man turned up at the camp who had been violently beaten up and had his backpack stolen. He was very frightened and in shock. The community welcomed him and made him feel safe. He joined a group of us who attended a very interesting class on conflict resolution. The woman who ran this hour long course has an MA in the subject and offered to train others. After she outline the subject, we were split into groups to discuss how we would resolve a conflict and then we reported our conclusions to the group. The man who had been beaten up made some very valuable contributions and asked if the woman who ran this course could help him set up a conflict resolution with the person who had attacked him. She was more than willing to help him. My short time there taught me something that I couldn’t get from this blog or the Guardian Occupy CIFs and given me an appetite to find out more.

  32. Hi Adam & Carl! I challenge the pair of you to go on a field trip to one of the Occupy camps. The (freezing) fresh air will do you both good. I visited one of the Occupy camps yesterday. I talked to lots of people, but only met one or 2 who had even heard of the Freemen theory. I did meet one woman who firmly told me that it isn’t a conspiracy theory. I also met a couple of sociology students who had been sent there by the university to observe. They hadn’t read any of the Occupy CIFs and had never heard of the Freemen theory. I told them that we needed a survey to be carried out on the proportion of men to women who believe in the Freemen theory in the Occupy camps. We will have to wait and see if they carry it out. A man turned up at the camp who had been violently beaten up and had his backpack stolen. He was very frightened and in shock. The community welcomed him and made him feel safe. He joined a group of us who attended a very interesting class on conflict resolution. The woman who ran this hour long course has an MA in the subject and offered to train others. After she outline the subject, we were split into groups to discuss how we would resolve a conflict and then we reported our conclusions to the group. The man who had been beaten up made some very valuable contributions and asked if the woman who ran this course could help him set up a conflict resolution with the person who had attacked him. She was more than willing to help him. My short time there taught me something that I couldn’t get from this blog or the Guardian Occupy CIFs and given me an appetite to find out more. A friend just told me that there was a local radio discussion on the freemen theory and it was concluded that it is mainly supported by men.

  33. Turned away from reading about this Freeman-woo, distracting activist-energy-vortex that it so clearly is, to go back to C.L.R. James’ uplifting history of the Haitian Revolution (http://goo.gl/AqpHK). (It’s wicked.)

    So imagine my joy to read that after the uprising, when the old slave-owners tried to restore their old twisted order, the former slaves rebelled in the streets under the slogan: “Power to the law! Power to the law!” (p.169)

    @carlgardner’s point that the law is the friend of political progress is very well taken indeed.

  34. We have a paper over here like the Guardian.
    Its called The National Enquirer.
    If it was not for gullible housewives and riff-raff it would not exist.
    I assume the Guardian is the same.
    I see lots of Jokers (riff-raff on crack) on here say one can not “opt out”.
    Show me the law (act, statute, rule or regulation) that says that.
    In absence thereof, I can only assume it is bollocks.

  35. I am the first to admit that many of the free men don’t use proper sources to justify their claims, instead relying on their spirit rather than on the form of the law as determined by our forefathers. However, after many hours of diligent searching, I have found a graph that goes right to the heart of the matter, from Henrici de Bracton de legibus et consuetudinibus angliae, Edited by Sir Travers Twiss, W.C. D.C.L., Vol VI, p. 243:

    “Now we must discuss in what way exception is to be taken to the jurisdiction of any judge, who makes himself judge upon pleas and actions which belong to the crown and to the royal dignity, when a person has been drawn into a plea before him.

    And it is to be known in the first place that, in order to secure that judgments should be ratified, it is incumbent to see whether the justiciary has a warrant from the king, sot hat he may judge, because if he have not a warrant, it will not avail that the action has been tried before him as being as it were not the judge of the party, because in the first place the original writ ought to be read, and afterwards the writ whereby he has been constituted a justiciary, and if he should have none at all, or if he have not at hand, obedience will not be due to him, unless by change it happens that the original writ makes mention of his justiciarship.”

