Archive for August 10th, 2009

UK public spied on ‘1,500 times a day’

Independent: Police, councils and the intelligence services made more than 500,000 requests to access private emails and telephone records in the UK last year, according to an annual surveillance report.

The figures, compiled by the Interception of Communications Commissioner, Paul Kennedy, found that about 1,500 surveillance requests were made every day in Britain.

That is the annual equivalent to one in every 78 people being targeted. It included 1,500 approved applications from local councils…..

Each request allows public bodies to access data which includes telephone records, email and text message traffic but not the actual content of conversations or messages.

“It doesn’t allow you to see the content of the message or conversation. It’s about the who, where and when — the time element essentially in directed surveillance,” a Home Office spokesman said.

Although slightly down on last year, the total is up more than 40 percent on two years ago.

The Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne seized on the figures, saying they “beggared belief,” warning that the UK appeared to have “sleepwalked into a surveillance state.”

“Many of these operations carried out by the


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SFO to decide on MG Rover inquiry tomorrow

Times: The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) will reveal tomorrow whether it will launch a criminal investigation into the collapse of MG Rover after a four-year inquiry by Department for Business inspectors.

The decision follows a surprise request from Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, last month to find out if there were grounds for prosecution. The decision is likely to attract controversy because, if the SFO launches a full investigation, the publication of the inspectors’ report will be further delayed until it is complete.

The Conservatives have accused Lord Mandelson of using a referral to kick the affair into “the long grass” because they believe the report will contain embarrassing details about the role played by the Government during Rover’s demise.

If Richard Alderman, the director general of the SFO, decides not to investigate, Lord Mandelson could refer an inquiry to the Birmingham police or the City of London police, which has a national remit on fraud prosecutions. The Department of Business could also take up the matter itself.

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Ministers’ admission links MI5 and MI6 to ‘torture victim’

Independent: Ministers have admitted the Government sent secret agents to interview a British detainee in Afghanistan, supporting allegations MI5 and MI6 officers were present while he was tortured by his American captors.

The admission is made in documents addressed to lawyers representing Shaker Aamer, 42, who has spent seven years in Guantanamo Bay. His claims are part of a growing body of evidence highlighting Britain’s alleged complicity in the rendition and torture of at least 15 other UK citizens and residents.

Mr Aamer, married to a British citizen with whom he has four children, says he went to Afghanistan in 2001 to work…….

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100 claims companies cancelled as crackdown continues on firms who mislead the public

Ministry of Justice: Misleading claims that debt can be written off as unenforceable, high pressure selling and cold calling in person will not be tolerated – tough message from Claims Management Regulator as 100th company cancelled.

Companies’ authorisations have been cancelled for failure to comply with the claims regulation conduct rules, including ignoring requests for information from the regulator, criminal convictions for fraud, persistently misleading marketing and non-payment of regulation fees.

Head of Regulation at the Ministry of Justice, Kevin Rousell, said:

‘The majority of claims management companies registered with the Ministry of Justice are operating within the rules.

‘However, some companies choose to flout those rules and some also target consumers who find themselves in debt. People desperate for a way out of their financial troubles can be vulnerable to the misleading marketing that the Ministry of Justice Claims Management Regulator is continuing to tackle.

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Why no one wants to be Morse any more

Independent: Ever since Jack Regan nicked his first “slag”, greeting him with the memorable address “We’re The Sweeney, son. And we haven’t had any dinner”, the place of the hard-bitten detective has been secured in British hearts as the pinnacle of policing.

The sleuthing exploits of Jim Taggart, Gene Hunt and the rather more cultured Endeavour Morse have all added to the kudos and reputation of detectives as a role to which thousands of recruits aspired; the branch of policing which would allow them to hunt murderers, rapists and some of Britain’s most dangerous criminals.

But senior officers say that the lure of becoming a detective no longer holds the same appeal. They say that younger officers are now more content to stay in uniformed positions which afford them the same wages as their plain-clothes counterparts but more stable working hours….

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Revealed: Britain’s most lenient judge

Times: A CIRCUIT judge who sits at Birmingham crown court has had 10 of her sentences increased on appeal, placing her top of a list of judges whose decisions have been overturned for excessive leniency.

In one case involving a sexual assault, the sentence handed down by Judge Elizabeth Fisher was described by senior judges as “wholly inadequate”.

The attorney-general’s office disclosed last week that sentences had been increased for 52 defendants last year. An analysis by The Sunday Times shows that from 2003-8, sentences handed down by nearly 300 judges and recorders were increased on appeal…..

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Contractor held for murder of fellow Briton and Australian in Baghdad

Guardian: A British contractor has been arrested in Iraq on murder charges after two of his colleagues, one of them a fellow Briton, were shot dead in the Green Zone in Baghdad this morning. Iraqi officials allege that Daniel Fitzsimons killed a British contractor, Paul McGuigan, and an Australian colleague, Darren Hoare, and wounded an Iraqi translator. He could face the death penalty if found guilty.

An interior ministry spokesman, Major General Abdul-Kareem Khalaf, said the men had been drinking earlier in the day inside the heavily defended area, which is sealed off from the rest of the capital, when an argument broke out and Fitzsimons allegedly fired on the others.

“He tried to run away but he was then arrested. He’s now in Iraqi police custody and he will be tried under Iraqi law, which could result in execution,” Khalaf said….

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