A couple of worrisome stories from the UK

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Agent 204 Agent 204's picture
A couple of worrisome stories from the UK

For one thing, an anti-stalking law is being used to target protesters:

One of the most heartbreaking articles I have ever read was a response column published recently in the Guardian. Edward Countryman explained that he was writing on behalf of his wife, Evonne Powell-Von Heussen, "who could not bear to face" the unintended consequences of the thing she had created.

For 17 years she was the victim of an aggressive stalker, who attacked her and held her captive. She spent five years running a brave and vigorous campaign for an anti-stalking law, to ensure that nobody else's life could be ruined as hers was. Now she has seen how that law – the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act – is being used for a completely different purpose. She is so upset by the "perversion of its intentions" that she cannot bring herself to confront it.

Powell-Von Heussen "took great care that the act would protect frightened, endangered individuals from their assailants, and only such persons". But the first three people to be prosecuted under it were all peaceful protesters. Since then it has been used by the police and courts to criminalise almost all forms of dissent.

From George Monbiot's Guardian column. And then there's the fact that taking photos of police can beconsidered terrorism:


The relationship between photographers and police could worsen next month when new laws are introduced that allow for the arrest - and imprisonment - of anyone who takes pictures of officers 'likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism'.

Set to become law on 16 February, the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 amends the Terrorism Act 2000 regarding offences relating to information about members of armed forces, a member of the intelligence services, or a police officer.

The new set of rules, under section 76 of the 2008 Act and section 58A of the 2000 Act, will target anyone who 'elicits or attempts to elicit information about (members of armed forces) ... which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism'.

A person found guilty of this offence could be liable to imprisonment for up to 10 years, and to a fine.

Source. I wonder what "likely to be useful" means? How will police and courts interpret this? Will this scare people away from exposing a future Rodney King or Robert Dziekanski incident?


George Victor

And now, with the death of John Mortimer,  there cannot be another Rumpole at the Old Bailey, exposing this to the world.

Seriously, that's how I came to appreciate the failings of the law over there, as regards individual rights and a coercive legal system.

Agent 204 Agent 204's picture

Yeah. They've had a big head start on us as far as clamping down on civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism, of course, thanks to their lengthy campaign against the IRA.


I think it runs deeper than that, as a person who takes the name of Thomas Paine might like to point out.