Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category


Here is an article (the first of four) which I wrote for the Guardian’s Liberty Central.



Here is an enjoyable and enlightening chat I had recently with the brilliant Petina Gappah


1970s part 2

Here is the second part of my interview with Andy Beckett about liberty in the 1970s:

Spy on your neighbour

I love this. If you think your neighbour is too well turned out (and live in Sussex) you can telephone Sussex police as part of their new initiative, 2 Much Bling? Give us a ring.


A little while ago Justice Antonin Scalia of the US Supreme Court, discussing privacy issues, said he didn’t care what people found out about him on the internet.

Professor Joel Reidenberg set his students the task of finding everything that was publicly available about Scalia. The result was a 15 page dossier which included Scalia’s dietary preferences, his favourite movies and photographs of his grandchildren. In response, Scalia stood by his opinion and questioned Prof Reidenberg’s judgement. This is the Professor’s response:

I’m surprised by Justice Scalia’s characterization of the project. The scope of protection for privacy in our society is at the forefront of the public policy debate. I assign this research project annually and last year used myself as itssubject. The exercise never fails to provide a keen demonstration for my students of the privacy issues associated with aggregating discrete bits of otherwise innocuous personal information.

When there are so few privacy protections for secondary use of personal information, that information can be used in many troubling ways. A class assignment that illustrates this point is not one of them. Indeed, the very fact that Justice Scalia found it objectionable and felt compelled to comment underscores the value and legitimacy of the exercise.

Read more about it here.

42 days?

Since 2001 1,471 people have been arrested under anti-terror laws.

          Of whom 642  (44.32%) were charged with an offence or dealt with in another way (eg deportation, caution or detained under the Mental Health Act)        

     521 were charged with an offence  (35.4%)

                     Of whom 222 were charged with a offence under specific anti-terror laws    (15% of total arrested;  42.6% of those charged)              

                               Of whom 102 were convicted  (7% of those arrested; 19.6% of those charged with any offence and 46% of those charged with a specific terrorist offence).

     Out of the 521 charged,  118  were charged with terrorist related offences   

                                Of whom 94 were convicted

= 340 charged with terrorism and terrorist related offences (23% of those arrested), of whom  196 were convicted (13.3% of those arrested, 37.6% of those charged with any offence)

A further 181 were charged with separate offences

Time in custody:

Just under 50% of those arrested were released within 24 hrs

66% were released under two days

6 people were questioned for the maximum 28 days the law allows, of whom 3were released without charge. None of these occured in 2008, when the government tried to extend the maximum to 42 days.

See the Home Office statistics and tables here.

Note: figures are from 2001 – March 2008 and do not include those convicted for the airline bomb plots.

Miscarriages of Justice

An excellent video on miscarriages of justice from the Guardian: