MPs expenses – they still don’t get it

After all the publicity and fuss I suspect that many members of Parliament still do not fully understand the depth and intensity of public anger about their expenses. This is not an issue where the public wants to move on or has the slightest intention of moving on. The latest round of disclosures leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of many. Mr Brown seems to have spent £12,000 more than the new official thinks reasonable, mostly on cleaning his second home. Continue reading

Confiscation of ill gotten gains is blocked by there being no effective legal aid

When I was young I practiced some, but not a lot, of criminal law. These days I hardly practice any criminal law. I think that my firm last undertook criminal legal aid work more than twenty years ago, so I have no personal financial interest in what I shall write about today. Continue reading

Michael Savage – is banning him good for our democracy?

The United Kingdom has published a list of people that they will not allow to enter the country. It is entirely reasonable to exclude people from entering your country. There are all sorts of undesirable types, such as terrorists, murderers, those who incite violence and criminals that any reasonable person would wish to exclude from their country. I have no problem with that. Where I have a problem is when people are excluded on the grounds of their ideas and views and where their ideas may offend some and may be wrong headed, but the ideas themselves do not incite or provide a basis for a criminal prosecution. Continue reading

Someone needs to protect us from our Home Secretary and the Police

Last December I wrote about crimes against the environment and mentioned the rather warped sense of priorities that sanctions an outrageous raid instigated by the Home Office on Mr Damien Green MP’s home and offices. Mr Green was, we were told at the time, suspected of aiding and abetting misconduct in public office. In fact, he had merely received and published information, much of which was in the public domain, which the Government found embarrassing, in the long tradition of British democratic politics; so the forces of the anti terrorist police were marshalled by the Home Office against Mr Green with the bullying collusion of the police, who apparently told Mr Green that he might well go to prison for life for his alleged “offences”.   

When you give Mr Plod the Policeman and the Home Secretary draconian powers, they use their powers in ways unimaginable. In this case their used their powers to attempt to impose their force on the democratic process.

Mrs Smith, our lamentable Home Secretary, claims in her defence that her job is to protect the British people against “terrorism” and other crime. She claims “My job is to protect the British people. It is also to protect the sensitive information about how we protect them as well and that is what we have done.” I would like to know how the whole Damien Green episode has protected us or sensitive information. If the Government were so concerned about protectings sensitive information you would have expected them to take better care of the millions of person confidential records that have gone astray in the past few years.

She has a flawed understanding of her job. If she wants to protect the British people her starting point is to protect to protect our freedoms; our most important freedom is our right to speak freely, criticise and hold to account the Government. Many have held that freedom more important than life itself; many have sacrificed in terms that Mrs Smith will never understand, their lives to protect this freedom.

We do not simply have the right to do this every four or five years by a one off vote at the ballot box, but the right to do to speak freely every day of our lives. Our words may publish facts that are not harmful to the national interest but highlight errors, corruption, foolishness and incompetence. Our words may enhance or degrade the Government; that is our right. Our words may enable the Government to be held in high or low esteem; that is our right. Our words may show the Government to be competent or incompetent, wise or foolish; that is our right.

Those were the rights that Mr Green asserted and it was also his duty; he was doing what every opposition spokes should be doing. For his pains he was arrested, questioned, bullied and treated like a criminal or terrorist.

Mrs Smith apparently will not justify her position or that of the Home Office to Parliament as a whole. Some have tried to palm off the whole affair as one of simple misjudgement. Mrs Smith certainly misjudged the matter, but more importantly she failed to understand that she has a duty to protect all our rights, not just the rights that she personally and the government of which is a member find personally most convenient to protect.

While Mrs Smith is busy from protecting us all from crime and terrorism, we have to ask, who will protect us from Mrs Smith?   

 

Holding terror suspects without charge is locking up democracy, freedom and justice

On the 28th October 1940 Italy invaded Greece. The invasion inspired my father Nicolas Kyriakides to join the Cyprus Regiment of the British Army in Alexandria; he, along with other Cypriots, was promised that if Cypriots joined the Army after the defeat of the Axis forces Britain would grant Cyrus independence. A higher proportion of Cypriots (compared to their population) fought in the war for Britain than any other Commonwealth or Empire force.   Continue reading