EVENT TRANSCRIPT: Lord Carlile: 40 Years of Terrorism Legislation Reviews
DATE: 1:00-2:00 pm, Wednesday 13th March 2019
VENUE: Committee Room 10, House of Commons, Westminster
SPEAKERS: Lord Carlile of Berriew QC CBE, Emma Fox
EVENT CHAIR: Suella Braverman MP
Suella Braverman: ‘It’s one o’clock so I’m going to open our meeting. It’s fantastic to see so many people here for this event. There’s many other events and spectacles you could be watching this week in parliament so I’m really glad that you’ve come to the Henry Jackson Society and I have no doubt as to why because we have a very esteemed panel of experts to talk about a crucial issue of our time. I just want to say initially…to pay tribute to the Henry Jackson Society. It is really at the forefront of intellectual energy and thought leadership when it comes to foreign policy at this moment in time. And UK Foreign Policy and emerging relations with other nations is not a straight forward issue for us, it requires huge amounts of research and debate and I think the Henry Jackson Society likely holds the crown for being the leading think tank on the subject, so thank you very much to Alan Mendoza and the team at the HJS hosting today.
My name is Suella Braveman, I am a conservative member of parliament elected in 2015. I think I’ve been invited to chair this panel for several reasons. I was barrister before I became an MP and one of the first jobs I took up on becoming an MP was to sit on the Joint Committee of the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill which was a seminal piece of legislation that Theresa May, as Home Secretary led through which was at the forefront of enhancing the powers that our security and intelligence had in the fight against terrorism amongst other things. And I had a great opportunity to learn much more of the intricate details of counter-terrorism methods at the forefront, but also the legislative background.
The issue of terrorism in the UK is one that has exhibited astonishing consistency but also one that has demonstrated incredible evolution in terms of its pace of change and the character of change across the decades. And whenever I sit in the commons chamber, I’m often facing the coat of arms of Jo Cox on the other side of the chamber. And that was painted on the other side of the wall to mark her murder in 2016, that’s always a poignant reminder of an MP who was killed in her public service, not because of terrorism. But not far along from Jo’s coat of arms there are the shields of Conservative MP Ian Gow who was killed by an IRA car bomb in 1990 and Airey Neave who was killed in a bomb attack in Westminster in 1979. And those plaques, as I say, are not only tributes to former colleagues but painful reminders of how terrorism has consistently sought to silence our democracy. And they are also lasting testaments as to how the cause of terrorism always fails. How the British people, their institutions and their law enforcement agencies have shown remarkable robustness, calm and stability as champions of our enviable freedoms. And just as that threat that terrorism may pose to democracy and the British has appeared to be consistent, the nature of that threat and the methods used to carry it out have changed, posing new and unprecedented challenges and questions, not least at the current time in the digital age.
The more recent issue and question posing itself is that of returning IS fighters and that’s drawn up many questions. Whether our current terrorism legislation is fir for purpose? How successful we are, or can hope to be in preventing radicalisation on a national level? Or whether new powers should be introduced to curb the return of British-born terrorists. And notwithstanding the differing views each of you may take on those questions, or the range of emotions that such cases may incite, the challenges which terror-related activities now pose have become broader and extend even beyond national security to encompass human rights issues and civil liberties, education and how our public services are delivered at the domestic level. Very interesting times.
And I’m joined today by two distinguished speakers. The first is Lord Carlile of Berriew, whose reputation as an authority on terror legislation speaks for itself. For ten years, from 2001 he was the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation and has held a number of judicial role including Deputy High Court judge and chairman of the competition appeals tribunal. During his time focusing on this issue, he’s conducted three major reviews, conducted child safeguarding as well as authoring numerous reports on child safeguarding issues. He has also been rewarded a CBE for his services to national security. We are also very lucky to be joined by Emma Fox, who is a research fellow at the Centre for Radicalisation and Terrorism where her work specialises on UK extremist networks and the way they exploit institutions within civil society. Before this she was the Director of Student Rights, where she analysed amongst other things the vulnerability of students to extremism within higher education and has published widely within the discipline, notably the Daily Telegraph and the Times. So Lord Carlile and Emma, thank you very much for being here and before I’d like to hand over to my speakers, firstly Lord Carlile to give their thoughts and then we’ll open it up for questions.’
