back to article The UK's Investigatory Powers Act allows the State to tell lies in court

Blighty's freshly passed Investigatory Powers Act, better known as the Snoopers' Charter, is a dog's dinner of a law. It gives virtually unrestricted powers not only to State spy organisations but also to the police and a host of other government agencies. The operation of the oversight and accountability mechanisms in the IPA …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely this is where an independent judiciary ...

    refuses to hear cases where justice is frustrated ?

    I believe there are precedents ....

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      Re: Surely this is where an indyependent judiciary ...

      Not many. Matrix Churchill went ahead, and would have convicted if Alan Clarke hadn't bottled it.

      We don't really have an independent judiciary in the UK.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Surely this is where an indyependent judiciary ...

        Ironically a f'ņ big Supergun might actually have some uses *in* Iraq right about now ;)

      2. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: Surely this is where an indyependent judiciary ...

        Actually, the very possibility of an independent judiciary is more wishful thinking than anything law or constitutional documents can guarantee.

        A judge may sit on the bench knowing that, according to law and the constitution, it is his duty to execute the law without fear or favour. But in reality, he is a human being like any other with ambitions, material desires, and fears. He may aspire to promotion, or the honours that only the Prime Minister can confer. How could we ever rule out that quintessentially "Yes, Minister" scene - the club where a judge just happens to run into Sir Humphrey after dinner, accepts his offer of a drink, and is told that, "The PM would really like it if..." Followed, after a short reflective pause, by, "On another subject entirely, we are looking for someone suitable..."

        Of course, there will always be people who are absolutely honest - or, if you prefer, whose pride compels them to act rightly at all times. Those are the only people who can be trusted to act independently. But how can we know who they are in advance? It has been perceptively said that most people can cope with adversity; but if you want a test of character, give a person power.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Surely this is where an indyependent judiciary ...

          "Of course, there will always be people who are absolutely honest - or, if you prefer, whose pride compels them to act rightly at all times. Those are the only people who can be trusted to act independently. "

          But if they are fed a pile of half-truths by the prosecution, how can they be expected to come to a fair decision?

    2. streaky Silver badge

      Re: Surely this is where an independent judiciary ...

      There are many many many precedents. It's also a fundamental part of UK constitutional law and sits right alongside the principle of equality of arms (none of this comes from EU doctrine, incidentally).

      Also yeah, courts would refuse to hear such cases where there wasn't other evidence, all this stuff is court-inadmissible; hell even fully warranted target-specific wiretaps of phone conversations are inadmissible in UK courts. IPA isn't for court cases.

    3. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Surely this is where an independent judiciary ...

      Shh. Stop talking about an independent judiciary: you might wake up The Daily Mail.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Surely this is where an independent judiciary ...

      In a jury trial, this is where the defence lawyers bring up exactly these points. The state can't D-notice telling the juries about the existence of legislation which enables the "authorities" to tell lies and the moment that's done, the seeds of doubt are sown, especially if parallel construction is explained - and the prosecution can't prevent a defence lawyer explaining how it's done.

      Unlike some other countries, UK juries tend not to be stupid and they don't trust untrustworthy organisations just because they happen to be "the law"

      The urban legend that the Metropolitan Police flying squad was so distrusted that in the 1970s they wouldn't be able to secure a conviction for a set of bank robbers caught red-handed in the act isn't far from the truth.

      The other urban legend that the Greater Manchester Serious Crime squad was disbanded because it was found to be responsible for performing most of the serious crimes in Great Manchester also isn't far from the truth.

      The result is that after a few such cases the "authorities" will attempt to move such cases to the "secret courts" - where the judges tend to be more sympathetic, but the state also has to prove its case to a much higher degree.

  2. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Spacedinvader
      Big Brother

      No because you can't argue your side and say they're talking bollocks

      1. rh587

        No because you can't argue your side and say they're talking bollocks

        I think the suggestion was perhaps that there will now always be a reasonable doubt by default regardless of the evidence actually presented because there is a possibility that the defendant may be prevented from actually defending themselves, or that the prosecution case has not been properly cross-examined.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Reasonable Doubt

          I think it is a lot worse - stories can be construed which do not leave a margin for 'reasonable doubt'. The jury must make its decision based upon available evidence. The only evidence available has the alleged perpetrator bang to rights and so the only option is to convict.

          The claim would seem to be "we know this person is guilty, we just can't tell you how, so we are going to subvert the normal process of justice to ensure conviction"

          1. wolfetone Silver badge

            Re: Reasonable Doubt

            If you image that you've been accused of hacking a bank. Prosecution brings all this "evidence" to the table, most of which is wrong and has either been made up or doctored.

            Your defence lawyer stands up, does his thing and references the act in which you're being brought to court over and highlights the fact that it allows the prosecution to doctor evidence to suit and that the evidence doesn't actually have to be real in order to convict. Defence lawyer could then put it to the jury that because such a loop hole exists, the prosecution either needs to show that the evidence is real or undoctored, otherwise what is to say that the evidence is actually real.

            So in one way it puts more pressure on the prosecution to make sure that any fabricated evidence is water tight, but it may be enough for the defence lawyer to highlight that aspect of the law, and leave it to the jurors own prejudice.

            We won't know though until someone actually gets tried over this and whether it goes to appeal. That'll be the case used as a precedent.

            1. John G Imrie Silver badge

              Re: Reasonable Doubt

              Your defence lawyer stands up, does his thing and references the act

              At which point he is arrested under this act and the trial restarted with a new Jury.

              1. wolfetone Silver badge

                Re: Reasonable Doubt

                "At which point he is arrested under this act and the trial restarted with a new Jury."

                Well that section doesn't say you can't mention that section in public. He doesn't have to say which specific bits of evidence have been tampered, he just needs to highlight that it could allow evidence to be created.

                "1. The lawyer needs to be brave enough to do it.

                2. He needs to provide at least some ground for the doubt that the evidence is doctored.

                Otherwise it will fall on deaf ears."

                1 - It's the duty of the lawyer to uphold the law. It's akin to a doctor making the oath to "do no harm"

                2 - That's easy enough. Prosecution says X was Googling "how to make an atomic bomb" on Tuesday 25th November 2016. Defence says well X was Googling "how to make an atomic bomb by U2" on that day.

                1. Archtech Silver badge

                  Re: Reasonable Doubt

                  'It's the duty of the lawyer to uphold the law. It's akin to a doctor making the oath to "do no harm"'

                  Taking an oath and doing no harm are not the same thing. Indeed, between them there is a great gulf fixed.

                  http://www.ourcivilisation.com/medicine/usamed/deaths.htm

                  Oddly enough, I was unable quickly to find any corresponding figures for the UK. Not that ours is a secretive country or anything like that - perish the thought.

                  1. wolfetone Silver badge

                    Re: Reasonable Doubt

                    "Taking an oath and doing no harm are not the same thing. Indeed, between them there is a great gulf fixed."

                    Well I don't know specifcally, but I do know that a solicitor/lawyer has to uphold the law. If they don't then they're struck off.

                    Well, those silly enough to get caught are.

                2. Kiwi Silver badge

                  Re: Reasonable Doubt

                  1 - It's the duty of the lawyer to uphold the law. It's akin to a doctor making the oath to "do no harm"

                  Aye, it may be their duty. But, especially if you're one of the poorer people in society, finding one who will research and present everything can be a very different matter.

                  1. wolfetone Silver badge

                    Re: Reasonable Doubt

                    Just need to add something to this.

                    My fiancee is a lawyer, and I started to speak to her about this and she immediately said "That's not my area of law" - which is fair enough. I showed her the section in the article anyway, and she said it wouldn't stand up in court due to another legal precedent (I can't recall the name of the case). But I outlined the grander scope of the act and how it prevents a fair trial from occuring and that the state wouldn't actually have to state the source of the evidence and she hit me with this humdinger - "What? That can't be right. That can't be the law. Why hasn't it been on the news?"

                    Welcome to 2016 everyone, where even the solicitors are hoodwinked.

              2. rh587

                Re: Reasonable Doubt

                Your defence lawyer stands up, does his thing and references the act

                At which point he is arrested under this act and the trial restarted with a new Jury.

                I think this is where the lawyer asks the witness/defendant a question which does not necessarily adduce or imply interception activities, but which requires them to give an awkward answer - such as "I cannot answer that without committing an offence".

