Law and Order under New Labour
A ‘Comment’ on my entry about David Blunkett’s latest appalling proposals by Tony Hatfield seems to me worth a post here in its own right â€“ and I hope he’ll also put it on his own excellent (and beautifully illustrated) website at http://tonyhatfield.blogspot.com/. Tony is a retired solicitor with extensive experience in criminal law; he knows whereof he speaks. As he says, we are sleep-walking into a more illiberally governed society than there has been here for 150 years. I pointed out in an interview today for BBC1 television news (tiny snippets of which, possibly including a shot of my main website on my computer screen!, may or may not be broadcast this evening, 11 August, at 6 pm BST), that the right not to be detained in this country without a fair trial goes back to Magna Carta, and is confirmed in the European Human Rights Convention of which Britain was a principal co-author, yet our Labour government has abrogated it, and its action in doing so has just today been endorsed by the Court of Appeal, following its earlier endorsement by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. Shame on them!
Here’s Tony Hatfield:
>>I cannot disagree with anything written here, Brian. But as I came to your last words, I asked myself, "Do enough people care?â€?. I mean really care enough to make sure these Draconian measures are not, as you put it, "smuggledâ€? onto the statute book? I’m afraid my confidence level is not much above absolute zero. The examples of statutory "smugglingâ€? within the criminal law, in my professional career alone, are terrifying. No longer does an arrested person have an untrammelled right to say nothing when questioned in the police station. No longer does an accused person have the right to keep his defence to himself until trial. In cases of rape and now other sexual offences, a defendant facing, on conviction, many uncomfortable years in jail, finds it increasingly difficult to challenge the complainant’s sexual history. The chances of miscarriages in this area alone increase as juries are now being asked to believe either the complainant or the defendant. No need for corroboration! Thousands of kids are being criminalised by the use of the powers contained in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. The civil law provisions in the Act allow the police use second-hand hearsay evidence to obtain Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. The government has not exhausted this crafty procedure; a civil order followed by criminal proceedings, with substantial periods of custody for breach. Five years in the case of an ASBO. I shudder to think what the Labour Party’s manifesto for the next election will contain. Law’n’Order, we are told, will be at its heart. I wonder if anyone will really mind, if amongst its provisions are the implanting, under the skin, of a chip to which details can be added during the lifetime if the citizen. Or the compulsory taking of DNA to complete the gaps in present database, which now contains a miserable collection of those arrested or reported for any criminal offence.And yes, Number 51, the national database behind the ID card! A few years ago the limits to the digital storage of information made these ideas fanciful. Today, the technologies are increasing exponentially whilst the costs of storage are moving with equal speed in the opposite direction. We are now a nation of involuntary Prozac users who find "Big Brotherâ€? an entertainment.< <
Thanks for that, Tony.