Lord Carlile: ‘Well thank you very much, Suella for the introduction and thank you to the Henry Jackson Society. I sometimes am criticised for appearing on Henry Jackson Society platforms by people from across the political spectrum who have an entirely false view on society and id like to p[ay tribute to the work Henry Jackson Society has done, it has done more to identify the features, and indeed the identities of terrorists and has written more factual information about terrorists than any other non-governmental organisation. I’m looking around the audience and there are one or two people I know and there’s nobody here who’s heard how I became the independent reviewer so I think I‘ll tell you as it shows the randomness of our political life as it were. I had a called John Roake you see who was a colleague and barrister in Manchester. And J.J Roake as he was generally known was the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation and in 2001, either they decided that his time was up or he decided that his time was up and he needed a new one. So on the morning of 11th September 2001, I walked into my barrister’s chamber in Bell Yard just off fleet street and I was told there was a telephone message from how a sweet receptionist put it ‘someone called the Home Secretary’. So telephoned the Home Secretary at the time and he asked me whether I would become the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation in succession of Joe Roake so you see. And I said to him ‘well I’m going to have to speak to my wife because it contains the word ‘terrorism’, can you tell me how much of my time it will take up?’ And he said to me, well it’s all about Northern Ireland, things have been getting much quieter, John Roake spent about eight days last year on it so that’s about the size of it. So I telephoned my wife to ask her if she didn’t mind me doing something that was connected with terrorism and she agreed, and I then telephoned Mr Blunkett back and spoke to his private secretary and after a brief negotiation about the fees, because like Suella, I am a barrister after all I agreed to do it and by then it was about noon. I was in my ‘room’, as we call our offices in chambers carrying out a consultation with a solicitor who, as it happens was about to [defend] on a corruption charge and someone banged on the door of the room and came rushing in saying ‘have you heard what’s happened in New York?’ I had been up one of those twin towers about three months earlier, right to the top and that was how I knew that my life was about to change quite substantially. I rung David Blunkett’s private secretary later in the day, who came out later in the day and famously said ‘I think this may take you more time, Lord Carlile’. And I asked him ‘well how much more time do you think?’ and he said ‘we think it may take you up to forty days but we’re guessing?’ In the first year I did one hundred and seventy-six days and for the nine and a third years that I did there I think I averaged around a hundred-and-seventy to a hundred-and-eighty days, so much so that it was my main occupation over those years. When I started I knew very little about terrorism, as it happened I had never done a terrorism case as for most of my career I had never been a London-based practitioner for most of my professional career as a barrister and though I was a very busy trail lawyer throughout my time in the House of Commons and then in the House of Lords. I was vetted and it is an advantage that the independent reviewer is vetted because you can read secret stuff. I was given an office in the Home Office, I’ve always wondered about this because it might be seen to compromise my independence but I had to keep somewhere to read stuff that I couldn’t take out of the Home Office. It had a sofa in it, which is a rare privilege in the Home Office and it was known in the family as the Shangri-La. I did most of my work in chambers or in my room in this building because I did not want my independence to be compromised, and it was a fast learning curve. I did it until early 2011, by which time I had done three terms of three years and a bit because they were vetting my successor, the brilliant David Anderson. He did it until about 21 months ago. He stopped after two terms and the next reviewer was Max Hill. He stopped after 17 months because he was then appointed director of public prosecutions and couldn’t do two jobs. The role has been inexcusably vacant for several months. Why it has taken so long, I just don’t understand but I’m given to understand that an appointment will be made very shortly by the Home Secretary. You know, that hiatus in not having an independent reviewer has had consequences because one of the things, aside from his or her statutory duties of advising the government on counter-terrorism law, actual and proposed, and producing annual reports on the efficacy of terrorism law, taking account of human rights considerations and national security, is that the independent reviewer can be called on, it happened to me, it happened to David Anderson can be called to report on something specific. Had there been an independent reviewer in office, how much easier would the Shamima Begum case have been? Because the independent reviewer would have first of all reviewed the law, actually the Home Secretary has probably got the law about right eventually but the law is only part of it, but the law is only part of it, and then have carried out a review of all the cases of people who have had their nationality removed and that review would have included a review of the evidence and actual intelligence against them and the proportionality therefore, between the proportionality law under the British Nationality Act (1981) as amended and human rights act and Article 8 in particular of the European Convention on Human Rights. And it might have involved an awful lot of trouble because the independent reviewer – and I’m letting you into a trade secret here is often asked by the Home Office to go on the broadcasting media to deal with difficult issues because they’d rather put up someone neutral and knows what he or she is talking about than