Journalist Has Assets Frozen for Going Against the State Narrative
People are unlucky enough to have their assets frozen every day. Normally a court order is required, although they’re liberally granted. This case differs because it was done by bureaucrats with no court order. There’s no civil or criminal case. This person had his assets frozen for reporting things the government disagrees with.
Graham Phillips is a British citizen. He’s a journalist who’s been working in the Donbass region of Ukraine since 2014. Needless to say, what he reported didn’t fit with the narrative presented by the UK government and the mainstream media. He reported that the people in the Donbass region wanted to be part of Russia. He told how they’d been bombed by Ukraine for the past 8 years. Long before the official start of the war.
He also interviewed a British prisoner of war who was captured in Donbass by the Russians. He questioned what a British soldier was doing in Donbass when the UK is not at war. This is where Mr Phillip’s problems began.
Assets Frozen Without Court Order
The UK foreign office arbitrarily decided to put sanctions on Mr Phillips. This had already happened to many Russian nationals. These were mainly wealthy Russian businessmen who had visible assets that could be seized. It happened to the former owner of Chelsea football club, Roman Abramovich. He had the multi-billion dollar proceeds of the sale of Chelsea Football Club frozen by the UK government.
The case of Graham Phillips was the first time this has happened to a British national.
UK sanctions are a particularly nasty government tool. They freeze all your bank accounts and prevent you from selling any assets you own. They also prohibit anyone else from giving you money to pay bills. They make it illegal for anyone to provide services to you. For example, a lawyer wouldn’t be allowed to work for you. Utility companies can’t provide service to you. An airline wouldn’t be permitted to sell you a ticket.
Abuse of State Power
Whatever your views on the war on Ukraine, this is a disgraceful abuse of state power. A very dangerous precedent is being set. In my view, it’s only a matter of time before measures like this are used against others that the government doesn’t like. Already in the UK there are Unexplained Wealth Orders where the government can take away your assets if you can’t explain where they came from. Bank accounts and assets are frozen every day. But these measures go a step further.
No court order was applied for or needed to go after Mr Phillips. Bureaucrats at the UK Foreign Office simply decided they didn’t like what he was doing. They unilaterally decided to sanction him.
Appeal Against Asset Freeze
Mr Phillips made a complaint to the UK government about the sanctions. He was told that he could apply to the Foreign Office if he wanted to spend his own money. The Foreign Office, laughably, say that the sanctions are in line with human rights law. It’s hard to see how this can be the case. This kind of measure deprives a person with the right to exist to all intents and purposes.
This type of abuse of state power will only increase in the future. Assets in your own country can be confiscated at any time. For any reason. Anybody with assets must have a back-up plan in place. This should include overseas bank accounts. Precious metals stored overseas in a non-bank location. It should also include multiple passports and residences. Your own government can’t easily seize your overseas assets or freeze your overseas bank accounts. Any assets you have in your home country are always vulnerable to the overreach of the state.
Most of us will never report from a war zone or take such a public stand against the government narrative. But this kind of thing can happen arbitrarily to anyone. Everyone should plan on putting a strong backup plan in place for 2023.