» Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Liberty Speech

The Prime Minister’s Spokesman (PMS) started by telling journalists that the Prime Minister would be visiting, ahead of the security and liberty speech, a forensic science service laboratory in Lambeth where DNA samples were analysed for use in criminal cases, including terrorist cases, and cold cases.

The overriding message of this morning’s speech was that the first duty of Government was to protect peoples’ security while protecting their fundamental freedoms. The Prime Minister would be saying that because criminals and terrorists did not shrink from using modern techniques and technologies to infringe our liberties, the Government must likewise use every tool at our disposal to protect the liberties of the majority, but that these changes must always be accompanied by measures to strengthen the safeguards on liberty and privacy, which is what we had been doing.

Asked repeatedly if the Prime Minister’s security and liberty speech was a means of responding to David Davis, the PMS said not at all; the Government was taking on board the issues following the vote that the Government won on pre-charge detention last week. The Prime Minister was saying that the modern approach to dealing with these issues was to acknowledge that the world had changed and that in the 21st century, terrorists and criminals used 21st century methods. Therefore it was important that the Government used 21st century methods in order to deal with those changing threats, but that we did so in a way that also protected and built in safeguards for our fundamental freedoms.

Asked repeatedly if the PMS was denying that the Prime Minister’s speech was a response to David Davis’s decision, the PMS said that he did not understand the journalist’s characterisation and was not quite sure what there was to deny or not to deny; newspapers everyday for the past number of years reported on how we managed the trade-off between security and liberty. This was not a new issue that had arisen in the last few days and that was exactly why we took the action that we did on pre-charge detention. This was a debate which had been ongoing for many years, reflected in the fact that the Government decided to bring forward its legislation last week on pre-charge detention.

Asked repeatedly how long the speech had been in the Prime Minister’s diary, the PMS said that he did not want to get into the minutiae of the Prime Minister’s diary as it would set a very unhelpful precedent but that what we were doing today was taking forward some of the arguments that were made last week, and setting them in their wider context.

Put that the Prime Minister had given a speech on this subject a few months ago, the PMS said that it was an important subject and that the Prime Minister was allowed to make more than one speech a year on it.

original source.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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