UK: Commons approves bill giving state agents powers to commit crimes without limits

The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill has passed its third reading in the House of Commons. The law would allow state agents to commit crimes in the course of undercover operations, with no limits set down on what they may do.

Commons passes agent crime bill without limits (Reprieve, link):

"The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill has passed its third reading in the House of Commons.

Reprieve Director Maya Foa commented: “Without limits on the crimes agents can commit this Bill is wide open to abuse – and history suggests this will result in terrible harm. We are hopeful the House of Lords will amend this legislation to make clear MI5 cannot say what is and isn’t lawful, nor authorise torture, murder, or sexual violence.”

The Bill grants every police force in Britain, plus MI5 and a broad range of other governmental bodies the power to authorise undercover agents to commit crimes.

During the debate, MPs from across the political spectrum called for strict limits in the bill to prevent authorisation of the most serious crimes, including murder, torture and sexual violence."

And see: Two Labour frontbenchers quit over failure to oppose MI5 bill (The Guardian, link):

"Two Labour frontbenchers have resigned in protest at the party’s failure to oppose legislation allowing MI5 and police informants to commit crimes as 34 MPs rebelled over the issue. They included five Labour MPs serving as personal private secretaries.

Margaret Greenwood, the shadow schools spokesperson, quit immediately after the early evening vote, joining shadow financial secretary to the Treasury Dan Carden, who had resigned earlier in the day. The two were among of a handful of leftwingers remaining on Keir Starmer’s front bench.


The bill was introduced by the Conservative government after a series of legal challenges had made it necessary to put the existing policy of allowing informants to be a party to criminal activities on a statutory footing.

But critics of the covert human intelligence sources bill argued it did not explicitly rule out crimes such as murder, torture or serious sexual offences – and that it could authorise spying by undercover agents or police, including on groups such as trade unions."



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