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Restore all rights of private prosecution

Comment 13th August 2010

Although there is no total separation of powers between the Executive and the judiciary in Britain, traditionally enforcement of the law was regarded as not only a right but the duty of a private citizen, The Attorney General could enter a nolle prosequi to discontinue a prosecution, but at least the onus was on the Executive to do this. Over the years, Government departments encroached on this principle. For example, customs and excise offences can only be prosecuted by them. An individual trying to prevent the export of supergun parts in breach of international agreements  would not be able to prosecute the exporters (if the Matrix Churchill affair, for example, had evolved differently).  The position has now been reached where the DPP's decision on when he will prosecute assisted suicides is reported by the media as a change in the law, when it only an Executive decision taken outside Parliament.

When the Government decided it did not want foreign heads of state prosecuted, instead of changing the law to exempt them from the law, they suggested preventing citizen applications to the courts.This creates the view that ordinary citizens are second class within the legal system, with special privileges given to the Government. This is a familiar scenario in dictatorships.








Why does this matter?

Not only would restoration of citizen rights prevent Government cover ups, it would restore the belief that officials cannot manipulate the law. Constables used to be Crown servants, sworn to uphold the law of the land. Now they are expected to ignore the law if their chief constable tells them to.

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