A new report by IER President, Professor Keith Ewing; IER expert, Andrew Moretta; and Joan Mahoney has been described as an “explosive expose” of “unaccountable spying” by the British government.
Writing in the Morning Star, Kevan Nelson said MI5, Cold War and the Rule of Law was “a superbly structured work of scholarship which examines a range of topics in depth”.
Professor Ewing and his team analysed formerly secret documents to investigate the infiltration of left-wing organisations by MI5 since the end of the second world war.
This was done with no statutory authority and little accountability and as such, the authors conclude, undermined the rule of law.
Although the Communist Party of Great Britain received the brunt of State interference, the secret service did not stop there, targeting a wide range of law-abiding organisations including the National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty), the Haldane Society of Progressive Lawyers, the Peace Movement, and trade unions.
The authors also reveal that trade union files are “conspicuous by their absence” in the National Archives, having not yet been released.
Nelson concluded that the book is “a historical study with a resounding modern-day relevance. The stated aim of the authors in studying the past is to better understand contemporary institutions.”
Indeed, its relevance to the present moment could not be more pressing today, as the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill enters its third reading in the House of Commons.
The Bill seeks to hand greater powers to the secret service and to lessen scrutiny of the government and its agencies.