U.K. Government Accused of Bugging Lawmaker

February 07, 2008 12:30 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A conversation between a British member of parliament and a suspected terrorist is thought to have been bugged. The opposition questions whether the government is committed to maintaining legislators' immunity from surveillance.

30-Second Summary

U.K. lawmaker Sadiq Khan made a prison visit to his childhood friend Babar Ahmad, who is being held in custody for terrorism-related offenses.

That meeting appears to have been bugged. Former Detective Sgt. Mark Kearney said he was ordered to record the conversation and placed a recording device in the room where the two men met.

Such surveillance is in contravention of Britain's decades-old “Wilson Doctrine,” which forbids the security services from spying on lawmakers.

On Feb. 4, U.K. Minister of Justice Jack Straw announced to the first chamber of the British parliament, the House of Commons, that inquiries into the matter had begun.

David Davis, a member of parliament from the opposition Conservative Party, called Prime Minister Gordon Brown a “liar” on BBC radio. He said that Brown has known about the bugging of politicians for some time. This prompted House of Commons leader and Labour Party politician Harriet Harman to ask Davis to apologize.

Former cabinet member Tony Benn, a household name of the British political left, suspects he was wiretapped during his tenure in office. He calls the rule protecting MPs “a complete illusion” in The Guardian.

Headline Link: ‘U.K. Government Asked to Explain Bugging of MP’

Reactions: ‘Khan Welcomes “Bugging” Inquiry’

Opinion & Analysis: Bringing the conversation out into the open

Reference: British authority of surveillance


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