back to article Accused hacker Lauri Love to sue National Crime Agency to retrieve confiscated computing kit

Lauri Love, the Brit who beat US attempts to extradite him over accusations of hacking, is suing Blighty's National Crime Agency (NCA) to get back computing gear seized in 2013 as part of the case against him. More than five years ago, Love was indicted across the pond over allegations he hacked thousands of PCs in America and …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Representing himself

    Surely, a case like this that will set legal precedent should have a Legal Aid funded legal team?

    If it's not going to set legal precedent, it's hardly a news story.

    1. Lee D

      Re: Representing himself

      It's incredibly rare to set a precedent.

      It's incredibly rare to represent yourself.

      There's a phrase even in legal circles: "A man who represents himself has a fool for a client". No lawyer would ever sit in court without a lawyer of their own (there are literally things that "lawyer for person X" can do that "person X representing himself" can't do anywhere near as easily). Note that for all the ground-breaking work, he had lawyers.

      Now, not one of them is present.

      Basically, he might well get a win out of it, but it won't set a precedent. Purely because it's just the prosecution that are dragging their feet, probably because of political sensitivities. In that sense, there's no real precedent to set - that law is there for a reason, to stop people dragging their feet in perpetuity, and that's what he'll use it for.

      In terms of "can he be convicted/extradited" in this particular case, that's an unanswered question, but the court looks to be swaying towards "yes, if the other side stop dragging their feet".

      It's entirely possible that it triggers a quicker prosecution on the original charges, in fact.

      Notice that what's NOT been said is "I didn't do it, guv".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Representing himself

        It's incredibly rare to represent yourself.

        And I think it's even rarer to represent yourself and come out really well.

        Given the nature of this case I rather fear the defence will throw their best legal bods at it and make mincemeat of anything put up against them.

        1. sisk

          Re: Representing himself

          It's incredibly rare to represent yourself.

          And I think it's even rarer to represent yourself and come out really well.

          Of course it is, unless everyone representing themselves wins.

          But yeah, a man who represents himself and all that.

          1. YetAnotherLocksmith

            Re: Representing himself

            Sadly, there's thousands of poor people dying exactly that, every day, in courts across the UK. They can't get legal aid, and are accused of crimes. They have no option but to please guilty, regardless of what happened, or, if they want to gamble a few hundred pounds, they can try to represent themselves. If they lose, they get an extra charge levied. Access to justice? No, only for the wealthy.

            1. LucreLout

              Re: Representing himself

              Access to justice? No, only for the wealthy.

              There is no justice but that which we take for ourselves. Certainly there is none to be found in the legal system. Access to justice? Access to lawyers, maybe, but no matter how much you spend on your legal team, the law and justice have very little venn overlap.

              1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

                Re: Representing himself

                You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

      2. Commswonk

        Re: Representing himself

        Note that for all the ground-breaking work, he had lawyers.

        Now, not one of them is present.

        The "ground - breaking work" was to fight extradition following an allegation of criminal conduct, and he would thus qualify for Legal Aid. IANAL but I don't think he would get Legal Aid for a civil action. As a result he would have to pay for any properly qualified legal support himself.

        Interesting that there is no hint of any legal eagles lining up to present his case pro bono.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. usbac

        Re: Representing himself

        "It's entirely possible that it triggers a quicker prosecution on the original charges, in fact."

        It's entirely possible that is the reason why his lawyers would not represent him on that issue? They told him something like "don't push the issue..."

        So, he went ahead anyway, representing himself.

      4. Saruman the White Silver badge

        Re: Representing himself

        A man who represents himself has a fool for a client

        As far as I remember, the actual saying is "The lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client". However I otherwise agree - if you don't have good knowledge of the law, then you are best served getting someone who does!

        1. AndyD 8-)₹

          Re: Representing himself

          iirc the saying is "a man (sic) who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer and an ass for a client".

      5. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Representing himself

        I'd almost bet the odds that he has lawyers in the background giving advice and watching very carefully what happens.

      6. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Representing himself

        It's incredibly rare to represent yourself.

        But not as rare now as it was a few years ago...

        How legal aid cuts filled family courts with bewildered litigants

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith

          Re: Representing himself


          Bewildered people having basic ideas explained to them in court, because they've got not one person to help them besides the court clerk! They can't even legally get a friend to help as that's been cut back on years ago to protect lawyers, and now there's no lawyers anyway...

