Press release

Surveillance Commissioner and Assistant Surveillance Commissioner appointments

In June 2016 the then Prime Minister approved the appointment and reappointments of 4 Surveillance Commissioners and 2 Assistant Surveillance Commissioners.

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In June 2016 the then Prime Minister approved the appointment and reappointments of the following Surveillance Commissioners for a term of 3 years: Lord Bonomy from 1 July 2016, Sir John Saunders from 1 July 2016, Sir John Sheil from 1 September 2016 and Lord Bracadale from 1 October 2016; and the reappointments of His Honour Norman Jones and Sir David Clarke as Assistant Surveillance Commissioners for a term of 3 years from 1 July 2016 and 1 September 2016.

Biographical Notes

The Rt. Hon. Lord Bonomy was a solicitor in litigation-oriented practice from 1970 to 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 (Counsel for the prosecution in criminal cases) from 1990 to 1993 and Home Advocate Depute from 1993 to 1996. He was appointed a Judge of the High Court and Court of Session in 1997. He was a Surveillance Commissioner from 1998 to 2004. From June 2004 to 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 and served as a Judge of the Courts of Appeal in Scotland from 2010 to 2012. He was appointed as a Surveillance Commissioner in 2010.

The Hon. Sir John Saunders was called to the Bar in 1972 and became a QC in 1992. He was appointed a Senior Circuit Judge and Recorder of Birmingham in 2004 and a High Court Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division in 2007. Between 2009 and 2012 he was a Presiding Judge of the South Eastern Circuit.

Sir John Sheil 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 Mental Health Review Tribunal 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 is an Honorary Bencher of Gray’s Inn and the Middle Temple. He was appointed as a Surveillance Commissioner in 2010.

The Rt. Hon. Lord Bracadale was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates in 1985 and served as an Advocate Depute (Counsel for the prosecution in criminal cases) from 1990 to 1993. He was Standing Junior Counsel in Scotland to HM Customs and Excise in 1995. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1995 and served as Home Advocate Depute from 1997 to 1998 (Principal Crown Counsel). In 2000 to 2001 he was senior Crown Counsel at the trial and appeal at the Scottish Court at the Netherlands of Abdel Basset Al Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing. He was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Courts in 2003 and appointed to the Inner House in April 2013.

His Honour Norman Jones QC 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 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 to 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 to 2009. He was appointed as an Assistant Commissioner in 2010.

Notes for editors

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. There are 6 Surveillance Commissioners and 3 Assistant Surveillance Commissioners.

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.

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 (RIPA) and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act 2000 (RIP(S)A).

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 and RIP(S)A by specified public authorities.

Assistant Surveillance Commissioners are responsible for:

  • reviewing the use and conduct of directed surveillance and of covert human intelligence sources
  • 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.
Published 24 August 2016