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Surveillance: Evidence

Volume 457: debated on Thursday 8 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the potential impact of the use of intercept evidence in trials on the effectiveness of the security services. (124403)

The most recent assessment of the potential impact of intercept as evidence in trials was undertaken as part of a 2003-04 review which the former Home Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke) reported to the House in his written ministerial statement on 26 January 2005, Official Report, column 18WS. The review found that the use of intercept as evidence would be likely to help secure a modest increase in convictions of some serious criminals but not terrorists. The report made it clear that the use of intercept as evidence would entail substantial risks to the operational effectiveness of the intercepting agencies.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said in the debate on the Intelligence and Security Committee on 11 July 2006 that the Government were committed to finding if possible a legal model to allow evidential use of intercept material while providing the necessary safeguards for the capabilities, techniques and operational effectiveness of the intercepting agencies. Work on devising a legal model is continuing.