Julian Assange addressed 700 lawyers from Commonwealth nations this week at a Glasgow conference.
The WikiLeaks editor-in-chief did not made a dash north from his hideout in the Ecuadorean embassy, but used hybrid technology to appear virtually. Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.
Assange was part of a panel discussion on international intelligence sharing and privacy and how lawyers can protect their confidential client communications alongside the chair Jennifer Robinson, a human rights lawyer, and Adriana Edmeades who works for Privacy International.
The 19th Commonwealth Law Conference is expected to generate an economic boost in the region of £1.4m.
A number of senior judges boycotted the event in protest at Assange’s participation.
A spokesperson for the Judicial Office for Scotland said: “The conference programme was changed to include Mr Assange’s participation at short notice and without consultation. Mr Assange is, as a matter of law, currently a fugitive from justice, and it would therefore not be appropriate for judges to be addressed by him.
“Under these circumstances, the Lord president, Lord Gill, and the other Scottish judicial officeholders in attendance have withdrawn from the conference.”
The biennial conference last took place in 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa and has been brought to Glasgow in partnership between the Law Society of Scotland, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau (GCMB) and the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC).
This year’s Commonwealth Law Conference is an example of the city delivering on legacy aspirations following the Commonwealth Games staged in Glasgow last year.
One of Glasgow’s key ambitions is to use the Games to help develop and strengthen the city’s relationship with Commonwealth Nations, driving internationalisation and growing Glasgow’s reputation as a Commonwealth City.
Aileen Crawford, head of Conventions at Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “I’m delighted to welcome the delegates and organisers of the Commonwealth Law Conference to Glasgow. Not only will it mark the return of this prestigious meeting to Europe and the UK for the first time in a decade, it will also greatly contribute to the legacy derived from the city’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games last year.
“Hosting major conferences like the Commonwealth Law Conference reinforces the city’s reputation as a world-class business tourism destination.”
Alistair Morris, President of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “The Commonwealth Law Conference provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase Scotland and its legal profession to lawyers from around the globe.”
Kathleen Warden, head of association conferences at the Scottish Exhibition + Conference Centre (SECC), said she was delighted to be welcoming the delegates to Glasgow and the SECC.
“This is a major international conference that was attracted to the city through the combined efforts of GCMB, SECC and our city partners and is a major success story for us all. The organisers have put their faith in the many qualities we have as a venue and a city and we’re looking forward to giving them an unforgettable experience.”
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