Somewhere in the country a paranoid council has been using directed surveillance to spy on councillors and senior officers who were believed to be planning an internal coup. Their private home email, computer and phone records have been obtained, they have been followed and covertly filmed, their bank and credit card records examined. All this has been allowed to happen because in the glory days of Labour, spying, informants and Stasi-like surveillance were good things and councils were encouraged by the government to embrace the freedoms that RIPA gave them to spy and prod at private lives - and yes, RIPA did in a wholly perverse way make this easier than it was before.
That's at an end. The Law Society Gazette reported last month on the IP Tribunal's findings against the horrific misuse of powers by Poole Council. This opens the door to expensive legal action by victims against the illegal and intrusive use of powers by councils that will cost them millions in damages. The Coalition pledged on coming to office that ‘We will ban the use of powers in the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) by councils, unless they are signed off by a magistrate and required for stopping serious crime.’ and appointed Lord MacDonald, Ken MacDonald the old DPP as was, to conduct a review due to report about now. In fact, the DCLG's new business plan published yesterday claims that it's complete - but nothing on the Home Office website yet, so we suspect that the Home Secretary is sitting on it for some reason.
One thing is certain. More cases of horrific abuse of power by councils will be uncovered as cases crawl into the legal system and disclosure orders are made by the higher courts. Labour's brutish, evil and repressive disregard of the rights and freedoms of the peoples of these islands will come increasingly to light, and our disgust at their illiberality will grow.