The revelations from the Investigatory Powers Tribunal that all MPs communications have been intercepted has barely raised a mention in the mainstream media. Set out below is a copy of an email sent tonight to my MP. It also has a message for the spook (or spooks) who will also read it.
For the urgent attention of my MP: Mr Andrew Bingham, Conservative, High Peak.
I have spoken to you before about the way our democracy has been undermined by the security services. You were more sanguine than me about their motives and operational routines but accepted that technology has moved on apace and that there needed to be an updating of procedures.
The news today that the Wilson Doctrine has been ignored by the spooks is chilling. Exactly who is effectively watching these watchers?
Set out below are a series of points from the Guardian today covering events in court.
Point 1) The 50-year-old political convention that the UK’s intelligence agencies will not intercept the communications of MPs and members of the Lords cannot survive in an age of bulk interception, government lawyers have conceded.
The so-called Wilson doctrine “simply cannot work sensibly” when bulk interception is taking place, James Eadie QC told the investigatory powers tribunal, the court that hears complaints about the intelligence agencies.
Moreover, Eadie said on Friday, the doctrine does not have force in law and cannot impose legal restraints on the agencies.
So the spooks can do as they please without ‘legal restraints’. Shocking and scary.
Point 2) …the IPT has heard that MI5, MI6 and GCHQ were all operating their own internal policies that did not require them to inform the prime minister when parliamentarians’ communications were captured. Those polices were said to have been rewritten after Caroline Lucas and Lady Jones launched their legal challenge last year.
Even the PM does not get to find out! Who does then - the Queen? Rupert Murdoch?
Point 3) …. Lawyers for Lucas and Jones argue that MPs need to have private conversations with constituents and whistleblowers, and must be protected from intrusion by the intelligence agencies.
Suppose I have recently discovered a hoard of documents from the 80s detailing the involvement of MI5 and MI6 in blackmailing perpetrators of the most evil child abuse. The spooks considered it was more important to have control of politicians than arresting them for crimes against young boys. This is alleged to have happened in Northern Ireland at the Kincora Boys Home. Having put this information in an email to you as my MP, what am I expected to do now I know that all of your correspondence is under scrutiny? What will you do when you discover a couple of weeks after receiving evidence of the spook’s involvement, you learn that I have died in a ‘strange’ accident? This is not hyperbole - there is too much documented evidence of MI5 , MI6 and Special Branch all acting to suppress revelations about Cyril Smith among others. The four ‘found’ this week in a Home Office document detailing their sexual deviancy are all luckily dead. Their activities were all known about at the heart of government and regarded as a potential political embarrassment. Are you still sanguine?
Point 4) …Jones said later that she could not believe it was a coincidence that the hearing at the IPT was held after both houses of parliament went into summer recess.
This follows a pattern such as Liz Truss permitting bee-threatening neonicotinoid pesticides to be used again as Parliament cleared off on their hols. I have just heard she wants to start badger culling again too. How convenient that there is no-one in the Commons to point out the error of her ways. Rotten and stinky politics.
Point 5) ….The Labour MP Tom Watson, who successfully brought a high court challenge against emergency surveillance legislation with Tory colleague David Davis, said he had received assurances from the home secretary Theresa May last year that the Wilson doctrine applied to all MPs.
“Either government policy has changed in the last year or Theresa May misled parliament,” Watson said. He added that prime minsters have for decades reassured MPs the Wilson doctrine stands. “It’s particularly interesting to read the lawyers argue the doctrine has no force in law. MPs have been treated like fools. Either Theresa May was telling the truth last year or the government lawyer was telling the truth today - and we need to find out.”
In a nutshell. Do you feel a fool? Who was telling the truth? The lawyer acting on behalf of the government or the Home Secretary?
What the hell are you personally going to do about reigning in the spooks? Which of your colleagues in the Commons do you feel are squeaky clean and not susceptible to being leant on by the spooks? Can you gather sufficient concerned MPs from across the House to put together a plan to restore a degree of democratic accountability and transparency? Tricky.
We are supposed to live in a democracy - it is a prime function of your role to safeguard our liberties. Time to pull your finger out.
[PS: To the spook whose job it is to monitor this email.
Were you prepared for this bombshell? Do you get frustrated in your work to the point you want to blow something up? Did you feel this was an explosive revelation?
Are you happy in your work? Do you feel you are serving or undermining democracy? Do you consider Edward Snowden to be a hero? If so, how about doing something similar and helping expose the amount and extent of surveillance in the UK?]
Words in red are ‘trigger words’ which activate the gathering of emails etc. But you know this already don’t you? This last point is to help my MP.