Search Results for : lord carlile

The Remarkably Unobservant Baron Carlile

Lord Carlile is amazingly unobservant. An excellent article in today’s Observer by Jay Rayner gives details of the establishment cover-up of Janner’s long continued child rapes. The silence of the Vaz draws most attention. But let us think about Alex Carlile.

Rayner states “The establishment, in the shape of his fellow MPs, men such as Labour’s Keith Vaz, Tory David Ashby and the then Lib Dem MP now Lord Carlile, closed ranks.” In the 1991 House of Commons debate deploring accusations against Janner, Carlile played a prominent part, describing Janner as a man of “integrity” and “determination”. Carlile should have known Janner fairly well. They were both MPs, both QCs, both members of Friends of Israel, both patrons of UK lawyers for Israel. The appear still to both be patrons of the Friends of Israel Educational Foundation. They were regulars on the same parliamentary committees dealing with legal affairs. They were both to leave the Commons at the same time and both to join the Lords only slightly apart.

Still, Carlile’s stalwart defence of his friend is understandable. You can’t expect him to have picked up on Janner’s secret life. Nor that of Cyril Smith. Carlile shared a small Commons office with Cyril Smith for many years. Oh dear. He really isn’t good at noticing things, is he?

Carlile’s mistress and eventual wife was a senior legal adviser to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Cosy world, Westminster, it it not?

Carlile went on to be a stunningly illiberal “Independent” Reviewer of anti-terror legislation, where he demonstrated his independence by agreeing to absolutely everything the security services told him. 42 day detention with no charge? No problem. In fact there was no period of detention without charge posited so extreme that Carlile did not support it. Secret courts hearing intelligence evidence the defence were not allowed to see? Fine by Carlile. Control orders? Great. He is a fantastic bastion, protecting the public, is Carlile.

Even better, of course, at protecting his associates.

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Assange Judge’s Husband Runs Security Firm With Ex Head of MI6

“Security Intelligence Consultancy” SC Strategy Ltd has only three directors. One is the husband of the judge in yesterday’s Assange ruling. One is the former Head of MI6, Sir John Scarlett, who is synonymous with crooked security operations and personally wrote the notorious dossier of lies on Iraqi WMD, thus causing the subsequent deaths of millions of people. One is Lord Carlile, who was notably close to protected Establishment paedophiles Greville Janner and Cyril Smith. Is the British Establishment not endlessly fascinating?

The corporate media has published no information about “Lady” Arbuthnot’s background and sinister links at all, despite the fact it is uniformly carrying her jibes at Assange as a major story. There can be no clearer example of the fact that it is the corporate media which, deliberately and systematically, spreads fake news, while bloggers get out the actual facts via social media.

Directors of SC Strategy Ltd from Companies House Register

To anyone to whom British corruption is not axiomatic, it appears pretty rum that the judge in the Assange case is married to a government parliamentarian and close to the security services.

“Lady” Arbuthnot’s Husband

There is some interesting background in the Mirror here. The taxpayer paid £1,200 in restaurant bills for “Lady” Arbuthnot and her husband in one long weekend jaunt to Turkey alone.

If anybody thinks the Assange case had anything to do with justice, they are very mistaken. Please read my analysis of “Lady” Arbuthnot’s judgement here.

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Prevent: A Totally Illiberal Strategy

I have now ploughed through all 120 pages odd of the Government’s new Prevent Strategy, which manages to be even more illiberal and more turgid than the original. It claims that the last Prevent Strategy was misguided – but for all the wrong reasons. Rather amusingly, it starts with a message of endorsement from Lord Carlile – who also endorsed the last strategy which it criticises so strongly. The truth is, Carlile will endorse anything for any government which gives him status – he loves status – “It has my considered and strong support” he concludes his endorsement – you have to imagine saying it with marbles in your mouth and a degree of insufferable pomposity – “It has my considered and strong support”- wanker.

