Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 election

Miranda Wrongs

(Follow on from The Tempest unleashed by Miranda)

May praised the police action as she and Downing Street acknowledged they were given advance notice of the detention. May told the BBC: “I was briefed in advance that there was a possibility of a port stop of the sort that took place. But we live in a country where those decisions as to whether or not to stop somebody or arrest somebody are not for me as home secretary. They are for the police to take. That’s absolutely right that they have their operational independence. Long may that continue.”
Guardian Website 21 August 2013: NSA files: UK and US at odds over destruction of Guardian hard drives

This would appear to mean that the Home Secretary if told that a law is about to be misused has absolutely no duty to do anything about it. So the police can use the “Terrorism trumps all” claim to effectively do what they like, and the Home Secretary can use the “It’s an Operational Matter” claim to do nothing about it.

the home secretary, …  praised the police action on the grounds that he possessed sensitive documents that could help terrorists and “lead to a loss of lives”.
ibid

So, possible possession of sensitive documents that could help terrorists makes you a terrorist. I just hope that someone sends the Home Secretary a copy of these documents – and then tips off the police that she too is a terrorist.

Falconer, who helped introduce the act in the Lords before he became lord chancellor in 2003, told the Guardian: “I am very clear that this does not apply, either on its terms or in its spirit, to Mr Miranda.”

The former close ally of Tony Blair said that schedule 7 of the act allows police to detain someone even when they have no grounds for suspicion. Falconer added: “What schedule 7 allows an examining officer to do is to question somebody in order to determine whether he is somebody who is preparing, instigating or commissioning terrorism. Plainly Mr Miranda is not such a person.”
ibid

Well possibly this is a case of a repenting sinner, but a retired Lord Chancellor can not introduce interpretations – he should have got it right when he drafted the legislation.

The former Conservative prisons minister Crispin Blunt told Channel 4 News: “Using terrorism powers for something that doesn’t appear to be a terrorism issue brings the whole remit of the laws passed by parliament to address terrorism into disrepute.”
ibid

Ah, a conservative who I feel compelled to agree with; surely May has a (general non-operational) duty to ensure that the law is not brought into disrepute – or at least to tell the Justice Secretary of her concerns. But of course she has no concerns!

Former shadow home secretary David Davis said No 10’s confirmation that David Cameron was given notice of the detention of Miranda meant that ministers had, in effect, approved of his treatment. Davis told The World at One: “They didn’t direct it, nobody is suggesting they directed it. But they approved it by implication. If the home secretary is told this is going to happen and she doesn’t intervene then she is approving it.”
ibid

Oh, and another one!

The original Schedule strikes me as lousy (“not fit for purpose”, is I think the relevant “home-office speak”) and its application leaves us all unsure of our rights when dealing with the British State (if we choose to consider the matter – see previous post). Apparently arbitrary detention is allowed, forced disclosure is allowed, legal representation is not a right.

In a previous post I was beginning to ponder what is really meant by “democracy”. The more I think about it the more I conclude that it has little to do with a relatively worthless right to a useless vote and everything to do with the individual’s right not to be oppressed by an over-powerful state.

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  1. Pingback: The Tempest unleashed by Miranda | Outside the marginals

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