Tag Archive | "the guardian"

The Brexit Papers


Brexit could undermine London’s status as a highly profitable international legal centre, according to the Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales.

The Government must put the public interest at the heart of its Brexit strategy, the Bar Council has warned as it publishes the Brexit Papers, written by members of the Brexit Working Group set up by the Bar Council to examine the range of complex issues arising from Brexit and to help the Government identify the legal and constitutional priorities.

Led by the Chair of the Brexit Working Group, Hugh Mercer QC, the group has drawn on the combined expertise and experience of the profession across a wide range of practice areas. Mercer said: “EU law currently impacts nearly all areas of life. We need a plan to make sure that people do not suffer from uncertainty and ultimately end up worse off. If we are going to minimise the adverse impacts on UK citizens, a huge number of highly technical areas of law need looking at in fine detail.”

The Bar Council did not take a position on leaving or remaining in the EU. Chairman of the Bar, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said: “There has not been a more profound legal and constitutional challenge in living memory with which the UK Government has had to grapple, in terms of legal complexity, or significance for the long-term health and stability of the economy…Our interest is in helping to ensure that Brexit delivers the best deal possible for Britain.”

The report refers to cases in which claimants are being advised not to choose English jurisdiction clauses in their contracts where previously they would have been almost an automatic choice. Some cases that would normally be launched in England are being started in other EU jurisdictions due to uncertainty over the ultimate enforceability of English judgments.

According to the ‘Guardian’, the UK legal services market generates £25.7bn a year in revenue and employs 370,000 people. It produced £3.3bn of net export revenue last year. In the short to medium term Brexit may benefit lawyers whose legal advice is sought in a period of uncertainty, but the long-term prospects are not as good.

Peter Wilding, the man credited with inventing the term Brexit in 2012, said “This is not stopping Brexit, this is shaping it. The country demands a win-win, smart Brexit, not a lose-lose ideological hard Brexit which will damage the UK, damage Europe and for which there is no need and no mandate.”

The Law Society welcomed the bar’s Brexit Papers publication, which it said echoes positions set out by Chancery Lane in the wake of the referendum vote. Law Society president Robert Bourns said that: “Throughout this year the bar and the solicitor profession have been engaging with the government to examine the ramifications of Brexit, and put robust information before ministers, parliamentarians and officials.”

Hugh Mercer said “There is a great deal of work to be done. The resources of the Brexit Working Group, as well as those of the Bar Council and the Bar as a profession, are being made available to the Government, parliamentarians and the media, as well as to the public, so that Brexit delivers the best deal possible for Britain.”

The full text of The Brexit Papers can be found at:
http://www.barcouncil.org.uk/media/508513/the_brexit_papers.pdf

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How went the battle?


It is quite something when the deliberations of 11 very senior judges is the hottest ticket in town. There should be twelve judges but at the moment there is one unfilled vacancy. Nevertheless this is the first time that that all Supreme Court members have convened to decide a case.

There was standing room only as the battle for Brexit began. At issue is whether the government, through its executive powers, or parliament, can trigger article 50 of the treaty on European Union. The four-day hearing on the divisive constitutional issue was broadcast live. The High Court had ruled that parliament was sovereign in this case and the government was appealing that decision.

Emotions are running high. Ukip has accused those behind the claim of being “arrogant federalists” intent on blocking Brexit, the Daily Mail has branded the high court judges who found against the government in the first round as “enemies of the people”, and individual challengers – such as Gina Miller – have received death threats.

Before legal argument began the president of the Court, Lord Neuberg, stressed the court’s determination to assert its impartiality in the proceedings. He went on to say “various individuals have received threats of serious violence and unpleasant abuse on emails.” He warned that there are “legal powers designed to ensure that access to the courts is available to everyone.”

Labour’s shadow attorney general, Shami Chakrabarti, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “the political aspect of the case had been hyped in parts of the media.” She said: “This is about process. It is not about outcomes.” She said it was unfair for newspapers to delve into the personal lives or supposed opinions of the judges.

