In view of the proposed changes to how terrorist offenders are sentenced and released, I hope this detailed summary is helpful in explaining the current legal position.
I delivered this talk at the Israel Democracy Institute’s Security and Democracy conference in Jerusalem, on 26 November 2019.
On 22 October 2019 the Sentencing Council opened a consultation on proposed amendments to its Terrorism Offences Guideline, used by judges sentencing terrorism offences in England and Wales.
This follows the recent increases to sentences for certain terrorism offences under the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Act 2019. The consultation closes on 3 December 2019.
The consultation document is here.
Speech as delivered to Royal Service United Institute (RUSI)
On 22 July 2019 the Northern Ireland Office opened a consultation on a new draft Code of Practice for the video recording of interviews of persons detained under section 41 of, or Schedule 7 to, the Terrorism Act 2000 at police stations in Northern Ireland. Section 41 contains the power to arrest suspected terrorists. Schedule 7 contains the power to examine travellers at ports and borders. The consultation closes on 14 October 2019.
The consultation document and new draft Code of Practice is here.
In February 2019 the Home Office opened a consultation on a new draft Code of Practice under Schedule 7 Terrorism Act 2000. This is the power to examine travellers at ports and borders. The consultation closed on 5 April 2019.
The consultation document is here:
The new draft Code which should be read with my response is here:
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.
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.