MPs and members of the House of Lords do not have special privileges in law protecting them from surveillance by Britain’s spies, judges have ruled, despite the Home Secretary insisting just days ago that they do.
The widely held parliamentary convention that there should be no tapping of the phones or computers of MPs and peers – known as the Wilson Doctrine – has no legal basis, the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) ruled. Theresa May had told MPs on 12 October: “The Wilson Doctrine applies, but of course it is subject to proceedings that are taking place at the moment.”
The ruling from those proceedings sparked anger amongst MPs, prompting emergency questions in Parliament and calls from MPs for statements by John Bercow, the Commons Speaker and the Government. Shadow Commons leader Chris Bryant said: “The freedom of members to be able to speak without fear or favour, and without fear of being spied upon by the Government or any other agency, is a vital part of our being able to do our job as representatives. I think it strikes at the heart of our liberties.”
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