Friday, October 05, 2018

MI5 supports criminals

One of the functions of Britain's MI5 is to support law enforcement agencies in the prevention and detection of serious crime. But it turns out they're doing the opposite, with an official policy of ignoring serious crimes by their agents and informants:

MI5 grants its informants legal cover to participate in crimes that may extend to murder, torture and sexual assaults, a tribunal has heard.

The policy, in existence since the early 1990s, is likely to have enabled the Security Service to conceal wide ranging illegal activity, Ben Jaffey QC, representing an alliance of human rights group, told the investigatory powers tribunal (IPT) on Thursday.

The policy was so secret that even judicial oversight of the practice, introduced in 2012, was not initially acknowledged. Sir Mark Waller, a retired judge appointed to oversee the policy, was instructed by the prime minister at the time, David Cameron, not to comment on its legality.


The document shows that MI5 sought to give its agents even greater freedom to commit criminal offences than that usually proffered to police informers. “The service has established its own procedure for authorising the use of agents participating in crime,” it states.

It says any authorisation to commit crimes “has no legal effect and does not confer on either agent or those involved in the authorisation process any immunity from prosecution. Rather, the authorisation will be the service’s explanation and justification of its decisions” should the police investigate.

Cameron's direction shows the utter toothlessness of the UK's intelligence "oversight". If "watchdogs" can be instructed to ignore unlawful activity, then they're not "watchdogs", but PR scams. It remains to be seen whether the investigatory powers tribunal falls into that category as well, or whether it will uphold the UK's legal ban on soliciting torture and other serious crime.