22 Aug, 2012

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has urged the Committee considering the draft Communications Data Bill to recommend protection for legal communications before any new interception powers are granted.


In written evidence to the Committee submitted today, that Bar Council has argued that the current regime for obtaining information about individuals’ private communications and activities is not fit for purpose, and does not provide the protections which we would expect of any liberal democracy.


The evidence has been submitted on the day on which Big Brother Watch publishes a report entitled “A legacy of suspicion”, which calls for judicial authorisation of surveillance to be extended to cover all public authorities and for those authorities to be required to publish standard information about how, when and to what outcome they use these powers. The Bar Council fully endorses this report and its recommendations.


Michael Todd QC, Chairman of Bar, said: “For some time now, the Bar Council has called for the Government to recognise the importance of, and have respect for, private communications between lawyers and their clients. So far, the Government has demonstrated that it would rather take advantage of a legislative drafting flaw than protect a fundamental human right.


“It is inconceivable that the Government should be contemplating what has been described as a ‘snoopers’ charter’, granting authorities greater surveillance powers in the face of wide-ranging opposition, when the current regime is wide open to abuse.”

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