Skip to main content

Prevention of Terrorism

One of the key aspects of the most recent "Prevention of Terrorism" Bill that makes me feel that it is more about the government wishing to play to the crowd rather than actually act to reduce the threat of terrorism is its name.

It it had been called the "Control Orders" Bill or the "Reasonable Suspicion" Bill then opposing it could not have been skewed into a misrepresentation.

The typical misprepresentation is that voting against the "Prevention of Terrorism" Bill (or for amendments) gets conflated with not wishing to "Prevent Terrorism".

One of the issues under debate was the Standard of Proof that would be required. This is the level of certainty that the allegation is true.

The Burden of Proof means that it is the job of someone wishing to see a person suffer some detriment to justify that with evidence.

Normally in UK Criminal law the Standard of Proof used is "Beyond Reasonable Doubt".
For Civil cases the Standard of Proof is "On the balance of probabilities". Normally this is more likely than not expressed as on the "preponderance of evidence". Sometimes with more severe civil cases a sort of halfway house of "clear and convincing evidence" is used.

There are situations in which a lower level of proof is required. A "reasonable suspicion" (or reasonable grounds for suspecting) is the level normally needed before a member of the public can arrest another member of the public.

All that is needed for a "reasonable suspicion" is that someone alleges that another person is "involved in terrorism". There is no opportunity with this for the person being alleged to be involved to challenge the assertion.

This comes to the nub of the problem with Internment in Northern Ireland. A lot of people were imprisoned on false evidence. This then had the knock on effect of increasing the amount of disorder and intercommunal stress.

Tactics described as terrorism tend to be used in disputes that are between groups of people. Feudal disputes in the Middle Ages frequently involved kidnappings. The main change in the 20th and 21st century is that merely using easily available fertiliser can produce a big bang. The technology exists for small groups of people to harm larger gropus.

In particular terrorism tends to result from perceived injustices. In any tense situation one element of defusing the tension - a key part of resolution - is to ensure that actions are justified openly whereever possible.

The danger of using a "reasonable suspicion" for any form of action is that it will result in injustices where people have sanctions against them that are based upon malicious or other false evidence. For example the evidence used for the existance of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq did give rise to a sufficiency for a "reasonable suspicion". The fact that some of the documents had been forged and other allegations were false does not mean that there was not a "reasonable suspicion". There was, however, not sufficient evidence on "balance of probabilities" - in retrospect.

To me the evidence on the "balance of probabilities" that the government are not serious about the underlying issue of "preventing terrorism" is that what they really need to do is to review the issues about the rules of evidence to ensure that they can protect witnesses that need protection.

One of the difficulties that exists in criminal prosecutions is that the identity of people who pass allegations to the police has to be disclosed to the defence even if the police do not intend relying on their evidence. This aspect of disclosure is something that really needs thinking about. It is circumvented by people passing information anonymously to the police. However, it is an issue that undermines the ability of the police to collate intelligence.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Homelessness vs Selling Books

Candidates in elections tend to find themselves very busy with lots of things to do.  It is, therefore, necessary to prioritise things to ensure that the important things are dealt with.

To me the issue of homelessness and rough sleeping is an important issue.  Therefore, when Birmingham's Faith Leaders group contacted me to ask me what I would propose and whether I would work with them to make things better I was pleased to respond with my views and indicate that I would work with them after the election.

The Faith Leaders Group (Bishops and other religious leaders in Birmingham) have now sent out their report.

Sadly, according to their report,  I was the only candidate for Yardley to respond.  The group in their report said:

"Particularly disappointing was the lack of response from some of those candidates seeking re-election as MP for their respective constituencies."
It is worth looking at the priorities of my opponent.
Interestingly today she has decided to be at th…

Millionaires and politics

The Labour Party spent most of the last election criticising me for being a successful businessman (aka millionaire). That is business in the private sector employing over 250 people. It is worth looking at the situation for the Labour Candidate now:

For the year 2016-7 Annual Income from Parliament74,962Specifically for her book51,250Other media income etc5,322.82Total declared income131,534.82

Traditionally anyone with an annual income of over £100,000 has been considered to be a millionaire. I did not use my position in parliament to increase my income.


I have been asked for sources for this. This BBC piece looks at how one should define rich. It was written in 2011 so the figures will be slightly out of date. There are perhaps 2 relevant pieces:
"In 1880 a rich person would have had £100,000 in assets or an income of £10,000 a year, he says. About a hundred people a year died leaving £100,000 and by 1910 this was 250 - "a microscopic fraction of the number of death…

The Labour Candidate's Book Promotion Tour and Why It Matters

In the 2015 General Election the Labour Candidate criticised John Hemming for having an external interest and made a pledge that she would be a "Full Time MP for Yardley and my only other job will be mom & carer ...".  Here is a copy of that pledge:


Since that point she has been working on paid Television Programmes and has also written a book. John Hemming has made no secret of the fact that he chairs the board of the company he founded in 1983. This involves one meeting a month. When he was the MP for Yardley he was a full time MP and the Job of being MP for Yardley came first. The Labour candidate has reported 1,274 hours of work other than being an MP in the two years she has been elected and her income in the last year was over £131,000.

Ignoring the question as to how she reconciles that with her "pledge" the question is raised as to what extent her external activity conflicts with the role of Member of Parliament for Yardley. She is supposed to de…