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Sir Anthony May’s response to the Article published in the Independent

13 Mar 14

Response to Independent Article

I would like to make the following statement in relation to an article published on page 6 of the Independent on Monday 15th July 2013. The article contains a number of factual inaccuracies which it is important to correct.

The Rt Hon Sir Paul Kennedy retired as Interception of Communications Commissioner on 31st December 2012.  I succeeded to the post on 1st January 2013.

The Interception of Communications Commissioner is required by section 58(4) of RIPA to report annually to the Prime Minister.  The Prime Minister lays the report before Parliament except for any sensitive parts of it which he decides to exclude under section 58(7).

The IOCC’s report for the calendar year 2012, during which  Sir Paul Kennedy was the Commissioner and for which he therefore retains responsibility, is due to be made to the Prime Minister before the end of July 2013.  Although this report is not my responsibility, I have seen a draft of it and am fully aware of the process leading up to its production.

The following are material inaccuracies in the article in the Independent on 15th July 2013:

  • Sir Paul Kennedy’s 2012 Annual Report to the Prime Minister has not been delayed. The respective offices for all three of the independent RIPA Commissioners agreed some months ago to present their 2012 Annual Reports in July 2013.
  • The IOCC’s 2012 Annual Report has not been revised for the reason or reasons suggested in the Independent article.
  • The Rt Hon Sir Paul Kennedy was not ordered by anyone to make any revisions to his report.
  • As will appear, The IOCC’s 2012 Annual Report does not make passing references to recent disclosures relating to GCHQ.  These occurred well after the end of the period which the report covers and Sir Paul Kennedy, having retired, is not in a position to deal with events after I was appointed Commissioner.
  • The detail as to how samples are selected during inspections is covered in the IOCC’s 2012 Annual Report, as indeed it was in previous reports.

More generally, my role is defined in Section 57(2) of RIPA. I am not appointed or authorised to oversee all of the activities of the intelligence agencies, only those specified in Section 57(2) of RIPA.

Part I Chapter 1 of RIPA provides the statutory authority for lawful interception that takes place within the British Islands. I can confirm that I am currently conducting an investigation into the various recent media reports relating to disclosures about interception attributed to Edward Snowden. This will take some time.  I am also, and independently of the recent media reports, undertaking a series of investigations which have a bearing on various aspects of recent media debate.  It is not appropriate to give details of this for the moment because, as will be appreciated, the subject matter is sensitive and subject to statutory constraint, and because my statutory role is to report to the Prime Minister.   Nor do I intend to report on these topics until the various strands of my investigations are complete.  But I shall in due course report on these and related topics to the Prime Minister.

Part I Chapter 2 of RIPA covers the acquisition and disclosure of communications data (rather than the content of the communications). I considered carefully the recommendations made by the Joint Committee on the Draft Communications Data Bill and recently took the decision to introduce annual inspections of the higher volume public authority users (such as police forces and intelligence agencies). I required more staff in order to carry out this additional oversight effectively. These additional resources have been provided to my office and the new staff are in the process of being recruited. Once recruited my staff will consist of one Chief Inspector, eight Inspectors and three Secretariat. The annual inspections under Part I Chapter 2 of RIPA will commence in January 2014.  My investigations referred to above will include considering whether, with these additional staff, my office will have sufficient resources to undertake properly the range of my statutory duties and functions.

The Rt Hon Sir Anthony May