THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
President Tone
In a quiet county town

Distinguishing right from legal

Link: MPs can't distinguish right from legal - Telegraph.

MofosWhen I studied criminal law at university, fellow students considered me old-fashioned because I had a problem with "offences of strict liability;" i.e. those where the legislature had removed the element of intent from the definition of the crime, so that you were liable regardless of intent or knowledge.

As so often the concept was introduced with good intentions. A typical example was food hygiene, where it was enough to show that premises were unhygienic for the proprietor to be criminally liable. I thought then, and said so, that this was a "slippery slope" and that such offences were far too convenient for prosecutors for them not to be expanded and extended.

So I have no sympathy with Peter Hain's, Harriet Harman's and Wendy Alexander's protestations of innocence, whether or not they are accurate (as is pretty hard to believe of Hain's given the use of a fake "think tank" as a conduit for donations). Such protestations are heard - and ignored - in court rooms all over the country every day. Innocent people, who intended no harm, are routinely convicted because politicians like them created so many such offences. How deliciously, there-is-a-just-God-in-the-Universe, foolish were they to have set the trap of a strict liability offence for themselves?

Now they are guilty too, regardless of their knowledge or intent, and their protestations of innocence reveal them either as hypocrites or as morons. On either count, let them perish by the sword they lived by.


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