James Slack – Daily Mail July 16, 2010
British citizens face being subjected to chilling new EU ‘Big Brother’ surveillance and investigation powers.
Bureaucrats want foreign officials to be able to travel to the UK and immediately assume the powers of our own police.
They would be able to order undercover-spying missions, demand DNA and even pursue people for ‘crimes’ which are not recognised in UK law – such as criminal defamation.
Other EU countries could demand the personal details of entire plane-loads of holidaymakers, and force hard-pressed British police to trail suspects on their behalf.
The countries demanding the new powers on behalf of the European Union include ex-Eastern Bloc states Bulgaria, Estonia and Slovenia.
Tory MPs are putting pressure on the coalition to reject the new regime outright. But, astonishingly, the pro-European LibDems are understood to be keen to sign-up to the Directive.
A decision will be taken in the next two weeks – with Fair Trials International leading demands for Britain to opt-out.
They fear miscarriages of justice and civil liberties abuses.
Tory MP Dominic Raab, who raised his concerns in the Commons yesterday, said: ‘Britain should not opt into this half-baked measure. It would allow European police to order British officers to embark on wild-goose chases.
It would force our police to hand over personal information on British citizens, even if they are not suspects and the conduct under investigation is not a crime in this country.
And it gives foreign police law enforcement authority on British soil. The Order won’t help tackle crime – it will waste police time and ditch safeguards that UK citizens expect from the British justice system.’
The new powers are known as the European Investigation Order (EIO), which is intended as a partner to the deeply controversial European Arrest Warrant (EAW).
Britain is signed-up to the EAW. Members states want to make it easier to gather evidence on another member state’s soil.
They would be given right to carry out the ‘real time’ interception of communications, monitor a person’s bank account , demand bodily samples, DNA or fingerprints from a person in another EU state.
One of the major concerns is that the EAW has been used to investigate the most minor misdemeanours, such as the ‘theft of a dessert’ in a Polish restaurant.
Under the proposed new regime, the investigation order would mean this person could be placed under surveillance or have their bank records accessed to check for evidence they had paid.
In a paper submitted to the Government, seen by the Daily Mail, Fair Trials International warns of its grave concerns about the proposal, which is also backed by Belgium, Spain, Luxembourg and Austria.
It says that, under the new rules, it would be possible for Spanish police investigating a murder in a nightclub to demand the ID of every British citizen who flew to the country in the month the offence took place.
They could also force the UK to search its DNA database – which contains nearly one million innocents – and send samples belonging to anybody who was in Spain at the time.
It could leave an entirely innocent person facing an agonising battle to establish their innocence.
Fair Trials International also express concern about UK police being obliged to investigate matters which are not even crimes here, such as the Portuguese offence of criminal defamation.
Senior Tory figures are understood to be deeply unhappy with the EU’s power-grab. However, Whitehall sources say LibDem members of the coalition are more in favour of Britain joining-up. A decision is due by July 29.
The LibDem manifesto had a policy to: ‘Keep Britain part of international crime-fighting measures such as the European Arrest Warrant, European Police Office, Eurojust, and the European Criminal Records Information System — while ensuring high standards of justice.’
Last night, a Government spokesman said the coalition was ‘actively considering whether or not to opt in to the proposed EIO’.
He added: ”The coalition agreement states that the Government ‘will approach forthcoming legislation in the area of criminal justice on a case by case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting Britain’s civil liberties and preserving the integrity of our criminal justice system.”