Thursday 8 December 2016

Star chambers

Published 21/10/2011 | 05:00

•When I read the text of the proposed 30th amendment to the Constitution, the first thing that came to mind was 'Star Chamber'. The Star Chamber was set up in medieval England with the claimed noble intention of ensuring that all persons would be answerable to the law. Rich and powerful "nobles" could evade answering for wrongdoing by intimidation and the bribing of judges and court officials.

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To circumvent this, Star Chamber sessions were held in secret, had no right of appeal and punishment was swift and severe. Over time the opportunities this presented to conveniently get rid of troublesome subjects was noted by the establishment and wily royal sycophants like Cardinal Wolsey and Thomas Cranmer used it as a political weapon to give a sheen of respectability to the persecution of those who opposed the policies of the likes of Henry VIII.

Using this secretive device, even a couple of ladies also lost their heads, having been blamed for Henry's ineptitude when it came to procreation.

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