Reflections on my time as Independent Reviewer

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.

The Government Response to the Annual Report on the operation of the Terrorism Acts in 2016 and The Government Response to the report on the use of terrorism legislation following the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack were both published on 13th September 2018. I reacted to both here, and in my Annual Report 2017.

My Annual Report on the operation of the Terrorism Acts in 2017 was presented to Parliament this week, see here. This is my final report as Independent Reviewer and included a review of two of the major terrorism investigations this year, the Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks.

My Annual Report 2017 also covered other key areas of developments:

  • the passage of the Sanctions and Money Laundering Bill through Parliament, on which I also gave evidence to the Joint Committee of Human Rights in January 2018, here.
  • the re-launch of the Government Counter Terrorism strategy (known as CONTEST), presented by the Home Secretary on 4th June.
  • the new Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2018, which is making its way through Parliamentary scrutiny. Additionally, 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. Finally, I made additional comments on the amendments tabled by the Government in September 2018 here.

Since taking up post in March 2017, I have travelled across the country, including Northern Ireland, in order to meet with as many people as possible, with the sole purpose of hearing the views of all on the operation and impact of our legislation. The office of IRTL is an open channel for any person or group with relevant information or views. I add only this for the sake of clarity; engagement does not equate to endorsement.

I have tried to react, where possible and appropriate, to key public discussion points in my area:

  • the role of the media in portraying modern terrorism, here.
  • responding to terrorists’ use of social media, here.
  • returning foreign fighters and extreme material online, here.

I maintained a Twitter account, here, throughout my time as Independent Reviewer allowing me to reach an audience of almost 3,000. In March this year, I received messages concerning the trial of Mr Daniel Creagh and I resolved to look into the circumstances of this case. 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. I completed both reviews, here.

Additionally, I gave a number of public lectures, including to the Criminal Bar Association in September 2017, here, and the Tom Sargant Memorial Lecture for JUSTICE in October 2017, here. I reflected on my first year as Independent Reviewer in the Sir Christopher Staughton Memorial Lecture at the University of Hertfordshire in March 2018, here. My final public speech came at the National Security Summit in October 2018, here.

Any errors or shortcomings in my work as Independent Reviewer are mine and mine alone. However, most of the successes during my time should be credited to Professor Clive Walker, Senior Special Advisor, Alyson Kilpatrick and Hashi Mohamed, Special Advisors, and Fatima Jichi, my Legal Assistant. To them all, and to everyone who has supported me through 20 months of hard but enjoyable work, I say thank you and farewell.

I will take up office as Director of Public Prosecutions on 1 November. Any requests relating to my DPP appointment and work should be directed to the Crown Prosecution Service Press Office.

MAX HILL Q.C.

OCTOBER 2018