                If the judge were a sensible type who was as cynical of this legislation as the rest of us (and they do exist - see the judge in the ABC trial who threw the whole case out because the security services were playing silly buggers), they might then require that the question be answered honestly and without perjury. The witness would then be faced with a quandry - commit perjury and be in contempt of court (by refusing to comply with the court's demand), or commit an offence under the IPA.

                I would suggest that many courts would be unwilling to convict someone of an offence under the IPA when they were compelled to make that disclosure by order of the court in the first instance.

                It would require a carefully worded approach and a sufficiently inclined judge to make it a court matter, but a smart barrister should be able to come up with something.

                If you had a sympathetic MP they could also use parliamentary privilege to ask about the case in Parliament, and the lawyer might be able to then ask a witness about that public domain statement. I'm sure there are clever ways to "launder" the question - if the NSA can launder intelligence, barristers can launder questions!

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Reasonable Doubt

                  When such a situation arises, the judge will halt the trial, send out the jury, and give advice (e.g. a bollocking) to the defense counsel. Upon resumption of the trial, the jury will be instructed that for legal reasons it should disregard the last question and any implications it might have raised, and the defense counsel will apologise for his inexperience by asking such a question and move onto another topic.

              3. Archtech Silver badge

                Re: Reasonable Doubt

                Wouldn't it be a lot simpler if they just took you directly to a cellar and shot you in the back of the head? Think of all the time and money that would be saved. And - if anyone thinks that matters - it would be a lot more honestst.

              4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Reasonable Doubt

                "At which point he is arrested under this act"

                Actually the prosecution would object, the jury would be ushered out of court and there'd be a legal argument culminating in the question not being allowed. Then the jury would be brought back in. A persistent defence barrister might well be able to try to put the question a number of times until such time as the jury worked out that there was something fishy going on.

                A repeated blocking of defence questions might well be the basis for appeal, maybe as far as the ECHR (no, this is not affected by Brexit).

                Another tack might be to get a copy of the relevant bit of the Act introduced as evidence.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Reasonable Doubt

                  "Another tack might be to get a copy of the relevant bit of the Act introduced as evidence."

                  I like that idea. Also how about "Could the counsel for the prosecution please provide the defence, under oath, with confirmation that no witnesses will give any testimony that the prosecution does not know to be true". Then if anything is untrue, prosecutor has committed perjury.....

            2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

              Re: Reasonable Doubt

              Your defence lawyer stands up, does his thing and references the act in which you're being brought to court over and highlights the fact that it allows the prosecution to doctor evidence

              1. The lawyer needs to be brave enough to do it.

              2. He needs to provide at least some ground for the doubt that the evidence is doctored.

              Otherwise it will fall on deaf ears.

              As I said earlier - presently the sole safeguard here is the HRA and ECHR Article 6 "Right to Fair Trial". You can immediately refer any case with the smallest suspicion that the evidence is doctored up and get UK deep-sixed on that (off-topic, funny, how the numbers coincide). The chance of UK winning any case on this is nil - all other 46 signatories have in one form or the other "Fruit of the Poison Tree" doctrine on their statutes, the idea that it does not constitute a key part of "fair trial" will be considered preposterous.

              That, unfortunately will not last as May withdraws from the ECHR EXACTLY BECAUSE OF THIS SAFEGUARD.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Reasonable Doubt

                its going to be very hard for May to withdraw us from the ECHR like many have said before and they been trying to do it for 10 years but have failed so far, withdrawing is much harder then you think

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Reasonable Doubt

                  So true ... they have been making up laws to protect a few who have committed demonic and inhuman crimes over the last few years. Allowing the arm of the law to lie is not justice.

                  1. Kiwi Silver badge
                    Black Helicopters

                    Re: Reasonable Doubt

                    So true ... they have been making up laws to protect a few who have committed demonic and inhuman crimes over the last few years. Allowing the arm of the law to lie is not justice.

                    It's amazing how tolerant the NZ people are over this stuff. Cops or other PTB commit crimes? That's OK, government will rush through a law change "under urgency" to make it all nice and legal.

                    Prisoners held for longer than their sentences, and seeking compensation? That's ok, under urgency those laws are altered - now if the prison's dept screw up and keep someone inside for a few months longer than their sentence, well that's just tough.

                    People found to be innocent after many years in prison? No worries, another law change to make sure they can't be compensated.

                    Some stuff going to trial will show some very bad behaviour on the part of the government? No worries, a quick change of law will prevent that..

                    And people wonder why shonky cut and ran so suddenly last week. Many think he was about to experience "your sins will find you out". Course, he no doubt spent some time making sure whatever crimes he committed no longer are.

            3. Dan 55 Silver badge
              Flame

              Re: Reasonable Doubt

              Accused of hacking a bank? Possibly a bit of extra evidence just to help the case along. But anyone the establishment sees as a threat will be accused of kiddy fiddling and we all know it. *

              I hope nobody's pinning their hopes on prosecution witnesses stumbling at the "do you swear you're telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" bit.

              * Unless it's themselves in which case the inquiry collapses into a farce. Allegedly.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: the inquiry collapses into a farce.

                I'll tell you what's a farce.

                A farce is organising a police inquiry into the private activities of a man who had round the clock Special Branch surveillance while he was a prime minister (as all prime ministers do), and who also continued to have 24x7 surveillance *afterwards* as well (which only applies to a few ex-PMs).

                I personally don't know whether Heath got up to anything dodgy or not, but I do know that the security services already know what Heath got up to.

                Wtf?

                1. tiggity Silver badge

                  Re: the inquiry collapses into a farce.

                  Given that we know the security services wanted rid of Wilson / Labour government (I still have my copy of Spycatcher describing that), then if anything dubious had been done by Heath in the 70's it would not have been in security services interest for it to be revealed at the time. It would have been even less in their interest for any dubious behavior to be revealed afterwards as would implicate security services in concealing crime to subvert UK democracy.

                  Caveat I have no idea if Heath rumours are fantasy or have any basis in reality and I'm making no inference, just pointing out why, IF anything untoward had happened why we would not hear about it.

            4. Arthur Daily

              Re: Reasonable Doubt

              Kim Dot Com appears to have this problem in NZ.

              A poisoned Forrest of illegally obtained evidence if being accepted. Add to that fabricated charges that do not exist in NZ. Like in Rainbow Warrior, maybe deals struck on a wink and nod

        2. Danny 2 Silver badge

          The principle of jury nullification basically means a jury decides what is legal, not a judge. A jury can refuse to convict even when told they have to - although nobody will tell a jury this.

          1. Adam 52 Silver badge

            Don't believe it. Juries, in general, do what they're told. And Judges have become more militant in convicting jurors for contempt. You are much more likely to get a judge that believes in fair trials than a jury

            Clive Ponting was 30 years ago and a rare example.

            That's assuming you even get a jury, of course, with the gradual removal of jury trials.

            1. Danny 2 Silver badge

              @Adam This is from US law but it still stems from the Magna Carta -

              Jury Myths and Misconceptions: Can Jurors Be Punished for Jury Nullification Verdicts?

              Each and every one of you has the mettle and moral fiber necessary to claim this power as your own and to wield it for your highest purpose when serving on a jury: upholding justice, including upholding it above law when the two are in conflict. Do not be deterred by people invoking the chimera of punishment for acting in good conscience and doing what is right.

              1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

                Each and every one of you has the mettle and moral fiber necessary to claim this power as your own and to wield it for your highest purpose when serving on a jury: upholding justice, including upholding it above law when the two are in conflict. Do not be deterred by people invoking the chimera of punishment for acting in good conscience and doing what is right.

                Excellent reference - thanks for that.

            2. Chloe Cresswell

              Fair trials

              I wish I could explain my view on this, but it's from experiance, but yes.

              I'd take the Judge over jury on believing in fair trial.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              That's assuming you even get a jury, of course, with the gradual removal of jury trials.

              Yeah, thanks for that Chris Grayling.

              More British "justice".

              Still how hard can it be to get the trains to run on time in a fascist dictatorship?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: That's assuming you even get a jury, of course, with the gradual removal of jury trials.

                "Still how hard can it be to get the trains to run on time in a fascist dictatorship?"

                Very, if Southern are involved. Even Mussolini would struggle with them, and he famously managed to get the one train to run on time.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            A jury can refuse to convict

            see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lilburne

          3. Ilmarinen
            Unhappy

            jury nullification

            Jury nullification, as in the Clive Pontin trial, only works when the jury is aware of the evidence.

