David Cameron on ECHR – A Man for all Soundbites

From the august pages of the Daily Mail comes yet another story of David Cameron relying on the ignorance of the population to give the appearance of taking a tough line on ‘Europe’.

But while the issue bringing this latest piece of Cameron PR bullshit to the fore – the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that Abu Qatada cannot be deported to Jordan, lest evidence obtained under torture is used against him – the story in the Wail shows Cameron is not proposing to do anything about the legal basis for the Court’s decision, thus confirming nothing will change and that his posturing is nothing but meaningless hot air:

David Cameron will this week confront European judges blamed for stopping the deportation of extremist Islamic cleric Abu Qatada and tell them: ‘Stop meddling in  British justice.’

In a hard-hitting speech in Strasbourg, the home of the European Court of Human Rights, the Prime Minister will demand major reforms in the way the court is run.

He will say European judges must be more in touch with public opinion, accept more UK court rulings and let countries protect their own citizens and stop interfering in ‘petty’ cases.

If we use metaphor to explain what Cameron is doing here it demonstrates once again the fatuous nature of his latest intervention…  Cameron has a car that possesses features he does not like.  When the car is used the feature delivers performance he is not happy with.  But rather than focus on the addressing the feature that is affecting the performance, his solution is to demand the driver is changed.  The feature and its performance remain unaffected.

Cameron’s dishonesty is as striking as his lack of principle.  Like it or loathe it, the ECHR is not meddling in British Justice as he puts it.  The UK is signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights and this country’s politicians, past and present, have seen to it this country is bound by its articles making it an integral part of ‘British Justice’. In the Abu Qatada case, below are the passages relevant to the judgement that was passed.

Being resolved, as the Governments of European countries which are like-minded and have a common heritage of political traditions, ideals, freedom and the rule of law to take the first steps for the collective enforcement of certain of the Rights stated in the Universal Declaration;

Have agreed as follows:


The High Contracting Parties shall secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms defined in Section I of this Convention.



1.In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. Judgement shall be pronounced publicly by the press and public may be excluded from all or part of the trial in the interest of morals, public order or national security in a democratic society, where the interests of juveniles or the protection of the private life of the parties so require, or the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances where publicity would prejudice the interests of justice.

2.Everyone charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

3.Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:

(a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of the nature and cause of the accusation against him;

(b) to have adequate time and the facilities for the preparation of his defence;

(c) to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing or, if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the interests of justice so require;

(d) to examine or have examined witnesses against him and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his behalf under the same conditions as witnesses against him;

(e) to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand or speak the language used in court.

This is not ‘meddling in British Justice’, this has been made a cornerstone of our justice system.  And for all his whining, Cameron has no intention of trying to change a single letter of the text.  As for the judgement itself, the ECHR has clearly explained why Qatada (Omar Othman) cannot be returned to Jordan.

The UK’s agencies were stupid enough to grant asylum to Abu Qatada in the first place (as they do to so many foreign criminals, terrorists and ne’er do goods who pitch up here) and now want rid of him.  The Jordanians have provided a way out for the UK.  The UK wants to take it.  But Jordan extracts evidence via torture and mistreatment.  Why should that bother us?  After all, Qatada is believed to be part of Al Qaeda, they engage in terrorism and cold blooded murder and wish us harm, so why should we prevent him from facing Jordanian justice?

My response is grounded in a beautiful piece of dialogue in that great 1960s film, A Man for All Seasons, where Sir Thomas More (Paul Schofield) is arguing with his future son-in-law, William Roper about why he will not arrest Richard Rich and has let him leave the house freely despite his efforts to undermine More:

More: Go he should, if he were the Devil, until he broke the law.

Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?  This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s!  And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?  Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

The same holds for Qatada.  While Article 6 prevents his deportation to Jordan, the same Article also protects the rest of us from extradition on the basis that ‘evidence’ against us obtained under duress is likely not safe.  Abu Qatada may very well be the Devil, but I too will give him the benefit of law for my own safety’s sake! If the UK or Jordan want to put Qatada behind bars for the rest of his life, they should obtain incontrovertible evidence of his guilt in a legal and responsible manner.  If they can’t then they have no justification for doing anything other than protecting his rights and liberty.