Opening the government’s submission, the attorney general, Jeremy Wright QC and MP, said that royal prerogative powers were an essential part of the UK’s unwritten constitution and the high court had been wrong to rule last month that article 50 could only be triggered following a vote in Parliament.

Wright was followed by James Eadie, known as the Treasury Devil, but he ran into a barrage of queries from the justices in the court challenging the source of the royal prerogative.

Lord Pannick, QC, opening the argument on behalf of the lead claimant of the case, Gina Miller, dismissed as “inherently implausible” the government’s assertion that it was entitled to deliver notice of the UK’s intention to leave the EU under article 50. He described the referendum as “plainly an event of considerable political significance”, but was not a matter for the court because “it was irrelevant to the legal issue of whether ministers enjoy prerogative powers to set aside the 1972 Act.”

‘Guardian’ sketch writer John Crace had fun with the performing personnel. Of Lord Pannick he said: “Seldom has a man been less well named…a Pannick attack is a thing of zen like beauty.” Lord Keen, for the Scots, was described as being “breathless in a way that only a tortoise could ever know. Glaciers move more quickly than Lord Keen.” John Larkin, attorney general for Northern Ireland “dropped his bundles and lost his place to deliver one of the more hapless performances ever witnessed by the supreme court. Still his job was done. By making himself appear so useless, he might just have made Eadie and Keen look a little better.”

Judgement is expected mid- January.

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Stalking prevention orders


Home secretary Amber Rudd has announced that she is to introduce new stalking prevention orders that will give the courts fresh powers to order offenders at an early stage not to go anywhere near someone they have been compulsively pursuing but whom the police do not have enough evidence to charge. In future they will face asbo-style bans.

Police will be able to apply to the courts for an order before a stalking suspect has been convicted or even arrested. Breaching an order’s conditions will be a criminal offence with a maximum sentence of five years in jail.

Rudd called it “a practical solution to a crime taking place now.” The orders in England and Wales will help those who are targeted by strangers, giving them similar protection to domestic abuse victims.

She said: “Stalking can have devastating consequences, and I am determined that we do all we can to protect victims from these prolonged and terrifying campaigns of abuse that can last years, leaving many people too afraid to leave their homes and unable to get on with their lives.”

One in five women and one in ten men will be affected by stalking in their lifetime. According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales 4.6% of women and 2.7% of men aged 16-59 were victims in 2015/16 alone.

The protection orders will enable the courts to impose restrictions on suspected stalkers, including staying away from their target, restricting their internet use, attending a rehabilitation programme or seeking treatment for mental health issues.

The Home Office said the new orders would offer additional protection at an early stage for anyone who has not been in an intimate relationship with their stalker, helping those targeted by strangers, acquaintances or colleagues, as well as professionals such as doctors who may be targeted by patients.

The requirements of the order will vary according to the nature of the case. The suspect could be banned from going near the victim and contacting them online. They might also be ordered to attend a rehabilitation programme, or undergo treatment if they have a mental health problem.

As reported in the ‘Guardian’ Garry Shewan, Greater Manchester police’s assistant chief constable and the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for stalking and harassment, said: “We want to stop stalkers in their tracks. In the last year, police have recorded 32% more stalking offences and more perpetrators are now being prosecuted. The launch of stalking protection orders will help us intervene earlier and place controls on perpetrators to prevent their behaviour escalating while the crime is investigated.”

But critics fear that the orders will be used as a substitute for pursuing criminal prosecutions by poorly trained police and prosecutors unable to gather evidence. They also voiced concerns that breaches would not be rigorously enforced.

Stalking protection orders form part of a package of government action to coincide with 16 days of action following the 25 November International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women. Introducing the new orders will require legislation which ministers said they will table as soon as possible.

