ONE of the James Bond films, which glorify the British Secret Services, bore the name “Licence to Kill.”

It is now clear that this piece of Hollywood fantasy was, in fact, an oblique admission of guilt on the part of MI5/MI6.

In a landmark, and highly disturbing, legal judgement by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal it has been ruled “lawful” for British spies and their informants to kill, torture, and kidnap, providing they can “prove” they were justified in these actions and that they were in the “public interest.”

Since all actions of MI5/M16, and its informants, are completely outside of public scrutiny, other than by a select handful of Government ministers and other politicians on the equally secretive, unaccountable, and unseen Privy Council, it is hard, if not impossible, to see how it is possible for the public to gauge what is, and is not, in the “public interest,”

when it comes to the murky, hidden world of MI5/MI6.

The ruling, which endorses a longstanding policy which ex-Tory PM Theresa May was forced to concede existed in March, 2018, had been challenged at the IPT by human rights groups like Privacy International, the Pat Finucane (an Irish solicitor murdered by MI5 acting through Ulster Unionist paramilitaries) Centre, the Committee on the Administration of Justice, and Reprieve, who argued the policy was in breach of both British law, and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Significantly, the five judges on the IPT arrived at a Majority decision of 3-2 on the controversial ruling. Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve, said: “The IPT’s knifeedge judgement shows just how dubious the Government’s secret policy is.”

When it comes to the cloak-anddagger world of spies, we now know that literally anything is allowed to happen in a country which claims to be a “democracy” governed by the rule of law. When it comes to spies, however, rules, including rules of law, are made to be broken with impunity.

James Roberts, Via email