Wednesday, 6 February 2008

THE British government is considering whether to adopt Australian laws allowing intercepted private phone calls and emails to be used as evidence in serious criminal and terrorism court cases.
Britain is one of only a handful of countries which still bans the use of information gathered by secret intercepts, such as phone taps, to be presented as evidence before a jury.
An independent report presented to the government overnight (AEDT), and backed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, recommended the ban be dropped, as long as strict safeguards are put in place.
The report examined systems used in a range of countries, including Canada, the United States, Ireland, Spain, France and Australia.
It highlighted Australia's intercept evidence laws, describing them as "a compelling example" of how they can be used to combat serious crime.
In Australia a suspect's private emails, text messages and phone calls can all be monitored, as well as those of anyone they have been in contact with.
The report noted that an Australian Government report found that intercepts had often resulted in guilty pleas and led to 1486 convictions for drug offences, murder and organised crime in 2005/2006.



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