Monday, December 24, 2007 

Standing in the way of control.

It's Christmas Eve, so let's have a shooting fish in a barrel contest. Tony McNulty, the ghastly minister of state for security, counter terrorism, crime and policing writes into the Grauniad to defend control orders after Gareth Peirce, one of the lawyers acting for some of those under them savaged them last week:

Gareth Peirce's article (Britain's own Guantánamo, December 21) seriously exaggerates both the use of, and conditions for individuals on, control orders.

How then does McNulty defend control orders? By, err, exaggerating the safeguards, and being downright evasive and selective in regurgitating some of the facts.

The UK faces an unprecedented threat from terrorism and the government's top priority is to protect the public. There are certain individuals who we have strong suspicion are involved in terrorist activity but who we cannot prosecute or, if they are foreign nationals, deport.

This to begin with is nonsense. If the evidence held against the men was made admissible, most of which was obtained through phone-tapping, then they could almost certainly be tried. There is of course another suspicion as to why they haven't been prosecuted: that the intelligence is so thin that even if wiretapping was admissible it still wouldn't be enough for the CPS to authorise a prosecution. McNulty strangely doesn't mention that they are attempting to deport many "terrorist suspects" under "articles of understanding" to countries where torture is endemic, a piece of paper promising that such brutality won't be used against our returnees.

Peirce's claim that considerable numbers of people don't know the case against them is simply wrong. We use control orders only in a limited number of carefully selected cases. Fourteen people are currently subject to a control order and none of them is under house arrest. Control order obligations are tailored to the risk posed by the individual concerned.

I don't know about you, but I would describe a 16-hour home curfew, which is what most of those on control orders are under, where they are electronically tagged, have to report to a police station daily, are denied access to the internet or telephone, and are only allowed very select visitors who are authorised in advanced as little better than house arrest.

There are also strong safeguards to protect their rights. For example, where a controlled person cannot see the evidence against them for security reasons, an independent legal representative is appointed who can see the evidence and make representations on their behalf. And each control order is subject to mandatory review by the high court.

But that representative, who is appointed by the state, not the defendant, still cannot inform the person under the control order what the allegations against them are. To know what you are accused of has been a right since the dark ages, that's how far the Kafkaesque control order system has dragged us back. That each control order is subject to mandatory review makes little difference:
when Mr Justice Beatson quashed an order on a Tunisian and made clear that he felt he should be prosecuted, the former home secretary John Reid just imposed a slightly less restrictive order on him and completely ignored the judge's recommendation.

The House of Lords recently endorsed the principles of the control order regime, and the independent reviewer of counter-terrorism legislation, Lord Carlile, concluded in his last annual report that control orders remained a necessary and proportionate response to the current threat.

Now this is where the bullshit really starts to fly. The law lords most certainly did not endorse the "principles of the control order regime"; it was asked to rule on whether 18-hour curfews under control orders were in breach of Article 5 of the Human Rights Act, the right to liberty, which they duly found that they were. They did however rule that 12-hour curfews were permissible, and because Lord Brown in a dissenting opinion wrote that he thought 16-hour curfews were also potentially legal, the wonderful Jacqui Smith immediately pounced and in some cases made the orders more restrictive as a result. The law lords also ruled that those under the orders and their lawyers must be given access to some of the secret evidence currently held from them, although how this will work out in practice is still yet to be ascertained. As for Lord Carlile, he seems to have gone native.

I wish we did not need control orders. Sadly, given the threat we face and the activities certain individuals are undertaking to harm us, we do.

If the government really wanted to, it could easily prosecute all of those under the orders, some of whom have never even been questioned by the police. That it still refuses to and also seems to continue to refuse to make phone-tap evidence admissible shows up McNulty's closing remarks as utterly self-serving.

So, err, merry Winterval! Be back in a couple of days and I'll probably do a best of, best and worst music of the year and most likely some other tedious shite. Have a good one.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007 

Rulings galore, two right, one wrong.

The government has rightly lost its appeal against the decision that Learco Chindamo should not be deported to Italy upon the end of his sentence. In the ruling the judge makes clear that the Human Rights Act - widely blamed for the original decision - was only a minor consideration, and that his decision is based almost wholly on the 2006 EU immigration regulations. They state that someone can only be deported back to their country of origin if they pose a "genuine, present and sufficiently serious threat" to society. Additionally, the regulations place a restriction on the time spent in one country after which they cannot be deported back to another, the limit being 10 years. Chindamo came here when he was 5 or 6, and he's now 26, well over the limit.

