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…

I lectured last week to the Hart judicial review conference on recent cases concerning terrorism and surveillance.  Most (though not all) are judicial review cases.

Attached, in case of interest to any law students, practising lawyers or others, are:

Also of possible interest to lawyers is this video of a webcast I did for the International Bar Association on 30 November: it is a long interview by a BBC journalist, interspersed with questions from around the world, which touches on legal issues in terrorism, extremism and surveillance.

You can read a shortened version of the interview here.

The International Bar Association has invited me to give a 1-hour live webcast and Q&A on 30 November, from 1400 London time.

If you would like to participate by asking me a question, please register here.¬† You don’t need to be a lawyer, or an IBA member.

You can get a sense for how¬†I see the post of the UK’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, and what I think about current issues in counter-terrorism, counter-extremism and surveillance, from this short film made for BBC TV’s Daily Politics, and¬†this 30-minute interview with the legal journalist Joshua Rozenberg QC. Read more…

I spoke yesterday to the Legal Affairs and Political Affairs Committees of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, as part of its #nohatenofear campaign.  It was an honour to share the platform with the French journalist Antoine Leiris and the Italian teacher Luciana Milani, both of whom lost close relatives in the Bataclan attack in Paris last November.  We each answered questions from the parliamentarians present.

A transcript of my remarks is here: terrorism-tolerance-and-human-rights

Also available is a webcast of the session, and a short video summary of my contribution given afterwards.

The report of my Bulk Powers Review, which I delivered to the Prime Minister on 7 August, was published to Parliament (in unaltered form, and without redactions or confidential annex) at 11 am today.

Web and print versions of the report are on the gov.uk website, and a PDF copy of the report is here: Bulk Powers Review Рfinal report.  It begins with a 1-page Executive Summary.   The document speaks for itself, and I will not be doing any media around the launch.

I would emphasise the following points: Read more…