The murderous actions of one individual on the streets of Westminster yesterday afternoon will be subjected to full scrutiny and investigation by our Police and intelligence services. It is vital that we await the outcome before any detailed comment.
I join with many others in offering deep respect to those who lost their lives, sympathy and condolence to their loved ones, and a prayer for the recovery of all who were injured.
It seems highly likely that what happened provides an unwelcome reminder of the existence of the threat from terrorism which we all face. However, the instant response by the Police and emergency services has been exemplary, and has been followed by the thorough investigation which is now underway.
I have no doubt that we will reflect on the events of yesterday for a long time to come. This tragedy can only serve to heighten our vigilance, and that of those who serve to protect us all.
Whilst awaiting developments from the ongoing investigation, my thoughts rest with those whose everyday lives were so shockingly interrupted yesterday afternoon.
I leave the post of IRTL at the end of the month to make way for the very well-regarded¬†Max Hill QC, who was interviewed yesterday in the Evening Standard.¬† My last public engagement in the role will be oral evidence given on Tuesday to¬†Parliament’s Brexit Committee, on the theme of security cooperation and data-sharing,¬†for its¬†inquiry into the UK’s negotiating objectives ¬†for withdrawal from the EU.
I had hoped and expected that my final report, on Deportation with Assurances, would have been published and laid before Parliament by now.¬† Hopefully this will be achieved within a few days.¬† Watch this space.
There¬†have been quite a few retrospective pieces for media over the past few weeks: a selection is here.
Podcast of interview with Joshua Rozenberg for Law in Action, November 2016
Webcast interview with¬†Sally Bundock for the International Bar Association, November 2016
Asian Network Big Debate, with Shazia Awan, Feb 2017
Opinion piece for the Evening Standard on Prevent, Feb 2017
Interview with Sam Macrory for Prospect, Feb 2017
Profile by Peter Oborne for Middle East Eye, Feb 2017
Peston on Sunday, Feb 2017 (clip)
Lecture to RUSI (with a historical element) on terrorism, cohesion and national security, Feb 2017
A fuller account of my views on the anti-terrorism laws that are the principal focus of my reporting function is in my last annual report, published in December 2016.
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 Investigatory Powers Act 2016 became law on 29 November, when it received Royal Assent.¬† It¬†will be brought into force in stages over (I assume) the coming months.
The Act gets the big things right. Read more…
The last of my six annual reports into the operation of the Terrorism Acts was laid before Parliament on 1 December.¬† It¬†can be found¬†in web-accessible and print versions¬†here¬†– or¬†open this PDF terrorism-acts-report-1-dec-2016¬†. Read more…
14 months after it was published, the Government has responded formally to my report of September 2015 on the operation of the Terrorism Acts.
The response is here.¬† It is a mixed bag: there are some encouraging noises, Read more…
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…