Metropolitan Police's use of RIPA 2000 (Supplementary) [1]

Session date: 
October 22, 2014
Question By: 
Joanne McCartney
Organisation: 
Labour Group

Question

Joanne McCartney AM:  Mr Mayor, in an interview with LBC radio, you said that you had concerns about this and wanted to look into it - which I welcomed - and said that you thought it was wrong for the police just to go on a fishing expedition.  The public concern about this is as to whether there are sufficient safeguards to stop the police from overreaching.

Answer

Answer for Metropolitan Police's use of RIPA 2000 (Supplementary) [1]

Answer for Metropolitan Police's use of RIPA 2000 (Supplementary) [1]

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, and Sir Paul Kennedy, the Interception of Communications Commissioner, is looking into this and I hope very much that where we will get to is the state that I think you and I and Jenny [Jenny Jones AM] want to see, which is that there should be the extra safeguard of judicial approval before the police can do this.  What would be difficult, Joanne, would be to say that there are some bits of information that journalists may have that the police can never have access to because, obviously, when a serious crime is being investigated, no one can be above the law.

 

Joanne McCartney AM:  Yes, and obviously it is right that journalists have to act within the law as well, but the concern is that there are two pieces of legislation and the Metropolitan Police Service takes the easy option rather than what may be considered the better option to ensure transparency.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Yes, I understand.

 

Joanne McCartney AM:  There are some things that you can do.  You have talked about your concerns.  I suggested to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime a couple of weeks ago that the Ethics Panel could look into this.  Would that be something that you would support?  He suggested that it could be helpful and he would suggest it to them.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  It might well be.  I can talk to Stephen [Stephen Greenhalgh, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime] and Alex Carlile [Chairman, London Panel on Ethics in Policing] and see how they feel about that.  I am not certain that it will be necessary given that Sir Paul Kennedy is already quite far down the track and we are likely to get the change that we want pretty soon anyway.

 

Joanne McCartney AM:  One other thing that you could do, for example, if you are concerned is you could retain the services of a retired judge who could be there to advise the Metropolitan Police Service if they are to make applications under this.  You would have the power to do that.  Would you be prepared to do that?

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  As I say, I am reluctant to duplicate work that is already being done in the sense that the ‑‑

 

Joanne McCartney AM:  That work is not being done.

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  The Interception of Communications Commissioner’s Office (IOCCO) is currently engaged and has asked the police to give evidence of all the information that they have obtained about journalist sources and contacts and all the rest of it and they are making recommendations.  It is very likely that that will lead to the judicial safeguard that we all want to see.  What I will say to you is this: if it fails to produce the change I think we are going to get, then I might consider something of the kind that you are describing.

 

Joanne McCartney AM:  Thank you.  Can I also suggest that a lot of the RIPA requests are not about journalists?  They are about ongoing investigations and a lot of them are sourced from borough policing.  Would you ask MOPAC to look at the level of authorisations and supervision that has taken place on those and just to do a quick review to check that appropriate supervision has taken place for those?

 

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London):  Obviously it is something I have taken up repeatedly now with Sir Bernard [Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis] and I would be very happy to raise it again.

 

Joanne McCartney AM:  Thank you.