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john.mcn
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POLITICIANS' case in secret court reveals how Westminster safeguards against eavesdropping are no longer in place for devolved assemblies.

SPOOKS have changed top-secret rules so they are free to spy on MSPs, the Daily Record can exclusively reveal today.

Explosive documents show that the UK’s electronic eavesdropping agency last month dumped guidelines which had constrained spies from tapping MSPs’ phones or hacking their emails.

The revelations about GCHQ will spark fury at Holyrood and reignite conspiracy theories about the role of the security services in fighting the growth of pro-independence feeling.

They are also likely to bolster fears the intelligence community were monitoring politicians’ and activists’ communications during the referendum campaign.

The fact that the change to existing guidelines was made in the aftermath of the September 18 vote might be viewed as an action taken to cover previous activities.

Internal policy documents obtained by the Record show GCHQ – responsible for mass surveillance in Britain – had extended the decades-old Wilson doctrine to MSPs until March of this year.

The convention is named after former prime minister Harold Wilson, who pledged in 1966 that MPs’ and peers’ phones would not be tapped.

In December 1997, then PM Tony Blair said it extended to electronic communication, including emails.

However, the policy was never officially extended to cover the devolved parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland once they were set up in 1999.

And while GCHQ voluntarily treated MSPs in the same way as MPs until March this year, it can be revealed that they have now changed the policy so MSPs are no longer included.

In 2013, the late independent MSP Margo MacDonald asked the head of MI5 for assurances that the UK security services would stay out of the Scottish independence referendum.

It is not known what response she received but in an interview at the time, she said she believed the SNP and the Yes campaign had been infiltrated by the intelligence services.

Details of how the UK spooks are free to spy on MSPs emerged as the UK’s most secretive court began a rare public hearing.

It will examine what legal protections are in place to stop interception of elected politicians' communications by the intelligence community.

The hearing of the Investigatory Powers Tribunal in London confirmed the emails and phone calls of MPs and members of the Lords should be protected by Wilson.

But MSPs – along with members of other devolved assemblies and the European Parliament – have no legal protection.

Before March, official guidelines to GCHQ staff said: “As a matter of policy, GCHQ applies the principles of the Wilson doctrine to Members of the House of Commons, Members of the House of Lords, UK MEPs, and Members of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies.”

But new guidelines issued last month simply state: “The doctrine does not apply to .... the interception of communications of Members of the European Parliament or devolved assemblies.”

In their analysis of the documents, lawyers Ben Jaffey and Jude Bunting said: “All protection for devolved legislators has been removed.”

The pair are representing Green Party politicians Caroline Lucas and Lady Jones, who claim disclosures by whistleblower Edward Snowden made it clear GCHQ were capturing their communications – in breach of Wilson.

Former Glasgow MP George Galloway was also in court yesterday after filing a separate case which was incorporated with that of Lucas and Jones.

The lawyers argue the UK’s intelligence agencies have been operating unlawful surveillance policies that fail to adequately protect the confidential communications of MPs.

It was revealed MI5, MI6 and GCHQ have operated under eight different policies in the last year alone, most of which appear not to follow Wilson.

Only GCHQ ever offered any form of protection to MSPs, with M15 and MI6 never recognising their position as elected politicians.

The documents show MI5 had one policy on interception of parliamentarians’ communications from April 2012 to September 2014, when it was rewritten after Lucas and Jones lodged their challenge.

It was rewritten again last February after government lawyers drafted their “open response” – or non-secret defence – to the claim.

Former foreign secretary David Miliband rubber-stamped an MI6 policy in February 2008 which allowed the agency to intercept parliamentarians’ communications without the prime minister being notified.This was rewritten last February, bringing it in line with MI5.

Jaffey said the various policies “fail fully to comply with the law and fail to comply with public statements as to safeguards”.

But he confirmed that his clients are not arguing that MPs and members of the Lords should never have their communications intercepted – as there may be exceptional national security grounds for doing so.

But he added: “Strict safeguards to protect parliamentary communications are an important bulwark for the protection of the public interest.”

Some elements of the Government’s defence against the legal challenge are being kept secret and the tribunal are likely to exclude the public and media if they come to consider evidence of actual surveillance of MPs and peers.

