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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 3rd December 2018.

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Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords 4:45 pm, 3rd December 2018

My Lords, I was not as precise as I should have been. The words after,

“(but are not limited to) those in which”,

will become paragraph (a). So it will read,

“(but are not limited to) those in which (a) at the time of the person’s action or possession, the person did not know”,

et cetera. Paragraph (b) will follow after line 44. I hope that that clarifies the point.

My noble friend Lord Lothian asked a series of very reasonable questions about the meaning of the words “journalist” and “academic”. The distinction between journalism that constitutes a reasonable excuse and that which does not, for the purpose of this offence, will inevitably be highly fact-specific. As several noble Lords commented in earlier debates on the Bill, it is just not possible to provide in advance an exhaustive definition of a journalist or of a legitimate journalist. This is something that we are clear needs to be determined by a jury in particular cases on the basis of all the evidence. We have made it clear that our amendment adds an indicative list of categories of reasonable excuse and does not provide either an exhaustive list or an absolute exemption. It is important to remember that juries will retain their existing discretion to decide whether a particular excuse is reasonable on a case-by-case basis. The same logic would apply to the meaning of the word “academic”. The category of person that my noble friend described might or might not be considered by a jury to be an academic: it would depend on the facts of the case. The jury might consider that there was still a reasonable excuse for a particular individual. I hope that that is helpful.