4 August 1998
Originals in PDF format
The official badge of the Security Service was designed by the Arundel
Herald of Arms. The winged sea lion reflects the Services historical
association with the three Armed Services. The portcullis traditionally
a symbol of Parliament alludes to the Services function of upholding
parliamentary democracy; and the use of blue its overseas responsibilities.
The cinquefoils are green, the colour associated with Intelligence at least
since the First World War, while their five petals refer to MI5. The motto
is derived from the Directive issued to the Service in 1952 by the then Home
Secretary Sir David Maxwell Fyfe.
Thames House, the Security Services headquarters in London.
© Crown copyright 1998
Applications for reproduction should be made to HMSO Copyright Unit,
The Stationery Office, London
First published 1993
Second edition 1996
[Jack Straw photo omitted]
I welcome this, the third edition of the Security Service booklet. It contains much new material about the Service and its work. It will always be necessary to exclude details about operations, sources and methods. And there remains a need to protect the identities of the members of the Service and its agents, so that they may continue their work effectively and safely. Nevertheless, both I and the Director General are keen to publish as much information about the Service as possible. The booklet demonstrates that commitment.
I hope that the booklet will help dispel the myth that the Security Service is unaccountable and has no effective oversight. In fact, the Service is subject to a substantial regime of Ministerial, Parliamentary, judicial and financial oversight which ensures that its work is given effective external scrutiny without affecting its ability to perform its functions. It operates on a sound statutory basis which prescribes its functions, defines its accountability and establishes a complaints procedure for individuals. Those arrangements are described in this booklet. The Government will keep them under review and in doing so has available the detailed and careful work and advice of the statutory Intelligence and Security Committee composed of Members of the Commons and the Lords.
The Security Service plays a vital part in countering the threats of terrorism and espionage, which endanger our society, and the spread of weapons of mass destruction, which presents a global threat. More recently the Services skills have been harnessed in support of the law enforcement agencies in tackling serious crime.
During my time as Home Secretary I have taken a close interest in the work of the Security Service. I have met many of its staff and talked to them about their work. I have been struck by their keen awareness of their responsibilities, and strong adherence to the ethics of Public Service. The staff of the Service are very careful, not least to ensure that the intrusive techniques which they necessarily have to use are only brought into operation after all procedures internal as well as statutory are complied with. Their sense of team work, and their commitment, would do credit to the best run public or private organisations. Our Security Service is held in the highest regard among its counterparts in the international community. I am glad to have this opportunity to express my support for the Security Service and my appreciation for the dedication with which it carries out its important and difficult work.
I am glad to introduce this latest version of the Security Service booklet.
The Security Services tasks are both to investigate and to counter covertly organised threats to the UK such as terrorism and espionage. The Services effectiveness lies in its ability to obtain and exploit secret information, which those under investigation may go to some lengths to keep hidden. Both I and the Services staff are well aware that our investigations are necessarily invasive of individuals privacy. We do not take our responsibility for that work lightly, and willingly cooperate with the various accountability arrangements and safeguards that exist in law to govern the way we operate. Although it is not required by statute, I also believe it right, like my predecessor, that we should make as much information as possible available to the public about the Service, its work, and the framework within which it operates, while preserving the essential secrecy of its operations. That is the purpose of this booklet, the first edition of which was published in 1993, followed by a second edition in 1996.
This new edition outlines the Services functions, statutory basis, oversight, accountability and funding arrangements and describes the Services organisation. It also describes the range of current threats that the Service is working against, from terrorism and espionage to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and serious crime. Their context and the way that the threats have changed in recent years, particularly with the end of the Cold War, are also described. It explains how the Service does its work and how it relates to other organisations. Various areas of policy are covered, including the retention and destruction of records, and the Services role in employment vetting. It outlines the Services history and addresses some of the common misconceptions about our work.
I hope that you will find it interesting and informative.
Stephen Lander CB
|Stephen Lander CB was born in 1947. He was educated at Bishops Stortford College and the University of Cambridge, where he obtained a PhD in history. He then worked for three years for the University of London Institute of Historical Research. In 1975 he joined the Security Service and subsequently worked in a variety of investigational, policy, operational and management roles. He was appointed Director General in April 1996. He is married with two children.|
Statement of Purpose and Values
The Security Service is the UKs security intelligence agency. Our purpose is to protect national security and economic well-being, and to support the law enforcement agencies in preventing and detecting serious crime.
We do so by collecting and disseminating intelligence; investigating and assessing threats, and working with others to counter them; advising on protection; and providing effective support for those tasks.
In working together to fulfil our purpose, we are guided by a commitment to:
a sense of proportion about our work; and respect and consideration for each other and for those with whom we work outside the Service.
1. The Security Service: Overview 6
2. Facts and Figures 9
3. The Functions of the Security Service 11
Statutory basis: The Security Service Act 1989
4. The Nature of the Threats 12
Terrorism related to Northern Ireland
5. The Nature of Security Intelligence Work 22
Sources of Intelligence
Operations under Interception and Property Warrants
Information Management and Record-keeping
Retention and Destruction of Files
Intelligence as Evidence and the Law of Disclosure
with Government Departments and the Central Intelligence Machinery
with the other Intelligence Agencies
with the Police and other Law Enforcement Agencies, and the Armed Services
with Foreign Security and Intelligence Services
6. Organisation, Management and Staffing 28
Recruitment of Staff
Staff Development and Training
The Staff Counsellor
Anonymity of Staff
7. Oversight, Accountability and Funding 31
Roles of the Home Secretary and the Director General
Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC)
Security Service Tribunal
Security Service Commissioner
IOCA Tribunal and Commissioner
How to Complain
Permanent Secretaries Committee on the Intelligence Services (PSIS)
National Audit Office
8. A Brief History of the Security Service 35
9. Myths and Misunderstandings 38
Annex 1 The Security Service Act 1989 41
Annex 2 Excerpts from The Intelligence Services Act 1994 49
What is the Security Service?
The Security Service (commonly known as MI5) is responsible for security intelligence work against covertly organised threats to the nation, such as terrorism, espionage and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It also assists law enforcement agencies in countering serious crime. The Service operates within a statutory framework under the authority of the Home Secretary. It does not investigate individuals or organisations unless they fall within its statutory remit. It has no executive powers, such as the authority to arrest people.
Section 2 Facts and Figures p9
Section 3 The Functions of the Security Service p11
Section 8 A Brief History of the Security Service p35
Section 9 Myths and Misunderstandings p38
What is security intelligence work?
Security intelligence work involves the investigation of organisations or individuals who pose security threats (such as terrorists), and the provision of advice and assistance to protect against those threats.
The Services judgments about the focus of its work are subject to external scrutiny, including by Ministers. The Services investigations are intended to obtain pre-emptive information, such as details of plans and capabilities. It aims to do so undetected by the targets of its investigations, sometimes over a long period. Intrusive covert methods, such as the use of telephone interception and concealed microphones, may sometimes be necessary. Of the many investigations that may be under way throughout the Service at any one time, only a small proportion will involve the use of intrusive techniques. Tight controls apply to the use of intrusive techniques and to the management, retention and disclosure of the Services records.
The intelligence obtained is used as the basis for planning actions to counter the threat. These actions are often taken in collaboration with other organisations, notably the police. Intelligence is also used as the basis for advice to Government on the nature of the threat, and for the formulation of practical advice on what protective action might be appropriate, for example, in terms of the physical security of buildings, or the vetting of staff in sensitive positions. The Service sometimes provides evidence in support of criminal prosecutions resulting from its work.
Section 4 The Nature of the Threats p12
Section 5 The Nature of Security Intelligence Work p22
Section 9 Myths and Misunderstandings p38
What are the Services resources and priorities?
The Security Service budget for the financial year 1997/98 was less than £140m. Direct expenditure on the Services core areas of work accounted for around two-thirds of the total budget, apportioned as follows:
|Terrorism related to Northern Ireland||
The remaining major areas of expenditure are: technological development in a constantly changing environment the Service must invest in the development of its investigative capabilities in order to maintain a technological edge over sophisticated targets and to enhance efficiency; assisting other agencies in their work, such as the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC); work to ensure compliance with the Services accountability arrangements, together with internal security, financial management and resource planning.
Section 4 The Nature of the Threats p12
Section 7 Oversight, Accountability and Funding p31
How is the Service organised?
The Service currently employs around 1,900 people (a full-time equivalent strength of 1,860), who are mostly based at its headquarters at Millbank in central London. The Director General has a Deputy who oversees intelligence operations, and there are six Directors. The Service is divided into branches, each headed by a Director. Drawn from all walks of life, the staff are a mixture of specialists (including linguists, technicians and surveillance officers) and generalist intelligence and administrative staff. The Service operates an equal opportunities policy.
Section 6 Organisation, Management and Staffing p28
What are the checks and balances?
In a democracy there is an inherent tension between the existence of a Security Service with intrusive investigative capabilities and the preservation of individuals privacy. As long as covert threats to the nation persist, the Service may need to invade the privacy of a very small minority in order to protect the security of the great majority. But there must also be safeguards. In addition to its own tightly drawn internal controls, the Service is subject to the following external oversight and accountability measures:
The Director General is accountable under the Security Service Act 1989 to the Home Secretary. The Director General is appointed by the Home Secretary in consultation with the Prime Minister and is required to submit a report to them annually. The Director General is statutorily responsible for all aspects of the operations and efficiency of the Service, and for ensuring that it obtains and discloses information only in accordance with its functions under the Act.
The Security Service Act provides for an independent Tribunal, supported by a Commissioner (a senior judge), to investigate complaints about the Service from members of the public. The Commissioner is also responsible for reviewing the issue by the Secretary of State of Property Warrants under the Intelligence Services Act 1994.
The Interception of Communications Act 1985 also provides for a Tribunal, supported by a Commissioner (also a senior judge), to investigate complaints about interception of telephone or postal communications. The Commissioner is also responsible for reviewing the issue of interception warrants by the Secretary of State.
Under the Intelligence Services Act 1994, the Service, together with SIS and GCHQ, is overseen by the Intelligence and Security Committee, a committee of Parliamentarians, on matters of expenditure, administration and policy.
The Services performance, plans and priorities are subject to external scrutiny and validation by a senior Whitehall committee, known as SO(SSPP), reporting to Ministers.
The Services budget is set by Ministers under arrangements similar to those of other government departments.
The Services accounts are audited by the National Audit Office.
Section 7 Oversight, Accountability and Funding p31
How does the Service relate to other organisations?
Although it has self-standing statutory functions, the Security Service works as an integral part of the UKs overall intelligence effort, alongside SIS and GCHQ. The three agencies assist one another in the pursuit of their functions. The Service is in close contact with relevant departments in its work, particularly the Home Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and Northern Ireland Office. There is a close operational relationship between the Service and UK police forces, who are responsible for taking many of the actions arising from the Services work. The Service also cooperates closely with other UK law enforcement bodies, such as HM Customs and Excise, and with the armed services. Overseas, the Service receives assistance from a wide range of foreign security and intelligence services (nearly 100 in all). These productive relationships are key to the Services ability to tackle threats to UK interests internationally.
Section 5 The Nature of Security Intelligence Work Relationships p26
How can I get in touch with the Service?
The MI5 Phoneline for providing information to the Service
Since March 1998 a public telephone number the MI5 Phoneline: 0171 930 9000 has been available for those wishing to provide information to the Service to assist it in its work. Members of the public may for instance become aware of activities which they think may be relevant to the Services functions: others may be personally involved with groups investigated by the Service, or closely associated with them, and may have information to offer via the Phoneline. As an alternative to the Phoneline, information may be sent in writing to the Services Enquiries Desk (details below). Any information provided, and the identities of callers, will be treated with the greatest care.
The MI5 Phoneline should not be used for enquiries about the Service, including employment opportunities, which should be sent instead to the Enquiries Desk. In addition, it should not be used for reporting information about imminent threats to life or property, which should be passed to the police using the 999 system, or via the Anti-Terrorist Hotline 0800 789321 which is for giving the police information about a terrorist incident which has happened or is about to occur.