The case continues today.
Kemedian
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www.firstminister.gov.scot


Nothing to hide means nothing to fear. smile.gif
john.mcn
I see you support any law or change in operation that you think damages or restricts the SNP. I never mentioned them as its a change of policy that affects every member of Holyrood, not just the SNP.
The nothing to hide nothing to fear excuse has been trotted out by the hard of thinking for years, like every other sensible person out there i am concerned that 'our' public servants deem it necessary to put not only the general public under suspicion but also the elected representatives in the three devolved parliaments. If they had reasons to believe those parliaments were implicated in covers up of corruption, drug and child abuse then i could maybe understand, but as the only parliament that has (Westminster)is exempt from this i cant help but wonder why . Could it be that Westminster is still reeling from having to devolve some responsibility, doesn't trust us to elect our representatives so is keeping a very careful eye on them. Lets also remember who GCHQ reports to, the Tory led UK government, the only parliament where they have a substantial presence and any likely chance to control.

Ohh and as you've nothing to hide i suppose you dont have curtains, blinds or lock your door at night. If the police want to search your home without a warrant you let them?
Kemedian
QUOTE (john.mcn @ 26th Jul 2015, 01:38pm) *
I never mentioned them.

Neither did I.

QUOTE (john.mcn @ 26th Jul 2015, 01:38pm) *
If the police want to search your home without a warrant you let them?

In order to help them with their inquiries, yes I would cooperate. It wouldn't take them long, as I don't have a very big house. Trust works two ways, and I trust the Police to work to protect me and my family from the real criminals. However, everybody makes mistakes. I'd expect the Police to acknowledge theirs, as they left my house empty handed; but we're not talking about anybody's house, are we?

Our Government should expect the highest level of interest from the authorities in charge of protecting the nation. Nobody is above nor should be exempt from the scrutiny and protection or punishment from the Law, least of all our Parliamentarians. Nowadays we only have to click on our national news websites to find out the latest in 'who done what' in Government or in similar high office, and rightly so. yes.gif
john.mcn
QUOTE (Kemedian @ 26th Jul 2015, 03:14pm) *
Neither did I.


No you didn't, you only posted a quote from SNP leader and first minister Nicola Sturgeon rolleyes.gif

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In order to help them with their inquiries, yes I would cooperate. It wouldn't take them long, as I don't have a very big house. Trust works two ways, and I trust the Police to work to protect me and my family from the real criminals. However, everybody makes mistakes. I'd expect the Police to acknowledge theirs, as they left my house empty handed; but we're not talking about anybody's house, are we?


Real criminals...F'in ell are you that naive? Have you ever dealt with the police, have you been stopped by them for absolutely nothing when they have absolutely no right to do so? Are they looking for real criminals then or just trying to meet targets? It's the same with accepting that the spooks are given carte blanche to do what they want without reason or a warrant, everyone is a suspect and will be treated as one.
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Our Government should expect the highest level of interest from the authorities in charge of protecting the nation. Nobody is above nor should be exempt from the scrutiny and protection or punishment from the Law, least of all our Parliamentarians. Nowadays we only have to click on our national news websites to find out the latest in 'who done what' in Government or in similar high office, and rightly so. yes.gif

Protecting the 'nation' from whom? Do they honestly think that our elected representatives are planning to blow up the HoP or topple an unpopular government in London?
Funny how you mention the news when what seems to preoccupy them is the shenanigans in Westminster, who does not monitored by GCHQ.
I'm sure that we'll now have more 'leaks' from the colonialesque 'Scottish office' regarding ministerial discussions or electronic mail from Holyrood.
Kemedian
If our security forces are found to be wasting their time and our money then don't you think they'll be held accountable for this at some stage by Parliament, especially with already reduced budgets being stretched further, the pressure to counter the threat of terrorism internationally and the current Scottish Government having a point to prove?

I didn't mention the SNP, you did. Don't exclude the Westminster Party (as much as perhaps you'd like to, even though you do have its significant number stamped on your avatar smile.gif).
john.mcn
QUOTE (Kemedian @ 26th Jul 2015, 07:32pm) *
If our security forces are found to be wasting their time and our money then don't you think they'll be held accountable for this at some stage by Parliament, especially with already reduced budgets being stretched further, the pressure to counter the threat of terrorism internationally and the current Scottish Government having a point to prove?


