Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Interfering with the watchdog

Britain's spy agencies are supposedly overseen by various watchdogs, including the investigatory powers tribunal. But it turns out that MI6 at least has contempt for those watchdogs, and attempted to interfere with the operations of the tribunal by concealing evidence from its judges:

MI6 has been accused of “inappropriate interference” after two of its officers allegedly asked a chief clerk at the investigatory powers tribunal to conceal secret material relating to the agency from its presiding judges.

The spy agency was forced to apologise after the incident, which took place in relation to a court case about whether fellow agency MI5 can authorise informants to participate in murder, torture or other serious crimes.

The embarrassing episode occurred in March 2019 but can only be reported now after a special hearing on Monday of the tribunal, which oversees complaints against British intelligence.

The two spies had rung the tribunal secretary and according to her claimed that “various inspection reports” about MI6 had been provided in error to the tribunal and said they had unspecified concerns in relation to the material.

They then allegedly tried to ask the official if she would in effect conceal them from the tribunal’s president, Lord Justice Singh, or its other presiding members, who are all senior judges and lawyers.

The spies have been forced to apologise. But it makes it clear that Britain's "watchdogs" normally only see what the spies let them see. Which makes you wonder how they can do their job properly at all.