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Dominic Raab and Bob Blackman celebrate the new Government's belief in civil liberties in their maiden speeches

Dominic Raab Commons Dominic Raab, the new MP for Esher and Walton (and author of the excellent The Assault on Liberty: What Went Wrong with Rights) set out his stall as the civil libertarian-in-chief among the new intake in his maiden speech yesterday:

"There is much to cheer in the coalition Government’s programme, and in particular the commitment to defend our freedoms by scrapping identity cards and by enacting a freedom Bill to restore our proud tradition of liberty in this country—eroded after 13 years of legislative hyperactivity and government by press release.

"In particular, the coalition programme pledges to defend trial by jury—that ancient bulwark of British justice, dating back to Magna Carta. Steeped in our history, it was a jury that acquitted William Cobbett when he was prosecuted for campaigning for social and political reforms in the 1830s. But that is also relevant today, and not just to whistleblowers and political activists. Take the vindictive prosecution of Janet Devers, the east end market trader prosecuted for selling vegetables in pounds and ounces. She was convicted in the magistrates court of a string of petty offences, but the additional prosecution in the Crown court collapsed on day one when faced with the prospect of trying to convince a jury. Juries are the reality check on bad law and abuse of state power."

Bob Blackman Commons Meanwhile, Bob Blackman - who beat former Labour minister Tony McNulty in Harrow East - also took up the theme of civil liberties:

"This Government will do one thing of vital importance for all those people: restore civil liberties in this country. The threat of identity cards, the threat of being detained for 28 days without charge, and the huge amounts of data on individual people who are innocent of any crime kept on police DNA databases—the police state that has started to grow in this country—will be swept away. I believe that that is something for which people who are relatively new to this country will feel immensely grateful."

Jonathan Isaby


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