Enquiries about the Service
Members of the public who wish to write to the Security Service, including those with enquiries about joining the Service, should contact:
The Enquiries Desk
PO Box 3255
London SW1P 1AE
All correspondence will be treated in the strictest confidence.
|Formed in:||1909, as the Secret Service Bureau; it became MI5 in 1916, and then the Security Service in 1931|
|Director General:||Stephen Lander CB (since April 1996)|
|Headquarters:||Thames House, Millbank, London SW1|
|Number of staff:||around 1,900 in total; full-time equivalent of 1,860 of whom:
54% are under 40
In addition, over 100 staff from other UK departments and agencies are currently working in the Service
|Total budget:||less than £140 million for 1997/98|
Breakdown of 1997/98 budget:
[10 not used]
The Security Service is the security intelligence agency of the United Kingdom. Its functions are to protect national security, to safeguard the economic well-being of the UK against threats from overseas, and to act in support of the police and other law enforcement agencies in the prevention and detection of serious crime. The Security Services key responsibility is for intelligence work to investigate and counter covertly organised threats. These include terrorism, espionage and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In addition it provides security advice to help reduce vulnerability to threats.
The Service exists under the authority of the Secretary of State (the Home Secretary), who answers to Parliament for the Service.
The Security Service Act 19891 sets out the functions of the Service and describes the nature and range of threats that the Service is responsible for countering:
The function of the Service shall be the protection of national security and, in particular, its protection against threats from espionage, terrorism and sabotage, from the activities of agents of foreign powers and from actions intended to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means.
It shall also be the function of the Service to safeguard the economic well-being of the United Kingdom against threats posed by the actions or intentions of persons outside the British Islands.
In 1996 The Security Service Act was amended by the addition of a serious crime function which took effect in October of that year:
It shall also be the function of the Service to act in support of the activities of police forces and other law enforcement agencies in the prevention and detection of serious crime.
The protection of national security and economic well-being and the prevention of crime are recognised in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights as providing a legitimate basis, in appropriate cases, for interference by a public authority with an individuals right to respect for his or her private and family life, home and correspondence. Case law under the Convention (the Leander case of 1987) also recognises that a State may set up a security service to gather and disclose information on citizens; but the State must put the security service on a clear legal basis, and must also ensure that there are adequate and effective guarantees against abuse. These requirements are reflected in the legislation for the Service, which sets out a number of statutory mechanisms for the oversight and control of the Service and its work (see Section 7 Oversight, Accountability and Funding).
One of the responsibilities that the Security Service Act places on the Director General is to ensure that the Service does not take any action to further the interests of any political party. This encapsulates the important principle that in a democracy a domestic security service must be apolitical: its role is to protect democracy, not to influence its course. This means that the Service must not act in a way that might be seen as favouring one political party. It also means that the Government of the day may not press the Service into any action for party political reasons.
1 See Annex 1 (page 41) for the full text of The Security Service Act 1989.
At any one time there is a range of threats of differing types, which the Service must address with finite resources. A key task for the Service therefore is to ensure that resources are allocated according to the nature and comparative gravity of those threats. Annually, the Services judgments on these matters are validated externally, including by Ministers. The chart below gives an idea of how the relative proportions of the Services effort against the main threats have varied since 1990.
Security threats to the UK have changed greatly in recent years, most notably with the end of the Cold War, which in turn ended the Services long-standing focus on the very substantial threat posed by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. In parallel, the threat to British parliamentary democracy from subversion diminished over a number of years and is now negligible. However, the fall of the Soviet bloc generated instability throughout the former Soviet Union and beyond; that instability and the loss of centralised control added to other threats, including the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction, and the spread of organised crime. Espionage against the UK has continued, although the overall level of threat has reduced. Terrorism has persisted throughout.
The threats are described overleaf.
Since the late 1960s, the Security Service has been involved in combating terrorist threats to British interests, both within the UK and overseas. The proportion of the Services resources devoted to countering both Northern Ireland-related and international terrorism has increased substantially over the years. In recent years terrorist attacks of all kinds worldwide have averaged almost 60 a month, so terrorism is likely to remain a focus of activity by the Service.
Countering terrorism is a complex task, not least because of the difficulty of obtaining accurate information about the intentions and activities of secretive and sometimes highly organised groups, many of which are based in inaccessible areas overseas, sometimes under the protection of regimes whose interests they also serve. The collective effort both nationally and internationally as well as the techniques involved, have had to keep pace with the increasing sophistication of terrorists and their operating methods.
In an open and democratic society, the initial advantage is likely to lie with the terrorists. In particular, there are limits to what can be done to prevent attacks which are planned and launched from abroad. The Services principal objective is therefore, over time, to erode the capacity of terrorist groups to initiate and sustain campaigns against British interests and those of Britains allies. There have been significant successes many of them invisible to the public in preventing acts of terrorism both in the UK and abroad, in helping law enforcement agencies to arrest terrorists and in otherwise disrupting their activities.
Terrorism related to Northern Ireland
Between 1969, when the most recent phase of the Troubles began in Northern Ireland, and April 1998, more than 3,000 people lost their lives, and more than 30,000 were injured as a result of terrorist violence. Substantial economic damage has also been caused. In addition to the human casualties, the cost of city-centre bombings, such as those in the City of London in April 1992 and April 1993, in Londons docklands in February 1996 and in Manchester in June 1996, was substantial.
The main terrorist organisations on the republican side the Provisional IRA (PIRA), Republican Sinn Feins military wing, which calls itself the Continuity IRA, and the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) have sought, by violent means, to create a unified republic in the island of Ireland. Although they have been most active in Northern Ireland, republican terrorist groups, especially PIRA, have carried their attacks to the British mainland and to the continent of Europe. Foreign nationals as well as British subjects have been killed and injured as a result. British politicians have been killed and on two occasions PIRA has attempted to kill members of the Cabinet: the bombing of the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton in 1984 and the mortar attack on Downing Street in 1991.
Thirty-seven improvised explosive devices under construction by a PIRA team in London arrested in July 1996 following a joint investigation with the Metropolitan Police.
Northern Irish loyalist paramilitary organisations, notably the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), have all been involved in a violent campaign in response to what they claim to regard as the threat posed
to the protestant community in Northern Ireland by republican terrorism. Much of their activity has been essentially sectarian in character, often resulting in the random murder of Catholics who may have no connections of any kind with republican terrorism. Before the ceasefire declarations in August 1994, loyalist groups were murdering more people than PIRA.
Both loyalist and republican groups, especially PIRA, have for some years sought support from outside the island of Ireland to sustain their campaigns of violence. Such support has included the provision of weapons and finance. PIRAs principal supplier during the 1980s was Libya, but the organisation has also acquired weaponry and related equipment via sympathisers in North America; through thefts; and from the arms black market in Europe. Other groups have been less ambitious, relying mainly on small scale purchases from dealers and criminal contacts. Funds have frequently been obtained through criminal activities in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but they have also been obtained further afield for example by loyalist groups in Britain and by republican groups from sympathisers overseas.
In Northern Ireland the Security Service works in support of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in respect of Irish-related terrorism. On the mainland of Great Britain, the Security Service was given lead responsibility for intelligence work against Irish republican terrorism in 1992. This role was in addition to its existing work against loyalist terrorist activity on the mainland and against all overseas manifestations of Irish-related terrorism (such as weapons procurement and PIRA attacks in Europe). Between 1992 and April 1998, the Services work with the police against Irish republican terrorism resulted in 18 convictions for serious terrorist-related offences. Many intended attacks, including large city-centre bombings, were prevented. In addition, various attempts by loyalist terrorists to obtain weaponry from the mainland have been disrupted in joint operations with the police.
A home-made sub-machine gun recovered in 1995 following a joint police-Security Service investigation into attempts by the UVF in Scotland to procure weapons on the mainland.
The Services work on the threat from terrorism relating to Northern Ireland is set against the backdrop of political developments, including, significantly, the agreement reached in April 1998 which set out the basis for a political settlement, subject to referendums North and South of the border. As with all of its work, the Service monitors closely any changes in the nature and level of the threat, including that posed by groups opposed to the peace process (such as the recently created 32 County Sovereignty Committee), and makes adjustments to the effort deployed accordingly.
For many years the UK has also been exposed to the threat of terrorism originating overseas. British interests, and the interests of its friends and allies, have been threatened and attacked at home and abroad. Nationalist or separatist struggles in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent and the Far East have given rise to such terrorism, while minorities, religious extremists and others have used violent methods to advance their causes. As an illustration, the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) has been responsible for widespread massacres in Algeria itself, as well as a series of bombs in France in 1995; the Palestinian group
HAMAS mounted a series of suicide bomb attacks in Israel; and Egyptian terrorists carried out three major attacks on tourist buses between 1995 and 1997, as well as an attack on tourists in Luxor in November 1997 in which 58 people (including six Britons) were murdered. These and other similar groups have supporters in the UK.
Britains involvement in multi-national peacekeeping and similar international initiatives such as in the Gulf and in former Yugoslavia has also resulted in a terrorist threat to British interests. For example, buildings used by British and allied forces were the targets of large vehicle-bomb attacks in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996.
British citizens and businesses are vulnerable to terrorism, both as targets in their own right and as bystanders to others quarrels. British soldiers, officials, business people and tourists have all been the victims of terrorism. As well as widely-reported events such as the July 1994 bomb attacks on Israeli and Jewish targets in London, recent years have seen Britons involved in terrorist-related kidnappings in Kashmir, Indonesia, Colombia, Chechnya, Yemen and Cambodia, and caught up in the terrorist seizure of the Japanese Ambassadors residence in Lima in December 1996. In addition, some terrorist groups and their supporters have sought to use Britain as a place to raise funds, procure equipment and recruit new members activities which are in themselves usually non-violent, but which can often contribute significantly to terrorism elsewhere.
Some states have used and some continue to use terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy, either by means of their intelligence services or through sponsorship of surrogate terrorist groups. For example, the investigation of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988 resulted in warrants being issued for the arrest of two Libyan officials, believed to have been involved in the attack. The targets of state terrorism have also included their own dissidents and émigrés. State sponsorship has included the provision of weapons, training, finance and refuge to terrorists.
State sponsorship of terrorism a Libyan shipment of arms and explosives to PIRA on the Eksund, intercepted in 1987 by the French authorities. The contents of earlier Libyan shipments have continued to feature in republican terrorist operations.
Like other industrialised states, the UK has been affected by developments in technology, and particularly in information technology and military weaponry, which give terrorists access to greater sophistication and know-how than a generation ago. The Security Service needs to keep abreast of these developments in order to continue to counter the threat posed. In addition, the Service investigates any indications that terrorists or other extremists might be developing or trying to obtain chemical, biological, nuclear or radiological materials as terrorist weapons.
As in the field of Northern Ireland-related terrorism, the Security Service works closely with UK law enforcement agencies and with overseas security and intelligence services to disrupt terrorist activity not only specific attacks, where pre-emptive intelligence permits, but also the procurement of weapons and funds. Recent years have seen both kinds of disruption
successfully employed against UK-based terrorists or their supporters. In responding to terrorist attacks against British interests overseas, the Security Service works closely with the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), and with both the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the British mission in the country concerned. The Service also advises the FCO and other relevant government departments on the changing terrorist threats to British interests abroad.
During the Cold War the Security Service devoted much of its effort to countering the skilful and well-resourced intelligence services of the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies. The collapse of Soviet communism in 1991 and the disintegration of the Soviet Union brought fundamental changes to this area of the Services work. Most Central and East European Intelligence Services, formerly little more than Soviet surrogates, were reformed to serve new, democratically elected governments. The Security Service, along with other western security and intelligence agencies, took the opportunity to assist many of them in their efforts to reorganise and reorientate their work and functions. This assistance included advice on how to integrate their intelligence machinery within the framework of a democratic system of government. These new relationships have developed to allow the exchange of information on subjects of shared concern, such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Russians expelled for spying
The Norwegian Prime Minister has postponed a visit to Moscow following revelations of Russian espionage activity.
|March 1998 The intelligence targets of Russians expelled from Norway included European Union and NATO matters.|
In line with the now reduced threat, the Service currently devotes only 12% of its budget to all aspects of counter-espionage. This is significantly less than in the period prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall, when around a half of the Services resources were focused directly on the substantial espionage threat posed by the Soviet Union and its allies alone.
