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…

As promised to the House of Lords at committee stage on 28 January, the Government has introduced amendments to its Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill which expand the remit of the Independent Reviewer and define his relationship with the intended new Privacy and Civil Liberties Board.¬† They were published on the¬† morning of Saturday 31 January and will be debated at report stage on Wednesday 4 February.¬† In case my views on these amendments are thought relevant, I give them here.¬† They are, on the whole,¬†rather positive. Read more…

My evidence on the Bill

For the second time in a week, I gave evidence to a parliamentary committee on the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill.¬† The Bill,¬†fast-tracked as is often the fate of counter-terrorism legislation,¬†completed its second reading in the House of Commons yesterday.¬† Subjects covered include TPIMs, temporary exclusion orders, passport removal and the value (if any) of the Independent Reviewer. Read more…

The Independent Review of Terrorism Laws [2014] Public Law 403-420 (with thanks to Sweet &Maxwell / Thomson Reuters)

This article was published in the July 2014 edition of Public Law.  Based on a lecture given earlier in the year, it explains the history of independent review since the 1970s, the work of the Independent Reviewer and (with practical examples) the routes by which that work may influence Government, both directly and via intermediaries including Parliament and the courts.  It also makes some modest suggestions for improvement.

As the article begins:

Independent review of the operation of UK anti-terrorism laws fuses three concepts unremarkable in themselves, but radical in combination.  A person is selected on the basis of independence from Government; given unrestricted access to classified documents and national security personnel; and his conclusions Рfavourable or otherwise Рpromptly published not just to Ministers but to Parliament and the general public.

Any Government that invites review on those terms deserves respect simply for doing so.¬† Approval from an Independent Reviewer is worth having, because that person has a full understanding both of the threat and of the measures taken to combat it.¬† But criticism has the potential to be devastating, for the same reasons.¬† By accepting review of this kind, Ministers make it harder for themselves to use the age-old brush-off: ‘If you had seen what I have seen …’.¬† The Independent Reviewer has seen what they have seen and, unconstrained by the disciplines or loyalties of office, has every reason – unless he has gone rogue or gone native – to tell it as it is.”

Read more…

Surprising requests arrive from time to time, few more mystifying than the invitation to give evidence to the parliamentary committee set up to consider the draft Modern Slavery Bill.  Human trafficking, forced labour, slavery and domestic servitude are problems fully comparable in their seriousness to terrorism Рbut no one who knew anything about them would trouble to solicit my views on the subject.

On¬†closer inspection,¬†however, the invitation¬†made perfect sense.¬† It related to the proposed office of Anti-Slavery Commissioner and how, specifically, its independence should be guaranteed. Read more…