In reality, the government never had a chance of overturning the original ruling, and its attempt to do so was only window-dressing. You could argue that in doing so it raised the possibility the Chindamo would still be deported back to Italy, bringing even further misery upon Frances Lawrence when that hope was subsequently extinguished. This was a difficult case, and Mrs Lawrence has been treated shabbily, especially in the way she received the original news and wrongly had the impression the Chindamo would be deported, no questions asked. Chindamo's apparent recognition of his guilt and rehabilitation, as affirmed by both his prison governor and another prison worker, itself an incredibly rare occurence, ought to have swayed the decision in any case. He appears to be a rare success story of how prison can work - to deport him to somewhere where he cannot speak the language would have been to punish him twice.

More troubling, via John Hirst, is this apparent ruling reported in the Telegraph:

A serial sex offender from Sierra Leone has been allowed to stay in Britain after a judge ruled that deporting him would breach his human rights.

The decision will be an embarrassment for Gordon Brown, who recently pledged to double the number of foreign criminals sent back to their native countries.

Mohammed Kendeh, 20, who has admitted indecently assaulting 11 women, was assessed by the Home Office as being at "high risk" of re-offending.


But their attempt to deport him was overruled by an immigration judge last year.

The Home Office appealed the decision, but Mr Justice Hodge, president of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal, has upheld Kendeh's right to stay in Britain.

Mr Justice Hodge, who is the husband of the minister Margaret Hodge, said that Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which enshrines the "right to a family life", meant that the sex attacker could not be deported.

In this case the HRA does seem to have been the main factor. Despite what the Telegraph says, the only real comparison with the Chindamo case is that Kendeh was brought here at a young age and that he has very little (if any) in the way of family in the country he was to be deported to. Kendeh originates from Sierra Leone, not a European country, so the EU rules don't apply to him. The article doesn't note just what sort of family Kendeh actually has here that would mean a violation of Article 8 if he were to be deported, but it does seem perverse on this ground that the ECHR, designed to protect family and private life is being used to justify the continuing stay in this country of someone imprisoned for a variety of offences, including sexual assault. It's also not as if Sierra Leone is especially dangerous: poor, certainly, but he's unlikely to be the victim of torture, violence or otherwise if he's deported. It could be argued, like with Chindamo, that his criminality is the responsibility of this country considering the age he was brought here at, but to my mind in this case that shouldn't be a barrier to his deportation. This is the sort of ruling that undermines the good that the HRA has both done and continues to do, and opens it to the attacks upon it that are often lacking in accuracy.

The other major ruling was on control orders. While the law lords didn't find the 16-hour curfew regime in its entirety to be incompatible with Article 5 of the HRA, it did rightly overturn one of the biggest abuses within it, that neither those under the orders nor their lawyers could even know what the vast majority of evidence against them was. This was the Kafkaesque centre of the scheme, which left some of those previously held without charge in Belmarsh not knowing why they've been detained and now under curfew for years.

Liberty, one of the parties to the case, has said that it won't spark celebrations, but the latter ruling ought to be enough to puncture the last remaining justification for the scheme. The refusal to make wiretap evidence admissible, some of which makes up the cases against those held under the orders will now look laughable when the defence and the accused themselves will have access to the evidence against them. Those against control orders have always argued that they neither provide adequate security, as those who had absconded while on them have shown, while also being substantially illiberal, leaving those on them in unending limbo, unable either to prove their innocence or to have the evidence against them heard in open court, as the allegations are instead heard by a gathered "security" panel.

The refusal to prosecute the men under control orders has always been curious: is it because the evidence against them is so thin that the government will be embarrassed "ricin plot" style when the accused are acquitted, or is it because our security services are overly paranoid that their methods will be subsequently exposed? In either case, they are most certainly not strong enough arguments for the liberty to deprived from those accused, especially for the length of time it already has been. While it's unlikely that the government is suddenly going to see the light, the rug has now been pulled from under them, and the complete repeal of the control orders legislation in favour of prosecution or release is now ever more vital.

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Friday, June 22, 2007 

Scum-watch: Standing in the way of control.

(Note: This was written on Friday but is only being posted now (Saturday: 16:05) because my modem decided to die)

After spending most of the week whining witlessly about how Blair and Brown are going to sell our sovereignty to the bureaucrats in Brussels yet again, the Sun's leader today takes aim at control orders instead. To start with though, here's their article on the 7th man to disappear:

AN al-Qaeda terror suspect was on the run in Britain last night after vanishing while on a control order.

