UK government to propose admitting wiretap evidence at trials

UK government to propose admitting wiretap evidence at trials

[JURIST Europe] UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke [official profile] is expected to propose legislation that would allow the use of wiretap evidence in British courtrooms, specifically in cases of organized crime and terrorism, according to British press reports Tuesday. The practice is already common in the US, Australia, and other European countries to secure convictions. There has been a recent change in the traditional opposition [Guardian report] to the use of wiretap evidence by police, security services and the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) [official website], which now say they would not protest the measure but want strict safeguards included in new laws, specifically to protect their agents or covert techniques.

UK Prime Minister Tony Blair [JURIST news archive] is thought to favor the potential legislation. The use of phone-tap evidence is also supported by some civil rights groups who believe that it will allow for more transparency in convictions. Others have expressed reservations, suggesting that the move will not make as much difference as suggested and could potentially cause problems. From London, the Independent has local coverage.

Tatyana Margolin is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.