Thursday, June 12, 2008

A copy of Magna Carta... on the table near me as I write. Regular readers of this Blog will be aware that J. and I obtained a copy on a recent visit to Runnymede, where the Carta was signed by King John in1215...

We put the copy, in its rather splendid black and gold-coloured case, on the table here with other odds and ends after reading it and talking about it for a bit...then it got moved about when I cleaned and dusted...and somehow it has simply stayed there...but today its presence suddenly struck with with a special force: I could not have known that it would be so relevant so soon.

Here is a relevant section, taken from the table and read and typed out for you to read with me:

"No free man shall be taken, imprisoned, outlawed, banished, or in any way destroyed, nor will We proceed against or prosecute him, eccept by the lawful judgement of his equals and by the law of the land."

Habeas Corpus, you see. No arbitrary unjust imprisonment without due trial.

Last night, Parliament voted that I can be imprisoned for 42 days without trial and without being charged.


Banshee said...

Forty days and forty nights
God was fasting in the wild;
Forty days and forty nights
We're imprisoned without trial.

Anonymous said...

I was just thinking that, Maureen.

Do you think 42 days in the slammer on suspicion of criticising homosexual marriage would do Joanna the world of good?

Anonymous said...

I am praying that Malcolm's vision of the future certainly does not come to pass. However, it is not so far fetched to imagine a time when all non-PC, non-government approved expression is characterised as vilification and criminalized--thus all priests who proclaim orthodox Catholocism will be headed for the slammer should they boldly proclaim the Gospel and face their 42 days "in the wild". The UK government thinks 42 is the most convenient answer to "life, the universe and everything"....we are getting a sci-fi dystopia by degrees--hybrid cloning, anyone?

Anonymous said...

This is the usual river of drivel about Magna Carta. Nowhere in the Charter does it say anything about how long a person may be detained. So, 42 days without charge is entirely within the terms and indeed the spirit of the Charter. I would be perfectly prepared to spend 42 days on remand if (as I am told it would) it meant that the police and security services were better able to protect our society. I would not be tortured. I would have access to a lawyer (at the state's expense), and I would know that after six weeks I would be charged or released. None of these safeguards would be offered to me were I to fall into the hands of those who threaten us. Get real.

Deb DownUnder said...

I see more than one "Anon" here ("Anon" being the most prolific writer of all time, actually...)However, I must differentiate myself from the other Anon since I am the one who mourns another incursion onto our hard-won Common Law protections (developed over centuries to protect subjects of the Crown from the arbitrary and unreviewed exercise of Crown/State power AND Magna Carta was only the beginning of that development--think of 1688, too). If history is any guide, then, to "get real", as the other Anon suggests, we should be aware that detaining authorities seldom think detainees are entitled to the presumption of innoocence. Nor would I assume that admissions are extracted by asking nicely over a cup of tea. It may take a bit of time before a lawyer can learn you are detained and thus assist you. I wish to be safe, yes, but not by copying those who do not have the safeguarding benefit of our great Common Law traditions of liberty arising from judicial review of executive actions. I pray England's legal traditions-- beacons of civil liberties-- are dimmed no further.

Anonymous said...

deb downunder.
let's be clear about this. do you say that the British police torture those they question? do you say that those held are denied the services of a lawyer? yes, or no?