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Archive for the ‘Civil liberties’ Category

I wonder if all the people who are now complaining about the new Google Street View web service, are the same people who, when asked about the escalation in the growth of CCTV in the UK, blithely respond that, “if you’ve got nothing to hide why should you be concerned that you’re being watched?’ This response has become one of life’s cliches and one which I always find incredibly shallow. These same people never think of asking the question the other way around.

Maybe, just maybe, people will now begin to recognise the insidious nature of all CCTV, and the implications for civil society in the breakdown of the relationship between the citizen and the state.

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Dramatic news coverage of the New Labour party machine in action has been leaked to the media. See the cast of characters in action as they blitz their way to their final solution.

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So now we know. He knew but didn’t check.

The speaker did know in advance of the raid on Damian Green’s office, and in what must be the most pathetic and weakest of excuses possible he says he wasn’t told that the police did not have a search warrant. (I’ll leave aside the very debateable point, that even with a search warrant it’s highly contentious that an MP’s office in Parliament may be searched at all).

Wasn’t told? Why didn’t he ask the most basic of questions? There can’t be anyone who’s ever watched a police drama, that doesn’t know that a warrant is needed to invade private property. What was he doing? Asleep on his watch it would seem. The very fact that he confirms he was aware of the raid makes it even worse. That alone should have put him on his guard and sharpened his senses to ask the obvious question. Knowing of the raid what were his thought processes? Clearly he completely failed to join the dots which should have led him to ask for the warrant to be produced.

For heavens sake, any self respecting low-life criminal knows to ask when confronting the boys in blue on his doorstep, ‘have you got a warrant?’.

This whole episode defies belief and must surely raise the question of Martin’s ability and political common sense.

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Amongst the furore of the Damian Green arrest, and all the other implications that flow from that, is the largely unremarked element of the collection of DNA ‘evidence’.

I, like many others these last few years, have been extremely concerned about the routine collection, and retainment of DNA evidence. It seems to be the case that collection of DNA is now an automatic part of the arrest procedure. Whilst on the face of it that is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, in that it may help tie the suspect into other crimes, even if the suspect is eventually released without charge his DNA evidence is retained. The mere fact that someone is arrested is apparently sufficient grounds for collecting and retaining DNA

That I would suggest, in a society that was previously thought of as a free society, is completely intolerable. Put simply the state has no right to retain DNA evidence of law abiding citizens. Where might this lead? The state may decide that it would be useful to have as many samples of its citizens’ DNA as possible. Short of passing an Act that would require this, (and I fear that we’re getting pretty close with the iris recognition aspects of obtaining a passport), which even for ZANU Labour would probably be a step too far, it may nevertheless think it a good idea to have as many arrests as possible, the better able to collect DNA evidence under the existing system.

What next? An arrest and DNA collection for any minor traffic violation or speeding offence. An arrest for reading out the names of the Iraqi dead in Downing Street? An arrest for heckling Jack Straw at a Labour Party conference.

What fanciable suggestions. Such things couldn’t happen here.

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Dear Helen,

Re the Damian Green affair.

I have on previous occasions reminded you that after the primary duty of representing your constituents, your secondary duty is to hold the government to account. I have so far not detected this in your dealings with Ministers. I trust that even you can see the seriousness of this affair and will change your apparent habit of never questioning the government about a controversial matter.

The Damian Green affair is extremely worrying for our democracy and the constitutional position of the House of Commons. I sincerely hope that you will now ask some questions of Ministers and the Speaker George Martin.

1. No one has yet, as far as I can tell, specifically asked Jacqui Smith if she knew of the arrest of Damian Green before it took place. We have had vague comments from government officials that no minister knew in advance but that’s doesn’t preclude the fact that they may have been consulted whilst the police took a decision whether to arrest or not. These are weasel words and need to be examined in detail. Please do not confuse this with the independency of the Police. It is right that they are independent of government ministers since they are essentially a citizens police force and must make decisions independent of Ministers. But that does not mean that in an obviously serious case like the arrest of an MP that the Home Secretary should not be consulted for advice. Even Boris Johnson for heavens sake knew about the police involvement, and I cannot believe that Jacqui Smith was unaware. Will you therefore specifically put down a question in the House, to Jacqui Smith, asking this specific question. Was she or any civil servant in her department consulted about, told in advance, or in any way made aware of the possibility of the arrest?

2. I understand that George Martin authorised the police to search the office in Parliament of Damian Green? This is intolerable. The House of Commons is in our constitutional arrangement a court of law, and carries the special privileges that attach to any court. Amongst which is the security of information contained within the court. Will you also put down a question asking the Speaker why he has failed to uphold the status of Parliament and why he permitted the police to raid the office of an MP?

These events cause me great concern. There is something wrong with our democracy when the Prevention of Terrorism Act is used for a case like this, when clearly Damian Green is no threat to the security of the realm. I’m not altogether surprised at this slide in our freedom.

We’ve seen how this same Act has been used to suppress a poor woman who wanted to read out in Downing Street the names of the Iraqi dead. We had the disgraceful case of the 82 year old Walter Wolfgang being arrested under the Terrorism Act at your Labour conference for having the temerity to heckle Jack Straw, and of course we’ve had the government wanting to lift the detention period of suspects arrested under the Terrorism Act from 28 days to 90 days.

I look forward to your response and confirmation that you will deal with points 1 & 2 above and ask those questions in Parliament.

Yours sincerely,

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So Damian Green the Conservative Immigration spokesman has been arrested in connection with a series of leaks about immigration statistics from the Home Office. Well if that’s to be the case I sincerely hope that as much attention will be paid to those in government, who in recent days were clearly leaking details of Alistair Darling’s pre-Budget report.

Am I the only one who finds this contradiction in treatment extremely worrying. 60 years ago, Hugh Dalton the then Chancellor of the Exchequer resigned for having leaked details to a journalist on the day of his budget. Clearly that is wrong since this sort of financial information is extremely market sensitive. Yet no one seems to be pursuing those in government who have clearly been leaking this sensitive data.

There is a world of difference between non sensitive immigration numbers and tax and financial information.

Why is Damian Green being singled out?

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So after years of lying to us, and complaining that stories of bent bananas and curved cucumbers  were wicked myths, put about by eurosceptics, the European Commission is today set to remove many of these ‘mythical’ directives from the statute book. Sadly however not all. So whilst the EU commissars are now permitting bent cucumbers to be sold, they are still apparently reluctant to remove restrictions on bananas and several other fruits and vegetables.

At least the truth is now out, and everyone now knows that these mad rulers of ours are as daft as most of us always knew.

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