The report has many errors. but its fundamental flaw is iits explicit assumption that terrorism is actuated by a hatred of democracy.

” There is evidence to indicate that support for terrorism is associated with rejection of a cohesive, integrated, multi-faith society and of parliamentary democracy. Work to deal with radicalisation will depend on developing a sense of belonging to this country and support for our core values. “

That may in part be true; but with stunning intellectual dishonesty the government refuses to tackle in the report the fact that terrorism in the UK has been driven by disgust at British foreign policy, and especially the invasion of Iraq, and the continuing occupation and civilian deaths in Afghanistan. This is not speculation on my part; the 7/7 bombers not only referred to this specifically in suicide videos, they also indeed cited extraordinary renidition and torture as motives of their actions.

The Prevent Strategy ignores this and instead chooses to adopt the stupidly simple mantra of George W Bush to explain terrorism; “They hate our freedoms”. This is precisely the sole cause of terrorism which the Prevent Strategy defines as the problem. When the problem is defined fundamentally wrongly, you can hardly expect the solutions to be correct.

And those conclusions are stunningly illiberal – much more so than the mainstream media has picked up This is a direct quote. I am not making it up:

But preventing terrorism will mean challenging extremist (and non-violent) ideas that are also part of a terrorist ideology.

The (and non-violent) is there in the original. Really.

So peaceful support for a united Ireland should not be allowed, because it is “also part of a terrorist ideology”? That is absolutely the implication of the report. But it is plain it only applies to Muslim groups, on the grounds that they “pose the greatest threat” to the public,

So what it means is that believing that the UK should be governed by Sharia law, even if you hold that belief totally lawfully and without violence, and wish to campaign for it through democratic means, should not be allowed.

But it goes further than that. Universites, healthcare providers, NGOs and faith groups are to be vigilant in searching for those who hold such beliefs, and reporting them to the police. We have already seen where this leads. At Nottingham University two students were thrown out for researching information on Al Qaida on the State Department website, and then a lecturer was sacked for defending them.

Pages 15 to 19 cover support for terrorism and the drivers for it. There is one single phrase in five pages that acknowledges western foreign policy as a motivator for terrorism, but this is then ignored, while all the other factors are treated at great length. The opinion polls cited on pages 16 to 17 on Muslim attitudes to terrorism refrained from asking any question about western foreign policy or giving any chance for respondents to refer to it.

There is an accidentally hilarious part of the report where it denies that Prevent is used for spying on Muslim communities. That, they say, falls under a related programme called Pursue, and should not be confused with Prevent! But twenty odd pages after their lengthy passage claiming Prevent has been unfairly accused of spying, which is the task of Pursue, we find:

“Taking action against propagandists and radicalisers requires careful coordination between work in the Pursue and Prevent areas” p. 52

Which is something of a giveaway.

There is also yet another example of the Tories fulfilling their pledge to reach the target of 0.7% of GDP spent on development aid, by classifying war and “security” expenditure as development aid.

The Department for International Development (DfID) also has a role to play. Although its main purpose is to reduce poverty, overseas development work in some areas can help to build resilience to terrorism through programmes that strengthen governance and security,

With my interest in the university sector, it is some of the stuff on universities I find most chilling. It is full of reasonable sounding propositions that reveal the feeble grasp of a limited intellect:

Universities and colleges have an important role to play in Prevent, particularly in ensuring balanced debate as well as freedom of speech.

There is no obligation on universities to provide “balanced debate”. Do they have to have a creationist speaker at every lecture on evolution? There is still less of an obligation on them to ensure balanced debate in the extra-curricular activities of their students. Does there have to be a Tory speaker at every meeting against the cuts? And remember, that the Prevent Strategy makes plain that the “extremist speakers” they wish to guard against specifically include speakers with a non-violent ideology.

