Sir Ken Macdonald: Centuries of British freedoms being broken by security state

Centuries of British civil liberties risk being broken by the relentless pressure from the ‘security state’, the country’s top prosecutor has warned.

Outgoing Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Ken Macdonald warned that the expansion of technology by the state into everyday life could create a world future generations “can’t bear”.

In his wide-ranging speech, Sir Ken appeared to condemn a series of key Government policies, attacking terrorism proposals – including 42 day detention – identity card plans and the “paraphernalia of paranoia”.

Instead, he said, the Government should insist that “our rights are priceless” and that: “The best way to face down those threats is to strengthen our institutions rather than to degrade them.”

The intervention will be seen as a significant setback to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith who last week saw her plans to lock up terror suspects for 42 days before being charged thrown out by the House of Lords.

It is also a blow to Miss Smith’s plans for a super-database to record the details of millions of people’s online presence, including emails, SMS messages and Facebook profiles as well as the controversial identity card programme.

Sir Ken chose to issue his tough warning about the perils of the “Big Brother” state in his final speech as DPP, days before he leaves his post at the end of this month.

He warned that MPs should “take very great care to imagine the world we are creating before we build it. We might end up living with something we can’t bear”.

Sir Ken, who has held the post for the past five years, said: “We need to take very great care not to fall into a way of life in which freedom’s back is broken by the relentless pressure of a security State.

“Technology gives the State enormous powers of access to knowledge and information about each of us, and the ability to collect and store it at will.”

Read moreSir Ken Macdonald: Centuries of British freedoms being broken by security state

Paris to quadruple number of CCTV cameras

Paris will quadruple the number of closed-circuit police cameras in its streets by the end of next year, after President Nicolas Sarkozy’s promise to emulate London in an attempt to track crime and terrorism threats.

While the Paris metro and rail networks already operate around 9,500 CCTV devices, police have only 330 at their disposal to survey outside public areas. The new plan, dubbed “A Thousand Cameras for Paris”, will raise that number to more than 1,200 – with most installed in high-risk areas and outside railway and underground stations.

The figure is still small compared with London, where each citizen is caught on average several hundred times a day. Britain has about four million closed-circuit security cameras compared with France’s 340,000.

The CCTV drive follows Mr Sarkozy’s pledge last autumn to follow London’s surveillance lead. “I am very impressed by the efficiency of the British police thanks to this network of cameras,” the French president said. “In my mind, there is no contradiction between respecting individual freedoms and the installation of cameras to protect everyone’s security.”

Read moreParis to quadruple number of CCTV cameras

Live CCTV on buses to be tested


Live CCTV launched on buses

A six-month trial of live CCTV on a London bus route has begun.

London Mayor Boris Johnson announced that the technology had been installed on 21 double-decker buses on a north London route.

The real-time images will be beamed to a control room manned by Transport for London (TfL) and police.

The trial will be monitored to determine whether live images can help transport staff deal with disorder more effectively.

Mr Johnson said: “I am determined to banish the sad minority of hoodlums and trouble makers that have blighted our buses.

“Having the facility to access live pictures from buses travelling around the capital will mean our bus controllers can play a far more effective role in sending police officers to sort out troublemakers.

“If this trial is successful then we will consider rolling out the system on other routes as part of our campaign to stamp out the casual disorder that led to a culture of fear on public transport.”

Read moreLive CCTV on buses to be tested

Worst slump since Great Depression

Major industrialised economies will suffer the worst slump since the 1930s, according to new research from Deutsche Bank.


Worst slump since Great Depression: Bud Fields and his family in their home during the Great Depression in Alabama, 1935. Photo: Corbis

The warning underlines the fact that policymakers have failed to prevent the financial crisis from turning into a full-blown economic slump. It comes as world leaders agreed to hold a summit in New York billed as the “Bretton Woods meeting for the 21st century”.

In its major assessment of the global economy’s health, Deutsche Bank also warned that Britain is even more vulnerable than the US or the euro area, as it predicted that the powerhouses of India and China would fail to support the wider global economy through the downturn.

The banks’ economists Thomas Mayer and Peter Hooper said: “We now expect a major recession for the world economy over the year ahead, with growth in the industrial countries falling to its lowest level since the Great Depression and global growth falling to 1.2pc, its lowest level since the severe downturn of the early 1980s.”

According to the International Monetary Fund, global growth of anything less than 3pc constitutes a world recession. The warning was echoed by Richard Berner of Morgan Stanley, who said: “A global recession is now under way, and risks are still pointed to the downside for commodity prices and earnings.”

Read moreWorst slump since Great Depression

New law to allow police to collect DNA in secret from teacups

MI5 and the police may be allowed to secretly collect genetic samples from items such as cigarette butts and teacups under new laws that could massively expand the national DNA database.

The powers would allow investigators to break in to suspects’ homes to collect DNA which could then be shared with foreign governments to check for links to crime and terrorism.

The new law, being discussed by Parliament, would mean the ‘stolen’ samples – thousands of which have already been taken by the security services – would be admissible in court and at a stroke hugely expand the Government’s controversial DNA database.


