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U.K. Lawyers: 'Can You Hear Us Now?'

As Britain's prison bugging scandal widens, lawyers there are suggesting that hundreds of criminal convictions may require review. Following initial reports that police had eavesdropped on prison conversations between a terrorist suspect and MP Sadiq Khan, The Daily Telegraph said yesterday that the bugging may extend to hundreds of lawyers and prisons throughout Britain. That news led lawyers to predict that hundreds of prisoners whose conversations with their lawyers were bugged could successfully challenge their convictions. Human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson told the Telegraph:

The consequences of this could be calamitous. Most of these cases will have to be brought back to court and in my view the courts will react with such fury, as a matter of principle, that those prisoners whose conversations have been bugged will have to be let out.

The Telegraph cites an unnamed source "with detailed knowledge of the operation" as saying that at least 10 solicitors were recorded at Woodhill prison "while dozens more are thought to have been monitored across the country." But a piece in The Register suggests that the eavesdropping may have been less widespread, confined to specific prisoner-lawyer pairings, and that no "wholesale emptying of the nation's jails is on the cards."

No doubt, more details will emerge, as calls come from several corners for Justice Secretary Jack Straw to investigate the bugging. "It is completely unacceptable that defence solicitors should fear that their conversations with clients are being monitored," Law Society President Andrew Holroyd told The Telegraph.

See also: Is it ever justified to bug lawyers' conversations with clients?

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on February 11, 2008 at 09:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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