    So, it is plain that anyone who bears himself as judge must have a warrant in hand constituting him a Justice, and if he does not, no obedience is due to him. The preferred wording for demanding such is “I demand sight and hearing of the commission by which you claim jurisdiction over me,” or, in Law French, “Jeo demant la vuue et la oiee de la comision par que vous clamez juresdicion sur mei.”

    As to QEII, she did not take the Oath required by 1688 c. 6. In 1953, the oath was “modified without statutory authority,” (The Coronation Oath – Parliament UK, p. 3). That’s from the UK Parliament’s own brief on the Oath, so please, no telling me this is internet kookery, kthnx. As far as my research indicates GVI, during WWII, took a similarly counterfeit oath. As best I can tell, it was give over a little to the Nazis (who had infiltrated the entire world’s University system by that time) in hope that children would one day bring back the light to destroy their darkness, rather than risk the Nazis forcibly attacking the entire commonwealth.

    “Will you solemnly promise and swear to govern the Peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa, Pakistan and Ceylon, and of your Possessions and other Territories to any of them belonging or pertaining, according to their respective laws and customs?” which is the portion of the oath purportedly allowing QEII to Govern the independent nationalist socialist enclaves of the once United empire by ‘their respective laws and customs’ is what was added without statutory authority; and such is clearly unwarrantable by common law.

    She ought to have promised in the affirmative re: “Will You solemnely Promise and Sweare to Governe the People of this Kingdome of England and the Dominions thereto belonging according to the Statutes in Parlyament Agreed on and the Laws and Customs of the same?” (1668 c. 6)

    Of Oaths, an old Judge Edward Coke says this:

    “Oaths that have no warrant by law, are rather verba tormenta quam sacramenta, and it is an high contempt to minister an oath without warrant of law, to be punished by fine and imprisonment. And therefore commissioners (that set by force of any commission that is not allowed by the common law, nor warranted by authority of parliament) that minister any oath whatsoever, are guilty of an high contempt, and for the same are to be fined and imprisoned:

    For commissions are legall, and are like the kings writs, and none are lawfull but such as are allowed by the common law, or warranted by some act of parliament: and therefore commissions of new inquiries or of novell invention, are against law, and ought not to be put in execution.
    (3 Inst. 165-166)”

    Thus, there are only two parts of the oath warranted by common law or statute:

    “maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel”
    “cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all her judgements”

    For a summary of the historical coronation oath before the conquest and at common law as summarized in Bracton, see http://www2.ubicee.net/sf/2011/02/coronation-oath-requirements/

    Long have we waited for the Gospel to be preached to all the nations, so that its end might come. By the way, a Lawyer’s first duty is to the Corporate usurpers (they call them Courts), not to do Justice and Right. So don’t expect a lawyer to agree with this—restoration of the Law of God would mean an end to barratry as a way of life for the clown college (law society).

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  37. The worst thing about these so-called “freemen”, is that their nonsense tricks vulnerable people into believing their debts don’t exist and therefore don’t need to be addressed. This is incredibly counter-productive. Yeah, the occasional creditor might listen to your ravings and make a commercial decision that it’s not worth chasing you up, but don’t bet on it! Most will pass the case on to a debt collector, or else or chase you through the courts, at which point no amount of Magna Carta quotation will save you from the Bailiffs (A genuine, if less romanticized example of ancient customs in action).

    The sad thing is, there are plenty of ways to address your debts legally!You can renegotiate payments through a debt management plan. You can go through an individual voluntary arrangement. You can even get your debts written off entirely through either a debt relief order, or by going bankrupt. The worst thing you can possibly do is bury your head in the sand and claim the problem doesn’t exist!

  38. A woman called Jane mentioned Gandhi on one of the Guardian CIFs. Gandhi was a truly great man and a great lawyer. Freemen might be surprised to learn that this lawyer was the 1st to employ non-violent civil disobedience. He is famous for urged Indians to defy the pass laws by burning their registration cards and endure the punishments for doing so. He was also famous for the salt march to the sea where he along with thousands of Indians defied the British Government by making their own salt. The British government imprisoned over 60,000 people in response to this action. Unlike some of the lawyers and freemen who have contributed to these CIFs, he was a truly humble man who was devoted to the truth.

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