You have to laugh, I suppose.
Section 44 of the Terrorism Act – the power to stop and search people in a particular area – is supposed to be a deterrent to would-be terrorists.
But if our would-be terrorist has no idea s44 is in force in an area, how on earth can he be deterred?
SpyBlog requested information on s44 authorisations… the Home Office refused to provide the information (and for spurious reasons).
(sometimes we are told, but still…)
I sure hope it was worth bugging legally privileged conversations if it is true that “Hundreds of prisoners could successfully appeal against their convictions”. But I doubt this is automatic grounds for successful appeals – as I understand it, evidence obtained unlawfully or improperly may be admissible, it’s up to the court. That said, it wouldn’t help the legal system if there were grounds for so many re-trials.
Pressure was mounting for a wide-ranging inquiry after allegations that police had listened to confidential conversations between hundreds of lawyers and their clients. Bugs were routinely concealed inside visiting room tables.
It raises the spectre of prisoners such as the Soham murderer Ian Huntley, jailed in 2003, launching appeals.
Some lawyers predict the courts may quash a number of convictions on the grounds that evidence was tainted by the long-running bugging, carried out at prisons including Woodhill and Belmarsh.
Geoffrey Robertson QC, a leading human rights barrister, said: “The consequences of this could be calamitous. Most of these cases will have to be brought back to court and in my view the courts will react with such fury, as a matter of principle, that those prisoners whose conversations have been bugged will have to be let out.”
Julian Young, a criminal lawyer, said: “This was a disgusting course of conduct.
“We don’t know what may have been passed by the prison authorities to the police, who may have obtained evidence they would not otherwise have obtained.
“We could see hundreds of cases reviewed and hundreds of appeals lodged, at phenomenal cost, questioning whether people have been properly convicted.”
Where are we going with all this surveillance and breaches of such long established and hard-won principles?