UK Liberty

disturbing, shocking and serial shortcomings at the Home Office says judge

Posted in law and order, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on February 5, 2008

A person, SK, was detained pending deportation.

Not a nice man, as the judge said, “a convicted sex offender (the reason why he is being deported) and a failed asylum seeker whose claim to the protection of the Geneva Convention was properly found by the Secretary of State, upheld by an Immigration Judge on appeal, to be false”, also with convictions for bail offences and common assault.

But, as the judge went on to say, “SK will evoke sympathy in few hearts but everyone is protected by the law, by the rule of law. It matters not what a person has done. Outlawry has long been abolished.”

In this case, he was unlawfully detained for a substantial period of time, owing to a bizarre failure of the Home Office to observe the law and indeed its own rules.

The strongly worded judgement paints a disturbing picture of failures at the Home Office, including:

  • ignoring letters sent by SK’s legal representatives (CAB and solicitors);
  • lack of “any evidence at all in answer to the serious allegations being made by and on behalf of S”;
  • despite clear rules and statements to the contrary there was “no review at all during the first ten months of SK’s detention”;
  • there should have been 22 monthly reviews in all, but throughout the period of his detention there were only ten, and only six of those “were conducted by an official at the correct level of seniority”;
  • he was sent misleading monthly progress reports, by a system of “casual mendacity”.

    The Home Secretary’s “complete failure to review SK’s detention for the first ten months, and thereafter only sporadically and inadequately for a further year, defy the Secretary of State’s own policy, SK’s human rights and the rule of law”; furthermore, “detention in circumstances where SK was deprived of the safeguards prescribed by law and by the Secretary of State’s policy was plainly arbitrary and unlawful, striking at the very heart of the principle enshrined in Article 5, which is to protect against arbitrary detention.”

    I have to say that the melancholy facts that have been exposed as a result of these proceedings are both shocking and scandalous. They are shocking even to those who still live in the shadow of the damning admission by a former Secretary of State that a great Department of State is ‘unfit for purpose’. They are scandalous for what they expose as the seeming inability of that Department to comply not merely with the law but with the very rule of law itself.

    Remember, this is a department responsible for upholding the law.

    [In] this judgment I have had to express a whole catalogue of concerns about the way in which the Secretary of State’s officials have dealt with SK’s case. As I have said in paragraph [51], the picture which emerges is deeply disturbing, indeed profoundly shocking. These are matters going to the liberty of the subject. They are matters of the first importance. This makes the serial shortcomings of the Home Office all the more concerning. I trust that no judge will ever again be faced with such a state of affairs.

    Unfortunately, they might, as the judge himself said,

    It does not seem to have been unique, for on 22 January 2007 another official added to the Minute the comment “this is another pretty appalling case”

    abuse of data that led to death

    Posted in database state, law and order by ukliberty on February 5, 2008

    The BBC:

    A row over a supermarket car parking space led to the death of a pensioner, a court has heard.

    Three people appeared at Nottingham Crown Court on Monday and denied the manslaughter of Bernard Gilbert, 79.

    He collapsed and died after a brick was thrown through the window of his home in Spondon, Derby, on 28 January 2007.

    Zoe Forbes, 26, her husband Mark, 40, both of Ripley, and his brother Steven, 22, from South Normanton, admitted conspiracy to damage property.

    Michael Auty, prosecuting, alleged the brick attack was not random vandalism but a planned attack linked to a row over a parking space in Asda four days earlier.

    Bernard Gilbert
    Bernard Gilbert died in hospital after the brick attack on his home

    Mr Auty said Mr Gilbert had been verbally abusive to Mrs Forbes over the incident, and Mark Forbes became incensed and began plotting a revenge attack.

    He traced Mr Gilbert’s address through a then-serving police officer, the jury heard.

    “A police officer misusing a police computer gives a friend of Mark Forbes most of the address.

    “And that friend passes on the information to Mark Forbes,” Mr Auty said.  …

    Talk about splitting hairs!

    Posted in politicians on liberty, state-citizen relationship, surveillance society by ukliberty on February 5, 2008

    The Register:

    The UK Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, told MPs today that the alleged bugging of a prominent Muslim MP’s conversations with a constituent had not been authorised by the cabinet.

    But Straw also said the alleged snooping would not have breached the Wilson doctrine banning the security services from bugging MPs, if it emerged any operation had been carried out by police.

    Straw’s statement can be found here.

    Yesterday’s Sunday Times alleged that conversations between Sadiq Khan MP and Babar Ahmad were taped during 2005 and 2006 by police officers. Ahmad is being held in Woodhill prison pending appeal against extradition to the US, where prosecutors intend to try him on terror-related charges. In particular, Ahmad is alleged to have run a website promoting terrorism which was hosted in America.

    He is also alleged to have in his possession a GPS device and a decades old tourist brochure for the Empire State Building. Lawks.

    He has been imprisoned since 2004 fighting an extradition request to the USA.  He may be a dodgy character, I have no idea, but it certainly seems we don’t have anything to charge him with here, otherwise we should have.

    SpyBlog has a great article on the Sunday Times piece, and more generally on the Wilson Doctrine and why it is a good thing, and Diane Abbot said something sensible in her response to Straw’s statement:

    The Lord Chancellor’s statement appears to suggest that there is one regime for telephone tapping, another regime for bugging by policemen and another for bugging by members of the security services. When the inquiry is concluded, will he consider one protocol that covers all those circumstances in relation to Members of Parliament so that at the very least to bug or tap the telephone of an MP will require ministerial approval? In that way, our constituents—many of whom come to us as frightened, vulnerable or fearful individuals—could have some security that they were speaking to us in complete confidence.

    It is a great pity that many readers of the Sunday Times piece think that just because Ahmad is a person suspected of terrorism and being held pending the outcome of his legal battle against being extradited, he should forfeit his rights.