Populist paranoia punctured
In many ways, the attack on the European Convention on Human Rights, led by Theresa May and Chris Grayling, is more worrying than the various attacks on the EU. Dismissing Dominic Grieve, as attorney general, because he defended the Convention, was a serious step to take. It should have received more critical attention. When the justice system can be used to get rid of people you simply don’t like the look of, you are on a slippery slope.
The case of Abu Qatada is a very significant example of where prejudice nearly succeeded in derailing justice. This so-
In July 2013, Abu Qatada was eventually deported to Jordan after a treaty signed with the UK, specifying that evidence obtained by torture would not be used in his trial. Article 3 of the Convention had been satisfied. The Telegraph reckoned that £3m had been spent on the case by then.
The denouement is instructive. A civilian court in Jordan has now pronounced Abu Qatada innocent of all the charges brought against him. That will not exonerate him across swathes of English public opinion and the press, and the Home Office would only say that the law had taken its course. No one seems to have hailed this episode as the triumph it is for the Convention on Human Rights. Where would Abu Qatada be if he had been deported earlier as Theresa May wanted?
The problem with security services, armament companies and even sometimes with members of the armed services, is that it is in their interest to exaggerate scares. No doubt also these organisations attract paranoid individuals who really do see “reds under the bed” or whoever is the current bogeyman. There are plenty of people ready to believe what they hear from these people and history is littered with examples of governments over-