HC Deb 22 March 1999 vol 328 c29W
Mr. Beith

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if individuals who have mistakenly had their communications intercepted by statutory agencies, owing to an error by a public telecommunications operator or for any other reason, are informed of the mistake and given details of the communications which have been intercepted; how many individuals mistakenly had their communications intercepted in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [77275]

Mr. Straw

Whenever a person's communications are intercepted in error a report explaining the reason for the error and the action taken in response is submitted to the Secretary of State and to the Commissioner appointed under the Interception of Communications Act 1985. All product obtained from the interception is destroyed. The Commissioner reports on errors, in such detail as he considers appropriate, in his annual reports. The numbers of errors in the last five published reports are as follows:

Report for (year) Number of errors
1993 9
1994 14
1995 7
1996 8
1997 18

I would refer the right hon. Member to the annual reports themselves—copies of which are in the Library—for a description of the errors. In accordance with long established policy and consistently with the statutory provisions, people are not notified when their telephones are intercepted under warrant. This policy also applies in relation to cases where a person's communications are intercepted in error.