Author Archives: Tom Brake MP

Tom Brake MP writes…Violation of judicial process by Bangladesh International Criminal Tribunal

This week the Bangladesh Supreme Court upheld the Bangladesh International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) decision to execute Salauddin Quader Chowdhury. This represents the second rejection for Mr Chowdhury, following his original appeal in July 2015. This is a grave injustice for Chowdhury and for Bangladesh.

In 2013, Chowdhury was sentenced to death by the ICT for war crimes allegedly committed during the 1971 Bangladesh Independence War. The original trial, like many others heard by the ICT, has received widespread criticism including from the United Nations and Amnesty International for procedural irregularities and the violation of international fair trial standards.

The case of Salauddin Quader Chowdhury was marred by irregularities, the worst of which relates to witnesses for the Defence. The Court imposed a last minute restriction to the number of witnesses the Defence was permitted to call. The Prosecution called 41 witnesses to take the stand against Chowdhury. On the day the final Prosecution witness was called, the Court branded the 1153-long witness list a ploy aimed at delaying the case and arbitrarily cut the Defence witness list to just five.

Posted in News | Tagged , and | 1 Comment

Tom Brake MP: Why I’m fasting for Shaker Aamer

haker Aamer is the last British resident held in Guantanamo Bay, which still stands as an icon to the Iraq War, a war which only the Liberal Democrats, led by Charles Kennedy, were brave enough to stand up against. Shaker has been held for the last thirteen years without charge or trial. He has been cleared by two successive US Presidents and yet is still held captive.

Baroness Ludford correctly said in 2012 ‘the continued existence of Guantanamo is a stain on the record and reputation of President Obama’; it is truly depressing that Guantanamo continues to be used to incarcerate people and that there are many reports of abuse and violence within the prison.

On 25th September, Shaker learned that he would finally be freed, however as Congress has to be given 30 days’ notice before Shaker can be released, he is unlikely to be released before the 25th October at the earliest.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 4 Comments

Tom Brake writes: My trip to the Calais Jungle

 

I visited the Calais Jungle a week ago, where around 4,000 people live in terribly squalid conditions. My trip was organised by staff from Lib Dem HQ, who had collected donations so we were able to distribute water, food and sanitary products.

It was a shocking experience to see the dreadful conditions people are living in. The Jungle is worse than a shanty town, with very few facilities.

There was no sign of water being provided and the people we met clutched gratefully the bottles we had transported.  Shoes, clothes and dry foods were also in demand. Portable toilets are provided by aid organisations while the local authorities seem to turn a blind eye to the conditions in the camp, simply wishing it would go away. I was told the French authorities don’t provide any help apart from a Centre where mobile phones can be charged and a hot meal is available. If someone is badly injured the local hospital bandages them up.

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Tom Brake MP writes: The #libdemfightback continues in Wallington. Can you help?

On 11th June there is a Council by-election in Wallington South ward in my constituency. It has been caused by the sad death of a friend of mine Colin Hall, who played a major role in many Sutton success stories such as the Smarter Travel Sutton scheme. You can read some of the tributes to Colin here.

Our candidate, Stephen Cook, if elected will be an excellent Councillor. He has lived locally for 35 years.  He is Chairman of the local residents’ association, has had involvement in a number of important campaigns such as the campaign to block a McDonalds drive-thru’ and has strong business experience.

The Tories, still smarting from their failure to dislodge London’s last Lib Dem MP, are running a relentlessly negative campaign (whilst claiming to be running a positive one).

This by-election provides one of the first opportunities since May 7th to defy the other parties and show them the Liberal Democrats aren’t going to fade away.

Posted in News | Tagged and | 4 Comments

Tom Brake writes… Job sharing for MPs – an idea whose time has come

There’s something about our system of electing one person to represent one, relatively small part of the country which makes MPs very territorial. Their constituency is “their patch” on which no one else must trespass, and by extension we all find ourselves utterly consumed by the job.

The consequence is that politics becomes available only to people who are able to give themselves to it to the exclusion of all else. Working age women in particular have been seen to self-select out of the job, and many more simply never enter it. Westminster hand-wrings often about …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 12 Comments

Tom Brake MP writes…Liberal Democrats have improved the Lobbying Bill

Yesterday the long, and at times tortuous, journey of the Transparency Bill through Parliament came to an end.  It will shortly receive Royal Assent.  The Bill had many critics, so it is worth reiterating the purpose of the parts of the Bill I was closely involved with as a Minister.

Part 1, sets up a Statutory Register of Lobbyists, to complement the existing regime of quarterly data published by Ministers about which external organisations they meet.  Liberal Democrats have successfully pushed for this data to become much more accessible and useful in future, so that all the data is published …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 59 Comments

Tom Brake MP writes: Part 2 of the Lobbying and Transparency Bill, an update

As Nick mentioned to party members in his Letter from the Leader over the weekend, the government has signalled its willingness to accept the principle of amendments to Part 2 of the bill from John Thurso and other Liberal Democrat MPs.

I would like to thank John for the hugely constructive approach he and many other Liberal Democrat MPs have taken to this bill. It is not, and has never been, the intention of this bill to in anyway restrict the ability of charities to campaign to change government policy or on other issues they feel strongly about. And government …

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarnigel hunter 14th Feb - 10:55pm
    We need the best person for the job, male or female with specific skills that can be used for campaigning and when elected can know...
  • User AvatarCaron Lindsay 14th Feb - 9:57pm
    Oh, Simon. Where to begin on the party's failings on this. The huge one was not to make sure that we had all women shortlists...
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 14th Feb - 9:47pm
    @AndrewR I think if you refer back to one of the previous threads on this topic you will find that David Evans provided a comprehensive...
  • User AvatarAndrewR 14th Feb - 9:11pm
    Paul Holmes How many of the 57 Lib Dem seats had a female candidate in 2015?
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 14th Feb - 9:09pm
    In her recent article Sal Brinton referred to the fact that in the governance consultation response last autumn "the Federal Executive received many comments and...
  • User Avatarjohnmc 14th Feb - 8:46pm
    sad news, and thoughts go out to the family of this fascinating and wise man.