We managed to miss, until now, this Freedom of Information Act Decision Notice, regarding a request to the Cabinet Office about the "Wilson Doctrine", published in July.
Since we seem to have published more about the "Wilson Doctrine" on the world wide web, than anybody else this year, it would be remiss of us not to comment on this.
Case Ref: FS50086063 Date: 11/07/2006 Public Authority: Cabinet Office Summary: The complainant asked the Cabinet Office whether the Wilson Doctrine remained in force, and wished to know the number of occasions on which MPs' phones had been tapped. The Doctrine states that if the telephone calls of Members of Parliament are tapped the Prime Minister will make an announcement to that effect at a time he judges to be consistent with the requirements of national security; equally any alteration to the Doctrine would be similarly announced when the Prime Minister considered it safe to do so. The Cabinet Office refused the request and declined to confirm or deny whether it held the requested information. The Commissioner upholds the refusal of the request and the reliance placed on the exemptions at section 23 and 24 of the Act relating to security bodies and national security. However, he also considers that a more detailed explanation of the grounds for refusal should have been supplied. The Cabinet Office has subsequently provided such an explanation, and the Notice does not therefore specify any steps to be taken to achieve compliance with the Act. Section of Act/EIR & Finding: FOI 1 - Complaint Not upheld , FOI 23 - Complaint Not upheld , FOI 24 - Complaint Upheld View PDF of Decision Notice FS50086063
Not every phone interception is part of a National Security investigation. What about "normal" Serious Crime investigations under RIPA ?
None of this answers our questions, or those posed by the FOIA requestor:
2. The Complaint
2.1 The Complainant has advised that on 31 January 2005 the following request was submitted to the public authority in accordance with section 1 of the Act. 2.2 “I am writing to you concerning the operation of the Wilson Doctrine, as set out by the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, in response to a question from a former MP for Lewes, Sir Tufton Beamish, on 17 November 1966. “Can you please inform me whether, since that date, there has been a change of policy which has occurred but has not yet been reported to the House of Commons, and specifically if he will state how many MPs have been subjected to telephone tapping or other intrusive surveillance since that date. I am asking for the number to be given, along with the year of intercept, not for the names of the MPs in question.”
See our "Wilson Doctrine" posting archive for details of our unanswered questions, and those of Dr. Vincent Cable MP .
For completeness, there was also a Question by an SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament, asking wheher or not the "Wilson Doctrine" applies to her and her colleagues., which was also not properly answered by the Government:
Christine Grahame (South of Scotland) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Executive what discussions it has had with Her Majesty’s Government in respect of whether the Wilson Doctrine has been extended to cover MSPs and, if the convention does not apply to MSPs, whether it will be extended to do so.
Holding answer issued: 4 May 2006
Cathy Jamieson: The Wilson Doctrine is a matter for the Prime Minister.
Authority to authorise interception of communications for persons located in Scotland, for the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime, has been transferred to Scottish ministers but the relevant legislation, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), is reserved to Westminster.
Section 65 of RIPA provides for any person who is aggrieved by any conduct to which the Act applies to complain to the independent Investigatory Powers Tribunal if they believe that the conduct took place in relation to them or their property in challengeable circumstances.
So is that a Yes or a No to the Question about whether the "Wilson Doctrine" has been extended to cover Members of the Scottish Parliament ?