Monday, 24 June 2013
This isn't my pin number. It's the date of Magna Carta.
I'm pretty appalled by the cuts to the system of legal aid, and I'm going to post some reflections on these each day of this week. It's hard to know where to start in critiquing these changes, but it's clear that the right of a huge proportion of the population to a fair trial has been undermined.
British people, and particularly politicians, are fond of quoting the constitional freedoms apparently enshrined in Magna Carta: knowledge of this is supposed to be part of the preparation for the citizenship test. And yet, one of the fundamental, and certainly the most quoted clauses of Magna Carta is the right of all to due process and a fair trial. And, right now, this is being eroded in so many ways.
This is particularly ironic as many medieval historians are busying themselves for the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta in 2015. There won't be much to celebrate, as freedoms and access to a fair trial become the preserve of the few.
But 2015 will mark another anniversary - Lateran IV. This was the hugely important Church council in which the foundations were laid for the systematic persecution of religious difference. At this rate, this will be a more appropriate anniversary.
If you're interested in Lateran IV, have a look at R. I. Moore's book, The Formation of a Persecuting Society (1987)