This is nuts. The role of the law is to promote the wellbeing of citizens, not to threaten it. Something has gone badly wrong when judges decide that it is more important to preserve the legal principle that everyone accused of a crime should have full access to the evidence against them than it is to prevent a major terrorist attack. Can anyone seriously maintain that stopping mass murder is less important than violating that legal principle?
I can and do maintain that the legal principle is more important than the stopping of mass murder.
I\’ll not use weasel words in doing so either. I don\’t mean only in cases where some bearded fanatic is actually found actively pulling on the bomb vest. I\’m not talking about the analogy that people use about torture, the ticking bomb.
But plain and simple, must people be tried fairly, with the evidence against them presented so that they can argue against it, whatever they are accused of, whether it be to ricin the entire water supply of London, fiddle with kiddies or cough up the supposed proceeds of a life of crime?
Must that fair trial include all of the historic twiddles that the modern world so derides? Habeas corpus, the presumption of innocence, the right to silence, the revelation of evidence, the right to question accusers and witnesses……?
Yes, it must. For the alternative, the dropping of any of those barriers painfully (if not by design, rather through a combination of whimsy and hard won experience) built over the centuries, is a system in which any one of us can be put away, stripped of our property, our freedom, our very liberty to be at large in this country, simply by the powers that be declaring that we\’re a bad \’un.
It would be a world in which Harriet Harman, Peter Mandelson, Jack Straw, Geoff Hoon, please do add your horror list here, would be able to shuffle whoever they liked off into a twilight world of near non-existence.
And the terrors of that are a great deal worse than a tube train or three blown up of a morning. I realise that those blown up, those who lost those blown up, might not agree, but that is indeed my argument.
There is a tension between the physical safety of some fraction of us, those who might be killed or maimed by those that a just system does not jail or restrain, even if they are bad \’uns but we cannot prove it, and the liberty and freedom of us all. And in weighing that balance the liberty of 60 million outweighs the corporeal beings of 50 people.
Harsh calculation no doubt. One that can indeed be argued with, possibly even derided.
But think of it another way. Giving our Lords and Masters the powers to lock away anyone they desire, anyone they think not conducive to public order. Well, look around the world at societies which have done that, which have abandoned the law and justice in this matter. Doesn\’t it lead to more death and disaster over time than the terrorist terrors that we have been subjected to?