Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron yesterday launched a scathing attack on “lily-livered” and “chicken” Labour MPs for failing to join his party in working against a so-called Snoopers’ Charter.
MPs are debating the Investigatory Powers Bill this week, and the Lib Dems sought to band together with MPs from the SNP and Labour, as well as rebel Conservatives, to take advantage of the government’s narrow majority and defeat the legislation.
Farron’s party tabled a raft of amendments, including an attempt to force a vote on the motion itself, through which a timetable is laid out for the progress of the bill.
However, Farron said that a lack of support from Labour MPs would likely result in the failures of the Lib Dems’ challenges.
“They abstained previously and now, yet again, they have not joined with the principled opposition against this illiberal bill.
“Labour cannot be trusted with civil liberties,” Farron said.
Meanwhile, lawyers have cautiously welcomed progress in protecting legal professional privilege.
Bar council chairwoman Chantal-Aimee Doerries QC noted that a recent joint committee on human rights report argued that the bill included insufficient safeguards to protect conversations between lawyers and their clients.
“Legal privilege is a fundamental and constitutional right of UK citizens,” Doerries said.
“Placing statutory protection for legal privilege in the Investigatory Powers Bill is an intricate, complex task, and the Bar Council looks forward to working with parliamentarians on all sides of both houses to make sure that we get this right.”