Sunday, February 24, 2008

Government to scrap habeas corpus?

For the first time in ages I actually bought a lot of Sunday newspapers and have finally got around to reading them. Scary thing is, whilst people are concentrating on the Speakers woes, I've just noticed that the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is planning on suspending habeas corpus. OK, so the News of the Screws does not report it that way of course, but that is, it seems to me, the implications of her latest Ten-Year Plan (like Stalin but only better because it's not five years).

Apparently she is planning on allowing the Police to have the power to seize all the assets of a suspect upon arrest. Now, you may very well be a staunch social conservative and think a 'drug pushing scumbag' should get what they deserve, but I'm afraid this really is the thin end of the wedge. If - as Smith plans - the state will be able to seize all the assets of someone before they are even charged then what you're effectively doing is saying that the person is assumed guilty until proven innocent.

When you couple this with the already existing criminal assets legislation, someone can be acquitted and still lose their assets on the basis of little more than 'reasonable grounds'. The difference now is that the limits that say assets no older than a certain time (as well as the exemption of personal property) will be seized without any crime needing to be proven. We often hear Brown, Smith, the Government telling us how they love Britishness right? Well tell me this, is there anything less British than taking Magna Carta and ripping it to shreds?

Let's be under no illusions here, this is a policy designed for pure triangulation on crime. Come up with quite possibily the most anti-liberty, anti-justice policy ever, and then make sure that anyone who may oppose it can be portrayed as 'soft on crime'. To paraphrase Edmund Burke, whenever a separation between justice and liberty is made neither is safe.


Anonymous said...

Even though Magna Carta only protects the rights of Barons and other elites, I agree with your point. The state should not be nabbing things that belong to people until there is a legitimate, and necessary, reason to do so.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't worry, another ten years of this lot and none of us will have any assets to seize.

Anonymous said...

Having these dangerous clowns in charge of our unwritten constitution really makes me think it might be time for a written one.

Anonymous said...

Total yikes,
we need to revolt .
Its worse than terrorism.
I ...need to calm down before
I loose all hope .
Using the speaker as cover is
so lame ,but true.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if there is anything that Jacqui Smith isn't planning on turning on its head to lubricate the way to a totalitarian state. Unfortunately this doesn't come as a surprise.

Anonymous said...

There can surely be no doubt that this lot are faithfully paving the way for a totalitarian state. What I have not yet been able to observe is the one in the wings for whom it is being done.

But does it pass the Hitler/Stalin test. Yes, with a gold A* grade!

JuliaM said...

"Now, you may very well be a staunch social conservative and think a 'drug pushing scumbag' should get what they deserve.."

I am, and I do, indeed, think they should get what they deserve. But there's the little matter of finding them guilty first....!

Anonymous said...

Habeas corpus has effectively been abolished already by the European arrest warrant and our one-sided treaty with the US. You can now be arrested in this country and tried abroad for something which was not unlawful here.

Anonymous said...

PSJ's right.

And I sometimes wonder if that hasn't been their game all along. The Labour party's full of people who have long advocated a written constitution; is it completely paranoid of me to ask if they aren't deliberately tearing our unwritten one to shreds in order to build support? Nothing would surprise me about this lot any more.

"Nice constitution you've got there. It'd be a shame if anything were to happen to it... Oh dear, you seem to have lost the presumption of innocence. And look, your habeas corpus has fallen off. Tsk, tsk..."

Anonymous said...

There was an associated news item yesterday in that in future, you may have to book all overseas travel in advance giving passport details of all travellers- so no sudden romantic urges to slip to St.Pancras with the girlfriend for a meal for two: it may well need to be booked a week in advance.

It even looks like if travelling to Northern Ireland (part of the UK) will need similar pre-booking arrangements.

They say its for security purposes but details may well be supplied to other government agencies such as HMRC or DSS.(or even lost)

I remember going to France when each hotel had to fill in a card giving the details of each person staying overnight: it being collected by the gendarmerie the next day. How long before it happens here?

The only consolation is that the government service is so inefficient, it won't have a clue.

Some claim that it is the Soviet mind-set of the Labour Party. I don't quite agree with that.Its more sinister. Its the Soviet mind-set of the Civil Service and the agencies of Government. They will try this no matter who is in power currently using "national security" to persuage gullable politicians and an even more gullable public.

tory boys never grow up said...

Could I suggest that instead of (mis)reading the News of the World you go and read some history about what Stalin was really like - and then you might not resort to such odious comparisons so easily.

I think that the quote below taken from the Times on 23rd February clearly demonstrates that the intention is only to freeze drug dealers assets until the suspects are convicted. This is already done for terrorists and property which is suspected of having been stolen. On the other hand you could do nothing while the assets concerned are merrily transferred elsewhere.

On the other hand I am sure that could accuse the Government of seeking to murder the first born or similar.

"The changes, modelled on existing powers to freeze the assets of suspected terrorists, include plans for a judge to rule on whether there are "reasonable grounds" to seize possessions pending a conviction. The Home Office plans to hold seized goods until suspects are convicted, and then sell them off."

Anonymous said...

When you say "Smith is planning", I'm sure you don't believe she has the imagination to plan anything.
I'm sure it would be more accurate to say "Brown/Straw/her advisors have told her to...."

mint said...

surely habeas corpus..

anthonynorth said...

Time, me thinks, to grab THEM by the assets.

Anonymous said...

it allready is a police state. civil cotinencies act 2005 criminal justice bill 2001 all the terrorism leglistlation asbos siezuer of property pre charge detention extrodinary rendition (cromwell invented that, pow camps on the scily isles!!)