The human cost of control orders

by scotslawstudent

There is a tremendous story in today’s Guardian about two men, best friends, sitting outside one of their homes talking, drinking and eating snacks.

They cannot go inside.

One of the men lives under a house arrest condition and the other is the juror who. along with 11 other people during a seven month long trial, decided that he was guilty of precisely nothing.

It’s a tragically beautiful story involving quite remarkable sacrifice — Lawrence Archer has voluntarily registered himself as a “known associate of terrorists” to be an approved visitor to the home of Mouloud Sihali who has spent the past decade being pursued by the authorities for various things he’s pretty clearly not done at massive personal cost (20 hour curfews, allowed only approved visitors etc).

The reason they met was that the jury, having sat through half a year of evidence about the guy and deciding nothing was criminal, felt that its acquittal was being ignored by the authorities and they sought the exonerated people out to make their views heard. The awesome thing is that the foreman and the man in the dock immediately hit it off.

The jury found themselves facing a situation where their assumptions about the security services were shaken as they faced the wrong end of the authorities.

Before the ricin trial, Archer was almost entirely apolitical, but seeing the criminal justice system at close hand has transformed him into a vocal critic of the use of secret evidence against terror suspects. “I’ve become much, much more cynical about the way the government and security services operate,” he says. Archer also speaks from experience. Once when he was sitting on Sihali’s porch, a team of immigration officials arrived and demanded his name and address. “It was as if I’d gone from being an upstanding citizen to being suspicious. That was quite nasty.”

In the Guardian.