Offence of making unauthorised disclosure

Investigatory Powers Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 21 April 2016.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office) 2:15, 21 April 2016

I beg to move amendment 496, in clause 116, page 93, line 39, leave out subsection (3) and insert—

“(3) In proceedings against any person for an offence under this section in respect of any disclosure, it is a defence for the person to show that the disclosure was in the public interest.”

Photo of Albert Owen Albert Owen Labour, Ynys Môn

With this it will be convenient to discuss amendment 297, in clause 116, page 93, line 42, at end insert—

“(3A) In proceedings against any person for an offence under this section in respect of any disclosure, it is a defence for the person to show that the disclosure was in the public interest.”

This amendment would provide a defence to the criminal offence of unauthorised disclosure in relation to a warrant issued under this Part. The offence includes disclosure of the existence and content of a warrant and disclosure of the steps taken to implement a warrant.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I have said all that I need to say on the amendment. Members of the Committee will appreciate that the amendment has been tabled for each of the offence provisions for the reasons I set out the first time we encountered it. That was dealt with by the Solicitor General, so I shall say no more about it at this stage.

Photo of Gavin Newlands Gavin Newlands Scottish National Party, Paisley and Renfrewshire North

I will not detain the Committee long. I hear what the hon. and learned Gentleman says and broadly agree with it. I rise merely to point out the differences between the two amendments before us. The SNP’s amendment would insert an additional subsection that adds the additional defence and leaves subsection (3) in, whereas the Labour amendment removes that.

Photo of Robert Buckland Robert Buckland The Solicitor-General

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras. We are familiar with the arguments and our response is that the information gateway, which allows people to take concerns directly to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner, caters for the public interest. For that reason I urge him to withdraw the amendment.

Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Minister (Home Office)

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 116 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clauses 117 and 118 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 119