          1. adam 40 Silver badge

            Misepresenting youself

            Are you saying that the age-old McKenzie Friend has been banned? Last time I looked, you were still allowed to.

            My track record in representing myself is: win in small claims (£1000) and win in Magistrate's court.

            I may have a fool for a client but I have a brilliant lawyer!

      7. LucreLout

        Re: Representing himself

        There's a phrase even in legal circles: "A man who represents himself has a fool for a client".

        Invented by lawyers for lawyers to generate more work for lawyers.

        In none criminal small value matters it's perfectly reasonable to represent yourself. So far I'm 2 for 2 against some suprisingly wealthy company's legal teams (who were genuinely inept or suprisingly bad at the law).

        In this case Mr Love isn't on trial and is simply seeking the return of some of his kit. I'd imagine it's a "f*** you" to those that tried him, or media generating showboating, as opposed to anything that will have a seriously negative impact on his life. He's got through 5 years without the kit and most likely has backups of any of his data he may have needed.

        I imagine the aim is to attract a capable legal team pro-bono due to the media exposure, but if not, full marks to Mr Love for standing his ground on his own two feet and making his case. Just never ever do this in criminal matters!

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Representing himself

          Invented by lawyers for lawyers to generate more work for lawyers.

          Spot on Lucre lout.

          At the end of the day the law isnt that complicated, its just that society puts billions of $$$ into trying to circumvent it.

          Thou shalt kill

          Thou shalt not steal ,

          and a couple of other things.

          Its a tradgedy that rich people or companies seem to be able to throw money at these rules and .... break them, especially that that means theyre fucking over the little man.

          But there *must* be a lot of open and shut cases, where the assistance of an overpaid parasite in a funny hat is not required.

          Like , say , you're an environmental officer for California and it comes to your attention that one of the biggest companies in the world has been programming their product to stfu during your inspections so that it cant pollute the countryside beyond the legal limit.

          Why do you need a lawyer? the evidence is right there in thousands of ECU units. Complete and damning ..and thousands of copies of it.

          ... or if Jeff Bezos punches you in the face outside a pub , and its clear as day on cctv that its him and its unprovoked . Would a savage team of lawyers turn black into white for him?

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Representing himself

      Note that, according to the article, his is a Civil Action, not part of criminal proceedings.

      Representing himself is not unreasonable when the case boils down to "they took my stuff and now they have to give it back" and he's merely asking the court to order them to do so. If the court of first call escalates the issue to a higher court he can always get himself a legal team later.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Representing himself

        "Representing himself is not unreasonable when the case boils down to "they took my stuff and now they have to give it back" and he's merely asking the court to order them to do so."

        ...and the law he using is pretty old, so well tested.

  2. caffeine addict

    Don't plod have a history of managing to misplace computers that have been in their charge for a significant period of time?

    It's possible he's chasing that outcome. At which point the police would have to admit they've got no evidence...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Don't plod have a history of managing to misplace computers that have been in their charge for a significant period of time?"

      Also, on occasions, to return electronic equipment damaged beyond repair.

  3. m0rt

    "Yet he can represent himself quite happily in a civil action in this country to get his kit back with it's potentially incriminating data ..."

    Are you saying that someone who suffers from depression can't represent themselves? Potentially incriminating data - so if there is incriminating data they just what? Haven't found it yet?

    Personally I couldn't give a shit if he did it or not. However, the rights of man/woman should be afforded to innocent and guilty alike. Or should be. The point of the law is to ensure that evidence is used to secure a conviction. So if they haven't yet brought a case how long should he sit around in limbo?

    "Somehow I feel the truth is out there, we just haven't seen it yet."

    Maybe not. But are you looking for a 'truth' that fits the narrative as you see it?

    Crime + proven evidence + trial of peers = conviction and guilty OR freed.

    You don't think 'Oh we think he is guilty alright - now lets see how we get him'.

    Uness you are a DA in some of the states, that is, from what I can gather.

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      I'm saying that someone who is so "severely depressed that they're potentially suicidal" so not subject to Court process is perfectly able to take on the immense stress of representing themselves at court. I find that odd. Certainly in my experience it would not something that I would fancy doing. As it's old kit the likelihood is the stored data is what he considers valuable.

