Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Like, OMG! what's "Habeas corpus" anyway?

So, yesterday, I got to do one of my very most favourite things in the whole wide world.

I got to read Hansard! Woot!

And my confidence in the sober and responsible government of David Cameron's appointees continues unshaken.

Lord Vinson (who is one of those newfangled fake "Lords" Tony Blair invented) told the Ministrix of State for Security, "...hundreds of UK citizens are being compelled to appear before any EU court without the merit of the often frivolous charges being first assessed. They can be locked up without pre-trial.

"Is she not concerned that this totally overrides the ancient liberties of the British citizen enshrined in Magna Carta and habeas corpus? Will she assure the House that this will be resolved? It really is time that we started to say no to damaging EU legislation."

Another fake "Lord" (but real lawyer) rose to say, "Does not the Minister agree that habeas corpus is a process and not a principle? It is designed to make sure that a person who is in custody is there legally. If a European arrest warrant has been issued improperly, a writ of habeas corpus will succeed and, if not, it will fail. It is a simple issue and there is no conflict between the principles..."

The Hon. Ministrix giggled, stuck the tip of her little finger in the corner of her mouth and said, "My Lords, in this House of legal eagles I hesitate, as a non-lawyer, to get on to the grounds, but I understand that the principle of habeas corpus is indeed a legal remedy against unlawful detention...." (Oh good. So glad you know about it.)

"It is therefore right to say that the European arrest warrant in principle is compliant."

Well, it's obvious, right? Since it is a principle, the EAW simply must be compliant...because,like y'know, if it weren't then it wouldn't be y'know... like compliant or anything...innit?

I could almost hear her flipping her hair back and forth with her fingers while the grownups talked about all this boring legal stuff...

Reports that while the Lords were debating, the Ministrix of Security for the Home Office sent a text to her gir'friends saying, "I mean, OMG! wht language is that even? Latin?!"

remain unconfirmed.



George Carmody said...

A bit of context. The Labour government abolished habeas corpus back in the early noughties, so I'm unclear as to what the noble lord is talking about. Until a few days ago, we had detention without charge for up to 28 days (habeas corpus restricted it to 24 hours, and then only extendable a day at a time to 7 days, each time requiring a judge to review the case). Now it's been reduced to 14 days. Still too long.

The EU arrest warrant means that UK citizens are compelled to appear before a court? Well under the just departed Labour government, they didn't even get to court. In the slammer. 28 days. No charges or nuffink.

Did a whiff of hypocrisy or lack of familiarity with the law in 2011 emanate from the pages of Hansard?

Anonymous said...

It's got what the EU craves. It's got electrolytes. - Karen

Anonymous said...

"Habeas corpus". It's Latin for something like "produce the body" - i.e, bring the detainee to court.

Basically, the gaoler or sheriff or whatever can be compelled to produce the prisoner before a judge to justify the legality of the detention. It's one of the old prerogative writs.

In Canada, most the rules around detention have been now set out in statute, but the writ of habeas corpus is still useful in cases where there is a gap in the statutory regime, or where statute doesn't apply, or unusual factual situations where it is unclear by whom, or why, someone is being held. Also, now with the Charter, habeas corpus can be used in Charter cases, which can override a statute.

I would think Linda Gibbons' lawyers have used or thought of using the writ. I represented the Crown years ago in a habeas corpus case in Ontario, a situation where it was unclear under what authority or by whom a person was being held. So, at least in Canada, it can be still be a useful tool.


Unknown said...

Nice Idiocracy reference Karen. And that's what this whole sham smacks of- as well as willful disregard of the ancient traditions of British law. Convenient isn't it that 'new situatons' like terrorism happen to call for the overturning of such 'antiquidated' customs. It's all about efficiency, making the least amount of fuss for the reigning guvmint, so that the Public can feel good and Secure.