It's cool for Brit snoops to break the law, says secretive spy court. Just hold on while we pull off some legal jujitsu to let MI5 off the hook... | 12/20/2019 | Staff
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It’s perfectly legal for British spies to break the law, Britain’s secretive spy court has ruled – making a mockery of other laws intended to keep eavesdropping agencies and others under effective control.

Sweeping away campaign group Privacy International’s legal objections, judges Lord Justice Singh, Lord Boyd and Sir Richard McLaughlin ruled: “It is clear from the words of the policy itself (in particular para. (9)) that it does not confer any immunity from criminal prosecution on anyone.”

Privacy - International - Campaign - Groups - Pat

Privacy International and four other campaign groups including the Pat Finucane Centre and Reprieve had sued over a government policy allowing MI5 spies to break the law. In a 3-2 majority verdict, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) gave this spying activity the green light.

In an exercise of legal clever-clogsing intended to let spies pretend to the gullible that they haven’t got official top cover for breaking the law with impunity, as they now unquestionably do, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal ruled that MI5 has the “power” to break the law but not to award itself “immunity”.

Difference - Judges - Theory - Arguments - Prosecution

The difference was not explained fully, though the judges hinted that, in theory, legal arguments to stop a prosecution of a law-breaking British spy would be based on the “public interest”.

PI noted in a statement bemoaning the judgment that this was the first time the IPT had ever published a ruling that included dissent from the five tribunal members. The two dissenters were Charles Flint QC and Professor Graham Zellick QC.

Ilia - Siatitsa - Officer - Privacy - International

Ilia Siatitsa, a legal officer from Privacy International, said: "Today, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal decided that MI5 can secretly give informants permission to commit grave crimes in the UK, including violence. But two of its five members produced powerful dissenting opinions, seeking to uphold basic rule of law standards."

"As one of them put it, it is wrong to ‘open the...
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