Meeting of the Independent Reviewer with Cage

Today I met with representatives of Cage, an organisation which states on its website that it aims to ‘empower communities impacted by the War on Terror’.

I have previously criticised Cage for inaccurately quoting my views about our terrorism legislation. The meeting today was against that background, and it should be remembered that my predecessor also met with Cage. Today’s meeting lasted 90 minutes and the topics on which I listened to the views expressed by Cage representatives were:

• Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000

• Current terrorism legislation

I have come under some criticism for agreeing to meet with Cage, an organisation considered to be beyond the pale in many circles.

Successive Governments have taken the view that there are some organisations with which any engagement is inappropriate, and Cage certainly falls within that category. That is of course a matter for government and it is neither my place nor would it be appropriate for me to pass judgment on their stance.

For my part, as the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, it is my duty and within my remit to engage with anyone who is affected in any way by the legislation. This not only helps inform my annual review of the legislation but also informs my wider contextual understanding of how our laws apply generally to society.

There are those who accuse me of being naïve in thinking anything may be achieved from this or any meeting with Cage, and I have addressed this on a previous post.

To those who suggest that Cage gains legitimacy from meeting with me, I respectfully disagree. And even if that is right, this is not a good enough reason to refuse to sit and listen to what they have to say. The independence of my role requires nothing less.

Finally, as I made clear to Cage representatives today, engagement does not mean endorsement. My own views will be reflected in my annual reports, the first of which will I hope be published by the end of this year.