Renew treason laws to jail enemies of the state for life, says thinktank

Ancient treason laws should be renewed to allow enemies of the state to be jailed for life, a right-leaning thinktank has recommended.

Britons who betray the country through acts of terror or by aiding hostile nations should be dealt with as traitors, according to a Policy Exchange report.

It warned a wave of terrorists was coming up for release and claimed the country would be safer if they had been jailed for betrayal.

Treason laws dating back to 1351 are now unworkable, according to the report; the authors of which included Conservative and Labour MPs.

It was backed by the former home secretary, Amber Rudd, told the Daily Telegraph “the time has come for us to consider additional measures, such as those set out in this report, that we need to deal with those who betray this country”.

Jonathan Evans, the former head of MI5, said the report was “timely and balanced” and Richard Walton, Scotland Yard’s former head of counter-terrorism, said its recommendations were “appropriate” for jihadists, the paper reported.

In a foreword to the report, the former lord chief justice of England and Wales, Igor Judge, wrote: “If a citizen of this country chooses to fight with the Taliban in Afghanistan against British forces, his crime is more than terrorism. It is treason, and should be prosecuted accordingly.”

The last person to be convicted under the act was William Joyce, more commonly known as Lord Haw-Haw, who was hanged in 1946 for assisting Nazi Germany.

The call for reform comes amid anger over the government’s decision to drop death penalty objections in the case of two men who are accused of being members of an Islamic State cell and who face being sent to the US for trial.

Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, who are understood to have been stripped of their British citizenship, are said to have been members of a brutal four-man group of Isis fighters who murdered captives.

The home secretary, Sajid Javid, was accused of secretly taking “the power of life and death into his own hands” over his decision to help the US in its efforts to convict and execute the two men.

Ken Macdonald QC, a former director of public prosecutions, said Javid had “shoved the door of the death chamber ajar” by failing to seek the expected assurances they would not face capital punishment.


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