            If the Crown is "making stuff up" and there is no possibility of evidence to the contrary the defendant is doomed.

            And, if there is no chance of being caught out in making stuff up, why should they not do so, especially if the aim is to get a "bad-un" locked up?

            1. Danny 2 Silver badge

              Re: jury nullification

              I read that when Russia ended serfdom then the peasants refused to convict anyone accused by the corrupt courts, but would then lynch the released prisoners they knew were bad. I'm not suggesting that.

              If nothing else then if you want excused from jury duty then just wear a T Shirt saying 'jury nullification' on the first day. Mind you, a year ago I was thrown out a trial for 'wearing my jacket disrespectfully', and I was the accused.

              1. Suricou Raven

                Re: jury nullification

                Jury nullification has a very dubious history, which is why many judges and state authorities go to some lengths to make sure the juries do not believe they have that option.

                Yes, it has been used to allow some people to escape malicious prosecution or unfair trials.

                But a lot of white men also got away with crimes against blacks because the jury of their peers refused to convict.

      2. macjules Silver badge
        FAIL

        And speaking of a load of bollocks, MPs are exempted from the bill, http://www.techeye.net/news/uk-politicians-exempt-themselves-from-ripa

        What did one expect?

        1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          " MPs are exempted from the bill"

          Some pigs really are more equal than others.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Not really.

      The doctrine of a "fruit of a poison tree" exists in one form or another in EVERY developed country in the world. Bar one. Britain.

      So while I can sympathize with the article author, his line of reasoning is a bit off. There is no constitutional or legal issue with obtaining evidence through illegal means and/or failing to disclose the means by which the evidence has been obtained in the UK. UK law allows for this.

      The ONLY partial safeguard on this has been the Human Rights act and the Human Rights convention and the various clauses about rights to privacy and fair trial in it. Not for long though - Teresa May will find a way to tear it and join Lukashenko (she should stop shaving her mustache and trim it to the correct shape - it suits her).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        its unlikely she will find a way to tear up the Human Rights act anytime soon, you should read this and it tells you how hard it will be

        http://jackofkent.com/2015/05/the-seven-hurdles-for-repeal-of-the-human-rights-act/

        this is why they have failed so far and will fail in the future

        and many of her own MPs are for the Human Rights act and the Human Rights convention

        1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          "...its unlikely she will find a way to tear up the Human Rights act anytime soon, you should read this and it tells you how hard it will be..."

          These hurdles are exactly the hurdles Brexit has to jump. So the Human Rights Acts could tag along like a legislative remora. Whether it would be swept aside or last the distance to get royal ascent from William V is another matter.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            maybe but looking at a lot of things it seems Brexit may not happen too (its a mess as it is and Gov has not plan) but that a whole other story so let wait and see...

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              "It seems Brexit may not happen"

              Seems??

              Given who Comrade Theresa has put in charge of making it happen, it's pretty much a certainty. This has been setup to fail from the outset.

              From a political point of view she must be seen to say that brexit is certain and happening until the moment she declares "we tried our hardest and it's just not possible". Exit the political careers of the 3 clowns and she comes up smelling of roses.

        2. phuzz Silver badge
          Joke

          Why not just call a referendum on scrapping the Human Rights act? The Daily Mail will make sure everyone's in line, and will threaten any justices or lawyers who try to object.

          Joking obviously, this could never happen in the UK right?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @phuzz

            "Joking obviously, this could never happen in the UK right?"

            Need to be sure though, couldn't we ban the Daily Fail, just in case?

        3. Suricou Raven

          Just use the classic trick:

          1. Find some perverted child-molester.

          2. Convict him, but make sure you violate his human rights a lot.

          3. Watch as the conviction is swiftly overturned and he walks free.

          4. Enjoy the overwhelming support both among MPs and the general public for overturning whatever part of the act he benefited from.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Big Welcome back ...

    ... to the Star Chamber.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: A Big Welcome back ...

      Yep.

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. wolfetone Silver badge

    Wow

    Just, wow.

    Well, more fucking hell and fuck sake, but wow all the same.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Gimp

    How many clauses did this law have?

    Once you see a "wall of words" you should smell a very big rat.

    But the articles got the motivation of data fetishists nailed.

    "Because they can."

    The only motivation such people have ever needed.

  7. Hollerithevo Silver badge

    They've been lying for a long time

    The Powers That Be have been lying fast as dogs can trot when in court for some time now, but from this point they can do so with cheerful impunity. One looks at the slow, difficult development against arbitrary punishment, supposedly the mark of primitive and cruel despotism, towards an open and fair society where all stand equal before an impartial law, but as close as we sometimes were, we now hear its long, withdrawing roar.

  8. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    So what would happen...

    ...if you refused to perjure yourself?

    "I am unable to answer that question, on the grounds that the law would require me to perjure myself"

    1. Whitter

      Re: So what would happen...

      You might have to ask the judge for guidance each and every time whenever answering (or not answering) a question. Alas, the jury likely wouldn't be able to infer why as they aren't El Reg readers!

      1. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: So what would happen...

        It would be amusing (in a bitter and very dangerous way) to ask the judge, before answering each question, what reply one is allowed to make. Perhaps, to save valuable court time, the judge could just answer the questions and cut out the middleman.

    2. Jemma Silver badge

      Re: So what would happen...

      Teflon Theresa...

      Oh god, my brain hurts!

      "The more you tighten your grip, the more pedo's will slip through your fingers.. "

      Shame Michael Howard isnt about any more - he'd make a great stand in for Wilhuff Tarkin.

      Ewww, just had image of May in fetish Vader costume, to paraphrase Prof Farnsworth "Oh, I made myself puke.."

  9. Oengus Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Finally

    Finally the TLAs have the protection of law that they wanted for what they have been doing for years and they made it retrospective so you can't go back and "get them" for previous sins.

    What a world we live in... when will the insanity end? Revolution?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Finally

      "What a world we live in... when will the insanity end? Revolution?"

      How would a revolution even get started when THE POWERS THAT BE can just make up any old shit against anyone and throw them into prison.

      We Are Truly Fucked.

    2. Uffish

      Re: Finally

      So the security services have a law which sets out what they are allowed to do (you know, licensed to kill etc). No doubt it is the bare minimum of what the security services really, really need to keep this country safe (with bulging dossiers supporting each and every claim, all secret of course).

      The only good point is that it presumably makes pulling the wool over the Minister's eyes a little harder.

      Of course, whether it has that effect or not is a secret.

  10. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Coat

    Another confirmation . . .

    that V for Vendetta was actually a documentary written by a time-traveler from the near future.

    1. Jedit

      "V for Vendetta was actually a documentary"

      That would not explain its air of foolish optimism.

  11. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Windows

    How is this even possible?

    The Whig Theory of History fails again.

    It's like crazy, lazy and entitled sysops (possibly demented by self-inflicted information and task overload) locking users out so that system can run uninterrupted and unimpended by the vagaries of the people (was "2001: A Space Odyssey" actually a sly methaphor for "2016: A State Odyssey"), and the people get an explodo-collar to make doubly sure. Well, they are out shopping anyway (low prices only today!), so that to make triply sure.

    We got through the Cold War with all the attendant bullshit, scare, wetwork, agitprop, coverups scandals, spying and counterspying ... and now this??

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Documentary: Britannia Hospital

    The 1982 Lindsay Anderson documentary Britannia Hospital was on TV again a few days ago.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPtsOZaRTF4

    Ouch.

    Wtf? How did we end up here? More importantly, how do we recover? For the sake of the children.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As we slowly

    march towards the era of "state sanctioned" everything, just remember that the bubble will eventually burst and all these fucking idiots making these farcical laws and curtailing even the most basic freedoms will ultimately reap what they have sown.

    May has ALWAYS wanted this shit, since she was home secratary.

    Witness the uttler lack of media coverage about this, we're all banging on about brexit because its nothing more than a convienient cover story as our rights are washed down the drain.

    Hope i live long enough to see the establishment crumble....

    No, fuck that, hope i live long enough to HELP the establishment crumble.

    I'm already on numerous watch lists, another one wont hurt!

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: As we slowly

      All home secretaries do this. However honest they start out, once they're in office they quickly become corrupt. OK, some start out corrupt, but it makes no difference in the end.

