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Friday, February 27, 2009 

Jacqui Smith's contempt for the rule of law.

Keeping with Jack Straw, he's got an article in the Graun today protesting bitterly at those of us daring to suggest that we might be sleepwalking towards a police state. He naturally brings up Labour's introduction of the Human Rights Act, which does indeed deserve some form of recognition; problem is that it hasn't stopped the government itself from repeatedly breaching it.

Pertinently, Andy Worthington provides an example of the state power which New Labour wields when it thinks no one will notice or care. Following last week's Lords ruling that Abu Qatada and two unnamed Algerians can be deported, the Home Office attempted to take advantage by claiming that this meant it could revoke the bail of the two men, as well as three others also accused of involvement with terrorism. They decided however not to inform their lawyers of this, and when they did they were gagged until yesterday, when they launched a challenge before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. SIAC ruled that no further action should be taken against the men until next week, with a full hearing scheduled for Thursday.

This wasn't however good enough for the Home Office. The two Algerians, rather than being driven home as ordered were instead taken straight to Belmarsh - in direct defiance of SIAC's ruling. The other three men were picked up in raids on their homes. Presumably this was what the Home Office had planned to do - and went through with it regardless of the ruling.

Thankfully, in a subsequent ruling today SIAC decided that all of the men with the exception of one of the Algerians should be released under the prior decided conditions, although whether this has actually happened or not is unclear. It does however show just how Jacqui Smith views the opinion of the courts when they rule against her - with utter contempt, as also exemplified by the attempt to wriggle out of the ECHR ruling on the DNA database. As Worthington points out, the Magna Carta established that the king could not on his say-so imprison someone without his peers or the law agreeing; New Labour just cannot help repeatedly ripping the rule book to shreds.

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