The Independent Reviewer writes …

David Anderson Q.C.

Welcome! I am an independent Q.C. and not part of the government machine. I am tasked with reviewing the operation of the United Kingdom’s anti-terrorism laws. Where I am critical, I recommend change. My reports and recommendations are submitted to ministers and laid before Parliament.

As reviewer I have a very high degree of access both to classified documents and to those most closely involved with defence against terrorism: Read more…

Features

It is¬†obviously¬†desirable¬†to find ways of¬†deterring¬†people from being drawn into terrorism, of whatever kind.¬†¬†But¬†how best to go about it¬†has long been¬†a matter of controversy.¬†¬†¬†The Evening Standard published¬†on 15 February¬†an op-ed from me¬†on Prevent,¬†with an accompanying article (which led the front page) and the paper’s own comment.

As I have always made clear (and regretted) there is no independent reviewer of Prevent. I’m not privy to the Government’s¬†classified thinking on the subject.¬† But a variety of reactions to Prevent are pressed on me as I travel around the country to talk about counter-terrorism, and since September 2015 I have been transmitting to a wider audience the concerns about the¬†operation of Prevent¬†that I have picked up from Muslims in particular.¬† Last year, as well as¬†listening to the preoccupations of many different¬†communities,¬†I was invited by local groups to see¬†privately the kind of work being done under Prevent, and to¬†give evidence on my impressions of the strategy to¬†Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights and Home Affairs Select Committee.

My op-ed reflects all these experiences, and suggests some changes that could help generate trust.  For me, a good starting point would be more transparency and better engagement, as I said on Peston on Sunday. Others will have different views.  In any event, the power of decision now rests with the Government, which is currently reviewing the CONTEST strategy (including Prevent).

(amended 19 February)

This is not the place for a definitive treatise on the complex subject of UK intelligence cooperation with regimes that may practice torture.  But because the subject is in the news, I link here to some relevant sources.

Not just a UK-US issue

Recent suggestions of possible change to US policy make topical a¬†subject that already crops up routinely and in many other contexts.¬† Overseas intelligence work depends heavily on cooperation with foreign governments or “liaison partners”, not all of which have an unblemished reputation where torture is concerned.¬† So whatever the US may or may not decide over the coming weeks, great care¬†will continue to have¬†to be exercised to ensure that UK security and intelligence agencies dos not participate in, or encourage, torture or inhuman and degrading treatment practised by foreign governments. Read more…

What happened today?

The Grand Chamber of the EU’s Court of Justice (CJEU) gave judgment this morning in the case brought in 2014 by David Davis MP and Tom Watson MP, from which David Davis withdrew on his appointment to Government.¬†¬†They¬†challenged the¬†powers to require the¬†retention of certain types of communications data – not the content, but the “who, where and when” of communications –¬† in the Data Protection and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (DRIPA 2014).

The Court spelled out the requirements of EU law, specifically, the privacy protections of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, in a manner which makes it plain that DRIPA 2014 is incompatible with those requirements.¬† In doing so, it went further than the more¬†pragmatic opinion of its own Advocate General and¬†further also than the existing case law of its sister court, the (non-EU) European Court of Human Rights. Read more…

Reports

Evidence

A House of Commons Public Bill Committee has been set up in order to give detailed scrutiny to the Investigatory Powers Bill that was unveiled on 1 March 2016 and given its second reading on 15 March.  A good deal of written evidence to that committee was published last week.

I was the first witness to be examined by the Public Bill Committee, on 24 March 2016.¬†¬†A¬† transcript of my 25-minute evidence has been published on the Committee’s website, and¬†most of it is captured on¬†video.

Later on 24 March, I submitted written evidence to the Public Bill Committee in order to¬†expand¬†upon some of the points touched on in my oral evidence and to raise some new points.¬† That written evidence is published here for the first time. Read more…

Speeches

It is¬†obviously¬†desirable¬†to find ways of¬†deterring¬†people from being drawn into terrorism, of whatever kind.¬†¬†But¬†how best to go about it¬†has long been¬†a matter of controversy.¬†¬†¬†The Evening Standard published¬†on 15 February¬†an op-ed from me¬†on Prevent,¬†with an accompanying article (which led the front page) and the paper’s own comment.

As I have always made clear (and regretted) there is no independent reviewer of Prevent. I’m not privy to the Government’s¬†classified thinking on the subject.¬† But a variety of reactions to Prevent are pressed on me as I travel around the country to talk about counter-terrorism, and since September 2015 I have been transmitting to a wider audience the concerns about the¬†operation of Prevent¬†that I have picked up from Muslims in particular.¬† Last year, as well as¬†listening to the preoccupations of many different¬†communities,¬†I was invited by local groups to see¬†privately the kind of work being done under Prevent, and to¬†give evidence on my impressions of the strategy to¬†Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights and Home Affairs Select Committee.

My op-ed reflects all these experiences, and suggests some changes that could help generate trust.  For me, a good starting point would be more transparency and better engagement, as I said on Peston on Sunday. Others will have different views.  In any event, the power of decision now rests with the Government, which is currently reviewing the CONTEST strategy (including Prevent).

(amended 19 February)