Conservative leader William
Hague sparked a storm when he delivered a controversial speech in a
Warwickshire town today.
He used a visit to the Town
Hall in Alcester, near Stratford, to call for new laws to protect
people from prosecution if they were defending their property.
The call follows the
conviction of murder of Tony Martin, a Norfolk farmer who shot dead an
intruder in his house.
Since the trial ended last
week at Norwich Crown Court there has been outrage that Martin, who
has handed a life sentence, should be penalised for defending his
Mr Hague told his audience:
understand the outcry and I share it. It is time we asked ourselves
some blunt questions:
is the point of having a police service and prisons when three
criminals, with 114 convictions between them, are allowed to wander
about free to terrorise rural communities?
has happened to our courts system when career burglars and muggers
get a few dozen hours community service, or a couple of months in
prison if they’re unlucky, while people defending their homes
against the very same criminals risk long prison sentences?”
will introduce honesty in sentencing, which means that criminals
serve the sentences handed down in court.
early release on licence will be ended. We will extend the ‘two
strikes and you’re out regime’ to other crimes, such as selling
drugs to children.
will greatly expand the number of Secure Training Centres so that
young thugs are actually taken off our streets and locked up.
we will make prisoners work in prison, rather than sit about
learning from each other about how to commit more crimes.
next Conservative Government will overhaul the law with a strong
presumption that, in future, the state will be on the side of people
who protect their homes and their families against criminals.
confidence in our courts, supporting our police and tipping the
balance of justice in favour of those who defend their homes and
their families: these are three key principles which will guide any
Government I lead.”
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes accused
the Tory leader of "ill-considered populism"
"Any hint of what the
Tories are suggesting - more people taking more of the law into
their own hands - is not just foolish but almost certainly