Sunday, June 03, 2007

Brown signals rethink on wiretaps

Gordon Brown has signalled his support for wiretap evidence to be usable in courts, as is common in most other countries around the world. This move is supported by the police as well as campaign groups such as JUSTICE, although furiously opposed by some in the intelligence establishment, notably former Interception of Communications Commissioner Sir Swinton Thomas, who wrote in his final report (p.12):

In conclusion, in my judgment, the introduction of intercept material in the criminal process in this country (other countries have different systems) would put at risk the effectiveness of the agencies on whom we rely in the fight against terrorists and serious criminals, might well result in less convictions and more acquittals and, most important of all, the ability of the intelligence and law enforcement agencies to detect and disrupt terrorism and serious crime and so protect the public of this country would be severely handicapped.

However, the prime minister-elect is also calling for the 28-day limit on detention without trial to be extended because of the difficulties of gathering evidence from overseas and from suspects' computers. As FIPR said in its evidence last year to the Home Affairs Select Committee, wouldn't these problems better be dealt with through increased resourcing and training of investigators?

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