July 22, 2009


The proposed use of phone tapping evidence to secure convictions in terrorist and criminal trials has been shown in secret tests to be unworkable.

Last year Gordon Brown proposed limited use of intercept evidence, gathered by intelligence agencies, in the courts and David Cameron has called for its introduction “so we [can] catch, convict and imprison more terrorists”.

Legal and counter-terrorism sources believe that the extremist cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri could have been jailed for involvement in international kidnapping had intercept material been available to prosecutors.

However, an intelligence watchdog disclosed yesterday that “live testing” of the idea in mock courtroom trials had encountered major obstacles...

...many senior police and intelligence officials have serious concerns that disclosure of intercept material will benefit criminal and terrorist organisations by exposing human sources and revealing the sophisticated technology that they use in covert surveillance...

...In another report published yesterday, the Chief Surveillance Commissioner complained that senior police officers and public officials with powers to authorise covert surveillance did not understand their powers and were unwilling to be trained...

I don't get this. Surely if people say compromising things over the phone juries should get to hear them no? What could go wrong?


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