Tag Archives: wilson doctrine

Wilson Doctrine: Carmichael says Lib Dems will demand protection for journalists, lawyers & parliamentarians from state snooping

Liberal Democrat politicians have reacted with alarm to yesterday’s ruling on the Wilson Doctrine The Investigatory Powers Tribunal basically shrugged off Harold Wilson’s declaration in 1966 that MPs’ phones would not be intercepted without him knowing, saying that it had no basis in law.

This comes on top of two Police forces abusing their powers to try to find journalists’ sources. If an MP, or a lawyer, or a journalist is investigating the Government for doing something it shouldn’t, the idea that the Government could snoop on that investigation is alarming.

This is why Liberal Democrats from across the UK have been quick to demand appropriate protections. Home affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said:

This ruling could have a chilling effect on democracy in the UK. MPs, MSPs and other elected representatives must have the ability to talk to their constituents without fear that their private communications are being routinely monitored by intelligence agencies.

It was reported earlier this year that changes in guidelines meant the Wilson Doctrine no longer applied to MSPs. Now it has been confirmed the doctrine never offered democratically-elected representatives at Holyrood any protection at all. The response of the Prime Minister to this risk to freedoms is just plain weak. We need urgent answers from the UK government.

The Liberal Democrats will be demanding journalists’ sources, legal professional privilege and protection of the communications of democratically-elected representatives are all given a strong legal basis and protection in the new Investigatory Powers Bill.

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Lib Dems Strasburger and McInnes seek answers on whether parliamentarians’ communications have been intercepted

In the House of Lords this week, Paul Strasburger was quick to question the government on whether Parliamentarians’ data was being scooped up by GCHQ in contravention of the 49 year old Wilson Doctrine which prohibits this.

The exchange is as follows:

To ask Her Majesty’s Government which methods of communication used by members of either House of Parliament are not presently subject to the Wilson doctrine.

Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen (Con): My Lords, as the noble Lord may be aware, there is an ongoing litigation in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal on the Wilson doctrine. In fact, there is a hearing tomorrow. One of the issues that the tribunal is looking to consider is the scope of the doctrine. Given this ongoing litigation, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further at present.

Lord Strasburger (LD): My Lords, David Anderson’s recent report confirmed what we already knew from Edward Snowden—namely, that, every day, GCHQ is hoovering up the private data of millions of innocent citizens without the informed consent of Parliament. Can the Minister explain how the Government manage to comply with the Wilson doctrine by excluding the private data of parliamentarians when they are scooping up everyone else’s indiscriminately?

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