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Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN 23236, tabled on 19 January 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to ensure that the Caroline principles are applied to any further targeted killing carried out in self-defence of the UK.

Answered on

22 January 2016


In taking any action in self-defence of the UK, we will take account of well-established principles of self-defence. As the Attorney General pointed out to the Justice Select Committee on 15 September 2015, the Caroline case goes back to the 19th century and was concerned with very different circumstances to those facing us now. However as the Attorney General also made clear, the principles still apply and action in self-defence may be lawful in relation to an attack which has not yet materialised but is imminent. In addition any such action must, like all other action in self-defence, comply with the requirements of necessity and proportionality.

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