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Bar Council response to Belhaj tribunal decision on LPP

Bar Council | Bar Council

2 min read Partner content

Please see below the Bar Councils response to the UKs Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT) judgement in the Belhaj case.

This week the IPT ordered intelligence agency GCHQ to destroy illegally collected communications of a Libyan rendition victim.

The case had consequences for legal professional privilege. The Bar Council still has concerns on this following the decision.

Reprieve provides some useful background on the case and judgement. Below is the Bar Council’s response.

Alistair MacDonald QC, Chairman of the Bar, said: "The protection of LPP material is fundamental to the administration of justice and to the ability of clients to consult with their legal advisor in confidence. It is a foundational principle of the rule of law and the right to a fair trial. Though it is encouraging that the IPT found that in this particular case communications were unlawfully intercepted as a direct result of the inadequate policies relating to LPP material, there remains a major concern about the wider implications of the Tribunal's decision not to give injunctive relief. The law has always recognised that a lawyer-client communication only loses its privilege where it is made for a criminal purpose.  The Bar Council notes that the Tribunal did not accept the Government's deeply troubling argument that there are wider exceptions to privilege than this.  We hope that future governments -- of whatever stripe - will not be tempted to advance this dangerous argument again. The Bar Council has repeatedly called for proper protection of LPP material in primary legislation. Currently, the public has to take the government's word that it is not unlawfully intercepting that material. As things stand, intelligence agencies will be able to intercept LPP material freely without being held to account.

"Even when the new draft codes and policies are put in place, they will not be robust enough to give that kind of protection to the public. LPP needs proper parliamentary and judicial oversight to be sufficiently protected.”

Read the most recent article written by Bar Council - Bar Council calls on Ministry of Justice to urgently halt jury trials

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