Information has come to light demonstrating that the chief magistrate overseeing the extradition proceedings against Julian Assange received financial benefits from organizations with close ties to the UK Foreign Office prior to her appointment.
According to a report on Friday in the South African-based Daily Maverick, Lady Emma Arbuthnot attended, along with her husband Lord Arbuthnot of Edrom, all-expenses-paid secretive gatherings of the organizations Tertulias and Tatlidil in 2014 that included numerous UK foreign policy officials. Lady Arbuthnot was appointed chief magistrate in Westminster in October 2016.
Although as of November 2019 Arbuthnot is no longer formally presiding over the Assange extradition proceedings, she has refused to recuse herself and remains in a supervisory role overseeing the trial with her subordinate District Judge Vanessa Baraitser on the bench. According to the UK court rules, the chief magistrate is “responsible for … supporting and guiding district judge colleagues.”
The Daily Maverick report states: “Tertulias, an annual forum held for political and corporate leaders in the UK and Spain, is regarded by the UK Foreign Office as one of its ‘partnerships’.” In attendance at the Tertulias conference in Bilbao, Spain in October 2014 was Conservative Party member Liz Truss, who is now UK Trade Secretary. The report says, “Liz Truss, then Justice Secretary, ‘advised’ the Queen to appoint Lady Arbuthnot in October 2016.”
The expenses of Lady Arbuthnot at the Bilbao conference were covered by the Tertulias organization, since her husband, “a former Conservative defense minister with extensive links to the British military and intelligence community exposed by WikiLeaks,” was the chairman of the organization.
Lady Arbuthnot was also present with her husband at the British-Turkish Tatlidil Forum in Istanbul in November 2014. Daily Maverick describes Tatlidil (Turkish for “sweet talk”) as “a forum established by the UK and Turkish governments for ‘high level’ individuals involved in politics and business.” Those present included Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The report states that the UK delegation to the Tatlidil forum in Istanbul, “was led by Prince Andrew, who also hosted the Tatlidil in Edinburgh the previous year. Then foreign minister Tobias Ellwood spoke at the forum while former foreign secretary Jack Straw,