In this article, by Deutsche Welle , their are excellent insights into Magna Carta, as one of the world’s most important documents. Dr Alf poses the question about the relevance of this masterpiece today and whether or not the UK should have a written Constitution?
Firstly, we need to ensure that we are talking about the right version of Magna Carta, namely the later version which Dr David Starkey the pugnacious historian refers to, and not the earlier one which King John did not want circulated among the population.
Secondly, we need to define for whom it was meant, and which people fell outside of its scope, and the philosophical underpinning of the document. It was only meant to apply to loyal subjects of the king.
Dr Alf wonders about it’s modern relevance. It is still relevant but politicians and others who should know better have perverted it’s original intent in several ways although America has still retained the most important ones despite the Patriot Acts.
The UK has :
1) Abolished the right to jury trial in cases where the costs /dangers of intimidation are deemed to be too great
2) Abolished the right to pre-emptory challenge when selecting jurors
3) Abolished the double jeopardy principle which stipulated that a man could not be tried for the same crime twice. This disgraceful act came about under David Blunkett when he was a Labour Home Secretary, under Tony Blair. It was done on the basis that the old definition of murder “death at the hands of another that happens within a year and a day” was not sufficiently broad to encompass cleverer ways of killing people that could only be discovered by new evidence and DNA. DNA testing and thorough investigation needs to be done at the outset so that these “cold cases” are minimized in number but “double jeopardy ” should be reinstated.
4) HMRC and the National Crime Agency now have the right, along with the police, to directly take money from someone’s bank account without a court order and force that person to prove where the money came from. Property and cars deemed to be in excess of what a person’s income could logically support can be seized on the basis that the person who owns them might be a drug baron, criminal, fraudster or terrorist again without a court order or jury trial.
THE NEED FOR A WRITTEN CONSTITUTION
To prevent further erosion of Magna Carta, we need a written Constitution which defines our rights as citizens not as subjects and the important provisions of Magna Carta need to be retained and reinstated.
We already have the Treason Act of 1318 and laws against sedition to deal with terrorists. The penalty for treason is death and we should apply it as often as we need to whilst deporting and interning the more doubtful cases. Everything else, including preparing bogus passports and identity documents to gain access to benefits or a fake identity need to be dealt with under the criminal law.