      "The truth" is either that (a) he hasn't got any sensitive stuff on that machine it's just encrypted geek garbage with some old passwords and pictures of his holiday in Morcambe and he wants it back because it's his stuff or (b) there is encrypted data, the coppers believe it would incriminate him but can't access the data so he can't be charged or (c) there is potentially sensitive data on that machine trawled from illegal hacking sessions that the 'owner' may wish to use in some way or (d) there are illegal hacking tools on that machine which the coppers do not wish to return to the claimant for potential reuse (a bit like giving a phone back to a drug dealer with all his contact numbers on it, the phone is legal and the numbers themselves are legal but that data *may* be subject to misuse.)

      The key to his defence to extradition was not that he didn't do it but that he was unfit to stand trial in the US, that infers that any or all of (b) (c) and (d) *could* be valid. Any way you look at it there's a truth and we don't know what it is.

      1. caffeine addict

        In my experience, suicidal people sit anywhere on a long spectrum from so nearly catatonic that you'd be surprised if they could lift their eyelids let alone a bottle with a skull and cross bones on it, to people who are fiercely determined to do something despite all odds, because it's the thing that they *have* to do before they die.

        If you break your leg, you're not going to be able to get from the sofa to the kettle. But if you break your leg in the middle of a forest with no cell signal, I'll bet you'll find a way of getting through the pain because you feel you *have* to. It's the same damned thing.

        1. CountCadaver

          Or as one runner did - Strangle a mountain lion -

      2. YetAnotherLocksmith

        Or he just wants his Bitcoin wallet back before they drop back before 2p each.

        1. LucreLout

          Or he just wants his Bitcoin wallet back before they drop back before 2p each.

          ROFL. Very very good.

      3. LucreLout

        I'm saying that someone who is so "severely depressed that they're potentially suicidal" so not subject to Court process is perfectly able to take on the immense stress of representing themselves at court. I find that odd.

        I make no comment on the first part of what you say, but the second part.... why assume it is stressfull at all? He wants some computers back - he can readily represent himself at lower court, and if the matter proceeds to the higher court he can instruct solicitors at that time or drop the matter. He's not on trial, and unless the matter goes tot he higher court, he's not even on the line for the oppositions costs.

        Now, it may or may not be, that he lacks any real financial resources against which a costs claim could be made, thus his downside becomes very limited in order to make a point.

        Bravo Mr Love - I have nought to say on how you found yourself before the courts originally, but on this occasion I have much respect for a young man willing to stand up for himself, and for refusing to be frightened by a legal system that has shaped itself to do so.

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      Reasonable action?

      I suppose the reasonable and rational thing to do would be for the police to copy the hard drive(s) in case they ever need whatever evidence might exist there, then give the equipment back to him. It is after all, his. Anyone want to bet on that happening?

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Reasonable action?

        I'd have thought that would have been the first thing they did anyway, although i dont know where the law is on copies of data being used as evidence , there might be some bullshit rule like "unauthorised tape recordings cant be used as evidence"

        Even so , were i the police forensic I.T. guy i'd copy the drives first of , and use the copies to investigate , storing the originals in a safe warm / dry , i dunno wherever it is hard drives like to hibernate comfortably.

  4. The First Dave

    If plod want to keep the evidance, they can make bitwise copies of everything, then return the hardware. Really, depriving an innocent man of the possession of his legally-owned kit for this length of time is ridiculous.

    1. aks

      They could even return the PC's with bitwise copies and keep the originals.

      They'd be unwise to return the equipment after placing anything of their own on it.

      Of course, they make have destroyed or damaged it in the meantime. That would be even more embarassing.

      1. veti Silver badge

        If they have "placed anything of their own on it" - possibly as part of an attempt to break the encryption - then that could be represented as "damaging" the kit.

        On the other hand, if it was just mirrored when acquired and the original kit has been been stored in an evidence locker for the past five years, I wouldn't like to bet a groat on the whole system still being bootable. (Even if it's been kept in controlled humidity and with a dust cover intact all that time.)

        On the other other hand, what's a fair market price for a five-year-old desktop? Couldn't Plod just buy him a new system, for less than the price of defending this case?

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith

          It isn't their money, they will fight it and appeal it all the way to the "Theresa May wants ALL your rights!" level.

        2. Korev Silver badge

          The data could be the most valuable thing to him.

    2. LucreLout

      If plod want to keep the evidance, they can make bitwise copies of everything, then return the hardware.

      I'm not sure it's legally that simple. IANAL, but he was arrested because they believed the data ont he devices was not entirely his by right. Making a copy is one thing, but they have no right to return to him "my" data, or "yours" for example.

      I commend Mr Love for filing the case himself though!

  5. Blockchain commentard

    5 year old PC's? Let the plods have 'em and have to deal with WEEE regulations!

    1. Dr Paul Taylor

      I was going to say that if it's five years old, it probably can no longer run a web browser!

      1. DropBear

        No idea what you're talking about. My desktop is a lot older than that, and was bought as a "best value for money, not the best there is" proposition at the time, yet to this day the only piece of software I have ever seen it drag its feet with was Star Citizen - and it even plays that one at a usable if not decent level. There was definitely CPU performance increase in the last ten years, but you seem to heavily overestimate how much, especially compared to typical software needs. See also PC OEMs incessant complaints about people showing no inclination to replace their existing PCs - there's a reason for that...

        1. CountCadaver

          I've got a Z600 workstation thats a good bit over 5 years old, 2 hexacore Xeons and 24GB RAM, stil zips along, plus it cost me ~£300 inc the better processors

      2. Aqua Marina

        "it probably can no longer run a web browser!"

        Um, I'm sitting here typing this on an Intel i7 4770K machine with 16GB RAM I picked up in 2013 from for as I recall £700ish. tells me it has a CPU score of 10087. I've just looked at Ebuyer's website, and seen I can get a Core i7 8700 machine with 16GB RAM for £650ish. Cpubenchmark tells me that this newer machine has a score of 15132. My machine is only 2/3 the speed of the brand new machine at 5 years old. I also play games on this machine. There is no game on the market that does not play well on this machine. And I'm also running a 4K monitor at full res on it since I put a GeForce 1050ti into it. To say 5 year old machines are obsolete is absolute rubbish. Please go to and look up the speed of your processor and get a basis for comparison.

    2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      I've got a 6 year old server upstairs and that's just fine (16 threads of pure number crunching that I can still take up to 24 Ect etc) and my gaming rig has an 8 year old CPU that I'm only now considering replacing (heavily overclocked mind but the point still counts).

      Just because it's not brand new doesn't mean it's worthless and should be junked.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Its a bit of a "triggers broom" situation but..

        my games machine is probly 10 years old, the processor anyway - 4 core @ 3.2 gz

        16gb of ram.

        It can run a web browser!

        the case it sits in is probly 20 years old

    3. Velv


      Or he could just be wanting back his encrypted porn data...

      1. ShadowDragon8685

        Re: Hardware?

        I think you had it right the first time. Spend a decade collecting and sorting spank material and you'd be pissed if you couldn't get it back.

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

          Re: Hardware?

          A decade? I'm sure I've some oldies from when I was dialup. Feels weird not unzipping it from a spanned set of floppies anymore...

  6. adam payne

    it has become unfortunately necessary to use the instruments handed down by Parliament for redress of arbitrary dispossession of individuals by executive bodies through the Police Property Act," said Love.

    What's the betting he wins and get everything back. Then once he has had time to decrypt it they raid his house.

    1. steamdesk_ross

      Hammer time

      Surely *if* there's anything incriminating his first priority will be to take a hammer to the hard drives. But as someone pointed out above, the police just need to bitwise image the disks first. Of course, they might not have the skills :-)

      1. CountCadaver

        Re: Hammer time

        If they have a copy (which IIRC they generally do by default to avoid any risk of contaminating the source material and thus allowing the defence an angle to get the case dropped, then they might want to drop the case temporarily and hope they get enough access to processing power to crack it in the coming years / encryption becomes vulnerable.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

    Sentimental reasons?

    1. aks

      Re: Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

      I've got backups, picture and music on my external drive. Some of it goes back 20 years.

      My 3TB backup recently died and I'm having it professionally recovered. That will teach me to backup my backup.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

        "My 3TB backup recently died and I'm having it professionally recovered. That will teach me to backup my backup."

        Why? It's a backup. You still have the originals, don't you?

        If it's the only copy, it's not a backup.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

          Until recently i had 4x 2tb drives all with the same stuff on , but i had to expand and not enough nas bays , so now i have only 2 copies of 6tb:

          a 4tb copying to another 4tb

          a 2tb copying to another 2tb

          2 spare 2tbs sitting around , probly go in tower unit and provide 3rd and 4th copies of the most important data i guess ...