Is there absolutely any evidence whatsoever that this man was in any way linked to al-Qaida? Err, no. The evidence against him was so damning that he was released without charge in 2005 after being arrested along with five others under the Terrorism Act. It was only after he and the others were passed on to immigration that all were placed under control orders.

The suspect came to the UK as an asylum seeker but was one of six Iraqis allegedly plotting bomb attacks.


The unnamed suspect was linked to Osama Bin Laden’s Iraqi henchman Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — killed last June.

Firstly, al-Zarqawi was very much his own man and only probably pledged allegiance to bin Laden, if he even did that, so that the could take on the "al-Qaida" brand. He was also Jordanian, not Iraqi, to nitpick even more. As previously stated, if there had been any solid evidence that they had been plotting bomb attacks, they'd have been charged. Instead it seems that yet again the intelligence against them was of the variety that was either too vague, slight or inadmissible without changes that the government still appears to be holding out against.

The suspect had been on the order since November 2005 before scarpering on Monday. He was tagged and had a 14-hour curfew and travel restrictions.

Tighter controls had been overturned by judges in June last year — on human rights grounds.

The orders were actually quashed by Mr Justice Sullivan, not by judges. He had previously been on an 18-hour curfew.

And yesterday police minister Tony McNulty said human rights had left cops hamstrung in dealing with terror suspects.

This is nonsense, because the control orders are issued by the Home Office, not the police. The police have more than enough powers to deal with "terrorist suspects", it seems that in the case of these men that the evidence wasn't there.

Control orders were introduced in 2005 to counter objections to jailing terror suspects without trial.

By objections the Sun means the 8-1 verdict of the law lords who rightly ruled that indefinite detention without charge was a breach of the European Convention of Human Rights.

None of the fugitives have been found. Mr McNulty said Labour are considering a Human Rights bill opt-out to allow stricter restrictions.

Probably because they're thought to have left the country, at least according to the Grauniad.

Anyway, to the leader:

YET another terror suspect has done a runner while under useless “control orders”.

That means seven out of 17 potential suicide bombers are now on the loose.

This is more errant nonsense. Some of them might have wanted to be suicide bombers, but the simple fact is that we don't know what most are accused of doing or wanting to do, and neither do they themselves. The BBC recently posted a diary of one of those on a control order who escaped from a mental hospital after he had been sectioned, and while it's full of the typical jihadi thinking, there's nothing in it to suggest he was interested in becoming a suicide bomber, or even where his initial training was leading. Mental ill-health is unsurprisingly a running theme among those being held with little definite details of why. One man previously being held under a control order (I don't know whether he still is) was Mahmoud Suliman Ahmed Abu Rideh, who had repeatedly self-harmed and attempted suicide while being held in custody, whom even the police admitted was no danger to anyone except himself. This isn't to suggest that these aren't dangerous men; some of them undoubtedly are, but to suggest that they're all potential suicide bombers is just disingenuous garbage.

These are not misguided youths who fell into bad company.

They were supporters of Iraqi al-Qaeda leader Abu al-Zarqawi who allegedly sent them to Britain to carry out terror attacks.

See above passim ad nauseum.

Yet they have been allowed to disappear because judges rate their human rights as superior to our national safety.

They refused to put them behind bars where they belong.

Ah yes, it's all the fault of the judges, isn't it? As Mr Justice Sullivan pointed out when he declared the control order on this man illegal, John Reid himself said that the courts could quash the orders, then when they did he fiercely objected. The real fault lies with the government that refuses to respect our international conventions and which has comprehensively declined to legislate so that the evidence held against these men can be actually used against them in the courts, rather than arbitrarily imposing both ineffective and illiberal orders. Their human rights are not superior to our national safety; judges did not refuse to have them behind bars, as their decision was not binding. The government could have ignored it, but instead came up with yet another flawed proposal. Their human rights are the same rights that every single one of us enjoys, seeing as any one of us could be in their position. The talk of suspects not deserving rights is dangerous talk which is giving in to those who threaten us rather than holding up our values in the face of their barbarism.

Instead they were free to come and go, monitored only by futile electronic tags.

Which is rather the point here. For this man to have gone missing, he presumably would have had to remove his tag, which would have set off an alarm. This is as much the fault of putting faith in these piss-poor private monitoring firms as it is anything else.

The truth is that ministers are scared of offending libertarians who would rather put fellow citizens at risk than lock up someone who would blow us to pieces.

Obviously, because this government hasn't spent the last 10 years offending libertarians of every stripe. The rule of law, habeas corpus, the right to be innocent until proved guilty mean nothing to Rebekah Wade, Rupert Murdoch and their minions.

