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Mr Albert Dale Braeuninger

Volume 990: debated on Monday 4 August 1980

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asked the Attorney-General if he will refer to the Department of Public Prosecutions, with a view to prosecution under section 5 the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949, the case of Mr. Albert Dale Braeuninger.

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman confirm that unauthorised telephone tapping within the United Kingdom is a criminal offence, even if it is carried out by foreign diplomats, such as United States' diplomats working in this country? Can he also confirm that the White Paper on telephone tapping did not cover overseas telephone calls being routed through the United Kingdom? If I send him further evidence that criminal offences in that regard are taking place, will he answer "Yes" to my question in future?

I shall certainly receive any evidence that the hon. Gentleman has which is material to this matter. Beyond that, I refer him to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 17 July.

Surely the reply of the Prime Minister was merely a device, well known to Governments, to block further scrutiny by the democratically elected assembly of Parliament. Is it not the Government's duty to take action when at least a prima facie case is made out in an important, albeit small circulation, weekly journal to show that there is a breach of the law, with the Post Office feeding in material to a foreign Power?

I do not believe that any lawyer reading the article in that journal would even start to believe that it showed a prima facie case.