Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The annual litany of lawlessness

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their 2021 Annual Report, and its the usual litany of lawlessness and failure from the spy agencies. There are the usual examples of the SIS and GSCB simply failing to comply with statutory requirements and adopting self-serving legal interpretations 9whcih the IGIS disagrees with). And then there's this:

Section 220 of the ISA specifies that information obtained by or disclosed to the Service for a security clearance assessment may be used only for the purposes of that assessment, another clearance assessment, or counter-intelligence. Counter-intelligence is defined as intelligence activities carried out to identify and counteract the threat, or potential threat, of unauthorised disclosure of official information by a person who holds or has held a security clearance.


In the past year the Service was confronted with the question of whether a candidate’s disclosure of information about criminal behaviour was serious enough to be reported to the Police, despite the rule in the ISA. In a particular case the Service decided quickly in favour of sharing the information. On learning of this I was not persuaded, on the facts, that it had been necessary for the Service to report it before receiving advice from Crown Law on the scope for doing so. The Service subsequently proposed an interpretation of s 220 ISA that would allow disclosure to the Police, in the particular circumstances and more generally. I did not agree with that reading; nor, ultimately, did the Solicitor-General.

[Link added]

Or, to put it another way: the SIS knowingly and deliberately broke the law, basicly because they felt like it. As usual there are no criminal penalties for doing so, so there are no real consequences for them other than having it mentioned in an annual report. Which raises the obvious question: if they would so casually violate the clear legal prohibition of s220 (and it is a clear legal prohibition, with no room for interpretation in the direction they wanted), what does that say about their approach to other equally clear legal prohibitions in the Intelligence and security Act, or elsewhere in the law?