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Hague Row In Warwickshire Speech

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 property.

Mr Hague told his audience:

“I understand the outcry and I share it. It is time we asked ourselves some blunt questions:

“What 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?

“What 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?”

“We will introduce honesty in sentencing, which means that criminals serve the sentences handed down in court.

”Automatic 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.

“We will greatly expand the number of Secure Training Centres so that young thugs are actually taken off our streets and locked up.

“And we will make prisoners work in prison, rather than sit about learning from each other about how to commit more crimes.

“The 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.

“Restoring 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"

He said:

"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 dangerous.”


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