Photo by Government of UK – https://www.gov.uk/government/people/amber-rudd, OGL 3, Link

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Who is Mrs Miller?


As the lead claimant in a historic legal action against the prime minister, Gina Miller has been thrust into the national limelight, but the investment manager is no stranger to taking on powerful establishments.

She was born in Guyana but grew up in Britain. A serial entrepreneur, she is also a philanthropist. In her own words her focus is “supporting small heroic charities that are at the coal face of negative society trends”. The True and Fair Foundation also gives advice to other “time-poor philanthropists who wish to give responsibly.”

According to the ‘Guardian’, the 51-year-old co-founded the firm SCM Private in 2014, but she also set up the True and Fair Campaign in 2012 with her hedge-fund manager husband which called for more transparency, and an end to hidden fund charges and miss selling in the City of London’s fund management industry.

Now represented by Mishcon de Reya, she is leading the judicial review of the government’s triggering of article 50, which will start the negotiations about the UK’s exit from Europe. She is reported as telling ‘Business Insider’: “I believe these things should be debated and looked at in parliament. It would be the first time that we would have a proper, serious, grown-up debate about all the factors that will influence us leaving the EU. There should be a debate about the consequences for different sectors. MPs should listen to their constituents. Then, if MPs vote in favour of invoking article 50, primary legislation [should be passed].”

Miller is joined by other applicants including support from the crowdfund People’s Challenge.

Yesterday the High Court began a hearing of the legal challenge over Brexit in what has been described as the most important constitutional case in generations. Opponents are fighting to stop Theresa May triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to leave the European Union without a vote from MPs in Westminster. Government lawyers will argue before three judges that the Prime Minister is legally entitled to use the royal prerogative to commence Britain’s exit from the EU.

Three of the most senior judges – the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, the master of the rolls, Sir Terence Etherton, and Lord Justice Sales – are hearing the challenge. The attorney general, Jeremy Wright QC, will lead the government’s case and Lord Pannick QC, represents the lead challenger in the claim.

In a preliminary, but very significant, skirmish the government has been forced by a senior judge to reveal secret legal arguments for refusing to let parliament decide when and how the UK should withdraw from the European Union. The government had refused to allow its legal opponents to reveal before the case its explanation of why it ought to be able to use royal prerogative powers to trigger article 50. But in an order handed down by Mr Justice Cranston last Tuesday, he told both parties: “Against the background of the principle of open justice, it is difficult to see a justification for restricting publication of documents which are generally available under [court] rules.”

In the released documents, lawyers for the government argue that it is “constitutionally impermissible” for parliament to be given the authority rather than the prime minister and dismiss any notion that the devolved nations – Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales – will have any say in the process.

And, in a direct challenge to Downing Street’s authority over Brexit, the House of Lords constitution committee has published a report declaring that it would be “constitutionally inappropriate” for the prime minister to act on an advisory referendum without referring back to parliament.

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City police recruit law firms tackle cyber criminals


In a pilot programme that could have huge implications for the future of cyber security law enforcement, the City of London Police will be pursuing cyber criminals through civil courts rather than criminal courts.

The force will work with private sector law firms to seize and recover assets from criminals through civil litigation procedures for the recovery of assets. Solicitors will be tasked with recouping the assets using civil litigation, potentially raising the prospect of a panel of firms pursuing cases on a no win, no fee basis or through third-party funders.

The force’s Economic Crime Directorate believes that this method will allow far quicker identification, seizure and return of assets to victims.

The two-year pilot scheme has been launched by the City of London Police. It will be deployed in tandem with asset recovery under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), adding another weapon to the armoury of law enforcers.

A working group to oversee the experiment has been set up by the City of London police, officers from the National Crime Agency, and Metropolitan police, and law and private investigation firms.

The force says the scheme is a way of more effectively tackling fraud, which is now the biggest type of crime, estimated to cost £193bn a year and overwhelming police and the criminal justice system. The Office for National Statistics said in July that there had been more than 5.8m incidents of cybercrime in the past year, enough to virtually double the headline crime rate in England and Wales.

