Scrutiny of intelligence services 'damaging' their credibility

The way British intelligence and security services are held to account is damaging their credibility, an influential group of MPs has said. The Home Affairs Select Committee wants to see an overhaul of the Intelligence and Security Committee.

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Govt 'must not continue to bury its head in the sand'

The Government must reform the way MI5, MI6 and GHCQ are held to account and "must not continue to bury its head in the sand," civil rights campaigners warned.

Emma Carr, acting director of Big Brother Watch, said:

When a senior committee of Parliament says that the current oversight of our intelligence agencies is not fit for purpose, ineffective and undermines the credibility of Parliament, the Government cannot and must not continue to bury its head in the sand.

This report is a wake-up call to those blindly parroting the line that the UK has the best oversight system in the world.

The law is out of date, the oversight is weak and the reporting of what happens is patchy at best.

– Emma Carr

ISC ignoring '21st century reality' of intelligence

MPs charged with keeping the intelligence services in check are nor facing the "21st century reality of the security and intelligence services," a leading Labour MP said.

Alluding to John Le Carre's fictional Cold War spy George Smiley, Home Affairs Committee Chairman Keith Vaz MP said:

The current system of oversight is designed to scrutinise the work of George Smiley not the 21st century reality of the security and intelligence services.

The agencies are at the cutting edge of sophistication and are owed an equally refined system of democratic scrutiny.

It is an embarrassing indictment of our system that some in the media felt compelled to publish leaked information to ensure that matters were heard in Parliament.

The Intelligence and Security Committee should be given a democratic mandate in the same way as other Select Committees.

– Keith Vaz

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MPs 'damaging' credibility of intelligence services

The credibility of MI5, MI6 and GHCQ has been damaged by the way their work is held to account, an influential group of MPs has said.

The Intelligence and Security Committee (above) came under fire in the report. Credit: PA

The Home Affairs Select Committee wants to see a shake up of the way security and intelligence agencies are scrutinised, starting with the way the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) is organised.

Membership of the nine-strong ISC should be elected and the chair should always be a member of the House of Commons.

In addition, it said the ISC chair should always be a member of the largest opposition party.

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