“With wrongs yet legal, curse a future age!
Still spread, fair Liberty! thy heav’nly wings,
Breath plenty on the fields, and fragrance on the springs.”
Windsor Forest, Alexander Pope, 1713
The UK government has introduced a parliamentary Bill that seeks to give the police and a host of other organisations a power to authorise informants to participate in criminal conduct. The government claims that the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill  will create a legal way to break the law – in other words, to use the law to break the law.
The Bill is the government’s response to the legal challenge from Privacy International, Reprieve, the Committee on the Administration of Justice and the Pat Finucan Centre, who challenged the existing policy of authorising criminal conduct by officials and agents of the security services .
The government has also published a handy Home Office European Convention on Human Rights Memorandum  that explains how and why they believe that such law breaking is compatible with the Human Rights Convention. The memorandum says:
“A criminal conduct authorisation may only be granted where that conduct is believed to be necessary and proportionate in the interests of national security, for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime or disorder, or in the interests of the economic well-being of the UK for certain statutory purposes and where it is proportionate to what is sought to be achieved by that conduct.”
At first glance it may seem as if there might be some safeguards buried in such an obtuse statement. In fact the Home Office are using the language of war, language that comes from international law, that has come to dominate modern political discourse and is being used to facilitate the introduction of totalitarian measures. It may seem like our system is suddenly falling apart. In fact the building (or rather destruction) blocks were put in place quite some time ago.
To get an understanding of how this situation has come about and of the above quoted memorandum we need to look at the language used in the laws of war and see how it has made its way into the language of freedoms via the bait and switch of the language of “rights”.