Queen’s speech revives ‘snooper’s charter’ legislation
The government appears to have left open the door to the resurrection of the controversial “snooper’s charter” bill to track everyone’s email, internet and mobile text use. Whitehall sources confirmed that the possibility of legislation remains under discussion despite a declaration by Nick Clegg that the communications data legislation “isn’t going to happen while Lib Dems are in government”.
A Downing Street background briefing note on investigating crime in cyberspace published alongside the Queen’s speech says: “We are continuing to look at this issue closely and the government’s approach will be proportionate, with robust safeguards in place.”
The text of the Queen’s speech gives the go-ahead to legislation, if needed, to deal with the limited technical problem of there being many more devices including phones and tablets in use than the number of internet protocol (IP) addresses that allow the police to identify who sent an email or made a Skype call at a given time. Read more
Alan Travis | The Guardian | 8th May 2013
Minister accused of wrongly blocking publication of Prince Charles letters
The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, was accused in court on Wednesday of wrongly concealing details of Prince Charles’s lobbying campaigns. Grieve last year vetoed the disclosure of a set of “particularly frank” letters written by the prince to government ministers.
On Wednesday, the Guardian launched a lawsuit to overturn the veto after gaining permission from the lord chief justice, Lord Judge, and two senior judges. The legal action to see the royal letters is the first of its kind to be mounted.
Opening the two-day case at the high court, Dinah Rose, QC for the Guardian, said Grieve’s use of the veto was fundamentally flawed and legally unjustified. The judicial review is the latest round in an eight-year battle by the newspaper to gain access to the prince’s letters to politicians. His letters have been dubbed “black spider memos” because of the prince’s handwriting. Read more
Rob Evans | The Guardian | 9th May 2013
Bogus students: UK Border Agency deports only one in 1,000 suspected cases
Last year, universities reported 106,698 cases where they suspected a foreign student was misusing their visa but only 153 ended in the suspect being deported. Of the 106,000 reported cases, the UK Border Agency only investigated 658 individuals, it was found.
The figures, released under a Freedom of Information request, come following Home Office pressure to clamp down on bogus students entering Britain.
In December, Theresa May, the Home Secretary, announced that consular staff would interview more than 100,000 prospective students in an attempt to prevent fake applicants entering the country. Read more
Amy Willis | The Telegraph | 7th May 2013
NHS staff ‘unaware’ of whistleblower hotline, Scottish Labour claims
A free, confidential hotline for NHS whistleblowers has not been promoted well enough, it has been claimed. Labour’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said staff “don’t seem to be aware” of the number.
Her claim came after a Scottish Labour freedom of information request found just 16 NHS whistle blowers had come forward in the past five years. Ministers said the hotline had been well promoted and they “expected health boards to listen to staff”.
Ms Baillie said she welcomed the phone number – 0800 008 6112 – being established, but she believed the government needed to do more to make sure its policy was effective. Read more
BBC | 8th May 2013
USA: Bankers warn of unsustainable farmland prices, student-loan debt
WASHINGTON – A group of bankers that advises the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors has warned that farmland prices are inflating “a bubble” and growth in student-loan debt has “parallels to the housing crisis.”
The concerns of the Federal Advisory Council, made up of 12 bankers who meet quarterly to advise the Fed, are outlined in meeting minutes obtained by Bloomberg through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Their alarm adds to a debate on the Federal Open Market Committee about whether the benefits from their monthly purchases of $85 billion in bonds outweigh the risk of financial instability. Read more
Joshua Zumbrun & Craig Torres | Bloomberg News | 7th May 2013