But espionage against the UK continues. A range of countries seek to advance their political, economic and military objectives using covert methods against the UK, and the spectrum of interests on which they are seeking to gather information is wider than in the past. Since the end of the Cold War, Russia and the UK have developed a new and increasingly cooperative relationship. Despite this, however, Russia has retained its substantial and active overseas intelligence collection effort. After a period of retrenchment in the early 1990s, both the civilian and military Russian intelligence services renewed their efforts to send intelligence officers to London. A number of cases illustrate the continuing Russian espionage threat in the 1990s: in the UK, Michael John Smith, who worked for electronics companies engaged in sensitive government work; in the US, Aldrich Ames (CIA), Harold James Nicholson (CIA) and Earl Edwin Pitts
(FBI); and Francis Temperville, a former employee in the Directorate of Military Affairs at the Atomic and Energy Commission in France. All of these were convicted of spying for Russia.
The Security Services counter-espionage work is focused on:
A few of the spies who have been identified in the UK in the past were controlled directly from abroad, but the great majority have been run by foreign intelligence officers based in this country. Historically, the Government has insisted that nationals of certain countries obtain visas before being allowed to enter the UK. This allows the Service to recommend, where necessary, that a visa be refused on national security grounds. Over the years, this precaution has severely hampered foreign intelligence services in their efforts to place intelligence officers in the UK to recruit and run agents.
As well as those who work under cover of postings in the diplomatic community, foreign intelligence officers have also tried to gain access to sensitive information in the UK by masquerading as trade officials, businessmen or members of scientific delegations. The greater flexibility of modern travel and the growing emphasis on the acquisition of sensitive commercial, economic and technical information, mean that foreign intelligence services may increasingly use short-term visits of this sort as cover for their intelligence operations.
On their home ground, or in other countries where they encounter little opposition from the local security agencies, foreign intelligence services are able to be far more aggressive in their espionage efforts against British interests. Consequently, for many years the Service has worked with other government departments, especially the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence, to protect government personnel and premises overseas from espionage attack.
Since 1992 the Service has played a part in countering the threat posed by the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), namely nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and their strategic means of delivery (usually ballistic missiles). The collapse of the former Soviet Union has led to increased dangers in this area. The sale of WMD components and missiles is an attractive source of revenue for economically hard-pressed countries. There are ready buyers, particularly in the Middle East, for materials either to rebuild confiscated stocks or to provide a deterrent against an aggressive neighbour. More than 20 countries are currently seeking to evade international controls to develop WMD capability. Some are hostile to the UK and its allies; some have unstable regimes. Iraqs use of chemical weapons in the past has been well publicised.
There is therefore a substantial threat from proliferation which goes far wider than the UK. The response of the international community in seeking to prevent proliferation is expressed in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which the UK, as a signatory, has a duty to act against proliferators. The direct threat to the UK is twofold: first, that our armed forces will be exposed to the threat of WMD when deployed overseas; and secondly, that the UK will itself come within reach as longer-range missiles are acquired by potentially hostile or unstable countries.
Much of the material, technology and expertise required for WMD programmes can be found in the UK. Although the UK has stringent export
controls in place, the countries that are trying to procure equipment and know-how use increasingly sophisticated, covert and devious methods to circumvent these controls. These include the use of front companies and middlemen, and of students sent to the UK for postgraduate study. There are also increasing indications of the use of non-proliferating countries as apparent destinations for WMD-related materials, which are then shipped on to their true customers.
Iraq, early 1990s artillery shells filled with mustard gas agent.
The Security Service, acting in cooperation with other government departments and agencies, aims to counter proliferation activity in the UK by:
On 14 October 1996 new legislation extended the Services statutory remit to include supporting the law enforcement agencies in work on serious crime. This change in the Services remit reflected the Governments intention that Security Service expertise should also be deployed in the fight against serious crime. The Services work in this area has been financed from within existing Service resources.
The 1996 legislation makes it clear that the primary responsibility for work against serious crime remains with law enforcement agencies. Close working relationships with those agencies, including the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) are therefore central to the way that the Service carries out its work in this area. The legislation requires there to be arrangements governing how the Service fulfils its role in serious crime work. Under these arrangements, the Service is tasked to take on investigations on a case-by-case basis, where it is agreed that its particular skills, knowledge or capabilities are likely to help the investigation. The Service will then bring to bear its investigative capabilities as required, with a view to assisting the law enforcement agency to collect the necessary intelligence.
Subversion in the UK is essentially an historical phenomenon. The Security Service Act does not use the term subversion, but provides a definition of it by reference to actions which are intended to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political,
industrial or violent means. The concept of subversion was therefore focused on hostility to the democratic process. It embraced both extreme left wing (Communist, Trotskyist) and extreme right wing (Fascist) subversive groups, and included those whose allegiance lay with countries hostile to the UK. Historically, Britain faced a very real threat from subversive organisations which sought to undermine parliamentary democracy and had the capability to do so most notably during the Cold War. Indeed some of these organisations made no secret of their intentions. Their activities were of concern to successive governments and were an important subject of attention by the Security Service. A particular focus of this work was to deny members of such groups access to sensitive government information. This was achieved through the vetting process announced in 1948 by the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee.
Subversive groups (including, in the past, Communist organisations) have sought to infiltrate and manipulate bona fide organisations, such as trade unions or pressure groups, as a way of exercising influence out of proportion to any support they could achieve through the ballot box. The Service investigated the activities of the subversive groups, but not the organisations they sought to penetrate. The Service never investigated people merely because they were members of trade unions or because they campaigned on particular issues such as nuclear disarmament.
Since the late 1980s, and particularly following the end of the Cold War, the threat from subversive organisations to British parliamentary democracy has declined and is now insignificant. With the collapse of Soviet communism, and taking into account the intentions and declining capabilities of subversive groups, the Service scaled down its work in this area over a number of years. The Security Service currently has no investigations in this area. During the financial year 1997/98 only 0.3% of the Services resources were allocated to the remnants of this work, predominantly to pay the pensions of retired agents.2
As well as countering the threats described above, the Service also works to reduce the vulnerability to those threats through its contribution to the protection of government assets and the UKs critical infrastructure. This aspect of the Services work is integral to its function of protecting national security.
Protective security is concerned with protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information and other important assets. It encompasses such problems as how to protect against acts of terrorism; against unauthorised access to buildings or computer systems; and against eavesdropping or interception of sensitive communications. The work has many aspects, including advising on locks and cabinets, passes and passwords, building structures, guards, fences, walls and intruder detection systems. It includes vetting arrangements for those who are authorised to have access to the protected assets, making them aware of threats and encouraging them to act securely. It also includes contingency planning, for when things go wrong. The Security Service provides specialist advice to Government on all of these matters. Its role is threefold: assessing the threats, advising on policy and practice and assisting with the security planning of major projects or important installations.
Protective measures must be appropriate to the threat. The Services intelligence branches identify and, as far as possible, take action to counter specific threats to national security. They also study the ways in which hostile organisations operate: for example, the modus operandi of terrorist organisations and the kind of weapons they employ; and the methods used by foreign intelligence services, together with
2 The role of agents in the work of the Service is described in Section 5 The Nature of Security Intelligence Work (page 22).
the types of intelligence they are trying to acquire. Such information provides the basis for assessments of the level and type of threat to individual departments and the assets they hold. Taking into account additionally the number of security incidents, such as computer viruses and hacking, theft or accident, the Service is able to provide assessments of the nature and extent of different kinds of threat which need to be protected against.
The development and coordination of the Governments central policy framework on protective security is the responsibility of the Cabinet Office. The Service provides specialist advice on the practical development of that policy. Where security of IT systems is concerned, the Service operates jointly with the Communications-Electronics Security Group in GCHQ. Within the Governments central framework each department is responsible for the security of the assets it holds and is required to identify the risks to those assets, drawing on the threat assessments provided by the Service. They then implement security measures to reduce vulnerability to these risks in the most cost-effective way. The Service is able to provide guidance on how to do this, but responsibility for identifying risks and implementing security measures rests with the department itself.
The Service also advises certain organisations outside central government. For example, it advises those parts of industry which are involved in sensitive government defence and other contracts. It also advises those elements of commerce and industry whose services and products are of critical national importance: those which, if damaged, would cause unacceptable economic disruption, widespread loss of services or serious hazard to the public. The industries concerned include air, rail and sea transport, oil, gas, water, telecommunications, power generation and distribution, and banking.
One of the electricity installations targeted by the PIRA team arrested in July 1996 following a joint investigation with the Metropolitan Police. If their operations had been successful, extensive damage would have been caused to the electricity supply in the South East of England.
The purpose of personnel security measures, of which vetting forms a part, is to provide an acceptable level of assurance that people with authorised access to sensitive government information or valuable assets will not abuse that access for example, by passing secret information to a foreign government, or using it for personal financial advantage. As with protective security as a whole, overall policy in this area is set by Government, while individual departments have responsibility for their own security within the framework of that policy. This means that departments conduct their own background enquiries (such as police record checks, references, interviews etc) on applicants to sensitive posts and make their own decisions on whether or not to employ particular individuals. The Security Service does the same for its own staff. The vetting process is overt: security clearance cannot be sought for an individual without his or her consent.
Since before the Second World War, the Security Service has assisted government departments and organisations by providing a service of
record-checks on candidates for sensitive posts. In 1948 the Attlee Government formally introduced security vetting aimed at excluding both communists and fascists from positions where they might damage the security of the state. In support of this policy, during the Cold War the Service sought to identify members of subversive organisations. The ending of the Cold War has substantially altered the view that is taken of individuals with a record of involvement in various subversive organisations, and in recent years the main emphasis has been on protecting government information and important installations from individuals with terrorist connections. The policy of vetting for sensitive positions in government was reaffirmed in 1994 by the Prime Minister, John Major.
The Security Service Act 1989 stipulates that the Service may disclose information for use in deciding whether someone should be employed only if it does so in accordance with arrangements approved by the Home Secretary. Under those arrangements, if the Service finds that it has a relevant record on a candidate for a sensitive post, it will make a brief summary assessment of the suitability of the individual purely on security grounds. In the vast majority of cases, the Service has no record of the individual concerned. The existence of a record does not necessarily imply that an adverse assessment will be submitted. In 1997 the Service gave assessments in fewer than 0.1% of the vetting cases submitted by departments for checks, the majority relating to some degree of connection with terrorism or espionage.
The Security Services role in the vetting of an individual by a government department is based solely on its records the Service does not investigate or interview candidates for sensitive posts, nor does it look into aspects of their character or behaviour. Even where the Service does disclose information in response to a vetting check, its assessment may contain the judgment that the information need not on its own prevent the candidate from having sensitive access. In those cases the department considers whether it has other grounds for doubting reliability before reaching a decision.
In respect of the Services contribution to vetting by departments, the oversight arrangements that form part of the Security Service Act 1989 provide recourse to the Security Service Tribunal (see Section 7 Oversight, Accountability and Funding). The Tribunals responsibilities include the investigation of complaints from individuals who believe that the Service has improperly disclosed information about them in a vetting context:
If and so far as the complainant alleges that the Service has disclosed information for use in determining whether he should be employed, or continue to be employed, by any person or in any office or capacity specified by him, the Tribunal shall investigate whether the Service has disclosed information for that purpose and, if the Tribunal finds that it has done so, they shall determine whether the Service had reasonable grounds for believing the information to be true.
The Security Service is not the only organisation with responsibilities bearing on national security, or involved in collecting intelligence about security threats. Others play important roles within their own specific functions, notably the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), Departments of State and the law enforcement agencies. The particular role of the Security Service is to:
investigate to obtain and then to collate, analyse and assess secret intelligence about threats;
counter to act, and enable others to act, to counter specific threats;
advise to keep Government, and others as appropriate, informed of the threats, and to advise on the response, including protective security measures;
assist to provide relevant assistance to other agencies, organisations and departments.
In its approach to its work the Service aims to achieve a strategic advantage over the targets of its investigations. Over time, the Service seeks to build up a detailed body of knowledge about target organisations, their key personalities, infrastructure, plans and capabilities. This enables the Service to assess the level and nature of the threat they pose which, in turn, informs the further deployment of intelligence resources to counter their activities. This is a cyclical process involving adjustments being made continually on the basis of new intelligence or events.
