It is reported that Priti Patel is seeking to give indemnity to Border Force staff who may commit a criminal act when dealing with migrants crossing the Channel in small boats.
This clause is reported to be in the draft bill:
‘A relevant officer is not liable in any criminal or civil proceedings for anything done in the purported performance of functions under this part of this schedule if the court is satisfied that (a) the act was done in good faith, and (b) there were reasonable grounds for doing it.’
It is hard to envisage what criminal or civil offence Border Staff might commit apart from causing the death of a refugee, directly or indirectly.
If they did cause the death of a refugee this would be a breach of international law.
To indemnify them against prosecution for this would be, in effect, the state condoning murder.
This is about a clause in a draft Bill. I’m a retired lawyer. I have given an opinion. If you don’t like what I say specifically about the draft clause feel free to seek a second opinion. I don’t deal in hypotheses. Frankly some posters sound on the verge of hysteria. That’s my final word on this ridiculous thread.
For those who pooh poohed the implications of this Bill, David Allen Green, a former government lawyer, writes in Prospect magazine:
The government of the United Kingdom does not say that it wants to kill people, but it does want to be as free as possible from any legal consequences when its agents cause death. Statute by statute, the trend is for the British state to remove any relevant criminal or civil liability from those who make life or death decisions in its name.
Ministers do not believe the practical immunity afforded by our political-media culture is enough. The nods and winks to the prosecution service do not provide sufficient cover. Ministers want there to be a formalisation of official protection. Not only must injustice be done, but injustice must be seen to be done, with full legal protection.
If the legislative trend continues, any agent of the state who makes life or death decisions will not face legal liability. There are always calls for police to be safe from prosecution when they kill people. And one day we will end up in a situation where, even if the state becomes reckless about the lives of its citizens, there will be no legal incentive for it to behave otherwise. The UK state may not want its officials and operatives to kill people, but soon there may be no legal consequences if they do.