From No Right Turn: Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled that covert video surveillance evidence against the Urewera 18 was inadmissible, because it had been obtained unlawfully. This was no surprise to the police; they had known that the use of such surveillance was unlawful, but had disgracefully gone ahead and done it anyway. But in the wake of the decision, they whined that the ruling would put other cases at risk. And today, the government gave in to that whining, announcing they would introduce legislation under all-stages urgency to suspend the ruling and retrospectively validate such surveillance.

This is not your usual case justifying all-stages urgency. The police have not been caught by surprise here. They have known for some years, at least since the Law Commission’s 2007 report on search and surveillance powers that video surveillance is unlawful. And there’s even a bill before Parliament, the Search and Surveillance Bill, which would fix it by providing a framework for such surveillance to be lawful. But the government has sat on that bill for almost a year now, preferring to progress other legislation. Parliament has not been caught by surprise; it has deliberately chosen not to act.

In such circumstances, ramming through a bill under all-stages urgency to retrospectively validate deliberately unlawful behaviour by the Police is a gross assault on the rule of law. The police violated the law, and they should pay the price. If they didn’t want to pay that price, then maybe they shouldn’t have deliberately conducted unlawful surveillance in the first place.

Update: Updated link. Also, retrospective validation means the police will be able to use the evidence against the Urewera18. So this is actually all-stages urgent legislation to change the outcome of a criminal trial. This is absolutely obscene.

Note: of course we know as anarchists that the Government creates law in their own interests. Unfortunately, here is a blatant case that will have real ramifications on the October 15 2007 case…

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