But the great news is, that restrictions on what you are allowed to think at university are all for your own good:

to ensure that all institutions where there is risk of radicalisation recognise their duty of care to students to protect them from the consequences of their becoming involved in terrorism, and take reasonable steps to minimise this risk;

This incredible piece of Orwellian justification for the end of academic freedom is breathtaking in its audacity. The practical consequences could easily be transposed into a manual of the Third Reich, of Stalin’s Russia or Pinochet’s Chile. Again I am not making this stuff up, this is what the report says about universities:

work with the police and other partners to ensure that student societies and university and college staff have the right information and guidance to enable them to make decisions about external speakers.

support local police forces in working with those institutions assessed to be at the greatest risk;

Under New Labour I had the peculiar experience of finding myself banned from entering a Cambridge University building, and therefore delivering a speech to a large crowd of students who gathered in the foyer to hear me as I shouted through the open doorway. I honestly did believe that the Lib Dems and even the Conservatives would be better. I was very, very wrong.

This new Prevent Strategy is a document which sadly proves that the staff of MI5 and the Home Office are, on average, not very bright, and will always favour their own power over liberty. Media reports have focused on the decision to withdarw government funding from those organisations viewed as “extremist”, because that is what the government press release said, and no mainstream journalist will ever actually read the report.

In fact I favour withdrawing that funding. Personally I don’t think the government should fund any faith group or institution.

One organisation which will still receive plenty of government funding under the Prevent programme is the Quilliam Foundation,. This taxpayer funded body attempted by subterfuge to gain personal financial details from me. That says all you need to know about Prevent, which is a secret service led programme.

In fact, if the government got much smaller, and stopped funding attacks on foreign countries, we would all be vastly safer, which would be a real “Prevent Strategy”.

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Control Orders

Control Orders remain a cruel act of degradation of people who have never been convicted of anything, utterly incompatible with human rights. Parliament will today vote to renew them again – expect the parties to compete in their gravitas as they underline the threat to our very existence and way of life (sic) from terrorism.

In fact, as has been so roundly denounced by our most senior judges recently, the real threat to our way of life comes from politicians and the security services.

The arguments in this letter are extremely strong:

Open letter to Home Secretary Alan Johnson MP

Dear Home Secretary,

We write to urge you not to renew the control order provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, introduced in haste in March 2005 following the House of Lords Judicial Committee’s condemnation of indefinite detention of foreign terrorist suspects. In the five years of their operation, control orders have attracted criticism from national bodies including the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Justice, Liberty and Amnesty International UK, and eminent international bodies including the International Commission of Jurists, the UN Human Rights Committee and Human Rights Watch. This has focussed on the inherent unfairness of the orders, their reliance on secret evidence, and the devastating impact they have on those subject to them.


You will be aware (through reports presented during litigation and press coverage) of the severe impact of the orders on family and private life, and on the mental health of those subjected to them. This is acknowledged by Lord Carlile in his fifth annual review of control orders [PDF]. Partial house arrest, confinement to a restricted geographical area, wearing a tag, and the constant need to report, to seek permission, to have visitors (even medical visitors) vetted, and the stigma associated with being targeted in this way, takes a severe toll not only on controlled persons but on their families. Children’s school performance is badly affected by denial of internet access (making homework very difficult), by restriction of visitors, by fathers being unable to take their children out freely, by the disruption and fear caused by frequent house searches, and by children witnessing the humiliation and despair caused to their parents by these measures. The detrimental impact of the orders is even worse since, although in theory time-limited to a year, in reality, renewal of orders means that subjection to these draconian restrictions is endless.

The fact that there have been so few control orders in the five years of their operation ?” 44 in total according to Lord Carlile ?” gives the misleading impression that those controlled must be truly dangerous. But the small number of orders does not necessarily mean that the intelligence behind them is accurate. Not many people were hanged for murder when the UK had capital punishment ?” but a significant proportion turn out to have been innocent.