a minister who is not neutral, even if they happen to know, and it’s an accidental matter obviously, what they are talking about. So there is an example of where the independent reviewer can have a beneficial effect. And of course, the independent reviewer is placed in a difficult position at times because the independent reviewer sees closed material. So, for example, as independent reviewer I saw information relating to individual terrorists or people who have not turned away from terrorism in Northern Ireland. I have, as independent reviewer listened to intercepts as they were being intercepted. I have, as independent reviewer, sat in a police office somewhere watching an operation as it unfolded in real time. I have taken part in pretty complicated issues, sometimes involving real ships, to deal with transport outrages this might have occurred. And I do not, not because I like a trip to the coast of Scotland or Northern Ireland, although it’s always delightful to be there, but so I can give my advice. I have taken part in the design, literally the design of terrorism custody suites in various cities in the UK. I’ve sat on cross Irish Sea ferries with police officers pretending to be ordinary traveller to understand how issues arise. I’ve been in airports and sea ports, and some of the sea ports are in very small places to see how we join up counter-terrorism policing and community policing to ensure there are as many eyes as possible. I was asked on one occasion to write a report on the definition of terrorism under British law and carried out, with the assistance of a researcher, a world review of the black letter law that…almost all countries have to deal with terrorism, and then went to look at some of it in practice. And I have to add that some of the countries which had the best black letter law had the least good practice. Indeed, the most repressive practices. I have sat alongside security chiefs of countries which I will not name, who came to ask me about counter-terrorism trails and asked him what was his success rate in counter-terrorism trials in his country and he replied 100% which caused me no little concern. And I have been to another very big country to advise on counter-terrorism trials, of which there were very many in this country at the time, and asked the success rate and I was told 0% which caused me a great deal of concern. As independent reviewer of terrorism legislation I was able to advice one very significant country, that refusing the admission of what is generally called forensic science evidence, DNA and the like, that refusing scientific evidence in their courts on that grounds that it was hearsay, was one of them most absurd things I’ve heard, though I had to be polite about persuading them that it was legitimate evidence. On one occasion, and I’m giving you these examples so that you can understand, if you didn’t, and please I hope I’m not being patronising to anyone, so you can understand very varied role played by the independent reviewer. On more than one occasion, I was asked to produce a report on a recent series of arrests that have taken place, and on more than one occasion in the teeth of opposition from the Home Office, I decided on my own initiative that I would carry out an independent review of the way in which certain arrests took place, notably in regards to a series of events that took place in the Manchester and Rochdale area. The nature of the independent reviewer’s job means that there has to be a delicate balance between cooperating with the government and being the government’s critical friend. It involves looking at the efficacy of procedures like special advocates in certain court proceedings, a system which incidentally, I thought on the basis of reading the transcripts of many of those cases, was actually much more effective than many people give it credit for. It also involves doing some uncomfortable things. The Prevent strand of counter-terrorism policy is, in my view, extraordinarily effective though it of course makes mistakes. But if you ask yourself, in how many incidences per year do the police arrest people who turn out to be innocent? The answer is a lot, but we don’t hear people saying that we should remove from the police the power of arrest. Prevent has helped hundreds of people, particularly through the Channel project. I remain a supporter of control orders, which have been diluted for entirely political reasons as a result of the views of the then leader of my former party the Liberal Democrats, I’m now a cross-bencher in the House of Lords, which I thought was very misguided and did nothing to assist national security. So, giving you those examples, giving you this narrative and portraying the fact that I should perhaps never admit to you is that I actually enjoyed being independent reviewer of terrorism legislation very much and have continued, in the private sector and in parliament, to keep up my knowledge, giver advice and so on. I think that the independent reviewer in the future has a very important part to play but I will give this free piece of advice to whoever my successor is announced to be in the next days or weeks; it is absolutely crucial to be scared of no one, it is absolutely crucial to stand up to organisations which require sometimes greatly deserved reputations for their campaigning, and remember that they’re not always right, and it’s always important for that person to remain credible and to stand on their own two feet on the public stage as David Anderson did brilliantly and give evidence of the exercise of a strong and useful critical faculty, deployed in the nation interest’.
Suella Braverman: ‘Thank you very much Lord Carlile, I think that was a panoramic view of your vast experience and I’m sure that didn’t include all of it – highlighting the legal, security, the hands-on, the practical sides of your work and highlighting tensions that you were faced with in this work between rights and responsibilities, between privacy and security, between political allegiance and independence. And I think what I will always take away, be scared of no one and speak truth to power. Emma, over to you’.
