Has Andrew MacKinlay, the sometimes rebellious Labour MP for Thurrock, been snooped on by the secret intelligence agencies and by Labour Ministers ? Have his conversations with his constituents and others bee snooped on as well, in contravention of the Wilson Doctrine ?
One of his constituents is Michael John Smith, who was convicted of passing aerospace secrets to the Russian KGB, but who is now trying to get his case reviewed.
Andrew MacKinlay recently asked a Parliamentary Question of Jack Straw if he had been snooped on whilst visiting Michael John Smith in prison. It also seems that a Government Minister has admitted that this MP's meetings with a "Russian Envoy" in the Palace of Westminster itself, were also being snooped on.
Are there hidden microphones or cameras, or a network of human informers sneaking about within Parliament ?
Monday, 2 June 2008
Prisons: Electronic Surveillance
Andrew MacKinlay (Thurrock, Labour)
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether the discussions held between the hon. Member for Thurrock and his constituent Michael John Smith at Full Sutton Prison, York on 1 September 1999 and 30 July 2001 were covertly (a) recorded, (b) transmitted and (c) monitored in some other way by or on behalf of any Government Department or agency; and if he will make a statement.
Jack Straw (Lord Chancellor, Ministry of Justice; Blackburn, Labour)
It is not our policy to confirm or deny surveillance operations in prisons. Since the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (2000) came into force, all forms of covert surveillance are subject to a strict and rigorous statutory regime for authorisations, and are conducted in accordance with the guidance set out in the statutory Codes of Practice. Independent oversight is provided, and is overseen by the Office of Surveillance Commissioner. The Investigatory Powers Tribunal was established to investigate and rule on any complaints.
As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made clear in her statement on 21 February 2008, Official Report, column 536, Sir Christopher Rose's inquiry into the surveillance of visits at Woodhill prison found
"no trace in recent years in prison records or anywhere else of any person known to be a Member of Parliament having been monitored during a prison visit".
It is very misleading of Jack Straw (or of his Sir Humphrey who draughted this Written Answer), to claim that the Chief Surveillance Commissioner's inquiry into the Sadiq Khan MP / Babar Ahmad electronic surveillance scandal made any attempt at independently checking all other MPs visits to Prisons - it certainly did not - the terms of reference of the inquiry were deliberately very narrowly constrained to the Woodhill Prison affair only.
Note the weasel words "any person known to be a Member of Parliament" - some of the Police Officers involved in the Woodhill prison bugging , who should have known better, claimed that they did not know that Sadiq Khan had become and MP - something which must cast doubt on their ability to analyse any intelligence data whatsoever.
It is also misleading to imply that surveillance in Prisons is properly covered by "safeguards" under RIPA - there is no statutory basis for the Interception of Communications Commissioner, for example, to audit or authorise anything done under the Prison Rules in a Prison, although he does inspect some Prisons, on a non-statutory, voluntary basis.
Perhaps this Parliamentary Question was prompted by the recent revelation to Andrew MacKinley, that he has been under surveillance, according to this report in The Guardian
MP complains at being 'warned off' meeting envoy
Friday May 23 2008
A Labour MP said yesterday he was warned off meeting a Russian embassy official by a government minister and told that he was being monitored by the security services.
Andrew MacKinlay, a longstanding member of the Commons foreign affairs committee, described the approach by an unidentified minister last summer as "menacing". He said it was an example of how "craven" ministers were to the intelligence and security services.
He told the Commons he found the minister's actions unacceptable and a breach of his rights as an MP, particularly since his meetings with the Russian diplomat took place in parliament. He told the Guardian later that he was summoned twice last summer to the "headmaster's office" and the minister concerned knew what he had discussed with the Russian.
"Bearing in mind I meet the people from the Russian embassy in this building, it means the security and intelligence services are not only monitoring people coming in to this building, but monitoring honourable members who they meet, and presumably what is discussed."
He claimed intelligence officers wanted him to pass on information he learned from "casual conversations" about politics in Britain and Russia. He did not object to the fact that the Russian official was being monitored ahead of their meeting.
But he added: "What it was, was an approach by a minister warning me off doing this, and that was unacceptable to me and remains so." He called for greater parliamentary scrutiny and oversight of the intelligence services.
Keeping Russian envoys i.e. diplomats, under surveillance is normal and expected. However, such surveillance must stop during meetings with Members of Parliament.
Unless there was reasonable suspicion that Andrew MacKinlay MP was involved in some sort of criminal conspiracy involving the Russian envoy, then, according to the Wilson Doctrine, there should not have been any snooping on his conversation or meeting, especially not within Parliament itself.
Suspecting or knowing that your conversations or meetings are being monitored by the Government and its intelligence agencies must have a chilling effect on "freedom of speech".
Shouldn't the Speaker of the Commons be demanding that any spying on and surveillance of MPs, within the very precincts of the House of Commons, must be prevented, as a breach of Parliamentary Privilege and freedom of speech, according to the Bill of Rights 1689 ?
Instead of which, the Speaker has used the Bill of Rights to help the executive branch of Government to try to suppress Freedom of Information rights regarding OGC Gateway Reviews of the ID Cards programme.