Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sinais: "First Parliament Raid in 366 Years "

"Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Until last week, no one in the U.K. had dared search Parliament since 1642, when such an act led to the beheading of King Charles I.

Then on Nov. 27, police investigating government leaks arrested opposition lawmaker Damian Green, 52, raided his parliamentary offices and seized his computers.

“It’s without precedent,” said David Butler, a fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford University. “They were bloody fools to do it.” (..)

Green’s arrest highlights tension rooted in Britain’s unwritten constitution, which has evolved for a thousand years. Although Parliament is a palace owned by the crown, the monarch has been barred from the House of Commons since the 1642 incident. Today she addressed lawmakers of both chambers from her throne in the upper House of Lords.

Civil War Spark

The episode almost four centuries ago began when Charles I entered the chamber with soldiers to search for five lawmakers who resisted his claim of a divine right to rule. Speaker of the House William Lenthall refused the king’s demand to identify the lawmakers so they could be arrested.

In the ensuing civil war, Parliament’s supporters defeated the king’s. A plaque in Westminster Hall in Parliament marks the spot where Charles was tried before his 1649 execution. To this day, lawmakers pledge loyalty to the Queen while upholding their right to challenge the government."

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