Emma Fox: ‘Well thank you, Lord Carlile for that talk, your expertise in this area is absolutely invaluable and thank you Suella as well for this event. I though, how do I follow that, I thought I’d sort of go more broadly and use some recent events, particularly with the Shamima Begum case to speak about some things to do with terrorism that we’re now starting to realise we have to have a far deeper conversation about. So I think, what are the drivers of terrorism is something we really need to look into. The Henry Jackson Society recently produced a report on terrorist attacks in Western democracies during 2017 and we found that terrorism in the West increased quite dramatically from 2016 to 2017 and the UK has witnessed more terrorist attacks than any other Western country and we have at the same time suffered more fatalities. And I think what we have also seen is a more diversified threat in terms of ideologies that threaten us. So whilst the Islamist threat is still our greatest problem, we are seeing a dramatic rise in the Far-Right so we noticed that from 2016 to 2017 there was a fourfold increase in Far-Right attacks in the West and also a modest rise in the Far-Left, particularly in continental Europe. So I think that’s something that we also really need to be responding to. We have also, at the Centre looked at the psycho-social causes of radicalisation and we’ve looked into, particularly one of my colleagues did a study on identifying vulnerability to radicalisation among students, looking at students who have joined armed militias in Syria and Iraq, And I think one of the key findings from that study was the importance of socialisation in the radicalisation process. So, when we looked into 29 individuals who had gone abroad to join those groups, 18 of them were part of a friendship group that was connected to extremism, 11 of them were linked with an extremist family member, 6 to both family and friends and 16 had contacts with an extremist, or a cleric or a fighter before they then went abroad. Also to that, we found that online extremist activity, contrary to some reports and media reports at the time, was actually subsidiary to real-world relationships so we found that online extremist activity actually facilitated those extremist connections and was more of a drive, a catalyst rather than in and of itself a radicalisation factor. We also found, and I actually want to touch upon a study I conducted on extremism in education and the institutional risk that we are facing at the moment. So, I did a study into universities last year and external speakers who had come to speak to students. Universities as we know are one of the most vulnerable sectors with regards to extremism. 200 events we found featured speakers with a history of extremist views or had representatives of an extremist-linked organisation. The majority of those we found were connected to the UK Islamist or Salafist network and we found that speaker’s views kind of crossed that violent extremism-non-violent extremism line so speakers had supported convicted terrorists, advocated for violent uprisings in the West, sanctioned the use of slaves under sharia law, defended the establishment of an Islamic caliphate. That may not be in relation to what we have seen with ISIS now but the idea is still there. We have also seen speakers defending, for example, Hamas’ employment of suicide bombers, supporting violent jihad and one speaker was actually linked to a terrorist attack overseas. We also discovered that students were raising money for charities linked to terrorist organisations. It was a small number in actual fact of actual activists who are targeting students. As Lord Carlile mentioned, grievances were the most common topic and it was some of those activists who have been called out, for example by CT police for fostering grievances and isolation, that have had the most presence on student campuses and I think we really need to tackle that question because the students are being exposed to sometimes, what are perceived as sometimes legitimate criticism of government policies actually have far more sinister motives. And finally just that more clearly needs to be done and we need to be looking at more contextual factors about exposure and socialisation with extremist activists that is occurring on university campuses, how easy it is for individuals even though we have the Prevent strategy in place. And I agree with Lord Carlile that that’s very effective and necessary but what we have seen is a lot of actors being able to circumvent those policies and target students knowing where the line is and where these processes will prevent them from doing so and what they can do to get around that. So I think there’s certainly a lot of conversations that need to be had and I think I’ll leave it there.’
Suella Braverman: ‘Well Emma, you clearly are an expert in research and the facts of what’s happening on the ground right now and in a very relevant way to the questions that we’re facing as a country. And I think some of the statistics that you mentioned there were really enlightening, very contrary to the headlines and the media image of how radicalisation might occurs and the factors that might lead up to it so thank you for sharing that knowledge. I’d like to open it up to the audience and our speakers are very happy to take questions. So if you can state your name and if you’re representing an organisation, that would help and your question.’
Questioner 1: ‘Good Afternoon, Paul Pidgeon from a national newspaper in the Middle East. Particularly Lord Carlile, laws are one thing but the application of them is quite another as you alluded to in the control rooms. When you took over in the 9/11 period, there were a covenant of security and very much a different prevailing attitude towards security at the time. Now with the case of Shamima Begum I was wondering if you could comment on how that process has developed over time and now that meaning of security is now fully dead’.
Lord Carlile: ‘Now national security has developed out of all recognition. In 2001, national security was not part of the national defence strategy. Now national security is an integral and very important part of the national defence strategy. If you look at the last three Defence Reviews, you’ll see it there. So its kind of interwoven with policing and the international activities of the military who are obviously involved in gathering a great deal of intelligence. Also, since 2001, indeed since the Terrorism Act (2000) there has been accretive legislation which has added to the law criminal offences which twenty years ago, we might not have expected to become criminal offences. Offences of association, encouragement, incitement, facilitation, down to providing bead and board for terrorists. Now I happen to think that’s right, provided that the prosecution authorities, who have a very important role in our unwritten constitution, exercise their discretion, as they generally have in counter-terrorism work, in a responsible and proportionate way. But it does worry people, and I do understand this, that they can be prosecuted for not very strident association and support of terrorists. I’m not sure it shouldn’t happen, I actually approve of the law but I think we have to be careful in the way in which we exercise such laws and those of us who are barristers (and there are two of us here) know, if you ask a jury to convict something on what they don’t like as a law, they’re quite liable not to do it. So you know, we need to maintain respect for the law. That said, I’m content to maintain the law as it is. The Shamima Begum case, and there a number of other cases like it, have shown the problem we face, particularly when other countries don’t adhere to international law. In her case, she is entitled to Bangladeshi nationality under Bangladeshi law. I know a lot about the Bangladeshi legal system, I’ve had to deal with it. Unfortunately, the current Bangladeshi government, and just look in and around the latest Bangladeshi election, the current government has absolutely no interest in the rule of law at the present times and they will say ‘well we’re not going to recognise her Bangladeshi nationality’. That said, if I were her I wouldn’t go to Bangladesh because if you’re a terrorist there you’re quite liable to be shot without trial in Bangladesh at the moment. So we’re then left in the situation in which by law shes not stateless and people like her are not stateless because the British Nationality Act (1981) states that if you’re entitled to nationality of another country then you can have your British nationality removed but de facto she becomes stateless. So the challenge to the courts is what is the Supreme Court going to say when the Home Secretary is almost certainly right in his interpretation of the law, as advised, but she is de facto stateless. And I suspect, though I would never want to second guess the decision of the Supreme Court, I would guess the Supreme Court would be tempted to say the nationality law is trumped by the Human Rights position. There’s certainly a risk that that would happen.’
Suella Braverman: ‘Emma, if you could give a few thoughts’
Emma Fox: ‘Of course, the only other thing I’d add is that it seems we ‘got lucky’ with Shamima Begum because she does have dual citizenship but I think we really have to grapple with the fact that there are going to be plenty more cases like her and we may not be so lucky in those particular situations. And we do need to strengthen our legal system to deal with the very real threat of returning foreign fighters who are British and don’t have anywhere else to go and the legally we just aren’t able to make them stateless.’
Lord Carlile: ‘And just as a friendly piece of advice to the government which I will repeat because I alluded to it earlier. All they needed to do is refer to the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation who is neutral and say you’re neutral – we’ve asked this nice, neutral QC as it probably will be again, to produce a report in these cases so just sit down, cross your legs and wait for that report and that would probably have resolved the situation quite satisfactorily and I hope they may still do that.’
Questioner 2: ‘My name is (inaudible) from the Muslim Educational Trust. I’ve got two questions. One is that when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, thousands of British Muslims went to Afghanistan via Pakistan. They were encouraged by the British Government and they were called freedom fighters. The same thing happened when America destroyed Iraq, Syria and Libya, thousands of British Muslims went to there and now they are called terrorists. They were sent by the British government. My second question is about Prevent. In my opinion it has created more and more terrorists. Even in primary school, a boy of ten instead of writing he lived in a terraced house in Luton, he wrote he lived in a terrorist house and was referred to the police. Two boys, the father was Muslim and the mother was Hindu, on their birthday their mother gave them toy guns and they took them to school to show them to their friends and they were referred to the police.’
Suella Braverman: ‘What’s your question to the panel?’
Questioner 2: ‘When will Prevent be abolished?’
Lord Carlile: ‘Well sir, you sent mew an email yesterday didn’t you? And I read it and I looked at your website and I don’t believe your trust what’s your trust called – The Islamic Educational Trust – runs any education at all does it? So your trust is not respected educational trust, it is a one-man band and you have said some very, very misleading things in this email? So let me give you a question. If you’re criticising Prevent, give me an example of a Prevent which has had the result that you are claiming. Not a generalisation, a specific programme because I do not believe you can name one.’
Questioner 2: ‘Well I gave you examples of the two boys’
Lord Carlile: ‘Well you didn’t give me the example of a specific programme. You’re talking humbug sir, I’m afraid. The Prevent programme, as you would know if you’d read your stuff properly has had enormous successes. In your email, sir you said in the last paragraph and I summarise, ‘it is legitimate for people to act as terrorists do because it is no worse than a state like the UK or USA deploying troops against terrorists and killing them in that action. Now I take the view that that is a very extremist position to take and is wholly unacceptable and I have to say to you frankly, I didn’t know you were coming but I’m glad you came so I can tell you to your face. I think your views have no legitimacy at all and are founded entirely on ill-considered prejudices which tend to show that you have no capacity to exercise a critical faculty. I’m sorry to be so tough but it’s as well to be honest on an occasion like this’.
Suella Braverman: ‘I uphold the sentiments of Lord Carlile as well and I think that the comments that you’ve made, sir are unacceptable and I think its distressing to hear that you hold these views.’
Emma Fox: ‘The only other thing I’d say is that those four cases you mentioned surrounding Prevent were found to be wholly untrue and are still being circulated to undermine the programme. But if you look further into those cases, and I hope that you do, you will find officials weren’t called, a lot of them were child safety issues and a lot of myths were being circulated about the programme and they’re not true’.
Suella Braverman: ‘OK let’s move on’
Questioner 3: ‘I have a question for Lord Carlile. Do you think the Prevent programme goes far enough? And to Emma Fox, what would you say to the hypothesis that Islamism takes grievances where they are already there and then puts the framework in place to push it towards violent extremism?’
Emma Fox: ‘So I think that Islamism certainly creates the ground found which violence can then ensue, I don’t think that in and of itself, affiliating to an Islamist ideology will necessitate violence and that’s something that we work on a lot – that link between non-violent extremism and ideas that are legally expressed and how that relates to violence. So yeah without going into too much detail I’d just say that I think that it can cause…in fact the government has said in the Prevent strategy that non-violent extremism and Islamism does create that fertile ground for violence to then be the next logical step and we see violent actors who started off with a misplaced ideology which in and of itself necessarily a cause.’
Lord Carlile: ‘There is now overwhelming evidence, that sometimes lonely young men and women, often teenagers can be radicalised in the privacy of their own bedrooms in a sort of bubble in which they live on the internet. It’s no different to an internet game. I have grandsons who spend an unbelievable amount of time playing internet games and when I try to play against them I don’t have a chance, they’re so skilful at it. But if you get into the wrong sort of internet community actually it does lead to radicalisation and I do commend the government for some very hard work which is being done in the context. In relation to Prevent. Prevent is finite, this is art not science and I think Prevent can do much more and it can probably do it much better but I have to say to with my hand on my heart that people come to talk to me from around the world and they say to me, how do you do it? We’d like a Prevent strategy of the kind you’ve got in our country, the Americans wante to do it. They had an amazing man named Quentin Viktorovic embedded in the US embassy here and his brief under President Obama was to start a Prevent strategy over in the United States but because of the extremely devolved nature of the American government it was extremely difficult to achieve on a national basis so his results were only moderately successful. But you know I think the world is taking examples from Prevent, we have to get better at it, we have to teach people how to do the Channel project and above all, and this has been done effectively in Birmingham is we have to take the police right out of it. The police are there, if you’ll forgive the lawyers term, to knock people. The police are there to arrest people who are reasonably suspected of crime, communities do not like the police carrying out Prevent, they shouldn’t be doing it. There are plenty of other people and in Birmingham, for example, they have devolved that down to local government ward level and it has been extraordinarily successful, some of it run by former radicals themselves. I’ve been and seen it in operation. So there’s a long way to go and I suspect it will go on developing, partly because of what Emma said earlier about the development of Right-wing Extremism as a much higher proportion of general extremism in this country’
Questioner 4: ‘Natasha Harrison, a barrister at six pump court chambers. I wondered if I might ask the speakers for any remarks they might have on prescription and the recent full prescription of Hezbollah and whether in light of that change we ought to be maintaining a very similar distinction between the political and military wings with respect to the organisation Hamas.’
