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?

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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

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