Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Possible abuses of Terrorism Act

In today's Grauniad, George Monbiot writes, "The police abuse terror and harassment laws to penalise dissent while we insist civil liberties are our gift to the world":

<http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2005/10/04/protesters-are-criminals>

(linked to the version on his website because it has references, unlike the Guardian version)

It's an interesting article.

You may also find interesting Liberty's report about the Fairford protests that Monbiot referred to:

<http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/issues/pdfs/casualty-of-war.pdf>


Among other things, he mentioned s44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 being used against protestors at RAF Fairford. He claimed, "The police, according to a parliamentary answer, used the act 995 times, though they knew that no one at the camp was a terrorist."

An answer I've seen says "during the period 6 March to 27 April 2003, 2,254 stop-searches were conducted under Section 44".

<http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2004-12-13.199416.h>


"During this period, as a result of a Section 44 stop and search, six people were arrested for suspected drug related offences, one person for a suspected breach of the peace and one person for suspected criminal damage. None of these cases are outstanding. Five of those arrested were released, two were cautioned and one received a conditional discharge."

<http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2004-09-01.183826.h>

Another answer says, "During the security operation at RAF Fairford, police took items from 28 people as a result of searches that were conducted under section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000. These included a kite, white powder, controlled drugs, cameras and camera equipment, and a scanner".

<http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2004-12-13.200602.h>

It gives some of the reasons written on the s44 stop and search forms. I find this one bizarre: "seen putting something in bag".

There is a judgement on the lawfulness of a detention on a coach and a subsequent enforced return to London here but it isn't to do with the Terrorism Act:

<http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2004/253.html>

...and the appeal against that judgement here (appeal failed):

<http://www.bailii.org/cgi-bin/markup.cgi?doc=/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2004/1639.html>

I can't find anything in Bailii regarding the use of the Terrorism Act in Fairford.

Note that it appears there was some damage caused to property at RAF Fairford. This is not mentioned in Monbiot's article, but it is mentioned in Liberty's report. However, Liberty reports that some claims of damage and trespass were unwarranted.

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