The assessment of threats is thus a central and distinctive component of the Services work and provides the basis of decisions about resource allocation, counter-action and protective measures. The Services judgments about the magnitude of the various threats to national security, and hence the distribution of the Services efforts, are subject to scrutiny and validation by a senior inter-departmental committee (SO(SSPP)) and then by Ministers (see Section 7 Oversight, Accountability and Funding). Similarly the Services judgments on its priorities are adjusted in the light of the national requirements for intelligence drawn up by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) (see Relationships in Section 5) which are also approved by Ministers.
In carrying out its statutory functions the Service draws on the following principal sources of secret intelligence:
At any one time the Service may be conducting many investigations, but only a few will draw on the full range of techniques. In planning deployments, the Service aims to operate with the minimum of intrusion and expense, and in proportion to the threat. In complex investigations, several different techniques will be used in combination, and much of the skill lies in deciding the most effective blend.
Organisations which pose a threat to national security often go to considerable lengths to prevent and detect efforts to investigate their activities. The Security Service aims to gather
3 In Security Service terminology an agent is a human source working within or close to a target organisation, who provides intelligence in secret to the Service. Agents are not members of the Service.
intelligence while ensuring that the targets under investigation remain unaware of the Services interest in them. Clearly there is a need to prevent the compromise of a potentially successful investigation while it is running, but the Service also needs to look to the future. Keeping secret the details of intelligence methods is important if the Service is to retain them for use in future intelligence operations. Secrecy is also vital to ensure the safety of individuals, including agents.
The Security Service Act makes the Director General responsible for ensuring that there are effective arrangements within the Service to control the acquisition and disclosure of information. A major aspect of this control is a structure of internal mechanisms designed to ensure that the Service responds only to genuine threats, and does so with proper regard for the law, proportionately to the threat, and with appropriately senior authorisation for intrusive measures. These essential safeguards are also designed to allow fast-moving investigations to proceed swiftly, with proper authorisation, but without being hampered by unnecessary bureaucracy.
Operations under Interception and Property Warrants
Operations to intercept mail and communications on the public telecommunications network must be specifically authorised by a warrant signed by the Secretary of State under the Interception of Communications Act 1985 (IOCA). Interception warrants may only be issued if the Secretary of State considers that the warrant is necessary in the interests of national security, or for the purpose of safeguarding the economic well-being of the UK against threats from overseas, or in order to prevent or detect serious crime.
The Intelligence Services Act 19944 provides for the issue of property warrants by the Secretary of State. The effect of a property warrant is to authorise otherwise unlawful entry into, or interference with, someones property for example, for the purpose of eavesdropping or conducting a clandestine search. Property warrants may only be issued if the Secretary of State is satisfied that the proposed action is necessary on the grounds that it is likely to be of substantial value in assisting the Service to fulfil its functions, and that what the action seeks to achieve cannot reasonably be achieved in another way. It is usually the Home Secretary who issues interception and property warrants for the Security Service.
All intended operations of this sort are subject to extensive scrutiny both within the Service and outside, for example at the Home Office. Final authorisation is a matter for the Secretary of State and is only given on the basis of a formal submission which contains a detailed account of why the warrant is required. The submission also sets out the nature of the threat, the intelligence background, and confirms that the scope of the operation falls within the statutory functions of the Service. Applications for warrants must be approved by senior managers within the Service, and are then scrutinised by senior officials before submission to the Secretary of State. Arrangements are in place for the most urgent cases to be processed quickly.
Agents represent one of the most important sources of secret intelligence. Agent operations are run by specially trained officers and can last for long periods, sometimes for many years. The Service attaches particular importance to ensuring that its agents many of whom are inevitably at risk through their work for the Service are managed securely. Management arrangements for agent operations are also designed to make sure that the case is kept under proper control, drawing on advice from the Services legal advisers as necessary. For
4 See Annex 2 (page 49) for relevant excerpts from The Intelligence Services Act 1994.
instance, a key objective is to avoid placing the agent in the role of agent provocateur, by enticing those on whom he or she is reporting to commit criminal acts which they would not otherwise have committed.
The Service pays close attention to the personal welfare of its agents, both during their agent career and after their active work for the Service has ended.
Surveillance operations involve the covert observation of targets under investigation in order to obtain intelligence about their movements and the identities of those with whom they are in contact. Surveillance is carried out by highly skilled, specialist officers who may work in vehicles, on foot or from fixed observation posts. The Services surveillance section is practised at operating in concert with others, particularly the police.
Intelligence operations rely on high quality record-keeping and information management systems. Some intelligence leads are too fragmentary or imprecise to be of immediate value. Nevertheless, small details for example, of the membership and modus operandi of target organisations are important because they provide the raw material on which the assessment of individual threats is based, against which new intelligence is judged, and from which further investigations can be developed. The Services record-keeping is central to supporting the capacity for sustained, integrated research and analysis which underpins all of the Services work.
The Services records include both paper files and computer records. Paper files remain for the present the main working documents of the Service, but computer-based documents are becoming increasingly important. The Service also makes extensive use of computer systems for the indexing and retrieval of its records. No government department or other agency has access to the Services databases, although the relevant authorities will be given access as necessary to specific information for the purpose of court cases. Within the Service there are additional controls which limit access to particularly sensitive data relating to the Services operations and investigations.
Detailed criteria govern the opening of files on individuals and organisations. These criteria specify the circumstances in which opening a file and initiating enquiries are justified within the terms of the Services statutory functions. They are kept under continual review and are formally checked for currency, relevance and propriety on an annual basis. In his report to Parliament for 1991, the Commissioner under the Security Service Act described in detail the Services controls on its files.5
The Service currently holds in total about 440,000 files which have been opened at some time since its establishment in 1909. Of these, approximately 35,000 files relate to Service administration, policy and staff, and 40,000 concern subjects and organisations studied by the Service. About 75,000 files relate to people or groups of people who have never been investigated by the Service such as those who have received protective security advice. This leaves about 290,000 files which relate to individuals who, at some time during the last 90 years, may have been the subject of Security Service enquiry or investigation. Of this 290,000 some 40,000 have been reduced to microfilm and placed in a restricted category to which Security Service staff have access only for specific research purposes. A further 230,000 files are closed so that staff may use them where necessary in the course of their current work, but may not make enquiries about the subjects of the files.
5 Security Service Act 1989 Chapter 5 Report of the Commissioner for 1991, published by The Stationery Office (Cm 1946).
Therefore the great majority of the Services file holdings do not relate to individuals who may be under current investigation by the Service. The number of files which fall within that category is around 20,000. Of that number, about one third relate to foreign nationals typically members or associates of foreign intelligence services or terrorist groups, leaving approximately 13,000 active files on UK citizens.
Retention and Destruction of Files
The Service must take account of a number of potentially conflicting factors when considering the long-term retention of files which are no longer of current interest. There are some specific legal requirements. First, the Service has a responsibility to provide the Security Service Tribunal with any details it requires of enquiries made about a complainant, or of any disclosure made for vetting purposes, since the Security Service Act came into force in December 1989; relevant records must therefore be retrievable. The Service must also comply with the requirements of the Public Records Act 1958 in identifying records of historical interest for permanent retention and eventual transfer to the Public Record Office. In practice, this means retaining files for future release that would otherwise have been destroyed as obsolete. The Service receives advice from the Public Record Office in judging which files to retain on historical grounds.
In November 1997 the Service transferred to the Public Record Office the first tranche of its own historical archives: its surviving records from the First World War. In considering the release of historical papers, the Service must take account of the need to protect former staff and agents. It remains a fundamental principle that the identities of agents must be protected. Privacy issues are also important. The Service must consider carefully whether it is proper to release into the public domain intelligence records which may reflect adversely on an individual who was suspected of criminality (for example, as a possible spy) but was never tried in court.
Aside from these specific requirements, the general principle underlying the Services file retention policy is that it seeks to retain only those records which will assist it in fulfilling its functions under the Security Service Act. The Service therefore keeps under review whether it might need its older records to fulfil its functions at a later time, such as for future investigations prompted by new intelligence. There is a balance to be struck between the possible intelligence value of retaining files and the need to ensure that files are not kept unnecessarily.
In the period between the Services formation in 1909 and the early 1970s, large numbers of files (well over 175,000) were destroyed as they became obsolete or following a major contraction in the Service, most notably after the two World Wars. This sometimes caused problems, for example in the late 1960s when the Service faced difficulties investigating some spy cases because relevant records had been destroyed. It therefore became the Services policy to retain records indefinitely. However, in the early 1990s, following the collapse of Soviet communism and the associated decline in the threat from subversion, the review and destruction process was reinstated. Since then more than 110,000 files have been destroyed or earmarked for destruction. The files under review for possible destruction have included those opened for counter-subversion reasons, and retained because Soviet and Warsaw Pact intelligence services had in the past sought to recruit spies from within certain subversive groups.
Since 1992 the Services work has led to its becoming increasingly engaged in the criminal justice process. Intelligence material has been either adduced in evidence, or disclosed to the defence as unused material. This has happened principally in the context of the Services counter-terrorist work. Security Service officers
gave evidence at nine trials between 1992 and April 1998, all of which led to convictions.
The duty of prosecutors to make material available to the defence in criminal cases is set out in the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996. The Act recognises that the duty of disclosure must accommodate the need to protect sensitive information, the disclosure of which could damage important aspects of the public interest, such as national security. However, it is the courts not the Service or the Government that ultimately decide what must be disclosed in particular cases.
When planning and carrying out intelligence investigations that may lead to a prosecution, the Service has constantly in mind the requirements of both the law of evidence and the duty of disclosure. Security Service officers, working closely with members of law enforcement agencies, seek to ensure that operations are properly coordinated with a view to the possible use of the intelligence as evidence in court. For these reasons, as well as to ensure proper internal controls, the Service keeps detailed records of its operations, including all meetings with agents, eavesdropping, search and surveillance operations.
Where an investigation leads to a prosecution, the defence must be provided with material as required by the 1996 Act. Prosecuting counsel considers the Services records and advises which of them are disclosable. If disclosure would cause real damage to the public interest by, for example, compromising the identity of an agent or a sensitive investigative technique, the prosecutor may apply to the judge for authority to withhold the material. Such applications take the form of a claim for public interest immunity (PII).
Claims for PII in relation to Security Service material are made by a certificate signed by the Home Secretary. In deciding whether a claim is appropriate, the Home Secretary carries out a careful balancing exercise between the competing public interests in the due administration of justice and the protection of national security. This exercise takes account of detailed advice from prosecuting counsel as to the relevance of the material to the issues in the case. If the Home Secretary considers that the balance comes down in favour of non-disclosure, a claim for PII will be made. But the decision on a PII claim is one for the judge alone. If a claim is successful, the judge will keep the decision under review throughout the proceedings.
The Services direct access to a network of national and international links is fundamental to its work. The Service liaises closely with a range of organisations and government departments both in the UK and overseas.
With Government Departments and the Central Intelligence Machinery
The Director General is appointed by the Home Secretary, in consultation with the Prime Minister, and the Service therefore has regular dealings with officials at the Home Office. The role of the Director General and of the Home Secretary in relation to the Service are described in greater detail in Section 7 Oversight, Accountability and Funding. The Service also has close links with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Cabinet Office, the Northern Ireland Office, the Department of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Defence, and advises all government departments and agencies on protective security matters.
The central mechanisms for the coordination and resourcing of the UKs intelligence agencies are based in the Cabinet Office.6 For GCHQ and SIS, the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) agrees the intelligence requirements and tasking to be laid upon them and these are submitted to Ministers for approval. These requirements are then
6 Further details may be found in Central Intelligence Machinery, published for the Cabinet Office by The Stationery Office in 1996.
reviewed annually in a process managed by the Intelligence Coordinator, and performance against them is reviewed at the end of each year by the JIC and by Ministers. The Director General is a member of the JIC. The Security Service contributes intelligence on some of the JICs requirements, such as those relating to terrorism, but its overall priorities are determined not by the JIC but by its statutory remit to counter threats. In recognition of this, the Services plans and priorities are validated and its performance reviewed annually by a separate Cabinet Office inter-departmental committee established for the purpose, called SO(SSPP) (see Section 7 Oversight, Accountability and Funding).
