07:59, October 04 312 0 theguardian.com

2018-10-04 07:59:40
MI5 sought immunity for agents' criminal acts, tribunal told

MI5 agents have been granted legal immunity to participate in murder, torture, sexual assaults and other criminality, a tribunal has heard.

The secret policy may, for decades, have enabled the security service to conceal illegal activity, Ben Jaffey QC told the investigatory powers tribunal.

Even oversight of the practice, introduced in 2012, was kept secret, and the judge appointed to oversee it instructed not to comment on the policy’s legality, he alleged.

The claims have emerged in a case brought by an alliance of human rights group including Privacy International, Reprieve, the Committee on the Administration of Justice and the Pat Finucane Centre in Northern Ireland.

The allegations suggest that MI5 sought to give its agents and informants even greater freedom to commit criminal offences than the protections available to police informers.

But the MI5 policy is itself illegal if it breaches fundamental human rights such as the ban on using torture, Jaffey said.