back to article After Brit spies 'snoop' on families' lawyers, UK govt admits: We flouted human rights laws

The British government has admitted that its practice of spying on confidential communications between lawyers and their clients was a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Details of the controversial snooping emerged in November: lawyers suing Blighty over its rendition of two Libyan families to be …

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>"It does not mean that there was any deliberate wrongdoing on the part of the security and intelligence agencies, which have always taken their obligation to protect legally privileged material extremely seriously," the government spokesman said.

ROFLMAO

>"Nor does it mean that any of the agencies' activities have prejudiced or in any way resulted in an abuse of process in any civil or criminal proceedings. The agencies will now work with the independent Interception of Communications Commissioner to ensure their policies satisfy all of the UK's human rights obligations."

Interesting, how exactly ? I mean, we know that with Prism, they are listening in on all calls across Europe, does this mean that when it is a lawyer talking to his client they simply stop recording ? How exactly do they manage to identify this specific case ? Right, they must listen in, which is illegal.

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"The agencies will now work with the independent Interception of Communications Commissioner to ensure their policies satisfy all of the UK's human rights obligations."

And Theresa May will work to ensure the UK has no human rights obligations.

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Anonymous Coward

Ignorantia juris non excusat

So when will we see these criminals brought to justice? Yup, that's right - never...

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"does not mean that there was any deliberate wrongdoing on the part of the security and intelligence agencies, which have always taken their obligation to protect legally privileged material extremely seriously"

But that protection doesn't seem to prevent MI5, MI6, the Crown Prosecution Office and (probably) the Home Office and other parts of law enforcement from having access to this "legally privileged material". So basically this vaunted protection is full of actual holes.

So I guess the takeaway is that you shouldn't challenge the British Government in a case where that government might be embarrassed--because you'll get spied on. Of course, those are the cases that really matter and really determine whether the government is bound by the law and if citizens actually have legal recourse against government malfeasance.

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> "legally privileged material"

i.e. You are not allowed to tell people we spied on you.

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Anonymous Coward

"You are not allowed to tell people we spied on you"

'---And as long as we keep on letting them, the ELITE, aka the controllers of the Five-Eyes worldwide spying network, will use this system in any way they can, as often as they can, without telling us a damn thing. ...........Watch CitizenFour (2014)...

'---Greenwald makes it patently clear to a Brazilian audience that their leaders are being spied upon by America to gain a competitive advantage. This is standard US policy against every competing country, economy, key politician, senior diplomat, and wealthy corporation!

'---Snowden makes the case that the global-spying-net exists as a 'method of control', to force people to self-censor. At the start of the movie, we see how this net can be used to quell protesters and activists, or any group that would dare challenge authority.

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Black Helicopters

Re: "You are not allowed to tell people we spied on you"

By the way, for those of you with HBO "Citizenfour" is debuting next week. HBO will probably run it for 3-4 weeks.

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So basically,

if I read this right, they admitted nothing except they might have or might not have?

By extrapolation, should we also assume then the 3-letter agencies in the States might or might not have done the same thing with anyone filing suit against the US government?

Seeing what we've heard about the agencies on both sides of the Atlantic, I would be inclined to think yes....there's been a slurp of more than just "metadata" using the justification that anyone who would sue their government is "enemy of the state". So much for the mantra of the 60's-70's about "question authority". Under today's rules of engagement, Woodward and Bernstein (and others) would have ended up in Guantanamo or someplace equally not nice.

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Re: So basically,

If you all do not know Cheryl Atkins formerly of CBS,you should look up her story,and new book. She was just doing her job as a journalist,but was Less than kind to the current administration and for that,had all her computers and phones compromised. Work and personal. James Rosen of fox was spied on too. That's just the ones we know about in the US,but it seems England has a similar dis-ease !

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Cases thrown out due to mistrial

Maybe I've not drunk enough coffee yet, but I seem to remember something about this sort of thing causing a mistrial and cases/convictions getting thrown out.

Something about the irony of the spying that gets someone convicted is then used to overturn the conviction. How long before the appeals cases start popping up?

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Re: Cases thrown out due to mistrial

> this sort of thing causing a mistrial

That would apply if the lawyer-client communication were of the defendant.

In this case, the Libyan is the accuser, and the government is the defendant.

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Re: Cases thrown out due to mistrial

I don't know how it works in the UK, but in the U.S. discovery abuse that severe can result in sanctions up to and including barring the government from presenting any defense on the merits, leaving only the issue of the size of the damage award. The discovery rules are quite explicit on the procedures for obtaining discovery of what the other side news and forbid all other methods. Wiretapping opposing counsel is not on the list of permitted methods. Also, U.S. only, such severe misbehavior would almost certainly result in the government lawyers who willingly received those communications being severely sanctioned themselves, and most likely referred to the Bar for investigation and disciplinary proceedings. Penalties can be as severe as disbarment.