      I don't know why this happens. Charitably, they get so shitscared of what might happen that they cover their arses every way they can. More likely, there's a layer of civil servants who make it their business to scare them sufficiently to retain their control.

      Promoting a home secretary to PM is the worst possible mistake.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: As we slowly

        " there's a layer of civil servants who make it their business to scare them sufficiently to retain their control."

        In the UK's recent history, there is *one* senior long term Home Office civil servant in particular, I believe El Reg has already run an article or two featuring the gentleman.

        Sadly my memory fails me and I can neither remember his name nor anything which would identify him or the relevant articles.

        Suggestions?

        1. Jonathan Richards 1

          Re: As we slowly

          Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, perhaps?

          There is a handful of El Reg stories featuring him.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Home Office Permanent Secretary

            Thanks for the Mark Sedwill suggestion, but although it's an interesting find, I'm not sure it's the one I was looking for. Perhap's I'm thinking of his predecessor, or maybe someone more prone to lurking in dark corners rather than in the bright(ish) light of the senior civil serpent.

            1. Red Bren
              Big Brother

              Re: Home Office Permanent Secretary

              John "Dodgy Dossier" Scarlett?

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                OK, so not exactly Home Office Permanent Secretary :)

                John Scarlett? As in "dodgy dossier"? YES! Thank you so kindly, have an [anonymous] pint on me.

                See also

                http://powerbase.info/index.php/John_Scarlett :

                "Sir John McLeod Scarlett was head of the Secret Intelligence Service from 2004 to 2010. He had previously served as chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee.and head of the Intelligence and Securities Secretariat in the Cabinet Office. Scarlett was succeeded as head of the SIS by John Sawers in November 2009.[1]

                After leaving the Secret Intelligence Service he was appointed as a consultant and member of the advisory board at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, a senior adviser at Morgan Stanley UK and a member of the strategic advisory committee at Statoil.

                [continues]"

                Relevant Register articles include:

                http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/10/02/former_mi6_chief_warns_mass_snooping_paedophiles/

                http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/05/07/mi5_website/

                (others articles mention him too, on the subject of Bletchley Park and TNMOC)

      2. Archtech Silver badge

        Re: As we slowly

        "All power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". - Lord Acton.

        As the power of government grows, it steadily becomes more corrupt - causing it to grant itself more power...

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: As we slowly

        "Promoting a home secretary to PM is the worst possible mistake."

        Yep, even worse than promoting a Chancellor of the Exchequer to PM.

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: As we slowly

      "we're all banging on about brexit because its nothing more than a convienient cover story as our rights are washed down the drain"

      I'm sure there is a connection though.

      Theresa seems to have been a closet Brexiter all along, which ties in well with her Big Brother control freak personality. (Get control back, etc, which is all about getting control back to our very own control freaks.)

      I suspected that Britain on its own would tend to head back towards its traditional segragated class society. Convenient laws that can be used arbitrarily aginst those who can't afford the best lawyers fits nicely into this. Fear of arbitrary punishment is the greatest control mechanism in existance.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: As we slowly

        aginst -> against

        existance -> existence

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What about...

    Making sure that the jury are made aware of the relevant sections of the act, making it clear to them that they have to decide if the evidence they have has been "altered" to comply? Doing this before any "evidence" (aka "stories") is presented means it can be argued that it is a general statement and should not be taken to mean that what is about to be heard is a pack of lies...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you do defend yourself in court by revealing what the Act says about hacking etc - how are you punished? Another trial without a jury? An automatic conviction without a trial?

    1. James 51 Silver badge

      You don't fool me young man. It's convictions all the way down.

      Need a giant turtle icon.

      1. Jemma Silver badge

        There is a good side... Prison soap manufacturing shares will go through the roof!

        1. TRT Silver badge

          It is always legal to quote statute in a court of law. Though any barrister that keeps doing so will quickly find themselves running out of work.

          1. Ian Mason

            "It is always legal to quote statute in a court of law. Though any barrister that keeps doing so will quickly find themselves running out of work."

            Actually, judges *rely* on barristers doing this to keep them up to speed. It's quite common for great chunks of statute and supporting materials to be submitted by barristers on both sides in their 'bundles' before a trial has even started. A judges role is to rule on what the law means, not to recall it wholesale and act as a legal reference library. (if you're ever a litigant in person, which the English legal system now forces on most of us, this is a thing worth remembering - always politely remind the judge of the law in a fashion that looks as if you're trying to help the court, don't rely on them recalling it.)

          2. Someone Else Silver badge
            Devil

            @ TRT --

            It is always legal to quote statute in a court of law. Though any barrister that keeps doing so will quickly find themselves running out of work.

            I doubt that any defense (or defence) barrister would find him/herself out of work if s/he were to make a habit out of this.

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: @ TRT --

              In the context of reminding the jury that the evidence presented to them and the lack of probity in cross examination is a result of the law? There's an expectation to be expeditious in court, imposed by the home office as it happens.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "If you do defend yourself in court by revealing what the Act says about hacking etc - how are you punished? Another trial without a jury? An automatic conviction without a trial?"

      Do the English courts have anything like contempt rulings which require no jury? If so, there's your answer.

  16. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    expect to hear a load of bollocks from the met about "super recognizers"

  17. TRT Silver badge

    The list of authorised parties...

    does include one oddity. Criminal Cases Review Commission, adviser. So... you would have to be convicted first, but your representative can dig through and find out exactly on what evidence you were convicted. Not that they can do much about it if you were bang to rights, but we shall see...

  18. alain williams Silver badge

    What hope the Birmingham 6 today ?

    If the police/... can make up fairy stories then we have to expect that there will be more injustices like the Birmingham 6 where the cops/... want convictions so that they look good by having caught someone.

    Frightening as that might be: I am more worried about how the snooping will be used by the ruling elite to squash dissent and ensure that they remain in power and that their friends' business remain profitable.

    1. chris121254
      Megaphone

      Re: What hope the Birmingham 6 today ?

      that is why we must take this law down in court and I already know Liberty and the Open Rights Group is taken it to court soon so we must support them

      in the meantime we should all use VPN, Proxy and Tor and other things to protect are self's

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What hope the Birmingham 6 today ? @Chris121254

        Bloody hell.

        I hope they don't ask you to take notes...

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Somehow

    "V for Vendetta" seems less and less like a work of fiction

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Section refers 56 refers to interception not to equipment interference

    The position of intercept material is relatively unchanged from RIPA and indeed IoCA, Intercept material is inadmissible and can't be used by the prosecution as evidence; only for intelligence purposes. Thus the prosecution must make its case with other forms of evidence. But the defence can't raise questions about it either.

    Equipment interference material is dealt with in another part of the Act, Part 5. EI evidence, unlike intercept, is admissible and subject to the usual disclosure rules under CPIA though one imagines the prosecution will often ask a judge to exclude it on the basis of Public Interest Immunity - but the defence can argue against that. Where PII is invoked the usual position is that the prosecution cannot then use the material excluded from disclosure as evidence.

    An unresolved issue, as far as I know, is what happens if the defence argue that because EI has been deployed, the evidence from a computer or phone thereby becomes unreliable and should therefore be excluded on that basis.

    Sorry about the anonymous posting, but there are good reasons.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Section refers 56 refers to interception not to equipment interference

      "The position of intercept material is relatively unchanged from RIPA and indeed IoCA, Intercept material is inadmissible and can't be used by the prosecution as evidence; only for intelligence purposes."

      If you look at the example quoted about the DEA it becomes clear that a rule on parallel construction could be used to hide all sorts of goings on. The agent in that case had no information as to how the SOP knew that a given vehicle should be searched. If he thought that an intercept was the basis for it legislation such as this would inhibit him from saying that there was any sort of prior information but the truth might be that he was being directed to planted evidence.

  22. Franco Silver badge

    Made a note in my diary on the way here. Simply says "Bugger".

    It shows how ignorant most people are of the contents of this bill (and how well it has been subverted by Government) that the petition against tallow in fivers has nearly as many signatures as the petition against this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A petition you say? A watch list more like.

      1. Franco Silver badge

        Very possibly, but might as well sign it. The alternatives are:-

        1. Accept it without saying anything, regardless of whether or not it will have an effect.

        2. Go off the grid, which would immediately flag me up as an anomaly by being under the age of 80 and having no mobile phone or broadband, and therefore eligible for the sort of holiday where you get strapped down before your daily swim and the leisure attire comes in any colour you want so long as it's orange.

