Sunday, January 1

The New Year's Day Comment



By Baroness Helena Kennedy QC

Soon after the bombings in London in July 2005 the Prime Minister made it clear in a public statement that legal regime change was on the cards. ''Let no one be in any doubt. The rules of the game are changing,'' Tony Blair declared. In fact, he has been renovating the criminal justice system ever since he came into office, expressing a determination to rebalance the system emphatically in favour of the victim, reducing jury trial, removing long-established evidential rules which he believed made it harder to get convictions and, most crucially, lowering the standard of proof in categories of case where he knew the public would be unlikely to object, such as antisocial behaviour and terrorism. It is a populist agenda, that gives far more power to the state but is dressed up as ''power to the people''. .............

We are all concerned about street crime; we all fear terrorism. But the checks and balances within the common-law system are there for a purpose and have been the product of bitter experience. They operate as a restraint on abuse by the those with authority. Remember:when the state has too much power it can commit far greater crimes than any individual.

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Baroness Helena Kennedy QC is a member of the Doughty Street chambers; life peer in the House of Lords. She is a renowned Human Rights lawyer, having represented such high profile clients as Myra Hindley and one of the Guildford Four.

The piece above is extracted from an article titled Legally blind, published by The Economist -The World in 2006 (not available on line).

1 comment:

Kelly said...

I am very sorry to hear about the changes. I have to agree that giving the state, or rather the people who work for the state, more leeway or power in things can be a very bad thing. We have all heard about how a little power can corrupt and we have seen that happen down through the ages at all levels of government. Our laws in the states are based on the English common law, the changes that we have rendered to them haven't been for the best either. I wish you lots of luck with this. With the relaxation of evidence requirements and standards, a lot of people who are NOT guilty of crimes are going to pay the price for them. Your lawsmakers seem to be going backwards instead of forward.