Friday 5 October 2018

Investigatory Powers Tribunal ~ Covert agents and crime

The Pat Finucane Centre has highlighted a case which is before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) - Pat Finucane Centre 4 October.

The case has been brought by Privacy International which claims that covert agents recruited by the Security Service are being authorised to carry out crimes within the UK under a policy which has no legal basis.  It is said in the Claimant's skeleton argument that - "No meaningful limits have been disclosed" and "it appears that the Security Service thinks it could, if it thinks it would be in the public interest authorise participation in murder, torture, sexual assault or other grave criminality in the UK.  Neither the victim of the crime, the Police or the Crown Prosecution Service are notified of authorisations.  In practice, this will mean that criminal conduct will not be investigated or prosecuted."  It is also claimed that oversight carried out by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner is "so narrow as to be ineffective."

In November 2012, the Prime Minister (then David Cameron) requested the Commissioner - Sir Mark Waller - to  keep "the application of the policy under review with respect to the necessity and proportionality of authorisations" - see Letter from Prime Minister.

There are also Guidelines - issued in 2011 - "intended to provide guidance to agent-running sections on the use of agents who participate in criminality."  (The link is to a redacted version which is the only one available publicly).

The murder of Belfast solicitor Patrick Finucane was the subject of a report by Sir Desmond de Silva QC - previous post and report issued 12 December 2012.  Sir Desmond was appointed to conduct the review in October 2011.  Notably, the de Silva report was published about 2 weeks after David Cameron sent his letter to the Commissioner.  The report noted - paras 21-26 - the lack of an adequate framework for agent-handling.  At para 26 - Sir Desmond wrote:

Geraldine Finucane commenced judicial review of the governments' decision not to hold a public inquiry into Patrick Finucane's death and judgment from the Supreme Court is awaited - previous post June 2018.


The Guardian 4 October 2018

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal was created by the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 section 65.   Since 27 September 2018, the Tribunal is Chaired by Lord Justice Singh - see Tribunal Members.

Security Services Act 1989

MI5 Law and Governance

Intelligence Services Act 1994

Justice and Security Act 2013 


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