Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock) (Lab):: A little while ago I had a hand in getting the Prime Minister to reaffirm the Wilson doctrine, and he extended it to modern electronic surveillance. On the face of it, it would appear that the Wilson doctrine has been abrogated by the police in this case. Clearly, the e-mails of the hon. Member for Ashford (Damian Green) were looked at. I venture to suggest that he was listened in to, and...
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Jacqui Smith: I am sorry my hon. Friend has not received the reply to the letter, which I sent him yesterday and in which I made it clear that the Wilson doctrine as outlined by the Prime Minister has not been abrogated.
Mr. Parmjit Dhanda (Gloucester) (Lab) The Home Secretary has been clear and unambiguous today. Will she go further on the point of my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Andrew Mackinlay) about the Wilson doctrine? Can she reassure all hon. Members that our home numbers, work mobiles and the phones that we use in this House are covered by the Wilson doctrine, as well as our e-mail accounts?
Jacqui Smith: As I have suggested, the Wilson doctrine applies, and it applies as outlined by the Prime Minister.
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Remember that the Wilson Doctrine is interpreted very narrowly by this Labour Government - the "seizure of evidence" by the Police, when they grab someone's computer is not "interception of emails" in transit, although the end result in terms of betraying confidential information can be the same.
Since the whistleblower leak inquiry covers the last couple of years or so, what exactly were the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command granted access to, with respect to the Parliamentary email system ?
- Were the Police granted access to all of the emails sent and received via Damian Green's Parliamentary email account ?
- Were these emails restricted to only the ones sent to or from the Home Office whistleblower Christopher Galley (if , indeed, any such emails actually exist at all) , or were other emails from or to constituents, or correspondents of Damian Green, also scooped up in the data trawl ?
- Were the Police granted access to the entire Microsoft Exchange server or shared folders containing correspondence from more than one MP and their constituents ?
- Were they granted access to archives or backups, going back 2 or more years ?
There are separate questions about any content of any such emails i.e. Interception (which is supposedly covered by the Wilson Doctrine) and any email server logfiles which potentially betray the identities of other whistleblowers or other confidential journalistic contacts i.e. Communications Traffic Data. The latter is not covered by the Wilson Doctrine, but it should be.
It appears that Damian Green's Parliamentary email account was suspended on the Thursday of his arrest.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin appeared to be clueless and not in command of any facts about exactly what privacy, confidentiality and privilege breaches there had, or had not been, regarding the Parliamentary email system.
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Richard Benyon (Whip, Newbury, Conservative)
Further to the point made by Andrew Mackinlay concerning our e-mails and the House of Commons server, Mr. Speaker. Can you confirm that the House of Commons server is covered by the Wilson doctrine, and that it cannot be accessed by the police or any other authorities to access our e-mails in order to investigate circumstances that we lawfully as Back Benchers and Members of this House have taken up on behalf of our constituents and others?
Michael Martin (Speaker)
As the Chairman of the House of Commons Commission, I have a serious responsibility to look after the computer system that we all use, including myself. I will look into this matter, rather than give an off-the-cuff answer from the Chair.
Speaker Martin had nearly a week to look into this particular matter, what is he hiding ?
Unless the Members of the House of Commons clear up these questions this Monday, not "after the Police inquiry has finished" (this took 18 months in the "cash for honours" inquiry involving the then Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair and his henchmen), then how can any members of the public trust that their communications with their constituency MPs will not be betrayed in future "leak inquiry" collateral damage and data trawling ?
Surely it is time for Members of Parliament to use strong encryption to protect their privileged constituency correspondence from snooping by the Government and others ?