With the other Intelligence Agencies
The Security Service works closely with both SIS and GCHQ, whose statutory basis derives from the Intelligence Services Act 1994. The three agencies have different but related functions. The range of mutual assistance is wide, and is based on a closeness of relationship that promotes cooperation when a particular result can be achieved more effectively or more efficiently with anothers help. For example, Security Service and SIS resources are shared in some support areas to avoid duplication. More formally, the Security Service is one of the many departments that place tasking on SIS and GCHQ through the JIC machinery to collect certain categories of intelligence. In the Services case, this is intelligence relevant to the Services functions to add to its own collection efforts. The Service is a major customer for intelligence produced by SIS and GCHQ in areas such as terrorism.
With the Police and other Law Enforcement Agencies, and the Armed Services
The Service also works closely with the UKs 55 police forces, particularly their Special Branches, and with other law enforcement agencies, such as HM Customs and Excise, and the National Criminal Intelligence Service. The Service receives assistance from the police in many areas of its work, provides information and assessments to them on the current threats, and collaborates closely with them in investigations which may result in criminal proceedings. The Service provides support to the police in two main areas: in the field of serious crime, the Service works exclusively in support of the police and other law enforcement agencies; and in Northern Ireland the Service provides support to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which has the lead role for intelligence work on terrorism related to Northern Ireland. (The Service has the equivalent role for all aspects of terrorism outside Northern Ireland.) The Service also works with the armed services on a range of security matters.
With Foreign Security and Intelligence Services
Although the Service is charged with protecting national security as it relates to UK interests both in the UK and overseas, its primary focus is domestic and most of its staff are based in London. In many areas of its work it in consequence relies heavily on the support of SIS and seeks assistance from foreign security and intelligence services. To this end, the Service has links with nearly 100 services worldwide.
The Security Service operates under the statutory authority of the Secretary of State (the Home Secretary), but it is not part of the Home Office.
The Director General has one Deputy who is responsible for overseeing intelligence operations. There are five branches, each headed by a Director: three branches are engaged in intelligence investigations and in advising on protective measures to counter the various threats; the other two are responsible for intelligence collection, production and information management, and for personnel, security, finance and facilities management. There is also a Legal Advisers department. In addition, the Service fills the post of Director and Coordinator of Intelligence (Northern Ireland), who reports separately both to the Director General and to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
The Director General, Deputy Director General, the Directors and the Legal Adviser meet regularly as the Management Board of the Service to consider policy and strategic issues. In particular, the Management Board decides how the priorities and organisation of the Service should change to reflect shifts in the pattern and intensity of threats. Its decisions are subject to the external validation processes described in Section 7 Oversight, Accountability and Funding.
The Service currently employs around 1,900 people, equivalent to 1,860 full-time staff. 47% of the staff are women, 54% are under the age of 40 and 5% work part-time. In addition, over
100 staff are currently working in the Service on secondment or attachment from other departments and agencies. The size and structure of the Service has altered considerably in recent years and will continue to do so, to reflect changing threats and working methods, resource pressures, and the implementation of new information technology.
The main investigative, assessment and policy work of the Service is carried out by generalist staff, who account for about two-thirds of the total. But their work requires support from a range of specialists in languages, technology, surveillance, IT, communications and protective security.
The Service recruits a wide range of staff, including specialists, graduates and school leavers. Because of the Services exacting requirements for integrity and reliability, all candidates are vetted to the highest level of security clearance, known as Developed Vetting (DV). In 1997 the Service for the first time advertised openly in the national press for new recruits. Candidates applying to the Civil Service Fast Stream can, on passing the qualifying test for the Civil Service Selection Board, nominate the Service as the department they wish to join. Details of how to apply to the Service can be found in Section 1 Overview, page 8.
[Two photos of staff at work omitted.]
The Service places emphasis on training and development for all members of staff. On joining the Service staff receive structured induction training and one-to-one mentoring according to the work they are to undertake. This is supplemented by training in specific skills required for particular posts. Further development opportunities occur as staff move periodically to different posts in the Service.
Most training is carried out internally by the Services own professionally-trained staff, though sometimes external training providers are also used. Some specialist staff are recruited with the required qualifications and expertise, while others, such as surveillance staff, are given intensive in-house training. Graduate entrants to the Services general duties staff receive a six month training package which combines formal courses with substantial periods of work experience. Staff also have the opportunity to study for relevant external qualifications.
The Staff Forum is a body of elected representatives from across the Service. It serves as a channel of communication to senior management of staff views on matters of
general concern, and it provides a means of consultation on key issues such as terms and conditions of service and pay. Staff Forum business is conducted both through formal meetings, chaired by the Director General, and through continuing contacts and discussion between Forum representatives and members of the senior management and the personnel branch.
Since 1987 all members of the Security Service, SIS and GCHQ have had access to an external Staff Counsellor. The Staff Counsellor is available for private consultation by any member of the three services who may have concerns about the nature or propriety of their work. Under these terms of reference he sends a report, at least annually, to the Prime Minister and to the relevant Secretaries of State (the Home Secretary in the case of the Security Service). The current Staff Counsellor is Sir Christopher France.
The Service operates an equal opportunities policy. The selection of new recruits and decisions on staff for promotion are based on merit, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, disability, race or religion.
With the exception of the Director General, who since 1992 has been publicly named on appointment, the Service has a firm policy of keeping the identities and home addresses of its staff out of the public domain. This policy of anonymity remains a necessity because of the personal threat that staff would otherwise face, particularly from terrorist groups, some of which are known to regard the Service as a prime target. It is also vital for the success of intelligence-gathering operations that the Services staff can operate under cover against target organisations or in hostile situations without being identified as Security Service officers. Staff would no longer be widely deployable if their identity or appearance were compromised, with consequential damage to the Services effectiveness. Public identification of someone as a member of the Service, including his or her appearance, could also have serious implications for the security of agents with whom that officer may have worked in the past. The consequences of publicity can therefore extend to others besides the individual member of the Service. Another reason for anonymity is that it greatly reduces the scope for targeting by foreign intelligence services, criminals or others wishing to penetrate or corrupt the Service.
For these reasons, judges have allowed Security Service staff to give evidence in criminal trials anonymously, including the use of screens to protect the appearance of the witnesses. These arrangements correspond to those for undercover or specialist police officers, or members of the special forces, when they give evidence. The decision on these issues, however, rests with the judge in each case. Even where the judge makes an order for the screening and anonymity of Security Service witnesses, their evidence remains subject to cross-examination by the defence in the normal way.
The Security Service Act 1989 sets out a number of statutory mechanisms for the accountability and control of the Service and its work. It:
The Act also contained provisions, subsequently incorporated into the Intelligence Services Act 1994, for the issue of warrants by the Secretary of State authorising interference with property, and for the review by the Commissioner of the Secretary of States exercise of this function.
These statutory mechanisms have been considered and endorsed by the European Commission on Human Rights in a number of applications under the European Convention on Human Rights arising out of complaints to the Security Service Tribunal. The Service is also subject to various other forms of oversight and accountability, notably:
The mechanisms for oversight of the Service have undergone many changes throughout its history, as different Governments have addressed the particular requirements of the day. Originally established under the Prime Ministers authority, and later under the Home Secretary with the Maxwell-Fyfe Directive to the Service of 1952, the Service is now accountable for its work via the range of oversight arrangements described above.
The Director General is appointed by the Home Secretary, in consultation with the Prime Minister. The Director General is personally responsible for:
The Director Generals responsibilities in this last area are met by means of arrangements through which the day-to-day work of the Service is controlled. These internal mechanisms are
designed to ensure that the work of the Service adheres to the principles that:
The relationship between the Home Secretary and the Director General is of great importance. The Home Secretary receives briefing from the Director General on threats to national security and economic well-being and discusses with him or her matters of policy affecting the Service for example, regarding resources or legislation. The Home Secretary is briefed by the Director General on major current investigations and has a close knowledge of the most sensitive aspects of the Services work through the procedure by which the Home Secretary personally authorises warrants allowing the Service to intercept letters or telephone calls, or to interfere with property. The Home Secretary also receives independent advice and information from officials in the Home Office, who maintain close working links with the Service.
The Intelligence Services Act 19947 established the Intelligence and Security Committee. Its remit is to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Security Service, SIS and GCHQ.
The Committee comprises nine Parliamentarians, drawn from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Committee is appointed by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. No member may be a current Minister of the Crown. The Committee makes an annual report to the Prime Minister, who lays it before Parliament, subject to any exclusions on security grounds.
The Director General of the Security Service (as well as the Chief of SIS and the Director of GCHQ) has a statutory duty to provide the ISC with the information it requires. The agency heads may only withhold information from the Committee if it falls within certain categories of sensitive information, as defined in the Intelligence Services Act. This includes details of sources, operations and methods, as well as information provided in confidence by allied foreign services. However, even such sensitive material may be made available to the Committee if the agency concerned considers that it would be safe to do so.
A decision by the head of one of the agencies to withhold sensitive information from the Committee is subject to review by the Secretary of State, who can order that it should be made available if he or she considers it desirable in the public interest.
The Security Service Act 1989 provides for a Tribunal to investigate complaints about the Service from members of the public. The Tribunal consists of three senior members of the legal profession, appointed by Royal Warrant. Both the Tribunal and the Commissioner (see below) are independent of the Government. They visit the Service to examine its records as necessary.
The Act states that anyone may complain to the Tribunal if he is aggrieved by anything which he believes the Service has done in relation to him or to any property of his. The Tribunal must first establish whether the complainant has been the subject of enquiries by the Service. The Tribunal obtains this information directly from the Service, whose staff are under a legal duty to produce whatever information is required.
They may also be interviewed by the Tribunal. If the Tribunal finds that the Service has made enquiries about a complainant, it must establish whether the Service had reasonable grounds for so doing. Similarly, it may be alleged that the Service has disclosed information about the complainant for use in vetting for employment.
7 See Annex 2 (page 49) for relevant excerpts from The Intelligence Services Act 1994.
If this proves to be the case, the Tribunal must determine whether the Service had reasonable grounds for believing the information to be true.
If a complaint is upheld the Tribunal must notify the complainant and report its findings to the Secretary of State and to the Commissioner. The Tribunal also has the power to order that enquiries be ended and records destroyed, and that compensation be paid to the complainant.
Between the introduction of the Security Service Act in 1989 and the end of 1997 the Tribunal investigated 275 complaints. No complaint was upheld. In the great majority of cases, the complainants were unknown to the Service.
The Security Service Act also established the office of the Security Service Commissioner. One of the Commissioners responsibilities is to review the issue by the Secretary of State of property warrants under the Intelligence Services Act. It is also the Commissioners function, if a complainant to the Tribunal alleges that the Service has interfered with his or her property, to investigate whether a property warrant was issued. If one was, he or she must also establish whether the Secretary of State acted properly in issuing it.
The Commissioner a senior judge has an important additional function. If, on investigating a complaint, the Tribunal concludes that it should not be upheld, but nonetheless decides that there should be an investigation into whether the Service has in any other respect acted unreasonably in relation to the complainant, it may refer the matter to the Commissioner. The Commissioner will then investigate and may report the findings to the Secretary of State, who has the power to take any appropriate remedial action.
The Commissioner makes an annual report to the Prime Minister, who lays it before Parliament, subject to any deletions judged necessary on security grounds after consultation with the Commissioner.
A number of Security Service procedures, particularly concerning record-keeping, have been adjusted in response to issues identified by the Tribunal and subsequently investigated by the Commissioner. In his annual report for 1991, the Commissioner commented that:
There can be no doubt that the very existence of the Tribunal as a body empowered to investigate complaints provides the Security Service with a strong additional incentive to ensure that its procedures are designed to eliminate the chance of a complaint being found justified.
Similar arrangements exist under the Interception of Communications Act 1985 (IOCA), to which other agencies such as the police and HM Customs and Excise are also subject. IOCA established a Tribunal, supported by a Commissioner, to deal with complaints from anyone who believes their communications may have been intercepted in breach of the Act. The Tribunal, which consists of five senior members of the legal profession, investigates whether a warrant has been issued and, if so, whether the requirements of the Act have been met. If it is found that the Act has been breached, the Tribunal must notify the applicant and report its findings to the Prime Minister. The Tribunal may also quash the warrant, order the destruction of copies of intercepted communications and direct the Secretary of State to pay compensation. In none of the cases it has investigated has the Tribunal found against the Service.
The Interception Commissioner, also a senior judge, reviews the issue by the Secretary of State of warrants under the Act, and also assists the Interception Tribunal as required. He or she regularly visits the Service to examine the intelligence requirement for interception warrants and to discuss individual cases. The Commissioner reports annually to the Prime Minister and may report at any time if it appears that the requirements of the Act have
not been met. As for the Security Service Act Commissioner, the IOCA Commissioners annual report is laid by the Prime Minister before Parliament, subject to any exclusions judged necessary on security grounds.
How to Complain
Members of the public who believe that the Security Service has acted improperly in relation to them or to their property and who wish to complain should write to:The Security Service Tribunal
PO Box 18,
London SE1 0TZ
Members of the public who believe that their post or telephone calls have been intercepted in breach of the Act and who wish to complain should write to:The Interception of Communications
PO Box 12376,
London SW1P 1XU
Each year the Security Service submits its analysis of the various threats and, thus, its priorities and plans for the future, for scrutiny and validation by an inter-departmental Whitehall committee. This committee, known as SO(SSPP), also reviews the Services performance against the previous years plans. It is a sub-committee of the Official Committee on Security (SO), SSPP standing for Security Service Priorities and Performance. Its terms of reference include the review of the Services performance against plans and objectives, and examination of future Security Service priorities. The committee is chaired by the Home Office and its membership comprises senior officials drawn from a range of departments with particular knowledge of the Services work in countering threats.
The Services budget is paid from the Single Intelligence Vote (SIV), which carries the budget provision for all three security and intelligence agencies, and for which the Cabinet Secretary is the Accounting Officer. In 1997/98 the SIV totalled £701 million, of which Security Service expenditure was less than £140 million. Both the total size of the SIV and the Services share of it are determined annually by Ministers under arrangements similar to those which apply to all other government departments. Those arrangements are designed to enable Ministers to decide on the amount to be spent on security and intelligence, in the context of decisions on the overall level and allocation of government spending. Like other departments, the Security Service is subject to close budgetary scrutiny and challenging efficiency targets.
Permanent Secretaries Committee on the Intelligence Services (PSIS)
In reaching decisions about the size of the SIV and each agencys share of it, Ministers receive advice from PSIS, which scrutinises the three agencies annual expenditure forecasts, plans and intelligence requirements. PSIS is chaired by the Cabinet Secretary and its members are the Permanent Secretaries of the Home Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and Treasury. PSIS itself receives advice from the inter-departmental committee SO(SSPP) (see left) which scrutinises and validates the Security Services plans, and from the JIC in respect of GCHQ and SIS.
National Audit Office (NAO)
The Service operates within the financial framework of government accounting and is subject to audit in the normal way by the National Audit Office. NAO staff have access to the Services records for this purpose. The Services accounts are certified by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
In March 1909, the Prime Minister, Mr Asquith, instructed the Committee of Imperial Defence to consider the dangers from German espionage to British naval ports. On 1 October, following the Committees recommendation, Captain Vernon Kell of the South Staffordshire Regiment and Captain Mansfield Cumming of the Royal Navy jointly established the Secret Service Bureau. To fulfil the Admiraltys requirement for information about Germanys new navy, Kell and Cumming decided to divide their work. Thereafter, K was responsible for counter-espionage within the British Isles while C, as Cumming came to be known, was responsible for gathering intelligence overseas.
Between March 1909 and the outbreak of the First World War, more than 30 spies were identified by the Secret Service Bureau and arrested, thereby depriving the German Intelligence Service of its network. At the time, the Bureau had a staff of only ten, including Kell himself. The Bureau was rapidly mobilised as a branch of the War Office. In January 1916 it became part of a new Directorate of Military Intelligence and was then titled MI5.
Wartime legislation increased the responsibilities of MI5 to include the coordination of government policy concerning aliens, vetting and other security measures at munitions factories. MI5 also began to oversee counter-espionage measures throughout the Empire. By the end of the War, during which a further 35 spies were identified and arrested, MI5 had approximately 850 staff. Details of the work of MI5 up to the end of the First World War may be found in the Services surviving records from this period, which were released for public view by the Public Record Office in November 1997.
After the Bolshevik coup détat of October 1917, MI5 began to work on the threats from Communist subversion within the Armed Services, and sabotage to military installations. On 15 October 1931 formal responsibility for assessing all threats to the national security of the United Kingdom, apart from those posed by Irish terrorists and anarchists, was passed to MI5. This date marked the formation of the Security Service, although the title MI5 has remained in popular use to this day.
Following Hitlers rise to power, the new Service had to face the threat of subversion from Fascists. However, at the time of the outbreak of the Second World War it was ill-equipped for its many tasks, which included counter-espionage; monitoring of enemy aliens and advising on internment; vetting checks for government departments; visiting firms engaged in war work to advise them on security measures against espionage and sabotage; and dealing with reports by members of the public concerning suspicious activity. In early 1939 the Services strength stood at only 30 officers and its surveillance section comprised just six men. To make matters worse, in September 1940 many of its records were destroyed by German bombing.
Shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War, the Service had moved premises to Wormwood Scrubs Prison, but in late 1940 the majority of staff were evacuated to Blenheim Palace. In early 1941, Sir David Petrie was appointed the first Director General of the Security Service, and was given the resources to rebuild a substantial organisation.
Internment at the outbreak of the War effectively deprived the Germans of all their existing agents. Moreover, when German intelligence records were studied after 1945, it was found that all of the further 200 agents targeted against Britain during the course of the War had been successfully identified and caught. Some of these agents were turned by the Service and became double agents who fed
false information to the Germans concerning military strategy throughout the War. This was the famous Double Cross system. This highly effective deception contributed to the success of the Allied Forces landing in Normandy on D Day in June 1944.
In 1952 the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, deputed his personal responsibility for the Security Service to the Home Secretary, Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, who issued a Directive describing the Services tasks and setting out the role of the Director General. This Directive provided the basis for the Services work until 1989, when the Security Service Act placed the Service on a statutory footing for the first time.
By the early 1950s, the Services staff had increased to about 850. These included some 40 Security Liaison Officers overseas who provided advice and assistance to governments in the Commonwealth and Colonies. Following the defeat of Nazi Germany and the advent of the Cold War, the Service turned its attention to the threat from the Soviet Union. It had for some time already been focused on the activities of the Communist Party of Great Britain which, at its peak in the early 1940s, had 55,000 members. In March 1948 the Prime Minister, Clement Attlee, announced that Communists as well as Fascists were to be excluded from work vital to the security of the state. This was achieved through the setting up of the vetting system, which the Service was charged to support. The cases of Philby, Burgess and MacLean, in particular, showed how effective the Russian Intelligence Service had been before the War in recruiting ideologically-motivated spies in Britain.
In the 1960s, the successful identification of a number of spies including George Blake, an officer of the Secret Intelligence Service; the Portland spy ring; and John Vassall, an employee at the Admiralty recruited by the KGB in Moscow illustrated the need for still greater counter-espionage efforts. Lord Dennings report into the Profumo Affair in 1963 revealed publicly for the first time details of the Services role and responsibilities. This period of its history culminated in the mass expulsion from the UK in 1971 of 105 Soviet personnel, which severely weakened Russian intelligence operations in London.
By the late 1970s, the Services resources were being redirected from work on subversion into international and Irish terrorism. The Services counter-terrorist effort had begun in the late 1960s in response to the growing problem of Palestinian terrorism. Major incidents, including the terrorist sieges at the Iranian Embassy in London in 1980 and the Libyan Peoples Bureau in 1984, tested the Services developing procedures and links with other agencies. During this period, the Service played a leading role in establishing an effective network for cooperation on terrorism among Western security and intelligence services.
In 1983, Michael Bettaney, a member of the Service who had offered information to the KGB, was detected, charged and subsequently convicted of espionage. Following a Security Commission inquiry, whose findings were critical of aspects of the Service, Sir Antony Duff was appointed as Director General. He initiated the discussions which laid the foundations for the Service as it exists today, strengthened by the legal status conferred upon it by the Security Service Act 1989.
Major changes in the focus of the Services work took place in the early 1990s with the end of the Cold War. The threat from subversion had diminished, and the threat from espionage, though it persisted, required less of the Services effort. Terrorism, however, had not abated. In October 1992 responsibility for leading the intelligence effort against Irish republican terrorism on the British mainland was transferred to the Service. In this new work, the Service was able to draw on the experience it had gained in the 1970s and 1980s in running long-term intelligence operations to counter other manifestations of terrorism. Between 1992
and April 1998 the Services work with the police against Irish republican terrorism resulted in 18 convictions for terrorist-related offences. Many intended terrorist attacks, including large city-centre bombings, were prevented.
Recent years have seen other significant developments. The Service now has a role working alongside other government departments and agencies in efforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And in 1996 the Security Service Act was amended to give the Service the additional function of supporting the police and other law enforcement agencies in the prevention and detection of serious crime. External oversight of the Service has also increased: in 1994 the Intelligence and Security Committee was established under the Intelligence Services Act, supplementing the oversight measures already in place under the Security Service Act. Meanwhile, a number of measures have been introduced in order to make more information about the Service publicly available. The aim has been to be as open as possible about the Service, providing a factual context within which its work can be understood, but without damaging its operational effectiveness or putting its staff or agents at risk. The Services first major step in this area was the publication in 1993 of the first edition of this booklet, which included an address for public correspondence.8 A revised edition was issued in 1996. Other steps in openness have included public speeches by the Director General, such as the Dimbleby Lecture given in 1994 by the then Director General, Stella Rimington; the recruitment through openly-advertised procedures of all staff employed on general duties; and the release by the Public Record Office in 1997 of the Services earliest historical archives.
8 Full details of the PO Box address are on page 8.
This section deals with some common misconceptions about the Security Service.
The Security Service is a civilian organisation and its officers have no executive powers, such as the authority to detain or arrest people. It is not a secret police force.
Security Service investigations are shared with the police or other law enforcement agencies when there is a prospect of the arrest of people who are committing or planning criminal offences. In recent years, the Service has developed and applied procedures which enable its intelligence to be admitted as evidence in criminal proceedings. In addition, the Service may recommend to the Home Office or to the Foreign Office that known terrorists or foreign intelligence officers, for example, be refused entry to the UK, or be deported or expelled. However, the decision whether to do so lies outside the Service.
Media reporting sometimes reveals confusion about the geographical scope of the Services work. Threats to national security often come from abroad for example, from foreign intelligence services or from foreign terrorist groups. Moreover, the scope of national security extends beyond the British Isles: British interests worldwide include diplomatic premises and staff, British companies and investments, and British citizens living or travelling abroad. Security threats to British interests anywhere in the world fall within the scope of the Services functions as set out in the Security Service Act. In dealing with security threats overseas the Service cooperates closely with SIS and GCHQ, who have principal responsibility for intelligence-gathering overseas, and also with foreign police forces and intelligence agencies.
The Service does not kill people or arrange their assassination. It is subject to the rule of law in just the same way as other public bodies.
The Services role in the vetting of candidates for employment in sensitive posts is based solely on checks against its records. Decisions on employing staff are the responsibility of the department concerned and the Service does not investigate or interview candidates on their behalf.
The Security Service Act stipulates that the Service may only disclose information for use in deciding whether someone should be employed in sensitive work if it does so in accordance with arrangements approved by the Home Secretary. If, on checking, the Service finds that it has a substantial and relevant security record on an applicant, it may provide a summary assessment of the security information. However, the mere existence of a Security Service record does not necessarily mean that an assessment will be made. There is no blacklist.
The Service does not carry out inquiries into leaks of information from Government, except where national security may be affected. As part of its protective security role, it does give advice to Government on security policy and practice and its protective security section
carries out audits of security arrangements within other departments on request. But it has no policing role.
It has often been alleged that in the past the Service systematically investigated trade unions and various pressure groups, such as the National Union of Mineworkers and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
The Service has never investigated people simply because they were members or office-holders of trade unions or campaigning organisations. But subversive groups have in the past sought to infiltrate and manipulate such organisations as a way of exerting political influence. To fulfil its function of protecting national security, the Service therefore investigated individual members of bona fide organisations when there were grounds to believe that their actions were intended to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means. The Service investigated the activities of the subversive groups, but not the organisations they sought to penetrate.
