Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The latest terrorist "threat": Whistleblowers

Meanwhile, in the UK, they're having their own scandal over the abuse of anti-terrorism powers, after HMRC (their equivalent of IRD) was caught using anti-terrorist powers to uncover and persecute a whistleblower:

MPs have criticised Britain's leading tax official after HM Revenue & Customs used powers meant to catch terrorists to hunt down an employee who exposed a secret multimillion-pound "sweetheart" deal with Goldman Sachs.

Lin Homer, the chief executive of HMRC, had told the public accounts committee that phone records had been obtained using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) to unearth information about Osita Mba, an in-house lawyer.


Using the Public Interest Disclosure Act, Mba wrote in confidence to the National Audit Office (NAO) and two parliamentary committees in 2011 saying that the then head of tax, Dave Hartnett, had "let off" Goldman Sachs from paying at least £10m in interest.

When HMRC discovered Mba's intervention, his belongings, emails, internet search records and phone calls and the phone records of his then wife, Claudia, were examined by investigators.

But despite this being a clear abuse of the law, HMRC won't commit to not doing it again. Which seems like a really good reason to strip them (and other agencies) of these powers.