Torture forgivable in Englandâ€¦Official…Â
In an astonishing speech at Hertfordshire University on 19th October 2006 Lord Phillips, Englandâ€™s Lord Chief Justice asks himself the question, might torture be forgivable where it saves countless lives? This is how he answered.Â
â€˜THE CLASSIC ANSWER IS THAT THE LAW CAN NEVER JUSTIFY THE USE OF TORTURE, BUT IN A SITUATION SUCH AS THAT THE EXECUTIVE MIGHT BE FORGIVEN FOR ACTING IN A MANNER THAT WAS UNLAWFUL.â€™Â
Himmler could not have put it better.Â
We have asked the Scottish Parliament and Executive to utterly repudiate their association with this view. We await their answer.Â
The use of torture by the state is barbaric. Be you ever so humble the law will protect you even against the state. This is a basic precept of civilisation.Â Consider this. Jean Charles De Menezes is not gunned down, but is taken alive. The police â€˜knowâ€™ that he is a terrorist and bombs are about to go off. He maintains his innocence, and is put to the tortureâ€¦.Need I go further? The English police will now know that torture can be forgiven. It is as if the great speeches of Hartley Shawcross and David Maxwell Fyfe at Nuremburg were never made.
Torture is abhorrent. It debases the torturer and those who sanction it. But there is another reason. It doesnâ€™t work. Put De Menezes to the torture and he will name someone, and he too will name someone. You start a chain of tortured people, all innocent while the real terrorists go about their business. War is a failure of diplomacy; torture is a failure of intelligence. We cannot turn our backs on torture chambers. The German people did, and paid a terrible price.Â
For long the writer has been worried that the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates has been silent on Guantanamo Bay and Rendition. His silence is shameful. Deny justice to the weakest among us and you deny it to us all. This precept applies to the prisoners of our ally as it does to our own. Now that the Lord Chief Justice of England says state torture is â€˜forgivableâ€™ the Dean must most urgently dissociate himself and the Faculty of Advocates from any such thing.
Yet the Dean has not been alone. We know of the Church silent. Where is the Church militant? Ayr Presbytery discussed the question of rendition and cravenly decided to do nothing. Prestwick Airport is in Ayr Presbytery. The torture flights refuel there. Think of this.
A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves. He was taken to Guantanamo Bay and then sent on rendition. As his aircraft approached Prestwick there passed a procession of the unco guid going to church. It was led by the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and the Moderator of the Presbytery of Ayr. As the aircraft landed they passed by on the other side.Â ÂÂ