When the Security Service Bill was debated in Parliament in 1988, the then Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, spelt out the basis for the Services work in this area:
It does not matter if . . . people have views on the structure or organisation of Parliament or if they are involved in seeking to change industrial practices in this country or to negotiate a better deal if they are members of trade unions, or if they seek to challenge or change the Governments policies relating to defence, employment, foreign policy or anything else . . . Its [the Services] sole criterion in relation to a subversive threat is whether there is a deliberate intention to undermine parliamentary democracy and whether that presents a real threat to the security of the nation.
The subversive threat to parliamentary democracy in the UK is now negligible and the Service accordingly has no current investigations in this area.
The Service is sometimes alleged to be responsible for routinely monitoring the private lives of people because they have a high public profile, including members of the Royal Family, Government Ministers, and Members of Parliament. This is not the case. For example in 1993, the Prime Minister, John Major, confirmed that the Service had had no involvement in any interception of the communications of members of the Royal Family.
The Service only investigates individuals whose activities fall within its statutory remit under the Security Service Act.
In his book Spycatcher, the former Security Service officer Peter Wright claimed that up to 30 members of the Service had plotted to undermine the former Prime Minister Harold Wilson. This allegation was exhaustively investigated and it was concluded, as stated publicly by Ministers, that no such plot had ever existed. Wright himself finally admitted in an interview with BBC1s Panorama programme in 1988 that his account had been unreliable.
It was claimed that former Director General of the Security Service, Sir Roger Hollis, was a Russian spy. The Trend inquiry of 1974 cleared
Hollis of that accusation. Subsequently, the evidence of the former KGB officer Oleg Gordievsky confirmed this judgment.
The Service does not tap telephones illegally. In carrying out interception it fully complies with the provisions of the Interception of Communications Act 1985.
No member of the public is permitted to see any Security Service files, except for historical records which have been declassified and released by the Public Record Office. Confidentiality is essential to protect details of investigational and operational techniques and to maintain the effectiveness of the Service. The dangers that would be posed by, for example, members of terrorist groups or foreign intelligence services embarking on fishing expeditions in the Services records are obvious. However, under the Security Service Act, anyone who is aggrieved by anything which he believes that the Service has done in relation to him may complain to the Security Service Tribunal (see Section 7 Oversight, Accountability and Funding). The Tribunal has access to any information it requires to adjudicate on a complaint.
SECURITY SERVICE ACT 1989
ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS
1. The Security Service.
2. The Director-General.
4. The Security Service Commissioner.
5. Investigation of complaints.
7. Short title, commencement and extent.
SCHEDULESSchedule 1 Investigation of Complaints.
Schedule 2 The Tribunal.
SECURITY SERVICE ACT 1989
1989 CHAPTER 5
An Act to place the Security Service on a statutory basis; to enable certain actions to be taken on the authority of warrants issued by the Secretary of State, with provision for the issue of such warrants to be kept under review by a Commissioner; to establish a procedure for the investigation by a Tribunal or, in some cases, by the Commissioner of complaints about the Service; and for connected purposes. [27th April 1989]
BE IT ENACTED by the Queens most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:-
The Security Service
1. (1) There shall continue to be a Security Service (in this Act referred to as the Service) under the authority of the Secretary of State.
(2) The function of the Service shall be the protection of national security and, in particular, its protection against threats from espionage, terrorism and sabotage, from the activities of agents of foreign powers and from actions intended to overthrow or undermine parliamentary democracy by political, industrial or violent means.
(3) It shall also be the function of the Service to safeguard the economic well-being of the United Kingdom against threats posed by the actions or intentions of persons outside the British Islands.
(4) It shall also be the function of the Service to act in support of the activities of police forces, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the National Crime Squad and other law enforcement agencies in the prevention and detection of serious crime.
2. (1) The operations of the Service shall continue to be under the control of a Director-General appointed by the Secretary of State.
(2) The Director-General shall be responsible for the efficiency of the Service and it shall be his duty to ensure
(a) that there are arrangements for securing that no information is obtained by the Service except so far as necessary for the proper discharge of its functions or disclosed by it except so far as necessary for that purpose or for the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime or for the purpose of any criminal proceedings; and
(b) that the Service does not take any action to further the interests of any political party; and
(c) that there are arrangements, agreed with the Director-General of the National Criminal Intelligence Crime Squad for co-ordinating the activities of the Service in pursuance of section 1(4) of this Act with the activities of police forces, the National Criminal Intelligence Service, the National Crime Squad and other law enforcement agencies.
(3) The arrangements mentioned in subsection (2)(a) above shall be such as to ensure that information in the possession of the Service is not disclosed for use in determining whether a person should be employed, or continue to be employed, by any person, or in any office or capacity, except in accordance with provisions in that behalf approved by the Secretary of State.
(3A) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (2)(a) above, the disclosure of information shall be regarded as necessary for the proper discharge of the functions of the Security Service if it consists of
(a) the disclosure of records subject to and in accordance with the Public Records Act 1958; or
(b) the disclosure, subject to and in accordance with arrangements approved by the Secretary of State, of information to the Comptroller and Auditor General for the purposes of his functions.
(4) The Director-General shall make an annual report on the work of the Service to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State and may at any time report to either of them on any matter relating to its work.
The Security Service Commissioner
4. (1) The Prime Minister shall appoint as a Commissioner for the purposes of this Act a person who holds or has held high judicial office within the meaning of the Appellate Jurisdiction Act 1876 (1876 c.59).
(2) The Commissioner shall hold office in accordance with the terms of his appointment and there shall be paid to him by the Secretary of State such allowances as the Treasury may determine.
(3) In addition to his functions under the subsequent provisions of this Act the Commissioner shall keep under review the exercise by the Secretary of State of his powers, so far as they relate to applications made by the Service, under sections 5 and 6 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994.
(4) It shall be the duty of every member of the Service and of every official of the department of the Secretary of State to disclose or give to the Commissioner such documents or information as he may require for the purpose of enabling him to discharge his functions.
(5) The Commissioner shall make an annual report of the discharge of his functions to the Prime Minister and may at any time report to him on any matter relating to his discharge of those functions.
(6) The Prime Minister shall lay before each House of Parliament a copy of each annual report made by the Commissioner under subsection (5) above together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of subsection (7) below.
(7) If it appears to the Prime Minister, after consultation with the Commissioner, that the publication of any matter in a report would be prejudicial to the continued discharge of the functions of the Service, the Prime Minister may exclude that matter from the copy of the report as laid before each House of Parliament.
(8) The Secretary of State may, after consultation with the Commissioner and with the approval of the Treasury as to numbers, provide the Commissioner with such staff as the Secretary of State thinks necessary for the discharge of his functions.
Investigation of Complaints
5. (1) There shall be a Tribunal for the purpose of investigating complaints about the Service in the manner specified in Schedule 1 to this Act.
(2) Schedule 2 to this Act shall have effect with respect to the constitution, procedure and other matters relating to the Tribunal.
(3) The Commissioner shall have the functions conferred on him by Schedule 1 to this Act and give the Tribunal all such assistance in discharging their functions under that Schedule as they may require.
(4) The decisions of the Tribunal and the Commissioner under that Schedule (including decisions as to their jurisdictions) shall not be subject to appeal or liable to be questioned in any court.
6. Any expense incurred by the Secretary of State under this Act shall be defrayed out of money provided by Parliament.
Short title, commencement and extent
7. (1) This Act may be cited as the Security Service Act 1989.
(2) This Act shall come into force on such day as the Secretary of State may by an order made by statutory instrument appoint, and different days may be appointed for different provisions or different purposes.
(3) This Act extends to Northern Ireland.
(4) Her Majesty may by Order in Council direct that any of the provisions of this Act specified in the Order shall extend, with such exceptions, adaptations and modifications as may be so specified, to the Isle of Man, any of the Channel Islands or any colony.
INVESTIGATION OF COMPLAINTS
1. Any person may complain to the Tribunal if he is aggrieved by anything which he believes the Service had done in relation to him or to any property of his; and, unless the Tribunal consider that the complaint is frivolous or vexatious, they shall investigate it in accordance with this Schedule.
Investigations and determinations
2. (1) The Tribunal shall investigate whether the complainant has been the subject of inquiries by the Service.
(2) If the Tribunal find that the Service had made inquiries about the complainant but that those enquiries had ceased at the time when the complaint was made, they shall determine whether, at the time when the inquiries were instituted, the Service had reasonable grounds for deciding to institute inquiries about the complainant in the discharge of its functions.
(3) If the Tribunal find that inquiries by the Service about the complainant were continuing at the time when the complaint was made, they shall determine whether, at that time, the Service had reasonable grounds for deciding to continue inquiries about the complainant in the discharge of its functions.
(4) Where it appears to the Tribunal that the inquiries had been or were being made about the complainant on the ground of his membership of a category of persons regarded by the Service as requiring investigation in the discharge of its functions, the Tribunal shall regard the Service as having reasonable grounds for deciding to institute or continue inquiries about the complainant if the Tribunal consider that the Service had reasonable grounds for believing him to be a member of that category.
3. If and so far as the complainant alleges that the Service has disclosed information for use in determining whether he should be employed, or continue to be employed, by any person or in any office or capacity specified by him, the Tribunal shall investigate whether the Service has disclosed information for that purpose and, if the Tribunal finds that it has done so, they shall determine whether the Service had reasonable grounds for believing the information to be true.
4. (1) If and so far as the complainant alleges that anything has been done by the Service in relation to any property of his, the Tribunal shall refer the complaint to the Commissioner who shall investigate whether a warrant has been issued under section 3 of this Act or section 5 of the Intelligence Services Act 1994 in respect of that property and if he finds that such a warrant has been issued he shall, applying the principles applied by a court on an application for judicial review, determine whether the Secretary of State was acting properly in issuing or renewing the warrant.
(2) The Commissioner shall inform the Tribunal of his conclusion on any complaint so far as referred to him under this paragraph.
Report of conclusions
5. (1) Where the Tribunal determine under paragraph 2 or 3 above that the Service did not have reasonable grounds for the decision or belief in question, they shall
(a) give notice to the complainant that they have made a determination in his favour under that paragraph; and
(b) make a report of their findings to the Secretary of State and to the Commissioner.
(2) The Tribunal shall also give notice to the complainant of any determination in his favour by the Commissioner under paragraph 4 above.
(3) Where in the case of any complaint no such determination as is mentioned in sub-paragraph (1) or (2) above is made by the Tribunal or the Commissioner the Tribunal shall give notice to the complainant that no determination in his favour has been made on his complaint.
6. (1) Where the Tribunal give a complainant notice of such a determination as is mentioned in paragraph 5(1) above the Tribunal may
(a) if the determination is under paragraph 2 above, order inquiries by the Service about the complainant to be ended and any records relating to such inquiries to be destroyed;
(b) if the determination is under that paragraph or paragraph 3 above, direct the Secretary of State to pay to the complainant such sum by way of compensation as may be specified by the Tribunal.
(2) Where the Tribunal give a complainant notice of such a determination as is mentioned in paragraph 5(2) above the Tribunal may
(a) quash any warrant in respect of any property of the complainant which the Commissioner has found to have been improperly issued or renewed and which he considers should be quashed;
(b) if the Commissioner considers that a sum should be paid to the complainant by way of compensation, direct the Secretary of State to pay to the complainant such sum as the Commissioner may specify.
References to the Commissioner
7. (1) If in a case investigated by the Tribunal under paragraph 2 above they consider that the Service may not be justified in regarding all members of a particular category as requiring investigation they shall refer that matter to the Commissioner.
(2) If in any case investigated by the Tribunal
(a) the Tribunals conclusions on the matters which they are required to investigate are such that no determination is made by them in favour of the complainant; but
(b) it appears to the Tribunal from the allegations made by the complainant that it is appropriate for there to be an investigation into whether the Service has in any other respect acted unreasonably in relation to the complainant or his property, they shall refer that matter to the Commissioner.
(3) The Commissioner may report any matter referred to him under this paragraph to the Secretary of State who may take such action in the light of the report as he thinks fit, including any action which the Tribunal have power to take or direct under paragraph 6 above.
8. (1) The persons who may complain to the Tribunal under this Schedule include any organisation and any association or combination of persons.
(2) References in this Schedule to a complainants property include references to any place where the complainant resides or works.
9. (1) No complaint shall be entertained under this Schedule if and so far as it relates to anything done before the date on which this Schedule comes into force.
(2) Where any inquiries about a person were instituted before that date and no decision had been taken before that date to discontinue them, paragraph 2 above shall have effect as if they had been instituted on that date.