          However ,

          All that redundancy would not stand up to a bunch of coppers smashing the door in and running off with it all!

          maybe i should put one of the NASs under the floor .... in the shed a locked filing cabinet ... with a sign on it ..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

      He wants the data, not the hardware.

      Here's betting they dd the encrypted data, damage the drives then give them back.

    3. Tom 35

      Re: Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

      Photos of his cat? Who knows, it's his stuff.

      But I would not be surprised to find that it's broken and the drives have been "misplaced".

    4. The Mole

      Re: Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

      Well taking all machines and storage probably means he's lost photos and precious documents (unless he had all of them in offsite backups), so yes sentimental reasons seems like a good motivator.

      1. Steve K

        Re: Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

        ...and he doesn't have backups himself? Unlikely given his background...?

    5. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

      Because it is his kit and he is entitled to be in possession of his kit? The police may be illegally holding onto his kit, an invasion of his personal space, and potentially his human rights.

      Is any more reason than that needed?

      Edited to add: not to mention if he wins it'll be a personal victory and a (probably) personally satisfying big middle finger to the police and have probably destroyed his life, for the previous 5 years if not his future as well.

      1. CountCadaver

        Re: Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

        Though that won't put PC Plod off constant "routine" stop and search, traffic stops, anonymous noise complaints etc etc etc etc.

      2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

        Hey , if the police think returning the stuff means they wouldnt have enough crappy 5yr old hardware lying around , I've got some they can take ...

    6. GinBear

      Re: Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

      Because that’s where he kept his Bitcoin vault?

      Still, if he doesn’t get it back soon that will be worth less than the PC...

    7. ShortLegs

      Re: Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

      Because it is *his*.

      If the Police confiscated your belongings, as potential evidence in a case against you, of which you have never been found guilty, you are perfectly entitled to the return of your belongings. Whether they are of use or not is moot.

  8. Dom De Vitto

    Interesting angle.


    Solicitors ('lawyers??') aren't used to these kinds of cases - it's literally pointless hiring one for this, it would be like asking a GP to do brain surgery.

    A barrister, however, is a different kettle of fish - they are sharks. But I doubt one wanted to take this trivial case.

    I think he's just pushing the CPS - prosecute now, or drop the charges and give me my stuff.

    It's a smart move, as if they have the evidence they need (possibly hoping to brute-force the crypto), pushing won't matter, if they don't, it could cause the case to be dropped. Of course, the police can always come back to their *copy* of the evidence, if they can break the crypto in 5 years - they don't actually need to originals, just 'best available evidence', as they can prove the originals were his, and the encrypted copies of the data is a 'true copy'.

    Neat move on his part, and hopefully will mean someone in the CPS makes a decision - which is what's causing his anxiety....

    1. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Interesting angle.

      I would think that anyone who reads the reg would be able to translate:

      Lawyer = the title of the appropriate qualified individual to represent someone at the level of the instant legal action being undertaken.

      And then to translate that (without any thought process about translating, it just happens at the speed of reading the article) to their local equivalent, e.g. UK/AU = solicitor for non-trial events (or to instruct barristers), or barristers for trial events. US=lawyer.

      Also to note, in some jurisdictions a solicitor can represent someone in low-level courts and cases, e.g. before magistrates and with 'small' crimes, such as parking tickets. In those jurisdictions it's only for serious crimes, typically things with >= 5 years max sentences, and/or before a judge (as opposed to a magistrate, and typically cases with >= 5 years go to judges, not magistrates anyway) that require barristers.

      So with the range of possible titles/profession names across the reader space to describe a certified legal professional, IMO just saying "lawyer" is perfectly fine unless further detail is relevant, e.g. maybe it's a QC or named partner at a firm, in which case that might be appropriate to indicate the seriousness (or financial capability) of those involved.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Aqua Marina

        Re: Interesting angle.

        Solicitors can represent in cases where you would typically see barristers, but when they do, if they are referred to as “Learned” as in “My learned colleague” when the lawyers are referring to each other, the solicitor has to correct them stating he is “not Learned”.

        It can become a bit childish in the courtroom if the barrister wants to make the solicitor repeatedly say he is “not Learned” by referring to him as “Learned”.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Interesting angle.

          "It can become a bit childish in the courtroom if the barrister wants to make the solicitor repeatedly say he is “not Learned” by referring to him as “Learned”."

          Really? I'd have thought a savvy solicitor would simply complain to the judge that if his "Learned colleague" was incapable of remembering the status of his opponent for more than 5 minutes he may not be capable of representing his case.

      3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: Interesting angle.

        all just more of the pomp and pomposity to create mystery and smokescreen.

        When i get to power theyll be the , um , amongst the first against the wall.

        Why is it a lawyer will take 6 weeks and £2000 to get me ownership of a 100k house,

        but a car dealer can transfer ownership of a car worth more than that , instantly , and for free?

        1. Steve K

          Re: Interesting angle.

          Because someone is unlikely to have Planning Permission to build a railway/motorway/shopping centre through your car....

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Interesting angle.

      IIRC, the system in the UK was changed a few years ago to allow a suitably qualified solicitor/lawyer (note not a barrister) to present in civil (and I believe in some less serious criminal) cases.

      I have a family solicitor friend who took the training, and presented cases in court several times before he retired recently.

      It was a good move for the legal system, because employing a barrister means paying for their time to learn about the case, possibly from the solicitor who has already discovered a lot of the information, as well as for the time in court, as well as the solicitor's time. Allowing the solicitor, who should already have a lot of the case details, to represent in court saves whoever is paying the final bill an expensive tier of legal costs.

      The people who lose out are the recently qualified barristers who would cut their teeth on the low-grade civil cases that is their bread and butter until they have earned a reputation.

  9. Starace

    He's a prize twat

    While I have every sympathy with any attempt to get his stuff back if there's no ongoing justification for it to be held, I still think the guy is an idiot. A pretty mouthy one at that.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: He's a prize twat

      Asperger Syndrome can often mean that people communicate in ways that are not conventional, but Asperger Syndrome is not idiocy and should not be called a twat.

    2. 's water music

      Re: He's a prize twat

      While I have every sympathy with any attempt to get his stuff back if there's no ongoing justification for it to be held, I still think the guy is an idiot. A pretty mouthy one at that.

      Well luckily (for me at least) that isn't an offence

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    By the time that any hardware is returned it'll be only good for the National Museum of Computer History. Maybe getting data back from the spooks/police might be unwise.

  11. aks

    Since the police can make a byte-for-byte copy of the disks, their only reason for holding on to the hardware is to deny him access to his own equipment.

    If he doesn't have lega aid then representing himself is the only method available to him.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Since the police can make a byte-for-byte copy of the disks, their only reason for holding on to the hardware is to deny him access to his own equipment."

      Not quite. The copy is for working on. If it comes to a trial, the original evidence has to able to be presented too. This case is about telling the CPS and Police to put up or shut up.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

    Might be something on there which proves he is not actually guilty of some of the crimes he is accused of.

    Also relevant: might be information relating to something he saw which could have relevance now.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Re. Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

      Believe it or not, it is perfectly possible that kit a mere 5 years old, even a PC, would still be usable.I presume that Mr. Love used Linux. As such, the systems suffer less resource-rot than if they are Windows systems.

      A five year old machine could be running a core-2 duo or quad, or an early i3, 5 or 7 processor, and may have 8 or 16GB (or more) of memory and a good-enough graphics card.

      I am still using equipment of that era and older (my primary laptop is a T400 Core 2 duo at 2.2 GHz with 4GB of memory, manufactured in 2010 IIRC) and it runs Ubuntu 16.04 quite fast enough to do everything I need to do. I have much older equipment that is still doing useful work where computing power is not the primary requirement.

      I get so fed up, especially in these days of over-powerful systems, with the assumption that any computer made more than a couple of years ago is useless. It's all hype, trying to make computers more like fashion items, and pushed by the system vendors and OS suppliers to try to create a rapid, repeating market for their wares.

      A classic example is Windows 7, which still does the job, with MS pushing a still much disliked new version very hard, with dire threats of support ending for the older versions. The way forward for many people ought to be Linux (rather than the recycling centre) for kit that may have many years of useful life in it.

      It probably won't happen, because I can see the computers-as-a-service, totally controlled by the vendors and with a monthly charging model, steaming down the track towards us, with nothing apparently able to divert it, and the ordinary Joe or Josephine just rolling over and accepting it!

