Thursday, 6 December 2007

"Smith plans 42-day terror limit"

See here for lies and spin.

See here for the real reason they're talking about this.


The English Libertarian said...

Excellent post of yours (in the link).

Scott Freeman said...

Bah, I keep forgetting to sign into my other Google account - one for email, one for blogging :P

Mark Wadsworth said...

Thanks! I have got used to the alias by now.

Simon Fawthrop said...

Do you get the impression that they are plucking numbers out of the air? None of the security services are calling for these increases so maybe your right about the real reasons.

Mark Wadsworth said...

GS, yes, these are made up figures.

As David Davis MP has explained about a million times, what we need (like in other countries) is to allow the police to continue questioning suspects after they have been charged and also to allow 'phone tap evidence in Court.

Simon Fawthrop said...


I don't understand the civil libeties issues around not questioining after arrest. One assumes that there is a prima facia case for arrest so why shouldn't they keep investingating that allegation and any others they may have.

I notice Liberty, an organisation I respect, didn't have a problem with it either last time I checked.

Mark Wadsworth said...

I must admit, I don't know why anybody would be against questioning after charge. I didn't even know it wasn't allowed until recently.

Scott Freeman said...

It's not against questioning after arrest, it's against questioning after charge.

There are a number of reasons. One is that if the police could continue to question you after charge they could effectively destroy your ability to defend yourself by occupying all of your time, leaving little or no time to meet with your lawyer, prepare etc, and also keeping you tired and worn out etc.

Secondly there is no reason for them to question a suspect after charge - it is now a matter for the courts and the questioning will be done in an open, public court by a prosecutor and in front of a jury of his peers, all of which are important safeguards.

Lastly, it keeps law enforcement and justice separate. It is important that the police's involvement effectively ends when they charge a suspect. Allowing them to question a suspect after charge would go soem way towards creating a Judge Dredd-style police force.

Simon Fawthrop said...


Fair points but we are trying to find a way round increasing the time that suspect terrorists can be held so it might be a bit of which part of the civil liberties base to chip away at.

I preface any further arguments I make with the condition that any law or procedural changes should have a sunset clause of 12 months so that Parliament has to vote to renew them.

On point one. In that case then there needs to be a second cut off after charge of, say 4 weeks, after which no further questioning on that charge or anything else. I also accept that the defendant has to be protected from fishing expeditions.

Two. That's the problem we are addressing ie is it better to extend precharge holding or post charge? Safeguards here could include the right to silence, which isn't revealed to the jury, prior notice of questions so that barristers could be prepared and time limits on questioning sessions.

For point 3, perhaps the judge appointed to the trial could be appointed early and oversee any questioning?

Mark Wadsworth said...

GS, that seems fair and sensible to me.