Findlay calls for rule of law to be observed in terrorist cases
Defence advocate Donald Findlay QC, himself the target of threatening hate mail last week, has said that he is alarmed that terrorist suspects are being treated outwith the application of the rule of law, and that there can be no legitimate position that would justify treating suspects this way.
He argues that it is necessary for our legal system to demonstrate that “our values are superior to theirs”, and says that terror will never defeat law and order.
“We cannot ignore the fact that in the UK we live under the ever present cloud of terrorist threat and have endured the horrific consequences of terrorist action,” Findlay said, writing exclusively in his column for The Firm.
“Is there a legitimate position which dictates that if you indulge in such activities you run the risk of putting yourself out with the normal application of the rule of law?
“Frankly such a notion alarms me.”
Findlay also suggests that the “stark reality” of the death of Osama Bin Laden earlier this month was that that the US administration “had no intention” of placing him on trial for the crimes he was suspected of involvement in.
“In announcing the demise of the man who had eluded and outwitted the US for so long, President Obama proclaimed that justice had been done. But was he right?” asks Findlay.
“It now seems clear that Bin Laden was in his bed when the Seals forced their way in. He was unarmed. He did not have a human shield. He had no possible escape route. He was confronted by one of the most highly trained military units in the World. He posed no threat.
“He was killed.
“It is inconceivable that he could not have been taken alive. Are we seriously to believe that the pride of US military might could not have captured an unarmed man?
“I suggest that the stark reality is that the Americans did not want to put him on trial and had no intention of so doing.”
Findlay argues that even in extreme cases, the law “demands” that a suspect be arrested and placed in a judicial forum if possible.
“Otherwise, do we not run the risk of lowering ourselves to the level of those we condemn?” he asks.
“Surely the way to defeat terrorists is to demonstrate that our values are superior to theirs. That the bomb will never defeat law and order and that he who would injure us will feel the full power of the rule of law. Arrest, a trial with a well presented prosecution case and a fully prepared and argued defence case followed by a conviction and sentence. I have always understood THIS to be justice.”