Government sleight of hand on surveillance bill

2 March 2016


  • Claims that the Government consulted with the legal sector over the surveillance Bill are not what they seem

  • Government has performed a sleight of hand in 'responding' to parliamentary scrutiny

Peter Carter QC, Chair of the Bar Council Surveillance and Privacy Working Group said:"The Government claims to have responded to the Joint Committee's recommendation that protections for legal privilege should appear on the face of the Bill and meet the standards required by common law and Convention case law. In fact, they have done the opposite.

"Instead of making it unlawful to intercept communications subject to legal privilege, the Government has instead created a legislative framework that will place such surveillance activities entirely within the law.

"As a response to a parliamentary committee, this is not even lip service; it is a dangerous sleight of hand.

"The Government was also told by the Joint Committee to consult with members of the legal profession to ensure that the Bill contained adequate provisions for legal privilege.

"The Bar Council was consulted on Wednesday 24 February and produced a response in very short order, but given that the Bill was published just four working days after that meeting, it seems unlikely that our feedback ever stood a chance of being given proper or serious consideration."


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