Is the govt to introduce guilt by association?

The Observer reports that it is, although the source is describe as “a source close to Home Secretary, David Blunkett”:

Under Blunkett’s plans, ‘associates’ of terrorists would initially face a civil court order – like the anti-social behaviour orders slapped on unruly teenagers – banning individuals from contact with named terror suspects. This would be intended as a deterrent: disobedience would become an offence punishable by jail.

‘Association’ could cover not only meeting in person, but communicating via email or telephone, or even fundraising: sources close to the Home Secretary said, however, there would have to be evidence of some suspicious intent, rather than merely socialising.

Thus if someone you know is suspected by the police, you could be banned from having contact with them on pain of imprisonment. Which might be a bit unfortunate should you possess the evidence that show they’re innocent but only a conversation with the suspect themselves would reveal this to you (and them).

And note that it is those merely “suspected” of involvement in terrorism that people will be stopped from associating with — suspicion does not imply guilt, and you and the suspect need not have done anything wrong for this to be applied. Then of course there is the possibility of guilt by association becoming circular…

Yet another assault on liberty from Blair and Blunkett.

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