15 October 2015

Not a Surprise

Speaking of things that are now "Inoperative", it appears that the it is no longer the policy of Her Majesty's Secret Service to not spy on members of Parliament:
The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), the UK body that hears complaints about intelligence agencies, has ruled that the communications of MPs and peers are not protected by the Wilson Doctrine, which was thought to exempt them from surveillance by GCHQ and other intelligence agencies. Back in July, the UK government had already admitted that the Wilson Doctrine "cannot work sensibly" when mass surveillance is taking place, but today's decision goes further by explicitly rejecting the idea of any formal immunity from spying.

As The Guardian explains: "The [Wilson] convention is named after former prime minister Harold Wilson, who pledged in 1966 that MPs’ and peers’ phones would not be tapped. In December 1997, the then prime minister Tony Blair said the doctrine extended to electronic communication, including emails." In its judgment, the IPT wrote: "We are satisfied that the Wilson Doctrine is not enforceable in English law by the Claimants or other MPs or peers by way of legitimate expectation." The IPT agreed it was "a political statement in a political context, encompassing the ambiguity that is sometimes to be found in political statements."


One of the two Green party politicians who had brought the complaint to the IPT, MP Caroline Lucas, said after the ruling: "This judgement is a body blow for parliamentary democracy. My constituents have a right to know that their communications with me aren’t subject to blanket surveillance—yet this ruling suggests that they have no such protection. Parliamentarians must be a trusted source for whistleblowers and those wishing to challenge the actions of the Government." She went on to call for new legislation providing protection to MPs, peers, Members of the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly Members, and MEPs from extra-judicial spying.
Live in obedient fear, citizen.


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