Press release

Assistant Surveillance Commissioner and Surveillance Commissioner appointments

The Prime Minister has approved the appointment of Brian Barker as an Assistant Surveillance Commissioner and Colin Mackay as a Surveillance Commissioner.

The Prime Minister has approved the appointments of His Honour Brian Barker CBE QC, as an Assistant Surveillance Commissioner, for a term of 3 years from 10 July 2015 to 9 July 2018, and The Honourable Sir Colin Mackay, as a Surveillance Commissioner, for a term of 3 years from 1 September 2015 to 31 August 2018.

Biographical notes

His Honour Brian Barker CBE QC (70) was called to the Bar (G) in 1969. He took Silk in 1990 and was elected a Bencher in 1999. He was appointed a Recorder in 1985 and a Legal Member of the Mental Health Review Tribunal, Restricted Patients Panel, in 1993. He was appointed a Senior Circuit Judge in 2000, Common Serjeant of London in 2005 and the Recorder of London in 2013. He retired from the Bench on 16 January 2015 and he was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours 2015.

Sir Colin (Crichton) Mackay (71) was called to the Bar (M) in 1967, elected as a Bencher in 1995 and took silk in 1989. He was appointed a Recorder in 1992, a Judge of the High Court (Queen’s Bench Division) in 2001 and a Member of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in 2006. He became a Member of the Parole Board for England and Wales in 2005. He retired from the Bench on 27 September 2013.

Notes for editors

Section 63 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 provides for the Prime Minister to appoint Assistant Surveillance Commissioners. Assistant Surveillance Commissioners assist the Chief Surveillance Commissioner (CSC) in his duty to keep under review the exercise and performance of functions under Part II of RIPA by specified public authorities other than the law enforcement agencies.

Assistant Surveillance Commissioners are responsible for:

  • assisting the CSC in his duty to keep under review the use and conduct of directed surveillance and of covert human intelligence sources (CHIS) by specified public authorities
  • examining the practices and procedures used and the records kept by the specified public authorities in connection with these authorisations
  • reviewing authorisations, reviews, renewals, and cancellations of authorisations

Section 91 of the Police Act 1997 provides for the Prime Minister to appoint Surveillance Commissioners. Commissioners must be persons who hold or have held high judicial office (within the meaning of Part 3 of the CRA 2005) or are or have been a member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. The role of the Commissioners is to provide oversight of the way in which all public authorities in the United Kingdom (with the exception of the Security Services) carry out covert surveillance. The covert surveillance techniques overseen by the Commissioners include property interference, directed and intrusive surveillance, the use of covert human intelligence sources and the investigation of encrypted data. These techniques are governed by Part III of the Police Act 1997 and Parts II and III of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

There are 6 Surveillance Commissioners and 3 Assistant Surveillance Commissioners.