Automatic Number Plate Recognition Camera enforced electronic ghettos are a hot topic in East Anglia at the moment, with the controversial "snoop on the general public 24/7, even when not actually stopping criminals" scheme in Royston, Herfordshire, which has been reported to the Information Commissioner by several human rights and civil liberties groups.
However, the mainstream media are still more obsessed with celebrities, than with the rights and freedoms of the public.
Thursday's front page story in the Daily Telegraph made this claim:
Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are claiming that the Government has erected CCTV cameras to spy on the house where he is staying in East Anglia.
By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor
12:00PM BST 16 Jun 2011
In a video, titled "House Arrest", and released by WikiLeaks, they claim that three cameras have been erected to watch who enters and leaves his temporary home.
The video, published today on Telegraph.co.uk, marks his six months on bail. It shows one of the cameras outside the entrance to Ellingham Hall, Norfolk.
Mr Assange has lived there for six months while he fights extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual crimes, which he denies.
All of the cameras have been installed since Mr Assange moved there in mid-December.
On the video, Sarah Harrison, one of the WikiLeaks' team, says: "This is one of the three cameras that is outside each entrance of the property.
"We suddenly noticed them appearing since we have been here. We believe they are monitoring everything that goes in and out of the property."
Vaughan Smith, who owns Ellingham Hall, adds: "I am not an expert on cameras but I believe that these take number plates and report number plates. I think the country is full of them but I don't know why I need quite so many of them around my house."
Is this what passes for investigative journalism by the "Whitehall Editor" of the Daily Telegraph these days ?
The "camera" to which Sarah Harrison is seen pointing to, is clearly a radar operated speed warning sign which should light up when a vehicle approaches at more than the speed limit e,g, 30 or 40 or 50 mph
See Case Study - Norfolk Interactive Fibre Optic Signs (the fibre optics refer to the method of illuminating the sign, rather that to any high speed communications network reporting to any central surveillance and control system).
These are not even "speed cameras", which issue Fixed Penalty Notices for speeding , they are just a primitive road safety feature.
The Google Street View copyright message on this image of the very same speed warning sign on the Yarmouth Road, Ellingham approaching the Hall Road turning says "2009" i.e. from well before anybody in Norfolk could have suspected that Julian Assange.would be held on bail there.
The following closeup shot may or may not be of a camera on a pole, somewhere, but it is not a close up of the same device which Sarah Harrison was standing next to - it is mounted on the pole via a horizontal bracket at 90 degrees to the direction the device is pointing.
The speed warning sign radar gun is mounted directly in the direction which the sign is facing.
Other models of such signs have the radar gun integrated into the dark border surrounding the illuminated display.
Vaughan Smith has now been quoted by the BBC:
Julian Assange friend's 'embarrassment' at camera claim
In the video, Mr Smith, who owns the Frontline Club in Paddington, West London, said: "I'm not an expert on cameras but I believe these take number plates and record number plates."
He went on say that the "cameras" had been installed at some time in the past three months.
But in an interview with BBC Look East, Mr Smith said he now accepted they were unlikely to be automatic number-plate recognition (ANPR) cameras.
"I have heard that the council claims that these are not, in fact, cameras at all, unless they have been tampered with," he said.
"They are, I think, radars and I think it is important to correct that information.
"I feel slightly embarrassed about this, if I'm honest, because I was asked to respond to some information.
"I was told it was a camera and what did I think of it but, nevertheless, it's important to get it right."
Mr Smith said it was possible the cameras had been tampered with, adding: "There's certainly evidence that our phones are being listened to."
Vaughn Smith is a journalist and war correspondent, so checking some basic facts just outside his home should not really have been too difficult for him.
Why not publish this evidence of phone tapping on wikileaks then ?
A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: "Two speed reactive signs were installed on Yarmouth Road in Ellingham in June 2002, of which one appears to be the sign that is featured in the film.
"Four other speed reactive signs were installed elsewhere in the village in 2003.
"These signs work by using a radar detector, which activates the sign if vehicles are travelling in excess of a certain speed."
So, according to Norfolk Council that is 6 "reactive speed signs", none of them installed in the last 6 months.
The location of Ellingham Hall is obviously not a secret, given that the mainstream media press pack has camped out on there in the past.
Perhaps there are actually some other CCTV cameras which the wikileaks cult supporters have noticed recently, in which case why not publish photos and the exact locations of these alleged surveillance cameras ?
The WikiLeaks cult supporters have, presumably, passed by these locations hundreds of times in the last 6 months to and from Julian Assange's daily signing in at the local police station which the video illustrates.
Just how incompetent are they at anti-surveillance and counter-surveillance techniques , (which people with enemies like theirs should be routinely employing) if they have not noticed these alleged "cameras" which have been in position, not for months, but for years ?
CCTV ANPR snooping and excessive data retention and "pattern matching" data warehousing applied to millions of innocent motorists, in secret, is a major civil liberties issue in the United Kingdom, which the WikiLeaks cult and the Daily Telegraph have managed to obscure with seemingly ill informed or false claims.
N.B. despite our criticisms of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, he is suffering unjustly from the hated former Labour government's Extradition Act 2003 and the European Arrest Warrant procedure, which was clearly introduced before the necessary harmonisation of different legal systems in the European Union has taken place.