A great deal of the job of Foreign Secretary is in the public eye: the summits, handshakes, press conferences and speeches from every troubled part of the world. But there is also a more secret and less appreciated side to this role, which involves overseeing the work of two of Britain’s intelligence agencies, the Secret Intelligence Service – MI6 – and the Government Communications Headquarters, GCHQ.
It is the Foreign Secretary who authorises the most sensitive operations of these agencies. Almost every night, his or her locked red box will contain proposals for signature, including the crucial warrants that authorise the interception of the communications of specific individuals.
For obvious reasons, the public cannot see the detail of this work. If they could, I believe they would be immensely reassured. In my own experience of dealing with such warrants for four years, great care is...
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