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National Security: Wire Tapping

Volume 709: debated on Monday 16 March 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Statement by the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, on 12 February (Official Report, House of Commons, 89–90WS), whether they have a strategy to overcome the obstacles to using wire-tap evidence in court outlined in the Statement. [HL1885]

The intercept as evidence (IAE) work programme currently being taken forward by officials is based on that recommended at paragraph 214 of the Privy Council Review Report (CM 7324). This has been endorsed by the cross-party Advisory Group of Privy Councillors.

As made clear in the advisory's group progress report to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, the issues are complex. However, the progress report also makes clear the advisory group's belief that the PII+ model being developed remains the best prospect for a viable IAE regime; the key next steps being to:

draw out the likely impacts in practice on the operations of the intercepting agencies and on counterterrorism and serious organised crime trials, especially issues surrounding the identification in practice of exculpatory material and the implications of advisory and discretionary judicial oversight; and

reflecting the views of operational and legal practitioners, including on trial complexity and the risk of successful defence “fishing expeditions” and the admissibility of intercept material and how this might be best secured.

This work is being taken forward urgently.

Copies of the Privy Council review report on IAE, the work programme and advisory group report are all available in the Libraries of the House.