Why Jenny is tabling a Fatal Motion in an attempt to kill the Spy Cops Bill when it reaches Third Reading in the House of Lords tomorrow
Jenny was herself the subject of covert police surveillance for more than a decade and has warned Labour will be complicit in “state oppression” after it failed to support several key amendments to the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill last week.
“Once again we are witnessing a complete failure of opposition to this government from Labour, which will allow dangerous legislation to pass without proper public debate or parliamentary scrutiny.
This is possibly the most dangerous piece of legislation I have seen in my lifetime, yet we have seen Labour peers abstain on a vote to replace blanket immunity for covert human intelligence sources with the existing system, which includes a public interest test and legal defence. This is simply allowing hundreds of police officers to either break the law or allow others, including criminals, to do so. Labour refused to back a ban on the use of agents provocateurs, or to limit the use of these spies to “serious” crimes, or “serious” public disorder. Labour also failed to back amendments to completely exclude children and vulnerable adults from the scope of the CHIS Bill, potentially placing them in extreme danger.
There is no doubt that the responsibility for this travesty of a bill lies squarely at the doors of the government, but as the official opposition Labour have the power to influence and shape how it proceeds. That is their role in our democracy, yet it is not what we are seeing.
Of course, there are some peers and MPs on the Labour benches who are trying to do the right thing, despite the fact that Keir Starmer appears to be intent on leading the party towards their authoritarian ways of old.
Sadly, without Labour's support for my Fatal Motion on Thursday, the Spy Cops Bill will be heading back to the Commons where the Government will be able to strip out the amendments the Lords have added. Labour must dramatically change its position on this Bill or else it will be complicit in these deliberate acts of state oppression.”
“Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb to move, as an amendment to the motion that this bill do now pass, to leave out from “that” to the end and insert “this House declines to allow the Bill to pass because the Bill grants blanket prior legal immunity for otherwise criminal conduct without sufficient safeguards or oversight; provides no system of prior judicial authorisation; does not recover profits obtained under a Criminal Conduct Authorisation which could include proceeds from the sale of drugs, weapons, human trafficking and slavery; fails to provide compensation to victims of crimes authorised under the Bill; and represents a significant expansion of undercover policing despite, and without regard to, the ongoing Undercover Policing Inquiry.”
We aren't expecting the majority of Labour or Liberal Democrat Peers to back the fatal motion, so we need to defend the Lords modest improvements to the bill. To that end we are asking people to email their MP, telling them to vote to retain the Lords amendments.
Please email your MP asking them to retain the Lords amendments to the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) Bill when it returns to the Commons later this month
Please retain the Lords amendments to the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (CHIS) Bill when it returns to the Commons.
This Bill is being pushed forward before the Public Inquiry into abuses by police undercover officers has had a chance to put forward recommendations regarding the mistakes made in the previous forty years. This Bill will hinder those who seek justice in the future and will widen the scope for such abuses by providing legal immunity for all types of crime.
This legal immunity for spies, undercover police and informants to commit crimes represents a huge erosion of the rule of law. The House of Lords has passed three important amendments to the legislation, which will:
· Prevent undercover agents from committing the most serious crimes such as rape, murder and torture.
· Limit the circumstances that allow children and vulnerable people to be authorised to commit crimes as undercover spies.
· Allow a judge to overturn blanket legal immunity where it has been wrongly granted.
I hope you can support these amendments as a way of mitigating the impact of this dangerous legislation.