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Report reveals MI5 agents are allowed to commit crimes in Britain

5th March 2018

Confidential papers

Prime minister Theresa May has published a previously secret order governing MI5 spies’ criminal activity in the UK. This means a range of things, from undercover spies’ not stopping criminal activity to spies’ actively committing crimes in order to stay undercover. Having long been a subject of debate from people on the outside, this reveal has given us an insight into the workings of the elusive MI5.

The ‘Third Direction’

In 2014 the government revealed it has ‘watchdogs’ to monitor three directions of spies’ potential participation in criminal activity. However, in this report they only revealed two of the directions, leaving campaign groups to demand disclosure of the third. Groups Privacy International and Reprieve began legal action to learn about the elusive third direction. The document's existence was only revealed in 2016, and even then the contents were still unknown.

In a written statement, May revealed she was releasing the order ‘In accordance with my obligation to publish such directions under Section 230 of the Investigatory Powers Act 2016.’ Reprieve has said ‘this is the first time that the UK Government has acknowledged that guidance exists to regulate such activity within the United Kingdom by MI5 agents.’

The government has claimed that its publication will undermine national security, with Theresa May continuing to refuse to publish the guidance to security services regarding when criminal activity will be permitted.

Last year in a speech where he spoke about international counter-terrorism MI5 director general Andrew Parker said: ‘I want to record special thanks to our agents, sometimes known as human sources. Those who courageously work for us in secret, close to the extremists, who do so much to help us prevent terrorist atrocities. We owe them all a debt of gratitude.’

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