Anthony Lester: The public would trust judges more than politicians to maintain a fair balance between security and liberty (via The Times)

Lord Lester of Herne Hill
Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Writing to The Times, Lib Dem Peer Anthony Lester QC highlighted the mistake the Tories would be making in not following the recommendations of the Anderson Report:

Sir, As David Anderson, QC, underlines in his report, public trust is essential for the vital work of the security and intelligence agencies (reports, June 12; letters, June 13). We need a new legal regime that keeps pace with technology, is publicly accessible, and provides effective safeguards against the misuse of the powers of the state to infringe privacy.

The prime minister, the home office and the agencies should accept the need explained by Mr Anderson for surveillance warrants normally to be signed by judges rather than ministers. That is already the position in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The public would trust judges more than politicians to uphold the rule of law and maintain a fair balance between security and liberty. Ministerial accountability to parliament is necessary but not sufficient. Parliament amended the Justice and Security Bill to give judges rather than ministers the task of ensuring that secret trials are held only where necessary in the interests of justice. Parliament should do so again when approving the new legal framework in the proposed Surveillance Bill.

The letter is on The Times website here

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