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civil contingencies act 2004

Comment 1st August 2010

This terrifying law needs looking at urgently: it gives the prime ministert the power to dismantle the Rule of Law overnight: on his mere say-so that a national emergency is about to take place, they can declare martial law,  seize property, force evacuation, stop people travelling, special courts and arbitrary detention and arrest.

Why does this matter?

There is no sanction in this Act against  a PM who invokes these powers wrongly, the powers are too vaguely defined.

For example a PM who  wanted to enhance his reputation as being strong and decisive in an emergency, might well unscrupulously invoke these powers in cases where in fact there is no need for it. He could twist the facts and so dupe the public.

Take a hypothetical example: a small amount of  poisonous virus gets into the water supply through the negligence of a Government laboratory. The PM knows this, but it suits him to have the public think that this is the work of terrorists. So he grossly exaggerates the threat and declares a state of emergency.



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