David Davis hits out at ‘morally repugnant’ use of child spies

Posted On: 
21st July 2018

David Davis has branded the use of child spies “morally repugnant” as questions emerged over their role in British espionage. 

The former Brexit Secretary hit out at government plans
Credit: 
PA Images

The recruitment of “covert human intelligence sources” (CHIS) has come under the spotlight this week after a House of Lords committee questioned plans to loosen restrictions around their use.

The secondary legislation committee reported Security Minister Ben Wallace as saying there was “increasing scope” for using them to combat terrorism, gang violence and child exploitation.

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The proposals would see the time limit in which the government could use a child spy extended from one month to four.

But Mr Davis - who quit as Brexit Secretary earlier this month - told the Guardian that intelligence operations required “winning and holding the moral high ground”.

He added: “Morally repugnant tactics are a fast route to failure.”

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott meanwhile called for an end to the practice, saying: “Our children should be protected, not intentionally put in precarious situations involving serious and violent crime.

“It beggars belief that the Home Office, with responsibility for safeguarding and vulnerability, has the gall to ask members for even more time to expose children to gang culture and crime.”

Despite the outcry, Downing Street defended the use of children in spying operations.

A spokesman for Theresa May said: "Juvenile covert human intelligence resources are used very rarely and they’re only used when it is very necessary and proportionate.

"For example, helping to prevent gang violence, drug dealing and the ‘county lines’ phenomenon.

"The use is govenerned by a very strict legal framework."