Major sources of unfairness are the use of secret evidence and the lack of real advance judicial scrutiny. Permission to make a non-derogating order can only be denied by a High Court judge if the decision to make the order, or the grounds for making it, are ‘obviously flawed’. This, and the lack of input from the proposed subject of the order, would not be such a problem if the review process was not subject to such delays, but at present the full review hearing rarely takes place within 12 months. During all this time, of course, the controlled person is subject to the full rigours of the control order.

The judge may quash the order at the full review stage, but only if there is no reasonable suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities. It is a very low threshold for the Home Office, and is frequently satisfied by evidence that neither the controlled person nor his advocate has had an opportunity to test in cross-examination. This remains the case despite the Judicial Committee’s ruling in June 2009 (in AF and another v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009] UKHL 28) that the controlled person is entitled to enough disclosure to be able to answer allegations [this is the Law Lords’ ruling from June 2008, referred to above]; the Committee was referring to the amount of detail in the allegation, and not to the evidential foundation for the allegations, which generally remains closed. As Human Rights Watch has observed, the control order regime undermines the right to an effective defence, the principle of equality of arms, and the presumption of innocence.


Although it would be inappropriate to judge the control order regime by its cost-effectiveness as a principal criterion, it is reasonable to note that implementation of the orders has cost a fortune in litigation; the Joint Committee on Human Rights has calculated that total legal costs from 2006 to date are likely to exceed £20 million (taking into account the costs of legal aid and judicial sitting time), which is almost half a million pounds for each controlled person. Litigation has also seriously diminished the utility of the orders as a tool for controlling and disrupting terrorist activity, to the point where there must be very serious doubts as to their cost-effectiveness (compared with more targeted surveillance and effective use of the criminal justice system).


The fact that British citizens and residents can be subjected indefinitely to such extraordinary measures, with no effective means of challenge, contravening in important respects common-law guarantees of fairness as well as Article 6 of the ECHR, has damaged the reputation of the United Kingdom and done irreparable harm to the fabric of justice in this country. In addition, public trust in the security services and the government is eroded, and communities whose co-operation is vital in the fight against terrorism are intimidated and alienated. In the words of solicitor Gareth Peirce, ‘This may affect only a small group of people but in terms of its contribution to what one might call the folklore of injustice it is colossal.’

For these reasons we urge you not to renew this legislation.

Yours sincerely

Mike Mansfield QC, criminal defence barrister, Tooks Chambers

Craig Murray, writer, broadcaster, human rights activist, former British Ambassador

Sir Geoffrey Bindman, solicitor

Lord Rea

Clare Short MP

John McDonnell MP

Victoria Brittain, writer and journalist

Dafydd Iwan, LL.D., President of Plaid Cymru, Party of Wales

Bruce Kent, Vice-President, Pax Christi

Louise Christian, human rights lawyer

Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP

Caroline Lucas MEP

Jean Lambert MEP

Frances Webber, human rights lawyer

Liz Fekete, Institute of Race Relation (IRR)

Carla Ferstman, Director, Redress

Ben Hayes, Statewatch

Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

Prof. Chris Frost, Head of Journalism, Liverpool John Moores University

Hilary Wainright, Co-editor, Red Pepper

Cori Crider, Legal Director, Reprieve

Paddy Hillyard, Emeritus Professor, QUB

Bob Jeffrey, University of Salford

Amrit Wilson, writer

Dr Richard Wild, University of Greenwich

Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, Executive Director, Institute of Public Policy Research.

Andy Worthington, journalist and author of The Guantanamo Files

Lord Gifford QC, barrister and Vice-President of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Liz Davies, barrister and Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Anna Morris, barrister and Vice-Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Professor Bill Bowring, barrister and International Secretary, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Dr Victoria Sentas, School of Law, King’s College London

