Met Police Chief: Protect Police From Lawsuits (Put Police Above The Law)

Rights groups attack Sir Paul Stephenson’s plan to curb court action against officers


Met chief Sir Paul Stephenson Photograph: Graeme Robertson for the Guardian

Sir Paul Stephenson, the commissioner of the Metropolitan police, has privately lobbied the home secretary to make it harder for people to take legal action against his force, the Guardian has learned.

Critics say the plans amount to an attempt by the police to put themselves beyond the rule of law and undermine constitutional safeguards against abuses of power. The Met’s chief says money is being wasted on speculative claims, with lawyers gaining large fees that would be better spent fighting crime.

The proposals are contained in appendices to a letter marked “confidential” and sent to Theresa May by Stephenson, who is Britain’s most senior police officer, on 22 June. In the documents, released after inquiries by the Guardian, he suggests:

• Making it harder for people to sue the police for damages in civil actions. These usually involve allegations of brutality or wrongful arrest.

• Loading higher costs on to officers and other staff suing police forces at employment tribunals. These cases include claims of discrimination and unfair treatment.

• Charging the public a fee for freedom of information requests. The Freedom of Information Act is supposed to help citizens hold public bodies to account.

Last night, Stephenson’s proposals were opposed by an alliance of human rights lawyers and civil liberties groups. The main body representing rank and file police officers attacked the employment tribunal plans. The government is considering various ideas to shake up policing, and the proposals are being considered by ministers and their officials.

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Israel minister Isaac Herzog: ‘There is a whiff of fascism on the margins of Israeli society’

JERUSALEM — A left-leaning Israeli minister on Sunday warned of a “whiff of fascism” as the country’s right wing-led government appeared set to approve a bill requiring a loyalty oath from new citizens.

The cabinet was to vote on the bill to make all new citizens swear an oath of loyalty to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state,” legislation that has been slammed as inflammatory and racist by the country’s Arab minority.

“There is a whiff of fascism on the margins of Israeli society,” Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog of the left-leaning Labour party told army radio.

“The overall picture is very disturbing and threatens the democratic character of the state of Israel,” he said.

“There have been a tsunami of measures that limit rights… I see it in the halls of the Knesset (parliament), in the commissions and departments responsible for legislation. We will pay a heavy price for this.”

The loyalty oath bill has been strongly criticised within Israel’s Arab community, which makes up around 20 percent of the population, as targeting Palestinians looking to gain citizenship after marrying Israeli citizens.

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Spain ‘Busts Child Pornography Network’, Involving Local Business Owners And Police Officers

Police have arrested 57 people over child pornography allegations in Spain, including business owners and local police officers, the authorities say.

Those detained in recent days include a gardener who had filmed relatives aged seven and 14 in sexual poses.

Another 47 people have been placed under investigation as part of the same inquiry.

The police said they carried out almost 100 raids across Spain after uncovering a file-sharing network.

The operation used software developed by Norwegian police to detect people exchanging child pornography on peer-to-peer networks, which allow users to exchange files online directly between computers.

The network was shut down three days after it was uncovered, the police said.

Among those detained were two local police officers – one in the Basque region and one in the southern area of Andalusia.

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Supreme Court of Canada: No Right to Lawyer During Questioning


Leaves fall on the grounds of the Supreme Court of Canada this week in Ottawa. The court ruled Friday that Canadians do not have the right to have a lawyer present during questioning as Americans do under the Miranda rule.

OTTAWA—The American Miranda rule that gives a suspect the right to have a lawyer present during questioning has no place here, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday.

In three related decisions, a sharply divided court fine-tuned the rules on suspects’ right to counsel.

In the main case, the justices ruled 5-4 that the Charter of Rights does not confer a right to have a lawyer present during interrogation.

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Microsoft: Virus-Infected Computers Should Be Quarantined, Blocked From The Internet

Software giant wants people cut off from the internet and health certificates issued


Millions of computers around the world running versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system are infected by viruses. Photograph: Kay Nietfeld/EPA

Virus-infected computers should be blocked from the internet and kept in quarantine until they are given a “health certificate”, a top Microsoft security researcher suggested on Thursday.

Under the proposed security regime, put forward by the technology giant’s trustworthy computing team, an individual’s internet connection would be “throttled” to prevent the virus spreading to other computers. But security experts today warned that cutting people off from the internet could be a drastic step too far – and that the question of who would issue and verify the “health certificate” was troubling.

Millions of computers around the world running versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system are infected by viruses without their user’s knowledge and used to generate billions of spam emails and attacks against websites, such as that used against a British law company earlier this month.

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Teenager jailed for not giving police his computer password

A teenage takeaway worker has been jailed for four months for refusing to give child protection police the password to his computer.

Oliver Drage was originally arrested in May last year by a team of officers from Blackpool tackling child sexual exploitation.

