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History reproaches a legal editor

Britain is not fighting a "war on terror" and London is not a battlefield, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, QC, said last night in a speech to the Criminal Bar Association. “The fight against terrorism,” said the QC, “is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws and the winning of justice for those damaged by their infringement."

If that is all that is required, we are in good hands.

One cannot help wishing, however, that the Telegraph’s Legal Editor, Joshua Rozenberg, the writer of the report, were a little more familiar with Britain’s legal history. Mr Rozenberg ends his piece with what you will notice is not a quote from the QC, but his own opinion, skillfully appended,

In a clear reference to the United States, Sir Ken said that, in some countries, "post-9/11 rhetoric is [sic] encouraged knee-jerk legislation hostile to traditional rights".

In Britain, by contrast, the Human Rights Act guaranteed a fair trial.

In Britain a fair trial is not guaranteed by any Johnny-come-lately Human Rights Act. It is guaranteed by twelve hundred years spent fighting to establish the right to a jury trial, the freedom of the jury, the independence of judges, habeas corpus, the presumption of innocence, the right to silence, and all the traditions of liberty and precedents of freedom protected by Common Law.

The authors of these rights and freedoms are described in the Liberty Timeline and here. They are a gallant reproach to those who have forgotten them.