Has Abu Hamza hurt British justice? And does it matter if Andrew Mitchell said the word 'pleb'?

The former Home, Foreign and Justice Secretary answers questions on the issues that have dominated headlines over the past week. Do you agree with him?

Share
Related Topics

Has British justice been damaged by the Abu Hamza saga – given that two of the suspects have been held for more than eight years without charge?

The delays have been damaging, as Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge has spelt out. They are fully entitled to justice – justice delayed is justice denied. But the defendants shouldn’t complain: it is principally their determination to string out the legal procedures which has led to the delays in reaching a final conclusion on their cases.

If the Queen lobbied a Home Secretary on the matter, is the monarchy now exposed as in no way above politics?

The Queen has been able throughout her reign to stay above the political fray. Our constitutional monarchy requires that the Queen and other senior members of the Royal Family should be able to discuss matters with ministers, but in complete confidence. I have never disclosed any conversation I have had with the Queen, or other members of the Royal Family.

Should intruders expect to be met with violence if they break into people’s homes?

Yes. Burglary is by definition a violent act, and the law allows victims to defend themselves.

Could the tensions between Ed Miliband and Ed Balls hobble the party’s attempt to return to power?

What tensions? I think they are working well together.

Is Prime Minister’s Questions too gladiatorial?

Yes. And it dominates, too much, people’s perception of debates in the Commons, which can be rebarbative and thoughtful at the same time.

How much emphasis do you place on the racial element of the Rochdale child sex abuse scandal?

It is one element which cannot be ignored. Overall, sex offenders in prison are disproportionately white. But “group grooming” of the kind seen in Rochdale and elsewhere overwhelmingly involves Asian men on white girls. It is terrible for the victims and their families, but also sows mistrust between communities.

Has Kelvin MacKenzie any justification in seeking an apology from the South Yorkshire Police?

South Yorkshire Police have much to apologise for, but not for The Sun’s outrageous coverage of Hillsborough. The responsibility for that lies squarely on The Sun.

Should David Cameron have declined the invitation to go on the David Letterman programme?

Yes. What possessed him to make himself look a charlie?

Will the mistakes over WMD made in going to war on Iraq be repeated with Iran?

Not if I have anything to do with it. I write extensively about Iran in my recently published memoirs. Iran does need to comply with obligations imposed on it by the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Authority, and is bound to suffer international sanctions until it does. However, I have seen no evidence that would justify military action against Iran over the nuclear dossier. It is noteworthy that the outgoing head of one of Israel’s intelligence agencies has expressed strong opposition to any such attacks – not least because they could undermine Israel’s security in the region, not enhance it. Attacks would also further inflame and destabilise a region already close to turmoil.

Does it matter if Andrew Mitchell directed the word ‘pleb’ at a police officer?

Yes. If used in this context, it is a snobbish and deeply offensive term, and would speak volumes of the inner beliefs of a senior member of this Government about social class.

Jack Straw MP is a former Labour Home Secretary. His new book, ‘Last Man Standing, Memoirs of a Political Survivor’, is published by Macmillan, £20 in hardback

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ed Miliband created a crisis of confidence about himself within Labour when he forgot to mention the deficit in his party conference speech  

The political parties aren't all the same – which means 2015 will be a 'big-choice' election

Andrew Grice
 

Beware of the jovial buffoon who picks fights overseas

Boyd Tonkin
Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect