British government snoops claimed it was too much hassle for them to use intercepted communications data in court proceedings because the accused could use the info to prove their innocence, it has emerged.
Police officers, spies and local council bin inspectors were all asked for their views of Blighty’s surveillance laws as part of the Independent Terrorism Legislation Reviewer’s, er, review of Blighty’s snooping laws, which was published on Thursday.
One of the questions asked was why, uniquely in the West, Britain’s state-sponsored snoopers do not use the evidence they gather against alleged criminals in legal proceedings. The response, at paragraph 9.16 was revealing:
Part of the reason for this is the extensive disclosure requirement in criminal proceedings: were it sought to rely on the product of intercept conducted over a period of several months, the defence could legitimately request a transcript of the entire intercept product with a view to searching it for exculpatory material.
In plain English, this meant the authorities were worried that using communications data hoovered up under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act would mean alleged crims could demand access to the same data – and use it to show they were innocent of the crimes they were charged with.