Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Don't wait for a marksman - get stuck in

Congratulations to Mark Steyn on finding humour in a situation depressing many lesser mortals. To be serious for a moment though, let me examine his phrase "extrajudicial execution". Parliament, to its shame, has repealed that part of Magna Carta which says that we may only be imprisoned by "..the judgement of our peers..." That is why I began this blog. I am not aware, however, that it has yet repealed the part that says we may not be "...otherwise destroyed..." except after such a judgement.

Murder consists of the act of killing plus the intent to kill (or cause grievous bodily harm). The police officers who put eight bullets into the head of a young electrician in London killed with such intent. I cannot conceive what defence is available to them. Self-defence? I think not. What reasonable grounds to fear for their lives did they have? They thought he might be a terrorist on a suicide run. OK, but what jury would believe you or me if we killed and then pleaded self-defence on the grounds that "I thought he had a bomb in his anorak". And if they really thought that, why did they follow him for so long? What was suspicious about his behaviour seems to be that he entered the Underground. As he did every day. As millions do every day.

If they were "only following orders", that is no defence either. On the contrary, it should make the ones who gave the orders, including the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Chief Constable of the Metropolitan police, their co-defendants.

Steyn makes the darkly humorous point that the Metropolitan Police are somewhat hypocritical in demanding that we don't "second guess" their snap judgements in the face of danger. As he says, this "would be a more persuasive argument if the British constabulary didn't spend so much time doing exactly that to homeowners who make the mistake of defending themselves against violent criminals". Armed, trained policemen are it seems, less able to make snap judgements than terrified householders fearing for their lives from intruders in their homes.

Or to put it another way, one law for them, another for the rest of us.

Telegraph | Opinion | Don't wait for a marksman - get stuck in

No comments: