Quote: "The prime minister today refused to confirm whether the security services are routinely monitoring communications between MPs and their constituents.
David Cameron was asked by Conservative MP David Davis whether the
long-standing Wilson Doctrine, which prohibits the interception of MP's
communications was still applicable.
The prime minister has previously claimed the doctrine is still in force.
However, earlier this year the government's own lawyer told the
Investigatory Powers Tribunal that the doctrine had no legal basis and
placed "no obligations" on the security services not to monitor MPs.
The evidence that security services may be secretly monitoring MPs'
communications emerged in a case brought by three current and former
parliamentarians back in July.
"In 2011 the prime minister quite rightly confirmed to the house that
the Wilson doctrine - the prohibition on the electronic monitoring of
MPs - was still in force," Davis told the Commons.
"Unfortunately in July 24th of this year, the governments's own lawyer
Mr James Eadie QC, stated in the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, in
answer to a complaint from the honourable member for Brighton Pavillion,
that the Wilson Doctrine is not legally binding, cannot work properly
and accordingly places no obligations on the intelligence agencies.
"This is clearly inconsistent with the prime minister's previous
statements. Can he clarify the status of the doctrine today and confirm
it has real meaning?"
The prime minister refused to do so, saying only that "I have got nothing to add to comments I have made about this issue"
Cameron told his former rival for the Tory leadership that he would
write to "the honourable gentleman and clarify the position."
The prime minister normally refers to fellow Conservative MPs as "my honourable friend."
Earlier this year the Investigatory Powers Tribunal heard evidence of the widespread interception of calls by prisoners to their MPs.
Ben Jaffey of Blackstone Chambers told the tribunal that more than half
of all calls made by inmates to members of parliament had been
illegally intercepted in the past ten years.
An investigation by the chief inspector of prisons found that of 5600
calls made to MPs since 2006, 3,150 had been unlawfully intercepted and
The prisons inspectorate also found that 280 calls had been downloaded
and listened to by prison officers. In at least four cases, evidence
suggested the rules had been broken deliberately.
The inspectorate found there were "insufficient safeguards in place to
minimise the risk of privileged calls being listened to."
The claimants said this suggested a "systemic" wider interception of
parliamentary correspondence is likely to be taking place undetected.
They believe the interception is in contravention of the so-called
Wilson doctrine. The Wilson doctrine was established by Harold Wilson in
1966 following revelations that the security services were tapping the
phones of MPs.
Wilson declared that MPs' communications would in future no longer be
intercepted. Subsequent governments have confirmed the doctrine remains
in place. However, the tribunal heard claims that serving prime
ministers could choose to suspend the Wilson Doctrine without publicly
disclosing they had done so.
The doctrine requires the PM to report any "abrogation" of the doctrine
to Parliament. However, the claimants believe this declaration could be
delayed indefinitely. The tribunal heard that a serving prime minister
could authorise the monitoring of their political opponents, without
disclosing they had done so for decades to come." Go to: http://www.politics.co.uk/news/2015/09/09/cameron-refuses-to-confirm-whether-security-services-are-spy