When will the Labour database surveillance state scandals ever end ?
The Daily Telegraph has published some more whistleblower revelations , which claim that the abuse of of supposedly confidential client lawyer privilege, through the secret electronic eavesdropping in Prisons, is far more widespread than the Sadiq Khan MP / Babar Ahmad scandal.
Hundreds of lawyers 'bugged on prison visits'
By Robert Winnett, Deputy Political Editor
The full scale of a nationwide policy to bug British jails can be disclosed today after a whistleblower revealed that hundreds of lawyers and prison visitors had been secretly recorded.
Why should anyone believe that these lawyers were only bugged when visiting their clients in prison ? Have they also been subjected to the full panoply of state bugging and interception surveillance techniques ?
Is this how the alleged Mobile Phone Intercept Voice Identification of Farid Hilali as the supposed "Shakur" was done, by sending the Spanish intelligence agency Centro Nacional de Inteligencia a copy of a legally priviliged conversation between him and his lawyers, obtained whilst he was at HMP Belmarsh or HMP Woodhill ?
Serious criminals, including the Soham murderer Ian Huntley and the letter bomber Miles Cooper, are also thought to have been targeted by the alleged secret bugging
What possible "national security" justification is there for bugging the legal conversations of a notorious child murderer, whose only peripheral accomplice is already in a protected witness scheme ?
Was this bugging actually due to corruption, with those involved hoping to sell sensational tidbits to the tabloid media ?
It is feared that the eavesdropping of legally-privileged discussions could lead to calls from defence solicitors for major criminal cases to be retried.
Some of them will, no doubt, try it on, but there will now have to be an expensive review and retrial of some cases, simply in order to restore public confidence in the system of legal justice in the UK, which is supposed to uphold the fundamental human right to a fair trial.
The scandal came to light after Mr Khan, a Muslim Labour MP, was covertly recorded during two visits to a terrorist suspect held at Woodhill prison in Milton Keynes in 2005 and 2006.
It led to a political outcry as the bugging of MPs has been prohibited since the 1960s. Mr Straw was forced to set up an inquiry. He insisted he had known nothing of the operation before last weekend, although it later emerged that officials in his department had learnt of the allegations two months ago.
Now someone with detailed knowledge of the operation claims that Mr Khan's visits were allegedly among "hundreds of conversations" bugged by Det Sgt Mark Kearney during his time with a four-man intelligence team based at the prison since early 2002.
The recordings are deemed so sensitive that copies are stored at a secret facility protected by armed guards.
Given the HMRC Child Benefit database CDs and MoD recruitment laptop scandals, this alleged security measure provides no reassurance whatsoever.
What level of Protective Marking was applied to these recordings ?
If the copies of the recordings had been strongly encrypted, then any question of armed guards or not, would have been irrelevant.
The assumption must be that these copies of the recordings are therefore unencrypted.
How exactly were these secret recordings physically transported to this "secret facility protected by armed guards"- TNT couriers or the Royal Mail ?
How many copies have gone missing ?
How many have been secretly copied ?
Where have these copies been distributed to ?
Initially, only a handful of prisons implemented the alleged bugging policy - including Woodhill and Belmarsh - but over the past 18 months the secret policy is alleged to have been rolled out across Britain.
Jack Straw should order an immediate halt to any such electronic eavesdropping operations being conducted in any Prison or detention centre.
The apparatchik bureaucrats and politicians who authorised this shameful and counterproductive policy, must also be be named and shamed in public.
At least 10 solicitors had conversations recorded at Woodhill while dozens more are thought to have been monitored across the country, the insider claimed. Hundreds of prison visitors were also targeted.
How many of the lawyers who have been bugged have been prosecuted as terrorist accomplices - none of them.
How many of the lawyers who have been bugged have been prosecuted for "Serious Crimes" the only other possible legal use for such Directed or Intrusive surveillance e.g. aiding an escape from prison, smuggling in drugs or weapons or mobile phones, helping to run an organised criminal gang outside the prison walls etc. ? We think that the answer is also zero.
Commentators in the UK political blogosphere and the mainstream media, who are so quick to condemn people, without evidence, as terrorist masterminds, should remember that neither Babar Ahmad nor Farid Hilali had even been charged, let alone convicted of any crimes, not even under the UK's draconian and catch all terrorism laws. They should have been presumed to be innocent, until proven guilty, and their conversations with their lawyers and MPs should have been treated as privileged.
If these men can be treated like this, then you or your family and friends could be next.
The whistleblower said: "Mark [Kearney] didn't feel what was going on was right or legal. Every person who came in and saw these terrorist suspects was the subject of an eavesdropping operation. He was put under huge amounts of pressure. Initially, it was just one or two machines but it steadily increased and now covers other category A prisoners such as murderers."
Documents seen by The Daily Telegraph reveal that Mr Kearney's team was also ordered to search and copy the contents of prison visitors' bags including keys and mobile phone sim cards.
These allegedly included confidential documents left by lawyers. It is also alleged that senior Woodhill prison staff were extremely unhappy with the practice.
Under exactly what legal power were such secret searches of property and telecommunications systems and legally privileged documents conducted ?
A written statement drafted by Mr Kearney last year as part of his answer to criminal charges he now faces, claimed the pressure of what he was being asked to do affected his mental state.
After he became concerned about the work he was doing, detectives launched an investigation in February 2007 into whether he was leaking stories to the press via a local newspaper journalist, Sally Murrer.
He was charged with misconduct in a public office and, along with Mrs Murrer, faces prosecution next week. The pair claim their prosecution is a witch-hunt.
The bugging and legal harassment of Mark Kearney and of the Milton Keynes local newspaper journalist Sally Murrer is evidence of the risks which whistleblowers and their contacts face now under the Labour Party Surveillance State.
Will the Daily Telegraph's whistleblower, mentioned in this article, also be subjected to the same bureaucratic and legal harassment, by apparatchiki desperately trying to cover their bureaucratic backsides ?
He should also protect the whistleblowers who have brought these scandals to public and Parliamentary attention.
Unfortunately, as with the other former hard left NuLabour politicians, Jack Straw has a dismal record of defending whistleblowers in departments under his supposed control - the scandalous treatment of former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray and former the British Consul in Romania James Cameron
Gordon Brown, or more likely his successor as Prime Minister, should take firm action, to root out the data traitors responsible for these surveillance state scandals, which are a counterproductive waste of public resources, which have not made us any safer from terrorists or from serious criminals. Until this is seen to be done, and public trust is restored, then Labour's entire "hearts and minds" strategy of tying to prevent the radicalisation of the Muslim and other communities, is an utter waste of the £ 500 million of ublic money, that Gordon Brown has vaguely promised.
By failing to provide rapid, detailed reassurances about the security and privacy checks and balances under which the secret surveillance state snooping activities are supposed to operate, the Government and the bureaucracy is destroying public trust in the system. They are therefore damaging national security, not protecting it.