Judicial protection of the right of freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention is of ancient standing in English law, having found expression in the Magna Carta1 and the Bill of Rights2. It was further recognised in the variety of medieval writs by which release from detention could be sought from the courts3. Between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries the writ of habeas corpus, originally associated with the production of a defendant to court rather than release from detention, evolved as the pre-eminent device by which the lawfulness of detention could be scrutinised by the courts4. By the twentieth century
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