      2. billse10

        That would be the petition that requires you to identify yourself to the government before criticis8ng it's actions?

        Was going to post as AC but name already on that list petition.

    2. Jemma Silver badge

      Another quote pursuant could be:-

      "I think the phrase rhymes with "clucking bell..."

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Intel is not evidence

    If you get information about a truck carrying drugs will be in place X at time H, the evidence is the drug in the truck, not the information about it.

    The issue is NSA is collecting intel illegally without controls. Yet a lot of intel is often more or less "illegally obtained". And usually can't be used in a court.

    Is a petty criminal used as an informer in exchange for not being jailed "good"? Is a big criminal used as an informer in exchange for a small (or none) penalty despite big crimes "ethical"? Don't journalist also get intel from "sources" who shouldn't release them, and whom journalists protect?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Re: Intel is not evidence

      Let's just say, for arguments sake, that GCHQ were interested in taking someone down without showing their working etc.

      They call up their friends in Langley, who hack the target, plant some CP or wotnot. Then the police get a tip-off from GCHQ about the target having CP.

      Police raid the target and he gets to be tried as a peadophile. Is there anything in this chain of events that the defence could question? Or is the guilty verdict a foregone conclusion at this point?

      1. Suricou Raven

        Re: Intel is not evidence

        If they can show CP on the defendants computer, the prosecution could be for sinking the Titanic and the jury would still convict. Remember just how intense is the general public sense of loathing for that particular class of criminal.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Intel is not evidence

      "Is a petty criminal used as an informer in exchange for not being jailed "good"? Is a big criminal used as an informer in exchange for a small (or none) penalty despite big crimes "ethical"? Don't journalist also get intel from "sources" who shouldn't release them, and whom journalists protect?"

      Journalists usually follow through on the intel to see if they're substantive or not. It's just like any lead: it's only the start of your evidence trail, not the evidence in itself. The secondary research is what tends to corroborate the stories.

  24. Gnosis_Carmot

    Welcome to 1984

    War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength.

    Big Brother is watching.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Welcome to 1984

      *Raises a tankard in memory of Justice & observes a moment of silence*

    2. TheTor

      Re: Welcome to 1984

      Theresa, if you read this:

      1984 was a warning ffs, not a playbook!

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Big Sister shurely?

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Big Brother

      'Big Sister' Shirley is wearing a dominatrix outfit and wielding a cat-5-o-nine-tails. "You've been a naughty, naughty, NAUGHTY boy!"

      seriously, though, can't you pass a law that would throw out of evidence ANYTHING not collected either with a proper search warrant, or in a venue that's totally PUBLIC? Yeah, the l[aw]yers would have an easier time for a while, getting criminals out of jail, but here in the USA we survived the 'miranda' nonsense, and jails are overflowing.

      I'm less concerned about secret gummint spying than I am about CORPORATE spying [google, micro-shaft, face-blank] and using our information to manipulate us [through ads, targeting, filtering] etc.. With evidentiary rules in place, gummint spying is WAY less of a problem.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        It's ALL bad, bob.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Cue Th^heresa May.

      3. Potemkine Silver badge

        "jails are overflowing"

        With almost 1% of its population in jail, the US demonstrates how jails can be useful in the class war against the poorer ones

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
          Unhappy

          with bonus points if they are black

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The UK has a much more cost effective scheme with run down terraced housing, and the inmates having to earn their own daily food, and pay for their own mind numbing entertainment.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "The UK has a much more cost effective scheme with run down terraced housing, and the inmates having to earn their own daily food, and pay for their own mind numbing entertainment."

            What about guarding against escapes and riots?

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Black Helicopters

              "The UK has a much more cost effective scheme with run down terraced housing, and the inmates having to earn their own daily food, and pay for their own mind numbing entertainment."

              What about guarding against escapes and riots?

              The quality of the food is so crap that the victims barely have any energy (have you not noticed how expensive decent healthy food is, or even the basic ingredients to make your own (including cooking time), while crap with barely enough nutrition to sustain life (but lots of other wonderful stuff like salt and sugar and other "addictionflavour enhancers") is incredibly cheap? $5-$10 to buy stuff for a decent healthy meal for one person, plus cooking costs and so on. Or I could buy 3 bags of crisps for $5 or less, which would give me at least 5 meals (or after living on them a while, a bag a meal - still cheaper than healthy stuff!).

              And the "entertainment" of late. Have you not seen what is on TV these days? Endless variations on various "reality shows" and "talent shows"[excusemeberightbackjustneedtoquicklypukemygutsout], or the other stuff that literally does numb the mind? Or the endless junk online for those who can afford it.

              How are people going to find the energy or the intelligence to riot?

              Stil.. Laser lass is banging!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                "How are people going to find the energy or the intelligence to riot?"

                Adrenaline. Tired or not, people tend to start running or fighting if they're desperate enough.

      4. D@v3

        US jails

        I saw an interesting video the other day about US jails, and how they are run.

        It was presented in a 'here is some humour with your facts' kind of way, but was very disturbing. Included such nuggets as the jails being run by private corporations, who in some cases (states?) have imposed minimum occupancy limits, and if those 'targets' (say, 97% full) are not met, then the municipality which 'runs' the jail is fined.....

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: US jails

          "It was presented in a 'here is some humour with your facts' kind of way, but was very disturbing. Included such nuggets as the jails being run by private corporations, who in some cases (states?) have imposed minimum occupancy limits, and if those 'targets' (say, 97% full) are not met, then the municipality which 'runs' the jail is fined....."

          Actually, those jails are being taken back by the states. They're not saving them money which was the main reason for them being privately run in the first place. Seems private enterprise has trouble like everyone else with an enterprise (like a prison) which is inherently a money sink. The benefits of jails are not monetary in nature, which is why it's normally the State that runs them.

      5. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        "I'm less concerned about secret gummint spying than I am about CORPORATE spying"

        Well, obviously the govn't will be LEVERAGING the corporations' capabilities. No question about it. Imagine the pressure points the govn't has access to (hint: billions of dollars of levies). In case laws are too obvious, of course.

        We have already seen numerous examples of this. Trump even publically told us that that's how you put big corp's into their place.

  26. Lomax
    Stop

    IPA needed to remain competitive

    No one seems to appreciate that this is precisely the kind of legislation this country needs in order to remain competitive in the globalised economy. For far too long the UK government has pandered to liberal nonsense like the right to a fair trial, freedom of expression and equality before the law. How do you libtards expect us to be able to compete successfully with China unless our authorities are able to act freely in the best interest of the nation? China, which knows a thing or two about how to handle disruptive dissent, has a 99.9% conviction rate - only if our own legal system can match their efficiency will we stand a chance!

    1. WonkoTheSane
      Headmaster

      Re: IPA needed to remain competitive

      You forgot your <sarcasm>...</sarcasm> tags.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Lomax

        Re: IPA needed to remain competitive

        Who said I was being sarcastic? Do you not see the connection between a ruthless judiciary and an obedient, productive, workforce? In this world you either grow or die, and if the British workforce needs a few slaps and a gag to better concentrate on delivering the required growth - so be it! There can be no room for lazy dissent in post Brexit Britain; the onus is now on every citizen to work hard, keep their mouths shut, and prove that we can compete on our own.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: IPA needed to remain competitive

          Easy now Pooh Bear, the fetish overload is a bit In Our Face. Where's the IT angle?

      3. M man

        Re: IPA needed to remain competitive

        Or hthey didnt......or Poes Law?

      4. Pedigree-Pete
        Thumb Up

        Re: Forgotten sarcasm icon

        and to date 15 people didn't get it. Shame. PP

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: IPA needed to remain competitive

      Come on! Don't downvote this excellent sarcastic comment! Get on the upvote button and correct!

  27. JaitcH
    WTF?

    Why The Fuss?

    Plod, et al, have been lieing their heads off in court for years.

    This legislation just legitimises it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why The Fuss?

      From my experience on a jury - I agree with you. I now treat a statement from a police officer as no more reliable than a statement from a politician. I would not accept a statement from the police as true without a LOT of physical evidence.

      AC for obvious reasons.