If the threat of terrorism is real then why relax the rules that previously protected the devolved parliaments, either they think that the other three two have terrorists within them or that GCHQ is being used as a political tool by the Tories to snoop on the other parliaments. Why not try taking your union blinkers and UK is awesome underpants off to see that is driving a wedge between the Wastemonster and other elected bodies.
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I didn't mention the SNP, you did. Don't exclude the Westminster Party (as much as perhaps you'd like to, even though you do have its significant number stamped on your avatar smile.gif).


Only because you posted a quote by wee nic to try to somehow excuse the story. It's not only concerned 'Scots' worried about this, the Welsh dont seem pleased about this either with presiding officer Rosemary Butler demanding clarification.
Ah my 56 avatar, does it bother you so biggrin.gif I didn't exclude the Scottish MP's just as i didn't exclude any MP's from anywhere, this is a parliament thing where politicians from the Scottish, Welsh, Norn Ireland and the European parliaments can be 'spied' upon.. And BTW if communication with the devolved parliaments are recorded then anyone, including Westminster MP's will also have their communication recorded
Kemedian
I think it's a pointless waste of time to protest about this and downright mischievous to use it, as you say, to 'drive a wedge' between the Parliaments.

Referring to this example as 'spying' isn't helpful, either; it's just the modern way. Plus, it's good that the story is making the news. The internet is a virtual international warzone, in which close relationships should be fostered not resisted. International cyber-crime is a real threat and in the UK we probably can't afford to have our own member States on each other's list of suspects. Information gathering is important and so, for me, this seems like an example of good governance, and the less it is affected by our much debated internal border disputes (what could arguably be referred to here as weaknesses or potentially vulnerabilities) the better.
john.mcn
QUOTE (Kemedian @ 27th Jul 2015, 06:35pm) *
I think it's a pointless waste of time to protest about this and downright mischievous to use it, as you say, to 'drive a wedge' between the Parliaments.


The police have to inform you of your rights to let you know that anything you say can be used against you, with Westminster and the lackeys at GCHQ it s a case of anything you say, browse, write and email can be recorded and used/leaked against you especially in the run up to an election.. And you think that isn't driving a wedge between them???
Can you tell me which members of the public wont be put off contacting their elected MSP for fear the MiB will show up with a flashy pen to wipe their memory... The last bit is obviously a joke but can people feel safe that their confidential conversation isn't so confidential if it might be recorded.
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Referring to this example as 'spying' isn't helpful, either; it's just the modern way. Plus, it's good that the story is making the news. The internet is a virtual international warzone, in which close relationships should be fostered not resisted. International cyber-crime is a real threat and in the UK we probably can't afford to have our own member States on each other's list of suspects. Information gathering is important and so, for me, this seems like an example of good governance, and the less it is affected by our much debated internal border disputes (what could arguably be referred to here as weaknesses or potentially vulnerabilities) the better.


Keeking in someones window is spying, but you are trying to tell us going through their electronic devices isn't?? Is there anything that Westminster does that you wont defend.. nah dont answer that i'm sure everyone can see that there isn't rolleyes.gif
Kemedian
QUOTE (john.mcn @ 27th Jul 2015, 08:48pm) *
Is there anything that Westminster does that you wont defend?

How about when they frantically applaud one another's comments or try on one another's underwear! unsure.gif
john.mcn
You could have picked something like voting to go to war in Iraq but i suppose clapping is right up there on your evils list rolleyes.gif

You've missed me on the underwear one though.
Kemedian
QUOTE (john.mcn @ 28th Jul 2015, 06:12pm) *
You've missed me on the underwear one though.

I refer to the latest definition of 'Peering ', which really is just wrong! biggrin.gif
john.mcn

Are the prostitutes members of the HoC or HoL then? If not then they aren't 'one another's underwear'

Iraq war...yeah...or should i say hear hear!!
Applause .......boooooh (he's behind you) first time i seen a televised debate from the HoC i thought i was watching a pantomime.. The place and its 'customs' are one big joke.
Kemedian
QUOTE (john.mcn @ 28th Jul 2015, 06:42pm) *
Are the prostitutes members of the... HoL then?

Wouldn't surprise me! laugh.gif
JAGZ1876
QUOTE (john.mcn @ 28th Jul 2015, 06:42pm) *
Are the prostitutes members of the HoL then?


Of course not John, they earn their money honestly. yes.gif
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