Monday, 15 June 2009

Anniversary of the Magna Carta

The Magna Carta was signed by King John today in 1215, it's importance is that it subjected the king to the law of the land for the first time in Britain's history. The relevance to today is within this charter of freedoms is Habeas corpus:
No free man shall be seized, or imprisoned, or disseised, or outlawed, or exiled, or injured in any way, nor will we enter on him or send against him except by the lawful judgement of his peers, or by the law of the land.
The principle is essentially no person should be deprived of freedom without due process of law. In short it protects us from the state. Thomas Paine captures the wonderful British cynicism, I like to think was illustrated 794 years ago today and has continued through out our history:
Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.

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