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Right to silence reaffirmed

In the 16th century, when he is interrogated about a "crime" he is supposed to have committed, John Lambert refuses to confess and accuse himself. He dies bravely.

In the 17th century, John Lilburne endures being lashed with the whip as he is driven through London. He has refused to accuse himself when interrogated by officers of the Star Chamber. His stand for the right to silence will be confirmed by a massive demonstration by Brits and later by Parliament, and he will be released from prison.

Their sacrifices will help Brits and eventually all people in common law countries to remain silent and be free from the use of torture as a way of extracting confessions.

The right to silence is not available in most European countries, so the British government, in an effort to fit in, is chipping away at this dearly purchased right. The commonest way this right is challenged is when a self-confession is demanded in the case of speeding detected by a camera.

Idris Francis points out that on October 6, 2006, the Scottish Executive confirmed the right to silence. Cathie Jamieson, the Minister of Justice, affirmed that a suspect has a common law right to silence under police questioning.

Idris also notes that under Article 4 of the Act of Union, rights available in Scotland are available in England, and vice versa.

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