The 19-year-old’s computer was seized but officers could not access material stored on it as it was protected by a sophisticated 50-character encryption password.

Drage, who worked in a fast food shop, was then formally requested to disclose the password, but failed to do so.

He was convicted after a trial last month of failing to disclose an encryption key, an offence covered by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Yesterday at Preston Crown Court Drage, of Freckleton, Lancs., was sentenced to 16 weeks in a Young Offenders Institution.

Detective Sergeant Neil Fowler, of Lancashire Police, said: ‘Drage was previously of good character so the immediate custodial sentence handed down by the judge in this case shows just how seriously the courts take this kind of offence.

‘Computer systems are constantly advancing and the legislation used here was specifically brought in to deal with those who are using the internet to commit crime.

‘It sends a robust message out to those intent on trying to mask their online criminal activities that they will be taken before the courts with the ultimate sanction, as in this case, being a custodial sentence.’

Police are still trying to crack the code on Drage’s computer to find out its contents 17 months after they seized it.

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China’s stolen children: Tens of Thousands of Children Snatched And Sold Every Year

Parents descend on Beijing to hunt for China’s stolen children


A girl rescued from child traffickers in Guiyang last year

They came from across China to protest under the watchful gaze of the police, brandishing handmade placards with pictures of their missing children. In a sign of growing discontent, the parents’ rare demonstration in the centre of Beijing was aimed at pressuring the authorities to do more to investigate the cases of tens of thousands of children snatched and sold every year.

“My wife and I can’t sit at home waiting for the police, we keep looking. The longer you wait, the more hopeless you get,” said the father of one boy Liu Jingjun, who went missing this year.

Many of China’s missing boys are sold to childless couples who turn to criminal gangs to supply the treasured male heir while the girls are trafficked to become prostitutes or brides in rural areas. China’s One Child Policy has led to an alarming shift in the gender divide with a major shortage of girls.

Baby boys can sell for as much as £4,000, while girls are sometimes sold for just £300, according to some child welfare groups. Some end up working in brick kilns in the heartland, others as beggars in the booming cities of the east coast. Scandals have occasionally erupted over the sale of abducted children to orphanages for adoption abroad.

Read moreChina’s stolen children: Tens of Thousands of Children Snatched And Sold Every Year

The White House Blocked Government Scientists From Warning The American Public of The Potential Environmental Disaster Caused By Gulf Oil Spill

Gulf oil spill: White House blocked and put spin on scientists’ warnings

Investigative report into the BP oil spill reveals US government blocked scientists model data two weeks after the rig explosion


BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig seen burning in April. A report commissioned by Barack Obama has revealed that the White House office of management and budget blocked scientists seeking permission to show worst case scenario models two weeks after the explosion. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

The White House blocked government scientists from warning the American public of the potential environmental disaster caused by BP’s broken well in the Gulf of Mexico, a report released by the national commission investigating the oil spill said yesterday.

The report, produced by a panel appointed by Barack Obama to investigate the spill, said that about two weeks after the BP rig exploded scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) asked the White House for permission to release their models showing their worst case scenarios for the spill.

The White House office of management and budget, which is a traditional clearing house for decisions, turned down the request, the report said, quoting interviews with administration officials.

The report, one of four released today by the commission, provides the most compelling evidence to date of direct attempts by the White House to spin the BP oil spill disaster.

The White House disputed the commission’s findings. “Senior government officials were clear with the public what the worst-case flow rate could be,” the acting director of the OMB, Jeffrey Zients and the NOAA adminstrator, Jane Lubchenco, said in a statement.

The commission report does not explore why the White House sought to block the worst-case scenarios for the spill.

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California Welfare Money ‘Spent in Las Vegas’

A total of $69 million (£43 million) paid to welfare recipients in California was spent on holidays, including gambling trips to Las Vegas, jaunts to Hawaii and pleasure cruises.


The Bellagio in Vegas. Tens of thousands of dollars had been withdrawn using aid cards from a cash machine on the Las Vegas Strip Photo: ALAMY

The money, which is meant to be to help the poorest people in the state pay rent and feed their children, was found to have been used by them in restaurants, hotels and shops.

Those on welfare can spend their benefit money using “aid cards,” which can also be used in cash machines.

When records for the last three years were examined it was found that the cards had been used in 49 other states across the US.

The records were obtained from the state’s Department of Social Services by the Los Angeles Times newspaper.

They showed that $11.8 million (£7.4 million) had been spent in Las Vegas, Nevada, more than anywhere else outside California. That included purchases at the Venetian and Tropicana casino hotels.

Tens of thousands of dollars had been withdrawn using aid cards from a cash machine next to the upmarket Encore casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars more were spent in Hawaii, including at Waikiki Beach, and on a Hawaiian island which is home to nothing but an expensive Four Seasons hotel.

Read moreCalifornia Welfare Money ‘Spent in Las Vegas’