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Control Orders and mobile phone and internet bans

Lord Carlile of Berriew Q.C the Government's Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation has published a special report (.pdf) on the working of the controversial Control Order scheme.

The Home Secretary appears to accept the advice to publish more details about the Control Orders, without compromising the anonymity of those subjected to them.

However, we think that there should be far more openness about exactly what the Conditions imposed by the Control Orders are

Why are these conditions not made public, in general terms, without specific identifying information ?

We want to know, for example, the exact extent to which the 7 British citizens and 9 foreign nationals under Control Orders, and their families who are not subject to such Control Orders, are being denied access to mobile phones and the internet.

13. I have reviewed each alleged breach of control orders, using information from the police and the Home Office. These have been numerous, though in scale most have been minor. They have included lateness in reporting to police stations, minor tampering with tags, unauthorized meetings and visitors. There have been instances of unauthorized possession of SIM cards and, occasionally, mobile telephones.

This is different from having their communications lawfully intercepted by the authorities under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, and it has wider implications than just for the 16 people currently affected.

To what extent do these apparent bans on mobile phones and, perhaps internet access, also apply to other family members sharing the home of a person subjected to a Control Order ?

How can a ban on the possession of SIM cards or mobile phones, be consistent with a non-derogating Control Order ?

What if the mobile phone is being used for browsing the web or for internet email, rather than for voice traffic ?

Are there also bans on the use of the internet ?

Supposing one of the existing, or future, subjects of a Control Order, wants to publish a blog or a website about his experiences, or to try to clear his name of allegations of terrorism ?

Supposing they want to arrange interviews with the press or with their lawyers, or to try to raise money for legal costs ? Why should the State interfere with this non-terrorist activity ?

Why do such Conditions not breach Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to privacy in your home, and of your communications, as laid down in UK law by the Human Rights Act 1998 ?


1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

Why do such bans not also breach Article 10 ?


1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers

How many of the Control Orders specify a ban on the use of the internet ?

How many of the Control Orders specify a ban on the use of the mobile phones ?

We do not know, because such details of the Control Orders are being kept secret, for no obvious reason. Such bans actually potentially "tip off" other terrorist suspects.

The UK Government still has not yet grasped, that simply passing a bit of Primary Legislation, so as to try to "tick the box" and allow circumvention of ECHR human rights, whilst still claiming not to be "derogating" from the Convention, is not sufficient, according to the European Court of Human Rights judgements and legal precedents.

There also needs to be a judgement about proportionality, as well.

We have argued before, that if the people who are being subjected to Control Orders are real terrorist suspects, then they should not be prevented from communicating with other potential terrorist plotters, they should be under lawful surveillance, so that intelligence can be gathered on other plotters , weapons or explosives or terrorist finance etc.

If they or their families, are not real terrorist threats, then how is possibly proportionate, to ban them from using mobile phones or the internet ?

Control Orders look more like a counter-productive tool for collective or community punishment, rather than an effective security measure for public safety.

If the Labour Government wants to use the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 Control Orders in this way, they should derogate from the European Convention on Human Rights, and stop pretending that they are somehow morally pure on the topic of human rights.


Or as Tony McNulty said:

"We are not prepared to give a running commentary on the obligations imposed in individual control order cases."

I presume that in normal legal procedures, we get told what's happening to unconvicted suspects at all times.

Also, anyone can keep this up to date:


Just another couple of points to throw in:

Control orders were brought in in an extended session in Parliament because they needed to be used on 11 of the Belmarsh detainees. Six months later there were only 3 orders in place.

How many of the original 11, for whom the legislation needed to be brought in at that time, still under control? Why did the gov fight so hard against having a sunset clause? We must not lose sight of the original shambolic excuses they gave to us in Parliament at the time.

Also, do you have a list of derogations to the ECHR? All such derogations have to be reported to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, so they might keep a record of it. As far as I know, the 3 and a half year derogation by UK gov for Part 4 of the ATCSA was by far the longest and more indefensible ever. I'd really like to see how they explained it.


I cannot see what benefit they can be to the state. If you initiate one of these control orders then you can no longer monitor the activities of the so-called perpetrator.

It is like allowing phone tap evidence in court - If they ever do it then people will simply stop using their phones for communication or simply use code. This will hinder the police in their evidence gathering so they will stand even less chance of obtaining a conviction.

The only checks and balances that we have in this country to prevent a police state are the courts and trial by jury. If we allow these to be eroded either in a small way by such things as summary justice or in a big way with control orders then, it is no longer a question of us heading in that direction, we actually live in a police state.

With hindsight our forefathers should never have accepted the Magistrates court system. If they had insisted on jury trials for every case, we would not be in the mess that we are today.

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