This was my final week in office as Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

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 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, see here. My second report, here, addressed 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.

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In my last week as Independent Reviewer, I am trying to conclude any unfinished business. Some aspects of my work take weeks if not months to complete, but it can be difficult to find an opportunity to publish the outcome. With that in mind, those who follow me on Twitter may have noticed messages in March this year concerning the trial of Mr Daniel Creagh. I resolved to look into the circumstances of this case, which I have done with the assistance of his solicitor. At around the same time, I also resolved to enquire into the circumstances in which Ms Lauren Southern was detained whilst attempting to enter the UK, also in March this year. There was a suggestion that Ms Southern’s temporary detention may have been a misuse of police powers under Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act 2000. I have completed my work in both cases. In Mr Creagh’s case, my short Note is attached here. In Ms Southern’s case, my Note is here.

COUNTER -TERRORISM AND BORDER SECURITY BILL 2018
REPORT AMENDMENTS TABLED BY THE GOVERNMENT IN SEPTEMBER 2018

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS BY MAX HILL Q.C. INDEPENDENT REVIEWER OF TERRORISM LEGISLATION, OCTOBER 2018

I gave evidence to the JCHR on 20th June 2018, here. I also gave evidence to the Bill Committee on 26th June 2018, here. Subsequently, together with my Senior Special Advisor Professor Clive Walker QC (Hon), written submissions were provided to the Bill Committee, here. I maintain my previous commentary on the Bill clauses, and restrict these additional comments to matters prompted by the Report Amendments subsequently tabled by the Government.
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I have been waiting for the Government to respond to my formal written reports; it has been eight months since publication of my Annual Report for 2016, and over five months since publication of my Report into the Westminster Bridge attack investigation. I was informed yesterday afternoon that the Government intends to publish both responses tomorrow, Thursday 13th September, and I welcome this.

I have also been told today that I may not see either report, or be told anything about the content, until publication. It is of course a feature of the role of Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation that s/he holds the highest security classification and is afforded unfettered access to the most sensitive information and intelligence. This is why whenever the Government intends to publish draft legislation – including the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill in June, and the amendments tabled last week – they call me in for confidential meetings to discuss the content. I have never breached confidentiality, and everyone knows that my own reports are provided to the Home Office months in advance of publication so that they may be scrutinised for factual accuracy and to ensure that sensitive information is not released. This makes their decision not to share the responses with me odd, but I shall have to read and react to the Government responses to my own reports after they are released to the public.

All of this leads me to reinforce my call for the Government to get on with the urgent task of appointing the next Independent Reviewer. After all that we have been through during 2017, there has never been a more important time for robust and entirely independent scrutiny of our legislation, and for a national conversation about where we go next in maintaining the twin imperatives of national security and fundamental rights. Whatever you may think of my work since March 2017, I have been proud to follow in the footsteps of my predecessors who have served in an unbroken line over four decades. It is vital that a new and independent lawyer is found to carry on my work. I am willing to play any part in encouraging the right candidates to come forward, and I am in no doubt that there are independent self-employed barristers who are eminently suited to this work. The sooner this process is started, the better. The passage of the Counter Terrorism and Border security Bill 2018 through Parliament requires the assistance of an experienced lawyer who is entirely free from the machinery of Government.

Following the announcement in July that I am to become the DPP later this year, I was in early discussion with the Home Office about the need to appoint the next IRTL. With the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2018 making its way through Parliament, I am concerned lest there is a gap between Reviewers, particularly at this time. My concerns about many of the provisions in the new Bill have been clearly documented. Last week, the Government tabled some amendments to the Bill. I welcome some of the changes, but have serious and principled concerns about others. I shall write on this subject as soon as possible. Meanwhile, I attach my formal resignation letter to the Home Secretary here, but am sorry to note that there remains little sign of any competition to appoint the next IRTL. This is becoming urgent.

I have been appointed as the next Director of Public Prosecutions, to take up office later this year. This will mean I have to step down as Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

It has been a privilege to continue the work of my illustrious predecessors, conducting scrutiny and oversight of our terrorism legislation. From my background and long history in prosecuting terrorism trials, I have been lucky to enjoy the support and assistance of so many who have engaged with me since March 2017. I give special thanks to my Special Advisors Professor Clive Walker QC (Hon), Hashi Mohamed and Alyson Kilpatrick.

As I approach the end of  my work as Independent Reviewer later this year,  I will finalise my Annual Report on the operation of the four statutes. The Report is being provided to the Home Office this month, July, to enable the necessary checks to be carried out over the summer.

Any requests relating to my DPP appointment should be directed to the Crown Prosecution Service Press Office.

COUNTER TERRORISM AND BORDER SECURITY BILL:  SUBMISSION IN RELATION TO CLAUSE 3

BY MAX HILL QC AND PROFESSOR CLIVE WALKER

This paper follows evidence given to the Bill Scrutiny Committee on 26th June 2018 by Max Hill QC, Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. Together with Professor Clive Walker QC (Hon), Senior Special Adviser to the Independent Reviewer,  the premise of this paper is to ask the question, if a new variant of section 58 is needed at all, what might that look like ?[1]

[1] This paper should be read in conjunction with the analysis already given in Professor Walker’s written submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

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.