Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Cameron road to Infangthief 

Never mind the birch as a rallying cry for legal reactionaries – David Cameron seems to be willing the law back to Infangthief.
That is the right of a property owner to exact summary punishment on a criminal found on his property. Or even Outfangthief – the right to pursue and punish off the property. Perhaps understandable as a legal expedient when the only police force was the Hue and Cry Posse, way back in the 1300’s, this concept has rather been eroded by some centuries of the Rule of Law.

Or so one would have hoped. Once more we are reminded of the 19th century controversy over ‘man traps and spring guns’ so wonderfully recounted in E.S. Turners book ‘Roads To Ruin’. This is a book that really really needs re-issuing.

Meanwhile we might all take a look at the new book on ‘the rule of law’ by Tom Bingham, former Lord Chief Justice of the United Kingdom.

As the ‘blurb’ says:

He makes clear that the rule of law is not an arid legal doctrine but is the foundation of a fair and just society, is a guarantee of responsible government, is an important contribution to economic growth and offers the best means yet devised for securing peace and co-operation. He briefly examines the historical origins of the rule, and then advances eight conditions which capture its essence as understood in western democracies today. He also discusses the strains imposed on the rule of law by the threat and experience of international terrorism.

And, incidentally, firmly says that the Iraq war was illegal.

The reviewer in the Independent On Sunday loved it:

He proposes eight essential principles, each of which he illustrates with a wide variety of examples. The first is that the law must be available to everyone and, so far as possible, intelligible and clear….His other principles include the equality of all before the law – "Be you never so high, the law is above you," as Dr Thomas Fuller wrote in 1733 – along with the fair exercise of power by the executive, the right to a fair trial, and the application of law, rather than discretion, when deciding questions of legal right and liability. Importantly, Bingham also includes the protection of fundamental human rights. Though some people might not see human rights as a necessary ingredient of the rule of law, Bingham argues that such a view would be based on an impoverished or "thin" definition, as compared with his own preference – what he calls a "thick" definition – and his arguments are cogent and convincing.

Robert Gaisford IoS 31 January 2010

Sounds like a stinging slap-down to the pathetic Cameron ramble on the Andrew Marr show about burglars ‘forgoing their human rights…’

The rule of law and a fair society. Could that be a LibDem election theme? Against the rule of mob headlines and tax breaks for the rich which has been the mood music of New Labour and looks like being the theme song for the Tories in continuation…

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"The right to search for the truth implies also a duty: one must not conceal any part of what one has recognised to be true." Albert Einstein. "In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot." Czeslaw Milosz

Great quotes!
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