Press release

Reappointment of Surveillance and Assistant Surveillance Commissioners

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Prime Minister approved the reappointments of Surveillance and Assistant Surveillance Commissioners.

The Prime Minister has approved the reappointments of the following Surveillance Commissioners for a further term of three years: Lord Bonomy from 1 July 2013, Sir Scott Baker from 1 July 2013, Sir John Sheil from 1 September 2013 and Lord MacLean from 1 October 2013; and the reappointments of His Honour Norman Jones and Sir David Clarke as Assistant Surveillance Commissioners for a further term of three years from 1 July 2013 and 1 September 2013.

Biographical notes

The Rt. Hon. Lord Iain Bonomy (67) was a solicitor in litigation-oriented practice from 1970–1983; he was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1984 and appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1993. He also served as an Advocate Depute from 1990-1993 and Home Advocate Depute from 1993-1996. He was appointed a Senator of the College of Justice in Scotland in 1997. From 1998-2004 he held office as a Surveillance Commissioner. Between June 2004 and August 2009 he served as a judge of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. He became a member of the Privy Council in 2010, served as a Senator of the College of Justice, Inner House, between 2010 and 2012. He was appointed as a Surveillance Commissioner in 2010.

The Rt. Hon. Sir Scott Baker (75) was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1961. He became a Recorder in 1976 and took Silk in 1978. He became a Bencher at Middle Temple in 1985.

He was appointed as a High Court Judge of the Family Division in 1988, moving to the Queen’s Bench Division in 1993. He was Presiding Judge of the Wales and Chester Circuit from 1991-1995, and a member of the Parole Board from 1999-2002. He was a member of the Committee that inquired into human fertilisation in 1982-1984, which led to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 and sat as coroner for the inquests into the deaths of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Fayed in 2007 and 2008. He was appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal in 2002 and retired in 2010. He was appointed as a Surveillance Commissioner in 2010, and has been a Member of the Court of Appeal, Bermuda, since 2011.

Sir John Sheil (74) was called to the Northern Ireland Bar in 1964 and took Silk in 1975. He was elected a Bencher of the Inn of Court for Northern Ireland in 1988. He served as a judge of the High Court, Northern Ireland from 1989 to 2004 and as a Lord Justice of Appeal in Northern Ireland from September 2004 to 31 December 2006 when he retired. He was Chairman of the MHRT from 1985 to 1987 and member of the Fair Employment Appeals Board from 1986 to 1989. He was also a member of the British Council. He was appointed as a Surveillance Commissioner in 2010.

The Rt. Hon. Lord Ranald MacLean (74) was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1964 and took Silk in 1977. He was appointed an Advocate Depute in 1972–75, and a Home Advocate Depute in 1979–82. He was appointed Senator of the College of Justice in 1990 and was elevated to Inner House Judge and appointed to the Privy Council in April 2001, and retired in 2005. He was the Chairman of the Committee on Serious Violent and Sexual Offenders from 1999–2000, was a Member of the Parole Board for Scotland 1998-2000. He was the Chairman of the Sentencing Commission 2003-2005. He conducted the Billy Wright enquiry from 2005-2010. He was appointed as a Surveillance Commissioner in 2010.

His Honour Norman Jones QC (71) was called to the Bar by the Middle Temple in 1968. He took Silk in 1985 and was appointed as an Assistant Recorder in 1984 and as a Recorder in 1987. He was appointed a Circuit Judge in 1992 and as a Senior Circuit Judge in 2001. He was appointed Resident Judge at Leeds Crown Court and Honorary Recorder of Leeds in 2001 and retired from the Circuit Bench in 2007. He was appointed as an Assistant Commissioner in 2007.

The Hon Sir David Clarke (70) was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1965 and became a Bencher in 1992. He served as a Recorder from 1981-1993, he took Silk in 1983 and was appointed a Circuit Judge from 1993-1997. He was appointed as a Senior Circuit Judge and the Honorary Recorder of Liverpool from 1997 to 2003. He was appointed as a High Court Judge in the Queen’s Bench Division in 2003 and retired in 2010. He served as a Presiding Judge on the Northern Circuit from 2006-2009. He was appointed as an Assistant Commissioner in 2010.

Notes for editors

Section 91 of the Police Act 1997 provides for the Prime Minster to appoint Surveillance Commissioners. Commissioners must be a person who holds or has held high judicial office (within the meaning of Part 3 of the CRA 2005) or is or has been a member of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. Their functions are in regard to surveillance operations carried out by Law Enforcement Agencies and other public authorities in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Section 63 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 provides for the Prime Minister to appoint Assistant Surveillance Commissioners. An Assistant Surveillance Commissioner must be a person who holds, or has held, office as a judge of the Crown Court or a Circuit Judge; a Sheriff in Scotland; or a county court judge in Northern Ireland.

One of the chief responsibilities of the Surveillance Commissioners is to scrutinise all notifications, renewals and cancellations of authorisations of property interference and intrusive surveillance.

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

There are six Surveillance Commissioners and three Assistant Surveillance Commissioners.