The QC about to leave his role as the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation to become the next public prosecutions chief has expressed concern about the lack of progress to appoint his successor.
Posting a link to his resignation letter, dated 7 September 2017, to home secretary Sajid Javid on the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation website yesterday - the 17th anniversary of the 11 September terror attacks - Max Hill QC said he was concerned about a gap in reviewers, particularly while the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill 2018 makes its way through parliament.
Hill, head of London set Red Lion Chambers and a former Criminal Bar Association chief, said: 'My concerns about many of the provisions in the new bill have been clearly documented. Last week, the government tabled some amendments to the bill. I welcome some of the changes, but have serious and principled concerns about others. I shall write on this subject as soon as possible. Meanwhile, I attach my formal resignation letter to the home secretary, but am sorry to note that there remains little sign of any competition to appoint the next IRTL. This is becoming urgent.'
In a further update posted today, Hill said he was informed that the government intends to publish its responses to his annual report for 2016 and report into the Westminster Bridge attack investigation tomorrow.
However he said: 'I have also been told today that I may not see either report, or be told anything about the content, until publication. It is of course a feature of the role of Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation that s/he holds the highest security classification and is afforded unfettered access to the most sensitive information and intelligence. This is why whenever the government intends to publish draft legislation – including the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill in June, and the amendments tabled last week – they call me in for confidential meetings to discuss the content.
'I have never breached confidentiality, and everyone knows that my own reports are provided to the Home Office months in advance of publication so that they may be scrutinised for factual accuracy and to ensure that sensitive information is not released. This makes their decision not to share the responses with me odd, but I shall have to read and react to the government responses to my own reports after they are released to the public.'
Hill's last day as the independent reviewer will be on 12 October. He then takes over from Alison Saunders as director of public prosecutions.
Hill tells Javid in his resignation letter that had he remained in post as the independent reviewer, the issues he would have focused on include a fresh review of the definition of 'terrorism' in the Terrorism Act 2000, 'particularly in light of the changing nature of the threat from international terrorism, including the Salisbury Novichok attack', and a review of stop-and-search powers.