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Statement by the Intelligence Services Commissioner on the publication of the his 2013 Annual Report

(26 Jun 2014) Today the Government has published a report submitted to the Prime Minister by the Rt Hon. Sir Mark Waller, Intelligence Services Commissioner, on the work carried out by Sir Mark during 2013.

Sir Mark said:

"It is important the public have confidence in the oversight I provide. I remain committed to being as open as I can without prejudicing national security or law enforcement and this report is intended to provide the public with the assurance they are entitled to expect. "

As part of his ongoing commitment to openness within the constraints of the issues he deals with, the Commissioner’s report covers in detail how he carried out his inspections of each agency and warrantry unit and the results of those inspections. It also covers separate reviews into use of the Consolidated Guidance and allegations in the media resulting from the Snowden leaks, which Sir Mark carried out during 2013.

A total of 1887 warrants were approved across the intelligence services and MOD in 2013. The Commissioner examined in detail 318 of these, 16.8% of the total. 33 errors were reported to the Commissioner during 2013, all of them caused by human error and resulting in intrusions into privacy to some degree.

The Commissioner concludes that:

  • In the areas the Commissioner examined he is confident that the Agencies act within the constraints imposed upon them by law and do not attempt to circumvent those constraints;
  • The Secretaries of State authorising warrants under RIPA Part II for intrusive surveillance and interference with property are doing so lawfully;
  • Other RIPA Part II authorisations (such as for directed surveillance or covert human intelligence sources) and Intelligence Services Act Section 7 authorisations are being issued on a proper basis;
  • Authorisations granted by the MOD are being granted on a basis that would comply with RIPA Part II, if RIPA Part II applied;
  • The Consolidated Guidance is being applied properly and well.

The Commissioner recommends that:

  • The agencies give separate consideration to the invasion of privacy as part of the test for proportionality and that any invasion of privacy be clearly justified in both the applications for use of intrusive techniques and in the wording of warrants and authorisations;
  • The agencies learn from errors and put in place proper procedures to prevent them happening again.

Notes for editors:

Sir Mark:
The Rt Hon. Sir Mark Waller, the Intelligence Services Commissioner, is entirely independent of Government, Parliament and of the agencies he inspects. The Commissioner was appointed by the Prime Minister and took up his post in January 2011, and agreed to serve for a further 3 years from 1 January 2014. 

Sir Mark was a Lord Justice of Appeal  between 1996-2010, Chairman of the Judicial Studies Board 1999-2003 and President of the Council of the Inns of Court 2003-6. Sir Mark has been Vice-President of the Court of Appeal Civil Division 2006-2010 and is currently an Arbitrator and Mediator at Serle Court, London.

For a full copy of the report please go to:

26 Jun 14