I learnt this morning that in the ‘Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill’ a centuries old right is quitely being taken away from the British people. At the moment any British person who feels a wrong has been done against them can present the evidence to a Magistrate for an arrest warrant to be issued against another person followed by the evidence being examined in court to see if the person is guilty of what you claim against them. As the article says:
The right of private prosecution existed well before public bodies were instituted to take over some of the burden in prosecuting criminals – the DPP in 1879 and the Crown Prosecution Service in 1985. The right has been affirmed repeatedly in the courts and in parliament. Several cases have demonstrated that it remains a necessary bulwark against inaction on the part of the state, whether that inaction be driven by scarce resource or the desire to mollify its allies.
Over the last ten years ten applications have been made under this process and two warrants isued. The article goes on to say:
The last warrant issued was for Tzipi Livni, the former Israeli foreign minister, for her actions in Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s actions in the Gaza War. The UN commissioned an investigation, which found major breaches of international humanitarian law on both sides. She was not covered by diplomatic immunity while in the UK as she was here for a fundraiser. All this despite the fact that if she had really wanted to come here and be immune to prosecution, all Israel would have to do was designate her trip a “Special Mission” and under the terms of the Convention on Special Missions, she would have been free to travel, as affirmed in case law. Her refusal to travel was, essentially, a stunt. And since then the lobbying to change our laws has been shrill and incessant.
There are other remedies to deal with vexatious use of this right but they are not being taken. Instead the Director of Public Prosecutions will have to approve the process bringing them into a potentially very difficult political area. Instead the Government could:
- Raising the evidential requirements beyond prima facie to some higher standard, closer to the requirements of the Full Code Test for the CPS;
- Requiring notice to the CPS so they can present arguments in court, as happens in Canada for such cases;
- Enshrining diplomatic immunities (which are a mix of statutory and customary international law) in domestic law to clarify (despite the fact rulings such as Pinochet in the House of Lords and much case law since then makes it quite clear ministers on official business are immune to arrest) for all that diplomacy can be done.
Protest to your MP now to stop this removal of an important safeguard for the individual against the state. See the relevant part of the Bill here.(Scroll down to section 151, the relevant part)
I believe in Father Christmas