David Davis comments on his successful judicial review of Government surveillance powers


Today, in an unprecedented judgment, the High Court found against the Government in David Davis’s and Tom Watson’s joint judicial review of the Government’s emergency surveillance legislation. In its judgment, the court declared that section 1 of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 (DRIPA) is inconsistent with European Union law and consequently granted an order striking down the legislation.

This is the first time a Member of Parliament has brought a successful judicial review against the Government.

In response to the judgment, Sir David Davis and Tom Watson MP said:

“This is a direct consequence of the Government’s refusal to listen to Parliament, or to expert opinion, when they forced the now defunct Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act through Parliament in one day on the basis of a bogus emergency.

The courts have held the executive to account, and have told the Government to think again about surveillance legislation. The Government now has 9 months to bring new legislation back to Parliament, providing them with plenty of time to think through their proposals and put them before Parliament.

This judgment follows closely on the heels of two authoritative reports on surveillance powers, the first undertaken by David Anderson, the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, and the second by the Royal United Services Institute (with a panel containing a former Director General of MI5, a former director of GCHQ and a former Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service).

Both reports are critical of the legislative framework surrounding surveillance and call for legislation to be consolidated and clarified. Crucially, both reports agree with the court that the Government must hand authorisation for access to communications data over to a judicial or independent body. This is a change that we have called for for many years, and would bring us into line with our allies around the world.

It is clear that there is now a new consensus over surveillance legislation, and the Government would be wise to pause and listen before bringing new proposals before Parliament.”

The full judgment of the High Court can be found here: