In 1628’s Petition of Right, Parliament informs Charles I that "your people have been…imprisoned, confined, and sundry other ways molested and disquieted" and references "The Great Charter of the Liberties of England". The Magna Carta, which King John was forced to sign by his barons at Runnymede in 1215, states that "no freeman shall be taken or imprisoned…except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land".
Both the Habeas Corpus Act and the Petition of Right were brought in to outlaw recurring abuses, so it’s possible that the freedom from unlawful imprisonment protected by the Magna Carta had been codified previously, possibly even by Saxon king and jurist Alfred the Great.Abu Qatada’s writ of Habeas Corpus has been denied, but a disturbing question remains: was it refused because Habeas Corpus is effectively non-existent? In January 2011, Lord Vinson (left) asked the Lords "to what extent the European Arrest Warrant and European Investigation Order conform with the principle of habeas corpus", and appears not to have received a satisfying answer, prompting him to reply that he was "not optimistic". spoke at the European Parliament at Brussels recently, and among other things listed the spurious imprisonments he’s had, including one while Luton’s finest investigated whether he might have passed a racist comment while in a kebab shop. Is there a reason why the Bedfordshire Constabulary are unafraid?
Now would be a good time for the Government to let bad news fade unnoticed. Is Habeas Corpus destined to be the ghost of the Olympics?
Click to read about Kevin Carroll's campaign to be elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for the Bedfordshire Police Authority