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Mr Archer – retrospectively

Madsen Pirie at the newly launched Adam Smith Insitute Weblog, and Andy Duncan at Samizdata both comment unfavourably on the retrospective nature of the law that has been crafted to strip Lord Archer of the Lord bit of his name. Both link to this Telegraph piece. And I’d like to think that there are many other bloggers who have commented in a similar manner, to whom apologies for the neglect.

Dr Pirie also links to his own year 2000 Guardian piece, entitled Sweeping Away Our Liberties, which is well worth a complete read. He lists all the important elements of what is meant by the phrase “rule of law”, and notes that all of them are (i.e. they already were three years ago) being eroded in various ways.

Last two paragraphs:

The pattern emerges quite clearly: government is making laws out of particular cases and eroding the general principles in order to secure a particular aim. It wants to bring to justice the people none of us have any time for: financial swindlers, racist thugs, paedophiles, war criminals, drug dealers and terrorists. Others might include rapists, petty professional criminals who are “obviously guilty”, and multiple offenders whose record will be known to magistrates, but not to juries.

In the interest of bringing these low lifes to justice, the principles which protect the liberties of all of us are swept away. The precepts which have guarded society are destroyed to target particular groups of offenders. After all, we do not want them getting off, do we? In some cases, though, we might accept that, preferring a few unsavoury individuals to walk free rather than compromise the foundations on which our liberties depend. We give the devil himself the benefit of our laws, for how could we otherwise claim it ourselves?

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