Margaret Owen, Director WPD, international human rights lawyer

Phil Shiner, Public Interest Lawyers

Sam Jacobs, Public Interest Lawyers

Daniel Carey, Public Interest Lawyers

Tessa Gregory, Public Interest Lawyers

Moazzam Begg, Director, Cageprisoners

Massoud Shadjareh, Chair, Islamic Human Rights Commission

Aamer Anwar, human rights lawyer

Nick Hildyard, Sarah Sexton, Larry Lohmann, The Corner House

Desmond Fernandes, policy analyst and author

Dinah Livingstone, writer, translator, editor

Tim Gopsill, journalist, Editor of Free Press

Paul Donovan, journalist

Estelle du Boulay, The Newham Monitoring Project

Suresh Grover, Director of The Monitoring Group

George Binette, UNISON Camden

Arzu Pesmen, Kurdish Federation UK

David Morgan, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

Alex Fitch, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

Matt Foot, solicitor

Hugo Charlton, barrister

Dr Kalpana Wilson, London School of Economics

Jonathan Bloch, Lib Dem Councillor and author

Michael Seifert, solicitor and Vice-President of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Kat Craig, solicitor and Vice-Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

Khatchatur I. Pilikian, Professor of Music & Art

Dr Alana Lentin, Senior Lecturer, Sociology, University of Sussex

Dr Christina Pantazis, University of Bristol

Professor Steve Tombs, Liverpool John Moore University

Claire Hamilton, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin

Professor Phil Scraton, School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast

Dr Theodore Gabriel, University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham

Dr Jan Gordon, University of Lincoln, Exeter

Dr Tina Patel, University of Salford

Professor Penny Green, Kings College, London

John Moore, University of West of England, Bristol

Professor Joe Sim, Liverpool John Moore University

Dr David Whyte, University of Liverpool

Dr Stephanie Petrie, University of Liverpool

Dr Dianne Frost, University of Liverpool

Martin Ralph, (UCU Committee), University of Liverpool

Dr Anandi Ramamurthy, University of Central Lancashire

Professor Jawed Siddiqui, Sheffield Hallam University

Dr Silvia Posocco, Birkbeck College, University of London

Dr Muzammil Quraishi, University of Salford

Dr Adi Kuntsman, University of Manchester

Professor Lynne Segal, Birkbeck College, University of London

Dr Joanne Milner, University of Salford

Dr Yasmeen Narayan, Birkbeck College, University of London

Professor Scott Poynting, Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Liam McCann, University of Lincoln

Dr Pritam Singh, Oxford Brookes University

Sophie Khan, solicitor

Simon Behrman

Owen Greenhall

Martha Jean Baker

Russell Fraser

Ripon Ray

Stephen Marsh, barrister

Declan Owens

Rheian Davies, solicitor

Richard Harvey barrister

Deborah Smith, solicitor

Alastair Lyons, solicitor, Birnberg Peirce

Hossain Zahir , barrister

Chantal Refahi , barrister

Anna Mazzola, solicitor

Zareena Mustafa, solicitor

Lochlinn Parker, solicitor

Anne Gray, CAMPACC

Saleh Mamon, CAMPACC

Estella Schmid, CAMPACC

Dr Saleyha Ahsan, No More Secrets-Respect Article 5, film maker

Mohamed Nur, Kentish Town Community Organisation

Abshir Mohamed, Kentish Town Community Organisation

Samarendra Das, filmmaker and writer

Rebecca Oliner, artist

Rebekah Carrier, solicitor

Dr Smarajit Roy, PPC Green Party Candidate for Mitcham and Morden

PM Forbes, The Green Party, Sandhurst, Berkshire

Jayne Forbes, Chair, Green Party

Adrian Cruden, Green Party PPC Newsbury

Lesley Hedges, Green Party PPC Colne Valley

Sarah Cope, Green Party PPC Stroud Green

A Bragga, Green Party PPC for Stroud Green

Graham Wroe, lecturer, Sheffield Green Parry

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Executive house arrest ruled unlawful: Another piece of government legislation proves not-fit-for-purpose

Judge quashes anti-terror orders

From BBC Online

A key plank of the government’s anti-terrorism laws has been dealt a blow by the High Court. A senior judge said control orders made against six men break European human rights laws. Ministers say they will appeal against the ruling.

