The Independent Reviewer writes …

Max Hill QC
Max Hill QC

Welcome to the website of the UK Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. I am proud to take over from my distinguished and rightly celebrated predecessor, David Anderson QC. Where he led the way in engaging with all sides in national and international discussion about terrorism and national security, so I hope to follow and to build upon David’s excellent work.

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Features

The CT Bill 2018 was introduced in Parliament by the Home Secretary on 6th June.

I offer a cautious welcome.

The Bill offers several Chapters, of which only Chapter 1 is entitled ‘Terrorist Offences’. There are six sections, of which one extends extra-territorial jurisdiction to a number of existing offences, and the other five propose some amendments to existing offences.

In other words, the CT Bill does not contain a single new terrorist offence. This despite the announcement of a CT strategy review by the Prime Minister on 4th June 2017, and the commitment in the Queen’s Speech later that month to create a new Bill.

Therefore, the Government has scoured the statute book as part of the CT strategy, inspecting all of the existing terrorist offences, and has not come up with a single new terrorist offence despite the atrocities in London and Manchester last year.

This is a good thing. Moreover, I am pleased to say that it makes good my declaration ever since appointment as IRTL in March last year, namely we have sufficient offences and do not need any more.

So what do the ‘terrorist offences’ in Chapter 1 of the new Bill entail? When the Home Secretary re-launched CONTEST with his speech on 4th June, he indicated that the new Bill amounted to ‘digital fixes’ to existing law. If I may say so, that is good shorthand for what Chapter 1 of the Bill contains. The headline offence is ‘obtaining or viewing material over the internet’ (clause 2 of Chapter 1). Not a new offence, but a clarification of the existing offence under section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000. We have known that it was the Government’s intention to attempt this clarification since the former Home Secretary’s Party Conference speech last autumn, to which I have responded in previous writings and lectures including the Tom Sargant Memorial lecture for JUSTICE, available here. This new clarification of the section 58 offence is difficult, in my view. Well intentioned, but difficult.

I look forward to saying more about this and the other terrorist offence provisions within Chapter 1 when the Parliamentary Bill Committee sits down to scrutinise the new Bill, probably later this month.

I congratulate Sajid Javid on his appointment as Home Secretary and wish him luck as he embarks on his many important tasks. Giving credit where it is due, Amber Rudd should be remembered for her calmness and strength in the face of the terror attacks in London and Manchester during 2017 – supported by the Security Minister Ben Wallace –  and for resisting the immediate urge to create new terrorism offences. In her resignation letter, she rightly referred to her own championing of the Global Internet Forum for Counter Terrorism, one of the initiatives that will help in ridding the internet of terrorist propaganda, without curtailing the ability of citizens here and worldwide to exercise free speech.

UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORSHIRE

SIR CHRISTOPHER STAUGHTON MEMORIAL LECTURE

14TH MARCH 2018.

MAX HILL Q.C.

INDEPENDENT REVIEWER OF TERRORISM LEGISLATION

REFLECTIONS ON MY FIRST YEAR AS INDEPENDENT REVIEWER

On Wednesday 22 March 2017, 52-year old British-born Khalid Masood drove a hired vehicle across Westminster Bridge in the direction of the Palace of Westminster. He mounted the pavement twice colliding with pedestrians and then a third time crashing into the east perimeter gates of the Palace of Westminster. Masood then exited the car and ran into the vehicle entrance gateway of the Palace of Westminster, Carriage Gates, where he attacked and fatally injured PC Keith Palmer using a knife. Masood was shot at the scene by armed police protection officers who were in Parliament at the time of the attack. The whole incident lasted approximately 82 seconds. The attack resulted in 29 people injured and 6 fatalities.

The UK, in fact England, last year suffered the worst combination of terrorist attacks for many years. Since March 22nd 2017, we have all lived through the pain of witnessing murderous attacks at Westminster Bridge, followed by those at Manchester Arena, and London Bridge followed by Borough Market. The attack outside Finsbury Park Mosque on 19th June marked the fourth in this short list of major terrorism events, and there was a serious attempted attack at Parsons Green on 15th September.

I became Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation on 1st March 2017. Just in time to witness the horror that unfolded on Westminster Bridge exactly three weeks later. My task is to annually review our terrorism legislation, essentially the Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006, together with the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIM) Act 2011 and the Terrorist Asset Freezing Act (TAFA) 2010. My first annual report into the operation of the Terrorism Acts in 2016 was delivered to the Home Office in November 2017 and published in January 2018. That report does not cover the events of 2017 which will be the focus of the next Annual Report. Meanwhile, my second report addresses the police investigation which followed the Westminster Bridge attack; the operation name of the investigation was Classific, and it encompassed the arrest of 12 people, who were detained for between 1 and 6 days, but then released without charge in every case. Having presented my report to the Home Office a month ago, it is my hope that it will be published in Parliament by the Home Secretary in time for the first anniversary of the Westminster Bridge attack, on 22nd March next week. For the time being, courtesy to Parliament requires that I maintain silence as to the detail of the report, but I can tell you that I have attempted to provide an insight into the hour by hour progress of the investigation, covering every arrest and what then happened to each of the 12 persons who were detained and ultimately released. I can also tell you that in my view this was an efficient and timely investigation, involving the appropriate use of statutory powers by the police. Just because nobody was charged, that does not mean that the police acted improperly. On the contrary, a thorough and speedy investigation was needed, arriving at the conclusion that the terrorist Masood acted alone on that day.