Lord Carlile: ‘It’s a really interesting question and I’ll give you my views on Hezbollah. I’ve been to Lebanon relatively recently and I’ve had a personal engagement with one person, a person who’s very engaged with politics there and it is absolutely clear to me that Hezbollah is in absolute control of politics in Lebanon. However, I’ve also observed Northern Ireland at very close quarters and my take on the political wing of Hezbollah’s behaviour in Lebanon is that there is an analogy to be drawn between them and the political wing of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland, which has moved to participating strongly and honestly in constitutionalism in most respects. Therefore, in my view it is a mistake to proscribe political Hezbollah and it’s a bit absurd that there are British diplomats in Beirut, and if they’re going to talk to six politicians in a week, they’re going to talk to five associated with political Hezbollah. Now we’re not going to prosecute those British diplomats for their activities in trying to improve British relations with Lebanon and indeed improve the lot of the people in Lebanon. There’s a lot of British Council activity in Lebanon, the university degrees in one university in Beirut are given and validated by a university in Cardiff. I went to one of their degree ceremonies and made a short speech in Welsh, I think one of the only person to have ever made a speech in Welsh in Beirut. So I think we have to preserve a balance and not give these emotional responses to something we may think is politically expedient. But I think I may be among a minority on this issue so I don’t claim to be certainly right, it’s just my view.’
Emma Fox: ‘Well I actually take a very different view to Lord Carlile and I think it was a very positive step that Sajid Javid took to fully proscribe Hezbollah. I take the view that the organisation can not be so simply delineated between the political and military wings, that that was a sort of artificial distinction that the British Government had created in order to circumvent that problematic fact that Hezbollah do have a lot of prominence within the Lebanese political system. And following from what you said Natasha, I do think the right step would be to proscribe Hamas in full. I think that could be very positive in terms of some of the groups we’ve been looking at, funding streams that may have been able to get to that organisation through some of the political loopholes that we’ve been providing to some of these groups. That does seem to be the next positive step. I do see a lot of terrorist groups, particularly overseas do have charitable offshoots and if you take Hamas in Gaza, they are doing charitable things and if you see the institutions that they create at the same time as their terrorist activities towards Israel for example. So I do think we need to take a harsher stance, I think that’s just my view.’
Questioner 5: ‘(inaudible) I’m a police officer. With all the legislation in 2000, 2001, 2006, do we need to bring them all together in one act.’
Lord Carlile: ‘Oh yes please. Actually this something I said some years ago that it would make things a lot easier, particularly for police officers actually for all terrorism law to be codified in one act. You will know that SO15 and Special Branch officers around the country are looking in real time in at difficult incidents and they need to know what the law is and they need to find it somewhere. That is even though there are some very good handbooks that have been written by the police, by a former police officer turned academic. So there was one thing I was going to add. Professor David Ormrod QC who is the criminal law specialist commissioner on the law commission is very keen to codify all criminal law and the law commission recently produced a draft code, it’s something that governments have resisted (they’ve said they’re in favour of and resisted) since it was first proposed in 1964 and it is high time that we started putting similar laws in one pot rather than paying lawyers a lot of money to flounder.’
Suella Braverman: ‘And do you believe that the current legislative position does go far another or do you think that there are gaps?’
Lord Carlile: ‘There is one gap that I would identify which is that people like Shamima Begum, and I’m not making a point against her. If people like her are allowed to return and rather the courts say or it’s just the law that they are allowed back into this country and there is evidence that they pose a risk to national security then the return of control orders, with the 23 controls which are the maximum available that enabled someone to be told to live in a different part of the country, away from their associates with control over their internet activities plus being allowed to live in an proper house with proper civilised surroundings and actually rather more services than most people get because they get these houses for nothing, I think control orders served a useful purpose and what replaced control orders which are called TPIMs which stands for Terrorism, Prevention and Investigative measures, so misnamed because I don’t believe any of them have ever been used for any investigative purpose at all, do not have sufficient powers in them to provide sufficient protection for the public.’
Emma Fox: ‘I think I’ll leave it there I don’t have anything else to add.’
Questioner 6: ‘(inaudible) of the Tony Blair Institute. I was at a Policy Exchange event on Monday and there was a discussion about (inaudible) treason laws (inaudible)’
Emma Fox: ‘I was also at that event, I thought it was very interesting. I, for one, agree with Lord Judge, I don’t know if you remember but he was expressing some concern with regards to the introduction of treason laws. I actually don’t think it would get through parliament very easily. I think it’s too difficult and I think it’s potentially risky with regards to human rights legislation and free speech. I think the charge of treason is too vague. I think that…I haven’t read the reports, I’m just going off what panellists are saying. It seemed that it wasn’t tight enough, it was too vague, it could be too easily exploited and I think one of the best things about our civilisation, about liberal democracy is that we can voice our opposition to the state and it’s too easily now that we could potentially be seen as treacherous for doing so and I think that would be very dangerous so I was cautious but I do think it was an interesting event.’
