Tom Watson MP: “The surveillance state is running amok and Parliament has absolutely failed.”

Speaking in the light of a summer of revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden about the Internet surveillance programmes of British and American intelligence, he said:

“We’re living in the most closed system of liberal democracy in the Western world. We have the most unaccountable intelligence services.”

“Parliamentary scrutiny hasn’t just failed. It doesn’t exist.”

“I can’t think what any party leader has said about this. That’s an absolute disgrace. This is a callous denial of our freedom.”

“I have no faith in the Intelligence and Security Committee [which is charged with overseeing the UK intelligence agencies]. I hope Parliamentarians say we’re not going to take it this anymore.”

“We have to say we’re not going to put up with this and build a cross-party coalition to make the intelligence services accountable for once and for all and provide oversight of a surveillance state running amok.”

He was speaking at a fringe event hosted by campaign groups Open Rights Group and Big Brother Watch.

Also speaking was Paul Johnson, the Deputy Editor of The Guardian who has orchestrated their coverage of the Edward Snowden revelations.

He talked about “the most surreal 36 hours I’ve ever had as a journalist” where, on the orders of GCHQ, “we bought masks and anglegrinders…to destroy the material [that they had from Edward Snowden].”

“We told them two weeks earlier it was already in New York. The whole thing was surreal. It was an entirely bizarre moment.”

“It illustrates at heart that the British Government doesn’t believe this story should have been written.”

Javier Ruiz – Campaigns Director of Open Rights Group called for the start of a movement against mass surveillance:

“This isn’t just the responsibility of political parties. We really need to look at a political solution that involves citizens, government and private companies.”

Nick Pickles – Director of Big Brother Watch, told the audience, “How we govern data isn’t fit for the Internet age. Parliament need to drag the intelligence agencies into the open. Secrecy cannot be justified to simply prevent embarrassment. We’ve been telling the world to do one thing while doing a completely different thing ourselves.”