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I simply canvas this as a possibility: it is quite clear from the amendments that will be made to section 23 of the Terrorism Act 2000 that it is envisaged that forfeiture will extend to property that is more than just owned by an individual. That is why clause 34 states that at the time of the offence the property was
“in their possession or under their control”.
I also agree with the Minster that in clause 34, there is a clear provision for a person to make representations to the court that they are in fact the owner or otherwise have an interest in anything that is going to be forfeited. What is not expressly spelled out is how the court is to reconcile those two matters. If, for example, a person can establish ownership, but it is quite clear that the articles were not under the possession and control of the person at the time that they were used for terrorism, are they to be confiscated? What is the situation in terms of forfeiture where it is quite clear that the property does not belong to the individual, but nobody has ever come forward to say it is theirs? Is such property automatically confiscated? If the owner hears about it six months later, is it too late to come along and reclaim it? Or does it remain their property?
I hope that the Minister will forgive me. I suspect that these are matters which can be cleared up quite easily, but I think there is, in the drafting of these two new sections, a degree of incompatibility or, at least, a lack of clarity which it might be useful to resolve.