Paul E. Merrell, J.D.

(retired U.S. lawyer)

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If they're claiming not to have prejudiced any civil or criminal proceedings, doesn't that mean they haven't passed on the confidential emails between the defendant and the lawyer? After all, doing that would *certainly* influence the prosecution's work and so prejudice the trail.

In which case, are they claiming the lawyer was wrong about their confidential emails being eves dropped on, and that the discovery of a program which was doing exactly that was a complete coincidence?

Frankly it seems like this whole thing should invalidate the trial, as the defendant(s) can no longer get a fair one with the prosecution having gotten hold of correspondence between them and their lawyer which is supposed to be confidential (and which, if the prosecution got hold of them through *other* means, would certainly mean a mistrial)

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Sir

"It does not mean that there was any deliberate wrongdoing on the part of the security and intelligence agencies"

In other words, the ends justify the means. How is it that these people, who presumably have some degree of training in the classics as part of their background, can be so blind to the lessons of history?

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Re: Sir

Mr Spoon: You don't need to resort to the classics to learn how things go wrong on a grand scale. The last 100 years or so provide plenty to work with.

" ... and then they came for me"

Cheers

Jon

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Sir

"It does not mean that there was any deliberate wrongdoing on the part of the security and intelligence agencies"

But Officer, I was not *deliberately* speeding, so presumably I can be on my way without any further delay?

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"and even those were considered void if "extremists" were involved."

And who exactly got to decide that somebody is an extremist? MI6? Any other spooks?

Thought so.

Is that a black helicopter I hear?

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Unhappy

"And who exactly got to decide that somebody is an extremist? MI6? Any other spooks?"

Well, you're trying to take them to court.

QED You are an extremist.

Simple.

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ESPecial Field Ops Sector ... Memorandum of Understanding for 77th Brigade Type Orgs. [FOUO]

Haven't y'all yet worked IT out? There are no rules and regulations of/for engagement. It is every man and woman for themselves and no one to stop one doing as one pleases other than oneself twiddling with personal doubts and succumbing to public anxieties.

And the muppet and puppets mogulling for media and advertising accounts mainstream deliver the sublime message that law and justice does not interfere with those zeroday trading information and future intelligence for such works are beyond their ken and virtual powers to driver and influence.

The Great IntelAIgent Game is Changed and a Changed Great IntelAIgent Game means New Leading Wannabe Players with Novel Memes and Surreal Means at their Command to Control to EMPower and Freely Enslave and Capture Recruits and Rogues, Renegade Knights and Erotic Damsels. I Kid U Not.

And the Ab Fab Fabless Fields of Play are an Infinitely Rich Area for Decisively Accurate Target Practice which Exposes and Destroy with the Light of Knowledge and Sharing of Secrets, the Corrupt and the Perverse and the Ponzi Derivatives of Such in Systems of Mal Administrative Exclusive Executive Man Management.

What are y'all waiting for? A Gilded Invitation by Carrier Pidgin Post? Game ON and Running Well Deep and in Beautifully Dark Web Enterprise Territories too.

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Re: ESPecial Field Ops Sector ... Memorandum of Understanding for 77th Brigade Type Orgs. [FOUO]

At last! Someone talking sense!

Welcome back oh great Martian!

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What are the legal ramifications of this:

> "It does not mean that there was any deliberate wrongdoing on the part of the security and intelligence agencies, which have always taken their obligation to protect legally privileged material extremely seriously," the government spokesman said.

They go after whoever, really seriously, in an area with ill defined, recently written laws that have yet to go through the courts -only of course, they can't.

??

Unlike the USA, Britain's legal system is moderated by the courts where arguments are given in exactitudes and examples are taken or made for future reference. But when the government finally took the last leaf out of Magna Carta Liberatum under a Tory led social government, our fates were sealed.

While it is still unlikely we can go to prison, or be held in secret or whatever they call it these days, for writing stuff like this, there is no right to be produced in an open court for anyone deemed a terrorist.

But no laws about who is a terrorist.

I don't know much about the US legal system but 65 years or so white people could be treated as black people for being social or expecting the protection of what they called the Fifth.

Have I got that right?

I mean did I state that correctly.

