Don’t Fast-Track the Investigatory Powers Bill: A reply to Lord Carlile – Natasha Simonsen and Cian Murphy

5295Lord Carlile QC, former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, has said that in the aftermath of the Paris attacks last weekend, Parliament should fast-track the Investigatory Powers Bill into law. Given his extensive experience in the field, Lord Carlile’s views should not be taken lightly. But Lord Carlile is wrong. To fast-track the Investigatory Powers Bill is undesirable and unnecessary. It would also end a crucial public conversation in a wrong-headed paroxysm of governmental action.

An Undesirable Response

Fast-track national security law is undesirable for (at least) two reasons. First, legislatures tend not to function well in the aftermath of any emergency. If they legislate immediately, the result is often not just overreach, but legislation that is bad in technical terms. Second, these general concerns are of especial significance in this field of law, because existing flaws in our investigatory powers law are a result of failures of scrutiny in the past. Continue reading

Lost Journeys: The Stories of Child Refugees

LisaJardine460On behalf of Professor Van Bueren and the Human Rights Collegium at the School of Law, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is featuring a theatre play and expert discussion on child refugees to honour the life of Lisa Jardine (pictured).

The Human Rights Collegium is hosting this event with the theatre group Ice and Fire to raise awareness about the situation of child refugees in the current refugee crisis. This multimedia initiative, featuring a theatre performance followed by discussion and Q&A, offers an opportunity to reflect upon the journeys of children in flight, from the moment they start their journey to the point they reach their destination in Europe and the UK, tracing their experiences of the asylum process and their life after status recognition and/or as failed applicants.


Tuesday 17 November 2015, 6:30-9pm

Arts Two Lecture Theatre
Queen Mary University of London
Mile End Road, E1 4NS

To register for this event, please visit the QMUL Department of Law Eventbrite page.

Interception, Authorisation and Redress in the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill

Cian C. Murphy & Natasha Simonsen

SnowdenThe Government has published a draft Bill on Investigatory Powers that it hopes to see through Parliament within a year. If it becomes law, the Investigatory Powers Bill will replace much, but not all, of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, as well as the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014.

It is the Government’s response to the Edward Snowden revelations, and to three different reports that made almost 200 reform recommendations between them. Continue reading

Bringing rights to your mobile

MobileA quick post to announce that the UK Human Rights Blog has now been optimised for mobile use.

We hope this will mean a slicker (and less eye-straining) experience when accessing the latest human rights news and analysis on your smartphones and tablets.

You shouldn’t have to download anything to access the site in its new format – just go to from your hand-held device!

Radicalism and the Family Courts

schoolgirls_3208827bMarina Wheeler

Remember the three girls from Bethnal Green Academy, who in February slipped through Gatwick security to join so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)? If, watching the footage, you exclaimed, “how can we stop this?”, then read on. Eight months and a massacre in Tunisia later, the Courts have intervened in more than 35 cases to prevent the flight of children to Syria or to seek their return.

In the very first cases, in which Martin Downs of these Chambers appeared, the High Court’s inherent jurisdiction was invoked to make the children wards of court. The value of this mechanism, previously used in child abduction cases and to thwart forced marriages, is that the ward requires permission of the Court to leave the jurisdiction, and passports can be seized. (See, for example, Re Y (A Minor: Wardship) [2015] EWHC 2098 (Fam)). Continue reading

This way, that way, the other way? Latest debate on Human Rights Act – Brian Chang

IMG_3736Those who want change should have to make the case for it, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC challenged her fellow panellists, at a recent event jointly organised by the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and British Institute of International and Comparative Law, and hosted by Bindmans. The panel was one of the most stimulating contributions of the year to the debate over the proposed repeal of the Human Rights Act and its replacement with a British Bill of Rights, featuring contributions from three members of the 2012 Commission on a Bill of Rights, a number of comparative perspectives including one from Australia, and even a call for what appears to be a written constitution.

Professor Jeffrey Jowell gave some preliminary remarks to set the scene for the panel discussion. He noted that the Bingham Centre had not adopted any particular position on the proposed repeal of the Human Rights Act (HRA) and its subsequent replacement with a British Bill of Rights, since the Conservative Government had not yet published its proposals. He then quoted a recent  report that the Government was planning to publish its consultation paper within the next two months, and then seek to legislate rapidly to get the British Bill of Rights on to the statute books by the end of next summer. Given this, he felt that the time was therefore right to hear a spectrum of views on the subject to assist the Bingham Centre in forming its position. Continue reading

IPT rules on interception of Parliamentarians’ communications

Photo credit: Guardian

Photo credit: Guardian

Emma Fenelon is a Pupil Barrister at 1 Crown Office Row

‘Eavesdropping, sir? I don’t follow you, begging your pardon. There ain’t no eaves at Bag End, and that’s a fact.’ (J.R.R Tolkein)


If parliamentarians are seen to be taking a more forensic interest in matters of surveillance in the coming weeks and months, the reason is unlikely to be purely down to the publication of the greatly anticipated surveillance legislation. Last week’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal judgment has sent ripples of discontent through both Houses of Parliament, evidenced in immediate calls for an emergency debate on the subject (scheduled to take place in the House of Commons later today).

Continue reading