An example of how little fact checking the mainstream media bothers with these days:
A terrorist suspect allegedly connected with the 21st of July attempted bomb attacks has today been charged under the Terrorism Act. The media, presumably just parotting an erroneous press statement by Scotland Yard, are reporting that Ismael Abdurahman has been charged under Section 38 of the Terrorism Act.
Surely the Metropolitan Police will not actually try to charge the suspect Ismael Abdurahman at Bow Street Magistrates' Court on Thursday, under the inapplicable Section 38, rather than Section 38B, and he will not walk free on a technicality ?
"Ismael Abdurahman, of Newport Street, Kennington, south east London, is the first person to be charged in connection with the terror attacks in the capital.
A spokesman for Scotland Yard said he had been charged under Secion 38 of the Terrorism Act.
The charge alleges: "Between July 23 and July 28 he had information he knew or believed may be of material assistance in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of another person in the UK for an offence involving the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism."
It is believed Abdurahman was first arrested on July 28 under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act on suspicion of harbouring an offender.
He was re-arrested the next day under the Terrorism Act."
The BBC, both on BBC News 24 and on their website:
"Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 August 2005, 17:06 GMT 18:06 UK"
Man charged over 21 July attacks
A man arrested by police investigating the 21 July failed bomb attacks in London has been charged under section 38 of the Terrorism Act, police say."
Except , of course that
Section 38 reads:
"Financial information. 38. Schedule 6 (financial information) shall have effect."
Perhaps they mean
"Collection of information. 58. - (1) A person commits an offence if- (a) he collects or makes a record of information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, or
(b) he possesses a document or record containing information of that kind."
Which does not quite seem to tally with the alleged charge as reported by Sky News. The "information" would appear to be that which is of use to a policeman, rather than that which might be of use to a terrorist.
The BBC website article has now been
updated completely re-written , with the same URL as previously, thereby "hiding" the changes from search engines etc., to a vaguer statement which does not now mention Section 38. The news ticker tape display atthe bottom of the screen on BBC News 24 is still mentioning Section 38 at 19:15.
Mystery solved, and slight apologies to Scotland Yard (whose public website is always several days out of date with regard to their press releases), but not to the mainstream media for not explaining properly or for not asking for a clarification.
Section 38 of the Terrorism Act 200, was, without much debate, amended by the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, Section 117 which inserts a new Section 38B
'117 Information about acts of terrorism (1) The Terrorism Act 2000 (c. 11) is amended as follows. (2) After section 38 insert- "38B Information about acts of terrorism (1) This section applies where a person has information which he knows or believes might be of material assistance-
(a) in preventing the commission by another person of an act of terrorism, or
(b) in securing the apprehension, prosecution or conviction of another person, in the United Kingdom, for an offence involving the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.
(2) The person commits an offence if he does not disclose the information as soon as reasonably practicable in accordance with subsection (3).
(3) Disclosure is in accordance with this subsection if it is made-
(a) in England and Wales, to a constable,
(b) in Scotland, to a constable, or
(c) in Northern Ireland, to a constable or a member of Her Majesty's forces.
(4) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under subsection (2) to prove that he had a reasonable excuse for not making the disclosure.
(5) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable-
(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or to a fine or to both, or
(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both.
(6) Proceedings for an offence under this section may be taken, and the offence may for the purposes of those proceedings be treated as having been committed, in any place where the person to be charged is or has at any time been since he first knew or believed that the information might be of material assistance as mentioned in subsection (1)."
(3) In section 39(3) (disclosure of information etc.), after "21" insert "or 38B".'
Surely any charges under Section 38B are going to be very hard to prove, if the accused claims he did not know the person he is alleged to have sheltered, was actually one of the men being sought by the Police. The alleged Shepherd's Bush bomb suspect was not named in public until after he was arrested in Rome, at which point his original name came to light.
Why is the legal system so complicated ? Why is there not a copy of all current laws, as enacted, as amended by other legislation, and as actually brought into force by Order, available online, for free ?