Re: The year the BBC died
I doubt the Beeb will miss you either.
16426 posts • joined 16 Jun 2014
"it is inevitable there is a case where guilt or innocence on the available evidence comes down to a simple mathematical probability at which point a threshold has to be determined."
Not really. If you take a typical trace material investigation you're effectively saying there's a 1 in x chance of this material being found on someone being hauled in at random and asking the jury to decide if x is a big enough number. But the situation is that the defendant shouldn't have been hauled in at random, there should be other reasons to have arrested him. That should also be part of the evidence. You should have multiple lines of evidence coinciding.
What I'm not happy with (as per Bazza's fingerprint case) is someone with a match in the records being charged and that match being the only evidence submitted.
Basic scientific method is that you form a hypothesis (for some good reason, not at random) and then try test it by trying to disprove it. You look for tests which make it difficult for the confirmatory result to be obtained by chance.
If fingerprint or DNA is the most discriminatory technique at your disposal then if that's your original reason for suspicion your confirmatory evidence, by definition, isn't going to be as good. If you allow for the fact that there could be an innocent basis for the fingerprint or DNA being found (including contamination in the case of DNA) then the case is actually resting on less good evidence.
"As for detector vans, the only way they could effectively have ever worked would be if there was someone inside snooping on the sound coming from a home"
No, as Bazza has pointed out the local oscillator, at least with the old valve sets, churned out a fair amount of leakage. Knowing the local channel frequencies and the IF of set (which were standard but I can't remember what that was) you could not only detect the set but identify what it was tuned to. I suspect modern sets might not be so verbose.
"I don't suppose you're much of a fan of how forensic examinations are now commissioned. Forensics used to be a way by which suspects could be eliminated as well as identifying perpetrators."
You're right on both counts.
I'd have gone further in my day. We were a civil service dept. ultimately managed by a govt. department. I was never aware of any interference in case work but they did have an influence on promotion (it's odd how I was offered a promotion with no paperwork let alone the formality of an interview board and outside the normal annual cycle as soon as I handed in my notice after being sat at the top of the scale for several years). Nevertheless, on the basis of justice being seen to be done I think there should have been a supervisory board containing at least one judge and at least one regular prosecution QC and at least one regular defence QC. However the position with the Met lab was even worse as they were part of the Met Police.
Good point about those BT hubs!
"there is actually a legal definition of the level of mathematical certainty required for Beyond Reasonable Doubt - and it is, if I remember correctly, much lower bar than many would think - something like there has to be better than an 18 : 1 chance of being right"
If that's so it must be a relatively recent decision (last 30 years is recent - I'm getting old!) otherwise I'd never have heard of it. Have you got a citation for that?
Where things could be reasonably well calculated such as blood groups (and no, that's not just ABO, it included a lot of blood enzymes as well) that was just quoted and the court could make up its own mind, taking into account all the evidence. However I'd have explained just what 1 in 18 - or any other number meant and I don't think any reasonable jury would convict on that.
'As defence you're not even allowed to challenge the "expert" evidence in court or even discuss probabilities.'
As an ex-forensic scientist I've spent many hours in court being challenged*. The closest your statement resembles reality is that no counsel I encountered on either side displayed a knowledge of statistics.
From time to time we encountered defence "experts". They would come into the lab to use our equipment to examine the evidence. A number of times I've had to take an "expert" through the controls of a comparison fluorescence microscope. One "expert", redundant, I believe from some industrial job, would take on cases involving all manner of evidence types; within the lab we had our own specialities and stuck to those.
I left before DNA came into use. I do share some reservations about that. I read the original paper, which depended on matching electrophoresis patterns of DNA fragments shortly after looking into the statistics of matching patterns of damage on shoe prints and suspected that there were assumptions in the pattern matching which hadn't been dealt with. Modern techniques don't depend on this but have now become so sensitive that contamination is a problem and I've read of at least one forensic scientist being in trouble for not taking this into account.
"Signal != Person"
AFAIA it's the householder's responsibility to obtain a TV licence so if the network is within the household it doesn't matter who's using it - providing it can be demonstrated that it wasn't a neighbour attaching themselves to it.
*I've also had the experience of a prosecution barrister trying to get me to put more significance on an item of evidence than I considered that it bore - and eventually being rescued by an objection from the defence.
'For the life of me, I cannot understand why M$ thinks it's OK to remove control over the configuration of production machines. I guess they just assume that only Enterprise Edition customers use their computers for "real work," and the rest of us just play Candy Crush Soda Saga.'
Haven't you worked that out? Even if you only use one computer for real work you're supposed to go out and entangle yourself in enterprise-scale licensing and costs. There may be an option coming a little later for a remote desktop terminal install which just signs you in to do all your work on Azure.
"Why single out the UK government? Did they think it would be an easy target?
Why not try the same thing against the US government"
Because it's UK legislation that's being challenged.
Because the UK is a signatory of the ECHR where C = Convention.
Because the UK is subject to the jurisdiction of the ECHR where C = Court.
Because none of the above apply to the US.
Is it really so difficult to understand?
"Don't tell me there are Word-compatible applications on Linux - I've head it all before, they are not fully compatible. They send the formatting crazy, reflow the text, tear tables apart and balk at docx files."
IOW you were running Word. Perfectly possible with Wine.
"Nobody any sense or a half-way competent legal department would sign up to those conditions."
Those without sense won't run it past their legal departments anyway. Legal departments need to be pro-active in this. Sadly, being in a legal department doesn't guarantee sense; I wonder how many legal depts. and law firms are actually using these products already.
Could elReg please go back to ofGem, get the name and email address of a specific contact to whom we can address our concerns and publish it as an updaye. If they haven't appointed one yet their CEO would be a fine substitute until such time as they do. If they refuse, publish their exact grounds for refusal.
"obstruction of justice (why is this not the charge for failing to disclose the passcode anyway?)."
IANAL but maybe possible self-incrimination could be grounds for challenging obstruction, hence the need to create a separate offence. At some point this seems likely to go to the ECHR. An accompanying charge of possession of two firearms isn't the best case to take to the ECHR, however.
"They don't hold significant gold or reserves to back them up. Not since the end of the gold standard decades ago anyway....The differences between virtual and traditional currency is less than many people think though!"
Gold as a means of backing up currency worked because it was a substance in limited supply which everyone agreed to treat as valuable. Fiat currencies came about because the essential agreement failed. Bitcoins were devised to be limited in supply. The essential difference between them and gold is that they're virtual, not substantial. As "traditional" currencies are now fiat currencies the virtual currencies are more similar to the now obsolete gold-standard currencies.
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