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Late change to anti-secrecy law to keep UK spies happy

Late change to anti-secrecy law to keep UK spies happy

Thursday 30 October 2014

Late change to anti-secrecy law to keep UK spies happy

Thursday 30 October 2014

Last-minute changes to a new law designed to end government secrecy are needed to make sure that UK spies and security forces will keep sharing information with the police in Jersey.

The new Freedom of Information (Jersey) Law comes into force on 1 January, and will give people full legal rights to find out what is being done with their money, and in their name.

But when it was drafted, a vital piece was left out – an exemption for information supplied by the secret intelligence services such as MI5 and MI6, or GCHQ.

 Without that specific exemption, there’s a danger that those organisations will not want to risk sharing information about threats and risks with the authorities in Jersey in case it gets released under the new FoI law.

A late amendment has been tabled by Chief Minister Ian Gorst to change the legislation before it comes into force. There is already an exemption for national security matters, but he wants to make sure that there is a specific rule protecting information from foreign intelligence services.

The report accompanying the amendment states that the new rules will just copy the provisions of sections 23 and 24 of the equivalent UK law.

The report says: “The importance of Sections 23 and 24 of the U.K. Act to the U.K. Police Service and its relationship with Security Agencies is fundamental to enable secure information-sharing.

“It is considered vital that a measure designed to bring transparency to Jersey should not result in potentially straining crucial external partnerships.”

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