The orders are imposed on people suspected of terrorism but where there is not enough evidence to go to court. They mean suspects can be tagged, confined to their homes, and banned from communicating with others.

Home secretary

In his ruling, Mr Justice Sullivan said control orders were incompatible with Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which outlaws indefinite detention without trial.

The home secretary had no power to make the orders and they must therefore all be quashed, he said.

Under the control orders restrictions, the suspects have to stay indoors for 18 hours a day, between 4pm and 10am and are not allowed to use mobile phones or the internet. And there are limits on who they can meet.

The judge said the restrictions were “the antithesis of liberty and equivalent to imprisonment”.

“Their liberty to live a normal life within their residences is so curtailed as to be non-existent for all practical purposes,” he said.


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The Truth About Lies

From the Sydney Morning Herald

Truth or fiction? This lighthearted book shows you how to spot the difference.

Author: Andy Shea and Steve Van Aperen

Publisher: ABC Books

Lord Carlile, Britain’s independent reviewer of terrorism laws, said last month that lack of public trust in the intelligence and security services over the terrorist threat was directly related to the way the Blair Government advocated war in Iraq.

“The trust issue,” he said, “has been very damaged by the intelligence information connected with the Iraq war which is perceived, rightly or wrongly, to be inaccurate.” Thus Carlile touched on a fundamental issue of our age: the public has an uncanny knack of fingering a liar, no matter how much spin is deployed to cover uncomfortable facts.

Andy Shea and Steve Van Aperen are experts in distinguishing truth from fiction. Shea is a former London police officer and Van Aperen is an FBI-trained polygraph examiner. Their book provides a light-hearted examination of the trade and provides skills to determine whether a loved one, politician or journalist is lying. The authors ask readers to acknowledge that we all lie at various points in life, but only some lies are truly damaging. Context is everything.


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Henry Porter: Blair’s new laws leave us at the mercy of future tyrants

From The Observer

Osama bin Laden’s achievement was not to mastermind the flying of jets into the Twin Towers, not to franchise his brand of terrorism to a lot of savage young men, not even to inspire the invasion of Iraq. No, it was to spook the West and to fill our minds with fear so that we let security oppress liberty and turn us away from the abuse and torture occurring in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.


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Human Rights Under Renewed Threat From Asylum and Nationality Bill

Extracts from a debate in the House of Lords on the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill (6th December). The full transcript can be found in Hansards

Baroness Stern: The new Clause 51 proposed by the Government will include within that definition acts of committing, preparing or instigating terrorism, and acts of encouraging or inducing others to commit, prepare or instigate terrorism, whether or not the acts themselves amount to an actual or “inchoate” offence. That may sound eminently reasonable until we remember, first, the definition of terrorism being used here, and, secondly, that it covers acts wherever they are committed, whether in Uzbekistan, North Korea or perhaps Burma.

I cannot do better than draw to the attention of the House the view of the Joint Committee of Human Rights on this issue:

“To redefine the scope of Article 1F(c) exclusion so as to catch anyone who has threatened damage to property as a means to political change anywhere in the world, and anyone who in the Secretary of State’s view has engaged in one of the unacceptable behaviours such as ‘justifying’ terrorism, is in our view to broaden the scope of the exclusion in Article 1F(c) in a way which is not itself compatible with the Refugee Convention”.

It seems to me, although of course I am not a lawyer, that advocating the overthrow of a repressive regime’for example, that in Uzbekistan’and supporting a move to another form of government such as democracy is enough to ensure that you will not get the protection of the United Kingdom, should you be able to flee before the secret police get you. In my view, that is a deeply shaming position for us to find ourselves in, and a long way from the haven for the Huguenots mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville.

