978-0-335-09631-2 / 9780335096312

Reforming the Secret State (Studies in Law and Politics)


Publisher:Open Univ Pr



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About the book:

In 1989 the British Government introduced two reforming statutes. The first placed the security service MI5 on a statutory basis to legitimate its invasions of privacy. The second was the repeal of the notorious Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911. These measures were hailed by the Government as both progressive and democratic. In "Reforming the Secret State" Patrick Birkinshaw argues that the reforms are far from liberalizing and represent only minimal concessions to legality. The Security Services Act was prompted by the likelihood of a judgment against the Government by the European Commission of Human Rights, following a challenge by civil rights activists who had been subjected to MI5 attentions. Meanwhile, many of the provisions of the old Section 2 will remain covered by Civil Service Codes and other statutes. The 1989 Act pales into insignificance when compared with constitutional safeguards in Canada, Australia and the United States. Patrick Birkinshaw addresses the question of a Freedom of Information Act: when it might come about, what difficulties it might pose, and what might be learned from the American experience. This book should interest students and teachers of politics and law as well as lawyers and civil servants.

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