Cyprian got it right a long time ago: "Homicide is a crime when individuals commit it, but it is called a virtue when many commit it. Not the reason of innocence, but the magnitude of savagery, demands impunity for crimes." We have witnessed many murders in recent weeks. The murders of thousands of Iraqi conscripts and hundreds of Iraqi civilians. Who knows how many have died and will die from illness and hunger as a result of the recent illegal American/British barbarism?
This week I wrote to the newly appointed prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, asking him to initiate investigations which might lead to the prosecution of Messrs Blair, Straw and Hoon for murder. Killing without lawful authority, after all, is murder. There was, in the opinion of 90 per cent of the world's jurists, no lawful authority for what was done. Our own Attorney General, however, has declared that there was a legal basis for the recent military assault on Iraq. His permission is needed before a prosecution can be brought in a British court under the 2001 International Criminal Court Act. Not much hope of getting that. The UN Charter is perfectly clear about the circumstances in which the Security Council can authorise military action. Those conditions were never met. Mr Blair justified his actions to the House of Commons on the basis of the supposed imminent threat presented by Iraq. There have been no credible findings of weapons of mass destruction.
In 1945, Britain agreed with the entire UN General Assembly that the UN Charter was "the most solemn peace pact of history". Now we have ignored it and given a green light to bully boys everywhere. But we got rid of Saddam Hussein . . . ? Yes, of course. But was it the right way and was it the only way? Ask Little Ali, or Nelson Mandela, or even the Pope.
Finsbury Park in north London is not quite up to Green Park or Hyde Park standards in terms of green space and well-tended gardens. We do, however, have our own happy traditions. Our Easter Sunday egg hunt, for example. This year it brought together a hundred or so under-eight-year-olds, intent on unearthing as many hidden eggs as possible. Excited greed in the very young is a pleasure to watch - unlike that of their elders. Last year an adult couple of Continental visitors were seen before the hunt started, quietly collecting and pocketing for themselves the hidden children's eggs. When challenged, they said that they thought the eggs were just a sign of traditional English generosity.
Off to Faslane, where we will be attempting a citizens' inspection of our own weapons of mass destruction. The International Court of Justice in 1996 ordered us to negotiate them away, but no such negotiations have ever started. There they are, on long grey submarines, and no UN inspectors within a thousand miles. Curious? Hypocritical? Illegal?
I learn to my great dismay that a compassionate visit by a prisoner, planned for this week, has had to be cancelled. On 6 December 2002 in the Royal Court of Justice, Mr Justice Gibbs denied an appeal from Raymond Gilbert, a high-security prisoner convicted of murder in 1981, but who has, for 21 years, proclaimed his innocence. He was asking Mr Justice Gibbs to be allowed a temporary transfer from Milton Keynes to a prison near Liverpool, where his mother and brother (ill with cancer) could visit him. Although there is a prison near Liverpool with high-security cells, Mr Justice Gibbs turned down the request. The prison service did try to be helpful. They planned a round-trip day visit to the Liverpool prison. But things moved slowly and it was only last week that the visit was arranged. On the very day of the visit, the brother took a turn for the worse and was moved into hospital, so it was cancelled. There was everything in the Gibbs ruling of 2002 except compassion and concern. Raymond will probably never see his brother again in this world. What gives a judge the right to give confident assurances about the progress of cancer? I hope Mr Justice Gibbs will get a kinder judge when his turn comes.
Since I dare say he will never make a Guardian, let alone a Times obituary, let me say a word here about Gus (properly Gershon) Stern, who died recently at the age of 87. He went to his green funeral in a wicker coffin in the wide open, headstone-free space of Carpenters Park cemetery, near Bushey. Gus was part of a large Jewish family whose parents fled Lithuania for the East End of London before the First World War. He left school early to work in the family grocery. When that went bust, he found a job as an ordinary clerk in a finance office, soldiered as an ordinary private through North Africa and Italy, and in later life did his ordinary duty in caring for his bedridden wife.
But nothing about Gus was actually ordinary. His range of interests - history, politics, religion and geography - was wide. As a Communist Party member, and then in and out of sympathy with new Labour, he had a non-stop vision of a fairer world. A member of many organisations, he was a donor to even more. The photograph I will keep shows him standing outside parliament on a CND vigil, with a large sign reading: "End Arms Race - Feed the Human Race". Of not many can it really be said that the world has become a kinder place because of their journey through it. Gus Stern is high on that list.