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Monday, February 04, 2008

Who is bugging who?

The bugging of a Labour MP's conversation with his constituent is an exceedingly serious matter, not because it infringes on the privacy of an MP (though that is a major consideration) but because it goes to the very heart of our Parliamentary democracy and undermines the essential pastoral role undertaken by all elected politicians.

Somebody who comes to their elected representative for help, no matter what their problem is or what they have been accused of, should be entitled to confidentiality. They should be allowed to receive advice without the state eavesdropping or interfering in that process.

The fact that Babar Ahmed is a terrorist suspect is immaterial to this argument. He has not been found guilty of anything, nor has he even been charged. In this country we have a tradition that somebody is innocent until proven otherwise. The fact that the MP concerned is one of the few Muslim members of the Houses of Parliament sends a disturbing message to that community.

It is crucial that we now establish who authorised this bug and that they account for their actions. Already I have seen suggestions that it may be the work of a foreign power, that is the United States. If that is the case then that is even more serious as it impinges on our sovereignty as well as our rights. The Prime Minister needs to make an urgent statement so that we can get to the bottom of this whole affair.
It's a serious matter, Peter, in terms of the entire move towards covert surveillance as a justifiable means.

This was all legitimized with the RIPA.
> The fact that the MP concerned is
>one of the few Muslim members of the
> Houses of Parliament sends a
>disturbing message
- as was the fact that Sadiq was a human rights lawyer.
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