Saman Naseem will hang tonight. George Galloway has appealed to save his life

Unless a miracle occurs around about 2 a.m. UK time tomorrow morning, 22 year old Saman Naseem will be hanged.

Saman Naseem: Due to be hanged tomorrow

Saman Naseem: Due to be hanged tomorrow

The usual Iranian method of hanging is unusually cruel and gruesome. The condemned prisoner is simply suspended from a rope by his neck. There is no drop; no attempt to break his neck. He is slowly strangled to death as he kicks and struggles. Death takes minutes. Sometimes the executions are public, though more commonly they take place inside a prison. Continue reading

Religious slaughter should not be banned

The covert film by Animal Aid of slaughter at the Bowood halal abattoir near Thirsk shows revolting animal cruelty.

Slaughtermen are seen hacking and sawing at the necks of fully conscious sheep, throwing them around, kicking and punching them prior to slaughter; and all this while surrounded by the smell and sight of death in the form of dead sheep and chickens hanging from nearby meat-hooks.

Animal Aid deserves enormous credit for making these disgusting scenes public. Any civilised person, of whatever religion or none, will be horrified to see the film.

It raises the explosive question of whether halal or kosher slaughter should be banned by law. UKIP, in an apparent reversal of its previous policy, has already announced that it will support a ban on all slaughter in which the animal is not first stunned. It is a policy that may well prove popular. Like most UKIP policies I rather doubt that it has been carefully thought out. Continue reading

Docks are nasty relics of eighteenth century injustice. It is time to dismantle them

We have abolished the gallows, the gibbets and the pillories that once adorned every rutted turnpike cross-road.

GibbetIt’s now time to turn our attention to another eighteenth century legal relic. No, not the harmless wig, but the pernicious practice of forcing defendants to stand trial while caged inside the wooden and glass cages known as “docks.”


The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas, seems to think so too.

In a speech last week to Birkbeck College’s Institute for Criminal Policy Research Lord Thomas suggested that docks could be abolished:

Do you really need the dock? Are they really necessary? I do think these sort of radical ideas need considering …. They are terribly expensive. Particularly in magistrates’ courts.” Continue reading

Is Wells MP Tessa Munt Stupid or Shameless? What on Earth Was She Doing On Putin’s RT?

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised but I am. I really am.

Liberal Democrats have often seemed lacking in principle, not really knowing whether they are free-market Gladstonians like Jeremy Browne the thoughtful and intelligent MP for Taunton who is standing down at the next election; or smug, incompetent social democratic meddlers like Vince Cable who, sadly, isn’t.

As a result the archetypical LibDem has a backbone of wet cardboard and no discernible principles at all, like Simon Hughes the monumentally pointless Justice Minister.

The MP for Wells is called Tessa Munt. Tessa MuntUnlike other LibDems she does have principles. She doesn’t like pylons, for example.

She is a bit more flexible on windfarms, which she approves of in principle, although preferably not in her constituency.

She bravely stood up for sweeter mincemeat when the Government proposed to cut the minimum sugar content required under the Jam and Similar Products (England) Regulations 2003 from 60% to 50%. Continue reading

Was Mr Grayling’s felt penetrated or just his bitumen? What a waste of public money

In August last year Fathers For Justice campaigner Martin Matthews climbed onto the roof of Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s house and unveiled banners in a protest against the family justice system.

He had with him a screwdriver and some screws which he used to screw fixings for his banners into Mr Grayling’s bitumen.

The police were called and Mr Matthews was arrested.

There was, however, a problem. What crime, if any, had been committed? Continue reading

No surrender to murder and intimidation: A Charlie Hebdo cartoon

The appalling attack on Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices is, as almost everyone has noted, an attack on free speech and an attack on those of us who think that free speech is the most important of all our freedoms.

It is intended to intimidate people who take it for granted.

If we ever allow what we write or say to be affected by a mob, or by the threat of violence or murder we might as well stop writing and stop thinking. We will have been defeated.

It is quite absurd that even now, after ten of the editorial staff of Charlie Hebdo have been murdered and others critically wounded, most newspapers, including it seems The Guardian, are still not publishing the cartoons that led to their murder. The only explanation would seem to be cowardice.

All websites, from the largest to the smallest should now publish Charlie Hebdo cartoons.


Empty Threats to Prosecute Katie Hopkins are not a threat to Western Civilisation

Bloggers usually get readers by being outraged. To suggest that something really doesn’t matter very much is the way to lose readers.

On the other hand to suggest that Western Civilisation is at stake can grab the attention.

So I ought really to be getting outraged over former Apprentice contestant and Sun columnist Katie Hopkins and either denouncing her, or the alleged threat to prosecute her, in the strongest possible terms. Continue reading

The more effective torture is, the more important it is that it should be banned

The question, as counsel love to say to witnesses wrestling with an unfair question, is a simple one:

If a nuclear time bomb is ticking away at an undisclosed central London location, is it morally permissible to torture somebody to discover its location so that it can be disarmed?

In real life the chances of any choice being as clear cut as the “ticking bomb” scenario are all but non-existent. The situation bears little more relationship to reality than a school debate about whether Stephen Hawking or Alan Bennett should be the first to be thrown out of the balloon.

Would we be sure that there really was a nuclear bomb?

Would we be sure that we had the right man?

Would we be sure that torture was the most effective way of extracting the information?

Nevertheless, if the dilemma is posed as starkly as a straight choice between water-boarding an individual, or a nuclear holocaust for millions, the answer to whether we should inflict torture is surely an unequivocal “yes”. In such an hypothetical situation it would be absurd to scruple over the infliction of pain on an individual if the certain consequence of doing so was death to millions.

Does it follow then, that the law should allow interrogators, such as those employed by the CIA, or even MI6, to use torture? Continue reading

Dan Hodges is wrong on the burden of proof. We must never sacrifice the innocent for the greater good

Dan Hodges believes that the high standard of proof set for the conviction of criminals is allowing too many to go free.

Instead of acquitting defendants unless there is proof “beyond reasonable doubt” that they committed the crime, Mr Hodges wants to change the system so that people can be convicted if it is merely “probable” that they are guilty.

Now it may be, as criminal barrister Dan Bunting has – and I hesitate to use the word about someone like Dan B whom I greatly admire – somewhat sneeringly suggested, that Dan H has just made “a rather silly comment in order to be controversial.” Of course he has a column to write, and it can’t be easy having to think of something interesting to write day in, day out. Certainly if I had to do it I would very quickly run out of material and desperation might well lead me to say anything, however outrageous and absurd, in order to generate a lively batch of comments underneath my column.

But I am afraid Bunting’s airy dismissal of Hodges isn’t really good enough. If changing the standard of proof really is such an obviously silly thing to do, then we need to address his arguments.

Here are 4 reasons why Hodges is wrong. Continue reading

Exaro: Spare us the sanctimony, spare us the bullying and try to be a bit more transparent

The online news organisation Exaro made the shortlist to win the UK Press Gazette’s award for “Campaign of the year.” It lost out yesterday to George Arbuthnott of The Times for his stories about modern slavery in Britain.

The award is given to “the series of articles or broadcasts which has done the most to make a difference for the better in society and serve the public interest.” The nomination related to Exaro’s series of articles about paedophilia in high places which gave rise to the over-arching inquiry into child sexual abuse.

One can see why the judges might well have concluded that Exaro has made a difference in that it has driven the issue of “VIPaedophiles” and sex offenders to the top of the news agenda. Whether it is one that has served the public interest is perhaps less clear. Continue reading