Dr Mohammed Naseem, Chair of the Birmingham Mosque, but more notorious as the sort of Shadow Home Secretary of the Islamic Party of Britain (which along with some regular commentors at HP would like to see me executed). has made a curious claim in the International Herald Tribune.
He says that the arrest of the 9 terror suspects in Birmingham was unwelcome because the arrests were based on “the un-British notion of arresting people on the basis of suspicion”.
Eh? Are not those sought by the police called “suspects”? Is the fact that one is arrested “on suspicion” not actually the cornerstone of a fair and democratic judicial system in a free country?
Indeed it is, for it is for the courts – relying usually on the determination of a jury of one’s peers – that decides guilt. “Guilt” in the legal sense (for that is what we’re talking about, not the ‘moral’ sense) is a construct: What it means is that you have been found guilty by a jury.
Even if you’re caught red-handed, the police do not have the right to pronounce on your guilt – only the suspicion of your guilt.
Similarly, the police have long had the power to arrest not only a person who is actually committing or has committed an offence, but also a person who the officer “has reasonable grounds for suspecting to be about to commit an offence” or “to be committing an offence”
Far from being “unBritish”, this has long been the standard position in English law. Unsurprisingly, because if the police were not allowed to arrest on reasonable suspicion, then every acquittal would mean that the initial arrest was unlawful.
Can’t Dr Naseem grasp that? Or is it simply that as long as one chooses the right key-words, one can say any old thing?