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'Prosecute spies who abuse power' says watchdog

The Intelligence and Security Committee Credit: PA Wire

The law should be changed so that spies who abuse their power to access personal information can be prosecuted, an intelligence watchdog has said.

The Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) revealed in its long-awaited report that MI5, MI6 and GCHQ have disciplined or dismissed staff for inappropriately accessing personal information through bulk data collection.

But the Committee said it was concerned to find that there is not a specific criminal offence that can be brought against those who misuse interception capabilities and that the law should be changed.

The Interception of Communications Commissioner, The Right Honourable Sir Anthony May revealed there was a "very serious case" last year, in which GCHQ employee deliberately undertook a number of unauthorised searches for related communications data.

The abuse of the systems amounted to gross misconduct and the individual was fired, the Commissioner said.

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