Cameron’s naked politicking, deceit and ignorance suggest he either doesn’t get it, or more worryingly is determined to trample over our liberties.  What this country needs is a man for all seasons.  What we have is a man for all soundbites.  Truly the heir to Blair.

22 Responses to “David Cameron on ECHR – A Man for all Soundbites”

  1. 1 Hugh Bicheno 22/01/2012 at 11:40 am

    Brilliant! Good for you – as you say, he is the heir of Blair down to his last mendacious cell.

  2. 2 The Gray Monk 22/01/2012 at 2:59 pm

    As you rightly say, the initial fault lies with our own agencies that have granted asylum to terrorists, murderers, rapists and the rest, but some blame must also fall upon the Law Society for its rampant exploitation of legal system that was never designed to deal with “international law” – laws imposed by the likes of Amnesty International and other “advocacy” NGOs which override Westminster and are regularly used in British Courts to trump Parliament and the will of the majority in the UK.

    There needs to be a major overhaul of our own legal system and a new bar on the admissibility of arguments such as this one where there is a blatant bias against the Jordanian legal system and a charge that this murderous bigot would not get a fair trial if returned to the land in which, if memory serves me correctly, he managed to blow his hands off making a bomb …

    My solution would be to bring in a requirement that, as long as the “asylum seeker” remains in the UK, the legal team who defended should be made accessories to any further crimes he/she commits while enjoying our hospitality. That should include any calls to “Jihad,” or any other utterance which can be construed as “stirring up racial, religious or other forms of hatred which might inspire others to violence.” That might clip the wings of a few of the lawyers who take such delight in libelling the rest of us.

  3. 3 Jeremy Poynton 22/01/2012 at 5:05 pm

    And we don’t have the basic right not to have known terrorists living amongst us – Qatada’s rightes trump ours. Fuck that. Not to put to fine a point on it.

  4. 4 Autonomous Mind 22/01/2012 at 5:29 pm

    We should not have terrorists living among us, Jeremy. But the State framed rules that saw Qatada given asylum and is responsible for him being here.

    The same State has failed to secure sufficient evidence to try and convict him of an offence to see him put away. The State may suspect him of facilitating terrorism, or it agents may simply not like him. But it would be wrong to suspend the protections afforded to all of us.

    If it is OK to suspend his rights for expediency, then what can stop the State from doing the same to any of us? It’s not that his rights trump ours, more that we should never give the State the excuse to dispense with any of our rights when it suits them.

    If Qatada is guilty of a crime then the State should either catch him armed and in the act and give him the good news with any and all available weaponary, or produce evidence to convict him so the key can be thrown away. Anything else is a risk to the liberties of the rest of us.

  5. 5 Gareth 22/01/2012 at 5:48 pm

    Terrorism is a miloitary threat, not a law-enforcement problem. Qatada should get the same treatment as Iranian nuclear physicists.

  6. 6 Jeremy Poynton 22/01/2012 at 5:50 pm

    AM – you are correct. I do wonder what on earth Labour thought they were doing when they opened the doors so wide. Seems an act of treason to me. Plain and simple.

  7. 7 Edward. 22/01/2012 at 6:40 pm

    And wherefore, are your high values and principles when the law is bad, inapt and an arse?
    This is the point, this damned Act and all it’s statutes – under the corrupt aegis of the ECHR – where it [ECJ] needs and wants to be told it has no jurisdiction in Britain and our blasted politicians should not only rescind this dreadful and unnecessary piece of legalese filth [HRA] but also withdraw from the convention.

    Yes and our esteemed leader’s plastic vacillations and hopeless position [for he knows the consequences of what is really required] mean the public at large is exposed to heightened endangerment.
    Further, if the authorities can point to explicit facts leading them to suppose that a terrorist sympathiser/facilitator is a considerable threat to society. Then, said trouble maker, [if there is insufficient substance to make a prosecution stick] – that person of interest should still be turfed out forthwith [as the French do]. Thus surely: it should be upon him to prove why he should be allowed back in to the country.

