Government’s ban on MI5 committee appearance scandalous assault on Parliamentary democracy

December 11, 2013

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Commenting on reports that Home Secretary Theresa May has refused a request by Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee to question the head of MI5, Andrew Parker, on the basis that she “do[es] not believe that it would be appropriate or necessary for the oversight provided by the [Intelligence and Security Committee] to be duplicated by another committee,” Kat Craig, legal director at human rights charity Reprieve said:

“This is a scandalous attempt by the Government to insulate itself and the security services from anything even approaching genuine accountability.

“Theresa May’s claim that the Intelligence and Security Committee is providing real “oversight” would be laughable were it not so depressing.  This is a committee which has missed every scandal from UK complicity in rendition and torture to the more recent revelations on excessive surveillance.

“The fact that we more often hear the Chair of the ISC acting as a spokesman for the security services than actually holding them to account should have made its total inadequacy as a watchdog clear long ago.

“Theresa May’s decision is an assault on the fundamental British principles of Parliamentary democracy – she must reverse it without delay”.


1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8166

2. May’s comments are reported in the Guardian, ‘MI5 chief Andrew Parker will not face MPs on Snowden claims,’