We can only pray they do not use their illicit freedom to do just that.

Or that if they do that they target Wapping.

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Friday, June 08, 2007 

Scum-watch: Getting it horrendously wrong.

The Sun has a reputation for getting key facts about crime stories, often involving murder, fundamentally wrong. As far as I'm aware, it's never apologised to the Holness family over its pornographically wrong account of how their daughter, Rochelle, died, and the article remains uncorrected on its website.

The latest family to suffer from the Scum's inability to get their facts right is that of Janet Hossain. Hossain was found dead in the boot of her own car on April the 25th. In a report two days later, the Sun claimed that:

A MUM of four found murdered in her car boot was wearing rubber bondage gear, cops revealed yesterday. Last night they were investigating whether Muslim divorcée Janet Hossain, 32, was killed in a kinky sex session which got out of hand. She was wearing just the fetish outfit, which included belts and chains, and there were no obvious signs of injury.

Just one problem with this: wherever the Scum got its information from, it was entirely inaccurate.

Further to our article Bondage Killing of Muslim Mum of April 27 we would like to make clear the body of Ms Janet Hossain, of Manor Park, East London, was not discovered wearing bondage clothes as we stated. We apologise to her family for any distress caused.

Quite how it could get something so comprehensively wrong is quite difficult to fathom; let alone how the family must feel about the biggest selling newspaper in the country making the murder look like something it most certainly was not. Most readers' will have by now long forgotten about the case, except probably for the single detail that she was found dead wearing "kinky sex" gear.

Still, at least the article's disappeared from the Sun's archive. As for the correction, well, it's so important that it currently occupies the fourth slot from bottom of the news page. Where it appeared in the newspaper itself is anyone's guess.

Elsewhere, today's Scum is quite reasonably getting angry about a loophole in the control orders legislation which has meant that none of those placed under the orders haven't had their DNA or fingerprints taken, although I find it very difficult to believe that the police don't have such details on those who were originally held in Belmarsh and are still under control orders. It also predictably calls them "suspected al-Qaida terrorists" when it's doubtful there was any evidence whatsoever to link any of them to al-Qaida, more than they may have been sympathetic to a similar Salafi ideology. The other obvious point is that only those on the weakest control orders have succeeded in fleeing, making control orders both illiberal and ineffective in equal measure. It seems odd that this has only come to light now in any case: surely the police would have been up in arms as soon as they realised they couldn't do to "terrorist suspects" what they can to do anyone they arrest as a matter of course?

It's the leader column which I take more issue with:

WHAT a farce!

Nobody can stop police building a database of fingerprints and DNA from innocent children.

Yet they can’t keep the same tabs on suspected terrorists — even if they are already on control orders.

This is bollocks, because as we know, those on the tougher orders haven't been able to flee. It's only the light touch ones, where the men were not considered a direct threat to this country that were able to - and in any case, as has long been argued, the evidence against them should be used to prosecute, not put them under useless conditions which didn't even involve them having to wear electronic tags.

Not surprisingly, six al-Qaeda suspects are now on the run — with little chance of being recaptured.

The only reason we know about this legal loophole is that John Reid has been forced to plug it before waving goodbye as Home Secretary this month.

Yes, the same John Reid who promised tough new stop-and-search powers for terrorists — only to dump them at the first whiff of leftie outrage.

For the al-Qaida bit, see above. Giving stop-and-search powers for terrorists?! Has Reid finally gone completely mad? Apart from the unfortunate wording, here's an example of the leftie outrage that scuppered Reid's attempt to reintroduce the sus laws:

But the seemingly random questioning of young Asians, backed by the threat of £5,000 fines, will drive a dangerous wedge between them and the authorities. It could therefore sabotage a key weapon in our war on terror: Intelligence from within the Muslim community.

In a few extreme cases, the disaffection it will breed could even drive youths into the clutches of the brainwashing extremists looking to recruit suicide bombers.

The principle that police must have reasonable suspicion to question anyone must be upheld.

Most UK Muslims detest the bombers. It would be disastrous if a new law threatened the unity of all Britain’s communities against terror.

Yes, you've guessed it, that spartacist outrage was courtesy of that well-known left-wing journal... the Sun. Inconsistent, much?

Back to today:

But when it comes to stopping terror fanatics before they can kill and maim, the only thing that counts is their human rights.

Obviously, as Forest Gate and the death of Jean Charles de Menezes have clearly demonstrated.

One last thing, the Scum comments on the Big Brother racism:

If they’re not careful, they risk being seen as shameless opportunists who stop at nothing in pursuit of ratings.

