The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), ruled today that the MI5 has “an implied power” under the Security Service Act, allowing them to commit crimes while undercover.
Last year, a secret document, referred to as the “Third Directive” and signed by former PM David Cameron, was revealed confirming that MI5 officers, agents and their informants were allowed to commit crimes in the national interest and not have to report their actions to the police or to prosecutors.
Lord Singh added that while the Security Service Act 1989 gave the MI5 “an implied power” to engage in criminal activity it did not give them any power of “immunity from liability under either the criminal law or the civil law …on either its own officers or on agents handled by them”
Government lawyers argued that undercover agents inside terror networks had to appear to be credible and go along with the plotting activity and it’s not possible to publish rules or guidelines because this could make it easier for terrorists to identify agents and informers.
The human rights groups who took up legal action against the MI5 and called on the IPT to declare the policy unlawful and to stop “further unlawful conduct” argued that the policy “immunises criminal conduct from prosecution”. Ilia Siatitsa, a legal officer at Privacy International, called it an “abusive secretive power” and vowed to appeal the IPT ruling.