The Legal Accountability of the UK Intelligence Services

Rushton, Bridget Ann (2015) The Legal Accountability of the UK Intelligence Services. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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In recent years there has been a considerable amount of debate regarding the accountability of the intelligence agencies. However, much of the debate may have approached the subject from a one-sided perspective. Either the discussion has tended to be weighted in favour of the ideological values integral to the civil liberties agenda or it has been weighted in favour of potentially countervailing national security considerations. This thesis argues that neither of these perspectives, in and of itself, is fully able to reconcile the need to protect national security with the need to ensure the optimal protection of civil liberties.
The distinctive character of this thesis lies in the use of an immanent critique method to draw out the strengths and weaknesses of both the civil liberties and the national security agendas. Immanent critique involves the evaluation of the claims and self image of a legal or ideological perspective by reference to the very standards to which it must appeal in order to secure its own legitimacy. This may be achieved by identifying the major claims of any given ideology, either implied or stated, and comparing them to the reality of their procedural and institutional operation in practice. Where the research reveals internal discrepancies and contradictions within the ideology, these contradictions can be subjected to critical scrutiny. It is then possible build upon the constructive implications of these two critiques by suggesting alternative legal, constitutional and political approaches to issues of the regulation and accountability of intelligence services.

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