Speak in Safety

8 April 2016

Surveillance campaigners are challenging MPs to boost safety and confidentiality measures in the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill, before it is rushed in to law.

On Monday evening the Speak in Safety campaign hosts an event in Parliament, chaired by Joanna Cherry QC MP, to persuade MPs and Lords that more caution is needed. Crucial clauses in the Bill are up for debate in Committee the next day.

According to the Speak in Safety campaign, the Bill does not protect the safety and confidentiality of sources and whistleblowers, or of individuals seeking legal representation.

Headed by the NUJ, the Bar Council and the Law Society, Speak in Safety campaigners argue it is in the public and national interest that illegality and wrong-doing are reported and that citizens can access legal representation. The campaigners are calling on parliamentarians to support amendments to the Investigatory Powers Bill.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary said:

"The current proposals contained in the investigatory powers bill are a risk to all journalists, journalistic sources and whistleblowers. 

"The draft law must be changed to guarantee press freedom and enable journalistic sources and whistleblowers to speak in safety."

Chairman of the Bar, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC said:

"We know that Government agencies have in the past improperly eavesdropped on communications between litigants and their legal advisers.

"Clients who cannot be sure that conversations with their legal representative are held in confidence often fail to communicate information which is vital to their case, thus compromising their right to a fair hearing."

President of the Law Society, Jonathan Smithers, said:

"The law must guarantee citizens safe and secure channels of communication when they seek advice from their lawyers. Anything which results in a breach of this most fundamental of human rights is a violation of the rule of law."

Event details

  • The Speak in Safety event takes place on Monday 11 April, 17.00-18.30, Houses of Parliament.

  • The event will be chaired by Joanna Cherry QC MP, and speakers include Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary, Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC, Chairman of the Bar, and Robert Bourns, Law Society Vice President.

  • If you would like to attend the event, please RSVP to lrobins-grace@barcouncil.org.uk 

Failures in the Investigatory Powers Bill

  • Whilst the Investigatory Powers Bill recognises that MPs, journalists and lawyers serve public interest functions, the bill does not sufficiently safeguard the confidentiality of their communications and related activities which underpins those functions.
  • The Speak in Safety campaign believes the Bill will undermine the pivotal role these professions play in guaranteeing our freedom and democracy, create an unstable legal framework for surveillance, undercut our current rights, and lay the surveillance activities of public authorities open to legal challenge.
  • The Speak in Safety coalition is calling on parliamentarians to support amendments to the Investigatory Powers Bill that will adequately protect the confidentiality of sources and whistleblowers and guarantee that clients can speak with legal representatives in confidence.
  • Speak in Safety acknowledges the concerns over surveillance 'no go' areas and professions represented in the coalition call for amendments to the Bill that will allow surveillance where it is necessary and in the public interest.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

  1. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

  2. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes: 

  • The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services

  • Fair access to justice for all

  • The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and

  • The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent Bar Standards Board