Sunday, January 02, 2011

Are Control Orders about to be scrapped?

The Guardian is reporting that the Cabinet has agreed plans to scrap the appalling system of Control Orders, which restrict the movements and communications of terrorist suspects.

I hope that this is true. It's not long since it was being reported that the Government intended to keep them, something which would be completely unacceptable to most Liberal Democrats.

It's not that we don't think terrorists shouldn't have their activities curtailed. Of course they should. The system of control orders, though, is the absolute antithesis to every tenet of justice and natural law that there is. It sets a very dangerous precedent.

Just imagine that, under interrogation far far away, a terrorist gives the authorities your name as an accomplice, or maybe the Police make a mistake and confuse you with someone else they're looking for. You have done absolutely nothing wrong and are a perfectly decent, law abiding citizen. All of a sudden, you could be under house arrest, with all of your movements and contacts with your family permissible only by the Home Office who may not be amenable to the idea that you might want to spend a child's or a parent's birthday with them. You'd find yourself tagged, you could be forced to submit to searches of your home at any time without need for a warrant. You wouldn't be able to have a phone or internet connection to contact the outside world.

Your life could be turned upside down overnight without you even being allowed to know what you were suspected of. A major punishment is inflicted on you without you being able to defend yourself, or without any need for you to be prosecuted. If you're in any doubt, read this account from the Liberty website by someone who had to live under one and how it wrecked his life.  And all this was introduced by the Labour Party!

The Tories alone would have kept Labour's shameful system in place. If indeed control orders are to be scrapped, it will be a significant win for the Liberal Democrats, and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

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