The experiment, which is backed by the government and being closely watched by other law enforcement agencies, is expected to lead to cases reaching civil courts this year or early next year. Year one of the project will be part-funded through a £157,000 grant from the Home Office’s Police Innovation Fund. Officers have applied for similar funding for year two.

Detective Superintendent Maria Woodall, operational lead for the pilot said: ’This innovative new scheme will hopefully allow us to be more flexible and creative in how we identify and seize criminal assets in certain cases to get those funds back to the victims of crime and out of the hands of criminals.’

In July the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee produced a highly critical report on proceeds of crime, saying the regime is not fit for purpose and calling for radical reform. Its recommendations included more collaboration between public bodies involved in POCA and the private sector, and the creation of a market for private enforcement.

As reported in the ‘Gazette’, one firm that submitted evidence to the committee calling for such a market was Pinsent Masons. Alan Sheeley, head of civil fraud and asset recovery at the firm, described the pilot as a ‘vital step forward’, adding “This is a really exciting and long overdue step for law enforcement agencies in the UK.”

Less convinced, as reported in the ‘Guardian’, is Katie Wheatley, joint head of criminal law at Bindmans, a London law firm. She expressed unease over the proposals, which she said gave police “what they would regard as an easy deterrent, without having the inconvenience of proving an offence to a criminal standard.”

She said the plan risked creating a conflict between private firms’ profit motive and the fairness of the process. “We’ve seen privatisation in this context in other ways, for example prison privatisation,” she said. “We all know how badly that’s gone wrong.”

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The Lord Chancellor


When appointing a Lord Chancellor what was once rare is now almost routine.

The Coalition government in 2010 appointed Chris Grayling to the post, which is also that of Secretary of State for Justice. He was the first non lawyer to be given the job since the middle ages. It showed.

In the reshuffle following the 2015 election Michael Gove got the job. He also is not legally qualified. He made a promising start, clearing up some of the mess left by Grayling, and promising reforms. He became one of the more sensational casualties of the post referendum chaos as he was cast into the political wilderness.

Now Liz Truss has got the job. Also not legally qualified, she is the first female Lord Chancellor in the thousand-year history of the role. 41 today, she has been MP for South West Norfolk since 2010. Rapid promotion saw her appointment as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State from 2012 to 2014, with responsibility for education and childcare. She became a member of the Cabinet as Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2014. On 14 July 2016 she was appointed Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor by new Prime Minister Theresa May.

According to George Monbiot in the ‘Guardian’, interviewers have said that she is “indissolubly wedded to a set of theories about how the world should be, that are impervious to argument, facts or experience. She was among the first ministers to put her own department on the block in the latest spending review, volunteering massive cuts.”

She set courts reform as one of her top priorities during the traditional swearing-in ceremony. She also stressed she was a great supporter of reform and modernisation through the courts and tribunals system. “That urgent task will be high on my agenda in the months ahead, as I know it is for senior members of the judiciary,” she added.

Her appointment has not met with a uniform welcome. As one disgruntled contributor to the ‘Gazette’ plaintively wrote “Why do the Tories persistently want to pee off the profession by making non lawyers Lord or Lady Chancellors. It is frankly insulting.” More officially, the Tory chair of the Commons justice select committee, Bob Neill, has become the latest senior political figure to question her credentials.

As reported in the ‘Gazette’, he said “My concern is this: while it’s not necessary for the lord chancellor to have a legal background, they have a specific role under the Constitutional Reform Act to represent the interests of the judiciary and to represent the judiciary, including its independence within government.

“It helps if the person in charge has been a lawyer or has been a senior member of the cabinet. I have a concern, with no disrespect to Liz, that it would be hard for someone without that history to step straight in and fulfil that role.”