  28. Lomax

    There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with tazers will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn't there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

    I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now prime minister, Theresa May. She promised you order, she promised you peace, and all she demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      I find this sad and yet truthful. And since your country has this act, I'm sure the US and others will now find a way to enact something equivalent. But, take pride.. you had it first.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Already did Mark 85. Patriot Acts I & II.

        Way ahead of you.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Oops.. forgot that we got the Patriot Act BS first with certain provisions along the same lines.... Still, it's a race to the bottom and whether we in the US will get there first or someone else won't matter as we're all screwed. We won't know until we hit he bottom and by then it will be too late.

    2. Red Bren
      Unhappy

      @Lomax

      "I know why you did it."

      It wasn't me.

      "I know you were afraid."

      No I wasn't, but I am now. The question is, am I too afraid to do anything about it?

    3. Lomax
      Megaphone

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKvvOFIHs4k

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I await our 'St Marys' event .......... should be soon.

      "I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now prime minister, Theresa May. She promised you order, she promised you peace, and all she demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent."

      Thank you for the 'V' speech :)

      Unfortunately, I cannot laugh as this is really serious and we do not have a 'V' to fight back.

      The apparent 'Brexit focused' mindset of the govt is ideal to keep everyone 'misdirected' while a few 'corrections' are made to our laws to 'facilitate' our war on terror (or anyone we decide we do not like).

      Trump is, of course, an even more useful 'misdirection' and his random communications to the rest of the world keeps the sense of dread high to justify anything that may be thought up.

      ['May' wordplay not intended :) ]

      We now reap the consequences of creating a generation that are more interested in where the most Pokemon Go points can be found and who do not care about anything other than being able to 'live' in Facebook/Twitter/etc or St Job's 'Apple scented' garden 24/7.

      This change in our law will not be noticed or engender any response from the populace as they are too apathetic. Don't be fooled by a few media savvy 'remoaners' they are not a large group by any measure and will also not 'notice' this change being so focused on the 'good fight' :)

      We have thrown away Privacy and now the concept of fair and equal protection by the law, what comes next ????

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: I await our 'St Marys' event .......... should be soon.

        "We now reap the consequences of creating a generation that are more interested in where the most Pokemon Go points can be found and who do not care about anything other than being able to 'live' in Facebook/Twitter/etc or St Job's 'Apple scented' garden 24/7."

        To be fair to the young ones, most of those are not elegible to vote yet. Mine is 11, for example.

        And, many of the middle age or older people are just as non-interested and uninformed as the gaming generations.

  29. JJKing Bronze badge
    Black Helicopters

    How is this happening?

    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

    Where are all the good men because evil is kicking the shit out of us? I will be out of this place soon but I fear for my children who will have carry on in this dictatorial world. Maybe Mars will be a better place to live for them and no, I am not being sarcastic or flippant.

    Give me liberty or give me death. I guess death is now the only option.

  30. M man

    Couldn't you just ask the defendant after you coach them.

    "What your opinion of the evidence against you."

    Def:"the IPA section 55 prevents me from answering this question truthfully"

    In fact you could USE this as a defence even in cases where there are no evidence collected under IPA since denial that it was collected under IPA cant be gurenteed to be true DUE TO THIS LAW.

    Once somebody gets off by answering this. I could see this law being removed pretty sharpish.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm afraid this would work the other way around: since you can not question the origin or integrity of presented evidence, it will be considered valid no matter what.

      If you refuse to answer based on an Act, the court can still force you to answer, since the law represents the Crown which represents the greater good™. British law is based on hundreds of years of the royals and loyals stacking the deck - if you think it's not a lose/lose situation, you underestimate the obsessive need for control of your lawmakers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        >[...] the court can still force you to answer [...]

        Not true.

        You still have the right to silence, even in a court of law, though not many people seem to know this.

        The authorities and legal establishment are forbidden from forcing you to testify against yourself.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          "The authorities [..] are forbidden from forcing you to testify against yourself"

          Trust me, they're working on that point.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1985 Edge-of-Darkness for real

    "The UK is now a measurably less free country in terms of technological security, permitted speech and ability to resist abuses of power and position by agents of the State, be those shadowy spys, police inspectors and above (ie, shift leaders in your local cop shop)"

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Edge-of-Darkness??? (TV 1985)

    "The UK is now a measurably less free country in terms of technological security, permitted speech and ability to resist abuses of power and position by agents of the State, be those shadowy spys, police inspectors and above (ie, shift leaders in your local cop shop)"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Edge-of-Darkness??? (TV 1985)

      GET ME PENDLETON!!!!!

      At least in EoD there were some trustworthy characters in Whitehall and in the police (outside London, anyway). Not sure that applies any more.

      IT connection (dinosaurs only): some scenes filmed in the former Systime HQ in Leeds.

      Written by Troy Kennedy Martin, original/working title: "Magnox". Nuclear adviser: Walt Patterson.

      A quality item if ever there was one. We shall not see its like again.

      Viewers who liked Edge Of Darkness and/or are interested in historic technology may also like the rarely seen 1982 drama, Bird of Prey:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_of_Prey_(TV_serial)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72BeosFHRbI

      Also Bird of Prey 2.

      Edge of Darkness music by Clapton and friends, Bird of Prey (series 1) music by Dave Greenslade.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: Edge-of-Darkness??? (TV 1985)

        Thanks for reminding me... still got the tapes around somewhere, guess I'll watch it again over x-mas as an antidote against all the syrupy crap on TV.

        "If the Whitehouse calls, tell 'em I'm on the front."

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Bird_of_Prey

        ~ No worries AC, thanks for this xmas viewing tip too!

        ~ Shame not even one episode on YouTube (just opening credits).

        ~ Nothing on Torrent either...

        ~ Plus its not available to buy in my region.

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        ~ Anyone got hold of it by some other means?

        ~ Do they ever reshow if on BBC (filmontv)???

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          Re: Bird_of_Prey

          Well it is available in the UK and makes a jolly good watch - still. Some of the scenes made me surprised it was shown on British Television at the time (for spurious moralistic reasons rather than the wider conspiracy). An a fine music track as well

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bird_of_Prey

          (Original AC here)

          There are a couple of the DVDs on eBay UK at the moment, but don't know if they ship abroad and you need to sit down before seeing the price.

          I have it on DVD somewhere (bought from Sainsburys Online for £12 or so) but moved house not long ago and it's among the stuff waiting to be unpacked.

          I've no recollection of ever seeing it repeated on TV, and even less expectation that it will ever get a legitimate repeat anywhere: (a) It's a bit dated (not that Downton etc worry about that (b) it's a bit too close to modern reality.

          Are there any hints in

          http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/07/monitor_bird_of_prey_retrospective/

          (looks like there might be, especially in the comments, but I don't know what's applicable to you)

          Best of luck.

          1. David 18

            Re: Bird_of_Prey

            There's one full episode here: http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tv/id/1044237/

            A fine resource for lots of other old stuff though.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Bird_of_Prey

              "There's one full episode here"

              Yes, if you're a registered British Film Institute user. No, registration is not generally free, unless you're a qualifying institution.

              But thanks for the pointer anyway.

              1. David 18

                Re: Bird_of_Prey

                Pants! When did that change?

                I watched a load of old Will Hay films last year, after reading an article about him here. Don't recall having to register :(

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about this summary, for a conscientious juror?

    I would like to synthesise (on Facebook) some of the marvellous commentary info on this thread, to offer the shortest possible guide to any non-tech specialists (and non-law specialists) who might find themselves on a jury nowadays.

    How would I be doing with this summary (and many thanks in advance for any comments)?::

    > =======

    Did you know: in the UK, jurors can give whatever verdict they think is *just*, and they do not have to give reasons.

    One major example is that even if they think the case has been proven, but they think a law is wrong, or is being misapplied, they are free to say "guilty" or "not guilty", even if going against the direct order of the Judge. And even if the jury's deliberations would be made public somehow, no juror would have done anything wrong. There is even a plaque in the Old Bailey in London, celebrating the 17th-century case that established this principle.

    Needless to say, they don't like you to know this, and trial judges usually deny any defendant's lawyer's request to inform the jury of this.

    I thought I'd mention this, because the Government just passed the Investigatory Powers Act. It allows the State to legally hack any person they don't like, in any way they want - which to me, is a law that is 100% wrong. But this law also makes it illegal for anyone to mention in court the source of such hacked material - which to me means that whenever the State brings any electronic evidence, in any high profile case, there is a reasonable suspicion that it was acquired under these "universal hacking powers" of the Investigatory Powers Act, so I could never convict based on such evidence.

