Former topmost judge opposes the surveillance State

Following up on Stella Rimington etc., comes this powerful public statement from Lord Bingham, former Lord Chief Justice on England and Wales and recently retired as senior Law Lord, a role which becomes president of the new UK Supreme Court next year. Stand by for a new era of tension, perhaps even confrontation. between the executive and the judiciary.

Perhaps the British are content to be the most spied upon people in the democratic world. But this would be surprising given their traditional resistance to official intrusion and their traditional belief that the state should mind its own business, not theirs…There has been a surprising paucity of legal challenges in this area, but the number of challenges may grow in the years to come, as the public appreciate the extent of the surveillance to which they are subject. But the judges are not, in any ordinary sense, legislators: they cannot rule on claims that litigants do not choose to bring before them.

Note that Lord Bingham will be speaking at the Convention on Modern Liberty, on Saturday 28 February at 9.45am at the Institute of Education, 20 Bedford Way London WC1, with live screenings at separate sessions in several venues including the Peter Froggatt Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast.

Adds Amnesty NI have supplied at list of the speakers at the Belfast end here

  • The Raven


    For what it is worth, I am saddened by the lack of response to this from even casual observers. My heart leapt for joy when reading Ms Rimmington’s words on the Beeb site this morning.

    And yet, here….nothing. We have truly sleep-walked into a surveillance state – all under the banner of the promise of protection from Mother State.

    We are indeed one of the most surveilled societies on Earth – we aren’t even just one step away from KGB tactics.

    I note from another post of yours the comparison to 70’s Belfast with regard to today’s “campaign” against militant islamism. I don’t know when our political leaders are going to realise that the state is a broadsword – not a scalpel.

  • The Belfast end of the Convention on Modern Liberty is more than a live screening of the London event, as Brian suggests.

    The main plenary sessions will be screened live from London with speakers from Shami Chakrabarti to Dominic Grieve, Will Hutton to Philip Pullman. But there is also a full programme of sessions on a range of locally-relevant rights issues, from dealing with the past, to parading, to the bill of rights and immigration.

    In Belfast, the voices joining the debates (organised by Amnesty and the School of Law at Queen’s) will include: Les Allamby, Nicola Browne, Roisin Devlin, Mira Dutschke, Stephen Farry MLA, Prof Helen Fenwick, Liz Griffith, Dr. Michael Hamilton, Prof Colin Harvey, Daniel Holder, Dr. Neil Jarman, Nazia Latif, Mark Littlewood, Alban Maginnis MLA, Dr. Louise Mallinder, Agnieszka Martynowicz, Alex Maskey MLA, Fiona McCausland, Basil McCrea MLA, Dr. Aoife Nolan, Dr. Rory O’Connell, Ursula O’Hare, Mike Ritchie, Eoin Rooney and Peter Weir MLA.

    More details of the programme and registration available here. Advance registration recommended, via the School of Law.

  • Wilde Rover

    The Raven,

    “And yet, here….nothing. We have truly sleep-walked into a surveillance state – all under the banner of the promise of protection from Mother State.”

    But that’s the beauty of it. People are afraid of saying something that will be heard so they say nothing. That’s what’s so great about setting up a culture of self-censorship: you can outsource the repression to the masses. It’s so much more efficient and cost effective.

    I, for one, welcome Britain’s new overlords and suggest that you, the Raven, pay a visit to your Ministry of Love to cleanse your mind of the terrible disease that is oldspeak.