Geoffrey Cox raises concerns about the protection of legal professional privilege in the Investigatory Powers Bill

6th June 2016

During a debate on the Investigatory Powers Bill, Geoffrey Cox raises concerns about a clause that suggests that the protection of legal professional privilege of those conversing and confiding in their lawyers could be overridden in certain circumstances.

I shall be very brief, Mr Speaker, and I am grateful to you for calling me at this late hour. I wish to address clause 25 and legal professional privilege. In what circumstances, other than the iniquity exception, will legal professional privilege be overridden? In introducing his remarks, the Minister said, I think, that there was some margin where legal professional privilege could be overridden, even where the iniquity exception did not apply. That would be a radical and fundamental change to the legal protection given to the privilege of those conversing and confiding in their lawyers. It would be unprecedented, and contrary to the decisions of the highest courts in this country. Where does the distinction lie in the Minister’s mind, and how would that square with current legal authority on the subject?
I only hope that your earlier remarks about my style, Mr Speaker, can be matched by my substance.

Let me deal with the last contribution first. My hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General made it clear that these are matters of continuing consideration, and further discussions are to be held. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Torridge and West Devon (Mr Cox) is right to say that we have not yet got to where we want to be, but I understand the weight and significance of his remark about limits on privilege, which will certainly be included in any consideration that we make following those discussions. I do not want to anticipate those discussions tonight, but, as the shadow Secretary of State recommended, we will engage in them without delay, and conclude them on the basis of adding to the Bill in a way that is sufficient to protect legal privilege.


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