So, if the Courts don't give you the answer you want - and we're talking about pretty much every court available, filled with the best legal minds around - then what do you do? The Government's answer it seems is suspend the law. For one man. Temporarily. The news that the Conservatives (and it should be made clear that the Lib Dems want nothing to do with it) wish to suspend adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) so that they can get their way over Abu Qatada is the stuff of 1984; a total disregard for the Rule of Law, a brutal snub of the independence and authority of the Courts of this country, and a terrifyingly arbitrary manipulation of executive power. There are fewer slippery slopes than this. So what other 'temporary' remedies for defects of the law might the Governent consider should the mood take them?
- Perhaps a brief reduction in the prosecution burden of proof? 'Beyond reasonable doubt' is a pretty hard standard to satisfy after all; so when a defendant turns up who the Police and the Government are 'certain' is guilty, perhaps lowering the standard required for guilt would help grease the wheels?
- The whole 'right to silence' thing (limited as it now is) can be a real pain for the police. After all, it's their job to 'get their guy' and what use is an interview when the perp can keep quiet? We could get rid of that for a while, just so we can make sure we convict those who are 'really' guilty. After all, we all know who they are don't we? And the police shouldn't have to prove their case all on their own - that's quite a task. It would all be a lot easier, quicker and cheaper if people just confessed. No smoke without fire, right? Right?
- Legal representation: another troublesome roadblock in the pursuit for convictions. These defence lawyers just delay, distract, and procrastinate. Yeah they have some good uses - protecting innocent clients, ensuring a prosecution is accurate, legitimate and thorough, upholding individuals rights, weeding out false accusations, preventing police bullying, etc. But for a few of these nasties on trial, perhaps we could deny it every now and then?
- A clip round the ear (or more) can be really useful in getting the scum in police stations to talk - so maybe we should bring back a bit of the old 'police brutality'? Put the prevention of 'cruel and inhumane treatment' (Article 3 of that pesky ECHR) on the back burner; after all, the police can be trusted to be responsible and only use a sound beating when it's REALLY necessary, can't they??
- Privacy is overrated. After all, most people don't really need it do they? What have we all got to hide?? It's just a barrier to catching criminals. So perhaps the Government would consider letting the police listen in on conversations between suspects and their lawyers? Oh wait, no lawyers . . . well , how about rifling through a suspect's stuff whenever they fancy? Or reading emails without permission? Or tapping their phones? I'm sure this sounds familiar . . .
- Due process in open court lets all the liberal trouble makers observe prosecutions and stir up a fuss about 'rights' and 'freedoms' and 'protections', etc. So, we could drop public trials when it seems necessary? If we've got a tough nut to crack, do it behind close doors, withhold evidence from the defendant, and stop media reporting. Again, this rings several bells . . .
The list of rights and procedures which stymie the Government's ability to bully, intimidate and convict their citizens goes on. Abu Qatada is quite clearly a deeply unpleasant man, who contributes very little of value to this nation or any other. But it is simply untenable to suspend the law just to get 'the job' done for one man that the Government and the public hate; and it is a matter of civilisation and principle to treat even one's enemies in the same way that we treat our friends.