Nick Clegg Knew About Mass Surveillance and Said Nothing

By James O Malley on at

Former Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (remember him?) has said that only a "tiny handful" of senior cabinet ministers were aware of the extent of mass surveillance being carried about by the security services.

The Guardian reports that Clegg has said he was "astonished" at the extent of the access MI5 had to UK communications data.

Writing in the Graun, Clegg says:

"When a senior official took me aside and told me that the previous government had granted MI5 direct access to records of millions of phone calls made in the UK – a capability that only a tiny handful of senior cabinet ministers knew about – I was astonished that such a powerful capability had not been avowed to the public or to parliament and insisted that its necessity should be reviewed."

Sadly though, despite walking into Downing Street hand in hand with David Cameron in 2010, it took the Edward Snowden revelations to reveal to the world what was going on. Imagine how different history would have been if Clegg had insisted the public be told what was going on - and got his own way.

Clegg's comments come days after the government introduced the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, which looks set to give mass surveillance the Parliamentary stamp of approval. Needless to say, it is proving hugely controversial.

In the same piece Clegg calls the continued collection of mass data "problematic" but hails the fact that the government has admitted what it is doing "speaks volumes about how far we've come in a few short years". If only he was in a position to do something about it. [The Guardian]