Aiding the enemy

The UK urgently needs a new definition of treason that will recognise the nature of the threats we face today, argues a new paper from Policy Exchange, Aiding the Enemy: How and why to restore the law of treason, by Tom Tugendhat MP, Khalid Mahmood MP, Head of Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project Professor Richard Ekins and barrister and former army officer Patrick Hennessey. The Treason Act 1351, which still remains law, has been overtaken by changes in modern social and political conditions; it is not a secure ground on which to mount prosecutions. A law made in the time of Edward III is no longer appropriate more than 70 years into the reign of Elizabeth II. The law as it stands fails to mark out and punish the wrong of betraying one’s country. This week it emerged that Home Secretary Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP has taken steps to allow the group of jihadists known as ‘The Beatles’ to be sent to America to face not only trial but – in a departure from the UK’s previous position – a possible death penalty. Yet Alexanda Kotey and Shafee El-Sheikh were both British citizens when they chose to betray their compatriots by joining and fighting for Islamic State – and a workable law of treason would have allowed for them to be prosecuted accordingly.

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