Neill’s comments follow a claim by former shadow lord chancellor Lord Falconer that prime minister Theresa May broke the law in appointing Truss. Writing in the ‘Times’, Falconer said: “The lord chancellor has to be someone with the weight and stature to stand up to the prime minister or the home secretary when, for instance, they want to compromise on complying with the law in an attempt to placate the public. Or when the politicians are determined to blame the judges when their policies go wrong.”

Lord Faulks said last week that he resigned as Lords justice spokesman over fears that Truss would not have the necessary leverage to challenge the prime minister over crucial issues such as judicial independence.

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Brexit


And the list grows. The relentless procession of those who fought for the UK to leave the EU and have since fled the field of battle. Johnson, Farage, Gove, Leadsom, Duncan Smith, Cameron, just to name a few. As if horrified by what they have achieved they cannot face the task of implementation. But here they are, like crows on a telephone wire, demanding that others carry out their legacy. Ironic that they are already haranguing Theresa May, a Remainer, to stick to the letter of Brexit.

As John Crace writes in today’s ‘Guardian’, “May says Brexit means Brexit though not necessarily if the man by her side, Chris Grayling, were to become minister for Brexit. Grayling has yet to find a job he can’t do slowly and badly.”

If you are one of the millions who signed the on line petition seeking a rerun of the referendum, you will have received an email stating that “The Prime Minister and Government have been clear that this was a once in a generation vote and, as the Prime Minister has said, the decision must be respected. We must now prepare for the process to exit the EU and the Government is committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for the British people in the negotiations.” Even though the ‘outers’ campaign was based on misrepresentations of fact and promises that could not be delivered.

The email also refers to the European Referendum Act 2015, which is concerned mainly with who can vote, where, and (most importantly) who can claim expenses. The Act also makes clear, by default, that the referendum is consultative and not legally binding.

As a result, more than 1,000 barristers have signed a letter to the prime minister urging him (now her) to allow parliament to decide whether the UK should leave the European Union. The barristers argue that there must be a free vote in parliament before article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon treaty can be triggered.

According to the ‘Guardian’ the letter states: “The referendum did not set a threshold necessary to leave the EU, commonly adopted in polls of national importance, eg, 60% of those voting or 40% of the electorate. This is presumably because the result was only advisory…The parliamentary vote should take place with a greater understanding as to the economic consequences of Brexit, as businesses and investors in the UK start to react to the outcome of the referendum.”

The barristers call for the establishment of a royal commission or an equivalent independent body to receive evidence and report, within a short, fixed timescale, on the benefits, costs and risks of triggering article 50. The parliamentary vote would not take place until the commission has reported.

Philip Kolvin QC, who coordinated this action,is reported as saying that Parliament is sovereign and the guardian of our democracy, which is what Brexiters have been demanding. “MPs are elected to exercise their best judgment on the basis of objective evidence, to safeguard the interests of the country and their constituents for this and future generations,” he said. “At this time of profound constitutional, political and possibly social and economic crisis, we look to them to fulfil the responsibility placed upon them,”.

A legal challenge to David Cameron’s assertion that he or his successor as prime minister can begin the withdrawal procedure is due to be heard in the high court next week.

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The need for a review of legal aid


The Legal Aid Act has denied justice to the most vulnerable and must be reviewed. The government is committed to a review after three years but there is mounting evidence that it should come sooner.

On people trafficking, when LASPO came into force, the Legal Aid Agency (LAA) didn’t include such claims within a mainstream contract category, instead bundling them into the “miscellaneous” category along with around 20 other types of case. The result is that organisations bringing these sorts of cases are severely limited in their ability to do so. The Lord Chancellor has agreed to conduct an urgent review of legal aid provisions for people bringing compensation claims against their traffickers.

The legal aid cuts have added to the strain on divorcees. Evidence gathered by Citizens Advice shows that nine out of 10 people who have gone through the family courts, under new rules that heavily restrict access to legal aid, suffer strain in their mental and physical health, working lives and finances. The system is not set up to deal with “litigants in person” (LiPs). Of those who chose to be litigants in person, 90% reported a negative impact on their everyday lives.

