The Law\’s the law

It is impossible to understand why their lordships think that such a consideration should take precedence over diminishing a clear and present danger to national security.

Well, you know, actually, umm, it\’s not impossible to understand.

The judges on the Supreme Court understand something which all too many seem to have forgotten. There is a tension between national security and the rights of the citizenry.

Always has been, always will be.

We could improve national security by simply locking up any bugger who looked a bit didgy. Plenty of places do this after all.

We could improve the rights of the accused by having absolutely no methods of locking anyone up at all until we have proved them guilty, judge and jury and all, of something that deserved locking up. That would mean no holding people on remand while they await trial for example.

We do try and chart a course between this Scylla and, umm, the other one.

In this case the government whacked into law a rule that anyone on the UN Security Council\’s list should and could have their assets frozen. No one needs to reveal why an individual is on said list. The Supreme Court said, well, you know, if you want to do that then you\’ve got to get Parliament to pass it: you can\’t just slip such a rule in by fiat.

And no, we\’ll not give you three months grace before our vacating of those confiscation orders which are already extant comes into effect.

As long as you understand this tension, between security and liberty, then you\’ll understand the Court\’s point. Executives the world over are delighted to violate the latter on (sometimes, often) spurious grounds concerning the former. This is part of the near 800 year long balancing of the two that the Common Law has been attempting. The refusal of the grace period might best be viewed as a \”naughty, naughty, now don\’t try this sort of shite again matey\”.

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