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Re: What are the legal ramifications of this:

It is true indeed that in the late 1940s to the early 1960s we had a moral panic over Communists in various parts of the government and the movie industry, and that those who were compelled to testify before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and the House Committee on Unamerican Activities were punished severely for exercising their Constitutional right to decline to give self-incriminating testimony. Except for government employees who generally would already have lost any security clearance the punishment was not by the government, but by their private sector employers who were worried about their business. Although done on a larger scale, this was not fundamentally different from the moral panic over Satanism and child abuse in the 1980s which I think had a counterpart in the UK and possibly other countries. It also was similar to the early 2000s panic over terrorism, which still is playing out, and the present moral panic about private and especially government agency surveillance.

In each case, the damage was seen to be far greater than the evidence supported. There were, in fact, Soviet spies in the Manhattan program, State Department, and other agencies, and there were Communists in the movie industry, although I think most of the latter had changed their opinion of the USSR well before they were called to testify. There almost certainly were isolated instances of child molestation (but those involving Catholic and other clergy seem to have been overlooked until much later) but Satanic ritual abuse seems to have been entirely a product of sick minds that somehow resonated with generalized fears. There is no doubt that there were terrorists in 2001, 2004, and 2005, and the aggregate number of dead and wounded was substantial. Yet public understanding of the risk, as many have observed, was quite excessive. And so it seems, too, with the present surveillance panic. There surely have been surveillance related abuses, and a number of victims have suffered, some of them severely. However, the evidence largely is lacking that surveillance data has been used in various of the ways which we have been told we need to fear.

We should keep watch to be sure that does not change, and worry, for example, about requests for significant increases to law enforcement staffing that seem out of whack with what we actually see in the way of what reasonably can be considered crime. A matter for concern in the US, for example, would be excessive government involvement in "cybercrime", one of the new initiatives. The authorities have been trying to whip this one up for a while now, and the boundaries, while not entirely clear, could be taken to be pretty far reaching.

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Alien

I for one welcome our new Cthulean overlords...

When I read this sort of thing it's almost enough to make me wish Charles Stross wasn't writing fiction.

I mean if the Stars Are Coming Right then at least this would feel justified.

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One thing I'd like to see from all this

The barristers who accepted this information being disbarred. They must have been aware that it was protected by confidentiality. Even if they didn't report it they should have disqualified themselves from the trial.

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plug

The Open Rights Group have an event on this very topic next week:

http://www.meetup.com/ORG-Manchester/events/220481722/

(or email manchester (squiggle sign) openrightsgroup (stop) org)

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"It does not mean that there was any deliberate wrongdoing on the part of the security and intelligence agencies"

If they listened in on conversations between lawyer and client and passed that information to the prosecution, and did not realise that this was illegal, they should be fired for gross incompetence.

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"they should be fired for gross incompetence."

But that's the point - nobody will be fired, or suffer any repercussions, except maybe given some quiet guidance on how not to get caught next time.

The state and its minions believe that the law does not apply to them, and - because there is never any comeback for illegal acts - in effect they actually *are* above the law.

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Re: "they should be fired for gross incompetence."

But that's the point - nobody will be fired, or suffer any repercussions, except maybe given some quiet guidance on how not to get caught next time.

The state and its minions believe that the law does not apply to them, and - because there is never any comeback for illegal acts - in effect they actually *are* above the law. .... Ilmarinen

Ergo is what passes for the law and justice in places and spaces ..... for now are there even vain glorious attempts at directing and policing the Virtual Realm Networks and SMARTR CyberIntelAIgent Communities ..... a Definitive Ass and Right Royally Abused and Abusive Profession practised and followed by a Arrogant Folly of Ignorant Fools and vice versa. Such though is certainly increasingly more widely known and perfectly enough well understood by the more intelligent of base animals in the kingdoms of real fantasy and active propaganda.

And just imagine, the system appears to endorse it and expect everything to remain as if nothing at all is wrong and everything is right. How stupid is that. Crikey, such is never gonna happen.

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So the takehome from this is that if you are suing the government, meet your lawyer in person somewhere eavesdropping is difficult.

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Anonymous Coward

In other news...

The British government has admitted that its practice of acting illegally is only wrong if they get caught.

And only then if they don't shoot the messenger first...

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Understatement?

"Not fully met the requirements"

More like drive through them with a freight train...

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They just need a new spy law like Canada just received. Thanks to our tinpot dictator we now have a secret police who can break the law, ignore the charter of rights, and use "dirty tricks" with terrorists. Terrorist is of course not defined.

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Mushroom

PGP...

all the more reason to encrypt your emails by default...

fscking k*nts... NSA and GCHQ that is...

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