It can also be revealed that Lady Arbuthnot has received gifts and hospitality in relation to her husband, including from a military and cybersecurity company exposed by WikiLeaks. These activities indicate that the chief magistrate’s activities cannot be considered as entirely separate from her husband’s.
Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom, a former defence minister, is a paid chair of the advisory board of military corporation Thales Group, and was until earlier this year an adviser to arms company Babcock International. Both companies have major contracts with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD).
The revelations highlight concerns about conflicts of interest. Lady Arbuthnot began presiding over Assange’s legal case in 2017 and ruled this June that a full hearing would begin next February to consider the request for extradition from the UK made by the Trump administration.
British judges are required to declare any potential conflicts of interests to the courts, but it is our understanding that Lady Arbuthnot has not done so.
Lady Arbuthnot has recently appointed a district judge to rule on Assange’s extradition case, but remains the supervising legal figure in the process. According to the UK courts service, the chief magistrate is “responsible for… supporting and guiding district judge colleagues”.
Assange is currently being held in Belmarsh maximum security prison in London in conditions described by UN special rapporteur on torture, Nils Meltzer, as “psychological torture”. If transferred to the US, Assange faces life in prison on espionage charges.
Lady Arbuthnot financially benefited from organisations exposed by WikiLeaks
At a time when Lady Arbuthnot was in her former position as a district judge in Westminster, she personally benefited from funding together with her husband from two sources which were exposed by WikiLeaks in its document releases.
The British parliament’s register of interests shows that in October 2014, Lady Arbuthnot was provided with tickets worth £1,250 to the Chelsea Flower Show in London along with her husband. The tickets were provided by Bechtel Management Company Ltd, part of the major US military corporation, Bechtel, whose contracts with the UK’s Ministry of Defence include a project worth up to £215m to transform its Defence Equipment &