Phone-Tapping Evidence to Be Permitted in Trials
Colin Brown Chief Political Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)
Radical proposals for reducing the use of anti-terrorist courts in Northern Ireland, seven-day detention without charge, and the threat of internment in the battle against the IRA are to be made today by Lord Lloyd, a law lord, in a sweeping review of anti-terrorist legislation.
Lord Lloyd is also expected to throw his weight behind powerful calls for evidence gained by telephone taps to be made admissible in courts of law in Northern Ireland and the mainland of Britain.
Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, and Sir Patrick Mayhew, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, have been considering rushing through a short Bill to implement Lord Lloyd's proposals on phone tapping evidence. A change in the law to allow the use of telephone tapping evidence in court has been urged on the Government by Sir Hugh Annesley, the retiring RUC chief constable, and David Trimble, the leader of the Ulster Unionists, who met John Major last week to discuss the peace process. Sir John Wheeler, the Northern Ireland security minister, has led the pressure within Government for telephone tapping evidence to be made admissible. The RUC has been frustrated at the collapse of trials in the Diplock courts using evidence from supergrasses on the grounds that their evidence was not corroborated. The police believe telephone tapping evidence, in which the suspects' voices can be heard, should enable more convictions to be upheld. The use of tapping evidence is prohibited under section nine of the Interception of Communications Act. Police on the mainland also believe it would be a vital weapon in the campaign against terrorism in Britain. …