Completely unlike a newspaper which prints such horrible inaccuracies in pursuit of sales.

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Monday, May 28, 2007 

Derogating from the human race.

It's difficult to think of a darker weekend for civil liberties than the one this country has just experienced. It began with Reid informing us that he might well derogate from the ECHR to put a halt to his and future home secretaries' embarrassment, went further downhill with the news that the Home Office wants even those caught dropping litter to be placed on the DNA database, and fell into a trough with Blair's appalling article in the Sunday Times alongside the irredeemable plan to bring back the "sus" laws.

Blair's article itself is breathtaking, both in his apparent complete ignorance of civil liberties, which can only be described as willful, as we know full well that he is not an idiot, and in its delusional qualities. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is either Blair or his government's fault. He calls for consensus at the same time as he decries the opposition for daring to vote against his plans for 90 days, even though he offered a week-by-week court hearing throughout that time! How could they not agree with such a safeguard?

This and a closing comment though have to be the best/worst parts:

We have chosen as a society to put the civil liberties of the suspect, even if a foreign national, first. I happen to believe this is misguided and wrong.

Blair appears to be suggesting that we ought to be especially suspicious of foreign nationals, as they seemingly don't deserve the same presumption of innocence until proven guilty as the rest of us. If Blair had used a similar method of reasoning when he first met George Bush then he might not now be quite possibly the most hated man in Britain, but that perhaps sums up the whole way he's gone about things. The other glaring point here is that anyone can be a suspect, and indeed, if the government has its way, then we probably all will be suspects rather than citizens. For the prime minister of this country to suggest that it's "misguided and wrong" to put the civil liberties of a suspect, not someone who's been convicted of any crime before anything else is frightening. While he talks of sending signals, something which Not Saussure expands upon, is he not putting a far more dangerous message across, one which suggests that we're moving beyond that old fashioned idea of everyone having the same rights as everyone else? It's the talk of someone who has no respect for the values which he and others in his party want to inculcate in the public, of fairness, of equality.

It's perhaps this though which explains exactly where Blair has reached in his retreat from reality:

I was stopped by someone the other week who said it was not surprising there was so much terrorism in the world when we invaded their countries (meaning Afghanistan and Iraq). No wonder Muslims felt angry.

When he had finished, I said to him: tell me exactly what they feel angry about. We remove two utterly brutal and dictatorial regimes; we replace them with a United Nations-supervised democratic process and the Muslims in both countries get the chance to vote, which incidentally they take in very large numbers. And the only reason it is difficult still is because other Muslims are using terrorism to try to destroy the fledgling democracy and, in doing so, are killing fellow Muslims.

The myopia of which is pretty astonishing, although it's the usual argument from Blair of it all being the fault of terrorists. He'd rather not discuss the myriad of failures, the decision to disband the Iraqi army, the de-Ba'athification order, the looting, the brutality of Abu Ghraib, the horrifying sieges of Fallujah, the endemic corruption of the reconstruction contracts, the bloody disaster of being unable to impose security, the ignorance which meant that the possibility of sectarian conflict was dismissed, and most of all, the obeisance to American power without having any influence in how that power was actually wielded. All of that pales into insignificance in Blair's mind when compared to how the terrorists are the only ones who've stopped Iraq and Afghanistan from turning into democratic paradises envied the Middle East over.

It's really come to something when the Sun, of all papers, is urging caution over the proposed "stop and question" powers thought up in a blaze of brainstorming, either by Peter Hain, who suggested the powers currently in effect in Northern Ireland be extended or Tony McNulty, another exasperating Home Office minister, depending on who you believe. We're told that no one was apparently consulted about this at all, in typical leak to a Sunday newspaper fashion, but at least we can depend on Hazel Blears to instantly think it's a wonderful idea. How the sus laws could possibly be any use against terrorists isn't explained, in an age when "intelligence" is the all important factor, but it's the kind of thinking of a government that doesn't think that having a CCTV camera on every corner is intrusive, that having the largest number of DNA profiles on a database isn't something to be ashamed of but instead worth boasting about, and where civil liberties should come second to the rights of suspects. It's the image of a society where fear is winning over hope, where the government is just as guilty of perpetuating it as any tabloid or terrorist group.

Related post:
Nether-World - Ihre Papieren, Bitte!

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Friday, May 25, 2007 

Scum-watch: Lie after lie after lie.

Even by the Scum's standards, today's attack on the Human Rights Act, written by Tim Spanton, is a lie infested spectacular which could only have been put together by someone ordered to write a hatchet job.

Justice failed by act of folly


THE Human Rights Act has made a a laughing stock of British justice in some high-profile cases.

Serial killer Dennis Nilsen was allowed to have hardcore gay porn in his cell — after he argued a ban breached his freedom of expression.

One of the most well-known myths about the HRA. From the review of the Implementation of the Human Rights Act:

The most notable example in this category is the application made by Denis Nilsen in 2001 to challenge a decision of the Prison Governor to deny him access to pornographic material. The case is now often cited as a leading example of a bad decision made as a result of the Human Rights Act. In fact it failed at the very first hurdle.


Men and women can simulate sex with rubber dolls in a street because Article Ten of the Human Rights Convention gives freedom of expression “without interference”.

Err? The first question has to be why anyone would, and secondly, if the police received complaints about such a thing happening, they'd be more than within their rights in ordering the couple to move on, and could quite easily make an arrest either for breaching the peace or for outraging public decency.

Hundreds of schools dropped detention four years ago after a girl claimed it violated her rights.

This is presumably a reference to Freya McDonald from Tomnavoulin in Morayshire, who back in December 2002 was apparently prepared to sue her local education authority over the number of times she had been held in detention over what she and her parents described as trivial offences. And that's it. I can find no further articles to suggest that the case even went ahead. Searching Google for McDonald only turns up the same articles and one which is clearly not to do with her, and to judge by the Guardian's extensive education archive, detentions seem to have remained completely unaffected.

Derbyshire Police refused to release photos of two murderers who escaped jail last year — for fear of affecting their human rights.

The exact quote from the Derbyshire police spokesperson was:

“When making a decision to release any photograph, police forces must take into account numerous factors including the public interest test, whether there is a strong local policing purpose and, of course, the Human Rights and Data Protection Acts."

Which the tabloids predictably took as an attempt to blame the Human Rights Act, which it most likely was because of Derbyshire police's own incompetence. Rather than attacking the police, they instead took it out on the law which had nothing to do with it. Derbyshire later issued a corrected statement:

'This decision was based on the fact that there was no policing purpose to be served by the release of these photographs in Derbyshire, as inquiries indicated that Croft and Nixon had fled the county and posed no risk to Derbyshire residents.

'Derbyshire Constabulary would like to strongly point out that the human rights of the individuals in question had no bearing and were not the reason the pictures were not released.

'In making this decision the rights and safety of the public will always come before those of convicted offenders.'

Fat paedophile Andrew Baldwin was allowed to use a SCHOOL gym unsupervised last year during class time — despite being convicted of sexually abusing three girls aged 12 and 13. Forest Of Dean Council were worried about breaching his human

Full article here.

The headmaster told me it was out of his hands because the solicitors say a ban would breach this paedophile's human rights.

Then it's time to get some new solicitors. There is absolutely nothing in the Human Rights Act which would stop the school from banning the man from school premises, and seeing as he's been convicted of molestation he should be banned from coming into contact with children in any case. I'm at a complete loss to even understand which article the solicitors thinking banning Baldwin would breach; Article 8, which guarantees the right to a private life, but not if Baldwin represents a threat, which he does, or Article 11, which guarantees the right to freedom of assembly but which again has the same caveats as 8. It's complete lunacy, based on ignorance of the act rather than it being the fault of the law itself.


Prisoners in Scotland are set to receive £1,000 compo each because they could not vote in this month’s local elections.

This is the only one that has even a grain of truth in it. The ECHR ruled back in 2005 that denying prisoners the right to vote was in breach of the charter - and since then the government has done absolutely nothing to change the law. It has to be said that this is about the only case where I disagree with the ECHR: you go to prison, you lose your right to vote, simple as. Quoting the Herald article:

In a ruling that decided Scottish prisoners must no longer be denied the vote, the Court of Session said the election would be "incompatible" with the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) because the UK currently operates a blanket ban on prisoners voting.

At least one law firm acting for prisoners now intends to seek an interim interdict against Scottish ministers to halt the elections. If they fail, lawyers intend to seek compensation instead. Council elections due on May 3 could also be affected.

Which obviously either didn't go ahead or failed. The £1,000 figure comes from another ruling which considered that adequate compensation for being denied the vote, but in order to even have a chance of getting it, prisoners' would have to sue again, and there's no sign that any of them either has, or if they have, they're no nearer being able to actually claim. It's another scare story that isn't worth worrying about until it happens.

