MPs to challenge controversial surveillance laws

Two well-known MPs are to mount a legal challenge to “emergency” surveillance laws, which were hurried through Parliament last week.

The act, which gives police and the security services access to people’s phone and internet records, caused controversy when it was added to the statute books

Labour MP Tom Watson and Conservative David Davis have applied for a judicial review of the new legislation, which has been widely condemned by civil liberty campaigners.

The backbenchers, who both believe the laws infringe people’s privacy, will be supported in their challenge by the human rights campaign group Liberty.

Mr Davis, a former Shadow Home Secretary, said that the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act – which had the backing of all three main parties – had been rushed through the House of Commons with “ridiculous and unnecessary haste.”

“The aim of this legal action is to make the Government give the House the opportunity to do what it should have been allowed in the first place. Proper, considered and effective law making.

“The overall aim is to create law which both protects the security of our citizens without unnecessarily invading their privacy.”

Mr Watson, a former deputy chairman of the Labour party, added: “The three party leaders struck a private deal to railroad through a controversial Bill in a week. You cannot make good laws behind closed doors.”

Liberty said the bill, more often referred to as the DRIP act, became law in just three days, making proper Parliamentary debate and scrutiny impossible.

Prime Minister David Cameron has argued the law was a reaction to a ruling by the European Court of Justice, which would have denied the authorities access to vital data.

“It is the first duty of government to protect our national security and to act quickly when that security is compromised,” he said.

“As events in Iraq and Syria demonstrate, now is not the time to be scaling back on our ability to keep our people safe.”

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