MI6 may have let informants commit crimes in UK, tribunal hears

armed policesource: Irish Legal
published: 17 December 2020

MI6 may have unilaterally assumed the power to authorise agents to commit crimes in the UK, a court has heard.

Reprieve, the Pat Finucane Centre, Privacy International, and the Committee on the Administration of Justice have all been challenging a secret policy under which MI5 authorises covert agents, known as covert human intelligence sources, to commit crimes in the United Kingdom.

Late last year, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal in London issued the first split ruling in its history, finding only by a very bare majority, that MI6’s activity was lawful.

It was revealed yesterday that there may be a separate MI6 policy to break the law in the UK and that the UK government has for more than a year urged the tribunal to keep it secret.

MI6 appears to be operating this policy despite Parliament having only given it powers to break the law overseas, under section 7 of the Intelligence Services Act.

The news comes a day after the Investigatory Powers Commissioner criticised MI6 for “several weaknesses” in its agent-running within the UK, leading to “several errors”. It found that the agency needed to “better recognise” and “authorise activity in compliance with” the law in the UK.

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MI6 ‘unilaterally assumed power’ to break law on UK soil
17 December 2020

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