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UK PM backs admitting wiretap evidence at trial

[JURIST] UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown [official website] Wednesday said he supports allowing UK courts to hear some evidence obtained through wiretap surveillance [statement], telling parliament that the long-time prohibition against wiretap evidence should be lifted in situations where "key conditions" are met. Brown said that admissible wiretap evidence would be limited to only information which cannot be acquired by any other means and which is "proportionate to what it seeks to achieve." Brown said the revised policy approach backed by the government will follow recommendations outlined in a report [PDF text] by the Chilcot committee, a cross-party government panel formed to analyze the feasibility of using wiretap evidence without hurting national security.

Current UK court rules ban the admission of wiretapped phone conversations as evidence, but critics have argued that the ban should be revised in light of modern terrorist threats. In December, a confidential report on the use of wiretap evidence being prepared by officials in the Home Office suggested setting up a special group of judges [JURIST report] who would oversee wiretap-related cases against terror suspects. AP has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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