Terrorists should be tried as normal criminals, says watchdog

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Sep 20, 2017
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The murderers of Fusilier Lee Rigby did not need to be tried as terrorists, according to Max Hill, QC


Terrorism laws should be scrapped because Muslims feel victimised by them, the QC charged with reviewing the legislation has said.

Max Hill, QC, said that terrorists could instead be dealt with under general criminal laws.

“Terrorism is crime and all terrorists are criminals. As such, they should be arrested, charged and brought before the courts, and the more that can be done under general criminal legislation the better,” he told a meeting of the Criminal Bar Association.

Hill cited two terrorist attacks that did not need terrorism legislation: the murders of Fusilier Lee Rigby in 2013 and the Labour MP Jo Cox last year. “Far from encompassing two sets of terrorism legislation, one when everything is normal and the other when it is not, do we really need bespoke terrorism legislation at all?” he asked.

Different legislative regimes were inadvisable, he said, adding that many within the Muslim communities “genuinely believe that terrorism laws are enacted to target them, whereas non-Muslin or white people are branded criminals but not terrorists.

“We would not have to deal with that conundrum if we had one set of laws – together with surviving common law offences in our jurisdiction of course – if we were able to consign terrorism statutes to history and to move forward with general criminal laws only.”

The silk, who is head of Red Lion Chambers in London, said that he accepted this was “difficult territory” and parliament was “hardly likely to sweep away the terrorism legislation overnight”. However he urged judges and lawyers to look at whether there were sections of the terrorism laws that should be repealed or clarified because they were too complex.

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