ENCROCHAT: New protest outside court as legal wrangle over evidence rumbles on inside
A PROTEST was held outside Manchester Crown Court this morning as as legal arguments about the admissibility of EncroChat evidence used in the cases rumbled on inside.
A small number of demonstrators held banners raising concerns about evidence being used in EncroChat prosecutions.
More than 1,500 people have been charged mainly with drugs and money laundering offences after more than 2,800 arrests took place across the UK from summer 2020.
It was after French and Dutch police hacked into the supposedly encrypted EncroChat mobile phone system used by 60,000 people worldwide and about 9,000 in the UK.
European investigators allowed the British National Crime Agency (NCA) and UK police forces access to historic messages sent on the phones but also new ones being sent in real time.
Many EncroChat defendants have already pleaded guilty or have been convicted, but several are making legal challenges about how the hack was carried out and about the admissibility of the real time evidence.
Lawyers for the defendants claim the hack was a "live intercept" which would mean the evidence of real time messages could not be used in UK courts.
Some appeals have already been rejected but others continue.
Today police arrived after a small group of protesters waved banners that have cropped up outside a number of courts in recent months where EncroChat prosecutions are being heard.
Details of the preparatory hearing, ahead of a major trial, at the crown court today cannot be reported for legal reasons, however,
it centres around disclose of evidence by the prosecution and witnesses who should be called.
Judge Nicholas Dean KC referred to the protest during the hearing.
He said: "There is some form of protest taking place at the entrance to the court which must relate to this case as it mentions EncroChat. Of course, it is up to those who choose to protest, but I must remind everyone to record any proceedings or take any photographs in here would be a criminal offence."
The crown court case was adjourned until November.
A separate challenge has been made to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which which operates independently of government to provide a right of redress for anyone who believes they have been a victim of unlawful action by a public authority using covert investigative techniques, and a full hearing over the matter began last month but was adjourned.