Joint Committee On Human Rights Twenty-Fourth Report



Appendix 7: Correspondence between the Chairman, the Director General of the Security Service and the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee

LETTER FROM THE CHAIR TO DAME ELIZA MANNINGHAM-BULLER DCB, DIRECTOR GENERAL, THE SECURITY SERVICE

We have been in informal touch with your private office to see if you would be willing to speak to the Joint Committee on Human Rights in connection with inquiries which we are currently conducting into (i) counter-terrorism policy and human rights and (ii) UK compliance with the UN Convention against Torture. I enclose copies of the published terms of reference of each inquiry for your information. The specific points on which we believe it would be helpful for us to know the Security Service's views are—

(a) the extent to which the Service is, or could take steps to ensure it is, aware that information it receives from foreign agencies may have been obtained by the use of torture

(b) any information which the Service may have about extraordinary renditions using UK airports

(c) the Service's views about the ban on the use of intercept evidence being used in court in terrorism cases.

I appreciate that you report to the Intelligence and Security Committee. I wrote to the Chairman of that Committee to see if he would have any objection to us meeting you and attach a copy of that letter and his reply. I also understand that you hold roughly annual meetings with the members of the Commons Home Affairs Committee.

I would be grateful if you would let me know if you would be willing to meet my Committee to discuss the matters I have outlined. We would of course be happy to comply with any requirements you might have in terms of the confidentiality of any meeting.

18 January 2006

LETTER FROM THE CHAIR TO RT HON PAUL MURPHY MP, CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY COMMITTEE

As part of my Committee's current inquiries into (i) counter-terrorism policy and human rights and (ii) UK compliance with UNCAT (see attached terms of reference), we have been in contact with Eliza Manningham-Buller's office to see if she would be willing to talk to us about three issues in particular where it would be helpful for us to know the perspective of the Security Service:

(i) the extent to which it is, or could take steps to ensure it is, aware that information it receives from foreign agencies may have been obtained by the use of torture

(ii) any information which the Service may have about extraordinary renditions using UK airports

(iii) the Service's views about the ban on the use of intercept evidence being used in court in terrorism cases.

We understand from the Director General's office that it is her practice not to speak to parliamentary committees, either by giving formal evidence or in informal meetings, though she does provide information to your committee.

If the Director General were willing to speak to us, we would be content to do so in private session, either formally or informally, and would give an undertaking to keep under secure conditions information which she identified as sensitive.

Before my Committee decides whether to renew its request to the Security Service, I would be grateful if you would let me know whether your Committee would have any objection to us doing so.

21 December 2005

LETTER FROM RT HON PAUL MURPHY MP, CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY COMMITTEE

Thank you for your letter of 21 December. It may help you to know that the ISC is conducting its own inquiries into rendition and torture (where relevant to the British intelligence Agencies), and will be covering the issues that you raise. As regards the meeting that you are seeking, the ISC fell that this is a matter for your Committee and Eliza Manningham-Buller.

I understand that you are also interested in meeting with GCHQ as part of your work on the use of intercept as evidence in court. Again it may help you to know that a study is currently being concluded by the Home Office on this matter and that the Home Secretary has committed to sharing his findings with the ISC at the earliest suitable opportunity. Given the Home Office lead I suggest any enquiries that you have about intercept be addressed to that Department.

11 January 2006

LETTER FROM DAME ELIZA MANNINGHAM-BULLER DCB, DIRECTOR GENERAL, THE SECURITY SERVICE

1. Thank you for your letter of 18 January.

2. I regret that I do not consider I can be of assistance to your committee in the areas outlined in your letter, all of which have been or are the subject of investigation by the ISC. You will no doubt be aware that the Foreign Secretary made a Written Statement to the House on 20 January on rendition. I can add nothing to that. My witness statement to the House of Lords, subsequently publicised by Channel 4 news, and numerous statements by the Foreign Secretary and others to the Foreign Affairs Committee and in other fora have put on record the complexities in dealing with information which may or may not have been obtained under duress. With regard to the use of intercept evidence in court, as the Chairman of the ISC has advised you, this is primarily a matter for the Home Secretary.

3. As my office advised you when you made an initial request for me to see the Committee, I am required by the Intelligence and Security Act to provide information to the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC). Safeguards exist under the Act to safeguard sensitive information provided to the ISC, the release of which could be prejudicial to the operations of the intelligence agencies. I have on occasion briefed the Home Affairs and other select committees. These background briefings have been with the approval of the Home Secretary and related to threats to UK national security, specifically terrorist threats. It would be inappropriate for me to comment on matters of Government policy.

23 January 2006


 
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