The simplest amount of research on any of these supposed "acts of folly" would have shown almost all of them up to be nonsense. On any quality newspaper a sub-editor would have had to do just that, but the Sun either wants to deliberately mislead or just lets any old crap be published without it being checked, ala Rochelle Holness and Muslim yobs.

On to the Sun's actual article:

Met Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair confirmed the Human Rights Act was to blame for tying his officers’ hands.

He said: “We enforce the law as it is and we will now do our best to find these people. But the police service would always be interested in a better system than one that is as imperfect as this.”

Not only is it nothing to do with the police's hands being tied by the HRA, when it's the failure of the government to either allow these men to be prosecuted or to put into place the legislation necessary so the evidence against them can be used, but Blair clearly doesn't blame the HRA but actually the current laws.

Control orders were introduced as a fudge to counter human rights objections to locking up terror suspects without trial.

Human rights objections being the House of Lords ruling that indefinitely locking up foreign terror suspects without trial was, to quote Lord Hoffman, the real threat to the life of the nation

in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these. That is the true measure of what terrorism may achieve. It is for Parliament to decide whether to give the terrorists such a victory.

Back to the Scum:

Yesterday cops refused to name or release photos of the three other suspects on the run — to protect their HUMAN RIGHTS. Two are from London and one from Manchester.

Mr Cameron said: “It is crazy the rights of criminals are put above the safety of law-abiding citizens.”

Yet another complete lie. None of the men under control orders have ever been officially named, although we do know the identities of some of them because of the way they've tried to publicise their own cases. If the government wanted to release their identities they could, in the same way as Reid went to court in order to reveal the details of the three who've absconded. They've decided not to do so, for reasons known only to themselves.

Finally the Scum's leader:

THE Human Rights Act must go.

And we should rewrite the European Convention on Human Rights.

Seeing as the Human Rights Act and the ECHR is one and the same thing, the Sun doesn't even seem to know what it's talking about. The ECHR doesn't need rewriting, it needs respecting.

The human rights of the majority must come first. Not those of the terrorists hell-bent on mass murder.

Because the HRA doesn't protect the rights of everyone you see, just the terrorists'. The entire argument being put forward for ripping up the HRA is a false dichotomy.

Since then ministers have come up with pathetically weak Control Orders. We are all at risk as a result.

Which is patently untrue as only those on the weakest control orders have escaped. Those who carried out 7/7 and the others who have been charged with plotting other attacks have never been under what amounts to house arrest.

Tony Blair has tried to lock suspects up for 90 days without charge. He is right to be frustrated that MPs reduced it to just 28 days.

Yet there’s no getting away from it. Suspected terrorists flee the country as ministers fiddle.

Gordon Brown has the perfect opportunity to wipe the slate clean.

He takes the seals of office on June 27. We hope he takes action on June 28.

We have human rights — to life.

There we are then - 90 days detention and ripping up our own rights will save us from the evil terrorists. In order to stop what are "fascistic" acts of violence, according to John Reid, we have to move ever closer to fascism ourselves. Those who want to carry out such acts of barbarism already seem to have won the argument.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007 

Blaming everyone except themselves.

Beneath the initial embarrassment for the government of 3 further "terrorism suspects" breaching their control orders and going on the run, there must almost certainly be a degree of relief and even delight. How else could those dead dogs, Reid and Blair, with their lickspittles still sniffing and even licking their fetid, decomposing backsides have otherwise managed to come out with yet another attack on judges, the opposition and the "hated" Human Rights Act?

Despite the attempts by the gruesome twosome and "Sir" Michael White to pin the blame elsewhere, the real reason control orders have both failed and been illiberal in equal measure is because they were designed to do just that. Unwilling to introduce wiretap evidence because the security services are worried it might expose their techniques, despite the fact that intercept evidence is admissible in nearly every other European country and in the United States, it's instead left some of those who were initially detained illegally in Belmarsh living a Kafkaesque nightmare in which they're heavily restricted in what they can do, yet they can't be told the reasons for why such conditions have been imposed upon them in the first place. While this is abuse of power at one end, at the other end has been the apparent refusal to prosecute those who aren't considered a direct threat to this country, but who just might have designs on going to fight in others. This is presumably for the same reasons as the former, except because there is no apparent risk of them hurting the public in this country the control order system is instead only applied much more lightly, giving those on them more than enough opportunity to go on the run and avoid the tedium of having to go through a daily ritual of having to go to a police station or phone a private monitoring company.

