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Who will spy on the spies, regulate the regulators and police the police?

Magnifying glass, photo by PenarcThe last few weeks have thrown up example after example how those with power have run rings round those who are supposed to call them to account. Yesterday we learnt that the police, shortly after the murder of Stephen Lawrence, tried to ‘smear’ his family, his friend who witnessed the murder, and campaigners protesting at the failure to bring the killers to justice. This is a disgusting and disreputable abuse of police power: who gave the order for this? Will this person be identified, and then prosecuted and driven from office?

Why did HM Inspectorate of Constabulary not pick this up? What action is to be taken against senior officers who then deliberately withheld the spying on the Lawrence family from Macpherson who led a public inquiry into the police investigation into the murder? And above all, why do we have to depend on the witness of a former under-cover police officer turned whistleblower to find out these facts at all? What this shows is that some sections of the police are a force out of control who see themselves above the law.

A few days ago we found out that a highly critical report of the maternity services at Morecambe Bay hospital was suppressed by the CQC regulators because it would reflect badly on their supervisory responsibilities. Again we only know about this because of a whistleblower. Who regulates the regulators when they behave so despicably, at the expense of letting more babies die? Who is responsible for appointing such self-serving and dishonest persons in the first place to carry out such key regulatory functions? Was this Bower’s protector, Sir David Nicholson, and if so, will he be called to account?

Also just a few days ago we also learnt that Britain’s spy agency GCHQ had secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world’s phone calls and internet traffic and was processing it on an unimaginable scale – tapping more than 200 fibre-optic cables yielding data equivalent to sending all the information in all the books in the British Library 192 times every 24 hours. This has been proceeding for years, yet not a word of it was disclosed to the public even though this was a portal used to keep permanent oversight of the ordinary lives of everybody entirely without their permission.

Again we only know about this Operation Tempora , similar to the US Prism project, because of a whistleblower, Edward Snowden. And instead of apologising for this largest suspicionless data dragnet in human history, the US are now hounding him for exposing it to its victims. Where are those holding GCHQ to account – Ministers, who knew and condoned it, or the official Intelligence Services Committee made up of loyalist MPs, a charade if ever there was one?

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