  13. Dr. Ellen

    Old kit, old data

    I have data on my computer that is almost forty years old. It's still valuable. I've had to go through a ridiculous number of format conversions to keep it that way. Some of it started out saved on TRS-DOS cassette tapes. Some started out on Commodore Scripsit cassette tapes. It's gone through TRS-DOS floppy disk to CP/M to MS-DOS, and I had to keep at it as the programs I used to record it went quietly into the sunset. Right now it's on a NTFS hard drive, and if I take it any further, it'll all be saved as RTF.

    The thing is, I still use that data (I am, and live with, a novelist. They're word-processing files.) Some of the conversions it went through were only possible with a specific machine (Commodore 128) which was only available for a few years. If I'd missed out on that machine, the files would be gone.

    So give some consideration to a bloke who wants his old kit back. Who knows how long it'll be for the files to become the digital equivalent of cuneiform? That can happen rapidly and surprisingly.

  14. sisk

    My guess is they've been quiet because either they've forgotten about him entirely or they've been trying to brute force the encrypted data. I'm not sure the case was important enough to warrant a years-long decryption effort, but others might not feel the same.

  15. Long John Brass
    Big Brother

    Not sure I'd trust...

    Anything that came back. Treat the kit & drives as potentially radio-active. Dog knows what nasties have been dropped on the drives and firmware.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not sure I'd trust...


      If I were him (and thankfully I'm not and have not even thought about trying to hack any other systems - honest M'lord) and I was able to get the systems back, I'm very publicly destroy the hard drives using the same sort of methods that the likes of GCHQ does[1]. Then I'd do the same to the motheboards and send the rest for recycling.

      I'd not even think about trying to power up the systems or extract any possibly still relevant data on them. Just destroy them and give a very big finger to 'the man' on both sides of the Pond.

      [1] seems to involve both drilling holes in the drives and melting them with lots of heat.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not sure I'd trust...

        Where I've worked with sensitive data, the disk drives (and indeed many other parts of the computers) are put through something that looks like a wood chipper, but so much stronger.

        What comes out are shards of metal, glass and plastic that you would have difficulty recognizing as anything to do with a computer.

        The wear and tear on these shredders, and the noise they make is tremendous. The company that I've seen actually has the shredder in the back of a lorry so that they can drive up and perform the operation on site, to minimize the risk that the media can be diverted before being destroyed.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Not sure I'd trust

    Anecdotally, a few people have had their phones etc back from ze plod and found that they are blacklisted from all networks.

    Now if I am not mistaken, you can't do that to an innocent person as the device is essentially "bricked".

    In principle at least, sure there is provision somewhere in RIPA or DEA but if so it certainly isn't public knowledge.

    It could of course be an experiment to see if the person with the now-useless phone can fix it by changing IMEI, thus breaking the

    law and resulting in more legal hassle.

    Though what most likely happens is they end up on auction sites as "BAD IMEI" or something like that.

    I did find out that it could be part of the forensics process as they may dump the entire chip and then flash back a generic image

    but if so this would be unprecedented.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's your kit

    Sorry, but it got upgraded to W10

  18. PeteA

    Go Laurie!

    That's all! Innocent until *proven* guilty (not charged, smeared, innuendoe'd, or anything else).

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Go Laurie!

      Innocent UNLESS proven guilty.

      Always remember its "unless proven guilty". "Until proven guilty" implies that you're guilty of something, and its just up to the Prosecutor to decide what...

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  19. Not Terry Wogan

    Don't know whether he's guity or not...

    ... but since it's been going on since 2013 and he's not heard from them for a year, it seems to me that someone's decided the chance of a conviction is unlikely and they're punishing him with the process itself. I've heard about this an unsettling number of times over the last decade or so.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Depending on the spec, there is nothing wrong with 5 y/o PC hardware.

    The PC I am writing on is using an 8 y/o cpu and HDDs, and still games fast enough for me.

    Having said that, from experience, he wont get that gear back in a working condition; when the rozzers finally returned (Most of) my equipment, it was as a pile of parts (except for the laptop which was just broken); in several black bin liners.

    What I never got back, and which they stonewalled on until I ran out of money for lawyers, was a pile of SD cards and a number of (genuine) Windows install media, complete with licences.

    They returned my car keys with no comment, a year after denying that they had taken them.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    By now his kit is probably in the plod's canteen with them playing MineCraft or Fortnite or whatever on it.

    Anonymous because.

    1. CAPS LOCK

      Unlikely, by now it wiill be...

