UK Liberty

Civil servants spying on public

Posted in privacy, surveillance society by ukliberty on March 2, 2009

The Guardian:

Controversial surveillance powers employed to fight terrorism and combat crime have been misused by civil servants in undercover “spying” operations that breach official guidelines, the Guardian has learned.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information show some government departments and agencies have used these powers incorrectly or without proper controls. They also show the official government watchdog set up to monitor the use of such clandestine techniques criticised the departments for their behaviour.

The watchdog twice threatened to inform Gordon Brown about the serious abuses of powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). …

What’s happening with the DNA database

Posted in DNA database, politicians on liberty, rule of law by ukliberty on March 2, 2009

David Mery at the Register gives us the bad news:

Almost three months on from the unanimous ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against the UK’s mass retention of DNA of innocent people, the situation has turned worse. Although eventually the UK should become compliant with the ruling, police forces are adopting a wait and see attitude, while Jacqui Smith is pushing back any response.

Meanwhile, the Government has tabled an amendment giving sweeping powers on DNA retention, use and destruction to the Secretary of State. …

Interesting development on prisoners’ votes

Posted in rule of law, voting by ukliberty on March 2, 2009

Regulars may recall my article on how the Government responds to adverse judgements.

Jailhouselawyer informs me that the Association of Prisoners is going to put pressure on the Government in relation to Hirst v UK, the judgement handed down in October 2005, three years and three months ago, that the blanket ban on the right of a convicted prisoner to vote violates Article 3 of Protocol No. 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights:


The High Contracting Parties undertake to hold free elections at reasonable intervals by secret ballot, under conditions which will ensure the free expression of the opinion of the people in the choice of the legislature.

For more detail see jailhouselawyer’s comment, the current headline article on insidetime, and this Guardian article from November.

Well said David Howarth

Posted in everything by ukliberty on March 2, 2009

John Ozimek at The Register on the Convention on Modern Liberty in Cambridge:

… If the panel sessions were largely about people agreeing strenuously with one another, the afternoon debate (in Cambridge), between Government Minister Bill Rammell, MP and David Howarth, MP summarised in one short exchange what the real issue is. Both speakers agreed that the other side “just don’t get it”.

Both spoke of balance. Bill Rammell reiterated the government view that the greatest civil liberty of all was the right not to be blown up, killed or terrorised. Those who opposed CCTV were, he suggested, out of touch with the ordinary people of Britain.

David Howarth claimed that liberty went much deeper, that it was more than the absence of risk, and that if we had taken the government’s line in 1940, we would have surrendered at the first sign of war because otherwise, “people might have been killed”. Some things, he argued, are worth fighting (and dying) for. …

Here is a video of that particular debate.  David Howarth made a number of very good points.  Bill Rammell… did not.  Particularly difficult to understand why he claimed he did not grow up in a world where there was risk of proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.  He was born in 1959 and therefore should be well aware of the Cold War, which among other things involved a nuclear arms race (indeed a number of attendees took issue with the claim that the public are more at danger today than ever before, having grown up during or since the Second World War).  He also claimed this Government was the first to introduce some statutory protection for suspects in terms of the Human Rights Act 1998.  But a major piece of  legislation protecting suspects was the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, introduced by a Conservative Government.  Another load of guff from a Labour shill.  But as if that wasn’t enough, yet more was to come from Tariq Sadiq.

Anger isn’t the word – it’s a combination of shame and rage

Posted in politicians on liberty, propaganda by ukliberty on March 2, 2009

Convention on Modern Liberty – Voices from the Crowd.

That was an attendee in relation to torture.

I felt that when I was listening to Tariq Sadiq speaking in this debate at about 42 mins in.