David Anderson QC, the “independent” reviewer of terror powers, was a guest with me on BBC Newsnight. He speaks first in this video.
In advance of even speaking to the police, it is clear Anderson has made his mind up on the basis of partial facts. First, no man in his position should be on BBC Newsnight expressing “concerns” and speaking so negatively about a detention we all now know to have been wholly justified – talking about abuses of power etc before even meeting the police.
Frankly disgraceful on his part.
An independent reviewer is meant to keep an open mind. Anderson clearly did not. We all know what his review will say and Theresa May was strong and correct to announce that she will ignore him.
My second point is that, in the clip, Anderson complains about “British Asians” being disproportionately stopped under the law. This again is wholly inappropriate on his part. Profiling is an absolutely necessary weapon in the war against terror. Not a perfect weapon but a necessary one.
Nor is disproportionate stopping of Asians race-based and this is another reason David Anderson does not deserve his job. Countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, amongst others, have a far higher incidence of terrorist training camps and terrorist actions against the UK than say Switzerland or Thailand or Rwanda. Nationals and those traveling to and from countries with a higher terrorist activity level are more likely to be, and ought to be more likely to be, stopped than other travelers. If Yemenis or Pakistanis are disproportionately stopped it is because they are from Yemen and Pakistan, not because they are Asian. The same applies to Britons who travel frequently to those countries.
This keeps us safe. In an earlier age when the threat to the UK was mostly from Irish terror, I lived in Dublin for a couple of years. As a young woman flying alone with hand-luggage I fit a profile and I was stopped almost every time I flew in and out of Stanstead. Whilst it was annoying (and predictable) I did not mind it and in fact, it reassured me that the plane I was getting on was safe and well-watched.
On a Conservative point of principle the Government have brought the shabby bias displayed by David Anderson on themselves by having a quangocrat in place to “review terror laws” – same with Leveson. The people reviewing laws should be Parliament, who are elected by, and accountable to, the people. Quangoes, judges and QCs are unaccountable (except by us bloggers and journalists) and the electorate cannot sack them.
Quangos and Anderson style Quango-crats are profoundly unConservative. I would like to see Michael Gove do an audit of how many “David Andersons” there are out there, and following the fiasco of his prejudice on display in this clip, remove them before they do more damage.