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MI5 spied on the Scottish Nationalist Party - will the "Wilson Doctrine" now be extended to the Scottish Parliament ?

[via Tom Griffin]:

This Scotland on Sunday article, reports that the Scottish Nationalist Party was subjected to infiltration and monitoring by MI5 the Security Service back in the 1950s, and to telephone tapping in the 1970s (following bizarre claims by the evil Ugandan dictator Idi Amin). This raises the Question of the applicability of the "Wilson Doctrine" to the elected Members of the Scottish Parliament. (see our "Wilson Doctrine" category archive)

Files prove that MI5 spied on SNP


THE SNP was spied on by British secret service agents, previously classified Government files seen by Scotland on Sunday have finally proved.

Claims of surveillance of nationalist politicians by intelligence officers have circulated for years, but the new papers provide the first incontrovertible evidence that the state spied on the SNP in the 1950s.



Fellow SNP member Christine Grahame, convener of Holyrood's Health and Sport Committee, is disappointed that Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill has so far rejected her calls to outlaw the monitoring of MSPs' phone calls.

MacAskill said: "The Scottish Government has no plans to seek to extend the Wilson Doctrine to cover MSPs, nor to introduce a convention to prevent police Special Branches carrying out covert surveillance in circumstances that meet the strict tests of necessity required by law."


As always when considering whether or not elected Members of Parliament(s) should be exempt from "telephone tapping", there is also the question of whether or not this applies to email, web browsing , mobile phone location Based Services data etc.

A distinction can also be made between the official office communications of an elected politician and their private, personal or business communications.

Currently Westminster MPs or Peer seem to have some, but not necessarily all, of their modern electronic communications covered by the "Wilson Doctrine", but Members of the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly Members or Northern Ireland Assembly Members or Members of the European Parliament, can still, presumably be snooped on with impunity.

Snooping on the official communications of elected politicians, invariably must also imply snooping on their constituents, who may well be trying to raise legitimate complaints against corrupt or inept bureaucrats or illegal Government policies. They may just be providing the Opposition with political information with which to embarrass the Government. In these circumstances, it is not appropriate for the Police or Intelligence or Security agencies to be snooping on such communications, especially, where, as under the current system, it is a Government politician who authorises such snooping, rather than an independent Judge.

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