October 14, 2015 | Pam Cowburn

IPT ruling on Wilson doctrine opens way for devolved parliament and assemblies to challenge surveillance

The Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) has ruled that the Wilson Doctrine does not protect MPs and peers' communications from surveillance by the intelligence agencies.


In response, Open Rights Group's Executive Director, Jim Killock said:

“Bulk interception means that everyone's personal communications data can be collected. Now that our MPs and peers know that they don't get special protection through the Wilson Doctrine, we hope that they will fight for an end to indiscriminate surveillance.”

The IPT ruled that parliamentarians' communications are protected by the same law that protects UK's citizens' communications – the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA). The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC, has described the UK's surveillance law as “fragmented, obscure, under constant challenge and variable in the protections that it affords the innocent”.

Devolved parliament and assemblies

In July, it was reported that the latest update to GCHQ's internal policy removed protections for members of the Scottish parliament and the Northern Irish and Welsh assemblies.

Killock added: “We believe that today's ruling opens the way for members of the devolved parliament and assemblies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to ask the IPT whether they have been under surveillance and if so whether this was justified.”