Terrorism Laws Used to Stifle Political Speech
Walter Wolfgang, an 82-year-old political veteran, was forcefully removed from the UK Labour party conference for calling a speaker, Jack Straw, a liar. (Opinions on whether Jack Straw is or is not a liar are irrelevant here.) He was later denied access to the conference on basis of anti-terror laws. Keep in mind that as recently as the 1980s, Labour Party conferences were heated affairs compared with today's media shows.
From The London Times:
A police spokeswoman said that Mr Wolfgang had not been arrested but detained because his security accreditation had been cancelled by Labour officials when he was ejected. She said: "The delegate asked the police officer what powers he was using. The police officer responded that he was using his powers under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act to confirm the delegate's details."
More than 600 people were detained under the Terrorism Act during the Labour party conference, it was reported yesterday.
Anti-Iraq war protesters, anti-Blairite OAPs and conference delegates were all detained by police under legislation that was designed to combat violent fanatics and bombers - even though none of them was suspected of terrorist links. None of those detained under Section 44 stop-and-search rules in the 2000 Terrorism Act was arrested and no-one was charged under the terrorism laws.
Walter Wolfgang, an 82-year-old Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, was thrown out of the conference hall by Labour heavies after heckling the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw.
When he tried to get back in, he was detained under Section 44 and questioned by police. The party later apologised.
But the Home Office has refused to apologise for heavy-handed tactics used at this year's conference.
A spokesman insisted: "Stop and search under Section 44 is an important tool in the on-going fight against terrorism.
"The powers help to deter terrorist activity by creating a hostile environment for terrorists."
He added that the justification for authorising the use of the powers was "intelligence-led and based on an assessment of the threat against the UK."
The shadow home secretary, David Davis, said: "Laws that are designed to fight terrorism should only be used against terrorism."
Posted on October 10, 2005 at 8:13 AM • 31 Comments