Live and Let ID; Spies Demand the Right to Fake Cards

Article excerpt

Byline: BEN LEAPMAN

SPY chiefs are demanding sweeping legal powers to create false identity cards for secret agents, the Evening Standard has learned.

The Government's ID cards scheme includes penalties of 10 years in prison for anyone who makes or uses fake cards.

Crucially, draft legislation before Parliament makes no exception for British intelligence staff - leaving them open to prosecution simply for doing their job.

Information obtained by the Standard shows the secret services are trying to persuade the Government to amend the draft Bill and existing legislation.

Their demand was backed today by civil liberties campaigners, who said spies should operate within the law, not outside it. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "A modern democracy depends, in part, on the vital work of the security services.

"However, that work is best undertaken within a clear and express statutory framework."

For decades the secret services operated outside the law, with no official admission that they even existed. Since the Eighties they have gradually been brought within legislation.

The 1994 Intelligence Services Act set out their responsibilities, including espionage. …