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Investigatory Powers Commissioner: Annual Report

Volume 672: debated on Thursday 5 March 2020

I have today laid before both Houses a copy of the annual report of the Investigatory Powers Commissioner. The report was submitted by the new commissioner, Sir Brian Leveson, but covers the year 2018 and was drafted by Sir Brian’s predecessor, Lord Justice Fulford.

Overall, this report demonstrates that the security and intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies and other relevant public authorities show extremely high levels of operational competence combined with respect for the law. The report also sets out the breadth and complexity of the powers covered by the 2016 Act and other legislation, and offers constructive criticism on the practical framework and individual instances of how these are used. Where the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO) have identified problems, Departments and agencies have worked vigorously to address these.

Further to section 234 of the 2016 Act, the commissioner has also submitted to me a confidential annex to the report, dealing with the work of the intelligence agencies. I concur with the commissioner that publication of this annex would be prejudicial to national security and not in the public interest. However, I can confirm that the annex does not raise substantive concerns or criticisms not covered in the main report.

I would like to add that this report demonstrates the high quality of the oversight of our intelligence and security agencies’ use of the most intrusive powers. I am satisfied that our arrangements are amongst the strongest and most effective in the world.

I would like to place on record my thanks to the current and previous commissioners and their staff for their work, as well as echoing the commissioners’ thanks to the agencies and departments and civil society organisations which have helped with the establishment of IPCO over the past few years.

I commend this report to the House.