Nick Clegg branded 'irresponsible on terror' by Conservative former police minister
Wednesday 29 May 2013
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was branded “irresponsible” by a Conservative former police minister today for blocking new powers for security services to monitor the emails and internet use of suspected terrorists.
Following the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich last week, Home Secretary Theresa May is hoping to resurrect the Communications Data Bill, which Mr Clegg vetoed from inclusion in this month's Queen's Speech.
Critics have branded the bill a “snooper's charter” and argue it would act as a recruiting sergeant for terror groups.
And The Independent quoted unnamed “senior security sources” today as saying that MI5 does not believe the legislation would have helped prevent the soldier's murder.
But Tory MP Nick Herbert, who served as police minister under Mrs May from 2010 to 2012, said that opposition to the bill was driven by “paranoid libertarianism” and accused its critics of “missing judgment”.
Writing in The Times, Mr Herbert said: “Nick Clegg is being irresponsible in preventing the Government from bringing the measure forward.”
He added: “To claim that letting the security agencies find out who terrorist suspects have been talking to is as evil as hacking down an unarmed soldier is a sign of missing judgment.
“The call, after the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, to revive a Government bill that would allow the authorities to monitor the online activity of possible terrorists has been met with a paranoid libertarianism that denies any sense of proportion...
“Using new technology to intercept terrorist plots doesn't recruit terrorists. It jails them.”
Mrs May made clear at the weekend that she wants to revive the legislation, which would require internet companies to retain records of emails and social media messages for a year and allow police and security agencies to access the data, but not the content of messages.
The Home Secretary told the BBC: “I'm clear, the law enforcement agencies, the intelligence agencies need access to communications data and that is essential to them doing their job.”
Her call was backed by Labour's former home secretary Lord Reid and ex-security minister Lord West, as well as Lib Dem peer and former reviewer of anti-terror legislation Lord Carlile.
But Mr Clegg has set his face against the bill, leading some Tory MPs to speculate that he might retaliate to any Conservative bid to resurrect it by telling his Liberal Democrat MPs to vote with Labour for a mansion tax.
Emma Carr, deputy director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: "Mr Herbert is engaging in exactly the kind of ill-informed knee jerk the Prime Minister warned against.
"His article is littered with factual errors, contradicting the director general of MI5 and criticising measures he himself voted for. He also entirely ignores the fact that existing law allows the police and security services to monitor suspected terrorists, while the Communications Data Bill expressly forbids the content of messages to be viewed.
"The mature response is to calmly review the facts when they are known and ask whether the Communications Data Bill is the best use of billions of pounds when the security services are already struggling to find the resources to deal with the data they already have. It is regrettable a former minister has decided to act in such a cavalier fashion and is willing to play fast and loose with the facts to make a political point."
- 1 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 2 Perez Hilton apologises for Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
- 5 Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...
£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...
£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...