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Archive for December, 2009

Names of innocent people will stay on police database

Guardian: The names of nearly a million people who have not been convicted or cautioned for any crime will continue to be stored on the police national computer, even though the government is changing the law so that their DNA profiles are deleted.

The revelation has provoked outrage among human rights groups who warn that it could affect the job prospects of the innocent. They fear that whenever an employer carries out an “enhanced criminal records” check on a potential employee, the system would flag up the fact that the person had been arrested.

The government has been forced to scale back the way it holds the details of people held on the national DNA database, following a European Court ruling that retaining the profiles of people arrested but not charged with a crime or who were acquitted, was “disproportionate”. As a result, government plans – outlined in the crime and security bill going through parliament – will limit how long the DNA profiles of such people can be kept. In most cases it will be up to six years.

But the Observer has established that the records of their arrest will be held by police for an indefinite period. The 2005 National DNA Database Annual Report says: “It has become necessary to retain a nominal record of every person arrested for a recordable offence on the Police National Computer… to help the police identify and locate an individual following a match being obtained on the [DNA database].” Prior to the expansion of the DNA database, details were deleted on acquittal or if charges were dropped after 42 days.

“Keeping permanent records of arrest is unprecedented in British history and is open to serious abuse,” said Helen Wallace, director of the campaign group GeneWatch UK. “Failing to delete police records of people who are innocent means business as usual for the surveillance state.”….

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Ministers in U-turn over torture documents for Guantanamo Briton

Independent: Ministers have agreed to the release of secret documents that could prove MI5 agents were present during the torture of a British resident held by the US government for eight years.

Shaker Aamer, the last detainee at Guantanamo Bay to be recognised by the UK Government, claims he was tortured during his detention in Afghanistan. He also alleges that Britain colluded in that torture by sending agents to interview him. Lawyers for Mr Aamer went to the High Court to force the release of documents which they believe will help prove his case against the UK Government.

In an important development last week the Government agreed to surrender the documents to Mr Aamer’s lawyers in the US. Mr Aamer, a Saudi Arabian national and resident of Battersea, south London, who has indefinite leave to stay in the UK, said he only made confessions under duress. The US claim he is a terror suspect but has not charged him with any offence.

A fortnight ago, lawyers won a ruling in the High Court that documents the Government had sent to the US authorities should be made public.

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Village People threaten lawsuit over Jamie Oliver advert

Guardian: Lawyer says Channel 4 failed to seek consent for trailers featuring Jamie Oliver dressed as members of the Village People

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Family of ‘orgasm’ doctor in plea for law reform

Times: The family of a gynaecologist forced to defend himself in court against false allegations of sexual assault on a patient yesterday called for wholesale reform of the law to protect the reputations of innocent defendants.

Angus Thomson, 40, was accused by Bibi Giles, 50, of giving her two “leg-buckling orgasms” during an examination. She withdrew her case last Friday after her former GP came forward and threatened to tell the court she had pestered him for sex. She has had to pay Thomson £30,000 in legal costs.

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Libel gag on talk of ‘medical hurricane’

Times: A healthcare firm is seeking to silence a Danish academic from expressing doubts about one of its products by using England’s draconian libel laws

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Law Society starts litigation over acquitted people getting costs

Times: A ground-breaking legal action has been started by the Law Society over a change that has forced people found “not guilty” in criminal trials to pay their own legal costs in full.

The society has instructed the law firm Kingsley Napley to start proceedings, accusing the Government of “misusing its powers for an improper purpose”.

The action comes over a new rule that took effect in October preventing acquitted defendants from recouping the full legal costs of defending themselves.

Instead, they can only claim back legal aid rates, which can be as little as a third of the true cost. The change will save an estimated £25 million a year.

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Hamas using English law to demand arrest of Israeli leaders for war crimes

Times: The Islamist group Hamas is masterminding efforts to have senior Israeli leaders arrested for alleged war crimes when they visit European countries including Britain, a top Hamas official involved in the effort has told The Times.

The claim comes amid continuing diplomatic fallout after a British arrest warrant was issued last week against Tzipi Livni, who served as Foreign Minister during Israel’s Gaza offensive last winter. The warrant was withdrawn when it became clear that Ms Livni, now leader of the opposition, was not in the country. Its existence apparently prompted her to cancel a trip to attend a meeting in London.

President Peres described the incident as “one of the greatest political mistakes” that Britain could have made and calling for the law to be changed. “Everything is based on … a hostile majority public opinion,” he said last week. “The British promised they would fix this and it is time that they do so.”

Gordon Brown and David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, have each expressed their concern and their opposition to the warrant.

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