Letter: Bugging: we cannot simply trust police

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The Independent Online
Sir: Chief constables claim that under the Police Bill they could not lawfully authorise the bugging of conversations between solicitors and clients who are not discussing corrupt acts (letter, 15 January). They are wrong.

As it stands, the Police Bill does not prevent the police invading the privacy of ordinary people who are quite properly seeking legal advice. This is because bugging equipment by its nature is indiscriminate. All clients visiting a solicitor whose office is under surveillance would have their conversations taped in the course of a surveillance operation.

Chief constables also suggest incorrectly that there are constitutional difficulties in making bugging and other covert surveillance techniques subject to prior judicial authority. It is the long-established role of our judiciary to balance the interests of the individual with those of the state, and this is clearly recognised in legislation such as the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

DEREK SANDS

Chairman, Courts and Legal Services Committee

The Law Society

London WC2

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