Government accused of spying on trade unions

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

ALLEGED spying on trade unionists by the intelligence services is to be challenged in a case being lodged with the European Commission of Human Rights.

Liberty, formerly the National Council for Civil Liberties, says the Government's listening post, GCHQ, has been routinely intercepting telexes sent to Campbell Christie, secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress.

Protests to two government tribunals, set up to deal with complaints of telephone tapping and the intelligence services, had had no effect, it said.

Now it is seeking a declaration from the European Commission of Human Rights that the trade unions' right to privacy has been breached and that the tribunals were not an adequate remedy for people with complaints.

Liberty's legal officer, John Wadham, said: 'The Government has been using GCHQ to spy on all kinds of people who are not and never have been a threat to this country.

'The Government has set up two tribunals to deal with complaints about telephone tapping and the security services, yet no complaint has ever been upheld by them.

'The tribunals fail to provide a proper remedy for complaints. We hope that the commission will prevent the Government's abuse of GCHQ and end the spying on trade unionists.'