Ben Wallace: I am backed up from nowhere by Lord Diplock. The hon. Member for Torfaen makes valid points, but the issue here is what Lord Diplock said in the case of Sweet v. Parsley—you could not make that name up, could you? He did not say it to me, but nevertheless it came to me. He said that it is “difficult to see how an invitation could be inadvertent.” The point is that, if the...
Ben Wallace: Lord Diplock has thrown me off my stride, or more likely it was Sweet v. Parsley that threw me off my stride, as it is lunchtime. Our contention is that, if we accept the amendment, there would be no point to clause 1, and that the new section 12(1A) offence would simply mirror the effect of the existing section. Similarly, the addition of a recklessness test to the existing offence of...
Ben Wallace: I am delighted to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Ryan, on this hot Thursday morning. At the beginning, I want to refer to the importance of the Bill. As we sat listening to Liberty give evidence on Tuesday, the jury returned a verdict of guilty on Mr Khalid Ali. He was convicted for being about to mount an attack on Whitehall last year. What is interesting is that his conviction was based...
Ben Wallace: I will get to it technically, but in summary, if recklessness is added to someone already inviting support, support is already being invited. The recklessness bit is secondary, because the person has invited the support. The problem with one of those amendments is that it tacks on recklessness to something that is already an offence, but it will not change that offence, because the person has...
Ben Wallace: I will get to that. These amendments would prevent clause 1 from having effect. If the reckless element were removed from the proposed new offence and replaced with a mens rea requirement, it would have to be proven that the person invited it. If that can be proven, it would be the existing offence. It is unnecessary and it would narrow back to the original, existing statute, rather than...
Ben Wallace: That is my point: it will narrow it from what we are proposing. It would pretty much mirror the existing offence. One of the alternatives in the amendments would add recklessness to the existing offence, if I am not mistaken, but the existing offence is that the person has invited support, so whether or not they are reckless does not really matter, because they are guilty of an offence.
Ben Wallace: Q Can I ask all three of you the same questions, to hear your views? First, to Liberty, as it stands section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 basically hinges on the collecting or downloading of material. Is it your view that that, too, should be struck out?
Ben Wallace: It is either a principle or it is not. You either think it is wrong or it is not. Would you venture that section 58 is not needed?
Ben Wallace: Q So downloading terrorist content and manuals on how to make a bomb and all that sort of stuff should not be an offence?
Ben Wallace: That is training. What about downloading ISIS or al-Qaeda propaganda materials?
Ben Wallace: Q On the broader issue of biometric data, the Government have responded to the Biometrics Commissioner’s recommendations. I hear the points about there not being enough safeguards and there being other issues previously. Does that mean that two years is too much already?
Ben Wallace: Q First, the head of counter-terrorism would not have agreed with that. If you heard his evidence this morning, I think he welcomed the ability to deal with the streaming challenge. Secondly, on its own, as a stand-alone, section 58 is an offence—simply to collect material—and it does not necessarily have to be linked. Obviously you can deploy a reasonable excuse. My question to...
Ben Wallace: Q Would that not already exist? If I were to bring a charge under the existing section 58, and I proved that you had downloaded lots of things but you had not done anything with them, it is likely that a prosecutor would not prosecute. I do not think there has been a case in that environment. So as the offence stands at the moment you have to do more with it than just effectively download it.
Ben Wallace: Q There are hundreds of examples of academics and journalists downloading some of this data, and they have not been prosecuted. There is no evidence of a chilling effect on existing journalists under the existing section 58. There is no evidence that prosecutors have been abusing their discretion to bring charges—or, indeed, that the judiciary has successfully allowed a prosecution.
Ben Wallace: Q I just want to explore reasonable grounds in the schedule. How focused is reasonable grounds in the law that currently governs stop-and-search? Is it very specific to an individual? Is it currently able to be used in a broader environment where you simply have an indication that a knife is about to be used in an area? In other words, how elastic is that concept?
Ben Wallace: Q If I had intelligence that we suspected that a hostile state would move some radioactive material via a passenger on an aeroplane into this country over the next six months, would that be too broad to target flights from a certain part of the world? For reasonable grounds to be satisfied, would that need to be narrower?
Ben Wallace: Q But it may not get that narrow. It may not be something you can further explore. It may simply be that you know that between June and September, there is a plan to bring something—a radioactive material—into this country, and that is what I, as the Security Minister, will have to take a defence against.
Ben Wallace: Q But would not using reasonable grounds or grounds of suspicion be doing that?
Ben Wallace: Q I just wanted to clarify: terrorism content or extremist content?
Ben Wallace: Q Inspire, a magazine written by al-Qaeda and promoted around the internet, or an ISIL document? Are those terrorist? I would say it is created by terrorists for spreading terrorist theology and hate.