The position is not improved by the provision in Clause 7 that requires appeals against deportation on national security grounds to be brought out-of-country. The Joint Committee considers that the failure of the new clause to preserve an in-country appeal on asylum grounds gives rise to a risk of incompatibility with the refugee convention…

Clause 53 will introduce a new test for the deprivation of a person’s British citizenship….the basis for the Secretary of State to deprive a person of British citizenship will be that he is,

“satisfied that deprivation is conducive to the public good”….

I have one more question for the Minister: how do the Government propose to reconcile the work of the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, in reviewing the definition of terrorism in the 2000 Act with the plans to use that definition straight away across such a wide range of new legislation?

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Justice Equals More Convictions

Brown is attempting to establish his hard man credentials by trailing the next bunch of anti-terror laws. The most publicity has been given to the proposal that wiretaps should be available as evidence in court.

I have always favoured this, provided the wiretap is legal; and not just in terrorism cases. I blogged recently that I had never understood the government’s objection, but suspected it was because they did not want juries to be exposed to the extremely tenuous interpretations which the security services often put on communications ‘ which I have personally seen on the inside.

After I posted this, I met with a friend, still in the senior civil service, who filled me in on a fuller picture. I now realise, which I did not at the time, that he or she was telling me this because a move was imminent.

The concern is that intercept evidence might be more helpful to the defence than the prosecution. Where communication intercepts are used, as in the USA, the laws of evidence are that the prosecution must make complete disclosure of all the wiretaps made. The defence can then search this for evidence that points to innocence.

Compare this to the situation that operates with control orders, or indefinite house arrest without trial. Here the prosecution just feeds to the judge (no jury) an isolated snippet of information from ‘intelligence’, reflecting not a whole picture but just the security services’ interpretation. Judges tend to be impressed by this ‘Top Secret’ stuff.

To let the defence at raw intercepts threatens the intelligence services’ greatest lever of power ‘ their monopoly of interpretation of raw data. Even Ministers, or Ambassadors as I was, don’t get the raw data, but a ‘Report’ summarising, interpreting and selectively quoting.

So the proposal being considered by the Home Office is this ‘ that the defence should not be allowed access to all the material from wiretaps of the accused. The prosecution would have to disclose in full only the conversation, or conversations, being directly quoted from. The security services are prepared to go along with that, and the Home Office believe that the public demand for wiretap evidence to be admissible will drown out any protests from lawyers. We will be told the Security Services are not staffed to cope with fuller disclosure.

You read it here first. As my friend put it: “You see, in the minds of the Home Office, justice equals more convictions.”

The other point my friend flagged up was that some in the Home Office are arguing that the classification of many intercepts is such that they could not be available to juries. The demand to bring in intercept evidence might therefore be used to push the case for Diplock Courts in terrorist cases. I should be surprised if we see that kite flown at this stage; the government’s technique so far is to push back liberty by a series of hefty shoves. That is probably next year’s argument. But then I hadn’t realised my friend was warning me about something imminent on Wiretaps, so I could be wrong.

The other proposed Brown measure getting most attention is another call for ninety day internment without charge. But in many ways the most insidious proposal of all is the idea that you should still be subject to questioning after you have been charged.

This is a fundamental rebalancing of our legal system. It means that the police can charge you on spec, and then harass you for a confession when you are banged up in jail on remand and subject to extreme pressure, and all kinds of possibilities of physical abuse from fellow convicts -‘trusties’ working with the police. It removes a fundamental safeguard, that once charged the questioning takes place in open court before a jury. It is a huge change.

This proposal also completely obviates the whole ninety day detention question. At the moment, the police do not charge without a firm case, because then they can no longer question. If this new proposal goes through, then the police can just charge willy-nilly and hold the suspect for the usual remand of two or three years in terror cases.

Needless to say, the BBC and Sky have been able to find Lord Windbag Carlile, various ‘security experts’ and Gordon Brown himself to explain while all this is necessary. Even Simon Hughes turned up to pledge Lib Dem support for the right to question after charging. Obviously the whole country supports all this, as they have been unable to find anyone to argue against.

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