      ... 'broken'.

  22. Scunner

    I think I get it now...

    So UK law enforcement used a RIPA order to try to get him to decrypt his data, but weren't intending to prosecute him themselves. US law enforcement made an extradition request, but it wasn't backed with evidence to prove his guilt. As I understand it, the US constitution gives you a certain amount of protection against self-incrimination (i.e. pleading the fifth). The UK grants no such protection, hence RIPA. At the same time, the US isn't going to be troubled by any "fruit of the poisonous tree" concerns if the fact finding has been done for them in compliance with UK laws, even if the evidence gathering would have been illegal had they attempted it under US law.

    It smells as if the law enforcement agencies in these two countries were trying to be cute by forcing him to self-incriminate in the more constitutionally lax UK, followed by extradition to the hugely more punitive regime in the US for the subsequent prosecution. That would be morally dubious, to say the least.

    It's possible the US have enough to secure a conviction already - or maybe only enough to bully a plea bargain out of him. But it strikes me that given the unexplained delays in process the UK police probably have very little to go on. If the americans don't share their evidence with UK police pretty soon - and even then, only if that evidence is strong enough to carry a prosecution in an English court - then prosecution will be impossible in either jurisdiction.

    I don't have a lot of sympathy for what Mr Love is alleged to have done, but if the police can't secure an honest conviction I won't have any problem seeing him walk away from this.

  23. Aodhhan

    A bit silly.

    What he's doing--basically, is pressing the government to prosecute him or not.

    The problem is, if the UK decides to drop prosecution he will subject himself to being extradited again; since the original extradition case was only stopped to pursue local prosecution; the extradition was not dismissed on merit.

    Of course they've done bit copies of everything. You don't forensically investigate the original media. This would be ridiculous. Anyone experienced in cyber security knows this, and the importance of proper chain-of-custody. Even with the copies, as soon as they return any evidence, CoC is lost; making any copies worthless. This is likely the main reason he wants his property back.

    Since it's been in government custody for 5 years--it's hard to say what sort of malicious hardware/software they will put on it. So he isn't going to want to use it. I doubt he's this stupid.

  24. Refugee from Windows

    Laws of aquisition

    The NCA, being one of those goverment quangos, operates in its own area of the law. In this case that of the Ferengi, out of the Star Trek universe, once they've got it you'll never get it back.

    Also applies to other "law enforcement" agencies who don't want any external scrutiny.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here's one for your backup strategy: When some institution decides they want your kit, they do not only take your 'kit', they also take all the backup media.

    If you do not have a copy stashed where they cannot remove it (either from no ability or no knowledge), your 30 years of source code, documentation, and billing/taxes archive is gone. And having your records taken is not considered an excuse to not correctly file taxes, they will then get you for that one.

    Getting the material back is valuable; The hardware would then be dumped on some auction site, per security policy.

  26. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

    If they were smart

    they'd have a keyboard logger on it with a built-in transceiver somewhere in the case, then give it back to him. 5 minutes later, they'd have his encryption. Once they verified it on their copy, nab him again, proceed with extridition, let the US solve the problem for them.

    As was said before, best thing for him to do is destroy it, unpowered, if he gets it back.

  27. paulll

    If he gets his gear back and finds the hdd's are seized or otherwise borked I wonder if he could do a subject access request for copies of the disc images that would then be the only extant copies of his fap stash?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Why does he want five-year-old kit back?

    I still have a >5 year old system here.

    In fact this machine is circa 2009 and still works though needed a few upgrades.

    You can't beat an old machine with VT64-x support which is the main reason the 32 bit systems are only really used for

    legacy applications and hardware that won't run properly otherwise.

    Interestingly, when/if Love gets his stuff back it would be interesting to see exactly what was done to it.

    I would put money on the drives being an exact copy and differing only by a few digits on the serial numbers.

    Even the CPU and RAM might not be the originals as sometimes what happens is that they gets replaced with a functional

    equivalent in case of a unique encoding mechanism where certain code is device specific.

    Case in point, I discovered that some ransomware does exactly that so the controllers can determine if the machine has

    been cloned or messed around with and charge more or (more usually) simply refuse to decrypt it.

    AC because some of these folks actually know where I live...

  29. Jake Maverick

    at least he'll get a hearing because of the media attention, most of us can't even get that......triply so for those of us who have ha their identity stolen :-(

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