    Qatada dances with evil, physically he maybe is not dangerous in himself but his poisonous prompting is writ large. He, is advised by far better manipulating agitators, who are more skilled in the circumvention, twisting and bending the to the drift and the idiocy of the HRA, than are; the forces of law and order and those pea brained advisers, prosecutors and lumpen dummies who now infest the HMG’s HO.

    Pillorying Cameron is well and good but it does not bring us nearer to resolution, Cameron’s Westminster Libdhimm/Lab/RED Tory claque would sooner poke their eyes out than rid the nation of this perfidy [HRA] – big problem.

    In the end we are all losers because of; Bliar prompted by his spouse, Jack Straw and all of the involved civil servants who cursed the nation by the introduction of this hateful [HRA] act.

    And sticking up for bad law, is what a solicitor would do.

  8. 8 Martin 22/01/2012 at 7:04 pm

    You appear to suffer from the same intellectual and moral affliction as our ruling class: an inability (or an unwillingness) to differentiate between natives and foreigners.

    The presence of this foreign man in the UK is clearly not in the interests of the natives. We should therefore make him leave. English fairness only requires that we give him the opportunity to move to Norway before we put him on a plane to Jordan.

  9. 9 Oldrightie 22/01/2012 at 7:51 pm

    This talk of justice conveniently fails to mention this episode. http://bit.ly/ya16KG

  10. 10 John Page 22/01/2012 at 8:18 pm

    This speech will be one with his recent speech about capitalism. The point of the speech is to be a substitute for action.

    It’s the instinct of a PR spiv. Oh hang on ….

  11. 11 john in cheshire 22/01/2012 at 8:54 pm

    Martin, I’m in agreement with you. We should stop making other people’s problems our problems. He is not wanted and certainly needed here in our country. I suggest no one would lose one second sleep if he was put on a plane and sent directly to Jordan. And if while there he was tortured to death, a few of us would quietly rejoice. That’s what is missing from our country these days – our own self-interest. To hell with everyone else, while we are being disadvantaged by foreigners.

  12. 12 Mr Ecks 22/01/2012 at 9:23 pm

    A lot of people on here not getting this rule of law thing.

    If they can make it up as they go along for pesky foreigners regardless of what they (may) have done, then it is only a question of time before they will be making it up as they go along for us natives.

    USA makes the point–at first only foreigners can be held for ever without trial and sent overseas to be tortured. Now under the NDAA 1867 (sic) act Americans only have to be declared “terrorists” (no proof needed–not even a smidgen) and they are up for the same treatment.


  13. 13 Autonomous Mind 22/01/2012 at 9:43 pm


    ‘Pillorying Cameron is well and good but it does not bring us nearer to resolution, Cameron’s Westminster Libdhimm/Lab/RED Tory claque would sooner poke their eyes out than rid the nation of this perfidy [HRA] – big problem.’

    That is the point I made when I said for all his whining, Cameron has no intention of trying to change a single letter of the text. There is much in the HRA that necessitates the UK withdrawing from the ECHR. But Cameron won’t do anything about it despite all his posturing.

    However, whatever may replace the HRA in the future should include a protection from extradition or deportation to countries for a trial where the evidence in obtained by torture. Torture is wrong and evidence obtained through it cannot be considered safe. Next time it might not be a Qatada, it might be a British national being pursued for nefarious reasons.


    ‘You appear to suffer from the same intellectual and moral affliction as our ruling class: an inability (or an unwillingness) to differentiate between natives and foreigners.’

    If we expect people from overseas to conform to this country’s norms and laws, then it is only proper the law must apply equally to Britons and foreigners. If you believe that different laws should apply to people because of their nationality, then presumably you believe different laws should apply to people of different persuasions and therefore agree with separate Sharia courts being set up in the UK?

  14. 14 Stephen Brown 22/01/2012 at 10:04 pm

    Should some legal systems be deemed to be acceptable and others deemed to be unacceptable? Would the ECHR please draw up a ‘league table’ of which legal systems fall into which category?
    Or is there some sort of ‘unseen’ sliding scale? Could acceptability points be awarded for each and every legal system, just so that we know where we, the Courts and the Defendant stand?

