The Telegraph says: Judges must pay more attention to public safety, and less to legal technicalities.
Should the Home Secretary have the power to exclude from entering the United Kingdom those people she has reasonable grounds for thinking pose a threat to the safety and security of the rest of us? Most voters think the answer to that question is “Yes”. Our judges, however, disagree. Since they decide whether the law has been properly complied with, they feel they should have the last word on whether any individual should be deported in order to secure “the public good”.
As we report today, the latest skirmish in that long conflict has ended in another defeat for the Home Secretary, who has once again been obliged to allow an individual believed to be involved in terrorism to remain at liberty here. The Court of Appeal ruled that a Tunisian identified only as “MK” must be allowed to stay in Britain while his appeal against deportation is heard: that process has so far taken nine months, and counting. “MK” has one conviction for a terrorism-related offence in Tunisia, and another for forging documents in Italy. There is evidence that he has been involved in “extremist radicalisation”. That, however, did not carry any weight with the judges. They stated that the wording of the relevant statute “does not provide a power to exclude [an individual] in the limited circumstances contemplated”.
Poor drafting of the 2002 Nationality, Asylum and Immigration Act, another of Labour’s misbegotten legislative legacies, may be responsible: a large part of the ruling centred on the meaning of the word “while” in the phrase “while he is in the United Kingdom”. Yet an issue as fundamental as whether or not an individual poses a threat to Britain’s security should surely not be decided on so flimsy a basis. This is not the essence of the rule of law: it is the essence of pedantry.
It is important to be clear that the issue here is not whether the Home Secretary should have unfettered discretion to throw out whomever she chooses. The dispute is rather about how far the judiciary should be able to substitute their judgement for hers on the matter of whether or not public safety is compatible with the continued presence of someone believed to be involved in terrorism. We find it extremely difficult to understand why the judges cannot appreciate that, when the Home Secretary makes a determination that an individual’s presence is not conducive to the public good, the decision has been made after careful consideration of all the relevant facts. There should be a presumption against overturning it – even if there is some interpretation of the statutes which suggests that she did not exercise her power precisely as conferred.
It is notable that Britain’s judges appear to be alone in Europe in their determination to overturn decisions by government officials about the dangers posed by individuals suspected of involvement in terrorism. In France and in Italy, there is no question of someone whom the state wishes to deport being allowed to remain in the country because he has to be able to launch an appeal. Our present Government could no doubt introduce new primary legislation that would close the loophole – but while the judges maintain their present attitude, it is hard to believe that they would not find a way round it, and again allow suspected terrorists to stay in the UK. The judiciary has repeatedly demonstrated an alarming lack of awareness of the seriousness of the problem posed by terrorism. The safety of our country is too important to be left to their decisions. Source: The Telegraph.
What’s your view?
Do you agree that the Government should have the power to exclude terrorists from entering the United Kingdom?
Do you agree with the Telegraph’s view that Judges have gone too far and are abusing their position or are they just upholding the law?
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