Jarrow MP speaks out after rebel vote on 'Spy Cops' bill

A South Tyneside MP has spoken out after breaking ranks with her party in the vote over the controversial ‘Spy Cops’ bill.

Jarrow MP Kate Osborne
Jarrow MP Kate Osborne

Jarrow MP Kate Osborne described her decision to vote against the Covert Human Intelligence Services (CHIS) bill as ‘as a matter of conscience’ after Labour MPs were told to abstain.

She was was one of 34 Labour members who defied the party whip and voted against the bill.

The new legislation creates an "authorisation" for undercover agents and informants to commit crimes as part of their work, with supporters saying it is needed to ensure operatives can undertake their vital roles in tackling crime, including foiling terror plots.

But critics have grave concerns over laws which effectively give the police, security services and a number of other agencies that use informants or undercover agents a licence to commit crimes as part of operations.

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They also point to the vague criteria authorising undercover agents to commit crimes that include preventing "disorder" and acting to protect the "interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom."

"In effect, the bill gives state agents working undercover the ability to freely commit serious crimes such as murder, torture and rape,” said Ms Osborne.

"As a Labour Member of Parliament, I do not take breaking the party whip lightly.

"I fully understand the need for discipline and collective responsibility.

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"However, I believe as a matter of conscience that the bill had to be opposed as it places no express limits on intelligence agents to commit crimes that constitute human rights violations."

The bill passed its third reading in the House of Commons on October 15 unamended, by a margin of 215 votes, and will now will now go to the House of Lords.

A number of Labour lawmakers resigned this week in protest at their party's orders to abstain on the legislation, including the MP for Liverpool Walton, Dan Carden.

Ex-Conservative minister, David Davis, said the Spy Cops bill in its current form could "impinge on innocent people".

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The legislation states, however, that agencies must not breach the Human Rights Act, requiring the Government to protect life.

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