Fury as UK spies are given orders to snoop on lawyers and their clients in move branded a ‘national scandal’
- Spies instructed to snoop on communications between lawyers and clients
- Top secret documents suggest MI5, MI6 and GCHQ intercepted phone calls
- Lawyer-client conversations are supposed to be protected by strict rules
- Conservative MP David Davis brands the guidelines a ‘national scandal’
Britain’s intelligence services have been given controversial instructions to spy on confidential communications between lawyers and clients, it has been revealed.
Top secret documents suggest MI5, MI6 and GCHQ may have illegally intercepted telephone calls and emails in sensitive security cases – even though lawyer-client relationships are protected by strict rules.
The guidelines – branded by MP David Davis as a ‘national scandal’ – sparked fury because these communications are generally covered by ‘legal professional privilege’ to protect privacy and the right to a free trial.
Top secret documents suggest intelligence services GCHQ, MI5 and MI6 have been given instructions to spy on confidential communications between lawyers and clients
It was disclosed yesterday through a tribunal that GCHQ guidelines said its staff ‘may in principle target the communications of lawyers’, while an MI5 document said that ‘in principle’ legally privileged material could be used ‘just like any other item of intelligence’.
All the guidelines stressed careful consideration and justification for using the material.
Campaigners said the revelations had ‘troubling implications for the whole British justice system’.
The papers were released following a claim brought on behalf of two Libyan men – Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Sami al-Saadi – who accuse the British government of being complicit in kidnapping them and sending them back to Libya to be tortured.
The men brought a claim to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), which examines complaints against the intelligence services and government surveillance, over concerns that their private discussions were being eavesdropped.
A Government spokesman said: ‘We do not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.’
The papers were released following a claim brought on behalf of two Libyan men – Abdul Hakim Belhaj (right) and Sami al-Saadi (left)
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2824660/Fury-UK-spies-given-orders-snoop-lawyers-clients-branded-national-scandal.html#ixzz3IPvqKs8M
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook