Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill - Committee (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 29th October 2018.

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Photo of Lord Paddick Lord Paddick Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 5:15 pm, 29th October 2018

My Lords, I support all the amendments in this group. Amendment 7, in the name of my noble friend Lady Hamwee, to which I have added my name, removes the publication of images from this section and the new offence of publishing an image.

The existing offence under Section 13 of the Terrorism Act 2000 already outlaws the wearing of an item of clothing and the wearing, carrying or displaying of an article,

“in such a way or in such circumstances as to arouse reasonable suspicion that he is a member or supporter of a proscribed organisation”.

As I understand it, the Government want this new offence to cover photographs taken in a private place. As Liberty has pointed out in its briefing, this increases the risk that in so doing law enforcement may,

“mistake reference for endorsement, irony for sincerity, and childish misdirection for genuine threat”.

I gave the example at Second Reading of an innocent Facebook post of a selfie in a friend’s bedroom, with the subject not realising that there was an ISIS flag on the wall behind them.

Both the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation and the Joint Committee on Human Rights have expressed their unease with the new offence, which, like Clause 1, risks disproportionate interference with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. There is a general point here that covers both Clause 1 and Clause 2. I accept what the Minister has said—that these offences are designed to address a gap in the ability of the authorities to prosecute some people—but this runs the risk of creating a chasm into which innocent people are going to fall. Regrettably, we have seen time and again—I speak as a former police officer with more than 30 years’ experience—legislation that is too loosely drawn being abused by the police to arrest and detain people who should not be arrested or detained.

Amendment 8, in the name of my noble friend Lady Hamwee and the noble Baroness, Lady Lawrence of Clarendon, to which I have added my name, seeks to exclude those circumstances identified by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation and the Joint Committee on Human Rights of,

“historical research, academic research or family photographs”,

and any publication that,

“was not intended to support or further the activities of a proscribed organisation”.

I appreciate that I have not heard from the Labour Front Bench in support of Amendment 9, in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Rosser and Lord Kennedy of Southwark—that has a similar intention to Amendment 8 but specifically includes journalism.

Taken together with the requirement that the publication was not intended to support, encourage support for or further the activities of a proscribed organisation, my concerns about universally exempting journalism, as in Amendment 6, do not apply to this amendment and therefore I support it.

This extension of the law risks criminalising those who have no intention of carrying out acts of terrorism or encouraging others to do so. As such, I agree with my noble friends Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames and Lord Thomas of Gresford that Clause 2 should not stand part of the Bill.