Police Surveillance of Journalists

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:48 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Nick Hurd Nick Hurd The Minister of State, Home Department 12:48 pm, 17th July 2019

My right hon. Friend is a long-standing champion of civil liberties and press freedom; in fact, there is probably no greater one in this House, and I am grateful to him for the UQ and the opportunity to place on record again—because, as I said, this cannot be said often enough—the Government’s absolute commitment to protect the freedom of the press. That is a cornerstone of our democratic processes, and he has heard that from the Prime Minister, the two men who want to be the next Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and anyone else at a microphone; that is entirely sincere.

My right hon. Friend is also quite right to point out that the Investigatory Powers Act has been subject to a tightening-up process, in large part stimulated by the promptings of himself and colleagues. The point I was trying to stress in my remarks is that we do believe—although this is being challenged and will continue to be challenged by people who take a different view—that the safeguards and protections in place and what our security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies are required to go through in terms of, for example, seeking a targeted communications data authorisation are extremely stringent.

As my right hon. Friend said, authorisations in this case need to be approved by a judicial commissioner. A Government of any colour need to be subject to scrutiny and challenge on the robustness of these approaches. I am not going to comment on the specific case; I am here simply to set out the process in relation to the protections that my right hon. Friend and others quite rightly seek to be reassured by, and I hope that I have done so.