Lord Carlile, in his role of monitoring the affects of anti-terrorism acts, has been doing a tour of studios suggesting that the intelligence against the three men is "solid". It's apparently not so solid though that they know just what country the three were apparently intending to go and fight in; everyone has been suitably vague about that, which raises the question of whether they're not letting on for security reasons, or the possibility that the intercepted conversations, whether they took place online or over the telephone were similarly short on details. That they weren't even considered dangerous enough to be electronically tagged ought to be enough to tell you that they might not have been as deadly as we're being told.

For the government to now turn around and blame everyone other than itself for the difficulties is hypocrisy of the highest order. When control orders were first mooted, they were warned by the opposition parties, judges and Liberty that they were likely to be found incompatible with the ECHR, and lo and behold, some of them have been. The government approach since September the 11th has not been to work within the boundaries of the law, which it knows all too well about, but to breach them and hope it gets away with it. This has resulted in it losing judicial reviews time and time again, which incidentally if the government really wanted to challenge it could just ignore, as they are not binding, and then blaming the judges for simply doing the job they were appointed to do. They and the Human Rights Act make for convenient whipping boys, covering up for their own breaches of the laws they put into place and the arrogance with which they have broken them. Even when a judge suggested that one of those being restricted by a control order should be prosecuted, John Reid ignored the ruling entirely and imposed another order which was slightly less restrictive. One has to wonder if this is because they fear having the subsequent trials end in acquittal and humiliation, ala the non-existent ricin case.

The government's solution to all this then isn't to recognise that the "light touch" control orders are useless and that those on them should be prosecuted, but rather to impose ever tougher measures and potentially tear up the HRA in the process. This might involve "derogating", in other words becoming the only country in Europe to be so authoritarian and illiberal that it needs to step outside of a convention that has worked for 57 years, and continues to protect both the weak and the voiceless, or, as the BBC puts it:

But he added he would prefer to develop "an understanding" across Europe to "build on" the European Convention of Human Rights to reflect the current problems.

Except there's no chance of reaching an understanding when everyone apart from us is managing to stay within the bounds of the ECHR, and by "build on" Reid means gut. He recently argued that human rights law needs to be rewritten to protect people from terrorists, when what he really wanted to say was that human rights law needs to be rewritten so people can be locked up for 24 hours a day on his say so on the back of the same kind of intelligence which told us there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and a cyanide bomb in a house in Forest Gate.

Everyone's a winner then baby, except for, oh, all of us other than the government. Three men that might just be a threat to British troops somewhere on the planet go missing, the government gets to blame everyone that's ever so much as raised a squeak against their attacks on civil liberties, Gordon Brown gets an opportunity to be "tough on terror", which should play well with the Sun, and the pesky human rights law which have so affected the fight against extremism might well get thrown out the window. Not a bad day's work for a home secretary on his way out, leaving us with a legacy just as bad as that of his master and political soul mate.

Related posts:
Blairwatch - Michael White talks rubbish
Craig Murray - More Right Wing Guardian propaganda

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Saturday, February 17, 2007 

Prosecute? Why bother?

The facade surrounding the need for control orders is slowly but surely crumbling. Yesterday a judge, quashing one only for John Reid to impose a slightly less stringent one within minutes, suggested that the man should have been prosecuted rather than be under house arrest.

In the first challenge to a control order in which the court heard full evidence, Mr Justice Beatson quashed the order on a Tunisian, E.

The home secretary issued a new order with less restrictive terms, pending an appeal, but he claimed this would increase E's likelihood of absconding.

"To protect the public, I have today made a new control order. Inevitably this is weaker than the original one, which means it is more difficult for the police to supervise him."

The stupidity of this is manifest. If he was to be prosecuted, it's likely that he'd be remanded in custody due to the potential risk he poses. Instead, John Reid would rather continue with a policy which is not only illiberal but also ineffective.

E was mentioned as a co-conspirator in a terrorism trial in Belgium. The case relied heavily on intercept evidence, which is only inadmissible in UK courts if the interception happens here.

Mr Justice Beatson said the home secretary's decision to maintain the control order on E was tainted by his failure to keep the issue of prosecution under review. The judge also quashed the control order on the grounds that the cumulative effect of the restrictions, particularly the requirement to have all visitors and anyone E met outside the home vetted, deprived him of his liberty, in breach of the European human rights convention.

This is how ridiculous the current situation is. We can use the intercept evidence collated by the security services' of other countries, but we can't of our own. Joined-up thinking at its finest. The judge should know whether there's enough evidence to prosecute, and in this case it seems apparent that there is. One has to wonder if they aren't simply because of the bind it would put the security services in, with reports from the trial likely to embarrass both the government and MI5/6 through the idiocy of the continuing farce.

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