The definition of Terrorism grows ever wider. It may surprise you to learn of the ways in which Vernon Coaker, the Labour Home Office Minister, has quietly signed away your right to undertake everyday activities.
There are many reasons why you might wish to find out the current address of a former neighbour, or discover the whereabouts of a debtor, for instance. You should check their former occupation before you do so – you could now be labelled a terrorist for attempting to obtain information about any former police officer or member of the armed forces.
2. The following provisions of the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 shall come into force on 16th February 2009– […] (d) section 76 (offences relating to information about members of armed forces etc), together with Schedule 8 (offences relating to information about members of armed forces etc: supplementary provisions);
Any defence? Mmmn, after you have been fingerprinted, a DNA sample taken, and tagged with the words ‘suspected Terrorist’!
(2) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to prove that they had a reasonable excuse for their action.
It is for you to prove that your excuse was reasonable – not for the prosecution to prove that you are guilty.
This draconian law will affect many people – from the debt collecting agencies to the campaigning journalist, from the royal biographers – all those minor princes parading in their uniforms – to wives trying to track down an errant ex-policeman husband.
Murphy’s Law will prevail – if the threat of prosecution under this law can be invoked, it will be.
The UK libel laws are already wreaking havoc with investigative journalism, where the burden of proof is similarly placed on the defendant; now every editor will have to check with the legal team to see if the person they are investigating can possibly invoke anti-Terrorism laws before setting a reporter on their trail.
Why did they exclude ex-Cabinet Ministers from this Act? Do they consider they are already adequately protected? What is so special about an ex-Policeman?