  15. 15 Rick Hamilton 23/01/2012 at 7:35 am

    If this worthless character cannot be deported to Jordan, surely there is some other Islamic hell-hole which would welcome so devout a believer with open arms?

    Irrespective of the sanctimonious piety of the ECHR I cannot understand why the UK cannot look after the safety of its own citizens by declaring dangerous scum like this as persona non grata and giving them seven days to get out. Where they go is not our concern.

    The UK with 1% of the world’s population cannot take responsibility for the human rights of every freeloading parasite who passes through and we should never be seen as a soft touch. If the rest of the world saw the UK as a country that unceremoniously chucks out foreign undesirables we would be far more respected than we are now. Let them run to the ECHR after being deported and see how far they get.

    As a resident of Japan where the death penalty is still in force I am conversant with a society that doesn’t take any nonsense from rabid grievance-mongers. The small minority of Muslims here are tolerated and are very well behaved. It’s not hard to see why: they prefer to keep a low profile and retain their residence visas and Yen income.

  16. 16 Derek Buxton 23/01/2012 at 10:52 am

    Forgive me if I misinterpret the quotation from the HRC, but it seems on the face of it to contain some parts of the Common Law. And yet, the corpus juris as laid down by the EU is based on Napoleanic law which in no way follows Common Law practice or philosophy. The EU Arrest Warrant and lack of habeas corpus are in contradiction to what we understand as justice and “innocent until proven guilty” seems to be missing from corpus juris, whilst jury trial is not mentioned in the quotation either.

  17. 17 Brian H 23/01/2012 at 7:20 pm

    Where is the burden of proof? An applicant for residency and/or citizenship should be prepared to prove they are not attempting to harm or destroy the fundamental institutions or precepts of the nation. “Proving a negative” is hard, of course, but not impossible. The proofs required would, at a minimum, include absence of any agitation to pull down the state and eliminate the very rights the applicant is exploiting or claiming.

    No Islamist can do so. Sharia and the Koran are fundamentally inimical to Britain’s Common Law, and indeed to any Western country’s common law. Pretending that “jihad” is struggle for personal improvement is in direct contradiction to numerous “authoritative” pronouncements and adjurations by very prominent Islamists and Muslims world-wide.

    Remember “The Satanic Verses”? They’re the conciliatory ones. Once Big Mo got militarily strong enough to crush the other local desert godlings’ support, he “visioned” a stern lecture from Big Al rebuking him for being deceived by Satan pretending to be his usual go-between. Big Mo earnestly promised never again to cut unbelievers any slack. And that is the latest, final, unchangeable commitment of Islam. Any adherents who deny or fudge it are availing themselves of the blanket permission to mislead unbelievers until you’re in a position to draw sword and reveal the Truth.


  18. 18 Gareth 23/01/2012 at 8:44 pm

    Brian is right. Muslims should not be allowed to enter the UK unless they sign a declaration renouncing islam.

  19. 19 StrongUnitedKingdom 24/01/2012 at 11:34 am

    Repeal the 1998 HR Act which stops us being subservient to the ECHR and would put us on a par with France and Germany. They can refer to ECHR rulings if the want but usually do not.

    Also Art 6 does not prevent extradition as the European Arrest Warrant cannot be challenged or reviewed if it is correctly executed.

    The solutions are simple and we do not have to withdraw from the treaty.

  20. 20 jameshigham 26/01/2012 at 5:43 pm

    Was unfortunate enough to read the Mirror today and Balls was asking why Cameron could never accept the blame. That’s rich. Wish they’d all die of some mysterious disease.

  21. 21 mfosdb 27/01/2012 at 11:17 pm

    Have you and Dr North considered submitting your sites for inclusion in Google News. For quality of comment and breadth of vision your sites are head and shoulders above most MSM correspondents.



  22. 22 Gallovidian 28/01/2012 at 5:43 pm

    On the streets of London, surely asylum seekers are not truly safe, and we are obliged to ensure their safety.

    I suggest a large tented encampment on Carcass Island off West Falkland for all asylum seekers in the UK. Policed rigidly by the army, asylum seekers would be safe from persecution. Army rations could be issued. The RAMC would treat illness. They would be safe.

    It is our duty to do this.

    Let us call it “Camp Safe From Persecution”.

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