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Bringing ancient justice back to the modern justice system

Comment 28th August 2010

I would like to see five points reflected in the new justice legislation created by the Coalition government:

1.. A swift return to the ancient instruction from all judges to jurors allocated to criminal prosecution cases that in order to convict, the balance of evidence must have caused them to believe that a defendant is guilty 'beyond all reasonable doubt', and that this means that if they have any doubts at all that they should not convict, bearing in mind that the underpinning foundation of our legal system is that all defendants are innocent until proven guilty.

2. The removal of all banana republic inspired New Labour 'complaint to conviction' targets created for police and CPS. The target for any democratic society's criminal justice system should be to convict the guilty and acquit the innocent, not to frog march anyone who is the subject of a complaint through to a 'guilty' verdict as swiftly as possible.

3. A thorough investigation of the victim compensation system in terms of any potential for abuse, followed by a move to balance legislation so that people who make false allegations due to malice and/ or to fraudulently claim compensation face heavy penalties, which grow heavier the later this comes to light (as the person they have accused will have suffered for a longer time due to their allegations). This should be clearly explained to people at the point they make a complaint to the police by a professional mediator, not a police officer.

4. That no person is imprisoned without charge for longer than the 36 hours that was the limit before New Labour legislation.

5. That no person is ever subject to government employees of any description circulating information about him or her that has been gathered through rumour and unsubstantiated allegation (as can be the case on the enhanced CRB).

Why does this matter?

The Magna Carta  (1215) states:

(39) No free man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, or deprived of his standing in any other way, nor will we proceed with force against him, or send others to do so, except by the lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land.

(40) To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states:

Article 9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10. Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11. (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.

Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

I think the suggestion above would bring these rights properly back into British legislation, redressing the damage to civil liberties created by various laws passed by the New Labour government.

 

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