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But let us go back to Mr Liversidge. The Home Secretary had

ordered his arrest and imprisonment on the basis that he had “reasonable

grounds to believe” that Mr Liversidge was a person of hostile

associations. The questions at issue for the judges was a simple one.

Could the Court investigate whether or not the Minister had reasonable

grounds for his belief? Or was it sufficient if the Minister himself thought

that he had?

The case, as I said, went all the way to our supreme court, the

House of Lords. The majority of their lordships deferred to the

Government. They did not believe that the relevant defence regulation

allowed them to review the Minister’s decision. Only one judge – Lord

Atkin - dissented. But his speech is remembered when all the rest have

long been forgotten. Lord Atkin said3:

“In this country, amidst the clash of arms, the

laws are not silent. They may be changed, but

they speak the same language in war as in

peace. It has always been one of the pillars of

freedom, one of the principles of liberty for

which we are now fighting, that the judges are

3

Liversidge v. Anderson (op. cit.) at p. 244.

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