The Mail on Sunday has put a strange spin on its "whistleblower spies" report, which must stem from the first evidence session of the Joint Committee on the Draft Constitutional Renewal Bill (not yet available online), which was, presumably held on Tuesday 6th May 2008.
Without bothering to mention this Joint Committee directly, they report:
Mail on Sunday
By JASON LEWIS
Last updated at 01:31am on 11th May 2008
Britain's spies will not be covered by new rules that protect Government whistleblowers.
Officers from MI5, MI6 and the GCHQ listening station who raise the alarm over their roles must instead have the issue dealt with internally.
However, other Government departments will be covered by the new code of practice designed to ensure public service honesty, integrity and independence.
The Civil Service Code (revised in 2006) provides even less protection for whistleblowers than the old version did - see the the previous Spy Blog article - Minor changes to the Civil Service Code might affect whistleblowers
The rules - in the proposed Constitutional Renewal Bill - will ensure grievances are investigated by independent officials from other departments.
Justice Secretary Jack Straw's decision to exclude spies comes despite the huge growth in size and activities of the main agencies - plus continuing questions over their role in the Iraq war run-up.
Jack Straw has an appalling record regarding whistleblowing civil servants in his own Departments. Remember the persecution and smear campaigns against the former British Consul to Romania and Bulagaria, James Cameron and the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray ? All of these whistleblowers allegations proved to be true, and in the public interest, but both of them were smeared and persecuted by the Foreign Office bureaucracy, under Jack Straw, in spite of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998
The head of Whitehall's watchdog last week demanded that the spooks be given the protection of an independent investigation.
First Civil Service Commissioner Janet Paraskeva, who reports directly to the Queen, asked a committee of MPs considering the Bill: "Where is the regulatory apparatus for our security services?
"We are asking questions about why all these organisations are excluded from some kind of regulation.
"Why should those civil servants not have the same right of access as other civil servants to an outside body if, in fact, they are concerned about what they have been asked to do?"
Previously, GCHQ officers have been able to go to the Commissioner with grievances, but the new Bill will remove that right and bring them in line with the other security services.
Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell said MI5 and MI6 had their own codes of practice and complaints procedures.
He added: "There is an independent person that they can go to and that person can then refer those complaints directly to the Prime Minister."
Note how the quote from Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell does not actually mention GCHQ !
The actual section of the Draft Governance of Britain - Constitutional Renewal Bill (.pdf 98 pages) which excludes organisations from the purview of the Civil Service Commissioner is clause 25 (2):
25 Application of Part
(2) The parts excluded are --
(a) the Secret Intelligence service
(b) the Security Service
(c) the Government Communications Headquarters
(d) the Northern Ireland Civil Service
(e) the Northern Ireland Court Service
What possible reason is there for excluding "the Northern Ireland Civil Service" and "the Northern Ireland Court Service" ?
Why should different rules apply to them, as apply to civil servants in England, Wales and Scotland ?
We cannot be bothered to try to make any of these points on the "article comments" section on the Daily Mail / Mail on Sunday website - they always seem to ignore anything which even gently points out factual errors or omissions in their articles, let alone anything which disagrees with their political slant, which is a pity, as it rather devalues their website.
Perhaps our regular Associated Newspapers Ltd. visitors could feed this comment back to their management.