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New Security Services Revelations: “Legally privileged material may be used just like any other item of intelligence”

Web Foundation · November 6, 2014

Tribunal documents released today show that MI5, MI6 and GCHQ are eavesdropping on confidential lawyer-client conversations. They also suggest muddled and inconsistent safeguards that leave ample room for abuse of such information, which may have led to miscarriages of justice.

Commenting, Anne Jellema, CEO of the World Wide Web Foundation said:

“It is deeply disturbing that families who made the most serious of charges against the UK government – kidnapping, torture and rendition of children and other innocent victims – may have been denied a fair trial due to an abuse of surveillance powers.

“Are security services riding roughshod over fundamental principles such as lawyer-client privilege with only the flimsiest of safeguards in place? We deserve answers. In a society ostensibly committed to openness, it is shameful to learn of these concerns only after a protracted legal battle. If basic rights and long-held principles are being compromised in the name of national security, it is only right that we should be told how often this is happening, on what grounds and to what ends.

“We can only hope this development will at last convince ministers of the need for the full, judge-led public enquiry we have been calling for for over a year now.  New legislation, informed by broad public consultation, which enhances oversight, increases transparency and stops indiscriminate surveillance is long overdue.”    

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