Brent MP accused of U-turn on human rights

Voters accuse Sarah Teather of turning their back on them once again

SARAH Teather has been accused of going back on her pre-election promises for a second time since entering government.

The Lib-Dem MP for Brent Central, has angered human rights supporters over her support for changing the law on Universal Jurisdiction that allows war criminals to be prosecuted in the UK should they visit.

In December 2009 Ms Teather signed an Early Day Motion, a non-binding parliamentary pledge, opposing any change to the law.

The childrens and families minister has already been heavily criticised for going back on her promise to oppose an increase in university tuition fees.

The change in law will allow the director of public prosecutions, a political appointee, to decide if a suspected war criminal can be arrested rather than an independent judge.

The proposed change in law is a result of high-level Israeli lobbying after several of its top officials abandoned trips to the UK when human rights groups secured warrants for their arrest for suspected war crimes against Palestinians.

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Liz Lindsay, of Willesden Green, and secretary of Brent Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “If she reneges on that promise by voting for the Coalition Government’s changes in the legislation she will be letting down many of the people who voted for her.

“We are extremely disappointed that she has not used her position in government to stand by her principles on this issue.”

Sophie MacGibbon, of Dollis Hill, also a member of Brent PSC, said: “Sarah Teather came across as a rare bird, a politician with integrity and principle. How sad it would be to find that she is prepared to break her pre-election promises even if it was contrary to her beliefs.”

When asked, Sarah Teather failed to explain her change in heart, however she said: “The changes that have been proposed address a number of practical issues and ensure that, as with other criminal prosecutions, the issuing of a warrant will only happen where we have a solid base of evidence and a realistic likelihood of prosecution.”

A vote on the Police Reform Bill that includes an amendment to the law on universal jurisdiction is expected next month.