Monday, 1 November 2010


Nick Clegg faces a tough challenge in getting control orders abolished. I know that much of his influence has to be used behind-the-scenes and in private, but this is one battle that he has to be seen to fight, and he has to win.

If he does not, many Liberal Democrats will question the value of being in this party.

Introduced by Labour in 2005, control orders represent a fundamental attack on the principle of liberty. By allowing restrictions to be placed on an individual's freedom solely at the whim of the Home Secretary they undermine the presumption of innocence.

A control order can be imposed without the individual concerned being arrested, charged, tried, or convicted. No evidence has to be presented. This is simply wrong.

The latest terrorist incidents play into the hands of those who believe that any liberty can be sacrificed in order to provide security. Liberal Democrats need to remind these people that control orders do not exist in the USA; in this respect the Americans are better at protecting individual freedom than we Brits appear to be.

We are also calling for the lifting of the ban on the use in courts of intercept evidence obtained from bugged telephone calls and the like. Evidence is evidence, and we can leave it to juries to decide whether it has been obtained properly or not. Better that than allowing one politician to combine the roles of prosecutor, jury and judge.

Terrorists want to undermine our principles of freedom and liberty. If we sacrifice them ourselves, the terrorists win.

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