The response by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (Case No. IPT/13/132) to the requests for information (by Abdel Hakim Belhadj, Fatima Boudchar, Sami Al-Saadi, Karima Ait Baaziz and their families) regarding access and surveillance of information between lawyers and their clients by GCHQ, MI5, MI6, the Home Office and the Foreign Office was predictably vague and assertions rendered were meaningless (the usual legalistic weasel-words) given there was no independent or credible verification of these assertions. Notwithstanding, there is one particularly important response, buried half way in the document, that clearly indicates these spy agencies have no intention of providing evidence on intercepts to date.
This response was given to the question: “Has the Security Service ever provided relevant LPP [Legal Professional Privilege]material to external lawyers or counsel during a disclosure exercise? If so, what steps, if any, were taken to safeguard the integrity of the litigation?”
The answer given was revealing: “…As to what may have occurred in the past, there is no central repository where information of this kind would be recorded. In light of this, further inquiry would involve identifying, contacting and questioning a large number of officers/ external counsel/lawyers as to the state of their knowledge and experience followed by further detailed searches. That exercise has not been undertaken. In the context of a preliminary issue which is to proceed on the basis of assumed facts, this inquiry would be disproportionate.”
According to section 10 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 the interception and monitoring of communications by Government agencies covers:
(a) communications between a professional legal adviser and his client or
any person representing his client made in connection with the giving
of legal advice to the client;
(b) communications between a professional legal adviser and his client or
any person representing his client or between such an adviser or his
client or any such representative and any other person made in
connection with or in contemplation of legal proceedings and for the
purposes of such proceedings; and
(c) items enclosed with or referred to in such communications and made-
(i) in connection with the giving of legal advice; or (ii) in connection with or in contemplation of legal proceedings and for the purposes of such proceedings,
when they are in the possession of a person who is entitled to possession of them.
In other words, there is an admission that there has been no record of such interceptions being held, nor are there any plans to enquire as to why there is no such recording.
Meanwhile, nine civil libertarian organisations – including Reprieve, Amnesty International and Liberty – have issued a statement saying that they will be boycotting the Intelligence & Security Committee (ISC) inquiry into post 9/11 cases of rendition and torture. Basically, the nine have made it clear that they have no faith in the integrity, impartiality and independence of the ISC.