Nothing like doing things at the last minute to get the adrenaline flowing.
Cabinet Minister Ken Clarke again insisted to Parliamentarians that the legislation was vital – to allow our spies to properly defend themselves and to protect relations with our US allies. These tired arguments would be somewhat more believable if all of this wasn’t coming so soon after a series of shameful events that expose the true motivation behind – and danger of – this Bill. Only last week the UK settled – for just over £2million – a claim brought by prominent Libyan dissident Sami al-Saadi. In 2004 he was forced aboard a plane to Libya, in a joint UK-US-Libyan operation, where he and his young family were all imprisoned before al-Saadi was held and tortured for years. Naturally the Government will say it had to fork out because it couldn’t defend itself in open court without compromising state secrets. But this Bill isn’t really designed to prevent unjustified compensation. A case with no merit, or one too saturated with sensitive material, would never proceed under the current system. Either the court would throw it out, or the Government could apply to do so. Tellingly the UK has never opted to strike out any torture or rendition claim; but has instead now settled many of them for breathtakingly high sums. This alone suggests the cases had more than a little merit. Consider that alongside the state collusion in Pat Finucane’s murder, the Hillsborough police cover-up and the silence over the Jimmy Savile child sex allegations and phone-hacking, and it’s clear that the powerful always resist transparency.
I think it would be a good idea for Scottish Liberal Democrat Conference to debate this and propose submitting the following motion by the deadline on Thursday.
If you are a Scottish party member who would like to support this (and we don’t have any of this voting rep business up here), please email me at caronsmusingsATgooglemailDOTcom with your name, local party and address or membership number as soon as possible.