Thursday 8 July 2010

Government upholds NUJ member's European Court victory over 'stop and search' anti-terror law

The Government said today that it will not appeal the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that 'stop and search' anti-terror laws were "unlawful" following a case bought by NUJ member Pennie Quinton.
Quinton was one of two people stopped near an arms fair in London in 2003 and prevented from filming the event.
The European Court ruled the pair’s right to respect for a private and family life had been violated. It awarded them 33,850 euros (£30,400) in compensation.
Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows the Home Secretary to authorise police to make random searches in certain circumstances. But the European Court of Human Rights said the people's rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated.
Home Secretary Theresa May said today the government would not appeal and police will now not be allowed to use the powers unless they "reasonably suspect" a person of being a terrorist. It is Section 44 which was used to stop photographers taking pictures in well known public places and led to the 'I'm a photographer not a terrorist' campaign.
Human rights campaigners Liberty said it had "criminalised and alienated more people than it ever protected".
In a Commons statement, the Home Secretary said: "The first duty of government is to protect the public but that duty must never be used as a reason to ride roughshod over our civil liberties.
"The government cannot appeal this judgement, although we would not have done so had we been able. We have always been clear in our concerns about these powers and they will be included as part of our review of counter-terrorism legislation."
She said after taking legal advice and consulting with police forces, the use of Section 44 powers will now be restricted to searching vehicles.

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