Three years after the government scrapped legal aid across swaths of civil law, more ‘advice deserts’ are materialising in the sectors that remain in scope. A number of areas have no cover at all. The Law Centres Network said: “Parliament’s intention in LASPO was that the most vulnerable people should still be able to access legal assistance. As evictions and homelessness rise steadily, a decline in housing legal aid uptake suggests that need is not being met.”

The Court of Appeal has upheld a challenge to the government’s changes to legal aid for victims of domestic violence. The Law Society backed the challenge brought by the Public Law Project. Society president Jonathan Smithers said: “The LASPO legal aid cuts have resulted in radical consequences for access to justice with the worst impact affecting the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of society. Survivors of domestic violence should not be subjected to the over-strict tests required by the regulations as they now stand.”

The Low Commission was established by the legal education charity Legal Action Group in 2012 in the wake of the legal aid cuts to develop a strategy for access to advice and legal support in social welfare law in England and Wales. It was set up to examine the impact of legal aid cuts and develop a strategy to help ensure access to justice. It is to be wound up because of a lack of funds.

When Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour party last September one of his first acts was to announce an immediate review of legal aid. He said: “I have asked Willy Bach, the former Shadow Attorney General, to undertake an immediate review of the assault on Legal Aid by the Government over the last five years.”

He went on to say: “Even though it is clear that the consequences of Part One of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO) are disastrous, the Government refuses to review the way in which the Act is working.”

Corbyn will agree with the 22 signatories, including Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC Chair of the Bar Council and Jonathan Smithers President of the Law Society, to a recent letter in the ‘Guardian’. Short and to the point it said: “We believe the legal aid reforms have had a severe impact on the ability of vulnerable people to access justice since they came into effect on 1 April 2013. We agree with the justice select committee that the cuts have limited access to justice for some of those who need legal aid the most.”

It concluded: “The government has repeatedly said it will carry out a review to assess the full impact of the legal aid changes after three years. Today we call on ministers to fulfil this commitment at the earliest opportunity. We believe it is vital for government to ensure nobody is denied access to justice based on their ability to pay.”

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Legal aid residence test to be challenged


Today, the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments in a case challenging the government’s Legal Aid residence test.

The residence test restricts legal aid to people who are “lawfully resident” in the UK and have been for the past 12 months. The Public Law Project (PLP), which is bringing the case, says that this is outside the government’s powers and also discriminatory under human rights laws.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has argued that only those who have an established link to the UK should be entitled to legal aid, which is a scarce and costly resource that must be rationed.

Seven justices will hear arguments in a case which insists that no minister has the power to impose such discriminatory regulations and that the residence test, which has yet to be implemented, is unlawful. The supreme court had originally planned to hear the case later this year, but it has been brought forward following justice secretary Michael Gove’s indication that he planned to begin applying the residence test from this summer.

The case has already been before the courts. In 2014, the high court struck down the regulation on the grounds that the then justice secretary, Chris Grayling, did not have the power to introduce it by means of secondary legislation. It also concluded that the residence test was excessively discriminatory.

In a unanimous decision, three senior judges declared the draft regulations then before parliament could not be enacted by means of secondary legislation. They also upheld a complaint on a second ground as part of the judicial review, that it would not be legitimate to discriminate against non-residents solely on the grounds of saving money.

The judgment was a severe setback for the then justice secretary, Chris Grayling, and the way he was introducing wide-ranging changes without primary legislation.

However, last November the court of appeal overturned that judgment, concluding that the earlier ruling placed unjustifiable restraints on the government’s ability to control the legal aid budget. Exemptions to the residence test have had to be made for members of the armed forces serving overseas, children under one year old and asylum seekers.

