The British government has admitted that the regime under which UK intelligence agencies, including MI-5 and MI-6, have been monitoring conversations between lawyers and their clients for the past five years is unlawful. It follows the British court ruling on 6 February declaring that the regime associated with the sharing of mass personal intelligence data between America’s national security agency and the British GCHQ (The Government Communication’s Headquarters) was unlawful for seven years. The admission that the activities of the security services have failed to comply with human rights laws as well as with the European convention on human right comes in advance of a legal challenge in which the security services are alleged to have unlawfully intercepted conversations between lawyers and their clients in order to five the advantage to the government in court. The case is due to be heard before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) and is being brought by lawyers on behalf of two Libyans who were tortured by Muammar Gaddafi’s regime after being abducted in a joint MI-6-CIA operation in 2004. A government spokesman said that intelligence agencies would work with the interception of communications commissioner guarantee that their policies satisfy all of the UK’s human rights obligations. Exchanges between lawyers and their clients are specially protected under UK law. To show that its policies satisfy legal safeguards, MI6 were required to disclose internal guidance on how intelligence staff should deal with material protected by legal professional privilege.
It’s interesting that the government is so often accused of breaking the law, and this is just a great example of them being caught doing so. The government should not be able to get away with violating human rights in order to give themselves the advantage. Everyone has rights and their privacy should be respected by everyone, including the government.