Written by Billy Bureaucrat
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Topics: Court, Criminal

Friday, 25 August 2006

image for Home Office To Convict Terrorists Without Trial.
Reid denies legal basis for detention.

Plans to convict terror suspects of criminal offence now looks likely following a landmark court decision handed down this week.

Government officials across the land are champing at the bit on foot of the High Court ruling by Mr Justice Andrew Collins, which gives them the power to impose arbitrary penalties on the public without having to justify them in a court of law.

Robin de Crittenden is the Walsall pensioner who challenged the right of councils and private companies to impose parking penalties without giving motorists any right to argue their case in court.

Mr de Crittenden, supported by campaigner Neil Herron of the Metric Martyrs Defence Fund, argued that this was in breach of the 1689 Bill of Rights, which lays down that all "fines and forfeitures" before conviction in court are "illegal and void".

The implications of this case are enormous, because not only are 7 million of these fines imposed each year on motorists, but other branches of government have in recent years exploited the same system by introducing automatic penalties for a range of offences, such as the late return of forms or taxes.

Mr Justice Collins cut through all this confusion by the simple device of ruling that a "penalty" is not a "fine" or "forfeiture". No matter that the dictionary defines a fine as "a monetary penalty", a forfeit as "a fine" or "penalty" and a penalty as "a fine", the good judge clearly belongs to the Humpty Dumpty school of lawmaking, based on the principle "When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean".

Not only does this ruling retrospectively save the Governement tens of million of pounds, it also vastly increases the powers of officialdom to levy penalties for anything that offends them, by taking away the citizen's right to challenge them.

Home Office Officials were quick to deny that this ruling would in any way be invoked against those detained for serious offences, a Senior Official was quoted as saying that, "The Home Office is only interested in big boy criminals, not this kind of petty stuff"!

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