John Halford, the solicitor at the London law firm Bindmans, which is acting for the PLP, is quoted in the ‘Guardian’ as saying: “In this country, we are rightly proud we have a legal system which, whilst not perfect, seeks to ensure that anyone can enforce important legal rights and enter the courtroom on an equal footing to their opponents….The [justice secretary’s] proposed residence test strikes at the heart of these principles by very deliberately withholding legal aid from those who overwhelmingly will not be British, yet are obliged to obey the law here and so should, equally, be protected by it. We will ask the court to make a definitive ruling that the test is repugnant to British law.”

The ‘Guardian’ also reports that the children’s commissioner for England has intervened in the litigation in support of the PLP’s appeal, as has the solicitors’ professional body, the Law Society.

The case will be decided by seven justices – Lord Neuberger, Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Reed, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hughes and Lord Toulson – because of its constitutional importance.

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Investigatory Powers Bill


The snoopers charter, known as the Investigatory Powers Bill , is with us again. While tightening up privacy safeguards in proposed new spying laws, the government is seeking to give the police more power to see internet browsing records.

Published on Tuesday, the Bill will force service providers to store browsing records for 12 months. It will also give legal backing to bulk collection of internet traffic. It expands the purposes for which police can obtain internet connection records. It says they can be acquired for a “specific investigation” provided it is “necessary and proportionate.” Ministers say the new powers are needed to fight terrorism, but internet firms have questioned their practicality, and civil liberties campaigners say it clears the way for mass surveillance,

In her written statement to Parliament, Theresa May said that the government is not seeking sweeping new powers and had taken on board the criticisms of three parliamentary committees. She said: “The privacy safeguards are stronger and clearer. The Bill incorporates additional protections for journalists, removing a key exemption for the security and intelligence agencies when seeking to identify journalists’ sources. And it incorporates statutory protections for lawyers.”

May said the latest version reflected the majority of the 122 recommendations made by MPs and peers, including strengthening safeguards, enhancing privacy protections and bolstering oversight arrangements.

She also said that the revised measure would strengthen the office and powers of the investigatory powers commissioner, giving the lord chief justice a role in his or her appointment. “This is vital legislation and we are determined to get it right…Terrorists and criminals are operating online and we need to ensure the police and security services can keep pace with the modern world and continue to protect the British public from the many serious threats we face.”

May said the Bill is not asking companies to weaken their security by undermining encryption. New safeguards for interception and equipment interference warrants are introduced, reducing the period of time within which urgent warrants must be reviewed by a Judicial Commissioner from five to three days.

She said: “The Bill as amended strengthens the office and powers of the new Investigatory Powers Commissioner, giving the Lord Chief Justice a role in his or her appointment and allowing for the Commissioner to inform people who have suffered as a result of the inappropriate use of powers.

“The ‘double-lock’ authorisation model endorsed by the Joint Committee – involving judges in the approval of warrants for the most intrusive powers – remains on the face of the Bill and has been strengthened further in respect of urgent warrants.”

Ministers want the new bill to become law by the end of the year, citing the urgent demands of national security and crime prevention.

The ‘Guardian’ reports that Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: “Less than three weeks ago MPs advised 123 changes to the majorly flawed draft bill. The powers were too broad, safeguards too few and crucial investigatory powers entirely missing. Government must return to the drawing board and give this vital, complex task appropriate time.” Lord Strasburger, a Liberal Democrat member of the scrutiny committee on the draft bill, said nothing had changed. “The Home Office just doesn’t do privacy. It does security and ever more intrusive powers they claim will make us safer, but not privacy.”

The ‘Guardian’ editorial says the bill “is, in its way, a triumph for [Edward] Snowden: it involves the British security state coming clean about the extraordinary existing facility to snoop that he exposed, spelling the powers out in statute for the first time… It will become possible to build up exhaustive logbooks on the lives of others. Bluntly described powers to switch on cameras and microphones on people’s own phones starkly reveal how the tide of technology is washing away all need for the old art of installing bugs…”

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