Lord Carlile: ‘Well we have agreement. Dean Godson, Director of Policy Exchange is a very close friend of mine and I have a great regard for him and I have read the report in detail and I don’t agree with it. And in fact the reason I disagree with it is largely that of a practical lawyer. I can go, I don’t do it anymore but I can go in front of a jury and present a case of murder with a reasonable expectation that if the evidence is there the jury will take the advice of the judge, apply the law and convict if there’s sufficient evidence. I think there’s a real risk that treason sounds like such an emotive offence that juries would start acquitting people who are guilty. And there is a precedent for that argument. Many years ago, when I spoke in the last serious debate in the House of Commons on capital punishment, two senior judges contacted me before I spoke who had been involved in capital cases and said that juries would not convict a murderer because they thought the consequences were too severe. I think it would be exactly the same if treason was reintroduced and there is nothing that one could include in a treason charge that isn’t a serious criminal offence anyway, so it’s completely superfluous and I don’t really understand the enthusiasm that’s been engendered for this in some quarters. Maybe its something to do with Brexit on the basis that I can blame Brexit for almost anything.’
Suella Braverman: ‘Can I ask what your view is on it having attended the event?’
Questioner 6: ‘I think the panel on Monday was unclear as to what the gaps were in legislation (inaudible) yes, it’s a fact that the 1352 treason law is outdated but I don’t think it solves any of our problems in the fight against terrorism.’
Suella Braverman: ‘We’ve got time for probably one or two more questions. Well I’ll ask one, when we talk about the legislative position, looking at the social-political dimension of radicalisation and Lord Carlile, you’re view on Prevent is that it is working to a large degree, what can legislators and policymakers do to clamp down further on radicalisation within our communities, and Emma I’m sure you’ll have some views on this from a community-educational-social perspective?
Lord Carlile: ‘I think this is a political question really. I mean I was born and was an MP in North and Mid-Wales and I was brought up in one of those towns that has been mentioned recently in Lancashire that have been mentioned which have a great deal of disadvantage, and I do absolutely understand that if the government doesn’t see clearly what’s going on in poor and disadvantaged communities, whether urban or rural, it can be a source of terrorism and for other anti-social activity, And I’m not saying it is but it is a danger and there is a book coming out very shortly, I believe this week by a political philosopher David Selbourne which is a bit doom-laden but it does carry out a brilliant analysis of the way in which this can develop. So I don’t mean to say…this is being recorded and I don’t mean to say government neglects communities, therefore creating terrorists, those are the words Geoffrey Cox used the other night but we have to be careful to ensure that we take into account those vague and underlying conditions that can allow some of these phenomena to rise higher than we would wish them to. The other that I would wish to say is that I think more should be done in the educational world. I think that diverse schools, racially and religiously diverse schools save a very important purpose, I live in North London now and we see that happening in the parts of N1 where I currently live and I also think that MP’s have an important role to play. I don’t think MP’s generally get credit for the work they do on the whole but MP’s do have an important role to play to ensure that they provide the facilitation for communities in their constituencies to come together. It’s been very well done in some London boroughs, I can think of an example, Waltham Forest.’
Emma Fox: ‘I wholeheartedly agree with Lord Carlile. The only thing that I would add is speaking to some Prevent leads in boroughs across the UK, excellent work really is being done that people don’t necessarily know about. I think it’s easy to say more resources, more funding, that kind of thing but I do think that would be very useful. I do think that within communities that has to be more of a grassroots approach potentially, because I think there is such diversity between communities that I think this kind of one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t necessarily work. I do think that on the ground may Prevent practitioners are aware of that but potentially that would be the wat forward’
Lord Carlile: ‘Can I add one thing, Suella? One thing that I think is important and I meant to say it before and this is about leadership in Muslim communities. Now I think that leadership in Muslim communities (and they are very diverse in this country) is on the whole held by men about my sort of age. And I don’t think that Muslim communities should need or want their leaders to be men only of over 70 years of age. There are some brilliant, young, Muslim, we know them in our profession, lawyers, academics, doctors, hugely successful businesspeople who provide the availability of youthful and dynamic British Muslim leadership of their communities and I think the old men should let go, it’s time for them to let go.’
Suella Braverman: ‘Well, I won’t guess your age Lord Carlile but I think that’s a very inspiring note to finish on, given your experience and your honesty but there’s nothing else left to say but to thank our panellists Lord Carlile and Emma Fox for your perspectives. You’ve both brought very different experiences which have been very, very complimentary and interesting, definitely for me and I’m sure for our audience. Thank you to the audience for your questions today which have covered a wide range of topics and thank you to the Henry Jackson Society. And with that, thank you’.