It seems apt that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, gave evidence to the Draft Communications Data Bill Committee on today of all days; Halloween. The "spooktacular" that is the Snoopers’ Charter deserves a place on any good Halloween line-up - containing, as it does, frightening proposals to stockpile large amounts of communications data indiscriminately; amounting to blanket surveillance of the whole country.
Yesterday I watched my friend and Liberty’s great supporter Doreen Lawrence win a Special Award at the Women of the Year event in central London. The Internet is a wonderful thing. Today I have read both the plaudits and predictable unkind comments online. So let me share my view of one of the most amazing people I have ever met.
Once again volunteers from Liberty will take to London’s streets to monitor the policing of the TUC march as independent witnesses. We will also be able to observe the police’s special operations room, giving us a unique opportunity to scrutinise the way the protest is policed. Misleading suggestions that this somehow compromises our independence are wrong. We will simply be there to observe. Indeed, such access means that we will be able to examine the police’s handling of the march like never before. Accusations that we will be ‘sharing intelligence’ or passing our notes to the police are completely incorrect.
This week 19-year-old Matthew Woods was jailed for 12 weeks for drunkenly posting sick “jokes” about missing April Jones and Madeleine McCann on his own Facebook page. Prior to that, police had to arrest him for his own safety when an angry and vengeful mob turned up outside his home.
Today is World and European Day Against the Death Penalty. It sees NGOs, local bodies, unions and other people across the globe and continent coming together to boost awareness about the inhumanity of capital punishment – and strengthen the global fight against it.
Despite a blond, Olympotastic and re-elected rival, last night’s turnout at Liberty’s Tory fringe was excellent. Introducing the fringe panel, Shami reminded the crowd of the many principled stands taken by the Tories in Opposition - on 90 days pre-charge detention, ID cards, innocents’ DNA retention and more. But it’s important to remember those values in Government, she urged: “Because no matter who you vote for it’s the Government that gets in”. In a thinly-veiled reference to the campaign by the Security Services for audacious secret courts and State snooping, Shami reminded the room that governing is a complicated matter with pressures coming from all sides.
Welcoming a huge crowd of delegates to Liberty’s 2012 Labour fringe, Shami reminded the audience that Labour was the party of the hunger marchers, non discrimination law, and - to spontaneous applause - the Human Rights Act. Is there “Equality under the Law?” in 2012 she asked our panellists. And in front of packed a room in the Midland Hotel the panel gave their answers citing secret courts, legal aid cuts, Government surveillance plans and blacklisting of construction workers as threats and scandals that must be challenged.
Today Liberty congratulates all those Liberal Democrat members who defied the desperate pleas and exaggerated claims of their leadership over recent days and last night overwhelmingly passed Jo Shaw's motion against secret courts and the odious Justice and Security Bill.