At a speaker luncheon last week, someone I didn’t know passed me a note asking ‘Have you stopped supporting capital punishment?’ As far as I could remember, I have never supported capital punishment, so I was slightly at a loss for a reply. My problem with the subject is that I have always felt ambiguous. On the one hand, capital punishment is horrible, bad for the executioner as well as the victim, and fatal to the innocent. On the other, I cannot confidently argue that, when conducted under law, it would be wrong in every single circumstance. Some times, and perhaps some actions, are so bad that the death penalty may be needed to maintain order, crush evil and show who’s boss. Under present circumstances in modern Britain, I am against it, but — hypothetically and in principle — not everywhere, not always. Now comes the news of Sajid Javid’s decision about El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey. Anyone would think the Home Secretary had just sentenced two former British citizens to death. In fact, all he has done is weighed the difficult options and decided not to stand in the way of the men being tried in the United States, where death is a possible sentence for their alleged crimes. America is an ally, and a democracy. It has due process and the rule of law. Some US states retain capital punishment because their citizens want it, and it remains a federal punishment in some circumstances. We may strongly disagree with this, but it is not barbarism. Represented in the American legal system, these two men are being much better treated than their fellow jihadis who were sentenced to death by Barack Obama’s busy drones.
Back home, our own dear justice system isn’t working so well. After Alison Saunders’s disastrous tenure as Director of Public Prosecutions, she is to be replaced by Max Hill QC. Mr Hill has a shocking record of cosying up to Islamists and their fellow travellers, notably CAGE and MEND. Thank goodness the prosecution of these ‘Beatles’, these two unloveable moptops from Isis, does not rest on the fragile shoulders of our CPS.
This is an extract from Charles Moore’s Spectator Notes, which appears in this week’s issue