Concern: Minister Lord West wants data shared between governments

But human rights activists fear the new powers could lead to more innocent people having their DNA stored and, due to cross-contamination, being wrongly accused of crimes or terrorism.

The proposals, which are contained in the Counter-Terrorism Bill, were outlined last week by Security Minister Lord West in the wake of Labour’s unsuccessful attempt to introduce legislation to hold terror suspects for 42 days without charge.

Read moreNew law to allow police to collect DNA in secret from teacups

Nervous breakdown discharges up by 30pc among UK armed forces

The number of British military personnel discharged from the armed forces following a ‘nervous breakdown’ has risen by 30 per cent since the start of the Afghan war.

More than 1,300 have been medically discharged since 2001 when operations first began against the Taliban, new figures reveal. Of these, 770 belong to the army, which has borne the brunt of overseas operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But the greatest increase in those leaving the military because of ‘mental and behavioural disorders’ belongs to the air force, with cases more than doubling from 20 in 2001 to 50 last year. By comparison, 115 left the army last year, only slightly up on the 105 discharged seven years ago.

Read moreNervous breakdown discharges up by 30pc among UK armed forces

Britain faces crisis as negative equity to reach 2 million

Estate agents signs outside a row of properties

Collapsing house prices are plunging 60,000 homeowners a month into negative equity, which means the country is on course for a worse crisis than the 1990s crash.

At current trends, 2m households will enter negative equity by 2010, outstripping the 1.8m affected at the bottom of the last housing slump.

New research from Standard & Poor’s, the ratings agency, coincides with evidence that banks are aggressively seizing homes whose owners have slipped just a few hundred pounds behind on their mortgage payments.

It is a further signal that the financial crisis is now infecting the real economy as hundreds of thousands of families face the prospect of being unable to move house because their home is worth less than the value of their mortgage.

Many more homeowners will now be afraid that the bank may suddenly repossess their property. Repossessions have soared to 19,000 in the first half of the year, up 40% on the previous six months. That figure is expected to rise to 26,000 in the second half of 2008.

Economists believe house prices will fall by up to 35% from their peak by 2010. This compares with a drop of only 20% in the early 1990s.

Read moreBritain faces crisis as negative equity to reach 2 million

Stalin planned to send a million troops to stop Hitler if Britain and France agreed pact

Stalin was ‘prepared to move more than a million Soviet troops to the German border to deter Hitler’s aggression just before the Second World War’

Papers which were kept secret for almost 70 years show that the Soviet Union proposed sending a powerful military force in an effort to entice Britain and France into an anti-Nazi alliance.

Such an agreement could have changed the course of 20th century history, preventing Hitler’s pact with Stalin which gave him free rein to go to war with Germany’s other neighbours.

The offer of a military force to help contain Hitler was made by a senior Soviet military delegation at a Kremlin meeting with senior British and French officers, two weeks before war broke out in 1939.

The new documents, copies of which have been seen by The Sunday Telegraph, show the vast numbers of infantry, artillery and airborne forces which Stalin’s generals said could be dispatched, if Polish objections to the Red Army crossing its territory could first be overcome.

But the British and French side – briefed by their governments to talk, but not authorised to commit to binding deals – did not respond to the Soviet offer, made on August 15, 1939. Instead, Stalin turned to Germany, signing the notorious non-aggression treaty with Hitler barely a week later.

Read moreStalin planned to send a million troops to stop Hitler if Britain and France agreed pact

UK: Passports will be needed to buy mobile phones

Everyone who buys a mobile telephone will be forced to register their identity on a national database under government plans to extend massively the powers of state surveillance.

Phone buyers would have to present a passport or other official form of identification at the point of purchase. Privacy campaigners fear it marks the latest government move to create a surveillance society.

A compulsory national register for the owners of all 72m mobile phones in Britain would be part of a much bigger database to combat terrorism and crime. Whitehall officials have raised the idea of a register containing the names and addresses of everyone who buys a phone in recent talks with Vodafone and other telephone companies, insiders say.

The move is targeted at monitoring the owners of Britain’s estimated 40m prepaid mobile phones. They can be purchased with cash by customers who do not wish to give their names, addresses or credit card details.

The pay-as-you-go phones are popular with criminals and terrorists because their anonymity shields their activities from the authorities. But they are also used by thousands of law-abiding citizens who wish to communicate in private.

The move aims to close a loophole in plans being drawn up by GCHQ, the government’s eavesdropping centre in Cheltenham, to create a huge database to monitor and store the internet browsing habits, e-mail and telephone records of everyone in Britain.

The “Big Brother” database would have limited value to police and MI5 if it did not store details of the ownership of more than half the mobile phones in the country.

Read moreUK: Passports will be needed to buy mobile phones

The International Interphone Study Confirms: The Use Of Mobile Phone Is Carcinogenic

The official publication of the first intermediate results of the International Interphone Study from the International Research Centre on Cancer (CIRC) dependent on WHO confirms the increased tumors and cancer cases due to the use of mobile phone.

The Use Of Mobile Phone Is Carcinogenic: Here (PDF)

INTERPHONE Results latest update Oct. 08, 2008: Interphone Results Update (PDF)

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