A suggested amendment to the Freedom of Information Act, put forward by Lord Falconer, aims to automatically exempt all cases of Tribunals concerning the RIP Act from disclosure.
The amendment (number 34, clause 22) reads "By the Lord Falconer Thoroton, Page 14, line 1, at end insert - ('( ) the Tribunal established under section 65 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000,')."
The Tribunal element of the RIP Act concerns any complaints made regarding the wide-ranging powers given to the government and security services to investigate UK residents. The RIP Act has been widely criticised as overriding human rights as defined by the Human Rights Act, and the Tribunal will be an important aspect in deciding how far the law can be pushed.
Those involved in the Tribunal system will be: the intelligence services, armed forces, police, National Criminal Intelligence Service; crime squad and Customs & Excise.
If the tabled amendment were to go through, this aspect of RIP would effectively become top secret. The implications are obvious and are a further worry for civil liberties groups. It is also another indication that the Freedom of Information Act - a mainstay of Labour party policy for as long as we can remember - has become drastically watered down, relying as it does on politicians deciding what is and is not in the public interest. ®