Telegraph reports that civil liberties groups and Muslim community leaders lined up yesterday to denounce plans from David Blunkett to conduct secret trials of suspected terrorists.
He said the threat from extremists was now so great that the burden of proof in criminal trials should be reduced from “beyond reasonable doubt” to “the balance of probabilities”.
He also wants a debate over whether intelligence information against suspects should be given in camera to avoid compromising security. Mr Blunkett’s ideas – to be proposed formally in a Home Office paper later this month – are intended to address what the Government sees as a serious threat from Islamist fundamentalists.
We need to debate how we deal with these delicate issues of proportionality and human rights on the one hand and evidential base and the threshold of evidence on the other.
That is quite a challenge because we are having to say that the nature of what people obtain through the security and intelligence route is different to the evidence gained through the policing route. It needs to be presented in a way that doesn’t allow disclosure by any of the parties involved which would destroy your security services.
Lady Kennedy, QC, a Labour peer, compared Mr Blunkett to Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe and described the proposals as “a classic Blunkett tactic”.
He really is a shameless authoritarian. We can be confident that many of his colleagues in the Cabinet, including particularly the Attorney General, will sit on this, because it really is an affront to the rule of law.
You suggest all kinds of outrageous and awful things because then you get away with half of them.
Mark Littlewood, the campaigns director of Liberty, said:
Simply introducing more laws, greater powers and stiffer penalties will go a long way to undermining British justice and will not make our country any safer.
Michael Howard, the Tory leader, said:
You have to try and strike the balance between giving the British people the proper protection against terrorism and not depriving innocent people of their liberty.
Massoud Shadjareh, the chairman of the Islam Human Rights Commission, said:
This sort of legislation in Germany led to concentration camps.
Let’s hear it for the sharia law solution to terrorism.