The Independent's journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. 

British spies sacked for inappropriately and illicitly snooping on private information

Looking at people's communications without reason to do so should be a criminal offfence, committee recommends

Andrew Griffin
Thursday 12 March 2015 12:48 GMT

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


GCHQ spooks have been sacked for inappropriately accessing people’s personal information, it emerged today.

The small number of British spies who have illicitly gathered personal data should face criminal charges for doing so, Hazel Blears, the spokeswoman for the Intelligence Security Committee, told Sky News.

The disclosure came as part of a landmark report into spying by GCHQ and other agencies, released today.

“Each Agency reported that they had disciplined – or in some cases dismissed – staff for inappropriately accessing personal information held in these datasets in recent years,” the ISC writes in the report. Though the report suggests that it will give further information on that misuse, all of the part referenced is redacted — as is a large proportion of the report.

"We're not in a position today to give you the detailed information ... but I think the fact the committee recommends it be a criminal offence gives an indication of how seriously we take it," Blears told Sky News.

The number of people sacked is in the “very small single figures”, according to one member of the committee.

Though spy agencies and governments claim that the information kept is largely tactical — including metadata that can be used to identify whether people are plotting terrorist attacks — the sackings imply that personal information can also be found and accessed by spooks.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in