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: How about this summary, for a conscientious juror?

      It allows the State to legally hack any person they don't like, in any way they want - which to me, is a law that is 100% wrong.

      Good, but you need to make it clear that said evidence would not be trustworthy. It's one thing for "well, the evidence was obtained by the spooks hacking the machine", but "well, the evidence was obtained by the spooks hacking the machine and falsifying what was there is quite different.

      People brought up on a great many cop etc shoes/movies, especially many from the US, where it's shown that "cop made slight breach of procedure/law, but put dangerous criminal behind bars/in the ground" can get this view that "cops breaking stupid laws to get dangerous crims is a good thing", and trust me, the prosecution will try to paint any breach of procedure as a grave necessity to the jury. Just coz they got valid evidence in an illegal manner does not make the evidence itself bad in probably most people's minds, and in many they will regard the law that made the gathering as stupid. You have to convince the jury that the evidence is not trustworthy, either out of context (as with the suggest "how to make an atomic bomb" comment earlier) or fabricated, in whole or in part.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How about this summary, for a conscientious juror?

        No - my point was exactly this issue – a juror does NOT have to suspect the evidence was falsified at all.

        A juror, it seems to me, can simply decide that this law is fundamentally wrong, is an outrage against justice, and therefore any evidence which may have been acquired through this law should be ignored.

        Whether the evidence is compelling or dubious is irrelevant – if jurors think that justice is best served by freeing people who are being accused of evidence that may have been harvested in this outrageous way, they are free to do that.

        (Like they chose to free Clive Ponting - the case was proven, but a law involved was an outrage and deserved to be ignored in that case.)

        That's true, isn't it?

  34. Dave 15 Silver badge

    surprised?

    Not really

    These make hitler, the gestapo and stalin all total amateurs.

    Worse is that the labour party were just as bad

    It is about control.. fear and control.

    The British people have no freedom or rights anymore. We are drones educated just enough to do the jobs our 'betters' decree are needed.

    Hateful laws from a hateful civil service (they are the ones who should be stopping this crap)

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: surprised?

      "These make hitler, the gestapo and stalin all total amateurs."

      They did really well with the technology available to them at the time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: surprised?

        this is difficult. I agree with you, but don't want to up vote ....

  35. Richard Barnes

    Before we all get carried away

    On reading section 56 (1) of the act, it would seem that while nobody is allowed to disclose any evidence of interception in court, unless I've missed something the act would not seem to allow witnesses to lie outright about the origin of information.

    Where does it say in the act that somebody is allowed to perjure themselves? Surely, all anybody would be able to say is something like "I am not lawfully allowed to answer that question"?

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Before we all get carried away

      "Where does it say in the act that somebody is allowed to perjure themselves? Surely, all anybody would be able to say is something like "I am not lawfully allowed to answer that question"?"

      Well, it's all sunshine and roses then, isn't it!?

      Not having to actually disclose the source of the evidence doesn't open up a massive hole in checks and balances system, does it?

  36. JustNiz

    >> The problem here is not that drug dealers are being caught, but that they are being caught in a way that subverts the legal system and unfairly skews what is supposed to be a level and honest playing field in court.

    Aww poor little flowers. If the dealers are stopped with drugs on them then they deserve everything they get. Actually I wish there was a law that the cops could just shoot them on the spot like the evil parasitic vermin they are, and save millions of taxpayers money for far better, much needed uses like heating pensioners houses in the winter.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      "If the dealers are stopped with drugs on them then [...] I wish there was a law that the cops could just shoot them on the spot [...]"

      Nice idea, until the day that the cop makes a mis-identification of what the "dealer" (which might be you or friend or relative) is carrying. Unless you have some amzing scheme to turn all cops into infallible beings (in which case, please do share) that *will* happen, and probably sooner than you think.

      So the law bothers to go through something too boring for your puny mind called "due process".

    2. Suricou Raven

      Remember that just about everyone is a criminal now, they just haven't been caught. If the police can use secret sources to uncover even real crimes, that power can be easily abused for a fishing expedition.

      Are you making trouble for your local politician? Protesting a building project that might bring in a lot of tax money? Uncovering some embarrassing incompetence on the council? Then just bring in the secret intelligence services. Somewhere you will have done something illegal - an incorrectly completed tax form, illegally seeded a movie torrent, sneakily driven off after grazing a parked car. Perhaps some indiscretion years ago with drugs or some petty shoplifting. It's all good enough to get the message across: Stop drawing our attention.

    3. Red Bren

      I wish there was a law that criminalised or legalised drugs based on the medical evidence of the harm it did. That would save millions of pounds and even open up a new tax revenue stream to heat pensioners' houses in winter.

    4. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Actually I wish there was a law that the cops could just shoot them on the spot

      Because that's working out so well in the Philippines?

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How about I shoot you in the face? Nothing personal, it's just against the law to issue sweeping death threats like that. If it isn't, we'll make it, don't worry.

      If you want justice in the street, I'll be happy to give it to you. Embrace the divine task of volunteering to serve justice for the honour of your country, and be remembered as The Man Who Had It Coming!

      Note how I phrased this not as a threat, but as a question, albeit an inviting one, so you can still politely decline, a nuance I am sure you will be able to appreciate when held at gunpoint over what you thought were pizza herbs.

      You propose turning society into an terrorist wasteland, and splay out Brittannia to submit to whichever commie invader gets there first, a bit like some other group of islands over in the Pacific. That's treason, old chap. Surely, you can not want that, so just kneel, bend your head, and say your goodbyes, it's for your own good. Say hi to Dr. Strangelove when you get to the other side will you?

      Godspeed,

      Your neighbour the firearms enthusiast, who's had it with this sort of pansy talk. No affiliation to any cartel, but that can be fixed if you prefer a burning tire around the neck.

      Don't like it? Grow a funny bone.

    6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Aww poor little flowers."

      The poor little flowers are all of us.

      What protection would you expect if you were wrongly accused? You'd expect the prosecution to have to prove its case against you. You'd expect that it wouldn't be allowed to take short cuts, to suppress evidence or to present false evidence. In short, you'd expect to be assumed to be innocent unless you were proved guilty in a fair trial.

      But you might say "I know I'm innocent, I shouldn't be treated like those bad drug dealers who are guilty."

      Well, you may know you're innocent but in advance of a case being heard I don't know whether you are or not nor do I know if those accused of being drug dealers are guilty or not. All I or anyone else including a court can do is make the same assumptions about all of you. It is arrant nonsense to think that there is some means by which you or I, if wrongly accused, are to get some rights and those rightly accused are not.

      If from your point of view as an innocent wrongly accused, that assumption of innocence, then that assumption must be extended to all. And in the past that has been reckoned to be a fundamental right of all of us.

      Another right, going all the way back to Magna Carta has been our right to due process of law. Due process has come to include the need for TPTB to present an independent judge or magistrate with a prima facie case sufficient to justify a warrant.

      This Act sweeps all these rights away and not the least of the issues is that instead of being signed by an independent judge or magistrate warrants are now to be signed by a minister. That raises a whole new spectre of political persecution.

      The poor little flowers are all of us.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Doctor Syntax,

        Very well put & explained.

        It is, unfortunately, going to be ignored by most as the 'You have nothing to fear if you are innocent' line is well and truely embedded in the mind of the average Brit.

        The visibility of the law going wrong is almost Zero ......... most people think that the law works well and is in fact hindered by laws that favour the Criminals.

        The new ability to 'walk through' the obstructions to getting the result you want, will be supported.

        Only after the fact when 'mistakes' are made and finally recognised will the penny drop, of course too late !!!

        I await the first 'leak' to the newspapers of damning 'evidence' to close down Protestors or Lobbyist or Union Leaders etc over some favoured project that the Govt of the day needs to see completed.

        If we wait a bit longer we will soon be having our own 'Show Trials' just like the USSR of old. :)

        I can hardly wait.!!!

    7. Kiwi Silver badge
      Stop

      Actually I wish there was a law that the cops could just shoot them on the spot like the evil parasitic vermin they are,

      Would be great if they could do that for terrorists as well, don't ya think? Like that guy who was going to blow up a train, what was his name now? Jean Charles de Menezes?

