The government should review the Contempt of Court Act, the UK's former top anti-terror police officer says.
Peter Clarke said the law, designed to ensure fair trials by limiting reporting of cases, made it harder for anti-terrorism police to do their jobs.
When the police arrest someone in controversial circumstances, he wants them to be able to shout in the media about what they had done, why they had done it, and that these people are terrible terrorists.
No, Paul. That is what the court room is for. In the court room, the suspect (and do try and remember that in this country it is still, by and large, innocent until proven guilty. I know you HATE it.) can refute the allegations and defend themselves. The suspect will not be able to hold his/her own press conference to do this, on account of them sitting in a locked room with a little blue plastic matress.
That is not fair. Fairness is very important, Paul. Even if they are bang to rights, they still have the right to a fair trial. To do away with that will make us no better than Iran or Myanmar.
Perhaps you see yourself as Judge Dredd? Perhaps you would like to be able to pass judgement yourself, on the street? Then you can tell the media that you proved he was a terrorist and passed sentence as appropriate, but can't give details for security purposes.
Perhaps we can change some more laws to make your job easier?
- Removal of a right to representation? Those defence barristers are a shower, aren't they? They stand up in court and say you're telling porkies, or have got it wrong. If you did away with them, then your job would be much easier.
- Removal of the right to trial by jury? We're getting there already. Bugger Magna Carta, sometimes a jury makes the 'wrong' decision. That has to be a pain in the arse.
- Removal of the right to mounting a defence? If the nasty terrorist wasn't allowed to refute the accusations made, or contest the evidence presented, then it would save an awful lot of police and court time, wouldn't it? Of course, if you did that then you could work on . . .
- Removal of the necessity of presenting evidence? I mean, you are a senior policeman. People should just be quiet and do what you say, your word obviously should be law. You're hardly likely to use duff evidence, are you? No, it would be much better all round if you just led the accused into the dock and said 'Your Honour, he's a terrorist, we can prove it, but don't see the point in wasting everyone's time by showing that evidence, we'll just take him out back and shoot him, then we can all have an early lunch. That OK?'
Once you remove even the thinnest slice of a right to a fair trial, all the above could follow suit as easy as could be.
I don't trust you Paul. Wittering on to the press about this, that and the other won't change that. I want the courts to be robust and to follow a set procedure that has served us well enough over the years. It offers me protection against nasty people. Sometimes those nasty people wear uniform and carry warrant cards. The courts and the rule of law have primacy over you. I'll set it out in simple terms.
The law is made my MP's elected by us.
This means the law is made by us.
The Police are there to enforce the law made by us.
The Police are in this position because the law sets out the need for and responsibilities of the police.
As we make the law, the police are there because we want them to be.
Do you see, Paul? We employ you to do our bidding. We employ the MPs to do our bidding. We do not employ the MP's to do your bidding. We do not employ you to do your bidding.
Another new law has presented itself to me:
Senior Policemen who make bloody stupid comments to be deposited in North Korea with proscribed material on their person, so they can experience first hand the police state they seem so keen to introduce.