Taking Liberties, a documentary which explores the possible erosion of civil liberties under Tony Blair's government, supported by the UK Film Council P&A fund, is out to rent or buy on DVD on 15th October. Director Chris Atkins has grand aims for the film:
"If there's one thing I've learnt from making this film, it is the understanding that politics is not about self important windbags in Westminster, or thundering newspaper editorials - it's about people. And all people need to do is to engage and have a voice and they can change the world."
The film looks at diverse case studies of those affected by the flurry of legislation brought in by Blair's government, with the supposed aim of countering terrorism.
These include the continuing house arrest of Mouloud Sihali, found innocent in the so-called "Ricin plot" case; 82 year-old Walter Wolfgang's 2005 arrest (under the Terrorism Act 2000) for shouting out "nonsense" during Jack Straw's speech at the Labour party conference and the extradition of the Natwest 3 to America for an alleged crime that did not involve America at all.
The film puts forward the argument that the Labour government have overreacted to the potential terrorism threats faced by post-9/11 Britain. Although some of the situations lend themselves easily to humour - such as two grannies running rings around police officers accusing them of "looking" at a classified American air base - some of the stories suggest a sinister erosion of civil liberties.
The case of Omar Deghayes, a British resident still languishing in Guantanamo Bay after five years, is chilling; the government only requested his release on 7th August this year. The case of the Natwest 3 also highlights the fact that UK citizens can easily be extradited to America on flimsy grounds, but that it doesn't work vice versa - certainly a turn of events that has flown under the radar since the signing of the Extradition Act 2003 made this situation possible.
The film uncovers the large extent to which anti-terrorism laws have curtailed everyday freedoms that we all take for granted, and indeed rarely even think about. A thought-provoking watch.
For more information, see the Taking Liberties site.