The government?s terrorism watchdog Lord Carlile has confirmed to Amateur Photographer (AP) that he has called for Section 44 of the Terrorism Act to be ?repealed?.
Lord Carlile of Berriew QC confirmed to AP the accuracy of the contents of an article published by London?s Evening Standard in which he says Section 44 is having a ?disproportionately bad effect on community relations?.
?Nothing fills my in-tray and in-box more than complaints on the use of Section 44,? he was quoted as saying in a speech to the Policy Exchange think-tank.
He added: ‘I suggest that there should be a political accommodation now between all parties for the repeal of Section 44 in its present form.’
Lord Carlile called for a new law that allows searches without suspicion only during terrorist incidents and ‘truly iconic events’ or outside a limited number of ‘critical national infrastructure’ sites such as power stations, reported the Evening Standard.
Many amateur and professional photographers have complained about the unfair use of Section 44, which gives a police officer the power to stop someone without reasonable suspicion that they are involved in terrorist activity.
The controversy came to a head on 23 January when around 2,000 photographers staged a protest in Trafalgar Square.
Shortly afterwards the Home Office said police will continue to stop and search photographers using their anti-terrorism powers.
In January, police use of Section 44 Stop and Search anti-terrorism powers was ruled ‘illegal’ by a European court.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that police powers to stop and search have ‘not been curbed by adequate legal safeguards so as to offer the individual adequate protection against arbitrary interference.’