Liberty in security bodies law bid

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A civil liberties campaign group says it has taken legal action against Government intelligence services because it believes its private communications have been “interfered with” in breach of human rights legislation.

Details of Liberty’s claims against the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the Secret Intelligence Service – MI6, and the Security Service – MI5, are today due to be aired before a special tribunal in London.

The hearing before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, which investigates complaints about the conduct of the security and intelligence services and often sits behind closed doors, is expected to end later this week.

Liberty says there is a “reasonable likelihood” that intelligence services have “interfered with” its private communications in breach of rights to private life and freedom of expression.

And officials want the tribunal to declare that GCHQ, MI6 and MI5 acted unlawfully.

Liberty says its claim is based on intelligence services’ use of two programmes – Prism and Tempora.

Officials say Prism is a programme used by the United States’ National Security Agency to obtain data, and Tempora a programme apparently used by GCHQ to intercept communications through fibre optic cables entering and leaving the UK.

Ministers are expected to dispute Liberty’s claim.

Two Green Party politicians have already launched similar claims.

Detail of claims by Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas and Baroness Jones, a member of the London Assembly, was given to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal at a preliminary hearing earlier this month

The two women have complained that a doctrine – the Wilson Doctrine – which enables MPs to communicate privately with constituents and members of the public has been ”undermined” by ”modern mass surveillance” practices.

A document prepared by Government lawyers and shown to tribunal judges at that hearing on July 1 said ministers could “neither confirm nor deny the existence of the alleged ‘Tempora’ operation”.

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