Investigatory Powers Tribunal scraps its first annual report

We didn't expect to have so much to be transparent about

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The Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the only judicial body in Britain allowed to hold spies to account, has scrapped its inaugural annual report.

Communications between the IPT and a P. John through noted that despite the judicial body promising a report on "the Tribunal’s Membership, procedures, case summaries and statistics ... in early 2015 and annually thereafter", no such report has been forthcoming.

The Assistant Tribunal Secretary told P. John that: "Unfortunately the publication of the 2015 Tribunal Report has been delayed until early 2016."

Following up, the Tribunal Secretary S. Wilkins stated that: "The Tribunal is not required to report publicly as you note and this is done voluntarily by itself in the timeframe and manner judged most suitable by it."

As you will be aware the Tribunal had initially intended to publish its next report in the spring of this year, however that timeframe was set in 2010 and given the high profile cases that were decided in the spring and summer this year it was decided to reschedule the report in order to include case summaries and analysis of these important decisions and properly reflect the work of the Tribunal.

It is however wrong to state that the IPT offers no other account of any kind, case statistics were published in the recent government transparency report and the IPT published on its website all decisions in major cases.

The Register rang the number included in the Tribunal Secretary's email regarding what was described as a delay. The speaker on the phone confirmed that there would only be one report issued in 2016, and that the 2015 report had been cancelled and not delayed.

Asked if the commitment to annual reports was now being questioned, the speaker began to give us an answer before the line went suddenly dead. We can presume some ultimately unattributable has beset the IPT's phone lines as it took us several attempts to reconnect.

When we did so, the gentlemen we spoke to informed us "it froze" and told The Register to send an email with its question regarding whether the IPT's report would be published before the final draft of the government's Investigatory Powers Bill is introduced to Parliament. ®


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