Home Secretary Charles Clarke has warned the Tories they are “weakening” the fight against terror by opposing the government’s proposed laws.
He urged MPs to back ministers’ plans to introduce an offence of “glorifying” terror in a vote next week.
Mr Clarke said the authorities had lacked the “confidence” to prosecute radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri until the government had tightened up laws.
Conservatives had to help further “strengthen” legislation, he added.
Abu Hamza, 47, from London, was jailed on Tuesday for seven years for inciting murder and racial hatred.
Prosecutors said there had been insufficient evidence to charge him before 2004.
And which laws, exactly, did the government tighten up in order to create the ‘confidence’ in the authorities that was necessary to allow them to prosecute Abu Hamza.
Hamza was prosecuted, first and foremost, on nine counts that he ‘solicited others at public meetings to murder Jews and other non-Muslims.’ – offences which relate to the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861.
So credit for those laws goes to the Prime Minister of the day – Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston and his Home Secretary who, depending on precisely when this Act was introduced in Parliament and received Royal Assent, would have been either Sir George Cornewall Lewis or Sir George Grey.
Hamza was also prosecuted on four lesser charges of ‘using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with the intention of stirring up racial hatred’ under the Public Order Act of 1986.
Inciting racial hatred was first specifically criminialised in 1965 by the government of Harold Wilson, although the present law, which was used in this case, dates to the period in which Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, her Home Secretary at the time being Douglas Hurd.
That leaves just a single charge – of ‘possessiing information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism’ – relating to the discovery of copies of the ‘Encyclopaedia of the Afghani Jihad’ which actually falls under legislation passed by the present government, the Terrorism Act 2000.
However, the majority of, and certainly the most serious charges brought against Hamza relate to sermons give during the period from 1997 to 2000, before the Terrorism Act was on the statue books.
So, again, I must ask Safety – just which laws, exactly, did the government tighten up in order to enable Hamza to be prosecuted?
I should also point out that, according to the Crown Prosecution Service, the received two files on Hamza prior to 2004, when he was finally arrested, and on both occasions decided that ‘there was clearly insufficient evidence for a prosecution’.
It seems the CPS doesn’t think that the government supposedly ‘tightening’ the law made any difference to the strength of the case they had put in front of them, because their view is that they had insufficient evidence to prosecute.
Sorry Safety, doesn’t look to me like the Tories are ‘weakening the fight against terror’ by opposing the introduction of an offence of ‘glorifying terrorism’ – loks rather more like you’re lying in order to make political capital out of the Hamza case ahead of next week’s vote.
And that makes you, Tony and your former colleague David Blunkett – wno’s pedalling the same line in his column in the Scum – a neat little triumverate of lying tosspots.