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Statement by the Intelligence Services Commissioner, The Rt Hon Sir Mark Waller, on the Home Affairs Committee's Report on Counter-terrorism

(19 May 2014) The Home Affairs Select Committee has today published its report into the findings of its Inquiry into Counter-Terrorism. The report raises a number of issues with respect to oversight of the security and intelligence agencies which touch upon my areas of responsibility.

I should like to take this opportunity to re-iterate points I have already made to the Committee in advance of publication of its report on some of the points raised:

  • The report states “Furthermore, the fact that the Intelligence Services Commissioner cannot tell us what percentage of consolidated guidance cases or disciplinary proceedings he has examined is concerning”.

I made clear in written evidence to the Committee, that there are some figures I would try to supply in my Annual Report for 2013. I hope to provide my report to the Prime Minister soon, but it is subject to section 60(5) of RIPA and I am not in a position to disclose anything until the process contemplated in that section is complete.

  • The Committee mentions its concern that I have only one member of staff.

As I said in my oral evidence to the Committee, I am firmly of the view that the strength of the Commissioner system is personal responsibility. I am the person that goes into the agencies, scrutinises their warrants and interview members of their staff. However, I already have funding agreed for two further members of staff to assist me in carrying out my functions and I plan to recruit this year.

  • The Committee raises its concern that I examine “less than 10% of warrants which allow intrusion into the private lives of individuals” and recommend that at least 50% should be examined.

As I told the Committee in both oral and written evidence I see all warrants in summary form and investigate a random sample of them.

I would add that although it is vitally important that I scrutinise a representative sample of individual warrants – I am of the view that understanding the systems and processes in place in the agencies is more important than the numbers themselves.

9 May 14