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Reports

My Report into Operation Classific, the police investigation into the terrorist attack on Westminster Bridge on 22nd March 2017, has been presented to Parliament by the Home Secretary today, 28 March 2018. It can be accessed here.

As everyone knows, it is my responsibility to monitor the use of the terrorism legislation (the Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006, together with the Terrorist Asset Freezing Act 2010 and the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2010) and to report annually to Parliament. I additionally focus on individual major investigations from time to time. My Report on Operation Classific is the first example by me of an investigation report.

It is important to remember that my report is limited to the use of the terrorism legislation by the police in the course of their criminal investigation. Therefore, I have not inquired into the circumstances of the tragic deaths or injuries caused by the terrorist Masood. Indeed, that is the responsibility of the Chief Coroner HHJ Lucraft QC, with whom I have liaised in order to ensure that my report does not trespass into the inquests which are yet to be completed. Finally it has been necessary to redact from my report the identities of the twelve individuals who were arrested by the police, because none of them were charged with any criminal offence.

My overall conclusion (found at page 41) is that there was a reasoned and proportionate use of the relevant terrorism legislation in this case. I have made some practical recommendations, found at page 42; they are that:

  1. Greater thought and clarity be given to the question whether and when it is necessary to transport a detainee sometimes hundreds of miles from their place of arrest.
  2. The introduction of a bail provision for TACT arrests be reconsidered.
  3. Learning outcomes should be identified to ensure that every detainee is given their rights at the earliest moment after arrival at the relevant police custody suite.
  4. Questioning detainees about religion or any other matter occurs with careful thought and planning. Reviewing high-profile investigations can only add to the learning and training for the future. Therefore, in the interest of clarity,  the police should take this opportunity to review training on the circumstances and extent to which detailed questions on religion and other matters will be necessary in future interviews.

 

Speeches

UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORSHIRE

SIR CHRISTOPHER STAUGHTON MEMORIAL LECTURE

14TH MARCH 2018.

MAX HILL Q.C.

INDEPENDENT REVIEWER OF TERRORISM LEGISLATION

REFLECTIONS ON MY FIRST YEAR AS INDEPENDENT REVIEWER

On Wednesday 22 March 2017, 52-year old British-born Khalid Masood drove a hired vehicle across Westminster Bridge in the direction of the Palace of Westminster. He mounted the pavement twice colliding with pedestrians and then a third time crashing into the east perimeter gates of the Palace of Westminster. Masood then exited the car and ran into the vehicle entrance gateway of the Palace of Westminster, Carriage Gates, where he attacked and fatally injured PC Keith Palmer using a knife. Masood was shot at the scene by armed police protection officers who were in Parliament at the time of the attack. The whole incident lasted approximately 82 seconds. The attack resulted in 29 people injured and 6 fatalities.

The UK, in fact England, last year suffered the worst combination of terrorist attacks for many years. Since March 22nd 2017, we have all lived through the pain of witnessing murderous attacks at Westminster Bridge, followed by those at Manchester Arena, and London Bridge followed by Borough Market. The attack outside Finsbury Park Mosque on 19th June marked the fourth in this short list of major terrorism events, and there was a serious attempted attack at Parsons Green on 15th September.

I became Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation on 1st March 2017. Just in time to witness the horror that unfolded on Westminster Bridge exactly three weeks later. My task is to annually review our terrorism legislation, essentially the Terrorism Acts 2000 and 2006, together with the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIM) Act 2011 and the Terrorist Asset Freezing Act (TAFA) 2010. My first annual report into the operation of the Terrorism Acts in 2016 was delivered to the Home Office in November 2017 and published in January 2018. That report does not cover the events of 2017 which will be the focus of the next Annual Report. Meanwhile, my second report addresses the police investigation which followed the Westminster Bridge attack; the operation name of the investigation was Classific, and it encompassed the arrest of 12 people, who were detained for between 1 and 6 days, but then released without charge in every case. Having presented my report to the Home Office a month ago, it is my hope that it will be published in Parliament by the Home Secretary in time for the first anniversary of the Westminster Bridge attack, on 22nd March next week. For the time being, courtesy to Parliament requires that I maintain silence as to the detail of the report, but I can tell you that I have attempted to provide an insight into the hour by hour progress of the investigation, covering every arrest and what then happened to each of the 12 persons who were detained and ultimately released. I can also tell you that in my view this was an efficient and timely investigation, involving the appropriate use of statutory powers by the police. Just because nobody was charged, that does not mean that the police acted improperly. On the contrary, a thorough and speedy investigation was needed, arriving at the conclusion that the terrorist Masood acted alone on that day.

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