The Scottish Liberal Democrats have today said Police Scotland and the Scottish Government must be held to account after the Interception of Communication Commissioner's Office (IOCCO) confirms the force broke spying rules to obtain details of a journalist's sources.
IOCCO today revealed that Police Scotland breached the law on the interception of communications on five occasions, ‘adversely affecting’ four individuals. The Commissioner identified “reckless” failures and concluded the applications “failed to satisfy adequately the requirements of necessity and proportionality”.
Those targeted by Police Scotland have been informed and could now engage the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.
The IOCCO probe came to light in July 2015 but since then Police Scotland and SNP ministers have continually refused to confirm or deny whether the national force was one of those being investigated.
Following the revelation, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes said:
“It is not just reckless, it is outrageous that police officers thought they were above the law and simply reinforces the need for a wider inquiry into the workings of Police Scotland.
“By intruding on confidential exchanges without judicial approval they risk destroying the public’s trust in a body that should be focusing on protecting our communities.
“This is the worst kind of cover-up because one of journalists’ key roles is to hold people, public bodies and governments to account.
“Both Police Scotland and the Scottish Government have known for months that the national force was involved and yet said and did nothing. Now that we have confirmation it is absolutely vital they are held to account so we can ensure freedom of the press and freedom of speech in this country.
“I will be pressing for the Justice Committee to summon the Justice Secretary and Chief Constable to account for their actions.”