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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:15 pm on 3rd December 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Carlile of Berriew Lord Carlile of Berriew Crossbench 3:15 pm, 3rd December 2018

My Lords, I too agree with the noble Lord, Lord Harris. It seems to me that this clear provision provides four steps which have to be proved before somebody can be convicted of the crime set out in Clause 1. The first step is that they must say something deliberately, whether orally or in writing in some form, including on the internet. That requires them to act purposefully—it is a deliberate expression. Secondly, it must be supportive of something. Thirdly, it must be supportive not of anything at all but of a proscribed organisation—one that is forbidden by law to join in any event. Fourthly, they must consciously disregard the risks flowing from their action. That is the component of recklessness. So, with great respect to the noble Baroness who moved the amendment, I fear that she may have misunderstood what is provided by assuming that some vague general expression might be taken as committing the offence.

I also draw your Lordships’ attention to the very important component in such cases of the Crown Prosecution Service code test, which requires sufficient evidence to give rise to the likelihood of a conviction. There is also the application of the public interest test so that trivial or inappropriate cases—for example, something said by a 13 year-old on the internet from their bedroom—plainly would not be prosecuted. Indeed, it is worth adding that when Sir Keir Starmer was Director of Public Prosecutions, there was a general presumption—and I believe this has been followed by his two successors—that any prosecution of a very young person for an offence of this kind, which carries a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment, has to be considered at a very senior level. So, with respect to the noble Baroness, this seems to be an entirely proportionate provision, as the noble Lord, Lord Harris, said—rather more briefly.