Question: When is a crime not a crime ? Answer: when a UK State agency says so !

Late in the evening of 5th October 2020 a proposed law passed its first parliamentary hurdle in the UK parliament.  It progressed to the Committee’s scrutiny stage by 182 votes to 20. It is a Bill giving power to government agencies to authorise – yes authorise – criminal actions by undercover agents acting on behalf of the UK government.  

Those voting figures speak volumes about the health of UK democracy  today. Only 31% of the total 650 Members were present;  therefore 69% were absent for a historically and politically crucial vote. 

The voting figures also speak volumes about the mindset and philosophy of the governing Conservative and Unionist Party – a political party ostensibly devoted to maintain our most valued traditions. 179 votes cast for the Bill were by Conservative MPs. 185 ie a majority of of the Conservative party’s 364 MPs were absent. 

In accordance with today’s practice of hiding harsh facts behind innocuous words, the proposed law is titled:

Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill

At first sight it looks like just any other law to deal with criminal behaviour. But in fact it is not a law to combat crime. It is a law to authorise crimes committed by undercover State operatives.

This is a symptom of just where we have come to in the modern, Materialist world. The fundamental and first duty of the State was once to protect its citizens in life, limb and property by creating and enforcing a framework of just laws applicable to all

But that cornerstone conception is being continually eroded. 

The State is becoming accustomed to overturn our traditional constitutional culture. 

The centuries old English tradition is being discarded and replaced. That tradition dates from before the 1215 Magna Carta and was reinforced by the 1689 Bill of Rights. It identified State power as inherently dangerous:  the State was therefore required to operate within  the inherited constitution and law. The State’s exceptional powers exist for the common welfare, not the aggrandisement of the Executive. 

The intention of the UK government is no doubt to protect the UK public. General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the UK Defence staff outlined the threat to western democracies from authoritarian powers like China in his strategic defence review speech on 30th September 2020. The General was forthright about the threat now posed. And he is right. Powers like China are operating a policy of continuous war with the West across every domain. It is a low level warfare just short of widespread hostilities, using limited miliarty intervention where they know the West is not prepared to intervene.  

But taking the sort of authoritarian powers characteristic of totalitarian regimes is certainly not the answer. Authoritarian dictatorial regimes are opposed to our open, free way of life. If we adopt their methods to protect our distinct way of life, it is already destroyed – from within.

Indeed experience demonstrates that an authoritarian device in the hands of officialdom  inevitably leads to abuse. Commonsense tells us that abuse will occur, just as surely as night follows day. 

The European Arrest Warrant was brought in against concerns for our traditional liberties. Its proponents assured us that its use was confined to serious criminals: terrorists, murderers, drug cartels, rapists, violent criminals. Why then did the Chief Constable of Hampshire authorise just such an arrest warrant in August 2014 for the parents of Ashya King who took their child abroad for treatment ? Why did he sign it ? Because UK National Health service doctors deemed the child to be at risk of neglect by his own parents. UK officialdom over-ruled parental rights; criminalised the parents; and imposed harrowing criminal procedures on innocent people. This is just one example of such abuse. 

This is what happens when the State becomes the sole arbiter of morality. When the State no longer recognises any superior constitutional, moral or religious authority. When the State considers the technical opinions of experts to be paramount to all other considerations. That is technocracy, not democracy. 

The UK State has become accustomed to passing politically questionable laws: Hate Crimes have been in existence for some years now, causing serious issues relating to freedom of speech.  And by 2020 the State has presumed to tell us all what our everyday physical movements shall be. We are no longer responsible adults but wayward children to be corralled for their own good. This is not the spirit of democracy where the people hold ultimate sovereignty and the government of the day reflects their wishes as expressed at the ballot box. 

It is into  this climate that the UK government has introduced a law which  reminds us of the constitutional and moral outrages of the Star Chamber 500 years ago. 

The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill will give sanction to criminal behaviour by State operatives on the grounds stated at 1 (5) of the Bill: 

(a) in the interests of national security;
(b) for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime
of preventing disorder;
(c) in the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom

The list of State agencies which can authorise operatives to break the normal laws of the land is extensive, ranging from “any police force” through “any of Her Majesty’s forces” to “Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs”, “the Department of Health and Social Care”, “the Environment Agency”, “the Food Standards Agency” ….

I don’t think I need to elaborate on any of that to my readers. The reasoning and its implications are beyond astounding. In fact I never imagined I would live to see the day that such a proposal would be put before the UK parliament. 

There is, of course,  provision for oversight by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner. But that power is limited to “keep under review the exercise of the power to grant authorisations”. 

The UK government appears to be so determined and confident that it has scheduled  consideration of the Bill by Committee of the whole House  and all remaining stages on just one day, the 15th October 2020. 

The official link for progress etc is at

What will your MP do ? 

Ray Catlin

By Conservatism Institute

The profile photograph displayed on this site is a portrait of Edmund Burke [1729 - 1797] whose book, Reflections on the Revolution in France, articulates the perspective and principles associated with a conservative view of politics in the English tradition. The photograph is supplied courtesy of

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