Constitution of the Tribunal
1. (1) The Tribunal shall consist of not less than three or more than five members each of whom shall be
(a) a person who has a 10 year general qualification, within the meaning of section 71 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990;
(b) an advocate or solicitor in Scotland of at least 10 years standing; or
(c) a member of the Bar of Northern Ireland or solicitor of the Supreme Court of Northern Ireland of at least 10 years standing.
(2) The members of the Tribunal shall be appointed by Her Majesty by Royal Warrant.
(3) A member of the Tribunal shall vacate office at the end of the period of five years beginning with the day of his appointment but shall be eligible for re-appointment.
(4) A member of the Tribunal may be relieved of office by Her Majesty at his own request.
(5) A member of the Tribunal may be removed from office by Her Majesty on an Address presented to Her by both Houses of Parliament.
President and Vice-President
2. (1) Her Majesty may by Royal Warrant appoint as President or Vice- President of the Tribunal a person who is, or by virtue of that Warrant will be, a member of the Tribunal.
(2) If at any time the President of the Tribunal is temporarily unable to carry out the functions of the President under this Schedule, the Vice-President shall carry out those functions.
(3) A person shall cease to be President or Vice-President of the Tribunal if he ceases to be a member of the Tribunal.
3. The functions of the Tribunal in relation to any complaint shall be capable of being carried out, in any place in the United Kingdom, by any two or more members of the Tribunal designated for the purpose by their President; and different members of the Tribunal may carry out functions in relation to different complaints at the same time.
4. (1) It shall be the duty of every member of the Service to disclose or give to the Tribunal such documents or information as they may require for the purpose of enabling them to carry out their functions under this Act.
(2) Subject to paragraph 6(2) below, the Tribunal shall carry out their functions under this Act in such a way as to secure that no document or information disclosed or given to the Tribunal by any person is disclosed without his consent to any complainant, to any person (other than the Commissioner) holding office under the Crown or to any other person; and accordingly the Tribunal shall not, except in reports under paragraph 5(1)(b) of Schedule 1 to this Act, give any reasons for a determination notified by them to a complainant.
(3) Subject to sub-paragraph (2) above, the Tribunal may determine their own procedure.
Salaries and expenses
5. (1) The Secretary of State shall pay to the members of the Tribunal such remuneration and allowances as he may with the approval of the Treasury determine.
(2) The Secretary of State shall defray such expenses of the Tribunal as he may with the approval of the Treasury determine.
6. (1) The Secretary of State may, after consultation with the Tribunal and with the approval of the Treasury as to numbers, provide the Tribunal with such staff as he thinks necessary for the proper discharge of their functions.
(2) The Tribunal may authorise any member of their staff to obtain any documents or information on the Tribunals behalf.
7. (1) In Part II of Schedule 1 to the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1975 (1975 c.24) (bodies whose members are disqualified) there shall be inserted at the appropriate place
The Tribunal established under the Security Service Act 1989.
(2) The same amendment shall be made in Part II of Schedule 1 to the Northern
Ireland Assembly Disqualification Act 1975 (1975 c.25).
This Act is printed as amended by the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990, the Intelligence Services Act 1994 and the Security Service Act 1996.
[48 not used]
1994 CHAPTER 13
An Act to make provision about the Secret Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Headquarters, including provision for the issue of warrants and authorisations enabling certain actions to be taken and for the issue of such warrants and authorisations to be kept under review; to make further provision about warrants issued on applications by the Security Service; to establish a procedure for the investigation of complaints about the Secret Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Headquarters; to make provision for the establishment of an Intelligence and Security Committee to scrutinise all three of those bodies; and for connected purposes. [26th May 1994]
1. [The Secret Intelligence Service.]
2. [The Chief of the Intelligence Service.]
3. [The Government Communications Headquarters.]
4. [The Director of GCHQ.]
AUTHORISATION OF CERTAIN ACTIONS
5.(1) No entry on or interference with property or with wireless telegraphy shall be unlawful if it is authorised by a warrant issued by the Secretary of State under this section.
(2) The Secretary of State may, on an application made by the Security Service, the Intelligence Service or GCHQ, issue a warrant under this section authorising the taking, subject to subsection (3) below, of such action as is specified in the warrant in respect of any property so specified or in respect of wireless telegraphy so specified if the Secretary of State
(a) thinks it necessary for the action to be taken on the ground that it is likely to be of substantial value in assisting, as the case may be,(i) the Security Service in carrying out any of its functions under the 1989 Act; or
(ii) the Intelligence Service in carrying out any of its functions under section 1 above; or
(iii) GCHQ in carrying out any function which falls within section 3(1)(a) above; and
(b) is satisfied that what the action seeks to achieve cannot reasonably be achieved by other means; and
(c) is satisfied that satisfactory arrangements are in force under section 2(2)(a) of the 1989 Act (duties of the Director-General of the Security Service), section 2(2)(a) above or section 4(2)(a) above with respect to the disclosure of information obtained by virtue of this section and that any information obtained under the warrant will be subject to those arrangements.
(3) A warrant issued on the application of the Intelligence Service or GCHQ for the purposes of the exercise of their functions by virtue of section 1(2)(c) or 3(2)(c) above may not relate to property in the British Islands.
(3A) A warrant issued on the application of the Security Service for the purposes of the exercise of their function under section 1(4) of the Security Service Act 1989 may not relate to property in the British Islands unless it authorises the taking of action in relation to conduct within subsection (3B) below.
(3B) Conduct is within this subsection if it constitutes (or, if it took place in the United Kingdom, would constitute) one or more offences, and either
(a) it involves the use of violence, results in substantial financial gain or is conduct by a large number of persons in pursuit of a common purpose; or
(b) the offence or one of the offences is an offence for which a person who has attained the age of twenty-one and has no previous convictions could reasonably be expected to be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three years or more.
(4) Subject to subsection (5) below, the Security Service may make an application under subsection (2) above for a warrant to be issued authorising that Service (or a person acting on its behalf) to take such action as is specified in the warrant on behalf of the Intelligence Service or GCHQ and, where such a warrant is issued, the functions of the Security Service shall include the carrying out of the action so specified, whether or not it would otherwise be within its functions.
(5) The Security Service may not make an application for a warrant by virtue of subsection (4) above except where the action proposed to be authorised by the warrant
(a) is action in respect of which the Intelligence Service or, as the case may be, GCHQ could make such an application; and
(b) is to be taken otherwise than in support of the prevention or detection of serious crime.
Warrants: procedure and duration, etc.
6.(1) A warrant shall not be issued except
(a) under the hand of the Secretary of State; or
(b) in an urgent case where the Secretary of State has expressly authorised its issue and a statement of that fact is endorsed on it, under the hand of a senior official of his department.
(2) A warrant shall, unless renewed under subsection (3) below, cease to have effect
(a) if the warrant was under the hand of the Secretary of State, at the end of the period of six months beginning with the day on which it was issued; and
(b) in any other case, at the end of the period ending with the second working day following that day.
(3) If at any time before the day on which a warrant would cease to have effect the Secretary of State considers it necessary for the warrant to continue to have effect for the purpose for which it was issued, he may by an instrument under his hand renew it for a period of six months beginning with that day.
(4) The Secretary of State shall cancel a warrant if he is satisfied that the action authorised by it is no longer necessary.
(5) In the preceding provisions of this section warrant means a warrant under section 5 above.
(6) As regards the Security Service, this section and section 5 above have effect in place of section 3 (property warrants) of the 1989 Act, and accordingly
(a) a warrant issued under that section of the 1989 Act and current when this section and section 5 above come into force shall be treated as a warrant under section 5 above, but without any change in the date on which the warrant was in fact issued or last renewed; and
(b) section 3 of the 1989 Act shall cease to have effect.
7. [Authorisation of acts outside the British Islands.]
8. [The Commissioner.]
9. [Investigation of complaints.]
The Intelligence and Security Committee
10.(1) There shall be a Committee, to be known as the Intelligence and Security Committee and in this section referred to as the Committee, to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of
(a) the Security Service;
(b) the Intelligence Service; and
(2) The Committee shall consist of nine members
(a) who shall be drawn both from the members of the House of Commons and from the members of the House of Lords; and
(b) none of whom shall be a Minister of the Crown.
(3) The members of the Committee shall be appointed by the Prime Minister after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, within the meaning of the Ministerial and other Salaries Act 1975 (1975 c.27); and one of those members shall be so appointed as Chairman of the Committee.
(4) Schedule 3 to this Act shall have effect with respect to the tenure of office of members of, the procedure of and other matters relating to, the Committee; and in that Schedule the Committee has the same meaning as in this section.
(5) The Committee shall make an annual report on the discharge of their functions to the Prime Minister and may at any time report to him on any matter relating to the discharge of those functions.
(6) The Prime Minister shall lay before each House of Parliament a copy of each annual report made by the Committee under subsection (5) above together with a statement as to whether any matter has been excluded from that copy in pursuance of subsection (7) below.
(7) If it appears to the Prime Minister, after consultation with the Committee, that the publication of any matter in a report would be prejudicial to the continued discharge of the functions of either of the Services or, as the case may be, GCHQ, the Prime Minister may exclude that matter from the copy of the report as laid before each House of Parliament.
11. [Interpretation and consequential amendments.]
12. [Short title, commencement and extent.]
[INVESTIGATION OF COMPLAINTS]
THE INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY COMMITTEE
Tenure of office
1.(1) Subject to the provisions of this paragraph, a member of the Committee shall hold office for the duration of the Parliament in which he is appointed.
(2) A member of the Committee shall vacate office
(a) if he ceases to be a member of the House of Commons;
(b) if he ceases to be a member of the House of Lords;
(c) if he becomes a Minister of the Crown; or
(d) if he is required to do so by the Prime Minister on the appointment, in accordance with section 10(3) of this Act, of another person as a member in his place.
(3) A member of the Committee may resign at any time by notice to the Prime Minister.
(4) Past service is no bar to appointment as a member of the Committee.
2.(1) Subject to the following provisions of this Schedule, the Committee may determine their own procedure.
(2) If on any matter there is an equality of voting among the members of the Committee, the Chairman shall have a second or casting vote.
(3) The Chairman may appoint one of the members of the Committee to act, in his absence, as chairman at any meeting of the Committee, but sub-paragraph (2) above shall not apply to a chairman appointed under this sub-paragraph.
(4) The quorum of the Committee shall be three.
Access to information
3.(1) If the Director-General of the Security Service, the Chief of the Intelligence Service or the Director of GCHQ is asked by the Committee to disclose any information, then, as to the whole or any part of the information which is sought, he shall either
(a) arrange for it to be made available to the Committee subject to and in accordance with arrangements approved by the Secretary of State; or
(b) inform the Committee that it cannot be disclosed either(i) because it is sensitive information (as defined in paragraph 4 below) which, in his opinion, should not be made available under paragraph (a) above; or
(ii) because the Secretary of State has determined that it should not be disclosed.
(2) The fact that any particular information is sensitive information shall not prevent its disclosure under sub-paragraph (1)(a) above if the Director-General, the Chief or the Director (as the case may require) considers it safe to disclose it.
(3) Information which has not been disclosed to the Committee on the ground specified in sub-paragraph (1)(b)(i) above shall be disclosed to them if the Secretary of State considers it desirable in the public interest.
(4) The Secretary of State shall not make a determination under sub-paragraph (1)(b)(ii) above with respect to any information on the grounds of national security alone and, subject to that, he shall not make such a determination unless the information appears to him to be of such a nature that, if he were requested to produce it before a Departmental Select Committee of the House of Commons, he would think it proper not to do so.
(5) The disclosure of information to the Committee in accordance with the preceding provisions of this paragraph shall be regarded for the purposes of the 1989 Act or, as the case may be, this Act as necessary for the proper discharge of the functions of the Security Service, the Intelligence Service or, as the case may require, GCHQ.
4. The following information is sensitive information for the purposes of paragraph 3 above
(a) information which might lead to the identification of, or provide details of, sources of information, other assistance or operational methods available to the Security Service, the Intelligence Service or GCHQ;
(b) information about particular operations which have been, are being or are proposed to be undertaken in pursuance of any of the functions of those bodies; and
(c) information provided by, or by an agency of, the Government of a territory outside the United Kingdom where that Government does not consent to the disclosure of the information.
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