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)

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.

I have almost 10 months (and three reports) still to go in post.  But this short article from the May 2016 edition of Counsel, published today:

  • takes a personal look at more than¬†five years spent¬†reviewing the terrorism laws,
  • comments on the transition from QC to Independent Reviewer, and
  • makes some general points about the threat and our response – including in Europe.

Read more…

This brief contribution to the Brexit debate, founded on my own observations in Brussels and in UK ports, was published in Prospect on 3 March 2016.

If the website claims you have reached your monthly limit, which it seems very ready to do, you may have to feed it your email address.

UPDATE 31 March 2016:

Some of the same ground was covered in a 7-minute interview (with Richard Walton, from 19 minutes) by¬†Eddie Mair on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme on 23 March.

I gave an interview at about the same time to the International Bar Association on security, Europe and human rights, which they have made available as a podcast.

Drawing on 30 years’ experience of EU law, I¬†gave a much wider-ranging account of the Brexit debate to an international audience in early July 2015, at the European University Institute in Florence.

UPDATE 28 May 2016:

My detailed thoughts on Europe and counter-terrorism are in my Graham Turnbull Lecture, given at the Law Society in April and now published on their website.   At paragraphs 29-56 I discuss Europe as a source of comparisons, a source of legal obligations and a vehicle for cooperation.

This article, with headline comments on the Investigatory Powers Bill, appeared in the Daily Telegraph on the day after the Bill was launched.

To help track the Bill, a basic guide to the parliamentary process is here.

On 1 March, BBC2’s Daily Politics screened a 5-minute film about my work, made on location in London and Bolton, and an unusually long and varied interview¬†(21-38 minutes).

Topics discussed included the state of counter-terrorism legislation, comparisons with France, UK leadership in Europe, review of the Prevent duty and the Investigatory Powers Bill Рwhich was introduced to Parliament at about the time the programme was on air.

I was the guest of the Muslim Council of Britain today at its ground-breaking conference in London on “Terrorism and Extremism: how should British Muslims respond?”

Some of the many interesting people I met there asked me for a copy of my short address.  Here it is, as well as I could remember it.

TERRORISM AND EXTREMISM – MCB keynote