    8. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Perhaps you should go live in the Philippines then

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Perhaps you should go live in the Philippines then"

        Been there. Many there LIKE the hard stance on drug users. They've suffered decades of police state and seem ready to give anarchy a chance.

        Because, in the end, it's going to be one or the other.

  37. Someone Else Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Welcome to "justice"...

    ...in the post-Trump era.

    1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

      Re: Welcome to "justice"...

      Hey, you guys did this to yourselves...I doubt that anyone on the Trump team even knows that this law exists.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Welcome to "justice"...

        "I doubt that anyone on the Trump team even knows that this law exists."

        If they don't I'm sure it'll be explained to them by someone who wants it for themselves.

  38. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

    Dear Great Britain,

    seriously, WTF?

    But don't call your politicians 'stupid' - they were smart enough to exempt themselves from the Snoopers Charter.

    Bootnote: some or the posts mention things like making the establishment crumble etc. If you do, start with razing Eton.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

      Re: Dear Great Britain,

      However their friends and families are not exempt. Plenty of leverage there methinks

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dear Great Britain,

        "However their friends and families are not exempt. Plenty of leverage there methinks"

        Many would note that utter ruthlessness is one prerequisite to being a politician. Meaning don't be surprised to see many of them throw their own mothers under the train to protect their own skins.

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Dear Great Britain,

      "But don't call your politicians 'stupid' - they were smart enough to exempt themselves from the Snoopers Charter."

      Being short-sighted like that is a sure sign of stupidity. Greed, and intellectual lazyness trumping values and integrity. STUPIDITY!

  39. WatAWorld

    "lies told by people whose sole task is to weave a stories that justify their salaries

    "lies told by people whose sole task is to weave a story that will get you sent to prison or fined thousands of pounds"

    I prefer, "lies told by people whose sole task is to weave a stories that justify their salaries by sending people to prison".

    Justifying salaries and building internal empires, that is what the civil service excels at.

  40. Kiwi Silver badge
    WTF?

    Disgusting..

    I thought NZ under shonky were the only ones to do this..

    Not only create horrible law, but where crimes were committed by members of certain agency's (eg our equivalent to GCHQ, members of whom comitted criminal acts in the handling of the sordid Dotcom affair), then make it so they cannot be brought to justice.

    A few days ago I thought Charles 9 was being quite silly talking about the government compelling people to lie in court. Now I see that, even though under oath to tell the truth, there is still great pressure to go along with government lies.

    I thought that stuff only happened here.

    Yes, sleep well tonight Brits. When the reality starts to bite, you may never sleep again, so get it while you can.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Disgusting..

      Being compelled to lie in my case would be the result of a court order: the trial onus has already passed. This Act seems to make sure warrant canaries can't be used effectively.

  41. Potemkine Silver badge

    "There is no crueler tyranny...

    ...than that which is perpetuated under the shield of law and in the name of justice"

    Having a Constitution and an organism to check if laws follow the Constitution is handy is such situation... In most democratic countries such a law would be deemed unconstitutional because of its violation of basic human rights.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: "There is no crueler tyranny...

      "Having a Constitution and an organism to check if laws follow the Constitution is handy is such situation... In most democratic countries such a law would be deemed unconstitutional because of its violation of basic human rights."

      Ink on a page. A document is only as good as the force behind it willing to defend it.

  42. The Boojum
    Thumb Down

    Sounds like a perfect 'out' for Jury service

    "Your Honour, I am unable to serve on this jury as I am unable to convict the defendant under any circumstances on the basis that, under the Investigatory Powers Act, the Prosecution is unable to convince me, beyond reasonable doubt, that it's evidence has not been manufactured or otherwise materially tampered with."

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like a perfect 'out' for Jury service

      Wouldn't they just respond with a contempt ruling or the like? As I recall, jury duty can only be legally avoided under specific listed conditions (ill health, deployed military, in school, linchpin situation, etc.)

  43. localzuk

    And yet people don't like the Human Rights Act.

    Pretty sure multiple clauses of this new law are incompatble with the HRA. It'd take court cases to sort out though...

  44. Shaha Alam
    Coffee/keyboard

    what a lovely Orwellian pickle we seem to have found ourselves in.

  45. Casual Observer

    Stupid question

    Does this part of the act only apply to evidence put forward by the prosecution?

    If not all the defence has to do is make up their own evidence, eg it has come to our attention via a reliable source that Officer A and Officer B conspired to fabricate and plant the evidence presented, they also ..... Etc

    Then use the act in order to hide the origin of the evidence.

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Stupid question

      "Does this part of the act only apply to evidence put forward by the prosecution?"

      I'm pretty sure you have to be pre-approved by the state to present lies.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Couldn't you use this against them?

    Like, if you were defending yourself from a charge, just make up something and say "Sorry, but under section 56, you cannot question the evidence."

  47. Tom Paine Silver badge

    I don't get it

    Potentially, you could be legally bound to go along with lies told in court about your communications – lies told by people whose sole task is to weave a story that will get you sent to prison or fined thousands of pounds.

    (1) What are they going to claim? A policeman just happened to be passing an open window and overheard the defendant saying "OK Fred, the shipment of cocaine will be at the docks at 3am on Thursday"?

    and (2), won't the defendants say "the prosecution have just made this evidence up, which is obvious because they refuse to explain how they obtained it"?

    I just don't understand how this would play out in the real world.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: I don't get it

      Do the British courts have the concept of "contempt of court"? If so, there's your answer.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Semi joking suggestion

    Anybody round here know anybody who knows "Judge Rinder" [1] (who isn't really a judge, but is really a barrister, and does play a "judge" on TV in the UK's near-equivalent of the US's "Judge Judy").

    He's also openly gay and from Jewish ancestry (including a Holocaust survivor) so he or those near to him might understand where May's laws may lead, and might not be all that happy about it.

    Just a thought - apologies if not original or not appropriate.

    [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Rinder

  49. rgriffith

    bring the law up in count

    The law itself invalidates any evidence it may relate to. Simply any evidence covered by the law is not to be trusted by the court and is therefore unusable for a conviction.

    If ever facing prosecution where there prosecution may lie, simply bring the law to the attention of the court and that the evidence then being admitted by the crown is not to be trusted as they are legally allowed to be making it up. The fact that the evidence could be fabricated and that there is no pressure for that side to tell the truth should bring the evidence into question.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: bring the law up in count

      Except they must just throw you into jail for contempt or the like. Oh, and they'll restart the trial. In which case they've got you over the proverbial barrel.

  50. cortland

    This could be interesting

    It would be interesting to see someone accused of committing a crime when he was unconscious in hospital and not able to enter that as evidence in his defense. On the other hand, the existence of the ability to lie with impunity opens the prosecution up to the accusation that nothing it says can be trusted.

  51. Identity
    Black Helicopters

    enshrining the status quo

    That is all...

  52. willi0000000

    it's probably just me . . . it usually is.

    This law seems to make one of the cops oldest ploys legal. Cops will bend, twist or just fabricate evidence to convict a "known criminal / gang member" because "it's obvious that we have to get him off the streets."

    if they could prove it, they would have done it years ago but this guy is a bit smarter than the cops so they take the low road and put him away. Problem solved, public safe, cops win . . . hooray!

    Just one wee problem . . . the real murderer is still out there!

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: it's probably just me . . . it usually is.

      "Just one wee problem . . . the real murderer is still out there!"

      Not a problem for them at the moment. Maybe he'll pull a Jack the Ripper and just vanish or go elsewhere. Somebody Else's Problem now.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: it's probably just me . . . it usually is.

      "Just one wee problem . . . the real murderer is still out there!"

      And probably wearing a state supplied blue serge uniform...

  53. Brent Beach

    No safe laws?

    Governments should only pass laws they are comfortable with being in place when the worst possible opposition party gains power.

    The danger is that while the government passing laws that create the potential for a country to become lawless - if those in power want it to be lawless - may not use the full extent of those powers, there is always the possibility of a government being elected that will use those powers without restraint.

    All the powers Obama has used, has failed to sunlight, has failed to make illegal, but used perhaps responsibly, are now available to Trump.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: No safe laws?

      What makes you think the parties are really in opposition instead of just playing mind games with the hoi polloi?

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On the plus side, at least we can vote them out in five years.

    </clutching at straws, sarcasm>

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Only to learn the only opposition you have versus the Beast is the Smiler: the jackass versus the sociopath. Pick your poison.

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