Only July 1, Sgt Danny Nightingale will appear at the military court to face a retrial.
Since entering a plea of not guilty at his pre-trial hearing, Sgt Nightingale has been informed he will be medically discharged from the army on February 14, 2014. However, the Military prosecutors intend to continue their prosecution – despite basing their initial case on the fact he was still fit to serve.
Fundraising efforts have raised £10,000 for Sgt Nightingale’s defence but the re-trial will see costs far in excess of this. Danny’s family are facing immense financial pressures and if the funds cannot be raised then there is a real risk Sgt Nightingale will not be able to contest the charge.
I would urge you, if you are able, to support this important cause, to do so. You can donate to the legal appeal here and please do share the link with your friends and family.
A Judge has called South Yorkshire Police’s approach to CRB disclosure “fundamentally flawed” after the force decided to disclose the fact that a teacher had been involved in legal proceedings, despite the fact that the individual was not convicted of an offence.
The ‘old’ CRB system has seen lives ruined and this case is a very clear example of over reliance on a flawed system. After being found not guilty, it is abhorrent that South Yorkshire Police took the legal system into their own hands and used CRB disclosure as a means of issuing their own punishment. There must clearly be a system that ensures children and vulnerable adults are protected, however this must be balanced against unjust intrusion into people’s lives. If something cannot be proven in court then it is not right for the police to disclose details that imply guilt.
The case involves a former teacher, found not guilty of sexually molesting pupils, who has taken South Yorkshire Police to court as they continued to insist on listing the allegations on his enhanced criminal record certificate, which employers can see – effectively destroying his career in the classroom.
In positive step towards transparency Eric Pickles MP, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, has published new guidance which explicitly states that Councils should allow the public to overly film and council meetings.
DCLG was forced to publish the guidance after a string of councils had prevented individuals from recording council meetings on health and safety and legal grounds. The guidance will only apply to English councils, but it certainly creates a serious precedent for councils in Wales.
Public access to meetings is a key part of holding local councils and public bodies to account and it’s wholly wrong for people not being able to film or tweet in public meetings for spurious legal reasons.
Whether through Freedom of Information law, filming council meetings or publishing data, transparency is a critical check on those in power and an essential part of defending our liberties.
Today, along with the Open Rights Group, English PEN and Index on Censorship, we have signed a letter to Culture Secretary Maria Miller highlighting our concerns about the current debate around ‘blocking’ internet content.
It is absolutely right to pursue the removal of illegal content from the internet, but moving to a system where legal content is blocked poses a clear and significant risk to freedom of speech. The triviality of circumventing blocks aside, such a policy risks blocking legitimate websites and setting a dangerous international precedent. After all, who gets to decide what legal content is deemed to be unfit for the British public?
If content is illegal, pursue it, remove it and prosecute those who are responsible. If content is legal, then having a political, non-judicial process to decide what should be blocked is not the right way forward.
The letter is reproduced below.
In today’s Times, Nick Herbert MP has written an article calling for the return of the Communications Data Bill. Although it’s not clear he has read it.
As copyright law prohibits us from reproducing the entire article, we have had to pick and choose which errors to reproduce here. Which has proved tricky, as most of the article is wrong or misleading in some way.
“Clever use of surveillance technology doesn’t recruit terrorists; it puts them in jail
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.”
Under Part 2 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, the Security Services and Police already have the power to find out who a suspected terrorist is talking to. How they do this, from covert human intelligence sources, covert surveillance, directed surveillance or intercept is up to them.
During the debate about the Communications Data Bill, one of the points we repeatedly made was that while this bill was not about reading the contents of messages, but that the details of who you communicate with were still incredibly private information.
In the aftermath of the atrocity in Woolwich, The Prime Minister was absolutely right to warn against knee-jerk reactions. Sadly, various voices have called for the legislation to be revived, despite widespread criticism from two Parliamentary committees and two polls over finding the public still opposed it’s introduction.
If, as has been reported, these individuals were already of concern to the security services then it is of course right they were subjects of surveillance activity. It is not yet clear if these individuals could have been put under closer surveillance. That is an important question to be asked.
Deputy Director Emma Carr has contributed this piece to Index on Censorship’s website.
John Reid and others’ attempt to make a political argument about “essential” legislation just hours after the brutal murder in Woolwich this week was remarkable, given how little was known at the time and the fact the victim’s family had not even been informed of his death.
Yes, it is right to examine how our security services could have been aided to prevent the horrific scenes we saw in Woolwich this week, but to jump to conclusions and use the politics of fear to promote an agenda before the any detail is available is simply wrong.
Indeed, as the facts have begun to emerge, it seems the answer may look very different to the draft Communications Data bill.
Today, the country begins the process of coming to terms with the horrific attack in Woolwich yesterday.
We know little about those who have committed this brutal terror attack. Videos and photographs have brought the chilling savagery of the perpetrators into our homes.
As the Prime Minister said:
“The terrorists will never win because they can never beat the values we hold dear, the belief in freedom, in democracy, in free speech, in our British values, western values. They are never going to defeat those.
“That is how we will stand up to these people, whoever they are, however many there are of them, and that is how we will win.”
Sadly, Lords Reid and Carlise did not restrain themselves from attacking the Government even hours after the attack. It is wholly wrong for them tobe arguing for a change of policy before the details of what has happened in Woolwich are clear and before even the family of the victim had been notified. At this time our thoughts should be with the victim’s family and not on scoring political headlines.
In a word, yes.
When news broke of the US Government’s wholesale request for data on Associated Press journalists,
The New Yorker quickly highlighted how US law allowed the Department of Justice to go straight to the phone companies, without notifying AP (although it’s own guidelines said this should not normally happen.) Because of this, there was no opportunity to test the justification for such a massive intrusion on the freedom of the press.