Friday, 29 June 2007

It would seem you do not have the right to remain silent

You know you always thought that you couldn’t be forced to incriminate yourself under English law – Well maybe you used to be right, but not any more... 'Cos that was then and this is now - Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Two anti speed camera campaigners, Idris Francis and Gerard O'Halloran, argued that the centuries-old right to silence should allow drivers to refuse to confirm to police who was at the wheel, as they would be being forced incriminating themselves.

They trustingly took their case to the European Court for Human Rights...

Unfortunately for them - and more worryingly, the rest of us - Judges at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg voted by 15-2 to reject their case.

The court said: "The court did not accept the applicants' argument that the right to remain silent and the right not to incriminate oneself were absolute rights,"

Mr Francis said "In my view it is a perverse decision" "I am shocked and amazed."

"The fight for freedom goes on. We can't allow the tyrants, who are taking away our rights, to succeed. They have to be stopped."

Now if, as the court says, they are not rights in this case - will it be any different for other offences?

So maybe the pair should now sue the government under the Trade Descriptions Act. The police and Criminal Evidence Act lays down the following modern interpretation of the ‘right to silence’ also known as the "caution":

"You do not have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do not mention now something you later rely on in court, Anything you do say may be given in evidence."

This is obviously now complete rubbish. It should read something more like:

”You do not have the right to silence and failing to disclose anything we want to know could result in your receiving a harsher sentence - if we can manage to find a jail cell for you.”

Probably wouldn’t work though, the court would probably argue it was naive to the point of idiocy to believe anything a politician promised you.

Now for the moment we shan’t even start to look at the erosion of the principal of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ lurking in the law relating to UK road tax brought in by Nu-Lab…

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